A story in pictures and words about…
Bert Varnum in his graduation picture -
Class of 1932 – Woodland High School…
Carrie and Earl Varnum - Bert’s parents - in 1939 - by the farm porch …
AND HIS FARM
Looking north –
buildings - open land – piles of wood – 1939…
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
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.
Sarah ‘Sade’ (born 1867) married Bert Conant and resided in California with their children
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).
Llewellyn (1870 – 1938) married Fannie Fenlason (1882 – 1973). They lived in Alexander and
children were Wayne
(1907 – 1971), Doris
(1909 – 2004), Harold
(1911 – 1991), Frank
(1913 – 1958) and Everett (1915
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.
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)
George (1875 – 1932) married Della Ward (1884 – 1943). They lived in his father’s house in Alexander and he ran the sawmill.
Eda (1878 – 1954) see True Varnum above.
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
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
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.
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.
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
FUN ON THE
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.
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?
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
A NEW GENERATION FOR THE VARNUM FAMILY
– 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.
Kenny, Vesta, Carrie and Dale with hand picked berries in 1939.
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
– 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
Originally published in
Special Issue 14 - A-CHS NEWSLETTER - October 2008