Friday, November 13, 2009

Kittery celebrates the lives
of the Pepperrells

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
275 years later, the Pepperrell Family was once again at the center of attention in Kittery Point.
Local residents gathered at the tomb of Colonel William Pepperrell in Kittery Point on Saturday to see the work that has recently been completed by the Pepperell Project. Led by former state senator Steve Estes, The Pepperrell Project has cleaned up the area surrounding the tomb. “It’s to make the site more visible. People couldn’t find it,” Estes explained in his opening remarks to a crowd of several dozen.
The event began with several songs by maritime folk performers The Dog Watch. Estes then welcomed the crowd, and stated that the goal of the Pepperrell Project was to “reveal again for the first time in 30 years this wonderful site.” Estes noted that 2009 is the 275th anniversary of the death of Colonel Pepperrell, and asked if there were any Pepperrell descendants in the crowd. About 6 people raised their hands.
After a blessing by Reverend Jeff Gallagher, historian, author, and former state legislator Neil Rolde took the podium. “Today we are celebrating once again the lives and the contributions to American history of the two Pepperrells,” said Rolde, referring to Colonel William Pepperell and his son Sir William Pepperrell. Rolde is the author of the book Sir William Pepperrell of Colonial New England.
Colonel Pepperrell arrived at the Isles of Shoals in 1676 from Devonshire, England. He married Margery Bray of Kittery Point, the local tavern keeper’s daughter, and the couple had 8 children, including William Jr. “The William Pepperrell Company” found success in shipping, trade, forestry and especially real estate.
“With his father’s help, William Jr. went about acquiring Maine real estate,” Rolde explained. “From Kittery all the way north to Scarborough. It was later said he could get on his horse here in Kittery Point, ride to Scarborough, and never get off his own land.” At one point William Jr. was known as the richest man in Maine.
William Pepperrell Jr. went on to serve in the Massachusetts Legislature. “He seemed to excel at everything he did. He was apparently extremely personable,” said Rolde. “Everybody liked him.”
William Pepperrell Jr.earned his fame for his leadership in capturing the French Fortress Louisburg on Cape Breton Island (Canada) during King George’s War in 1745. “He was chosen to lead an armada of colonists against the French,” said Rolde. “Pepperrell’s leadership led to the capture, after a short siege, of a supposedly impregnable French fortification.”
“Pepperrell’s victory was wildy celebrated in England. And he went there, not to be knighted by the king, but actually ennobled, which means he was made a Baronet, which is a much higher rank than a knight,” Rolde explained. William Pepperrell Jr. thus became Sir William Pepperrell.
After Rolde’s history lesson, Shapleigh School eighth grader Jackson Yeaton read the poem “With Pepperrell’s.” The restored memorial tablet was then unveiled, and the “Pepperrell Brigade” colonial re-enactors fired a musket salute over the Pepperrell tomb.
Work on the Pepperrell Project began in the summer and benefitted from the time given by several volunteers. Additional support for the Pepperell Project was given by The Friends of Fort McClary, The Kittery Cemetery Committee, and The Kittery Historical and Naval Museum. The museum also hosted a reception following Saturday’s celebration.
The Pepperrell Tomb and Memorial can be found on Route 103 in Kittery Point, across the street from Frisbee’s Market.
Photo caption: Part of the ceremony in Kittery Point on Nov. 7 celebrating restoration of the Pepperrell Tomb and Memorial. (Devin Beliveau photo)

The First 75 Years of Skiing in Maine

The Ski Museum is offering a Fireside Chat at the York Public Library on Nov. 19.
Maine’s skiing history goes back farther than any other New England state. A Mainer wrote America’s first book on skiing. A Maine company built the world’s tallest ski jump and the first chairlift in the East. Maine manufacturers were leading producers of skis in the early years of the 20th century. That’s the starting point for a Fireside Chat that was recently produced by the Ski Museum of Maine.
It’s titled, “An Avalanche of Interest: The First 75 Years of Skiing in Maine,” and the program will be offered free of charge as part of the York Public Library’s Brown Bag Lunch lecture series at noon on Nov. 19. The York Public Library is located at 15 Long Sands Road. Call 363-2818. Website: This is a co-presentation with the Museums of Old York.
Approximately 100 photos and other graphic images, some more than a century old, will be projected on a screen. The pictures were loaned to the Ski Museum of Maine by historical societies and private individuals around the state, then converted to digital slides for the Fireside Chat.
The narrator will be Scott Andrews, a Portland-based ski journalist and Museum director who assembled the photos and performed much of the research. Andrews has been a snowsports journalist for 23 years and is a writer for several magazines, including Skiing Heritage.
Andrews notes that the story of Maine skiing starts in the late 19th century with the arrival of Scandinavian immigrants in Aroostook and Oxford counties. Immigrant craftsmen made the first skis used in this state ─ but they were used strictly for transportation during that era.
Skiing evolved into a sport in the early years of the 20th century. Paris Manufacturing Company started making recreational skis in 1900. A Portland man wrote America’s first book on the sport of skiing in 1905, and the Poland Spring resort began promoting winter sports getaways in 1909.
Winter carnivals were common in dozens of Maine towns in the 1920s and 1930s, helping to popularize skiing. Ski jumping was the marquee spectator event, but cross-country skiing became a popular participant sport. School competition grew out of these winter carnivals.
Downhill skiing became especially popular in the 1930s when rope tows proliferated all over Maine, including two in western York County: Bauneg Beg and Powderhouse Hill. (The latter is still operating.)
The Hussey Manufacturing Company (predecessor of today’s Hussey Seating) of North Berwick was a pioneer builder of chairlifts as well as the towering scaffolds used in jumping competitions.
“Skiing has been part of the Maine way of life since the late 1800s, offering recreation and competition to both residents and visitors,” says Andrews. “Our museum’s objective is to feed the passion of Maine skiers and to illustrate the significance of our sport to our state’s lifestyle and economy.”
Fireside Chats are traveling outreach programs of the Ski Museum of Maine, a nonprofit organization located in Kingfield. There is no charge for the program, but donations are gratefully accepted. “An Avalanche of Interest: The First 75 Years of Skiing in Maine” is sponsored by the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club and the Ski Maine Association.
Photo caption: Poland Spring Postcard ca 1915. (Courtesy photo)

Ogunquit’s Spirit of Giving
Campaign is Underway

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
In just five years, the Ogunquit Spirit of Giving Committee has established their holiday gift drive as one of the signature events in town. Since 2005, the committee has organized a campaign that ensures that many needy kids get not only Christmas presents, but ones they actually have asked for.
“Some organizations are doing great things (with Christmas giving),” said committee member Jeff Porter. “Our group makes it a little more personal. We get a wish list for a particular child, their name, age, and what they want. Then we go shop for it.”
It’s not just the 12 committee members that do the shopping, although they certainly do their share. It’s people they’ve recruited from Ogunquit, York, Cape Neddick, and Wells that take the wish lists and make them come true.
The committee’s campaign provided gifts for 350 children in 2008. That’s up from 80 in 2005, 203 in 2006, and 299 in 2007. This year they expect to do even better.
The committee works with Old Town-based Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine, specifically their Kinship Program. That program works with kids who are being raised by relatives other than their natural parents, primarily grandparents.
“It’s primarily grandparents raising their grand kids,” said Bette Hoxie, the program’s director. “Sometimes it’s an aunt or uncle. Most are on fixed incomes and most don’t get reimbursement from DHHS as foster parents do.”
Without that support, the families sometimes have problems affording Christmas presents. That’s where the committee comes in. Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine solicits wish lists from the families and then gives them to the committee. And that’s when the shopping begins.
“People sign up for how many kids they want to ‘adopt’,” Porter said. “We send information about the gifts (requested). They bring the gift wrapped with the kid’s name on it. Everyone makes an effort to make sure all the kids on the list are covered.”
The drive culminates this year on Dec. 6, with a 4 p.m. party at Maine Street in Ogunquit. That’s when people bring in all the gifts, which then are packed into trucks and taken to their destinations.
The committee members encourage volunteers to join the effort. To sign up, visit the website at or, if you don’t have access to the website, call 646-8158 and leave a message.
“We’re not really set up to accept money,” said Porter. “That’s not really the point of what we’re trying to do. We want to make that extra step to ensure a child gets what they really want to make their holiday happy.
Committee members include Porter, Jason Corbin, Irene Crocker, Jimmy Lucibello, Jim Morgan, Normand Paquin, Michael Maler, Jerry Peppe, Frances Reed, David Sullivan, Suzanne Thompson, and Mike Zamojski.
Hoxie said the committee does a great job. “They have made it possible for our families to have an amazing Christmas,” she said. “The packages are wrapped beautifully. Some who do the shopping go above and beyond. And the event they put on is wonderful.”