Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Letter from D. Knowlton, Camden Maine, to Col. Gideon Mayo, Orono Maine re: Penobscot Bay and River Railroad

Letter dated February 10, 1873 from D. Knowlton of Camden, Maine, to Mr. Mayo, who I assume is Colonel Gideon Mayo of Orono, Maine.

"Dear Sir,

We shall vote today to take stock in the Bay and River Road.  I think we shall have a large majority in favor of the Road.  I will let you know tomorrow morning how it goes.  We are all in favor of contracting with Ledley [?] at once.  Yours in haste,
D. Knowlton"

David Knowlton was born in Liberty, Maine, and spent the greater part of his life in Camden, Maine, as a manufacturer and inventor of ship machinery.  He also built railroad cars, and this is probably how he came into contact with Col. Mayo.  Knowlton was one of the incorporators of the Camden Savings Bank.  He married Susan M. French and had children: Viola C. (married Charles A. Bucklin); Alonzo J. Q.; John D.; E. Frank; Willis D.; George W., Mary E., and Susan E.  Four of his sons carried on the business as Knowlton Brothers in 1880.

Reader Steve Cartwright has supplied a photograph of a Knowlton capstan, patented in 1873, mounted in cement at his Tenants Harbor cottage, where it's used to pull boats ashore.  Nothing is known of its earlier history, but one can only imagine.

Colonel Gideon Mayo was born in Frankfort, Maine, in 1808, the son of Ebenezer Mayo, and died in Orono, Maine, in 1876.  His honorific came from service in the Maine Militia.  He served in the Maine Legislature in 1859 and 1864 and was involved in the lumbering and farming business.  In 1832, he married Martha Houston, daughter of Joseph and Hannah (Brown) Houston.  Their children were: Elbridge C.; Hannah M.; Edward P.; William Franklin; Gideon; Charles; Abbie Anna; Henry Allen (died in infancy); Henry Allen; Annie M. (married Prof. George Hamlin); Joseph H.

See another post which features an 1873 letter from Hon. Francis Hibbard of St. George, New Brunswick, to Col. Mayo, also about a "road", which might be a road or a railbed.  Hibbard had lumbering and mining interests and served on the Legislative Council of New Brunswick.

I think this letter relates to the Penobscot Bay and River Railroad, which, according to one online source, was never built.  If you have some information on the Bay and River Road, please let me know.

Aside from the railroad aspect, people familiar with Camden, Maine, might enjoy seeing the advertisements that make up the left hand side of this letter.  They include:  James Perry, Camden Cash Store; Miss A. S. Barker, Millinery and Dress Making; J. & B.. C. Adams, Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Coal, Wood, Pressed Hay, etc.; Shepherd, Jones & Co.; J. G. Pottle, Merchant Tailor; Camden Grist Mill; Talbot & Merriam, Lime; Talbot, Rust & Gould, Ice; N. T. Talbot, Counsellor at Law; Camden Anchor Works; D. Knowlton & Co; Bay View House, E. H. Demuth, Prop.; Carleton & Co., Ice; Swan Hotel; H. A. Miller, Photographer; H. Knight & Sons, Furnaces, Stoves, Tin Ware; Edwin C. Fletcher, Drugs, Patent Medicines; Carleton Norwood & Sons, Corn, Flour, Groceries; W. E. Currier, Corn, Flour, Meal, Groceries; H. H. Cleveland & Sons, Wholesale Confectioners; Cole, Richards & Co., Shipping Merchants

If you have any insights into this letter or Messrs Knowlton or Mayo, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

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