Maine Historical Society.

Collections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) online

. (page 8 of 34)
Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of Frontenac, as well as one to the picturesque story of Sir William
Phips' flag.

When, therefore, we consider that he found an embarrassment of
riches in the French archives, and a greater embarrassment of destitu-


tion in the Eiiglisli, we can but admire the success with which Mr.
Myrand has strugsjled with tlie difficulties, wliether of silence or of
utterance, and accord him a meed of recognition considerably beyond
the measure of his own modest appeal, that his critics and readers " may
agree, after a severe examination, that Sir William Phips before Quebec
is a serious archteological study that well deserves the honor of being
printed." e. c. c.


June 10, 1892.

A meeting of the Society was held in their library
room in Portland, and the Rev. Ephraim C. Cummings
read a paper entitled " Historic tlints for a Maine

June 22, 1892.

The Annual Meeting w^as held in the Cleveland Lec-
ture Room at Brunswick, and was called to order at 9
A. M. by the President, Mr. Baxter. Mr. P. C. Man-
ning was appointed Assistant Secretary of the meet-
ing. The annual reports of the Librarian and Cabinet
Keeper, the Corresponding Secretary and Biographer,
and the Treasurer, were read, accepted, and placed on

The Recording Secretary read the annual report of
the doings of the Standing Committee, which was also

On motion of Mr. Charles J. Gilman a committee to
nominate a board of officers was appointed by the
Chair, and accordingly Messrs. Bradbury, Chapman and
Moses were appointed said committee.

The matter of the Field Day excursion for this year


was discussed, and on motion of Mr. Drummond it was
voted that the excursion be made to Waterville, Fort
Halifax, Norridgewock and Old Point. Messrs. Hath-
away, Drummond and King were appointed a Com-
mittee of Arrangements.

The Nominating Committee reported through Mr.
Bradbury that they had agreed upon the present board
of officers for reelection, and accordingly the following
board were ballotted for and duly elected : —

President — James Phinney Baxter, Portland.

Vice-president — Ruf us K. Sewall, Wiscasset.

Corresponding Secretary and Biographer — Joseph William-
son, Belfast.

Recording Secretary^ Librarian and Cabinet Keeper — H, W.
Bryant, Portland.

Standing Committee — W. B. Lapliam, Augusta ; Joseph Wil-
liamson, Belfast ; Henry S. Bui*rage, Portland ; Henry L. Chap-
man, Brunswick; James W. Bradbury, Augusta; John Marshall
Brown, Portland ; Edward P. Buinham, Saco.

Treasurer — Philip Henry Brown, Portland.

Auditors appointed — Messrs. F. R. Barrett and Henry Deer-
ing, Portland.

The Standing Committee reported a list of twenty-
five candidates who had been duly nominated for elec-
tion as resident members, and testified that this list
had been forwarded to each resident member of the
Society two weeks prior to the annual election.

A ballot was then called for, and the following were
declared elected resident members : —

Randall D. Bibber, Bath.
Charles H. Boyd, Portland.
James Otis Bradbury, Saco.
Henry Fiske Blanchard, Augusta.
James C. C'hilcott, Ellsworth.


Albro E. Chase, Portland.
Lemuel H. Cobb, Portland.
Frank Cutter Deering, Saco.
Woodbury S. Dana, Portland.
Edwin Standish Drake, Portland.
Nathan Goold, Portland.
Ira S. Locke, Portland.
A. K. P. Meserve, Portland.
William D. Patterson, Wiscasset.
F. O. Purington, Mechanic Falls.
Franklin C. Pay son, Portland.
George Doane Rand, Portland.
Thomas H. Rich, Lewiston.
Charles D. Smith, Portland.
A. C. Stilphen, Gardiner.
Walter H. Sturtevant, Richmond.
Almon A. Strout, Falmouth.
Joseph P. Thompson, Portland.
Benaiah L. Whitman, Waterville.
Nathan Clifford, Portland.

The following were elected corresponding mem-
bers : —

Rev. George T, Packard, Philadelphia.
Prof. Justin Winsor, Cambridge, Mass.
Hon. J. W. Prowse, St. Johns, N. F.
Albion K. Parris, Esq., Washington, D. C.
Edward Albert Kelley, Esq., Boston, Mass.
Dr. Ragnar Turnebladh, Stockholm.
Alexander Brown, Virginia.

Mr. Baxter spoke of the work of the Royal Histor-
ical Society of Canada, which seeks to promote and
foster local societies throughout the Dominion as wor-
thy of imitation in this state. He believed we should
make an effort to encourage the formation of these
local societies.


On motion of Mr. G. C. Moses of Bath, it was voted
that the Standing Committee take into consideration
the matter of promoting the studj^ of local history
throughont the state, and report thereon throngh Mr.
Baxter at some future meeting.

The proposal of the trustees of the Portland Pub-
lic Library, offering Baxter Hall, with its fixtures, as
an exchange for the Society's Library Room on the first
floor of the Public Library Building, was again brought
up by the Standing Committee, and w^as warmly dis-
cussed by Messrs. Bradbury, Moses, Burrage, Baxter,
Brown, Drummond, and Prof. Chapman.

A vote being called for the result was in favor of
the exchange, twenty-one, opposed four, and the pro-
posal was declared accepted.

The question of a change of time and place for the
annual meeting was discussed briefly.

Messrs. Drummond, G. C. Moses and H. L. Chap-
man were appointed a committee on the revision of
the By-laws.



The part}^ gathered at Waterville, Friday, and in the
afternoon visited Winslow and examined the historic
old Fort HaliA .^ Blockhouse and its siirroundinofs


under the guidance of A. W. Paine of Bangor, who is
a native of Winslow,"and thoroughly acquainted with
every spot of historic interest. Mr. Paine had orig-
inal maps and diagrams of the places visited, which
added greatly to the interest of his explanations.


Fort Hill was visited, and the well which supplied the
old fort with water was carefully examined. The
curved brick and -stone which were laid in 1754 were
found in a good state of preservation, and water is
taken from the well at the present time. The party
took supper at the Elmwood, and went from there to
Ware parlors, where an audience of Waterville people
had gathered to listen to the papers read by Pres.
J. P. Baxter and Rev. E. C. Cu'mmings. These were
of unusual interest, and related to the early mission-
ary labors of Father Rasle among the Indians at

Saturday morning the party took the regular train
for Norridgewock. Supt. Ayer of the Somerset road
and B. P. J. Weston, Esq., and Postmaster Gray of
Madison are entitled to the thanks of the party for
courtesies extended. The party was composed of the
following : —

From Portland came Pres. J. P. Baxter, wife and two daugh-
ters and two young lady friends, Dr. H. S. Burrage of Zion's
Advocate, ex-Mayor M. F. King and wife, Nathan Goold, H. W.
Bryant and wife. Rev. E. C. Cummings, L. B. Chapman, Rev. Dr.
Stockbridge and wife, Miss Mary Dalton and Miss Chase, Hon.
J. H. Drummond and wife, Geo. D. Rand, Edwin S. Drake.
From Waterville came Rev. Dr. Pepper and wife, Rev. Dr.
Spencer and wife, Rev. Mr. Seward, J. W. Philbrick, Prof. Hall
and wife. Father Charland, Warren M. True and wife, and
others. From other places there were Hon. J. W. Bradbury of
Augusta, Hon. A. W. Paine of Bangor, Dr. C. F. Allen of Ken-
nebunkport. Dr. Lapham of Augusta, L. D. Emerson of Oakland,
Miss Gregory of Augusta, Geo. W. Hammond and wife of Yar-
mouth ville, Mrs. B. F. Hamilton of Biddeford, H. K. Morrell of
Gardiner, Prof. Geo. T. Little of Brunswick, A. C. Stilphen of


Gardiner, Mr. and Mrs. A. ]\I. Pidsifer of Auburn, Miss Garland
of Winslow, Miss Soule of Bath, Father O'Brien of Bangor, Dr.
Lindsey and wife, Mrs. S. D. Lindsey, C. A. Harrington, Rev, C.
M. Emery and wife, and I. F. Loring of Norridgewock, Frank
C. Peering and Geo. A. Emery of Saco, Prof. William Mathews
of Boston, W. M. Smiley of Winslow, W. H. Pearsons of Vas-
salboro, Marshall Pierce of Oakland, Cal.

Mr. Bryant of Portland had with him Father Rasles'
strong box or portable writing desk, and exhibited it on
the field from whence it was taken in the year 1721.
It was a rare curiosity, and as there is no question as
to its authenticity it is ver}^ valuable. It is a plain
wooden box covered with thin sheets of copper.

The train bearing the party on reaching the point
opposite the monument was stopped and all alighted
and visited the spot. The monument is of plain gran-
ite and bears a cross at the top. It sets in the midst
of a large level field in the township of Madison, near
the Norridgewock line, and on a point of land around
which the river swings most beautifully. The thing
which interested the visitors the most was the condi-
tion of the land in the immediate vicinity of the mon-
ument. Investigation revealed the fact that it was
the work of relic hunters, who visit the place in large
numbers annually.

After spending an hour most pleasantly in viewing
the monument and its surroundings the party repaired
to the famous spring near by called Indian Spring,
where seats had been arranged. The cool, delicious
water was greatly enjoyed. Pres. Baxter called the
company to order, and introduced Rev. Dr. Charles
F. Allen, a native of Norridgewock, who was present


when the original monument was erected, and who
read the following paper : —

The Indians selected beautiful places for their permanent en-
campments and villages; but none had more attractions than
Old Point, the seat of the powerful tribe of the Norridgewocks.
The Kennebec sweeping southerly in its course, about one hun-
dred rods below the site of the village, receives the waters of the
Sandy River from the west ; then turning with a short curve
east and northeast, forms a neck of land, containing about a hun-
dred acres of intervale, including the more elevated plain on
the north, where the villnge stood. A heavy growth of pine
surrounded the village on the north and east. The street
was laid out in a straight line, parallel with the banks of the
river, eight feet wide, worn perfectly smooth, and half a mile
long, lined on each side with wigwams. The church was at the
lower end of the village, just back from the street. At the
upper end of the village was an oratory surmounted with a
cross, so that when bands of Indians went forth to hunt in either
direction, or to murder the English settlers, they might have
opportunity for devotion. A spring of clear, cool water gushes
forth from the bank of the river, at the north of the village,
which supplied them with abundance of water. The intervales
below the village, and on the banks of the Sandy River just
opposite, were the fertile cornfields cultivated by the squaws.
A hundred years after the destruction of the vilbige I have
plainly seen the marks of the hills which the Indians made in
planting their corn. These little hills were covered with turf,
that the white man's plow had not leveled. They were not laid
out in rows, but were scattered equally distant, as far a23art as
the squaw could stretch her feet from hill to hill.

As early as the year 1610 two French Jesuits, Masse and
Biard, came to the French colony in Canada. Biard came as far
as to the Kennebec, preaching to the natives. At the request of
the Norridgewocks Gabriel Drouellettes was settled as a mis-
sionary at their village, in 1640. He built a rude log chapel, cov-
ered with the bark of fir trees, which, twenty-eight years after-


ward, was destroyed by English hunters; and on the return of
peace the Mass;ichusetts government, according to the terms of
the treaty, sent worl^men from Boston to build a new church of
hewn timber for the Indians. The governor of Massacliusutts
offered to send a protestant minister to the Norridgewocks, if
they would dismiss their priest ; but the natives rejected with
scorn the prop.isal. The biothcrs Jacques and Vincent Bigots
sons of Baron Bigot, succeeded Drouellettes in the Indian mis-
sion in Maine, and Vincent Bigot remained at Norridgewock
till the arrival of Rasles.

Sebastian Rasles, or Rasle, was born of a respectable family in
Franch Compte, in the year 1()G8. lie was educated in a Jesuit
college at I^yous, consecrated as a priest, and set apart as a mis-
sionary to the Indians. At the age of thirty, after a stormy voy-
age of three months, he landed at Qnebec, and for two years
resided in a village of the Abnakis, about nine miles from Que-
bec. He spent his time among the savages, learning their lan-
guage, and accustoming himself to their mode of living. He
was then sent to the Ilurons and Illinois, a perilous journey of
one thousand four hundred miles, in which he suffered extreme
privation. After two j^^ears' service he was recalhd, and sent to
take Vincent Bigot's place at Norridgewock. Here he found a
neat church and a devoted people, who had been trained up in
the rites and ceremonies of the Catholic church.

Rasles was a painter and an ingenious mechanic. He adorned
his sanctuary, and made it more attractive by a better prepara-
tion for the gorgeous worship of the Eomish church. He adorned
the walls with sacred pictures, and manu'actured candles from
bayberry wax to burn upon the altar of his church. Forty neo-
phytes, or young Indians, were trained to chant Latin masses,
daily prayers and chorals. The missionary learned to live as did
his flock in food and dress, reserving his black robes for sacied
service. He tempered the insi2:)idity of the hominy with maple
sugar, and varied his diet of venison, moose and bear meat, with
the delicious salmon then abounding in the Kennebec. He ac-
companied the tribe in thtir annual excursion to the seashore to
procure cod and shell fish.


In tlie long-continued wars betAveen England and France the
colonists in Canada and New England were involved in bitter
strife. The French Jesuits thought it highly meritorious to ex-
terminate the English heretics, and exerted all their influence
over the savages to make them most efficient allies in bi'eaking
ujD the English settlements in Maine. There were abundant
reasons for the hostility of the Indians. The encroashtnents on
their hunting grounds, the perfidy of the traders, and the acts of
violence done by those who thought it no sin to kill an Indian,
together with the intrigues of French governors and Jesuit mis-
sionaries, led to the atrocities perpetrated on the early settlers in
our state.

The English determined to capture Rasles, considering him the
prime mover in the Indian hostilities. They therefore sent Capt,
Westbrook, in 1721, to Nor ridge wock, to seize the Jesuit priest.
But the missionary escaped to the forest, and eluded pursuit,
although one of the soldiers came within a few feet of the tree
behind which the priest was concealed. Westbrook carried away
the strong box, which contained the correspondence between the
French governor and the Jesuit, and also the dictionary of the
Indian language which Rasles had prepared. This box is now
among the aichives of the Historical Society. This invasion of
their village, and the attempt to seize their priest, inflamed the
hostility of the savages, and led to renewed acts of slaughter and
vengeance on the settlers along the coast. Two years later, in
February, Capt. Harmon, with two hundred men, made another
attempt to surprise the NorridgewocUs, but the deep snow pre-
vented the soldiers from reaching the village.

In August, 1724, Captains Moulton and Harmon from York,
with soldiers sent from Boston, and recruits from the settlements
in Maine, guided by three friendly Indians, amounting in all to
two hundred and eight men, were sent to destroy this headquar-
ters of savage warriors. They were conveyed up the Kenntbec
in seventeen whale boats, which they left at Ticonic Falls under
a guard of forty men. The soldiers proceeded cautiously up the
banks of the river, some twenty-five miles. Before they reached
the village their force was divided, Capt. Harmon, with one hun-


dred men, crossing the river to the west side. The rest of the
soldiers under Moulton surrounded the Indian village. Many of
the wai-riors were away on an expedition, when the settlement
was surprised by the whites. A young Indian discovered the
enemy, and gave the war whoop. A few of the savages seized
their weapons, and hastily fired upon their foes without any
effect. The English reserved their fire till with sure aim they
made deadly work. The Indians fled in panic to meet other foes
in ambush, or rushed to the river, where men, women and chil-
dren were shot down in indiscriminate slaughter, or drowned in
their frantic efforts to escape. Rasles was shot in a cabin near the
church, when he refused to svivrerider, and his scalp was taken
by the guides to Boston, who received a liberal bounty for the
trophy. The cabins and church were plundered and burnt, and
the standing corn was destroyed. Plarmon, after the battle,
recrossed the river, having destroyed the crops on the west side.
After m akirg the destruction of tlie settlement complete, the
soldiers hastily retired. The scattered savages returned to the
ruins of their beautiful home. They carefully wa><hed the re-
mains of the ir slaughtered priest, and buried him deep beneath
the altar, where for thirty-four years he had ministered in sacred
things. Rasles was sixty-seven years old when he was killed.
Having peiformed the .funeral rites for their slain, the Indians
abandoned forever the beautiful place where their village once
stood. The Norridgewocks mingled with the Penobscols, Passa-
maquoddies and other tribes.

Fifty-nine years ago a rude monument was erected, and dedi-
cated by Bishop Fenwick of Boston to the memory of Faiher
Rasles. Bands of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians, Catho-
lics from Canada, and priests, gathered with thousands from the
surrounding towns to witness the service. The Catholics gath-
ered in a large booth built by the Indians to celebrate mass.
But the curiosity of the crowd to witness the strange ceremony
forced them into and against the frail tabernacle, so that this ser-
vice was interrupted. Bishop Fenwick ascended a rude plat-
form, and delivered an appropriate address. He took for his
text a passage from Ecclesiasticus, in the Apocrypha, " The


memory of him shall not depart away, and his name shall be in
request from generation to generation. Nations shall declare
his wisdom, and the church shall show forth his praise."

Following the reading of the paper the president
called for remarks from any one present. Rev. M. C.
O'Brien of Bangor was the first to respond, and he
spoke upon the high character of the murdered priest.
He said all the writings he left showed clearly that he
was animated by the highest love and reverence for
Jesus Christ.

Prof. E. W. Hall called attention to the fact that
three gentlemen who were present when the monu-
ment was dedicated fifty-nine years ago were present
to-day, viz. : Rev. Dr. Allen, Prof. W. Mathews and
W. H. Pearson of Vassalboro.

Prof. Mathews made interesting remarks upon the
former visit, and Dr. Stockbridge referred to the event
as one of greatest importance to the proper and cor-
rect history of our state.

Mr. Baxter, upon being called upon, spoke of the
different pronunciation given the priest's name, and
concluded with the apt remark that he had found that
the different style of pronouncing French names ac-
counted for the various ways of spelling and pronounc-
ing the name.

The strongbox and its contents were eagerly ex-
amined and discussed, after which came the dinner.

After dinner Rev. J. L. Seward made one of his
charming " talks " upon the early history of this coun-
try, and at two o'clock all took 'the train for home, de-
lighted with what they had seen and heard.



[ffiE'^o iBOSi}ilfu)IP wlOt^mllJJA^ ava,llii|l,liC.; i^'o Pc




Read before the Maine Historical Society, December 12, 1894.

Rev. Joshua Soule, d. d., one of the earlier bish-
ops of the Methodist Episcopal church, was bora in
Bristol, Maine, August 1, 1781. His father was a
farmer in moderate circumstances, who removed with
his family, when Joshua was but four years old, from
Bristol to Avon, a frontier settlement not then incor-
porated, on the Sandy River. Here the tall, spare,
sinewy lad grew up amidst the toils, privations and
hardships of pioneer life incident to the first settlers,
who cleared up farms and made themselves homes in
the forests of the Pine Tree state.

Without any schools, and with but few books in the
loghouse, and not having the privilege of intercourse
with persons of cnlture and education, it is wonderful
how eager was the thirst for knowledge that was early
manifested. An aged resident of a neighborinac town,
many years ago, related to the writer his first inter-
view with the subject of this sketch. When a boy he
saw emerging from the forest path that led from Far-
mington Falls to a remote settlement on the Sandy
River, some twenty-five miles away, an awkward lad,
clothed in garments of tow cloth, with a fox-skin cap
on his head, without shoes or stockings, leadino- a
horse loaded with bags of wheat to be ground at the
mill. The rustic appearance of the youth attracted
Vol. VI. 9


tlie attention of those about the mill. While waiting
for his grist to be ground this boy took from his
pocket a strip of birch bark and a pencil, and busily
employed his leisure time in working out arithmetical
problems. One so earnest in the pursuit of knowl-
edge under difficulties could not fail of ultimate suc-
cess. It was a fortunate event in young Soule's life
that he was hired out for a time to work on the farm
of Mr. Richard Clark, in the neighboring town of
Strong, a leading and prosperous citizen among the
hardy early settlers, father of the late Dr. Eliphalet
Clark, the well-known physician of Portland. The
young workman, after the day's labor, eagerly scanned
the books he could procure, by the light of blazing
pine knots on the kitchen hearth.

While Joshua Soule was a boy the Methodist itin-
erants penetrated to the remote settlements in the
interior of Maine ; and their fervent exhortations pro-
duced a profound impression among the scattered set-
tlers who enjoyed few opportunities for religious

Jesse Lee, the first Methodist preacher in New Eng-
land, entered the province of Maine in 1793, and
extended his travels through these remote settlements.
He formed a circuit embracing all the territory from
Hallowell to the Sandy River, called the Readfield cir-
cuit, and preached the first Methodist sermon in Avon,
June 17, 1794. Soule, then a young boy of thirteen
years, heard this distinguished preacher. Two years
after Rev. Enoch Mudge, in his travels on this exten-
sive circuit, makes this memorandum in his journal :


" The settlement was new ; and his father's house un-
finished, Joshua had a precocious mind, a strong mem-
ory, a manly and dignified deportment, although his
appearance was exceedingly rustic." He was an awk-
ward boy, without, education, save the scanty training
of his rude home and the slightly better facilities he
enjoyed in the short time that he was employed in the
family of Mr. Clark. The doctrines of the gospel,
preached by the itinerants on their occasional visits,
arrested his attention, and commended themselves to
his opening intellect. After a season of deep convic-
tion, and while praying in the solitude of the forest^
he found peace in believing, and a conscious reconcil-
iation with God through the merits of Jesus Christ.
Immediately he longed to tell others of the great

The heroic labors, zeal and energy of the preachers
who had brought the word of life to his distant home,
kindled a lively enthusiasm in his heart. He eagerly
desired to go forth and proclaim the glad tidings to
others. Rev. Joshua Taylor, the presiding elder of
the Maine district, perceived beneath the rudeness and
rusticity of the awkward, untaught lad the elements
of intellectual power, which were afterward so signally
developed. This judicious leader encouraged him
immediately to enter upon ministerial labors.

Soule was then about seventeen. No school or
academy was within his reach. The indefatigable

Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 34)