Monday, April 3, 2017

Plantville Preston Larrabee (1851-1924)

Portrait courtesy of the Sebago Historical Society.

   Sebago, Maine received extensive mention in March 27th's profile on Vinal Garfield Good, a Sebago resident and former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. As it turns out, Sebago was represented in the Maine legislature by another oddly named man (several decades prior to Mr. Good) and I think you'll agree that he possesses one of the most unique first names imaginable! Plantville Preston Larrabee was a lifelong native of Cumberland County, Maine and, while a farmer for all his life, also occupied a number of local political offices in addition to serving in the legislature.
   While Mr. Larrabee's obscurity initially hampered my wanting to author a small biography for him, my feelings changed when I developed a correspondence with Sherrill Brown of the Sebago Historical Society. Through Sherrill's diligent searching, the accompanying photographs of Larrabee were found to include in his article here, and she was also kind enough to send along a portrait of Vinal G. Good and his wife (featured in his write up several days ago). I want to extend a hearty thank you to Sherrill for her help in tracking down the portraits of Mr. Larrabee, as well as the one for Mr. Good. Many, many thanks for your help!
   One of four sons born to Thomas Wells (1816-1890) and Olive Ayer Larrabee (1816-1896), Plantville Preston Larrabee was born in Cumberland County, Maine in March 1851. The origins of Larrabee's peculiar first name have been lost to history, and despite the mysteriousness surrounding it can safely be said that both Thomas and Olive Larrabee had a "green thumb", as it were, as they not only named two of their sons Plantville (an earlier child with that name dying in 1849) but also named their last born son Greengrove! Greengrove Larrabee died in infancy in 1853, and one can only wonder why Thomas and Olive would bestow these botany type names upon their sons!
   Little information is known about Plantville P. Larrabee's early life or education, excepting notice of his marriage in Naples, Maine on Independence Day 1875 to Etta Maria Shaw (1858-1944). The couple was wed for nearly five decades and their union would see the births of six children, Ethel May (1877-1959), Winifred (1878-1968), Evetta (born 1881), Elmer Francis (1883-1969), Percy Vernon (born 1885) and Marjorie Ella (born 1888)..
   A farmer in Sebago for all his life, Larrabee was also active in a number of agricultural concerns in that area, serving as secretary of the Baldwin and Sebago Farmer's Club and held the post of treasurer of the Cumberland and Freeport Agricultural Society from 1909-1910. In the late 1880s, he also joined Sebago's local health board, serving as its secretary for three years. 
  Plantville Larrabee first entered the political life of Sebago in the late 1870s, serving as a member of the school committee from 1876-77. In 1883 he served as town assessor and two years later was elected as Sebago town treasurer. Larrabee would also occupy the office of town selectman on several occasions, serving in 1889-90, 1892, 1895-96, 1900, 1902 and 1904-05. 

 Plantville P. Larrabee in 1902, courtesy of the Sebago Historical Society.

   Larrabee reached his highest degree of political prominence in 1896 when he was elected as Sebago's representative to the Maine State legislature. As one of several Cumberland County representatives serving in the session of 1897-99, Larrabee was named to the house committees on Indian Affairs and Public Buildings
   Following his one term in the legislature, P.P. Larrabee returned to farming in Sebago and in 1907 began another stint on the Sebago school committee. In May 1918 he became a founding member of the North Sebago Lakeside Cemetery Association and in the following month was named as its first president. After many years of service to Sebago at the local and state level, Plantville P. Larrabee died in 1924 at age 73. He was survived by his wife Etta and his children and was interred at the Lakeside Cemetery.
  Public service would continue in the Larrabee family with Plantville's son Elmer Francis, who, like his father, occupied a number of local political offices, including Sebago town clerk, road commissioner and selectman. In the year prior to his father's death, Elmer was elected to the Maine House of Representatives from Sebago, serving there for two terms (1924-1928).

Elmer F. Larrabee in 1914, courtesy of the Sebago Historical Society.

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