BRIDGTON — The Bridgton Historical Society will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at the museum on Gibbs Avenue and go back to the eve of the Civil War for a look at the politics and opinions of Bridgton’s past residents, as handed down in their own words.

The primary source for the talk will be the memoirs of Edwin Peabody Fitch, who was born in South Bridgton in 1840. Fitch grew up on the Peabody-Fitch farm (BHS’s own Narramissic) and left behind a memoir telling the story of his childhood in South Bridgton. The talk will focus on the social and political issues of the day as described by Fitch and others in the community.

To this memoir are appended Fitch’s Civil War diaries, which tell the story of his successful first enlistment in 1861 and his less successful, though far more interesting, second enlistment in 1862. In these diaries are found accounts of army life, marching drills and canteen raids, told alongside entries detailing his reaction to the Battle of Bull Run, his capture by the Confederates, and his life in the Belle Isle POW camp.

The narrative will be peppered with anecdotes of South Bridgton’s role in the Abolition movement during the 1830s, drawn from letters of the Perley and Fessenden families, and also looks at the intervening election cycles of the 1840s and ’50s, the fiery death of Bridgton’s Civil War newspaper, The Sentinel, in the 1860s, and Bridgton Academy’s role in the fight for freedom.

The Bridgton Historical Society was founded in 1953 to encourage an appreciation and understanding of the history of the Bridgton community. The museum is open year-round from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and other times by chance or appointment (there’s somebody there for at least part of the time most weekdays). It operates with expanded hours in the summer when Narramissic is also open on a regular schedule.

For details and further information, email [email protected] or call 207-6467-3699.


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