Woodstock, Maine Bicentennialby Senator Susan M. Collins
Posted on 2015-02-12
COLLINS. Mr. President. I wish to commemorate the 200th
anniversary of the Town of Woodstock, ME. Known today as a gateway to
the rugged and beautiful Western Maine Mountains, Woodstock was built
with a spirit of determination and resiliency that still guides the
Woodstock's incorporation on Feb. 7, 1815, was but one milestone on a long journey of progress. For thousands of years, the banks of the Androscoggin River and its tributaries were the hunting grounds of the Abenaki Tribe. One of the legends that attests to the friendship that developed between the Native Americans and the first European settler concerns the Abenaki Princess Mollyocket, a woman with great spirit and knowledge of healing. A few years before the town was incorporated, she was called to the small settlement of Trap Corner to attend to a seriously ill infant. She nursed the baby back to health and pronounced that he would grow to greatness. Mollyocket's patient was Hannibal Hamlin, who became Abraham Lincoln's first Vice President.
Settlement began in 1787, when 10 lots of 100 acres each were surveyed. The early settlers at what was called The Thousand Acre Squadron were drawn by fertile soil, vast forests, and fast-moving waters, which they turned into productive farms and busy mills. The wealth produced by the land and by hard work and determination was invested in schools and churches to create a true community. In 1815, 5 years before Maine statehood, the settlers' petition for incorporation to the Governor of Massachusetts was readily signed, although, for reasons lost to history, he rejected the proposed name of Sparta and chose Woodstock instead.
The main population center of Woodstock is the Village of Bryant Pond, known for its beauty, recreation opportunities, and hospitality. Bryant Pond also is home to a 14-foot tall, 3,000-pound statue of an old-fashioned, hand-cranked telephone, the kind that had a human operator on the other end, to memorialize the town's distinction as the last place in the United States to use these devices. The townspeople finally gave up their hand-cranked telephones in 1983, but they retain their fondness for the personal touch.
Woodstock is a charming town of involved citizens. The active historical society, volunteer fire department, and library are evidence of a strong community spirit. That spirit will be on full display this June, when Woodstock holds it Great Bicentennial Celebration.
This 200th anniversary is not just about something that is measured in calendar years; it is about human accomplishment, an occasion to celebrate the people who for more than two centuries have pulled together, cared for one another, and built a community. Thanks to those who came before, Woodstock has a wonderful history. Thanks to those who are there today, it has a bright future.