Letter: What was really in the Yarmouth ruins?

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“In 2008, when fire destroyed the kitchen ell of Mary Estelle’s ancestral home, a small army of volunteers showed up at the end of Bayview Street to help with the salvage and clean up. It seemed to me that nothing that had entered that old house, now filled with wet ashes, charred wood and smoke stains, had ever left. Yarmouth’s copy of the Declaration of Independence even turned up in the ruins.”

This paragraph appeared in the recent column Edgar Allen Beem wrote about Mary Estelle. He creates a powerful image of a real event. Unfortunately, printing information that is not correct also perpetuates misunderstandings for years. Look at the Jameson Tavern in Freeport as an example: Every historian knew it was not the “Birthplace of Maine,” but that error was only recently acknowledged by the town of Freeport.

Let’s examine the claim that Mary Estelle had Yarmouth’s original copy of the 1776 Declaration of Independence. An original copy of the Declaration was sent to each town after the signing with instructions that it was to be read from the church pulpit at the next Sunday service. The copy sent to North Yarmouth was read, placed in the town records, and exists today. Yarmouth did not separate from North Yarmouth and become its own town until 1849. Therefore, Yarmouth never had an original copy of the Declaration. Mr. Beem, please tell us what you really found in the ruins.

Lincoln Merrill Jr.
North Yarmouth