VASSALBORO — Beavers can be pests to man-made dams, but they led a town resident to discover a long-lost relic from its Civil War memorial. As Vassalboro approaches its Sestercentennial in 2021, a piece of its history has been recovered.

First reported by The Town Line, Vassalboro resident Nate Gray found broken pieces of the missing rifle part from the Civil War memorial statue that stands near the Vassalboro Historical Society building in late November while inspecting a blockage at the Outlet Dam.

“The water level was awful low, terrible low,” Gray said. “It was so low you could barely detect any water in it at all.”

Gray unplugged the blockage and reestablished the flow of the stream. He walked up to the beaver lodge, down to the beach and sat on a rock to watch for the beavers.

“I looked down and low and behold, there it was,” Gray said. “I recognized them as being carved granite, and I instantly made the connection that these are part of the gun off of the Civil War monument.”

Gray, who works for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, moved to Vassalboro in 2011 and became aware of the missing gun part from the statue. He had heard an unfounded rumor regarding the rifle: that parts were kept in the former town office and were lost when the town office moved in 2000.

“Over the course of living here nine years, some of the legend of that missing musket came to life to me,” Gray said. “I’ve walked over to the statue several times now, and I also drive by it in the summertime nearly every day, twice a day.”

According to Vassalboro Historical Society records, the town of Vassalboro commissioned the statue in 1905 from sculptor William Tregembo for $1,075.

Recovered gun parts from the Civil War monument in East Vassalboro. Courtesy of Vassalboro Historical Society

The bottom portion of the rifle, held close to the chest of the soldier sculpted, went missing in the late 1960s or early 1970s, according to Janice Clowes, president of the Vassalboro Historical Society.

“It’s kind of been — it is what it is,” Clowes said. “If it turns up, great. If not, we just carry on. It’s been without it for 50, 60 years. There’s never been an urgent need or someone taking the need on, ‘let’s get this fixed.'”

The Vassalboro Historical Society is located at 327 Main St. in East Vassalboro, and the nearly 6-foot tall monument is on the south lawn, technically the Soldier’s Monument Park.

The monument features the names of 56 Vassalboro residents who served in the Civil War.

The Vassalboro Historical Society worked on the monument. The society, the library and other partners are planning what to do for the the town’s 250th anniversary.

Clowes posted a message on Facebook about the rifle in September or October, and a few weeks later, there it was, right under Nate Gray’s eyes. It can’t be put back on the monument, but it could make a good template should funds become available to repair the monument.

“There has been talk about it,” Clowes said, “so this was kind of like icing on the cake to find that piece and to actually see what it’s like.”


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