Stroll Haunted Yarmouth 2022
Thank you for joining us for Stroll Haunted Yarmouth 2022. We hope you enjoy this additional information about this year's spirits!
WARNING! Spoilers ahead. If you have not yet seen the show, read at your own risk!
ALEXANDER GREENWOOD HILL (1812-1847)
Alexander Greenwood Hill was born in North Yarmouth on September 13, 1812. The Hill family lived on Main Street and was well-known in the community. During Alexander’s childhood the United States fought the War of 1812 and afterwards began to expand its territory. When Alexander was 24 years old Texas declared its independence from Mexico and was expected to become part of the United States. The country was growing and there seem to be plenty of opportunity for young men to make their fortunes in the West.
Alexander’s father, James C. Hill, served as postmaster in Yarmouth and he helped organize the First Universalist Church in 1835. With his son Alexander, James C. Hill purchased The Christian Pilot newspaper. Their partnership dissolved in 1836. At that time Alexander was divesting himself of his local investments and preparing to move west. On the advice of Cyrus Foss Sargent, a good friend who later became his brother-in-law, Alexander and some of his siblings decided to seek opportunities in Arkansas.
At first life in Arkansas was difficult, not as comfortable as it had been in Yarmouth. In time Alexander became a successful dry goods merchant and solicitor in the town of Champagnolle along Ouachita River, about a hundred miles east of Texas. In addition to being a merchant, Alexander became a Justice of the Peace and a land prospector, buying land the US government was selling at low prices and reselling land to newcomers hoping to start farms in the sparsely settled territory. It is also possible that at the time he owned slaves.
Around 1840, at the age of 28, Alexander married Mary Townsend. She was from Franklin, Arkansas, a town about 230 miles away, near the Tennessee border. They settled in Champagnolle. In June 1847 Alexander was travelling on the steamship, Edna, heading downstream on the Ouachita River to buy some goods for his store when tragically, the boiler on the ship exploded killing scores of passengers, including Alexander Hill. News of the accident spread across the region as reports relayed a horrible scene.
It wasn’t until May 17, 1848 that the remains of Alexander Greenwood Hill were brought back to Yarmouth with the help of the Yarmouth Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (whose symbols can be seen on Alexander's tombstone). Alexander is buried in the Old Baptist Cemetery.
Acknowledgment is given to B. Craig Stinson for the details about the Hill Family and Alexander Greenwood Hill’s life.
Below: detail from Alexander G. Hill's gravestone featuring a brief summary of the disaster as well as symbols of the Order of Odd Fellows, an original newspaper clipping reporting on the explosion of The Edna
BARTLETT ADAMS (1776-1828)
Bartlett Adams was born in Massachusetts on October 24, 1776, at the start of the American Revolution. As was the case with many young men at the time, Bartlett Adams began working as an apprentice in his brother-in-law’s stonecutting shop in Kingston, Massachusetts.
When he was 24 years old, Bartlett Adams set out on his own and came to Portland, Maine where he was among the first stonecutter in the city. From the time he arrived in Portland until his death in 1828, Adams owned the only stonecutting shop in the city. Before he established his stonecutting shop, headstones had to be ordered and shipped from Boston. The shipping cost made carved headstones expensive. Only the area’s wealthiest residents were able to afford stone carved headstones. Bartlett’s stonecutting shop made carved headstones affordable and accessible to more residents in Maine. Over the years Adams had as many as eight other stonecutters working for him including his family members. Some of his apprentices went on to become successful stonecutters in their own right.
Adams’ gravestone decorations were of his own design but occasionally he carved customary decorations like winged faces, rising suns, and rosettes. Many of the early gravestones in Eastern Cemetery in Portland were done by Bartlett Adams’ shop. Today, the family is buried together in Portland’s Eastern Cemetery, which holds over 700 headstones from Bartlett’s shop. Across Southern Maine, there are over 1,000 headstones attributed to Adams and his apprentices and 26 attributed to Adams in Yarmouth’s Baptist Cemetery. Adams died on January 27, 1828. His gravestone is set among his life’s work in the Eastern Cemetery.
Acknowledgment is given to Ron Romano, cemetery historian, and Spirits Alive, a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation and protection of the Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Maine for some of the information on the life and work of Bartlett Adams.
Below: some of Bartlett Adams' gravestones, including the one made for his son and namesake. Image credits to Ron Romano & Mary Liberty,
CLEAN UP DAY
The Village Improvement Society was founded in 1911 “to protect and improve the natural advantages and the pleasing symmetry of Yarmouth, to excite and foster an interest and love of said town and to promote the prosperity…the happiness and well-being of the inhabitants therein and to enter into and engage in any work that will aim to accomplish this end.”
Early projects included the creation and maintenance of the Village Green Park, care of the town dump, annual clean-up days, and parades. Cleaning up the main streets of town and encouraging residents to do the same was one of VIS’s earliest projects. Clean-Up Weeks (along with parades) were a major activity of the organization in the first third of the 20th century. Improvement societies and clean-up weeks were part of a nationwide movement to increase pride in community appearances, and were in some way predecessors of the historic preservation and environmental movements.
The VIS helped found the Yarmouth Historical Society, established Yarmouth’s Historic House Marker Program, and conducted one of Maine’s first historic buildings surveys in 1973. They spearheaded the creation of Royal River Park and built the warming hut at Orland Blake Skating Pond. Most recent preservation projects include management and maintenance of the 1796 Meetinghouse and ownership, preservation, restoration, and sale (with preservation safeguards) of the former Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, built in1906. The organization worked cooperatively with town government, other local organizations, and Yarmouth residents to carry out its preservation mission.
Below: VIS Ladies at Clean Up Day, Mrs. Harriet Bird, a Clean Up Day Parade
DR. DAVID JONES JR. (1748-1822)
ELIZABETH HOBART JONES (1761-1843)
David Jones, Jr. was born on March 10, 1748, in Abington, Massachusetts. He learned medicine from Dr. Joseph Warren of Boston, the man who told Paul Revere to alert towns along the way to Concord, Massachusetts that British troops were heading their way. Jones was with Dr. Warren tending to the wounded Minutemen at the Battle of Breed’s Hill (Bunker Hill) when Dr. Warren was killed during the battle. Dr. David Jones, Jr. went on to serve as a surgeon in the Continental Army and Navy, became a town selectman in North Yarmouth, and set up practice as one of the town’s first dentists.
Elizabeth Hobart Jones was born on February 6, 1761, in Abington, Massachusetts. She married Dr. David Jones, Jr. in Abington on June 17, 1778. The Jones family lived in the Boston area during the Revolutionary War, before moving to North Yarmouth, Maine.
The David and Elizabeth Jones’ home was located on what is now known as East Main Street. They lived there with their nine children in a large red, two story house located just above the bridge. The house was torn down around 1848 when Jeramiah Baker built his home on the lot overlooking the shipyard. Baker’s house still stands today at 35 East Main Street.
After Dr. Jones’ death in 1822, Elizabeth earned income for herself by continuing her husband’s dental practice. Elizabeth died on July 16, 1843 and is buried next to her husband in the Baptist Cemetery, in Yarmouth.
Below: An illustration of a lumberman using a cant-dog hook and a close-up of an original hook. This tool was the inspiration for Dr. Jones' invention.
F.M. CORLISS (1864-1948)
When Ferdinand Merrill Corliss was born on March 17, 1864, in Yarmouth, Maine, his father, Lewis Mitchell Corliss, was 26 and his mother, Martha Helen Lancaster, was 23. He married Lillie Martha Harding on 16 April 1884, in Yarmouth. Ferdinand worked at the Yarmouth Paper Mills and had a farm in the area of East Main Street. F. M. Corliss, as well as his father, brother, and his sons worked at one time or another at the paper and pulp mill in Yarmouth. Ferdinand’s life spanned from the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination through the Spanish-American War, the 1929 stock market crash and the two World Wars. He died on 6 July 1948, in Bath, Maine at the age of 84 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Yarmouth.
Ferdinand is reported to have been involved in a humorous and mysterious incident in Yarmouth around 1885. According to the reminiscence of the granddaughter of Ferdinand, Thelma, the incident involved a cannon that was placed on the Yarmouth Village Green. The cannon was a gift to the town of Yarmouth by a new resident who previously resided in neighboring Freeport but after her marriage moved to Yarmouth.
After a firing of the cannon during a holiday observance and damaging the property of the superintendent of the Forest Paper Company the cannon became a mere decoration on the Village Green. Then, following a dispute between the donor and the Village Improvement Society the cannon was relocated and gifted to Freeport. Soon the cannon was back at Yarmouth’s Village Green when a group of Yarmouth youths (including Ferdinand), in the dark of night, stole the cannon from Freeport and returned it to its rightful place.
But it was not there for long. An equally motivated group of men from Freeport stole the cannon back. But the back-and-forth continued as the Yarmouth men rescued the cannon once more from Freeport captivity. However, the Freeport men were on guard and gave the Yarmouth a good chase back to Yarmouth but to no avail. The Yarmouth men hid the cannon vowing never to divulge its location. When Ferdinand was the last living member of the Yarmouth nighttime raiders his granddaughter pleaded with him to reveal the cannon’s location. He did not break his vow and took the secret to his grave.
Below: two types of cannons (the "swivel gun" and "carriage gun") once used on ships
THE YARMOUTH BAND (1866-1841)
The Yarmouth Band was attached to the First Maine Infantry Regiment, a regiment formed within a month of the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861. The volunteer soldiers were sent to Washington, DC to defend the capital. Following the war, in 1866, six veterans continued the Yarmouth Brass Band. The leader was Samuel Chadbourne with Enos A. Blanchard as the director. When they first formed only one member of the band could read music. When director Enos Blanchard left for Boston, William L. Loring became director and the band continued to play. Ten years after Blanchard’s departure from Yarmouth, he returned to direct the band once again.
As the band grew in number so did its reputation. The Yarmouth Band participated in rallies during the presidential election campaigns of Ulysses S. Grant and Maine’s own James Blaine. Students and faculty at Bowdoin College also heard the band play. Impressively, the band played at the Cumberland County Fair for forty-five years!
Among the most notable performances of the Yarmouth Band was on July 5, 1880, when the band participated in a competition with other area bands at Lake Maranacook in Winthrop, Maine. They were the smallest band in attendance, numbering eighteen at the time, and played pieces that thrilled the throng of twenty thousand. They were awarded third place in “the battle of the bands.” The band continued to play staying together long enough to commemorate their fiftieth anniversary in 1916. The band gave a concert on the grounds of the First Baptist Church. Afterwards the Village Improvement Society hosted the band members and their spouses for a celebratory dinner.
After decades of entertaining audiences throughout Maine, the band disbanded in 1941 when the United States entered the second World War.
Below: Some members of the original Yarmouth Band
ASA FRANKLIN YORK (1840-1913)
LOUISA TRUE YORK (1839-1905)
Asa Franklin York was born on February 5, 1840, in Yarmouth, Maine. In September 1862 he enlisted in the Union Army and served as a corporal in the 25th Regiment of the Maine Infantry. The regiment was sent to Washington, DC in October 1862 to defend the capital. In June 1863 the regiment returned to Maine and was mustered out in July. Twenty men in the regiment died while serving in the Union Army all from disease, most likely malaria. Asa was honorably discharged at the end of his service.
Asa York was known for his “retiring disposition.” He was a farmer and operated a grist mill as well as a cannery for corn. He also sold fresh eggs. He was among the first to experiment with the process of liming eggs for commercial use, a process known to preserve eggs for as long as a year.
Asa’s businesses suffered from a terrible fire in April 1900. The canning factory was set aflame by a spark blown from the stack of the nearby Walker and Cleaves sawmill. A strong wind sent the fire through much of Yarmouthville causing more than twenty buildings to burn simultaneously. Fire companies from Yarmouth and surrounding towns worked to put out the fires and kept the major losses confined to the corn canning factory and grain mills.*
Louisa True York was born in 1839 in Yarmouth, Maine to Benjamin True and Octavia Soule. She married Asa York on December 7, 1867. They had no children. Mrs. York was known to be a quiet woman who was active in the First Baptist Church in Yarmouth and liked by those who knew her.
Soon after Louisa died on November 22, 1905, her husband Asa wanted to honor her memory by establishing an orphanage in Yarmouth. Almost a year after her death the Louisa T. York Orphan Asylum was organized as a charitable corporation at the York grain store. The mission of the orphanage was “the benevolent purpose of support, maintaining, instructing, and employing children, especially orphan children.”
When Asa York died in January 1913, he bequeathed all his estate, totaling $37,049.45 at the time, to the Louisa T. York Orphan Asylum. The orphanage was never opened but the assets grew and are used today to support the education of Yarmouth students with financial need who plan to continue their education.
*William H. Rowe, Ancient North Yarmouth and Yarmouth, Maine, 1636-1936, p. 368
Below: portraits of Mr. & Mrs. York, a booklet of the original bylaws to the Orphan Asylum
program history notes researched and written by
with images from the
the Yarmouth History Center collection
Special thanks to
History Center volunteer Richard Stower
for his assistance with the biographical research of the show’s characters
and to Julie Benavides for assisting with gathering artifacts
for the accompanying exhibit to the show
currently on display at Yarmouth History Center