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Friday, November 21, 2014

Weymouth Family History Howland, Maine

Written By Joan Merrill

The town of Howland has been the home of Weymouth families since about 1872. Albert Weymouth came to Howland from North Howland where he lived with his family on what is known as the “Hamet” place which was destroyed many years ago. He built the large white victorian style house, carriage house and barn on Penobscot Avenue. Five generations of Weymouth's occupied the home over the years. Merle Weymouth Jr. and his wife with six children lived there until they moved to Edinburgh in 1967. George and Millie Dunn purchased the home that same year. When Merle Jr. passed away suddenly at the age of 47, Millie and George, in a unprecedented show of love and consideration, asked the family to accept their offer of their home for Buds service, in keeping with the long line of Weymouth's kin whose services have been held there. The family will never forget their many kindnesses at this very tragic time for us and their restoration of the old home is a continuing joy to us who trace our beginnings to it.

The Weymouth stores began with a small building near where the ferry was. Albert H. Weymouth, my great grandfather started it all. This little business was mostly rum and tobacco, and I am told that when he built the large general store on main street, it was his custom of giving the men of the family a dipper of rum or some tobacco when the seasonal bill was paid to him. Mrytie Blake, later Mrs. Osborne York, was his bookkeeper at one time, and a lady named Maggie Turner also worked in the store, as well as family members. Alberts son, Fred Weymouth 1st operated the store after his fathers death, which occurred suddenly when he was at work at his desk.
Albert's brother Henry Weymouth was also in business further north on main street at the location now known as Sereyko's store. Here Henry Weymouth had an Inn and behind that a livery stable where he rented horses and equipment. Across the driveway was a large dance hall, also owned by Henry who later in years converted the building into apartments. The building was torn down in the late 1940's.

Albert H. Weymouth also served as postmaster for Howland for three terms, 1870, 1890 and 1897.
The building known as the T&K was used for storing lumber as well as the old Russel building across the street. On this side of the street, family holdings also included the large corner lot where the new clothing store was to be built about 1923, and a large lot on which the town hall was built, the land being leased to the town by Albert H. Weymouth.
When the large modern clothing store was built across the street from the General Store, the latest and finest of fittings were put into it and it must have been quite a remarkable addition to the town. Fred M. Weymouth and son Merle senior worked as a partnership here until the death of Fred Weymouth in 1945. His son then became sole owner.
Merle Sr. and his southern bride Gladys Weaver, had come to Howland after Merle's World War I duties as an acting Captain were finished. He was with the 51st Pioneer infantry and served in the Meuse Argonne, St. MiHiel and Chateau Thierry in France, and was one of the first in Legion post here.
The old General store became the hardware store. Grandfather used to relate many tales of the days when molasses was pumped from a barrel, peanuts were kept in a basket hung above the counter. The local townsmen gathered by the potbellied stove to swap tall tales.
Fred was a man of sincere honesty, very dry humor, truly a man whose word was his bond. I have heard tell of the time a customer was admiring a new fancy clay pipe, he remarked, “I guess you'd probably take a man's last cent for that!” My grandfather reportedly said, “yes, I guess I would.” The customer slapped a penny on the counter and said, “there she be”, and my granddad gave him the pipe. These were timeswhen there was considerable business from the lumbering camps and there were supplies for every need of the farmer and woodsmen.
The hardware store was managed at one time by Carl Lancaster with Bernard Carver, and Stan Burgoyne, who as a boy got his early training in the clothing store. Burgoyne and Carver ran the store until Stan began his own business in West Enfield.
The clothing and drygoods store, outfitters to the family, was owned and operated by Fred Weymouth the 1st and son Merle Sr. Merle Sr. assumed the business after his father passed away in 1945. Over the yearshis help included Cora Leavitt, Dorothy Burgoyne and Glenna Sage Leavitt who managed the ladies wear with the help of some girls for part and full time. The girls were Jennie Knowlton, Maxine Swett, Betty Bolster, Geneva Saucier, Florine Robbins and the relationships we enjoyed with these wonderful people will be among my best memory. Ann Merrill, my mother in law, was one of the last ladies wear managers and worked there until the store closed in 1960.                            

When the Christmas season arrived, the activity was something to observe as the gift wares and toys were marked and finally, until late at night before the grand opening of the season, all was readied, and the children next day roamed up and down the aisles before and after school to examine the wonders that are so common all year round today that the season loses something of its wonder.
When Merle Jr. Cp US Marine Corp, returned from service, where he had seen action in Tarawa, Saipan, was wounded, returned home and went to work for his father in the clothing store. At about the time, Elbridge Merril, son in law of Merle Sr. returned from the service as a radioman 3rd class, where he had seen action aboard the battleship Texas in Europe and on a destroyer in the Pacific ocean., he then became manager of the hardware store. Merle Jr and Elbridge both managed to get a year in at Husson College while working part time at the store. Upon the death of Merle Sr. the stores were bought by Merle Jr and Elbridge and were operated until 1960 when economic conditions due to several mill closings made it feasible for the families to close both businesses. The stores were eventually sold to Fred Hallet who started his own business dealing in second hand items, doors, windows, furniture, kitchen cabinets. Fred sold the buildings after many years and they were then converted to apartments.

January 26, 1976 for the Howland Bicentenial.

Written by Joan Merrill...More history of Howland, Maine

Joan is doing well and living at Cummings Health Care in Howland.


Friday, May 27, 2011

History of Howland Mills, Howland, Maine, Howland Falls Paper Co., Advance Paper & Bag Co., Atlas Plywood Corp., and Pine Tree Tanning Co

In 1889 a mill was erected at the junction of the Penobscot and Piscatquis Rivers in Howland and was known as the Howland Falls Paper Company.  The complex was destroyed by fire just four years later and during the same year (1893) a brick factory and sulfite mill were built.

The State Senate and House of Representatives approved an ACT on March 10, 1893, which authorized and empowered the Howland Falls Pulp Company to erect and maintain booms and piers in the Piscataquis River and Seboeis Stream.

In January 1897 the company filed for bankruptcy.  The business was re-instated that same year and ran for approximately eighteen months under John C. Gerald.

The fall of 1897 showed reorganization under the name of Howland Pulp Company.  The firm operated until 1904.  It was sold in March of that year to a man by the name of Babbett, who formed the Howland Pulp and Paper Company.  The mill ran until 1916 and was sold to E.P. Lindsey, who then formed the Howland Pulp and Paper Corporation.

W.S. McCloskey began his career as an office boy at the age of 12 at the paper mill.  He worked various positions and began in the wet room when he had turned 16.  From there he worked up to the head of the department.  When the first paper machine was installed in 1903 he began as oiler and cleaner, advancing to head machine tender with 12 years of experience.  In 1920 he was made superintendent of the Howland mill and held that position until his untimely death at age 48.

The wage scale for a machine tender at that time was 95 cents per hour and back tender 73 cents per hour.  All other wages from the beater room, Kraft Mill, incinerator room, digester, diffuser, evaporating, Sulphite Mill, cooks, helpers, acid plant, wet room, wood room, power and steam plants, tramway operators, river men, mill yard, truck drivers all paid on the average of about 61 cents an hour.  The repair crew that consisted of masons, mason helpers, carpenters, machinists, blacksmiths, painters, pipers, and numerous others all averaged between 69 cents to 92 cents per hour.  At this time Joseph Hedin was the general manager.

On January 1, 1921, the paper corporation merged with the Advance Bag and Paper Company of Middleton, Ohio and took the name of Advance Bag and Paper Company, Inc.  The new firm brought plenty of prosperity to the town which helped commercial business to florish.  The Paper Company operated for a period of 18 years.  It sadly closed it's doors for good on March 18, 1939.  They moved most of its equipment to Hodge, Lousiana.

In order to get industrial life blood flowing again in Howland and Enfield a Board of Trade was organized.  President, Merle Weymouth, Vice Presidendt Gerald Kelley,  Secretary, Ralph Leavitt and Treasurer Edward Buck.  Directors were William Nodin, Edmond Nadeau, Earl Dekin, Ben Carpenter, Charles McKay and John Graham.

All of the above men and many others worked long hours and traveled many miles to talk with excutives of the Atlas Plywood to convince them to locate to Howland and take over where the Advance Bag and Paper Company left off.  Eventually the Atlas and Northern Kraft people were convinced.  They were handed a petition signed by over 400 people in the area dedicating themselves to all types of work.  The excutives were also assured of plenty of lumber, with a 40 to 50 mile radius of Howland that would last for at least 30 years.  The Northern Kraft said they could produce 75 tons of pulp every 24 hours.

In 1940 just prior to World War 11 the Atlas Plywood Company purchased the buildings owned by the Advance Bag and Paper Company.  In the same year the plywood company and the Gilman Paper Co., (Northern Kraft) moved into the building occupied by Atlas Plywood.

Business prospered, the town grew.  The Main Street was a busy area.  It had five grocery stores, two restaurants, bakery, barbershop, post office, hardware store, clothing store, watch repair shop and gift shop.  Main Street also had a Rexal Drug Store where prescriptions could be filled, a pool hall, legion hall,  several apartments in the old Bank Block, a town hall and a library. A movie theater was established at the town hall.  Saturday matinees were 18 cents and 35 cents for Saturday and Wednesday evenings.

The Plywood mill manufactured plywood crates for shipping such goods as refrigerators, shoes, military equipment and many other things.  This firm was one that survived on government contracts during World War 11.

The St. Regis Company of Tacoma Washington, which had been manufacturing Kraft paper by shipping wood across the continent and loading it aboard freighters bound for Norway, looked at the question of the Advance Bag and Paper Company as a means of keeping the operations solely in the United States.  The purchase of the plant was negotiated in 1950 in the city of Bangor at the Bangor House.

St. Regis became Howland's largest employer.  The cost of renovating and keeping up with the times exhausted all of the working capital the company had over a few short years.  By December 1952 St. Regis shifted its Kraft paper operations to other locations in the northeast.  The Howland plant closed laying off two hundred workers.

Atlas Plywood remained on the adjoining building site until October 1955, when the high cost of raw materials forced it to closed. 

The departure of the towns two major industries devasted the town once again.  A group of area residents formed the Howland-Enfield Development Corporation for the purpose to attract new industry to the area.

The committee was successful in 1957 to selling the Howland plant to Pine Tree Tanning Company for $32,064.17.  It eventually became on of the town's largest employers.  Pine Tree Tanning stayed until the fall of 1972 and then closed it's doors permanently.

The building still remains empty today. 

Acknowledgements:  Woodrow Faloon, Harold Robinson, Ruth Anderson, Richard Glueck, Russel Smart, Gary Sage, Bangor Daily News.

Revised by Richard Buck 2009

History of Howland Mills, Howland Maine, Howland Falls Paper Co., Advance Bag and Paper Co., Northern Kraft, St Regis Paper Co., Atlas Plywood Co., Pine Tree Tanning Co