Frederick Arnold Sweet (PEO.16)
Photo and text about Frederick Sweet
Frederick A. Sweet
Frederick Arnold Sweet graduated from Harvard as a physician and around 1890 headed west to Tombstone where he lived in the Bisbee Settlement and was employed as the Chief Surgeon for the Copper Queen Mine. He was the only surgeon in the Arizona Territory so people came to him from the mines, bar fights and everywhere else. He spent some of his time traveling in Europe and back east and in 1895, when in New York, he married Julia Harkness. Because Julia had gone to Radcliffe and etiquette would forbid her entering a saloon or speaking with the bar girls, Bisbee was a very lonely place so her older, and only, sister Lida, who had graduated from Vassar in 1887, agreed to accompany Julia and Fred out west. On February 1, 1899 Fred and Julia’s first son, Phillip Whitford Kirkland Sweet, was born.
Though it’s not clear how they became interested in our village, each summer the three of them would travel to Sargentville where, in 1899 and 1901, they boarded with Aunt Mary Milliken. In 1902 Wyer G. Sargent died and left the homestead he had built in 1836 to his widowed daughter, Martha Spooner, who made some improvements and put the house up for sale. In September 1902, the house that he named Maplehurst, was purchased by Dr. Frederick A. Sweet.
When on April 15, 1903, Dr. Sweet died unexpectedly in Bisbee, Julia, who was pregnant with her second son, sold the Bisbee property and came to Maplehurst. She decided to stay here and make it her home base.
On June 20, 1903 Frederick Arnold Sweet was born at Maplehurst. As Fred has described it to the Ellsworth American December 4, 1968,
“I was a summer baby” he laughs to recall. I was born the first year we had this house in 1903. My father had bought it from Mrs. Spooner, a daughter of the previous owner, Wyer Sargent. My father who was Chief Surgeon for the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee, Arizona, died two months before I was born, so my mother came here from New York with a nurse and a cook and settled down to live here. As my birth grew imminent, the local doctor examined her and told her there was plenty of time. As he drove off in his buggy, I commenced to be born. The nurse and the cook delivered me.
I lived here until I was nine. My brother and I didn’t go to school. My aunt (Lida), a Victorian lady with an education came and lived with us as a governess. She had learned French when she was twelve and she taught me French. She had graduated from Vassar in 1897 and had taught in New York, and she was fully qualified to educate us.
At the age of twelve, my brother and I were sent off to St. George’s School in Rhode Island. We both went on to Harvard, where I took a master’s in art. In my day, the only colleges that had art departments were Harvard, Princeton and Yale.”
Fred Sweet went on to have a varied career in the arts and when he retired as Curator of American Art at the Chicago Art Institute he returned to Sargentville.
When Fred died in 1983 the property was briefly sold out of the family but, in 1988, Annie Macdonald Conaway, Fred Sweet’s granddaughter, purchased the home and made the many renovations and improvements that have restored it to its’ former beauty. She and her son David are fourth and fifth generation Sargentville residents .
During their years in Sargentville, and while traveling abroad, Julia and Lida were strong supporters of the town and the Sargentville Library. Lida’s fund-raising provided the seed money and impetus for the library building in 1905 and, in the years that followed, Julia and Lida often sent boxes of books to librarian Dora Currier. The relationship these women had with the people of the village is reflected in Dora’s diary when, upon hearing of Julia’s death she writes, “A good friend is gone”.
The following is a transcript of papers found by Fred Sweet in the newel post of the stairs in his home which had been built in 1837 and improved upon in 1868 by Wyer G. Sargent. Fred called the home Maplehurst and Wyer called it Sea View Cottage. Digital copies of newel post documents courtesy of Annie Conaway.
Sargentville, Maine August 4th 1868
Sea View Cottage
This house was originally built in 1837 by Wyer G. Sargent, Samuel J. Hooper Contractor, and was one story with basement. In May of the present year, this house was raised by “Mr. J. W. Stewart of Belfast, ME”, 10 ft and 7 inches, and the whole building was finished and improved as now appears, with cupola on South West front.
The above improvements were designed by Wyer G. Sargent, and executed under the direction of Mr. Albert Averill of Sedgwick, with the assistance of Mr. Calvin Billings, Wm. A. Hooper and Isaac W. Cole, (joiners), Chs. H. Ware and Benj Billings (masons), Dudley Bridges and Eben P. Smith, (painters).
The family of the proprietor of the estate, Wyer G. Sargent, at present consists of the following named persons.
Wyer G. Sargent aged 58 years, and his wife
Maria S. D. Gower Sargent aged 42 years.
Rodney G. Sargent aged 31 years, and his wife Dora J. Sargent aged 21 years, and son 12 days old
Mrs. Martha E. Spooner aged 29, and daughter 1 year old
Susan C. Sargent, aged 27 years
Henry W. Sargent, aged 24 years
Nettie Sargent, aged 21 years
Welland F. Sargent, 15 years
Sons of Mrs Sargent by former marriage,
George L. Gower aged 19 years,
Fred H. Gower, 17 years,
Wm. D. Gower, 14 years.
Present pastor of First Baptist Church in Sedgwick, C. P. Bartlett. Resident physician E.T. Fuller, Proprietor and owner of Hotel (Traveler’s Inn) D. P. Dority.
Traders in town Msrs Herrick and Byard and Joshua Watson at Sedgwick Village. H.H Bowden and Amos E. Grindal at No. Sedgwick. Wm H. Sargent and W. G. Sargent at Sargentville.
Postmasters at Sedgwick Village, Daniel Morgan. At Sargentville, Henry W. Sargent. No. Sedgwick Rev Mr. Corthett.
Selectmen and assessors D.G Philbrook, Joshua Watson and Amos E. Grindal.
Govr of State; Joshua L. Chamberlain
These are scans of the original documents found in the newel post by Fred Sweet.