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History of Castine - History

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Castine I,II

A town in Maine.

(Gbt: dp. 1,177; 1. 204'; b. 32'1"; dr. 12'; cpl. 154; a.
8 4" rf., 4 6-pdr.)

Castine, a gunboat, was launched 11 May 1892 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; sponsored by Miss M. Hichborn, commissioned 22 October 1894, Commander T. Perry in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet

Assigned to the South Atlantic, Castine cleared New England waters in February 1896. She called at the Azores and Gibraltar. passed through the Suez Canal, visited Zanzibar and Mozambique, and rounded Cape of Good Hope before arriving on station at Pernambuco, Brazil, 13 October 1895. She cruised in South American and West Indian waters save for an overhaul period in Norfolk until March 1898.

Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Castine was called north to take her place on the blockade surrounding Cuba in March 1898. She served the force which accompanied the Army's transports Cuba, and remained in the Caribbean until the close of the war. g

In December 1898 Castine sailed from Boston for the Suez Canal on her way to the Far East. Upon her arrival in the Philippine Islands, she began duty
coordination with the Army to put down the insurrection following the Spanish-American War. Operating primarily in the southern islander she supervised the evacuation of the Spanish garrison at Zamboanga
in May 1899. With a cruise to Chinese ports in 1900;Castine remained in the Far East until June 1901 when she cleared for the Suez Canal and the east coast.

Castine was out of commission at Philadelphia between 8 October 1901 and 12 November 1903. Upon recommissioning she saw duty in the South Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean, and from 23 September 1905 to 4 October 1908 was again out of commission, at Portsmouth, N.H.

From October 1908 until May 1913, Castine served as a submarine tender at east coast bases, then returned to the Caribbean until July 1917. Patrol and protection of American interests in Mexico found her cruising Vera Cruz and Tampico.

On 5 August 1917, Castine sailed to join the Patrol Force at Gibraltar, where she served until 21 December 1918. She returned to the United States, and was de commissioned at New Orleans 28 August 1919. Castine was sold 5 August 1921.

II PC-452(q.v.) was renamed and reclassified Castine(IX-211) on 10 March 1945.


Penobscot Genealogy (in Hancock County, ME)

NOTE: Additional records that apply to Penobscot are also found through the Hancock County and Maine pages.

Penobscot Birth Records

Maine, Birth Records, 1892-present Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Penobscot Cemetery Records

Penobscot Census Records

Federal Census of 1940, Penobscot, Maine LDS Genealogy

United States Federal Census, 1790-1940 Family Search

Penobscot Death Records

Maine, Death Records, 1892-present Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Penobscot Histories and Genealogies

Penobscot Immigration Records

Penobscot Land Records

Penobscot Marriage Records

Maine, Marriage Records, 1892-present Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Penobscot Miscellaneous Records

Penobscot Newspapers and Obituaries

Penobscot Probate Records

Penobscot School Records

Penobscot, ME Clark High School Class of 1936 Old Yearbooks

Penobscot Tax Records

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Contents

The earliest culture known to have inhabited Maine, from roughly 3000 BC to 1000 BC, were the Red Paint People, a maritime group known for elaborate burials using red ochre. They were followed by the Susquehanna culture, the first to use pottery.

By the time of European discovery, the inhabitants of Maine were the Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki peoples, including the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscots.

The first Europeans to explore the coast of Maine sailed under the command of the Portuguese explorer Estêvão Gomes, in service of the Spanish Empire, in 1525. They mapped the coastline (including the Penobscot River) but did not settle. The first European settlement in the area was made on St. Croix Island in 1604 by a French party that included Samuel de Champlain. The French named the area Acadia. French and English settlers would contest central Maine until the 1750s (when the French were defeated in the French and Indian War). The French developed and maintained strong relations with the local Indian tribes through Catholic missionaries.

English colonists sponsored by the Plymouth Company founded a settlement in Maine in 1607 (the Popham Colony at Phippsburg), but it was abandoned the following year. A French trading post was established at present-day Castine in 1613 by Claude de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, and may represent the first permanent European settlement in New England. The Plymouth Colony, established on the shores of Cape Cod Bay in 1620, set up a competing trading post at Penobscot Bay in the 1620s.

The territory between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers was first called the Province of Maine in a 1622 land patent granted to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason. The two split the territory along the Piscataqua River in a 1629 pact that resulted in the Province of New Hampshire being formed by Mason in the south and New Somersetshire being created by Gorges to the north, in what is now southwestern Maine. The present Somerset County in Maine preserves this early nomenclature.

One of the first English attempts to settle the Maine coast was by Christopher Levett, an agent for Gorges and a member of the Plymouth Council for New England. After securing a royal grant for 6,000 acres (24 km 2 ) of land on the site of present-day Portland, Maine, Levett built a stone house and left a group of men behind when he returned to England in 1623 to drum up support for his settlement, which he called "York" after the city in England of his birth. Originally called Machigonne by the local Abenaki, later settlers named it Falmouth and it is known today as Portland. [2] Levett's settlement, like the Popham Colony also failed, and the men Levett left behind were never heard from again. Levett did sail back across the Atlantic to meet with Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop at Salem in 1630, but died on the return voyage without ever returning to his settlement.

The New Somersetshire colony was small, and in 1639 Gorges received a second patent, from Charles I, covering the same territory as Gorges' 1629 settlement with Mason. Gorges' second effort resulted in the establishment of more settlements along the coast of southern Maine, and along the Piscataqua River, with a formal government under his distant relation, Thomas Gorges. A dispute about the bounds of another land grant led to the short-lived formation of Lygonia on territory that encompassed a large area of the Gorges grant. Both Gorges' Province of Maine and Lygonia had been absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony by 1658. The Massachusetts claim would be overturned in 1676, but Massachusetts again asserted control by purchasing the territorial claims of the Gorges heirs.

In 1669, the territory between the Kennebec and St. Croix rivers was granted by Charles II to his brother James, Duke of York. Under the terms of this grant, all the territory from the Saint Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean was constituted as Cornwall County, and was governed as part of the duke's proprietary Province of New York. This grant, when combined with the territories claimed by Massachusetts (which it called York County), encompassed all of present-day Maine.

In 1674, the Dutch briefly conquered Acadia, renaming the colony New Holland.

In 1686 James, now king, established the Dominion of New England. This political entity eventually combined all of the English-held territories from Delaware Bay to the St. Croix River. The dominion collapsed in 1689, and in 1692 the territory between the Piscataqua and the St. Croix became part of the new Province of Massachusetts Bay as Yorkshire, a name which survives in present-day York County.

Colonial Wars Edit

For the English, east of the Kennebec River was known in the 17th century as the Territory of Sagadahock however, the French included this area as part of Acadia. It was dominated by tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, which supported Acadia. [3] The only significant European presence was at Fort Pentagouet, the French trading post first established in 1613 as well as missionaries on Kennebec River and the Penobscot River. Fort Pentagouet was briefly the capital of Acadia (1670–1674) in an effort to protect the French claim to the territory. There were four wars before the region was finally taken by the English in Father Rale's War.

In the first war, King Philips War, some of the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy participated and successfully prevented English settlements in their territory. During the next war, King William's War, Baron St. Castin at Fort Pentagouet and French Jesuit missionary Sébastien Rale were notably active. Again, the Wabanaki Confederacy executed a successful campaign against the English settlers west of the Kennebec River. In 1696, the major defensive establishment in the territory, Fort William Henry at Pemaquid (present-day Bristol), was besieged by a French force. The territory was again on the front lines in Queen Anne's War (1702–1713), with the Northeast Coast Campaign.

The next and final conflict over the New England/ Acadia border was Father Rale's War. During the war, the Confederacy launched two campaigns against the British settlers west of the Kennebec (1723, 1724). Rale and numerous chiefs were killed by a New England force in 1724 at Norridgewock, which led to the collapse of French claims to Maine.

During King George's War, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy led three campaigns against the British settlers in Maine (1745, 1746, 1747).

During the final colonial war, the French and Indian War, members of the Confederacy again executed numerous raids into Maine from Acadia/ Nova Scotia. Acadian militia raided the British settlements of Swan's Island, Maine and present-day Friendship, Maine and Thomaston, Maine. Francis Noble wrote her captivity narrative after being captured at Swan's Island. [4] [5] On June 9, 1758, Indians raided Woolwich, Maine, killing members of the Preble family and taking others prisoner to Quebec. [6] This incident became known as the last conflict on the Kennebec River.

After the defeat of the French colony of Acadia, the territory from the Penobscot River east fell under the nominal authority of the Province of Nova Scotia, and together with present-day New Brunswick formed the Nova Scotia County of Sunbury, with its court of general sessions at Campobello Island.

In the late 18th century, several tracts of land in Maine, then part of Massachusetts, were sold off by lottery. Two tracts of 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km 2 ), one in south-east Maine and another in the west, were bought by a wealthy Philadelphia banker, William Bingham. This land became known as the Bingham Purchase. [7]

Maine was a center of Patriotism during the American Revolution, with less Loyalist activity than most colonies. [8] Merchants operated 52 ships that served as privateers attacking British supply ships. [9] Machias in particular was a center for privateering and Patriot activity. It was the site of an early naval engagement that resulted in the capture of a small Royal Navy vessel. Jonathan Eddy led a failed attempt to capture Fort Cumberland in Nova Scotia in 1776. In 1777 Eddy led the defense of Machias against a Royal Navy raid.

Captain Henry Mowat of the Royal Navy had charge of operations off the Maine coast during much the war. He dismantled Fort Pownall at the mouth of the Penobscot River and burned Falmouth in 1775 [10] (present-day Portland). His reputation in Maine traditions is heartless and brutal, but historians note that he performed his duty well and in accordance with the ethics of the era. [11]

New Ireland Edit

In 1779, the British adopted a strategy to seize parts of Maine, especially around Penobscot Bay, and make it a new colony to be called "New Ireland". The scheme was promoted by exiled Loyalists Dr. John Calef (1725–1812) and John Nutting (fl. 1775-85), as well as Englishman William Knox (1732–1810). It was intended to be a permanent colony for Loyalists and a base for military action during the war. The plan ultimately failed because of a lack of interest by the British government and the determination of the Americans to keep all of Maine. [12]

In July 1779, British general Francis McLean captured Castine and built Fort George on the Bagaduce Peninsula on the eastern side of Penobscot Bay. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sent the Penobscot Expedition led by Massachusetts general Solomon Lovell and Continental Navy captain Dudley Saltonstall. The Americans failed to dislodge the British during a 21-day siege and were routed by the arrival of British reinforcements. The Royal Navy blocked an escape by sea so the Patriots burned their ships near present-day Bangor and walked home. [13] Maine was unable to repel the British threat despite a reorganized defense and the imposition of martial law in selected areas. Some of the most easterly towns tried to become neutral. [14]

After the peace was signed in 1783, the New Ireland proposal was abandoned. In 1784 the British split New Brunswick off from Nova Scotia and made it into the desired Loyalist colony, with deference to King and Church, and with republicanism suppressed. It was almost named "New Ireland". [15]

The Treaty of Paris that ended the war was ambiguous about the boundary between Maine and the neighboring British provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. This would set the stage for the bloodless "Aroostook War" a half century later.

During the War of 1812, Maine suffered the effects of warfare less than most sections of New England. Early in the war there was some Canadian privateering action and Royal Navy harassment along the coast. In September 1813, the memorable combat off Pemaquid between HMS Boxer and USS Enterprise gained international attention. [16] But it wasn't until 1814 that the district was invaded. [17] The U.S. Army and the small U.S. Navy could do little to defend Maine. The national administration assigned nominal resources to the region, concentrating its efforts in the west. The local militia generally proved inadequate to the challenge. [18] However, in the last months of the war, large militia mobilizations discouraged enemy interventions at Wiscasset, Bath, and Portland. [19] British army and naval forces from nearby Nova Scotia captured and occupied the eastern coast from Eastport to Castine, and plundered the Penobscot River towns of Hampden and Bangor (see Battle of Hampden). Legitimate commerce all along the Maine coast was largely stopped—a critical situation for a place so dependent on shipping. In its place an illicit smuggling trade with the British developed, especially at Castine and Eastport. [20] The British gave "New Ireland" to America in the Treaty of Ghent, and Castine was evacuated, although Eastport remained under occupation until 1818. But Maine's vulnerability to foreign invasion, and its lack of protection by Massachusetts, were important factors in the post-war momentum for statehood. [21]

The Massachusetts General Court passed enabling legislation on June 19, 1819 separating the District of Maine from the rest of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. [22] The following month, on July 26, voters in the district approved statehood by 17,091 to 7,132.

County For statehood [23] For status quo [23]
Votes PCT Votes PCT
Cumberland 3,315 70.4% 1,394 29.6%
Hancock 820 51.9% 761 48.1%
Kennebec 3,950 86.0% 641 14.0%
Lincoln 2,523 62.2% 1,534 37.8%
Oxford 1,893 77.5% 550 22.5%
Penobscot 584 71.7% 231 28.3%
Somerset 1,440 85.9% 237 14.1%
Washington 480 77.7% 138 22.3%
York 2,086 55.9% 1,646 44.2%
Total: 17,091 70.6% 7,132 29.4%

The results of the election were presented to the Massachusetts Governor's Council on August 24, 1819. [23] The Maine Constitution was unanimously approved by the 210 delegates to the Maine Constitutional Convention in October 1819. On February 25, 1820, the General Court passed a follow-up measure officially accepting the fact of Maine's imminent statehood. [22]

At the time of Maine’s request for statehood, there were an equal number of free and slave states. Pro-slavery members of the United States Congress saw the admission of another free state, Maine, as a threat to the balance between slave and free states. They would only support statehood for Maine if Missouri Territory, where slavery was legal, would be admitted to the Union as a slave state. Maine became the nation's 23rd state on March 15, 1820, following the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave-holding state and Maine as a free state. However, Massachusetts still held onto the vast offshore islands of Maine after allowing it to secede, because of the high number of people on them who still wished to remain part of Massachusetts. This only lasted until 1824, when the cost of supplying the islands that were now very hard to access directly from Massachusetts outweighed any profit from holding onto those islands. Massachusetts formally ceded the last of its islands near Maine in late 1824. [24]

William King was elected as the state's first Governor. William D. Williamson became the first President of the Maine State Senate. When King resigned as governor in 1821, Williamson automatically succeeded him to become Maine's second governor. That same year, however, he ran for and won a seat in the 17th United States Congress. Upon Williamson's resignation, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Benjamin Ames became Maine's third governor for approximately a month until Daniel Rose took office. Rose served only from January 2 to January 5, 1822, filling the unexpired term between the administrations of Ames and Albion K. Parris. Parris served as governor until January 3, 1827.

The still-lingering border dispute with British North America came to a head in 1839 when Maine Governor John Fairfield declared virtual war on lumbermen from New Brunswick cutting timber in lands claimed by Maine. Four regiments of the Maine militia were mustered in Bangor and marched to the border, but there was no fighting. The Aroostook War was an undeclared and bloodless conflict that was settled by diplomacy. [25]

Secretary of State Daniel Webster secretly funded a propaganda campaign that convinced Maine leaders that a compromise was wise Webster used an old map that showed British claims were legitimate. The British had a different old map that showed the American claims were legitimate, so both sides thought the other had the better case. The final border between the two countries was established with the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which gave Maine most of the disputed area, and gave the British a militarily vital connection between its provinces of Canada (present-day Quebec and Ontario) and New Brunswick. [26]

The passion of the Aroostook War signaled the increasing role lumbering and logging were playing in the Maine economy, particularly in the central and eastern sections of the state. Bangor arose as a lumbering boom-town in the 1830s, and a potential demographic and political rival to Portland. Bangor became for a time the largest lumber port in the world, and the site of furious land speculation that extended up the Penobscot River valley and beyond. [27]

Industrialization in 19th century Maine took a number of forms, depending on the region and period. The river valleys, particularly the Androscroggin, Kennebec and Penobscot, became virtual conveyor belts for the making of lumber beginning in the 1820s-30s. Logging crews penetrated deep into the Maine woods in search of pine (and later spruce) and floated it down to sawmills gathered at waterfalls. The lumber was then shipped from ports such as Bangor, Ellsworth and Cherryfield all over the world.

Partly because of the lumber industry's need for transportation, and partly due to the prevalence of wood and carpenters along a very long coastline, shipbuilding became an important industry in Maine's coastal towns. The Maine merchant marine was huge in proportion to the state's population, and ships and crews from communities such as Bath, Brewer, and Belfast could be found all over the world. The building of very large wooden sailing ships continued in some places into the early 20th century.

Cotton textile mills migrated to Maine from Massachusetts beginning in the 1820s. The major site for cotton textile manufacturing was Lewiston on the Androscoggin River, the most northerly of the Waltham-Lowell system towns (factory towns modeled on Lowell, Massachusetts). The twin cities of Biddeford and Saco, as well as Augusta, Waterville, and Brunswick also became important textile manufacturing communities. These mills were established on waterfalls and amidst farming communities as they initially relied on the labor of farm-girls engaged on short-term contracts. In the years after the Civil War, they would become magnets for immigrant labor.

In addition to fishing, important 19th century industries included granite and slate quarrying, brick-making, and shoe-making.

Starting in the early 20th century, the pulp and paper industry spread into the Maine woods and most of the river valleys from the lumbermen, so completely that Ralph Nader would famously describe Maine in the 1960s as a "paper plantation". Entirely new cities, such as Millinocket and Rumford were established on many of the large rivers.

For all this industrial development, however, Maine remained a largely agricultural state well into the 20th century, with most of its population living in small and widely separated villages. With short growing seasons, rocky soil, and relative remoteness from markets, Maine agriculture was never as prosperous as in other states the populations of most farming communities peaked in the 1850s, declining steadily thereafter.

Railroads Edit

Railroads shaped Maine's geography, as they did that of most American states. The first railroad in Maine was the Calais Railroad, incorporated by the state legislature on February 17, 1832. [28] It was built to transport lumber from a mill on the Saint Croix River opposite Milltown, New Brunswick two miles to the tidewater at Calais in 1835. In 1849, the name was changed to the Calais and Baring Railroad and the line was extended four more miles to Baring. [29] In 1870, it became part of the St. Croix and Penobscot Railroad. [30]

The state's second railroad was the Bangor & Piscataquis Railroad & Canal Company incorporated by the legislature on February 18, 1833. [31] It ran eleven miles from Bangor to Oldtown along the west bank of the Penobscot River and opened in November, 1836. In 1854-55, it was extended 1.5 miles across the Penobscot River to Milford and the name was changed to the Bangor, Oldtown & Milford Railroad Company. In 1869, it was absorbed into the European and North American Railway. [ citation needed ]

The third railroad in Maine was the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad, incorporated by the legislature on March 14, 1837. [32] This was a crucial step in the development of railroads in Maine because the new railroad connected Portland to Boston by connecting to the Eastern Railroad at Kittery via a bridge to Portsmouth. This railroad was opened on November 21, 1842 and was 51.34 miles in length. [ citation needed ]

Portland in particular prospered as the terminus of the Grand Trunk railroad from Montreal, essentially becoming Canada's winter port because of efforts by investors like John A. Poor and John Neal. [33] The Portland Company built early railway locomotives and the Portland Terminal Company handled joint switching operations for the Maine Central Railroad and Boston and Maine Railroad. A railroad pushed through to Bangor in the 1850s, and as far as Aroostook County in the early 20th century, farming potato growing as a cash crop. [ citation needed ]

Even before the tide of settlement crested in most of Maine, some began to leave for The West. The first large-scale exodus was probably in 1816-17, spurred by the privations of the War of 1812, an unusually cold summer, and the expansion of settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains in Ohio. "Ohio Fever" as the lure of the West was initially called, depopulated a number of fledgling Maine communities and stunted the growth of others, even if the overall momentum of settlement had been largely restored by the 1820s, when Maine achieved statehood. [34]

As the American frontier continued to expand westward, Mainers were particularly attracted to the forested states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and large numbers brought their lumbering skills and knowledge there. Migrants from Maine were particularly prominent in Minnesota for example, three 19th century Mayors of Minneapolis were Mainers. [35]

The California Gold Rush of 1849 and afterwards was a major boost to the lumber and coastal shipbuilding economies, as building lumber needed to be "shipped around the Horn" from Maine until the establishment of a West Coast sawmilling industry. Maine ships also carried gold-seeking migrants, however, and thus were many Mainers (and aspects of Maine culture, such as lumbering and carpentering) transplanted to California and the Pacific Northwest. Three 19th century Mayors of San Francisco, [36] two Governors of California, [37] a Governor of Oregon, [38] and two Governors of Washington [39] were born in Maine.

Maine was the first state in the northeast to support the new anti-slavery Republican Party, partly due to the influence of evangelical Protestantism, and partly to the fact that Maine was a frontier state, and thus receptive to the party's "free soil" platform. Abraham Lincoln chose Maine's Hannibal Hamlin as his first Vice President.

Maine was so enthusiastic for the cause of preserving the Union in the American Civil War that it ended up contributing a larger number of combatants, in proportion to its population, than any other Union state. [40] It was second only to Massachusetts in the number of its sailors who served in the United States Navy. Joshua Chamberlain and Holman Melcher along with the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment played a key role at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment lost more men in a single charge (at the Siege of Petersburg) than any Union regiment in the war.

One legacy of the war was Republican Party dominance of state politics for the next half-century and beyond. The state elections came in September and provided pundits of the day with a key indicator of the mood of voters throughout the North--"as Maine goes, so goes the nation" was a familiar phrase.

In the 50-year period 1861 to 1911 (when Democrats temporarily swept most state offices) Maine Republicans served as Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury (twice), President pro tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House (twice) and Republican Nominee for the Presidency. This synchronization between the politics of Maine and the nation broke down dramatically in 1936, however, when Maine became one of only two states [41] to vote for the Republican candidate, Alf Landon in Franklin D. Roosevelt's landslide re-election. Maine Republicans remain a force in state politics, but since the elevation of the Polish-American Catholic Democrat Edmund Muskie to the governorship in the 1950s, Maine has been a balanced two-party state. The most nationally influential Maine Republicans in recent decades include former Senators William Cohen and Olympia Snowe, and Senator Susan Collins. [42]

Irish Edit

Maine experienced a wave of Irish immigration in the mid-19th century, though many came to the state via Canada and Massachusetts, and before the Great Famine. There was a riot in Bangor between Irish and Yankee (nativist) sailors and lumbermen as early as 1834, and a number of early Catholic churches were burned or vandalized in coastal communities, where the Know-Nothing Party briefly flourished. After the Civil War, Maine's Irish-Catholic population began a process of integration and upward mobility. [43]

French Canadians Edit

In the late 19th century, many French Canadians arrived from Quebec and New Brunswick to work in the textile mill cities such as Lewiston and Biddeford. By the mid 20th century Franco-Americans comprised 30% of the state's population. Some migrants became lumberjacks but most concentrated in industrialized areas and into enclaves known as 'Little Canadas.' [44]

Québécois immigrant women saw the United States as a place of opportunity and possibility where they could create alternatives for themselves distinct from the expectations of their parents and their community. By the early 20th century some French Canadian women even began to see migration to the United States to work as a rite of passage and a time of self-discovery and self-reliance. When these women did marry, they had fewer children with longer intervals between children than their Canadian counterparts. Some women never married, and oral accounts suggest that self-reliance and economic independence were important reasons for choosing work over marriage and motherhood. These women conformed to traditional premigration gender ideals in order to retain their 'Canadienne' cultural identity, but they also redefined these roles in ways that provided them increased independence in their roles as wives and mothers. [45]

The Franco-Americans became active in the Catholic Church where they tried with little success to challenge its domination by Irish clerics. [46] They founded such newspapers as 'Le Messager' and 'La Justice'. Lewiston's first hospital became a reality in 1889 when the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, the 'Grey Nuns', opened the doors of the Asylum of Our Lady of Lourdes. This hospital was central to the Grey Nuns' mission of providing social services for Lewiston's predominantly French Canadian mill workers. The Grey Nuns struggled to establish their institution despite meager financial resources, language barriers, and opposition from the established medical community. [47] Immigration dwindled after World War I.

The French-Canadian community in New England tried to preserve some of its cultural norms. This doctrine, like efforts to preserve francophone culture in Quebec, became known as la Survivance. See also: Quebec diaspora. [48] With the decline of the state's textile industry during the 1950s, the French element experienced a period of upward mobility and assimilation. This pattern of assimilation increased during the 1970s and 1980s as many Catholic organizations switched to English names and parish children entered public schools some parochial schools closed in the 1970s. Although some ties to its French-Canadian origins remain, the community was largely anglicized by the 1990s, moving almost completely from 'Canadien' to 'American'. [49]

Representative of the assimilation process was the career of singer and icon of American popular culture Rudy Vallée (1901–86). He grew up in Westbrook, Maine, and after service in World War I attended the University of Maine, then transferred to Yale, and went on to become as a popular music star. He never forgot his Maine roots, and maintained an estate at Kezar Lake. [50]

Other immigrants Edit

English and Scottish Edit

A large number of immigrants of English and Scottish-Canadian stock relocated from the Maritime Provinces.

Scandinavians Edit

The first Europeans on North American soil were vikings from Norway led by Leif Eriksson. These Norwegians traded with the native Penobscot. In 1797, the town of Norway, Maine was incorporated and attracted a small group of Norwegians.

A Swedish colony. in Maine was started in Aristook by William W. Thomas Jr. to recruit Swedish Loggers. This came to be known as the town of New Sweden. [51] Other towns with big Swedish populations were Stockholm and Westmanland.

The towns of Denmark and South Portland attracted Danish immigrants to Maine, also as loggers and dockworkers.

Somalis Edit

In the 2000s, Somalis began a secondary migration to Maine from other states on account of the area's low crime rate, good schools and cheap housing. [52] [53]

Mainly concentrated in Lewiston, Somalis have opened up community centers to cater to their community. In 2001, the non-profit organization United Somali Women of Maine (USWM) was founded in Lewiston, seeking to promote the empowerment of Somali women and girls across the state. [54]

In August 2010, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported that Somali entrepreneurs had helped reinvigorate downtown Lewiston by opening dozens of shops in previously closed storefronts. Amicable relations were also reported by the local merchants of French-Canadian descent and the Somali storekeepers. [55]

Bantus Edit

Due to the civil war in Somalia, the United States government classified the Somali Bantu (an ethnic minority group in the country) as a priority, and began preparations to resettle an estimated 12,000 Bantu refugees in select cities throughout the U.S. [56] Most of the early arrivals in the United States settled in Clarkston, Georgia, a city adjacent to Atlanta. However, they were mostly assigned to low rent, poverty-stricken inner city areas, so many began to look to resettle elsewhere in the US. [52] After 2005, many Bantus were resettled in Maine by aid agencies. [52] Catholic Charities Maine is the refugee resettlement agency that provides the bulk of the services for the Bantus' resettlement. [57]

The state's Bantu community is served by the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston/Auburn Maine (SBCMALA), which focuses on housing, employment, literacy and education, health and safety matters. [56]

Largely because of Irish and French-Canadian immigration, 40% of Maine's population was Catholic by 1900 the Catholic Church ran its own school system in the cities, where almost all Catholics lived. This demographic and its resulting social and political ramifications led to a backlash in the 1920s, as the Ku Klux Klan formed cells in a number of Maine towns. [58]

The immigrant population was largely responsible for the steady growth of the Democratic Party, however, which gave Maine a true two-party system in the years after World War II. The election in 1954 of Governor Edmund Muskie, a Catholic Polish American tailor's son from the mill-town of Rumford, was a major watershed. The governor from 2003 to 2011, John Baldacci, is of Italian American and Arab American ancestry from Bangor.

Summer residents Edit

Maine is a natural beauty, cool summers and proximity to the large East Coast cities made it a major tourist destination as early as the 1850s. The visitors enjoyed the local handicrafts the most successful was carving out a mythical image of Maine as a bucolic rustic haven from modern urban woes. The mythical image, elaborately polished for 150 years, attracts tourist dollars to an economically depressed state. [59] Summer resorts such as Bar Harbor, Sorrento, and Islesboro sprung up along the coast, and soon urbanites were building houses—ranging from mansions to shacks, but all called "cottages"—in what had formerly been shipbuilding and fishing villages. Maine's seasonal residents transformed the economy of the seacoast and to some extent its culture, especially when some began staying all year round. [60]

The Bush family and their compound in Kennebunkport are a notable example of this demographic. The Rockefeller family were conspicuous members of the summer community at Bar Harbor. Summer residents who were painters and writers began to define the state's image through their work.

By the middle of the twentieth century, the textile industry was establishing itself more profitably in the American South, and some Maine cities began to de-industrialize as wages rose above those of the South. [61] In 1937, the Lewiston-Auburn Shoe Strike involved 4,000 to 5,000 textile workers on strike in Lewiston and Auburn. It was one of the largest labor disputes state history. [62] Shipbuilding also ceased in all but a few places, notably Bath and its successful Bath Iron Works, which became a notable producer of naval vessels during the Second World War and after. In recent years, however, even Maine's most traditional industries have been threatened forest conservation efforts have diminished logging and restrictions on fisheries have likewise exerted considerable pressure along the coast. The last "heavy industry" in Maine, pulp and paper began to withdraw in the late 20th century, leaving the future of the Maine Woods an open question.

In response, the state attempted to buttress retailing and service industries, especially those linked to tourism. The label Vacationland was added to license plates in the 1960s. More recent tax incentives have encouraged outlet shopping centers such as the cluster at Freeport. Increasing numbers of visitors began to enjoy Maine's vast tracts of relatively unspoiled wilderness, mountains, and expansive coastline. State and national parks in Maine also became loci of middle-class tourism, especially Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.

The growth of Portland and areas of southern Maine and the retraction of job opportunities (and population) in the northern and eastern areas of the state led in the 1990s to discussion of "two Maines", with potentially different interests. Portland and certain coastal towns aside, Maine remains the poorest state in the Northeast. By some accounts, adjusting for its high taxes and living costs, Maine has been since at least the 1970s the poorest state in the United States. [63] The notion that Maine is indeed the poorest state in the US is supported by its exceptionally high levels of welfare dependence [64] over the past half century. [65]


History of Castine - History

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 17, 2021
Small to read from Wheeler’s unpublished work


Join Castine resident and author Don Small for an exclusive reading of the unpublished works of George Augustus Wheeler, the author of History of Castine: The Battle Line of Four Nations and the great-great-grandfather of Don’s wife Shelley Bartlett Small.

The event will be via Zoom and at the Hutchins Education Center on the Wilson Museum campus on Wednesday, June 23, at 2 p.m., according to a press release.

Through a selection of stories read by Small, get a glimpse into Wheeler’s life as a medical doctor and resident of Castine in the period 1870 to 1923. Attendees will have fun imagining a Castine of days gone by as they hear about Wheeler’s move from Old Town with his family, his view of the town, descriptions of several citizens—some of whom will be familiar names to those acquainted with the history of Castine, and several stories of unusual happenings.

The unpublished hand-written papers were from the Bartlett House on Perkins Street, the home of Louise Wheeler Bartlett (daughter of Dr. Wheeler and great-grandmother to Shelley).

Copies of the 1923 History of Castine: The Battle Line of Four Nations can be found in the Museum Store online and in person.


Castine was platted in 1832 and replatted in the following year. Its location was chosen because it lay at the intersection of the road between Greenville and Eaton with the road between the communities of Miami County, Ohio and New Garden, Indiana. [7] For its first few decades, the village (then known as "New Castine") grew and prospered, but the building of the Little Miami Railroad through West Manchester, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the south, retarded Castine's progress. Revival came with the construction of the Cincinnati Northern Railroad in 1894. [7] : 584

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.08 square miles (0.21 km 2 ), all land. [9]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870177
1880127 −28.2%
1910142
1920146 2.8%
193091 −37.7%
1940124 36.3%
1950146 17.7%
1960169 15.8%
1970150 −11.2%
1980147 −2.0%
1990163 10.9%
2000129 −20.9%
2010130 0.8%
2019 (est.)135 [4] 3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census [10]

2010 census Edit

As of the census [3] of 2010, there were 130 people, 54 households, and 36 families living in the village. The population density was 1,625.0 inhabitants per square mile (627.4/km 2 ). There were 59 housing units at an average density of 737.5 per square mile (284.8/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the village was 97.7% White, 0.8% Native American, 0.8% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races.

There were 54 households, of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.3% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.97.

The median age in the village was 35.5 years. 23.8% of residents were under the age of 18 5.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24 31.6% were from 25 to 44 23.1% were from 45 to 64 and 16.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 49.2% male and 50.8% female.

2000 census Edit

As of the census [5] of 2000, there were 129 people, 43 households, and 39 families living in the village. The population density was 1,700.1 people per square mile (622.6/km 2 ). There were 46 housing units at an average density of 606.2 per square mile (222.0/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the village was 98.45% White, 0.78% African American, and 0.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.55% of the population.

There were 43 households, out of which 55.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 79.1% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 7.0% were non-families. 7.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the village, the population was spread out, with 33.3% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 36.4% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 118.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.8 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $41,250, and the median income for a family was $42,813. Males had a median income of $35,313 versus $24,792 for females. The per capita income for the village was $11,950. There were 7.7% of families and 7.0% of the population living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and none of those over 64.


History of Castine - History

In the winter of 1613 (that is, before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth MA), Sieur Claude de Turgis de la Tour founded a small trading post here among the Tarrantine Indians.

The struggle for North America's forest, natural, and maritime wealth was already beginning, and the French Fort Pentagoët founded by Turgis de la Tour would be conquered by the English in 1628.

Treaty returned Pentagoët to France in 1635, and during the tumultuous period until 1676, the place changed hands many times. The British took it and called it Penobscot Fort the French retook it and built the formidable Fort St-Pierre.

At one time the village was the capital of all French Acadia (the lands in what is now Atlantic Canada).

Even the Dutch coveted the fort, and ruled here from 1674 to 1676.

In the latter year Baron de Saint-Castin recaptured the town for France, and opened a trading station. Fortifications were strengthened, and despite raids by the British, the family of Baron de Saint-Castin ruled over the town (now called Bagaduce) even after the wealthy baron himself returned to France, in 1703.

By 1760, however, the fate of French North America was sealed, and Castin's Fort, or Bagaduce, was to be held by the British after that year.

English settlers brought new life to Bagaduce during the 1760s, and dissatisfaction boiled in the English colonies at this period. Some of the townspeople were loyal to the king, others sympathized—actively or passively—with the American revolutionaries.

In 1779 a British naval force came from Nova Scotia, intent on making the town safe for British Loyalists (and thereby influencing the negotiations that would determine the fledgling United States' northern border). The British built Fort George to defend the town.

The challenge to American sovereignty was taken up by the General Court (legislature) of Massachusetts, which governed the territory at the time, and the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition was outfitted and launched at an ultimate cost of $8 million.

Bad luck and bad commanding resulted in the destruction of most of the American force, almost bankrupting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Fort George was enlarged and strengthened over the years, and the town thrived until the border between the US and Canada was determined.

Unhappily for residents of Bagaduce, the boundary was to be the St Stephen River (the present boundary), and not the Penobscot. Those loyal to the British Crown put their houses on boats and sailed them to sites along the coast of what is today New Brunswick at St. Andrews.

Some of the houses thus moved still stand in St Andrews, and residents point to them proudly.

In 1796 the name of Bagaduce was changed to Castine, and although it was occupied by British forces during the War of 1812, it never again saw much military action.


History of Castine - History

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 31, 2014
Far below the earth’s crust
The history of Maine granite runs deep


Crotch Island, off Stonington, was the site of quarry mining in the 1800s. Active mining continued into the 1960s, then declined for a brief period but is actively quarried today. This aerial view was taken in 2012.

The many rooms, walls and arches of Fort Knox, in Bucksport, were constructed of Maine granite in 1832. Why? Not just because the site was close to coastal quarries Maine granite was known across the U.S. and Europe for its strength, size and beauty, said Steve Haynes, Director of the Maine Granite Industry Historical Society on Mount Desert Island.

“It was a very important industry here because of the large granite plutons,” Haynes said.

Plutonic granite comes from crystallized magma cooled slowly deep below the earth surface. The further down from the earth’s crust and the slower it is cooled, the stronger the granite.

In the quarries developed along the coast of Maine, granite was found up to five miles deep. In Sullivan, the granite plutons are more than 420 million years old, Haynes said.

He explained the scope of Maine’s granite industry in a detailed talk at the Wilson Museum on July 16, describing each quarry founded on the Maine coastline: the kind and quantities of equipment used for mining, splitting and transporting the granite the varieties of granite found and the many buildings the granite was used to construct.

Granite was cut from below the earth’s crust in large sheets by quarrymen who came to Maine to share their expertise.

“Men from Scotland, Finland, Sweden…all came to America to perform the cutting of the sheet,” Haynes said. “These men believe they were building the pyramids of America.” Post offices, court houses, state houses and cathedrals are some of the buildings that were constructed from Maine granite in the 1800s.

Each quarry produced a different variety of granite, in color, grain and strength.

Granite from the North Jay, Maine, quarry was “the white granite of New England,” Haynes said, and used to build General Grant’s tomb, the Hahnemann Monument in Washington, D.C., and, closer to home, a cathedral in Lewiston.

Granite mined in Hallowell, prized for its softness that allowed easier carving, built the Gettysburg Monument.

Wharf Quarry on Vinalhaven produced a pinkish quarry in huge sheets cut for columns from 50 to 72 feet long for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. “There’s no other quarry in the U.S. that would offer 72-foot pieces,” Haynes said. A coarse, strong granite formed from larger crystals deep in the earth and cooled slowly, “the stone cutters love this granite because it carves so nicely.”

Off Stonington, the quarry on Crotch Island produced a lavender-tinged granite that polished well. The quarry opened in 1872, with quarrymen loading the granite sheets onto the decks of schooners for transport. “These men were very brave,” jumping from rock to rock on deck, Haynes said. Crotch Island granite was used in so many buildings, “I could go on for days with the contracts out of Stonington,” Haynes said.

Granite from Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island, mined for the Standard Granite Company, was considered the “best monument granite in the U.S.,” Haynes said. The same granite rock is found in Cadillac Mountain, formed by granite pushed deep beneath the earth by volcanic force.

The Maine granite industry peaked around 1900, but in 1920, a new market opened, supplying street “pavers,” blocks of granite exported to New York, New Orleans and Philadelphia to pave their streets. Each city required a slightly different size paving stone depending on the size of their horses, mules, oxen and carts.

At its strongest, one square inch of granite can resist a crushing strength of 32,635 pounds. In comparison, iron’s crushing strength is 3,000 pounds per square inch.

The quarrymen used skill and specialized tools to split the granite without shattering it, whether for a one-foot paver or a 50-foot column. In Hallowell, for example, the list of quarry equipment ranged from 18 derricks and two traveling cranes to 14 pneumatic plug drills and pneumatic hand drills.

“These men were experts,” Haynes said.

Today, the stone dust unearthed by granite quarrying in the 19th century fertilizes plant life around the quarry sites, but the buildings live on around the world.


Castine Historic District

The Castine Historic District encompasses the entire southern tip of the peninsula on which the town of Castine, Maine is located. Covering about 1,800 acres (730 ha), this area was a center of colonial conflicts dating to the early 17th century, and was the site of military action during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Bypassed by the railroads, it has retained a village feel reminiscent of the early 19th century. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. [1]

Castine is located at the mouth of the Bagaduce River, where it empties into Penobscot Bay, in the center of coastal Maine. This area, first known as "Pentagoet" and "Majabigwaduce", was the site of a French trading post established in the early 17th century. Its presence was disputed by English colonists, and it was seized by the Plymouth Colony around 1630. It changed hands a number of times in the 17th century, falling firmly under French control by the 1670s under the leadership of Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin, for whom the town is named. After the English capture of Castin's son in 1725, the French abandoned the settlement, and it was resettled by British colonists from the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1760. [2]

In the American Revolutionary War Castine became the scene of further conflict. The peninsula was seized and fortified by British forces in 1779, and Massachusetts raised a military force in response to dispute the occupation. This led to the disastrous Penobscot Expedition, which resulted in the destruction of the entire Massachusetts fleet, including the scuttling of ships in the Castine area. British forces again occupied Castine in 1814, during the War of 1812. [2]

After the War of 1812, Castine's maritime economy flourished, resulting in the construction of a number of fine Federal style buildings in the town. Due to its remote location with respect to land transportation, the town declined when railroads became a dominant form of transportation, and the sailing ship was replaced by steamers. Its economy was bolstered by the presence of a normal school, whose campus was taken over in 1942 by the Maine Maritime Academy. [2]

Architecturally, the community is dominated by Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival buildings, built before 1860. There are a small number of later Victorian summer houses. The remnants of British and American fortifications are also a significant presence in the community, as is the 1829 Dice Head Light at the southwestern tip of the peninsula. [2]


The Castine Historical Society continues to follow the state of Maine’s Covid guidelines. While our offices remain closed to visitors, staff are onsite working Monday-Friday. Please continue to check our 2021 Season Updates page, follow us on Facebook, or sign up for our e-blast communications to get up-to-date information on the 2021 season. Thank you for your understanding. In the meantime, learn more about Castine by taking our Castine History Virtual Tour.

The Penobscot Expedition, a little-known event in Revolutionary War history, took place from July 25 to August 15, 1779. That year the British were attracted to the Penobscot peninsula (Castine) for several reasons: as a possible Loyalist haven, as a source of timber for the King’s Navy, and as a strategic naval base and coastal trading post. Early in June they sent a small flotilla from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with approximately 750 troops to occupy the area and to build a fort, later named Fort George. Capt. Henry Mowat was in command of the naval vessels and Brig. Gen. Frances McLean the land forces. They arrived at the peninsula in mid-June.

Since Maine was a province of Massachusetts at that time, the occupation of Penobscot, and its potential as a British naval base, was of great concern to the Massachusetts General Assembly in Boston. In record time, an American fleet of 19 armed vessels and 24 transports, with more than 1,000 ill-prepared militia was assembled and sent to Penobscot Bay to retake the area. Commodore Dudley Saltonstall was commander of the naval forces, Brig. Gen. Solomon Lovell had command of the land forces, with Lt. Col. Paul Revere in command of the ordnance train. The fleet reached the head of Penobscot Bay on July 25.

For two weeks there were a few brief, intense forays between the land forces but nothing decisive. Saltonstall, with his superior naval strength, was reluctant to take any action against Mowat’s three-ship defense, which gave the British sufficient time to send for and receive reinforcements from New York.

On August 13 seven heavily armed British warships, under the command of Sir George Collier, sailed into Penobscot Bay where they faced Saltonstall’s fleet. Anticipating a sea battle, Lovell abandoned all his positions and began a retreat up the Penobscot River. On the morning of August 14, to the astonishment of both the American Lovell and Englishman Collier, Saltonstall, who had the guns of his ships bearing broadside on the advancing British, turned his ships about and fled up the river where his entire fleet of warships and transports were sunk or scuttled and burned by their own forces. The panic-stricken crews and troops, with most of their leaders, rushed to shore and into the forest where they made their way back to Boston.

History of the Exhibit

In 2004, the Castine Historical Society opened a professionally researched, designed and built exhibit about the events of a few weeks in Penobscot Bay during the American Revolution. The project was meticulously developed by volunteers Frank Hatch, Jim Stone, and Laurie Stone working with other volunteers and several contractors. The result was a multi-media installation complete with a mahogany paneled room evoking Commodore Saltonstall’s day cabin on the Continental frigate Warren.

The ambitious installation was funded by Frank Hatch in honor of his father, Francis W. Hatch, and receives continuing support from a bequest by Frank Hatch. Thousands of visitors have watched the documentary video, reacted with surprise at hearing about the role of Paul Revere, and studied the many levels of research in the touch-screen kiosks.

In 2014, CHS began exploring options for updating the exhibit and installed the revised display in 2016. The new design features maps and charts to connect the story to the landscape and invites visitors to read facsimile copies of documents created during the time the events occurred. Highlighting the local context and national significance of the story, the exhibit was built to encourage everyone to participate in the historical process, even to those who are not Revolutionary War history buffs.


History of Castine - History

The town of Rochefort, halfway down the Atlantic coast toward Spain had been building ships for the French Navy for more than a century. In 1778 she had been ordered to build a series of four identical 32-gun Frigates of new design: La Fee’, La Corageuse, La Concorde, and Hermione. Along with another group of four frigates to be built with somewhat similar design, they were noted for exceptional speed and maneuverability. Classed as light frigates, armed mostly with 12-pound cannon, they often took on the roles of our modern destroyers.

In May of 1779, this first Hermione had been launched, commissioned and was heading to sea on its first campaign less than a year after its keel had been laid. The captain of the Hermione was Louis Rene’ de LaTouche-Treville, native of Rochefort, who would remain at her helm until a year after the end of the war and become well regarded in his position.

The 6-month 1779 campaign in the Bay of Biscay and nearby ended well with the capture of a number of prizes. 1780 began with repairs and several upgrades to the ship, including the new technique of covering the ship’s bottom with copper sheathing, resulting in a speed increase of about 20%, making the Hermione one of the very fastest French Naval ships.

The Hermione-Lafayette Voyage to America, March 1780

The copper bottom was well suited for the next voyage, which was to safely transport the Marquis de Lafayette to America. Lafayette had just achieved the King’s approval for substantial military aid to be given to General Washington’s army. Needing to return to Washington with that secret message as quickly as possible, by the safest method, the Hermione was chosen for the task- and was ready. Quickly fitted-out for the comfort of the Marquis and his small entourage, the Hermione sailed for the USA on March 20th, 1780.

Sailing directly across the Atlantic instead of south to the Trade Winds route to avoid that crowded way, the Hermione made landfall in Massachusetts 38 days later on April 28th, 1780. Lafayette debarked safely in Boston and was soon riding south to Washington’s headquarters to deliver his secret message of French aid.

Thus the contribution of the Hermione to a watershed event in our Revolutionary War: the safe delivery of both Lafayette and his extraordinary message of French aid- that would transform the fighting ability of the Continental Army, bolster its forces with French troops and ships, and soon lead directly to the end of the war at Yorktown in October, 1781. The Hermione remained in America, battling the British Navy blockade and taking part in the French Naval force at Yorktown- spending nearly two years here before sailing back to France.

From that time, that first Hermione has been known in France as the Hermione-Lafayette, the Ship of Liberty the Ship of the Enlightenment—with all the symbolism that brought to a lasting French pride in their contribution to the American experiment with independence—and liberty.

The New Hermione-Lafayette Project, 1997-2014

In 1997, the keel was laid in Rochefort for what has since become a precise replica of the original Hermione Frigate that carried Lafayette to our shores in 1780. The ship was finished in August 2014, and on sea trials off the French Atlantic coast. In the winter and spring of 2015, it prepared for its long-term objective: a voyage to America in 2015 to commemorate the voyage of the original Hermione that returned Lafayette to the USA, bringing his secret message of substantial French aid for Washington’s destitute army.

The story of how that keel came to be laid in 1997 began in the 1970s, when Rochefort decided to restore much of its former glory as a royal shipyard that dated from 1666. The goal was to attract tourists and historians to its somewhat remote coastal location. The old dry-docks, rope walk (the elegant corderie building) and gardens were restored. In 1993, a small group of aficionados proposed to replicate the Hermione, Lafayette’s ship of Liberty—and build it in the same Rochefort yards where the first Hermione was built in 1779. But there was an obstacle: the plans for the original Hermione had been lost. But France was now on good terms with England, and the complete plans of an identical sister ship, the Concorde, had been measured and drawn after she was captured by the English Navy in the 1790s. These plans were on file at the Admiralty, and easily obtained for the new Hermione project.

After 17 years in the building, in the autumn of 2014 the replica Hermione—the completed ship, rigged and armed with all its cannon, departed Rochefort for the Atlantic and its sea trials. Unlike its forbear, which took less than a year from keel to sea-going, the 17-year replica project had to progress no faster than mostly private funding would permit, with only a small number of volunteer shipwrights instead of the thousands that once swarmed the Rochefort yards and were paid from the King’s coffers. But the work was done with craft and respect, much of it employing a revival of 18th century talents and techniques, taking the time to be done very well.

The New Hermione-Lafayette: Coming to America, 2015

The pace of construction of the Hermione from 1997 was easily followed on the internet for many years. But it was not until the summer of 2012, when it was clear that the entire hull of the ship was finished and was being launched, that many far from Rochefort were suddenly made aware that the ship might soon sail on its original objective—the voyage to America, in commemoration of Lafayette’s famous crossing in 1780. Indeed, an initial route was published, with ten ports-of-call, from Yorktown to Boston, then at Halifax, Nova Scotia on the way home. At first 2014, then 2015 was posted to be the year of the voyage.

The ship was coming, and now it was America’s task to prepare for her. A new organization, The Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America (FOH-LA ) was formed in New York, headed by Mr. Miles Young, CEO of Ogilvy&Mather, a world-wide advertising firm. It had the responsibility for both managing and gathering the funding and support for the entire voyage in American waters. Each of the selected ports-of-call were responsible for organizing their own welcome, and coordinating with the FOH-LA. With the publication of the route and the planned stops for the ship, a few people in Castine with knowledge of its history saw an opportunity, and the process of bringing her to Castine began.


Watch the video: HOME: The Story of Maine The Frontier Wars (August 2022).