Hello from the Thomas Ruggles House on a nice day in September (now suddenly it’s October). Maine is at its best now, as the leaves display their vibrant colors of autumn. We held our our fall Society meeting last Saturday and our next event will be our annual Tea. The Christmas Tea will be Sunday, Dec. 8th, 1 to 3 and will be an open house with our special teas served and mulled cider, also. We offer our guests some special goodies to compliment our tea. Come and hear live seasonal music. The House is decorated as it might have been in the 1800’s with live evergreens and appropriate bows and a tree. You will enjoy our holiday spirit. We love entertaining our guests in this gorgeous house. There will be a $5.00 admission fee for this event.
We treasure our older members for their knowledge and past participation. Richard Grant is the oldest serving member of our Board. What a joy he has been and his contribution to Ruggles House would fill one page of this newsletter. We have one Board Member who is a direct descendant of Thomas and Ruth Ruggles, Robert Brown. The Ruggles’ youngest surviving daughter, Lucy Ruggles Brown, was a several times great-grandmother of Bob.
The following segment was included in last fall’s newsletter and is still in force.
“We’ve mentioned in the last several newsletters that we were hopeful of having an outbuilding, of some early design, on the property. We need to have more space for all the reasons mentioned before. We are still in the planning stage, with some fund-raising done, to have a barn/carriage house building to improve our museum. It’s our “good news” that we have another idea for getting that outbuilding. We are exploring acquiring an early post and beam barn frame. Throughout the northeastern part of the U.S., these old barns are being dismantled and sold to be reused in a new location. The larger ones are usually used for new housing, but the smaller ones can be reused as barns. These are harder to sell as the need for barns is not as great. It’s perfect for us because we do not want a large barn. Our property will not accommodate a larger building. We have some good prospects and hope this venture comes to fruition. We’ll keep the news coming in our newsletters.”
We are in the process of costing out a barn. Wish us luck!!
Would you like to help us solve a mystery? These old houses often have more unanswered questions than answered ones. With research we are sometimes able to get an answer. Are these two portraits the same lady? Here’s the story so far.
One afternoon several years ago, while serving as a docent at the House, I welcomed a gentleman and his adult son. He came in and told me this story. He had an article that his family had owned for 40 years and thought it was time to return it to the Ruggles House. It had belonged to his late wife and she had been given it as a gift from a neighbor in the town of Dennysville, where they still owned the old family home. The neighbor had said that she found it in an antique shop in Machias and was told that it was one of the Ruggles girls. Did I want to see it?
Anything belonging to the Ruggles family is a special find. “Yes” indeed!!!!
He fetched from his car a very ornate framed large portrait of a young girl, obviously a charcoal drawing on paper. He pointed out that it had E. Ruggles printed in the lace on one sleeve of her dress. A Lizzie Ruggles original, there was no doubt of its authenticity. He wanted nothing for it and was glad to give it back to us. I thanked him as sincerely as I could. The father and son left. It is not unusual for us to find Ruggles items that had left the family for many reasons. We are very fortunate to get any of them back.
On examining the frame I discovered that the drawing was held in the frame with an artist canvas. Strange! – Because the Ruggles girls, both artists, never used artist canvas. They used paper because canvas was beyond their means. Two rusty nails loosely held the canvas in place. I easily pulled them out. To my surprise, another portrait, which appeared to be charcoal, was drawn on the canvas. Lizzie’s portrait was on top of this one. Who was this young woman? Had Lizzie put her portrait on top of this one? Was this family? I knew we had three daguerreotypes (photos) of family in the drawer of the small desk upstairs. These had always been Ruggles items. One was a photo of Emily and Lizzie Ruggles as children. Another was said to be the girls’ mother, Caroline Bucknam Ruggles. The other of a young teenage girl will be our next mystery because it was not identified.
Photos have been made of the two images of the woman, one young and one older.
Our question is, “Are these images of the same woman?” The photo on the right is the daguerreotype of the older woman, Caroline Ruggles. The photo on the left is the drawing found under the framed drawing of Lizzie. We’d like your opinion. Call us, visit our Facebook page, or email us at etenan@ruggleshouse,org.
We’ll leave you with an old Maine saying. “Mull it over and decide.”
We’d love to see you at the Tea or next summer for a visit.
Ellen Tenan, Historian
Photo credits: Emily Tenan Lilienthal