Junkins Garrison Piece

The following article was written by Alan Junkins and published in JFA newsletter no. 14, November 2003.

Cindy McComiskey Shares a Piece of the Junkins Garrison with Us at the Reunion

Cindy10 (Staples) McComiskey (Lawrence9 Staples, Edna8 Varrell, Bradford7 Verrell, Abigail6 Junkins, Jeremiah5, Jotham4, Daniel3, Daniel2, Robert1)

During the summer of 1998, my wife Betty and I were volunteering at the Old York Historical Society Decorator House, which was at Highland Farm, a former Junkins farm and apple orchards. Betty was at the front door greeting people as they came in and I was in the first room that people were coming into to tour the house. A woman came in the door and Betty gave her the usual greeting with, "Please no photographs, and please do not touch anything." The woman looked at Betty's name badge and said, "Why, you're Betty Junkins. I've been meaning to call you and your husband for quite some time. My name is Cindy McComiskey and I have a piece of the Junkins Garrison door in my house and I wanted to show it to you." This was something that no one in the family had known about.

We exchanged phone numbers and agreed that we would be in contact later that summer. Cindy only is here in York part of the summer and lives in Holliston, MA for most of the year. The house in York is a sumer house, which she inherited from her grandmother. Three years went by before we could connect again.

When the garrison was struck by lightning on June 17 of 1889, it had been abandoned for over 35 years by the Junkins family. The property was owned then by Hiram Alexander Junkins but had been leased to John McIntire. The Garrison was slowly disintegrating into ruins. It had been used as a chicken coop for many years and was in a "falling down state." The right hand section of the building was almost down to the ground. The roof beams were gone and the great hand-hewed wall beams were down to the first floor. The chimney had collapsed on itself. As reported in the Biddeford Daily Journal, Monday, June 19, 1889, "During a heavy thunder shower Saturday afternoon, the lightning struck the steeple of the new Baptist church and damaged the building to the extent of $200. In York, another incendiary fire occurred early Saturday morning. The old Junkins Garrison was burned." A few days after the fire, Hiram Alexander Junkins came from Berwick to survey the damage. The next day, with the help of Charles H. Junkins, they removed the large granite front doorstep of the Garrison and took it in to York Corner to be used as a chimney base in a house that Charles was building. Charles chiseled his initials on the corner of the large piece of granite and the date, "1645."

About the same time, Joseph Howard Junkins and his 16-year old nephew, Samuel H. Junkins, visited the burned Garrison and took some pieces of wood that had survived the fire. One piece was a panel from a door, which ended up in the hands of Samuel's future wife, Edith Burbank Junkins. It was used later as a canvas for one of the many painting classes, which were popular in the York area during the early 20th century.

After seeing the painting that had been done on the door panel, I asked Cindy if I could borrow it to photograph it for use in the Junkins newsletter and also display it at the reception Saturday morning before the Grand Parade.1 She agreed and it was the centerpiece of the reception. Thank you Cindy!

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