Abner's Parade

In 1907 a celebration similar to the Centennial in 1904 was planned by Hope Grange for the 100th birthday of Hope's oldest citizen, Abner Dunton, or Uncle Abner as he was affectionately called by young and old alike. The committee from the Grange in charge were Henry H. Payson, chairman; Mrs. Jas. Morse, Miss Carrie Quinn, C. A. Payson and J. D. Pease.

The weather on Aug. 1, 1907 was perfect as the early morning fog cleared to make a day of comfort and pleasure and the picturesque little town nestled among the hills, garbed in holiday attire, presented a sight long to be remembered. Besides the Hope residents, hundreds from other towns who knew and respected Uncle Abner gathered to do him honor until the crowd assembled must have numbered at least two thousand.

The celebration opened with a parade at 10:30. Rev. E. W. Preble of Charlton, Mass. and J. H. Hobbs leading as marshall and assistant were followed by the Camden Band. Next in line was a carriage which bore Uncle Abner, Selectman Miller Hobbs and part of the time an aged friend, Mr. Hewett, and part of the time Miss Fannie Dunton, his favorite niece, whose birthday also fell on Aug. 1st and with whom Uncle Abner often celebrated his birthdays.The crowd cheered as the procession moved along and he was kept busy raising his tall hat.

Floats of all kinds followed. Many from nearby Granges had started before daybreak in their decorated hayricks with decorated teams hauling them the many miles to arrive in time for the parade. The following were represented:
Megunticook of Camden, Warren of Warren; Pioneer of East Union;
Highland of East Warren; South Hope; Penobscot View of Glen Cove;
Tranquility of Lincolnville; Mt Pleasant of West Rockport; and Wessaweskeag of South Thomaston.

The parade disbanded by noon and hundreds were picnicking under the trees while others enjoyed the dinner prepared by the Hope Grange in True's Hall which was located over the general store.

The afternoon exercises began at 1:30 and were held in front of the church
where a platform had been erected. Mr. Henry Payson introduced the first speaker, Mr. Aubrey Dunton of Melrose, Mass. Uncle Abner's son, who in turn introduced the other speakers. Mr. Robert Simmons of Mt. Pleasant spoke for the Grangers; Mr. Levi S. Gould, also of Melrose, historian and orator of note, Hon. Frank R. Dunton of Belfast, cousin of Mr. Dunton, all recounting aspects of his life and times and paying tribute to his service to his fellow man.

In the evening a dance at True's Hall with music by Alexander's orchestra was packed. It was a lively day for Hope Corner. The Grange did a fine business serving dinners and also selling pictures of Uncle Abner. He later said that it did not tire him hardly at all and he thoroughly enjoyed every part of it. He received scores of letters and telegrams of congratulations and said he hoped he would enjoy several more birthdays.

Sets of postcards were made of the event and many still exist. We are fortunate to be able to show the event in pictures, more adequately than mere description.

(From History of Hope Maine by Anna Simpson Hardy Page 179)

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