Lewis Hine caption: Fulsom McCutcheon, 11 years old, has been working at the covering machines in Eastport canning factory, also cutting some. In the background is a typical sardine factory. Location: Eastport, Maine, August 1911.
When James Philson McCutcheon posed for Lewis Hine, his back was facing the L.D Clark & Sons sardine factory. Not long after, someone apparently built a shed on the vacant area directly behind him. Or perhaps the shed was there earlier and had been torn down. Whichever happened, in the photo below, taken from almost the identical spot, you can see the rock on which young James was standing. On a recent visit to Eastport, I determined that this spot appears to be on the shore just east of the end of Battery Street. There’s a cove just north of it. L.D Clark & Sons was located on the other side of the cove.
According to the Maine Archives, Albert J. McCutcheon married Sarah J. Greenlaw in Eastport, on December 15, 1899. In the 1900 census, they are living with Albert’s parents, and they have a two-month-old child whose name was given as “Baby No Name” McCutcheon. Albert works as a can maker. In the 1910 census, “Baby No Name” is identified as 10-year-old Philson J. McCutcheon. Sarah, now a widow, lives at 5 Pleasant Street, in Eastport, and works as a packer in a sardine cannery. In 1919, Philson James McCutcheon registered for the draft. He listed his date of birth as March 30, 1900, and he stated that he was living at 1 Pleasant Street with his mother and worked for Sea Coast Cannery. Listed as James P. McCutcheon in the 1920 census, he still lives at 1 Pleasant Street with his mother. Both of them are working at the cannery. She died in 1925.
Lewis Hine caption: Group of workers at Seacoast Canning Co., Factory #4, Eastport, Me. Location: Eastport, Maine, August 1911.
Sometime in the next few years, James moved to Massachusetts. In the 1930 census, he is living on 70 Hall Street in Waltham, with his wife, Jessie (Doucette) McCutcheon, whom he married about 1929. They had no children. James is a millwright in a machine shop, which is someone who designs and erects mills and milling machinery. Waltham city directories list them until 1935, when James appears, without Jessie, in the Eastport city directory. He is working for the Quoddy Project.
But a year later, he is back with Jessie in Waltham, still a millwright. There appears to be an explanation for this. According to many sources, the Quoddy Project was a proposal for generating electricity by harnessing the tides in the Passamaquoddy Bay area, near Eastport. It was initiated in 1935 under President Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration. Roosevelt’s summer home was on nearby Campobello Island. Part of this project was completed by the construction of dikes. The project was suspended one year later when Congress cut off funds. It looks like James grabbed a good job opportunity during the Depression, or perhaps the company he worked for was hired to do some work on the project.
James and Jessie continued to live in Waltham until he passed away there on November 3, 1980, at the age of 80. Jessie died a year later. According to his obituary, James was survived by several unnamed nieces and nephews. Without any identified descendants to contact, it appears that no other information is available.
*Story published in 2010.