By Charlotte Boynton
Wiscasset author Phil DiVece stands next to a Civil War cannon that he writes about in his new book, “More Wiscasset and Its Times: Other Stories of Maine’s Prettiest Village.” (Charlotte Boynton photo)
Wiscasset resident Phil DiVece has filled many roles during his lifetime: a husband, father, reporter, newspaper publisher, teacher, selectman, and now author of his second book about Wiscasset’s past.
His new book, released this past April, “More Wiscasset and Its Times: Other Stories of Maine’s Prettiest Village,” is filled with stories of Wiscasset, Lincoln County, and its people. It tells of a gold rush in Boothbay, an Edgecomb mica mine, four brothers from Wiscasset who traveled west to fight for Texas independence, and a Wiscasset Civil War veteran’s account of the attack on the Union’s Fort Butler along the shores of the Mississippi, in a letter to his sister.
One of the chapters in the book tells of the difficulty Captain Richard Tucker Jr., Wiscasset’s Home Guard organizer during the Civil War, had with getting artillery to protect Wiscasset Harbor.
There is also a story about a Wiscasset Civil War hero who was killed in action, Edwin M. Smith, son of Samuel Emerson Smith, who served as Maine’s governor from 1831-1834.
The book also mentions another Civil War veteran with connections to Wiscasset, Ellis Spear, from Warren. Spear taught school in Wiscasset, became a captain of the Maine Volunteers during the Civil War, and was second in command with Col. Joshua Chamberlain in the defense of Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.
The book is filled with 323 pages of history that has been thoroughly researched by DiVece, with many rare photographs and illustrations. Other interesting chapters include: “Forgotten Sevey Hill,” “Johnny Appleseed’s Remedy,” “True Natives,” “Jewankee with Two E’s,” “Salute to Rutherford H. Hayes,” “Bones from the Past,” “The Other Wiscasset,” and “Fables, Folklore, and Legends.”
DiVece begins his book with a chapter called “New Day Dawning,” an update on what has happened since the publication of his first book, “Wiscasset and its Times,” in 2012. DiVece had interviewed several Wiscasset residents who contributed information for his first book.
Some of those people are now deceased. Jim Sutter, who DiVece interviewed several times, died in April 2012 at the age of 92; Bernice “Bunny” Caswell died Nov. 24, 2012, at the age of 92; and Walter Sherman died July 17, 2013 at the age of 93.
He also mentions Clark Jones, who sat in DiVece’s kitchen some time ago telling him of an unexpected meeting with the legendary L.L. Bean while duck hunting on Chewonki Creek. Jones grew up in a section of Wiscasset that was once called Jewankee District, which is now known as Young’s Point. Several other Wiscasset residents are named in DiVece’s new book.
DiVece said he had to write the second book because he has so much information he was unable to put in his first book. Asked if there was going to be a third book, he said, “Yes, there will be something; I’m just not sure yet what it will be.”
One of the reasons DiVece has written the two books is for people to become aware of and appreciate the history of Wiscasset and Lincoln County. “Lincoln County has some of the earliest settlements right here,” DiVece said.
About the author
DiVece moved to Wiscasset after graduating from Colorado State University in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. He became a reporter for a local newspaper before becoming publisher of the Wiscasset Times, a weekly newspaper he owned and operated from 1980-1995.
He married Marjorie Schubert in 1980. The couple has three children: Katie, Samantha, and Jason. After closing the Wiscasset Times, he earned a Master of Arts in journalism at the University of South Florida. He also taught a journalism class while he was getting his master’s degree.
His son, Jason, designed and paginated his new book.
DiVece said his first book did very well, and has financed the publishing of his second book, which is also doing very well.
DiVece donated several copies of his first book to the Wiscasset Public Library for a fundraiser. According to a letter from the library, it was able to raise nearly $1,000 from sales of “Wiscasset and Its Times.”
“I would not have been able to write either book if it were not for the Wiscasset library; the help of the staff and the library archives have allowed me to research much of the history that is written in both books,” DiVece said.
DiVece enjoys researching the history of Wiscasset, and would like the schools to use his books in a local history class to give this generation an opportunity to learn about those that lived long before them.
Susan Rankin, in the introduction of DiVece’s new book, wrote, “One of the great gifts history gives us is a sense of ownership, responsibility, pride, and belonging. These are our people, and what we learn from them through their stories we, in turn, add to pass on to others, including a new generation of Wiscasseters.”
“More Wiscasset and Its Times: Other Stories of Maine’s Prettiest Village” is available at Ames True Value in Wiscasset, on Amazon.com, or from the author at email@example.com.