Alfred Cole.

A history of Buckfield, Oxford County, Maine, from the earliest explorations to the close of the year 1900 online

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THE T^'E'W YOFK
PUBLICLIBRAR^



Til n£N FOUNO,^'



ION8




Hon. John D. Long



A HISTORY



OF



BUCK FIELD

OXFORD COUNTY, MAINE
FROM THE

EARLIEST EXPLORATIONS TO THE
CLOSE OF THE YEAR 1900



BY
ALFRED COLE

Member of the Maine Historical Society
AND

CHARLES F. WHITMAN

Clerk of Courts of Oxford County



"We will review the deeds of our fathers." — EMERSON



BUCKFIELD, MAINE
1915



7;54t73



Copyrighted 1915

in-
C. F. WHITMAN



The paper for this boofe was kindly donated by tlie Maine Coated Paper Co.

of Riirnfoi'd, Maine

As a tribute to Hon. George D. Bisbee



The Journal Printshop, Lewiston, Maine



PREFACE



More than twenty-five years ago, one of the authors of this work, Mr.
Alfred Cole, began collecting material for a History of Buckfield. The
other, Mr. C. F. Whitman, began his collections five years ago. Each
worked independently of the other, until, the health of Mr. Cole becom-
ing impaired, he sent for Mr. Whitman early last year and proposed that
the histon,' be completed by their joint efforts. This was assented to.
Each had material which was essential for a full and complete history of
the town, and each was more interested in producing a work worthy of
his native town than in obtaining credit for being its author. From that
time, the work has been prosecuted vigorously and harmoniously. We
have brought to tlie task a sincere regard for fact and truth.

The records of the town and those in the county offices at Paris have
been thoroughly searched, and also the earh- records of Cumberland
County, of which Buckfield was once a part, and the archives at the
State Houses in Boston and Augusta.

The traditional portion of this work is many fold richer and more
complete than that of any other town history with which we are
acquainted. The chief credit for this is due to Dr. A. C. Whitman, who,
about a dozen years ago, interviewed all the oldest people in the town
and took down their statements. Among these aged people, were Elias
Taylor, a grandson of Samuel Taylor, born in 1796; Mrs. Arvilla Record,
a granddaughter of Benjamin Spaulding, born in 1803; Briggs Record, a
grandson of Jonathan Record, and Susan Leonard.

The authors are descended from Revolutionay soldiers and from two
of the verv' first settlers of the town, and are connected with a great
many of the families which have lived here. We have had no disposi-
tion to exalt their virtues and abilities over others. We have a sincere
admiration for all the old families and those who have contributed to
make our native town one of the very best upon the face of all the earth.
We confidently hope that this book will meet with the hearty approbation
of everv' son and daughter of Buckfield, into whose hands it may fall.

Buckfield, June, 1902.

Alfred Cole.

C. F. Whitman.









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HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I.
Introduction

Location — Ponds and Streams — Surface — Soil — Scenery.



CHAPTER II.

Perspective

Summary of existing conditions — Extent of English settlements —
Law relating to settlements on the public land.s — Law modified, giving
settlers 100 acres of land and not in force after Jan. 1, 1784.



CHAPTER III.

Early Settlement

Hunting party's visit to the region — Benjamin Spaulding already
located here in a hunter's camp — Coming of first two families in early
part of 1777, followed by 3d family later in the season — Location of
their lots — Traditional story of early settlement — First years's experi-
ence of hardships and suffering — Coming of other settlers in 1778, 1779
and 1780.

CHAPTER IV'.
Early Settlement Continued
Pioneers in the eastern and southern parts of the township — Who
they were and where they came from — Traditions relating to their ex-
periences — First marriage in the little settlement — Stories of later
comings.

CHAPTER V.

Pioneer Life

Manner of living in the early days — State of society — Customs and
habits of the early settlers — Diary kept for about a year by a pioneer —
Construction of habitations and rooms — Utensils and furniture used —
Bridle paths and roads.

CHAPTER VT.

Purchase of Township

Efforts to buy the land — Signers of the petition to the General Court
— First fails, second petition succeeds — Provisions in deed and names of
settlers secured in their possession of 100 acres of land — How their lots
were laid out and they obtained their deeds.



8 HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD

CHAPTER XXIII.
Physicians
Dr. Daniel Childs of Turner was first practitioner in Bucktown —
Dr. Samuel Frlnk, first resident physician — Coming- of Dr. William Bridg-
ham — A famous law suit — Dr. Bridgham wins his cause. The command-
ing- figure after this in the practice of medicine m Buckfield and vicinity
to his death — Other physicians.

CHAPTER XXIV.
AmialS 1825 -to 1850

Events of interest— Death of Abijah Buck for whom the town was
named — Deaths of Revolutionary soldiers — Exercises at the opening of
the Buckfield Branch R. R. — Other occurrences of note.

CHAPTB'.R XXV.
Temperance Movements

Evils of intemperance recognized — Agitation for Reform — County So-
ciety organized — ^Members — Docal organization in Buckfield — Washing-
tonian movement — Petition to traders not to sell ardent spirits by the
glass — Efforts made to enforce first prohibitive measure.? — The affair of
the Farrar brothers — An interesting law-suit.

CHAPTER XXVI.
Buckfield ViUag-e in the fifties

A correspondent writes of the village — Its business interests and
business men in 18.53 — "Meek" Farrar's hotel and his ad in local paper —
Governor Long's letter.

CHAPTER XXVTI.
Iiater Editcational History

Grammar school established — Incorporators — Rev. William Pidgin,
preceptor — Rev. Cyril Pearl, Students in 1841 — The starting of the project
of building a railroad prevented the founding of a high school or
acadeiTiy.

CHAPTER XXVIII.
Buckfield in the Civil War

Public sentiment overwhelming in sustaining the war for the Union
- — First company organized and disbanded — Enlistments — Draft — Buck-
field's roll of honor — The soldier dead — Summary men furnished and
credits.

CHAPTER XXIX.

Annals 1850 to 1875

Important events chronicled —Deaths of Rev. Nathaniel Chase ,.Iona-
than Record and Capt. Josiah Parris — The latter was the last survivor
of the Revolutionary soldiers who settled in Buckfield after the war —
Death of the gifted Columbia Gardner at the age of 35 and Mrs. Phebe
(Buck) Foster in her 97th year — Other important events.

CHAPTER XXX.

Secret Societies and Public Iiibrary

Free Masonry, Odd Fellows, Patrons of Husbandry — Order United
American Mechanics — Ladies' societies — The Public Library.



HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD 9

CHAPTER XXXI.
The Railroad, Charter and Org-anization

Projected by Hon. Virgil D. Parris, mortgaged to Hon. F. O. J. Smith
— Bad manag'ement and tinal wreck of the road — Rescued by Hon. Geo. D.
Liisbee and others — Extended to Rumford Falls — Sold to Boston & Maine
system.

CHAPTER XXXII.

Annals 1875 to 1900

Fires — Buildings erected — Industries established — Cyclone in N. W.
part of town — Deaths of prominent persons and others — Other events
of note.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

Korth Buckfleld

John Warren first settler — Little village called "Spaulding's Mills"

— Afterwards "Hale's Mills" and later "North Buckfleld"- — Benj. Spaul-

ding leading citizen — Larnard Swallow — Appleton F. Mason — Powder

Mills — Social and business interests.



PART II.

ZADOC LONG'S JOURNAL

ABU AH BUCK'S DIARY

LUCIUS LORING'S REMINISCENCES

ORFN RECORD'S DEPOSITION

ARVILLA (SPAULDING) RECORD'S LETTER



FART III.

GENEALOGIES OF FAMILIES

RECORD OF DEATHS T'-l

APPENDIX

TOWN OFFICERS

REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS

POST MASTERS

MILITIA OFFICERS

CENSUS OF 1790

TAX LIST OF 1797

CENSUS OF ISOO

CENSUS OF 1850

COUNTY ROADS



ILLUSTRATIONS



PAGE

Hon. John D. Long Frontispiece

Martha Maxim with Dedicatory Poem 13

Map of Township with Setthng Lots, etc 4

Andrews, Hon. S. C 334

Atwood, Ephraim • ■ • • • • • • • ^^^

Dea. Wm. H i84

Kimball C 187



Geo. M.



188



Chas. B. and wife 1^1

Four Gen. C. B. Fam. gr 192

Baptist Church ^^■^

Parsonage, VV. Buckfield 139

Bessey, Everett M • • • ■ • • • • 528

Bisbee, Hon. Geo. D 337

EHsha • • ■ • • ■ 533

Geo. W. and wife 534

Stanley • • • • • • • ■ 539

Spaulding 540

Mrs. A. Louise and gr 535

Bonney, Hon. Albion P • • • ■ 542

Bridgham, Capt. T. S 344

Dr. William • ■..-..• 351

Browne, Col. Jacob W 333

Buck, Orlando J 555

Dr. C. L 558

Buck-field, View in 15

Village, High Street • • ■ • ■ ■ 395

Village. Elm Street 396

Village Square, Pen Picture of 392

Chase, Hon. Thomas ■ 195

Roscoe G . . ■ 196

Charles ... 199

Geo. H ■■ 200

Childs, Hon. John Lewis ■ . . . . ■ ■ 205

Floral Park, etc 206

Cole. Alfred 209

Cummings, Hon. Prentiss •.......■ • • • . 214

Dea. Whitney 213

DeCoster, Varanes and gr 576

James H • ' • • 575

Dver, Fred R 347



HISTORY OF BUCKFIKLD 11

Emer>-, Ellen Morrill 638

Farrar's Hotel 391

Federal Meeting House 176

Forbes, Rev. Eleanor B 217

Foster, Phebe Buck, at 95 425

Gardner, Columbia 218

Gertrude 218

Greene, Clara Marcelle 297

Harlow, Dana B 298

Old Ho. at PI 597

Hersey, Rev. Levi 173

Hon. O. H 343

Hutchinson, Hon. J. P 223

Irish, Thos. and wife, gr 607

Long, John D 233

Summer Home 234

Public Library 441

Hon. Zadoc 469

Hon. Washington 247

Thomas and wife 618

Loring, Squire John 253

Maj . Lucius 254

Hill, view' from 391

Maxim, Martha 13

Poets, gr 309

Soldiers, gr 625

Merrill, A. Judson, Fam. gr 631

Morrill, Nathan 637

Packard, Stephen and wife 641

Farm B'ld'gs 642

Stephen G • • . 645

Stephen G. Res 646

Dr. F. H 649

Penley and Hanno • • ■ ■ 650

Parris, Four Gen. Hon. V. D. Fam. gr 261

Phelps, R. Ad. Thos. S 265

Prince, H on. Xoah ■ • 271

Hon. Chas. H 275

Henry C • - • 276

Ardelia • • 317

Record, Jonathan, at 100 421

Roberts, Capt. C. C, gr 669

Sawyer, Helen A ■ • 553

Shaw, I. Wilson 681

Small, Rev. A. K. P 151

Albion W., L.L.D 279

Smith, Seba, gr 319



12 HISTORY OF BUCKFfELD

Spaulding, Benj., Jr • 285

Wm. C 289

Ben ■ 286

Cyrus C 290

Thayer, Old Lt. Isaac Ho 693

Tucker, Ruth A ■ 553

Union Chapel 157

White, Col. A. D 292

Whitman, Joshua E. and Sons, gr 709

Chas. R, gr 710

Ozias and wife 713

Flora E 324



HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD



18



Dedicatory Poem

By Martha Maxim




Martha Maxim



As kindred of a storied Past
We turn this History's page,

We trace upon its radiant leaves
A goodly heritage.

We call the Old Time back again
Its scenes with joy we hail

As from the hallowed, glowing past
We lift the time-worn veil.

Through vistas dim we trace the steps

Of sturdy pioneers.
To voices of the Long Ago

We hark back through the years.



As faint as echoes of a dream

These voices from afar
Seem floating down from Heaven's Gate

Beyond the Evening Star.

By fair Nezinscot's winding ways

Our fathers' fathers trod.
Loyal as were their Pilgrim sires

To freedom, home, and God.

To these Forefathers here recalled

This Book we dedicate,
May memories of their noble lives

Its pages consecrate !

Ye dwellers by yon river fair

With Time's unceasing flow
More tenderly your hearts will cling

To things of Long Ago.

And as we wend our separate ways
Come fortune's smile or frown.

Our hearts will turn and voice this praj'cr
God bless our dear old Town !



HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD



CHAPTER I.

IXTRODUCTION.



Buckfield is situated in the valley, drained by the Great
Androscoggin River and its tributaries. It is bounded on the
north by Sumner and Hartford; on the east by Turner in Andro-
scoggin County; on the south by Hebron, and on the west by
Paris, the shire town.

Its area is about 22.000 acres.

The town is well watered by ponds and streams. North
Pond, so named from its situation about two miles north of the
village, is partly in the town of Sumner. This little body of
water is charmingly located in a deep secluded basin, environed
by high wooded hills and is a favorite place of local resort. Its
altitude is sufficient to afford a natural reser\oir for an abundant
supply of water by gravitation for Buckfield village.

South Pond, also so called from its situation about one mile
south of the village, is a small body of water of about half a mile
in length and about one-quarter of that distance in its widest part.
The road bed of the railroad was laid through a part of its east-
ern border. Its waters are for the most part shallow, and in
summer much of its surface is whitened with lilies.

There is another very small pond in the northeastern section
of the town called Lincoln Pond, which is the drainage center of
a considerable section reaching to the Hartford town line.

The fourth and last, is Whitman Pond, of some three acres,
lying in the south part of the town quite near to the Hebron town
line. It is the source of Bog Brook, which flows through Hebron
and Minot into the Little Androscoggin River just below the
village of Mechanic Falls.

The outlet of South Pond is a sluggish stream flowing north
into the West Branch of the Twenty-Mile River near the upper
part of the village. One would suppose from the lay of the land



18 HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD

that the natural outlet of this pond would run south instead of
north, and there is little doubt that at some remote period it did
so flow, till in some convulsion of nature a slide of earth from
the mountains and hills filled up its southern end sufficiently and
sent the waters of the pond running the other way.

There are numerous little streams which have their sources
in the mountains and hills, and nearly all find their way into the
Nezinscot or Twenty-Mile River — the principal stream which
flows through the town, and across Turner, into the Great Andro-
scoggin.

This river has two branches which unite just below the vil-
lage. The West Branch on which are the principal water powers
of the village and at North Buckfield, once called Spaulding's
Mills, has its source in Shagg Pond in northeastern Woodstock.
The East Branch takes its rise near Tumble Down Dick in Peru
and flowing south forms the boundary between the towns of
Sumner and Hartford and enters Buckfield near the center of
its northern border.

The origin of the name of the principal stream of water in
the town, is uncertain. It is not twenty miles from the junction
of the two branches to its mouth and is more than that from
either source to its union with the larger river. Nezinscot is
from the Indian word nezinske, signifying twenty, but as the sav-
ages could have had originally no knowledge of distances meas-
ured by English miles, the application of this name to the river,
must be attributed to some other cause than distance, now lost
beyond recovery.

The surface of the town has that diversity and rugged forma-
tion, common to the other towns of the county. It is broken
into numerous hills, with comparatively level stretches along the
river valleys and undulating tracts of arable land in the highlands
on either side. Waste lands here and there appear, aggregating
quite an acreage, but mostly in the vicinity of Jersey Bog in the
eastern part of the town, and in the mountain districts in the
southwestern portion of Buckfield, where the surface is more
broken.

The highest and most important elevation is Streaked Moun-
tain, on which corner the three towns of Buckfield, Hebron and
Paris. It is nearly i,8oo feet above sea level and about 900 feet
above the village of Paris Hill.



HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD 19

Next to Streaked Mountain in prominence is Owl's Head.
Its altitude has never been ascertained. The two elevations are
separated by a deep valley, and it's plain to be seen by compari-
son that Streaked Mountain is several hundred feet higher than
its neighboring peak.

The soil of the town is of good quality and excellent for In-
dian corn and grain. The intervales are free from stones and
highly productive. The hill sides and uplands are well adapted
for grazing and fruit culture. Here is the natural home of the
apple, which grows to perfection. No towm has a greater variety
of springs of pure water.

The principal varieties of forest trees are the pine, hemlock,
spruce, fir, cedar, rock and white maple, beech, yellow^ and white
birch, oak, white and brown ash, poplar, basswood and elm.

No minerals of economic value are Icnown to be in town,
with the exception of a deposit of iron ore, on what was once
known as the Lysander Lowe farm in the western part of the
town. Some of this ore was smelted in 1837 and found to be
of excellent quality.

On Streaked Mountain and Owl's Head, mixed with the
granite veins, beautiful crystals of beryl, black tourmalines, etc.,
have been found. Recent investigations here give inaications
of richer mineral deposits similar to those of Mt. Mica in Paris.

The scenery is everywhere delightful and from Streaked
Mountain, grand and beautiful. The lovely landscape views
from its summit dotted with ponds and silvery streams, and
pretty villages, is almost unrivalled. One of the Harpers of
New York, who once visited the place, said he had been all over
Europe and in Switzerland, and he had seen nothing so beauti-
ful and lovely as the view from Streaked Mountain.



20 HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD

CHAPTER II.

Perspective.

Prior to the beginning of the War of the Revolution, the tract
of country embraced in what is now the town of Buckfield was
an unbroken wilderness. It was but a decade and a half since
Canada had passed into the possession of the English, through
Gen. Wolfe's great victory on the Plains of Abraham, and the
surrender of Quebec to the British Arms. This was the only
period since the landing of the Pilgrims, at Plymouth, in which
those seeking to found new settlements in the District of Maine
and away from the coasts, could do so without fear of attack by
savages, or of the interruption of peaceable pursuits.

In the wars between England and France for the possession
of the St. Lawrence and Ohio valleys and Acadia, ruin had often
fallen on the homes of the white settlers, but the savage tribes
in the District of Maine had been broken up or destroyed. Those
who survived the wars and remained, in what is now the county
of Oxford, were but a few scattered bands, living where they
might best procure fish and game.

At the time of the coming of the early settlers, a small band
lived at the mouth of the Nezinscot, or Twenty-Mile River, a very
few near North Pond, in what is now the town of Sumner, and a
larger number in the Rangeley lake region. None of these showed
any hostile disposition. During the period mentioned, the wilder-
ness along the Androscoggin, Saco and other rivers, was invaded
by hundreds of people in search of lands on which to found new
settlements and make permanent homes.

Massachusetts always pursued a wise and liberal policy, in
promoting and encouraging new settlements, and from time to
time, the General Court passed acts, in furtherance of this pol-
icy. No difficulty in obtaining grants of land was experienced
by those who had served the State in any of its wars, by their
descendants, or by those who had been victims of Indian cruelty.
Townships were assigned to responsible parties, on very liberal
terms. Practically the lands belonging to the Commonwealth,
away from the coast and large rivers, were open to all for settle-
ment on the general conditions that each individual, to be entitled
to lOO acres of land, must actually enter upon his tract, clear



HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD 21

from five to eight acres, and put them into condition for tillage,
within three years. He must also erect a habitation at least
eighteen feet square and seven feet post. The number required
by the Commonwealth for the formation of a township was gen-
erally about sixty. After a certain number of years, the com-
munity thus formed was obliged to settle a "learned" Protestant
minister and make provision for his support. Lots were re-
served for schools and the ministry, and, at a later period, a lot
for the future disposition of the government.

This was substantially the law at the time the first settlers came
into what is now the town of Buckfield. There is abundant evi-
dence to show that they expected to induce a sufficient number
to follow them, so that each would hold his lOO or more acres of
land free, and to ensure the purchase by them of the remainder
of the township on the conditions usually imposed by the Com-
monwealth.

z\fter the first settlement was made, and before the purchase
of the township was effected, the law was changed, so that the
only conditions imposed, were that any settler who, in four years'
time, cleared i6 acres and erected a habitation, could for a small
sum, obtain his deed of lOO acres. As will be seen hereafter,
this sum varied at different dates from about one pound ($5) to
a little over $9.00. Proprietors of townships, however, were
compelled to submit to the usual conditions for the support of
schools and the ministry.

This law regarding individual settlers was not in force after
January i, 1784, but it was in existence long enough to change
the purpose of the greater number of those who settled in the
township prior to 1781. Before this act passed, they had ex-
pected to become proprietors, but after it became a law, many
chose to have their 100 acres set out to them, without being bur-
dened with the responsibilities imposed on proprietors. A few
of them, however, never relinquished the idea of purchasing the
township and becoming proprietors. They saw, if the enterprise
was successful, that they could acquire all the land they desired
at little or no cost and, through the sale of lots to new settlers
and others, that they had a fair prospect of becoming well-to-do.
How successful they were, the future pages of this work will
show.



22 HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD

It should not be forgotten that the lands on the east, west and
south of the tract which includes Buckfield had already been dis-
posed of, in grants to other parties, and the fact that here and to
the northward was the only land where practically free homes
could be obtained, brought hither the greater number of those
who settled in the township prior to January i, 1784.



HISTORY OF BUCKFIELD 23

CHAPTER III.

Early Settlement.

In the autumn of 1776, according to tradition, a party of
hunters from New Gloucester, Maine, consisting of Abijah and
Nathaniel Buck. Thomas Allen and John Brown, with perhaps
others, came into what is now the town of Buckfield, for the
secondary purpose of procuring game in which the region
abounded, but primarily to select lots for a permanent settlement.
They, or a part of them, had been here before on hunting expe-
ditions, and had ascertained that it was a goodly land fit for hab-
itation, and had determined to settle here. Long before this.
Streaked Alountain, Twenty-Mile River, and even Bog Brook,
had received the names by which they ha\e ever since been
known. Hunters had found that bears and catamounts w^ere
numerous around Streaked Mountain and Owl's Head, that
Twenty-Mile River and South Pond were full of fish, while Bog
Brook was noted for its beaver. This brought them into the
region during the autumn months, in increasing numbers. The
party mentioned having determined upon a settlement, knew there
was no time to lose if they were to obtain and hold possession.

The leader and moving spirit was Abijah Buck, then about
thirty- four years old. He had served in the Colonial forces
during the greater part of the year 1760 — the year after Quebec
had fallen. He had previously been a "Scout to the Eastward."
From North Yarmouth, he had entered the service, and it was
stated in his enlistment papers that he was born at Dunstable,
Mass., age 17, and that his father's name was John Buck. His