May 22, 2018
Family Ties Latest News | Poll Questions | Marijuana Ties | Mary Mayhew | Car Theft

Cherished family objects need a future home

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist

When I first wrote about the 1845 letter by Cornelius N. Gower in November 2008, I said it would go to the Abbot Historical Society.

The Abbot resident, an ancestor of then-vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, had written Brownville businessman Jefferson Lake Esq. on Dec. 3, 1845, to ask about the price of hay delivered to Roach Pond camps in the Moosehead Lake area.

I had found the “stampless cover,” folded and sealed so it wouldn’t need an envelope for mailing, for sale on the Internet for $30. With spelling intact, the letter reads:

A gentleman who is operating on the Purley Township, which is, I think on Roach Pond, is desirous of purchaseing hay devr. at his camps and you have been recommended as a suitable person to furnish me, for him, information relative to the price that it may be furnished for from Brownville or from your vicinity. The price of hay at the foot of the Lake is, at present, very unstable in consequence of their haveing been large quantities of it cross the Lake by wotter, and the lots near by haveing been mostly bot up for that purpose consequently much of the hay if coirer from this way will have to be hauled 20 or 25 miles before it reaches the Lake and then perhaps as much more after that before it reaches the camps. Now sir if you are in the way of furnishing please inform me for what you can dev it to the camps and if you are not inclined to furnish please say what it can probably be obtained for from your vicinity, a good article of hay is wanted and the cash paid on dev. I am anxious to hear from you immediately or as soon as convenient after receiveing this. Very Respectfully Yours,Cornelius N. Gower

I don’t know if Cornelius ever got the information about hay delivery.

Jefferson Lake Esq. joined the Gold Rush and moved to Sutter, Calif., in 1853.

Gower moved to Winslow by 1860, and Ann Arbor, Mich., by 1870.

So why am I bringing this up?

I finally delivered the 1845 letter to the Abbot Historical Society on July 27, more than a year after I purchased it.

It stayed in my desk drawer at work for more than a year, then I photocopied it before giving a talk last spring at the Bangor Public Library.

I went looking for the original letter on July 23, knowing that I would be going to Abbot soon.

But I couldn’t find the letter right away. I looked in a file cabinet, and it wasn’t there, either. Finally I checked a different drawer in my desk and found it right in the front, fortunately.

Why do I want you to know this? Because if I hadn’t gotten around to digging out the letter and giving it to the historical society during my lifetime, I doubt anyone in my family would have realized its importance, or known its intended home.

Readers know how I cherish the paintings done by my great-great-grandmother Mary (Cummings) Bennett Lord of Greenville and Guilford.

My boys have long known that the “tree-and-stream” painting would go to Tony, and the “Tantallon Castle” painting to Scott.

When Tony followed his lady love to Minnesota in 2004, he asked me for Ga’s painting that was to be his.

“Now?” I asked. He was leaving Maine and he wanted to take that scene with him, and I agreed.

The painting that had been mine for more than 30 years looks lovely in the Minnesota home of my “pioneer from Maine.”

I remember a dear lady who used to write in front of some of her genealogy books the name of the friend the volume should go to. One of the books that came to me later on had a mutual friend’s name in it, and it was a privilege to get it into the right hands.

Some of my books I would like my sons to keep, and others could go to libraries. I could write inside, in pencil, which are appropriate for a library or historical society.

Let’s not expect that our loved ones will “know” who should have what. Put it in your will, or pass it on now if it’s not something you’re using regularly.

I gave the Dexter Historical Society the Hart-Roberts Family Bible and the baby shoes of blue leather that belonged to my great-grandfather Stanley W. Roberts, born 1880.

Now to find the soft leather album of senior class photos from Foxcroft Academy’s Class of 1924, which belonged to my grandmother Edith (Roberts) Steeves. I told the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society they could have it and they will — as soon as I find it.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like