From the Director
Dear friends and members,

I hope this E-News finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. While our museum is closed  for the season, we are working carefully and conscientiously to keep our staff, volunteers,
collections, and campus safe and secure during this difficult time. We are also finding  reassurance and inspiration as we continue to work towards a brighter future: conducting  research, developing exhibits, and planning programs for the months ahead. As we practice  social distancing, we are particularly aware of the personal connections from our history and  culture that make our work meaningful. I hope the pieces we share here help bring those
connections to you.

Karen Smith
Executive Director
Join the PMM digital book club!

We'll choose a nautical short story or book - one that is available free online so you can join whether or not you happen to have a copy laying around! While you're reading it or after you finish, keep us updated. Post your thoughts, comments, and questions. Share related videos, create thematic memes. Let's have some fun, plus knock a few readings off our list. Join in the conversation here.

Book One 3/16-3/22  A short story by Searsport native Lincoln Colcord. "Rescue at Sea" is on pages 74-92, in Under Sail. Read here.
Book Two 3/22-3/26  Mark Twains humorous thoughts on ships, "About All Kinds of Ships." Available online in  The Writings of Mark Twain , Vol. 21 . Read here .
Book Three 3/27-4/16  Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s maritime classic  Two Years Before the Mast . We'll do about 25 pages each night. Join us along the way or meet us at the end to share your thoughts! Read here.
Book Four 4/17-4/24  A fun (admittedly written for young readers!) novel set on Penobscot Bay, enjoy Barbee Oliver Carleton's  The Secret of Saturday Cove Read here.

Please wait to post to post your comments until the book is in process or finished. Miss a book but want to chime in? Go ahead and add your comments!
Sailing from Boston to Buenos Aires: The 1892 Diary of Ernest W. Perkins
On Tuesday, October 17th, 1892, Ernest Perkins finished his daily diary entry with, "So we lay on our first night out, riding gently at anchor, rocked slightly by the faint easterly swell whose ripples have, maybe, kissed the scorched shores of some far tropical clime." 

What happens next?! Will Ernest and the Searsport-built MABEL I MEYERS reach Buenos Aires? Will it be smooth sailing? What does a passenger do to pass the time on a 19th century merchant vessel?

Journey with Ernest over the next 56 days by following on Facebook and our new Story Map. Each day Penobscot Marine Museum will post a new entry on the Story Map along with a location on the map, helpful links, and relevant images. Ernest recorded his observations about daily life on board, giving us a unique look into the workings of a sailing vessel. Along with Ernest's entries, we will also post an activity prompt designed to engage young readers.

We will share posts on Facebook and some images on Instagram. You can share these posts, too! If you have any comments or questions along the way, feel free to comment and share on Facebook or Instagram. You can also email me me directly at

Bon Voyage!
Mounted Specimens from the Sea
In the period between 1840 and 1900 Searsport became part of a larger world. For the first time, large ships were leaving Searsport not to ply the coast, but to do business in foreign ports. This expansion brought Searsport residents into direct contact with foreign cultures and exotic animals. Searsport residents related 
Bird of Paradise, 159, gift of Mrs. William Ford
what they saw to their friends and loved ones at home and  occasionally brought some of the things that they saw back with them. 

Captain William Blanchard (1836-1904) spent almost 40 years (from 1863-1902) as captain of 11 ships and barks taking cargo to ports across the globe. He brought home this Bird of Paradise from the island of New Guinea, on a voyage to ports in Australia.

Captain William Richardson Gilkey (1856-1935) captained brigs and schooners from 1884-1906, bringing his family along on voyages. He caught a s ea
Sea Turtle, 1952.41, gift of E.W. Gilkey
turtle at the entrance of the Parana River, South America near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Gilkey brought Maine lumber to ports along the Parana River, like Buenos Aires and Rosario, Argentina. The river was known for its grain exports.

This love of exotic specimens from their travels was not the only thing to link Captain Blanchard and Captain Gilkey, they were also 
Photograph taken on board the clipper ship ELECTRIC SPARK at the Chincha Islands in 1865. In this group are four Searsport ship masters with their wives and children -- John Pendleton (1828-1899), William Blanchard (1836-1904), Albert Nickels (1838-1902), and Nathan Carver (1829-1904). Phineas was not yet born. #2, gift of Phineas Banning Blanchard
in-laws. Phineas Banning Blanchard married Georgia Maria Gilkey in 1906. " Ria" and "Banning" spent their honeymoon aboard the BANGALORE, which he commanded and she wrote about in her journal.  

Banning was the fifth of six children born to  Clara E. Pendleton (1843-1931) and William H. Blanchard (1836-1904). The whole family sailed with Captain Blanchard throughout his career. Blanchard delivered
Photo of the Gilkey family aboard the schooner GEORGIA GILKEY, 1983.29., gift of Ralph E. Gilkey. In the photo, to Captain Gilkey's left is son William R. (1880-1952), daughter Ann (1891-1970), wife Georgia P. Sawyer (1855-1927) and daughter Georgia Maria (1886-1973)
three of her six children at sea, one in port at Valencia, Spain, and Banning in port at San Pedro, California. Only one child, the third of six, was born at home in Searsport.

"Ria" grew up sailing with her father aboard her namesake, the schooner GEORGIA GILKEY, the last schooner built in Searsport in 1890.

Come see more souvenirs brought back from foreign ports this summer in At Home, At Sea, a reinterpretation of our Sea Captain's House.
Life at Sea
Plus PMM Educational Resources

You've probably been home a lot more than usual in recent days. There are many similarities between life isolated at home and life at sea. In "Childhood at Sea," Searsport-native Joanna Colcord described her experiences:

"...Vastly stimulating and exciting periods in port alternated with long days of peaceful, though never monotonous, life at sea. We had our small duties like the rest. When another ship was sighted and came near enough for communication by flag-signals, that was our day of glory. It was ours to search out the code symbols, select the many-colored flags from the hoist, and translate the stranger's replies.

"Lessons went on daily. Our parents consulted with the teachers in the home school, before taking us away, and we covered the same subjects, from the same books as did our schoolmates. We were living geography, although we knew only the edges of the continents. One of our favorite games, in stormy weather was to spread a chart on the cabin floor, and with dominoes for ships, charter, load, and sail them from port to port with an occasional liven things up. (We knew of these mishaps (in actuality) only from the stories we had heard.) Mathematics, too, was a living subject; our vessel found the way about the world by its aid. As we grew older we participated in the operations of finding the sun's position daily, casting the ship's reckoning, and laying off on the chart the previous day's run."

You can find out more about life at sea on our education website Penobscot Bay History Online. The website includes interesting, fun historical information as well as activity ideas. For example, hard tack was a common food for sailors in the 19th century. Here's a recipe you can try at home!: Combine 3 1/2 cups white or whole wheat flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add cold water a spoonful at a time. When it sticks together, knead into a ball of dough. Let set for about 30 minutes. Roll out very thin. Place on baking sheet and score in wedges. Bake at 420 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool and allow to harden.

Be sure to check our Facebook and Instagram accounts for interesting historical tidbits as well as extra activities like this one.

Photo Archives News
More Towns Adopted!
Thanks to generous donations from Ken Gordon, Eric Hooglund and Robin Pinto, more towns have been "adopted" in our continuous campaign to put the Eastern Illustrating Collection back together. Ken (who you will read about in our volunteer spotlight) chose  Vienna to adopt, as his wife Sue is from there. Eric, an active member of the Belgrade Lakes Historical Society adopted Belgrade  negatives of course. Robin Pinto adopted 20 of the remaining 42  Machias negatives in the name of Downeast Coastal Conservancy. Enjoy these new offerings in our online database and please consider  adopting a town if you can!
Flying Pond, Vienna, ME
Tukey's Store, Gateway to Belgrade Lakes Region
Centre Street Congregational Church and New Eastern Hotel, Machias, ME
Bill Abbott Exhibit Postponed!

Ross Towing Co. tug WALTER ROSS with a four master in tow down the Penobscot River. Captain William Abbott Collection, LB2014.7.40

Our latest exhibit,  Up River: Selections from the Captain Bill Abbott Collection, which was originally scheduled to open at the Camden Public Library in April, has been postponed until May. Captain William Abbott spent fifty years guiding vessels into port, including through the challenging waters of Penobscot Bay and River. He was a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, the founder of the Penobscot Bay and River Pilot's Association, and a mentor to countless port pilots. He was also an avid collector of photographs and was known to spin a good yarn. When Captain Abbott passed away in 2014, he left his treasured collection to the Penobscot Marine Museum where it is being digitized and preserved. This exhibit draws images from his collection to provide a glimpse into his life and career. It will now launch in May, virus permitting, to commemorate Maritime Month at the Camden Public Library and travel to PMM's Merithew House Gallery for the 2020 season.
More Eastern Negatives Secured!
Thanks to very generous donations from Ann and Nate Foss, David Jones, and Bob Pieri, we were successfully able to raise the $1000 we needed to acquire Eastern Illustrating negatives from an antique photography dealer. These negatives, from Caribou and New Sweden, Maine, are the latest group of Eastern negatives to bubble up. They will soon be digitized and added to the database. How many more are there? Who knows, but the next group is on the horizon...
Maynard Bray Collection
We're excited to announce our first unveiling of Maynard Bray's photographs online. As many of our audience know, Maynard is still alive and well and living in coastal Maine. He's been working on and around boats for most of his life and has gone out of his way to meet countless others of a similar stripe.

After landing a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, he went to work for Electric Boat in Groton, CT in 1956, followed by a six-year stint at Bath Iron Works. By the time he finished there in 1969, he'd become their Chief Mechanical Engineer. He spent the next six years at Mystic Seaport as their shipyard supervisor. Here he was in his element: up to his elbows in wooden boats. After leaving Mystic for Maine in the mid-1970s, he stayed involved with Mystic Seaport into the early 2000s: he continued sourcing wood for the museum's endless restorations, serving on the Ships and Yachting Committees, rescuing important collections of ships' plans from becoming landfill, and as one of the Museum's trustees. Shortly after returning to the Maine coast, he landed a gig as technical editor for WoodenBoat magazine, a position he still holds today. He's also been writing the captions for Ben Mendlowitz's Calendar of Wooden Boats since 1983.

Volunteer Spotlight
Anyone who's been to Penobscot Marine Museum knows that our hometown of Searsport is adjacent to the very small city of Belfast. Ken Gordon's long road to Belfast had hereditary origins: his mother's people arrived there in the 1790s. A generation or so later, one of them purchased a large piece of property along the Passagassawakeag River, which empties into Belfast Harbor. The land has remained in the family for over 150 years, and Ken and his wife Sue had a long-simmering ambition to find their way there. For Ken, of course, it was a somewhat profound homecoming.

Though he's dyed-in-the-wool Mainer, the circumstances of his life have carried him over much of the world. In his biography, rivers are a recurring theme. He grew up in Skowhegan, the seat of government for Somerset County. Coincidentally, Skowhegan, situated on the Kennebec River, and the "Passy", where Ken's forebears settled, were both named by indigenous people for their popularity as fishing grounds. Via the University of Maine system, he earned a BS degree in Engineering Technology, then embarked on a long career in the pulp and paper industry when he took a job with Georgia Pacific in 1975 at their Baileyville, Maine plant, on the St. Croix River. Over the decades he spent there, he compiled an impressive CV with his management of large industrial projects, from design and planning through implementation. He also focused on evaluating and refining processes to maximize output and keep workers safe. For most of 20 years, he also served as the Maine co-chair to the St. Croix International Waterway Commission, acting as a consultant on the operation of hydroelectric plants along the 100-mile stretch of the river that forms a border with Canada. When federal regulations tightened around the life cycle of hazardous chemicals, Ken stepped in to oversee complex modifications to equipment and processes at the plant. He retired from Georgia Pacific in 2010.

Ken and Sue's Belfast dreams finally came true in 2012, two years after his retirement from Georgia Pacific. An uncle offered to let family buy into the ancestral property; they purchased a lot on the bluff above the Passy. We first met Ken when he toured the museum on a Senior College field trip in 2014. Since then, he's spent many, many hours scanning historic photos. His first big challenge in the photo archives was digitizing the Ed Coffin collection, which depicts life in small Midcoast Maine towns at the turn of 20th century. It's hard not to be engrossed by these glimpses into a culture so different from-and yet in underlying ways so similar to-ours today. Some of the differences were surprising; Ken was amused to see photographs taken inside a grocery store, with cuts of meat laid out for sale at room temperature, not a fridge in sight.

Ken and Sue have been together for 50 years. Common interests have helped them keep a strong bond. They golf together during the nicer half of the year (we don't see him around here for those months; time on the fairway trumps babysitting a flatbed scanner). When the weather turns rugged, they curl at a popular local facility. Ken sits on the boards of both the Northport Golf Club and the Belfast Curling Club. True to his bent, he gets tapped to oversee project planning for both organizations, a big picture guy even in his retirement. We consider ourselves fortunate for the time he spends here with little pictures from a long time ago. Thanks for being with us, Ken.
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