Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 7 : Winter 2011 - Page 31

Haines made the arduous journey to Aroostook through the dense woods with a long string of ox teams carrying household goods, provisions and machinery for his mill. Only 15 or 20 miles a day could be made over the rugged terrain. Fort Fairfield was 167 miles from a big base of supply (Bangor) about a six to ten day journey, with four days of it being in nearly unbroken wilderness. At the time Haines arrived, he had to go from Blaine west to what is now Presque Isle, follow the Aroostook River to Fort Fairfield and then south to Maple Grove. He made the comment that at the latter end of the trip, he traveled a long way to go a short distance. He immediately started the process to have a road grubbed out, linking Mars Hill to Fort Fairfield. This road is now US Route 1A. The Haines’ had 17 children, 12 of them living to grow up. After building the mill, he concentrated his efforts on farming and brought in the first blooded cattle to Aroostook. Later he built a large beautiful home for his family that became a showplace. It featured exterior columns and a fireplace in every room for heat. Being the first and only Friends in town, the Haines were not forgotten by the Society at-large. Other members visited them from central Maine from time to time and meetings were held in their home. It is not far fetched at all to realize that discussions would have taken place about the abhorrent conditions of the slaves in the South and the abolitionist movement sweeping the North. There were also Quaker families in Old Town and Houlton - Hodgdon area. In 1858, plans were made for several downstate Quaker families to move to Fort Fairfield, so very close to the Canadian border. Haines hastily put up some of the homes for these new settlers. They included the families of William A. Sampson, William T. Sampson, Thomas Partridge, Valentine Estes, Jonathan Estes, Joseph Nichols and William Penn Varney. The Friends were very anxious to start building a meetinghouse. They met in homes and continued to do so until the basic, simple structure was framed, circa 1859-1860. The never-ending tasks of home and farm left little extra time to work on the building. Miles Hilton, a skilled carpenter by trade, had come from China, Maine, with his Quaker wife Hannah Estes and family to finish the building. Since Quakers believed that God lived in the heart and not in wood and stone, the meetinghouse was a simple whitewashed structure. Hilton constructed rugged bench seats and a raised platform with steps on either side. The building was bereft of any religious ornamentation according to Quaker tradition. William Penn Varney and his wife Lydia Cook Varney were the church leaders for 35 years. In 1906 church leader Hoffman felt it was time for a renovation. He garnered enough money to complete the project, which included tin ceilings and walls above wainscoting. New pews were installed as well as a larger platform, a new entry, folding doors to a Sunday school room, and a steeple with bell tower and weathervane proclaiming F for Friends. A beautiful stained glass window was commissioned from Redding Baird, a famous artist from Boston, to honor the Varneys. A grand opening was held in December 1906 with a lot of fanfare. Quakers came from as far away as Boston to celebrate the occasion. Over the years, as people died or moved, others in the growing area attended the Church thus making it more of a WINTER 2011 Friends Church 29