Thomas Isaac Spidell II (1873-1963)

Founder of the Parkdale-Maplewood Community Museum

Thomas Spidell II was a passionate collector of antiques, curios, and artifacts from around the world, many of which he gifted to his hometown of Maplewood to establish a local museum.

Thomas Isaac Spidell II was born September 4th, 1873 in Maplewood, Lunenburg County, to Thomas Isaac Spidell I and Sarah Abigail Berghaus. He loved to read and often wrote for the Bridgewater Bulletin. Thomas left home when he was sixteen and travelled around the world. He worked in the lumber yards of New Hampshire, sold religious materials for the “New & Latter House of Israel,” worked as a market man in Boston for his brother Alexander Spidle, worked in a cook house, and as a janitor and superintendent in apartment buildings in Boston. Thomas eventually settled in Massachusetts, and in 1905, married Laura Scofield. The couple had a daughter, Laura Bernice Spidell, known as Bernice. Unfortunately, her mother, Laura, died in 1910 at the age of 28. In 1911, Thomas then married Sabrina Elizabeth Welsh.

Thomas and his family visited his home in Maplewood every summer. He was known locally as “Uncle Tom.” Thomas loved children and always visited the local schools when he was in town. When he asked the children, 'How are you?” they would reply, “Fine, Why shouldn't I be?” since this is what Thomas often said. The children, with help from their teachers, made Uncle Tom Easter & Valentine's cards, some of which are preserved in books in the Parkdale-Maplewood Community Museum.

On his many travels, Thomas collected unique curios and historical artifacts. When he and his family visited Maplewood, Thomas would bring part of his collection to show to the community. His daughter Bernice used to say that when they packed for their trip, the car was so full of “stuff” they hardly had room for luggage. In 1950, the local Agricultural Society bought a piece of property that at one time belonged to Avard Foster. There, a Field Day was held once a year and Uncle Tom was allotted a room in the barn to exhibit his collection of curios and artifacts. In 1953, Thomas told the community that if they could raise the money to build a museum, he would donate part of his collection for them to display. The community raised $300 and erected the first museum building, which now houses the 4-H Club. In the 1960s, the museum took over Maccabee Lodge Hall and has since grown to include the Lloyd & Muriel Room, Aunt Dinah's Gift Shop and Tea Room, washrooms, plus storage and office space.

In 1963 Uncle Tom died at the age of 89. He is buried in near his home in Medford, Massachusetts. It was his dream to see a Community Museum in his hometown of Maplewood. We think he would be proud.



Parkdale-Maplewood Community Museum, 3005 Barss Corner Rd, Barss Corner, NS