Owners Suzy and Dave Shaub.
We start this month way back in 1621, a year after the Mayflower landed in Plymouth. That’s when Captain Miles Standish, the military man who accompanied the Pilgrims, needed a new wife. His first wife had passed away that year. He had one in mind, too. Her name: Priscilla Mullins. But he was too bashful to approach her himself, so he asked his friend John Alden, who had also been on the Mayflower, to make a pitch to her on his behalf. Now enter into this story the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Remember “Listen my children and you shall hear, Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,” etc., etc.?) In his famous book-length poem, “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” he described what happened next.
“Quite forgetful of self and full of the praise of his rival [Miles Standish], Archly the maiden [Priscilla] smiled and with eyes over-running with laughter, Said in a tremulous voice, ‘Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?’”
Did Longfellow make all that up? Well, maybe. But for sure Priscilla Mullins married John Alden rather than Captain Miles Standish and they went on to have 10 children. And the quote attributed to her by Longfellow lives on in American history.
So why are we relating all this? Well, because we recently moseyed onto a gorgeous 13-room early Georgian-Federal house in Union, Maine (near Camden), listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that was built in 1797-8 by a direct descendant of Priscilla and John Alden. His name: Ebenezer Alden. He and his wife Patience (don’t you love those early names?) raised their 12 children here and operated the first store in Union, still on the property, as their principal source of income. It’s all available this month, the house, the outbuildings, and 56 beautiful acres, for $695,000.
We recently visited with the current owners, Suzy and Dave Shaub, who are only the second owners since Ebenezer not an Alden, although we learned Suzy had an ancestor on the Mayflower and is an active member of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
We predict both Suzy and Dave will truly miss this place once it’s sold and they’ve moved to North Carolina to be near one of their two children. That’s because, during the almost 20 years as owners, they have devoted so much time, effort, and, yes, love to maintaining and enhancing the property’s history. It’s truly been the focus of their lives. For instance, besides eight restored fireplaces, the spectacular woodwork (by Ebenezer) throughout, and the six-over-six windows, one sees the original, unpainted 1797 shelving in the small storage rooms between the four upstairs bedrooms. History everywhere.
One of the only modern features is the kitchen, which features granite and butcher-block countertops, custom raised-panel cabinets, two refrigerators, a Jenn-Aire range and a breakfast space with small-paned windows overlooking gardens, lawns, fields, and woods. Oh, and there’s a modern alarm system, modern bathrooms (the outside privy is used to store fuel for tractors, mowers, etc.), and a nice screened-in porch facing southwest.
As to the outbuilding, well, the barn, built by Ebenezer’s son in about 1869 is huge—and with all original doors and windows. David uses the old Cooper’s Shop as a workshop. It has electricity, a woodstove, a telephone, and a freezer. The 1799 Cobbler’s shop was brought here from Dresdon, Maine, and reassembled inside the barn. And the store … well, the store has been kept exactly as it was when Ebenezer and Patience were operating it. As David pointed out to us, “not many 18th-century houses still have the hand tools that built them.” There’s also a garden house, built recently.
At one point in our leisurely tour around the grounds, we asked Suzy if she knew the name of her Revolutionary War ancestor that qualified her for membership in the prestigious D.A.R.
“Yes,” she answered quietly. “According to research conducted by the New England Historical Genealogical Society, I am a direct descendant of Paul Revere.”
“Oh,” we said, a bit taken aback. And then “Wow!”