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BY THE LATE OLIVER SEWALL, Esq.
PUBLISHED BY J. S. SWIFT.
A FARMI^"GTON paper dated June 8, 1861, contains
the following paragraph : — " In the death of Oliver
Sewall, Esq., recorded in our last, the community
meets with a twofold loss. Through a long life Mr.
Sewall was an industrious, liberal, public spirited and
exemplary citizen ; and, more than this, he was a sin-
cere Christian, and while cheerful and active in all
the social and political relations of life, he never for-
got the higher interests and responsibilities associated
with the life which is to come. The Congregational
Church, of which he was a member, will miss his
presence and his counsel. Mr. Sewall's observations
and recollections embraced almost the whole period
of the history of the settlement and progress of the
region of territory embraced in our county, and he
has left many valuable papers. A few years since he
finished a detailed history of Chesterville, with a view
to its publication. We feel that justice to the mem-
ory of a departed friend like Mr. Sewall requires a
more extended biographical sketch than we are now
prepared to give, and which we shall embrace a fu-
ture opportunity to present."
The history referred to in the paragraph here quot-
ed is the work now for the first time presented to
the public. And it is an inval uable legacy which its
4 History of Chesterville. — Preface.
author with indeflitifrable and exhaustive research, pre-
pared — not for anticipated pecnniarv remuneration —
but for the gratification and instruction of succeedino^
generations, within the limits of the locations he lov-
ed as the region of his birth, of his childhood's recollec-
tions, and as the scene of the useful labors of a lotig
life. The manuscript has been followed almost 6"x-
actly. leaving the original work as an enduring mon-
ument of the ability and taste of the author. The
latest addition made by the author to the manuscript
seems to have been made early in 1858; consequently
the history lacks some eighteen vears of coming down
to the date of publication. This fact imposes upon
the publisher the necessity of preparins^ an appendix to
follow Mr. Sewall's history, and fill up the interven-
ing time, and illustrate the original by reference to
changes which time and progress have wrought.
Mr. Sewall kept a journal from his boyhood to
within a few days of his death, in which he recorded
the employments and observations of each day, and
this, with the habit which the ]n-actice confirmed, en-
abled him to make the early History of Chesterville
remarkablv comyjlete. and it is hoped that the ap-
])endix — the publication of which will follow as soon
as practicable — will make the whole work a model
The plan proposed for the Appendix to the Histo-
ry of Chesterville will make it somewhat more exten-
sive than the original work.
It is proposed, among other things, to give a few
additional j)apers by Mr. Sewall ; somewhat extended
biogra])eical sketches of the author of the original
history, Kev. Jotham Sewall, Father Foster, and some
others who have been prominent citizens; and the gen-
ealogy, as far as it can be procured, of each family.
History of Chesterville. — Preface. 5
It is proposed likewise to give a brief description
and sketch of the history of each farm — a feature nev-
er before attempted in a town history.
Among the subjects for distinct sections of the ap
pendix for which more or k^ss preparation has been
made, may be enumerated the following ; — Geology
of Chesterville — Botany of Chesterville — Agriculture
of Chesterville — ^lanufactures of Chesterville — The
Future of Chesterville— Orcharding in Chesterville —
Water Power of Chesterville — Scenery of Chester-
ville, &c., &c.
[The figures refer to the Seciions, not to Pages.]
3 Description, — Boundaries, &c.
4 Purchase — Boundaries of different purchases, Dates and Purchasers.
5 Natural Curiosities — Granite Cliffs and Precipices.
7 The Ridge.
11 Geological Conjecture — Supposed Ancient Lake.
12 Early Settlers — Abraham Wyman.
13 Dummer Sewall.
14 Samuel Linscott.
15 William Bradbury.
IG John Mitchell.
17 Jotham Sewall.
18 John Bradbury.
19 Abaham and Thomas Davenport.
20 Joshua B. Lowell.
21 Edward Locke.
22 John Wheeler.
23 Samuel Judkins.
24 Daniel Wyman — A remarkable Hunter, — Successful Shot.
25 Samuel Perry.
26 Mr. Russell — Andrew Dunning.
27 Jeremiah Bragdon. — A Phenomenon.
28 Joseph and Moses French — Bear Story.
History of Chesterville. — Contents. 7
29 Jonathan Fellows— Moses Bacbekler— Phineas Bachelder— Jesse Soper.
30 Samuel W. Eaton.
31 Joseph Jones.
32 Aaron"Fellows— Adventure on the Ridge Road.
33 ;\Ioses Walton— Jacob Carr.
34 Samuel French.
35 John_,Bean — Corn-house Architecture.
36 William Hathawa}'.
37 John Wheeler, Jr.
38 Clarke Whi ttier.
39 Moses Whittier.
40 Thomas Gordon, Senior.
41 Phineas Whittier — Richard Maddocks.
42 Thomas Williams, Sen.
43 Newell Gordon.
44 John Cakes.
45 Memorable Accident.
46 David Morrill.
47 Town Meetings.
49 Timber Lauds.
50 Keith's Mills.
51 E. Rennet's Auger Factory — Jos. Keith's Fulling and Carding Mill.
52 Collins Lovejoy's Axe Factory.
53 An Unfinished Sawmill.
54 Change of Town Line.
55 Mills at Farmington Falls.
66 Wing's Mills.
57 Accident to Eli L. Wing.
58 Melancholy Death of Daniel Bachelder.
59 Mill below Sand Pond. ^
60 Mills on McGurdy's Stream.
61 Sawmill Above AVhittier's Pond.
62 Starch Factory.
64 Were's Tannery.
65 First Meeting-House.
History of Chesterville. — Contents.
06 Removal of Meeting-House.
67 Meeting-House at Chesterville Center.
68 School Houses.
69 School Districts.
70 Villages— Center Mills.
71 Other Villages.
73 The Co-OS Road — Opened by Jacob Abbot, Esq.
75 Religious Societies.
82 Musical Instruments.
85 Wild Animals — Bear Stories.
86 Beaver Dams.
88 Serpents — Power of Fascination — Remarkable Incidents.
90 Masts and Spars — Veteran Oxen.
91 Destructive Wind.
93 Town Officers.
HISTORY OF C HESTERVILLE.
BY THE LATE OLIVER SEWALL, ESQ.
1. — Introductory.
CHESTE[iviLLE\vas formerly a wilderness. Encroach-
ments were made upon the primeval forest by a few
individuals, who, with the intention of making perma-
nent homes, began to make clearings and erect log
cabins not far from 1780. At that time the territory
afterwards constituting the town of Chesterville was a
part of the " District of Maine," then a part of Massa-
chusetts. Maine continued a "district" some forty years
after the date referred to, when it was separated from
the mother commonwealth and became a state.
The territory of Chesterville was first included in
Lincoln County Avhich at the time extended from the
ocean, near the Kennebec l.iver, northerly to the Can-
ada line. Out of this long county the County of Ken-
nebec was formed, about the close of the eighteenth
century. Still later, at different times, the counties of
Somerset, Franklin. Sagadahock, and parts of some
others have been chiefly taken from what was formerly
the County of Lincoln. Chesterville is now one of the
southerly towns in the County of Franklin, whose seat
10 History (F Cmesthrville.
of justice is in Farmington, the shiie town. Before
the organization of Franklin County in 1 808 Chester-
ville was in the County of Kennebec.
Several of the early settlers in the central part of
the town were singers. They sometimes met in their
camps to spend an evening in the practice of sacred
music. On one of these occasions, (possibly when
there were few if any families in the place,) they sung
a tune named Chester, supposed to have been com-
posed by Billings, and were much pleased w4th it. —
After extolling the tune awhile their thoughts seemed
to revert to their situation — only a few- — almost alone
in the forest. Dummer Sewall proposed to call the
new settlement Chester, a proposition "'vhich was
agreed to without dispute. From that time to the in-
corporation of the tow^n that section bore the name of
Chester Pla:station, w'hile the southerly part of the
town was called Wyman's Plantation, no doubt in
honor of the first inhabitant, Abraham Wynian. When
the settlers petitioned for incorporation as a towai one
of their requests was that the new town should be
named Chester; but as there was a, town of that name
in Massachusetts the legislature added ville, and the
new town came up Chesterville.
3. — Description.
Chesterville was originally '-State's Land," but
unlike most other tosvns in the vicinity it was purchased
History of Chester\ ille. 11
in sections by different companies and individuals^ at
various times. The town in length, from north to
south is seven or eight miles, its width at the north
end about six miles, and at the south end four or five
miles, while it is scarcely three miles in width a little
south of the middle. Chesterville is bounded on the
south by Fayette, west by Jay, north-west by Wilton,
north by Farmington, north-east by New Sharon, and
east by Vienna. It has a water line dividing it in part
from Farmington and Vienna and wholly from New
Sharon, consisting of Wilson's Stream below the mouth
of the Little Norridgewock; the Sandy River thence to
the mouth of McGurdy's Stream; up that stream,
through Whittier's Pond, some four miles or more, —
about two hundred rods of Lane's Brook, a tributary
of Parkers Pond, at its mouth and above, and through
Parker's Pond thence to Fayette line. The best farm-
ing land lies in the extremities of the town, much near
the centre being bogs, swamps, plains, or ponds.
4. — Purchases.
"Chester P'irst Purchase," as it has been called,
was conveyed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
about 1790, to Dumraer Sewall, Esq., of Bath, and
his associates, and contained 8000 acres or more. It
was bounded easterly by a part of McGurdy's Stream
and the northerly pond through which it runs to Sandy
River, north by the south line of Farmington, to a cor-
ner on the west side of Beaver-Dam Brook, near the
present dwelling house of the late Josiah Norcross;
12 History of CHESTfeRtiLLF^
west by a line thence to Locke's Pond, by that and
Sand Pond to the south end of the latter, and] a line
south 30 deg. east to a hemlock tree about thirty Jrods
west of Little Norridgewock Stream, and south by a
line north 65 deg. east, — including the water power at
what is now Parks' or Central Mills, — to McGurdy's
Stream It is said that Benjamin Whittier, Esq., then
of Farmington, was one of the purchasers, and that on
division he took his pnrt on the ^ eastern" side of the
It is believed that the south part of the town was
bought and lotted off with what is now Vienna, as far
west as the Little Norridgewock Stream and Pond, to
a point a little further north than Seth Norcross' dwell-
ing house; as the bearings of the lines are very similar.
North of this point it was bounded on the north-west
by McGurdy's Brook, Pond and Stream.
Another purchase containing about 1500 acres was
made by Samuel Linscott. It included the land north-
west of McGurdy's Stream to Chester First Purchase;
and was bounded west by Little Norridgewock Stream,
and south by a line run due west from the outlet of
McGurdy's Pond to the Little Norridgewock.
In the south-west cornet of the town is the pur-
chase of Clifford & Judkins, extending about a mile
north from the Fayette line, and from the Little
Norridgewock Stream and Pond to the Jay line.
Immediately north of this, and extending east to
McGurdy's Brook, is a tract of 1000 acres which
was granted to the town for public uses. The worth
History of Chfstekvillf. 10
of this tract was small, (as was fonud when sold,)
for it contained a large portion of bog and pond.
North of this lay the pnrchase of Pluraer & Eaton;
but it extended east only to the Little Norridgewock
Stream. This left some 100 acres between the grant
to the town and Linscott's Purchase, extending east
to McGurdy's Brook and Pond. This small tract was
the last purchased from the State. It was made
Bean's Purchase lay in the north-west corner of the
town as incorporated. It extended south of the south-
west cove of Sand Pond some 180 rods, thence west
to the Jay line. It was bounded east by Chester
First Purchase to the north of Sand Pond.
South of this pond, between the two coves which
form its south end, and extending some 140 rods
further south than Bean's Purchase, are two lots of
about 130 acres each, one where Enoch Black now
lives, bought by John Wheeler, senior, and the oth-
er by his son, Edward T. Wheeler.
The remainder, situated south and east of the three
last mentioned tracts, bounded east by Chester First
Purchase, and Linscott's, south by Palmer & Eaton's
Purchase, and west by Jay line, containing about
1500 acres, was bought by John and William Chany,
about 1812. Except the small tract before mentioned
this was the latest purchase from the State.
Not many years after its incorporation the town
was enlarged by the annexation of a few lots from
Wilton, containing what is now J. W. Butterfield's
farm and the land around it.
1-i HisTOKY OF Chest Ell N ILL I"
5. — Natural Curiosities.
One of the natural curiosities of .Cliesterviile is
found on the east side of Blabon, formerly called
McGurdy's Hill, and partially connected with it, call-
ed "Old Bluff." On the west side of the hill there
is a ledge about 70 feet in higbt, a number of rods
in length, and almost perpendicular. The south-east
side, however,Tpossesses the most value and excites
the highest interest. 'Here lie beautiful sheets of
granite, of almost any desirable thickness, rising
some 200 feet, rather steep, yet falling back some-
thing like stairs, with occasionally a broad step of a
wide sheet laying uncovered At the base the mass
of stones, of almost every conceivable shape excepting
round, indicates that by frost or some other power
granite sheets have lost their place in this mountain
ledge, and have been accumulating for ages ; having
been broken by the fall or some convulsion into vari-
ous shapes and sizes. Many pieces here bear a strik-
ing resemblance to sheets far up the hillside. As they
lay in place these sheets are generally thicker be-
low than above. Years ago a stone, somewhat spher-
ical, of some two tons weight, lay perched just above
this ledge. In 1815 two men undermined one side
and rolled it down stairs. It went down at a rate
not slow, and as the men followed down its track,
they saw where it leaped from one step to another,
frequently breaking out fragments. They heard it
too, away below them, jumping its way down to a
History ov Chesterville. 15
place of repose. Near the base they found a flat
stone, some eight or ten inches in thickness, and in
size about ten by fifteen feet, so nearly balanced on
the points of three stones beneath, that half the weight
of a man settled one end about six inches, and when
the weight was removed, it resumed its former po-
sition with a loud and singular noise, probably oc-
casioned by the many cavities it partially covered.
On another spur of the same hill, some half mile
north of this, is situated a fine ledge of granite, from
which many valuable stones are quarried.. It is called
" Crow-eiFs Ledge." Still another, called " Lakin's
Ledge," on the nortli-west front of the hill, affords
many j^ood stones. Granite also crops out on other
parts of the same hill. The part called "Old Bluff"
is thought by some to exceed any other hill in town
Another natural feature of the town, somewhat re-
markable, is called "The Bluff." It is situated some
thirty or forty rods north-west of Sand Pond, and is a
ledge of rock almost perpendicular, facing the pond,
very nearly 100 feet high. At its base are rocks and
stones of various shapes and sizes, in apparent con-
fusion for several feet in front of the ledge. Above
the land mounts still higher a few rods and then
falls off to the north-west. The higher ]3art of the
bluff is about thirty rods in length. Years ago, when
pine timber was much more plenty than at present,
there stood above and a little back of the "Jumping
off Place," and leaning somewhat towards it, a pine
tree, some two and a half feet in diameter, with a
16 HlSTOKY OF CUESTERVII.LE,
well proportioned body. It looked so inviting that
some youngsters wishing to see a " pitch pole," cut
it down. And down it Avent> as if hurried into the
abyss below, almost top foremost. The top was not
only broken off, but broken and split into pieces, —
some of which were "almost as fine as ovenwood."
Some forty feet of the but, however, stood the shock
very well, but ended over and came to rest amo.ag
the trees and rocks, with its top towards the stump..
7. — The Hidge.
What is esteemed as at the head of nature's va-
rious works in Chesterville is "The Ridge." It is
what its name imports, a narrow ridge of land, to
appearance composed of small stones, sand and grav-
el, some four miles long. The sides are generally
steep — sometimes double or wide, and varying from
six or seven to seventy or eighty feet in hight. It
commences about three-fourths of a mile south of the
Centre Mills, and extends in a south-westerly direc-
tion, somewhat crooked, and of unequal hight and
width, some forty rods into Fayette. For the most
of this distance it appears to divide the waters of the
Little Norridgewock and McGurdy's Streams. A brook,
however, running from the south-east, through Per-
kins' Meadow in Fayette, comes to the Ilidge on the
east, several rods north of its southern extremity, re-
ceives a few tributaries from the north-east, and runs
around the south end of the Kidge into Lane's Pond,
near its outlet. This outlet is the main branch of
History of Chesterville. 17
the Little Norridgewock Stream, which passes through
Norridgewock or Moose Horn Pond, receives the
Bog Stream from the west, and a few smaller streams,
and joins Wilson's Stream, (which is rapid,) some
mile or more above its mouth, which is at Farming-
ton Falls. Besides the last pond above mentioned,
two others, Eound Pond and Sheldrake Pond, lie on
the west side of the Ilidge, all very near it. It is
generally thought that Sheldrake Pond leaks out —
slowly no doubt— under the Ilidge in two places,
into McGurdy's Pond on the east side, and some-
what lower. The evidences of these outlets under
the Ridge, are, first, two hollows or depressions in
the Ridge near Sheldrake Pond; second, not far from
the northerly of the two hollows, water appears to
come up in a bog, almost on a level with McGur-
dy's Pond, which is so warm that it never freezes ;
thirdly, the writer saw, April 2o, 1829, east of the
southern hollow, a strip of open water, clear from
ice, extending quite across McGurdy's Pond, towards
the outlet, and very straight, while the ice north and
south of it remained undissolved. This is probably so
every year, as others have frequently noticed such
an appearance at that season of the year. It seems
not only probable but almost certain that such a road
through the ice was made by a current of warm
water. The hollows in the ridge may owe their ori-
gin to some other cause, or .they may have been the
effect of a leak underneath. These leaks must be
small or they would j^draw off Sheldrake Pond to a
level with the other. The former, however, may be
ly History of Chesterville.
fed by springs sufficiently large to hold the balance.
It would seem that these outlets descend very deep
to send up warm water. Sheldrake Pond has no
other outlet excepting over a bog towards the north-
west, in time of freshet. At such times the water
backs in from the Little Norridgewock, and only runs
off as the flood subsides.
8. — Streams.
McGurdy's Stream rises on the east side of the
Ridge, in Chesterville, not a great distance from the
south line, and passes through McGurdy's and Whit-
tier's Ponds, receiving several brooks on both sides?
and loses itself in the Sandy lliver, about a mile
below Farmington Falls.
Wilson's Stream, a rapid stream, rising in No. -1,
and Temple, and running through Wilton, runs only
a mile or two on the boundary of Chesterville.
Little Norridgewock and McGurdy's Streams have
little descent and afford but few mill sites. They are
fed, partially at least, by swamps. Their shores in
many places are skirted with meadoAV lands, which
afford a cheap coarse hay, of no inconsiderable ben-
efit to the farmers. Some . of tliese were natural
meadows. Tradition says that some men residing in
Winthrop formerly cut and stacked hay near McGur-
dy's Stream, ''drove up cattle to consume it in a shel-
tered place in the woods near by, and then drove
them home again.
One small meadow on McGurdy's Stream is called
History of Chesterville. 19
"The Horse Meadow." In connection with this name,
as the circumstance in which it originated, — the fol-
lowing story is told. Mr. Linscott, the owner, had
cut and stacked the hay as usual, one season. Late
in the fall some one in Farmington lost a horse, and
after a fruitless search, being unable to learn any-
thing of its whereabouts, he concluded that it was
hopelessly lost. Some time in the winter Mr. Lin-
scott went after his stack of hay, when the mystery
of the absence of the horse was solved. There was
the horse but the hay was mostly gone. . To all ap-
pearance the horse had been living on it thus far,
and for drink he had kept a path to a spring not far
off, and had contrived to keep it open. [We have
a well authenticated record of an instance where a
horse had been left to himself, that displayed the
singular instinct of going frequently to its watering
place in cold weather, and pawiilg open the ice.]
9. — Ponds.
North Pond is situated some short of two miles
west of Parks' Mills, contains an area of more than
100 acres, and sends its surplus Avaters into the Bog
Stream. Chesterville contains several ponds not yet
described. The largest of these, of some 80 acres
surface, in the southeast part of the town, (a small
portion of it being in Vienna,) is called Perry's Pond,
and empties into McGurdy's Stream. Whortleberry
Pond lies north of North Pond, into which it runs
by a stream of the same name. Sugar Streaiji, of
about the same magnitude as Whortleberry Stream,
20 History of Chestervile.
rises in Jay and joins Whortleberry Stream from the
At the south-east border of the town is a large and
beautiful sheet of water known as Parker's Pond.- —
This pond contains several picturesque islands. In
the southern part of the town there are several
brooks and streams, whose waters find their way to