Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20, 2015 - 250 Years Or So


In the mid-1700s, Maine was not yet a state of the U.S. but a territory of the state of Massachusetts.  The town of Harpswell, which had grown huge at over 800 people, was finally incorporated into a town in 1758, separated from North Yarmouth by the Massachusetts General Court.  But before becoming a town, Harpswell had become a “parish” in 1751 under the director of Reverend Richard Pateshall.  Becoming a parish in those days was a big deal.  However, Reverend Pateshall only preached for a couple of years.

Reverend Elisha Eaton became the town pastor in 1753 and he had the old Meeting House built, which served as church and everything else for the town.  It was completed in 1759 (or maybe 1760), and that building is still standing in Harpswell today.  I have walked by it many times myself, and I have shown many photos on these very pages from the Old Harpswell Common Burying Ground attached to the Meeting House.  Reverend Elisha Eaton himself was buried in 1764 in that boneyard.

The old Elijah Kellogg Church.

People continued to use the old Meeting House until 1843, but quite a controversy built up over the ownership and control of it.  So the Harpswell Center Congregational Parish was formed, and they built a new church.  The Reverend Elijah Kellogg was chosen as pastor.  That church is still standing and in use today.  When Reverend Kellogg died in 1901, they changed the name of the church from the Harpswell Center Congregational Church to the Elijah Kellogg Church, in his honor.  The church still bears his name today.

And here I am gossiping, but that’s because things happen slowly around here (that’s as good an excuse as any I’ve heard).  It has only been about 250 odd years, give or take a few decades, so you can’t expect too much change.  And, in fact, you’re not likely to get much change anytime soon.  I’ve always wondered what the folks from long ago would think of the town if they could come back.  The truth is, other than being bewildered by the one paved road that runs through it and by the electrical wires running to the church, nothing else has really changed.

There are no stoplights, no fast-food restaurants, no supermarkets, no malls, no theaters, etc.  Things in that area are pretty much how they always were.  Old Elijah Kellogg’s church, a fine example of Greek Revival Architecture, still stands out, looming over the horizon.  I’m sure the ghosts would recognize the town just perfectly and feel right at home.  And rightly so.  It remains to be seen what the next 250 years will bring.

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