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The story

September 19, 2011

The boys have been telling everyone for years that we were going to Maine in 2011.  Everyone would ask why, to which I’d reply that I love Maine and I’m always trying to get there.  (I even have a “Trip to Maine” savings account which now has about 25 cents left in it. I’d probably just pack up and move there if the opportunity presented itself and if I could forget that little thing called “Winter on the Atlantic coast.”)

Or people would say, “Oh, do you have family back there?”  And we would say, “No…..”

Not now, but we did.  Both of my parents have family lines that come through Maine and I think there’s just something about Maine that must be in my blood.

To tell the story behind this trip, I’ll have to tell about the trip to Maine DH and I were finally able to take four years ago.  And really, the story starts about 10 years before that, when I discovered DH really didn’t know much about his family history.  How awesome was that?!  I love family history so we started researching together.  Many Sunday afternoons during that first year of marriage were spent in the family history center discovering where DH came from and separating fact from fiction.  One family line in particular fascinated me.  DH’s grandma was a Goodwin and we can follow the Goodwins back to the 1700s in, you guessed it–Maine!

Samuel Goodwin, a major in the colonial militia and one of the Kennebec proprietors, settled the Kennebec River valley in the 1750s.  When the Pownalborough Courthouse was erected on the east bank of the river inside Fort Shirley, Major Goodwin and his family moved in as caretakers.  When the town of Pownalborough was split in the 1790s, the court itself moved to the town of Wiscasset, and the Goodwin family and its descendants remained as the inhabitants of the “Old Court House” until the 1950s when it was finally sold to the Lincoln County historical society which still maintains it.  Today the Pownalborough Courthouse is the only pre-Revolutionary courthouse still standing in the state of Maine.


DH and I decided to take kind of a dream trip for our 10th wedding anniversary and track down some of our roots in Maine and Nova Scotia.  Just by chance (or divine intervention, you decide) we were able to have a personal tour of the Pownalborough Courthouse after we ran into the president of the historical society by happenstance and mentioned we were related to Major Samuel.  Both the tour and walking through the family cemetery on the grounds were an amazing experience for us both.  Our tour guide left us with these words, “Be sure and come back in 2011.  The courthouse will be 250 years old and we’re going to have a big birthday celebration.”

So we came home and told the boys we had to go back to Maine in 2011.  They’ve been planning this trip ever since!  We were always hearing about “our trip to Maine.”  Then suddenly it was 2011 and we had to sit down and figure out if we really could pull off a trip to the East Coast this year.  Thanks to SkyMiles and a nice tax return, we worked it out.  We decided to add in some time in Boston as we’ve never been there but have all been anxious to see it ever since we studied early American history.

DH originally wanted to take the boys on to Halifax as we had done before, but no one has passports and I just wasn’t up for it.  Heading to a major city with four children in tow was enough to intimidate me without crossing the border besides.  I love to travel, but there’s something about clicking that “buy now” button and knowing you’re committed to an itinerary that always gives me some trepidation.  Especially after our short (by comparison) trip south this summer when our fuel pump went out, tempers flared, and everyone’s most annoying behaviors seemed to be at the forefront, I was really worried about what could happen on a longer journey.

But we were very blessed, I’m sure, to have so many things turn out so well thought it wasn’t completely without incident.  We arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, only to discover we had forgotten D’s booster carseat.  (Can we ever travel somewhere without having to stop at Walmart for all the things we forgot?  Just once?)

I then left my camera battery and charger plugged into the wall at our first hotel, so when we got to Maine I didn’t have a backup.  DH bought a new battery and a charger.  The new battery wouldn’t work with my camera and the charger fried my one and only original battery.  Thus we had to rely on DH’s iphone for photos of the Courthouse birthday which was the one event we really wanted to document.  Then the iphone died midway through the afternoon.  Luckily we met some new Goodwin cousins who are sending us some better photos from the day.

And lastly, I lost my purse somewhere around the Bunker Hill Monument with all of my ID in it one hour before we had to leave for the airport.  After tearing the car apart, we said a prayer, retraced all of our steps, did everything we could and then received a wonderful phone call from Zions Bank saying a Boston police officer had my wallet only a few blocks away.  I know prayers are answered.  Some lovely English ladies had found it and turned it right in.  Luckily my cell phone was not in it and the officer was able to call my bank who in turn contacted me.  We made our flight. Admittedly we were the very last passengers save one to walk on, but we made it home.  And I’ll never forget E’s giggle as our last flight took off from Atlanta.

So that’s the story and here are at least a few pictures from the Pownalborough Courthouse’s 25oth birthday, our main reason for travelling this September.

Standing on the land of their forefathers:

The view in the opposite direction, overlooking the Kennebec River:

Visiting the cemetery:

Colonial games, this one is called Cat and Mouse:

Nine pins:

Rounders, the grandfather of baseball (and much more fun in my opinion):

There were a number of re-enactors there that day.  This guy was dressed as a French-Canadian settler and cooked some amazing salmon and sourdough bread over his fire.  He also gave me a hair clip made from a turtle shell that would have been used to repel bugs when rubbed with bear grease.  He said it will also work if sprayed with insect repellant and then worn.

Members of the Goodwin and White companies who provided us with musket and cannonfire, and military drills for the kids (which was when the camera battery went out):

The current head of the historical society portraying Major Samuel Denny with the judge come to take  possession of the courthouse and declare court in session, 250 years and 1 day after the original anniversary of Sept. 9, 1761:

Following the judge in the procession into the courthouse:

The courtroom (photo from 2007):

The boys were still going strong with their muskets long into the evening while period music and dancing were happening on the courthouse lawn:

One last view over the river:


5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 8:44 am

    What a trip! I loved reading your story – I grew up in Maine and always love to hear how people enjoy their trips “home”.

  2. Tamaran permalink
    September 20, 2011 2:14 pm

    Love it!

  3. Sheila permalink
    September 20, 2011 8:24 pm

    That looks like an amazing vacation! How neat to go back to your ancestor’s land! What a blessing to be able to take a trip like that :o)

  4. Michelle permalink
    September 20, 2011 9:34 pm

    Great experiences & memories for your family–love it. 🙂

  5. October 12, 2011 3:22 pm

    I came upon your site looking for old drawings or paintings of the court room at the Pownalborough Court House to use in a video I’m making of today’s sitting (at the PCH) of the Maine Supreme Court. You might be interested in watching the video made the day you were there – your son with the dark striped shirt makes the ending!

    Your photos are very good – thank you for sharing them and your story. Sooner or later, I bet you’ll end up here – the winters really aren’t that bad, especially with global warming! ~ Mary Ellen Crowley, Station Manager for LCTV (the public access station for 10 towns in Lincoln County, including Dresden)

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