The first doctor in Bowdoinham: was Dr. Michael Howland who settled on the R. D. Spear place where Merle MacDonald now lives, probably about 1790, and died in 1799. He was a prominent man in town affairs.

Dr. James Tupper lived in Bowdoinham at White's landing (Richmond Village) and engaged in ship building.

Dr. Urial Huntington came to this town in 1810, and continued practice until 1839 or 1840.

Dr. George W. Tinker located in this town in 1822, and practiced medicine till 1876, and died in 1881.

Dr. Tinker was eminently a man of fine intellect and ability, being in the front rank of his profession. He was from Ellsworth, Maine.

Dr. Lemuel Richards settled here in 1841 or '42 and moved to Kennebunk in 1857.

Dr. Henry S. B. Smith settled here in 1866, having served as assistant surgeon in the army. He was considered a skilled physician. Next came Doctors Ham and Andrews who made short tarries and had small practices.

Dr. Palmer resided in Bowdoinham for several years, later moving to Brunswick. After 1900 several doctors practiced in Bowdoinham, among them Dr. Hutchins, Dr. Saunders, Dr. Grant and Dr. Favor. Each remained for short spaces of time.

Two doctors, having descendants now living in Bowdoinham were Dr. Abiel Hall Cheney and Dr. Isaac Chase Irish.

Dr. A. H. Cheney

Dr. A. H. Cheney was born in Springvale, Maine Oct. 21, 1824 graduated from Senatus College of Medicine, University of Vermont in 1847 and started medical practice in Bowdoinham in the year 1855. A widower with two small daughters, Ella H. and Eunice E., he married Caroline L. Curtis of Bowdoinham, July 11, 1858. They lived for 35 years in their home at the corner of Main and Center Street, the present site of the new Post Office.

They had seven children, Benjamin, Mary, Joseph, Walter, Jennie, Fred and Harold. The three oldest sons went west as young men and became successful in business and civic life in the states of Washington and Oregon; one having the distinction of having a town named Cheney in his honor.

Jennie and Harold married and remained in Bowdoinham. Two of Dr. Cheney's grandchildren, Mrs. Leonard L. Bishop and H. Frederic Cheney, and a great grandson, A. Frederic Cheney, a pre-med student at American University, Washington, D. C., are still citizens of Bowdoinham.

Dr. Cheney died suddenly Dec. 22, 1888. His wife quickly followed Jan. 8, 1889.

Dr. Isaac Chase Irish

Isaac Chase Irish was born in Turner, Maine in the year of 1854. He graduated from Westbrook Seminary and Bowdoin Medical School, Brunswick, Maine. In 1878 he started his professional career as a physician in Bowdoinham.

He married Josie B. Fisher in 1884. They lived for many years in their home at the corner of Main and School Street. They had one child, Bertha Fisher now Mrs. John Jewell of Wellesley, Mass., two grandchildren, Malcolm Jewell of Bowdoinham, Maine and Mrs. Elizabeth Jewell Ballard of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and six great grandchildren.

Dr. Irish's grandson, Malcolm L. Jewell and four great grandchildren live in the former Fisher home in Bowdoinham.

Dr. Irish proved an efficient doctor, showed kindly interest in his patients and worked for the benefit of the community. His civic services include public Health Officer, Superintendent of schools, Selectman, member of the School Board. He was a member of the Universalist Church.

Bicentennial Booklet 1962

The Farmers of Keewaydin by Dennis Fiori

(This article has a lot about Dr. Irish)

Editor's note: This feature about Keewaydin Farm, Fisher Road, and the families which have made its history, was written by Dennis Fiori. He is Associate Director of the Maine Arts and Humanities Commission, and is married to Kathy Jewell, whose parents now own Keewaydin . FDC (April 1977)

The origins of Bowdoinham's Fisher family remain somewhat of a mystery. Some say they moved over from Bath, others say up from Boston, and still others suggest the Fishers came to Bowdoinham from New Brunswick.

What we do know is they arrived late in the 18th century, and it didn't take them long to become an area institution. By the early 1800's Bowdoinham had a Fisher Road, a Fisher tavern, and at least one mill owned by the Fisher family.

We're concerned with the branch descended of John Fisher, a farmer who settled the Fisher Road about a mile from Cathance Landing. Malcolm and Lucille Jewell now live on the place. The present house was built by Thomas William Fisher. He was John Fisher's son, and was a farmer and merchant.

"T.W," as Thomas William is referred to by the family, built his Greek Revival showpiece about 1845, choosing an artificially constructed site formed of gravel and rubble hauled to the site by oxen.

Keewaydin is at least the third house on the site. The earliest house was located in back of the present barn, and the second behind the present house, where the kitchen garden is today. Evidence shows that parts of the first houses were incorporated into the farm of today . . .

In attempting a home like Keewaydin, T.W. must have had aspirations of grandeur pushed by an ambitious wife (Hannah Stinson) who was also a Fisher Road resident.

T.W.'s fortune and aspirations never quite meshed however, and his dream was never quite finished. It wasn't until Dr. Isaac Irish's tenure at Keewaydin that hard floors went in upstairs, and white paint was added to the downstairs woodwork.

Originally, the farm was nearly 80 acres. T.W. raised most of the customary crops and stock, with a sizable field planted to wheat. Before the railroad was finished, T.W. harvested cranberries in the Cathance River lowlands.

In 1845, the farm was bordered by the Cathance River to the east, and roads, now abandoned, to the north and south. The western line was close to the present right-of-way for Interstate 95.

The northern boundary, known as the Booker Road, opened at a tidal inlet on the Cathance called Molasses Creek. The road ran up the hill past the present house, across Fisher Road and then on to Lisbon Falls.

Molasses Creek, now cut off by the railroad landfill, was a docking place for ships whose cargo was often molasses from the West Indies. Vessels were also built on the site. Goods in those early days came off the ships, were loaded onto ox-carts and hauled overland to Lisbon Falls and beyond.

In the 1870's, T.W. and another local man, Elijah Peterson, tried their hands at merchandising, opening a store on the Topsham end of the bridge to Brunswick. They sold a general line of merchandise.

T.W. moved into the Brunswick area, offering the farm for sale, but business was poor and Keewaydin did not sell. After a few years as a merchant, T.W. again returned to life as a farmer.

Three of T.W. 's and Hannah's six children lived&emdash;namely William Otis, Josie and Robert. William Otis was the family adventurer, choosing a life at sea. At the age of 20, he was lost overboard during a homeward passage from California.

Robert was considered the black sheep of the family, and left the area for Augusta and New Bedford, Mass. Josie was a strong willed but vivacious girl, and was eventually to inherit Keewaydin.

Isaac Chase Irish, a Turner native, was one of the last graduates of the Bowdoin Medical School. At Bowdoin he noted that Bowdoinham was doctorless, so he opened a practice here in the early 1880's. To establish his practice, Dr. Irish bought the house now owned by David Steen on Main Street. He divided the house into a duplex and opened his office in what is now the Steens' dining room, to the right of the Main Street entrance.

A few years after Dr. Irish's arrival in Bowdoinham, he married one of the more eligible maids of the village&emdash;Miss Josie Fisher. She was ten years younger than the doctor, and in 1889, the two had their only daughter, naming her Bertha.

Dr. Irish can best be described as a crusty, dry humored and shy Yankee. He was very polite to ladies, and always devoted to his practice. He never failed to go to a patient when called. He was always impeccably dressed, changing from his work clothes to a celluloid collar, starched white shirt, tie, black suit and high Congress boots before he would leave to attend a case.

He was one of the few doctors in the area, his practice covering an area including Bowdoin, Lisbon, Richmond and the Cathance section of Topsham as well as Bowdoinham.

T.W. Iived for many years after his daughter's marriage. By 1913 he was in his 90's and still living at Keewaydin, though most of his meals were taken next door at Henry Fisher's tavern. During his last years, T.W. disposed of many pieces of family furniture in exchange for house keeping aid. He remained independent but poor. In 1913 he ended his life with a gun.

Josie, Dr. Irish and Bertha inherited the farm, using it as a summer retreat. Here Dr. Irish indulged his hobby of raising fancy apples on the farm's old terraces. That orchard became a money making proposition with many barrels shipped out of Bowdoinham to England and South America.

Bertha named the farm Keewaydin during this era, drawing from Longfellow's Hiawatha for her inspiration. Dr. Irish made a number of improvements to the old farm about the same time.

Keewaydin became a place for patients to hay and mend fences to pay off debts, and in the summer it was a place for gala parties. The Irishes were quite prominent in town social circles, along with such local gentry as the Randalls, the Coombs and the Kendalls.

Dr. Irish was at the peak of his career at the turn of the century. He was chairman of the local school board, and a leader of the Universalist Church beside his village house. A number of the stained glass windows in that church were donated by him.

Dr. Irish purchased a downtown building for his offices at about this time. He took one half of the second floor for his offices, and rented the other half to a cigar maker. Cigar clippings provided the lice retardant for the Irishes' chicken


The Redmen's Society met in the third floor of Irish's block, and a dry goods store was opened on the street level. Later, the town's post office was in this building, which stands today on the north side of Main Street.

In the fire of 1902, Dr. Irish is well remembered for a statement uttered to save his building. The roof of an adjoining structure was icy this December night, and firefighters were afraid to cross it.

"Doctor, doctor," they reportedly cried. "If we try to cross that roof, we'll fall . . ." and he responded with his usual dry humor, "Keep on pouring boys, keep on pouring, any bones you break tonight I'll set for free." The building survived the blaze unscorched.

Some of the most interesting recollections of the doctor stem from his country travels. He never liked traveling alone, and often carried a collie for company.

One March night before automobiles were available, he answered a call in east Bowdoinham. He tried to cross the ice-locked Cathance from the Bay Road to a place called the Lazy-O, on what is now Wildes Point. It was dark, so the doctor could not see the ice was soft until he was on it. The sleigh and team were swallowed up that night, but Dr. Irish and his collie made it safely to shore.

Dr. Irish was one of the first in town to own a car, and it was not unusual for him to own two. There would often be a touring car for the casual Sunday rides and trips, and a Model-T Ford for his doctoring calls.

It was spring about 1910, that a teacher was needed for the high school, and Dr. Irish was asked to find one. In those days there was the principal and his assistant in the village school; they both taught and administered the whole operation.

Bates graduate John Jewell, of Portland, came over on the train for an interview, and apparently impressed Dr. Irish. The doctor was chairman of the school board, but he took Jewell and drove him out to board member Ned White's on Bowdoinham Ridge for a second opinion.

Dr. Irish and Mr. White interviewed Jewell, and then drove him down to meet the evening train. There on the depot platform, Dr. Irish said, "Well, I don't think we can use this young man, do you Ned?" The next day Jewell was hired. Ten years later, the principal married the board chairman' s daughter .

Bertha Irish Jewell was a very bright young lady. She attended classes at Bowdoin College back when educated women were frowned upon, and her skill as a teacher of piano was second to few in the area.

She inherited her father's penchant for machines, took up photography as a hobby and science, and in her spare time, would record the actions and habits of birds out in Bibber's woods.

Many of her photographs remain to document the town at the turn of this century. She even experimented for a time with double exposures on negatives, trying with some success to develop ghost-like or supernatural images.

Her careful record of bird observations around 1910 still exist, and could serve as models for observers of today.

John and Bertha left Bowdoinham in the early 1920's for Massachusetts, where John commenced a teaching career that would span 15 years. During those years, however, there were frequent and extended trips to town for vacations at the farm on Fisher Road. Elizabeth Jewell was born at Keewaydin during one such stay, delivered by our own Dr. Irish.

Malcolm would be born away from Keewaydin, but his ties to the farm would develop early, and they would prove to be permanent.

Dr. Irish died in 1937 at the age of 84. His widow Josie remained with the village house, and Keewaydin again became a summer retreat. In 1946, Malcolm left the Navy and opened Keewaydin with his wife Lucille and their growing family. Since that day, Keewaydin has been what it was always intended to be . . . "The best darn farm on the Fisher Road."

Bowdoinham Advertiser

July 1977

Frank Connors, Editor