By Linda Snow McLoon
As in all towns in Maine before the advent of automobiles, local blacksmiths played a vital role in Scarborough. Not only did they shoe horses and oxen, but the smiths made and repaired metal tools such as hoes, plows, and wheels for wagons, along with kitchen equipment for housewives. You could count on blacksmith shops to have a coal-fired forge with large bellows to fan the flames when needed, an anvil and a vise. Another important fixture was a sling. The blacksmith could hold up a horse’s leg when nailing a horseshoe into place, but a sling was needed to carry the heavier weight of oxen.
From the SHS collections come these images of the blacksmith shop of Freedom Libby (1844-1928), whose shop on the State Road was a busy place. Freedom and his wife sadly lost 2 of their 3 children, and their only surviving daughter, Ruth Libby, was a teacher in the Dunstan, North Scarborough, and Libby district schools.
Another early blacksmith was Ai P. Seavey (1816-1889). His blacksmith shop was on the Seavey family farm, located on the Black Point Road just before the state park, which later became the Lindholm farm and nursery. A sign Ai P. Seavey had in his shop announcing the cost of shoeing one horse encouraged prompt payment: Trust—$1.00 Cash—$.75
Ai P. Seavey’s son, Harris Seavey, was a renowned carriage driver who operated a stagecoach that brought passengers from the Black Point railroad station to the summer lodging places at Prouts Neck. Harris Seavey was reputed to be a whip expert who could flick a fly from the lead horse’s ear. In later years, Seavey’s coach was shipped to New York to be used in the Broadway theater production of Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm.
I’m disappointed that Lawrence Googins blacksmith shop wasn’t included!