Maine Historical Society.

Collections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) online

. (page 5 of 34)
Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


about with Illands yo myi:;ht have told n^are thirty Illands round
about us from abord ovr ship this Illand we Call St. Georges
Illand for that we hear found a Crosse Sett up the w°'* we Sup-
pose was Sett up by George Wayraau.

Gilbert's course, after leaving the Matinicus Islands,
was evidently toward the St. George Islands. Monhe-

1 See tbe reprint iu " The Sagadahoc Colony," with an introduction and notes
by Rev. Henry O. Thayer, and published by the Gorges Society, Portland, 1892.



FIRST MENTION OF PEMAQUID IN HISTORY. 59

gan is a single island, as seen from Matiniciis, while
Gilbert sailed toward three islands, and about ten
o'clock at night " recovered them," language not ap-
plicable to Monhegan. Moreover, in the morning, the
colonists found themselves " environed about with
islands," an impossible statement if Gilbert anchored
his vessel near Monheefan.

o
The nearest are Allen's and Burnt, full six miles distant north-
easterly. In fine weather there are four small ones, scarcely sep-
arable from the inainhxnd, which can be made out by a practiced
eye, stretching on the left toward Pemaquid- In the clearest
weather Seguin, Metinic and Matinicus can be discerned. But
an ordinary observer, a stranger, would at first notice only two,
Allen's and Burnt, while a sharper eye in the best weather might
add six or seven more. But to regard these far-away islands as
environing the ship is wholly forced and absurd. But to au
anchorage among the St. George islands the descrii^tion would
accurately apply. ^

There are more than thirty islands in a radius of ten
miles.

The Gift, Capt. Gilbert's consort, came to the same
anchorage on the following day, an indication of a pre-
vious agreement on the part of the commanders of the
two vessels. In other words, here was the chosen
rendezvous.^

The finding of the cross which the colonists sup-
posed was erected by George Waymouth, in 1605, is
significant. Rosier tells us that Waymouth, while his
vessel was at anchor in Pentecost Harbor, "setup a
crosse on the shore side vpon the rockes." According

1 The Sagadahoc Colony, by Rev^. H. O. Thayei-, page 51, note.

2 Sir Ferdinando Gorges confirms the slatement. He says in his Briefe Narra-
tion (Maine Historical Society Collections, Vol. II, page 21) " They arrived at
their rendezvous the eighth of August."



60 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

to Rosier only one other cross was set up by Way-
mouth, and that was on the bank of the great river
discovered by Waymouth and at a considerable dis-
tance from its mouth. Capt. Gilbert unquestionably
had with him a copy of Rosier's Relation, and hence
his identification of the cross as the one set up by Way-
mouth. He had brouarht his vessel into Pentecost
Harbor. The Waymouth anchorage, and the anchor-
age of the Popliam colonists as they came on to the
coast, were unquestionably the same.

Capt. Gilbert had with him Skicowaros, one of the
five Indians kidnapped by Waymouth at Pentecost
Harbor in 1605. Very naturally Skicowaros desired
to return to his people at once. The narrative
continues : —

This night follovvinge about myd nyght Capt. Gilbert caussed
his ships both to be moued & took to hemselffe 13 other my
Selffe beinge on, beinge 14 persons in all & tooke the Indjan
skidwarres w"^ us the weather beinge fair & the wynd Calme we
rowed to the Weste in amongst many gallant Illands and found
the ryver of Pemaquyd to be but 4 Leags weste from the lUand
we call St Georges vvhear ovr ships remained still att anckor. hear
we Landed in a Lyttell Coueby skyd warres Direction & marched
oucr a necke of the Land near three mills So the Indyan skid-
warres brought us to the Salvages housses.

This is the earliest mention of Pemaquid^ in his-
tory so far as I am aware. Gilbert, guided by Ski-
cowaros, who was in haste to reach his old home and

iPurchas, in His Pilgrimes (Volume 4, page 1873), published in 1625, inserted a
description of Mawooslien, wliich he had found among some papers that once
belonged to Hakluyt, who died in 1616. " Mawooshen," says the narrative, " is a
couutrey lying to the north and by East of Virginia." In it are nine rivers which
ai'e mentioned byname. Of these the second is "Pemaquid, a goodly Eiuer and
very commodious all things considered; it is ten fathom's water at the enti-ance
and forty miles up there are two fathoms and a half at low water. It is half a



FIRST MENTION OF PEMAQUID IN HISTORY. 61

companions, evidently landed at New Harbor, on the
east side of the Pemaquid peninsula, as requiring less
time than to row around Pemaquid Point, and marched
across to the west side. The narrative requires this
view of the first landing of the Popham colonists at
Pemaquid. Two days later, however, Capt. Popham
of the Gift, in his shallop, with thirty men, and Capt.
Gilbert in his ship's boat, with twenty men, guided by
Skicowaros, sailed round Pemaquid Point, and so
reached " the river of Pemaquid" without the weari-
some march across from New Harbor. Here on the
west side, at " the river of Pemaquid " was the Indian
camp. Here they found the chief, Tahanedo (styled
in the Popham narrative as Nahanada), who had been
returned to his people in the preceding year by Capt.
Hanham. At the time of the second visit Skicowaros
left his English friends, and they returned to their
ships without him. Certainly, in this account of the
return of Skicowaros, there is more than a hint as to
the point on the mainland visited by Waymouth, while
his vessel was in Pentecost Harbor. Nothing could
have been more natural than for Skicowaros, on his
return from England, to proceed forthwith to the very
place, whence, with his companions, he made his way
to Pentecost Harbor at the time he was captured.

Early in September Tahaiiado and Skicowaros, with
about forty men, women and children, visited the Pop-
ham colonists at the mouth of the Kennebec, and

mile broad," etc. As the eighth river menlioned in this description — lie is giving
the rivers in their order down the coast — is the Sagadahoc, the reference cannot
be to a river in the vicinity of Pemaquid as now designated ; so that even if it
were known that this document found among Hakluyt's papers belongs to an ear-
lier date than the narrative of the Popham colony, we have not an earlier mention
of Pemaquid than that which the. Popham narrative contains.



62 MAINE HISTOEICAL SOCIETY.

while there promised to accompany Capt. Gilbert "to
the ryver of penobskott whear the bashabe remayn-
eth." On account of contrary winds Gilbert was not
able to reach Pemaquid at the appointed time, and
when he came " into the ry ver of pemaquid thear to
call nahanada & skidwarres as we had promyste them
but beinge thear aryved we found no Lyvinge Crea-
ture they all wear gon from hence the w*^^ we per-
seavinge presently depted towards the ryver of penob-
skott." This, however, they were unable to find.

The narrative makes it j^lain, therefore, that in 1607
Pemaquid was inhabited only by Indians. No evi-
dences of an earlier European civilization were dis-
covered by these earliest settlers upon our coast, and
no report concerning any European colonization at
this point came to them through the Indians.



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID.

BY REV. HENRY O. TPIAYER.

Bead before the Maine HUtorical Society, September 7, 189^.

Yesterday we were tracing out the dimmed paths
of eager, restless men — explorer, trader, settler, war-
rior, ruler — who made history. Of that history, it is
our pungent regret, only fragments exist, yet they
furnish broken outlines of the whole. By their aid the
visitor can view the changing scenes at Pemaquid, —
primitive forests, seamen and their ships, fisher boats,
brush shelters, rude dwellings, shops, warehouses, busy



BEGINNrN"GS AT TEMAQUID. 63

wharves, forts, and next their ruins, assault and can-
nonade, groups of men, the tawny and the white,
tlieir leaders Nahanada, Madockawando, Castine, Shurt,
Phips, Iberville, Dunbar and the rest. Fancy can
take what exists, a page fully written here, a line, a
word there, a relic, the scarred soil, and reconstruct
according to her mood and knowledge.

A century had passed from Cabot's voyage, four-
score years since Gomez sailed out from the Penobscot
by Monhegan, and still not a hamlet of Europeans
north of Florida. A new century opened, marked
by the accession of the Stuarts to the throne of Eng-
land. It was to be a century of new-world settle-
ments. In its first quarter are comprised the begin-
nings of Pemaquid's history.

A few words will outline events therein definitely
known: — Weymouth's ship and visit; visits of Pop-
ham's men ; trading-ship of Francis Popham ; Capt.
John Smith's alliance with Nahanada ; patent issued
to John Pierce in 1C21 ; trading and fishing ships in
1622-23 ; purchase of the soil in 1625. Also events
closely associated, and persons who came near or vis-
ited the Pemaquid Peninsula, deserve mention: —
Pring's voyage of 1603; Champlain's quest in 1604
ending and his shallop put about near by, and again
ranging past the next summer ; Hanham nnd Pring's
search in 1606; Biencourt and the Jesuit Biard in
1611 ; Smith's exploration and map-making in 1614.
To these add in the decade following the possible but
unknown : — traders, fishers, searchers for sites of set-
tlement, or others who anchored near or bivouacked



64 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

on shore, though all is hidden, for as Smith observes
of many sailing to this coast, "Their descriptions were
concealed or died with their authors." But in the
years 1621 to 1625 there can be seen, though dimly,
endeavors and enterprises which are taking form in
permanent occupation.

The foregoing represents all that history now teaches
concerning Pemaquid previous to 1625. Conjecture,
assumption, inference, vague belief, may hold to the
presence and operations of Europeans in that period
or actual entry upon the land, but historical materials
thus far discovered give no evidence, rather militate
ao-ainst the fact.

o

There are, indeed, opinions adverse to so barren a
history in that period. HoAvever first originated, they
have been elaborated and promulgated by various per-
sons, have been supported by sundry considerations
with insistence and repetition. They have assumed a
place in historical literature, have been frequently set
before the public eye in the newspapers, and been en-
forced on occasion in historical or popular assemblies.
It is believed they are quite widely diffused among
reading people, and have been accepted partially or
fully by many persons interested in the history of the
locality or the state.

Skillful weaving in fancies with facts has peopled
Pemaquid. It is alleged that Englishmen made seiz-
ure of its soil, and introduced colonial life a dozen
years anterior to the patent to John Pierce. By rare
powers of vision a ship was seen to enter St. John's
Bay ; a withered colony was landed, planted, and so



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 65

nursed and guarded as to maintain life. Errant fancy
on wings of theory, gathering dismembered facts, has
built up a showy fabric, though unsubstantial. At the
basis is laid the conceit that members of the Popham
company after the evacuation of Sagadahoc sought
out Pemaquid, and there renewed and maintained colo-
nial holdings on our coast. This view, if substantiated,
will make a true beginning of settlement in 1608, and
give to this place precedence in actual colonization on
the North Atlantic.

The question is one of fact : — Did such a colony,
even feeble, enter and hold the Pemaquid Peninsula ?
The main root, wdience has grown an affirmative
answer, is found in a line of history read and quoted
truly ; they, the managers at Sagadahoc, " sent back
to England all but forty-five." These, it is conceived,
took one ship and turned aside to Pemaquid, and the
colony began. The utter failure at Sagadahoc was
retrieved.

In examining this opinion it must first of all be
asked, why did its promulgators fail to read further
and find another line of equal history, — "they all re-
turned." Two separate departures are the lucid facts
of that Sagadahoc enterprise. At the opening of win-
ter a part went, leaving forty-five ; in the final disrup-
tion the whole remaining colony. Only one writer
records the first debarkation ; several assert the sec-
ond in clear and positive terms. Notice the abiidged
statements by the old writers: — After a winter's stay
they returned ; soon deserted and returned for Eng-
land ; colonists returned home ; abandoned their en-
VoL. VI. 6



66 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

terprise and set sail for England ; Justice Popliam
dying, all fell ; colony sent out has returned in sad
plight. Then more precisely, — all resolved to quit
the place and to away ; would stay no longer in the
country ; whole company resolved on nothing but re-
turn and to leave the country ; they all returned to
England in 1608. Except one ask for complete de-
tails, more positive evidence of an utter retreat from
the coast of Maine cannot be required. Hence the
basis of this proclaimed theory crumbles into flimsiest
dust. The whole structure falls.

Though the collapse is so ruinous at the first stage,
it is desirable to examine the supporting considera-
tions. It is said that Sir Francis Popham's disgust at
the failure and protest led to the new scheme ; that
there were diverse aims, London interest and Bristol
interest, a Popham party and a Gilbert party; that
the latter wholly retired, but the former, led by Sir
Francis, persisted in the occupancy of the country.

But all that is historical is the one fact. Sir Francis
would not so give it over, secured the use of the ships
and continued trade and fishing on the coast till he
was forced to desist. All the rest is assumption, and
gratuitous. It is true there were in the outward voy-
age two ships ; Popham and Gilbert were the com-
manders ; when the former died Gilbert became pres-
ident of the depleted colony, but of divided aims and
separate interests at Sagadahoc there is not a word in
history. All the chief patrons were chagrined at the
weak surrender.

None of them had a thought of this speedy failure



BEGINXINGS AT PEMAQUID. 67

till the disheartened colonists arrived. Francis Pop-
ham could in no way have projected the Pemaquid
scheme, or led a party thither from the downfall at
Sagadahoc. There is no hint that he was ever in
America. The colony is shown to have been w^eak,
insubordinatCj lacking courage, disgusted with the
country.

Yet this flimsy theory requires that a portion of
it should seek a new situation, build and fortify
in the autumn, dare a new trial, brave another ter-
rible winter. What a foolhardy attempt, when the
well-equipped PojDham undertaking had failed ! What
leader of caliber and courage was among them, to
lead out a little band on such a venture ; what slen-
der handful of men taught by the previous year's
experience would take the risks? At every point the
scheme seems irrational, and illusive as the disjointed
vagaries of a dream. But against such odds of diffi-
cult}^ in the work to be done, defenses built, the sup-
plies secured, the hostile natives repelled, the alleged
colony, a transplanted exotic, is supposed to have held
on its way.

Still further we need to test the worth of materials
used to buttress the unsubstantial structure.

1. In support of this shadowy colony is adduced
Spain's protest against intrusion on her possessions.
England in reply rests her rights upon discovery and
seizure, actual possession taken by Raleigh's deputies,
and also by " two English colonies thither deducted,
whereof the later is yet there remaining." It was a
blind venture to seek evidence in this for a Maine col-



68 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

ony existing up to 1613. Indeed, by what reason can
this legal averment be restricted to the coast of Maine
so that the Sagadahoc failure shall prove continuance
at Pemaquid ? Might not Jamestown and Sagadahoc
be far more reasonably the true colonies deducted?
Then it is the latter which disappeared, and any lateral
shoot or feeble successor in Maine with it, for James-
town was well rooted and thriving. But without doubt
the true interpretation of the legal phrase concerns
Raleigh's enterprises and the abandoned colony at
Roanoke.

2. It is asserted that French missionaries report
English people at Pemaquid in 1608-09. This is a
most obtuse misinterpretation of the Jesuit narration,
for the original has no reference to Pemaquid. It was
written concerning Sagadahoc, and has most manifest
application to the Popham company. Yet the writer
did mistake the year.

3. Supposed proof is sought from our historian
Hubbard, who, writing of the Popham disruption, re-
marks, " Then other places were seized and occupied,
improved in trading and fishing." Hubbard means
what he says, trade and fishing, business prosecuted
for years, but he includes no thought of even languid
colony life, for he asserts elsewhere in clearest terms,
there was none in that period.

4. A clause is cited from a Swedish writer : "After
1612, a number of people went thither." To refer to
the work and the paragraph will rob it of all force.
This author draws no historical secrets from Scandina-
vian treasuries, but only from well-known English



BEGIXXIXGS AT PEMAQUID. G9

sources. These he misapprehends, and so obscurely
and feebly writes that the clause has not the slightest
value for its mtended purpose.

5. We are assured that "French authorities on
English colonization assert Pemaquid to have been
the first point which was occupied by the English."
The citation at the lowest estimate is an astonishing
blunder. The original stands in the present tense, not
the past — " is occupied," not, was occupied. Mon-
sieur Cadillac, in a trip of inspection of the coast from
Passamaquoddy to Boston, in 1690, made report of
Pemaquid, — " This is the first point which is occupied
by the English." The intent is clear as sunlight ; the
first point in his tour as he sailed westward, where he
found English. His report was made in 1692, when
Gov. Phips was building Fort William Henry. The
statement in the form cited has considerable force —
in the true form, none.

6. Our historian Sullivan is called in as witness,
and is said to testify that " there were people at Pem-
aquid from the time of Sir Humphrey Gilbert," or
1683. The error is incredible under the hands of
writers of history. Sullivan has no such statement,
nor did he name or intend Pemaquid. He did say
generally " People were constantly on the seacoast
eno;ao;ed in tradinai; and fishino;."

7. Again a fliulty conclusion by this historian has
done effective service in the hands of many others in
behalf of very early settlements. Sullivan, drawing
from a report of Sylvanus Davis, writes that " in 1630
there were fifty families at Sheepscot Farms," and



70 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

s

" eighty-four families, besides fishermen, at Pemaquid, |
St. Georges and Sheepscot." Capt. Davis made out, in \
1701, a detailed list, and as title or headlines wrote,
" English settlements formerly known." ..." Sun-
dry fishing places some 70 some 40 years since." He
does not put all of them at the earliest date, 1630, but
probably gave the aggregate existing between 1630
and 1660. Sullivan did put them all at 1630, and his
dictum has been used all along our history. It is time
that Davis' statement should be estimated at its true
value.

8. Still another blundering conclusion has been
offered, and repeated, as valuable collateral in the ar-
guments for early occupation of Maine. In more or
less clear and definite forms the tale has been told,
that tilled fields of Sheepscot and Pemaquid, and gran-
aries at Damariscove, furnished food to the straitened
people at Plymouth, in 1622. Hence were there large
agricultural operations already that Maine could bestow
charity on Massachusetts. Yet the tale was evolved
by incredible or unexplained heedlessness in dealing
with plain facts. What Winslovv and Bradford did
write dissipates the fair vision of waving grain, as fog
before the sun. Not the products of Sheepscot farms,
but bread baked in England's ovens over the sea,
transported in her vessels for use by toiling fishermen
about Damariscove or Monhegan, fed the famishing
families of pilgrims.

These instances will exhibit the method and quality
of the advocacy of this shadowy theory. Yet it should
in fairness be said that the originators and defenders



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 71

of the bold opinion have skilfully presented the case.
By itself it has no inconsiderable force. The treat-
ment of the problem leaves the inference that it ad-
mits of only circumstantial and presumptive proofs.
The untauQ-ht reader is led to believe that he has all

o

the evidence, that none to contravene exists. Hence
knowing nothing of the errors and weakness in the
items of proof, and nothing of the strong opposing
proof, he will accept the conclusion as presumptively
established. But the omission to weigh or to hint at
conflicting evidence is the weak point. By it the case
has become one of specious advocacy, not one of sin-
cere historical investigation and conclusion. The pre-
sentment has taken the character of a historical ex
parte. I have not found that the conclusive proof of
the complete extinction of the Sagad'ahoc colony, the
return of its last fragment to England, the entire giv-
ing over for a time of plans for new colonies, the evi-
dence against any colonial holdings in Maine for the
ensuing decade, have been even mentioned in the dis-
cussion. Historical materials, touching these points,
have not been considered, their force examined, nor
has any endeavor been made to show that they are not
inconsistent with, nor subversive of, the promulgated
theory. Rather have they been quietly, shrewdly
ignored. Many therefore having but slight historical
information, and neither means nor aptitude for thor-
ough investigation, have trusted in unsafe instructors,
and confidently adopted their conceit of early coloni-
zation at Pemaquid.

The transplanting of a Sagadahoc fragment may be



72 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

rated as a figment of historical dreamers ; it is utterly
ruled out by the clear and conclusive verdict of his-
tory. But if that be rejected, still other theories may
be advanced, as a colony sent back by Popham, by
other patrons, or private agency ; or Englishmen, one
or another at his own option and energy effecting en-
try at points along shore for business or agriculture ;
or various forms of slender beginnings which can be
esteemed initial stages of colony life. Here we seek
what may be fairly deduced from history. If any will
dream, or assume, or believe, without proofs, let it be
so. This position is taken : history, meager, often dis-
appointing though it be, fails to show such beginnings,
whatever were the facts ; history also by no weak evi-
dence, strongly discredits such beginnings.

The charter of 1606 gave the two colonies exclu-
sive rights over large territory. None might fish,
trade, mine, plant, without their grant or license.

By the president and council of the northern col-
ony a Kelation of proceedings was given to patrons
and the public in 1622. This narrative exhibits by
authority plans, attempts, discouragements in their
enterprise in America. It is a trusty witness, though
lacking minor details, respecting the course of affairs
in preceding years. In it are briefly written the sali-
ent facts of the Sagadahoc undertaking. Then is dis-
closed the frustration of hopes, and the company's ut-
ter discouragement by the statement, " So that there
was no more speech of settling any other plantation
in those parts for a long while after." The narrative
further shows that upon new information gained, seem-



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 73

ing favorable to their plans, they " determined to try
the verity thereof," did make a new attempt, and sent
an agent. Captain Hobson, in 1611, to open the way.
From hostility of the natives nothing was accom-
plished. Next is mentioned the sending out of Smith,
Dernier and others " to lay foundations of a new plan-
tation." The comprehensive statement carries forward
events to 1619, the date of Dermer's voyage. To this
time nothing had been accomplished toward their cher-
ished hopes except to explore, to get facts, to prose-
cute fishery. The company found reliance must be
largely placed on the prolits from furs and fish to meet



Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 34)