Guy Coffin and His Family


Guy Coffin and His Family


Bethel Historical Society






Full Text

Guy Coffin and His Family

by Blaine Mills

Guy Coffin (1880-1942)
Courtesy of the Greenwood Historical Society

The photographer Guy Coffin was born 5 June 1880 at Locke's Mills village in the town of Greenwood, Maine, the son of Jacob Gilbert Coffin and Abigail R. Farrington. He had an older sister, Jennie C., born in 1871 and a younger brother, Foye, born 3 November 1882, who died 31 October 1893.

Jacob Gilbert Coffin, known as "Gib," and his two brothers, Daniel Alphin and Charles, came to town after the Civil War. They were the sons of Daniel Coffin and Mary Grover of Milan, NH. It is conceivable that the Coffin family had moved to Mason, Maine, before the Civil War. Charles and "Gib" enlisted in the army from Mason.

Mrs. Coffin (Abbie R. Farrington) was born in Andover, Maine, the daughter of Samuel Farrington, Jr., and Susannah Coffin. She had one sister, Eliza Jane Sanborn, and three brothers, Oliver Perry, Charles Franklin, and Pierce. After the death of her father, her mother married John Abbott. From this marriage, Abbie got a half brother, Morton Abbott. All of Abbie's family lived in the Andover area.

The Coffins lived for many years on the Howe Hill Road at Locke's Mills. "Gib" worked at the Tebbets Spool Mill. His children, Jennie and Guy, attended the little Alder River School at Locke's Mills (now a residence next to the Red Top Restaurant). After graduation, Jennie taught school for a number of years and Guy worked briefly at the spool mill. Guy started taking photographs around 1895. He used two cameras, a 4 X 5 and a 5 X 7, maintaining a dark room in his parents' home. By 1900, he could be considered a semi-professional. Much of his income was derived from his numerous family portraits taken at his home or on location. Nearly all of Guy's surviving Greenwood negatives were ex-posed between 1900 and 1905. It was around 1904 or 1905 that the Coffin family moved to Mechanic Falls, where they would live out their lives. Guy's uncle, Morton Abbott, owned a general store at the Falls, and Guy went to work for him as a clerk. In time, Guy purchased the store from his uncle and operated the business for the next ten or fifteen years. Guy's cousin, Ralph Abbott, worked for him for many years, and at one time another cousin, Robert Sanborn, was an employee.

Guy's sister, Jennie, married Curtis E. Abbott of South Bethel. He was a mill superintendent, living in several towns around the State. Guy married Ellsworth Embree from Woburn, Massachusetts, around 1914. She was born 12 April 1896, the daughter of Ellsworth Embree and Mary Tracy. Guy and Ellsworth raised two daughters, Kathryn L., born 8 August 1915 and Glennis A., born 11 May 1921.

Guy's father died in 1919 and his mother in 1922. They were buried with their son Foye and Abbie's brothers and parents at the Locke's Mills Cemetery.

Although he continued to keep store, Guy Coffin never stopped taking portraits on a part-time basis. His family had maintained a cottage at Round Pond since 1900 or 1901, but in the mid-1920s Guy sold "Pine Hurst Cottage," thereby severing his last tie to Locke's Mills. In the late 1920s, he sold the store and went to work for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. At home, he continued his photography and started raising and showing poultry.

In 1937, Guy's brother-in-law, Curtis Abbott, died leaving Jennie a widow with no children.

In the late 1930s, Guy and Ellsworth built a new cottage at Bailey Island, but Guy did not have long to enjoy his new property, as he died on 18 December 1942 at the age of sixty-two and was buried at Mechanic Falls.

During World War II, Guy and Ellsworth's daughter, Kathryn, went to work at Caribou, Maine. After Guy's death, Ellsworth took a job at Caribou after selling the Mechanic Falls home. Nearly all of Guy's negatives were stored in the attic of this house, but no one knows what happened to them.