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Harvest of Diamonds: Maine Ice Cooled the World

pulling ice at Curran HomesteadIn the mid-19th century, Yankee entrepreneurs annually conducted large-scale commercial ice harvests on Maine waterways, creating an industry that greatly impacted our state's economy and affected lifestyles worldwide.

Bruce Bowden, Executive Director of The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum in Orrington, will present a comprehensive lecture on Maine's ice industry at the Wilson Museum’s Hutchins Education Center, Wednesday, January 14, 2014 at 2 p.m. This talk will include the particulars and personages of Maine’s ice harvesting legacy which persists even today Attendees will hear vivid descriptions of how crystal-pure ice became Maine's second most valuable export before fading to obsolescence a century later, and see many of the actual tools used in the ice harvests of yesteryear -- century-old artifacts which are still used in living-history reenactments at sites throughout the state.

Bowden will conclude his presentation with a description of the ice harvesting process based on his first-hand experiences. This year the Seventh Annual Field's Pond Ice Harvest hosted by The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum is scheduled for February 7th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


"Cocoa Ice" Cream

cranking ice creamDid you know that chocolate grows on trees and that Maine ice has been all over the world? Here’s a tasty way to learn about history! Come to the Hutchins Education Center at the Wilson Museum on Wednesday, January 21 at 2:30 p.m. and listen to the story of Cocoa Ice, a children’s book by Diana Karter Appelbaum which tells the story of two young girls: one in wintery Maine and one in steamy Santo Domingo. See historical artifacts, run a scientific experiment, and learn about the trade that brought cocoa and ice together. Finally, try your hand at bringing cocoa and ice together in the form of delicious ice cream. And, of course, sample the sweet results!

Though aimed at children ages 6-12, this program will appeal to anyone who likes to listen to a good story and eat ice cream! Please pre-register for this program by contacting 326-9247 or info@wilsonmuseum.org. For this special mid-winter event, the normal $3 per person material fee will be waived and all can participate free of charge.

Do you know a school or homeschool class that would like to have “Cocoa Ice” Cream visit their classroom? Save on the $3 per person fee and travel expenses by scheduling this educational program during the month of January for a flat fee of $25 per class.


Maine's Ice Industry: Windfalls and Pitfalls

CANCELLED due to weather.

Castine’s Wilson Museum will host its final January Ice Series presentation on Tuesday, January 27 at 2 p.m. in the Hutchins Education Center. Dr. Richard Judd will describe the origins of Maine's ice industry, its advantages and markets, and its incredible expansion in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. He will discuss ways in which this "windfall" industry illustrates the strengths and weaknesses in Maine's traditional resource-based economies. As a special treat, hand-cranked, homemade ice cream will follow the program.

Dr. Richard Judd is the Adelaide & Alan Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine in Orono. His primary field of interest is U.S. environmental history, particularly in New England. Professor Judd also edits the Maine Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Maine History, and contributes to their Maine History Online website.  


February Vacation Camp

Plains Indian dioramaThis February, Tuesday through Friday during school break (Feb. 17-20), children are invited to join Wilson Museum staff in the Hutchins Education Center for a vacation camp of activities and games. The focus of the week will be on the Native American inhabitants of the Northeastern Territory. Each day will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. with campers providing their own bag lunches.

Every camp day will have a theme. On Tuesday, the first day of camp, the idea of culture will be explored and campers will begin to construct dioramas using materials from nature. Wednesday's theme will be healing and the spiritual world and will include carving an amulet and sampling herb teas. Thursday's theme will be stories, including those used to pass on history and explain the unknown. On Friday, camp will conclude with putting the finishing touches on the dioramas (which will be exhibited at the Witherle Memorial Library during the month of March) and with sampling a selection of crafts such as carving, weaving, and beading. While each camp day will include a variety of activities based on the theme of the day, games will be a part of every day. Games will highlight skills valued by native inhabitants including awareness, strength, recall based on memory or touch, reasoning, probability, and teamwork.

It is not necessary to attend every camp day, but preregistration is required. There is a $3 per person per day materials fee ($10 per person for the full camp). The camp is intended for children 7-12 years old. Families are encouraged to attend and younger children are welcome if accompanied by an adult. Register at 207-326-9247 or info@wilsonmuseum.org by February 10th.



Open Research Sessions

March is a great month to dig into some historical and genealogical research. The Wilson Museum will open the Hutchins Education Center on Thursdays during March from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. for researchers to peruse some of the resources available in the Museum's collections.

Each session will highlight a different category of resource. A collection of published family histories will delight genealogists, while microfilms of old local newspapers will excite historic researchers of all kinds. Cemetery and diary transcripts, as well as vital records, are just a few of the other resources through which participants may glean golden nuggets of valuable information. Access to the internet and ancestry.com will be available on a limited basis for laptop users.

To fan the research flame still further, a talk on a related topic will follow each research session. Scroll below for more information about the March speakers. Both the research session and subsequent talk are free and open to the public.



Maine Newspaper Project

Janet RobertsJoin fellow researchers on Thursdays in March at Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to peruse some of the resources available from the Museum's collections. A talk on a related topic will follow each research session beginning at 2 p.m. The first talk will be on March 5th by Janet Roberts who will be speaking on the Maine Newspaper Project.

The Maine Newspaper Project is a past project that Janet Roberts coordinated for the Maine State Archives and the Maine State Library. During the course of the project, a team catalogued all known newspaper collections in public repositories in Maine. In addition, some titles were microfilmed, including several from the Deer Isle - Stonington area. Ms. Roberts will give background on the project, focusing on what was discovered about newspapers in the Castine area, what a researcher is likely to learn from newspapers, and how to locate newspapers that will be helpful to the audience's research.

Janet Roberts has been involved with history in a variety of ways since she was a child poking around old cemeteries with her father in the Farmington area. She majored in History and French at Williams College (Williamstown, MA) and has a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont. Since 1970, Ms. Roberts has worked on a number of projects with the Maine State Archives and the Maine State Library. She is currently administrator for the Historical Records grant program, which helps provide funding for archival projects at historical societies and similar organizations.

Feel free to come to either the research session or the talk. Better yet, bring a bag lunch and attend both. All March sessions and subsequent talks are free and open to the public.   



Tips on Interpreting Town Clerks' Handwriting

Marlene GrovesWilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center will be open March 12th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for genealogical or historical researchers to peruse some of the resources available in the Museum's collections. Bring a lunch and stay for a related talk by Marlene Groves beginning at 2 p.m.; or come just for the talk.

In her presentation, Marlene will offer some Tips on Interpreting Town Clerks' Handwriting. Transcribing the handwriting of early clerks, whether for a town, probate or court office, can be quite challenging at times. To assist researchers as well as transcribers of early vital records, this talk will illustrate, with a PowerPoint presentation, some examples of handwriting used by several different early Maine town clerks. Not all clerks followed the same set pattern in their writing, some using a flowery style which can often be nearly as difficult to read as a more standard style written in a poor manner. Most of the illustrations used in this presentation cover the period from the mid-17th century to the later part of the 20th century, which is the period of time most commonly researched by genealogists in Maine.

Marlene Groves has been a member of the Maine Genealogical Society since 1976 and a member of its Board of Directors since 1988. A certified genealogist from 1997 to 2007, she has published three books covering her own ancestral lines of Clark, Malbon and Hinckley and has transcribed many books of early Maine town vital records which have all been published by Picton Press.

Both the research session and talk are free and open to the public.


Civil War Memorials of Hancock County

Darlene SpringerWilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Perkins Street will be open March 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the third in a series of four genealogical or historical research sessions. Bring a lunch and stay for a related talk by Darlene Springer beginning at 2 p.m.; or stop by just for the talk.

Darlene will explore the various Civil War memorials located in Hancock County. Highlighted in the talk will be the materials used for the monuments, what else may be in the immediate vicinity, whether or not veterans' names are included, and some surprising and little-known facts. Special attention will be given to the quarrying, manufacture, and setting of the Ellsworth monument, and what is hidden inside.

Darlene Springer lives in Ellsworth and is an owner and the general manager of H.W. Dunn & Son, Inc., a monument shop which has been owned and operated by the Dunn family since 1882. She is familiar with all phases of memorial production, having worked in the field for more than 40 years. She is a history buff, a member of the Board of Directors of the Ellsworth Historical Society, and author of the book The Great Fire of Ellsworth 1933. To become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Darlene has traced her family tree back to Revolutionary War soldier Elijah Wilbur of Massachusetts.

Both the research session and the program are free and open to the public.


Using Deeds & Probate Records in Historical Research

Mark HoneyThe fourth and final talk in a series of March genealogical research programs will be held on Thursday, March 26th at 1 p.m. (note different time) in the Wilson Museum’s Hutchins Education Center on Perkins Street in Castine. Mark Honey will describe the useful information which can be gleaned from county deed and probate records. Not only are these records invaluable to genealogists, but they contain information that can illuminate an era and its society for historical researchers of all kinds.

Mark Honey, a local historian and author with family ties in the Castine area, resides in Ellsworth.

Also, on the same day, join fellow researchers at Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (note different time) for an Open Research Session to peruse some of the resources available from the Museum's collections. Feel free to come to either the research session or the talk. Better yet, bring a bag lunch and attend both. The talk and research session are free and open to the public.



Basket-Making Workshop

You could make this tote basket!Spend an afternoon with Pamela Rackliffe Capurso and learn the art of basket-making. Each participant will go home with a beautiful and functional basket made by his or her own hands. The basket-making class will be held at Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Thursday, July 30 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The $60 workshop fee includes the materials needed to make a 7" x 11" x 10" tote basket, and each participant will be provided with a printed instruction sheet that can be used to create more baskets at home. Preregistration is required and registrants will be given a list of equipment to bring with them to the workshop.

Pam CapursoFor 34 years, Pamela Rackliffe Capurso was a florist and horticulturist before she sold her business in 2006 and moved, with her husband, to Goodnight Farm in Brooksville, where they grow a variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers. She began weaving simple baskets to sell at local farmer's markets. As she has grown more proficient at basketry, Pamela has continued to develop the form and function of her baskets. She sells her baskets and other handmade items, both online and at the local farmer's market. You can visit her website at www.basketsofmaine.com.   



Learn to Play Native American Flute

White Owl DuoMusic is a powerful language that has been used as a form of communication beginning with the earliest societies. The Native American flute is a simple, yet compelling instrument that often invokes strong reactions in those who hear its haunting melodies. Join the White Owl Duo at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Tuesday, August 11th from 1 to 4 p.m. and learn to play this intriguing instrument. Six-hole flutes are provided and you do not need any musical background. Using musical shorthand, you will be able to play ten to twelve songs by the end of the class. There is no fee for this course, but preregistration is required.

Laura Lee Perkins is the author of several books, has performed on multiple professional recordings, and has received numerous grants and awards. She is a former classical flute professor that developed a passion for Native American flutes. Laura and her flute-maker husband, Kenneth Green, collaborate as the White Owl Duo. They travel the country providing instruction on playing the Native American flute, as well as performing family-friendly educational concerts. The duo has Maliseet (Laura) and Micmac (Kenneth) ancestry, and they use music as a way to educate others about tribal cultures.




Open: May 27 - September 30
Weekdays 10 am - 5 pm, Saturday & Sunday 2 - 5 pm
John Perkins House Bullet Demonstrations
July - August, Wednesday & Sunday, 2 - 5 pm
Group visits can be arranged by appointment.
(207) 326-9247   info@wilsonmuseum.org
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Admission is free, except for the John Perkins House,
where there are guided tours on the hour.
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A non-profit organization, tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) IRS Code
120 Perkins Street, PO Box 196, Castine Maine 04421
(207) 326-9247    info@wilsonmuseum.org