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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 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.


Story and photos submitted by Linda Richardson – thank you!


“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.


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.


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.


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

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:

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 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.


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

Paris Hill Community Club Saturday BBQ Recap

Hosted by Board Members, Jeff (and Lina) Richards and Peter (and Becky), this was our first Saturday Summer Barbecue. About 30 residents and guests attended this event and were treated to games, music, food, and conversation on the lawn in front of the Academy. The crowd was a mix of young and old, new and long time residents plus one amazing Australian Shepard pup.

President Chuck Frost agreed to have a short business meeting outside before going into the Academy for dinner. He thanked our hosts and welcomed new faces to the dinner.

Mike Morin was not present for a treasurer’s report, but the sent in his latest report. Includes proceeds from this dinner. $13,643 Checking, $13,344 Building Fund.

Chuck’s report to the community addressed issues the Board has recently dealt with:

Projects still needing to be scheduled his year if possible:
Roof nail replacement. Board is still searching fro a contractor that can do the work

Mold and sheet rock work on stage: same story. Waiting on possible contractor from Austin Home Builders.

Leslie Olson has volunteered to host the appetizer portion of the Progressive Dinner in early November, date to be determined. Thanks Leslie.

Board of Directors and Officer openings needing to be filled at August Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 17. Contact board member if you can step up.

President    –  Jon Thompson
Vice Pres    –   Mike Brogan
Secretary    –   Open
Treasurer – Mike Morin
Trustee       –   Janet Thompson
Trustee       –    Open

By-Laws revision omitting Historian Position as a Board position.

Then we went inside to a nice cool Academy for dinner.

The burgers, hot dogs and sausages were grilled to perfection in the Richardson’s garage with delicious salads, many made from homegrown produce. Linda’s garden bouquet was lovely, and the long center table was laden with great food. Thanks to the Brogans, the Thompsons and the Lossos’ for salads. Our hosts surprised us with a different dessert: ice cream sandwiches and Klondike bars!

After dinner many folks hung around outside to enjoy the cool evening and watch a game of croquet (Peter Roy won, I think). Everly Black, 4 years old, provided some entertainment as she tried to figure out croquet. There was more Corn Hole and a ropey game that provided some laughs. And that beautiful Australian Shepard pup playing frisbee.

A very successful first Saturday BBQ Supper. Great idea from our hosts. Let’s make this a regular event.

Next up: August 17, Annual Meeting and Super Summer Salads hosted by the Brogans.

Janet Brogan Secretary

Summer BBQ this Weekend!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and got to check out some of the Founders Day festivities!

We wanted to make sure everyone saw the BBQ invite for this coming weekend! We hope to see a lot of neighbors (adults and kids) there! We will have lawn games, music and BBQ on the Academy lawn. This is our first Saturday BBQ and we hope to make it an annual tradition! If you can rsvp it would help with a head count for food!

Not only is it a great opportunity to meet or chat with your neighbors, all proceeds support the upkeep of the Academy building.

There’s a number of historic public buildings on Paris Hill and non-profits support their upkeep and maintenance – with neighbors volunteering to support. Should you be interested in helping out with any of them, please reach out online via the contact page or at the BBQ, and we will happily help get you as involved as you’d like to be!

Hope to see you all on Saturday!

Restoring the Grand Drape in the Paris Hill Academy Building

 At the spring cleanup in May, several workers remarked that we should look into restoring the rolled up Grand Drape on the stage of the second floor.  Mike Brogan and Linda Richardson collaborated on contacting the company who did a previous estimate of our drape, and the story takes off from there.

Mike contacted Curtains without Borders and talked extensively with Christine Hadsel, Director.  Photos of our curtain, and the stage were sent, and Christine remembered doing the estimate. She proposed a site visit to reassess the condition and make recommendations about restoration.  Since we are scheduling some ceiling work, Christine said it would be best if the drape were removed.

Arrangements were made for Christine to visit, and a crew was assembled to take down the drape with her supervision and properly store it for restoration in the future. Crew members were:  Mike Brogan, Jeff Richardson, Peter Roy,  Linda Richardson and Cathy Richardson.

Much to the surprise of the Community Club our Grand Drape is signed and dated.  This was news to everyone.  The artist is CA Henry and the date is 1892. 

I had lots of questions, and conducted an online interview with Christine.  Here are the questions and answers:

  1. What can you tell us about the artist?

Charles A. Henry (1845- c.1920?) – Charles Henry, not to be confused with Charles W. Henry of Vermont, had a small scenic studio in Boston.  His curtains are found in Moretown, VT, Paris, ME. and Wilmot, NH

An advertisement in the Boston City Directory of 1905 says that his studio “Designs, Manufactures and  Decorates all kinds of Theatrical Work. Theaters and Halls Fitted Up.  Scenery and Stage Properties To Let.”

From Curtains without Borders website:   Check out this site for more photos of restored curtains in New England.

2.  How were these artists trained?

Scenic artists were a mixture of self-taught and apprenticed at large studios.  Some of the  artists began painting advertisements and some ended that way.   Some were portrait and landscape artists, but most were not.  These painters hauled their supplies from town to town and created  magical worlds for small towns and villages.

3. What makes a Grand Drape special?

A Grand Drapes the most important curtain on the stage, whether it is the only one or part of a set.  It hangs right behind the proscenium arch and includes painted drapery, since there were no cloth drapes at that time.  It is usually a romanic, European-style scene, like the one on your drape.   These European themes depicted the romance of long ago and far way.  The scene is set within a painted (usually stenciled) frame and the “drapes” are pulled aside by unseen hands to show the painting.  

NOTE.  We have three of the four side panels that would have been onstage when the drape was up for performances.  These  side panels provided depth and access points for the actors to enter and depart  the scene.  We will have the three repainted and a fourth constructed. 

4.  Can you give a brief description of the process that will be applied to our drape?

Basically, we will clean and mend the curtain and reinforce all four edges, since the edges are where most tears start.  Then we will reattach the curtain to a sandwich of wood at the top and the original roller at the bottom.  We will make a tail at the bottom that will be stapled directly onto the wood.  We will reuse the original pullies, provide new ropes and a new cleat and then supervise reinstalling it at the back of the arch.

5.  What is the most unusual painting you  have restored?

The drape we are working on this summer is at Lisbon Town Hall.  It’s a party scene with musicians and all the ads in balloons.  We restored an almost identical curtain in Canaan, VT.  Both curtains were done by Lucretia Rogers, on the three women scenic artists who all knew each other in the 1930s.

6.  What should we do once the drape is restored?

Christine recommends carefully rolling the drape back up and only unrolling for special occasions.  She also advised getting some regular drapes that cover full arch to further protect the Grand Drape. 

Rosemary Losso was kind enough to donate materials and time to fabricate a temporary drape while the repairs occur.  They will be sewn together and hemmed this summer. Many thanks to all involved and to Curtains Without Borders for their work and guidance!

I found a wonderful article on line about Christine Hadley’s work in New England. It’s in the Yankee Magazine  September 2016 issue.  Worth reading to fully understand the value of these curtains in modern times and the work she has done to restore them.

 The Community Club Board has approved the restoration and work will begin some time next spring.    

Thanks to Janet Brogan for contributing this story!

Paris Hill Yard Sale Fundraiser Recap

To say this was a success is to be somewhat understated.  We had over 28 families participate and many gave generous donations to the Academy Building Fund. To date we have collected roughly $6000.  Of that $2500 was a matching donation from a generous donor.   Well done everyone!

Originally we said these funds would be for the Academy Building roof, and they will be.  We need to repair the metal roof by removing the roof nails and replacing with screws.  This will give us perhaps ten years or so to finish funding a full replacement.  We also have two interior projects that need doing:  sheetrock repair on the  stage ceiling around the chimney,  and next year, the restoration of the Grand Drape which was painted in 1892.   A fuller discussion of our plans will be presented at the Summer BBQ meeting on July 23.  

The money is impressive, but it’s not the biggest story.  The community effort and the fun we all had selling and talking to people was the best part.  Buyers were enthused to be on the hill, some for the very first time.  They loved the unique variety and quality of the merchandise and the willingness of sellers to “deal”.  There are so many stories about selling or giving away things that someone really wanted.   From college kids looking for deals and pretty things to older folks buying items they remembered as children.  We seemed to have something for everyone.   And everyone loved seeing the old houses and barns up close and looking so fabulous.  Paris Hill was  a beautiful  and happy place on this warm sunny day.  The traffic was slow, the walkers were happy.

The crowds started early, and by 1pm almost everyone was sold out.  Many of us put left over items out in front of our homes for free and by evening they were nearly gone.  

Several neighbors who did not join in this year will do so next year.  And here will be a next year.   Repeating events are very important in planning how we care for these historic buildings.  We urge you to take part in other events this summer.  

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