Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
There is little photographic evidence of the location of Sunnyside Farm off the Oakland Road in Waterville, Maine. This illustration presents questions and information that we have found that will eventually lead us to Sunnyside Farm. A deed document describing the Inland Hospital property states that the property was the Baldic Farm and formerly Sunnyside. However, this location is more than 1.5 miles from the train station and only accounts for 22 acres. Join us as we pursue Sunnyside. Researchers working on this project include staff of the Redington Museum, Anne Palmer, Ann Beverage, Donna Trombley, Clark Thompson, and Stephen Thompson. Click the image in this post to see the illustration in full view. The comments associated with this post provide details of real estate transactions and foreclosures related to the Nelson properties.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Notes on Horse Racing in Pittsfield [from the book Pittsfield on the Sebasticook, which can be read on the Pittsfield Historical Society web site.
In June of this year (1893), Col. Morrill purchased the old Pittsfield Driving Park from J. E. Connor and Isaac Lancey. “The Colonel intends to make extensive repairs,” the announcement of the purchase stated, “building stalls, judges’ stand, seats for the spectators, improving the track, repairing the fences, and opening up a road from the park to Peltoma Avenue.”
The opening ceremonies were held in August and it was a great day for Col. Morrill, the new Union Park that had been practically idle for twenty years, and for the racing enthusiasts throughout the area. Special trains were run into Pittsfield, bringing one of the largest crowds ever seen at the Park.
The feature of the day was a ladies’ carriage race, the first in Maine. There was considerable doubt expressed when the event was first announced, but Morrill went through with it and it was a sensational success. He was later asked to put on a similar race at the other fairs in Maine and was invited to sponsor one in New Hampshire. It was the beginning of many “firsts” for Col. Morrill in his chosen field.
The careers of these two colorful personalities took divergent paths as the years rolled on. Dr. Drake, for personal reasons, probably financial, very shortly sold Early Bird to a Boston horse fancier, later sold his entire racing stock, and his beautiful estate, including his lovely home and his 450 acre farm.
The Hathorn Stable housing his thoroughbreds was afterward moved to the north side of the R. R. tracks where it housed the Eastern Maine Grain Co. for years and [later was] the home of the Wirthmore Feed Co. The inscription “Home of Early Bird” still shows through the paint on the west end of the building.
Pittsfield Advertiser, 1918 edition front page "Race Driven by Women," Col. Walter G. Morrill's Union Park race track.
He has owned some 50 race horses and he is today the oldest track devotee in the state. He was the first man to offer a purse of $1,000; first to stage a ladies’ race; and the first man to pay out a grand total of $100,000 in purses. He is the holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor for most distinguished gallantry in action, being the only man who left Maine as a private during the Civil War and came home in command of a regiment.
Col. Morrill was the first Maine man to put two horses into the 2.30 class, Surprise in 2.28 and Cammons[Connors?] in 2.25. The first race he staged was at Dexter on July 4, 1876. He then sponsored races in Bangor, Dover-Foxcroft, Skowhegan, Fairfield, Gardiner, Pittsfield and Waterville as well as at Lewiston, Topsham, Springvale, Rochester, N. H., and Brockton, Mass.
Guest of Honor
Pittsfield Advertiser, 1932
The Otis M. Vining Post feels that in dedicating September 2nd, the biggest day of Booster Week, to Colonel Walter G. Morrill, it is not only paying a tribute to Pittsfield’s oldest and most widely known Civil War veteran, but also is honoring a man that will go down in the horse racing history of the country as the premier horseman in America. Col. Morrill has paid out more money in purses to winning race drivers than any man in the country, and we as veterans challenge anyone to produce a man with his record, both in war and in sport.
Information provided by Tom Brown, Pittsfield Historical Society