York resident and former state legislator Neil Rolde enjoys writing about Maine history.  ““I’ve always been interested in history,” he says.

He is particularly fascinated by the seemingly unknown pieces of Maine history he finds during his research.

Rolde was a state legislator from 1972-76 and again from 1978-1990.  He is active as a civic leader and writer.  Moreover, he is fluent in French. As a matter of fact, he enjoys reading history written in French, he says.

In fact, Rolde began his college studies at Yale University as a history major, but diverted to English when he became interested in writing short stories.

Rolde’s curiosity about Maine history results in writing books when he finds interesting facts of substance about the state. “I just love doing the research for my books,” he says. As a result, his 15 books are mostly about Maine history, with a political novel published in 2010 titled “O. Murray Carr.”

Interest in Maine’s Indian heritage led him to write a political history of the state’s tribes in “Unsettled Past-Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians.” Calling on his experience as a state legislator and an aide to Maine Gov. Ken Curtis, Rolde describes the history he experienced and researched about Maine’s Indians, with a special focus on their state and federal political dynamics. A special feature of Rolde’s historical accounts was his ability to call on the living Indians who participated in the recent tribal history.  He includes a history of the Indians’ efforts to organize a casino.

Rolde says his interest in Indians probably began as a child in 1937, when his family visited Florida and took his picture with a Seminole child about his age, in the Everglades. During his later childhood, he recalls fishing with his father in Maine when they traveled through Princeton, witnessing a strip of the Native American reservation.  “I was struck by the startling poverty of the people at the time,” he says.

When Curtis took office in 1967, he asked Rolde to help him with Maine’s Indian affairs. “Governor Curtis was likely the first governor to appoint Maine Native Americans to special commissions,” he says.

Rolde’s curiosity about Maine’s Native Americans expanded when he was elected a legislator and served as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services.

As a history writer and world traveler, Rolde keeps running across surprising information about Maine.  For example, while researching his various books, he learned that President James Madison’s brother-in-law was Richard Cutts from Cutts Island, in Saco.  Cutts (1771-1845) was a U.S. Congressman representing Massachusetts before Maine became a state. He married Dolly Madison’s sister Anna. Cutts Island is known today as Factory Island in Saco.

Another Maine history story Rolde uncovered was about the brother of Maine’s first Governor William King (1768-1852), who was born in Scarborough and lived in Bath. King’s brother, it turns out, was Rufus King (1755-1827) and a delegate from Massachusetts to the U.S. Continental Congress (1774-1789) before Maine was a state. He was at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, where he signed the U.S. Constitution.  Rufus King of Scarborough was among the country’s Founding Fathers.

“I’ve always got my eye out for how Maine people are involved in the world,” says Rolde.  One of his 15 books is titled, “Maine in the World: Stories of Some of Those from Here Who Went Away.”

Information about some of Rolde’s books is at the publishing website www.tilburypress.com

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