DEAR SUN SPOTS: I was approached by a teacher the other day who was trying to teach about early English colonization in North America. She said Popham was the first organized English attempt in the New World in 1607 as found on a Maine.gov website.

Scoffing, as I often do, I pointed out that the Jamestown colony was also established in 1607. Furthermore, Roanoke Colony was settled in 1585 despite vanishing off the face of the earth soon after.

Is Popham grabbing some false fame from our southern neighbors, hoping to slip past less savvy middle-school historians? — Douglas via email

ANSWER: If you go to www. maine.gov/doc/parks/history/pophamcolony, it does not say Popham was the first settlement in the New World. It says it was the first ENGLISH settlement in New ENGLAND.

It was not even the first settlement in New England, as the French beat the English by a couple of years. Here is what the site says:

“A model recreation, a gravel parking lot and a large collection of artifacts are all that remain of an English colony established in 1607 in Phippsburg. The Popham Colony was the first organized attempt by the English to establish a colony on the shores of what we now know as New England.

“It was planted at the mouth of the Kennebec River in the summer of 1607 and lasted for little over a year until it was abandoned in the fall of 1608. To return home to England, the colonists constructed the first ship ever built in North America.

“Popham was not the first European colony in New England. The French were earlier with a brief settlement on an island in the St. Croix River further up the Maine coast in 1604.

“Although Popham was the first claim of possession of what was then called Northern Virginia by the English, the honor of the actual founding of a ‘New’ England belongs to the Pilgrims, who established the first permanent settlement in Massachusetts Bay 13 years later.

“Despite its precedence, the failure of the Popham Colony to endure has rendered it a nearly forgotten historical footnote. Its failure, however, was an important step in the ongoing experience of English colonization, and the lessons learned contributed directly to the ultimate success of the Pilgrims.”

So perhaps the history teacher misread the website? Or perhaps she just misspoke?

At any rate, now you can straighten her out. And give the French some credit, too.

STRAWBERRY UPDATE: After the July 6 column about the search for organic strawberries appeared, Mr. Sun Spots pointed out (no glee in his voice, of course) that Sun Spots had overlooked the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Since the Spots know someone who worked there, it is a most shameful oversight.

If readers go to http://mofga.net/Search/SearchProducts/tabid/130/Default.aspx, they can search for a MOFGA-certified product by county.

A search for strawberries (note the plural; the singular drew naught) in Androscoggin County turned up two:

* Summit Springs Farm, John Sayles and Sonya Theriault, 222 Summit Springs Road, Poland, ME 04274, 998-2196, www.summitspringsfarm.net

* South Auburn Organic Farm, Karen and John Bolduc, 310 Sopers Mill Road, Auburn, ME 04210, 415-8380, www.food-joy.org

Unfortunately, the strawberry season is winding down. But there’s always next year!

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I read your column every day. On June 18, Theresa was looking for an Avon representative. I would be happy to sell to her. — Pearl Berube, 353-8408, [email protected]

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.