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DIVING INTO HISTORY (PART 5)

December 3, 2022

In January of 1830, the Richardson family saw the birth of a daughter, Francis E. (Fanny), followed 2 years later, by another, Eleanor Miller. Sadly, and inexplicably just a year after that, Eleanor as well as her 36-year-old mother, Mary, both passed away. Erastus would remain a widower until 1845, when he married 44-year-old, Mary (Polly) Shumway, “a maid,” from his old home town.

In 1831, Erastus, along with, Jesse Gleason, George Hobbs, Daniel Kilby, Samuel Stevens, Jonathan D. Weston, Jerry Burgin and Joseph Gunnison, formed a corporation for the construction of the Carlow Island Bridge. The same year marked his first foray into politics when he was elected selectman for the town. He would serve in this role in 1831 and 32 and again from 1848 to 53. He was appointed town treasurer in 1848.

In February of 1844, Erastus agrees to meet with Dr. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, mentalist, mesmerist, healer and founder of New Thought spiritual movement. Quimby was on a speaking and demonstration tour through coastal Maine. The controversial figure asserted that illness was often the result of misguided or distorted thinking. Consequently he believed that the afflicted had the power to cure themselves simply by changing the way they think - by coming to grips with the truth. He experimented with various techniques including magnetism and hypnosis to achieve his ends. Still studied today, he is often referred to as the first psychoanalyst. Lucius C. Burkmar, Quimby’s assistant, recorded the events in his journal.  

Wednesday 12th.

The experiments last night were very good. Last night we took a man out of the audience (a perfect stranger to him) and effected a cure on his arm. The man had not been able to raise it up for two years, and in a few minutes, he was able to raise his arm up to his head and moved it round free from pain. This forenoon we started to go to Eastport. It snows and blows, rains and hails as if all the elements were in war with each other. After a cold ride we reached Eastport at twelve o'clock, wet through to the skin. We put up at Brooks Hotel, a very, very nice house. We exhibit in Trescot Hall this evening, Wind and Weather permitting. Mr. Quimby is acquainted with a Mr. Witheral* who will use his influence to aid us.

Thursday 13th.

Our experiments were very satisfactory indeed, although there was not so many in as we would have wished. However, we shall try our luck again tonight. Mr. Quimby had a letter of introduction from Dr. Atkinson to Dr. Richardson, so therefore he presented his letter and Dr. Richardson took him to see a patient of his. The case was that of a Woman who had fell down and injured the elbow joint so that she couldn't move it without excruciating pain. He magnetized her and made her move her arm about just as he pleased without any pain. This afternoon he went and see a child that was very sensitive. He could paralyze his tongue and prevent him from walking, stop him when and where he pleased. The boy was about 10 years old.

Friday 14th.

Last night was the fullest house we have ever had. The Hall was crowded, the experiments were very good. Mr. Quimby took that same boy in the audience and stopped him from talking. I was taken to Havanna by a Sea Captain and described the harbour right and the surrounding scenery. We took 22 dollars last night. Today we go to Lubec by water, 'tis three miles across. We have to go in an open boat. We reached Lubec about eleven. 'Tis a dirty looking place as I ever see, filled up with Irish principally. 'Tis situated by the side of a hill. We stop at Mr. Boyle's, an old Irishman, a fine old gentleman though. We have the Schoolhouse to exhibit in, and I hope our experiments will be satisfactory.

Saturday 15th.

Alas, all my expectations vanish in smoke. Our experiments were interrupted by a lawless gang, who began to show their dispositions even before we began to operate, but Mr. Quimby braved it out till 9 o'clock, then he dismissed them. Immediately some of them began to cry out humbug! Others swore they would have money back. Before Mr. Quimby began his operations, they began to make some noise, and then he spoke and told them if there was any person dissatisfied, he would give them their money back but no they were content to stay and then after the lecture was over demanded their change. This Mr. Quimby wouldn't give them. Some swore they would run us on a rail, others swore they would take it out of our hides, and after we went down to the house, some proposed to pull us out of the house. In the morning we go back to Eastport and lecture there.

*likely Samuel Witheral, local merchant

1850 Erastus was chosen 23rd Representative to the State Legislature, serving 3 terms as a member of the Whig party. In 1851, following the lead of the Portland’s temperance crusader, Neal Dow, internationally regarded as the “Father of Prohibition,” Erastus voted in favor of a total ban on the manufacture and sale of liquor. The law would remain in effect until the repeal of National Prohibition in 1934.

On June 2, 1855, an item appeared in the Boston Advertiser;

Died in Eastport, Me 23 ult, Dr. Erastus Richardson, aged abt, 61. He removed from Franklin Mass., to Eastport about the year 1811.

A passage in the history,  Eastport and Passamaquoddy, by William Henry Kilby, published in 1888 remembers the doctor;

Doctor Erastus Richardson was the twenty-third representative, chosen in 1850, and at the next election re-elected for a second term. He was a Whig in politics. He was the son of Amasa and Elizabeth Richardson, born at Franklin, Massachusetts. He studied with physicians of his neighborhood and completed his medical education at Brown University, Providence, R. I. where he received his degree in 1818, and that same year began the practice of his profession in Eastport. He was for several years a most efficient town officer. He died at Eastport, May 23, 1855.

In Oct.1,1867, Mary S Richardson sold her Washington Street home to her stepson, George N Richardson, of Worchester, Massachusetts for $1 - George in turn sold to Lydia C Buxton, wife of Edward Gray Buxton, and Francis C Buxton, ”and convey onto the said Lydia C Buxton for her sole and separate use free from the interference or control of her husband,” for $2000 with a mortgage of $1500, annual payments for 5 years.

Two weeks later an indenture was recorded, “that we Lydia C Buxton and Frances C Buxton do hereby lease, demise and let unto Mary S Richardson two rooms and porch located in easterly part of the first story of the house situated at the corner of Washington and High Street, together with free access by way of the front door on Washington Street and by the back entrance to the out buildings on said lot for wood and to the cellar for water, for a rent of $32 per annum.”

On April 4,1885, Erastus’s 2nd wife, Mary Shumway Richardson died in Augusta.

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