A History of Vienna, Maine
Guy E. Healey, Esquire, a prominent attorney in Boston and a native of Vienna, Maine, recently offered prizes to the pupils of Vienna schools who would write the best essays giving the history of the town from its earliest days down to the present time. The first prize of $10.00 was awarded to Ivy Woodcock.
Nestled among the hills and mountains, in the beautiful Pine Tree State is a little town called Vienna . It is the most northeasterly town of Kennebec county. Its northwest boundary being the line between Kennebec and Franklin county,
This town, together with what is now a part of Fayette and Chesterville, was bought from Massachusetts and named Wyman's Plantation by Nathaniel Whittier who lived in what is now Readfield and Jedidiah Prescott who lived in what is now Winthrop. They divided it into lots, and persuaded people to settle them. The part which is now Vienna was then called Goshen until Feb. 20, 1802, when it was incorporated as a town and named Vienna . In 1850 it had a population of four hundred three, in 1902, three hundred sixty-six, in 1920 a population of four hundred three. At present there is a population of four hundred ninety.
Among the first settlers were: Joshua Howland, John Tompson, Patrick Gilbraith, Noah Prescott, John Allen, Arnold Mathew, James Cofren, William Allen, Jedidiah Prescott(?), Abel Whittier, Robert Cofren, Nathaniel Whittier, Gideon Wells, Eliza Bunker, Daniel Mathew, Benjamin Porter, Caleb Brown and Joshua Mooer.
The first post office was established, March 21, 1808 at North Vienna on what is known as the Walter Pierce place. Its postmasters have been Eliza Johnson, Levi Johnson, George Porter, Alvan Bradley, Ira Neal, Amos Hodgkins, Sanders Morrill, Nathaniel Cochran, Henry Dowst, John Hall, Noah Cofren, Jacob Graves, Henry Whittier, Walter Pierce and Henry Mason, It was called Vienna until March 20, 1854, when it became known as North Vienna . It was at this time that North Vienna lost its post office. It was moved to the village as the stores and mills were located there, and was therefore considered the central part. Rufus Mansur was appointed postmaster. The mail was brought by stage, that left North Vienna in the morning connecting with Readfield Station each way with trains on the Maine Central, and went to Augusta returning to Vienna at night. The mails are now brought twice each day by car and still connects with trains at Readfield. The Post Office is now at Dowst Brothers store with Dana Dowst as postmaster and Orville Dowst as his assistant.
The store which is now run by Raymond Seavey was built by Mr. Elbridge Allen. Mr. Allen cut the lumber, had it sawed and built the main part in 1894. He sold it later to Mr. Fred Tuttle who ran it as a general store and kept the post office. It was from here that the post office was moved to Dowst Brothers store. Mr. Tuttle's store has been in the hands of Ora Meader and Raymond Sevey now runs it as a pool room and sells ice cream and candy.
The first town meeting was held in 1802 at the dwelling house of Arnold Wethren, in 1803 at Elias Johnson's house, in 1804 at Nathaniel Whittier's and in 1805 at Moses Sanborn's. For the next nine years it was held in schoolhouses. From 1815 to 1825 it was held in the “new meetinghouse”…evidently the old Methodist Church , and from 1825 to 1848 in “number four” schoolhouse. Since that time it has been held in the new town house which was given to the town by Joseph Whittier of Boston . The first selectmen were: Jacob Graves, James Cofren and Joshua Mooers. The first town clerk was Daniel Morrill and the first town treasurer was Arnold Withren.
Captain Samuel Mowers was one of the first traders in Vienna . Fred Stuart, Daniel Mowers, and Lewis Bradley were next. Up to this time the traders sold liquor at the public bars. The very day Lewis Bradley began trade he invited his neighbors to come and take a free drink. Then taking a saw, he cut the bar and said he was done with the liquor traffic. That was around 1837 and was about the last store bar in Vienna although other stores sold liquor after that.
The first secret order in Vienna Village was the Vienna Lodge, number eighty-eight of Good Templars, which was organized in 1887 with about twenty members. The presiding officers were: Lendall Davis, Henry Graves, Mrs. Elbridge Allen, Alice Waite, Nettie Kimball, Guy Healey, Nettie Lawton, Charles Dearborn, Arthur Davis and Eugene Waite. The Vienna Lodge held its meetings at the Union Hall. When the founders of this lodge moved away it died out and at present the only secret order is the Glenwood Valley grange. Glenwood Valley Grange got its name from a paper printed in 1866 called the Glenwood Valley Times.
The soil of Vienna is very rich and good for farming. Corn and beans are raised by most all the farmers. These are taken either to New Sharon, Mt. Vernon , or Farmington Falls for canning. We have two canning plants in Vienna , one of these being in the northern part of town and run by the Bean Brothers. The other plant is at Vienna Village and run by Fred Duley. The farmers also raise grain. The most common being oats, millet, yellow corn, and barley.
The people of Vienna decided to build a hall and requested the ladies to form an association. They formed the association Feb. 20, 1888 at Fritz Eaton's house. It was called Union Hall Association. On March 1, 1888 the Association met and decided when the hall should be built. It was voted to build it on the land owned by Mr. Dowst. In July 1889, the hall was completed and the town had a hall of which it might be proud. This hall has been the scene of many a pleasant evening.
Vienna had the first gristmill built in this part of the country, situated on what is known as the first dam. People from Farmington Falls , Chesterville and all the surrounding towns came here to get their corn and wheat ground. Patrick Gilbraith built the dam and mill in the year 1800. In 1819 he sold it to Nathaniel Mooers. The mill was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt in 1840 by Mr. Mooers. At present it is used as a storehouse for skewers by the Maine Skewer and Dowel Company.
In earlier days on the middle dam standing where the mill of the Maine Skewer and dowel Company is now located, there stood a fulling mill owned and run by Josiah Bradley. On the west side of the stream Josiah and Jonathan Bradley, Jacob Graves and Nathaniel Mooers built in the year 1845 a new sawmill in the place of the old one. George Wills tore it away and built a new sawmill in its place in the year 1872. Five years later he sold the dam to Henry Trask and he in turn sold it to Mr. Perley Whittier. For many years it was in the hands of the Whittiers who used it for a cooper shop. They sold this cooper shop to John Allen, who built and ran it as the Maine Skewer and Dowel Company. Mr. Allen employed many women and about fifteen men to pack the skewers. The skewers were shipped from Farmington after being hauled there by heavy teams. Mr. Allen, while there, invented the ball bearing arbors, also the pointing machine for pointing skewers. At the present time Mr. William Chadborne owns and runs the mill. He employs about the same number of people as Mr. Allen did. His skewers are trucked to Readfield and are shipped to all parts of the world.
The first machinery on the lower dam was a fulling mill. In 1838 Freeman Brown and Thomas Norris built the present dam. On the west side of the stream there was a bark mill which stood there until 1845. Mr. Norris also added a shingle machine with steam power for use when water was low. Augusta Smart was the next owner of the property and after that William Tyler, who sold it to James and Henry Trask and Daniel Lawson. Henry Trask bought the interest of his partners and made handles for hoes and shovels. This building is now standing and used for a storehouse.
On Cofren brook stood a pioneer gristmill that was active in its day but it ground its last wheat about 1820. Even tradition has failed to give its owner's name. A sawmill standing on McGurdy pond, built by Nathaniel Cofran and Arnold Wethren about the year 1820 was in operation until 1858 when it was destroyed by fire. Thomas Dow was its last proprietor and now J.S. Graves owns the real estate.
Near the cemetery in the Chesley district, Sylvanus Fairbanks built in 1860, a rake factory on the outlet of Beaver Pond and made rake and spade handles for ten years. Mr. Fairbanks while there invented the first hollow arbor for wood turning.
Bricks were made on Jedidiah Whittier's land and in several other places in town. Large quantities of lime were burned in the northeastern part of the town. Wagons and carriages were built by Henry Colby, James Gordon and Snell Gordon.
The town of Vienna has several beautiful ponds. Flying pond, for instance is a very pretty pond situated near the village. This pond has many pretty islands with camps on them which are owned by private parties. There is a very interesting story told concerning this pond. Years ago two or three Indians canoed across this pond and being attracted by its beauty carefully marked the place and went back to bring others. On coming back, they lost the trail and supposing they knew exactly where is was, they said, “It has flown away,” thus it got the name of “Flying Pond.” The shore has some very pretty cottages owned by Mr. Theodore DeMarino, which are occupied only in the summer.
Vienna has very beautiful scenery and some very pretty homes. The home of Leon Gordon is a very pretty home with a fine hedge in front of the house.
I like the great broad schoolhouse
That nature founded best.
I like to get my lessons there,
And there I like to rest.
The roof is decked with jewels
That sparkle in the night,
The flowers spread with velvet
So beautiful and bright.
Barefoot boys may enter there,
And choose the course they please.
With singing birds and rippling brook
And think not of degrees.
Her books are always open.
The teacher is my friend.
The lessons never trouble me
Although they never end.
I cannot leave the precious place
In which I have a start,
The truths I find recorded there
Make imprints on my heart.