Probably Summer 1981

(Names and other words that could not be transcribed exactly are in italics. Unknown voices are referred to as “man” or “woman.” Comments, explanations, and additional names are in parentheses. There are several places where two or more people spoke at the same time and couldn’t be transcribed.)

Jane Dudley: This evening we are having our first annual family picnic of the summer of the Alexander-Crawford Historical Society. This is Jane Dudley speaking. We have many guests here tonight and we’re going around in a circle here and ask if several of them wouldn’t like to give us a little historical story about this area. We’ll start with you Milly. (Millie (Stanhope) Winchler)

Milly Winchler: About what?

Jane Dudley: Would you like to say, give a little historical story about Alexander or Crawford?

Milly Winchler: Well, the only thing I know about Alexander is - I’ve already talked about on our - -

Jane Dudley: Well, this is just a little quickie, a little quickie story.

Milly Winchler: Well, I was telling everybody that in 1923 I taught at the Four Corners School and I had 37 kids and all grades, all eight grades and one girl that was back for an extra grade because her family couldn’t afford to send her to the high school, so I tried to give her something extra. What do you suppose I could give her with already eight grades and five hours in a day? But, it really was a very happy and satisfying year and I taught 19 years afterwards and I never had a more satisfying year.

Jane Dudley: What year was it you taught here at the Four Corners?

Milly Winchler: 1923 and 1924.

Jane Dudley: 1923 and 1924. That’s great. We’re going to move on to Parks. Parks Carle, can you think of anything to say about Alexander from your family history or Crawford? Was your grandfather born here or what?

Parks Carle: I can tell you a story that comes from my neighbor.

Jane Dudley: All right.

Parks Carle: And, their name was Samuel Cottle, supposed to be the first settler of Alexander. He left Massachusetts and made plans with a man to work with him to come a few weeks later than he did and they arrived, Samuel and his wife arrived in Calais and he left her in Calais and he went in to Dwelley’s Lake. The man came later, Lawrence Spearin, and those two men built their log cabin in three weeks. And, then they went back and got the wife in Calais and she snowshoed in to the cabin with them with baby on her back.

Jane Dudley: Oh my!

Parkes Carle: And she stayed less than a month and she could stand it no longer so they took her back to Calais, left her in the same place she’d been before with friends there. And, the two men again go back to the cabin preparing to stay the winter alone, you know, the two. So the wife stayed three days in Calais and she could stand that no more, so she got her friend there to take her back to the cabin at the lake. She went back and stayed the rest of her life.

Jane Dudley: What year was that? Can you guess that?

Woman: That was Alexander, he said.

Parks Carle: It had to be around 1810.

Jane Dudley: This was Cottle.

Parks Carle: Cottle.

Jane Dudley: Yes, I know. We have the name. The name is very familiar.

Milly Winchler: What was the name of the lake then? What did they call it then? That’s where - that’s where my camp is and they call it, they call it Pleasant Lake now, but it was Stephenson’s Lake when I was teaching school over here.

Parks Carle: It must have had many names.

Milly Winchler: Yes, but there was a name - an earlier name. In the early years it had another name, and then it was Stephenson’s Lake and then it was Dwelly’s Lake and then it was Pleasant Lake so they’ve changed it, but I don’t remember what the original name was.

Jane Dudley: I think Jack said it was Stephenson’s. I think - I believe Jack says it’s Stephenson’s - the first one, the first family on the lake.

Milly Winchler: In 1923 it definitely was Stephenson’s Lake. (Several people talking at once - can’t be transcribed.)

Jane Dudley: We’re going to move on around the table. Frank Fenderson, can I get close to you? I don’t know.

Frank Fenderson: If my wife isn’t looking you can.

Woman: On the 1881, it’s called Harwood Lake.

Man: Is it?

Woman: Yes, Harwood, H-a-r-w-o-o-d.

Jane Dudley: Frank, what can you tell us?

Frank Fenderson: Well, I can tell you a story about Kaye Church’s father (Bill Cushing) coming into our office, I think, the summer of 1949, and he said, “Frank, tell me are you any relation to the Fendersons in Crawford?” And I said “How did you pronounce that name?” And, he said, “Fenderson.” And, I said, well, they spell it F-e-n-l-a-s-o-n. He said, “Yes, I often wondered about that.” He said, “But I was brought up by Sawyer Fenderson and Charlotte Ford, Lottie Ford,” and he said, “they always pronounced it Fenderson. Now,” he said, “I know the people up in Princeton, they call it Fenlason,” so he said, “I wondered how the name was.” So I told him the story of the Fenderson family. It started with a Wallace Finlayson, F-i-n-l-a-y-s-o-n who landed in Portsmouth, Maine, Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1712. And, the town records of Portsmouth, cross indexed the name under F-e-n-d-e-r-s-o-n, F-i-n-l-a-s-o-n, F-e-n-l-a-s-o-n, and four or five other ways of spelling the name. And I said he had five sons, he had one son, and that one son moved to Scarborough, Maine and all the records there cross indexed under various names, but he ended up adopting the spelling F-e-n-d-e-r-s-o-n. I’ve seen his burial stone and it’s spelled Fenderson. He had five sons. Four of them went by the name of Fenderson and one Wallace Fenderson moved to Machias and he was in the battle of the Margaretta and he adopted the spelling the town clerk wrote down in the record of Machias, F-e-n-l-a-s-o-n. And, he had many children, one of which was Nathaniel Fenlason who was one of the early settlers of Crawford, and he came up as a representative of the Pope and Talbot Lumber Industry and handled the interests of Pope and Talbot for the entire township of Crawford which they owned. And, at one time they offered this Sawyer Fenlason the township for $9000 but he felt it was too much money, and decided he didn’t want to buy it. So, that’s my story about the Fendersons and the Fenlasons.

Jane Dudley: That certainly is (few mumbled words.)

Frank Fenderson: Yes, he said that definitely Sawyer pronounced it Fenderson just as prominent as can be, and, he said “I never could figure out why because there’s no d in it.”

Woman: Have you got it turned off. (Sound of recorder being turned off)

Jane Dudley: Sammy Saunders, I know you don’t know much about Alexander, but you know an awful lot about Calais. How about a little story from Calais?

Sammy Saunders: Well, I always tell this story I guess to introduce myself. I’m Sammy Saunders, you all know and postmaster in Calais. Now, I don’t want that to confuse you any because I’m one of those fast vanishing breeds of postmasters that were called political appointees. I got the job more for who I knew than what I knew. I’ve gone along with that. But, I was born in Mud Lane, and of course Mud Lane is a little street that connects Irish Town and Indian Hill. And, my father and mother both come from Canada and they were hard-shell Baptist Republicans - and just a little spot of land he bought in Mud Lane - was right in the middle of Mud Lane and we were surrounded by Irish Catholic Democrats. I was born there, and the bad thing about it was, here I was a Baptist Republican born in a predominant Catholic Irish Democrat neighborhood and I was blessed with the features and the name of a Jew and so you see what a hard time I had coming up through Mud Lane. The Protestants wouldn’t play with me because their parents wouldn’t let them associate with the people from Irish Town. The Catholic children wouldn’t play with me because I was a different faith and there was only one Jewish family in the neighborhood and that was big rugged Annie Siborskey and every time she got close enough to me she’d knock the hell out of me. So, you see what a hard time, but the thing that really changed in Mud Lane for us was - in those days they had the old two holers, you know, and every house had a two holer and it meant that you had to make a trip oh, several yards out in the field or out the back end of your barn or someplace. My father, on this land that he built - had been a brick yard and back from the road about a hundred feet it dropped off into a sharp decline so two thirds of the year this was covered with water so it made it hard for us to have a privy out back because we’d either have to swim or skate to it. So, my father, when he built the house, he put out a lot of stilts from the street, you see, and he built the house - put the sills on and he built the house up on stilts which meant the farther back we went the higher the house got. So then we had no way of going to the outdoor privy, so what he did then was he laid out a few more stilts and boarded that up and covered it over and built a little lean to on it and he put it up to the house and inside this - you went out the kitchen door and you went into the shed and in corner of the shed he fenced off a little piece and he put a nice door on it and we had a - he had it painted white and we had two little ventilating windows that went across there for the ventilation and we had the beveled seats and we had covers on these beveled seats and we had even a rack for the old Sears and Roebuck catalog. You know what the Sears and Roebuck catalog was to an outhouse in those days. And, we also had a zip for the Sunkist. Now maybe you’ve all heard about the Sears and Roebuck catalog but how many have heard about Sunkist and what Sunkist was in those days oranges came in crates and they would be in little wrappers which would be marked Sunkist and whenever the store got in some oranges I would make the rounds and pick up these little papers and we called them Sunkists.

Woman: They were special.

Sammy Saunders: They were special for Sundays or company. And, every time that anybody would go to the - out to the indoor-outhouse that we had, my mother would say, “Now, don’t use the Sunkist.” And, I’d holler, “Don’t use the page with the bicycles on it.” It got to be quite a joke. Everybody from all around the neighborhood came to see our indoor-outhouse, and that’s how we got acquainted in the neighborhood. Mud Lane became my home then and they finally converted me to a Democrat. I never changed my religion but I did become a Democrat and that’s how I got my job in the Post Office by being a Democrat and being associated with Democrats.

Jane Dudley: Well I think that really talks. We have Kay Church here and she’s going to tell us something about her very early childhood.

Kay Church: It’s so early it starts before I was born. About two months before my birth was due, we lived twenty miles, just as we do now, from Calais, and my father, Bill Cushing, thought that it would be only wise for his wife to go - to move into town to await the birth. So, she stayed with my uncle, Lem Wallace, on Mait’s Corner, and his wife. Well, the time of the birth came and my dad seemed to have a sort of mental telepathy about some things, a premonitions and he snowshoed twenty miles that night and got there in time for me to be born.

Woman: Wasn’t that nice.

Kay Church: And, then we had to stay at Uncle Lem’s and Aunt Blanch’s until March. I was born in January - until March and there was still so much snow. It wasn’t plowed then as it is now on Route 9, so he had to go out with horse and sleigh with plenty of hay and all the usual paraphernalia that would make up a very soft bed for them and bring my mother and me home to the camp on Crawford Lake.

Jane Dudley: Oh my. Thank you, Kay. Rachel, (Rachel (Brown) Hamilton) do you have something?

Rachel: I don’t have that much about this area.

Jane Dudley: Ethel, (Ethel (McArthur) Wallace) could you tell us something?

Ethel: I don’t know of anything that would be interesting.

Jane Dudley: It’s all interesting.

Ethel: Oh, no.

Jane Dudley: Mary - Mary Williams? (Mary (Belmore) Williams) Lloyd, you going to tell us anything? How about you Margaret? Well, that’s too bad. I know we’re missing something awfully good here.

Frank Fenlason: Maybe Kay can tell us the story about her father being brought up by the Fenlasons. He told me that story the same day, too.

Kay Church: Maybe you - (Kay and Frank talking at the same time - can’t be transcribed) I’ll just let you tell.

Frank Fenlason: Well, he said something that he was more or less brought up by Sawyer and he wasn’t a Fenlason.

Kay Church: No.

Frank Fenlason: And that his father was a seaman.

Kay Church: Right.

Frank Fenlason: And his mother had died or something and - -

Kay Church: They both - -

Frank Fenlason: Both had died and that - he said the Fenlasons were always famous for being very kind to the - any children that needed help and he said Lottie Fenlason was just like a mother to me and so was Sawyer Fenlason and he said to me they’re my parents.

Kay Church: Yes. Yes, he did stress that. Of course he knew my fondness for Gram and Gramp Cushing. That was equally strong. Yes, his very fondest memories were of Lottie.

Jane Dudley: Well, thank you everyone. I’m now going to go into the cabin and bring out a recording of Jack being interviewed over the telephone by a Canadian radio station on the tree squeak of Pocomoonshine Lake.