June 22, 2018
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Margaretta Day to mark naval battle

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — History buffs from across the region are expected to gather in Machias on June 12 for Margaretta Day, a celebration of the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War.

The seventh annual event includes a parade, Revolutionary War re-enactments, Passamaquoddy Tribe crafts and dancing, vendors and performances.

“This is a celebration of our role in the American Revolution,” Margaretta Day Chairwoman Carlene Holmes said this week.

Margaretta Day is sponsored by the Machias Historical Society and commemorates the 235th anniversary of the first naval battle and the beginning of the U.S. Merchant Marine.

In 1775, a small band of Machias loggers, businessmen, and even the town preacher refused to allow a British ship to load lumber milled in Machias because they believed it was going to be used to build a fort in Massachusetts to repel the colonists.

In support of the battles at Lexington and Concord, the Machias patriots erected a Liberty Pole — a tall pine tree with no branches except for a tuft at the top — which was a sign of outrage against England’s King George.

When the captain of the Margaretta threatened to burn Machias to the ground, settlers from Machias and surrounding towns attacked the Margaretta in Machias Bay, using guns, swords and pitchforks, and overtook the supply ship.

“This is the story of a handful of people who came here in 1763 and were hardly established when they took on the British Navy,” Holmes said. “We want to celebrate those people. They inspire us, and I want to emulate their courage, their collaborative nature and their solidarity.”

Holmes said the day will begin with a parade of people and groups in period costume on Route 1. All other events will be held on the mall at the University of Maine at Machias. These include an encampment of Revolutionary War re-enactors, period demonstrations of blacksmithing, timber framing, weaving, trapping and demonstrations of cultural crafts by members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. There will also be Passamaquoddy drummers and dancers.

The Sons of the American Revolution will be attending, Holmes said, and a number of people dressed in period costumes will portray heroes of the Margaretta story. These include Doug Guy as the Rev. James Lyon, Chris Sprague as Jeremiah O’Brien, and Dona Emerson as Hannah Weston.

Throughout the day, the Burnham Tavern Museum will be open for tours. The museum houses many items from the Margaretta.

There also will be storytelling and musical performances.

Around the mall will be dozens of vendors, Holmes said, offering bead work, baskets, weaving, photography, tea, soaps, sea salt, wood crafts, jewelry and art.

Any vendor seeking to participate can contact Holmes at 255-3433 or 263-5886, or carelenemholmes@yahoo.com.

More information, including a schedule of events, can be found at www.margarettadays.org.

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