Exploring the History of General Stores in Otisfield, Maine

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In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of general stores in the town of Otisfield, Maine. General stores were an integral part of every town in the past, including Otisfield. We will focus on three prominent general stores, with each store being discussed by a different speaker. First, we will hear from Mari Howard, who will talk about the general stores in the first corner of town. Next, Callie Zielinski will share her knowledge of the East Otisfield general store, which has been in her family for generations. Finally, John Simon will discuss the history of the Bolsters Mailstore, which still stands today. Throughout this article, we will provide details and insights into the lesser-known stores of Otisfield, as well as key points about each of the prominent general stores.

Exploring the Lesser-Known Stores

Before we dive into the main focus of this article, let’s briefly explore some of the lesser-known stores in Otisfield. One of these stores was located on Bell Hill, which was the center of town in its early days. Though the exact date of establishment or disappearance is uncertain, this store played a role in serving the community in the early 1800s. Another lesser-known store was based in Hancock Ville, a village that is not widely known in Otisfield. This store, owned by Joseph Hancock in the early 1800s, catered to the needs of the local community.

Otisfield’s General Stores: A Closer Look

First Corner General Store

Moving on to the main focus, the first corner general store holds a significant place in Otisfield’s history. Established in 1838 by Oliver Cooney, this store served as a vital hub for the local community. A few years later, Joseph Hancock partnered with Lyman Kimball and began trading from this store. It is interesting to note that ownership of the store changed hands frequently, with individuals buying and selling partial stakes in the business. By delving into historical records, we can trace the journey of the first corner general store throughout the years. In 1871, the store was known as Scribner and Andrews, and by 1904, it was acquired by Frank Barrows. It is remarkable that this store still exists today, standing as a testament to its rich history.

East Otisfield General Store

The East Otisfield general store holds a special place in Callie Zielinski’s family history. Passed down from generation to generation, her great-grandfather and grandfather were the proud owners of this store. The store’s origins can be traced back to the early 1800s when a store was built by Joseph Hancock. The store continued to operate, serving the local community until its closure. Though the exact date of closure is unknown, this store played a significant role in the lives of the people of East Otisfield.

Bolsters Mailstore

The Bolsters Mailstore is another prominent general store in Otisfield that still stands today. John Simon will provide insights into the history of this store in his talk. While the exact details are unknown, it is fascinating to see how the store has evolved over time to cater to the changing needs of the community.

General Stores in Otisfield: A Glimpse into the Past

To give readers a better understanding of general stores in Otisfield, we will now explore the common features and functions of these establishments. Information from sixth-graders at Otisfield School in 2002 sheds light on the operations of general stores in the past. These stores were crucial in a time when people couldn’t travel long distances to access necessities. The stores stocked a variety of items, including flour, sugar, potatoes, kerosene, canned goods, and more. Interestingly, eggs were not commonly found in these stores until the 1940s. If a store didn’t have what a customer needed, the storekeeper would make an effort to order it for them. A typical visit to a general store involved approaching the counter, where the shopkeeper would provide assistance.


The history of general stores in Otisfield, Maine, is an intriguing one. We have explored some of the lesser-known stores and provided insights into three prominent general stores: the first corner store, the East Otisfield store, and the Bolsters Mailstore. Each store has its unique story and contributions to the community. General stores played a vital role in the daily lives of the townspeople, providing them with essential items and a gathering place. Through the years, these stores have left an indelible mark on the history of Otisfield.

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