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City a century ago Pt II

Part II
by Nancy Chute Marcotte

Walter Keyes Hamlin began writing journals of his daily life at least by the late 1800s. At one time, his daughters Alice and Flora had kept many of them. Today, the Waterford Historical Society owns two of them (1921 and 1922), while I have three of them (1924, 1925 and his partial final journal of 1938).

I don't know where the others have gone but there were some older ones in the W.H.S. collection at one time (see sidebar by the late Rev. B. F. Wentworth, who reviewed material for our 1976 book).

Born in 1854 at the America Hamlin farm under Hawk Mt. where the earliest Hamlins settled, W. K. Hamlin was a slight, ambitious man who was educated in Waterford schools and married in 1878. He went off to Connecticut with his bride, Clara Bell Hamlin, to learn carriage and wheel manufacturing.
The Walter K. Hamlin family in the 1930s. From left: Alice Hamlin Warren, Jane Hamlin Sanderson, Clara Bell Hamlin, W. K., Flora Hamlin Abbott, Carrie Hamlin Haynes and Albert Hamlin.
By 1883 they were back in South Waterford, living first at the family farm with his brother James and later at the small house across from his carding and box mills and just down the hill from his creamery (“Brookways,” still standing).

In 1913-14, he renovated and modernized the big house once called “Oscar Brown Hotel” (see 1976 Waterford History, page 35.) This house remains in the Hamlin family today, having passed from W. K. to his daughter Alice Warren and from her to her nephew (W. K.'s grandson, Albert's son) Walter “Bud” Hamlin. Bud's widow, Clara, and daughter, Cynthia, live there today with other members of their family.

When W. K. and his Clara lived there, their daughter, Carrie Haynes, and family lived across the street; daughter, Flora Abbott, lived up the street where she would operate a store and post office; son, Albert, and his wife, Marion, lived just above Flora's place in the house where Albert Jr.'s widow, Gertrude, and family live today. Later, W. K.'s daughter, Jane, and her husband Arthur Sanderson moved from a farm in Harrison to “Brookways.”

South Waterford “City” was quite a family enclave. W. K. Hamlin was an entrepreneur with several businesses operating at all times. In addition, he was a civic guiding light and a member of several fraternal organizations. The men who worked for him did work for the town on his contract. As did most businessmen in those days, he also did extensive farming, logging and shipping operations. His daily journals kept track of all these activities. It's an interesting look at daily life in a Maine town.
A Year In the Life

In May of 1921, life went on following the death of his grandchild Helen Jane Haynes (see last issue), because it had to. A lot of people were depending on Hamlin enterprises.

Monday, May 16
Fair. Chas. (Kimball) hauled manure to Norcross Place, 6 horses. Joe (?) helped me a.m. and went to Norcross Place and picked rock on clover piece p.m. Chas. Bell worked on big truck. I helped him what I could p.m.

Tuesday, May 17
Fair. Chas. K. hauled manure to Norcross Place, 4 loads, 6 horses. Joe hauled up dumpcart load and picked rocks rest of day. Chas. B. worked on big truck a.m. and took 25 bushels seed potatoes down to H. Seavey's p.m. 13 and one-half bush. seconds $20.00 and 11 and two-thirds bush. first quality $29.18. Took up load (freight) for Freeman (Hapgood's store), then went to Norway and got load of grain.

Wednesday, May 18
Fair and cool. Chas. K. and Joe at Norcross Place, took up one big load manure. Harrowed and picked rocks. Chas. Bell went to Norway 4 times with G.M.C. truck, frt. & grain. Ripley (of Ripley & Fletcher) came over with 5 passng. Buick Car which we tried and bought. $1995, Disc. $50.

Thursday, May 19
Fair and cool. Chas. K. and Joe went over to old farm and plowed potato piece, took over one load manure. Chas. Bell worked at mill, 1 pr. horses. I went to Harrison with new car. Geo. Hill went with me. Albert, Marion, Ma and I went to ride after supper.

Friday, May 20
Fair. Chas. K. and Joe took load of ashes and went over to (Hamlin) farm, finished plowing old potato ground, spread the ashes and harrowed. Albert, Marion, Carrie, Middie (Carrie's daughter Mildred), Ma and I went to Bridgton in new car, called on Semantha (his sister). Saw Mr. Edwards. Says he will come and help me a little later. That Saturday they spread the manure from the barn cellar and planted the garden at the house.

On Sunday, May 22, 1921, a thunderstorm knocked out the new electric power in town and considerable wind damage was done in Portland. Potatoes were cut and planted from 5/28 to 5/31 at the Norcross Place (wherever that was!) Salt, grain and freight were hauled by the hired men. W. K. ground the buzz planer and knives, filed saws and repaired a horse rake to keep the business going. He was 66 years old and still having problems with rheumatism in his shoulder.

Former potato fields at the old Hamlin farm were rotated this year and sown with oats and grass by Arthur Sanderson. Grass was seeded, some was mowed. Wood went into the cellar. On 5/31, W. K. went to a chicken pie supper at Grange--his first attendance since his illness the past fall.

In June of 1921 the home gardens were planted, both vegetables and flowers. Oats were sown at “the Philip Chase place.” Carrie and Flora tested the cream for butterfat and their “Pa” helped them. He had to repair the “busted” cream tester. Once the cream was collected and tested, the "girls" then saw to it that the prize-winning butter was made and delivered. (Someone once told me these blocks of butter used to be stamped “W.C.” for Waterford Creamery but elderly ladies objected to those initials on their kitchen tables, so the butter mold was changed to a flower design!) “Mr. Edwards” began work on 6/7, building a cement incline to the “auto room” in some building, and doing work at the Grange Hall with Joe's help.

Chas. K. began work for Camp Wigwam with two horses and a road rolling machine. Throughout June Mr. Edwards did a lot of work — he put in new sills and a “piazza floor” at “the Hall house” and built cement walks and cellar steps at various houses owned by W. K.

On Flag Day, 6/10. W. K. went to a celebration at the Flat, making three trips with the new car to "carry” people — “children and others.’ Sundays were generally occupied by one or two church services (at the Flat and at the Wesleyan Chapel) and then by auto trips or by relatives coming for dinner.
Monday, June 13

Some light showers. Hattie and Addie (his sisters, who had spent the night) started for home. Edwards came late and worked on hall. I was within most of day. Chas. K. work at Wigwam, 2 hosses (sic) . Chas. B. went to Norway, big truck, twice. Joe at mill, 2 horses.

“Brookways,” The former W.K. Hamlin house, left, and the carding mill on what now is called Park Street. The mill that was built in 1810 by Oliver Hapgood was moved to Sturbridge Village, where it still operates there today.