A window to the past – Sunday Chat series at the museum; come chat with local authors


The South Portland Historical Society invites you to come to its Cushing’s Point museum on Sundays to meet interesting local authors. These will be drop-in events, so you can stop in to visit the author anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Books are available for purchase in the museum’s gift shop.

Russell Dole is a retired teacher and author of an interesting series of four books related to Joshua Chamberlain and Maine’s role in the Civil War. It will be at the museum on Sunday, November 13. Courtesy picture

This Sunday, November 13, Russell Dole will be on hand to talk about Joshua Chamberlain and Maine’s role in the Civil War. Russell is a retired history teacher who now lives in South Portland with his wife. We have been blessed by his involvement in our historical society. He is an incredibly knowledgeable docent at the museum.

Russell’s first book, “In Search of Honor – Rockland to Round Top: A narrative of Maine, Joshua L. Chamberlain, and the Twentieth Maine Regiment,” was published in 2018.

“In Search of Honor” begins the coming of age story of a young man. With the death of Maine Civil War hero Joshua L. Chamberlain in 1914, narrator Benjamin Dean goes back to the mid-1800s to recount the circumstances surrounding his first encounter with the man who would become his mentor.

“Book I: Maine” chronicles the Dean family’s beginnings along Penobscot Bay and the fateful year of 1853. From the rocky shores of Maine’s coast to the forests of Maine’s woods, Benjamin takes us on the journey that will change his life forever.

“Book Two: Bowdoin”, released in 2019, is the continuation of the story. Benjamin Dean is now 18 and is back in Rockland in 1857 as the federal government struggles to come to terms with the national divide caused by disagreements over the institution of slavery and its extension into the western territories .

“Book Three: Together Forever” was released in 2021 and follows Dean as he has tough decisions to make as the divided nation goes to war.

“Book Four: The Twentieth Maine Regiment” has just been released and we will have all four books available for purchase in the gift shop.

Ron Romano is an expert in graveyard and headstone carving who is the author of four books related to local graveyards. You can meet and chat with him on Sunday, November 20. Courtesy picture

On Sunday, November 20, Ron Romano will be at the museum to talk about all things cemeteries. In the world of Maine’s ancient cemeteries and tombstone carvers, Romano is one of the state’s most recognized authorities. Active locally with the nonprofit Friends of Eastern Cemetery in Portland and nationally with the Association for Gravestone Studies, Ron is the author of four cemetery-themed books, the first of which was “Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery”.

For his next book, Ron has researched the fascinating life of stonemason Bartlett Adams who moved to Portland in 1800 and opened the area’s first stonemasonry. Through his research, Ron has assigned the Adams Shop nearly 2,000 headstones in more than 150 Maine cemeteries, including some in South Portland. Ron recorded his findings in the book “Early Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams”.

Ron recently published two new books: “Billboard Monuments of Maine” and “Curious Gravestones in Northern New England”. Both books offer a fascinating look at the unique, billboard-style headstones of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

On Sunday, November 27, we will receive the visit of Jean Flahive.

Jean is a skilled researcher, talented writer and the author of several books for children and young adults, some of which include the hugely popular “Billy Boy”, a novel based on the true story of Billy Laird, a soldier in the war. civilian who was executed at Fort Preble, “Railroad to the Moon” (a Billy Boy spin-off novel), “The Canoe Maker”, a children’s book about a young boy who goes into the woods of Maine with his father, a master canoe maker in the The Passamaquoddy Tribe and the children’s book ‘The Old Mainer and the Sea’, a fictional tale of a day at sea about a real person, a dory fisherman, Eben York, of the Chebeague Island, which rowed into Portland Harbor almost daily to sell its catch.

Jean Flahive is a popular writer of children’s and young adult fiction – she has a delightful way of incorporating real people into her stories. It will be at the museum on Sunday, November 27. Courtesy picture

Another book by Jean Flahive is “Teddy Roosevelt, Millie and the Elegant Ride”, a historical fiction for young readers that tells the story of a Maine farmer who is changed by the arrival of the electric cart in her community. Jean has woven many interesting facets of local and global history into the story: the struggle for women’s suffrage, the outbreak of war in Europe and the United States’ entry into World War I, the Spanish flu pandemic, and the construction and operation of the Portland-Lewiston Intercity Railroad.

The Narcissus is also woven into the story. The Narcissus is the only surviving electric streetcar on this intercity line and is currently being restored at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport.

These author books and other local history books are available for purchase in the museum gift shop. Proceeds from sales support the South Portland Historical Society and its museum. We also just released our 2022 Christmas decoration, Willard Square. The ornaments are currently only available at the museum, but we’ll have an announcement next week with more information and an update on other places you can find them.

Our museum at Bug Light Park is now open for its holiday hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., until December 18. To reach the South Portland Historical Society, call 207-767-7299, email us at [email protected] or by post to 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. She can be reached at [email protected]

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