Monday, April 15, 2019

Harold Shaw Libbey - September 10, 1881-April 19, 1919

Harold Shaw Libbey
Sept. 10, 1881-April 19, 1919
image from Google image online

     One hundred years ago, on April 19, 1919, the Portland-Lewiston Interurban lost Harold Shaw Libbey, another important person who was integral to the initial construction of the line beginning in 1910 (then known as the Portland, Gray, & Lewiston Railroad), to its opening in 1914 and the corporate transition after the untimely death of its fearless founder and Harold's father, W. S. Libbey.

     Within the published histories and accounts of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, Harold's name and official role in the line is mentioned, but unlike his famous father, Harold's importance in the PLI and within the Libbey businesses has received much less attention. The depth of Harold's character is made clear in the write-ups after his own untimely death in April 1919. He was so important in maintaining stability in the Libbey Company during what could have been very tumultuous times following his father's death in May of 1914. I felt strongly that I should shed some light on Harold, the well-qualified businessman in his own right, and his lesser-known influence on the PLI. A biographical sketch of Harold is included below.

At his farm in Wayne, ME, with four friends (L-R) Stern,
Cobb, Day, Hunnewell, and W. "Scott" Libbey, with son
Harold, in front. Libbey practiced shooting with his shotgun,
hence the above transcription reference (went shooting clays
for quiet and rest). Son Harold also became a great lover of
life outdoors and of shooting. Image from "W. S. Libbey:
The Man and His Mill."

Greeting Papa - The Sabattus Street Home
Three years after his marriage to Annie Shaw, Scott Libbey
began construction of the family home at the corner of
Sabattus and Nichols Streets, Lewiston (ME).
This photograph was taken in 1901... 11 years after the home
was built...shows the Libbey children, Gertrude, Harold,
and Alla, running down Sabattus Street in front of the house to
welcome, Papa. The house still remains at the site, but things
have changed a great deal from this scene of gravel street,
horse and buggy and the gas light on the corner.
Image from "W. S. Libbey: The Man and His Mill."

Here is a photo of the former W. S. Libbey home on August
15, 2018. Harold grew up here in Lewiston. PWM photo

Harold's gang refers to Mrs. Helen C. Libbey's husband,
Harold S. Libbey, son of W. S. Libbey, Mrs. Libbey is
seen here in the upper right with daughter, Eleanor.
Employees Scrapbook which is among the
collection of the NEERHS Library.

     Harold, with his young family, would camp out along the proposed electric railway route during its construction years. Harold, who graduated from Lewiston High School, Bates College and also from MIT, would write letters to his father with updates on the progress of the construction. Harold also worked closely with the surveyors in creating maps with precise measurements of elevations and the grade of the thirty-mile right-of-way that the electric railroad would operate along. 

    In the image above, dated May 1911, there is what we know as Mrs. Harold Libbey holding her daughter, Eleanor, as they both look on at the crew working on the construction of the P, G, & L RR. As an adult, later in the 1960s, Eleanor was a staunch advocate for the Narcissus when it was acquired by Seashore Trolley Museum from Mr. J. Henri Vallee. Here is a paragraph, stating Eleanor's important role, taken from the four-and-half-page story by Museum member, Bill Dox, on the Narcissus being recognized as an official State of Maine Sesquicentennial project in the May/June/July 1970 issue of the Museum's newsletter, The Trolley Museum Dispatch:

"Some of the deficit was wiped out through the sales of PLI histories (blogger note: referring to O. R. Cummings 1967 book, "Maine's Fastest Electric Railroad: Portland-Lewiston Interurban"). The rest was erased largely through the efforts of Mrs. Eleanor Libbey Awalt of Auburn (Me).  The granddaughter of W. Scott Libbey, the builder of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, she became involved in the Narcissus Project during 1968 and solicited donations from other members of the Libbey family and from various outside sources. Her endeavors contributed greatly to the success of the project and, in fact, insured its completion to the point of getting the car (Narcissus) to the museum property."

     Harold's family and his extended Libbey family members continue to this day to provide invaluable insight, ephemera, artifacts, and financial support to the Narcissus Project. Below, second in from the left, is Eleanor's son (Harold's grandson), Hugh Awalt, with his wife, Marjorie next to him on his left. And a little bit further to Marjorie's left, wearing the dark red dress, is Paige McLaughlin. Paige is the daughter of Margaret Awalt, sister of Hugh. Paige is Harold's great, granddaughter, and W. S. Libbey's great, great, granddaughter!

One of the many fabulous moments of the 2017 Teddy
Roosevelt Days opening gala for the weekend event. When,
on Friday, July 21, fourteen descendants of W. S. Libbey and
their spouses gathered in front of the number one end of one
of the Libbey patriarch's prized possessions, 1912
Portland-Lewiston Interurban No. 14, Narcissus, for a family
photo. Nine great-grandchildren, two great, great-grandchildren,
and three great, great, great-grandchildren of
W. S. & Annie Libbey. PWM

     On November 15, 2017, I had the honor and pleasure to meet with Mr. Paul Libbey. Mr. Libbey, a nonagenarian, is the grandson of W. S. Libbey, Sr., and nephew to Harold Libbey. Paul Libbey was very generous and made a donation to the Museum of the original map of the elevation and grade of the right-of-way of the Portland, Gray & Lewiston Railroad (became Portland-Lewiston Interurban in 1914), that his uncle Harold had helped create. The map is 28.5 feet long and one continuous roll of paper. The map is extraordinary and was sorely in need of conservation. An appraisal of its condition and an estimate totaling $11,000 to professionally conserve, repair, and photograph the map was provided by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover (MA) in May 2018. Through the generosity of many donors during the following months, we had the necessary funds to cover the costs to have all the work on the map completed. Currently (April 2019), work has begun in Andover to conserve, repair, and photograph the map. We are so very grateful to Mr. Paul Libbey and to all the donors that have made this possible.

A photo showing a portion of the original hand-drawn map
of the elevation and grade of the Portland, Gray and
Lewiston Railroad prior to being delivered to NEDCC for
conservation work. PWM photo

Mrs. Harold S. Libbey is Helen, wife of Harold S. Libbey,
son of W. S. Libbey.  Image from the Portland-Lewiston
Interurban Employees Scrapbook which is among the
collection of the NEERHS Library.

Mrs. Harold S. Libbey is Helen, wife of Harold S. Libbey,
son of W. S. Libbey.  Image from the Portland-Lewiston
Interurban Employees Scrapbook which is among the
collection of the NEERHS Library.

Mrs. Harold S. Libbey is Helen, wife of Harold S. Libbey,
son of W. S. Libbey. Image from the Portland-Lewiston
Interurban Employees Scrapbook which is among the
collection of the NEERHS Library.

Mrs. Harold S. Libbey is Helen, wife of Harold S. Libbey,
son of W. S. Libbey.  Image from the Portland-Lewiston
Interurban Employees Scrapbook which is among the
collection of the NEERHS Library.

No. 18 Azalea at Deering Junction with Walter E Pinkham,
one of the first PLI motorman and Clarence J Cobb who
became PLI's first Freight Agent in 1915. On June 26, 1914,
Harold, his Libbey family members, friends, and state
railroad commissioners rode in the Azalea as they made an
inspection trip along the Portland, Gray, & Lewiston
Railroad, prior to the line being opened to the public.
From the O.R. Cummings Collection

     All the photos above that were provided by Helen C. Libbey, Harold's wife, were from the photos she shared with former Portland-Lewiston Interurban employees during the four annual reunions that took place in Gray from 1938-1941. There is a scrapbook containing precious reminders of those reunions and the times the former PLI employees shared during the operating years and their lives after the closing of the line on June 29, 1933.

Cover-page of the large scrapbook created by Charles D. Heseltine,
using photos, newspaper clippings, original ephemera from the
Portland-Lewiston Interurban (PLI); including poetry, personal
cards, notes, and notations from employees and their families.
My understanding is that Heseltine pass the scrapbook on to
O. R. Cummings, who, in turn, passed it on to the New England
Electric Railway Historical Society's (NEERHS) Library.
Seashore Trolley Museum is owned and operated
by the NEERHS in Kennebunkport, ME

The Employees of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban Scrapbook. Starting in 1938, for four consecutive years prior to the U.S. entering WW ll, the former PLI employees and their families attended an annual reunion in Gray (ME). All were encouraged to submit PLI-related items to share with the gathered attendees. A scrapbook was made to hold these submitted items. This scrapbook is about 28-inches by 23-inches with 112 pages. More than 200 photographs, numerous newspaper clippings, hand-written notes, poems, PLI-related ephemera, etc., are attached to pages in the scrapbook. The contents are incredible. Flipping through the pages, looking at the photos, reading the poems, news clippings, personal notes, and cards, one can’t help but become sentimental, nostalgic, and grateful. Grateful to Charles Heseltine and those PLI employees and their family members that provided these personal keepsakes for inclusion in this amazing scrapbook. Charles Heseltine then entrusted the scrapbook to O. R. Cummings, who in turn entrusted the scrapbook to the Library at Seashore Trolley Museum. All items in the scrapbook have condition issues and need conservation. An appraisal of its contents condition and an estimate totaling $26,000 to professionally conserve, repair, and photograph the contents was provided by the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover (MA). Due to the extreme fragile condition of the P, G, & L RR elevation map, our fundraising efforts first focused on having the conservation work done on the map. With that goal reached and the map now being conserved, we have turned our fundraising focus now to raise the monies needed to repair, conserve, and photograph all the contents within this incredible scrapbook. Scroll down the page to find the options for contributing and please consider making a donation to help have this important work done.

The scrapbook has several pages dedicated to reunions of the
former PLI employees and their families. There are four
reunions specifically cataloged; June 29, 1938, June 29, 1939,
June 30, 1940, and June 28, 1941. All four of the reunions
were held in Gray, ME. 1938 and 1941 reunions were held
at the Newbegin Hall (seen above). The 1939 and 1940
reunions were held at the Pennell Institute Gymnasium.
It is noted in newspaper articles of the times, that combined,
the total of former PLI employees and their family members
that attended each of the reunions in 1939 and 1940, well
exceeded 100 in attendance. The image above is from the
final annual reunion, 1941. Image from the Portland-Lewiston
Interurban Employees Scrapbook which is among the
collection of the NEERHS Library.

Newbegin Hall as seen from the back of Pennell Institute
building in Gray. Photo September 2018 by PWM

Harold Shaw Libbey
From Biographical section of History of Maine - pgs 177 & 178

     The records of the lives of W. Scott Libbey and Harold S. Libbey, his son, form a splendid chapter in annals of the business fraternity of Lewiston. Harold S. Libbey succeeded to heavy and pressing responsibilities, which he bore capably and well until called from his labors at the early age of thirty-eight years, his passing mourned in the many channels which his influence penetrated.

     Governor William T. Cobb, the intimate friend of both the elder and younger Libbey, spoke of Harold S. Libbey as follows; "Of fine physique and clean life, it seemed to look at him and to know his love and capacity for the work of business, that fortune had much more in store for him than to be claimed by death at thirty-eight years...He was sure to become a prominent factor in the business life of his city and of the State, and personally, in character and wise ambitious, was the type of young man from whom his own generation had every right and reason to expect fine accomplishments and helpful influence."

     Harold Shaw Libbey, son of W. Scott and Annie E. (Shaw) Libbey, was born in Lewiston, September 10, 1881, where his death occurred suddenly, April 19, 1919, resulting from influenza-pneumonia. He was graduated from Lewiston High School in the class of 1901 and received the degree of A.B. from Bates College in 1905, then pursuing post-graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specializing in chemistry and the textile industry. Upon the completion of his education, he entered the Cumberland Woolen Mills at Lewiston, where he received his practical training in textile manufacture, rising to the position of superintendent. He fulfilled the duties of his position until the death of W. Scott Libbey in 1914 when he became treasurer and agent of the S. S. Libbey Company, and the Cumberland Mills. He directed these affairs with profitable results until his sudden death, serving at the same time as a director of the Androscoggin Electric Company and the Manufacturers' National Bank of Lewiston, being especially interested in the latter institution and rarely failing to attend the meetings of the board of directors.

     The close comradeship that existed between Mr. Libbey and his father continued through business into their hours of recreation. During the construction of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban Railroad, which W. Scott Libbey built and controlled, he was in charge of portions of the work on the road. They were closely associated with the operation of the mills, while their camping trips together were the greatest pleasure of both.

     Mr. Libbey was a member of the United Baptist Church of Lewiston. He belonged to the Gardiner Gun Club, hunting and gunning being his favorite recreation, and he also belonged to the Boston Athletic Association. He devoted his time and means to the support of movements of the progress and improvements in his city and was a citizen who gladly acknowledged the duties as well as privileges of citizenship. As a businessman, he held the regard of the business fraternity, and from the earliest days of his relationship with employees of the concerns he was connected, he was an employer wise and just, who valued and strove for the goodwill of his men and who held it by fair and straightforward dealings. In the brief time that was allotted to him, he won recognition as a man of able parts and lived in the approval of all men.

     Harold S. Libbey married in 1907, Helen V., daughter of Frank A. Channel, of Lewiston. Mrs. Libbey was a schoolmate of her husband both in high school and college. They were the parents of two children: Eleanor V. and Channel T.

Museum of Mass Transit is celebrating its 81st Birthday year in 2020! 
Special Events are scheduled  - Public operations start on May 2, 2020. 
Click Here for the 2019 Events & Special Activities for the 80th Anniversary Season, with hot links

Click Here for 2019 Special Events 

Check out the new book that features the Narcissus!
Look below to read the many great reviews!

Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride

Three 5-Star Reviews from Readers' Favorite posted on January 6, 2020
Click Here to read the post

"An eye-opening and entertaining ride - you won't want the train to stop!
Highly recommended.
Andrew Vietze, award-winning author of Becoming Teddy Roosevelt.

Books are available at these local bookstores in Maine:
The Book Review, Falmouth
Letterpress Books, Portland
Nonesuch Books and More, South Portland
Nubble Books, Biddeford
Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport
Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shops - All locations

A resource for teachers. 
     We are working with the Maine Historical Society to create State-standard-based lesson plans for classroom use in grades 4, 5, 6, and 7. We hope to have the vocabulary for the various grades released soon and to unveil the full lesson plans early in 2020. In the meantime, the teacher resource post has a listing of online references for people, places, and events that are referred to throughout the book, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride - written with a focus on using vocabulary words and sentence structure that might be useful in classroom studies for students and teachers in grades 4 to 7. Though, there are numerous words, sentences, topics, and references that students and teachers in a variety of grades, as well as readers of all ages, will find useful and of interest. 

Click Here for the announcement of the award-winning narrator for the audiobook :) 

     Millie Thayer is a headstrong farmer's daughter who chases her dreams in a way you would expect a little girl nicknamed "Spitfire would-running full tilt and with her eyes on the stars. Dreaming of leaving the farm life, working in the city, and fighting for women's right to vote, Millie imagines flying away on a magic carpet. One day, that flying carpet shows up in the form of an electric trolley that cuts across her farm. A fortune-teller predicts that Millie's path will cross that of someone famous. Suddenly, she finds herself caught up in events that shake the nation, Maine, and her family. Despairing that her dreams may be shattered, Millie learns, in an unexpected way, that dreams can be shared.

The paperback edition of Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride can be purchased online through the Seashore Trolley Museum's store website. Books purchased through the Museum's website directly benefit the Museum and the Narcissus project. Amazon book purchases also benefit the Museum and the Narcissus.

Click Here to go to the Museum Store webpage to order online

Click Here to go to the Amazon page to order the book online

Click Here to go to the ebook Kindle page through Amazon

Click Here for the post on the ebook release video with a guided tour of the Narcissus

Book, ebook, and (soon) audiobook available through Amazon.

Click Here to read January 24, 2020 - Four-Star Clarion Review

Click Here to read January 20, 2020 - Coveted Starred Blueink Review

Click Here to read January 19, 2020 - Theodore Roosevelt Center Blog Post Review

Click Here to read the December 25, 2019 4-Stars out of 4-Stars Review through OnlineBookClub

     In June of 2018, I was very happy to release a blog post announcing that award-winning Maine author, Jean M. Flahive, had agreed to write a young reader historical fiction chapter book that would benefit the Narcissus Project. In October of 2019, I was happy to report, that the book, Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride, had been printed and was available to purchase! Below are some blurbs/reviews from a few individuals who read the manuscript after being professionally edited by Maine Authors Publishing in Thomaston, Maine. 

MUST-READ! - Click Here
Here is an example of how donations to the Narcissus Project now will help with the interpretation portion of the project. The interpretation programming will include exhibits, displays, education programming. During 2019, through generous donations to the Narcissus Project, we were able to conserve, replicate, and have high resolutions digital image files made of the original, 1910, 25.5-foot long, surveyor map of the elevation and grade of the 30-mile private right-of-way of the Portland, Gray, and Lewiston Railroad (Portland-Lewiston Interurban)
MUST-READ! - Click Here  (In case you hadn't "clicked" and read it above :)

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project
to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.
Thank You

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. With our estimate to have the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Narcissus in the fall of 2021, we are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

See below for Donation options -
It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 
Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

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 for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Renaissance Charitable Foundation (LPCT) by Fiduciary Trust Charitable Giving Fund
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
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 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* 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
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

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 Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story 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 - Index

The 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
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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