About the Author
Caroline D. Grimm moved to Bridgton, Maine with her family when she was seven years old. She grew up surrounded by historic houses, steeped in stories of the past, and her curiosity got the better of her. She immersed herself in local history for the sheer joy of uncovering the past lives of neighbors long gone. She wrote her first paper on the topic in high school. Since that time, she is often found haunting cemeteries, poring over fragile letters, reading crumbling newspapers, tramping across far flung battlefields, and traveling down forgotten roads. Her neighbors sum up her odd behavior by shaking their heads and saying, “She writes.”
Nestled in the rolling, verdant foothills of the White Mountains lies the village of Pondicherry, now known as Bridgton, Maine. Most of the early European-descended settlers of the town came from Boxford, Massachusetts and surrounding towns, and included members of some of the leading families of that area.
These settlers came to an unbroken wilderness and with determination, perseverance, and a strong faith in God, worked to wrest homesteads, shops, and farms from the forests. Dangers surrounded them, illness and injury stalked them, and isolation and loneliness accompanied them as they went about the daily struggle for survival.
Once the daily needs of food, shelter, and warmth were met, these pioneers turned their efforts to creating schools to educate their children and to building churches for worship. Town governments were formed to oversee affairs and sort out disputes.
Social activities provided an opportunity for neighbors to gather to discuss important news of the day—births, deaths, sicknesses, marriages. These social activities were the heart of the town. Skating parties, sleigh rides, singing, church suppers, swimming, taffy pulls, carriage rides all offered people a chance to come together and strengthen bonds.
Hardships were many. Epidemics swept through the town on several occasions, wiping out large numbers of the population. The Civil War claimed the lives of many young men and left heartbroken widows and mothers to grieve.
Despite the hardships, the town flourished and continues to flourish today. The modern day Pondicherry is a small town with a beautiful main street, and is surrounded by the natural beauty of lakes, forests, and mountains.
Many of the town’s historic houses still stand; lovingly maintained by generations of people who respect and value the past. Graves of veterans of all wars are honored with flags each Memorial Day. In the midst of busy, modern living, the history of the town is not forgotten. There is a sense of pride and a determination to preserve that history for future generations.
The voices of those who have come before still echo in the streets, the churches, the gracious homes. And it is those voices that whisper of stories to be told. Stories that should not be forgotten. They are the Voices of Pondicherry.