MEMORIES OF
BERT VARNUM

A story in pictures and words about…


A MAN
Bert Varnum in his graduation picture -

Class of 1932 – Woodland High School…




HIS FAMILY

            Carrie and Earl Varnum - Bert’s parents - in 1939 - by the farm porch …






AND HIS FARM

Looking north –

neat buildings - open land – piles of wood – 1939…


MEMORIES OF BERT VARNUM

Although I have long wanted to do a newsletter about Bert and Hillside Farm, opportunity did not knock until Bert died. His family decided to have A-CHS receive funds from friends and relatives in Bert’s memory. We discussed ways the money could be used to not only benefit the society’s mission, but to keep memories of Bert. This newsletter is the result. Bert’s children have been helpful in every way in supplying images and information. They deserve our thanks and credit. Marion Dwelley Cousins and Vern Wentworth also gave important information. Any errors belong to the editor. JD



BERT’S FAMILY

This family history will help readers identify those pictured in this album. Some listed here are grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who were part of Bert’s life. Readers can tell which ones Bert (1914 – 2008) would have known. A-CHS files provided most of this information.

Bert’s paternal grandparents were Sumner Thompson Varnum (1846 – 1918) who was in the Civil War, Co A 9th Maine Regt. and his wife, Nancy L’Vesta Coffin (1847 – 1924). They lived in Princeton before moving to Alexander in 1892. Sumner and Nancy had three children.

(1) True (1870 – 1924) was a teacher. He married Eda Dwelley (1878 – 1954). They lived mostly in Alexander, although True lived and taught in or near Lee and in Princeton. True and Eda had two daughters, Muriel (1903 – 1994) and Lillian (1905 – 1979).

(2) Earl (1880 – 1951) married Mary Carolyn Dwelley (1880 – 1967). She was known as Carrie. Earl moved from Princeton with his parents and spent his adult years on this farm. Earl and Carrie had six children: Alice (1900 – 2000) married Coburn W. Williams (1901 – 1984). Alice was a teacher. They lived in Waite, Maine and were the parents of one child, Dale (born June 1, 1934). Vesta (1902 – 1989) married Matt Duffy (1894 – 1944) and lived in Brookline, Massachusetts. Vesta ran a beauty shop. Sumner (1904 - 1980) married Elizabeth O’Brien. He was a heating engineer and resided in Lakeville, Massachusetts. Adla (1906 – 1947) was a teacher. She taught in Alexander and later in Waite. Albert (1910 – 2002) married Margaret Stanhope (1912 – 2004) and lived in Calais and Presque Isle. Albert was a businessman. They had one child, Norman Kenneth (1931 – 2008) who spent many days at the farm. Bertrand Lindsay (1914 – 2008) was known as Bert. He married his high school sweetheart on February 14, 1945. He and Virginia A. Wallace (1915 – 1991) lived on Hillside Farm until moving to Woodland in 1968. Bert and Virginia had three children: Barbara (born September 15, 1946), Brian (born May 17, 1954) and Becky (born July 24, 1959).


(3) Lindsay (1887 – 1974) was married briefly to Marion Esther Lindsay. They had one child, Rex (1919 – 2004). Lindsay lived in this area and at Hillside Farm for a number of years. Later he moved to New Mexico and married Mildred.

Bert’s maternal grandparents were John Willard Dwelley (1835 – 1908) and his wife Alice Libby Berry (1846 – 1932). They resided at the foot of Dwelley’s Lake in Alexander. They were the parents of ten children.

  1. Sarah ‘Sade’ (born 1867) married Bert Conant and resided in California with their children

Robin and Jack.

  1. Oliver (1868 – 1921) married Bessie Neal (1874 – 1930) and lived in Alexander. Their eight

children were Evelyn (1892 – 1892), Hubert (1893 – 1966), Leigh (1895 – 1948), Oliver (1898 – 1976), Neal (1901 – 1986), Jack (1904 – 1976), Stephen (1911 - 1980) and Elaine (1916 – 1931).

  1. Llewellyn (1870 – 1938) married Fannie Fenlason (1882 – 1973). They lived in Alexander and

their children were Wayne (1907 – 1971), Doris (1909 – 2004), Harold (1911 – 1991), Frank (1913 – 1958) and Everett (1915 – 1984).

  1. Morey (1872 – 1962) married Lillian Harriman (1875 – 1955). They lived in Calais and then

Meddybemps. Their children were Bill (1896 – 1966), Clara, Linwood (1898 – 1994), Alice (1902 – 1988), Clayton (1904 – 1980), Arlene (1914 – 2005), Winifred (1917 – 1989), and Gordon.

  1. Delmont (1873 – 1963) married Eunice Lane (1973 – 1907) and then Clara Dunham (1890

1965). They resided in Alexander and his children numbered eight: Vivian (1898 – 1929), Velma (1900 – 1994), Kenneth (1905 – 1906), Marjorie (1907 – 1971), Dana (1913 – 1989), Harvard (1914 – 1990), Paul (1915 – 1981) and Marian (born 1918)

  1. George (1875 – 1932) married Della Ward (1884 – 1943). They lived in his father’s house in Alexander and he ran the sawmill.

  1. Eda (1878 – 1954) see True Varnum above.

  1. Mary Carolyn (1882 – 1967) see Earl Varnum above.

(9) Jack (1883 – 1958) married Maud Crosby (1890 – 1970) They lived in Princeton and had the following children: Arnold (1911 – 1999), Duane (1913 – 1971), Natalie 1915 - 1977), Alta (1919 – 2001) and Florence (born 1922)

(10) Olive (1886 -1964) married Fred Taylor (1890 – 1939) and lived in South Princeton.

THE EARLY YEARS

                                           

Bert on Old Don Elden and Milton Hunnewell with Bert.       Bert has on his first long pants.

                                           

                       Carrie Earl                                                                     heading north on the mowing machine


THE VARNUM SIBLINGS

                                      
Alice
Varnum                                 Williams Vesta and her husband Matt Duffy in 1939


                                             

Sumner and Carrie – 1939                                       Adla delivering milk for Laon Scribner

                                              

Albert, his wife Margaret and their son Bert chose to stay on the farm

Kenny, ready to hit a homerun!

AUNTS, UNCLES AND COUSINS


                   

LEFT: Aunt Eda and Uncle True Varnum, Carrie’s sister and Earl’s brother. RIGHT: Muriel Varnum, daughter of Eda and True, therefore Bert’s double cousin. Muriel became a teacher and lived in Vermont.



Lillian Varnum, Muriel’s sister and another double cousin. Lillian was a teacher and a singer and went by the stage name Alexa Barin, from the two towns Alexander and Baring.

                                

LEFT: Uncle George and Aunt Della Dwelley. George ran the sawmill at the foot of Dwelley’s Lake. RIGHT: Cousin Rex Varnum, son of Uncle Lindsay, and the dog Jimpso.


HOME SWEET HOME


This view shows the five bay cape where Bert and his siblings grew-up. It likely was built by Asa Libby who pioneered this farm before 1834 and whose family sold it to Bert’s mother in 1892.

             

The house in 1945 as viewed from the driveway. Same view in 1961 after Bert raised the roof.


           

Bert and Gin’s little house in 1936 from the north. Albert and Margaret had built this house. Bert and Virginia bought it before they were married. Later it was home to Clyde Carr’s family. He worked on the farm. On right: The hired girl, Beatrice Frost lived with and worked for the Varnum family for many years.

FUN ON THE FARM

   

What game is this? Albert, Lindsay, Bert and Gene Hatt have a break from work. That’s Earl’s shadow on the right. At right Bert and Albert experiment with sheep power.


                

Uncle Lindsay is dressed the fool. At right, the family had a get-a-way camp in the woods not far from the house. Adults would go there for a rest and kids and adults sometimes went there for fun. Here Cousin Muriel, Bert and Adla are dressed for some strange and wonderful event.

HORSEPOWER

Dot and Frank with the manure spreader. The teamster is Bert, pictured in 1918. Bert’s father Earl took a pair of horses at least one time to Princeton where he spent the winter hauling bark from the woods to the tannery. Edwin Robb of Baileyville did the same. That Princeton tannery was started about 1860, before Shaw Brothers Tannery at Grand Lake Stream, and at one time was owned by William Plaisted.


          

Prince and Ned.                     That’s a 1939 photograph of Prince with Matt and Kenny.

GETTING IN THE HAY

Earl in 1939 mowing.


Bert with the hay rake. Note the long pile of four-foot wood.

      

The crew: Tommy Rodgers, Harris Brownlee, Albert, Kenny, Bert and Matt in 1939. On right is another 1939 image. It shows Lindsay and Tommy on the load, Matt throwing up and Kenny checking out the camera. Who was the cameraman?

THE ALMOST ENDLESS COURTSHIP WITH GIN

         

Bert met Virginia Wallace in 1929 at Woodland High School. Bert was a sophomore even though it was his first year at Woodland. They became high school sweethearts! The images above taken in 1934 and 1939 record Gin’s presence at Hillside Farm. It wasn’t until 1942 that they became engaged. In February 1945 they went to Bangor for the basketball tournament and eloped on St. Valentines Day. That picture below is their wedding picture.

        
 

A NEW GENERATION FOR THE VARNUM FAMILY

           

Barbara and Winkie in 1951; Brian and Bert in 1957 “Little cowboy, quick on the draw with the razor.” and Becky and Timmy in1963

HILLSIDE FARM – FIREWOOD SALES

LEFT TO RIGHT: Vesta, Adla (seated), Aunt Ada Berry, Muriel and Carrie in 1939. Women usually wore dresses in those days, but Adla, according to the pictures did not. Did she wear a dress while teaching? Aunt Ada Berry was born Ada Lillian Crafts in 1868. She married George Perkins and had a son Burleigh. George died at age 30 and Ada married George Berry, brother of Bert’s grandmother Alice Berry Dwelley. Ada and George Berry had one child, Marshall. Ada and George Berry lived at the corner of the Spearin and Cooper roads. True and Eda Varnum lived in that house after Aunt Ada and Uncle George.

What caught my eye in this image is that huge pile of wood. Bert told how that each winter the men would cut 300 cords of firewood. See the picture of stacks of wood on the front cover and on page 9. The day after the March town meeting men would start sawing the wood to stove length. They used a sawing machine and could do about 15 cords a day. Later the wood would be split with a mechanical up and down splitter. Earl and Bert applied labor to a product of the land to produce cash income.

An account book tells of wood sales in 1933 and 1934. Here are some names of buyers:

John Tori $27.00 Charlie Tori $30.00 Phil Holmes $57.50

Austin Bradish $58.50 Mrs. Alley $79.00 L. Brooks 16 cords at $9.00 each

Emery Babb $7.00 Mrs. Emack $69.00 Peterson Brothers 25 cords cash

Dr. Murphy $49.00 C. C. Whitlock $24.00 Mr. Bass 3¾ cords furnace wood $33.75

Tori Brothers ran an ice cream store on Main Street in Calais (across from NAPA today) and purchased cream from Earl and Bert Varnum. The Peterson Brothers, Pete, Carl and Bill ran a Chevrolet garage on Main Street in Calais, about where NAPA is today.

On November 1, 1940, Al Richards of Hillside Street in Woodland was billed $64.00 for wood delivered between August 11 and October 23; five cords of range wood at $8.00 per cord and 3 cords of heater wood at the same price. Most deliveries were of 1½ cords.

HARVESTING BLUEBERRIES


Kenny, Vesta, Carrie and Dale with hand picked berries in 1939.


              
Bert and Gin with rack body truck loaded with berries for delivery to Sawyers’ Factory in Franklin.

The Hillside Farm account book tells us that $2000 was received for blueberries in August 1937. In 1938, Earl, Lindsay and Muriel sold 1614 boxed of berries. These berries were likely raked at several locations. Lindsay, and later Earl, owned lot 54 at the Four Corners and the Addison Place field has long been a blueberry field. Earl, and later True, owned part of lot 122 and 125, south of the the Spearin Road and west of the Flat Road. Muriel’s berries may have come from the Godfrey Farm or Huff Place on the Arm Road.

HILLSIDE FARM – DAIRY FARM

In the engagement announcement on page 10, Bert is described as being in partnership with his father on their dairy farm. Accounts show the dairy business existed in the 1930s.

              

This 1952 image shows the milk processing plant on the left. Up stairs was an apartment in which Bert, Gin and Barbara lived. They ate meals in the big house. Beatrice cooked the main meals and Carrie baked the sweets. The processing plant was where milk was collected, pasteurized and bottled. Raw milk was acquired from Brewer Andrews, Foster Higgins, Lyston Frost, Milton Hunnewell, Clinton Flood and likely others. Pasteurized milk was bottled in glass so the cream could be seen. Homogenized milk was packaged in coated pasteboard cartons. These cartons were purchased by the truckload and were stored in the lower barn, near where David Sullivan now lives. To the right of the processing plant was the cattle barn. Bert milked about 30 head of Holsteins. At right is a 1961 view of the cattle barn with the new barn addition. The silos possibly held chopped hay ensilage, but more likely chopped corn ensilage.

                                

This barn was used to store tractors and machinery. Likely earlier it was the horse barn. Among other outbuildings was an icehouse and a storage shed for seed, lime and fertilizer. At right, Earl is chopping corn.


VARNUM’S DAIRY


Hillside Farm and Varnum’s Dairy were big operations and required extra help. Some people worked full time, but many were seasonal, especially at haying time. These lists are probably incomplete, but the reader will get a sense of this twentieth century farm operation and the people in Bert’s life. Ladies first, as we saw on page 6, Beatrice Frost (1902 - 1973) was a long time resident at the Varnum’s big house. She did many of the farm wife’s chores, but it was Carrie who kept the cookie jars full and baked the pies. In later years, Beatrice looked after Carrie. We have record of two others working in the house, Althea (Davis) Lord ca 1929 – 30 and Louise (Flood) Frost ca 1951 - 52.

Bert hired several drivers for the two milk routes, Calais and Woodland. Avard McLellan and later Alden Clark did the Calais route. These men delivered chocolate and strawberry milk to schools as well as the pasteurized and homogenized milk to stores and homes. Vern Wentworth and Clyde Carr were two full time employees. Vern was a field hand at first and later operated the processing plant. Clyde married Jean Hatt, Alex’s daughter, and they lived in the little house.

Other men who worked on the farm were Harris Brownlee, Phillip Bradstreet, Dick Diadone, Bernie Doten, Kenny Doten, Dale Fickett, Albert Graham, Gene Greco, Gene Hatt, John “Jack” Hatt, Dunk Johnson, Curley Kent, Kenny Leighton, Porky Leighton, Charles McCray, Chet McCray, Leo Perkins, Paul Robb, Tommy Rodgers, Tommy Smith and Kenny Varnum, son of Albert & Margaret.

                           

         

The bottling machine and Bert with a milk truck in 1959. In 1911 butter was an important product of Hillside Farm. In June 521 pounds of butter was churned and sold for $130.75. By the 1930s, cream (likely for ice cream) was sold; in two weeks of June 1935 cream sold for $96.00.

HILLSIDE FARM – POTATOES



This image is of Kenny in the garden in 1939. It appears that he is eating a carrot. The Hillside Farm account book for 1911 lists income from the sale of butter, pigs, veal and produce. The produce is mostly potatoes, but beans and cabbage was sold in the fall. January saw $146.93 earned from potatoes, but November was the best month with $278.50 income for potatoes. The account book also records potato sales in 1935 at 75 cents a bushel. Emery Taylor, who had a store in Woodland, purchased 57 bushels and Dana Miles 37 bushels. Lesser amounts were acquired by Paul Bires, Gene Strout, Jake Quentin, Gene Hatt, Miss Ryan, Mrs. Reynolds, E. Gowland and Mrs. Dickerson.


A NEW KIND OF HORSE POWER

We’ll tell who it is; can anyone tell the year and make of the horseless carriage?

     

At left is Bertha Scribner, a neighbor. next is Vesta and at right are Adla and Albert.

SPECIAL FRIENDS


This picture shows Bernie (1915 – 1997) and Edie Doten and their youngest daughter Gertie in 1955. Older daughters Jenny and Gail completed the family. The Dotens and Varnums were life long friends. Added to the friendship was a series of business arrangements between Bernie and Bert. Bernie came to work at Hillside Farm in the 1930s. For a time he and Gin ran the Woodland milk route. He and Bert operated B. L. Varnum and Doten in the 1950s and 60s, a building supply store in Baring. And in the 1960s they build a number of houses in Woodland. Becky called Bernie ‘Pony Man’ because he encouraged pony and horse riding by the youngsters.

A SPECIAL PLACE

For many, many years, even until his death, Bert owned this hunting camp on Democrat Ridge in Talmadge. An addition was built on and a bunkhouse was constructed near-by. It was a get-a-way place for Bert, Albert, Kenny and Alice’s husband Coburn Williams. Other men were invited and as is so often true of hunting camps, it really was a place for relaxing and socializing. In later years, Gin and Alice would occasionally go to the camp for supper with the men, then leave. It has been said that Bert would shoot a deer or two in Alexander to hang in front of this camp; after all, it was a hunting camp! That is Coburn Williams (1901 – 1984), Bert’s brother-in-law and hunting partner.

          

WOODLAND


In 1965 Bert sold the dairy business to Grants Dairy of Bangor and in 1968 he and the family moved to 95 Washington Street in Woodland. He worked as a scaler for Georgia Pacific until his retirement in 1982.

            

Snooky, Brian and Bert inspect Bert’s garden. At right, Christmas in Woodland; Becky, Brian and Barbara in back; Barbara’s children Jason and Nicole Draper in front.

THE LATER YEARS

               

After moving to Woodland, Bert and family continued to enjoy visits to THE PAINTED ROCK, their camp on Bear Cove, part of Meddybemps Lake that is in Baileyville. The camp had been purchased in 1947. Bert also visited a favorite Draper family island at Whitney Cove on Grand Lake. Here we see Bert with grandchildren Nicole and Jason.

                

Gin (1915 – 1991) and Bert (1914 – 2008) from a group picture taken at The Painted Rock, ca 1984.


Originally published in Special Issue 14 - A-CHS NEWSLETTER - October 2008