Friday, July 1, 2016

Sudden Death of Hon. W. Scott Libbey - Lewiston Evening Journal May 18, 1914

Front page of the Lewiston Evening Journal, May 18, 1914. Announcing the
passing of W. S. Libbey, the extraordinary man that built, what would become,
the Portland-Lewiston Interurban.
Winfield Scott Libbey was the driving force behind what became known as the "Finest Electric Railroad in All New England", the Portland-Lewiston Interurban. July 2, 1914, was the date that public passenger service would begin. His passing, just a few weeks prior to opening of his beloved interurban line, was felt by the members of the communities of the Auburn-Lewiston twin cities area in a very personal way. W. "Scott" Libbey was a well respected man beyond the borders encircling the twin cities, and this post recites the story of this amazing man from the May 18, 1914 issue printed in the Lewiston Evening Journal.

There will be a blog post on July 2nd to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the official public opening of what would become the Portland-Lewiston Interurban.

To read more about the life of W. S. Libbey, CLICK HERE to read the W. S. Libbey biography as published by the W. S. Libbey grandchildren.

Lewiston Evening Journal, May 18, 1914


Prominent Lewiston Financier and Business Man Died Sunday Night in Wayne.

HON. W. Scott Libbey


Hon. W. Scott Libbey of Lewiston, prominent in manufacturing and financial circle of New England and the East, died very suddenly Sunday evening at his summer home in Wayne. He had been in poor health for a considerable period, but the immediate cause of death was apoplexy, an attack of which he suffered at almost 5 o'clock that afternoon. Mr. Libbey was in his sixty-third year.
  In his death Lewiston and Auburn loses one of their ablest and most energetic business men. He was a man who had grown up in these cities, who earned his first money here and who, by careful investments in property and business in these places, thru his own keen business sagacity and remarkable foresight and judgement increased those early earnings into a fortune of magnitude. In accomplishing this he made a reputation for himself as a business man, which was known thruout the length and breadth of New England.
  The story of his life is an interesting one. It shows what persistency will accomplish. He started a poor boy, who had to figure how to make ends meet and died a man of wealth, influence and importance, not only in his own city, but in his State and an entire section of the country.
  Upon completing his education, which ended with his course at the Coburn Classical Institute, Waterville, Mr. Libbey became a telegraph operator and in 1876 came to the Western Union office in Lewiston as its manager, which position he retained until 1880, resigning of his own accord to devote his entire time to other business interests. From the start of his career he was determined to get ahead and reach a point where it could be said he had achieved a success. It was seldom that he talked of these early days to his friends, but when he did it was a very interesting tale, for the frugality which he practiced in order to get a start in life was astonishing.
  As said, from the first he was determined to get on in life. With that idea in view he studied the business world and mastered its various intricacies so that when he made the venture into active affairs as a business man he knew what he was doing.
  In no better way can the thoroness with which he went into things be shown then the story of how he mastered telegraphy. He had been actively engaged as an operator but a short time when he had, one day, while receiving a message, occasion to, as it termed in the telegraphic business, occasion to "break;" that is, to ask the sending operator to repeat a word. The man at the other end of the wire made a disparaging remark. Mr. Libbey did not reply. To himself he said: "If a man can get one word without having it repeated, he can get them all." From that day until the day he retired from active service on the wire no one ever knew "W.S." as his wire signature was, break because he had missed something; he always got the message and correct. He sometimes broke to correct errors which the sender had obviously made.
  So skilled an operator was he that it was common practice for him to play a game of checkers with a companion in the office, while receiving a message he never missed a move on the checker board or a letter on the wire. He was considered one of the best operators in New England.
  For the greater part of the period that he managed the office in Lewiston he received the Associated Press report for the Lewiston Journal. The report, while not so extensive in those days, as to-day, was handled in a much different manner. At that time the typewriter was not common. I had not been drafted into the telegraph business. Operators took all messages with either pen or pencil and receiving a 2500 or 3000 word report a day was fully as laborious as taking 14,000 to 15,000 word report of the present.

Began Investing
  One of his earliest investments was in Lewiston real estate. He purchased a building on Lincoln street. At that time his capital was so limited that, even tho he had bought the building he could not afford to provide the janitor service which it required. He was equal to this emergency, however. He rose early each morning and went to the structure and did the work himself, following this by visiting it again at night, after hours in the telegraph office, and doing such work as was needed. 
  This was followed by other investments, as his capital increased and he was ale to broaden out his interests.
  One of the first important deals which he made and which gave him a considerable advance in capital, was when he ascertained that the mills of these cities were using a particular kind of hard wood. He kept alert and soon located a good sized track of lumber of that kind. He negotiated for it at a low figure. After holding it for a short time he sold the same to the mill people at a good advantage of what he paid for it. This considerably augmented his working capital and enabled him to further branch out.
  Convinced that there was money to be made in the woolen business he kept a watchful eye upon that industry. All the time he was looking for an opportunity to secure a woolen mill at a reasonable figure.
  In time he secured a lease of one of the small mills at Vassalboro. Realizing that he was not in a position to give up his certainty of a salary as a manager of the Western Union in Lewiston, he retained that position and continued the work. From Monday morning until Saturday night he devoted to the telegraph office. The remainder of the week he gave to his woolen mill interests in Vassalboro. soon as business of week in Lewiston closed, Saturday night he took the train for Vassalboro, from which point he walked three miles to his woolen mill. At the mill he worked all day Sunday, arranging plans for the coming week, walking back to the station and coming home on sunday night.
  It was a strenuous life. Many men could not have stood the strain. He had a remarkable physique, a strong constitution, was regular in his habits, used neither alcoholic drinks nor tobacco and was careful of his diet. He stood the test splendidly, made the mill pay and saw his capital and business increase.
  About the time this investment reached a prominent place, Mr. Libbey entered into a partnership with with Harry M. Dingley, his present business associate. Mr. Dingley was the son of former Congressman Nelson Dingley. they secured a small woolen mill in the town of Dover. It was not a paying proposition, but Mr. Libbey felt sure it could be put upon a profit producing basis; Mr. Dingley shared his opinion. Realizing that it was necessary to have personal supervision of the plant if it were to be made a paying investment, Mr. Libbey engaged another operator, paying the salary from his own pocket, to work in the telegraph office in Lewiston, and so, retaining the management, as an anchor to windward, went to Dover and took charge of the mill. The story of how the Eat Dover Woolen mill was made a good investment is one of keen management, hardships and disappointments sufficient to make a volume. The hours which he put in and the obstacles which he overcame seem impossible, but in the end his judgement was proven and the mill paid.

Bought Lincoln Mill
  It was not until 1880, that Libbey & Dingley ventured into the mill business in Lewiston. That year they purchased the Cumberland mill. Mr. Libbey always felt very proud of this, because it was the first mill he was ever in. In speaking of this to intimate friends he frequently remarked that his thought on the occasion of that first visit was: "Will I ever have money enough to own a mill like this?" Not only did he become one of the owners of that plant, but had an interest in others and of many other varieties of industry.
  Thirteen years later, in 1893, they secured the Lincoln mill, which has been operated by them in connection with the Cumberland property since that time.
  This firm became interested in the electrical possibilities of the Androscoggin river, when in 1901 they purchased control of the Lewiston & Auburn Electrical Light Co., and the American Light & Power Co., and consolidated them under the name of the former company. This light and power interest was added to in 1906, by the purchase of the Mechanic Falls Electric Light Co., Soon after going into the electrical field Mr. Libbey conceived the idea of a huge power plant at Deer rips. This was put in operation, after 81 months of labor and an expenditure of $800,000. This plant is today estimated as worth considerable over a million dollars.
  About the first of Mr. Libbey's outside speculations, tho he was scheming in all directions, was the opening of the quartz mine in Dresden. He was the first to see there was money to be made in working the quartz deposits in Maine. While he was still manager of the Western Union office in Lewiston. He would work at the office until close of business hours Saturday, then take the night train to a station about five miles from his mine, and walk the remaining distance. He would be busy at the mine until Sunday night, taking time enough to walk to the station when he would return to Lewiston by the night train, so as to be at his post Monday morning. This in spite of remonstrance of his physician who told him that such conduct would kill him. The doctor gave him a severe lecture one night, as he came staggering into his office, hardly able to stand, from what was then considered heart disease, but which later Mr. Libbey claimed was due to a trouble in the stomach.
  One day a friend looking over Lincoln mill saw one floor covered with big casks of a stock that he knew was little used in their business. Asked what he wanted of such a quantity, Mr. Libbey said: "A manufacturer insisted on our purchasing it. The company named a price that we had  no idea would be looked at, but to our surprise the bid was accepted." Later, Mr. Libbey said they probably made $10,000 on the lot. This is a sample of luck, such as frequently fell to him, usually as the result of hard work.
  When the Evening Journal was in need of room to set up a reserve press Mr. Libbey leased a floor in Lincoln mill, and in consequence of a break down in the regular press, the Evening Journal was issued for several day from Lincoln mill. His fertility in plans for making the mill pay was surprising. For a time they made woolen cloth, and to dispose of their output they organized a big tailor shop, and turned out heavy overcoats in quantity, which sold a cry low price.

His Railroad Venture
In the year 1908 Mr. Libbey and his partner became interested in the project of building an electric railroad from these cities to Portland. At first they took a block of stock in the road, but eventually purchased all the stock, underwrote the bonds and have built the line, which will be opened within a few weeks for traffic.
  This is one of the finest inter-urban lines in the country and has been the hobby of Mr. Libbey since he first became interested in it. He has taken personal charge of its construction and equipment and was making many plans for its management and opening.
  On Saturday night, last, the writer met Mr. Libbey who then showed a trait of his character which, while unknown to the general public, was well understood by his friends: "I want you to say," said he, "in the Journal on Monday, that the smallest fare which will be collected on the road will be ten cents; also say that  cars will stop only at designated points; that the first stop after leaving the Auburn waiting room will be at Littlefield's Tavern. I understand that certain people are selling building lots out along the line on the representation that it will be a five cent fare and that the cars will stop anywhere. This is wrong, and I want people warned."
  Incidentally, he owned in vessed property, timber lands in the West, sow factories and real estate near Garden City, Long Island. At one time he was engaged in extensive real estate dealing with the Jackson Brothers Realty Company of New York and ir was on his complaint an investigation was made by the New York state authorities resulting in the indictment of Edgar R. Jackson, head of the realty company.
  Mr. Libbey was a director of the Manufacturers National Bank, was a trustee of Coburn Classical Institute. He always took a deep interest in Bates College and only a few years ago donated to that college a large society building known as Libbey Forum.
  Mr. Libbey never took a great part in politics. In 1906, he was a candidate doe member of the executive council of the State and was elected, serving with great credit during the administration of Gov. Cobb. He was a member of the sub-committee of that council which selected the site of the school for the feeble minded, which was then established. It has always been claimed by those who understood the facts of that purchase that his business acumen, devoted to the interests of Maine saved the State many thousands of dollars in the purchase.
  During that term he gave to the State the same good judgement and careful attention to details, as he always gave his own business, His associates on the board regarded him as one of the ablest men among them and one of the best councilors which the State had ever had.

Hon. W. S. Libbey
W. Scott Libbey was born in Avon, Aug. 27, 1851, the son of Asa M and Joanna B. (Powers) Libbey. He was educated in the common schools of Oakland and in Coburn Classical Institute at Waterville. He came to Lewiston about 1876, and in 1877, was married to Miss Annie E. Shaw of Auburn.
  Beside a wife he is survived by four children, Mrs. Gertrude Anthony and Harold S. Libbey of Lewiston, Miss Alla Libbey of New York city, and W. Scott Libbey, jr., of Lewiston.
  He is also survived by five grandchildren, Richard, Warren and Charles Anthony and Eleanor and Channell Libbey of Lewiston.
  While a man who did not go into society greatly he had a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances, while his business associates are a legion.
  It had been known for a number of years that he was in poor health, but of late he had appeared stronger than for a long time, so that the news of his death Sunday night, came as a great shock to all.

Appeared Well All Day
Sunday morning, in company with his sons and his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Harold S. Libbey, and two grandchildren, he went to the summer home in Wayne in his fine touring car. He spent the day in going over the place with his sons, discussing improvements.
  After dinner, at which he ate heartily, he accompanied Dr. Barker, a dentist of Wayne, about the place. At about 5 o'clock they were seated in the barn and Mr. Libbey was explaining plans for alterations on the building. About fifteen minutes before the attack came Dr. Barker noticed that his companions talk  was becoming disconnected. Next, Mr. Libbey rose, exclaimed as he did so; "Oh, my head!"
  He then started to walk toward the house, staggered and fell. He called for his son Harold, who quickly came.
  To the son, Mr. Libbey talked for a few minutes. He realized that it was the end and gave instructions for certain things he wished done.
  Lapsing into an unconscious state he remained that way until 7:35 o'clock that evening, when the end came.
   Drs. Cheeney of Wayne, Badger of Winthrop and Russell of Lewiston were called and were at Mr. Libbey's side as quickly as fast autos could take them there. While they did all possible, the stricken man was beyond human aid from the first attack. The physicians diagnosed the cause of death as apoplexy, brought on by an attack of acute indigestion causing a pressure upon the heart.
  The funeral will be on Wednesday afternoon at 3 o'clock and will be private.

The above sketch of Mr. Libbey's business life should suggest the indomitable will and the resistless energy of the man. If he were to be required to suggest what in our opinion was the chief characteristic of Mr. Libbey's personality, we should say that it was an ambition in the business world to be known as one who could overcome obstacles and carry thru achievements of an unusual nature to a successful issue.
  He cared little for wealth as a means of ease or luxury. He never sought a fortune in order that he might have the pleasure of spending it, but he find his enjoyment in seeing before him some large undertaking; meeting it boldly, fighting every obstacle in nature, in mechanics and in finance and carrying the job thru to the end. When he undertook to build the Deer Rips dam and when by the development of purchase and business propositions the property of his firm, Mr. Libbey found the greatest joy, possibly, of his life in working like a day laborer at the dam. The story of spring and summer of the first year in which work was undertaken at Deer Rips is one of such unremitting toll upon his part that probably no laborer in the city could equal, in

Please Consider Making a Donation to the Narcissus Restoration Project - See Options Below

Narcissus is the only surviving piece of rolling stock from the famed Portland-Lewiston Interurban

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days at Seashore Trolley Museum

Click Here: For Full Schedule of All Activities  July 21-23 and online ticket sales to the Friday Opening Gala 

Mark your calendars (purchase your Friday-opening tickets in advance) and plan to attend the 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days Event July 21-23, 2017

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

Click Here: First Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - W. S. Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer
Click Here: Second Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Suzanne Buzby Hersey - "My Maine"
Click Here: Third Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Wade Zahares - Artist

More details on the celebration will be announced soon.
The Friday activity requires a ticket to be purchased in
advance. There is limited seating for the Friday gala
opening activity. Saturday and Sunday are
general admission public offerings at

The Narcissus Project Blog was created in April 2015 for the purpose of reaching out to a large number of folks through the power of social media to introduce them to the Narcissus. The Narcissus is a luxury, high-speed, wooden electric interurban. The Narcissus was built in 1912 in Laconia, NH and operated on the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, in Maine, between Portland and Lewiston, from 1914 into 1933. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914. The blog posts appeal to folks with an interest in Theodore Roosevelt's connection to Maine, to folks generally interested in regional/local history, as well as those folks within the greater railway family. Hopefully, these posts will endear many of the readers to help support the Narcissus financially, as it undergoes a complete restoration over the next few years at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. 

We Did It!! 

$40,000 Raised!

Your Donations to the Narcissus Combined to Achieve the Goal Set Nineteen Months Ago. Raise $40,000 for the Narcissus to Meet the Challenge of the Matching Grant from the 

This brings the Combined Total Amount of Donations to the
Narcissus, based on the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation's matching grants to $100,000!  

The $40,000 donation will be the 2nd donation to the Narcissus from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation as a result of successfully raising funds for a matching grant. A previous $10,000 matching grant challenge was achieved in 2014.

Donations made to the Narcissus Fund 816-A, for the remainder of 2017 and until further notice,
 will be used for work and materials needed to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU....
Your Donation Matters....
Make a Donation TODAY....

Please Help the Narcissus
Donations are now being raised to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

Donation Options to Help Restore the Narcissus:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit,
educational, organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You to our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2017/2014 Matching Grant Challenges
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
* New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2017/2016/2015
The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016
Seal Cove Auto Museum

The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the Narcissus Restoration Project. We are currently raising funds to restore the interior of this Maine gem.

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - 100-Plus

Link to Libb(e)y Family connections

Click Here - Portland Public Library Presentation - History of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - The Man and His Mill
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - His 1908 Stanley Steamer K 30-hp Semi-Racer
Click Here - W. Scott Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer History to be Featured - July 21, 2017
Click Here - Scrapbook Celebrates the People of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - May 18, 1914, Newspaper Story on the Passing of PLI Builder, W. Scott Libbey
Click Here - 102nd Anniversary of the Opening of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - 83rd anniversary of the Closing of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - Sophia, W. S. Libbey Descendant Visits the Narcissus
Click Here - Libb(e)y Family Connection to Narcissus becomes Personal
Click Here - Ode To the Grand Old Interurban
Click Here - The Portland-Lewiston Interurban "Bouquet" is Ordered (1912)

Links to Narcissus Restoration Work:
Click Here - Ornate Leaded Stained Glass Work
Click Here - Narcissus Enters Town House Restoration Shop
Click Here - Sorting and Cleaning Materials on Interior of the Narcissus
Click Here - September 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 14, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - Beautiful Brass of the Narcissus
Click Here - December 28, 2015 Restoration Update
Click Here - January 4, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - Vallee Family Photos of Narcissus 1960s
Click Here - February 11, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - A Wooden Interurban - Restoration Info
Click Here - NRHS 2016 Heritage Grant Award to Narcissus
Click Here - Announcement of 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days Fundraising Event for the Narcissus
Click Here - Series of Restoration Posts related to work on exterior poplar frames
Click Here - Vintage Poplar used in Narcissus restoration
Click Here - Mahogany Sash passenger windows being restored
Click Here - "A President Has Ridden in My House!" - Video of Dan Vallee
Click Here - Teddy Roosevelt Days 2016 - Weekend Event Benefits the Narcissus
Click Here - August 2016 Restoration Update
Click Here - Mid-September Restoration Update
Click Here - Theodore Roosevelt & the Narcissus: Connecting Maine Communities
Click Here - How to Make New Seats for the Narcissus?
Click Here - 2016 Summary of Research and Outreach
Click Here - 2016 Restoration Summary

Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today. 
 Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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