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Effects on Economy, Population

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1
Bird Hill, Bethel, ca. 1905

Bird Hill, Bethel, ca. 1905

Item 101079 info
Bethel Historical Society

By Will Cole

Over the course of the Civil War, Bethel contributed a large portion of its money and supplies to the Union's efforts, and as industry and tourism expanded, prices also rose, causing hardship for some in the community.

In addition, the gains during the war were not always matched afterwards.


2
Horses pulling log sled, ca. 1890

Horses pulling log sled, ca. 1890

Item 101081 info
Bethel Historical Society

Even as some industries and others benefited financially during the war, higher prices for goods, partly due to the war effort, meant economic hardship for some.

The local newspaper columns routinely complained of the increase in consumer prices and services within Bethel.

The Oxford Democrat, the largest newspaper in the area, was forced to reduce in size due to the inflation of the time.


3
Middle Intervale Meetinghouse, Bethel, ca. 1970

Middle Intervale Meetinghouse, Bethel, ca. 1970

Item 101082 info
Bethel Historical Society

Economic hardship, the end of the war, and other events prompted many to migrate to other parts of the nation. In 1860, Bethel had a population of 2,523 and 474 households that averaged five individuals per home. Twenty-eight soldiers lost their lives during the war, but after the war, only 53 veterans continued to live in Bethel, with 100 moving elsewhere in Maine or out of state.

Bethel's population slowly declined. The next three censuses showed a population of 2,268 in 1870, 2,077 in 1880, and 1,835 in 1900.


4
Farwell Farm, Bethel, ca. 1895

Farwell Farm, Bethel, ca. 1895

Item 101077 info
Bethel Historical Society

The prices at which farmers were able to sell their goods dropped after the Civil War as well — a catalyst for the Greenback movement of the 1870s.

Farmers throughout the North experienced a significant increase in profit during the war. They opposed the government retiring the unbacked money used by the Union to support the war because it would harm them.

Partly as a result, many farmers in Bethel left Maine to pursue better farm land that would bring better crops and subsequently yield higher profit.

It wasn't until the 2010 census that population levels reached those of pre-Civil War eras.


This slideshow contains 4 items