It has been 48 years since Leota Brown told our eighth-grade Maine history classes in Guilford about St. Croix, also known as Dochet Island. Although that first settlement of Europeans in 1604, explorers De Monts and Champlain among them, were forced by the cruel climate to move on to Nova Scotia, Mrs. Brown’s students certainly learned to value that first effort in what is now Calais.
I recently was pleased to receive copies of the St. Croix Historical Society newsletter and the Walking Tour Guide to Calais Residential Historic District.
Italianate, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Federal, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival are some of the styles a visitor to Calais will appreciate among the city’s architecture. Surnames connected to the buildings include Holmes, Sawyer, Ross-Murchie, Brogan, Swan-King, Eaton, Newton, Barber, Greene, Pettigrove-Groves, Mundie-Burnes, Washburn, Hill, Lord and Gilmore.
Let me also share that International Festival Week will be celebrated Aug. 4-7, with the tentative schedule including a Walk Down Main Street leaving at noon Sunday, Aug. 4, from the Holmestead; a barbecue picnic and fair with displays from local collectors and artisans at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, at Meridian Park; the second annual Victorian Tea at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Holmestead; and the third annual Cemetery Tour at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.
The Dr. Holmes Cottage Museum at 523 Main St. is open 1-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday in July and August. The Holmestead across the way is open 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays only in July and August.
A charming 12-page booklet on the museum by Patrick Mealey and Joyce Jackson explains, “Believed to be one of the oldest standing homes in Calais, the Holmes Cottage has the distinction of housing the first three physicians to practice in the city.”
They are: 1) Dr. Shelomith Stow Whipple, who lived there 1831-1833, grandson of Revolutionary War veterans Shelomith Stow and James Whipple; 2) Dr. Cyrus Hamlin, 1833-1834, whose grandfather, Eleazar Hamlin, “commanded a body of Continental minutemen which included his sons, Africa, America, Europe and Asia”; 3) Dr. Job Holmes, son of Revolutionary War veteran Capt. James Holmes, 1834-1864.
All three are most interesting men, but I can tell you that people from Livermore and the town of Paris to the city of Bangor and on to Calais and many other points throughout the state have connections to Dr. Cyrus Hamlin and other siblings of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, who served during Abraham Lincoln’s first term.
Cyrus’ and Hannibal’s sister, Vesta Hamlin, married Dr. Job Holmes and with him had six children: Agnes, Anna Livermore, Ellen Vesta, Cyrus Hamlin, Frank Pierpont and Walter Hamlin, according to the booklet by Mealey and Jackson. So there’s another Hamlin connection.
My own cousinship to Cyrus, Vesta and Vice President Hannibal Hamlin is by way of their grandmother, Lydia Bonney Hamlin, sister to my Betty Bonney Hayford, both being daughters of Ichabod Bonney. In this line, I am a second cousin, five times removed, from Hannibal and his siblings. Sometime in the next year, I hope to write a Family Ties column on “cousins once removed,” and so on, so keep reading.
I also have another connection to Hannibal Hamlin, second cousin four times removed, through the Clark family that goes back to Watertown, Mass. This one line, I am told by my favorite retired geneticist, Dr. Thomas H. Roderick of Jackson Lab, means that I share about 30 genes with Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.
My Hamlin connections are part of the “Let’s Talk About Those Cousins” program I will give on Aug. 27 at the Abbot Historical Society.
This year I gave the program to the Jonesport Historical Society, among other groups. Perhaps another time I might give a talk about cousins in the St. Croix area.
A fascinating aspect about Dr. Cyrus Hamlin relates to a strange sickness which took several lives in 1835 in Calais and Saint Stephen, New Brunswick. The source turned out to be a shipment of sugar that had been inadvertently poisoned by lead. How that occurred was identified by Hamlin when he found and visited the plantation of manufacture on a trip to Barbados.
The booklet by Mealey and Jackson also contains a wonderful letter to Hannibal Hamlin from Vesta Hamlin Holmes.
The SCHS newsletter is nifty, with its May newsletter drawing me in with Carol Allen’s Reminiscences, including a basketball game featuring Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy.
Membership for the St. Croix Historical Society is $15 a year, historian; $25, family; $35, supporting; $60, corporate or business; $150, patron; $500, life membership. Send checks to St. Croix Historical Society, PO Box 242, Calais 04619.
Information on the society, its programs and publications is available online at stcroixhistorical.com.
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.