Found this in one of my great-grandmother's scrapbook boxes. (Inez Redding Bisbee)

I've read that her mother, Isabella Holman Redding was actually the first postmistress of Redding (which isn't a real town in Maine), and hence why the post office was named after her. It was in her farmhouse, which may have been the Rowe homestead shown in this article.

Since the Lapham gal here was the same age as Inez, and looks like she might have been about 30-ish in this photo, I am guessing the article might have been from sometime in the 20's.

Anyone else have a good guess on the date of the article and/or about the location of the original post office in Redding if not this location?

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Comment by Chris Dunham on February 11, 2012 at 11:30pm

According to Maine Postal History and Postmarks, the post office at Redding was begun in 1899. I take it that this was on the Sumner side of the town line, where Isabella was living in 1900. The only Redding shown on the 1880 map of Sumner was "Mrs. Redding," who lived north of the river.



I assume that this was the dwelling of John and Phylinda Redding, as they were the only Reddings shown living in that area in 1880 census. I wonder if Isabella lived on their homestead after their deaths in 1888-89. If so, this is the probable location of the first post office.


Could Myrtle has been in her late 30s in that photograph? The article says that Percy Redding was postmaster at Sumner "until that office was discontinued by the government a few years ago." According to Maine Postal History and Postmarks, the post office at Sumner was closed in 1935, which would place the article in the late 1930s. Isabella died in 1906, and was succeeded by her son Percy, who was succeeded by U. M. Beckler. This was Urias Melville Beckler, who died in 1910. He was succeeded by H. B. Rowe (actually Herbert E. Rowe, whose occupation in 1920 was "Postmaster"), who served for 20 years, and then by Myrtle, who had served for nine years at the time the article was written. If Beckler served until his death, that would also place the date of article in the late 1930s.


Harry Packard wrote for the Lewiston papers, where I presume this was published. It looks like something that would have appeared in the Lewiston Evening Journal's Saturday magazine supplement.


Incidentally, this 1911 map of Woodstock shows where the home of A. D. (Dan) Rowe was located at the eastern edge of town. I'm not familiar with that area, so I can't say if the building still stands.

Comment by Kathy Bisbee on February 12, 2012 at 4:09pm

Thanks, Chris, great info.

Here's a little more on this topic. The photo caption below verifies that it was Isabella who was the first postmistress, and as your map indicates a Redding home was indeed the northern corner of Sumner near Woodstock as stated by the caption below, by the saw mills.

Looks like the Reddings were previously in Dixfield (near Isabella's Holman family) and didn't move to Farrar's Mills area until 1885, hence the lack of Census data for them in 1880. 

My dad, Larry Bisbee, and I have walked up the stream and found old mill pieces, but I never saw a farmhouse on that side of the stream. 

From my Redding/Cole cousin, Kathrine Adyelott, found in Maine Families: Bk 3:

After Oliver C. Redding’s death, his wife, Isabella Holman Redding took over the first Post Office in the community, and the Old Post Office sign reads “Post Office--Redding, Maine” and was located at Oliver’s home, which was at the cross road where the old road to Peru, the old road over the Common to Woodstock, and the road to Shagg Pond, and the road to West Sumner (formerly Old Jackson Village) intersects.  Previous to this time, everyone in the neighborhood had to journey to Jackson Village for their mail.

George Ervin Redding was born in Dixfield, February 2, 1873, the son of Oliver Canwell and Isabella Holman Redding.  At the age of 12 his parents moved to the part of Sumner called Farrar’s Mills.  Later the name was changed to Redding because Isabella Redding was the first postmistress.

Comment by David M OBrien on May 14, 2012 at 8:48pm


I live in and own the Isabella Redding home. I have heard many stories about this area and remember "old timers" telling me about the area when I was a kid growing up here. One story had the post office located in four different places close by, including my home.  

When I was a young boy I remember meeting Norman Bisbee (maybe your great uncle) and I believe your great grandmother was still alive. I knew that she was connected to this area and my house, and would be interested in seeing any material for the area or photos from the past. I would be willing to share any info of the house and area with you or any family members. Feel free to stop by if you are ever in the area.685 Redding, Road

Comment by Alan Spaulding on August 16, 2013 at 12:42pm

Here's a little more information on the Redding family.

Oliver C. Redding, born around 1838, was the son of John Redding and Hannah Canwell.  The son of Otis and Esther Redding, John Redding was originally from Wayne and moved to Franklin Plantation sometime in the 1820s.  In Kennebec County, the family apparently lived on land east of today's Lovejoy Pond owned by John Canwell, my ancestor and father of Hannah Canwell.  (See the History of Wayne by George Walton for a reference to their home site.)   Also moving to Franklin Plantation around that time were John Canwell, Jr., Oliver Billings Canwell (named after Oliver Billings, pastor of the Fayette Baptist Church), and eventually George and Jeremiah Canwell (also my ancestor), as well as others from the Fayette area. 

Otis Redding died around 1801.  His widow Esther remained in Wayne, presumably living on the Canwell property, or what remained of it (another story....), though for how long I don't know.  Otis was a member of the Fayette Baptist Church but was excluded from membership for good on May 3, 1800, apparently after a long period of issues related to alcohol.  He had been baptized at the church on October 2, 1794, along with "Debour Ridden."  The surname appears in various records as Ready, Reddin, Redden, Ridden, and Reading, before the final version of Redding became established.  "Debour" appeared elsewhere as Deboren before the final spelling of Deborah appeared in the 1860 census for Fayette.  I do not know her relationship to Otis or whether she was a sister.  She is located in North Fayette on the 1856 map of Kennebec County (see this site) as "Miss Reading." In the 1850 and 1860 census reports she is listed as "mulatto."  In 1860 she is also described as a weaver, age 85, and a pauper. She was living alone and apparently never married.  Deborah Redding was born in Massachusetts, as was Otis, apparently around the same year as Otis, around 1775/1776.   

The Reddings and Canwells remained closely connected, at least in the Peru area.  The 1850 census shows John Redding (Reding) and his second wife Philema Andrews Redding living in Peru with her six Canwell children from her marriage to Oliver Canwell, Sr. (including Oliver B. Canwell, Jr.) and John's son Oliver C. Redding, their cousin.  Oliver Canwell, Sr., had died in 1847, leaving his widow Philema and the children.

I have been to the Redding area several times.  It is peaceful and bucolic, probably much as it was when the Reddings, Canwells, Andrews, and others arrived in the early 1800s.

I believe all the Reddings and Canwells in this part of Oxford County are descendants of Otis Redding or of John Canwell, and in some cases both.

I hope this was interesting.

Comment by Kathrine Cole Aydelott on June 4, 2016 at 8:24am

Hi Alan! Thanks for the church record references--they're really helpful. Otis Redding is my 6G uncle (if you think that Sarah Redding who married John Canwell was a sister of Otis, as I believe Deborah also was).

Comment by Kathrine Cole Aydelott on June 7, 2016 at 8:19pm

Philena (Andrews) (Canwell) Redding was my 4th-great aunt. These Andrewses are my own brick wall. ;-)


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