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What’s in a name – Jackass Annie Road
TOWN ROAD — Jackass Annie Road is located off Route 119 in Minot. It leads to some of the highest points in Androscoggin County, and was home to one of Minot’s favorite characters.
MINOT — In most towns, roads are named by those who once resided there. Some were farmers; others doctors.
One such road in Minot was named for a woman who grew to national fame at the age of 63; Mesannie Wilkins.
The road is named Jackass Annie Road and is located off Route 119, atop one of the highest elevations of Androscoggin County.
Wilkins was born in 1891 and according to Eda Tripp, one of Minot’s historians, Mesannie was quite a character.
“It was rumored that she had been a bareback rider with some big circus,” said Tripp. “And when she heard of her father’s death and mother’s illness, she returned to Minot.”
The family farmhouse atop that Minot hill had many other out-buildings, including a little shanty camp, which Annie moved into after the farmhouse burned.
Tripp remembers her first trip up the steep hill.
“It was usually quite muddy and Annie’s supplies were, at times, left at the foot of the hill at the Verrill farm,” she said. “The first day I went up there was with old Harold Bridgham, and I think we were delivering hay. He told me I was about to meet ‘Minot’s Annie.”
The historian had never seen such a place.
“It was no more than a hovel,” she chuckled. “There was a small pig curled up in the corner of the kitchen and just as she asked me if I’d like a cup of coffee, a chicken landed in the middle of the table.”
“I politely said; no thank you!” she added.
The only way Tripp could describe Annie was that she was a character.
“Every town has a character and ours was Annie. She dressed quite manly; always had on jeans and a plaid lumberjack shirt. She was quite independent and she had all kinds of animals, including a jackass.”
She rode the jackass to work at the shoe mill, or wherever she could find an odd job for cash.
“It is said that she had a hard time with the jackass leaving work one day, and someone made a snide remark,” laughed Tripp. “Supposedly, her response was, ‘You look after your ass and I’ll look after mine!”
After that incident the nickname Jackass Annie followed her.
At the age of 63, Annie was told by her doctor that she needed to rest and put her affairs on order, but Mesannie Wilkins wouldn’t hear of it.
Trying to stay ahead of the weather, Annie quickly packed up her horse, Tarzan and dog, Depeche Toi (she called them ‘her boys’) and saddled up for a trek across the country in November of 1954. $32 in cash was all she had along with the clothes on her back, a blanket and a diary.
“California, here we come, I go forth in the fate of strangers,” were the expressions neighbors and friends heard as she rode off, many gathering along the roads of Minot to wave goodbye.
Word spread quickly as this saddle tramp headed west, and she met many people who opened their homes and hearts to give her strength to continue. She encountered blizzards, desert heat, and was met by governors, celebrations and parades along the way.
Thousands of miles and over 500 days later, Annie Wilkins made it to the California coast and gathered both friends and fame.
First stop: the Art Linkletter TV and radio show, where Linkletter gave her a new horse, named King.
Her last stop was to wash Tarzan’s feet in the Pacific Ocean.
After her trek across the country, Annie wrote a book depicting her travels. Last of the Saddle Tramps was the name of it and it was co-written with a Mina Titus Sawyer; the preface is by Art Linkletter.
She eventually came back to Maine and died in 1980.
How did the road get its name?
“Although Annie had left in 1954, people just called that side road through the woods the Annie Road,” said Tripp. “It has since been developed and in 1995, when the roads became official for the post office and 911, it was sent to town meeting to be approved. It was passed and named Jackass Annie Road.”
A few neighbors, new to the road, may not love their return address, but the town’s people and its forefathers wanted to keep the road’s name in memory of Mesannie Wilkins.
“She accomplished a feat that probably 99 percent of the women at the age of 63 could not do!” exclaimed Tripp. “And because of her doing this, this road commemorates and remembers Jackass Annie, who lived on the hill in Minot, Maine.”
Now, we have been unable to find out much information on another road name: Alcohol Mary Road. Anyone know the history behind the name? If so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.