The House on Goodwin Road
By Jacqueline Ballou Sullivan
Note about the author:
Jacqueline Ballou Sullivan - Granddaughter of : Mr and Mrs Herbert B. Knowles USN Retired who lived in Eliot at the “Moses Paul House” (c. 1780) on Goodwin Road from 1947 thru their passing in 1976 and 1983 respectively. Herbie and Helen were members of the Eliot Historical Society. (Jacquie lives in Norwood, MA with her husband Bill).
I write this memory as a beloved granddaughter of Herbert and Helen Knowles whose contributions to the Town of Eliot were significant and for posterity. Their home on Goodwin Road was relocated “from down the road” by grandpa “to be very near Rosemary Hill.” he said. The house was practically rebuilt by grandpa who was born in Newburgh Maine, graduated from Annapolis Naval Academy in 1917 and retired to Eliot as a Rear Admiral after a long career as a naval submarine captain (and architect) being active in BOTH world wars. He graduated from Berwick Academy as did his sister (Mildred Obrey - a beloved Eliot High School teacher). I had visited my great grandmother at Bonnie View Nursing Home in Eliot.
Many of my most important life events had their origins at that house and I have vivid memories of the joys and some astonished feelings of my visits there. One of my earliest memories of that house was as a little girl of age five (in 1950) hearing and seeing the train whistle of the Dover-Portsmouth route in the valley below when it stopped at Eliot Depot which was just at the foot of the hill on Depot Road.
As a child (later to become a social worker in Boston) I looked with reverence at Rosemary Cottage at the top end of Depot Road which was just a few doors down on Goodwin Road from my grandparents house. Due to the humanitarian efforts of Hannah Tobey Shapleigh Farmer, wife of Moses Gerrish Farmer over the years of 1888 through 1891 Rosemary cottage which she had built - had housed about a thousand poor shop girls and underprivileged mothers and their children seeking relief through the Boston City Mission Society for two weeks stays in cottages there. In the booklet “Twice Told Tales of Old Eliot” it is said “To this day the mere mention of Rosemary in the town of Eliot indicates location - the distinction of a humanitarian woman, and a past whose tapestry of good will and rejuvenation of the less fortunate is not likely to be erased from the human side of local annals in the town of Eliot.”
Early in the 1960s my grandmother Helen was one of the organizers of the Eliot Historical Society. She organized and illustrated the Eliot Historical Society pamphlet “A Tour of Historic Homes in Eliot, Maine on the Piscataqua River” for the July 27, 1968 tour of seven homes. Her home was #3 on the tour. I was there when she served punch in the “:knotty pine” porch for the tour guests. But she had another historical “punch” to serve up as well.
Grandma Knowles also illustrated the booklet “Twice Told Tales of Eliot Maine” which was on sale at each house on the 1968 tour. In it we learned that the earliest history of my grandparents house- the Moses Paul House - concerned a French refugee, supposed to be one of the dauphins, was given asylum in that house during the French Revolution by Mrs. Paul. The history of his visit and the “specter of this re-appearing person” is described in the booklet . One hundred and seventy-five years after his visit my grandmother who then had no knowledge of that event screamed when she saw this strangely dressed aristocratic dark haired person pass by her bed smiling at her and then disappeared. This event had haunted and perplexed her for ten years until she learned of the story of this Frenchman at a party at the Pepperell Mansion in Kittery whose host knew the written history of that house. It was called a “haunted house” by school children long ago.
One of my fondest memories was the time my grandfather took me into the big field behind his house and beyond the barn where we picked blackberries awaiting the arrival of my newborn sister. I remember the surprise of seeing a baby sister and the reassuring tone of my grandfather. My own firstborn (son Daniel) was also brought to that house right after his birth and we stayed there for two blissful months in the autumn on leave from my social work job in Boston. I remember being so lovingly cared for there. My husband Bill and I were married in a simple ceremony in the backyard gardens of that house five years before our son was born. Our wedding reception was in the formal dining room and I recall seeing silver sets the likes of which I never knew our family owned till that day. Guests went into the living room where grandpa’s “admiralty” swords hung on the mantel along with sparkling crystal candle holders.
I remember the way the front stairs of that house creaked and the landing had beautiful Chinese porcelain vases. There were many Chinese rugs and “rose medallion” dishes my grandmother had purchased when grandpa was stationed in China, the Philippines, Japan, Honolulu, California and other places during the wars. Grandma was a newspaperwoman for the navy personnel in many of these ports. Her possessions adorned this beautiful home in which she graciously hosted many people over the years including some guests from Green Acre when there was no more room at the Inn!
I also remember well my grandmother humming away getting ready to present her fundraiser dinners at many churches and community groups in the area in the 60s. She set up suppers for these groups with her own formula for fundraising that promoted certain food products.. She wrote and revised two books called “How to Succeed in Fundraising Today.” (Bond Wheelwright Press) . She was an inspiration to me as well for her resourcefulness.
I remember the smell of wood chips in grandpa’s large workshop where I saw electric saws and lumber and leveling planes and labeled drawers of all kinds of special items he used to renovate the house. He renovated that house from the 1940s through 1965 when he felt the house was finished. Thereafter he built another workshop upstairs (which was warmer) and devoted himself to making seven clipper ship models he meticulously scaled down to size. He researched the history of each ship, and was very precise in being accurate as to the smallest details. The best newspaper article about him appeared in The Coast Pilot of July 3, 1973. When he wasn’t making ship models he was on the Eliot School Board, the Red Cross, and the Boy Scouts which he especially loved.
I was present at the William Fogg Library on July 15, 1980 when grandma presented to the town of Eliot grandpa’s model of the clipper ship “The Nightingale.” About 50 people attended the event which was also a “tea” sponsored by the Friends of the Library and of course the E. H. S. The “Nightingale” was an interesting model for my grandpa to make in that it was one of seven clipper ships built at the old Hanscom Shipyard (near Green Acre) in1851 and was named after that famous soprano Jenny Lind also known as “the Nightingale” who sang in Eliot near the time of the ship’s launching to honor the famous Eliot citizen Moses Farmer who invented the electric train. She was a fast ship and “She had no superior on the ocean as a sailing vessel.”
SOME INTERESTING VISITORS TO MOSES PAUL HOUSE
My grandparents had some interesting visitors to their home. Once when I came home from boarding school for spring break in 1962 I entered the front hall, put down my bags and was immediately greeted by grandma who took me out to the “knotty pine” porch where I was introduced to both Betty and Barney Hill of the book that later came out (without their blessing) in 1966 called “The Interrupted Journey” – the Betty and Barney Hill Alien Abduction. That book by John Fuller was even later made into a TV movie. We had a nice dinner and brief chat. I later learned that at the time I met them they were discovering (separately under hypnosis) what had happened to them. But I learned at the dinner that they (a mixed racial couple) were very dismayed at all the publicity that was going on around them about their experience. I learned that Betty wanted to do her job as a social worker in peace and Barney who worked for the post office and was active in the NAACP wanted to be left alone about “the experience.” Both of my grandparents offered them peace and comfort and a chance to be pampered away from the media who often invaded their (Portsmouth) home and privacy. In later years I was to meet Betty again at that home.
I believe it is worth noting that what got my grandparents originally interested in the possibly of extraterrestrial visitation was a visit one day “out of the blue” (in the early fifties?) by a neighbor who lived a few doors down Goodwin Road from them (heading toward S. Berwick). Mrs. Frances Swan - a plain looking and even shy housewife knocked on grandpa’s door with a special URGENT request for the retired Admiral. She explained to them that she had been hearing a voice from a being from another planet whom she called “Affa.” who had instructed her to find a way to contact our government about something important. She gave grandpa a sheaf of papers she had been writing upon all of whose words she said had come from Affa. He was the self- described leader (on a mother ship) of a set of spaceships that were investigating what was happening to the earth’s magnetic forces now that we were exploding atomic bombs and that these explosions were affecting the solar system. He wanted us to know that he had our earth’s best interests in mind and meant us no harm whatsoever. But it was important to get in touch with the highest government officials immediately. Upon reading what this woman was writing the retired Rear Admiral could not understand how a woman with no particular scientific education or scientific reading could write about electromagnetism and solar wind and orbits and distances with such scientific understanding.
Grandpa granted her wish and in 1954 he wrote a letter to President Eisenhower detailing what Mrs. Swan was experiencing. The letter described why Mrs Swan was told it was imperative the highest level of government be contacted immediately. Grandpa didn’t really expect a reply immediately but Washington did pay attention to that letter and it was not thrown away. It turned out that it’s timing was what was so important and I leaned why only last year. I had picked up very little of this as a young child of around seven years. His phone became tapped and the FBI later came to his home to talk with him. That I did notice. My mother told me to stay out of it all.
I had the good fortune to meet Mrs. Swan in grandpa’s house and even in later years to see some of her writing. She was a good Christian woman who believed in God and was only doing what she felt she had to do. She kept writing for a few years until she no longer heard the buzzing sounds by way of greeting. Grandpa asked if she wanted to meet Betty and Barney Hill but she declined saying they had been abducted by “bad beings” who were not benevolent like Affa and his later cohorts who had also contacted her.
But the story does not end here. Apparently it was only a beginning because grandpa joined the National Investigation Committee on Arial Phenomenon and was quoted in Project Blue Book. He also had some scientist friends from the Canadian government (and their wives) come to his home to discuss what he called matters of scientific interest. I met some of these adults at the house who had such unusual interests. He took care to lead a balanced life and I quite forgot about UFOS and his and Helen’s amazing friends who they delighted in entertaining in their home. .
I had forgotten about all this until last year when I was casually surfing the internet and I noticed a new book had come out in 2007 about Betty and Barney Hill! The website showed a chapter about grandpa from the new book beginning with a picture I had taken about 1972 of grandpa Knowles in his full admiral’s dress uniform and grandma in her striped dress both intently smiling at each other. They were standing in front of the mantel with the admiral’s swords and crystal candle holders and award plaques above them. It turned out that this book by Kathleen Marden, niece to Betty Hill was so well researched that many of my questions about grandpa were answered. She had written the book “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Abduction Experience… the true story of the world’s first documented alien abduction experience” to clear up all the inaccuracies of the original book by John Fuller about the abduction of her aunt and uncle and she wanted to set the record straight . Kathy is a well-known writer and researcher and lecturer about scientific studies and research on the subject of abductions both scientific and non-scientific in comparison. She was the one who helped me understand more clearly the role of Frances Swan and the letter grandpa sent to President Eisenhower at the time of the spaceships over the capitol!
There was a “renter” at grandpa’s house in the 70s (living above his workshop where he had built an apartment) worth mentioning that made a great impression on me in one of my visits there. He was an Air Force pilot working out of Pease Air Base who, when I first met him had just flown out and back in one shift to and from Saudi Arabia “in a high performance fighter jet at “Mach 3.” . He tried to describe for me what the curvature of the earth looked like at that height and his enjoyment of the whole earth’s light changes. He said he deliberately wanted to live near Grandpa Knowles due to grandpa’s extensive knowledge and library of clipper ships, warships and submarines (which grandpa had designed) and grandpa’s research (with others) on spaceships! He said he enjoyed talking with the Rear Admiral about UFOS and knew of other pilots at Pease who had investigated reports of UFOs and were told to keep very quiet about it.
VISIONS I HAVE HAD ABOUT THE AREA AROUND ROSEMARY HILL
One cannot easily analyze or understand “visions.” All I know is that they occurred to me while sleeping in a certain upstairs bedroom in my grandparent’s house in an antique bed.
These “visions” were of structures and buildings that I saw near Rosemary Hill. They occurred several years apart and I do not remember the dates of seeing them. They are only worth mentioning because they might just come true some time in the distant future.! I would like to compare notes with Eliot’s 300th or 400th anniversary.!
1) I saw at the end of grandpa’s field behind his house –literally across from Rosemary Cottage - the inside of a large building whose interior was filled with light coming from the roof. It appeared to be a large gym made of wood or other shiny organic material. It had a feel of a “healing place” with balance beams, exercise equipment, and all sorts of fragrant herbs and tinctures or other kinds of bottles. There was an aura of calmness and relaxing music there. There were flowing waters in that place, too.
2) Across Goodwin Road on the hillside going down the valley (toward the old depot) and behind what was then the Bartlett’s house (of antiques) I saw several large silos and when I went inside one building there were laboratories where I was shown the development of a kind of grain that could withstand several climate zones that would feed the world. There were labs of beakers and a smell like that of a greenhouse.
3) I saw a huge structure behind my grandparents house that was built right into the hillside that I knew went way into the hill itself. It was composed of three very large vertical dark colored beams of the same size that were connected to many horizontal beams of varying sizes that did curve a little. This structure seemed to either generate or receive a large amount of some kind of energy or communication.
4) I was walking with my grandfather on the other side of his property (near where there was then sheep grazing next door). He led me into a granite looking tunnel that led underground where there were many lights and drawers labeled with what I could not understand. We were allowed to walk along several corridors. But when I awoke from this vision all I could think of was it felt like it was a kind of cemetery or mausoleum.
5) The most startling vision I had was seeing a huge round “landing” area where a large silver colored vessel of some kind had landed near the location of Marshwood High in this vision. It was the most shocking of the visions because I literally saw it while my husband drove me by the area on my way to visit grandpa. It “was just a vision” I was told and not real. That helped me calm down.
6) But the very first vision I had was of seeing a landing structure for something coming out of the sky near “Mt Salvat” which I learned from Green Acre is near the juncture of Fore Road and Old Road. It was a round landing pad – maybe just a helipad? I entered a building with a strangely lit corridor leading to a large concave 360 degree auditorium where we sat looking down to the center. There was music and light. It was beautiful.
MY MOTHER’S DISCOVERY IN ELIOT
My mother told me of the time in the 1950s when my grandmother sent her to the Marlowe’s Bakery Shop on the corner of Fore Road and Old Road for some freshly baked bread. She had just entered the bakery and saw on a table a framed picture of a beautiful set of iron gates with ornate design . Mother instantly recognized this gate because she saw the very same gate in a dream she had recently and was sure it meant something of great importance. So she asked Polly Marlowe where the gate was located and Polly replied it was from the Shrine of the Bab (or Gate) near the top of Mt Carmel in Haifa, Israel. My mother told Polly of the dream she had of the gate and Polly told mother about the beautiful Baha’i gardens and shrines there as well as the Baha’i Faith and its message of the universal oneness of all religions and about Green Acre in Eliot.
Their meeting was the beginning of a lifelong friendship for me, too, as I became a good friend of her daughter Nancy and I remember at a young age playing in the sand of the grape arbor of that house and smelling the wonderful fragrances of the bakery. But I also vividly remember the day Nancy’s mother Polly packed us each a peanut butter, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on freshly baked raisin bread “ to walk somewhere.” So Nancy and I walked up the trail behind her house to a place called “Mt Salvat.” I later learned it was so named by Abdu’l Baha who visited Eliot in 1912 . He went there by motorcar one day and declared upon seeing it that that location would be the location of the first Baha’i university of the West. He was the answer to Sarah Farmer’s prayers and the rest is part of Eliot history worth knowing about.
LIVING AT A LANIER COTTAGE IN ELIOT IN 1954
I remember that blissful summer in 1954 when my mother and 4 year old sister and I stayed in the Lanier Cottage next to their big barn which was next to the old Lanier Inn. It was a perfect place for a girl of nine to enjoy life in a rural setting. The old Lanier children’s camp had ended in 1939 but across the street and down the road a little from us was an old structure that housed the Lanier Gift Shop and a rather large art studio which was above the gift shop. The gift shop in those days was a wondrous place filled to the brim with imports of tea towels, table linens and placemats, local quilts, candles of all types and tea sets and some antiques that ran the gamut from elegant to rustic.
I fondly remember my mother waking me up in the early morning and sending me across the street to an art class with a Ms Jolie? from France I believe for art lessons. She was tall and had a chiseled face and she wore the largest collection of coral jewelry I have ever seen. Her studio was filled with her watercolors of local flowers, landscapes and some shore scenes. I remember her teaching me how to use different sized brushes and how to blend colors so that flowers looked more than alive and trees took on a life of their own. I remember the sunlight coming in to the studio.
I also remember the smell of freshly mown hay gathered by John Lanier - great grandson of Sidney Lanier the well known southern poet. John Lanier was a Harvard graduate who loved Eliot and was a mail carrier in Eliot for many years. He also “plowed out” my grandparent’s home after severe winter storms. That summer of 1954 there was a hurricane in the area and I remember mother driving us up to grandma’s house on Goodwin Road because electricity had gone out in the cottage. John’s ice cream in the Inn melted. But the sunflowers in the field remained intact.
I WOULD HAVE BEEN CLASS OF 1963 AT ELIOT HIGH
SAID MY GREAT AUNT MILDRED OBREY
I attended both 8th and 9th grade in Eliot before I left for Northfield Mount Hermon prep school in the fall of 1960. My family lived in what was later known as ”Mole Hill Farm” on the junction of Depot Road and Route 103 or State Road. The house was then owned by the Orlandini’s . He was ambassador of the U.S. to the Canary Islands. We lived there for three years. (It was on the Tour of Eliot Homes of 1968). This was a beautiful old colonial house complete with Maine “coon” cats and a big barn. I remember catching the school bus to what was then the old Eliot Junior High School (formerly the Central School) for 8th grade. I heard many lectures on the history of Maine in that two room schoolhouse ! This building served as a school until July 1963 when it was closed by order of the Maine State Fire Marshall. I find it interesting to note that it was a year later that my grandpa Knowles who was around that time Chairman of the Eliot School Board began to design and made plans for the Eliot Marshwood High School. !! I saw those very plans in his workshop. I am happy to say that these plans came to fruition…
(South Berwick also used Marshwood High in those days).
My great aunt Mildred Obrey who lived to age 99 and passed on in 2007 was my grandpa Knowles sister. “Aunt Mid” as we called her was a teacher and central figure for me in 9th grade or freshman year at Eliot High School. She introduced me to “speed reading” and I will be forever grateful to her for that. She also taught English and got me signed up to write the weekly Eliot High column for the Portsmouth Herald which I dutifully accomplished on a new typewriter given to me by Grandma Knowles.
One of my fondest memories of Eliot High in ‘59 – ‘60 besides the fun we had putting on a dramatic play and those Saturday night dances was singing the biblical song at school assembly called “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel.” We sang the words “Ezekiel saw the wheel --- it was a whee- el in a whee-el way up in the middle of the sky.” We sang all of its several stanzas and I will never forget how we enjoyed singing it in “rounds” in the school auditorium. We all knew it was about a big UFO but no one (except me?) really got up and said so. It was our “special” Eliot High song. Did they still sing that song at Marshwood High?
On June 5th 2003 my sister Curry and I attended our Aunt Mid’s “surprise” 95th birthday celebration at her relative’s home on Nightingale Lane in Eliot. The State of Maine gave her a big recognition award for her contributions to teaching and civic duty for so many years. This took up so much time that we barely had enough time to talk to her but she was surrounded by all her family and friends on that special day. I met many relatives in Eliot I didn’t know I had and I regret not looking them up since that day. Where are they? Aunt Mid loved her family more than any travels, career, or adventure.
Curry and I had stopped by to see Aunt Mid in her home on Moses Gerrish Farmer Road several times since then. She was full of stories of her life growing up in South Berwick and Eliot. She, like her brother Herbert, had been at one time or another chairman of the Eliot School Board . She was an educator who loved to inspire and instill confidence in people. She told me about a quilt that and she and others of the Eliot Congregational Church Women’s Circle made of important places in Eliot including Green Acre. Such a quilt hangs at the Inn at Green Acre now. She remembered the Staples and Reimers and other friends from Green Acre who stayed across the street from her over the years and said she often accepted invitations to “their parties” which she said she enjoyed and “misses them very much now that they are gone.” One day she told me she that she knew about Sarah Farmer while she was growing up. (She lived during the later years of Sarah Farmer!) She remembered giving away “a book that Sarah Farmer herself had written about her life and famous family before Green Acre was dedicated to the Baha’i Faith- before the visit of Abdu’l Baha in 1912.” She could not remember who on the Eliot Historical Society that she had given it to. (She said it was not Joe Frost!).
She said several people over the past 30 years had knocked on her door to ask questions about her brother Herbert Knowles. All of these inquiries were to see if she had any papers or correspondence of his with scientists or knew of military inquiries. One visit was “from investigators from Washington, DC.” One asked if she knew what had happened to the small piece of a spaceship(?) that he once claimed to have handled.
She told me to keep all newspaper clippings and correspondence of Herbie and Helen’s lives in a safe place for posterity. She also gave me another task she said was very important. I was to preserve and compile the letters of her brother Herbie and his wife Helen that they wrote back and forth to each other mostly when he was a submarine captain during both the world wars I and II. I asked her why they never spoke of these letters. She explained to me that wartime was too painful to talk about. Upon reading several of these letters I was struck to tears of the constant words of their love for each other and their forbearance in the face of the survival issues of war. They wrote beautiful and painful love letters of a sincerity I have never seen in English literature. I would like to have some assistance someday in compiling these letters (they cover both world wars and there are hundreds of them) maybe even write a book Aunt Mid said of Herbie that “He saw sunsets all over the world: Hawaii, Japan, China, the Philippines, Alaska, California, Germany, Europe etc. but NONE more beautiful than from the hill in Eliot where he settled which he called Rosemary Hill.”
Aunt Mid said she was compiling a “book of pictures and commentary on her growing up and her family in Eliot and that pictures of Curry and myself - Jacquie Ballou Sullivan and my mother (Elaine Knowles Weare who passed along in 2002) and Herbie and Helen would be in it.” Our mother was an only child and I should very much like to see this compilation and to see the pictures of my relatives wherever and whomever they may be. She is the only one who had almost a whole century of experience with our family! I loved my Aunt Mid and I loved my Eliot family!
I have had several dreams of my visiting that house on Goodwin Road since the death of my grandmother. I believe I was in the living room of that house in my “astral body” floating there. I saw my grandmother’s little dog. I saw the quilt on the couch. I had several haunting dreams of a lot of building activity going on in that house from the time my mother sold it to the first “bed and breakfast” owner in 1983 right on through the second B & B owner. I saw what appeared to be chaos to me. I was always in my dreams trying to find a way to stay there and float around the rooms and yards, Sure enough, I finally learned when I spent a night there in 2003 (with my husband and daughter Melissa) that several new rooms and bathrooms had been added to that house and that gardens, and a little pond, too, had been added. The porch had been transformed into a large eating area, a huge brick oven fireplace had been added - and even the roof seemed to be raised to accommodate a large suite of new rooms where the attic used to be. That explained my dreams! People can get very attached to houses and their locations!
Now if we could just see into the future!!!!