(1818-1887) was born in Methuen, Massachusetts on June 18, 1818. His family was poor and at age eight he went to live with a neighbor, working on his farm and receiving little education. At sixteen he was free to hire himself out as a farm laborer for six dollars a month.
In 1835 Bodwell began to learn the shoemaking trade, working at night and attending school in the daytime. A few years later he hauled stones in a quarry. In 1852, along with a partner, he began his own quarrying business on Vinalhaven.
He was certainly “in the right place at the right time,” since the demand for granite for buildings, bridges and pavement was booming. In 1866 he and another partner opened the Hallowell quarries, where the stone was lighter, easily worked, and more suitable to commercial buildings. Thereafter Bodwell became involved in agriculture, lumbering and railroads, among other pursuits.
Twice a member of the Legislature and Mayor of Hallowell, he also attended the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1880. In 1886, with little if any effort on his part, he was nominated for Governor and won. A businessman, he is said to have run his office in “a business-like-way.” Bodwell’s term was cut short by his death on December 15, 1887.
Chase, Henry, ed. Representative Men of Maine.
Lapham, William Berry, 1828-1894. In Memoriam. Hon. Joseph R. Bodwell, Governor of Maine. Published by order of the Governor and Council. Augusta, Me. Burleigh & Flynt, Printers to the State. 1888.
Nash, Charles E. “Joseph Robinson Bodwell, Governor Elect of Maine.” 1886 [Extracted from: New England Magazine, vol. 5, 1886]