FARMINGTON – Franklin Memorial Hospital’s Ben Franklin Center will soon have museum quality displays in each of its conference rooms to honor the individuals for which each was named.

Catherine Merrow, Franklin Community Health Network art intern, is working over the summer, researching the lives of Ben Franklin, Cornelio “Fly Rod” Crosby, Charles Forster and Elizabeth Akers Allen to create historical displays that will tell each of their stories. She envisions collections with photographs, books, memorabilia and other artifacts that will bring to life a picture of the contributions that each has made to society.

The Ben Franklin (who Franklin County was named after) display will be located in the medical library and will express Franklin’s lifelong desire to understand and improve the world around him.

Throughout his 84 years, he used his ingenuity to create everything from the quirky (a chair with a foot-pedaled fan for cooler air) to the practical (bifocals and the lightning rod). He also took on loftier work, serving on the committee to write the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The Crosby Room will highlight the life of Cornelia Crosby, who was born in Phillips. In 1987 the honor of receiving the first Maine guiding license went to “Fly Rod” as she was known.

She also was Maine’s first public-relations genius, arranging an elaborate hunting display at the first annual Sportsmen’s Show in New York City, starring herself, rifle in hand and wearing a doeskin skirt. Her appearance at the show, together with the popularity of her syndicated column, “Fly Rod’s Note Book,” helped attract thousands of would-be outdoorsmen (and women) to the woods and streams of Maine.

In the Allen Room, the contributions of Elizabeth Akers Allen will be featured. Allen, who was born in Strong, was an accomplished writer, journalist and newspaper editor.

Her first book of poetry, “Forest Buds from the Woods of Maine,” was well received and the earnings allowed her to travel to Europe, where she later penned her best-known poem, “Rock Me to Sleep, Mother.” The poem was published in the Saturday Evening Post and in her second book, “Poems,” in 1866.

Charles Forster was the inspiration for naming the Forster Room. He founded Forster Inc., based in Strong, which went on to become the largest toothpick manufacturer in the United States. Originally made by hand from white birch logs, a complete toothpick machine system was created in 1860 to keep up with the growing demand. At the height of production, the Forster team made an average of 20 million wooden toothpicks daily.

“Greater Franklin County has a long history of Yankee ingenuity and residents are naturally interested in these individuals who are rooted in Maine history,” said Merrow. “We are excited about creating these distinctive displays that will preserve history and present each room with a character of its own.”

Merrow is a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington, double majoring in art and English. She welcomes comments from those interested in the project. Merrow can be reached at 779-2103.

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