Page 102. " There was a pamphlet next to the lamp, with a photograph of a building that looked to him like a school, called the Eastern Maine State Hospital. "
In the mid-19th century, many states established state mental health systems. Eastern Maine Insane Hospital was opened on July 1, 1901. It was built on a pastoral hill – named 'Hepatica Hill’ for its flowers – overlooking the city of Bangor and Penobscot River. Its design was based on the Kirkbride Plan, an architectural style meant to have curative effect.

 

Page 104. " George sat on the couch, holding a book called Mark the Match Boy open on his lap with his injured hand and an apple in the other. "

Horatio Alger, Jr. was an American author of over 100 boys’ rags-to-riches stories whose heroes lead exemplary lives, succeeding in the face of adversity and poverty.  Published in 1869, "Mark the Match Boy" was the third of six volumes in the Ragged Dick Series.

The Horatio Alger Association was founded in 1947 and continues to this day. It provides scholarships and gives awards to promote the “belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles.”

Page 107. " The curing house was at the end of another turnoff along the dirt tracks that led from the main road (which was dirt as well, this far out of town, but of well-packed and -tended dirt) to the Morrells’. "

The curing shed is just one of several outbuildings that would have been common on a 19th century farm, including: storage sheds, barns, stables, granary, corn crib, root cellar, smoke house, ice house, tobacco barns, pack house, wash house, lye hopper, cider press.

Curing refers to various methods of food preservation (common in the days before refrigeration), and includes drying, salting and smoking. Curing also refers to the process of aging tobacco in special barns lined with racks for hanging bundles of leaves. In smokehouses, meat and fish are smoked for days by burning wood on the ground beneath the meat.

Page 108. " The smallest of his oxen stood at just under six feet at the shoulders; the tallest, over seven and a half. "

Haying at Nonesuch Farm, Maine, ca. 1900
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumHaying at Nonesuch Farm, Maine, ca. 1900 - Credit: Maine Historical Society
Oxen are trained as draft animals; they can pull heavier loads for longer periods of time, but are slower than horses.

Most often yoked in pairs, they were – and are – commonly used to plough fields and haul heavy loads. In the 1800’s, oxen teams were popular with emigrants to the American West who used them to pull their wagons; they could exist on sparse vegetation and were more useful as farm animals.