All presentations, unless otherwise indicated, begin at 6:30 PM in the Topsham Public Library. No presentations are offered in July, August or December.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019: THE HARRIETT BEECHER STOWE HOUSE, BRUNSWICK, MAINE
Harriett Beecher Stowe House, in which “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was written, Brunswick, Maine
Professor Chakkalakal of Bowdoin College will speak on the local and literary history of the Stowe House in Brunswick. The house’s history begins in 1850 and concludes with its renovation that was completed in 2016. Her talk will highlight the function of literary houses in preserving history and disseminating literature to wide public.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019: Early maps of Topsham and Brunswick
Tuesday, April 9, 2019: TBD
Tuesday, May 14, 2019: TBD
Tuesday, June 11, 2019: TBD
Tuesday, February 14, 2017: BLACK HISTORY AT OUR DOORSTEP – THE ABYSSINIAN MEETING HOUSE
Representatives from the Abyssinian Meeting House will be sharing the fascinating and important place this historic gem has in the Underground Railway movement. Built in 1828 by free blacks, the Meeting House became a cultural center of the Portland community and served as a focal point for the abolition of slavery. Restoration of this historic landmark (on the National Registry of Historic Places) began in 1997 and continues to this day.
Did the Abyssinian community influence the Underground Railway movement in our Topsham/Brunswick area, and, if so, how? What is the restoration project all about and how can we support it? Come join us on the 14th for a riveting presentation, discussion and answers!
Tuesday, March 14, 2017: DUCK HUNTING ON MERRYMEETING BAY
POSTPONED UNTIL TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017
Tuesday, April 11, 2017: THE 5TH MAINE – A CIVIL WAR TALK
Curtis Mildner, Civil War amateur Civil War historian and Trustee of the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum on Peaks Island will speak on April 11. His entertaining presentation, “Amazing Stories of the Fifth Maine” will describe the experiences of seven soldiers of the Fifth Maine Volunteer Regiment. This includes the tragic story of a Maine farm boy, a surgeon captured by the Confederates, a soldier only known by a personal ad in a newspaper, an African American member of the regiment, an Irish immigrant who served in both the Federal and Confederate armies, an ordinary soldier revered by his comrades and promoted, and an officer who met his end just a few miles from where his grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017: THE SHIPYARDS OF BATH
Frederic B. Hill will be telling us about the colorful local history of the Bath shipyards with emphasis on a prominent Topsham resident, Wildes Walker. Wildes Walker is the scoundrel who played a major role in the shipyard’s downfall and the subject of Mr. Hill’s book (Copies of the books will be available for sale after the presentation).
Amazon.com says about the book:
“Brothers William Donnell Crooker and Charles Crooker were among the most prominent mid-nineteenth-century shipbuilders in Bath, Maine, itself one of the most prominent shipbuilding cities in the world during that time. This colorful history of the Crookers’ company by the great-great grandson of William Donnell provides a thorough overview of a family, its contributions to shipbuilding, and the historic sweep of shipbuilding in the area, as well as a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in Maine during this time. Today, a small portion of Maine’s twenty-first-century shipbuilder, Bath Iron Works, occupies land that was once the Crooker yard.”
Tuesday, June 13, 2017: THE ULSTER SCOTS IN BOWDOINHAM – AN ARCHEOLOGICAL DIG
Brad McFadden will be sharing the excitement of the archeological dig now taking place on the Bowdoinham property of his 10th great-grandfather. That Ulster Scot pioneer and his descendants have been living there since 1718! Brad’s presentation will be enhanced with photos and artifacts. A preview of the Ulster Scots symposium scheduled for August 14-16, 2018 and marking the 300th anniversary will also be shared.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 6:30 – 7:30 PM: MERRYMEETING PARK
This image courtesy of the Pejepscot Historical Society. From the Charles Gamache Collection. 1989.100.3
Merrymeeting Park of Brunswick was one of a handful of historic trolley parks in Maine. A short video produced by Mark Ireland of MI Media will kick off the evening. It recounts the fascinating history of the park which graced the shores of Merrymeeting Bay from 1898-1907. Vaudeville acts, a zoo, a dance pavilion, diving horses and a huge casino/lodge were among the attractions that were free (for the cost of a trolley fare). The video also affectionately profiles some trolley park aficionados who have worked tirelessly to keep these stories alive.
“Merrymeeting Park” is an excerpt, a sneak-peak from an upcoming 4-part film series on the history of Merrymeeting Bay, produced by MI Media. The series is slated for broadcast on Maine Public and will be screened in local venues as each installment is released.
Mark and Chris Gutscher (the park’s local historian) will be on hand for questions after the screening.
(additional info on the park: http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/history/mmpark/)
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:30 – 7:45 PM: DUCK HUNTING ON MERRYMEETING BAY
For nearly a century, Merrymeeting Bay has been a favorite game area for duck hunters. While declining populations of birds have reduced the interest in their hunting, many local gamers still appreciate an early October morn in the mist of the Bay.
Frank Burroughs will lead a panel of local sportsmen to talk about hunting on the Bay, yesteryear and today. All are cordially invited to attend. Mr. Burroughs has been an avid outdoorsman since growing up in South Carolina, and for many years has spoken and written about the Bay, its beauty, its history and its ecological importance. As author of “Confluence: Merrymeeting Bay” (along with photographer Heather Perry), Franklin is a revered spokesperson for the interests of the Bay.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6:30 – 7:45 PM: FOUR GENERATIONS OF TOPSHAM FARMERS – THE RACKLEY FAMILY
Harry and Winfred Rackley – Circa 1922
The November meeting of the Topsham Historical Society will feature the Rackley family. Stephen Rackley moved to Topsham in 1832 and was the first of four generations of dairy farmers. The original farm house still stands along US 201.
The lives and times in which they lived will broaden the appreciation of what makes Topsham the town it now is. Come early to see a gallery of related photos on display at the Topsham Library.
No meeting in December. See you on Tuesday, January 9!
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: 130 YEARS OF COLLECTING AT THE PEJEPSCOT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
From Canoe to Cupola: 130 Years of Collecting at Pejepscot Historical Society
Started by a group of 10 Brunswick town fathers on January 10, 1888 to serve Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, the Pejepscot Historical Society was one of the first local historical societies established in Maine. In this slideshow, Executive Director Larissa Vigue Picard provides a sneak peek at the society’s upcoming “130 Years of Collecting” exhibit that will include items and stories from every decade PHS has been in operation. She’ll pay special attention to PHS’s 18th century Wabanaki birch bark canoe, given to the society in 1889. The canoe was carbon dated and conserved in 2017, and is now believed to be the oldest surviving birch bark canoe anywhere.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 6:30 to 7:45 PM: HOME WITH HISTORY – RESTORING YOUR HISTORIC HOUSE
A before and after view!
Architectural Historian Scott Hanson will give us a glimpse into his nearly completed book on restoring historic homes, tentatively titled Restoring Your Historic Home, A Comprehensive Guide. It will be published later in 2018 by Tilbury Publishing with national distribution by W.W. Norton.
Drawing on more than 30 years’ experience in the historic preservation field, Hanson has written a book full of practical advice and well-illustrated examples of appropriate approaches to preserving the historic character of homes while making them livable for 21st century lives. Topics covered include kitchen and bath design, structural repairs, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, plaster repair, floors, windows, doors, wood trim and siding, roofing, painting and more.
Scott Hanson is Director of Preservation Consulting Services for Sutherland Conservation & Consulting in Augusta and was formerly Preservation Planner for the City of Portland. He has served as vice-chair of the Topsham Historic District Commission and is restoring his own home, Whitten House, in Topsham.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: HISTORY OF THE CONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
ALERT: NO MEETING ON TUESDAY, MARCH 13 DUE TO THE SNOW STORM.
Program will be rescheduled to October 9, 2018
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: IN SEARCH OF THE MERRYMEETING BAY PIONEERS
In the 17th century a community of English settlers lived and worked around Merrymeeting Bay until 1675, when they were either killed or driven away at the outbreak of King Philip’s War. Most of the surviving pioneers never returned, and the locations of most of their homes, farms, and businesses have been lost over time.
Our knowledge of this phase of Maine’s history is far from complete, but a growing number of local community members believe that the Merrymeeting Bay Pioneers Project will add many new pages to the history books.
Dr. Bruce Bourque, of the Maine State Museum, will provide a short historical sketch of this fascinating period and explain how the project plans to achieve its research, education, and public outreach goals. One of the project’s key research objectives is to rediscover and systematically study the lost sites from this period.
Of particular interest is the project’s application of high-tech remote-sensing technologies, such as high-resolution airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), to help rediscover traces of these lost sites in the landscape. Some examples will be shown to demonstrate how LiDAR imaging can be a valuable tool in this study and many other disciplines.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: THE GRANGES OF MAINE (WITH TOPSHAM SPOTLIGHTED)
Granges throughout Maine and in particular the 144-year-old Topsham Grange will be featured as the May topic. The Grange, or Patrons of Husbandry, was established following the Civil War to give voice to farmers. The movement came to Maine and Topsham in 1874, and Topsham Grange capped its success soon after that with over 300 members in the ranks. The local Grange Hall hosted school graduations and community events as well Grange meetings, entertainments, and suppers.
Colorful stories and historic pictures of the Grange in Maine and Topsham will be shared by Mert Ricker. Holding the meeting at the Topsham Grange Hall will be a great addition to the program. Historic hand-painted stage curtains will be on display along with a collection of Grange artifacts. The hall is handicap assessable with a ramp and chair lift. Come join us for an evening of remembering and exploring!
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: CIVIL WAR MONUMENTS THROUGHOUT MAINE
Soldier’s Monument, Kennebunk Maine – Post Card circa 1910
Maine State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. will present an illustrated lecture on Maine’s Civil War monuments to the Topsham Historical Society at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 12th at the Topsham Public Library. All Civil War enthusiasts are very welcome to come and participate.
Since 1864 Maine communities have created more than 170 Civil War monuments to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the 70,000 Mainers who fought in the war. These memorials are located throughout the state, from Kittery to Ashland and from Bethel to Eastport. Many featured standing soldiers sculpted in granite or bronze, while others are stone shafts on square pedestals. Inscriptions bear witness to the fundamental reason for the four-year conflict that divided the nation: the preservation of the union.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: TOPSHAM HISTORY 101
Summer Street and Barron’s Hill, Topsham, c. 1900
as viewed from Brunswick
375 years in 45 minutes. Maine Historian and our very own Scott Hanson will present a sweeping and fast-paced overview of the history of Topsham from early settlement to the 21st century. With images and words, Hanson will trace Topsham’s past and explain how the town came to be as it is today at this Topsham Historical Society meeting. All local history enthusiasts are welcome to come and join in the questions and answer period.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018 6:30 – 7:45 PM: HISTORY OF THE CONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The HISTORY OF THE CONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL program will be rescheduled to a later month. Stay tuned for the specific date.
Built in 1896, this stately two-story building watches over Elm Street. It was an elementary school until 1965 where countless Topsham kids went to school before going on to high school in Brunswick. The former John A. Cone School brings back a lot of memories, and you are encouraged to bring your own memories to the Topsham Historical Society at the October 9 presentation.
Dana Cary, also a graduate of John A. Cone, will tell of the building’s history for the first part of the presentation, and then we offer it up to you, to talk about your favorite memories. You are also invited to bring any memorabilia you may want to show as to go along with what The Topsham Historical Society provides.
All alumni are warmly invited to attend and to participate. If you didn’t go to grade school there, come on down anyway! It’s an ideal opportunity to find out more about this very special place.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018: HISTORIC FAMILY SERIES – THE GIVEN FAMILY
November is the month where the Topsham Historical Society uses its presentation to look at the history/genealogy wrapped around the roots of a long-time Topsham Family…The Givens. Originally called and spelled as the Giveens, the family first settled in Maine nearly 300 years ago. Descendent Steve Edmondson has been tracing his family roots, which intertwined over the generations with a few other long-time Topsham families.
What better way to welcome the upcoming holiday season than to look towards family? Please join us Tuesday, November 13th at 6:30, for this look back at the Given family which has called the town of Topsham home for centuries.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019: History of Shipbuilding in Topsham – postponed to a later date due to snow cancellation
One of the Last Topsham Ships Built circa 1855
Shipbuilding doesn’t seem like a profitable business for a village like Topsham in the early 19th century. However, our local shipbuilding industry was a surprisingly busy one, out of the many such enterprises along the shores of the Androscoggin. Building on what Bud Warren researched several years earlier, Dana Cary will be presenting this look at a homegrown local industry, of ships built from Maine timber by Topsham craftsmen and launched into the Androscoggin River.
Please join us for this Topsham Historical Society presentation on Tuesday, January 8th, 6:30 pm at the Topsham Library for the history of shipbuilding right here in town.
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