The Meeting House Vane, North Yarmouth

In 1847, Oakes Smith edited a Gift Book for Saxon and Kelt entitled The Mayflower. One of her contributions to the volume entitled "The Defeated Life" is subtitled "Times of the Old Meeting House." Eventually, this story ends in one of the most powerful critiques of marriage Oakes Smith ever penned, but readers who do not know the significance of the "Meeting House below the Ledge" in North Yarmouth may scratch their heads at the way the story begins, in a detailed and nostalgiac paen to what was to Oakes Smith and at least some of her readers a historic monument.

"The Meeting House Below the Ledge" in North Yarmouth was for Oakes Smith's generation the oldest church in town. Across the road, in Old Ledge Cemetery, many of the gravestones of the oldest inhabitants of the area can still be seen, though the Meeting House itself was torn down in 1833, when Oakes Smith was busy raising her four sons in Portland.

As Augusta Corliss records the event in "Old Times in North Yarmouth Maine,"

"When the Old Meeting House was destroyed, the old copper vane was taken as a relic by Mr. Solomon Winslow. In 1838, A small subscription was raised by Mssrs. Samuel Gooding, Dexter Hale, John Gurney, Capt. Reuben Chandler Jr. and others to purchase the vane of Mr. Winslow, and also to procure an iron rod on which it should be mounted on the Ledge."

In the 1960s, the vane was taken down and is now displayed in the Yarmouth Historical Society as shown here. Today, the cemetery is all that is left of the original landmark, but in the overgrown scrub and pines that cover the area, one can locate the base of the iron rod that once displayed the relic.

Early image of the Vane courtesy Yarmouth Historical Society.

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