1905 PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS
BY MANLEY BACON TOWNSEND

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THE BACON FARM

In the mid 1830s Hiram Bacon staked a claim on 200 acres in Township #31, just east of the Machias River. He had traveled there on what we call the Airline Road. After cutting and burning the trees, he made holes under the stumps, filled them with corn, and let his pigs do the hard work. Hiram raised cattle. His brother Ebenezer came here before 1840, bought the 200 acres, and then Hiram left. The house and buildings were on the north side of the road, but fields were all around.

Bacon Farm before the house was burned by the wicked stepmother. From left the house, carriage house and the barn. See page one in first album to see farm in 1905.

Eben (1813), as Ebenezer was called, married Julia Elsemore (1828) on August 15, 1845and brought her to this wilderness farm. This pioneer couple raised a family of eight, five daughters and three sons; Laverna (June 29, 1846), Gelana (1848), Forreston (1853), Huaska (1855), Verona (1856), Mary (1857), Anna 1859) and Lindell (1862). Hard work kept the family fed, clothed and warm. However, as with most early settlers, it was hard to get cash to pay the mortgage. The (year of birth) noted above is calculated from the 1860 census, except for Lindell’s which came from his gravestone at the Guptill Cemetery in Wesley.


Carriage House, note the long cedar shingles

In 1857 a source of cash came Eben’s way. George Spratt got the contract to carry the mail between Bangor and Calais, a distance of 93 miles. Spratt apportioned 36 horses along the line so teams could be changed six times: Alexander and Wesley to the east, Eben Bacon’s place, and Beddington, Aurora, and Clifton to the west. Eben had to meet the stage with six fresh horses in harness, help unhook the horses that had hauled the stage about 14 miles, hook up the new team, then unharness the tired team, feed and water them so they would be ready for the next trip. Spratt’s Airline Stage ran until 1887.

Eben likely raised hay and grain for oxen and horses used by logging crews on the Machias watershed. He may also have raised potatoes, turnip and other food for the men who cut the logs.

The Machias Union of November 6, 1877 reported that Eben took seven barrels of butter to Portland. The market in Machias was poor. The butter weighed about 1950 pounds. The article continues, “Mr. Bacon makes a large quantity of butter, using the milk from 11 cows. His sons Hughey (Huaska) and Lindell help him with the milking, straining, churning, working, salting and packing. He uses 150 tin pans for setting milk and churns every fifth day. He uses a cellar for a milk room…. He scalds all the milk set for cream, raising it to a temperature of 160 degrees…. Mr. Bacon has lived on his farm since 1837. He is called “The Butter King of Washington County”. He expects to produce 2400 to 2500 pounds this season.”

The children left home between 1860 and 1880. Julia died about 1882 and Eben married Ella Hayes, a small woman who had ‘come through the woods’ from the Bangor area. A letter to daughter Laverna dated September 7, 1890 reports that Eben is not well and can’t stay in the old place this winter. Where was Ella? Eben went to New Britain, Connecticut to live with Laverna and her family. Eben died there between February and November 1891.

The farm stayed with the family but William C. Holway of Machias held the mortgage. In 1896 Frank Smith of Northfield was living there with his second wife and his children Sewall and Elizabeth. Frank was in the woods working and the children were sent out to pick raspberries. The house burned. Sewell said that his stepmother didn’t like living there so she burned it. The other buildings were not damaged.

Lindell, the youngest Bacon child, wrote his brother Hughey on May 5, 1931, “The old home in TWP 31, what a tragedy! The old barn is all that’s left and is tumbling down. I seldom go there.” In 2005, Ivan Hawkins and John Dudley searched around the farm site and found only part of a foundation, likely the barn. The field around the house was used for storage of construction equipment when the Airline was worked on about 40 years age. Today the place has grown to woods.

Laverna, the oldest child of Eben and Julia, was born on June 29, 1846. She was married Ebben McLaughlin on April 11, 1863. She then married Charles H. Townsend on August 21, 1867 and they immediately moved to New Britain, Connecticut. They had three children who all lived to adulthood. They were Manley Bacon Townsend, Harry Eben Townsend, and Alice J. Townsend. Charles H. Townsend was born at Sidney, Maine in 1823, a son of Stephen and Abigail Townsend. He died on September 30, 1895 at New Britain. Laverna died at New Britain on June 1, 1899.

Manley, our photographer, and his brother Harry were nearly forty years old when they visited the Bacon Farm in 1905. The following winter Manley created these albums, one a Christmas gift and the other for his brother Harry. Manley and Harry were both ministers, thus heavenly.


      

         Grandfather Eben Bacon (1890),                             The Heavenly Twins (1905),                      Manley Bacon Townsend (1904)

MANLEY BACON TOWNSEND’S LIFE - Manley grew up in New Britain with his family. We know his grandfather Eben Bacon came to live with the family in late 1890, but by this time Manley and Harry were off to college.

In January 1890 Manley was the editor of THE UNION, ‘the only newspaper exclusively for Junior Prohibitionists in the United States’. His brother Harry was the publisher.

Manley started studying electrical engineering later that year, but shortly after went to Canton, NY where he studied for the ministry. His brother Harry was there with him. Manley was ordained at the Universal Church in South Framingham, Massachusetts on September 20, 1892. Among the places he served were Dover, Maine (1896), Southbridge (1903), Randolph (1904), Attleboro (1920), and Medfield, Massachusetts and in Rochester, New Hampshire.

After the ministry, Manley’s great interest was nature. It appears that he considered the natural world to be God’s world. From the pulpit, he lectured for the salvation of mankind. Elsewhere he lectures the wonders of nature. We see this in the subjects of his photographs and in the wording of his captions.

He lectured during the early 20’s and these are samples of his topics; How the Birds Teach Religion, Children at Nature’s School, The Special Adaptations of Birds, Following Nature’s Trail, Friendly Visiting with Birds, Getting Back to Nature or How We Answer the Call of Nature, Our Native Birds and Their Protection.

It is stated that Manley ‘lectured much in the eastern states and in Canada’ and was strickened while giving his final lecture. He was recognized for his scientific knowledge and had been asked by McMillen to travel to the Arctic.

Manley also wrote about nature. In the August 23, 1923 issue of THE CHRISTIAN REGISTER he wrote an article entitled Children at Nature’s School. “Children are born lovers of natural wonders. It is not difficult to educate this instinct until the child perceives in blooming flower and tinkling brook direct evidence of the Creator. Let them live among flowers and birds, trees and all created things.”

Here is an example of Manley’s writing as found in How the Birds Teach Religion, also published in THE CHRISTIAN REGISTER. This is almost like poetry; it should be read aloud.

“We paused for a moment at the witching sunset hour, seating ourselves upon a great rock that had been deposited there ages ago by the great ice sheet, and there we were treated to the most exquisite duet in all nature. From the depths of the solitary forest came wafted to our ears a strain of enchanting melody, the clear flutelike notes of that incomparable vocalist, the hermit thrush. And then, from another quarter, there joined in the pure, sweet soprano of the white-throated sparrow, a strain of long-drawn-out liquid sweetness. We sat enchanted, lost in rapture, our spirits submerged for the time being, in the mystery and wonder of creation, the forest-clad mountains, the beauty of the earth, and the magic of the darkening sky…. An invisible hand had been laid in benediction upon our heads.”

Manley married Dora G. Longfellow of Machias on June 24, 1896. They had two children, Laverna (October 10, 1902) and Alice (ca. 1906). Manley died in 1926.

ACKNOLEDGMENTS: Lindell’s daughter Alice Bacon (1908 – 2004) kept these albums. Ivan Hawkins and Dale made them available to ACHS for copying. Carola Nickerson of the Wesley Historical Society loaned the Bacon Family binder that gave most of the material used in the text.