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Diaries and Letters

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Old diaries and letters reveal much about times gone by. Last week’s Odds & Ends had a quote from 1903 correspondence between a man staying at the GN Hotel and his aunt. The museum has scans of letters from WWI Europe written by Murray Morgan to a friend in Maine and scans of letters from several local men to their families during WWII.

A well-worn diary carried in the trenches by Henry Michaud is displayed in the museum’s Military/Service Room. The Navy Mother’s Club of Millinocket (WWII) sent letters and care packages to local men and women in the service. Two scrapbooks contain the thank you notes from appreciative recipients in the European and Pacific places of war. These and other writings tell of the very different lives of people from this small town in northern Maine.

“March 8, 1912. Started for Millinocket at twelve. There were quite a lot of us on the train. Got there at four. I stayed with Ella. We called on Beulah and Aunt Eli. Sat with Mae. We ate some oranges before we went to bed.

March 9, 1912. We got up about 8. After breakfast Ella and I went to our old house, then called on Maude. Went down to see Della. Started for Madison at twelve.”

These words are from the pen of Ruth Marden, 1910 graduate of Stearns HS, and were written in while she was a student at Aroostook State Normal School. This small diary, written in tiny precise handwriting, contains a detailed day-by-day account of her year as a female college student shortly after the turn of the century. Not much about her actual studies, but much about dorm life and how she spent her free time.

Ruth and her family lived in Millinocket in the early days and then the family moved to Madison. Ruth’s parents were George and Mary Marden. References in the diary to “Papa going to the office,” probably at Great Northern and was then transferred to the Madison mill?

In 1912, Ruth was in her second and final year of studies at Aroostook State Normal School, now UM Presque Isle. She was a boarding student, living in Normal Hall. There are references to a Miss Kelly (possibly from Winn or Millinocket) who was the housemother. Ruth played on the women’s basketball team.

Ruth traveled by train to her parent’s home in Madison several times during the school year. Sometimes she stopped over in Millinocket to visit friends. The June 8, entry in the diary says, “Rode with Mollie Chase as far as Millinocket. Went right up to Beulah’s. We went to see them load the elephants.”

The June 9 entry mentions she and Beulah “walked around the old home and it looked fine. Had some of Mrs. Atherton’s rolls for supper.” The June 10 entry has Ruth visiting Mrs. Rush and then going to Mae’s. Later she took the train to Waterville where she was met by someone to take her to Madison.

At school, she mentions reading the Millinocket Journal. After graduation in 1912, she received a letter from Glaydie Fuller of Millinocket, and traveled to Winn where she visited with Miss Kelly. Ruth did substitute teaching and in December obtained a position at a school in Ft. Fairfield. She traveled by train to Presque Isle and visited at the Normal School. The final entries state: “Miss Kelly telephoned for a team for me. Started for my school at 8. It is a mile from Ft. Fairfield. Mr. Whittier met me and I went right down to my school. Had sixteen scholars. Got along fine.”

Photo is Michaud diary!

Photo shows Michaud diary!

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