To the right of the walkway as you approach the Fifth Maine Museum lies a hefty oval boulder, its surface relatively smooth aside from the modest inscription “FIFTH MAINE VOLUNTEERS 1861-1865.” This is the Memorial Boulder, and it’s been on the lawn of the Fifth Maine building for over 110 years.
Memorial Boulder decorated for fall
An article in the Lewiston Sun Journal from August 6, 1909 tells its story:
Tom Ward…is a regimental star and without him the society would seem lost. It was Tom who engineered the monument business and secured the big boulder that was dedicated last year . This boulder was brought from the lower end of the island and a distance of two miles and eight rods and it required seven pairs of horses to do the job. It weighs ten tons and finely formed for the purpose.
Fifth Maine veterans by the Memorial Boulder, including Aaron Daggett,
(second from left) and Clark Wayland (far right), circa 1915
Tom Ward was born in Ireland in 1842. It’s possible he and his family left Ireland due to the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s. They settled in Lewiston. He enlisted in the Fifth Maine as a private, mustered out as a corporal, and remained involved with the Fifth Maine for the rest of his life, attending reunions and serving as the live-in custodian at the Memorial Hall into the early 20th century. His shore dinners were legendary among the veterans and their guests. And he could rally enough man (and horse) power to move a ten-ton rock two miles!
Verna Hurley (far right) and friends, circa 1918
In 1908 the boulder was situated a bit closer to the building, but now it’s nearer the road. What hasn’t changed are people’s interactions with it. Children love to climb all over it, and many people pose for photographs in front of it – just like the veterans did over a century ago.
Portland Evening Express article, 1962
Half a Century Later
“Mrs. R. S. Williams, Wollaston, Mass., stands beside the
boulder outside the Fifth Maine Regiment Building on Peaks
Island, which she dedicated in 1908 at which time she was
voted “Daughter of the Regiment.” Photo was taken last
week at a reception given Mrs. Williams who is now in her
80s. She is the daughter of the late Capt. and Mrs. John
McLellan of Windham. Capt. McLellan was an officer in
the Fifth Maine, one of the most illustrious regiments of the
Civil War. (Photo by Ruth Sargent)”