Gilead's Centennial To-Day
Gilead's Centennial To-Day
This Oxford County Town Fittingly Celebrates Her 100th Birthday
Her Sons and Daughters Return
The Parade Led by Indian Rangers - The Dinner - The Formal Program - Field Sports
Full Story of the Day
Gilead, Me. July 14 (Special) — Gilead is one hundred years old today and the event has been celebrated in great style for so small a town. Her sons and daughters have been with us, and all have vied with each other in doing honor to the fine old town that they love so well.
This matter has been agitated for a long time and it has been the settled purpose of our people to celebrate the event in as fine style as possible. They have all hands taken hold with a will, and the result has been a great success. The expense has been partly borne by the town, while private contributions have served to swell the fund to a point where a creditable display could be assured.
Gilead has produced noted men and women and there are historic spots in town. The old Peabody house, built in the year 1800, still stands in an excellent state of preservation and is now owned by Mrs. Wm. R. Peabody and used by her as a summer home. It has always been a family possession, and none of their assets are held in greater veneration than this stately old time mansion. A daughter, Ada Louise Peabody, is now the wife of Prof. A. J. Roberts of Colby University, and this is likewise their summer home.
Away back in the early days of the last century, this house was used as a tavern, and the old sign which once swung in front is still retained as one of the souvenirs of the place. The house was built by Thomas Peabody and a son of the same name was the landlord here in 1827. We herewith present a half tone picture of the old mansion and it will be seen to be an ideal spot to pass the summer months.
Peabody Tavern, Gilead, Maine, 1895; courtesy of Joanne Peabody Stewart
At the first meeting called to form a permanent organization to have the matter of arrangements for this celebration in charge, Mr. R. D. Hastings of Auburn was chosen president. While Mr. Hastings is not exactly a native of Gilead, he is a son by adoption, having married Miss Ella Josephine Coffin, the accomplished daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. A. Coffin of this place. Mr. Hastings is also a heavy property owner and tax payer of the town and hence his selection as president of the day has been in excellent taste and judgment. The other committees chosen were as follows: F. B. Coffin, secretary.
Executive Committee—H. P. Wheeler, chairman; S. A. Coffin, E. R. Bennett, Rev. L. M. Bosworth, Albert Bennett, A. D. Wight, E. T. Peabody, A. A. Newell and Josiah Heath.
Committee on Food—Mrs. John Newell, Mrs. E. R. Bennett, Mrs. John Richardson, Mrs. G. H. Coffin, Mrs. F. B. Coffin, Mrs. H. P. Wheeler, Miss Cornelia Bennett, Mrs. A. D. Wight, Mrs. E. T. Peabody, and Mrs. T. G. Lary.
Music and Parade—Milan Bennett, Bert Harriman, Herbert Wheeler, R. I. Peabody, L. H. Watson.
Committee on Speakers—H. P. Wheeler, Albert Bennett.
Committee on Sports—A. A. Newell, A. D. Wight, Josiah Heath.
Reception Committee—Rev. L. M. Bosworth, J. W. Bennett, Mrs. L. M. Bosworth, Mrs. T. G. Lary.
Early Thursday morning the guests began to arrive. The morning trains from both directions brought large delegations, while hundreds of people came in by team from the surrounding towns.
The reception committee was kept busy in looking after these visitors and seeing that they were made to feel they were among friends.
The exercises of the forenoon commenced with the formation of the parade immediately after the arrival of the Portland train at eleven o'clock. President R. D. Hastings was master of ceremonies and acted as marshal of the day. He was in uniform and finely mounted and did the honors with military precision.
On account of the sparsely settled community no attempt was made to form a big parade, but nevertheless it was a most creditable affair. First came the Gilead Cornet Band, led by Milan Bennett, and the music that they made was most inspiring. These musicians were followed by all the school children of the town in line of march. There were some seventy or seventy-five in line, and dressed as they were in white they made a pretty appearance.
The invited guests stood next in line and these were very numerous. Old residents of the town were there in numbers, and they marched as proudly as did their sons and grandchildren.
The Indian rangers and cowboys led by Possum Jack made one of the features of the day. They were all mounted and, armed as they were to the teeth, presented a most formidable appearance. As no one cared to stir them up, no shots were fired by them and no one was killed. This was very fortunate as from their wild looks it was evident that they were spoiling for a fight and at the least provocation would doubtless have opened fire on the crowd.
The line of march was taken up directly to Hastings' Grove. Here a platform had been erected, tables spread and seats arranged. After a short social intercourse, Chairman Hastings rapped to order and a blessing pronounced by Rev. Mr. Bosworth, the local pastor. It was a fine dinner that the committee had prepared and it was a big crowd to eat it. Baked beans, cold meats and condiments were all there, and the dinner hour was one of the most enjoyable of the day. Reminiscences and old time stories were indulged in, and many anecdotes were brought out from the hidden nooks of memory where perchance they had lain for years. It was a full hour before the banquet closed, and then another hour of social chat and games followed. The band gave fine music and all went merry as a marriage bell.
Promptly at two o'clock, President Hastings rapped to order and said: "Ladies and Gentlemen—As our sires of old were wont to ask of the Creator Divine guidance in all their undertakings, so we as worthy sons of worthy sires see fit to open the exercises on this Memorial Day by asking the Rev. Mr. Bosworth to lead us in prayer."
President Hastings then said: "Ladies and Gentlemen—Had the executive committee of these centennial day exercises asked of me the price of pulp wood, spruce dimension, or pine logs, some who best know me would say they had applied for such information at a proper source; that a correct and ready reply would be forthcoming; but when they ask me to preside at their centennial gathering I can see but one excuse for that selection, which is best illustrated by an incident which happened in this town some years ago. Deacon Burbank was crossing the Androscoggin River in a ferry boat when the rope broke and the boat, the deacon and the ferryman all went down stream; the deacon fell to his knees and began to pray, when the ferryman sang out, 'Deacon, I know the Lord is good, but we have got to do something in this case to save ourselves.' So, in this celebration, we all have got to take hold and do our part to make a success of it, and my failings in this position would be more pronounced and conspicuous than in any other within their gift.
"Gilead since her incorporation has had born to her many worthy sons and daughters, many of whom have joined the silent majority, some of whom are still in active life, and your committee had hoped up to the eleventh hour that many more were to be with us today, conspicuous among whom is His Honor, Judge Henry Peabody of Portland, one of the judges of the supreme court of the State of Maine, who at the last moment was obliged to decline your committee's invitation to address you today.
"Another instance is that of Prof. John Wight of New York, who has sailed or is to sail in a short time for foreign parts, and is unable to be with us.
"But nothing daunted, your committee turned to the fair daughters referred to above and found that Gilead, through them, had also as famed a son-in-law as sons; that one of them could and would be present today, prepared to address you historically about Gilead from the days of Peabody's Patent to the present time, and it gives me great pleasure to present to you Prof. Arthur J. Roberts of Colby University, who will now deliver the address of the day."
Prof. Roberts was received with a volley of applause that continued for several minutes. This gentleman is no stranger here. His wife is of the famous Peabody stock of the town, and here in the old Peabody house their summer months are passed. It was a pleasure for him to talk on such a theme, and to do this no better selection could have been made. He is a fine public speaker, and on this occasion, his address was largely of a historical nature. In fact, so completely did he cover this field that his speech deserves to be put into permanent form as a history of the town. Prof. Roberts' address will be found elsewhere in this issue.
Then came selections by the Libby Sisters' quartet, of Gorham, N.H. These gifted young ladies were natives of Gilead, and it was especially fortunate that they could be present on this occasion. Prof. Scott White also gave a most pleasing vocal solo which was greatly appreciated.
The reading of the act of incorporation was by H. P. Wheeler. This ancient document, with its quaint style of phraseology, was given in a very fine manner by Mr. Wheeler, and it made one of the long-to-be-remembered features of the day.
There was more playing by the band, and then followed short remarks by old residents and visitors. These were mostly of a reminiscent and congratulatory nature, but were none the less welcome and appreciated.
The field sports during the day have been numerous and interesting. There have been ball games, bag, wheelbarrow and three-leg races, all of which have been closely watched and the victors applauded. In fact, the entire day has been taken up in a constant round of excitement, and time has never for a single moment been without something to instruct or amuse. Scores of people have visited the fine residence and grounds of Mr. J. W. Bennett, and these have been received and entertained in the mst hospitable manner. Mr. Bennett's place is a famous one. He has 3,000 acres of land, the greater part of which is heavily wooded. His lawn and gardens are very fine, while his house is a museum of art and antiquity. Here are some rare old linens woven by his mother on a hand loom in the long ago, and it is unnecessary to say that they are kept as sacred mementoes. Old china and pewter ware is here in plenty, and many other objects of interest can be seen in Mr. Bennett's establishment. All these were kindly shown and each visitor was made to feel at home.
Residents and guests alike greatly enjoyed the day. The scenery around this village is especially fine, as this is located in the foothills of the White Mountains, whose spurs are all around. Bear Mountain and old Cambo are but a short distance away, while the location of the little village by the mouth of Wild River is indeed most charming. It has been a day of general rejoicing and one that will long be remembered alike by residents and guests.