March 18, 2018
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Group raises funds for Aroostook War historic trail labels

By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A local organization aims to help fund a trail of historic markers that commemorates the route followed by local militias journeying north in 1839 to protect the boundaries of the United States against incursions by British troops during the Aroostook War.

The 1837 Foundation of Northern Maine held a yard sale Friday and Saturday to raise funds for a preliminary set of four markers to be placed in the communities of Milford, Lincoln, Patten and Masardis. The sites mark the communities where militia members spent the night before reaching the border areas between the United States and the present-day Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick. Additional markers are planned to identify the progress of troops from different areas of Maine as they converged in Augusta before beginning their march north.

The Aroostook War is incorrectly characterized by many historians as a mere “barroom brawl in Houlton,” said foundation director Roberta Williams, whose forebears helped organize the Maine militia. In reality, she said, the conflict caused significant casualties and should be more accurately portrayed as the decisive historic battle it was.

At the Court Street yard sale, Williams presided over a large poster board of information about the Aroostook Expeditionary Historical Marker project, including its endorsement in 2008 by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and its acceptance by both the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Department of Transportation.

“This trail will have the same status as the Oregon Trail, the Trail of Tears and the Mormon Trail,” Williams said, adding that it could take 15 years or longer before the federal government adopts the project. In the meantime, she said, the 1837 Foundation of Northern Maine will help the state purchase and maintain interim markers in selected communities.

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