colorful characters

02/25/2014

Nutty Mainers Censored

Now this is a new thing. I wrote a blog about a local crackpot and got so many angry responses I had to pull it.

You win!

The guy’s been dead 57 years and I couldn’t even write a summary of his life and my opinion of it without eliciting such rage that I started to feel someone could show up at my door with malicious intent. All that because of the 12 people who usually read this blog might get the idea that it was foolish to believe in pseudoscience, and that part of what makes Maine a great tourism destination is our quirky characters.

So anyone who wants to read about this remarkable man and his “inventions” has to go here or here. I promise it’s a good read, but please don’t direct your ire at me. Also, be aware that there’s a group of believers trolling the internet, ready to respond to any negative press about the guy at the drop of a hat. I guess I should be grateful it has doubled my readership.

Quite honestly, I could have doubled down on my research and footnoted every sentence like the well done wikipedia article (which has earned a “good” rating, meaning it is, “written very well, contain factually accurate and verifiable information”) but alas, I’m lazy. If I meet an evolution doubter I don’t care to go through every detail, since someone already has, and I tire of reasoning with the woo-woo crowd. So from now on, no Scientology, QiGong, hollow earthers, or other new age twaddle.

 

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08/16/2013

The Wreck of the Princes Mia?

This can’t be good…

Yesterday I did a double-take as I walked down my stairway to the shore. I was on my way to haul my lobster traps when I noticed a sailboat a mile away on the opposite shore. It was obviously aground, at a very unhealthy angle as the photo shows.

I thought I’d swing by after hauling traps with Eleccentricity but the wind picked up and I needed to use more power than normal, so I decided to save kilowatt hours and drive over instead. When I got there (Hadley Point public access) I saw pretty much what I expected, the owner painting the bottom with anti-fouling paint. In other words, the grounding was totally intentional and no aquatic mishap had occurred.

I began a conversation with the owner and immediately detected a Dutch accent. He told me that he was from Zeeland, in the south of the Netherlands and that his ship’s hull was steel. I walked around to the other side and checked out the steel edge visible on the deck weld. It looked thick, I guessed 5 mm. I asked him the thickness and he said 8 mm. I was amazed, this is in the battleship realm. My father’s steel sailboat was I believe, 1/8 inch. 8 mm translates to almost 3/8 inch! No wonder he let his 45 foot sailboat just flop over on its side. It’s indestructible!

The owner, whose name I didn’t ask, told me a bit about his life. His last boat was a little smaller, but he used it to cross the North Atlantic anyway, so he was no stranger to large scale cruising. He saw the Princes Mia for sale back in Holland and decided to buy it. In Holland, sailing craft are usually shallow draft, and so the very deep Princes Mia was a deal because no one wanted it. He is now able to fit all his tools and family in the cavernous hull for extended cruising, and the whale-collision proof hull ensures safely. He pointed out that a big hulled sailboat is not that much different than a smaller one to operate, so except for the extra amount of bottom paint required, not much had changed.

He related stories of his voyages, like about the native people in canoes in the mouth of the Orinoco in Venezuela, coming to trade with him. He said it was like going back 100 years. His next stop was the Dutch West Indies. He should reach there just as we start to get chilly.

Today, a day later, I looked again and saw that the ship was now on its other side. The seas were flat calm so I cruised over to take some more photos, this time from the water. The spectacle has gathered a bit of attention, plenty of cameras were snapping on shore. My guess is that our Dutchman was becoming a reluctant celebrity.

It’s nice to live on the coast of Maine and occasionally run into someone with a completely different, exotic and adventurous life. Hard to believe we could possibly seem that way to others, although sometimes our guests tell us so!

 

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08/03/2013

Stephen King’s House

Occasionally a guest will email me before arriving asking if there are any sights not to be missed in Bangor. This is when they are either flying in to Bangor International airport or driving through to get here at SeaCat’s Rest. While I don’t like to compromise anyone’s privacy, stopping to take a gawk and picture at Stephen and Tabitha King’s house seems to be such a common thing (based on the cars frequently stopping there) that I can only conclude that it is tolerated by the community and I hope, the Kings.

I can’t help but think that the creepy 270 foot long wrought iron fence design with bats, spiders and dragons, the blood red house color and other touches like the leaping frog are calling for photography, and proclaim to all passersby that this is indeed the House of King.

It’s such a short detour from the airport that a quick stop in front of the horror novelist’s house is almost hard to not justify, especially if it’s a nice day…or a dark, creepy day. The King house is interred at 47 West Broadway, Bangor. If you are leaving the airport go straight through the traffic circle and take a right onto Union Street. Drive for 1.7 miles and get ready to turn just after Hayford Park on your right. This will be West Broadway, and now you just need to drive another 1/10 of a mile, just after Cedar Street and look to your right for the big red house.

Stephen and Tabitha King are generous and respected members of the Maine community, have contributed much to many charities and have created the STK Foundation to distribute grants to Maine community organizations. Stephen has also involved himself in workshops for young Maine writers at the middle school level and above. While in Bangor tune into his rock and roll radio station, WKIT at 100.3 (“streaming live to the undead”).

They have had some problems with nutty people and stalkers around their house, and even someone who drove her car through the gate, so please keep your visit short and respectful, and maybe buy one of their books!

 

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07/26/2013

Lamoine’s “Life of Pi” Connection

from http://screenrant.com/life-of-pi-movie-ending-spoilers/

Many of us have seen “Life of Pi”: an Indian kid is saved by luck while his parent’s ship goes down in a storm, only to end up sharing his lifeboat with a menagerie of zoo animals. One by one the animals are eaten or ejected, leaving Pi and an amazingly ferocious Bengal tiger. Soon they develop an uneasy coexistence and in the end (off the coast of Mexico) they both end their voyage very much alive. Dreamlike interludes and surreal but beautiful images suggest altered consciousness during the telling.

That’s the story we spend 95% of the movie viewing, but at the end Pi is forced to retell the story to investigators. In this version he is on the lifeboat as before, without animals, but forced to watch his mother killed by the ship’s cook and finally ends up killing the cook himself. The viewer is asked to wonder if the animal characters were stand-ins for the humans in the second version. We had to choose the more likely version and also to answer questions about the existence of God/faith as a side issue to which version we choose.

Despite the confusing ending the cinematography and special effects are dazzling, since the tiger is entirely computer generated. Claymation it ain’t. What does this have to do with our neck of the woods here in Lamoine, Maine?

Our own Steven Callahan was a consultant for this movie, his credentials are why. Steven spent 76 days in an inflatable life raft adrift in the North Atlantic 30 years ago after a probable whale collision sank his boat. He knows about catching and eating raw fish, dealing with storms and keeping his wits. In 2002 he wrote a book about it called Adrift, Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, a New York Times best seller.

Newspaper photo after Callahan’s rescue in 1982

Steven lives on the east side of Lamoine, near the Skillings river and is a Naval architect. The author of Life of Pi, Yann Martel and the film director Ang Lee, who would soon begin shooting the film of the same name, paid Callahan a visit in 2009. They went sailing, spent some time picking his brain and returned to Taiwan to start shooting. But before long they invited him to help with the movie. Steve flew to Taiwan in 2010 and expected to sit in the back and answer a few questions about obscure details, but instead became a major player in the production. As the Bangor Daily News article says,

…he ended up spending long hours on the set working closely with the film crew. He helped to craft props, monitor the operation of a giant wave tank built especially for the film, and advised the film’s star, Suraj Sharma, on the mindset and physical challenges of being adrift at sea.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Callahan said of the workload he would assume. “I got sucked in more and more.”

Life of Pi received the Oscar award for Best Picture in 3013, no doubt some of this belongs to Lamoiner Steven Callahan.  I’m always amazed at the talented people within a stone’s throw of SeaCat’s Rest, I wish I were one of them. About the biggest challenge I have is occasionally sharing my electric boat with an unbanded lobster.

 

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01/07/2013

Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith, from http://www.americanrhetoric.com

Maine Republicans, with a few exceptions, are a breed apart. Being Republican in Maine meant being in favor of abolitionism, state’s rights, your father’s fiscal conservatism and personal freedoms. For the most part modern Maine Republicans have steered clear of the Bible-thumping, “other”-bashing, anti-compromise, gun toting, conspiracy-spewing qualities our congress now seems infected with. We can be proud of our Maine senators and congresspeople of both parties. Fare thee well, Olympia Snowe.

Margaret Madeline Chase Smith was one of our Republican senators we can be especially proud of.  She confronted bully Joseph McCarthy and brought him down…eventually.

Margaret and her parents from http://www.mcslibrary.org

Margaret was born in Skowhegan, Maine on December 14, 1897 to George Emery and Carrie Matilda (Murray) Chase. George was the town barber and Carrie was a waitress, store clerk, and shoe factory worker. Daughter Margaret graduated from Skowhegan High School and was captain of her girl’s basketball team. During  high school she worked as an operator at the telephone company where she met local businessman and politician Clyde Smith, 21 years her senior. After high school she taught school and also worked as an executive for the Maine Telephone and Telegraph Company. From 1919 to 1928 Margaret  joined the staff of the Independent Reporter, a Skowhegan weekly newspaper (owned by Clyde Smith) for whom she was circulation manager. During these years she became active in women’s organizations, first the Skowhegan chapter of the Business and Professional Woman’s Club and later serving as president of the Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. On On May 14, 1930, Chase married Clyde Smith at the age of 32.

She soon became active in politics, and was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee, on which she served from 1930 to 1936. Clyde Smith was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1937 and Margaret accompanied her husband to Washington and became his secretary, speechwriter, researcher and office manager. It was because of this training that she was prepared for what was to follow in the spring of 1940: Clyde suffered a heart attack and convinced his voters his wife could stand in for him in the fall election. He died on April 8, 1940. In November Margaret was elected with 65% of the vote. She continued to serve in the House until 1948 when she was elected to the Senate with the slogan, “Don’t change a record for a promise.”

Joseph McCarthy, from wikipedia

Margaret Chase Smith, in the tradition of New England Republicans, maintained an independent streak. She often supported FDR’s New Deal policies and later opposed some Republican judicial appointments. But her greatest act of independence, and the one for which she will always be remembered, is her Declaration of Conscience.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy terrorized his fellow Americans with his witch hunt for Communists, first in government and then branching out into all spheres. At first Margaret welcomed this search for spies but soon became convinced that most of the accusations were without evidence, and were done for hysterical or self-promoting reasons.  After only a year in the Senate, Senator Smith delivered her famous fifteen minute address, never mentioning Sen. McCarthy by name. The full text can be seen here. In it she express the following:

  1. The right to criticize;
  2. The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
  3. The right to protest;
  4. The right of independent thought.

But she also took her own party to task:

Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation. The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.

…But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity.

Today our country is being psychologically divided by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the United States Senate to spread like cancerous tentacles of “know nothing, suspect everything” attitudes.

The immediate fallout of this speech was her loss of membership on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (the Senate version of the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee). She was fired by McCarthy and replaced by Richard Nixon. She and her co-signatories to the Declaration of Conscience were referred by McCarthy as “Snow White and the Six Dwarfs”. It would take another four years before McCarthy was censured in the Senate. Margaret voted in favor.

Can the current House of Representatives learn something from our esteemed senator? I hope so.

1962 convention, from http://www.mcslibrary.org

Margaret continued to serve until 1972. She was a presidential candidate in the 1962 Republican primary but the nomination went to Barry Goldwater. She was the first woman to have her name be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major political party’s convention. At the end of her political life she moved back to Skowhegan and worked on her library. She also lectured at universities and in 1989 received the Presidential Metal of Freedom from George H.W. Bush. She died in 1995 at the age of 97. Come to Maine and you will see her name everywhere, we’re proud of our First Lady of the Senate.

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01/01/2013

Maine and the North Pole

Some folks look at a distorted map of the US, where Maine curves up like a hitchhiker’s thumb and think Maine is the last stop before the North Pole. This post is not about Maine’s undeserved reputation as an arctic peninsula, but how many expeditions to the North Pole had something to do with Maine. This was because of Maine’s seafaring traditions, not its proximity to the Arctic. After all, most of France and all of the British Isles lie north of Maine. The googlemap to the left shows how we line up with Europe if the Atlantic Ocean were to disappear. Bar Harbor and Bordeaux share the same latitude. Too bad we don’t have a gulf stream. If so the temperature would have been in the 60s today (Bordeaux) instead of the upper 20s.

Geography lesson (and whining) over. Perhaps the first Mainer with polar ambitions was Herbert Leach. Born in 1858 here in Hancock County he joined the expedition to the North Pole on the steam ship Jeannette from San Francisco led by Lieutenant Commander G. W. DeLong on 3 July, 1879. The long ordeal is beyond the scope of this blog but the ship got frozen into the ice for two years and rode with the ice pack for thirteen hundred miles. The crew survived by hunting polar bears and walruses. After the Jeannette was finally crushed by the ice the crew set out in their three lifeboats to Siberia. Only one of the three survived, the one with Herbert Leach and twelve others. After being fed by natives and a trip to Yakutsk, Siberia, the crew took a long train ride to Europe and back to the U.S. Herbert Leach died in 1935 at the age of 77. He is buried in Hillside Cemetery, North Penobscot, Maine.

from Wikipedia

The big kahuna of Maine polar explorers was Robert Edwin Peary (May 6, 1856 – Feb. 20, 1920). Although born in Pennsylvania, Robert graduated from Maine’s Bowdoin College in 1877 and lived in Fryeburg Maine. His home is now the Admiral Peary Inn and the island he bought in Casco Bay, near Portland, is now open to all. Find out more about Peary’s Eagle Island here.

Robert Peary’s goal of reaching the North Pole left no stone unturned. He had a special steamship built, the S. S. Roosevelt (after Teddy). It was a shallow-draft, coal burning steamship with extremely rugged construction. It had 30 inch thick steel covered white oak hull planking and a solid battering-ram bow meant to withstand ice crushing and a rounded hull design meant to be frozen in pack ice.

The S. S. Roosevelt from www.pearyeagleisland.org

I imagine he read up on the Jeannette. Below decks was so crammed with machinery and coal that crew quarters had to be above deck. The ship was also sail-rigged to save fuel. He made several voyages to the north of Ellesmere Island, Canada’s most northerly land mass and the world’s tenth largest island. Here he positioned men, dogs and supplies in preparation for his 1909 push to the Pole, his third attempt. The island was by no means close to the pole, he still had to travel 500 miles by dog sled and foot, over frozen pack ice with ridges up to 100 feet high. The polar night was no time to travel, so he had to wait until early spring to set out, and had to hurry back to beat the breakup.

Matthew Henson, from his book

Interestingly, Peary send most of his crew back short of the pole and chose as his closest co-explorer an African American, Matthew Alexander Henson (Aug. 8, 1866 – March 9, 1955), who reached the North Pole with Peary on April 6, 1909, along with four Inuits. Henson wrote about his adventures an a book called A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, published in 1912. It is available as a free download at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20923. Peary wrote the forward, in which he said,

Again it is an interesting fact that in the final conquest of the “prize of the centuries,” not alone individuals, but races were represented. On that bitter brilliant day in April, 1909, when the Stars and Stripes floated at the North Pole, Caucasian, Ethiopian, and Mongolian stood side by side at the apex of the earth, in the harmonious companionship resulting from hard work, exposure, danger, and a common object.

Peary’s motto,  Inveniam viam aut faciam, “Find a way or make one”, seems like a requirement for successful explorers. Admiral Peary died on 20 Feb, 1920 at the age of 63. He lies in Arlington National Cemetery.

from findagrave memorial #799

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12/04/2012

Joe Holden, Maine’s Flat Earth Evangelist

from http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=74125990

Let it not be said that I only write about things favorable to Maine’s image. Long after the earth was known to be a sphere, a core group of die-hard biblical literalists decided the earth was flat, no matter what. One of them, Joseph Holden, who lived in the central Maine town of Otisfield made himself known as a prominent flat-earther.

My MS Word mock-up of a handbill from http://www.mainememory.netartifact20139

Born in 1816, Holden worked  his way to become the owner of several sawmills in rural Maine but never married. He called himself “professor” but there is no evidence his education progressed beyond Otisfield’s one room schoolhouse. It is said his mother tried to walk on water. He was a lifelong Republican and served as Justice of the Peace, census enumerator and even ran for state senate.

Coming of age in the mid 1800s he was a witness to Charles Darwin’s rise to fame and saw the scientific community’s gradual acceptance of the tenets of evolutionary theory. Finally, the Descent of Man, released in 1871 confirmed  Darwin’s evidence for a family connection between humans and apes and escalated the war between science and religion which continues to this day. Joseph Holden chose his little piece of the war and fought it for the rest of his life. Being more or less financially secure, it is doubtful the small admission he charged for his lectures did more than pay for his travels, so a scam artist he was not. From stories told by the town historian Jean Hankins it seems he was a tolerated and colorful character, annoying perhaps, but not a threat. Townspeople “respected his right to be foolish if he wanted to.”  His poor hearing made argument futile, so most of his victims just nodded their heads in agreement. Another convert.

His main demonstration was to fill a bucket of water and set it upon a post. He bet his audience that he could return in 24 hours and the water would still be there, proof that the earth didn’t spin about an axis or move in any other foolish way. When he began to lecture at the age of 75, he was a constant presence in the state legislature, attending every session for many years. He lectured in Portland, Boston and even at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1892. His lectures were filled with common sense arguments and humor. People came for the entertainment and left feeling entertained, but likely not converted.

Joe Holden died on March 30, 1900. His passing was noted by at least one sympathetic newspaper (Statesville, NC Semi-weekly Landmark):

We hold the the doctrine that the earth is flat ourselves and we regret exceedingly to learn that one of our number is dead, because there are few of us and one can ill be spared. But we are not without hope. One of these days the idea that the earth is round and turns over every 24 hours will be relegated to the roar along with other antiquated notions.

 

Amazingly, flat-earthers exist to this day. Just check out http://theflatearthsociety.org. I can’t say the people who run the website are true believers or it’s just tongue-in-cheek, but with all the other bizarre beliefs out there, why not? At least this one doesn’t seem to involve stockpiling ammunition.

In his will Joe bequeathed $3 per year to the parishioners of the Otisfield Baptist Church for an annual  summer picnic. Each August he is still celebrated in Otisfield with the gentle ridicule and good humor. I wonder if anyone leaves a bucket of water on his grave.

Sources used for this story:

  • http://www.sunjournal.com/node/238260
  • Christine Garwood (2007). Flat Earth.
  • http://www.findagrave.com
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth
  • Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan (1992). Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

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10/14/2012

Maine’s Mushroom Superstar, Sam Ristich

Professor Herb Wagner

My time at University of Michigan’s biological station near Pellston, MI exposed me up close to the culture of academia. Billed as the opportunity for undergraduates to get to know professors one to one in a rustic setting, I found them to be often arrogant, disdainful of undergraduates and eager to turn graduate students into uncredited slaves. An important exception to this was Warren “Herb” Wagner, a name which brings thousands of his former UMich students around the world to a moment of gentle remembrance. Dr. Wagner taught the popular Woody Plants course and did what all great teachers did, get people excited. He died at 80, January 8, 2000 after only a week of absence from his research laboratory.

Sam Ristich from http://www.ruthieristich.com/blog/

But this is not about Herb Wagner, it’s about his Maine mycologist equivalent, Sam Ristich. Since becoming involved with mushrooming in Maine and joining the Maine Mycological Association, I have heard quite a bit about Sam and how he single handedly formed the club and exported his considerable enthusiasm about fungi for many years. Always available for one-on-one and delightfully oblivious to fashion or other social conventions, he stayed active into his 90s, devoting his last 2-1/2 decades to educating Mainers about nature.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1915 to Serbian immigrants, Sam served as a navigator for the US Army Air Force’s Air Transport Command in WWII, starting his working life risking it to deliver planes to dangerous places like Greenland, Burma and the Sahara desert. A marker-filled map of the world chronicles his many achievements at www.samristich.com. After the war he earned his PhD in entomology at Cornell (1950). During 15 years of teaching at the New York Botanical Gardens he founded the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) and the New Jersey Mycological Association. He and wife Ruth worked for civil rights and were active from 1955 to 1975 with the NAACP and the Unitarian Social Action Committee.

In the early 1980s Ruth inherited her family’s farm in North Yarmouth, Maine and so they came to our neck of the woods. Many of the current members of MMA remember Sam, his bubbly enthusiasm and trademark expressions; his whoops of excitement and “wonderment” of the natural world.

Sam died during dinner on February 11, 2008 at the age of 92. I was not lucky enough to have known Sam Ristich, but I can tell he was an important figure in Maine history. You can’t get very far into fungi without encountering his name or photographs. There are annual forays named after him and a memorial nature trail in North Yarmouth. He even discovered a new mushroom in 1983, Amanita ristichii. His service for the Northern New England Poison Control Center in identifying mushrooms probably saved many lives. But to me his greatest mark was as a teacher. Like Herb Wagner and Richard Feynman, his legacy will continue forever in the lives of those he inspired. In his own words from http://www.samristich.com/about.html

I loved it! [Teaching] I had the good fortune of being at the right place at the right time and having the motivation to really tap the potential. Somebody said that the greatest of talents is to discover it and develop it in others. And there’re some people who are motivators and know where to find it and how to mine it.

His daughter is working on a film about her father’s life. See a clip below:

F__Microscope Drama from Ruthie Ristich on Vimeo.

Sam Ristich resources on the web used in this article:

  • http://www.samristich.com
  • “Sam’s Corner”, http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/mma/SCCentral.html
  • http://www.ruthieristich.com
  • http://www.mainelymushrooms.org/PagesPublic/Pub_Sam.html
  • (obituary) http://nemfdata.org/samristich.htm

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08/27/2012

Mitt Romney: My Second Cousin and Second Choice

Rosetta Mary Berry
(Mitt’s great grandma)

Willard Mitt Romney’s mom Lenore LaFount was the daughter of Alma Luella Robison who was the daughter of Rosetta Mary Berry. Rosetta’s half brother was Eugene Berry (1851-1923). Eugene was my great granduncle and after his wife died and her brother, my great grandfather, also died, Eugene married my great grandmother late in life (1915). So my step-great grandfather’s (and my great granduncle’s) half sister was Mitt’s great grandmother. There’s too many steps and halves in this to qualify as a real second cousin, but it explains why I found several ancestry trees claiming my great grandmother, who died a Methodist or maybe a Baptist (she married Mitt’s granduncle in a Baptist parsonage), became a Mormon after death(!) In fact, the Mormon story in my tree, thanks to Eugene’s dad Robert Berry (1823-1905) and his first wife Elnora Lucretia Warner (1822–1865) is one of the most amazing, almost Shakespearean epic in my family tree.

Elnora Lucretia Warner
(Mitt’s great great grandma)

When their two kids were small (Rosetta and her brother Charles), the young Berry family decided, along with Elnora’s parents and siblings, to leave southern Michigan to relocate to the center of the Mormon universe at the time, Nauvoo, Illinois. This was around 1845, just after the murder of founder Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. Upon arriving they discovered little work, so Robert offered to return to Hillsdale County, MI to make some money and send it along to sustain the family. He did so for a period of time, but in Nauvoo things were becoming unraveled. The residents decided to make an orderly migration to Utah under threat from non-Mormon locals. Meanwhile, Robert was puzzled as to why he hadn’t heard from his wife. He decided to make the trip to Nauvoo and find out. When he arrived he found the city deserted and his family gone. He was told his wife married another man and joined the Great Migration.  It is claimed that so great was his grief that his hair turned white overnight. Robert Berry returned to Michigan with a broken heart. He later married my great granduncle’s mother, Nancy Bailey, in 1847.

Robert Berry
(Mitt’s great great grandpa)

Years later, Mitt’s great grandmother Rosetta showed up at Robert’s doorstep. She was on a mission for the Mormon church and took the opportunity to visit her dad. She explained that Elnora married Nauvoo’s postmaster Simon Dalton, after he intercepted Robert’s mail (and his money) and Elnora’s letters back. He convinced her that her husband had abandoned her and that she should become his (plural) wife. He even married Elnora’s sister in the bargain! My guess is that Mitt may not have a fondness for Simon Dalton or for plural marriages.

I am not about to make the case that Mitt Romney is an evil dude. In fact, I admire his dad George for telling the truth about the Viet Nam war. He said we were being brainwashed. This killed his hopes of becoming the 1968 Republican presidential candidate, in fact, it ended his political career.  That took guts and I hope that rubbed off on Mitt, although I have my doubts. Ironically, George was born in Mexico while his parents were on a mission, but he never had to face the “Birther” issue. A good question  for Mitt! (Governor Romney: Your father was born in Mexico. Do you think he should have been disqualified as a presidential candidate in 1968?) Anyway, I think Mitt is the least wacky of all the Republican contenders this time around and if he wins I will probably not hide under the bed. But I won’t be voting for him. Remember, that’s coming from a family member. Sort of.

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12/27/2011

Bizarre Family Secrets Page

This post is to introduce a new static page on affordableacadia.com. It is a page dedicated to the weird stories I have discovered while researching my family the past few years.  These are the stories my parents and grandparents failed to tell me. If you find the names of your great grandparents like I did and start to search through newspapers in the area where they lived, you may find some amazing stuff. My grandfather’s brother got caught stealing chickens in 1913.

Uncle Willie, chicken stealer

Another grandfathers brother’s child ended up in prison for a while. His son still is in prison, for life. Murders, suicides, dirty tricks, deviants, check it out. The permanent link is on the right at the bottom.

This is nothing to do with Maine, or SeaCat’s Rest, our Acadia vacation seaside apartment.  I wish I could tie it in somehow, but my family roots are in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. Maine is not in my family history, just my present. So find out all our family secrets here, and let me know if you find some of your own. It’s a blast!

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