George Alexander Emery.

Ancient city of Gorgeana and modern town of York (Maine) from its earliest settlement to the present time : also its beaches and summer resorts online

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Online LibraryGeorge Alexander EmeryAncient city of Gorgeana and modern town of York (Maine) from its earliest settlement to the present time : also its beaches and summer resorts → online text (page 1 of 10)
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Second Edition: Corrocted, Enlarged, Illustrated, Sevised.

indent Citfi of ^orgeana






Written, Compiled, and Typographicafly Composed


Entered according to Act of Conj:p-cst, in the year 187.1, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Coiip;res8, at Washington.

All Kights reserved.

Stereotyped ot the

19 Spring Lane.


M'lntire Garrison House, • . Frontispiece.

Old Apple Tree, Page 79

Junkins Garrison House, • . • .181
Le Juif Errant, . ... . . 245

Marshall House, 246

"Once in Time's morning, when Ymir lived,
There was no sand, no sea, no salty waves ;
No earth was found, nor heaven's high firmament;
Only a yawning gulf, but grass nowhere."


The history of most of the towns of New En-
gland possesses principally a local interest, and
perhaps there is nothing suflSciently distinctive in
the records of the locality of which we have
treated in this little volume to make the work
of more importance to the general reader. Yet,
as York was one of the earliest settled of the
seaports north of the Massachusetts Colony, and
for a considerable time had a reputation among
the better known of the towns planted upon the
coast, there are events connected with it that
afford materia) of value in a historical aspect, and
which may entitle it more than many other places
to be regarded as illustrating the manners, the
customs of living, and the general characteristics
of the towns of its class for many years after its
original settlement.


While the town had been stationary, if not
nearly retrograding, for many years up to a recent
date, its advantages as a watering-place have
since then attracted increasing attention, and have
given a new impulse to its growth, the effect of
which is palpably apparent. It is now widely
known as one of the most eligibly situated and
altogether desirable of sea-side resorts. The
efforts made to improve the natural attractions of
the place, by providing for the comfort and fur-
nishing facilities for the enjoyment of those who
visit it, have greatly added to its popularity. It
has entered upon a new stage in its career, and
before this is completed the town is likely to
have a national fame. Its position invites this,
and the intelligent efforts of those who had the
sagacity to appreciate its resources as a watering-
place have improved and utilized what nature has
done in this respect. It is with a view to interest
not alone the inhabitants of the vicinity, but the
thousands who will be brought to know it through
its associations as a place of summer residence,
that this brief record of its history has been


— N>:^^^r3?^<©<M —


Agamenticus, Mount, 24

Ancient and Modern Scalawags, 225

Apple-tree, old, 89

Baptist Churches, 219

Boon Island, Shipwreck, 162

Census of York, , 233

Census over a Century ago, 17-4

Coasting, Shipping, 240

Commerce of York, Wharves, 166

Congregational Church, 101

County Courts and Officers, Jail, 93

Criminal Court, Devil's Invention, 130

Dow, Lorenzo, Physicians, 123

Dummer, Rev. Shubael, Killed, 102

Early Schools, 160

Earth(juakes, Cold Weather, Snow Storms, . 80

First Settlements in Maine, 11

Foundation of the City of Gorgeana, .... 38

Garrison Houses, Scotland, 87

Gorgeana and York, 21 ■

Haunted House and Ghost, 175

Isles of Shoals, Attempts to Revolutionize, . o6

Topical Index.

Indian Raid at Cape Neddock, 128

M'Intiros, the 53

Maine Sold to Massaclmsetts, 128

Manufactures in York 235

Marshall House, 247

Methodist Church, '215

Moody, Kev. Fatlier, 102

Murpliy the Wife Murderer, 195

Miracles at the Shoals, 97

Old Stacy Honse, Harmon Massacre, .... 90

Ordination Expenses, 244

Primitive and Infant Schools, 230

Saint Aspinquid " 132

Schools and Sclioolmasters, . 210

Sea-side Resorts, 237

-"Settlement of York, 30

Sewall's Bridge, 169

Sewall Mansion, 96

Shower of Meteors, 232

Sloop-wreck, 245

Smith, Capt. John 46

Stevens the Child Murderer, 194

Temperance Customs now Extinct, .... 127

Witches and Witchcraft, 133

Witham, Bartholomew, Betsy, Ruth, .... 182
Women Prohibited from Living at the Shoals, 50

York Massacre, 144

York Records, C3

York Veterans, 219

J'ird ^eiilements in ^aine.

— M>@>^3£^<©<^^ —

In the Old World the monuments of an
ancient people often record their chronicles.
In North America, such intelligible records
are wanting. Within almost every state and
territory remains of human skill and labor
have been found, which seem to attest the
existence of a civilized nation, or nations,
before the ancestors of our numerous Indian
tribes became masters of the continent.
Some of these appear to give indisputable
evidence of intercourse between the people
of the Old World and those of America cen-
turies, perhaps, before the birth of Christ,
and extending into later periods. For in-

12 Torh and Gorgeana,

stance : a Persian coin was found in Ohio ; a
Roman coin, in Missouri ; a small piece of
silver, in Genesee County, New York, with
" A. D. 600" engraved on it. Traces of iron
utensils wholly oxidized, or reduced to rust,
mirrors of mica or isinglass, and glazed pot-
tery, have also been discovered in mounds of
the Western States. These are evidences
of the existence of a race far more civilized
than the tribes found here by modern

No mariners were so adventurous as the
Northmen, or Scandinavians, of the regions
of the north of Europe now embraced in
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Lapland, Nor-
way, Sweden. In A. D. 1002, according to
an Icelandic chronicle,"^' a Norwegian vessel,

* The old chronicle referred to, and now in ex-
istence, says that Gudrida, wife of a Scandinavian
navigator, gave birth to a child in America, who
bore the name of Snorre ; and it is further asserted
that Bertel Thorwalsden, the great Danish sculp-

First Settleinents in Maine, 13

commanded by Captain Lief, sailed from
Iceland for Greenland. A gale drove the
voyagers to the coast of Labrador, in North
America. They explored the shores south-
ward to the regions of a genial climate,
where they found noble forests and abun-
dance of grapes. This it is supposed was in
the vicinity of the coast of Massachusetts ;
and accounts exist of these or other voyagers
exploring the coast to the eastward many
hundreds of miles, and of settlements made,
for a longer or shorter period, in many places
near or on the coast of Maine. In the
absence of actual charts or maps wherewith
to fix these localities of latitude^ and longi-
tude, they remain subjects of conjecture
only, for these explorers left few definite
traces of their presence here, unless it be

tor, was a descendant of this early white Ameri-
can. The records of these voyages were compiled
by Bishop Thorlack, of Iceland, who is also a de-
scendant of Snorre.

14 YorTc and Gorgeana,

conceded that the remains of fortifications
and rude semblances of dwellings, concern-
ing the origin of which annals and traditions
are silent, were the relics of people from this
portion of the Eastern Hemisphere.

The information which Vasco De la Vega
has left on record is important, as it dates
prior to that of Christopher Columbus. He
tells us that Sanchez^ who used to trade in
a small vessel to the Canary Islands, was
driven by a furious storm " over unto those
western countries," and at his return he
gave to Colon, or Columbus, an account of
what he had seen ; but he soon after died of
a disease he had contracted on the danger-
ous voyage.

The two Cabots, Sebastian and John, —
father and son, — under the commission of
King Henry Vn., in 1497, made more exten-
sive discoveries of America than either Co-
lumbus or Americus Vcspucius ; and the
younger of them hud great honors conferred

First Settlements in Maine, 15

on him by Edward VI , and a pension which
he enjoyed till he died of old age. Colum-
bus did not discover *any part of the conti-
nent till 1498; and Vespucius visited the
continent a considerable time later. A
series of discouraging disasters attended the
endeavors of the French and Spanish to col-
onize Florida and the rest of the continent,
even as far north as Virginia, — so called by
reason of the first white child born to Ana-
nias Dare, in 1585.

The courage of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and
Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, and several
other adventurers, served to give impetus to
others upon like expeditions. Gosnold, in a
small barque, on May 11, 1602, landed on
this coast in latitude forty-three degrees, and
remarked that he liked the welcome he had
from the savages that came aboard, yet he
disliked the climate ; so that he thought it
necessary to stand more southward into the
sea. The next morning he found himself

16 YorTc and Gorgeana,

embayed within a mighty head of land, which
promontory, in remembrance of the codfish
so plentiful there, he called Cape Cod, a
name which it will never lose till the shoals
of fish are to be seen swimming over the
tops of the highest hills.

In 1506, Sir Francis Drake visited the
New England States, while on his adventur-
ous voyage around the world. After this and
up to the time of the landing of the Pilgrims
near Plymouth, Dec. 11 (O. S.), 1620, vari-
ous adventurers from the Eastern Continent
visited these New England coasts : some
for the purpose of making discoveries, some
to trade with the natives, and some with
an intent of establishing settlements here,
and for other purposes. Among the native
savages whom the Pilgrims found here, in
1621, and who had been spared to survive the
plague of 1617-18, were two distinguished
natives, Samoset, and Squanto, alias Tis-
quantum, who were not only loyal to their

JFirst Settlements in Maine, 17

King, Chief, or Sagamore,^* Massasoit, but
friendly to the Pilgrims, who in turn treated
them kindly, and smoked f with them the
pipe of peace. Samoset, as he came from
the wilderness to meet them, has been thus
described :

" With frame erect, and strangely painted o'er,
Belted around his loinvS, a Sagamore,
Whose bony arms a bow and arrow held,
A heart unsoiled his tawny bosom swelled

* Indian Chiefs were military commanders, or
leaders. Sachems were the first civil heads of
nations or tribes. Sagamores were the second
heads of nations or tribes.

t Tobacco, which is indigenous to America, was
in common use among the Indians for smoking
when the white men first came here. But the
practice of cliewing it is an invention of the white
people. The calumet, or pipe of peace, was made
of pipe-clay, and often ornamented with feathers.
Tlie sailors in the fleet of Columbus after their
arrival home stated that they saw " the Indians
roll up long leaves of the tobacco-plant, and
smoke like devils."

18 York and Gorgeana,

To generous deeds. He broken English spake,
And talked anon of men, — of Francis Drake,
That gallant white man, years before, who came,
And gave New England her historic name."

Speculations are rife whether Cabot, Car-
tier, De Monts, or Verazzani might not have
made his first hmd-fall hereabouts, — for on
a clear day Agamenticus Mountain is visible,
near forty miles at sea, — or dreamed of the
discoveries of an even more remote antiquity.
Gosnold must have sighted old Agamenticus
in 1602, as he fell in with the New England
coast in latitude forty- three degrees. The
caravel of John Smith, with its oddly-shaped
prow, and high, ornamental stern, no doubt
breasted the tide of York harbor, in 1G14.

Captain Christopher Leavitt, under the
auspices of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, explored
a portion of the coast of Maine and New
Hampshire in 1623, and was importuned by
the friendly Indians in the vicinity to settle
in what is now Portland, after exploring the

First Settlements in Maine. 19

coasts of Boothbay, Ogunquit, York. He
was visited by the great Sagamores of the
country, who implored him to stay with
them. Despite the moving arguments and
entreaties of the natives to remain, he sailed
for England in the fall of the same year,
leaving behind ten of his men ; and as he
gave over his design of returning for several
years, his fortified habitation at that place
was no doubt deserted by its garrison.

The first English grant on this continent
was made by James I., in 1606. The next
year a settlement was made near the mouth
of the Kennebec River, under Sir John
Popham and Sir John Gilbert. They set-
tled on an island at the mouth of the river
before mentioned, intending that the colony
should be planted on the mainland, on the
west side of the river. The settlement was
not a success. Whether all the colonists
returned to England or not, cannot now be
known. In 1616, after the visit of John

20 YorJc and Gorgeana.

Smith, the great explorer, in 1614, Richard
Vines came over and settled near the mouth
of Saco River ; since which time, beyond a
doubt, the coast of Maine has not wanted
white settlers.

There was a temporary settlement in Pem-
aquid, now Bristol, Maine, as early as 1625.
On the banks of the Pemaquid is an old fort,
once called William-Henry, and afterwards
Frederick-George, built of stone, in 1692,
and taken by the French in 1696. " Here
are found gravestones of a very early date,
and streets regularly laid out and paved, in
the vicinity of the fort. On the side of the
river opposite to the fort tan-pits have been
discovered, the plank remaining in a state of
preservation. In other places coffins have
been dug up, w^hich bear indubitable evi-
dence of remote antiquity."


The ancient maritime town of York, Maine,
on the Atlantic coast, located in latitude 43°
10' north, longitude 70° 40' west, is bounded
south-cast by the Atlantic Ocean, north-east
by Wells, north-west by South Berwick, and
south-west by Kittery, the settlement*^ of
which, according to Edward Godfrey, began
soon after the landing of the Pilgrims in the
May-Flower, near Plymouth, Mass. (1620),
and was then called Agamenticus, or Acco-
menticus — signifying, in the Indian tongue,

* The first settlement in Maine was at Kittery,
in 1623. Kittery, Saco, Wells, York, are often
spoken of, by ancient and modern writers, as the
" Ancient Plantations." Agamenticus settlement
was incorporated A. D. 1639, and then contained
one hundred and fifty souls. The Isles of Shoals
had, the same year, two hundred inhabitants.

22 Ancient City of Gorgeana.

" on the other side of the river.'''' This was the
name of a mountain six hundred and eighty
feet high, consisting of three elevations, sit-
uated in the north part of the town, about
five miles from the sea. It is not broken,
rocky, or steep, but is covered with woods
and shrubs, interspersed with small patches
of pasture, and large crowning rocks which
form its summit. It is a noted landmark for
mariners, and is the first height seen by them
from the sea on the coast northward and east-
ward of Portsmouth. This mountain is sup-
posed to have been the land first discovered
by Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold, the English
navigator, in 1602, and was also visited by
Martin Pring, in 1G03; but it is not until the
voyage of the French along the coast, in 1605,
that a distinct reference to it is made in any
record. Gosnold is thought to have made a
landing at the Nubble, near York " Long
Beach, and called it Savage Rock."

The village part of York is situated ninety-

Modern Town of York, 23

nine miles south-west from Augusta, forty-
five miles south-west by south from Portland,
twenty-two miles south- south-east from Al-
fred, and nine miles north by east from
Portsmouth, N. II. The population of this
town in early times amounted to only a few

At this time Indian tribes were scattered
throughout the neighborhood and all around
tlie suburbs, keeping the settlers in constant
fear and jeopardy of their lives,' they being
at the mercy of these cruel barbarians, more
especially in winter, who came on snow-
shoes, often surprising the unwary and
almost defenceless inhabitants in the severest
weather and on the darkest nights.

The principal harbor is formed by York
river, with water sufficient for vessels of two
or three hundred tons burthen. The entrance,
however, which is directly in the rear of the
Marshall House, is difficult, being narrow
and crooked.

24 Ancient City of Gorgeana.

Adventurers and searchers after fossils
have asserted that clams have been dug on
the borders of this river, north of the site
of the Barrell Mill-dam, measuring over a foot
in diameter.

Agamenticus, or York river, receives no
considerable supply from its short fresh watei
stream above the head of the tide, and con-
quently is indebted to the ocean for its
existence. Its length of flood-tide is seven
miles. Much shipping was formerly carried
on here. Warehouses and wharves were
numerous Many vessels, several of them
ships, were built on this river.

The other harbor is Cape Neddock,
about four miles north-east of the former.
The latter is navigable for about a mile
from the sea at full tides only, it having a
sand-bar at its mouth sufficient to prevent
vessels of any considerable draft from pass-
ing at low-tide.

Four miles distant easterly from York

Modern Tmvn of Yor7c. 25

harbor, a part of which is a most beautiful
beach of white sand, is Cape Neddock River,
a stream flowing from the foot of Mount
Agamcnticus. It receives its waters from
the sea, has a sand-bar at its mouth, and is
so small of itself as to be fordable at half-
tide. It is never navigable more than a mile
from the ocean at high- water. Several mills
have been erected on this and other small
streams emptying into it, but they some
years since became extinct. On the south-
western part of the river, and at the upper
end of '* Long-Sands-Bay," is York "Nub-
ble," which is nothing more than a small-
sized hillock. This Nubble, upon which
many a vessel has become a wreck, is the
nearest land to Boon Island, which is about
seven miles distant.

Agamenticus and its immediate neighbor-
hood were formeiiy inhabited by a singular
people, whose names, Fitzgerald, Bamsdell,
etc., would imply descent from Scotch

26 Ancient City of Gorgeana,

ancestry. They brought to the village bark,
berries, wood, etc., which they exchanged
for groceries, salt-fish, corn, and rum ; and
on muster or training days, some of them
rarely got home until the next day. Their
style of language was very peculiar, appear-
ing to be neither Scotch nor Yankee, but
a cross between. After Cape Neddock
began to divert trade from York village,
less and less was seen of these people.
That region is becoming depopulated, as
the forest there has disappeared before the
vandal axe.

In view of what this town is at present,
and what it ought to have been, the follow-
ing, from the pen of the Hon. Nathaniel G.
Marshall, may be appropriate and inter-
esting :

'' The whole Province now called the State
of Maine was granted, prior to 1639, by
King Charles I. to Ferdinand© Gorges, who

Modern Toivn of TorJc. 27

sent his nephew, Thomas Gorges, here to
select a site for the centre of his operations.
He selected this place, and was so pleased
with the locality as to bestow upon ns the
honor of being denizens of the first Eiiglish
City on the American Continent. '-'' Of this
we shonld be and are proud, although clothed
now in a garb of the lowest humility. We
were sold out to a rival company, as it were,
for ' thirty pieces of silver,' and crucified on
the altar of the ambition of the Massachusetts
Bay Company ; and, after enjoying our city
charter for a brief period, became a town in
1653. For a while we continued a town of

* Great discrepancies exist in both Gazetteers
and Histories regarding dates. It is claimed for
St. Augustine, Florida, to be "the oldest city [?]
in the United States, having been settled by the
Spaniards forty-three years earlier [loG5] than
Jamestown, Virginia, by the English." And
for the latter place : " This is the oldest English
settlement in the United States, having been made
in 1G08."

28 Ancient City of Gorgeana,

much note, this place being the seat of jus-
tice for the whole Province of Maine for a long
period. But we commenced to dwindle by
degrees, until now w^e are comparatively
isolated from the rest of mankind. Our
young men who possess a little ambition go
from among us ; and, for want of facilities to
visit the place of their birth, stay away.
Occasionally, a few, attracted by old associa-
tions, stray towards their natal place, feel a
kind of sorrowful interest for it, and are anx-
ious to learn the state of affairs existing at
the time. To such an extent have we fallen
in our own and the estimation of other
neighboring places, that we hardly have a
heart to relate our sorrowful condition.

" Had the Eastern Railroad from Ports-
mouth to Portland ,^built about 1841) been
constructed upon its original location, instead
of making a detour into the interior a dis-
tance of eight or nine miles from a straight
and feasible line, it would have passed

Modern Town of YorU. 29

through this town near the village, and short-
ened the distance over five miles. At that
time the majority of the people of the town
had a horror of railroads, and used every ex-
ertion to prevent a location even within their
limits, positively declaring that, if built, it
would ''poison the land for a mile on each
side of it!' and render all the rest of the
property in town quite valueless ; conse-
quently this company were actually com-
pelled to obtain a new location and amend-
ment of charter. The exultations of the

* leading great men' on that occasion are
well remembered, when the representatives
returned from the Legislature exclaiming:

* ive have driven them into the woods !*

" Because of the sins of those fathers the
town now greatly suffers, for it has advan-
tages which facility of access by railroad
would develope ; and there is capital hoarded
in savings banks sufficient, had it railroad
facilities, to build up enterprises and make it

so Ancient City of Gorgeana,

one of the most thriving places in the State.
The natural location of the place, and
especially its vicinity to the seashore, and
the exertions and extensive outlays of some
of its citizens to make it a summer resort
and watering-place, are appreciated by the
yearly increasing influx of visitors ; and had
there been a railroad in the right place,
enterprise would have done the rest, and
York would have become what it desires to
be, and have had a name and standing with
its fellow towns."


This town was formed from a portion of
the territory granted by the Plymouth Coun-
cil, in 1622, to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and
Captain John Mason, who spent upwards
of twenty thousand pounds in attempting
to effect settlements in Maine. In 1629,
they divided their interest: Mason taking

Modern Town of Yoric, 31

that part of the grant West of the Piscataqua
river, and Gorges the eastern portion. In
1635, the Plymouth Council resigned this
patent and took a new one, which they
divided into twelve portions. The third and
fourth portions comprised the territory be-
tween the Kennebec and Piscataqua rivers,
sixty miles wide, and extending one hundred
and twenty miles north from the sea-coast,
which was granted to Gorges. Charles I.
revoked the charter to the Council, and
granted the same territory to Gorges,
April 3, 1639.

Sir Ferdinando Gorges, standing high in
royal favor, had almost absolute powers
granted him in his charter from the king.
He was ambitious to found a state that
would rival Massachusetts ; and being
pleased with a description of the place,
which he had previously obtained, he
selected Agamenticus, as the first settle-
ment was here named, for the seat of his

82 Ancient City of Gorgeana,

The officers whom Gorges appointed by
his commission of March 10, 1639, were
William Gorges,^' Edward Godfrey, William
Hook, of Accomenticus ; Richard Vines, of
Saco ; Henry Jossylyn, of Black Point, now
in Scarboro' ; Francis Champernoon, of Pis-
cataqua, now Kittery ; Pvichard Benython,f

* The dwelling-house in which Captain William

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