A recent visit to Enfield Station School brought the opportunity to peek into some of the classrooms where youngsters in pre-kindergarten through grade five were learning about the 1620 arrival of the Mayflower and the Thanksgiving that was celebrated the next year.
Several first-graders gathered around their teacher to watch a video about the Mayflower. As Principal Kelly Weiss introduced me and Galen Cole, founder of Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, I took just a moment to tell the children that one of my ancestors on the Mayflower was Mary Allerton, just 4 years old when she crossed the ocean with her family.
In another classroom, a teacher had collected birch bark, clay and other materials for a project as she and the youngsters talked about Native American longhouses, wigwams and canoes.
Yet another group not only learned about the Mayflower Compact and its importance to the settlers of what would become Plymouth, Mass., but worked together to create a Class Compact they posted outside the classroom door.
For those interested in learning about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims, there are countless websites. One I like is plimoth.org, by the nonprofit organization which maintains the Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship; and Plimoth Plantation, a living history experience staffed by volunteers who portray Pilgrims who were in Plymouth in 1627. A portion of the plantation is devoted to Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive.
We took our sons, descendants of Francis Cooke and the Isaac Allerton family, to visit the Mayflower II and Plimoth Plantation a couple of times in their youth. I very much hope to return there with my grandchildren.
Back to Enfield. As one of the volunteers who give tours at the Cole Museum during its May 1-Nov. 11 season, I wanted to get a better sense of Allie Cole, who in 1917 had started what would become Coles Express with a horse and wagon, and of his wife, Amy Stone Cole.
I had read about the Coles and interviewed fifth-child Galen Cole about them, but thought I could get a better sense of them if we could take a ride to Enfield.
First we stopped on Hammett Road and walked toward the railroad with Town Manager Theresa Thurlow and Rick Leighton, public works employee, examining the site where Enfield Station used to be. Youngsters from Enfield Station and other schools around the state visit the Enfield Station building each year when they tour the Cole Museum.
Principal Kelly Weiss joined Galen and me as we saw the Dodlin Road property where young schoolteacher Amy Stone lived; the area in Lowell where Allie Cole was born; the house that belonged to the Prebles, who took Allie in as a “bound-out boy;” and Saponac, where the post office boxes once served by Allie Cole on his mail route were located.
We also saw the location of Fox’s Blacksmith Shop in East Lowell, which now has its own place of honor at the museum near Enfield Station. I remember Galen telling me that Allie Cole loved horses and kept them even after his business had turned to motorized trucking.
At nearly 88, Galen Cole has memories that are much more than stories he heard from his dad. Even after Allie and Amy moved to Bangor in 1925, they spent summers in Enfield, where the youngsters were used to walking several miles to see a movie, for example.
Galen has memories of older brother Gerald Cole taking three horses to Fox’s Blacksmith Shop for horseshoes. Gerald would ride one horse and have a bunch of hay to keep the other two interested as they made their way to Fox’s.
Another stop on what I call the deluxe Enfield tour was a visit to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Burlington, where Amy Stone used to teach at Longfellow School. Post members and guests were pleased to have Galen see the new Veterans Memorial, with bricks engraved with names of veterans on them.
The monument, which includes granite benches engraved “Freedom Isn’t Free” and “All Gave Some, Some Gave All,” two of more than 120 donated by the Cole Museum to Maine towns, will be dedicated next spring, explained Charles Harding, one of the U.S. Marine veterans we met. Veterans from the area belong to the VFW Post, where we enjoyed lunch before returning to Enfield Station School.
There, an attentive group of fourth- and fifth-graders listened as Galen Cole told them that although Allie and Amy’s farmhouse no longer existed, the school the students come to every day — traveling roads that Allie Cole knew well — was built on land from the farm property.
Bringing to life a young Allie Cole with his one horse in wagon in 1917, he told the children, “You have every opportunity in the world today to be successful. Allie believed that himself, and he proved it.” He added, “Where he started is right here, just across the Hammett Road.”
Booklets about Allie Cole were given to each of the children, but I’m guessing that the youngsters’ visit with living history will make just as much of an impact.
That is true of the volunteers I have met at Cole Museum, among them Ralph Goss, who died on Nov. 19 at age 91. Born in Levant to Roy and Addie (Phillips) Goss, he served with the 97th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II, then participated in the occupation of Japan.
As a museum tour guide, Ralph had a special expertise in license plates, the majority of which displayed at the museum came from his dad’s collection, which Ralph donated to the facility. I enjoyed chatting with Ralph and hearing from him what made each plate special.
I will remember, too, watching Ralph Goss and fellow World War II veteran Henry Stupakewicz unveil the Bangor World War II Memorial just one year ago on the museum grounds on Perry Road.
For so much living history, may we give thanks.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.