Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole.

History of Durham, Maine; online

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and " near Great Androscoggin River." It ran " two rods

southwesterly of James Wagg's house" "near Josselyn's

Ferry,". ..." two and a half rods N. Easterly of Bagley's barn,"
which stood near where George Miller now lives. ..." imtil it
strikes the County Road formerly laid out in Durham." The
expense of laying out the road was one hundred and fifty-five
pounds, three shillings and four pence.

The building of this road led immediately to the settlement
of the northern part of the town, and after fifteen years every
lot to the old Pejepscot, later Danville, later still Auburn, line
was settled. The business center was transferred from the
County Road to the region between " Eunice's Brook " and
■' Stoddard's Tavern."

Let us take an imaginary ride along the River Road in 1801.
starting from the Bend. Keeping close to the river bank we
pass first the house built by Hon. John Gushing, and occupied
by Abel Curtis later. It long ago disappeared. In the gulley
north of it we see the tannery of Samuel F'ield and then we
come to the house built by Dr. John Converse, where Simeon
Bailey long lived. It was burned a few years ago. Near the
mouth of "Eunice's Brook' is the house of William Gerrish. In
1832 he built the brick house now occupied by Andrew G. Fitz.
The brick were made by him on the river bank. After crossing
the Brook an old rangeway joins the River Road, and now we
are in the heart of the city, so to speak. Here is the hotel kept
by Joseph Proctor, 1795-1810. The building was afterward


moved up on the hill on the back road and was the residence of
Joseph Weeman. North of the hotel is a large two-story house,
some say built by Joseph Little. Here lived Dr. David G.
Barker. The house Avas moved onto the hill at the Bend and is
now the residence of Dea. Wm. Hascall. Foster Waterman had
his law-office near by a little later and David Bowie his bakery.
Samuel Merrill had a house and store, and a little later Meshack
Purington lived in this region. All these buildings were upon
the old farm of Col. Jonathan Bagley, which occupied three lots.
Tradition says that his house and barn stood a little north of
where Herbert Miller now lives. Miller's house was built by
James Strout in 1836. Strout bought the place in 1809. We
next pass the house of Elijah Macomber a little north of George
Miller's present house. Macomber settled here in 1801. His
house long ago was destroyed by fire. Here also was a country
store. Next north was later the residence of Capt. Jonathan
Strout, and about opposite where Mr. White now lives was
Dain's Ferry, kept by John Dain who lived on the Lisbon side
at this time, 1 799-1818. Thirty years earlier he lived on the
County Road, opposite the old North Meeting House.

W^e now come to two large, two-story houses, built in 1800
and 1801 by the brothers Abel and William Stoddard. Both are
still standing and occupied by Everett Macomber and Josiah
Williams. The first was " Stoddard's Tavern." Here Secomb
Jordan, Esq., afterward lived and kept store in a building near
by, which was later moved to S. W. Bend and was for nearly
half a century the shop of James H. Eveleth, shoe-maker.
Stoddard bought this farm in 1797 of Samuel Merrill for $1000,
and Merrill bought it of John Gushing. The row of stately elm
trees was planted in 1801. Jordan was succeeded here in trade
by the brothers Henry and Joseph Moore from Newfield, Me.
Henry married Rhoda, dau. of Secomb Jordan and died 13 Sept.
1843, aged 45 yrs. Joseph married a daughter of Thomas Pierce,
Esq., and settled in Lisbon. The Williams farm was also owned
by Samuel Merrill, who may have come from New Gloucester.
He died in 1800. He was an active business man, farmer,
lumberman and Justice of Peace. His house stood north-west
of Williams' and back in the field across the brook. William
Stoddard built the present Williams house in 1801. George

jrrw YO!?x


Williams was employed as a carpenter in the building of the
house and bought it in 1825.

"Dam Brook," so called in the town records of a century ago,
received its name because of the beaver dams upon it, traces of
which and of the elliptical dome-shaped beaver house may still
be clearly seen. Here, doubtless, beaver were trapped by
Indians, whose stone hatchets and spear-heads have been found
on a hill near by. In 1804 Secomb Jordan was paid $87.52 for
building a bridge across Dam Brook. Again in 1807 Isaac
Lambert and Nathaniel Gerrish were paid $63, for rebuildmg
this bridge. In 1804 Abel Stoddard was allowed $4, for people
passing through his land in time of freshet. These items show
how history repeats itself. Many a time have these farms been
overflowed. The "great freshet" of 1814, when families had to
leave their homes by night in boats, was repeated in 1896.

Just beyond the mouth of Dam Brook lived John Skinner,
who sold his farm in 1808 to Samuel Nichols Jr. Later it was
occupied by Joseph Miller.

Next we come to the old Secomb Jordan place. The house
now occupied by Millard Dingley was built over eighty years ago
for Apollos Jordan, whose widow was the second wife of
Jeremiah Dingley, who long lived here. The oldest Jordan
house stood near the road and further north. It disappeared
half a century ago. A few apple-trees mark the site.

The next square, two-story house was built by William
Webster in 1798. It was burned in 1893. In front of it, on the
river bank we see, in 1801, the first school-house of this district,
afterward occupied by Webster as a shop for the manufacture of
yokes, ploughs and axe-handles. The second school-house was
a few rods below it, afterwards moved and desecrated as a pig-
pen by Israel Mitchell. The third school-house was the little
red one by the big elm. trees below Dingley's, where also stands
the fourth, for which there seems to be now no use. Four
ancient districts of Durham and So. Auburn must be combined
in order to make up a school of fourteen pupils.

Beyond Webster's, now William Stackpole's, and on a hill-
top by the rangeway stands, in 1801, the square one-story house
facing the river, built by John Stackpole about 1792. It was
burned in 1837, and the present house was then built by Samuel


O. Stackpole. Nothing but a bridle-path along spotted trees led
to it before 1800.

"House's Brook River" is so named in the town records nearly
a century ago. Tradition says that on the head waters of this
stream lived at one time a man named House. He tried one
dark night to cross on a log the brook swollen by rains. Was
it the favorite beverage that caused him to fall into the water?
At any rate he was drowned, and the brook has immortalized
his name. Another form of the legend is that he was acci-
dentally drowned while employed in the construction of a bridge
over the brook. Who was this man House? No mention of
his name is fovmd on the town records. No living person
remembers aught of him or of his family. Among the papers
of Col. Jonathan Bagley at Amesbury, Mass., there is found an
agreem.ent, dated 26 July 1773, between Bagley and Elisha
House of Sherburn, Mass. The said House was to enter upon,
cut down the trees and clear up all the stuff and fix for sowing
grain, planting corn and pasturing, the northwesterly half of a
100 acre lot, No. 82, m Royalsborough, within the space of five
years, to clear ten acres every year and build a good sufficient
lawful fence on the line in the middle and on each end, said
Bagley to find one half the grass seed to sow what land he shall
improve the first year, to find one half the seed corn and half
the grain to sow and plant yearly, to provide one yoke of oxen
and build a barn. Bagley was to have half the produce and
"half the hay, and at the end of five years to give to the said
Elisha House a good and lawful Warrantee Deed of the other
lialf of the lot. Here is probably the man for whom was named
■"House's Brook River." The agreement was never fulfilled.
House's Brook has been famous for pickerel for a century. I
have seen a score of persons fishing there by the light of bon-

North of the Brook we come to the farm of Samuel Mitchell
who brought his wife, Betsey Dingley, all the way from Cape
Elizabeth on horse-back and moved into a corn-barn as a tem-
porary residence, while his house was being built. The next
house is that of Dea. Isaac Lambert. The original house is still
standing and occupied by Herbert Wagg. Here was born the
Hon. Nelson Dingley, Jr.; also WilHam Henry Lambert. See
biographical sketches.


If we were to continue our ride to the northern limit of
ancient Durham we would pass the spot where now is the ceme-
tery, in which sleep many of the persons already mentioned, and
come to the house of John Dow, which became some years
later Simeon Blethen's, where later dwelt for many years
Dea. William Dingley. Then we should come to Thomas
Proctor's house. He was succeeded by his son William, and
lie by Augustus Parker. Next was the farm of Elias Staten who
is said to have come from Virginia. He married in Cape Eliza-
beth, 13 Nov. 1796 Keziah Atwood. He died in Lewiston 3
May 1850, aged 79 yrs. His farm was occupied later by Elder
Shimuel Owen, who was born in Topsham 2 April 1771 and died
here 29 Dec. 185 1, a preacher of the old Calvinistic school.

Above Staten's we come to William Dingley 's, ancestor of
about all by that surname in Androscoggin County. The old
house is still standing, one of the most ancient landmarks along
the road. The Ferry here was once much in use.

There is very little found in the records of Royalsborough
about road-making. A few days' works were voted on the
County and private roads. March 25, 1774, it was voted that
each man in the town do four days' work on the " road between
the first and second range of lots, said road leading to the
County Road that leads by North Yarmouth and the private
road." This road, laid out by the Proprietors across the
southern part of the town past the Friends' meeting-house and on
to Freeport, is still in use. In the early times it extended easterly
straight on to the river, where there was a ferry to connect with
the Topsham road and with Little River Plantation, that lay
between Little and Sabattus Rivers. Little River was once an
industrious place, having six saw-mills and a woolen mill upon
its narrow waters. Lisbon Falls, built a half mile above it, must
be distinguished from the ancient village of "Little River.'"
The ferry just alluded to is called on the old Records "Jones'
Ferry," since Lemuel Jones lived close by it on lot No. 9.
Later it is called "Estes Ferry."

On petition of the Pejepscot Proprietors a road was accepted
by the town of Brunswick in 1773, leading from that village to
Royalsborough. It was a crooked thing and kept pretty close
to the bank of the Androscoggin. It was extended up to meet
the rangeway between lots 78 and 62. This led to a distinct
settlement. Among the early families on this road were those of


Rev. Christopher Tracy, Reuben Blethen, Jonathan Beal, the
Getchells, Joseph Knight, Solomon and David Grossman,
Lemuel Jones, and Andrew Pinkham.

There was an old mast road leading from the County road at
the meeting-house to a mast camp near Chandler's Mill. This
is mentioned as an old road in 1789. It probably existed as
early as 1766, when the Mill was built. It has long been discon-
tinued, yet traces of corduroy construction along swampy lands
may still be seen.

The "road leadmg from O. Israel Bagley's to Chandler's
Mill"' is incidentally mentioned in a deed in 1780 and is dotted,
in part, on the chart of the town. It passes through Methodist
Corner to the County Road. In 1796 a road was surveyed along
this route from New Gloucester to Brunswick, entering Durham
and running "to the flowing of the Pond nearly 4 rods above
Chandler's saw-mill so-called, thence across said Pond, computed
eight rods, to the height of a rock by the side of said Pond. . . .to

a rangeway in Durham near Samuel York's house in the

above mentioned rangeway, four rods 8 links N. 26 E.

from the Back door of William True's dwelling house, to the
County Road leading from Hildrake's Landing to Freeport

Landing, near Capt. Bagley's Potash, to a County Road,

the three last courses being in said County Road, to the

Range Road near W. Sanborn's dwelling house in said Range

Road, to the middle of the town road near the Quaker

Meeting House in said Durham," and so on to Brunswick.

The "road that leads from the North Church to Gerrish's
Mill," is mentioned in 1775. It was laid out by the Proprietors'
surveyor. Its continuance to the river, near Christopher Tracy's,
lot 78, is called the Rangeway in 1795, when a road was laid out
by the town connecting this rangeway with Beal's Landing and
Ferry, opposite lot 61, where Jonathan Beal lived. This Ferry
was continued till 18 18, when the bridges were built at S. W.
Bend and Little River.

In 1789 a road was laid out "beginning at the Town Line
between land of G. Ferguson and Joseph Paul, thence running
N. E. about 224 rods or till it come within about five rods of
the N. Easterly Corner of G. Goodwin's Land, thence N. W. and
by N. between the Land of the said Goodwin and Land of E.
Warren about 46 rods till it strike the westerly line of the said


Warren's Land, thence North Easterly on said Line till it come
within Seven Rods of Abil True's Land, thence about North till
it strikes the Line between the said Abil True's Land, and Land
of Arch Morrill Seven Rods from the S. W. Corner of the said
Abil's Land, thence on the line between the said Abil and Arch's
Land 160 rods to the road leading from the County Road "near
Capt. Bagley's to Chandler's Mill." There seems to have been a
road leading from where the one just mentioned ends to the Meet-
ing-House and so connecting with the road leading to Gerrish's
Mill and Beal's Ferry. In 1803 a County Road was laid out lead-
ing along this route from Walnut Hill to Tracy's Narrows, a
distance of fourteen and a half miles. It entered Durham near
George Ferguson's dwelling house, "4. rods and 21 links south-
east of the east corner thereof, abreast with the back side

of Ebenezer Warren's dwelling house, and two rods and 14 links

distant from the southeast corner thereof, abreast of the

front side of Enoch Davis's dwelling house and 5 rods and 9

links from the southeasterly corner thereof abreast with

the east end of Durham meeting house and three rods and 4
hnks distant from the soutlieast corner thereof, to Andro-
scoggin River at Tracy's Narrows." There were allowed for
damages to William True $380, to Enoch Davis $80, to John
Gushing $40. This road was changed by the Commissioners,
on petition, in 1805, to run from Ferguson's "to the County

Road leading from New Gloucester to Brunswick. by

Deacon True's,. . . ; . .northwest of William Mitchell's barn,. . . .
to the center of the bridge southwesterly of John Gushing Jun's

Dwelling House, to the center of the town road by Martin

Rourke's leading to the North Meeting House, to the

brow of a Gully, to the cross Range road leading by

Benjamin Vi ning 's, to the center of the river County Road

two rods from the easterly corner of David Dyer's House,
thence 10 rods to two rods in front of Symond Baker's eastern

end door, to the river opposite Boswell's Point." There

were allowed for damages to Ebenezer Warren $30, to William
Mitchell $75, to Michael Dyer $25. June 26, 1805, it was
voted to "give George Ferguson the old road in lieu of the post
road laid out by the County." The road from Methodist
Corner to S. W. Bend, through which this post road ran, is
mentioned as a "Rangeway" in use in 1791. It was laid out on


the Proprietors* plan. It was long called the "Hallowell Road, "^
since this was the stage line from Portland to Hallowell. Let
the old names contmue to be used.

It will be noticed that the road from S. W. Bend to Methodist
Corner was originally straight. It came out over the hill west
of the Methodist Church, and at the other end it terminated some
rods north of where Wesley Day now lives.

The road from S. W. Bend to Gerrish's Mill was laid out in
1795. A county Road from Brunswick to S. W. Bend by
Gerrish's Mill "through Noyes' Land" was laid out in 1801.
South of Noyes' 800 acres the road was laid out to Brunswick
line in 1789. Edward Estes, Micajah Dudley, Elijah Douglas,
Hugh Getchel, Josiah Day, Joshua Babb and Benjamin Babb
are mentioned as then living along this road.

In 1791 a road was accepted leading from the "Northwest
corner of Benjamin Vining's lot, No. 71, on the Rangeway
running Southwest to a Rangeway adjoining lot 103, thence
running Northwest to the head of the Town." This is the
"Back Road" one tier of lots from the river. The Rangeway to
connect it with the " River Road," between the lots of Stackpole
and Webster was accepted in 1801, though it had been used in
a rough state for several yeai^s. At the same date were accepted
Rangeways between lots 85 and 86 and between lots 83 and 84^
but these roads seem never to have been completed.

"Aug. 13, 1801. This day run a Rangeway: — Beginning at
southwest corner of Lott : No. 127 and 128: thence North-
easterly to Androscoggin river" signed by Isaac Davis and

George T'erguson, Selectmen.

In 1793 the Selectmen of Durham and of Freeport agreed
that "the Road commonly known as the Quaker Road shall be
the line by which said Durham and Freeport shall tax to, till
such a time as the line may be settled between Front's and
Bagley's Gores by the Proprietors of said Gores, likewise to the
ancient N. Yarmouth line from said Road to the Head of said
Freeport." This old "Quaker Road" ran from the
Friends' Meeting House to the County Road, over the hills,
nearly parallel with and perhaps a mile distant from the oldest
Mast Road above mentioned that ran by the original cabin of
Major Charles Gerrish. This "Quaker Road" has long been
out of use.


The road between lots 95 and 96 running "southwest the
length of two lots" was laid out in 1800. It was on the
Proprietors' Chart and must have been somewhat in use before
that date. This road was continued in 1813 till it met the "Alinot
Road," so called.

The County Road through the Northwest corner of the town
was built in 1806. It was long called the "Minot Road," since it
was the regular stage line from Portland to Minot, or to that part
of Minot which was afterward called " GofF's Corner " and is now
better known as the city of Auburn. The Town Treasurer's
book gives the names of the men employed in building the road,
who were nearly all settlers in that vicinity. They were Isaac
Davis, Thomas Larrabee, Job Larrabee, John Larrabee, Vinson
Fickett, Meshack Purington, Moses Larrabee, William Libby,
Moses Hunnewell, William McKenney, John Martin, Lemuel
Rice, Robert Hunnewell, Benjamin Hunnewell, Thomas Water-
house, Dominicus Libby, L^ennis Libby, Benjamin Hunnewell
Jr., Nathaniel Larrabee, Joseph Larrabee, Joshua Fickett. Joseph
Weeman, and John Cushmg Jr.

^Guide Posts, in 1823, were erected, by advice of James Strout,
Elijah Macomber, and Thomas Pierce, Selectmen, "at Josiah
Day Jr., Lisbon Bridge, South West Bend, Friends' Meeting
House, George Gerrish's, Samuel Sawyer's, Methodist Corner,
James Gerrish's Mill, North Meeting House, Ebenezer Newell's,
Barnabas Strout's, Joseph Philbrook's, Josiah Day's, Waitstill

Jones's Ferry, afterward called Estes' Ferry, has already been
mentioned at the southern part of the town, at the terminus of
the first rangeway. It was kept for many years by Jeremiah
Getchell, who also became the first toll collector when the
bridge was built at Lisbon Falls in 1818. Beal's Ferry has also
been mentioned, opposite lot 61 — just below Tracy's Island. It.
was first thought to build the bridge between Durham and
Lisbon at or near this place, but South West Bend and Little
River each wanted it and as neither would yield to its rival, two
bridges were built the same year. The one near the Bend took
the place of " Dyer's Ferry " that had long been in existence.

^The first mention of Guide Boards is in an order given March S,
1795 "to Ebenezer Ayers for making & panting lourgoid bords @ g<^
1. 16.0. "


The Town Records mention both bridges in 1819 as having
been recently built. The bridge near the Bend fell Aug. 8, 1829,
carrying down a loaded team and two men. One of them,
Joseph Weeman, was killed ; the other, Orlando Merrill,
escaped. It was twice rebuilt, once in 1833. This fell in 1839.
The last one was carried away by a freshet in 1844. Tradition
says that James Sawyer, William Green, and Lemuel McGray
were on it and were carried down river four hundred rods and
taken off in a boat. Many attempts have beeen made to induce
the towns and the County to rebuild but without success.
'■ McGray 's Ferry" was the immediate successor to the bridge,
and under other names there has been a ferry there unto this

"Dain's Ferry" was a mile or more above the island, and
was kept 1799- 18 18 by John Dain, who lived on the Wagg farm,
on the Lisbon side. The landing on the Durham side was
opposite where Mr. White now lives. Just above this
ferry was the fording place, where in my boyhood I have seen
droves of cattle fording the river, on their way to Brighton

It may not be known to many that there was once a ferry at
the northern part of the town, opposite the dwelling house of
Samuel Stackpole. The Rangeway once terminated near a pine
tree still standing a little north of the present terminus, and the
ferry landing was just south of that tree. I have heard my
father speak of it and I remember seeing on the opposite bank
traces of the timbers to which the rope was fastened. Here
lived David Thompson, who married Lydia Stackpole. They
were the grandparents of Hon. W. W. Stetson, Supt. of the
vSchools of Maine.

Ancient Durham had another ferry, called " Dingley's " or
■"Garcelon's" according as one approached it from the Durham
or from the Lewiston side. The line between Durham and
Danville was for years 1805-15 on the northern boundary
of the old Dingley farm, now occupied by Orrin Libby of South
Auburn. This was until recent years a much frequented
crossing place.

The accompanying map will enable the reader better to
understand the location of roads and ferries. A comparison of
this with the former map shows that the actual roads differ




greatly from those projected upon the surveyor's chart. By
comparing the following numbers with those on the map one
may learn the location of churches, mills and most of the original
settlers. The figures on the map indicate pretty nearly the loca-
tion of the oldest houses.

William Webster.

John Stackpole.

Saiiiuel Mitchell.

Isaac Lambert.

Samuel Robinson.

David Miller.

Joshua Miller.

Joshua Jones.

Joseph Weeman.

Edward Fifield.

Isaac Davis.

William Roak.

Nathaniel Parker.

Wm. Larrabee.

George Bowie.

Magnus Ridlon.

Nathaniel Wilbur.

Thomas Larrabee.

Thomas Waterhouse.

George Rice.

Wm. PoUister.

Robert Plummer.

Samuel Roberts.

John Ellis.

Judah Chandler, Isaac Turner.

Samuel York.

Zebulon York.

Wm. Roberts.

John Randall. Ezekiel Turner?

William True.

Abel True, Wm. Miller.

Jonathan Currier, Daniel Har-

Ebenezer Warren.

George Goodwin.

George Ferguson.

Joseph Paul, Matthew Duran.

Ezekiel Jones, Thomas Pierce.

Ebenezer Roberts.

Joshua Snow.

Stephen Hart, Nicholas Var-

Batchelder Ring.

Reuben Tuttle.

Joseph Estes.

Samuel Clough.

Noah Jones, Jotham Johnson.

Micajah Dudley.

Andrew Pinkham.

Lemuel Jones.

David Grossman.


North Meeting House.



Friends' Meeting House.



M. E. Church.



Union Church.



F. B. Church.



Cong. Church.



Stone Mill.



Gerrish's or Plummer's Mill.



Mayall's Mill.



Tracy's Mill.



Steam Mill.



Josiah Burnham.



John Scott.



Nathaniel Osgood.



John Sydleman.



Elisha Stetson.



Aaron Osgood.



John Lincoln.



Major Chas. Gerrish.



Reuben Dyer and

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of Durham, Maine; → online text (page 4 of 28)