BETHEL — A Bethel Historical Society board member Tuesday presented a series of highly detailed 19th century diaries written by Jacob Lovejoy, an Albany Township resident who died in 1893.

Randall Bennett, executive director of the Bethel Historical Society, introduced Michael Stowell to the audience at the Dr. Moses Mason House. Bennett said Stowell lives in Florida for much of the year, but is “a very active member of the Historical Society, which we appreciate.”

The diaries, purchased from a book dealer in Toronto following donations to the Society’s Collections Fund, are being transcribed and annotated by Stowell.

Before delving into the diaries, Stowell explained some of the “idiosyncrasies” of Lovejoy’s writing style, including capitalizing words that begin with the letters “b,” “w,” and “m.”

“He also owned his store for more than 40 years, and in all of his diaries, he capitalizes the word ‘store,’” Stowell said. “He was a very intelligent man, but the way people wrote back then was a lot different.”

Stowell said there were several words that Lovejoy used throughout his diaries that aren’t typically used today, including “thawry,” which indicates when the roads are icy and beginning to thaw out, or “ferkin,” another word for “container.”


The diaries covered a wide swath of life in the Albany Township area, Stowell said.

“Jacob Holt Lovejoy was a storekeeper, church deacon, postmaster, town treasurer, farmer and a selectman at one point,” Stowell said. “He did a lot in town. He was a very religious person. He and his wife, Hepzebah, were both “Sabbath school” teachers, also known as “Sunday school.”

Stowell said Lovejoy was also a very nice man who did a lot for other people.

“When people were sick, they would call for him to be in the room and pray with them,” Stowell said. “He never had a problem helping people, and he would lend money to people who needed it. One time, in his diary, he wrote that he lent his brother $5. At the time, that was one week’s worth of work.”

Lovejoy also stayed in contact with his late daughter’s husband, even after he re-married and had three children with another woman.

He would send the kids gifts, and stayed in correspondence with them,” Stowell said. “He was a fascinating man.”


Stowell said Lovejoy even wrote a weekly column for the Lewiston Journal and the County Democrat, now known as the Sun Journal and Advertiser Democrat, respectively.

While the Historical Society is in possession of seven of Lovejoy’s diaries, Stowell said he is hoping there are more out there.

Lovejoy has proven to be a very meticulous writer,” Stowell said. “He seems to have had at least one diary a year for most of his life. I’d love to find 10 or 15 more of them to go through.”

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