All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sins of Our Mothers

Sins Of Our Mothers was a 1989 PBS television special telling the story of Emeline (Bachelder) Gurney—a woman from Fayette who accidentally married her own son.
Here is a subject, centered around rural New England life in the 1800's, that has little or no pictorial documentation. Yet as David McCullough, the series host, points out in a brief introduction: "It's amazing how many telling details of long-lost lives can still be recovered."

At the heart of the story is Emeline Bachelder, born into poverty in 1816. Her tale has become a legend in Fayette, Me. In the mid-1970's, a fictionalized version was written by Judith Rossner in the novel "Emmeline." In attempting to separate fact from fiction, truth from legend, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Collins use oral histories, archival material, town records and dramatized sequences. In the process, they come across a wonderful collection of Yankee types. There is, for instance, Mrs. Murphy, who is asked the year of her birth. "I was born 103 years ago," she snaps. "You figure it out." [Link]


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