CARMEL — A town that started as a vision by an itinerant minister is still going 200 years later.
According to Connie Graves, the author of “The History of Carmel,” the town was founded by the Rev. Paul Ruggles and his wife, Mercy, with his brother Abel among the early settlers. Not surprisingly, the town name came from the Bible.
On June 21, 1811, the township of Carmel, with a population of 387, attained the status of an incorporated township.
In those early years, Graves said, out of necessity, farming and milling were the main industries, with manufacturing close behind. Once the roads were built, residents started finding work in bigger towns nearby, such as Bangor and Newport. There were 24 schoolhouses, one at every intersection, so students didn’t have far to walk, with the town elementary and high schools not coming into existence until 1925.
Graves said that the oldest house in town, the Harvey home on Route 2, is occupied now by Alan Harvey. Other descendants of early settlers include the Bradford and Small families, living in the northwest corner of town known locally as Damascus.
Descendants of those original settlers, along with those more newly arrived, now are busy preparing for a bicentennial celebration to be held Friday through Sunday, June 17-19.
Julia Pike, assistant Carmel town manager, said that planning for the event has been under way for about a year, with a handful of individuals and several groups involved.
One highlight promises to be the musical “Our Town: Carmel,” put on by the students of Carmel at 7 p.m. Friday, June 17, at Carmel Elementary School.
The parade is set for Saturday, June 18. Construction on Route 2 necessitated the route starting on Damascus Road, at the Route 2 intersection across from the Carmel Campground, and continuing down Route 2 past the town office, then turning down Five Road to the recreation field. A bus will loop through the village to take visitors to events.
Historical exhibits, music and games are planned as part of the celebration (see schedule below).
Several items are still being sought for the event: Families who want to show off their history on a float in the parade may call the town office at 848-3361 or Bill Crowley at 848-3541. Those who would like to display quilts or needlework at the quilt show should contact Dot Verrill at 848-3250. Those who have old photos or scrapbooks featuring Carmel history can call Connie Graves at 848-7468. People with old clothes and toys from different eras may contact Tammy Noyes at 848-3945.
Schedule of events
Friday, June 17:
• “Our Town: Carmel,” a musical about growing up in Carmel, put on by the children of Carmel, 7 p.m., Carmel Elementary School.
Saturday, June 18:
• Breakfast snacks (pastries, milk, juice, coffee) available starting at 8 a.m. at Golden Harvest Grange Hall, 928 Main Road. Historical displays at the Grange will include clothes, toys and farm implements.
• Parade: Lineup starts at 9 a.m. on Damascus Road, at the Route 2 intersection across from the Carmel Campground. At 10 a.m., the parade will travel down Route 2 past the town office, then turn down Five Road to the rec field.
• Carmel history, starting at 9 a.m., historical society house, 18 Plymouth Road. Richard Shaw will give a talk on Auto Rest Park at 3 p.m.
• Simpson Memorial Library open 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with high tea at 2 p.m.
• Quilt show, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Congregational church, 39 Plymouth Road; Saw lady demonstration at noon.
• Square dancing demonstration, 11:30 a.m., Grange hall.
• Dedication of Civil War monument, 12:45 p.m.
• Boy Scout encampment at fire station all weekend.
• Fire Department open with trucks and history at the fire station after parade.
• Pig scramble, other old-time games, 1:30 p.m., rec field.
• Baked bean supper, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Masonic Hall.
• Rocking Ron and the New Society Band, 7-11 p.m., street dance at town office (rain location elementary school).
Sunday, June 19:
• Zevulon Family Band, 2-3:30 p.m., rec field (rain location elementary school).