Oct. 20, 1860: Spectators gather at Portland Harbor to watch the Prince of Wales – Britain’s future King Edward VII (1841-1910) – depart for England aboard his ship, HMS Hero.

The Prince of Wales, his entourage and Portland Mayor Howard seated in a carriage on a street in Portland. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

The 18-year-old prince, who arrived by special train that afternoon from Boston and was treated to a luncheon at the city’s Preble House, is returning home to England after touring Canada and the United States. He visited many cities, spent three days in the White House as a guest of President James Buchanan, and toured George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia with the president.

Organizers of the trip originally thought about having the prince return to England from New York, but they worried that too many British sailors might try to jump ship in that busy port. As it was, 140 sailors are reported to have deserted during the prince’s tour.

Orrington Center, circa 1890 with the Enterprise Grange, No. 173 in the foreground on the left. Image courtesy of the Orrington Historical Society via digitalmaine

Oct. 20, 1873: Amasa K. Walker and Allen Carter, with help from others, organize the first local Grange in Maine, Eastern Star No. 1, to help farmers during the Panic of 1873. Oliver Hudson Kelly founded the national organization in 1867 after witnessing the devastation in the South after the Civil War, which ended in 1865.

“To improve the situation, he conceived of a secret society of farmers, which would assist in binding up the nation’s wounds by emphasizing fraternal and brotherly love,” writes Maine Grange chronicler Stanley Russell Howe.

The Maine State Grange is established in 1874.

Oct. 20, 1977: The Bangor Daily News publishes a story about Erwin Kreuz, 49, a German brewery worker who was making his first visit to the United States, bound for San Francisco. When the plane on which he was a passenger stopped in Bangor for refueling and customs clearance, Kreuz, who could not speak English, disembarked and stayed on the ground, thinking he already had arrived in California.

He spent four days in mid-October wandering around the Bangor area, looking in vain for the Golden Gate Bridge and other famous San Francisco landmarks, before meeting Gertrude Romine, the German-speaking owner of a restaurant in Old Town. She told him where he actually was.

News reports of the incident draw nationwide attention and make Kreuz a local celebrity. A Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Oktoberfest event makes him the guest of honor, he is made an honorary member of the Penobscot Indian Tribe, and he is flown to Augusta to meet Gov. James B. Longley.

Kreuz makes two more trips to Bangor – in 1978 and 1979, respectively – and is the celebrity guest at the dedication of the Bangor Mall in 1978. He also eventually travels to San Francisco after his 1977 visit to Bangor. When he returns home, he says he likes Bangor better.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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