The Historical Society's Museum Collection

The museum's collection focuses on the Revolutionary War, with special emphasis on General Henry Knox and his family; artifacts relating to the history of the Town of Thomaston, especially its seafaring past; and the area's extentive involvement in the Civil War. The Thomaston/Rockland area was the home of the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment and 1st Maine Calvary Regiment that played such pivotal roles in the success of the Union Army.

The museum has an excellent collection of photographs, pictures and drawings of many of the wooden ships made in Thomaston and an extensive collection of photographs depicting the growth and development of the town.


This Civil War  hat,  called a  "kepi", belonged  to a soldier in the Union Army, 1st Division of the V (fifth) Corp as designated by the red insignia on the top known as a Corps Badge.

The system of Corps badges and flags was developed by General Daniel Butterfield who also developed the bugle calls, including "Taps".  



Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
A Civil War Ammo Case that had belonged to Silas Luther or Leathers who served two and a half years during the war.  (Donated by Mr. Beniah Harding. )

An "Automatic Receiving Teller" Machine from the Thomaston Savings Bank. One might consider it a very early ATM except that you could make  deposits only. There were no withdrawals.

Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
19th century kerosene ship's lanterns were a culmination of centuries of technological development. Early lanterns burned cloth soaked in animal or vegetable oil. By the 18th century candles became common place. However, in the 19th century, with the wide spread use of metal working and glass blowing techniques along with the discovery of kerosene, this type of lantern came into general use. Such lamps provided cabin light and were used as running and signal lights aboard sailing ships.

Three of the collection's early medicine bottles.

Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
The Teapot from a Luster ware tea service dates back to the Mid-19th Century. The pattern is "The Mother's Grave and Orphans." (Donated from the Estate of Elizabeth Newcomb by Pat Demmons.)

Sextant in its original mahogany case. A sextant was used aboard ship to measure the angle between celestial objects and the horizon, which is known as the altitude. The angles, and the time it was measured, are used to calculate a positional line on a nautical chart. (Donated by Col. Frank Shroeder.)

Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
A very early machine for washing clothes.

Tarbox Jug - James Tarbox was an early potter in Thomaston, setting up business on the mall in 1819. He later moved to the northwest corner of Green and Hyler Streets, where he lived until his death on October 29, 1887 at the age of 90 years and 5 months. Few of his pieces survive.

Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
This soup tureen belonged to the family of Senator John Ruggles, father of the U.S. Patent Office. Ruggles was the holder of the first patent (Number 1) which was a special railroad wheel he invented. (Donated by Dr. & Mrs. John Russell of Santa Rosa, California.)

As an integral part of every sailing vessel, blocks were a common sight in Thomaston's harbor during the 19th century, and still are today, wherever sailing ships are present. A block, together with a ships lines (ropes), are used to gain mechanical advantage for the halyards which raise the sails, the sheets which adjust the angle of the sails, or ropes for loading cargo. It consists of an outer shell enclosing a number of sheaves (pulleys) through which the lines run. The number of sheaves determines the mechanical advantage. John Elliot, Jr. and William Metcalf set up separate block making establishments in Thomaston is 1826.

Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
Tools used in the sail making industry. These particular tools came from Dunn & Elliot, one ot the larger sail lofts in the area during the nineteenth century.

Two lockets owned by Hannah Parsons and Patrick Keegan that were exchanged at their wedding ceremony in 1827. The couple had nine children Mr. Keegan was a town businessman and importer. (These items are from his estate.)

Click on photograph to enlarge


Click on photograph to enlarge
Scales from the cement plant in Thomaston.
(Donated by Mr. Beniah Harding.)

Bone handled Dinnerware Utensils: 53 Piece silverware set belonging to Annie Dunn Wiley and Captain Walter B. Wiley, son of Captain William Wiley who perished on the Alfred D. Snow. Exotic collectibles were brought here from distant ports by Thomaston Sea Captains.
(Donated by Douglas Walker, M.D.)


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