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We often read about the men pioneers who settled our area, but we have little information available to us about the women who supported and nourished the bodies and spirits of their husbands and children!  Some Maine USGENWEB volunteers have gathered stories about a few 18th, 19th and 20th century women who have lived in and helped to develop Central Maine.  We hope you enjoy reading about these courageous and in many cases independent women! Many were far "ahead of their time" in their thinking, and in their life style.
Mrs. James Winslow
 Laura Elizabeth Richards
 Mrs. Allen
 Queen of Sheeba
Martha Ballard, Midwife
Eunice Chase Lane
 Sarah Fosdick Norton
Mildred "Brownie" Schrumpf
Early Pondtown Woman
 Patience Titus Bishop
 Mary Jane Megquire
Our Thanks to the  Androscoggin County Historical Society  for the following links:
Diary of Phebe Merrill, Hebron, Maine
 The Diaries of Anne Susan Jumper of Minot, Maine
 Diary of Anna Dagget of Greene, Maine
If you know of a woman in Central Maine's history
who would add character to this page Email

From the Lane Genealogy
In 1771 James and Ephraim Lane traveled from their hometown of Hingham, Mass. to Fort Western by boat up the Kennebec River, and then by blazed trail through the woods to Readfield. Here, James first met Eunice Chase who had preceeded them, and was visiting Gideon Lambert, a blacksmith formerly of Martha's Vineyard. For two years James worked hard to clear his land, build a log cabin near a spring, and to plant corn. He bought a pig at Fort Western and carried it to Readfield in a sack. Once the corn was harvested, and the pig slaughtered and salted down, he figured he had prepared a home fit for a bride, and returned to Hingham. Miss Eunice had already returned to her home in Tisbury, close by. When James returned to Readfield the following spring the cabin had been broken into by Indians and the corn and pork was all gone. James had to carry all of his supplies from Fort Western until the next harvest came in. In spite of this hardship Eunice was not swayed. Upon her arrival at Fort Western, she and James were married  by Gen. James Howard on August 3,1774. She was not yet 16, James was 25. Indians were plentiful at that time, according to the Lane family history, and they used to camp near James Lane's spring. The Indians never hurt James and Eunice, but bears destroyed crops and killed livestock - in fact James slew one with his ax one time when it tried to kill his pig. Eunice was four months pregnant with her first child when James went to serve in the Revolutionary War.
Eunice was an excellent horsewoman who frequently made the journey on horseback to Hallowell or Massachusetts. She is also said to have had a "green thumb". After one of her journeys she planted her willow riding whip which grew into a huge tree that stood on Kents Hill until the 1940's. Eunice was also an expert needlewoman, and paid Squire Williams at Readfield for drawing up the deed of their land by giving to Mrs. Williams a beautiful embrodered piece which Mrs. Williams had admired. Eunice was also a great lover of flowers and brought home some seed of the field daisy which spread out of her garden into surrounding fields of the neighborhood and became somewhat of a pest to the farmers in later years. When I pick a daisy I always think of Eunice Lane, and wonder if it is from the seeds that she brought from Martha's Vineyard.
From Reflections of Readfield
Sarah Fosdick Norton, wife of Stephen, was renowned for her horsemanship. She was the mother of Readfield's first lawyer, Peter Norton. Mrs. Norton was respected for her extensive knowledge, particularly of herbs and medicines which she would carry in her saddlebags to visit the sick, sometimes riding long distances when called. She was a French Huguenot and spoke several languages. Because of her reputation for being learned and studious she is the one who prompted the legend that Readfield was named for someone who was a great reader.
One Early Pondtown Wife and Mother
from History of Winthrop by David Thurston, publ. 1855
David Thurston related the story of one young woman who "said the day after the birth of a child she dined on smoked moose meat and turnip greens. Her husband had gone to procure them breadstuff, but was gone longer than expected. She had finished the last of their provisions. What could she do? Her neighbors could not assist her, for they were in the same predicament. She was greatly at a loss what course to take to save herself and the child. She adopted this singular method. She ate salt; that made her thirsty, and she drank more, and thus procured nourishment for her child until relief came."
from History of Winthrop by David Thurston, publ. 1855
Squire Bishop came to Pondtown with his wife and five children in 1766. According to Thurston, the Bishops were in "embarrased circumstances poor and in debt". Mr. Bishop was able to accumulate enough property to pay his debtors after some time, but for a few years they was in dire straights and he was often disheartened. His wife, Patience, persevered under difficult circumstances on several occasions for the sake of her children. On one occasion when Rev. Mr. Eaton came to visit he found the family had no food and was destitute. It was Mrs. Bishop who went to the pigeon net and obtained a competent supply. Another time the Bishops had no food, and there was none any closer than Cobbossee. Mrs. Bishop asked her husband to go and obtain food before they starved, but he was discouraged, said he was too feeble, that he wouldn't go and they might as well die where they were. But Patience, not desponding, resolved to see what she could do. She proceeded to bend up some pins, procured a pole and line and bait. She took her babe in her arms, and went to the pond, which was a fair distance, and soon caught as many fish as she could carry with the child too. On returning to the house she heard a rustling in a tree, and looking up saw a racoon. She did not want to scare him off by calling her husband, so she took of some of her clothes and made a human likeness to sit at the base of the tree. She then hastened to the house and said "the Lord has sent us a coon; take your gun and shoot him". Mr. Bishop said "He'll be gone to Boston before I can get there", but Mrs. Bishop insisted the coon would be there. They fed upon coon meat until Mr. Bishop became strong enough to procure a supply of food.
from News Article, Kennebec Journal 5/14/94
Apron Full of Gold, The Letters of Mary Jane Megquire from San Francisco 1849-1856
by Polly Welts Kaufman, University of New Mexico Press, 1994
Mary Jane Cole was born in Turner, Maine in 1813 and at 18 married Dr. Thomas Megquire who was 11 yrs. her senior. Dr. Megquire could not support his family to his satisfaction in Winthrop, so he and some associates set out for the Sandwich Islands in 1849 to set up a practice there. Word of the Gold Rush reached them before they left New York, however, and they soon changed their plans. When Dr. Megquire learned that a woman could make more money than a man in San Francisco, he sent word to Mary Jane to join him on the journey. She found friends who would accomadate her not yet grown children, and set out to meet her huband. They went to San Francisco over the Isthmus, and soon settled into the busy life in San Francisco. The book Apron Full Of Gold is a compilation of her high spirited- letters from the west coast, mostly sent to her daughter, Ange. They tell of her adventures traveling to California, the daily life and social activity in San Francisco. Mary Jane was an independent woman who ran a busy boarding home, made hundreds of business decisions, and traveled across the country alone three times. She supervised the construction of their new home in Winthrop, Beachcroft, and eventually gave up her life in San Francisco to be near her children who were unwilling to move west.
from News Article "A Piece of Cake" by Joan H. Smith Bangor Daily News 1/22/1993
Memories From Brownie's Kitchen, A Collection of Recipes...Bangor Publishing Co., 1989
Mildred Brown was one of four children born at the family farm on South Road in Readfield Depot. She loved cooking early on, unlike her two sisters, and made her first pan of biscuits at 6 yrs of age. According to Brownie her father, Fred Brown, was a wonderful man and father who always told her to "get involved". She took part in her community by joining 4H, and at 14 yrs. when a freshman at Winthrop High School she was named Kennebec County 4H canning champion. As county champion she was invited to attend a seminar at University of Maine in Orono. Leaving her family, the farm, and with the smell of the old barn fresh in her memory she made the 90 mile trip north. Once there, she took a look around campus and decided she wanted to go to college. Brownie graduated from UMO in 1925 with a B.S. degree in home economics. In 1932 she married William Schrumpf. Her years of dedicated service in the field of home economics included lecturing, teaching, directing 4-H, promoting Maine products, and she contributed a weekly food column to the Bangor Daily News for 40+ years. Her awards and honors include a Black Bear award (1957); Maine Department of Agriculture Award for "service in promoting Maine foods" (1970); UMO General Alumni Association Award (1974); and the Annual Achievement Citation Award of the American Association of University Women (1989). In celebration of a lifetime of cooking excellence, "Brownie's Kitchen" has been established at the Page Farm and Home Museum at the University of Maine. Brownie's Kitchen is part of a suite of rooms depicting how people lived in the late 1800s and early 20s. Brownie's husband died in 1976, and she has remained very active in the Bangor area throughout the years until recently when she moved into a nursing home. Hundreds came to her 90th birthday celebration in January, 1993 at which time she was referred to as "A National Treasure".
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