H. E. (Harry Edward) Mitchell.

The Mechanic Falls register, 1904 online

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Kent's Hill, Maine :
Published by the H. E. Mitchell Publishing Companv.



Table of Contents

Early Settlers and Incorporation

Pigeon Hill

Industrial Account

Military Matters

Church Affairs

School Items

Professional Men and Town Officials


Newspapers and Publications

Business Directory

General Reference



Mechanic Falls Town Register

. 1 904 .

Early Settlement and Incorporation.

It was the village of Mechanic Falls that made the
town of Mechanic Falls, and its territory was a part of
ancient Bakertuwn. The name of this plantation had
been changed in 1795, when it was incorporated as the
93rd town and named Poland. There is a difference of
opinion as to the origin of the name. Some say it was
named after the famous Indian chief Poland; some after
the country in Europe and some after the ancient hymn-
melody. In 1802 Poland was divided and the portion on
the eastern side of the Little Androscoggin River was in-
corporated on February 18th, of that year as the 129th
town and named Minot. This latter portion was sub-
divided in 1852 and the town of Auburn formed, which
has since become a city. The territory of the town of
Danville which was annexed to Auburn February 26,
1807, had been set off from Poland territory in 1852.


That portion of Bakertown now occupied by the town
of Mechanic Falls was the last portion of its territory to
be settled, and was made np of about equal portions of
the towns of Poland and Minot. It was the water power
of the Little Androscoggin that attracted settleis. This
river is about forty miles long and the area of its basin is
280 square miles, discharging about 10,020,000,000 cubic
feet of water. It is variable, according to the season, as
to the quantity of water discharged and this inequality
is adjusted by the use of the numerous ponds for storage
purposes. There are two falls in the river within the
territory of Mechanic Falls, one at Page's Mills, of four-
teen feet fall within a distance of fifteen hundred feet
with. a volume of 17,000 cubic feet of water per minute,
and one at the village proper of thirty-seven feet in a
distance of nine hundred and fifty feet, with a volume of
20,000 cubic feet of water per minute and a velocity of
current of ninety-six feet per minute. There are
twenty-one ponds above the village with an area of
twenty-eight square miles, all of which can be used for
storage purposes.

W here the beautiful village of Mechanic Falls is now
located was but an unbroken wilderness until the year
1820 when Josiah Jordan, in company with others came
from Poland Corner for the purpose of looking out a
route for a highway to render communication with the
people of Minot more convenient.

It was late in 1823, while the land was still covered
with a heavy forest, that Isaiah and Luther Perkins with
Captain James Farris of Hebron, erected a saw mill on


what was then the Poland side of the river. This mill
was soon burned and another was built, owned in part,
in connection with the above named persons, by a Mr.
Smith of Portland. This was also burned and another
was built which stood until 1867, when it was taken down
to be re-placed by a paper mill. A small lumber mill
was also erected on the Minot side by Aseph Churchill
and a grist mill by Isaiah Perkins. Mr. Perkins was the
earliest to settle in the village.

The first dweUing house was erected in 1828 by Dean
Andrews, who worked in the mills, on what is now
Pleasant Street near the site of the residences of 0. B.
Dwinal. The same year Isaiah Perkins erected a barn
on what is now Main Street, nearly opposite the Metho-
dist church, and the following year a house near by,
these are still standing, and the oldest buildings in the
village. The first building on the Poland side was erect-
ed by Luther Perkins very nearly on the site of the
Grand Trunk Depot. The first store was erected by
Isaiah Perkins on what is now Post Office Square near
where Perry's Block recently stood.

Capt. Jacob Dwinal built the third house in Mechanic
Falls village, the house still stands; and the brick yard
which he established, the first in town, is still in active

An old kitchen clock, owned by Mrs. Mason, was
the first one of its kind to be brought here. This clock
was originally owned by her grandfather, Richard G.Foss
who we are told, was the third settler. He built his
house where Merrill's millinery store now stands.


The growth of the village was at first slow as but
very few workmen w«re needed in the lumber mills of
the early years. The first great impetus to growth was
made by the establishment of the Atlantic & St. Law-
rence Railroad, now the Grrand Trunk, and its completion
to this point in 18-1:9, made a boom for the town. People
fiocked in and the village grew rapidly. The next year
the railroad passed on to South Paris and the bubble
burst. It has been paper making that has been of per-
manent value to the village and made it what it is. The
first mill was built in 1851 by Ebenezer Drake and Ezra
Mitchell. Mitchell's part was soon purchased by Oliver
B. Dwinal and this firm carried on business until it was
sold to A. C. Dennison & Co. in 1866. In 1851 the last
named company bought out Messrs. Perkins, Dunham,
Moore and Waterhouse who had succeeded the original
proprietors, on the Poland side and began the manufac-
ture of paper, which has been continued with some
changes of ownership until the present time.

Mechanic Falls is not a designed town. It happened
by chance. For many years it had no name. Dr. Jacob
Tewksbury, a famous physician half a century ago in
Oxford, who was called to officiate at the birth of the
first child born in Mechanic Falls (Isaiah Andrews, son
of Deacon Andrews, the first resident), called the place
' 'Jericho" from his bitter experience on this trip occuring
in the night and causing him to travel over rough logging
roads for seven miles. It bore this name for some time.
In early times, it is said, that it took a good deal of grog
to run the place and for this reason the name "Jericho"


was succeeded by "Groggy Harbor;-" but the popular
name was "Bog Falls" which clung to it until 1841, when
a post office was established and at the suggestion of the
first postmaster, Samuel F. Waterman, it was called
Mechanics' Falls, which was changed to Mechanic Falls
in 1887 at the suggestion of postmaster Frank A. Millett.

The village being situated in two towns found that
its interests could not be served as well as they ought to
be and effort was made in 1889 to have the two sideis
incorporated, that a better system of police and fire pro-
tection could be inaugurated and better schools estab-
lished. Many were opposed to this. The legislature
of 1889 granted a charter for this purpose with the
provision that it must be accepted by a majority of the
voters on both sides. This charter was defeated by the
lack of six votes on the Poland side. On February 29,
1891, the Poland side was incorporated under a charter
granted by the legislature that winter, when it in-
augurated the plan of a village divided against itself. This
did not meet with the satisfaction of the larger portion
of the citizens and a petition was presented to the legis-
lature of 1893 to set off the following defined portions of
the towns of Poland and Minot and form the town of
Mechanic Falls. After a severe struggle this act was
passed March 22 1893. The town limits are as follows:

Beginning at a point in Gardiner brook (so called) on
to Oxford town line where said brook enters the town of
Minot; thence following said Oxford town line to Winter
broDk (so called) in the town of Poland; following the line
of said brooktothe road to Winter bridge, (so called)thence


following the line of said road leading to Mechanic Falls
to Cousins brook (so called); thence following the line of
said Cousins brook (so called); to Waterhouse brook (so
called); thence continuing from said Waterhouse brook
to the lot line at the south-westerly corner of the Alansou
Briggs Placf^ in Poland; thence continuing; on said lot to
the Little Androscoggin River; thence up the line of said
river to a point where Bog Brook (so called) enters the
same; thence up said Bog brook to Gardiner brook (so
called); then^.e up the line of said Gardiner brook to the
point of beginning on Oxford line.


So far this history has been confined, almost exclu-
sively, to the territory occupied by the village of Mechanic
Falls; but there is a part of the tow^n, known as Pigeon
Hill, which is purely an agricultural community. To be
sure there is a stretch of farming country up the valley
of the little Androscoggin and another on that eminence
known as Mount Hunger, but these sections have been
built up by the village and largely dependent upon it.
Pigeon Hill was settled before the village and is the only
portion of the town which has the appearance of an-

The first settlers on Pigeon Hill were Jabez True,
and Capt. Day, who came from New Gloucester in 1779
or 1780, and made an opening on what is known as the
A. C. Dennison farm and for many years these were the
only settlers. From 1790 to 1795 quite a number of set-
tlers came from New Gloucester and Poland Empire.


Jabez True was born in New Gloucester in 1771 and
married Hannah Jackson of Poland. This family has
perhaps been the most prominent on the hill. Families
in those days were large and there was one singular thing
about them — the usual number of children seemed to be
twelve and there were twelve in this family. Their
children were, Sally, Jabez, John, Elizabeth, Hannah,
Moses, Rocksyllania, Miriam, Abagail, Otis, Rebecca and
Daniel W. They were an industrious family and several
of them gained distinction in the mercantile world. The
fine old mansion was built in 1802, which at the death
of Jabez, descended to his son, Daniel W. and after to
his only son Frank D.

Captain Ripley cleared the next above the True farm,
occupied for many years by Alden Chandler and after-
wards by S. N. Haskell. Captain Ripley, came from
Plympton, Massachusetts, and brought with him a negro
slave, Black Joe, or Joe Prince, as he was called, the
only slave ever owned within the limits of the town of

Jacob Strout took up a part of the same lot with
Captain Ripley. He married Salley Bray, of the Empire
and left quite a familv of children (viz.) Sally, Joshua,
Nabby, Jacob, Joseph, Nathaniel, Cyrena, Hobert, Adon-
iram, Cynthia and William. Mr. Strout met with a
painful accident while clearing his land. In fastening a
chain around a log he wished to haul, the oxen became
frightened and run to the house and the hook of the
chain caught in the fleshy part of the leg and he was
dragged after the oxen. He very narrowly escaped


death and was lame ever after.

Eben Marble took the next lot west of the Ripley
farm and came with his bride, Sarah Cash of Cape Eliza-
beth, in 1790. He lived here until 1812 when he enlisted
as a soldier in the war then raging between this country
and England, went to Burlington, Vermont, and died

Among the prominent families of the section are
the Dennings. George and Simeon, brothers, came from
Salem, Massachusetts, in 1791 or 1792 and took lots on
the hill. George cleared several sections of land and
built first a log house on what is known as the Haley
Pulsifer farm, which being burned, caused him to
buy the lot west and to erect a building on the farm now
owned by his grandson, J. K Denning. Simeon made
several clearings, lived in several places on the hill and
in 1830 moved to Shirley, Maine, where he died. Both
of these men left large families who have been prominent
in bhis section. George married Elenel Rollins of New
Gloucester, by whom he had twelve children as follows;
Samuel, Stephen, Hannah, Ruth, Ruth 2d, Basheby,
George, Job, Moses, Rhoda, James and Jacob. Simeon
Denning married Rebecca Chickering and had eleven
children; Simeon, Peter, Frederic, John, Levi, Lyford,
Elena, Lydia, Joseph, Lois and Otis.

Among the earlier settlers was Dr. Peter Brooks,
"an Indian doctor" who came from Plympton, Massa-
chusetts, and has the distinction of building the first
frame house within the present town of Mechanic Falls.
It is said that he came by his death from inhaling poison


from the fangs of rattlesnakes, which he us^d to get
from Rattlesnake Mountain in Raymond, during the win-
ter season, for the oil which he used in his practice.

John Cousins of Wells, came to the hill in 17*J5.
He married for his first wife Lucy Hatch and for his
second Sarah Cushman of Hebron. He purchased the
Jabez True opening. His family consisted of fourteen
as follows: Samuel, William, Sarah, Eliza, Lucy, Thomas,
Susan, Abagail, Humphrey, Mary J., Adaline, Harriet,
Jacob T. and James D.

Alden Chandler came from Plympton, Massachu-
setts, in 1800. By his first wife, Priscilki Cushman of
Hebron, he had ten children; Priscilla, Harvey, Alvin,
Josiah, Lydia, Christania, Benjamin F., Gains, Jacob
and Rachel T. His second wife was Hepzebah Cooledge
of Livermore.

Nathaniel Bray came to this locality from the Em-
pire in 1818 and Daniel Bray, his brother, in 1820. Many
of their descendants live here and a section of the town
is called the Bray District in their honor. They left five
children each. Nathaniel married Deborah Keene and
their children were; Mary, Xoa, Stephen, James and
Eliphalet. Daniel married Xoa Keene and their children
were; George W., Sullivan A., Emeline, Daniel J., and

The business of the hill has been agriculture
but in early days (1820) Reuben B. Dunn kept a store
here, Hiram Hilburn did blacksmithing and Joseph Per-
kins made earthern pans.


Industrial Account.

It was the waterpower of the little Androscog-
gin which occasioned the settlement of the land on the
present site of the village of Mechanic Falls, and has
been the sole source of its growth and prosperity. To
present things in their natural order, the manufacturies
which have been promoted by the falls would come first.
The natural industries of the state of Maine have
been the turning of the products of her forests into
merchandise and therefore the pioneer industry of every
town, almost without exception, has been lumbering.
To this rule Mechanic Falls was no exception. The first
industry was a lumber mill which was situated on, what
is now known, as the upper dam. Boards, shingles, and
boxes were turned out here and the mill operated by
Isaiah Perkins, Luther Perkins and James Farris. In
the box mill a Mr. Smith of Portland owned a share.
This was built as has been stated, in 1823. This business
continued with some changes until 1851. Messrs. Moore,
Dunham and Waterhouse had bought into the water pow-
er and introduced small woolen manufacturies of their
own. Shortly after the building of the first saw mill, a
grist mill was erected by Isaiah Perkins which for many
years, did a large business for the times.

In 1851, the character of the business changed, in the
line of a natural resource, to the manufacture of paper.
At that time rags were almost exclusively used for this
purpose and no one dreamed of the possibilities held in
our forests, in the way of pulp. The first paper mill was


built by Ebenezer Drake and Ezra Mitchell on the eastern
side of the river, in 1851. Oliver B. Dwinal and W. C.
Dwinal soon bought out Mitcheirs share and this firm
was known as Drake, Dwinal & Co. , who continued in
this business until 1865, when they sold out to A. C.
Dennison & Co., who had already established a business
of the same kind on the opposite side of the river.

A. C. Dennison & Co., built their first mill, known as
the Eagle, in 1851 having bought out one half of the power
at the upper dam. The firm consisted of Adna C. Dennison
andE. W. Filer. This mill with machinery cost $15,000
and made from rag stock, a ton of paper every twenty-
four hours. In 1862 Adna T. Dennison bought out Filer's
interest and machinery to prepare and use straw
was introduced at considerable expense. In 1865 the land
below the upper mills was bought, the second dam built
and the Star mill completed. In 1865, also a new mill
was built on the site of the old Drake & Dwinal mill. In
1866, the lower dam and the Poland Pulp mill were built,
also the stone dam and flumes on the upper privilege.
About the same time the mills and privilege at Range
Pond were purchased with rights of fiowage and a stone
reservoir dam built. At the next legislature a charter
was obtained to control the water. The Calendar mill
on the upper dam was built also at this time, as well as
machine and carpenter shops. In 1873 The Dennison
Paper Manufacturing Company was formed with a cap-
ital stock of $5('0,000. Adna C. and AdnaT. Dennison and
Mrs. C. M. Cram, stockholders. In 1879 and 1880 a
chemical pulp mill was built at Canton to supply the


mills at Mechanic Falls with pulp. In 1887 these exten-
sive works passed into the hands of a new company
known as the Poland Paper Company, with a
capital stock of $300,000. The officers of this company
were: President, Arthur Sewall, Bath; Chas. R. Milliken,
clerk and Treasurer, Portland; directors, Arthur Sewall,
James Munroe, George C. Wing, W. S. Dana, W. G. Davis,
W. H. Milliken, Frank D. True, Superintendent, C. H.
Milliken. At the time they acquired this property it
employed 175 hands, used twenty tons of pulp daily and
its monthly shipment of manufactured goods amounted
to $50,000. In 1891 a spur track was laid out from the
Grand Trunk Railway line, one-half mile below the de-
pot to the mills. The same year the carpenter and
machine shops of the company were burned, which were
rebuilt with brick the following year. In 1893 a gigantic
brick mill was built extending from Poland Pulp mill,
which forms a part of the new mill on the lower dam to
the Eagle on the upper dam, with a capacity of thirty
tons of manufactured paper per day. The Star mill
which had stood in the center of the new mill was torn
down and a stone wall built the entire way changing the
course of the river and turning quite a portion of
river bottom into dry land and covered in part by the
site of the new mill. The present officers of this com-
pany are C. H. Milliken, Treasurer, C. R. Milliken, Mana-

One mile above the village and within the limits of
the town, is another privilege, which for many years
was owned and used as a saw mill by Moses Page. In




1868, this privilege was bought by J. A. Bucknam, who
improved the lumber and grist mills and operated them
for fifteen years, since that time the privilege has been

For many years John Winslow run a tannery on
ground now occupied as a part of the site of the Dia-
mond paper mill. Along in the seventies Mr. Winslow
failed and the property passed into the hands of Warren
Winslow, who operated it a few years, when it was sold
to A. C. Dennison & Co.

Cabinet making has been carried on in the town
since 1841 by Lowell Valentine, Nelson Valentine, R. L.


McPherson, William Eldridge, D. S. Perkins, D. B.
Perry and J. S. Merrill. In 1878, Andrew J. Weston
began as contractor and builder and has continued ever

Brick making has been a prominent business ever
since 18(55. For many years there was a yard on Main
Street near its junction with Dwinal, but it has not
been operated for twenty years. Fessenden & Morrill
operated one for many years on the Poland road. This
was sold in the seventies to Thurston & Waterhouse
who operated it until 1880 when it was discontinued.
In 1893 a new yard was opened on Water Street by the
Mechanic Falls Brick Company, consisting of Horace
Purington & Co., of Waterville, and F. Purington,
of Mechanic Falls.

In the early seventies, the shoe factory manufacturies
of Massachusetts began to feel the power of combined
labor and to desire to get away from those centers which
made this power possible; so they made overtures to
small country villages to erect them factories and
thereby increase their size and importance. Mechanic
Falls took advantage of one of those opportunities and
built the factory on Main Street near the Grand Trunk
Railway, for Berry, Field & Company. But the village
was unfortunate in this company, as it has been in
every one since that time. It soon failed. The Ventil-
ating Waterproof Company took its place to stay but a
short time. Then came Thompson & Company to
follow the path of the others. The old factory was then
placed in the hands of J. A. Bucknam & Company, and


has since been used as a ready-made clothing factory.
In 1881 J. Harris & Son's of Marblehead, Massachusetts,
made a proposition to the village to build them a factory
which they would lease for ten years, and carry on there-
in the manufacture of shoes. This the village conclud-
ed to do and organized the Mechanic Falls Manufacturing
Company for the purpose of building the proposed
building. 0. B. Dwinal was elected president, which
position he filled until 1892, with the exception of one
year when C. E. Stevens filled the chair. The proposed
factory was built at a cost of $15,000, and occupied by
the lessees. They stayed for the stipulated time when
they concluded to return to their factories in Marble-
head. Labor had become organized in the small towns
the same as in cities and it was no advantage for
companies to remain so far from the base of operations
and many a Maine town suffered from the loss of this

In 1871 the village embarked in an industry from
which it hoped to reap great profits. This was the
manufacture of magazine rifles, invented by George
F. Evan's. The Evans' Eifle Company was organized
for this purpose. The majorit)'^ of this stock was owned
by the Deunison Paper Company. This arm was adopted
by the Russian government, but the expense of equip-
ping the shop to make the guns was so great that it
failed both companies, and the plant was moved to
Massachusetts in 1878.

The Packing Business was inaugurated here in 1873,
by J. W. Jones. In 1886 it passed into the hands of


General Charles P. Haddocks, and in 1890, into the
possession of John Hanscom, and the following year
it was leased to the Portland Packing Company. In
1888 a new company was formed in the village, known
as the Minot Packing Company, formed by H. E.
Thurston, and J. A. Grerry, of Mechanic Falls and H.
F. Hayford and J. W. Bicknell of Canton. In 1890
Hayford and Bicknell sold their interests to the former

The manufacture of clothing has been carried on in
this village for many years by J. A. Bucknam & Co.,
Dwinal & Golderman, Joseph Bucknam & Son, Golder-
man & Cummings, P. T. Murray, and W. B. Bucknam.
The former company having carried it on to a large
extent and have at times, given employment to as many
as one thousand persons.

, Toothpicks have been manufactured in town by
E. E. Edgecomb and E. A. Harris.

Pumps were manufactured at one time by T. B,
Swan and J. C. Walker.

In 1872 the machine shop and foundry of J. W.
Penney was established and has grown from a small
beginning to large proportions. In 1884 A. R. and S.
R. Penney were admitted to the firm and name changed
to J. W. Penney & Son's.

Among the industries, which, while not directly
located in the village have been a source of prost erity, is
the railroads. The Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad
was organized and a charter obtained Feb. 10, 1845.
It reached Mechanic Falls in 1849, bringing a boom to


the place. It continued on to Montreal and in later
years to Chicago, with a branch to Quebec.

On June 22, 1847, a road running from Mechanic
Falls to Buckfield was chartered and opened on Oct. 10,
1849, known as the Buckfield Branch. This soon failed
and was succeeded by the Portland & Oxford Central
Railroad Company, who operated it off and on for twenty
years, extending it to Canton. They finally abandoned
it. In 1874 it was resumed by the Rumford Falls &
Buckfield Railroad Company. In 1892 it was extended
to Rumford Falls and in 1893, to Auburn, and opened
to traffic to the latter place on Feb. 12, 1894.

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Online LibraryH. E. (Harry Edward) MitchellThe Mechanic Falls register, 1904 → online text (page 1 of 5)