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Historical society publishes Edward Little biography

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Those who would like a unique peek into Edward Little’s life while purchasing a copy of the book may do so at a special signing event at the Edward Little House in Auburn.

Androscoggin Historical Society has published a new book about Edward Little (1773-1849), one of the “founding fathers” of Auburn and Lewiston and the namesake of Edward Little High School. “Dear Parent: A Biography and Letters of Edward Little” was researched and written by Douglas I Hodgkin, who has written several works on local history.

While Little is best known for having founded Lewiston Falls Academy, which became Edward Little High School, less well known is the role of the Little Family in founding what became High Street Congregational Church, as well as bridges, railroads, and the mills at the falls, until the latter were taken over by Boston-based investors.

“We decided that there should be a comprehensive biography of his life,” said Hodgkin, who currently serves as president of the Androscoggin Historical Society’s board. “Until now, his life has been summarized in articles, mostly concerning his local accomplishments, in the magazine section of the old Lewiston Journal.”

The book details Little’s early career as a businessman, lawyer, and politician in Newburyport, Mass., until two disasters resulted in massive debt. He then moved to Portland, Maine, to manage the business affairs of his father and the Pejepscot Proprietors’ land company. Finally, in 1826, at the age of fifty-three, he settled in Danville, now Auburn. There, his important contributions toward the development of Lewiston and Auburn, from an insignificant farming community to one primed for rapid industrialization, made his life story a remarkable one.

The book also contains the letters that Little addressed to his “Dear Parent,” his father, Josiah, that are owned by the Androscoggin Historical Society. These depict local conditions during the early development of the Androscoggin Valley, relations between the Littles and the settlers, and relations between members of the Little Family. The letters were transcribed by Everett Bertrand, a resident of Poland who is a student at Wheaton College, during a summer internship at the Society in 2015.

Hodgkin, a retired professor of political science at Bates College, is the author of several books describing the history of Lewiston and Auburn. These include “Lewiston Memories,” “Historic Lewiston: The Grange at Crowley’s Junction,” “Frontier to Industrial City: Lewiston Town Politics 1768-1863,” “The Baptists of Court Street,” “Lewiston and Auburn Railroad Company,” and “Lewiston Politics in the Gilded Age, 1863-1900.”

The book, a 262-page paperback, is available for $20 plus sales tax. Those who would like to get a special peek into Edward Little’s life while purchasing a copy of the book will have a unique opportunity to do so on Tuesday, February 21, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., when Certified Public Accountant Robert Grieshaber, who maintains the Edward Little House as his office, will invite the public in to purchase a copy of the book and have it signed by the author. The house is located at 217 Main Street in Auburn.

“The Androscoggin Historical Society is delighted with Bob’s current stewardship of the house and his willingness to open it for this event,” said Hodgkin. “He has been very supportive of our work on this project.”

The book can also be purchased at the Androscoggin Historical Society’s office in the Androscoggin County Building, where Society members will receive at 10% discount, Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., and at Victor News (59 Park Street in Lewiston), the Bates College Store (65 Campus Avenue in Lewiston), Gulf of Maine Books (134 Maine Street in Brunswick), and online from the Maine Historical Society. For more information, call the Androscoggin Historical Society at 784-0586.

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