PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - On March 2nd, Maine Historical Society in Portland will unveil a new exhibition entitled Maine Eats: The Food Revolution Starts Here. The exhibition will show Maine’s history of food and Mainers love for it from lobsters to whoopee pies and everything in between. Visitors will learn things such as how Amato’s was started to how the red snapper hot dog came to be.
The discussion on what Maine eats wouldn’t be complete without Aroostook County potatoes. Recently, Edwin Parkhurst’s (1893-1963) large wooden chest, which served essentially as his “mobile office” in a corner of his potato house, was donated to Presque Isle Historical Society. Included in this exhibit are some of the artifacts contained in Parkhurst’s wooden chest as well as a photo of the chest (the actual chest was deemed too large and too heavy to exhibit).
The Parkhurst name is synonymous with agriculture in Presque Isle.
Elisha Parkhurst was born in Dresden, Maine, and came to this area as an itinerant merchant. In1858, he bought a 320 acre farm in Maysville (which was annexed by Presque Isle in 1883). In addition to farming, he sold farm machinery and operated a starch factory along the Canadian & Pacific Railroad line on what is now known as Parkhurst Siding Road. His farm was situated on a road originally known as Parkhurst Road and now called the Brewer Road. He is also credited by the US Department of Agriculture as having invented an important piece of equipment - the potato sprayer. Elisha served on the Board of Agriculture, in both the Maysville and Maine State Grange, as both a State Senator and Representation, was in the Masons, was an organizer and deacon of the Congregational Church, and as a major supporter of building what is now the historic fire station on the corner of Second and Church Streets. When he retired from farming in 1910, he built a grand home on the northwest corner of Third and Church Streets which still stands today and was a member of “The Pioneer Club”, the group of gentlemen who proclaimed themselves “pioneers” of the area.
The Parkhurst legacy in farming continued with his grandson, Edwin. Edwin was also a successful local farmer. Items in the chest varied from a check imprinter and tags imprinted with the name Elisha Parkhurst and the type of potato to metal shears, wooden pulleys, and wrenches.
The exhibit runs through February 9, 2019. For more information on the exhibit, Maine Historical Society, or its programs and services, please contact Maine Historical Society at (207) 774-1822 or visit www.mainehistory.org.