The Tale of Nelly Butler Comes Full Circle

The Tale of Nelly Butler Comes Full Circle

A bit of Sullivan history comes to life through documents, descendants, and the vivid imagination of an author! While the Nelly Butler hauntings took place over 200 years ago, their connection to present day is still strong. WABI 5 News came down to investigate, with author Michelle Shores, Selectman Reg Bud Means, and Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society’s Tobey Connor.
Things began with an ending – the death of Eleanor Hooper Butler in childbirth, first wife of George Butler in 1797. They had lived at Butler’s Point, a part of Sullivan that became Franklin later on. Two years later in 1799, her supposed spirit began communicating and eventually manifesting in the cellar of Abner Blaisdell’s home, which was located near what is now Taunton Drive in Sullivan. The spirit’s target appeared to be Abner’s young daughter, Lydia, and was insistent that Lydia and George be married. In prophesying, the specter began to draw crowds, and proved itself to Nelly’s family to be Nelly herself. Documenting this in real time was the Rev. Abraham Cummings, a Harvard-educated pastor tending to the area. He took down over 35 eyewitness accounts of locals, who were divided over whether the spirit was in fact Nelly, or a sinister influence. When he himself saw the spirit, his view on the afterlife was forever changed.
The specter could manifest into the full form of a woman and led crowds on walks to the homes of nonbelievers. George and Lydia did marry in 1800, but she died a year later in childbirth.
Utterly distraught by these events, George took all of her clothes and put them in a rowboat, set them on fire, and pushed it into the outgoing tide. This took the flaming vessel right past the home of Abner Blaisdell, who was horrified at the sight. His feud with George would continue for the rest of their lives, even leading to the dissolution of the First Baptist Church in Sullivan.
Rev. Cummings published his documentation in 1826 with the title A Question on Immortality.
Marcus Librizzi and Dennis Boyd researched and published Cummings’ work anew in 2011.
Michelle Shores’ book The Gathering Room is based upon the true events.
View the segment here:
Flagpole and Flag Donated in Honor of Barbara and Bob Potter

Flagpole and Flag Donated in Honor of Barbara and Bob Potter

On Sunday, August 20, 2023, a new flagpole was raised at the RSU 24 District Services Facility on US Route 1 in Sullivan. Friends and family donated the pole and flag in honor of Mrs. Barbara Potter, longtime Sullivan resident and her late husband, Robert “Bob” Potter. Life members of S-SHS, Barbara and Bob contributed much to the growth of the Society for many years.

Barabara was curator for a number of years and still keeps in touch on a regular basis. Bob researched the early history of the area, and his works are an important part of the Society’s collection and some are in the archive of the Maine Historical Society as well.

We are glad to see the flag put in place and even more so that Barbara could be there to see it happen.

Honoring the Fallen

Honoring the Fallen

Last Friday on May 26th, 2023, students from the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus volunteered to place flags on the graves of the veterans at York Hill Cemetery here in Sullivan. Alex Figueroa, Nate Bucci, Arick, Hector Orozco-Delgado, Victor Orozco-Delgado, Drew Dyer, and Chase Atwater stepped up to help out. Jeanne Edwards was there, representing SSHS and the Town Cemetery Committee.
Community service is a wonderful way to honor the service of others.
We thank you all!

January History Hour Featuring Tim Whitten

January History Hour Featuring Tim Whitten

We welcome you to join us via Zoom for the first in our Winter 2023 History Hour series on January 18th at 7pm. Our featured guest will be Tim Whitten, one of the world’s few remaining experts on marlinespike, which is the maritime art of rope work and knots. Tim is the owner of Marlinespike Chandlery in Stonington and will share his story of how he came to learn his craft as well as the history of it. He will also demonstrate examples of his work and the tools used.

Knot work is familiar to anyone who sails, but with the advent of new fasteners in the modern age, the intricate art of knots and ropes as used in marlinespike is a relic of the past – especially at the level of Tim’s fancy marlinespike seamanship. Tim was a 2021 recipient of the Maine Arts Commission Belvedere Craft Fellowship Award and his work has been featured around the globe.

Here is the link for the Zoom presentation:

Topic: Marlinespike Seamanship with Tim Whitten
Time: Jan 18, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Welcome to Our New Communications Coordinator!

Welcome to Our New Communications Coordinator!

Welcome to Tobey Crawford Connor, the new part-time Communications Coordinator for the Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society!

 Tobey joined us in June as a summer intern where she set her considerable skills to digitizing more of our valuable documents.

Starting in September she will manage our internet presence, primarily our website and Facebook page, and continue our popular History Hour presentations in the winter.  She will also coordinate getting our annual newsletter sent out and periodic articles for the Sullivan and Sorrento monthly newsletters.

She brings extensive experience in media management and online development and communications, as well as genealogy, research, and museum experience. The history of Downeast Maine is one of her great passions and the focus of her studies as a full-time student at the University of Maine.

In addition to her work with us, she volunteers regularly with other nonprofits. We’re lucky she could fit us in! Tobey and her family live in Sullivan where her two children will attend the new middle school/high school. 

This is a baby step for the Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society, which has been a 100% volunteer effort up to this point. From generous donations and bequests we have a small investment fund with the Maine Community Foundation that allows us to fund this new position for six hours a week.