Aug. 25, 1894: Renowned poet and author Celia Thaxter (1835-1894) dies on Maine’s Appledore Island, in the Isles of Shoals, the inspiration for many of her poems. She is 59.

Although she was born on the mainland – in Portsmouth, New Hampshire – and spent many years away, she is associated most closely with the island, where she was the hostess at her father’s hotel, the Appledore House.

Thaxter married at 17 and had two sons. They lived in Newtonville, Massachusetts, where she became familiar with many figures in Boston literary circles. However, she called her home a “household jail” and wrote a poem about it, “Landlocked.” A friend submitted it to Atlantic magazine, which published it and many other Thaxter poems.

Thaxter spent much more time on Appledore helping her family after her father died in 1866. Her literary fame drew well-known cultural figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Sarah Orne Jewett and Childe Hassam to the island, where they spent vacations.

“I am busy every instant, so glad and thankful to be here. No tongue can tell it; just to be here, it is all I ask,” she wrote shortly before her death in a letter to her friend Rose Lamb.

Samantha Smith and her parents, Jane and Arthur Smith, during their tour of Russia in July 1983. Associated Press

Aug. 25, 1985: World-renowned goodwill ambassador Samantha Smith, 13, of Manchester, and her father, University of Maine at Augusta writing and literature professor Arthur Smith, die in the crash of a Bar Harbor Airlines flight in Auburn.


As the pilot tries to land the Beechcraft 99 commuter plane at Lewiston-Auburn Regional Airport, the plane strikes some trees near the airfield, crashes and explodes, killing all six passengers and both crew members.

In 1982, Samantha Smith, then 10 years old, received a response to a letter she had written to Yuri Andropov, leader of what was then Soviet Union, about seeking peace in the world. He invited her and her parents to tour his country, so they did in 1983, and the schoolgirl from Manchester suddenly became world-famous.

When the crash occurs, father and daughter are returning via Boston from England, where Samantha Smith, who had become an actor, was taking part in the recording of an episode of the weekly TV series “Lime Street,” starring Robert Wagner. Smith plays the older of the Wagner’s character’s two daughters in the series, scenes of which still can be found online.

Samantha Smith’s funeral in Augusta draws more than 1,000 mourners, including Wagner and the Soviet ambassador to the United States, Vladimir Kulagin. A statue commemorating her now stands on the east side of the front of the Maine Cultural Building in Augusta, which houses the Maine State Library, the Maine State Museum and the Maine State Archive.

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Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at:


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