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Author: jon

Hunger Trees Fundraiser

Linda Richardson has put together a great fundraiser to support the MaineHealth food pantry at Stephens Memorial.

Dear Friends, Neighbors and the Paris Hill Community:

As we all come together in the Christmas spirit and celebrate another beautiful year on Paris Hill, we all have wonderful memories for which to be thankful. However, this has been and will continue to be a difficult year and winter for so many families in our area.

There will be so many families wondering how to put food on their tables, buy warm clothes for their children and heat their homes. So in the true meaning of Christmas, perhaps we can all dig a little deeper and offer comfort to those families who ask for so little but need the very basics of a hot meal, warm clothing, and oil for their furnace.

I’ve been busy turning scraps of wood from Jeff’s workshop into what I like to call ‘Hunger Trees’. Leftover barn board pieces from Jeff’s projects have been fashioned into winter tree ‘folk art’ mantel decor. All proceeds from the sale of the ‘Hunger Trees’ will benefit the food pantry sponsored by and located at Stephen’s Memorial Hospital in conjunction with Maine Health and the Good Shepherd Food Pantry. The director of the Stephen’s Food Pantry, Carl Costanzi, assured me that the donations will go directly to purchasing needed items for residents of our local communities. Mr. Costanzi was very grateful for this donation effort on behalf of the Paris Hill community.

The Hunger Trees will be available at Becky and Peter Roy’s Eastern Slope Christmas Tree farm or by emailing Linda Richardson at cozycider@gmail.com. Small trees are $10.00 and larger trees are $20.00. Supplies are limited. If you would like to make a donation and not receive a tree that is also possible. My goal is a $500.00 donation to the Stephen’s Memorial Food Pantry. Make checks payable to: Stephen’s Memorial Hospital and write Food Pantry on the note line. Together a few can feed many. My heart breaks when I think of ‘what could’ be or ‘should be’ and ‘what is’ for so many families trying to provide for their children. Let’s make the true meaning of Christmas shine in our community.

My Christmas Blessings to all:
Linda Richardson

For more information on the Mainehealth Food Pantry at Stephens Memorial click here. Thanks to Linda for this great effort!

Hooper Tomb – Paris Hill

As Halloween approaches, I’m always intrigued by some of the spookiness that surrounds Paris Hill. Overgrown cemeteries with moss and lichen covered stones adorned with creepy etchings depicting death and dating back to the 1700’s, rusty iron gates, a mysterious old cellar garden, houses with boarded up windows, apparitions, orbs, a mysterious murder and “tombs”.

Last year, I visited the infamous Chandler tomb and was pleasantly surprised at how well it has survived the past 200 years. I took Rosemary Losso with me just in case a hand reached up out of the ground and grabbed my ankle. I have a vivid imagination when it comes to the supernatural.

This October, my all things mysterious journey took me down the Hooper Ledge Rd in search of the “Hooper Tomb”. I’d read about this tomb in my “Paris Cemeteries 1793-2004” compiled by the Paris Historical Society.

It was a beautiful October morning when I called my good friend and partner in crime Brian Partridge and asked if he would join me on my latest mysterious trek. Our first stop was Pine Grove Cemetery in Paris. I needed to locate and take pictures of Dr. Littlefield’s tombstone for my article on the “Littlefield murders”. Brian pointed out the valuable legacies represented on the stones in that cemetery. Transplanted bodies of early pioneers and settlers from forgotten private cemeteries, infamous early businessmen, cultural icons, nameless children having succumbed to epidemics, local statesmen and war heroes abound resting under the aging pines. We could have spent the entire afternoon walking among the stones and feeling history come to life under our feet. But alas, we had another major mysterious experience calling us. I took my pictures and we headed towards the Hooper Ledge road.

Approaching the Hooper Ledge road from RT 117, we took a left and proceeded up the hill. In a previous visit, I had scoped out the location of the tomb, so I knew it’s exact location. The tomb rests inside a stone wall overgrown with bittersweet and all kinds of thorny brush and vines. There is a small iron gate topped with beer cans someone has used for target practice in the past. As we scurried up the embankment toward the tomb our feet were grabbed and entangled by the vines almost like an omen not to trespass on this sacred space. Brian stood outside the iron gate (hmmm did he want the insurance of a quick escape if things got scary) as I proceeded to climb over the stonewall and enter this sacred spot. Before me loomed the ‘Hooper Tomb’. Majestic, no, hallowed, no…just a huge mound of dirt fronted by granite slabs, a white engraved limestone door secured by iron strap hinges and an old iron lock. There was little to no maintenance of the lot, however, it wasn’t overgrown or obscured by over a century of leaves, vines or debris. The door showed signs of its age, a rusty shadow under the hinges and a large crack in the limestone but other than that it has fared well since 1884.

Elder James Hooper, born in Berwick, Maine in 1769, settled in Paris in 1794 and in 1795 he was selected and ordained as the first minister of the First Baptist Church of Paris. Prior to the building of the first church on Paris Hill, services were held in barns and private residences. Elder Hooper and his new wife lived on a farm on the Hooper Ledge road, hence the family burial plot located on this property. The property stayed in the Hooper family until 1898. Buried in the tomb were Rev James Hooper, his wife Sally Merrill, and daughters Polly and Eliza both approximately 6 years old having died of ‘canker rash’ just days apart. Also buried in the tomb, James Hooper’s nephew George, George’s wife Abigail and their son William. Other Hooper family members may be buried in the same tomb, William H. and John J. Hooper. As time passed and the property was sold outside of the family, it appears town officials had the tomb sealed to protect it from vandals and animals sometime in the early 1930’s. It isn’t clear who oversees the tomb and lot now.

Having paid our respects to yet another famous figure with ties to the Hill’s historic past, we turned and left the somber site just as we found it…peaceful and quiet under the shade of a beautiful autumn afternoon. As we traversed the embankment, those pesky vines yet once again grabbed onto our ankles now begging us to stop and take one last look at the tomb they have guarded so faithfully all these years.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL

Story and photos submitted by Linda Richardson – thank you!

A MURDER MYSTERY FOR THE AGES

“It was a cold October morning. Two patrolmen stopped to make a routine check on a car parked off the side of the road. On the back seat was the body of a woman. In the trunk was the body of a man. And behind the wheel sat a quiet 18-year-old boy…” (excerpt from: Thunder Over South Parish, Addison J. Allen, author)

As the falling leaves of October blow across Paris Hill Road from in front of the Country Club and into the yard of the old “Delta House” (now owned by the Decato’s), I’m always reminded of a dark time on Paris Hill. It was October 16th, 1937 when murder tore at the spirit of this quintessential village we call home. The events leading up to the murders of Dr. and Mrs. Littlefield are sketchy at best which in turn caused the incarceration of two men when likely only one man had committed the murders. “Whodunit”, the 17 year old young man, Paul Dwyer living with his mother across the street from the Country Club or the Oxford County Deputy Sheriff Francis Carroll whose daughter was Paul Dwyer’s girlfriend.

Here is a synopsis of the murders provided by the New England Historical Society:

The death of Dr. James Littlefield on October 13, 1937 in South Paris was not the biggest crime story in the state of Maine. That distinction belonged to Bangor where the streets were filled with gunfire as the notorious Brady Gang met its demise in a shootout with police and FBI.

Three days later police around the country were still looking for any signs that members of the gang had gotten away. In Arlington, N.J., police noticed a car with Maine license plates pulled over beside the road with a young man sleeping in the front seat and a woman in the back. While they were wrong to suspect the two were connected to the Brady gang, they were very right to be suspicious.

Dr. James Littlefield

Dr. James Littlefield

The woman in the backseat, Lydia Littlefield, was dead. Strangled. In the trunk they found her husband, Dr. James Littlefield, also dead. Bludgeoned and strangled. The man behind the wheel – 17-year-old Paul Dwyer – confessed. His extradition to Maine kicked off one of the most convoluted and lurid murder trials in the state’s history.

A FANTASTIC TALE

Before it ended, two men would be convicted of murder, launching a debate that continues to this day as to who did the actual crime and why.

Dwyer, a chauffeur with no criminal record, outlined the murder story in his initial confession. Though Dr. Littlefield had an addiction to morphine, he still had a reputation as a respectable physician.

Dwyer had suspected he had venereal disease and called the doctor. Littlefield treated him during a house call, but chastised the young man about the company he kept. Dwyer flew into a rage because the doctor had insulted his girlfriend, Barbara Carroll. He then attacked the doctor, killing him.

Dwyer then stuffed the doctor’s body into the trunk of his car and drove to the Littlefield home. He told the doctor’s wife, Lydia, that the doctor had left on a train to Boston. According to his fantastic story, the doctor had hit two pedestrians with his car, panicked and fled. He asked Dwyer to pick up Lydia and meet him in Boston.

For two days, Dwyer stayed on the road with Lydia as a passenger, explaining that at each stop he had received instructions from the doctor to travel to a new destination. The pair traipsed around from South Paris, to Boston, back up to Concord, N.H., and then back to Maine.

South Paris, Maine, in 1907

Dwyer finally strangled the increasingly suspicious Lydia and propped her in the back seat, as if sleeping, and went on his way to New Jersey. Oddly enough, two police officers stopped the car for traffic violations, but sent Dwyer on his way with only a warning—all while Lydia “slept” in the back seat.

GUILTY, NOT GUILTY

Dwyer pleaded not guilty, but after two days of trial he changed his plea to guilty. The judge sentenced him to life in prison, but the public had doubts. The motive for the murder seemed slim, and Dwyer seemed an unlikely killer to those who knew him.

Behind bars, Dwyer took up pen and paper and wrote a very different version of events. In this second version, Dr. Littlefield had not come to the Dwyer home to treat Paul. Rather, he had come there to examine Paul’s sweetheart, Barbara, who feared she’d gotten pregnant. Barbara told the doctor that her own father, Deputy Sheriff Francis Carroll, might have impregnated her.

Barbara had told Dwyer of the incest and the two had turned to the doctor for help. Dr. Littlefield confronted Francis Carroll and threatened him. The deputy killed the doctor and bullied Dwyer into helping with the getaway. Carroll, Dwyer said, killed Lydia and sent Dwyer on his drive.

Dwyer had changed his plea, he said, because Carroll had threatened him. Police didn’t think the new account had any more truth to it than the old one, but the story rang true to one person: Carroll’s boss, the sheriff of Oxford County. He arrested Carroll on the incest charge in 1938 and began investigating the murder.

New York Times, Aug. 13, 1938

In short order, Carroll stood trial and a jury convicted him of the murder. Carroll privately denied the incest allegation, but did not do so in court. His lawyers feared that if he addressed it, his daughter would have to testify and add to the weight of evidence against him.

Carroll offered an alibi for the murder of Dr. Littlefield, but he couldn’t back it up. He was accused of trying to bribe a witness to support him. Another witness reported seeing him at the scene of the murder. In the end, the jury was persuaded that Carroll was guilty.

TWO MEN, ONE CRIME

Now two men were in the state prison convicted of the same crime. There the matter would sit for 10 years while both Carroll and Dwyer proclaimed their innocence. In 1950, Carroll would finally win his release and the Legislature would order the attorney general to re-investigate the case.

At this point, prosecutors could not charge Carroll with incest. Nor could a court retry him for the murder of Dr. Littlefield. But the court could retry either him or Dwyer for the death of Lydia Littlefield, a crime that neither had so far been accused of.

In the end, the last investigation – published in 1952 – found reasonable doubt as to Carroll’s guilt. He should not face additional charges, the investigation concluded. Carroll went free. Dwyer would, himself, win his freedom on parole for good behavior.

So there you have it, you can make up your own mind as to  “WHODUNIT”. 

“Thunder Over South Parish” originally titled “New England  Gothic” was published in 1960 and caused a real stir in the  community due to its salacious content….hardly ‘salacious’ in  today’s literature however. I can remember growing up on the Hill  in the 1960’s and hearing about the macabre novel. I was sworn  to secrecy when I caught my sister, who was six years older than  me, hiding a copy of the paperback under her mattress. To this day I’ve yet to read the book, still abiding by my parents wishes – haha, but perhaps one of my more risqué neighbors might have a  copy hidden under their mattress I could borrow.  

So when you walk or drive by the old ‘Delta House’ notice the  boarded up window on the second floor. It’s said this was the  bathroom window in the room where the murder took place.  Folklore has it that boarding up a window is an attempt to close  off the memory of a tragedy too horrible to bear. 

Story and cemetery photo submitted by Linda Richardson – excerpt by the New England Historical Society

Bears on the hill!

The Renoux’s let neighbors on Facebook know that there was a bear cub on the hill this evening – and its mom surely not far behind!  Please keep an eye on your pets and make sure your bird feeders are coming in at night!

Cafe Club coming to Paris Elementary School

Healthy Oxford Hills is rolling out a wonderful program at Paris Elementary where adults in the community “adopt” an elementary school class to eat lunch with at school once a week. 


This program started in 2019 at Rowe and took a hiatus for the pandemic. They now would like to roll out this program to Paris Elementary, but are having a much harder time finding volunteers. 


Would you be willing to volunteer just 30 minutes of your time each week to spend with the kiddos? They have found this program to be hugely beneficial to the students, but they need help from the community!


If you’re interested, please contact Holly Stuhr at Healthy Oxford Hills: holly.stuhr@mainehealth.org

Friends of the First Baptist Church Painting Auction

The Brogan’s were the winners of the Friends of the First Baptist Church Deb Deshon Painting raffle at the Hannibal Hamlin Birthday Event on August 27th.  

Mike and Janet have graciously donated the painting back to the Friends to raise more money for the upcoming church building projects (Steeple Roof Maintenance, Outside Building Painting and Restoration, etc.)

Therefore, the Friends Board of Directors has decided to sell the painting. Current bidding is up to $800. We will keep the opportunity open until midnight September 30th. If anyone is interested in making a bid higher than $800, please email Kevin Carleton at Kevinecarleton@gmail.com. It is a beautiful painting of the church and I hope that it finds a good home. This is a framed original 24×30″ oil painting by local artist Deb Deshon.

Hannibal Hamlin Birthday Event Thanks

Please accept my sincere thank you and appreciation for all the sponsors and volunteers that made the 2022 Hannibal Hamlin Birthday Fund Raiser an amazing success.

As you know, we must fund raise every dollar that we spend for the annual operation, maintenance and preservation of this 200 plus year old church/meeting house and common. To achieve a successful outcome for an event like this, it takes leadership, funding, planning, creativity, volunteers, sponsors and a whole lot of help and dedication from many people. The bottom line for net profit from this event was $20,436 which is almost triple the result from 2021. Please see the list of sponsors and volunteers below that helped to make this event a huge success.

Sandra and Gary Bahre who brought Jerry Mathers of “Leave it to Beaver” fame to the event which provided a huge draw of people to help more than triple the attendance and fund raising from the previous year.

Nancy Cushman who led the entire effort of overseeing the planning, organizing, fundraising, sponsorships and committee meetings.

Committee Members Ken Hoyt, Amber Dionne, Sue Oakes, Kenny Grant, Terry Hoyt, Sheryl Morgan, CarlaRose Dubois, Chris Losso, Rosemary Losso, Linda Richardson, Brian Partridge and Jancie Cazneau, Deb Witham

Friends of the First Baptist Church Board Members Skip Herrick, Lesli Olson, Karen Kothe, Mark Kikel, Hank Emerson and Mike Black

Sponsors Head Invest, Goodwin Motor Group, Texas Instruments, Speedway Inc, Deb Deshon, Baker Newman & Noyes, Ripley and Fletcher Ford, Gorham Savings Bank, Cross Insurance, Oxford Federal Credit Union, WOXO, Valley View Orchard Pies, Hannaford, Dig Maine Gems, Flagship Cinemas, Jonah Thurlow and Dick Decato

Maine State Cake Decorating Championship Volunteers – Will Beriau, Tanya Hazard, Kelly Pride, Rachael Crowley, Meg Broderick

Event Volunteers – Jan Brogan, Mike Brogan, Peter Roy, Jeff Richardson, Brooks Lynch, John Moffett, Jeff Orwig, Norm Hutchins, Steve’s General Store, Tim Simms, Senator Rick Bennett, Mike and Sue Morin, Terri Carleton, Chad Martinez, Mary Smith, Annie O’Connor, Terry Downs and Jon Thompson.

As they say, it takes a village to accomplish the level of success that we gained for this event. All day long I looked across the green and saw families together, kids playing, people watching the various performers and everyone enjoying the food and of course the cake. Again, thank you to everyone who helped with the huge success of the Hannibal Hamlin Birthday Celebration.

Sincerely,

Kevin Carleton
President, Friends of the First Baptist Church of Paris Hill.

Power out – (restored)

Power is out on paris hill due to a truck taking out the wires on rt26. eta from cmp is 230pm – avoid rt26 towards bethel for a bit.

restored at 4:10