The unique story of a lucky Maine legislator who inherited a fortune and is building up a town. special correspondence, Lewiston Journal, 1885
“No stranger luck every befell a Maine town as that which came to Freeport through the good fortune and munificence of a gentleman known as Mr. E. B. Mallet, Jr., but greeted by the people of that village universally as Ed!
The attention of almost everybody who has visited the State House at Augusta this winter has been called to a clean-looking young man with an open face, dark curly hair, a short brown mustache and a finely rounded form. He had been pointed out as the representative from Freeport-as the noted Mr. Mallet, who inherited an immense fortune from a queer old uncle, and who built a shoe factory and started many enterprises, merely to benefit his neighbors. Never was there a more striking illustration of what one man with an abundance of both public spirit and capital can do for a town, than is afforded by the current history of Freeport. Seldom has a novelist described a more dramatic representative to the Legislature.
It was Thomas Mallet the second who accumulated the Mallet million and opened the way for this laudable exercise of public spirit by his heir, and the consequent prosperity of the Town of Freeport. Thomas was born in 1804, leaving home when he was sixteen for the sea. “Tom” sailed out of Thomaston in the brig Enterprise in 1823, with nothing but clothes on his back and an extra shirt. Sixty-one years afterwards, he died worth almost a million dollars. Edmund Mallet, Jr., with whose name this sketch opens, was always his rich uncle’s favorite nephew. He expected to get a comforting legacy of $10,000 from Uncle Tom, but he was the most surprised man in the State of Maine to find that after bequeathing several legacies of $10,000 or $20,000 each to his other relatives, the old gentleman had left the residue of his property, amounting to $700,000 to him. It was a happy day for Freeport when the heir of old Thomas Mallet decided to move from Pownal to Freeport. Thus “Ed” began his career of enterprise in Freeport, which has made it a new town and which has not stopped yet. Up to this time Freeport Village was a trading corner for farmers and the home of a number of retired sea captains, but it contained no industries of any account.
Mr. Mallet started by building a shoe factory at a cost of $20,000. In obtaining stone for its foundation, he happened to strike a good quarry of granite and he embarked in the granite business, giving employment to 100 men last season. The town needed a grist mill. Mr. Mallet built one, and a good one too, at a cost of twelve or fifteen thousand dollars, and fitted it with the best machinery which he is now running. There was no saw mill in town. To build one was Mr. Mallet’s next move. The mill is nearly completed and will be in full blast next week. It contains both sawing and planeing machinery. Between the grist mill and the saw mill is a brick engine house, flanked by a monster brick chimney, both of which were built from the product of another of Mr. Mallet’s enterprises. Last season he opened a successful brick yard. The bricks proved to be so good that he proposes to manufacture a million next summer. At the opening of winter he bought a piece of timber land and put on a crew of a dozen men or more, to cut and haul it. Within the past six months he has completed six pretty cottages and three tenement houses which are rented to men to whom his works give employment. He has disbursed to laboring men in Freeport nearly $3,000 per month the past year, and fifteen new houses have been built since he set the ball rolling. Do you wonder that his name is in everybody’s mouth in Freeport-that the citizens have elected him town treasurer and sent him to the Legislature and are ready to do anything they can for him?
Mr. Mallet was BORN IN THE ENGLISH CHANNEL on board is father’s ship 32 years ago. He is a handsome fellow, with reserved manners, a great fondness for his library. With his wife and four beautiful children he lives in a modest house, surrounded by well-chosen oil paintings and a wealth of books. He is a persistent student. He uses no tobacco, and is a total abstainer from liquors. He likes the swing of business life, and enjoys the luxury of managing…”