Phineas Franklin Ellis, 79, died at a Mars Hill hospital May 6, 1976 following a long illness. He was born in Castle Hill, August 15, 1896, the son of Jasper O. and Lucy E. Wilcox Ellis. He graduated from Ashland High School as valedictorian in 1915, attended Presque Isle Normal School, now known as University of Maine at Presque Isle, taught school in Ashland (Frenchville area) in 1915 and 1916.
On January 1, 1917 he became the first mail carrier on the RFD 2 mail line out of Ashland that he helped establish by petitioning the government. He served in the medical corps in World War I. Upon returning from the Army, he became manager of the Mapleton Local of the Aroostook Federation of Farmers. He married Mildred Chandler on August 22, 1923, moved to Caribou and was employed by the Maine Potato Growers Exchange known as the “Co-Op.” He returned to Castle Hill, built a home and went into farming and lumbering.
His political career began in April of 1919 when elected third selectman to the Town of Castle Hill. He was elected first selectman and chairman of the board in 1920 – 21. From 1927 to 1935 he was town auditor for Castle Hill, serving again as selectman in 1939 and again 1940. In 1941 the town adopted the town manager system and he became the first town manager for Castle Hill from 1941 to 1956 and Castle Hill and Mapleton from 1947 to 1956. He was representative to the 87th Legislature in 1935, the 88th in 1937, and the 93rd in 1947, serving Ashland, Castle Hill, Masardis, Portage, Garfield, Nashville, and Ox Bow. He clerked on the Taxation Committee for the 89th Legislature in 1939 and for the 90th in 1941.
He was a member of the Castle Hill School Board for 28 consecutive years and was president of the Presque Isle General Hospital Board in April of 1956 when he accepted the position as administrator of the hospital. He worked toward having a new hospital on a new site. The Arthur R. Gould Memorial Hospital opened for business in February of 1960 with Mr. Ellis as its first administrator. He remained administrator until June 1961 when he was appointed director of public relations for the hospital. He remained in this position about one and one-half years before retiring at age 67. The “retirement” ended when he accepted the job as head of the supply department of the Indian Head Plywood Corp. He remained in this position until August, 1973 when at age 77 he actually retired.
He had been a 4-H leader, member of the Washburn Rotary Club, member of the Grange, and the Farm Bureau Extension. He was a member of the State Road Advent Church. He became very interested in the tales he heard throughout the years regarding the Cullen lynching. In 1952 he researched and compiled a complete account of the double slaying of Hayden and Hubbard which led to the vigilante hanging of Jim Cullen. He had been asked throughout the years to lecture at Rotarys, Granges, and schools on Maine’s only lynching.
He had been active in his retirement, gardening, lecturing, attending meetings for the senior citizens and writing his book “Call Me Phin.” In his own words, “I have worked quietly down through the years suggesting something for the better whenever I had the chance and just hope to someday leave a few footprints on the sands of time.”
He is survived by his wife, Mildred Chandler Ellis, Mapleton; one son, Malcolm, Ashland; two daughters, Mrs. Myron Myrtle Goodwin, Kennebunk, Mrs. Eugene Elaine Hotham, Presque Isle; four brothers, Luther, Alonzo, and Wilson, all of Castle Hill, Forest, Ashland; three sisters, Mrs. Dorcas Chandler, Kittery, Mrs. Opal Ellis, Ashland, Mrs. Murray Sarah Murphy, Presque Isle; 10 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren.
Friends may call at Graves Funeral Home, Presque Isle, Friday from 7 – 9 p.m. Funeral services will be held at the funeral home Saturday at 1 p.m. with Rev. David Ross, pastor of the State Road Advent Christian Church, officiating. Burial will be in the Ellis Cemetery, Ashland. Those who wish may contribute to the State Road Advent Christian Church, in his memory, or to the Memorial Fund of the Arthur R. Gould Memorial Hospital.
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