A Hero Receives His Reward

CIMG0115Pictured above is Stewart Goodwin holding a commemorative cane and Civil War sword once owned by Louis Voter. I didn’t know such a sword existed until after my book was published, but just recently I got to see it for myself. I wrote about Voter in the chapter called “Heroes and Villains.” In this tale of 19th century politics, he was most definitely a hero, defying his own political party’s corruption, and that’s what the wooden cane with a brass knob commemorates. The inscription reads “Honesty, integrity, uprightness and repudiating fraud. 1880.” In Remembering Franklin County I write about how Voter could have taken his position as state representative and enjoyed the power and status that entailed but chose instead to follow his conscience. A second inscription on the cane reads “I don’t believe in counting out,” a reference to the election fraud Voter helped to reveal, at his own expense.
Recently Stewart Goodwin was kind enough to dig through his attic to find the cane, and agreed to be photographed with this artifact that had belonged to his great great grandfather. Stewart also showed me a Civil War sword with an eagle head which was believed to belong to Voter, who had been a cavalry captain in the local Militia.
When I was researching Voter and the stand he took against corruption, I wondered if he ever got much recognition for the part he played in restoring justice and order to 19th century Maine. The cane is proof that he was honored for his deeds. I imagine it was presented to him in some sort of ceremony, and I wonder if it came from the governor’s office in Augusta, the town of Farmington selectmen or some other entity.
When it comes to historical research, every new discovery leads to more questions, and many will only be answered by speculation. But meanwhile, here it is: a tangible artifact. A cane presented to a real life character from my book, a cane that must have been treasured at the time and has been handed down within the same family in the same town for four generations.


About Luann Yetter

Luann Yetter is the author of Bar Habor in the Roaring Twenties, Portland's Past and Remembering Franklin County, all published by the History Press. She is a writing instructor at the University of Maine at Farmington. She has had a life-long interest in social history beginning with a steady diet of Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a little girl in the Midwest. She now lives in an 18th century house in a small town in Maine and loves to "time travel" when she writes.
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