Milo Historical Society

12 High Street - Milo, Maine

Milo Once a Wilderness is now a Hustling Town

The wonderful Change That Has Come About Since Benj. Sargent Built the First Log Cabin One Hundred Years Ago
– A Brief History Written by News Correspondent

BANGOR DAILY NEWS –¬†Wednesday, February 3, 1904

Milo, Feb. 3 — Milo was settled about 100 years ago and was incorporated as a town some 20 years later The Sargents, Snows. Dennetts and Mayos, all of whom have descendants living in the place. were among the first inhabitants. The first settler, Benjamin Sargent and his son Theophilus, located about a mile west from the centre of the town, on Sargent’s hill. A son of Theophilus, J.L. Sargent, is one of the oldest residents in the village.

When a name was to be chosen for the new town, a committee was selected and several names submitted for approval. Benjamin Sargent. who had meantime read of old Milo of Cretona, fabled for his strength, was given the privilege of naming the town and suggested the name of Milo which was accepted. The chief industry was at first sawing lumber. but at the present time the American Thread Co. have a spool factory costing $100,000 and also a lumber mill, while the Boston Excelsior Co. have a factory costing $50,000. There has been a steady gain in population and valuation during the past year. $75,000 have been added to the valuation in dwelling houses. Real estate moves briskly at good strong figures and within the past 20 years building lots have quadrupled in value.

Some 450 pupils attend the public schools. There are six rural and six graded schools including the high, with practically the same number of weeks – 32 – for each. A system of electric lights is soon to be installed and a system of waterworks and sewerage is not among the impossibilities of this enterprising town. Local telephones are established from Milo to Lake View and Milo to Lagrange, with central offices in each place and connecting with the New England long distance phone. Milo is a business centre, drawing trade from Orneville, Lagrange, Medford, Lake View, Brownville, Henderson, Sebec, and Atkinson. It is surprising to know how much business is carried on.

The sources of supply in the order of amount of trade for each are Bangor, Boston and Portland. Grocers and marketmen go in the morning for orders, then again delivering the same after the fashion of the large cities. There is also a large creamery in the place. W.W. Walton, a hardware dealer, is going to build a new store, two stories, 35×55 feet southerly from the Milo drug store.

Two public halls in which some company shows each week, and there are not days and nights enough to accommodate all the secret orders of the place. Blue Lodge of Masons. Eastern Star, Odd Fellows, Rebeccas, United Workmen, Grange, Knights of the Golden Eagle, Foresters, Maccabees, Modern Woodmen, GAR., Ladies Relief Corps and Good Templars all have flourishing lodges. The Masons and Odd Fellows having halls beautifully furnished. The A.O.U.W. also own their hall, renting it to the remaining societies. The Grange people are planning to build a new hall the coming spring. There are two churches, the Baptist and Free Will Baptist, each society having a parsonage. The Free Will Baptist church, where the meetings were held was built some 30 years ago but was remodeled last year. when $1000 was laid out in improving the edifice. It has ceiling and walls of corrugated steel, tinted in blue and brown with panel border. Four large windows of stained glass tone the glaring sunlight. With neat carpet pews of oak. handsome pulpit set and a parlor organ, it makes a church at once attractive and suited to the needs of the society. A new plpe organ, the gift of Charles Pierce, a wealthy resident of Milo and an influential church member, is to be installed the first of February.

The early history of towns often makes interesting reading.

J.L. Sargent, the oldest inhabitant, who was born in the place, relates the following:

“My grandfather, Benj. Sargent, and my father came to Milo May 6, 1803, from Methuen, ass. to Bangor on a sailing vessel. Taking a boat, they came up the Penobscot to the Piscataquis river thence to this town on the Sebec. The next morning 10 inches of snow fell. They felled the trees for a log cabin, planted corn in the spring and in the fall my grandfather returned to Methuen for his wife and the other children, leaving my father, then but fifteen years of age in charge of affairs with only a faithful dog for company. Cold weather came on suddenly, freezing up the rivers and my father had to stay alone until the following spring, eking out his existence by hunting and fishing, making use also of the corn raised. Moose and deer were plenty but the great fire which swept over the district in 1925 drove them out.

Miramichi burned the same year. All the forest between the Sebec and Pleasant Rivers was burned over and father was offered all the land he wished to buy for 12 cents an acre: he refused to take any, but later paid more than that for stumpage.

When they first settled here. salmon, shad and alewives were plentiful in the spring of the year. There were no mills and father used to tell this little incident:

A man by the name of Robinson cleaned up a piece of land farther up, raised some wheat which he reaped and stacked One of the nearest residents was old Capt Chase of Sebec. One of the Chase boys and father went over to Robinsons, cleared a place, threshed out some of the wheat and carried it by a spotted road, to Garland, where there was a mill and had it ground. From this the first flour bread was made.

“The nearest market at this time was Bangor, the only way there was by spotted trail; all that they could not do without was brought from there on horse back, the journey each way taking about two days. The first school was kept in father’s house. I was only a little shaver, but I remember the teacher. A little incident which occurred when I was about four years old stands out with great distinctness. Mr. Heath, one of our neighbors, and his son with whom I played, were both stricken with fever. Mother went to see them, taking me along with her. We came back towards night, the road having woods on one side, a field of com on the other. Hearing a crashing in the woods nearby, mother remarked that it was the cows and wanted to drive them home but I hung on to her hand saying, “it’s a bear, it’s a bear,” and sure enough a bear and cub came out of the woods, the bear standing on its hind legs snarled and showed its teeth. Mother and I hastened home and the bears made off. That night a neighbor reported a bear in father’s trap and the cub was found and brought home. I can distinctly remember how excited I was at seeing the bear chained in the yard the next morning.

When a young man going to parties where there was dancing, I remember that the fiddle was not much used, but a girl, one Lucy Carver, used to sing and the others dance. In grandfather’s time, ox-sled parties were much in vogue and visits were frequently paid. Much pains were taken with reading and spelling when I was a lad. Children took places and the one at the foot had the privilege of selecting the hardest word in any lesson and if it could not be correctly spelled before reaching that scholar, he or she had the privilege of going to the head. We used to watch sharp to see what book was receiving the most attention.”

Mr. Sargent counts among his treasures a nchly carved chest of drawers 150 years old, an old fashioned chair, a china bowl 75 years old, and a flax wheel.

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