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Special Collections: Guide to the Johnston Family Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves
Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department
December 2004
Introduction and Summary Information
Collection Title: Johnston Family Papers.
Dates of the Collection: 1835-1972 (inclusive); 1890-1929 (bulk).
Provenance: Gift of Elizabeth Johnston Ostroff and Sue Ostroff in September 1998.
Collection Number: MS 267.
Box Numbers: 1-9 (formerly Boxes 2583-2588).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of three archival record cartons and six document boxes of material (5.5 cubic feet) + four oversized folders.
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Documents have been surface cleaned as needed and metal fasteners removed. Photographs have been housed in polypropylene sleeves and remain with the relevant documents.
Preferred Citation: Johnston Family Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

The collection contains personal papers and business records of three generations of the Johnston family, builders of dams and bridges in Maine. Included are materials of William Jasper Johnston; his son, William Percy Johnston; and Percy’s son, Donald Percy Johnston. A few items belonging to John Johnston, father of Jasper Johnston, are also found in the collection.
Jasper Johnston was born in 1844 in Veazie, Maine. He married Clara Jane Whiting in 1867, and the family moved to Bangor in 1874. Starting in the 1860’s, Jasper Johnston worked on several dams and bridges, including Chesuncook, North Twin, and Ripogenus. He worked for a time as superintendent for H.P. Cummings Construction Company, located in Ware, Massachusetts. His last job, in 1914-1915, was at Riley Dam for International Paper Company. Jasper Johnson died in 1918 in Bangor.
Jasper’s son Percy was born in 1868 in North Newport, Maine. In his early teens, Percy Johnston began training as a dam builder with his father. He had charge of the West Branch log drive for several years and then was in charge of dam construction and river improvement for Great Northern Paper Company. When concrete began to be used in dam construction, he built many large storage and power dams in Maine. He was superintendent of construction on Aziscohos Dam, erected on the Androscoggin River between 1909-1912, and worked on dams at Madison, Shawmut, Pittsfield and Rumford, Maine. He also worked as vice-president of the H.P. Cummings Construction Company. Percy Johnston died in 1928 in Bangor.
Donald Percy Johnston was born in 1896 in Bangor. A civil engineer, he attended the Bangor schools, Coburn Classical Academy, and the University of Maine, and graduated in 1921 from Norwich University in Norwich, Vermont. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. While still in high school, he had his first summer job working on Riley Dam with his grandfather. Before joining the Bangor Water Department as assistant superintendent in 1934 he worked as an engineer on various dam, powerhouse, bridge and building construction projects. In 1950 he became superintendent of the Water Department, later the Bangor Water District, retiring in 1963. The Johnston Pumping Station is named for him. Donald Johnston died in 1979.

Scope and Content Note
The collection is arranged in eight sections: papers of John Johnston, papers of W. Jasper Johnston, papers of Percy Johnston, papers of Donald Johnston, time and payroll books for workers on dams, miscellaneous, plans and maps, and photographs.
The papers of John Johnston, born in 1812 and the father of Jasper Johnston, contain only a few items, mostly tax receipts, 1835-1871, a photograph, and a wallet.
The papers of Jasper Johnston consist of daily diaries and memorandum books, 1870-1915, in which Johnston recorded his personal activities and some information about his work life; correspondence; financial information; and scattered information about projects with which he was involved.
The papers of Percy Johnston include personal memorabilia, financial information, pocket calendars and daily diaries, correspondence, and information about the H.P. Cummings Construction Company, for which Johnston worked.
The papers of Donald Johnston contain primarily correspondence, pocket diaries, and newspaper clippings saved by Johnston.
The time and payroll books are arranged chronologically from 1880-1932 and include those for North Twin, Chesuncook, Chamberlain, and Middle Dams. The miscellaneous material includes a daybook belonging to Chesley Johnston, brother of Percy Johnston, as well as published books about dam building. The plans and maps are arranged alphabetically by place or project and include blueprints for work on Aziscohos Dam, Brassura Lake storage dam, Riley Dam, and the Lisbon, New Hampshire Light & Power Company.
The largest part of the collection contains photographs of various construction projects with which the Johnstons were involved. The photographs are arranged alphabetically by place or dam name and include Aziscohos Dam, Chesuncook and Ripogenus Dams, and dams at Madison and Rumford, Maine. Johnston family photographs and photographs and postcards of various locations in Maine and Massachusetts are also included in this part of the collection.
Box List
Box 1
1 Johnston family genealogy
Papers of John Johnston
2 Tax receipts, 1835-1871
3 Photograph of John Johnston, undated
4 Wallet
Papers of W. Jasper Johnston
5 Daily diary, 1870-1874, 1882, 1893
6 Memo book: John Johnston in acct. with P.L.D. Co., 1870;
J.W. Johnston daily diary, 1871-1877
7 Daily diary, 1889, 1893
8 Scrapbook/journal, 1893 [located physically in Box 4]
9 Daily diary, 1896-1899; financial accounts, 1896
10-28 Pocket calendars, daily diaries, 1900-1918
29-30 Memorandum books, 1880’s-1915
31 Correspondence, 1883-1910; 1913-1918
32 Correspondence of Clara Johnston, 1882-1883
33 Receipts, 1880’s-1915
34 Passbook, 1900-1908, First National Bank, Bangor
35 Cancelled checks, 1908
36 Journal (financial), 1887-1892
37 Ledger, 1888
38 Ledger, 1889-1916
39 List of work done by Jasper Johnston
40 Engineering notes, Long Lake Dam, 1907
41 Contract and specifications for construction of dam at outlet of
Millinocket Lake for Penobscot Log Driving Co., 1909-1910
42 Daily and unit costs, 1911 (Sawyer & Moulton, Consulting and
Designing Engineers)
Box 2
Papers of Percy Johnston
1 School notebook, 1883
2 News clippings related to Jasper and Percy Johnston, undated
3 Volume containing entries for logs scaled at Argyle Boom, 1859;
unidentified accounts, 1875; Percy Johnston expenses, 1887
4 Private accounts, 1900
5-8 Pocket calendars, daily diaries, 1901, 1906-1908
9 Memo book of jobs done and expenses, 1908-1913
10 Daily work diary, 1912; memo book of expenses, undated
11 Memo book, 1913-1914
12 M.L. Hills ledger commenced Sept. 19, 1851 (used by Percy Johnston
as exercise book?)
13-15 Correspondence and memorabilia, 1878-1900, undated
16 Correspondence, etc., 1923-1926
17 Correspondence of Mary E. Johnston, 1930-1945
18 Engineering notes
19 H.P. Cummings Const. Co., Chamberlain Lock Dam, payroll and
expenses, 1923
20 H.P. Cummings Construction Co. bylaws and profit distribution, 1921
21 H.P. Cummings annual report, 1922
22 H.P. Cummings Construction Co. complete record of fifty years’ business,
1879-1929 [printed document]
23 Penobscot Log Driving Co. charter and bylaws, 1880 [printed pamphlet]
24 Penobscot Boom Corp., Penobscot Lumbering Assoc. charter and bylaws,
1885 [printed pamphlet]
25 Dead River Log Driving Co. annual report, 1895 [printed pamphlet]
Box 3
Papers of Donald Johnston
1 Correspondence, 1921-1929
2 Correspondence of Trixie Johnston, 1923, 1927, undated
3 Correspondence, Penobscot Heritage Museum of Living History, 1970, 1972
4 Pocket diary and memo book, 1921-1922, unidentified [Donald?]
5 Memo book, hours worked by men, lumber used, etc., 1921?
6 Memo book, 1927
7 Bangor Water Department, compiled 1954
8 History of the Bangor Dam, prepared for Dr. Robert York, University
of Maine, by Martha Butler, Jan. 6, 1959
9 Draft of act creating Allagash Wilderness Waterway, 1965
10 Newspaper clippings, 1960’s-1970’s
Box 3 cont.
Time and payroll books for workers on dams
11 Time book, 1880-1888
12 Time book, North Twin Dam, 1888
13 Payroll accounts, 1887-1889
14 Time book, Chesuncook, 1889
15 Time books, Percy Johnston, 1890-1914
16 Time book, Seboomook Dam, 1905
17 Time book, Chamberlain Dam, 1905; Grand Lake Dam, 1909
18 Payroll accounts, Middle Dam, 1910; Pontocook Dam, 1912; Errol Dam, 1912
19 Payroll accounts, unidentified, undated
20 Bills for labor, unidentified, undated
21 Time books, 192-, undated [Donald Johnston?]
22 Time book, Moose River Dam, 1927
23 Time book, H.P. Cummings Construction Co., 1917-1932
Box 4
1 Daybook, 1885-1889, Chesley Johnston
2 C.M. Johnston, pocket calendar, daily diary, 1889 [blank]
3 Journal: O. Rogers, Jan., 1860, private accts., 1860-1874
4 The construction of mill dams, James Leffel & Co., 1874 [belonged to
Percy Johnston]
5 Construction of masonry dams by Chester W. Smith, 1915
Oversized Scrapbook, 1893, from Box 1
Plans and maps
Map folio folder
1 Aroostook Falls for Maine and New Brunswick Electrical Power Co., 1905
Aziscohos Dam, 1910
Bangor: Union Iron Works, undated; Public Works Dept., 1952
Bar Harbor: proposed fishway for Eagle Lake, undated
Bethelem, N.H.: repairs to dam, Bethelem Electric Co., 1928
Bingham, Me.: Pierce Bridge, 1930
Brassura Lake storage dam, Rockwood, Me., 1925
Plans and maps cont.
Map folio folder
2 East Branch Improvement Co., 1909
Plant for Eyre-Johnston Co., 1925 (for Cable Excavator Co., Fernwood, Pa.)
International Paper Co., Woods Falls, 1916
Lewiston, Me.: Hill Manufacturing Co., 1921
Limestone, Me.: Bridge St. bridge, 1932
Lisbon, N.H.: Lisbon Light & Power Co., 1929
3 Maidstone, Vt.: Maine Central Railroad, Stevens crossing, 1911
Moose River, Nova Scotia: proposed dam and piers, 1927
Moosehead Lake Dam, 1899
Riley Dam, 1913
Three Rivers, Que.: St. Maurice Lumber Co., 1913
West Branch Driving & Reservoir Dam Co., 1903
Miscellaneous unidentified plans
4 Photograph: Hudson River, 1914
Photograph: Des Forges Rapids, St. Maurice River, 1916?
Photograph: Three Rivers, P.Q., saw and cutting up mill, 1916?
Miscellaneous Maine maps
Box 5
1 Aziscohos Dam plaque, 1912 (Percy Johnston, Superintendent of
2 Aziscohos Dam construction, 1910-1911
3 Aziscohos Dam, 1941
4 Aziscoos Dam (Colebrook, N.H.)
5 Bangor Dam construction and repair, flood of 1923
6 Bangor fishway, 1923
7 Bangor water supply survey aerial views, 1930
8 Bangor Water Works, 1944, 1950’s, undated
9 Brassua Dam, undated
10 Chamberlain Dam, covered dam, undated
11 Chesuncook Dam, 1887
12 Chesuncook and Ripogenus Dam project, 1887, interior of camp
13 Chesuncook and Ripogenus Dam project, 1887, W. Jasper Johnston
doing bookkeeping
14 Chesuncook Dam under repair in winter, 1887
15 Dead River Dam, undated
Box 5 cont.
Photographs cont.
16 Dexter woolen mill, undated
17 East Outlet, 1900
18 Forges Rapids, 1916
19 Ft. Fairfield bridge construction, 1930
20 Glen Falls, Ft. Edward, N.Y., 1913
21 Holob Dam, undated
22 Howland, Maine: construction of county bridge over Penobscot River, 1896
23 Houston building, Portland, 1920 [Bakery, T.A. Huston & Co., Portland]
24 Livermore Falls, 1915
25 Madison, Maine: dam and pulp mill construction, undated
26 Madison, Maine, 1908-1909
27 Madison, Maine: Hollingsworth-Whitney mill, 1910
28 Moose River, N.S., undated
29 Musquacook camps, undated
30 North Twin Dam woods camp, ca. 1889
31 North Twin Dam, ca. 1890; undated
32 Old Town dam, ca. 1900
33 Orono dam, International Paper Co., 1920
34 Penobscot River, Great Works, ca. 1890-1900
35 Riley Dam, 1914-1915
36 Ripogenus Dam and Falls, 1887
37 Ripogenus Dam, 1916-1917; undated
38 Rumford, Maine (or Quakish?), head of falls, ca. 1889
39 Rumford Falls dam, ca. 1890
40 Rumford Falls, 1916-1918; undated
41 Rumford Falls dam construction photograph album, 1917
42 Photographs removed from Rumford Falls photograph album
43 Salem dam, 1923
44 Sebec dam, 1922
45 Seboomook dam, ca. 1893
46 Shawinigan Falls, Que., after 1900
47 Shawmut, Maine: construction work on pulp and paper plant, 1910
48 Temiscaming, Que.: [North] Kipawa Fibre Co., 1918-1919
49 Dam at Thorn Brook, undated
50 Winslow, Maine: Hollingsworth-Whitney pulp mill, 1898
51 Wausau, Wis. construction, 1910
52 Percy Johnston and dam construction, undated
53 Unidentified dam, ca. 1883-1900
54-55 Unidentified dams, ca. 1890

Box 5 cont.
Photographs cont.
56-59 Unidentified dams, undated
Box 6
1-5 Unidentified dams, undated
5a Photograph album of negatives of unidentified dams [Located physically in Box 9]
6-14 Oversized photographs of unidentified dams, undated [Located physically
in Box 7]
15-17 Johnston family photographs
Box 7
Oversized material
Box 8
1-3 Johnston family photographs
4 Johnston family residences
5 Miscellaneous Maine locations
6 YMCA, Bangor, Maine, ca. 1890-1900
7 Prints: Local landmarks ... compliments of Merchants National Bank
of Bangor [Located physically in Box 7]
8-10 Premises of the C.G. Sterns Co., Hampden, Me., undated
11 Log jam, West Branch of Penobscot River, undated
12 Postcards: Mohawk Trail, Berkshire Hills, Mass.
13 Miscellaneous postcards
14 Unidentified negatives [Located physically in Box 9]
Box 9

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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