Our first blog is dedicated to someone who has given 50 years of his life to preserve and promote Biddeford history — Charles Butler. He joined the Biddeford Historical Society when it was first formed in 1968 and he was in his early 20s. I can’t imagine it was popular to join a historical society in the 1960s and when you are only in your 20s. But, Charles was never about popularity. He was all about his passion for Biddeford history.
Charles makes history come to life. He has a savant ability to bring together the details, the people and the events so you feel you are there. Through his magic, I could imagine Wyatt Moore settling up his grist and fleece mills on the stream that flows through Guinea and Meetinghouse Road. I could see those idealistic men captained by Jeremiah Hill marching down Guinea Road in the fall of 1775 to join George Washington in the American Revolutionary War. I could feel the excitement of the entire town when President James Monroe came to Biddeford in his quest to usher in an “Era of Good Feeling.” It is this sort of magic that sparks future generations of history lovers and invests sacredness in the Biddeford we enjoy today. Through Charles’ stories, we realize we stand on the hallowed ground that generations stood on hundreds of years before.
Charles has been an invaluable resource for people looking for relatives. Not only would he meticulously search the Biddeford archives, but he would trudge through graveyards cutting branches to unearth gravestones for a person inquiring about a relative.
Charles has been “the go-to” person that the press has contacted to validate or invalidate historical data that has been put forth as fact. He has been able to steer researchers into different directions to get the answers they need.
Charles has been zealous about historical preservation. For fifty years, he has tried to get the shortsighted people among us not to destroy buildings that were built in the early 1700s. And he has expressed deep regret that buildings have been torn down so future generations could not see them. He has worked to save early records and have the historic Biddeford Meetinghouse recognized as a national historic landmark.
Charles has done all of this work out of his passion for Biddeford history. He has not received nor has he sought any financial remuneration or any recognition for his work. He has done this in service of our history.
Charles is the volunteer we all can aspire to. He is my history hero.
Please join me in thanking Charles for his 50 years of service to Biddeford’s history.