DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am writing to see if any readers can help me locate two books.

I have a large book entitled “Biographical Review: Leading Citizens of Oxford and Franklin Counties, Maine” published in 1897 by the Boston Biographical Review Publishing Co. The book has 632 pages and contains brief biographies of the male citizens of these counties.

I am looking for the “Biographical Review for Androscoggin County” that would have been published about the same time.

The second book I am looking for is the 1922 yearbook for the West Point Military Academy. I think the name of the yearbook was the Howitzer or something similar.

A neighbor of ours graduated from West Point in that year. After he passed away, his family discarded his belongings. The yearbook would mean a great deal to me.

I am willing to pay a reasonable price for both of these books. I don’t have a computer, so I don’t have an email address. I can be reached by telephone after 4 p.m. at 207-998-2852 or by mail. — David Tedford, P.O. Box 292, Poland, ME 04274

ANSWER: The West Point yearbook (the Howitzer is the correct name) is available on several bookseller websites, but you may have to take out a loan to buy one. The cheapest was $80 on eBay (bidding incomplete), and they went as high as $200.

But not having a computer shouldn’t stop you from buying the book. If you have a credit card, you could order online at the library. The librarians should be able to help you.

Also, one of the sources that had the book was Amazon. You can call them at 800-201-7575.

Or finally, you might ask one of those who sells items on eBay for others if they will buy for you. Sun Spots has two in her Rolodex:

* Nola, Goin’ Postal, 120 Center St., Auburn, 784-9900.

* Laurie Whitmore, Oxford Depot eBay store, Oxford, 539-4884, [email protected]

As for the Androscoggin County book, are you sure they published one? An online search turned up the one you have, but not another for Androscoggin, although at archive.org there were several books about the county and census data for it, as well as many other “biographical review” volumes for counties throughout the Northeast.

Sun Spots is not strong on local history, but perhaps James Myall (see next letter), Doug Hodgkin of the Androscoggin Historical Society and Bates College professor emeritus, or someone else can help.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Hopefully I can help the reader looking for more information on B. F. Beals and his sword. I reviewed what you were able to find online, and supplemented that with a search of Ancestry.com (which is available to visitors to the Franco-American Collection at USM LAC). Here’s what I uncovered.

B. F. Beals, I believe, is Benjamin Franklin Beals, born in Turner June 9, 1840, to Benjamin and Caroline Beals. He enlisted in the Union Army on Sept. 29, 1862, into the 23rd Maine Infantry Regiment (Company D). He was mustered out (discharged) July 15, 1863. He served as a private.

The records you found online showed that he was a founding member of a local Grand Army of the Republic chapter, which is where the sword comes in.

The booklet you found is for GAR members to purchase ceremonial gear. Beals served as assistant quarter-master general to GAR Knox Post 120 in Lewiston, and one of his duties was to sell uniforms to GAR members.

The name on the sword probably means it belonged to Beals, rather than being manufactured by him; census records show that Beals was a confectioner by trade.

As a private, Beals would not have worn a sword while in the army, but it did form part of the ceremonial uniform of the GAR. Beals died April 23, 1918, in Auburn.

I hope that helps your reader. What a neat artifact to have! — James Myall, [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots asked James if it is valuable. He said, “Not especially. Online auctions have them selling for $75 to $150. There were so many Union veterans that I expect there were a lot of these swords made.”

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.