GEORGE MAGOON, DOWN EAST DEBTOR
To secure my grocery waggon note extra to extend to June 1, 1894, my note now on collection at Rash Avrill Post office, I sell and deliver to L. B. Hodgkins one 2-year-old heifer native color red I raised and increase, one steer color red native I raised, two calves native breed, both bull calves color red I raised star in head of both. George Magoon
Thanks to Edward “Sandy” Ives, George Magoon is the most widely known person in the history of Crawford. Ives recently retired as professor of folklore, chairman of the anthropology department, and director of Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History. Sandy is an avid historian and a long time member of A-CHS. In 1988 his wonderful book George Magoon and the Down East Game War was published. The Baxter Society recently listed this book as one of the 100 all time enduring Maine books. We will look at George Magoon through Sandy’s eyes.
One Edward Magoon from in around Baileyville drifted into Crawford and took up with Susan Dewey, middle child of widow Charlotte Dewey (who recently had married William Graham). Ives doubts that Susan and Edward ever married, no record of it has been found, and she continued to use her Dewey name. When in 1851 she gave birth to a son, she gave him the name George F. Magoon.
At nineteen he purchased a 50-acre farm near Love’s Corner for $90.00. The following year on May 30 a tornado “unroofed” his barn. Daniel Ford and Justin Dwelley both had their barns blown down. George stuck to the farming, but in 1870 had to borrow $100.00 from his Uncle Jim Dewey who had settled in East Machias. Two years later, after his mother died, he mortgaged the Graham farm to his Uncle Jim to secure the loan. Times were tough! But times were tough for all subsistence farmers in interior Washington County. George was an accepted member of his community and in 1872 a charter officer in the Star of Light Lodge of the International Order of Good Templars, a temperance organization.
Family tradition has George and Lorenzo Seavey going to California sometime in the mid-70s. They traveled by sailing vessel around the horn, panned gold, sewed their nuggets into their vests and returned in the same manner. (Note that it was possible at this time to cross the continent in about ten days by rail car. This was expensive, and there wasn’t any chance for passengers to work to pay for their passage.) It is more likely that he spent some of his time on the West Coast working at the Pope and Talbot Mill at Port Gamble Washington. Regardless of his activity on the West Coast, George did not pay off his debts when he returned home.
George married Etta Love, eldest daughter of Jonathan Love who lived next door. In 1882, his first Child, Bertha, was born, and he purchased the farm of Daniel and Sarah (Dewey) Ford. This was a good farm, 180 acres in size with 120 in cultivation. There was a house, a new barn, a horse, a pair of oxen, and a flock of sheep. George paid for the farm by selling the Graham farm to his Uncle Jim, plus incurring a heavy mortgage.
Farming would feed the family, but selling apples in Machias did not provide enough cash for those things he couldn’t grow. George, like many of the neighborhood men spent the winters working in the woods. In 1887, he joined with his Uncle Jim to cut on Township 19. Dewey, Magoon & Co. had a good season, but George seemed to always be in debt.
To George Magoon of Crawford in said County of Washington:
Whereas George Magoon on the 18th day of June 1897 mortgaged to Lemuel B. Hodgkins of Farmington in the County of Franklin one black wagon, one red and white cow twelve years old, one red cow three years old, one dark red mare and increase said Magoon had of James Dewey of East Machias, to secure the payment of eighty dollars, which mortgage is recorded in the mortgage records of Town of Crawford, book 3, page 37, and whereas the conditions of the mortgage have been broken, it is my intention to foreclose said mortgage for breach of contract. Lemuel B. Hodgkins
This is the final transaction in this Crawford book of business between George and L. M. Hodgkins. Now we turn to Sandy Ives where on page 115 he tells the rest of the story. Hodgkins did come to Crawford to collect and he and George came to blows. Hodgkins went to the courts and in civil court Hodgkins got only “one cent debt or damage” and “one red mare, one red cow, and part of that wagon.” George was defended by William B. Pattangall of Pembroke, well known lawyer, eventually Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court, and author of Meddybemps Letters, another of those Baxter Society all time enduring Maine books.
$31.00 Machias, Maine - July 30, 1900
For value received, I hereby sell and convey to G. W. Fisher my buckboard #4.
George Magoon, Crawford, Maine
Naturally, after his time in jail, George stopped doing business with Hodgkins. Here George has borrowed $31.00 from Fisher. In this contract, he again “may in the possession of said property until default in any payment.”
For value received I sell and convey to E. A. Drew of East Machias the following: one two-seated grocery wagon painted dark, one brindle cow, one red and white cow, and increase, and promise to pay one hundred twenty-five dollars with interest at 6 per cent.
Frank Magoon George Magoon
For value received I sell and convey to George Magoon one five year old mair colt same I raised color dark red and one cow three years old color red and promise to pay …said George Magoon one hundred thirty dollars … with interest at 6 percent. Edwin Hatt
$313.00 ~ East Machias Nov. 16, 1906
For value received I sell and convey to E. A. Drew of East Machias the following described property: one horse color bay2 white hind feet known as the Western horse, one set of double team harnesses brass mounted all complete above purchased from E. A. Drew, one black mare known as the Albert Ingersoll mare same I had of James Dewey, one 2-horse cart painted blue same I had of James Dewey.
Magoon Winfield Fenlason witness: T. J. Gillespie
$800.42 -- East Machias June 12, 1907
… the following: one rubber-tired top buggy with lamps and mud fenders painted dark, one single horse cart painted blue, one set double team harnesses all complete above goods I purchased of E. A. Drew, and one cow color black, one cow color red, both I raised, one black mare known as the James Dewey mare to secure $800.42 in notes
$225.00 ~~~~~ Machias Maine October 9, 1907
For value received I hereby sell and convey to Mary E. Foss of Machias the following property to wit: one brown horse and promise to pay to said Mary E. Foss two hundred twenty-five dollars as follows: One hundred twelve dollars and one half to be paid the first day of May, and one hundred twelve dollars and one half to be paid the first day of November at interest of 6 percent until all paid. George Magoon Ralph McKeown witness: Grace Hatt
Crawford, Maine October 1, 1915
For a valuable consideration to me paid by George Magoon I hereby assign to him all clames and demands which I now have and all which at any time between this date here of and the first of March 1916 I may and shall have against Orrin Hunnewell for all sums of money due and to become due to me as wages for personal service and heareto for performed and to be performed by me during that period and for hay which Orin Hunnewell now ows me for, with full power and authority to collect the same. This assignment is given for security for the payment of an amount amounting to one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125.00) I now owe said assignee.
Frank Magoon witness: Lula M Magoon.
The material here is mostly the results of research done by Norma (Parlin) Reynolds of Machias. This family has not been easy to trace and we welcome additions or corrections.
The 1850 census of Baileyville lists in the
Magoon family Ephraim 52, Sarah 55, Ephraim 22, Edward 18,
Josiah 16, Sarah A. 14, Stephen 12, and Martin 10. It was the Edward
who drifted from Baileyville to Crawford and took up with Susan
James and Charlotte (Holland)(Vance) Dewey had three children, probably all born in Baring.
The 1850 Crawford census under Graham lists William 60, Charlotte 55, Sarah A. 17, Susanna 16, James 14, James Brown 22 laborer, and John Burleigh 60 joiner. The 1860 census lists Charlotte 62, Susanna Brown 25, George F. Brown 7, and Henry W. Brown 5. That 7 year-old George is our George Magoon who was more likely 8 or 9 years old. Charlotte was 75 in the 1870 census and living with her was 9 year-old Frances Low.
The 1870 census does not list George Magoon, nor does the 1880 census. His half brother Henry Brown is listed in 1880 in Crawford as a farmer. Where was George? This may be the time he was out west panning gold or working in the mills.
THE FAMILY OF GEORGE F. AND ETTA (LOVE) MAGOON
THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
Patsy Jordan of Franklin provided background for this section. Other information came from the Crawford Vital Records.
In the 1920 census we find George, a widower, living alone at age sixty-nine.