Women of Woodlawn
Sponsored by Desert Harvest
Mary Cobb Black (1776-1851) grew up in Taunton, MA with her 10 siblings. The daughter of General David and Eleanor Cobb, the family moved to Gouldsboro when she was 19. She met her husband, John Black, when he arrived from England to work with her father.
They moved to Ellsworth around 1810 with four young children and continued to add to their family until 1818 when the last of their eight children was born. Mary's obituary describes her as a "fond and anxious mother, the friend of the poor, and a devoted Christian". She had 30 grandchildren at the time of her death. She is buried in the tomb on the grounds of Woodlawn.
Eleanor Bradish Cobb (1748-1808) was born in Cambridge MA, the youngest of four children. Her father was the owner of the Blue Anchor Tavern in Cambridge which was frequented by students going to Harvard. One of those students was David Cobb. This is likely where he and Eleanor met. After David graduated, he and Eleanor were married in 1766, she was 17 and he was 18.
Eleanor and David started their family in Taunton , MA and they eventually had eleven children, one of which was Mary Cobb Black. In 1795, the family moved to Gouldsboro, ME and built the house seen in the pencil sketch drawing. We believe the sketch was done by David but we cannot confirm that.
Eleanor passed away in 1808 at the age of 59 in Taunton and she is buried in Plain cemetery in the same town.
Mary Ann Black Jarvis (1803-1865) was the oldest child of John and Mary Black. Born in Gouldsboro, ME she moved to Ellsworth with her family as a child. As a teenager she met Charles Jarvis, a business rival of her father and her senior by 15 years. She writes a letter to her father (seen in second photo) pleading for his permission to marry Charles, which they did in 1820 when Mary Ann was 17.
Charles and Mary had 11 children and lived in a house just down the road from Woodlawn, still known as the Jarvis House that they had built for them.
While on a trip to Philadelphia, Mary Ann died at the age of 61. Both her and her husband are buried in Philadelphia.
Ann Frances Greely (1831-1914) was born in Ellsworth to Charles and Mary Ann Black Jarvis, the fourth of nine children. Ann taught at a private school for a short period of time, then at the age of 20, she purchased a business in Ellsworth, a millinery and dry goods store, which was located on the corner of Main and State street (the advertisement for her store is from the Ellsworth American 7/17/1857). Two years later, in 1853 she married Everard Greely, who worked as a horse breeder, real estate broker and speculator at different times. Her only child, a daughter, Mary Ann was born in 1867.
Ann was involved in many organizations in Ellsworth including the Women's Club, of which she was an officer. In 1857, Ann, her sister Sarah, and Charlotte Hill of Gouldsboro organized a women's rights lecture series in Ellsworth that included Susan B. Anthony (ad for the lecture is from the Ellsworth American 2/27/1857). Ann attended a Women's Rights Convention In Augusta in 1857 and she and Charlotte created a petition in Ellsworth for women's suffrage.
Ann was also one of the people responsible for the Ellsworth Unitarian church being built in 1867 and she was involved with the early library system. In the 1870's she, along with some of her sisters, signed a letter of protest against income tax without a vote.
After being one of the first women business women in Maine, Ann sold her business in 1888. She studied medicine for many years and in 1895 and was given a special certificate to practice.
Ann continued to fight for women's rights her entire life, even becoming a member of the Federal Suffrage Committee. She died in 1914, six years before women were given the right to vote with the passing of the 19th Amendment.
According to her obituary from the Oct. 28, 1914 edition of the Ellsworth American, Ann was "especially fond of children and her love for animals amounted to a passion". Ann is buried in Jarvis plot of Woodbine cemetery.
Elizabeth Black Dyer (1809-1863) was the 4th of eight children of John and Mary Black. She was born in Gouldsboro, Maine on August 9. She married David Dyer, from Castine on March 12, 1829 in Ellsworth. They had four children.
Elizabeth and David moved their family to Boston in 1840 to help run that part of the Black family business. They continued to visit Ellsworth in the summers. Based on reading correspondence between Elizabeth and her mother, we know they were close. It seems the summer visits home were a 'requirement' of the family moving to Boston. She was equally close to her father since John would often stay with his daughter's family while in Boston for business and there are many accounts of them going to the Boston museum together.
Elizabeth was the first of John and Mary's children to die. She passed away on January 3, 1863 in Malden, MA and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, MA.
Priscilla Porter Upton Black (1802-1866) was born in Reading, Massachusetts; the fourth child of Daniel and Molly Upton. She married John Black Jr. on December 25, 1828. They had three children and lived in Ellsworth in the white house with pillars right across the street from Woodlawn. It is still there today.
The letter in the photograph is one that Priscilla wrote to her father-in-law, John Black, at the request of her husband to ask for money to pay some bills. We haven't found many other details about Priscilla in the Woodlawn archives, but her obituary printed in the Ellsworth American on June 29, 1866 describes her as a good wife, a devoted mother, a true friend, and a consistent Christian who was a member of the Ellsworth Congregational Church.
Priscilla and John Jr. were married for 37 years at the time of her death on June 21, 1866. She is buried in the Black family tomb at Woodlawn.
Sarah "Sallie" Jordan Black (1825-1890) was born on January 15, 1825 in Ellsworth. She was the oldest of seven children. She married her first husband, Dyer Throop Hinkley in 1846. They were married for 15 years before he died in 1862. They did not have any children.
Sallie married John Black Jr. in 1867, when she was 42 years old. They did not have any children. Sallie and her mother Tempe were very close and after John Jr. died in 1879, they lived together.
Tempe passed away just a weeks before Sallie in 1890. In the obituary from the Ellsworth American Oct 16, 1890, Sallie is quoted to have said, " I am relieved beyond expression that my dear mother is at rest, before I depart. Now I have nothing to live for and am willing and ready to go". Both Sallie and her mother are buried in the Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.
Abigail "Abbie" Eliza Little Black (1810-1900) was born in Castine, Maine on September 16, 1810. She was the 7th of nine children. Her father Doty Little, was one of the early business men in Castine.
Abbie married William Hennel Black, the son of John and Mary, on June 4, 1834 and they lived in Ellsworth. Their house was located next to city hall as seen in the photograph, but the house has been since torn down.
Abbie and William had nine children, three of whom died before Abbie, who passed away when she was almost 90 from old age. She is buried with her husband in Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.
Mary Hennel Black (1851-1931) was born on November 1 in Ellsworth to William and Abbie Black. Mary was the youngest of nine children and one of John and Mary Black's granddaughters.
Mary never married nor had children. She worked as a telegraph operator before attending the Eastern Normal School in Castine to train to become a public school teacher in Ellsworth. She taught for 40 years in Ellsworth Public Schools before retiring in 1917.
The photograph is of a book in the Woodlawn collection that belonged to Mary, given to her by her father William, and passed down to her nephew. In the book you can see where she wrote the dates and schools of when she read this book to students.
After retirement she worked for a few years in the registry of deeds for Hancock County. Mary was also a member of the Congregational Church in Ellsworth. She died at the age of 79 of diphtheria. Mary is buried in Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth, along with many of her brothers and sisters.
Susan Otis Black (1819-1844) was born on November 18 in Boston to Joseph and Fanny Otis. Her father was the president of an insurance company and moved the family to Ellsworth in about 1825 before they settled in Otis in 1834.
Susan was the 9th of 10 children. Her parents were of the same social status of that of the Black, Peters, Hale, Jordan and Jarvis families in Ellsworth.
Susan married Alexander Baring Black, son of John and Mary Black, in December of 1839. They had two children, a girl and a boy. Susan passed away about a month after giving birth to her son Henry. She was 24 years old.
We believe Susan was the first person to be buried in the family tomb at Woodlawn.
Susan Elizabeth Hale Black (1829-1857) was born in Ellsworth to John Hale and Sara Little Hale (a sister of Abbie Little Black). She was the third of ten children.
She married Alexander Baring Black, the son of John and Mary Black on July 6, 1849. She was the second of his three wives. They lived in a house on Main Street two up from the post office. Susan and Alexander had one child, a girl named Susan Caroline.
Susan passed away on August 15, 1857 when she was only 28 years old. She is buried in Ellsworth behind the Congregational church.
Mary Jane Emerson Black (1830-1914) was born on September 30 in Swanville, Maine. She was the oldest of six children of Gillett and Jane Emerson.
Mary Jane married her first husband, Albert Brooks, a sail-maker on December 29, 1849 in Belfast. Soon after they married they moved to Ellsworth. She and Albert had 2 daughters Ella and Caroline "Caro". When Albert died Mary Jane continued the operation of his sail making business. She went on to own a couple businesses of her own including a book store and millinery.
Mary Jane married her second husband, Alexander Black (seen in the photograph), son of John and Mary Black on April 20, 1873. She and Alexander did not have any children. Mary Jane attended the Unitarian church.
Alexander died in 1910 and they had been married for 36 years. Mary Jane lives four more years and dies in 1914. She is buried in the Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.
Sarah "Sally" Jordan Peters (1789-1878) was born in Ellsworth on August 28 the seventh of thirteen children to Melatiah and Elizabeth Jordan. She married Andrew Peters on January 16, 1812. Sally and Andrew would go on to have 10 children. One of their children, Mary Elizabeth would marry George, the son of John and Mary Black.
Sally passed away at the age of 88 in 1878. She outlived all of her brothers and sisters, her husband and two of her children. She is buried with her husband in Woodbine Cemetery located in Ellsworth.
The tea set seen in the picture is a part of the Woodlawn collection and was once owned by Sally Peters.
Mary Elizabeth Peters Black (1816-1902) was born in Ellsworth on February 23, She was the oldest daughter of Andrew and Sally Peters. Her father Andrew was a social peer of John Black and her uncle was John Black's mercantile agent in Boston.
Mary Peters and George Black, son of John and Mary Black were married on November 10, 1836 in Ellsworth. The marriage brought together two very influential families in Ellsworth at that time. The Peters being a large and well educated family that produced lawyers, judges, merchants and politicians.
Mary and George had 4 children, one son and three daughters. One of the daughters, Caroline only lived about 15 months. They lived in the house that still stands today on Main Street beside the Ellsworth Post Office. Mary George, as she was called by John Black to distinguish her from mother in law, was an attractive, well educated women who played the piano very well, and kept a lovely home.
Upon moving the family to Boston full time in 1859, she and her daughters became confirmed members of the Episcopal church. Her position in society was important to her and she made sure her children were integrated into Boston society to the extent that they could be. They were a close knit family in Boston where all of her adult children lived together as a family unit.
She outlived her husband by 22 years as well as her 3 daughters. Mary and her son Nixon would continue to visit Ellsworth and Woodlawn until her death in 1902.
Mary is buried with her husband and children at Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge Massachusetts.
Mary Ann Black (1839-1881) was born on August 30 in Ellsworth. She was the oldest of George and Mary Black's four children.
Mary Ann spent her childhood in Ellsworth growing up in the family house next to the Ellsworth Post Office, surrounded by cousins and other family members.
She was afforded an education that young ladies of her time and social standing enjoyed. Mary Ann attended the John Quincy Adams Hawes School in 1852, a private school located in Ellsworth, as well as working with a private tutor, Miss Ellen Hight. She created the sampler seen in the picture, which can be found on the second floor, beside the grandfather clock on the stairwell landing.
Mary Ann was exposed to the arts at a young age and took painting, dance and music lessons. She also learned to drive the family carriages and be around the horses.
When the family moved to Boston in 1859, Mary Ann's education continued including lessons with a Harvard professor. She lived her whole life with her parents as she suffered from chronic health problems.
Mary Ann never married and passed away suddenly at the age of 44 on August 25, 1881 in Ellsworth a little less then a year after her father's death. Her health problems ultimately causing her heart to fail. She was taken to Boston from Ellsworth and buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Agnes Black (1847-1886) was born in Ellsworth on October 27. She was the youngest of the four children of George and Mary Peters Black.
Agnes attended gymnastic classes and was well educated like her siblings, having studied with a private tutor while in Boston. Agnes and her brother Nixon enjoyed the arts, often going to museums together.
Agnes never married and died suddenly on February 26 in Boston at the age of 39 of Peritonitis. Agnes is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Elizabeth Black Mimpriss (1787-1867) and Harriet Stewart Black Kerr (1791-1867) were sisters of John Black, the original owner of Woodlawn. They were the youngest of the five children of John and Anne Nixon Black. The family were British and both women lived in England all their lives. After John left England at the age of 17, he didn't see any of his family again. Both Elizabeth and Harriet where mentioned in John Black's will and the letters that they wrote about the inheritance are a part of this post.
Elizabeth married Thomas Mimpress, a surgeon, on April 27, 1824 in Surrey, England. They would go on to have two children, Harriet and Thomas. Elizabeth died in December of 1867 in Surrey.
Harriet married Niven Kerr, a merchant, on November 16, 1815. They would go on to have four children: Niven, Thomas, John and Harriet. The portrait is of Harriet and she sent this by ship as a gift to her brother John who, it is said, reflected that the likeness reminded him of his mother. Harriet's family lived in London which is where she died and was buried on August 5.
Frances Mason Hodges Wood Black (1803-1874) is one of six and the youngest daughter of James Hodges and Eleanor Brandish Cobb. She grew up in Taunton MA and moved to Maine with her parents. We are not sure how they met, but she married James Wood of Wiscasset, in 1852 and they adopted two boys, Francis and Joseph. We believe these boys were related to James and Frances and likely orphaned and taken in. Frances became a widow at the age of 41.
She married John Black after he was widowed in 1851, when she was 49. After John's death almost four years later, Frances was given life tenancy at Woodlawn where she lived for the next 18 years. She made many changes to the house including adding gas lighting and a coal furnace. Frances was a deeply religious woman who regularly attended the Ellsworth Congregational Church. She was also generous, donating money to causes in town, such as the brass band.
Her diary from the Woodlawn archives contains recipes for things such as macaroons, snow pudding and White Mountain cake. She also recorded accounts of many visitors to Woodlawn with many cups of tea! Her obituary describes her as, "the life of every circle that she entered."
Frances passed away on February 14, 1874 which was 30 years to the day that her first husband passed. She is buried in Wiscasset next to her first husband.
Eleanor "Nelly" Bradish Cobb Hodges (1767-1842) was born on March 23 in Taunton, MA. She was the oldest of the eleven children of General David and Eleanor Bradish Cobb. The house drawing is of the home in Taunton where she grew up.
Eleanor married James Hodges in Taunton on February 12, 1792. They had six children, including their youngest, Frances, who would become John Black's second wife.
Like many of David Cobb's children, Eleanor and James moved to the Ellsworth area where she died on October 30, 1842 and is buried. In the diary of Frances's husband, Joseph Wood, found in the Woodlawn archives, there is an entry from the day of her death stating that she died just the sun was setting.
Susannah "Susan" P. Watson was born around 1830 in Providence, Rhode Island. We are unsure of the names of her parents, but we believe that she was a relative, possible a niece, of Frances Black, the second wife of John Black.
We know from census reports and items in the archives that Susan lived at Woodlawn with Frances from at least 1860-1870. After Frances death in 1874 we see Susan listed in the 1880 census as living with George and Mary Black in Ellsworth. She is never listed on the census as an employee at Woodlawn and we are not sure where she went after 1880. Frances' will left Susan $2,000, a gold watch, chain, and one ring of her choice.
There is a small glimpse into her life in 1880 when A.M Hopkins writes to George Black Sr. and says, " I invested $25 for Miss Watson in the West Mine, which I think is a good as any at 50 cents per share. You could hardly know Miss Watson if you could see her at the ball Wednesday night. I didn't see but she dances as well as any of them. It was a leap year ball so Miss Watson invited G.P. Dutton".
We are not sure if Susan ever married or had children. We are also not sure of when she died. We are continuing to research Susan Watson and hope to have additional information to share about her in the future.
Christiana Swan Pitman (1866-1951) was born on May 6, 1866 in Boston to Israel and Christiana Whitney. She was the fourth of eight children. Christiana married Harold Pitman on June 26, 1913. Christiana and Harold traveled around the world spending a lot of time in Africa and Asia. They did not have any children. Christiana was an accomplished gardener and also enjoyed attending the symphony.
Christiana's husband Harold was the brother of Charles Pitman, Nixon Black's longtime close friend and traveling companion. They were close to Nixon and Charles. Traveling to Woodlawn many times, along with Harold's mother Martha. Upon Nixon's death, Christiana and Harold moved into his townhouse on Beacon Street in Boston.
Christiana died at the age of 84 in Boston and she is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in the Pitman family grave (see photo) found in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Martha Ball Paddock Pitman (1824-1902) was born on July 9, in Woodstock Vermont, the only child of Eastman and Lucy Paddock.
She married Benjamin Pitman, a merchant, on October 6, 1859 in Boston. They had two children, Charles and Harold. Charles was a longtime friend and traveling companion of Nixon Black. Martha would often visit Woodlawn in the summer along, with her son. She can be seen in the carriage in the photograph from the Woodlawn collection.
Martha died in Boston at the age of 78 and is buried in the Pitman family plot at the Mount Auburn Cemetery
The portraits of Eleanor Bradish Wilde Mellon (1798-1838) and Martha Fitch Mellen (1819-1839) can be seen at the top of the staircase in the Woodlawn Museum.
Eleanor (holding the child) was born on August 4th in Warren, Maine. She was the 5th of eleven children of Judge Samuel and Eunice Cobb Wilde making her a niece of Mary Cobb Black.
Eleanor married John Wendell Mellen, a lawyer, on August 8, 1818. Eleanor and John had six children, one of whom was Martha Fitch Mellen (this portrait of the young Martha hangs at the top of the stairs) and their youngest child was John Jr. who seen on his mother's lap in the portrait. The family lived first in Yarmouth, Maine and then Dover, New Hampshire.
Both Eleanor and her husband died fairly young with John Mellen being just 34 at the time of his death and Eleanor dying just eight years later when she was almost 40 in Andover, Massachusetts, where she is also buried.
Hannah Dunleavy (1868-1957) was born in Ireland on June 10 to John and Margaret Maraga. Hannah left Ireland when she was 19 and traveled aboard the Catalonia to Boston in 1885. There she married James Dunleavy and had two children, Frank and Margaret.
James was working at the Boston Ice Company when he was approached by Nixon Black who is said to have noticed his skill with horses. Nixon offered him a job in Ellsworth at Woodlawn.
The family moved to Woodlawn in 1895 and lived in the part of the house called the Ell that today contains the gift shop and staff offices. Hannah became the housekeeper and James the caretaker.
The couple worked at Woodlawn for 21 years until 1916 when James suffered a health issue and had to stop working. He and Hannah bought a house across the street from Woodlawn and continued to live in Ellsworth for the rest of their lives. Hannah was a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ellsworth.
James died in 1929 and Hannah in 1957 at the age of 89 in Ellsworth. Hannah is buried with her husband at the Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Ellsworth.
Nixon gave the blue perfume set seen in the picture to Hannah as a thank you present when they left Woodlawn. Her granddaughter gifted it back to Woodlawn in 1988 with the request that it be placed in the bedroom overlooking the formal garden that her grandfather James, planted in 1903.
Irma Eliason (1887-1970) emigrated from Sweden in the early 1900’s and met her husband, Axel, while living in Boston. After marrying in 1910, they had two daughters, Karin and Anna.
Nixon Black approached Axel and offered him a job in Maine, he accepted, and the family arrived at Woodlawn in 1916. They worked for Nixon for 12 years, and when he passed away in 1928, they were asked to stay on by the Trustees as the live-in caretakers of the estate including the grounds, animals, buildings, and mansion which a year later, began opening to the public as a museum.
Irma welcomed people to the property year-round. There were skating parties on the pond in the winter, followed by hot chocolate and cookies in this kitchen. Irma trained docents and opened the mansion for tours each summer. She also baked cakes, cookies, and muffins in the woodstove and served them with hot tea in the gardens.
Although they originally planned to stay a short time, the Eliasons ended up dedicating over 50 years to Woodlawn.
Axel died in August 1965 and Irma died in May 1970. They are both buried in Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.
Katherine A Dolliver (1917 – 2005) was born May 26 in Bar Harbor, Maine the daughter of Albert V and Alice (Coulter) Conary. She graduated from Ellsworth High School and was a past member of the Eastern Star, of Blue Hill.
In 1940, Katherine married Richard Dolliver on June 23 at the Ellsworth Congregational Church. Katherine had two daughters, Nancy Wood of Old Lyme, Connecticut and Jane McMullen of Lamoine, Maine and had four grandchildren at the time of her death.
Katherine began working at the Black House as a guide learning from Mrs. Ellison. Upon Mrs. Ellison's passing, in 1970 Katherine was employed full time for the first few years and it was later that her husband Richard was hired as the other half of the caretaker couple. They lived in the Ell until 1984. The picture is of Katherine in the kitchen (currently the gift shop). She is said to have enjoyed dancing and music and had it playing all the time.
She and Dick were married for 64 years before he passed away in 2003. Katherine died June 17th two years later and is buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth, Maine.
Bernadette Cecilia Keenan McCormick (1949 – 2020) was born in Mars Hill, Maine on April 28. She was the second eldest of six siblings and the oldest girl (there were three boys and three girls in her Acadian French/ Irish family).
Bernadette attended grade school in Mars Hill and we believe high school in Presque Isle. After a brief time in Orono, she moved to New Jersey where she met her future husband Robert McCormick as they both worked caring for kids with disabilities at Matheny Medical and Educational Center. She returned to Maine and lived for a time in Rockland before reconnecting with Bob. They both then attended UM Orono so he could get his Masters degree in teaching/PE and she could finish her degree in Comparative Literature. When Bob got a teaching job in Blue Hill immediately after graduation, they moved to Blue Hill and remained in the Ellsworth/Blue Hill area for the next 40 years.
In 1987, when their daughter Erin was five, the McCormick’s accepted the position as live-in caretakers of Woodlawn. They were the last family to live in the ‘Ell’. Bernadette worked full time as the caretaker and head tour guide for the six years they were at Woodlawn, while Bob helped with the grounds around his teaching job. Erin says that Bernadette loved “sharing her passion for bringing history to life with those lucky enough to have her as a guide.” She also did a lot of research and restoration work on items in the collection. Bob recalls, as an example, her dedication to restoring the leather of the old bridles and saddles. These are currently on display in the carriage barn.
Erin, currently the Head of English and Theatre at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, remembers with fondness her time growing up at Woodlawn until she was eleven. One of her jobs was to serve as the greeter to all the Trustees at the Annual Tea.
Elizabeth Thomas Lovell (1904-1984) was born on December 1st in Evanston, Illinois to John and Armenia Thomas. She married Philip Lovell, who became a senior partner in the Hale and Hamlin law firm in Ellsworth and they had two children, Robert and Anne.
Elizabeth was very involved in the Ellsworth community as a member of the First Congregational Church, Women's Guild, and the Ladies Auxiliary with the hospital. She and her husband lived across the street from Woodlawn in the house that was built for John Black Jr, the white one with the pillars.
Elizabeth was the first woman to serve as the Chair for the House Committee at Woodlawn. She served in this role from 1955-1962 and then again from 1966-1970. The house committee was one of the many management committees of the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations and was responsible for care, maintenance, and coordination of the tour guides and events at The Black House.
Elizabeth died on April 24, 1984 and is buried in Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.
Ruth Sullivan Foster (1929 - ) was born in Machias on April 18, the oldest of three girls. Her family moved to Ellsworth when she was three because her father was a linesman and Ellsworth was trying to rebuild after the fire. She graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1946.
She married Charles K Foster, Jr and they had two girls, Jennifer and Jacquelyn. Both daughters have stayed in Maine. Ruth has two grandchildren and four great grandchildren. While she got her real estate license and became a broker, her education was a combination of taking classes that interested her as she moved around from Orono to Fort Myers in Florida when she lived there with her husband.
In her 40s, she decided to pursue public service and served four years on the Ellsworth City Council, also serving as the first woman Mayor. From there she went on to five terms in the Maine House of Representatives and then four years in the Senate. She purchased the building that now houses Bliss while she was in the Senate and thinking about ‘what next’. Thinking she would run her real estate business above the shop, she soon realized she loved the store and operated Ruth Foster’s for 35 years, retiring at the age of 90. She was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow in 2018 and was the first woman to serve on the Board of Bar Harbor Banking and Trust from 1986-2004.
Ruth was the first woman Trustee to serve as the President of the Board of Woodlawn from 1978-1983. She was a hands-on Trustee, personally writing the annual renewal letter and grant proposals to assist Woodlawn with its never ending restoration and maintenance needs. She described how much she enjoyed visiting Woodlawn as a child and said, “It was like a neighborhood house – all the kids were greeted with open arms, there was always food and it felt warm and cozy, that they were wanted."
She went on to say, “there was no YMCA – but at Woodlawn we had the front lawn and the back fields – always a place to skate – to go in summer when the trees and the flowers were blooming.” When raising her own children, she said it was still a place where everyone got involved – a place for residents to gather. She repeated how Woodlawn was “for the people who lived in Ellsworth” and added that the view was spectacular from the front porch. She, like so many, describe the joy of the afternoon tea.
Lately she has been writing her memoir. Ruth is an inspiration - someone who rolls up her sleeves and helps make her community better.
Sylvia Gould Cushman Whitcomb (1909–1999) was born in Ellsworth on December 9. She was the oldest of three girls to Walter Haines and Minnie (Tripp) Cushman, one of the oldest families in Ellsworth.
The photo of her (in the fur) is attending the wedding of Woodlawn Caretaker Katherine Dolliver in 1940.
Sylvia graduated from Ellsworth High School. She was said to have been very talented, playing several musical instruments, and taking a leading part in several local talent dramatic productions.
Sylvia's wedding to Morton Whitcomb on September 20, 1931 took place in Ellsworth. From a Special to the Bangor Daily News article, we read that “both young people are favorites of this city and have the well wishes of their friends for a long and happy married life.” It was described as one of the “most brilliant weddings of the year…the capacity of the church was taxed to the extreme.”
Morton served in the war and then went to work as a rural mail carrier while she worked at photo finishing. They lived in a beautiful house on the Bayside Road that is still there. They had no children.
Ruth Foster said of Syliva, “She lived and breathed Woodlawn and her spirit was passed on to me.” Sylvia served on the House Committee for Woodlawn from 1962 - 1966, then again from 1970 – 1983 before she took over as President of the Board from 1983-1987. She was also a member of the First Congregational Church of Ellsworth, was on the Board of the Pierre Monteaux School in Hancock, and was a volunteer at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital.
She was predeceased by Morton after 40 years of marriage, in 1971. She died at the age of 90 and is buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth.