Cooking fireplace in the kitchen of the 1838 Jailer’s house at the 1811 Old Jail and Museum, Wiscasset. Contributed photo

WISCASSET — The Lincoln County Historical Association works with local schools, including home schools, to advance the historical heritage of Lincoln County and Maine. As part of that effort, the organization’s education director has developed two booklets that provide educators and their students with an overview of historical data in an interdisciplinary manner: “Settlement during the War Years – 17th & 18th Century Challenges in MidCoast ” and “The 1800s – A Century of Highs and Lows.”

One topic common to both booklets is food. A significant addition to the culinary options of Americans, not invented in Maine but in Boston, was the jelly bean. Invented by William Schrafft in 1861, the candy was promoted as the perfect gift to send to Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War.

Closer to home, the 1800s saw a number of agricultural-related advancements. The Portland food processor, Winslow and Company, patented a method of canning corn in 1862, which enabled Maine to support the Union troops during the Civil War. With this valuable process in hand, Winslow won the contract to supply canned corn to the Union Army at the same time that it marketed the product to hundreds of households.

The appearance of the refrigerated railroad car in 1867 revolutionized the transportation of food, and enabled Maine dairy farmers to open up new markets because they could ship their butter, cheese and milk long distances without fear of spoilage.

The Sandy River Cheese Company, established in 1871, was the first cheese factory in Maine. The Maine Dairymen Association was formed in 1874, signaling a rise in specialized farming. Cheese making was no longer an individual, small production undertaking, and this had an impact for every family. Macaroni and cheese, served as a gourmet dish by Thomas Jefferson at the White House in 1802, was now available to all.

Blueberries had become an important commercial crop by the 1850s. Mainer Abijah Tabbot invented the blueberry rake in 1882.

After the Civil War Aroostook County took the lead in the production of Maine potato, a food that satisfied the market for food, starch, and seed.

This brief look at 19th century advances is furthered detailed in “The 1800s — A Century of Highs and Lows.” Both of the LCHA Education Department’s new booklets are available free to educators, including home schooling families. For access to the files, email Louise Miller at [email protected].

For more information about the association, visit and its Facebook page, Lincoln County Historical Association Maine.

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