Page 14. MAINE BOATBUILDERS SHOW Boatbuilder Bert Frost

WHITFIELD – I have been fortunate over the years to meet some of the most impres- sive boatbuilders, but there are a number that passed away before I began running up and down the coast. Not just to document their history, but to see how they practiced their trade. Some of these builders were so talented. They did not have the power tools we do today, but could turn out a fl awless product. One builder that was very talented was Bert Frost, son of Will Frost. Bert passed away in 1975, but I was for-

tunate to fi nd Harriet Vaughan, his daughter, who was willing to talk about her father and the Frost family. Harriet thought that Will Frost came

to Maine from Digby, Nova Scotia due to fi nancial issues in about 1912. When World War I broke out the family had to return to Canada as they were not U S. citizens. Bert graduated from high school in 1928 and her mother from Jonesport High School the following year. In September 1930 Bert married Ruth Ginn, whose father was Harry Ginn, the marine blacksmith of Jonesport. After they were married they moved into the Frost house. At this time the Frost shop was over in Sawyer’s Cove in Jonesport. Will Frost had four sons, Merrill was

the oldest, followed by Bert, then Gerald and Ward. There were also six daughters. When Harriet was born in the mid-

1940s the family was living in Tiverton. “The story was he didn't know my mother was in the hospital or anything,” said Harri- et. “They were trying to locate him, because it was a very desperate birth, breech birth, and they were trying to decide what would the husband choose. The story I always heard from my father was how devastated he was the day I was born because I wasn't that son he had been hoping for. He always

had pity parties every few years, but he was loving and very warm.” She said she does not remember any-

thing about her time there, but did know her father was building draggers. One story that she heard was her grand-

father, Will Frost, had a boat shop there in the 1938 hurricane. Harriet added, “In the storm surge he ended up getting way up in the rafters to get on top of his shop and I guess it destroyed a lot of his machinery. That's given as a reason for the business failure. My sister said that they were just down there that day scouting out a place so who's story is true I don't know.” It was also said they went to Somerville,

Harriet thought for the people that they built the rum runners for. They ended up working for a man who produced the Jone- sport-Baltzer boats. Harriet added, “I think they probably had no money. My mother said that they would get money for a boat, and without thinking how far you've got to parcel things out it would be gone. They just didn't manage money well.” Harriet started school in Wakefi eld,

Rhode Island and her father was working for Hanson's Boat Yard in Wakefi eld. “Then his father summoned him home,” said Harriet. “One of my female cousins says it was a deception. My grandfather kept his records not on paper but on scraps of wood. He told my father one fi gure for the debts when it was many times more. When they fi nally saw what it actually was they realized that there was no way to make a go of it.” Ward lived in Gardiner for a number of

years. When Bert was building the schooner DEI GRATIA, later to be known as RA- CHEL B. JACKSON, Ward was building her masts. Harriet said, “Rita had some cab- ins in Farmingdale and that is where they all

Maine Boatbuilder’s Hall of Fame

Maine Boatbuilder’s Hall of Fame

Clifford Alley, Beals Island Richard Alley, Beals Island Otto Backman, Winter Harbor Everett Barlow, East Boothbay Herbert Baum, Kennebunkport Adrian Beal, Beals Island Alvin Beal, Beals Island Calvin Beal, Jr., Beals Island Clinton Beal, Beals Island Franklin Beal, Milbridge Mariner Beal, Beals Island Osmond Beal, Beals Island Riley Beal, Beals Island Vinal Beal, Beals Island Willis Beal, Beals Island Roy Blaney, Boothbay Chick Booth, Kennebunkport J. O. Brown, North Haven Raymond Bunker, Southwest Harbor Chester Clement, Southwest Harbor Elmer Collemer, Camden Corson Boats, Madison Cy Cousins, East Blue Hill Bruce Cunningham, Round Pond Sim Davis, McKinley (Bass Harbor) Arno Day, Sedgwick Frank Day, Sedgwick Richard Duffy, Duffy & Duffy, Brooklin Alonzo Eaton, Castine Ralph Ellis, Manset Bruce Farrin William Frost, Beals Island Harvey F. Gamage, South Bristol Harold Gower, Beals Island Walter Greene, Yarmouth

Roger Hewson, Sabre Corporation, South Casco Henry R. Hinckley, Manset George I. “Sonny” Hodgdon, East Boothbay

J. Ervin Jones, East Boothbay Winield Lash, Friendship Fred Lenfesty, Jonesport Ernest Libby, Jr., Beals Island Carroll Lowell, Yarmouth Royal Lowell, Yarmouth Paul E. Luke, East Boothbay Tom Morris, Morris Yachts, Bass Harbor

Roger Morse, Thomaston Newbert & Wallace, Thomaston Jarvis Newman, Southwest Harbor F. Pendleton, Wiscasset Rices, East Boothbay Clifford Rich, Bernard James H. Rich, Tremont Robert F. Rich, Bass Harbor Robert D. Rich, Jr., Bass Harbor Ronald Rich, Southwest Harbor Earl Rumery, Biddeford Gus Skoog, Vinalhaven Frank Sprague, Swan’s Island Ralph Stanley, Southwest Harbor Jim Stevens, East Boothbay Joel White, Brooklin Lee S. Wilbur

John “Jock” Williams, Hall Quarry Young Brothers (Colby, Arvid and Arvin), Corea

were in 1940. I think the grandparents were living with her and Will was taking jobs here and there, he might've even been commuting to Boothbay. I do a lot of genealogy and in the 1940 Census my parents were on Riv- erside Drive in Tiverton and Riley Lowell and most of his family were in Tiverton. My sister said for a time in Tiverton all of them lived in one great big house.” However Will was not in Rhode Is-

land, and Harriet could not fi nd him listed anywhere. “My cousin Bill was showing a photograph of Will sharpening a saw,” said Harriet, “and he says that it is in Farmingdale in about 1940 when that picture was taken.” In the late 1940s, Harriet remembers

her grandfather having a big old house with a shop on the back, like a barn, which was located at 1373 Washington Avenue, Portland. She added, “I don't remember them ever being together. I just think of my grandfather as being an old man in a room when we were taken into see him.” When the shop moved to South Port-

land, Harriet said that Bert was running it with a crew of men. Unfortunately Bert found himself in fi nancial trouble in the mid- 1950s and they moved to South Yarmouth on Cape Cod. There Bert worked for Chester Crosby and Barnstable Marina. Harriet says her mother left and went

back and bought a house on Ferry Street in West Jonesport in the late 1950s. She added, “We live there from 1958 to 1962 and he came up but their marriage was very tentative. I think he did some work at somebody else's boat yard down around Ellsworth. He would get an occasional boat to build. He didn't have a shop of his own and he would have to fi nd some space that somebody would rent him. There was a building on Ferry Street that he built some boats in. I was a senior in high school when all of a sudden we are hearing about David Scull and the Three Rivers Corporation. The Seacoast Mission found him a sponsor. From then on everything was set up; he didn't own anything that he could lose. My mother said

the contract had a clause built into it called cost-plus so he couldn't lose.” Harriet would graduate from Jonesport

High School and headed off to college. When at the University of Maine at Orono she met her future husband Chuck Vaughan and after they were married they settled in Boothbay for a number of years. In the years Bert operated at Jonesport

the list shows he built 34 boats. Most of them were lobster boats, but there were a few pleasure boats and a couple of sailboats. He can also be credit with organizing the lobster boat races on Moosabec Reach. The schooner DEI GRATIA was under construc- tion when he got sick and she would be his last boat. Bert would pass away in 1975 and Harriet thought that he stopped going to the shop in 1974. An interesting aspect of this story

is the tie this schooner has to the MARY CELESTE, which was found abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean with no one on board. The vessel that discovered the MARY CE- LESTE was the brigantine DEI GRATIA and her skipper was Capt. David More- house. Howland Stoddard, who was having DEI GRATIA built, was from the family that insured MARY CELESTE. Bert was related to the Morehouse family as Will Frost’s mother was Janet Morehouse. After Bert passed away Stoddard died

and the schooner ended up in litigation for a couple of years. At one point she was at the Hodgdon yard as just a hull and deck and someone thought she was a Murray Peterson schooner and they began tearing her apart. Fortunately someone knew her history before they went too far and the work stopped. She would fi nally be fi nished off by the Emery brothers of South Freeport. They would change her name to RACHEL B. JACKSON, which was their grandmother who helped fi nance the project. Bert Frost was a very talented boat-

builder and hopefully we can fi nd more information about his career and the boats he built.

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