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Ervin W. Moore (1864-1945) on the Moore Family History
and Life in the Bingham area in the 19th C.

From the Notes of Leona Redmond Sterling – ca. 1939
Original manuscript held by
Taconnet Falls Genealogical Library, Winslow, ME

Transcribed and edited by Marilyn Sterling Gondek

Ervin Moore

Luther Moore came from Madison to Bingham and in 1810 married Hannah Baker, daughter of Abner and Elizabeth Young Baker of Moscow, who were among the first settlers of that town (they had first settled in Bingham) in the area later known as Sugartown, on the Bardwell Baker farm, which is now owned by John Pooler.
For several years Luther and Hannah lived in Moscow where four children were born: Sarah, Abigail, William and Nathan. They then moved across the Kennebec into Concord where two children were born: Esther in 1820 and Naomi in 1822.

I am sure they lived in the house now occupied by Walter Garland but do not know whether grandfather was the builder. He ran the Bingham and Concord ferryboat for a long time and between 1822 and 1824 built a house on the Bingham side between the present bridge pier and the house now occupied by Carlton Ellis. Seven more children were born there: Cyrus, Lucinda, Luther, Webster, Hannah, Hiram, and Benjamin F.

There my mother (Naomi) spent her childhood and attended School in Bingham’s first schoolhouse that stood on the street a little south of the center of the Village Cemetery.  In afteryears grandfather moved to the place now owned by Niles Spaulding one-half mile north of Bingham Village and the second one across the old Austin Stream Bridge. It was on the east side and near the bridge at what became Moore’s Brook. There my grandparents spent the last years of their life. Luther Moore died in 1877 at the age of 88.  Hannah died in 1878 at the age of 86. Both are buried in the Village Cemetery with their youngest child Benjamin F. Moore, who died June 21, 1867 at the age of 30.

Their youngest daughter Hannah, who died in 1845 at the age of 13, was for some reason left in a lone grave in the southwest part of the older section of the cemetery marked by a marble slab bearing a verse written by her devoted brother Benjamin F., who was her almost constant companion as a child. With the exception of Hannah and Benjamin F., these thirteen children were strong and sturdy all marrying and having families but the above two.

Grandfather Luther turned his hands to various kinds of work in support of them. In addition to being ferryman for Bingham/Concord travelers he made shoes both for his family and the public and was quite famous along the Kennebec for the many pairs of snow shoes which he produced during the construction of the so-called Canada Road, which extended from North Anson to Embden and Concord through the latter town on the west side of Fletcher Mountain, thence past Rowe Ponds and Carrying Place crossing the Dead River above The Forks. He boated supplies for the men up the Kennebec. I have an entry mentioning this work in 1819 and making a charge for the work against Caleb Jewett, who was builder of the road, or part of it. Jewett Ponds were named for him (Jewett) but in later days became Rowe Ponds, only the more northern of the group retaining his name.

Grandfather Aaron Moore was born in Madison in 1796 and died in Concord on July 17, 1875. He married there Esther Nutting, daughter of one of the early settlers, Josiah Nutting, whose wife was an Ayer (buried in cemetery on Blackwell Hill Road). He settled on a farm a short distance north of his father’s place where he lived until 1827. Two children were born there: Charles Parker Moore and Esther, who married Jesse Spaulding. Charles P. was born September 5, 1817 and Esther (Moore) Spaulding was born in… [ca. 1823, ed.] In 1827 they moved from this place onto Blackwell Hill. Esther (Nutting) Moore was said to have been a very beautiful girl. She was rather short quite stout and up to her last years – nearly 90 – she was fair and very little wrinkled, always having good health and passing away almost without illness. Born in Madison 1799, she died in Moscow on July 23, 1885.

In 1832 Grandfather Aaron Moore moved from Blackwell Hill in Madison to Concord and bought a farm at the foot and on the side of Fletcher Mountain.  Another family came with them and built a home quite near on a semi-level spot on the side of the mountain.  A part of this land had already been cleared and Grandfather began clearing the remainder.

When Father was 80 years of age we drove over to the old place and walked up to where the old house stood, but nothing remained to mark the spot but a slight depression from the cellar overgrown with wild red rosebushes that had survived and increased from little primitive plants set there by his mother. A short distance beyond the building site there had recently been a little mining operation conducted where a small shaft had been sunk for several feet into the rock but no vein of value was discovered and the metal found was mostly lead galena, which is quite abundant around the mountain.

Father was fifteen years old at the time of moving to Concord and his father gave him all the land he would clear up for raising wheat, which was then the chief crop of all farmers. During that summer and following winter he cut, moved off, or burned all the timber and brush on an acre of ground and raised wheat there the following summer. He did this in addition to the many days work on the farm for his father.

This land must have been permitted to go back to woodland soon after it was cleared as it was then well wooded and evidently had furnished lumber for cutting for many years back. This proved to be an unfavorable location and after a few years grandfather bough the farm directly opposite Bingham Village on the river shore. This for many years has been known as the Reuben Bean farm and now owned by Fred Bean and occupied by his son-in-law Avery Rollins. Here they built a home and here my father took my mother to live with his parents where they were married in 1843.

In those days, there was always a winter road leaving the main road near father’s Concord home and crossing the river on the ice, making a short-cut to town for people living in Concord and Pleasant Ridge. This crossed the fields east of the river and came to Main Street about where the present Baker Street now starts.

In March 1845 Father had crossed the river to Bingham Village and hardly had he got to town when someone began shouting “Fire across the river!” and looking in that direction he saw sheets of flame leaping from the roof of the house he had but recently left.

It was about a mile to go and he made it in quick time only to find the whole place a flaming mass. The house and barn were then connected by an ell and the fire which seemed to have started in the barn had reached the house before they discovered it. At that time my oldest brother Charles was less than a year old and upon the alarm of fire Mother carried him dragging a feather bed to a place of safety down the road. There she rolled him in the soft old bed and returned to find the flames far ahead of her and she was unable to even step inside. Father reached there about the same time but was unable to save a single article from inside. Grandfather however was so fortunate as to save a few articles among which was an old mirror which I have a souvenir from Concord’s early days. And Father and Mother began life again – their personal inventory being a feather bed and a baby boy. They were taken in by a kindly neighbor, Mrs. Glidden, who lived on what in recent years has been known as the Romandal Chase place just north of the little stream that rises from the valley between Old Bluff and Fletcher Mt. I am not able to say where my grandparents found shelter at this time.

Father being a carpenter immediately began getting material together for a new house. Buying as little lumber as possible he cut on the farm timber for the frame and hewed it with the broad axe to the right proportions and the frame is standing today as sturdy and strong as when the tenons were fastened in the mortises by the big wooden pins that in olden days were used to make the frame secure.

Mother has told me how Father worked on an average of 20 hours a day hanging lanterns about so as to enable him to work at night until he and his parents were enabled again to occupy the place.

There were real neighbors in those days and some came with broad axes for hewing and others with oxen to draw the timber from the woods to the house lot. There is a very excellent flowing spring near the house which has always furnished ample water supply for all comers including farm stock. It was in old days well enclosed in a stone walled excavation and its overflow ran through a wooden pipe to a large log trough beside the road. I have no doubt this spring was the chief factor in causing the first house to be located near it. The new house was built over the cellar of the old one and about 1/3 larger though the cellar was not enlarged, the extension being on the north side nearest the county road which was the half in which our family lived. Nearly in front of the house the County Road divides, the left-hand road leading to points back of Old Bluff, the right-hand one leading to Pleasant Ridge and Carrying Place Plantations.

In olden days the first road extended through to Concord Corner but the south extension has been for some years discontinued. In father’s day the Bluff Road was quite prosperous and from 15 to 20 families lived in that community, but since then several of the farms have been abandoned to go back to woodland and the buildings destroyed.

In this house the other 5 children were born: Sanford, Hannah, Esther, Franklin (always called “Frank”) and myself. I was twenty years younger than my oldest brother Charles, or Charlie as he was always called, so he seemed to me like an elderly man as grownups always do to children.

My second oldest brother Sanford passed away when I was but a few months old but it was he who gave me my name suggested by that of a man who came here in connection with the lumber business and for whom he had a special liking. I know nothing of him but his name was Ervin Shepard.

When we moved from the old place it was in very good condition as a farm. The tillage land was cleared entirely from the river over the hill south of the house and I remember quite a good orchard that was growing on the hill which has now become woodland. Father also owned a tract of land west of the Bluff Road known as the “Rabbit Lot” today owned by Walter Robinson. Father’s work called him away from home a great deal yet he and his father always kept the farm going up to 1876 when Grandfather Aaron died. I used to go over with Father in haying time and again in the fall to gather apples. In March of 1868 when I was four years old we moved across the Kennebec to Bingham into Grandfather Luther Moore’s place to care for him and Grandmother who had the previous year been left alone by the death of their youngest son B. Franklin. Up to this time I have no memories of the old place and of the moving. I only recall bringing the family cat in a box. Uncle Franklin was a born artist judging from the few sketches we have found of his and his one painting of Great Grandmother Elizabeth (Young) Moore. At one time he was Post Master in Bingham and he was one of the active organizers of the Bingham Library which still continues. I have a letter which shows that at one time in the employ of a doctor in Albany N.Y. but most of his life he must have lived at home and been the caretaker of his aging parents.

When we moved to Bingham, Grandfather Luther was nearing 80 and Grandmother three years younger.  As I remember them they were quite well for so elderly, he doing some work in a small garden and also able to get about when not sitting in his comfortable rocking chair at the right of the fireplace. We lived in the addition that had been made to the old house and as I remember it the meals were always prepared by mother in our kitchen and served to the old people in their part of the house. There was an old fashioned fireplace in the general living room. This fireplace was of large proportions and had an iron frame with fluted column effects on the side and figures cast in the top with an unused crane hanging from one side of the frame.

Grandfather was blessed with an unusual memory and he used to tell me long talks of the feats of Napoleon of whom he was almost a worshiper. As far as the works of Napoleon’s life had come to hand he was able to tell where that eminent man was and what he was doing at any date in his career. One might mention the brook that ran past our house was then a considerable stream but in recent years has become very small and dearly dry owing to the going out of the old Austin Stream Mill dam whose flowage no doubt furnished underground seepage to supply the source of the brook near the house. I always had a dam across the brook which made a little pond large enough to float a small boat that Father made and which we would paddle or pole a distance of perhaps fifty yards. The boat was very light being made of narrow pine strips singled together and having something of a canoe shape. It would carry a considerable load and once during high water Father floated Mother and me down Austin Stream and across the Kennebec to our old farm, but we were obliged to walk up the stream when we returned. Seeing the brook of today, as I may say more properly the place where the brook once was, one can scarcely realize that it could once have been well stocked with small trout but such was the fact and from that and the Lincoln Baker Brook just beyond to the west I have caught many of them and occasionally a good sized speckled beauty. In those days, there were not so many fish-minded people as today and most of the brook fishing was done by small boys and those two streams, Moore’s Brook and Baker Brook nearly always had something to offer to the persistent fisherman.

Our nearby neighbor at that time having the place now occupied by Thomas Collins was Judah Baker whose wife was a very beautiful old lady with gray hair always crimped in an orderly fashion about her head and as long as she lived a great friend of my mother. Her maiden name was Viles. Shortly after our coming there the Bakers moved to Moscow and were replaced by another Baker family – Lincoln Baker, his wife Ellen Moore Baker, his daughter Cora B Baker and son Fred L Baker. Cora was about a year older and Fred a year younger than I. Shortly after coming another daughter arrived, the present Blanche Roberts. With Fred and his little white dog Rover I spent many happy boyhood days playing Indian and with the boys from the village ranging the country from the Bingham to Moscow Austin Stream bridges, hunting rabbits etc. The usual boys in our gang besides Fred B and myself were Curren Smith, Johnnie Morton, Ebbie Chase, Ossie Knowles, Jerome Abbey and George Miller. Lincoln Baker was a lumberman and did his work with oxen and Fred at an early age had a great desire to follow his father into the woods so he left school very young and followed that occupation all his life.

Lincoln Baker’s first wife passed away when Blanche was a small girl and he later married Maria S[paulding] Sterling, a widow from Caratunk and a splendid woman who brought to his home two children, Eddie and Maud. Eddie died soon after coming there. Maud married Fred Clark. The new Mrs. Baker took most excellent care of the Baker children while they were at home and to me she always seemed a most ideal wife and mother. Lincoln finally sold the old home and built a new place near the foot of Nichols Hill now owned by Charles Collins (1939).

Our neighbor on the east was Calvin Colby living in house near Austin Stream bridge, now owned by William Robinson. The exterior has been but little changed from when it was built by Allen Heald, once interested in the saw and grist mill. He went with his family to California sometime in the 1850’s.  A part of the maple grove still stands that covered the ground from Colby’s to Moore’s Brook, where Calvin made maple syrup every year.

In summer, the Colby grove was a favorite playground for the children and popular place for picnic parties and open air public meetings. In about the center of the grove near three tall pines, there was a speaker’s stand and rough board seats scattered about. In my early days, several 4th of July orations being given there. Also recall a great gathering of Spiritualists to listen to an address by their famous medium Mrs. Bradbury, who was introduced by Jabez Hill, who was one of the leaders of that cult which had many adherents at that time.

Calvin Colby had two children – Charles, who married Viola Dinsmore, and Alice, who married Ernest Dodge of Portland. Following this marriage Colby moved to the village and opened a hardware Store for the purpose of making a business for his son-in-law. But he was a very slight man and store work failed to appeal to him so he soon after took his wife to Portland where they lived with the elder Dodge family.

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