First National Bank collection (MS 80)

Abstract: This collection contains the remaining financial and administrative records of the First National Bank of Biddeford (FNB), collected under it’s various names. It is comprised of mostly ledgers as well as papers, legal papers, correspondence, minutes, account books, photographs and artifacts that include plaques, awards and deposit stamps. Additionally, there are administrative and financial records of three specific units under the umbrella of FNB or those who ran it. Those include working papers of Arthur Maxwell (former bank president and board president), records of the Masonic Building Association (which built, operated and managed the Masonic Building), and records of the Bradford Commandery No. 4 Knights Templar (the group responsible for the organizing the Masonic Building).

Administrative History: Biddeford Bank, later called City Bank, was incorporated in 1847, according to the Saco and Biddeford City Directory of 1849; in that year the president was William P. Haines, and the cashier was Seth S. Fairfield. By May 1856 Daniel E. Somes was bank president, and the bank was run from rooms at Somes Block, Main Street. By June 1864, the bank directors had established a committee to look into becoming a National Bank, under rules newly established by the federal government in the National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864. The directors approved measures to become a National Bank in March 1865, and on April 29, 1865 they had been approved by the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency to become “First National Bank of Biddeford”. The change was approved by shareholders at their meeting October 31, 1865 and the First National Bank of Biddeford (FNB) was officially established, and operated as such for 116 years. FNB operated out of the City Building until 1921, when they built a modern brick building at the corner of Lincoln and Main Streets, on the site of the Quimby and Sweetser Block.

In 1981, FNB merged with Maine National Bank (MNB). MNB was devastated by the many banking failures of the early 1990’s, and as a result was liquidated, its business absorbed by Fleet Bank (later Fleet National Bank). The bank did business under that name until around 2004, when Fleet merged with Bank of America. In 2014, after 93 years of continuous occupation by a single business (though under various names),  the final iteration of First National Bank (Bank of America) decided to close the Biddeford branch and sell the building to consolidate local operations to a newer building on Route 1 in Saco. Amazingly, throughout all the years of upheaval, the original bank records remained safe and sound in the basement storage of the FNB building. When Bank of America decided to vacate the building, they donated the historic early records to McArthur Public Library as a gift to the community, to preserve the legacy of one of Biddeford’s oldest banks.

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Grand Army of the Republic collection (MS 75)

Abstract: Records of Biddeford’s earliest Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) post, that of Phil Sheridan Post No. 28; the records cover the years 1871-1875.

Administrative History: The G.A.R. was the veterans association of the Union Army after the close of the Civil War. The Phil Sheridan Post, No. 28, Grand Army of the Republic was organized April 3, 1868. It was one of two original G.A.R. groups in the city, the other being the Biddeford Light Infantry (organized April 29, 1873, but not an official “post”). Later there was the U.S. Grant Post, No. 143 (organized Oct. 12, 1885) also in Biddeford. The posts merged in 1916 to create the Sheridan-Grant Camp, No.51, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (which closed 1977).

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Francophone and Francophile Cities Network project (MS 81)

Abstract: Reports and supporting materials collected and produced by Ms. Gaudet-Chamberland during her internship period in the city of Biddeford in the spring of 2018, in support of the Francophone and Francophile Cities Network (FFCN). The FFCN was developed jointly by the cities of Quebec City, QC, and Moncton, NB (Canada) and Lafayette, LA (USA) to support cultural development and communication amongst historically French communities. Biddeford is now a member of this network, and a detailed profile appears on the site.

Biography: Ms. Katerie Gaudet-Chamberland of Quebec City, QC lived in Biddeford for 12 weeks and performed a cultural inventory, including research and interviews amongst the cities Franco organizations and populace. Ms. Gaudet-Chamberland has bachelors and masters degrees in Art History as well as a second masters in Painting Conservation.

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Further information about FFCN:

https://www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en/apropos/portrait/ville_internationale/reseau.aspx

http://www.villesfrancoamerique.com/

http://www.villesfrancoamerique.com/villes/biddeford/index.aspx

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Pepperell Manufacturing Company collection (MS 100)

Abstract: Records and artifacts created in the process of doing business by the prior and later iterations of Pepperell Manufacturing Company (PMC) in Biddeford, Maine. This collection includes materials from the numerous associated companies that either predated or postdated PMC; Pepperell being the largest, most successful and best known of the associated companies.

Administrative Histories: The history of the textile industry that developed along the banks of the Saco River in Biddeford and Saco, Maine is complicated by a complex web of interconnectedness. A core group of businessmen show up repeatedly in the development of each of the various companies. None of these companies was completely separate from the others, from their incorporations forward – for example: Samuel Batchelder appears in the incorporation papers for all three Biddeford companies; William Dwight was the treasurer of both the Saco Water Power Company and the Laconia Company; York Manufacturing begat Saco Water Power Co. which begat Saco Water Power Machine Shop, Laconia Company and Pepperell Manufacturing Company; Pepperell later absorbed two of its predecessors.

Finding aid has histories of the following: 

  • The Saco Water Power Company (1837 – 1915).
  • Laconia Company (1841 – 1899).
  • Pepperell Manufacturing Company/WestPoint-Pepperell/WestPoint Stevens/WestPoint Home (1844 – 2009) – [also Biddeford Textile Company].
  • J.S. & E. Wright Co./Wright, Bliss and Fabyan/Bliss, Fabyan & Co. (1864 – 1940).

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Douglass Family Papers (MS 14)

Abstract: Lloyd Douglass (1912-1984) worked as an apprentice in the Metallurgy Laboratory at the Saco-Lowell Shops in Biddeford in the years leading up to WWII.

This collection is particularly good at showing the tightly controlled business practices employed by SLS during the lean years of the Great Depression.

Biography: Lloyd C. Douglass was born March 3, 1912 in Sebago Lake Village (Standish), son of Asa Martin and Geneva May (Libby) Douglass. In 1928, at the age of 16, he graduated from Scarborough High School. Lloyd Douglass was admitted to the apprentice program at Biddeford’s Saco-Lowell Shops, and worked in the Metallurgical Laboratory for several years (until WWII, when he enlisted and served in the Army-Air Force as a flight mechanic for the 439th troop carrier squadron). After the war Douglass returned to Maine and had a long career as an electrician and engineer at Snow’s Food Products in Scarborough. In 1947 he married Ruth Myrtle Rumery, daughter of Linwood William and Helen Eliza (York) Rumery of New Barn Cove (Granite Point Road), Biddeford. Ruth was born October 5, 1918 and was a 1937 graduate of Biddeford High School. Lloyd Douglass died October 5, 1984, and his wife passed 25 years later on June 11, 2009.

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Seth S. Fairfield papers (MS 33)

Abstract: Small collection relating to the work, mostly legal, performed by Seth S. Fairfield (1790-1863) as both as York County Justice of the Peace in the first years of Maine statehood and as an assignee, and also work performed as a surveyor.

6 Seth S. Fairfield 1861-1862

Seth S. Fairfield 1861-1862

Biography: Seth Sweetser Fairfield was born March 12, 1790 in Wenham, Massachusetts, the third of four children born to Joseph and Elizabeth (Sweetser) Fairfield. Joseph died in November 1808, when Seth was about 18 and his sister Polly was about 22 ~ it was probably about this time when the trio moved north to the Saco and Biddeford.

Fairfield served as a Lieutenant and ranking officer in the Saco Artillery Company of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia during the War of 1812. Lieut. Fairfield served under Lieut. Col. J. Spring from June 20-August 31, 1814 (this was directly after and as a result of the famous “Bulwark” attack on the Cutts property at Biddeford Pool on June 16, 1814).

Fairfield married Phoebe Lovejoy (d. 1860) in 1824, incomplete records indicate they had at least one but possibly as many as 3 or 4 children, all daughters. He also served on local boards along with many of the important businessmen of the day, such as his term on the Board of Directors of the Saco Mutual Insurance Company along with Nathaniel Burbank, Samuel Pierson, and Josiah Calef.

[Obituary from the “Union + Journal” (Biddeford, Me.) of July 10, 1863, p.2.]
“Died in Boston, July 3d, while on a visit to his daughter, Hon. S. S. FAIRFIELD of this
city, aged 73 years.
Thus has passed away one of our oldest and most respected citizens. He was born in
Wenham, Mass., March 12th, 1790, and at an early age came to Biddeford with his
mother and sister, and was a surveyor of lumber and of land, and in both capacities
acquired the confidence of all. His survey books still remain as proof of his carefulness
and accuracy in all he undertook.
Thirty-eight years ago he was appointed cashier of the Manufacturers’ Bank, Saco, and
served in that capacity till 1848, when he was chosen cashier of the Biddeford Bank, and held that position at the time of his death, and was, we believe, the oldest cashier in New England, with one exception, Charles Sprague of the Globe Bank, Boston. Thro’ this protracted term of service, he has been always true, prompt and cautious, and secured the good will and the confidence of all. In 1860, he was elected Mayor of the city, and brought to the discharge of the duties of that office the same qualities which he had shown in all the positions he had filled. He was re-elected in 1862, and at the end of that year decline a re-election.
He was always social and pleasant in his manner to all alike, high and low, rich and poor, and so he had the good will of all.—He was emphatically an honest, true, reliable man, always useful, always trustworthy In the words of one who saw the procession bearing his body to its final resting place, “He was a good old man, and every body liked him.”
He was buried from the Unitarian Church in Saco, on Sunday the 5th, with Masonic
honors, the Lodges of Saco and Biddeford, uniting to honor ther [sic] oldest and most
worthy member. The citizens of both places gathered in large numbers at his funeral, and the feeling of regret was universal that they would not again see his pleasant face.”

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Clement Deschambault papers (MS 50)

Abstract: This collection contains materials relating to Hon. Clement Deschambault’s law enforcement and political careers in the city of Biddeford. It is comprised of clippings, correspondence, photographs, awards, and speeches he delivered in both French and English. The bulk of the materials cover the years 1957 to 1964.

History: Clement H. Deschambault was born in Biddeford on November 1, 1910, a son of Zepherin and Lea (Leblanc) Deschambault, and was one of nine children. He married Henriette Palardis on November 11, 1933, with whom he had four daughters: Carmen, Claire, Violet and Lucille. He was a lifetime resident of the city, and a member of the city police department for many years, rising to the rank of captain in 1936, a position he held until 1942. The U.S. census of 1940 reports Deschambault had a 7th grade education, and yet he was a police captain with the city working 64 hours a week on average, 51 weeks a year. At the same time, he also owned and operated a grocery store out of his home on outer Main Street. In 1956 he resigned his duties with the police department to devote more time to his business.

Deschambault was elected mayor in 1958 on the Democratic ticket and won four successive terms to establish himself as a leader in state Democratic circles. Following his retirement from politics in 1963, Deschambault focused on operating his grocery store which he ran out of his home at 506 Main Street. Deschambault ran his grocery until his retirement in 1969. Deschambault was a strong supporter of education and pointed to the construction of the new high school, almost across the street from his Main Street home on Maplewood Avenue, as one of the accomplishments of his administration. He also numbers among those accomplishments an improved street system and planning for the municipal airport. He was a communicant of St. Joseph’s Church in Biddeford, and was buried at St. Joseph’s Cemetery upon his sudden death in 1975 at age 64.

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