Harriet’s Recommendation Letter. 1905

BANGOR PIANO SCHOOL
A SCHOOL OF PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
FREDERICK MARINER, Director
Morse-Oliver Building

Bangor, Maine Mch. 13, 1905

Miss Harriet P. Means
Machias, ME

My dear Miss Means,

It may be a help to you in your teaching work if I write you these few lines, in a way an unsolicited testimonial to your advancement under my instruction during the past few months.

I found you ever a most painstaking and careful student and your progress was marked, and very pleasing to me, you instructor.

I am sure that in the work you have gone over with me and in its application to pupils you are most competent to instruct others and after sufficient experience in this particular time of your musical development will not only be pleased with your own work but will find your class of pupils and their parents must [be] appreciative of your efforts and the good results obtained from your systematic instruction.

Wishing you all success. I am ever
Yours very truly

Frederick Mariner

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Mariner included a newspaper article with his unsolicited reference letter, as my grandmother Harriet formally begins her career as a pianist. It is rather tattered now, 106 years later.  She graduated from Bangor Piano School in 1905 and became an instructor under the renowned Frederick Mariner who had a summer home on the Penobscot River. Mariner’s studio was in NYC but he accepted gifted students at the Bangor Piano School.

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The Bangor Piano School was located in The Morse Oliver building at the corner of Exchange and State Streets. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1911.

“Unquestionably the worst disaster to strike the Queen City, the Great Fire of 1911 reshaped the city’s landscape, burning 55 acres, destroying 267 buildings, damaging 100 more and causing $3,188,081.90 in losses and damage. The conflagration left 75 families homeless, most of whom had lived from Harlow Street to Center Street to lower French Street. It destroyed more than 100 businesses during a nine-hour span.”

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The Music Scene in Bangor, Maine 1907. Published in The Musical Courier, Volume 54, Column two.

Music in Maine

January 21, 1917

“Bangor Music teachers resumed teaching January 7, the date of the reopening of public schools. Mrs. ET Wasgatt who might be styled the dean of vocal instructors in the city, spent several weeks in Boston, enjoying rest and inspiration thereby.

Harriet Means, instructor at the Mariner Studios, spent her vacation at her home in Machias.

The regular Thursday recitals were resumed at the Bangor Piano School January 10, with a program of nine numbers, three of which were vocal the entire class singing, with different pupils accompanying at the piano. This feature has been lately introduced to promote broader musical culture to fit pupils for playing accompaniments when called upon by Mrs. Tilton in the public schools. Graded material is used, so that pupils of all ages can have this training. After this part of the program was completed the director presented in condensed form the story of the leading events of the early life of Beethoven….”

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Original Letter from Frederick Mariner to Harriet Means

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Beautiful Historic Machias

The W B Holway storefront in the village of Machias, Maine. Circa late 1800s, early 1900s. In the 1881 Atlas of Washington Co by George N Colby and Co., the Holway and Sullivan business was located on the river side of Main Street three buildings up (toward the horse trough) from the GW Longfellow business. If it is the same business as in the photo, it was not far from the Machias Hardware store that exists today.

In the Machias Register, State Yearbook and Legislative Manual (1913), W B Holway was listed under Lumbermen of Machias. The Holway Sullivan Co Steam and Saw Mills were just up Main street close to the Machias bridge. The ES Means store was across the street during the same time period, owned by Eliphalet Means, my great grandfather’s elder brother. He sold a wide variety of local products including eggs, cranberries, meats (partridge, smoked beef), as well as merchandise and tropical fruits ordered from Boston. Sample pages from his cash book document the sales of the ES Means store in 1875.

In the later years of the 1800s and early 20th century, Machias was a booming village. Lumber and shipping commerce was at its height, oranges and exotic goods could be bought at the East India Tea Company. Shipbuilding was prominent in the village economy and the surrounding seaside towns.

As the years went by, the new century was not kind. The ports of Machias and near-by Bangor gave way those in the south that did not freeze in winter, Portland and Boston, or Saint John, Canada. Timber harvested, milled and sold to the shipbuilding industry faded as steam powered ships replaced the great ships and schooners built in downeast Maine. In the late 1920s and 1930s, the economic downturn that ravaged the entire country forced coastal Maine villages to reinvent their livelihoods. Yet residents of downeast Maine, including my ancestors, survived. They had descended from sturdy, determined immigrants and possessed the skills to be resilient, hardy, frugal, and endure hard work to provide for themselves together as a community.

This mind set exists today, handed down from generation to generation. We are joined by like-minded people who settle here from all over the country, to live a life tied to the land, our families and our neighbors. We live in a time when those skills will serve us well.

 

The Lincoln Farm Association

Membership Certificate of my great grandfather William Means who lived in Machias, Maine.

June 17th, 1907

“You have this day been enrolled as an honorary member of the Lincoln Farm Association a patriotic organization formed by American citizens for the purpose of preserving as a National Park the farm on which Abraham Lincoln was born. 

In witness whereof the names of officers and directors and the seal of the Association are hereunto affixed.”

The Lincoln Farm Association was founded in 1906 to preserve the birth site and cabin of Abraham Lincoln. Roughly 100,000 persons contributed money totaling over $350,000. Solicitations were sent out all over the country.

In 1905, Richard Lloyd Jones presented plans for Lincoln Farm Association in the Colliers magazine. Prominent men from all walks of life were appointed to the Board of Trustees. Logs of the symbolic cabin were found in the basement of the old Poppenhusen Mansion at College Point, New York. They were purchased by the Association for $1,000. In June a triumphant tour was scheduled to return the logs back to Sinking Spring Farm. During the trip back the logs were guarded by armed soldiers as stops were made in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and Indianapolis. Thousands turned out at each stop to see the “Lincoln Logs.”

Due to the efforts of the Lincoln Farm Association, the Sinking Spring National Park was established.

My Great Grandparents Home

Circa. 1930s. 24 Broadway, Machias, Maine. View from the front parlor through the wide, wooden, sliding doors into the sitting room and the dining room beyond. When I was in High School, my friends and I sat and listened to rock and roll music in this room. There, we mastered the skills of the hula hoop prior to a local contest in the 60s. There were dances in the parlor with a parquet wood floor fashioned by my father. I have no idea what the balls are but must be decorations hanging from the archway. The sliding doors are open wide with velvet curtains to slide shut instead of the doors.

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I have this rocking chair in my home. It was at the family summer camp at Indian Lake ever since I can remember. My mother told me the rocker came from the Means cottage, Edgemere, at Roque Bluffs.

Most of the furniture in my home today belonged to my great grandparents. In a future post, I’ll take you for a tour. Here’s a preview. Nellie’s table. It sat in the barn after my grandmother Harriet died in 1948. The marble top was missing. I replaced it with slate and oiled the wood with Hope’s 100% tung oil. It’s a beauty.

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My grandmother Harriet’s oak desk sat in the barn for decades. I oiled it with tung oil and it came alive again. The charcoal drawing is by Nina Bohlen, a friend of my parents, and given to me by my mother. The bronze fisherman and duck are treasured gifts from David and Kate Watts and belonged to Delia Houghton from Roque Bluffs.

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My Great Great Grandmother’s Things

are in my little home. They possess the warmth and love of her life, her daughter Nellie, my grandmother Harriet, my mother Louise. They stayed safe under the care of these women and the house at 24 Broadway. I found it tucked away in the attic. A cotton chair back cover (I think), embroidered with a G for Getchell, became a cafe curtain in my bathroom.

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This old blanket embroidered with M J G 12 (Martha Jane Getchell) was on a bed in the house I grew up in and used for more years than I count, likely since 1912. It’s a bit thin and tattered along one short edge but it’s still a warm, usable, wool blanket I treasure. I will tuck it around my grandchildren when they visit. Since Martha Jane Getchell died in 1913, I expect this was a gift to keep her warm during the last year of her life or it was her gift to future generations.dscn1913

The bathroom contains another story or two. The hooked rug on the wall was a kit purchased by my mother but never used. I found it when I began to sort out the things in the attic. When I went to live with and care for my mother in 2003, I brought the kit downstairs. Mom liked to watch one TV show in the evening so I sat with her and started the rug. It wasn’t long before Mom lost interest in TV. I set the rug aside, about 2/3 remained unfinished. Last winter, I picked it up again and enjoyed finishing it, remembering sitting with my mother.

I don’t know who possessed the early 1900s standard bathtub or the fixture set into a marble shelf. But, I am sure it came from an old downeast Maine home. I found the tub and faucet at a local used furniture store with my life-long friend David, in answer to my vision of an old tub in my home. “It will be hard to find a old tub in good shape Sherry,” he said. We walked into the store and there it sat, as if waiting for us.

In a future post, I will write about the furniture of my great grandparents, William and Nellie Means, found in the sprawling barn at their home, now sitting in my home.

Cash Sales at the ES Means Store 1875

Eliphalet Scribner Means had a store in downtown Machias, Maine. He was my great grandfather William‘s elder brother. The Means store sold a wide variety of foods and household items: butter, milk, eggs, cider, smoked beef, partridge, fish, cranberries, faucets, dressers, clothing. And candy. The freight book shows that Means ordered and received produce from Boston to sell, including oranges and green gages.

The list goes on. Here are some sample pages from the Cash Book of the Means store.

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My Great Grandmother’s Eldest Sister

Thirza J Getchell. I have her book of music, her zither, and two of the hats she made. Thurza J Getchell is engraved on the cover of the music book. A misprint?  I believe it is since my grandmother Harriet called her Aunt Thirza in her 1908 letters. And, Drisko’s History of Machias (the bible for Machias history) documents her name as Thirza.

Thirza had a millinery store in downtown Machias and was a successful businesswoman. She married George W Flynn. They had one son, Ossie C. Flynn, who sadly died at the age of 10 months. Thereafter Thirza remained childless.

Thirza’s velvet and feather hats. Imagine these hats were made and sold in Machias!

Thirza’s zither.

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Thirza’s music book, the hats she made, and zither she played, were in the attic of my ancestors home at Broadway in Machias, Maine, the house where I grew up.

After her second husband’s death, Thirza lived with and cared for her mother, Martha Jane Getchell, in a downtown apartment in Machias, likely above Thirza’s store.

Thirza died March 4, 1913. Her mother, Martha Jane, died two days later. Thirza was 69 years of age, her mother was 88 years old.

This is a photo of my great grandparents William and Nellie Means at their home on Broadway. Her mother, Martha Getchell and sister Thirza sit on the porch.