Category Archives: Calais

Picturing Our Ancestors’ Neighborhoods Back in the Day, Part 1

Summer is almost here and it’s the season of the year that brings on nostalgia for me. Christmas does, too, but summer was the time when school was out and I got to visit with all the relatives in my small family.

As the stories of my ancestors’ lives unfold, I often wish I could step back in time and visit each place they lived when they lived there. it’s actually possible to do, if we are talking about after the invention of photography. The way to visit is through vintage postcards.

I occasionally write about my love of trolling EBay for genealogically related items and postcards is #1 on my list.

Today, I am inviting you to come along and visit Calais, Maine and the small towns around it where my maternal family was living at the turn of the 20th century. My Adams clan was right in Calais proper, the Stuarts were nearby in Meddybemps, the Tarbox family moved into town from Robbinston and the Colemans lived in Red Beach.

My 2X great grandfather, Calvin Adams, moved from the West Isles of New Brunswick, Canada to Calais with his family when he was a teenager, just before the start of the Civil War. Like his father, Daniel, Calvin was a boat builder, a trade which he followed until the era ended in the early 1900s. He built small sailing vessels and a schooner or two with his workshop down on the waterfront.

His children, my great grandfather Charles and great grand aunt Pearl, received their education at Calais Academy, later to be renamed Calais High School. The building that housed Calais Academy burned down many years ago.

As the Adams clan prospered, they bought a house on “The Avenue,” or Calais Avenue, which was “the” place in town to live.

What was a Calais winter like? Snow. Lots and lots of snow!

My grandmother, Hazel Coleman Adams, told me stories about going into “town” (Calais) from Red Beach, where she grew up, to go shopping along Main Street.

I’ve been to Calais and some of those buildings are still standing!

Newlyweds 2X great grandparents Charles Stuart and Elida Hicks settled in Meddybemps in1850 and the family continued to live there into the early 1900s. Meddybemps has never been much more than a village and I doubt it looked much different in 1900 than it did half a century earlier. My great grandmother, Annie Stuart Adams, was born and raised in Meddybemps.

By 1910, her brother, Harry, had a camp on Meddybemps Lake. This is one of my most favorite finds ever!

Heading down River Road out of Calais takes visitors to Red Beach, which today is part of the city of Calais. The Colemans settled in Red Beach in the 1830s and lived there well into the 1900s.

My 3X great grandfather, Thomas Coleman, was a small subsistence farmer. 2X great grandfather William and great grandfather Hartwell Coleman were drawn to sea life, both being boat captains. Hartwell actually became a master mariner.

After Hartwell retired from sea life, he opened a general store called Cappy Coleman’s. My mother said she and her sisters used to love to visit the store because he gave them candy.

3X great grandfather George Tarbox settled in Robbinston in the mid 1850s. He had several careers, first as a small farmer, later as a boat builder and finally became a manufacturer, as the family bought the Red Beach granite quarry and sold stone. 2X great grandmother Nellie Tarbox Adams was born in Robbinston and lived there as a girl until the family moved into Calais, likely because of George’s business concerns.

There is a soldier’s monument in Calais Park which is made of black granite. That granite came from the Tarbox quarry. There is also a small water fountain made from the quarry granite. I have a photo of it we took in 1980, but I haven’t yet found a postcard.

Calais, Maine was in its heyday during the second half of the 19th century and early into the 20th century. However, as ship building came to an end long before the start of World War I, it seems its residents left for more job opportunities in Massachusetts.

I’ve purchased all of these postcards on EBay and, with the exception of the Stuart cottage on Meddybemps Lake (for which I paid way too much), prices were almost entirely under $5.00 each and sometimes as little as a dollar or two.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that there won’t be any photo postcards from the places where your families lived. In 1850, Meddybemps had a whopping population of 254. By 1900, it was DOWN to just 154 souls. If there are Meddybemps postcards out there, there is hope for any place!

Each time I look at these images, I feel like I’ve been able to take a few steps in my ancestors’ shoes. I hope you felt that way, too.

Tomorrow, we will look at my paternal side of the family tree, who were living in a very different environment – industrial Passaic, New Jersey.


Mystery Photo of a Pretty Young Girl, Calais, ME, c1893

I’ve had a little bit of luck finding owners for some of my vintage photos and have even been able to identify people in a few more photos.

This picture, though, has me stumped.

Who Is This Pretty Young Lady?

I have absolutely no clue who this very pretty young lady might be. The photo was taken at the Eastern Portrait Company in Calais, Maine. One of my reference books has a cabinet card photo that is on the exact same type of card at this one with the scalloped edges (that don’t show very well in this scan) and it is dated 1893. My cabinet card is in absolutely pristine condition. There is no writing on the back of the photo.

This young lady also has her hair styled the same way as the woman in the reference book – hair pulled back with the poufy curls high in the front.

Not much of this young lady’s clothing shows in this picture, but the pleating on her sleeves also points to an early 1890s style.

If this photo was taken, say, 1893, and this young lady looks to be perhaps 12-16 years old, then she would have been born about 1878-1882.

I suspect that she was either a member of the Tarbox family that lived in Calais or else the daughter of a friend.

George and Mary Tarbox’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Charles Vickery. They had several children including daughters Lizzie, born in 1878 and Jeannette, born in 1882.

I wonder if this beautiful young lady is one of them?

Charles Harrison Newton, 1830-1897, George R. Tarbox and the Importance of the FAN Club

INTRO: Sometimes, blog posts take on a different life of their own in terms of direction away from an original goal. My primary intent in telling the story of Charles Harrison Newton was and is to find a descendant who would love to have this original photo of him, as he is not related to me.

However, as I researched for information about Charles – I knew he was a business partner of my 3X great grandfather, George Rogers Tarbox, and that they owned a plaster and a granite company in Red beach, Maine, the discovery of the detailed biography in a county mug book in 1898 reinforced the importance of researching an ancestor’s FAN (Family, Associates, Neighbors) club. In the transcription, I’ve highlighted in blue all the details about their business that told me so much more than I knew about George’s businesses beforehand.

It definitely pays to take the time to research the FAN club!

Charles Harrison Newton

Charles Newton is another photo in my family collection of a person who is not related to me, but thanks to all the information coming online, I know exactly who he is and how his photo came to be in my possession.

Charles Harrison Newton was born in Templeton, Worcester, Massachusetts to Horace Newton and his wife, Abigail Burrage, the last of four children. Horace and Abigail had married in Templeton on 1 October 1818.

  1. Frederick William, born 14 October 1819; died 16 January 1875
  2. Henry Sawyer, born and died 10 March 1825
  3. Abigail, born 21 February 1826
  4. Charles Harrison, 5 August 1830

Charles and his siblings reached adulthood before their parents died, but both died at relatively young ages. Horace, passed away first on 29 August 1847, aged just 50 years. Abigail survived Horace, by only three years, dying on 28 September 1850, aged 54 years. Both died in Fitchburg, Worcester, Massachusetts, where the family lived after removing from Templeton.

The following article found in the Biographical Review: Containing Sketches of Leading Citizens of Somerset, Piscataquis, Hancock, Washington and Aroostook Counties, Maine, pages 257-258, published the year after his death in 1898 filled in much of the detail of Charles’s life:

Source: Internet Archive

Charles Harrison Newton was for many years one of the foremost business men of Calais, Washington County. Born in Templeton, Mass., August 5, 1830, he was a son of Horace and Abigail (Burrage) Newton. the father, a native of Hubbardston, Mass., spent the great part of his life in Fitchburg, where he carried on a hardware business for many years, and was also interested in an iron foundry. He was prominently identified with the town government, serving as Selectman, Deputy Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and Trial Justice, the duties of which last named office he performed until his death. In politics he was a Whig. His wife, Abigail, who was a native of Templeton, became the mother of several children, three of whom lived to maturity, namely: Frederick, who is no longer living; Abby, now a resident of Worcester, Mass., the widow of Aaron K. Litch, late of Fitchburg; and Charles H., the subject of this sketch. The father was a Unitarian and the mother a Congregationalist in religion.

Charles Harrison Newton acquired a public-school education. After clerking in Fitchburg in a store for a year, he went to Boston, where he obtained employment in the same capacity. Some time later he took a position as clerk and book-keeper in Portland, Me., but soon after returned to his former employer in Boston. The firm for which he worked was obliged to take a plaster mine in Calais as payment for a debt. Mr. Newton, in company with Henry A. Willis, George R. Tarbox (now deceased), and a member of the firm, made a survey of the property at Red Beach. They were so favorably impressed with what they saw then, that they purchased the estate, and started in business under the firm name of George R. Tarbox & Co., At that time prices were high with a strong demand, a fact that warranted the starting up of business upon an extensive scale. A misrepresentation in regard to the water-power, however, proved a serious detriment to their plans. In 1858 the Red Beach Plaster Company was organized, with Mr. Newton as manager. He was later appointed the treasurer, and made the president of the company in 1878, which position he held until his death. His executive ability and sound judgment were instrumental in building up the business to its present magnitude. The firm turns out one hundred thousand barrels of plaster annually, requiring a force of seventy-five men to handle. The discovery of red granite upon the property at a time when that kind of stone was becoming popular caused them to develop the quarry, and in 1875 the Maine Red Granite Company was organized, with Mr. Newton the treasurer. This concern is producing stone of a superior quality, which is extensively used for columns, wainscoting, etc. They have the best equipped polishing plant in New England. Recently they filled a contract for the new wing of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Mr. Newton was also a director of the Calais National Bank for eighteen years, and he was elected the president of that institution about two years ago.

For about ten years in all Mr. Newton served in both branches of the city government of that institution. In 1888 he was elected to the State legislature. During the two years he spent there he was the chairman of the House Committee on finances. His death, which occurred December 2, 1897, was deeply regretted by the entire community as the loss of an honorable, enterprising, and public-spirited citizen. By his marriage with Miss Elizabeth S. Lee, daughter of Joseph A. Lee of this city, he had three children – Mary L., Helen L. and George E. Newton – all of whom survive him. George E. is a graduate of Amherst College, class of 1897. Mr. Newton was a members of the St. Croix Club. He attended and helped to support the Congregational church. Mrs. Newton and her family also attend the same church.

In 1858, the Red Beach Plaster Company was organized and Charles Newton, along with Henry Willis and George R. Tarbox, my 3X great grandfather, were business partners and owners of the plaster company. That is how the photo came to be in the Tarbox family picture collection. Charles was George’s business partner.

Source: St. Croix Historical Society

I’ve been to Calais once and the little city park has two items – a war memorial statue and a fountain – both made with granite from their company.

Sources: Personal Photo Collection

By 1860, Charles Newton was doing very well for himself in Calais:

He was boarding with Charles and Mary Kay, no known relation, but the value of his real estate was recorded as $20,000 and personal estate at $16,000. $20,000 in today’s dollars is equal to about $550,000.

Charles married Elizabeth Lee on 11 April 1863 in Calais, Maine. She was born c1840, Maine; died after 1920, possibly in Boston where she lived with extended family members. Charles and Elizabeth became the parents of three children:

  1. Mary L., born November 1865; died after 1930, possibly in South Orange, New Jersey; unmarried
  2. Helen Louise, born 6 April 1872; married William Belmont Parker, 29 May 1906, Calais, Maine. William was born c1872, England. Both died after 1930.
  3. George Eager, born 24 August 1875; married Evelyn Agnew, 17 September 1902, Calais, Maine

William and Helen Parker were the parents of four children:

  1. Newton Belmont, born 26 February 1907, New York; died 9 February 1993, Claremont, Los Angeles, California; (1) reportedly married Mary Godfrey Pepper. She was born c1909; died 1966, but they may have divorced. (2) Cary Blunt Millholland, a noted landscape architect, in 1954. She was born 11 December 1902; died 21 January 2001, Pomona, California. It doesn’t appear that Newton had any children.
  2. Barrett P., born 12 October 1908, New Jersey; died 21 February 1998; married Pamela M. (MNU). She was born 1921; died 2010. Both are buried at St. Paul’s Memorial Garden in Brunswick, Maine. Barrett was a World War II veteran.
  3. William J., born c1913, New Jersey; died after 1930
  4. Elizabeth L., born c1915, New Jersey; died after 1930

William Parker died c1934. However, neither wife Helen nor any of their children has been found in the 1940 census. There are numerous ship’s passenger lists for this family and it is possible they were out of the country at the time of the census.

George Eager and Evelyn (Agnew) Newton were also the parents of four children:

  1. Charlotte E., born c1904; died after 1940, when she lived in Calais with her parents; married George Sutherland Douglas, 25 October 1920, St. George, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada. He was born 12 June 1899, Rumford Falls, Maine; reportedly died c1924. However, they divorced and Charlotte apparently never remarried nor had any children.
  2. Charles Harrison, born c1906; died 23 January 1942 while serving in the Merchant Marine aboard the ship Venore. The ship was hit in Torpedo Alley, off the coast of North Carolina, and sunk by a German U-boat. No evidence has been found that he ever married.
  3. Richard Billings, born 11 May 1907; died 27 September 1907.
  4. Mary L., born 13 December 1908, Robbinston, Maine; died after 1930, when she lived at home with her parents.

I would really, really like to return my photo of Charles Harrison Newton to a descendant. If there are any living today, they would be descended Barrett P., William J. or Elizabeth L. Parker or from Mary L. Newton, who possibly married between 1930 and 1940. It is possible that Mary might have married in Elmira, New York, as city directories show George and Evelyn living there in the late 1930s.

If anyone recognizes any of these people and can provide details about them after 1930, it would be much appreciated.