Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 30, 2013
Local history game challenges Penobscot students
From left, Toby Snow and Nathan Winchester of Penobscot Community School placed second and first in the Maja Trivia Tournament of Champions held on May 23 and hosted by Darren French (right) of the Wilson Museum in Castine. Drake Janes (not shown) of Castine came in third.
by Anne Berleant
After months of in-school training, middle schoolers from Brooksville, Castine and Penobscot gathered for the Maja Trivia Tournament of Champions at the Wilson Museum on May 23.
Penobscot students Nathan Winchester and Tobey Snow scored top points, placing first and second. Drake Janes, of Adams School, placed third.
Maja Trivia is a Jeopardy-style game designed to teach and test students on the what, when, where, why and how of their Majabigwaduce past. It was developed by the Wilson Museum, with funding help from Acadia Trust and the Maine Community Foundation.
“It was amazing to see how much the kids had learned, ” said Darren French, education director at the museum and Maja Trivia host.
Maja Trivia’s name came from Majabigwaduce, which included Castine, Penobscot and part of Brooksville before Castine and Penobscot split in 1796. In 1817, Brooksville was formed from parcels of the two towns and Sedgwick.
Contestants fielded questions from before the Revolutionary War to just a few decades ago, digging deepest into their own town’s past.
“What Castine organization started in 1916 and ended in 1920 with the passing of the 19th amendment?” French asked.
The six finalists’ hands hovered over their buzzers, but this particular question stymied them.
Other questions pointed to local lore that students from other towns would be hard-pressed to know, like what year a particular citizen traveled on ice from Brooksville to Belfast or who, in 1793, built the first ship in Brooksville?
General questions in the category Native Americans (“for 400, please”) asked how birch bark bowls were used to cook without catching fire, and with whom they sided during the Revolutionary War. (See end of story for answers.)
Historical societies from each town contributed some questions; others came from the historical writings of Ellenore Doudiet (Majabigwaduce), George Wheeler (Castine) and Walter Snow (Brooksville). Wilson Museum staffer Abbie Dunham sifted through and compiled the material.
Dunham said the students performed well. “I was impressed,” she added. “There are a lot of hard questions.”
Members of each town’s historical society served as tournament judges. The top three winners received modern trading currency—cash in the sums of $100, $50 and $25, respectively. The remaining three finalists will receive $10 gift certificates, and all three schools will receive their own copy of Maja Trivia.
The Castine Suffrage Society dissolved in 1920 when the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.
Brooksville resident Albert Gray traveled by ice to Belfast in 1918.
Brooksville resident John Bakeman built the town’s first ship.
Native Americans placed heated rocks in birch bark bowls to cook food. They sided with the Americans during the Revolutionary War.