David Thurston.

A brief history of Winthrop, from 1764 to October 1855 online

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FROM 1764 TO OCTOBER 1,9^)5.


"Call to romembnnce the fonnor rlr,vs."-5,-






Astor, Leiwx and Tilden^



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Extract from the Records of the Town of Winthrop : —

Voted, That Rev. David Thurston be invited to -write
land publish a history of the Town of Winthrop.
A true copy.


Winthrop, Sept. 23, 1854.
Dear Siil : At a town meeting holden this day, the vote
'• Above written was unanimously passed.
Very truly yours,


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It is somewhat difficult to account for the fact, tliat no record
of any meeting, or any transaction of the inhabitants, while they
continued a plantation, can be found. Considerable research has
been made, but it has proved wholly unsuccessful.

The writer exceedingly regrets, that this work had not been
commenced twenty years ago. Doubtless many thiilling incidents
of early times might have been saved, which are now ii-recovera-
bly lost. Had the writer anticipated that such a labor would de-
volved upon him, he might have accumulated a fund of informa-
tion, from which a more accurate, copious and valuable liistory
might have been compiled. But no regrets will avail to call back
the departed individuals, who might fm-nish interesting matter for
a book, or bring to light the needed facts. Some pains have been
taken, by conversing with some of the oldest descendants of the
first settlers, and written communications jfrom others, to obtain
what, not only might be cmious, but interesting and profitable.
But the hope, in relation to this matter, has, by no means, been
fully realized.

It is scarcely to be expected that, in transcribing so many names
and dates, no mistakes should occm*. I have given orthography
to some words and names different from the tovm records.
Whether the change has always been more correct than the orig-
inal the reader must decide. For instance, where I found "Life

tii PREFACfi.

Foster," I have written Eliphalet Foster. For " Lear Every," 1
have written Leah Avery ; for "Sessors," Assessors ; for "West
Enda-rum," West India, &c.

Som© may supjwse the pains taken to collect such a catalogue
of names was useless. However, the labor has been taken, and
no small amount did it cost. But I have not disregarded the ad-
tice of Paul to Timothy ; for I have not "given heed to fables,"
nor "endless genealogies," for mine end "in 1800," and sometimes
in the middle of a family. Some may be disappointed in not find-
ing the facts agree with their tradition ; and others, perhaps, will
be as much disappointed in not finding their ancestors' names at
all. But as far as the records and reliable tradition have given
them, they have been faithfully copied.

The compiler tenders liis very grateful acknowledgements to all
those who have generously aided him by giving dates, names, or
facts to be mtroduced into the work. He would make particular
mention, among these, of Mrs. Metcalf the aged, Dea. Carr, Mr.
J. M. Benjamin, the Tovm Clerk, Mr. Joseph Pope, Hon. S. P.
Benson, Mr. JohnE. Bramerd, Samuel Wood, Esq., J. B. Fille-
bro-sATi, Esq., and Mr. James Stevens.

The work has been prosecuted under some disadvantages. Pos-
sibly had more time been exclusively devoted to its preparation,
it might have been better. Regretting that it is not more worthy
of the subject upon wliich it treats, it is respectfully submitted to
all such as feel an interest in the history of Winthrop.


Corrections, p. 15, last line, felling for falling — p. 27, near
bottom, inferior for mterior — p. 32, 4006 for 00,00 — p. 40, under
1810, May for Marr. — p. after 1852, Marrow for Morrow.



Location, - - - - -13

Boundaries, Early Settlers, - - - 14

Grants of Land, - - - - IS

Soil and Productions, - • - • • - 18

Social Habits, 20

Scenery, - - - - -21


Other settlers, 23

Chandler's Grant, 24

Incorporation of the Town, - . - • - - 25

First To^Ti Meeting, - - 25

Burying Places, - - - - 26

Town Meetings, - - - - 27

Gardiner's Dam, - - - - 28

Taxes, 30

Pro^ision for the Poor 33


Bounties, ^^^

Valuation of Property, 33


Roads, 2^

Representatives, - - - - - - " -38

Tow-n Officers, 38

Moderators, - 38

Town Clerks, 43

Select Men, 44

ToAvn Treasures, 47

Constables, 48


Dinsion of the To^to, ^2

Division of the State, 53

Against Monopoly, ^^

Hardshipsof the Early Settlers, 61

Patriotism, 69

Honorable Confession, "^4

Politics, - - - 77


Standard of Weights, 83

Pounds, - - - - -83

Warning out of Tovra, - - - - - 84

Manufactures and Mechanics, - - . - - - 85

Banks, 89


Education, 90

Graduates, - - - - 97

Doctors, - - - - - • " • -98-

Physicians who have practised in Winthi'op, - - 100

La^^7ers, - 104:

Lawyers who have practised in Wmthrop, - - - 105
Preachers, - - - - - 107


Ecclesiasticgal History, - - - - - - -110

Congregationalists, - - - - - - - HO

Friends, 124

Episcopal Methodists, .._ - - 125

Cahdnist Baptist Cliurch, - - - - - -126

Universalists, ■-. - - - 129

Chiistian Band, 132

Freewill Baptists, 132

Houses for Worship, - - - - 132

Ministerial Fund, 140

Momls, -. - . _ - -l43

"VVinthi'op Society for the promotion of good Morals, - 144
Temperance, - - - - 145

Effortsjmade by the Tovm. to effect a reformation of Morals, 148

Temperance Tavern, -151

Washingtonian Society, - - - - - - 151



Watercure Establishment, 168

Mai-riages and Deaths, 169

Genealogical Register, 172

Sons of Temperance, - - - - - - -152

Watchman's Club, 152

Anti-Slavery, 153

Society for Mutual Improvement, - - - - 155

Moral reform Society, 157

Agricultural Societies,- -. - .. 153

Kennebec Agricultural Society, 159

Literary Societies, - - - - - - - 161

Anderson Listitution, - - - - - - -162

Franklin Society, - - 165

Lyceums, ......... 165




Deed to Early Settlers, 20


Act to Incorporate the Town of Wlntlirop, - - - 215


WaiTant for To^ii Meetings, 1772, - - - - 219


Names of the original members of the Congregational

Chm-ch and the Covenant, - - - - - 221


Vote of land, &c., to Rev. Da\'id Jewett, - - - 225


An act to Incorporate the Tovm. of Readfield, - - 227

An act to Incorporate the First Congregational Society of
Winthrop, 230

Account of ordination of Rev. Messrs Belden, Thurston and
Sawj-er, 233


An act to Incorporate the ^Methodist Society, - •• 236



Names of the original members of the Baptist Cliurch and
ordination of Rev. Messrs. Ingraham, Memam & Powers, 239


Names of the members of the Universalist Church, - 241

Constitution of Society for the Promotion of good Morals 243

Constitution of Society for Mutual Improvement, - 246



Location — boundaries — early settlers — grants of land — soil
— timber — productions — scenery.

Pond Town, as Winthrop was first called, was includ-
ed in what has long been known as the " Plymouth
Grant," or the " Kennebec Purchase." This grant, or
purchase, comprised fifteen miles east of the Kennebec
River, and fifteen miles west of the river ; beginning south
at Merrymeeting Bay, where the Androscoggin enters
the Kennebec River, and extending up the river to Skow-
hegan. The south line of Pond Town was five miles
long — the west line about nine miles — the north line
seven miles, "more or less," — the east line had two
angles and its length is not stated.

A hunter, by the name of Scott, had visited the ponds
and streams in Pond Town, for the purpose of obtaining


fur, prior to the settlement of any family. Others had al-
so been in the place for the same purpose. Mr. Scott had
erected a hut for his shelter, near the Cobbossee Conte
great pond, on the land, which the first settler afterwards
occupied. Mr. Timothy Foster, looking out a place for
the settlement of his family, met this Mr. Scott at Cob-
bossee, and bought his cabin &c., and paid him thirty
dollars, but took no receipt for it. The creditors of Scott
hearing he had sold to Mr. Foster, some two years after,
sued Mr. Foster for the money he had paid to Scott, put
him in jail about six months and subjected him to other


According to the best information I can obtain, Mr.
Foster came himself in 1764, and brought his wife and
ten children in 1765. He pitched his tent about eight
rods from the great pond, on the lot now occupied by
Mr. Jacob Robbins. Here the first framed building was
put up, and is now the porch attached to the house where
Hiram Foster lives.

» The next family which came was Squier Bishop, his
wife and six children, in the Spring of 1767. They were
from Rehoboth, Mass. Families by the names of Fos-
ter, Fairbanks, Stanley and Pullein, came from Attle-
borough, Mass. Though several kinds of game were
plenty, the early settlers did not come to be hunters.
They had other designs and employments. The few in-
habitants came into the wilderness to provide for their
families, for whom they felt a lively interest. Had they
been drones, they would never have thought of coming
to Pond Town for a living, nor have encountered the toils
and hardships incident to such a situation. They evinc-


ed a spirit of indomitable resolution and perseverance by
their efforts to rear up families in such a desert. But
coming from that part of Massachusetts, where they had
been accustomed to no other than old cultivated farms,
they were wholly unprepared for the process of clearing
the land. They seemed not to know that corn or grain
would grow on unplowed ground. They felled the
trees, trimmed off the limbs and burnt them as much as
they could and put in their plow. In this way they
obtained very light crops, and had it not been for their
milk, game and wild fruit, they would have starved.
How many years they pursued this course, is not known.
But it was not until three brothers, Nathaniel, William
and Thomas Whittier, came from New Hampshire to that
part of Pond Town, now Readfield, and felled twenty
acres of trees and went back. The next Spring they
came and burned their fallen trees. It made a tremend-
ous fire which alarmed some who had never seen the like.
They cleared off what the fire had not consumed, planted
their corn and returned to New Hampshire. Some
thought the course these men took, bordered upon in-
sanity. But the corn sprang up and grew. The report
that a field of twenty acres of corn was growing and
looked promising upon land that had not been plowed,
awakened no small degree of curiosity. Not a few went
quite a distance to see it. In the autumn, notwithstand-
ing what the raccoons and bears had eaten and destroyed,
they harvested a good crop. From this experiment, the
emigrants from Massachusetts learned an invaluable les-
son. They were taught how to raise corn and grain on
burnt land. I have heard one of the early settlers say,
that every day's work in falling, burning, clearing and


sowing, yielded him a bushel of wheat. In those days,
that was good wages. One of the three from N. H., it
is said, brought a bushel and a half of potatoes upon
his shoulders from Hallowell to his farm.


The township was not sold to a few proprietors who
might speculate and defraud individual purchasers. The
Plymouth Company, or as they were then called, the
" Colony of New Plymouth," granted lots to individual
settlers upon specified conditions. In examining the
records of the Plymouth Company, I find that on June
11, 1766, a lot of land was granted to Timothy Foster,
** one miie long and one hundred poles wide, containing
two hundred acres." This was lot No. 8, as delineated by
a plan made by John McKecknie, who appears to have
made the first survey of the town. The conditions of the
grant were, " that the said Timothy Foster build an house
not less than twenty feet square and seven feet stud,
clear and bring to ; fit for tillage, five acres of land with-
in three years from the date hereof, and actually live upon
the premises himself during said term, or in case of his
death that his heirs, or some person under them shall
dwell on said premises during said term, and that he or
they, or some person under him or them shall dwell
thereupon for seven years after the expiration of said three
years ; reserving to this propriety all mines and minerals
whatsoever within the hereby granted premises, with lib-
erty of digging and carrying ofi" the same."

Squier Bishop had lot No. 17 granted to him, the same
day, on the same conditions. Eben. Bly had lot No. 18
granted to him the same day, on the same conditions.


Lot No. 10 was granted to John Needham, June 4, 1767,
on the same conditions. Samuel Scott had lot No. 13
reserved for him; but Sept. 14, 1768, it was transferred
to Samuel Needham, on the same conditions. Oct. 12,
1768, Abraham Wyman had lot No. 12 granted to him
on the same conditions. Nathan Hall had lot No. 11
granted to him same day, on the same conditions. Jan.
11, 1769, Robert Waugh had lot No. 98 granted to him
on the same conditions. Timothy Foster, Jr., had lot No.
5 granted to him, April 12, 1769, on the same conditions.
The same day Phillip Snow had lot No. 30 ; Nathaniel
Stanley, lot No. 18 ; Amos Boynton, lot No. 29 ; Peter
Hopkins, lot No. 9 ; Benjamin Fairbanks, lot No. 6 ;
John Chandler, lots No. 51 and 52 — all granted same
day, on the same conditions. Nathaniel Floyd had lot
No. 42 granted to him the same day. Stephen Pullen
had lot No. 56 granted to him Dec. 14, 1768, on the
same terms. Aug. 22, 1770, Ichabod How had lot No.
70 ; Joseph Chandler had lot No. 78 ; John Blunt had
lot No. 22 — all on the same terms. Aug. 27, 1770,
Billy Foster had lot No. 7; Aug. 12, 1772, Jonathan
Whiting had lot No. 101 ; Joseph Baker had lot No.
213; Samuel Stevens had lot No. 139; Stephen Jones
had lot No. 14, on the same conditions. July 14, 1773,
John Chandler had lot No. 99 ; Elisha Smith had lot No.
134 ; Squier Bishop had lot No. 55 ; Unight Brown had
lot No. 64 ; Jonathan Whiting had lot No. 200 ; Richard
Humphrey had lot No. 83, on the same conditions.

July 9, 1777, lot No. 247, according to John Jones'
survey, was granted to the minister, who should be first
settled in Winthrop. The conditions were, " that he


should continue to preach the gospel in said town for the
term of ten years from and after his settlement, unless
the said minister shall be removed by death before the
expiration of that term ; provided, nevertheless, that in
case a gospel minister shall not be settled in said Town
on or before the year 1780 ; then this grant is to be void
and to revert back to this Propriety." This is the lot
upon which Mr. John Kezer now lives. (See Ecclesias-
tical history.)

Also, July 9, 1777, lot No. 57, Jones' survey, contain-
ing about 200 acres, was, by the Proprietors of the Ply-
mouth Company, " Voted, granted and assigned to the
Town of Winthrop for the use of the ministry in said
Town forever." (See Vol. 5, Plymouth Colony's Re-

The township was surveyed by William McKecknie.
It was laid out in lots one mile long and one hundred
poles, or rods, wide. (See Appendix, Note A.)


The soil of Winthrop is various. Much of it is of a
superior quality. The land was well wooded. The
higher parts were covered with a heavy growth of maple,
beech, birch, hemlock and spruce. There was some
red oak. On the lower land there was some pine, fir,
and hackmatack. In the swamps was some cedar. In
the meadows were the native grasses, upon which they
fed the few cattle they brought. The greater part of the
land is arable. It is adapted to the growth of the difier-
ent kinds of grasses, the different grains, and all the cu-
linary vegetables to which the climate is suited. Pears


and grapes are beginning to be considerably cultivated.
Apples, many of the choicest kinds, abound. The settlers
began early to provide themselves with orchards. The
soil was very congenial to their growth. About every
farm has a good share of orcharding.

The first cider made in the town was from the orchard
of Mr. Ichabod How, on the place now occupied by Mr.
Moses Hanson and Mr. John Stanley. They had neither
cider mill nor press. But thirsting for a beverage to
which they were formerly accustomed as almost one of
the necessaries of life, but had been now for a long time
without, with true Yankee ingenuity they pounded a
quantity of apples in a sap trough, and extracted the
juice in a cheese press. In this way they obtained a few
gallons. All the neighbors (and that included a long
distance) were invited to come and partake of it as a rare
luxury. Since the temperance reformation has led men to
quit drinking cider so generally, very little has been made
to use as a beverage. The practice of engrafting choice
fruit has changed nearly all the orchards. Farmers now
find the avails of their orchards the most profitable pro-
ductions of their land. Nearly all the farms are small
rather than large, and generally well cultivated and Ava-
tered. Ponds, or, as some of them might with more
propriety be called, lakes, brooks, and springs, afford an
abundant supply of good, pure water for man and beast.
The Cobbossee Conte great pond, which is partly in Win-
throp and in Manchester and in Hallowell and in Litch-
field, is nine miles long. Two others, one north of the
village, extends into Readfield and is about six miles
long ; another, south of the village, extends into Mon-
mouth, and is about five miles long. Upon the stream


which passes from the north to the south pond is a cotton
manufactory, a tannery, a grist mill, two saw mills, a
woolen manufactory, and a large establishment for con-
structing horse power machines, separators, winnowing
machines, corn shellers, and various labor saving articles.
The number of ponds partly or wholly in Winthrop is
seven. These waters afford a variety of fish, the most
valuable of which now is the pickerel, of which, till
within a few years, there were none. Some anglers caught
several pickerel and put them into some of the ponds,
and they have become quite numerous. It has been said
no fish of this kind was found in any of the waters
emptying into the Kennebec River from the west. The
early settlers found the streams crowded with alewives
every spring ; but after the mill dam at Cobbossee Conte
was made, the fish were prevented from coming up.


The first settlers in a new country cultivate the social
afiections. There are reasons for this. They leave the
greater number of their relatives and acquaintance, so
that they can seldom have personal . intercourse with
them. They often are at a considerable distance from
each other; but they know all about each other's aff'airs,
and have a lively interest in each other's welfare. When
they meet at each other's houses, they feel entirely at
home. As an illustration of this principle, the following
anecdote has been related. Mr. Fairbanks one morning
saddled and pillioned his horse (for they had no other
way of riding) and rode up to Mr. Wood's and says,
"Mrs. Wood, I came to ask you to go and pass the
day at our house." Mrs. Wood says, "Mr. Fairbanks,


I cannot go to-day, for I am just kneading a batcli of rye
and Indian bread, which I must bake." "Oh! Mrs.
Wood, that need be no reason. I can take you on the
pillion, and the bread trough before me, and you can
bake at our house just as well as here." So Mrs. Wood
decided to go, and soon they were mounted on the horse,
Mrs. Wood upon the pillion behind Mr. Fairbanks, and
he took the bread trough containing the dough before
him, and they went safely. Mr. Fairbanks heated up
his oven, and Mrs. Wood baked her bread very nicely,
had a very sociable, friendly visit, and returned at eve in
the same way, with a good batch of bread. But what a
spectacle it would now present to see a horse, saddled
and pillioned, carrying a gentleman and lady on his back,
the gentleman having before him a kneading trough,''^' in
which was dough for a batch of bread ! Yet had you
lived in the latter part of the last century, you might
have witnessed such a sight in Pond Town.

Such were their privations and want of conveniences,
that a lady, in order to make her soap one year, had to
carry her materials on foot a distance of three miles, to
a neighbor's who had the necessary utensils.


Some of the scenery is surpassingly beautiful. The

*A pillion was a large cushion for a woman' to ride upon behind
a man on horseback. It was covered with a cloth of sufficient
size to keep the lady's clothes from the horse. It had on the nigh
side a stirrup for the lady's feet, so that she rode side foremost.

Kneading troughs were of different sizes, from two to three
feet in length, from ten to fifteen inches in width, and about the
same height, into which they sifted their meal, and in which they
kneaded their dough.


handsome sheets of water render it very pleasant. The
ground rises considerably in passing north from the great
Cobbossee Conte pond. From several residences you
have an extensive view of that charming lake, dotted
with islands of various shapes and sizes, which is exceed-
ingly delightful. The scenery in the region of the nar-
row's pond is very fine. Lovers of interesting natural
scenery, who have visited the place, have always spoken
of it with much satisfaction. There are a few, and might
be many, splendid country seats. The late Hon. Benja-
min Vaughan of Hallowell, who, prior to coming to the
United States, had held a seat in the British Parliament,
when his friends from New York, Philadelphia, &c.,
visited him, was accustomed to give them a ride to Win-
throp. They would come up the old road by the town
house, and return by the narrow's pond. I have heard
him say it was the most interesting scenery he had found
in New England. From the hill on which the town
house stands, when the air is favorable, the hills in Dix-
mont, seventeen miles west of the Penobscot River, can
be seen, and a section of the White Mountains in New


Other settlers — Mr. Chandler — the first road — ^first mill — Incor-
poration of the town — town meetings — Dr. Gardiner's Dam — ■
taxes — paupers — bounties — ^acres of land and water — valuation.

Ix 1766, some young men, among whom were Stephen
Pullen, Nathaniel Stanley, Benjamin Fairbanks, and
probably Ebenezer Bly, came to the place ; perhaps some
others. In 1767, Nathaniel Fairbanks came and passed
the summer, and returned. In the spring John Chandler
came and a number of others. Prior to this, there was
no road from Pond Town to the Kennebec River. The
bushes were cut away, and a line of spotted trees was
their guide through the dense forest. A grist mill had
been erected on the Cobbossee Conte stream, in what is
now Gardiner, by Dr. Gardiner and son, of Boston. The
people had to go all the way to Cobbossee to procure the
grinding of all their meal. Nor had they any other way
of conveying it except upon their shoulders, for there was
not a horse in the town, and there being no roads, they
could not avail themselves of the labors of their oxen.
An incident has been related as having occurred during
this period of privation and trial, which may interest the
ladies. In those days they were accustomed to all sorts
of toil and hardship. Mrs. Foster, wife of the first set-


tier, undertook to assist her hasbaud by going to Cob-
bossee to mill. Living on the margin of the great pond,

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Online LibraryDavid ThurstonA brief history of Winthrop, from 1764 to October 1855 → online text (page 1 of 14)