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Civil Defense: Red Cross

The women of Monhegan did their part to help the war effort, meeting regularly to knit and sew items for the Red Cross.

“Everybody is busy knitting in spare moments now for the Red Cross, which work Betty Pierce kindly agreed to take over for me, as I have been so very busy with other home and outside activities and her time is her own. They are now meeting at Elva’s home every Saturday night instead of the library. The islanders are beautiful knitters, and Mrs. Warland, chairman of Lincoln County Red Cross, id delighted with what Monhegan workers have done.” Letter from Louise Connaway to her daughter, Leonabel Connaway. Monhegan Island, January 13, 1941.

Louise Connaway, wife of artist Jay Connaway, was Red Cross nurse 419. “Did I tell you that Eleanor Roosevelt discussed my work on Monhegan Island, after that year, during a Red Cross Fund Drive. They had asked me ?? Washington Red Cross to become a Home Defense Nurse, #419, which I did; I was sorry not to hear it, but a friend phoned my sister excitedly and said: “turn on the radio, Eleanor Roosevelt is talking about your sister Louise on Monhegan.” Letter from Louise Connaway to her daughter, Leonabel Connaway.


Jay Connaway (1893-1970) Monhegan, 1937, oil on canvas

“I was a Red Cross Home Defense Nurse on Monhegan #418 and taught all the women a class in Home Nursing, and most attended…”Louise Connaway

The above painting is thought to be of Louise Connaway and her dog Bootsie. Louise was a trained nurse and cared for many islanders during her time on Monhegan. In this image she appears to be carrying her medical bag under her left arm.

Olga Stevens scrapbook, pg.77.

Phyllis Chadwick, Jeannette Foss, Pearl Davis, Bill Orne, Mrs. Andrew Winter, Mrs. Connaway, Clara Burton, Marie Foss, Geraldine Given, Josephine Day Charlotte Stanley, Leonebel Connaway, Andrew Winter, Everett Carter, Jay Connaway, William Stanley, chairman of the Monhegan branch of the American Red Cross, Tom Orne, Harvey Cushman, and Ferdinand Day. Mrs Elizabeth Green and Mrs. Josephine Townsend were also members.

Portland Sunday Telegram And Sunday Press Herald, September 6, 1942
“…every permanent residence is organized for emergency service in case of sea disasters. The Red Cross there has all facilities listed and knows exactly how many survivors could be placed in each house. So, salvaging of human lives is included in the wartime activities of this island. There is a probable chance that this emergency preparation will see actual service before the war is over.”