You can’t get from the rest of Cornville to Alvar K. Laiho’s house on Hilton Hill in Cornville.

In a twist of the classic Maine expression — you can’t there from here — you have to go to Skowhegan to get there.

Hilton Hill Road, the only way to get to Laiho’s house, is off Route 150 in Skowhegan. The road is a dead end.

“And vice-versa,” Laiho said. “If you live on Hilton Hill and want to get to the Town Office — you can’t.”

That’s part of the wealth of detail in Laiho’s new book “The History of Hilton Hill, Cornville, Maine,” which describes places and events from the first settlement in the 1790s to the present day.

The 250-page self-published book, which took Laiho five years to research, takes readers from 1777 when Lt. Joseph Hilton was wounded in the Revolutionary War through the land surveys of the Kennebec River region by Samuel Weston to the first Town Meeting in Cornville in May 1798. It records the birth of Hilton sons and daughters and events all the way to 1957 when Charles and Irene Magoon — Laiho’s wife Cindy’s parents — bought the Steven Hilton farm, the grounds of which today remain largely intact.

Laiho, 83, and his wife Cindy Magoon live on the Hilton Hill property that was part of the original homestead built in 1798 by Stephen Hilton, for whom the hill and the road are named.

“Because Hilton Hill Road is a dead-end road that originates in Skowhegan, the Cornville residents at the upper end of the road are geographically and socially disconnected from the rest of town,” Laiho writes in the book. “Their homes are essentially an isolated enclave that can be accessed by vehicle only from Skowhegan and not from any other part of Cornville.”

That’s where Laiho and his wife have settled in their retirement.

Laiho gave a brief reading and a book signing this past week at the Skowhegan Free Public Library. Another one is planned for December.

Laiho said he was originally inspired to write his book by Cornville’s town historian and longtime Selectman Laurence Amazeen, who died Oct. 22 at his home in Cornville at age 99. The book is dedicated to Amazeen.

Amazeen is the author of “Some Cornville History,” which details Hilton family genealogical data, deed descriptions and locations of early Hilton family homesteads.

Answers to local questions are found in Laiho’s book, such as where the first road up the hill was and what role Skowhegan’s Malbon family have in the settlement of the hill with “a million dollar view of Maine’s mountains”.

The first settler to the hill overlooking the West Branch of the Wesserunsett Stream was Elijah Smith, who is mentioned in Louise Coburn’s history of the Kennebec and Skowhegan, Laiho said. That house, now owned by Tom McCarthy, still stands.

The Hiltons in their many numbers and the Cayfords, founders Cayford Orchards on Hilton Hill, soon settled the hill.

“The book is about the first settlement on Hilton Hill, considered by many to be the finest piece of real estate in Cornville,” Laiho said. “The book covers the purchase of the entire township of Cornville by three principals from Deerfield N.H. — they bought it from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — previously owned by the king.”

Laiho said the Hilton family left the hill one by one, dispersing to other parts of the U.S. and Canada, selling the homes and farmsteads along the way. He said he knows of one living descendant of the original clan — John Hilton, who lives in Waterville.

“There are no more Hiltons in Cornville,” he said.

As for Hilton Hill Road and two other roads which were used to go all the way through to the town of Cornville, they were discontinued to traffic in the 1930s. Vandals, barn fires, apple thefts and sightseers from away saw to that.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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