Saturday, July 10, 2010

In Memoriam: The Resurrection of Job

Like so many others, nearly everything Job Collett created during 50 years of hard work and dedication, disappeared in the roaring flames of the Great Bangor Fire of 1911. Today, though his image lives on in the microfilm and digitized archives of The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, his name is all but forgotten, save the prominent lettering on a large granite monument that marks his place of rest at Mount Hope Cemetery on State Street.

The imposing marker bearing the name of Job Collett is crafted from fine-grained, gray granite and stands at the head of a family plot containing six graves. The stone exhibits architectural characteristics of the Classic Revival period with the hipped-gable “cap” design featuring a false entablature with engraved dentil frieze. A graceful, concave curvature of the four sides of the stone save the monument from a clumsy, blocky feel, while the raised Commercial Gothic lettering makes an authoritative statement.

The rigid structure of the primary marker and foot markers for Job, second wife Elizabeth, and son Charles T. Collett, stand in stark contrast to the sentimental Victorian era white marble markers for Job’s mother, Jane Marks and Job and Elizabeth’s infant children, Willie and Lillie. In even greater contrast is the romantic, yet naturalistic marble stump gravestone memorializing Job’s first wife, Julia M. and eldest daughter, Jennie M.

A graceful, curvilinear grape vine is carved climbing the front of the stump marker, its roots exposed as if having been pulled from the earth; its fruit withering on the vine. Atop the stump’s slanted top lay a dove in the throes of death, a twig of laurel pillowing its small head.

Lettering on the front and sides of the stone are mixed raised Commercial Gothic for the proper and family names, and engraved Lombardic-style lettering providing dates and status as “wife” and “daughter.” The inscriptions read: Julia M. Collett / April 1, 1828 / Sept. 16, 1853. Jennie M. / Daughter of Job & Julia M. Collett / July 26, 1850 / Feb. 22, 1872. Wife and daughter of / Job Collett.

Each of the cut tree limbs on the Collett stump stone exhibits the checking pattern of wood cut and exposed to weather and drying. Three straight lines radiate from a central point in each limb. The frequency of occurrence of this particular pattern in rustic stump stones through out Maine, indicate it is an established part of the overall form. Likely it also represents the Holy Trinity, as a vast number of rustic tree stump stones in the Bangor region are located in the Catholic cemetery. That the pattern carries over to stones carved for Protestant markers points to the mark being part of an accepted design and a likelihood, that the stone cutters themselves were of the Catholic faith.

The stone of Jane Marks, mother of Job Collett, is executed in a Gothic Revival motif, reflecting the decorated English gothic style with a ribbed, acute arch with ornamented terminals. The central design is that of an open book or Bible with the words: “St. John Chap. XIV” carved on the left facing page; the King James version of which reads:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
The word “Mother” appears in raised Commercial Gothic lettering, matching the style of Job’s primary marker as well as that of Julia and Jennie.

On the back of the stone the inscription is engraved in Lombardic-style lettering which reads: Jane Marks, wife of Thomas Collett, died April 23, 1862, AE. 68 years. Native of Milksham [sic], Wilts [sic], England.

The final white marble stone in the Collett family plot is that marking the graves of infants Willie and Lillie, children of Job and second wife, Elizabeth A. (Sawyer) Collett.

The sentimental stone depicts a lamb, either dead or sleeping, atop the stone asymmetrically draped in fabric with tassels adorning the corners. As with the other stones on the lot, the names of the children are in raised Commercial Gothic font while the engraved inscription on the back of the stone is completed in Lombardic-style lettering. The inscription reads:

Willie T.
Died March 30, 1856,
AE 5 weeks.
Died July 19, 1866,
AE 7 weeks, 4 days.
Children of Job & Elizabeth A. Collett

In stark contrast to the marble markers, the foot marker for Job Collett, wife Elizabeth A. (Sawyer) and son Charles T., are stark, almost industrial gray granite blocks matching that of the primary stone. Inscriptions are incised in Commercial Gothic lettering bearing just the facts and no particular sentiment.

Job Collett
Born May 26, 1825
Died July 26, 1894

Elizabeth A.
wife of
Job Collett
Born May 17, 1834
Died Nov. 4, 1906

Charles T. Collett
Born Dec. 26, 1857
Died Nov. 16, 1919

Who was Job Collett?
Job Collett was born on May 26, 1825, a native of Melksham, Wiltshire, England; the son of Thomas and Jane (Marks) Collett. Thomas and Jane immigrated to New Haven, Connecticut approximately 1826, with Job (then age one) and three older sons, Jacob, John, and Thomas, Jr. in tow. The family later moved to Lowell, Massachusetts and finally to Bangor, around 1845. The Collett name first appears in the Bangor Maine City Directory in 1846. Both Thomas and Thomas, Jr., living on Pine Street, are noted as file cutters in this directory but Job’s name is absent from the listing.

In 1848, Thomas, Sr. and son John are listed as file cutters in the city directory, doing business at the Exchange Street location but neither Thomas, Jr. nor Job is listed. It is not until 1851 that Job’s name makes it’s first appearance in the Bangor City Directory, listed as being employed at Woodbury & Collett File Factory and Hardware Store, 35 Exchange Street, Bangor.

The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (The Whig) in July 1847 notes the “removal” of T. & J. File Factory, Hardware and Saws to a storefront on Exchange Street, next to Phillips & Witherley’s Brick Block, three doors north of York Street. According to later articles in The Whig, the file factory was apparently named for brothers Thomas and Job. First evidence of the Woodbury & Collett partnership appears in The Whig on April 10, 1850. From that point forward, Job Collett ran daily advertisements promoting the sale of new and re-cut files, first from the joint Woodbury & Collett venture and from 1852 on as a solo operation.

Following his death in August 1897, The Whig ran a brief article stating: “The late Mr. Job Collett was a pioneer in this city in advertising by a cut of himself. Many of The Whig readers will remember the “ad” and the position it occupied for years at the head of the first column on the first page with the injunction, “Files! Files! Now is the time to sharpen up,” while below was a cut of M. Collett sitting at a file block in the act of cutting a file. He used this “ad” for years and became well known all over the State thereby.”

A wood cut portrait of Job Collett seated at a file block cutting a file ran almost daily from 1850 until the 1880s on the pages of The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, making Collett a pioneer of self-promotion among local businessmen. The copy typically read:

Files! — — — Files!
Now is the Time to Sharpen Up
and get ready for business. I have on hand
1000 Dozen Files
and am finishing off 150 dozen per week
which I am selling at
The Lowest Prices.
And will warrant them equal to any imported
Call and see them.
Old Files Re-cut as usual
Job Collett — — — Exchange Street

It was during the early period of Job Collett’s career that he married his first wife, Julia M., also a native of England. Research has yet to reveal if the marriage occurred in Maine or Massachusetts. The couple produced a daughter, Jennie M., on July 26, 1850, the same year Job ventured into his solo file cutting business. Three years later, Julia died on September 16, 1853. The cause of Julia’s death has not been established and no obituary noting her passing appeared in The Whig.

Daughter Jennie died on February 22, 1872. Jennie’s brief obituary, which provides no cause of death, appeared on page two of the February 24, 1872 Whig & Courier: “DIED In this city, Feb. 22d, Jennie M. Collett, daughter of Job Collett, aged 21 years, 6 months and 26 days. The funeral will take place Sunday afternoon at 10 1/2 o’clock, at the Vestry of the Universalist Church. Friends and relatives are invited.”

As a widower with a toddler to raise and a business to grow, it was necessary for Job to remarry. His second wife was Elizabeth A. Sawyer, age 19 or 20, of Old Town, Maine. Together, the couple raised Jennie and gave birth to five children of their own. Their eldest child, Willie T., died in at five weeks of age in 1856. Ten years later, baby Lillie would die at only seven weeks and four days old, in 1866. Charles T., Carrie and Henry Eugene all survived to adulthood.

Elizabeth undoubtedly saw to the raising of children and various, typical household duties of the day as she was noted in the U.S. Census Reports as “keeping house.” Elizabeth is mentioned only four times in The Whig, once as a participant in a musical production at Norumbega Hall in the early 1880s; once when Job took ill while in Howland and she was called to his side; again when falling in 1887 and breaking her wrist while attempting to board a carriage; and finally—and the only time by name—in Job’s obituary, July 1894.

Intent on building his business and wealth, in 1857 Job invested in constructing a brick structure on the corner of York and Exchange Streets, which initially housed Pomfret & Langley West India Goods, Grocery and Provision Business in August 1857. Through the records of The Whig, it is obvious businesses changed frequently in and out of the Collett building while Job’s business continued to operate out of its original Exchange Street storefront. The onset of the Civil War and subsequent economic depression of the 1870s likely contributed to this frequent turn over of occupants.

Though a G.A.R. flag holder is placed at Job’s headstone in Mount Hope Cemetery, there is no record of the gentleman serving during the war. While other prominent businessmen of the day freely spoke out in support of the war, there is only one mention of the staunchly republican Job Collett in the columns of The Whig between 1861 and 1865 (beyond his usual advertisement), leading one to believe that, publicly at least, he was discrete in his opinion of the War Between the States.

Prominence and Prosperity
In 1861, The Whig reported that Job filed a claim against City Council for damaged done to his property as a result road grading done on Exchange Street. The matter was tabled and no further mention of the issue is made in the pages of the press, however, in 1871 Job was named a Street Engineer for the Bangor City Council. Following this appointment, the editors of The Whig, began to mention Job Collett with increased regularity and eventually with a familiarity that suggests a relationship beyond that of just business.

As business and social success visited Job Collett, so too apparently did thievery. On February 8, 1870, Fred McKenney was found guilty of breaking into the file factory on the night on January 11, 1870 and stealing files, bank bills and copper coin. According to The Whig: “One piece of money was fully identified by Mr. Collett as the same piece that had been lying for some length of time on his desk in the shop.” The defendant’s efforts to deflect blame by testifying he received the coins and other money from his wife did not sway the jury. No mention was made of Job executing changes to his banking habits.

The prominence of the social circle in which Job Collett moved is most evident in the February 21, 1873 edition of The Whig, when he is listed among citizens who meet to discuss approval of the Shore Line Railroad. Among citizens selected to serve on an investigation committee on behalf of the City Council were: A.W. Paine; S.P. Strickland; Sprague Adams; L.J. Morse; S.P. Bradbury1; R.S. Prescott; G.W. Merrill; W.B. Hayford; Charles Dwinel; Job Collett; J.G. Clark; George Stetson; and George A. Thatcher, all well-known and successful businessmen noted throughout Bangor’s early history.

In the 1860 United States Federal Census, Job Collett was listed owning real estate valued at $1000 and personal property valued at $1000. In 1870, Job’s wealth and holdings increased to $3000 in real estate holdings and $2000 in personal property. By 1880, Job is noted in the U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedule as having a capital value (both real and personal) of $6000. The value of materials in the factory was placed at $2700 while the products were valued at $9000.

In addition to his personal and business holdings, in 1880 the File Factory employed 10 full-time, year-round employees and as many as 19 part-time hands, paying over $5000 in annual salaries. The factory operated three boilers to power grinders and other machinery. Additionally, he leased the grinder in the old jail to handle overflow work. Wages paid to experienced hands exhibited Job’s value for his employees as he paid $2.50 per day to skilled mechanics and $1.25 per day to ordinary laborers.

Within the decade of the 1880s, references to Job Collett, Esq.— denoting him as a gentleman of high but non-specific social status — began to appear in The Whig. He was listed as a local delegate to the Republican caucus, traveling to both Augusta and Portland to carry out his duties, and listed among officers of the Penobscot Lodge of Odd Fellows.

It is obvious from the pages of The Whig, Job worked to reach success as a Bangor businessman and once achieving that status, enjoyed the fruits of his labor becoming increasingly involved in social and political arenas among the higher ranks of Bangor society.

Decline and Death
Having enjoyed many years as a successful businessman, the tide began to turn for Job Collett at 6 a.m., January 24, 1882 when fire broke out in his shop, by then shared with the Bangor Edge Tool Co. operated by C.A. and J.H. Peavey—inventors and manufacturers of the world famous Peavey logging tool.

Exchange Street, ca. 1895, from the corner of York Street. The red arrow marks the sign for Bangor Edge Tool Co. located at 53 & 55 Exchange Street. The Job Collett File Factory was housed at 35 Exchange Street, in one of the store fronts closer to the viewer in this photo. From the collections of the Bangor Public Library. Cat. No. G-91 974.131.A78. Used with permission.

According to The Whig, the fire was discovered by an engineer of the Bangor Edge Tool Co., upon reporting for work at 6 a.m. The fire originated in the grinding room used as a sawing and stock turning room and was suggested to be “the work of an incendiary.” Two rooms and the contents were destroyed, including the Tool Company’s lathes, belts, saws and the File Factory’s grinders. Equipment located in an adjoining blacksmith shop was moderately damaged. Losses for Job were estimated at $500 with no insurance coverage while Bangor Edge Tool Co. lost $1500 worth of insured equipment. Though The Whig hinted at nefarious origins of the fire, no specific conclusions of an investigation were ever reported.

With neither son apparently having an interest in taking over the family business, Job’s file factory began a steady decline following the fire while the Bangor Edged Tool Co. quickly recovered and continues in operation 128 years later as Hand & Edged Tool Manufacturing in Bangor, with three employees and annual sales estimated at $160,000.

In October 1882, more trouble arose when on a trip to Howland, Job Collett took seriously ill. According to the October 2, 1882 edition of The Whig, “Yesterday morning his wife received a dispatch saying that he was dangerously ill and requesting her to come immediately with a physician, and she started at once in company with Dr. Jewell. We are unable to learn the cause of his illness but hope it may prove less serious than at first appeared, and that he may be speedily restored to health.”

This episode was the start of a long series of illnesses for Job that apparently inspired him to turn his attention from the file cutting business to launch Job Collett’s Electrine, the Great Neuralgic and Rheumatic Remedy, in January 1887. Sold by A. M. Robinson, Jr. at No. 1 Granite Block for 50-cents per bottle, Job Collett’s Electrine was for external application. Advertisements run from 1887 through 1888, promoting the patent medicine as curing rheumatism, neuralgia, headache, backache, kidney troubles, diarrhea and all aches and pains by outward application.” The venture failed to thrive.

Troubles for the businessman continued when, in November 1887, a 100-pound grindstone at the jail workshop used by the File Factory for grinding files, “flew off just after the machinery had been started, it running slowly at the time, and struck a slight, temporary partition a few feet distant breaking it down. It then flew back against the wall. The shock threw the stone out of position and the belt of the machinery came off striking a workman named J.E. Meaghan and knocking him down. His head was somewhat bruised by the fall but he was only slightly injured.” The incident resulted in $25 worth of damages.

Despite his efforts to restore his health through patent medicine, Job’s decline continued. On April 21, 1892, The Whig reported, “The many friends of Mr Job Collett, who has been so long confined to his house by illness, were glad to see him able to ride out yesterday.” The recovery was short-lived, however, and two years later, Job Collett died on July 26, 1894. His obituary ran in the July 27 edition of The Whig:
Mr. Job Collett, a well known and highly respected citizen of Bangor passed away yesterday afternoon at his residence on the corner of Center and Somerset streets and the announcement will be received with sorry by his many friends in this city and elsewhere.

During the past five years Mr. Collett had been in poor health, resulting from several attacks of pneumonia and the grip but the immediate cause of his death was a shock of paralysis which he experienced Tuesday morning.

The deceased was born in Melksham, Wiltshire Co, about 10 miles from the cilty of Ball England, May 26, 1828 and was consequently 69 years and 2 months of age.

At the age of one year he came to the United States with his parents who located in New Haven, Conn. and went from there to Lowell, Mass. He came to Bangor in 184-. He was for a time in company with his brother Thomas in the file cutting business and afterwards with Mr. Woodbury but that said he became sole proprietor.

During his long and honorable business career of nearly fifty years he was located on Exchange Street. He was a successful businessman and at the same time made an excellent reputation for square dealing in his transactions. He was a sterling citizen and all respected and esteemed him for his many high qualities.

In politics he was an earnest Republican and ably served in the Common Council and as a member of the city committee of his party for a number of years. He was a Knight Templar, a member of Penobscot Lodge of Odd Fellows and of Katahdin Encampment and one of the charter members of the Mellta Club.

He was genial, generous and kind-hearted; a devoted husband and loving father. He was twice married and his second wife who was Miss Elizabeth Sawyer, survives him. He also leaves two sons, Charles and Eugene and a daughter, Mrs. [Lin?]wood C. Tyler to mourn his loss.

They will have the deepest sympathy of a host of friends of their bereavement.

The funeral will occur next Tuesday but the hour has not as yet been definitely determined upon. It will be announced later.
And on August 2, 1894:
The funeral services of the late Mr. Job Collett were held yesterday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at his late residence on the corner of Center and Somerset streets and there was a large number present. The floral offerings, which were profuse and beautiful, included designs from St. John’s Commandery, Knights Templar, the Odd Fellows and the Mellta Club, to which he belonged. Rev. Charles H. Cutler of the First Parish church officiated and Mrs. W.A. Nelson sang several appropriate selections. The bearers were Messrs Charles F. Collett, H. Eugene Collett, Jacob Collett, L.C. Tyler, John Sawyer, and William Sawyer. Col. C.V. Crossman had charge of the funeral arrangements. The interment was at Mt. Hope.
Photo of the corner of Exchange and York Streets in Bangor in July 2010 showing the Nichols Block built in 1892.

Even prior to Job Collett’s death, the building he constructed in 1857 was replaced by the Nicols Block in 1892; a structure that survived the Great Bangor Fire of 1911 and still stands on the corner of Exchange and York streets.

In March 1898, the storefront that long served as Job’s file factory was taken over by a printing business, removing all evidence of a half-century of operation. Snarking at the newest competitor in their midst, The Whig editors lamented the obliteration of Collett’s former signage and memory and speculated in the March 31 edition, “Whether or not Mr. Printing will succeed in gaining as enviable a reputation as Mr. Collett established in years gone by remains to be seen.”
Unknown to them at the time, The Whig would in 1900, merge with Mr. Printing and become one with the Bangor Daily News, established and first housed on Exchange Street and still in publication today.

Memories in Stone
With the story of Job Collett now known, what can be concluded in regard to the identity of the man from the grave markers in the family plot?

Of significance is the fact that Job knew, served on city committees with, and was a member of fraternal organizations with Simon P. Bradbury, who operated S.P. Bradbury, the most prominent of at a number of monument companies simultaneously operating in the city of Bangor during Job’s lifetime. Specializing in marble gravestones and tablets, one example of Bradbury’s marble work is the marker of Deborah L. Ulmer (pictured below) located in Corinthian Cemetery, Corinth, Maine, where the maker name, “Bradbury Co, Bangor” is clearly visible. The design, like those of the Collett women and children, is distinctly Victorian.

Being as Job and Bradbury were follow businessmen and brothers in fraternal orders, a strong circumstantial case can be built for S.P. Bradbury Co. likely being the source of the three marble markers on the Collett lot. Since each stone specificly identifies relationship ties to Job, described in his obituary as “genial, generous and kind-hearted; a devoted husband and loving father,” I will argue that the sentimental stones were selected by Job, himself, to commemorate the women and children, and represent his own sense of loss and mourning. Why the choice of a rustic stump marker for Julia and Jennie in distinction to the infants’ gravestone and his mother’s marker, remains a mystery.

The stark contrast between the sentimental, Gothic Revival Victorian stones and the authoritative Classic Revival design of Job’s own stone, as well as the G.A.R. flag holder appearing beside his foot marker, I feel can be directly attributed to Col. Christopher V. Crossman, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery and Commander of the G. A. R. — B. H. Beal Post, No. 12 who was, according to Job's obituary, in charge of funeral arrangements. With this information teased out of the record, the startling juxtaposition of sentiment and authority in the Collett lot is less surprising.

Indeed, it is likely two entirely separate personalities were involved in selecting the memorial pieces: that of Job in selecting the marble monuments, and that of C.V. Crossman, a best friend and military man who—like Job’s many male friends—esteemed and sought to preserve his reputation in choosing the rigid granite markers. Placement of an honorary G.A.R. flag holder was also likely directly brought about by Crossman and supported by Job’s friends who were also Civil War Veterans and sought to recognize him as a “brother” in death.


1Simon P. Bradbury operated S.P. Bradbury, a stone cutting and monument company that was a significant provider of marble and granite headstones, monuments and tablets. The only display ad found, to date, for S.P. Bradbury appeared in the May 12, 1852 edition of the Bangor Whig and Courier, promoting the arrival of 3000 feet of Italian and American marble “of very superior quality.”

Son Edgar H. Bradbury was born in Bangor in 1843, married Susan Hovey Trask and relocated to Chicago as secretary of the Gowen Marble Co., 1870-78. He then established a wholesale marble business in St. Louis. 1878 as E. 11. Bradbury Marble Co.

1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Year: 1860; Census Place: Bangor Ward 6, Penobscot, Maine; Roll M653_447; Page: 110; Image: 111; Family History Library Film: 803447. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Year: 1870; Census Place: Bangor, Penobscot, Maine; Roll M593_552; Page: 197B; Image: 403; Family History Library Film: 552051. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

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“The many friends of Mr. Job Collett.” The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier 21 April 1882. Microfilm.

“The late Mr. Job Collett.” The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier 2 August 1894. Microfilm.

“The old and well known place on Exchange Street.” The Bangor Daily Whig & Courier 31 March, 1898. Microfilm.

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Whitman, William E. S., ed. The Wealth and Industry of Maine for the Year 1873. 1st Annual Report. Sprague, Owen & Nash, Augusta. 1873. Print.

“Yesterday’s Fire: Frost-Bitten Firemen Fighting the Flames.” The Bangor Daily Whig &
Courier 25 January 1882. Microfilm.