Alexander/Crawford History

Town News

By John Dudley & Cassie Oakes

This historical tid-bit from John Dudley discusses a storm back in the day, when we didn’t have weather channels, radio stations, or CNN to warn us.

Did you know that S.M. Saxby of the Royal Navy predicted that a major storm would hit our border area at noon on October 5, 1869?  Few, if any, heard his prediction.  The storm hit on that day, but after dark and must have caused fear and confusion.  The Machias Union of October 12, 1869 gave a rather unemotional report of damage and many area towns.  Nine barns were smashed or unroofed in Crawford, six barns on East Ridge of Cooper were blown down and nine barns in Wesley were severely damaged.  In Alexander barns belonging to Solomon Strout, Jr., Claudius Huff, Joseph Godfrey, James Perkins, Widow Mahitable Little, Isaac Craft, Thomas Carter, James Fenlason, Taylor Palmer and Elisha Perkins were all badly damaged or destroyed.  Reuben Keene, Jonathan Taylor and Elisha Perkins each had great damage to their homes.

One family’s experience is told here.  “Sam Vance and other men in his Breakneck neighborhood of Cooper were off on the woods working.  His wife Amelia (Bonney) Vance and daughters six year old Susie and two year old Jennie were at home.  Also in the house was Hannah Sprague, a sixty-year-old woman who was ‘on the town”.  The cattle wouldn’t come into the barn that night and a fierce wind was coming up.  In the fading light Amelia saw trees being toppled and she feared the house would be next.  They left their home and ran to the scant shelter on an uprooted tree.  There the four huddled in the dark as the wind screamed around them.  They heard a crash and pictured in their minds that their home was demolished.  Morning twilight revealed the house still standing, but the barn smashed and the cattle awaiting their mistress.

Susie Vance Frost told this story to her granddaughter Melva Clarke Keene of Cooper who passed it on to A-CHS.  Austin Gray copied the material from the Machias Union.  The account was published in the February 1998 issue of the A-CHS Newsletter available at local libraries.

Don Perkins wrote in The Barns of Maine, a good description about the construction of barns.  Most English barns were post and beam construction with mortis and pinion joints and held together by pegs.  John expects that most barns had their front doors open and that the wind blew them over or ripped off the roofs.  Houses were also post and beam, but lacked the big open door under the eves to admit the howling wind.

Even with the latest ice storms and hurricane leaving some of us with electricity and damage I am very thankful and lucky for our modern technologies we have now, that lets us know of storms approaching so we can prepare.