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Western Maine Foothills Region

Mexico

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Education was key in this new settlement. Instructions were given in private homes by citizens and parents with slightly more education than the average person. The early teachers were unpaid and attendance was irregular, with school terms from six to 12 weeks at the start. Schools built at that time were usually one room, painted red, and stood at the top of a hill.

Abbott School, Mexico, ca. 1930
Abbott School, Mexico, ca. 1930

Item Contributed by
Mexico Historical Society

One of the earliest schools in Mexico would have been built near the Dixfield town line, in the area known previously as Holmantown. The school was a mile from Dixfield Village on the Trask Road, now known as Leavitt Street. A school building was erected on Roxbury Road and one near Highland Terrace before 1850. The next to come was the Walton School, then the Kingdom School located in Backingdom. In 1894, both the Kimball School and the six room Central School were built. The Central School burned December 24, 1906, and in 1907 a new school was built and named Abbott School for Elizabeth Abbott who had originally donated the land.

Barn raisings were the first social events, consisting of fiddle playing, dancing, and plenty of good food. The years progressed, and, as the population grew, other forms of recreation were found: dance halls, pool rooms, boxing matches, horse racing, a movie theater. In 1924 the Oakdale Country Club Golf Course was built and is still challenging and successful today. The absence of a lake shore or a pond for summer recreation was in part replaced by shallow pools on the Swift River, known as ABC, and covered for swimming. Fishing could be found at Half Moon Pond, on local brooks and streams, and in special spots on the Swift River.

Social organization began with the Patrons of Husbandry, a group interested in the improvement of farming. It was later renamed the Swift River Grange and located on Roxbury Road; it is now the Free Store. Mothercraft and Junior Mothercraft were organizations of women gathering together at each other's homes, sharing life experiences, exchanging recipes, discussing current events, contributing to the community, and enjoying the company of their peers.

In the early 1920s Ridlonville played host to a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan; it is believed they built the Goodwill Hall. Within a couple of years the Klan moved out and the Goodwill Hall became a facility for sports and other social events. In 1926 The Strathglass Fife Band of Mexico and Rumford was formed. First practices were held in the Rumford Band Room on Canal Street but later moved to the Howard Hall building in Mexico to practice marching.

Mexico Baptist Church, ca. 1903
Mexico Baptist Church, ca. 1903

Item Contributed by
Mexico Historical Society

Before any churches came to exist, several religious denominations held services in a hall located on Roxbury Road. During the mid 1800s, there was a devout following of Seven Day Adventist and a number of Christian Scientists. Around 1900 summer church services were held in an outdoor grove on the corner of Roxbury Road and Poplar Hill, near the Walton School. It was called the Union Grove Association.

The First Baptist Church was first known as the Chapel Association, organized in 1888. It became an incorporated church society that pledged to use money raised to build a chapel. In 1904, the cornerstone for the Mexico Congregationalist Church was laid by Charles Thompson, the oldest man in town. St. Theresa's Catholic Church was founded in 1926 on Brown Street.

In 1920 a four-horse coach delivered the mail down river from Rumford, through Mexico, on to Dixfield and Peru. Post offices were established at Mexico Corner, Hale, and Ridlonville.

Mexico currently has a town manager form of government with five selectmen, town clerk, treasurer, tax collector, budget committee, a police force, fire department, highway department, water district, sewer district, highway department, and librarian.

Over the years, the face of Mexico has undergone many changes. A branch of the University of Maine Systems is now located where the St. Theresa School once was. Region 9, School of Applied Technology, and an Adult Education Learning Center can be found on River Road. Convenience stores and mini-malls are sprouting up along Route 2, welcoming the tourists that travel through to the ponds, lakes, golf courses, and ski areas, to enjoy the four seasons of activities for people of all ages.

Sources

The Early History of Dixfield Maine, including the section of Mexico near Webb's River, published for the Dixfield Bicentennial celebration 1976.

History of the Town of Mexico, E. G. Kimball

A Story of the Town of Mexico 1818-1968: One Hundred Fiftieth Birthday Celebration and what has gone before, edited and compiled by Ruby Bragdon and Theresa Thomas

"Mexico Resident Pictures Town As It Was in Year 1870," by L.H. Harlow, Rumford Falls Times, February 15, 1940.

"Mayor Park of Mexico Corner, Etched by a Globe Man," Boston Daily Globe, Sunday, July 20, 1890, copied and typed by Richard J. Muzzrole, from microfilm in the Boston Public Library. Copied from the internet, January 20, 2013, by Lorraine Robichaud Legere.

Henry W. Park Diary, December 1, 1858 to April 6, 1859.

Once Upon A Farm, Volume II, written by Lloyd Crossland, Burton Crossland, Joyce Morgan, Fern Stearns, Gail Parent.

History of the Town of Peru Maine, Mary Searles Vaughn

Remembering Ridlonville, Beverly Melanson

Metallak, Arthur Woodrow

2011 Mexico Town Report