Collections of Maine Historical Society. Order a copy at, item #5208.

During the summer of 1854, anti-Catholic sentiments were running high. A mob in Bath, incited by a street preacher, ransacked and burned the Protestant church that had been rented by Catholics as a place of worship. The Know-Nothing party was held responsible for this act.

This painting depicting the event, “Third phase, burning of Old South Church, Bath,” was created in 1854 by John Hilling, who was born in England in 1822 and arrived in America in the early 1840s. Hilling settled in Bath, where he remained until he enlisted in the Civil War infantry in March 1864. He soon rose to sergeant, but received a horrible spinal injury and was honorably discharged in December that same year. Hilling’s spinal injury affected him the rest of his life, during which he focused on painting. He died in Wells in August 1894 and was buried in Bath.

In commemoration of Maine’s bicentennial this year, The Forecaster is featuring historical highlights and artifacts from our communities’ past 200 years. This feature can be found in print and online every other week.