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Don Mitchell/Roger Mitchell Collection

Identifier: MF118

Scope and Contents

Series of interviews about Don Mitchell's life and work as a woodsman and farmer formed the basis of Northeast Folklore XIX: "I'm a Man That Works."


  • Creation: 1976


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2 items

Language of Materials



NA1202 Don Mitchell, interviewed by Roger Mitchell, his son, in 1976. Series of interviews about Mitchell senior's life and work as a woodsman and farmer formed the basis of Northeast Folklore XIX: "I'm a Man That Works."

Recording: mfc_na1202_c0001_01-mfc_na1202_c0019_01 19 hours
Text: 1240 pp. transcript
Photos: P05822 - P05837, P05858 - P05873

C 0001 Side 1: Topics covered include a log jam breaking loose; winter shoveling while working at the Hunt Company; working at Rockabema; crossing the border and name changing; mishaps on river drives; getting alcohol while in the woods; bootlegging; WWI stories; naval service during WWI; potato work and harvesting; farming stories; family history; stories of friends; acquisition of property; snow plowing with horses.

C 0001 Side 2: Topics covered include Jose Bates and alcohol; Jose Bates' family; working for Denny Michaud; horses; the Rockabema winter; the Hunt Company; hauling bark; working for Joe Michaud and Frenchmen; the practice of undercutting; logging wages; being a cookee; Don's first drive; and working on a pulp drive. [Note: Tape missing. Transcript only.]

C 0001 Side 2: Topics covered include naval service during WWI; potato work and harvesting; farming stories; family history; stories of friends; acquisition of property; and snow plowing with horses.

C 0002 Side 1: Topics covered include naval service during WWI; boat motors; clearing land; farming without machinery; the stock market crash of 1929 in relation to farm loans; tax liens during the 1930s; collecting taxes; being a selectman; farming techniques for potatoes; and dairy farming/milking techniques.

C 0002 Side 2: Topics covered include dairy farming/milking techniques; Old Bake (Ansel Mitchell); Johnny Francis; sawing; John Botting and tea; childhood pranks; Lowely Noyes (the town's first mailman); Willard pond and a manure pile; Solomon Shaw; and deer hunting.

C 0003 Side 1: Topics covered include deer hunting; fishing in the Smyrna region; Fritz Soule; potato sales; hauling pulp; a cookee story about Earnest Bates; cranberries; cows; a town lot; and pulp transportation to Kingman.

C 0004 Side 1: Topics covered include a barn accident; Coral Ewings; Stanley and Tunk Burpee; Stackpole; selling a cow to Tilly Palmer; bears in the region; French and English relations in the region; lumbering stories; working for the Hunt Company; types of sleds used for logging; losing teams of horses through the ice; and fishing in the Millbrook region.

C 0004 Side 2: Topics covered include fishing in Bear Brook and Mill Brook; Robert Palmer and his watch; Earl Bell and horse clippers; Jim Buzzle and a horse; Will Shaw pressing hay; blueberrying; stories about Frenchmen and Polacks working in the woods; George Bryant buying snowshoes; family relations in region; apple picking and storage (outdoor cellars); Christmas as a child for Don; home remedies; injury incurred during WWI; river drives; haying practices; Warren Clark's family; logging; working in snowstorms and Mike Cassidy.

C 0005 Side 1: Topics covered include peeling; loading and hauling pulp; Everett Bates; working for Frank Landry; cleaning brooks for drives; working for Warren McGuire; using dynamite for breaking up log jams; being a cookee on the Emerson drive; partridge hunting; Jerry Fanjoy and his family; relationship between Bates and Mitchell families; Uncle Oliver's stories; growing up; teachers at Stevens school; the Botting family; spring poles; first Model T Ford truck; hauling potatoes; working on the road with horses; earning town orders for roadwork; working with Ira Tompkins; banking trucks; Bake losing his leg and hunting after the amputation.

C 0005 Side 2: Topics covered include deer hunting; Bake's care of his amputated leg; duck hunting; encountering wardens; jacking (a type of hunting method) deer; Steve's (one of Don's sons) hunting experiences; changes in hunting over time including game wardens; snow plowing before power plows; working as a teamster in the woods; remedies for horses; Frasier cutting wood at the Botting place; buying land during the war; the fire on the Botting place; getting water before pump system installed for livestock; treating horses suffering from blackwater; John Mitchell.

C 0006 Side 1: Topics covered include building the church in Smyrna; cutting the lumber for it; size of congregation; Don Bickford's piano tuning; pine trees and Fritz; trapping a hedgehog; filing saws; Friel's mill; pulping practices; land purchasing/selling.

C 0006 Side 2: Topics covered include barns on Don's property and others; snowshoeing; boils; buying the Botting place during WWII; drilling wells; installing plumbing in 1951; barn raising; scale rules and stories; tying pulp; cowhide; Fritz Soul's wood buying practices; cutting ice; pranks played with bullets; the man with a glass eye; hunting birch trees; battles with hornets; drinking Jamaica Ginger.

C 0007 Side 1: Topics covered include Vandy Drew's store; the drive on Alder Brook; living conditions/free time in the woods; pranks; working for Branscombe and Dewitt; cookees; food served; hospital food; eating salmon in camps; farming; balancing both farming and working in the woods.

C 0007 Side 2: Topics covered include the Bottings' and other house repairs; fires; mailing procedures; cutting seed for crops; feeding livestock; water availability; using lime; road work; balancing farming and logging; planting potatoes with horses; using pesticides and fertilizers; cutting wood on the farm for sale; different properties of trees; piling wood; getting supplies from Boston into the woods.

C 0008 Side 1: Topics covered include purchasing a window; family and friend relations; Jakey Shur; business transactions; community life; hauling pulp butts to Grindstone; the "Snow Gander"; limited crops in Aroostook; working in the woods; hauling logs; Gus Kennedy; and property lots.

C 0008 Side 2: Topics covered include the end of a story about selling property to Palmington; property line dispute with Palmington; and family property ownership.

C 0009 Side 1: Topics covered include Irving Huntley; Harry and Gladys Miller; childhood memories (making soap; types of wildlife in region; need for shoes; spinning; games); fishing; blueberrying; teaching conditions for women; Ina Huntley; joining the navy (WWI) and homesickness; harvest excursions; and building docks.

C 0009 Side 2: Topics covered include Frank's eyesight; house raising after fires; cutting the paper (using unwanted stumps from pulping for housing projects); community involvement in times of need; Georgie Gould; blueberrying in Millinocket; Old Bake shooting a moose; home brewing; checking radio compasses on boats in the Navy; machine guns on the boats; running on racetracks; George Knight's camp; horse stories; hair-raising stories; working on a log hauler road; pine trees; corduroy roads; making ties and cutting pine; hauling logs at night; furthest trip with a team of horses; and Well Rockwell moving west.

C 0010 Side 1: Topics covered include being a selectman; helping poor people in the community; getting rid of McKee; Alton Boyle; townspeople who took advantage of help; mixup about lumber with Hosford; working with other elected officials; presidential candidates in the 1930s; patrolling roads; Old Harrison Dewitt; Sam Kilgore shooting off a gravestone; working for Phil Brannen; Arthur and Guy Mitchell; marking logs; and a partial story about a guy testing the saints.

C 0010 Side 2: Includes stories - the end of the man testing saints; artificial breeding; Doc Newman; Gerald's bull; putting dynamite on a horse's head; blowing up a groundhog; raising sheep for wool; a very lazy man; Alder Brook's layout; throwing Andrew's peavey away; food on the drives; picking beans over; making beanhole beans; eating chicken for Thanksgiving; the first turkey for a holiday; eating exotic meats; McKee's army stories; uncle George dating; marrying cousins; celebrating a fourth of July without money; dumping potatoes; and being on the board of selectmen.

C 0011 Side 1: Topics covered include road monkeying at Umcolcus; working on an ice cart; working for Joe Michaud; working for Brannen; Wallace getting stuck on the track near Kingman; hauling across tracks; teamsters; pranks with Jim Seams; striking a buoy while in the navy; having a party on the boat with a patrolman; Irish policemen; schooling for Don's children; working for Stebbins Lumber Co.; responsibilities of a cookee; and switches in the lumbering and pulping business.

C 0011 Side 2: Topics covered include a rosher (pulp debarking machine); warming up on a Penobscot Development river drive on Hasting Brook; seating arrangements for meals on river drives; Perley Emery; Graden Murphy; checkerberry; learning how to drink Jamaica Ginger; deer hunting with Dewey; prostrate problems; meeting Roger's mother; McGidney and the lookout at Milimegassett; Lawyer Shaw; doing chores at El's house; El's family members; Rabbi Townsend butchering a hog; selling livestock; and an accident en route to Houlton.

C 0012 Side 1: Topics covered include staying warm during drives; rigs for potato hauling; pungs and buffalo robes; joke about a Frenchman; diets for workers; songs; buying mill wood; potato planting techniques at the end of the 19th century; Bob Palmer's planting machines; potato bugs; the porcupine in the camp's refrigerator; shooting a porcupine and some hedgehogs; sourdough bread; using grease from cooking; raising pigs; Steve and Charlie Bates; the Indian term for wagon; dental work; Charlie Mack; Flora Mack marrying Charlie Carpenter; Fred Hagan's recipe for living; and when Doc Newman moved.

C 0012 Side 2: Topics covered include cows; getting good deals from Canadian cow sellers; washing pails; hunting with a revolver; an injury from installing a fan and its long-term effects; cutting ties; working with Harry Drew in Umcolcus; tote teams; a photographer from Patten taking pictures in Umcolcus; Harry Drew getting frozen; Amsy Stevens death from a horse; other horse stories; and other accidents incurred by Don.

C 0013 Side 1: Topics covered include accidents while working and playing; drive to Kingman; breaking roads; payscale when working in the woods; driving teams; driving pulp down a hill; Don's dad; breaking camp; stealing a cocker spaniel; duration of stay in the woods; railroads in Maine and using tracks on drives; losing loads; fellow lumbermen; potato prices; communal Thanksgiving meals; taking out loans; Ansel and Fielder Botting; jacking; and pranks. [Note: Tape missing. Transcript only.]

C 0013 Side 2: Topics covered include moving camp; Jimmy Wright (a cookee); Gram Clark's bread; the Vinegar twins; Ernest Bates; eating goldfish; beans; and salmon; cutting wood along a swamp; Uncle John Rockwell business dealings; M.I. Lee; Sam Gopan; Jaky; Jose Bates; getting the river ready for a drive; Stair Falls; running boats near falls; Emerson drive; Crystal Brook; Ed Kennedy's drowning; Clair Clayton; working for the Hunt Company; security in the woods with guns; fishing at Trout Brook with Ed; and pranks on Ed. [Note: Tape missing. Transcript only.]

C 0013A Side 1: Topics covered include Bake licensing Don's truck; the bear near the house; living in the woods; deer hunting; trying out guns; bear story; Jiggs McNalley jacking; and relations with wardens.

C 0014 Side 1: Topics covered include Christmas when working in the woods; Arthur Bertlett; getting first horses for farm; financing from the Tarbells; going to Drew's Deadwater on a drive; going to Nantucket while in the navy; pulping on the upper place and transporting it; and hauling bark.

C 0014 Side 2: Topics covered include potato business; going down the Hasting for a river drive; Perley Hersey fishing; putting a boom of logs in the wrong cove; Orin Mitchell and Mitchell family history; Oliver's corn cob pipe; the Mitchells in Argyle; quitting job with Frank Landry; letting cattle run; a starch job; and loaning farm machinery.

C 0015 Side 1: Topics covered include Gram Mitchell; desire to move to Patten; old folks burning choppings; Grandpa Mitchell's age vs. size of family when he died; church affiliation of parents; Herb Hardy's big Cadillac; bird and moose hunting; young Frank McManus getting shot; rigging dynamite logs; tying logs to hauler sleds; Clint Corey and the bear; and Clint's practical jokes.

C 0015 Side 2: Topics covered include Ansel Mitchell; Gene Mason and dam crews; shooting a loon; an ax with a blade sticking up; Buster Mitchell; Cash Harris; Roy Mitchell; playing with pig bladders; farmers going on drives in the spring; coffee story; Ed Seams; family history; bad odors on the farm; Alton Boyle; town history; Scott Bates.

C 0016 Side 1: Topics covered include the last drive on the river and getting papers to join the navy on the drive; going to Boston once enlisted; navy experiences; planting conditions for potatoes; businesses in Smyrna; Don's first ride in airplane; Mrs. Braun and beechnuts; cost of mortgage on upper place; Don's parents; Frank Bates in the army; Jimmy Wright and his cookees.

C 0016 Side 2: Topics covered include Jimmy Wright as a cookee; catching men asleep on drives; Don's shoulder being broken; losing peavies in the water hole; stories heard on the radio; basketball with Fred and Leon Tarbell and Johnny Fitzgerald; leg injury; finding burlap in beans; Don as a cookee; the foreclosure on a piece of property; paying taxes; cutting logs on sleds; peeling bark; a railroad made of whitewood.

C 0017 Side 1: Topics covered include Enoch Hughes (minister); the Mitchell girls' musical talents; horses; bulls; boar pigs; the Rockwells (Don's mother's family); other family history; staying with Uncle El (Rockwell); peeling hemlock; working for Ralph Furrow.

C 0017 Side 2: Topics covered include the social security system; work ethics; WWII; Roger Tozier's stories; Old Bake not taking ether; Les Curtis and Graden Murphy; Dill and Tracey Brook; hunting stories; Clint Corey's camp; Bake's camp.

C 0018 Side 1: Topics covered include Graydon Branson's saw; Irving's carelessness with private property; Billy Bates running for high sheriff; Billy's character and livelihood; Ed Kennedy's baseball team; sons; and family relations; Gary Chasing shooting a cow.

C 0019 Side 1: Recorded at Jackson sluice and includes stories about life before service during WWI; the mechanics of going down the river; boys blowing up dynamite at Jackson sluice; people running the sluice; catching up with river companions.

NA2008 Roger Mitchell, Aroostook County, Maine. Drawings and descriptions of sleds used in the woods. Made in connection with his biography of his father, Don Mitchell. Text: 31 pp.

Existence and Location of Originals

Located at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress: AFC 2012/047

Related Materials

Northeast Folklore XIX: "I'm a Man That Works."

Materials Specific Details

Audio files are the primary source material. Transcriptions are the transcriber's best effort to convert audio to text, but should be considered secondary to the audio.

Guide to Don Mitchell/Roger Mitchell Collection
In Progress
Thomas Libby
May 2018
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Repository Details

Part of the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States