What follows are some short features found in the December 10, 1896, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES newspaper. We begin with “Rangeley Recollections” by Deacon Lake which was much like what we do here with Snapshots…but from 1896 with a look back to the 1830-40’s. This one features a local ‘True native’, Annanse and his family. We have quite a few historical references to Chief Mettalak, but unfortunately there are too few other accounts of the region’s other indigenous people. Like Mettalak, Annanse and his clan were also of the St. Francis tribe (Cooashhaukes) who traveled here from Quebec and represent a northern contingent of the Wabanaki Confederacy.

(Pierce’s commentary is shared in Italics, otherwise the copy has been reprinted just as it appeared in 1896).

Rangeley Recollections

There was a little colony of Indians of the St. Francis tribe in the settlement in the 30’s and 40’s. The “Big Indian” of the party was Louis Annanse, a graduate of Dartmouth College, his aged sister, two nephews the brothers Jerome and Elijah Wasmimmet, Jerome’s wife and several children. They occupied a log cabin on the road leading to Nathaniel Toothaker’s and Abraham Ross’s. There the women made prettily colored baskets. The men tanned moose hides and made mittens of them. In harvest time they worked for the farmers. I think the first moose taken alive in that region was captured by Jerome and Elijah. It was a young one, and while it was feeding on lily pads in a shallow of Cupsuptic lake, the Indians stealthily approached and pulled it into their boat, they brought it to Deacon Lake’s where it became so far domesticated that, after roaming the woods all day for food, it would return to its pen at night. Its favorite food was the blossoms of fireweed called “wickup.”

More than fifty years ago Annanse wrote for William Dodge a geographical description of the lake region, including the nomenclature of the several bodies of water. I think it varied somewhat from the names as now spelled and pronounced. It was Annanse who told Capt. Kimball that the once pine-shaded point between Lake Cupsuptic and the outlet stream from the Kennebago and Rangeley Lakes, was an ancient Indian burial place. It was a charming spot before it was spoiled by flooding.

What a historical “find” it would be to have the map described above drawn by Annanse! Absolutely a priceless piece of history which is, most likely, long gone. There is a map in the collection of the Hamlin Museum in Paris Hill, Maine (one of two known to exist) of the Rangeley Lakes District, drawn on birch bark by the region’s most famous Indigenous people, Metallak, son of the chief of the Cooashhaukes. To learn more about Metallak check out this past edition of Snapshots in Time: https://www.sunjournal.com/2021/06/25/snapshots-in-time-stories-from-rangeleys-iconic-past/

Here from page 1 is the account of what a ride on the P&R RR was like, including riding along with some singing ruffians returning from a celebratory respite in the big city of Phillips.

“All aboard” the Narrow Gauge at Rangeley station

Along the Phillips & Rangeley

A crowd of men for the woods, they are taking in the last of civilization together with a splash of uncivilization from pocket flasks. They grow musical and amuse the passengers with solos, duets, terzettos, quartettes and a full chorus. They are interested in the natural beauties of the country and add much to the seen on the flat that precedes the passenger coach. The woods are unattractive, a light snow partially covering the ground, occasionally a track of hunter or woodsman is seen now and then a venturesome sled team has been driven over the last year’s road in search of a dry tree for fuel the section-men stand wishfully gazing at the car windows, seeking a familiar face or a hand being raised in token of recognition. Miller Reed is sole possessor of the station platform at Reed’s Mill. He braces himself for the shock when the mail agent seizes the pouch as the train dashes, past. It is looking more like business at Sanders. Men there who have been looking over the chance for lumbering. To see the smoke pouring out from the tall chimneys will be an improvement. The men for the woods sit aimlessly in in their seats. One is writing on the steam that has formed on the window. It was a left-handed writer and a phonetic speller, if his “J-O-R-N” meant what it indicated. At Redington we parted company with our woodsmen, with sorrow. Well hardly, we hardly parted with them, for a new supply came in. They were quiet and pleasant, and one was a fiddler. At least he had a fiddle with a piece of brown paper round it and two bows, not two strings to his beau, but two bows to his one fiddle. Night overtakes the train before you are out of the woods and you languidly look from the window during the various movements made at Dead River Station, watching the signals from the lanterns of the brakemen, which send the train ahead, back up or come to a full stop. How weird the effect, as the fireman opens the furnace door, from the reflection on the clouds of smoke and steam. What would Dante have added to his Inferno could he have viewed the scene. Rangeley at last and as we step off, we make a discovery. The car is too long for the platform, or else the platform is too short for the car. They do not meet, and we alight in the field instead of on the planking.

Oh, what fun it must have been to ride the “baby train” to Rangeley. Can you imagine the tourism draw to the region a working Narrow Gauge Train offering excursions if only to Dead River Station and back (out by where the present day Naval “Training” Area is today) would be! If you have not been to the Sandy River Railroad in Phillips or have seen the spectacular SR&RL railroad collection at the Phillips Historical Society, you are really missing out. The Rangeley History Museum run by RLHS in downtown Rangeley also has a nice exhibit as well.

P&R train outbound for Rangeley from Strong

Local Paragraphs

Dana Hinkley has bought of Kempton, Furbish and Butler, all the sawdust and wood that they make at their mill for the next year. He will haul the slabs to his house, put in a horsepower, saw them into stove wood and be pleased to have your orders.

Kempton, Furbish and Butler had a lumber mill at what is now Hatchery Brook Cove. The slabs were a by-product of sawing out dimensional lumber just as it is today. Considering the fuel needs of all the wood cook stoves in every kitchen in the region, it seems Mr. Hinkley was quite the entrepreneur. Did you know that small poplar was considered “Biscuit Wood” as once seasoned it burned quick and hot which was perfect for making this delicious 19th Century compliment to every meal?

The ladies of Rangeley are going to have a Leap Year Ball and are making elaborate plans for the occasion. The event will come off on Tuesday evening, Dec. 29, at Furbish Hall. Mrs. Lucy Herrick will act as floor director, with Miss Ada Huntoon and Miss Minnie Grant as aids. An oyster supper will be served at the Oquossoc (House). It is the intention to make this a grand good time and let everybody attend to help make it a success.

Sounds fun! What a pity that it occurred just once every two years. Hey, all Rangeley non-profits out there, this event might make for a fun winter fundraiser? The Oquossoc House was one of the first public lodging properties in Rangeley proper. At publication of this edition of the RANGELEY LAKES, the soon to be famous Rangeley Lake House was just nearing completion with the fresh plaster on the walls just finished and the shipment of all the custom doors just arriving that week. I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving, and we will be back in two weeks with another installment from Rangeley’s iconic past.

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