This was the childhood home of George A. Muzzey, one of South Berwick’s nine servicemen killed in World War II. His father, Arthur E. Muzzey, was a downtown jeweler, and his mother, Mary L. Muzzey, taught at South Berwick Central School.
In the mid-1800s, this property seems to have belonged to Sarah Joy Goodwin, the widow of Israel W. Goodwin. They had lived next door until the 1850s, and this property may have been part of his tannery. In 1884 she sold the lot to Charles O. Shaw (1861-1916), the son of John O. and Myra Shaw.
The photo at right is dated 1914 and seems to show the ruins of a house that once stood on the property. Shaw may have been living here when he died. Probate records show it had also belonged to a George Whitehouse.
Arthur E. Muzzey
The property was then purchased by jeweler Arthur E. Muzzey, who likely built the Queen Anne-style house that stands here today.
Muzzey had been listed as jeweler in the Maine Register business directory as early as 1900-01. He married Mary L. Goding in 1897, according to Vital Records of South Berwick. They had at least two sons, George Aldrich, born November 2, 1903, and Arnold.
George A. Muzzey attended the University of Maine, became a teacher and author on educational subjects, and during the 1930s wrote the book, A Handbook for Teachers: An Integrating Course for Classroom Teachers in Secondary Schools, which is still found today.
In World War II George served as a major in the infantry, and became a Japanese prisoner of war following his capture in the battle of Corregidor and the fall of Bataan in 1942, when he was wounded in action. On November 1, 1943, with George still in captivity, Arthur and Mary Muzzey were among several families honored in a ceremony in Central Square, South Berwick.
Eight months before the end of the war, George A. Muzzey died, on January 1, 1945. He was among nine South Berwick servicemen killed in World War II, out of 365 who served from the town. He received the Purple Heart Legion of merit. His grave is at Portland Street Cemetery.
His grandfather, and Arthur E. Muzzey’s father, George H. Muzzey, had been a Civil War veteran and paymaster of the Portsmouth Manufacturing Company cotton mill. His wartime experience, in which he escaped from a Confederate prison, is described in his 1905 obituary in the Salmon Falls Independent newspaper. Read about George H. Muzzey.
Mrs. Mary L. Muzzey was a teacher for many years at South Berwick Central School. She died in 1969 at the age of 102.
(This article was revised in January 2010.)