Daniel Remich.

History of Kennebunk from its earliest settlement to 1890. Including biographical sketches online

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Online LibraryDaniel RemichHistory of Kennebunk from its earliest settlement to 1890. Including biographical sketches → online text (page 1 of 59)
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Copyriglit, 1911,


Carrie E. Remich and Walter L Dane, Trustees.



The original plan of Mr. Remich in writing this History of
Kennebunk was to take up the noteworthy events of our town after
its separation from Wells in 1820, and so continue the History of
Wells and Kennebunk by Edward E. Bourne ; but after due consid-
eration of the subject it seemed essential to him to go back to its
early settlement in. order that the reader might be able to trace the
growth of the town, in sequence, since the days when the first white
man landed upon our shores, thus necessarily covering much of the
ground already gone over by Judge Bourne. He spared neither
time nor money in gaining access to old records, deeds, files of
papers, etc., to obtain the desired information and his remarkable
memory served him well in many instances. He was always greatly
interested in historical research and he devoted the most of his time
the latter part of his life to this work ; it was purely a pastime with
him, as he never expected to receive any reward for his labors other
than the benefit which he might sometime be able to impart to
others. Laboring under difficulties at times, he toiled on with his
compilation, hoping to be able to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.
When he finally had a certain amount of material in hand he under-
took to have it published, thinking that he could keep in advance
of the publishers in putting it together properly, making any neces-
sary alterations and filling in dates and various omissions that had
occurred, but his disappointment was great to discover, after having
carefully corrected the proof himself, that the company which he had
engaged to do the printing had overlooked many of his directions
and as a result the pages that were printed were so filled with errors
that he became utterly discouraged and consequently withdrew it.
Not long after his health began to fail so he did not make another
attempt to have it published. It is greatly to be regretted that he
was unable to accomplish his long cherished desire. Mr. Remich
passed away the thirtieth of May, 1892. It was his wish that if his
History of Kennebunk was found to be sufficiently completed for
publication, that it be left to his executors to see that it was properly
attended to ; accordingly, in due time, several chapters of the manu-
script were passed over to one of the executors, Mr. E. P. Burnham,

of Saco, but he was unable to give it the necessary attention so we
were obliged to abandon the idea of expecting assistance in that
direction. From time to time several further attempts were made
to have the subject matter prepared for publication, but for various
reasons they proved unsatisfactory, resulting in repeated delays.

I had long felt that perhaps it was my duty to prepare my
father's historical work for the press, so far as I had the ability, and
had come to realize that I must at least make the endeavor; accord-
ingly I turned to the original manuscript, casting all recent copies
one side, rearranged and classified the chapters, cut out many repeti-
tions, filled in dates and other omissions when they could be ascer-
tained with certainty, made what corrections seemed necessary and
supplied several chapters from addresses and various other of his
writings, as was his intention to have done. It should be under-
stood, however, that in making these corrections I have not assumed,
in any case, to change the facts, but have ever kept in mind his
request that nothing be added to or taken from the text. This has
been an exceedingly laborious task, inasmuch as the manuscript had
become thoroughly mixed, there being no expectation of having any
further use for it after the copy was made, thus adding to the many
difficulties that had previously arisen. I have also affixed an index
in which I have essayed to make note of every item of importance
as well as of persons and places mentioned in this volume. We are
under obligations to Messrs. Albion and Harry T. Burbank, of Exeter,
New Hampshire, for valuable assistance in correcting the proof.

Now that we are to present this History of Kennebunk for dis-
tribution, we desire to tender our sincere thanks to the citizens of
the town who have borne so patiently with us for having unavoidably
withheld this work from the public so long.

Carrie E. Remich.
December, 19 lo.


Part First.

Chapter I.


Chapter II.
1641-1660. — Early grants. — Early settlers.

Chapter III.
1 660-1 674. — Boundary line between Wells and Cape Porpus (after-
ward Arundel, now Kennebunkport) established.

Chapter IV.
1669-1684. — The first mills erected in 1669. — The hardships of the
builder. — His death. — His property held by mortgagees. — Their

Chapter V.
1680-1700. — Kennebunk River Mills, Mills at Mousam, Great Falls
and Little River. — Coxhall. — Grants on or near Mousam, Ken-
nebunk and Little Rivers.

Chapter VI.
1 700-1 7 50. — The condition of the territory. — Proposed cession of
a part of it to Coxhall. — The Larrabees. — Larrabee Village.

Chapter VII.
1706-1750. — Wadleigh's Indian deed. — Great Falls and Village
grants and mills. — Major Phillips' grant. — Kennebunk Mills.
— The Kimball family. — Peabody family.

Chapter VIII.
The Proprietary. — Division of the "common and undivided lands."
— Grants on and near Kennebunk River ; on and near Little
River; on and near Rankin's and Alewive Brooks. — 17 19-1750.

Chapter IX.
1720-1750. — Land grants on the Mousam River. — "Cat Mousam "
Mills. — Saw-mills on Alewive Brook.

Chapter X.
Kennebunk as it was in 1750.

Chapter XL
Harriseeket, the Village, Cat Mousam and Day's School Districts.

Chapter XII.
The prosperity of Kennebunk dating from 1750. — Grants of land in
Alewive. — Ross Road. — Hart's Beach Road. — The Village
Bridge and road therefrom, — The Mill Yard and Triangle.

Chapter XIIL
" The times that tried men's souls."

Chapter XIV.

Chapter XV.
Shipbuilding on the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers. — Kennebunk
Iron Works.

Chapter XVI.
The Judicial Courts.

Chapter XVII.
Miscellaneous items of interest concerning "Ye olden time" and
people collected from various sources.

Chapter XVIII.
The Newspaper Press.

Chapter XIX.
Noteworthy incidents in Kennebunk and vicinity from 1809 to 1820,
compiled from the columns of the IVeekly Visiter.

Chapter XX.
Town history gleaned from advertising columns, industries and
business memoranda, 1809-1820.

Chapter XXI.
The War of 181 2-' 15. — "The Horse Marine." — President Monroe
in Kennebunk. — The Cavalry Company. — The Artillery Com-

Chapter XXII.
" Cochranism."

Part Second.

Chapter I.
Separation of the District of Maine from the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. — Division of the town of Wells. — Incorpora-
tion of the town of Kennebunk.

Chapter II.
Political, 1821-1840.

Chapter III.

Chapter IV.
Residents and Buildings. — Main, Storer and Fletcher Streets,

Chapter V.
Residents and Buildings continued. — Dane, Elm, Park and
Summer Streets.

Chapter VI.
Manufacturing Companies, 1823-1842. — The Mousam Navigation


Chapter VII.
Shipbuilding, 1820-1SS2. — The Lock. — Marine Items. — The Sea

Chapter VIII.
The Piers. — The Granite Speculation.

Chapter IX.
The Mails.— P. S. & P. Railroad.

Chapter X.
Business Directory of Kennebunk in 1S20. — Advertising Columns
from 1S20 to 1842.

Chapter XI.
Early method of going to market. — Mousam River Legend. — The
Tornado. — Cultivation of Hemp. — Census of 1830. — Meteoric
Shower. — The Slide. — Orthography of the word "Mousam"
and other miscellaneous items of interest dating from 1820
to 1843.

Chapter XII.
The Social Library. — Literary Society. — Lyceums. — Temperance.

Chapter XIII.
The Fire Society.

Chapter XIV.
General Lafayette. — President Jackson. — York Lodge of Free
and Accepted Masons. — Military Reviews. — Fourth of July

Chapter XV.

Chapter XVI.
The Civil War.

Chapter XVII.
Biographical and Anecdotal.

History of Kennebunk.



[The territory now known as the town of Kennebunk, for nearly
a century after the first white settler upon it had located himself and
family, received but few accessions to its population, and, notwith-
standing the many facilities it offered to the farmer and mill-man,
was almost entirely neglected by persons seeking grants of land.
It is attempted in this chapter, which is chiefly a compilation, to
answer the natural query — "Why was it thus disregarded?" Such
of the events in the early history of the Province of Maine, during
this period, as influenced the condition of our township, directly or
indirectly, are narrated as briefly as practicable, omitting all details
that do not appear to be required for the attainment of the desired
object. It will be found that, while the frequent changes of govern-
ment and policy in the mother country, and the varying fortunes of
Gorges, which were mainly attributable to these changes, injuriously
affected the prosperity of all the towns, the carelessness or dishon-
esty of the Plymouth Council in issuing the Dye Patent — which was
clearly an infringement on the grant to Gorges — and the conflicting
claims that grew out of this procedure, bore directly upon the strip
of territory under consideration, and very naturally produced feel-
ings of uncertainty as to the validity of any title to its acres that
could be acquired.^ It will be understood, therefore, that it has not
been the aim of the compiler to prepare a historical sketch of the
country (which at this day, for obvious reasons, would be entirely
superfluous), but simply to furnish the readers of the succeeding
chapters with a collection of facts elucidative of the text, which, it is
believed, will be found of value as a handy reference.]

^ Besides the complications and doubt-inspiring movements here referred to,
were the boundary troubles between Wells and Kennebunkport, and the claim of
John Wadleigh, founded on a conveyance by an Indian sagamore, both of which
will be noticed in chronological order as our history proceeds.


The history of Maine commences with the opening of the six-
teenth century. The Cabots, it is true, in 1497, discovered the
coast of Labrador, or Newfoundland, thence sailed as far south as
Maine, and possibly Massachusetts, and upon these discoveries
England founded her claim to this part of North America ; again, in
1524, John Verazzano, in the service of France, proceeded along
the coast from the thirty-fourth to near the fiftieth degree of north
latitude, "keeping the coast of Maine in sight for fifty leagues,"
and on the discoveries made during this voyage France grounded
its claim to North American territory; a little later, Gomez, a
Spanish adventurer, passed in view of the coast from Newfoundland
to the capes of the Delaware, and it is not improbable that other
European navigators traversed the same route before the close of
the fifteenth century, but it was not until the period above named,
"when the thirst for discovery was fully enkindled, and colonization
efforts were more seriously entertained " by the commercial nations
of Europe, that we find evidence that the coast of Maine was
especially observed, or its territories sought with the object of

In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold left an English port in a small
vessel with thirty-two men, and made the coast of Maine and New
Hampshire in forty-nine days. There are reasons for the supposi-
tion that the " Northland," mentioned in his narrative of the voyage,
was Cape Porpoise, and "Savage Rock," the Nubble, near Cape
Neddock.^ It does not appear that he landed in this vicinity. The
favorable desciiption of the country made by Gosnold, after his
return, led to further expeditions for its exploration, among which
was that of Martin Pring, in 1603, who "went a short distance up
Kennebunk river," finding no people, but signs of fires where they
had been.-

In 1604 Sieur de Monts, while in pursuit of a favorable loca-
tion for the founding of a French colony, under a patent granted to
him by Henry the Fourth of France (1603), which embraced the
entire territory from the fortieth to the forty-sixth degree of north
latitude, and included " the whole of our present New England," . . .
"undertook a voyage of discovery" in a pinnace of fifteen tons,
which he had built at the Island of St. Croix (in Passamaquoddy
Bay), "the firstling, probably, of our American marine." He was

' Bradbury's " History of Kennebunkport," printed by James K. Remich, 1837.
■^ Pring's visit was made in the summer, and the natives were undoubtedly up
the rivers Kennebunk and Mousam at the time, looking after their traps, etc.


accompanied by Samuel Champlain, "the chronicler of the voyage,
the master of the pinnace, and a crew of about twenty sailors and
soldiers." ^ The voyage was prosperous, and in Maine they found
the natives friendly. They landed at Richman's Island, near Casco
Bay, at Chouahouet, now Saco, and at Cape Porpoise, named by
Champlain Le Fort aux Isles (the Port of the Isles),- "and here
they were charmed by the glad song of infinite numbers of black-
birds and bobolinks, and thence to the Kennebunk River, where
they were astonished with immense flocks of turtle-doves, or wild
pigeons." They left Cape Porpoise the fifteenth day of July, 1605,
and proceeded "twelve leagues toward the south, along the beaches
of Maine and New Hampshire." George Weymouth, the English
navigator, it is said, preceded de Monts only a few days, or a few
weeks at farthest, in this examination of our coast.^

'The quotations in this paragraph are from the first ehapt<-r of the "Isles of
Shoals," hy .John .Sc-ribner Jeiiness, 187;!, and the reniainUer of the paragraph is a
condensation of the narrative therein given.

- Cape Porpoise Is formed by a cluster of fifteen islands, viz. : Folly, Goat, Green,
Trott's, Vaughan's (foi-merly Long), Stage, Fort, Cape or East, Rcddlng's, Eagle
(known also as Bass and Cherry), Milk, Neck or Biekford's, Savan, Bush and Cedar.
West of these, and w-ithout the cluster, is Bunkin Island. Bradbury says Htage
Island was prol)abIy the first land granted in the present town of Kennebnnkport,
and that the earliest settlers—" perhaps as early as 1G20"— seated themselves there.
The first burylng-place in the town was on this island. It contains about fifteen
acres, and " there are marks of cultivation on every part of it." Stage Included,
pei-liaps a century ago, what is now called P'ort Island, but the soil has been
washed away by the action of the sea, so that now at low water there are two
islands, of which Stage is much the largei".

■'The author of the " Isles of Shoals "is of the opinion, based on the evidence
furnished in Folsom's " Early Documents Relating to Maine," tliat Gorges and
Mason visited the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire In or about 1019, and that
" there is reason to believe " that they landed on the Isles of Shoals during this
voyage, and also that Gorges had then " been for several years a merchant-adven-
turer to our coasts," but well-settled facts show conclusively that this impression
is erroneous. In 1019, "Vines, in the employ of Gorges, had made several trips to
the waters of the Saco, and had established a colony there which was flourishing
and receiving accessions yearly. If Gorges had been in this vicinity at the time
above named, it can hardly be doubted that he would have sought the whereabouts
of Vines, called upon him, and made some inquiries, at least, respecting the con-
dition and prospects of the colony planted under his own direction and with
means he had provided. If the date of this conjectured voyage had been some
ten or fifteen years earlier, it would be exceedingly pleasant to accept the state-
ment under consideration, and to adopt the idea that might be based upon it,—
that in his early manhood, while sailing along our shores, discerning the noble
forests, the mouths of its many rivers, and the possibilities of a territory so won-
derfully fitted by Nature to become the dwelling-place of a numerous and power-
ful people, the colonization scheme had its inception in the mind of the ambitious
Gorges, followed by visions of colonies, of a government in imitation of the splen-
did monarchies of Europe, of which he sliould be the absolute ruler, and hence
his years of untiring effort, of sacrifice and embarrassment, all destined to bo un-
rewarded and fruitless;— all this, however, is simply mythical. Fate ordained
that even the poor pi-ivilege should be denied him of impressing with his footstep
any portion of.the soil whereon he wouUl have reared his gorgeous civil and
ecclesiastical edifice.


In 1606 King James the First of England granted patents to
two companies, the London and the Plymouth, with all the requisite
privileges and powers for planting colonies which were to be gov-
erned for the king and by a council of his appointment. To the
first-named was assigned the territory extending from the thirty-
fourth to the forty-first degree of north latitude, with a breadth of
fifty miles inland, and to the Plymouth, the territory lying between
the thirty-eighth and forry-sixth parallels of latitude and with the
same breadth inland. The two companies, soon after obtaining
their charters, fitted out vessels with colonists, to explore and plant
settlements in their' respective territories; the former (December,
1606), three ships and one hundred and five colonists, the expedition
resulting in the settlement at Jamestown, Va.; the latter (May,
1607), three ships and one hundred settlers. This expedition, how-
ever, proved unfortunate. A colony called the Sagadahock Colony
was formed at the mouth of the Kennebec River (August, 1607),
but the severe winter that followed, and self-imposed troubles with
the natives, led to the abandonment of the enterprise and the return
of the colonists after a sojourn of less than twelve months. This
mishap dampened the ardor of the company, and for a time the
voyages to our coast were confined " to objects of fishing and trafiic
with the natives." This state of inactivity, however, did not long
continue. Sir Ferdinando Gorges, although his name does not
appear on the list of patentees, was prominent and the most active
in promoting the interests of the Plymouth Company. Among those
whom he engaged in its service was Capt. John Smith, so famous
in history, who had recently returned from his voyage to our coast
(1614-15).^ His labors, however, were not attended with any
marked results. Through the agency of Gorges, Richard Vines and
his company visited this coast (1616-17), entered the Saco River
(which Vines had visited six years before), and camped at Winter
Harbor through a winter.^ Very little is known concerning these
colonists. They were probably employed, during the warm season,
in trading and fishing along the coast from the Penobscot to the

'During this voyage Captain Smitli gave tlie name which it still bears. New
England, to the country described in the patent to the Plymouth Company, whicli
to that time had been known as North Virginia.

2 " Having explored all the points along the shores of Saco Bay, they selected a
spot in lower Biddeford, on the west side of the Pool, a portion of land extending
out into the water [since] known as Leighton's Point. Here Captain Vines erected
a log cabin, built in it a wide fireplace and chimney from the stones gathered on
the beach, thatched it with long grass gathered from the marsh, and spread for a


There is no record of any permanent settlement made by them.
It is generally supposed that all of them returned to England with
Vines, after a year's sojourn here. Vines reported on his return
that a "great part of New England was almost depopulated by war
and pestilence," so that "the country was in a manner left void of
inhabitants." It was afterward ascertained that a frightful epidemic
had prevailed from 1613 to 1617, and perhaps later, from the Penob-
scot River to Narragansett Bay. The nature of this terrible disease
has never been ascertained. It is a remarkable fact that although
they were living in the midst of it, not one of Vines' company was
attacked by this mysterious and virulent disorder.

On the third day of November, 1620, James the First granted a
new incorporation to a company of forty persons, with the title of
the " Council established at Plymouth, in the county of Devon
(England), for the planting, ordering, ruling and governing of New
England, in America," embracing all the territory now occupied by
the New England States. " It was empowered to hold territory in
America, extending westward from sea to sea, and in breadth from
the fortieth to the forty-eighth degree of north latitude." From
this council, in 1622, Gorges and Capt. John Mason, a man who
had held important public trusts, and who was both experienced and
energetic, obtained a grant of the country "bounded by the Merri-
mac, the Kennebec, the ocean and the River of Canada." To this
territory they gave the name of Laconia.^ Under this grant Gorges
continued the work of the settlement of the territory with renewed

carpet the fragrant l)oaghs of the hemlock. This was the llrst habitation of civi-
lized man upon the shores of Saco Bay, and our adventurers had no English

neight>ors nearer than Jamestown, Virginia The Englishmen made

themselves a secure shelter. Their vessel in which their supplies were kept was
anchored in the Pool, and the abundance of game and fish made their circum-
stances, to lovers of adventure, all that could be desired. . . . This was several
years before the settlement of Massachusetts by the Puritans." — SAorfis 0/ Saco
Bay, Maine, p. 105; — an interesting historical sketch and guide, by J. S. Locke,
Boston, 1880.

' Was this merely a fancy name, adopted because it was smooth and pleasant,
as well as easily pronounced, or was it Jidopted because it was thought the geo-
graphical features of the territory granted by this patent were somewhat like
those of the Laconia so celebrated "in story and song"? Within its boundaries
the mountains have reminders, and perhaps in our valleys and plains, rocky
coasts and prominent capes, a similarity might have been observed, which, In
connection with the taciturn, "stern, rude, cruel and narrow-minded" traits of
character that alike distinguished the Indian tribes who were dwellers here and
the old Spartan, presented points of resemblance sufficiently strong to warrant
the transferring of the name of an ancient and famous province of classic Greece
to a province in the new world that had no written history, no legends even, on
which to base more than bare conjecture In regard to the savage race by which It
was sparsely inhabited.


energy. " He was now better prepared to prosecute the undertaking
than ever before. From his previous unsuccessful attempts in this
direction, he had derived information which enabled him better to
understand the value of the grants as well as the means necessary to
be employed to render his labors successful." It is evident that he
had determined to concentrate his energies on that part of the grant
lying east of the Piscataqua, and between the years 1622 and 1629,
permanent settlements were formed at York, Wells, Cape Porpoise
and Saco. By mutual agreement, in 1629, Mason and Gorges
divided their grant, Gorges taking all that portion of it lying east of
the Piscataqua, and Mason that lying between the Piscataqua and

In 1630 Sir Ferdinando sent over Edward Godfrey and others to
look after his interests on the east side of the Piscataqua. Immedi-
ately after his arrival on our shores, Godfrey proceeded to Agamen-
ticus (now York), where he erected a dwelling-house, and was the
founder of the town. This fact appears to be well established. In

Online LibraryDaniel RemichHistory of Kennebunk from its earliest settlement to 1890. Including biographical sketches → online text (page 1 of 59)