History of the
The Old Homestead in Owl’s Head, Maine
(Based on material written by Mary Foster Dyer)
In 1777, Nathaniel Crockett, one of the first five settlers of Owls Head (then part of Thomaston) purchased a sizable portion of land including that where the Homestead now stands. Nathaniel was married to Eunice Cooper and they had 13 children. Much of the land eventually was known as the “Crockett Farm”
It is quite probable that the Old Homestead was built before 1820. Captain Charles Spalding and his wife Lucy Crockett Spalding owned the land in 1827. Prior to that several allied families had dower rights in the lot, which then consisted of seven acres.
Jane Crocket was the 8th daughter of the above Nathaniel and she married Benjamin Packard, the fourth son of Benjamin Packard of the newly incorporated Thomaston in 1807. Benjamin may have built the Homestead since it is similar to a home nearby which he is known to have built. Jane and Benjamin's children were: Bethia who died young, Kezia born in 1809, Lucy born in 1811, Samuel, who died young, James who died at sea, and Asa who went to sea.
It is not known whether Charles and Lucy Spalding resided in the Homestead but Lucy's sister, Abigail Crockett and her husband Stephen Foster who was engaged in the fishing business, lived there after they were married in 1844. The Fosters’ six children were likely born here. They were: Ellen born in 1845, Stephen born in 1846, Clarence and Clara (twins), Edgar born in 1852 and Thomas born in 1853.
Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Spalding married Shubael Hinkley and were shown living in the Homestead with Sarah’s mother, Lucy Spalding in the 1860 census. The 1870 census shows Lucy Spalding living in the Homestead with her grandson, Edwin Witham
The house was acquired July 25, 1879 by Edward Witham from Mrs. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hinkley, (wife of Shubael) and daughter of Captain Charles and Lucy Crockett Spalding. Mrs. Hinkley, granddaughter of Nathanial Spalding who purchased the land in 1777, stated in her deed that she was an heir at law and it was the homestead lot of Captain Charles Spalding in 1835.
When acquired by the MRHS, the Homestead was known by most as the “Jim Mullins Place” for the late James Mullins, a Nova Scotian by birth who purchased it from the late Edwin R Witham Oct. 21, 1898. Mullins wife was Grace Ruth Witham, daughter of Edwin and Emma Heard Witham.
To the left is a picture of Jim and Grace Mullins (in back) and Effie and Linwood Dyer taken in the doorway of what is now known as the Old Homestead. This picture is from Ellena Fredette who was the daughter of Effie and Linwood and the niece of Jim and Grace.
Research is still being conducted concerning the Homestead. Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.
Saving, Restoring and Preserving
The Old Homestead
When the Old Homestead was leased by the Mussel Ridge Historical Society from the town of Owl’s Head in 1963, it had not been lived in since 1938. The buildings, in utter disrepair having been taken by the town for unpaid taxes, were about to be burned for practice drill by volunteer fire department.
Members of the newly formed Mussel Ridge Historical Society realized the importance of the early structure and asked the town fathers to delay any decision to destroy it until they had an opportunity to ask the town people for ownership; this was done at the March 1963 town meeting.
Through memberships, donations and money raising projects, work on the building began. An ell leading from the 20th kitchen to the barn was removed. The east side of the house was totally replaced. A new roof was put on and shingled. A replacement of the 12x14x30 front sill was cut sawed to size and installed by Ralph Cline (of “The Patriot” fame), Dave Knowlton and Beryl Borgerson.
Ralph and his wife owned much of the original Crockett property since Mrs. Cline was a direct descendant of Nathanial Crockett. Ralph thought it fitting that the replacement sill come once more from that land. Beryl, mostly doing the heavy looking on, was a nurse and stood by in case the ramshackle old dwelling collapsed on the workers.
At one time the original large chimney likely had three fireplaces but it was long gone, replaced with a smaller “more modern” one. The huge base in the laid rock wall basement was used to determine the dimensions of the new chimney and fireplaces for the living room and kitchen-meeting room that were built by Myron Neal of Friendship.
As time went on members acquired many antique materials from old area buildings being dismantled. Doors, molding, trims, wainscoting and a cupboard came from the old Glover house on Limerock Street in Rockland, The kitchen mantel came from the “Ocean Inn” at Spruce Head. Many of the old salmon pink two-inch bricks used in the two fireplaces came from Albert Pease on North Appleton. Maurice Hill from Rockland donated the large hanging kitchen crane. It came from the old Captain Levi Ulmer house. Stair parts came from South Thomaston.
The 19th century wavy glass needed to replace broken panes and for installation in the new frames was found in Appleton and Washington and installed by Dave Knowlton. Lloyd and Connie Painter engineered and constructed a new stairway to the upper floor (rough built). The borning room was also restored and decorated at this time by the Painters.
A kitchen herb and flower garden was built and paid for the Owl’s Head Garden Club. The original heavy stone doorstep was moved back to its former place. In 1976 work continued in the Kitchen-meeting room with the fireplace wall paneling, mantel and stairway enclosure as projects.
Some items of interest were found during the work. In the borning room beside the window casing “Date July 25” was found. On the overhead beam to the right of the fireplace were found etchings made with compasses
For a variety of reasons, work on the Homestead slowed in the late 1900’s and the Mussel Ridge Historical Society was inactive for a time. In the early 2000’s the organization regrouped and hopes to finish the work on the Homestead. Volunteers, items and appropriate building supplies are welcomed. If you are interested in helping, please contact