H. E. (Harry Edward) Mitchell.

The Harpswell register, 1904 (Volume 1) online

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Harpswell Register

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B R T" X S WICK , M A I N E :

Published by The H. E. Mitchell Pub. Co.




Indian History

Early Settlement


Town Officials

Military Matters

Industrial Account

Church Affairs

School Items

Noted People

Facts of Interest


Harpswell Town Register


Harpswell is the south-easterly town of Cumberland
County. It consists of a peninsular nine miles in length,
extending south-westward, with a parallel line of islands on
each side. These are known as Harpswell Neck, and, on the
east, Great, or Sebascodigan Island, Orr's Island, Bailey's
Island, and numerous smaller ones. Between the peninsular
and the islands first named is the long Harpswell Harbor.
On the west side of the peninsular is Middle Bay. These two
bodies of water at their northern extremity approach so
near to each other that near the Brunswick line the peninsu-
lar is little more than forty-five rods wide. Great Island,
the largest of the islands, and the most easterly part of the
town, is separated from West Bath by New Meadows River.
The three larger islands have their greatest length nearly
north and south, and succeed each other in the same direc-
tion. The two first are connected with each other, and the
first with the main land by bridges. Each is penetrated
from the north and from the south by many harbors and
inlets, and their surfaces are varied by hill, valley and forest.


Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe spent many summer months
upon these islands, making the middle one of the line the
scenery ol her delightful story, "The Pearl ot Orr's Island."
She says that the scenery of Harps well is "of more varied
and singular beauty than can ordinarily be found on the
shores of any land whatever." At a distance of about four
miles from the railroad station at Brunswick, with which
Harpswell is connected by stage, "the traveler crosses an
arm of the sea, and comes upon the first of the interlacing
group of islands which beautifies the shore. A ride across
this island is a constant succession of pictures whose wild
and solitary beauty entirely distances all power of descrip-
tion. The magnificence of the evergreen forests, the rich
intermingling ever and anon of groves of birch, beech and
oak, in picturesque knots and tufts, as if set for effect by
some skillful landscape gardener, produce a sort of strange,
dreamy wonder; while the sea, breaking forth on the right
hand and on the left of the road into the most romantic
glimpses, seems to flash and glitter like some strange gem
which every moment shows itself through the framework of
a strange setting." Ragged Island, which lies broad off in
the ocean east of Bailey's Island, is supposed to be the "Elm
Island" of Rev. Elijah Kellogg's stories.

The Neck affords many attractive points for summer
sojourn, especially at the southern part, and many of her
rocky shores and islets are now studded with grand hotels
and the beautiful summer cottages of those who annually
visit these historic and romantic scenes to enjoy their cool-
ing ocean breezes and majestic scenery. On the western side,


about midway the length of the Neck, is Lookout Point,
a small, abrupt, rocky promontory pointing- north, and en-
closing a pebbly cove. On the south side of the point the
shore is high for some distance, and of perpendicular rock,
over whose edge the tall grasses wave, dropping their blooms
into the foamy tide below. A valuable mineral spring is
situated on Bailey's Island. Steamboat lines closely con-
nect its several village hamlets with Portland, and with
each other, and a trip through the many beautiful bays,
straits and inlets of Harpswell affords to the pleasure
seeker one of the most attractive outings to be had on the
coast of this most fascinating state.



The race of Red Men which formerly roamed the wilds
of the territory now incorporated within the state of Maine,
was divided, as most authorities state, into two nations,
the Etechemins and the Abenakis. The former nation occu-
pied the region east, and the latter that west of the Penob-
scot River. The Abenakis nation was sub-divided into four
principal tribes as follows: the Sokokis, of the Saco river
valley; the Auasagunticooks, who occupied the entire valley
of the Androscoggin River; the Cauibas, who dwelt upon the
Kennebec, from its tide waters to its source; and the Wawe-
nocks, who resided between the Sagadahoc and the River St.

The Pejepscot Indians were probably a sub-tribe of the
Anasagunticooks, which tribe, at the advent of the whites,
was a very numerous, powerful, and warlike tribe. They
had customary places of resort, if not permanent places of
residence, at Brunswick Falls, Maquoit, and Mair Point. It
is now considered probable from the remains and relics
found there, that the latter point was the place of one of
their villages in the sixteenth century.

These aboriginal inhabitants were generally friendly to
the new arrivals until about the time of the breaking out of
King Philip's War. They soon, however, became extremely
and inveteratelv hostile to the whites who had settled upon
their domains, and until their final extermination by dis-


ease and by the aggressions of the settlers, they continued to
exhibit their animosity by frequent attacks upon the homes
and isolated settlements within the territory of the Pejep-
scot proprietors. The most celebrated sagamores of this
tribe were Darumkin, Wornmbo, and Kankamagus, the first
two of whom, together with four others set their mark upon
the deed to Richard Wharton in 1684.

The animosity of the natives culminated in an outbreak
in 1675, when war was commenced in the Plymouth Colony.
About three months later, in September of the same year,
hostilities commenced at Pejepscot. Pillaging parties of
natives attacked the settlements, and drove the settlers
from their lands, destroying their homes. It is said that
during the first three months of the war as many as eighty
persons were slain between the Piscataqua and Kennebec;
it is not known whether any of the settlers on the Pejepscot
tract were killed. Peace was concluded with the Indians in
1678, and lasted just ten years, when King William's War
was begun. A fort was now erected in Brunswick, by Gov.
Andros, and was garrisoned by a force of troops under
Anthony Brockhold. Two years later, 1790, this fort was
taken by the savages, and the soldiers and settlers held cap-
tives. An expedition was sent from Massachusetts to re-
capture the fort, and to release the captives. This was led by
Col. Benj. Church, who landed at Maquoit, and proceded to
the fort, which he found deserted. They then marched to
an Indian fort on the Androscoggin, which they captured,
and released some prisoners. In September the following
year auother expedition was sent from Massachusetts, land-


ing at Mnqnoit. They visited Fort Andros, but finding: it
deserted they immediately returned to Maquoit. While re-
embarking they were assaulted by a strong; force of Indians
who had been watching- them. In this skirmish Capt. Sher-
burne, of Portsmouth, N. H., was killed. The war lasted
some eight years but there was no further skirmishing in
this vicinity. Probably the settlers had all left. A Treaty
of Peace made at Pemaquid in 1693, was ratified by the
commissioners from Massachusetts and the Sagamores of
the several tribes in Maine, at Mair Point, Jan. 7, 1699.

The peace thus concluded lasted but four years, but the
next war, known as Queen Anne's War, did not effect theset-
tlers in this vicinity, if, indeed, there were any. After the
close of this war, 1713, settlers again took courage, and
soon settlements were started where those begun earlier had
been deserted. The Pejepscot Company was formed in 1714,
following which date, up to 1722, many were induced to
take up claims on the Proprietors' lands.

The fourth Indian war, called Lovewell's War, com-
menced in this vicinity, June 13, 1722. A party of sixty
Indians, appeared in twenty boats in Merrymeeting Ba} r , on
the north side, probably near Pleasant, or Fulton's Point.
They captured nine entire families, but released all except
five men — Messrs. Hamilton, Hanson, Trescott, Love and
Edj^ar—whom they detained as hostages for the safe return
of four Indians in the hands of the English at Boston. In
June or July of this year, they made an attack on Bruns-
wick, which they set fire to and destroyed. After their work
of destruction was accomplished they repaired to a dwelling


on Fish-House Hill, for purposes of revelry, but they were
soou put to flight by a chain shot from Fort George. This
fort had been constructed in 1715 by the Pejepscot Proprie-
tors, for the protection of those who should settle on their
lands. It was a stone fort, and stood near the siteof theold
fort. The Indians took to their boats and went with their
captives to Pleasant Point. Col. John Harmon, who was
then stationed at Arrowsie, saw the fire of the burning vil-
lage, and concluded that the village had been attacked by
Iudians. Without waiting for further word, — which had
been sent, however, by Capt, Gyles, — manned two whale-
boats, and accompanied by Major Moody, proceeded with
muffled oars up the river. It was night when he entered
Merry meeting Bay. Perceiving the fires of the Indians on
Pleasant Point, he noiselessly approached and landed.
Ascending the banks he found a large number of Indians
king before their fires, all sleeping soundly, fatigued with
the work of the day, and its subsequent revelry. His men
immediately arranged themselves and fired into them, kill-
ing sixteen or eighteen. They took some prisoners, though
a few of the party escaped. On their return to the shore
they discovered the body of Moses Eaton, whom the savages
had cruelly tortured and killed. This attack upon Bruns-
wick and vicinity, is thought to have been a direct retalia-
tion for the attack made the preceeding year upon Norridge-
wock, by Colonel Westbrook.

This was probably the most bloody war to the people in
this section. Dozens of settlers and members of their fami-
lies were killed in the vicinity of Merrymeeting Bay, Harps-


well, and Royal's River.

After the ratification of a treaty in 172G, peace was
again enjoyed until 1745, when the fifth war was begun.
This was the outgrowth of the existing war between Eng-
land, France and Spain. The forts along the coast were
strengthened, and re-garrisoned, and block-houses, "all of
massive timber," were constructed in Brunswick, Topsham,
and Harpswell. A block house at Maquoit, was under the
command of William Woodside, with a company of men.
Fourteen men scouted from New Marblehead to Brunswick,
and ten from Topsham to Richmond fort. In 1745, a. call
was made for men to serve in the expedition to Louisburg.
This expedition was very popular in this vicinity, and many
persons enlisted, including some of the principal and most
promising young men in these towns. Twenty-five or thirty
went from Brunswick, and as many more from Harpswell,
and about the same numberfrom Topsham. The Harpswell
soldiers were under the command of Richard Jaques, who
had shot Sebastian Rasle, at Norridgewock. Much alarm
was felt for the safety of this settlement, and many deprida-
tions were committed by the Indian in ambush, or in small
bands. Thiswarlasted four years, and eaused much destruc-
tion and suffering in all the settlements along the coast.

The French, or sixth Indian War, which was the last of
the series of Indian depridations against the settlers, lasted
from 1754 to 1760. Hostilities commenced in this vicinity
May 9, 1756. On that day a party of Indians assembled on
the highlands of Topsham, concerted their plans, and agreed
to meet there on their return. They then divided into two


parties. One party was to go to Flying Point, and the
other to Maquoit, Middle Bay and New Meadows. The sec-
ond party went to Maquoit, where they skulked around
awhile and then went to Middle Bay. In the alternoon,
while the Indians lay concealed in the bushes near Smith's
Brook, three men — Abijah Young and John and Richard
Starbird,returniiigfrorn a meeting at New Meadows — passed
by. These men, probably, belonged to the force which was
then scouting from St. George to Maquoit. They were well
armed, but were so surprised and frightened when the Indians
jumped from ambush and fired at them that they dropped
their guns and ran. Young was wounded and carried off a
prisoner. The other party appeared Sunday, at daylight, at
the house ot Thomas Means, at Flying Point. This was a
fortified house, but the Indians battered dowu the door and
effected an entrance. They shot Mr. Means and his young-
est child, which was in its mother's arms, the same ball
wounding her; and carried off Mrs. Means' sister a prisoner.
The parties met again in Topsham, as previously agreed
upon, and proceeded to Quebec with their prisoners. Other
sharp engagements were had before peace was finally declared,
which ended the long period of danger and bloodshed.

There were but few garrisons in Harpswell, as from its
local situation it was not subject to assaults by the Indians.
There was a garrison, or block house, on the north end of
Bailey's Island, at the narrows, between Garrison Cove and
the main bay, within twenty feet of the shore. About 1764,
Joseph Orr built a large block house near the middle of Orr's
Island. There was also a block house situated on the Neck,


but we are now unable to say when it was built, or by whom.
This was taken down by Daniel Randall and erected as a
storehouse near his dwelling 1 . In 1822 it was again taken
down and rebuilt as a dwelling. It is very probable that
there were other block houses on the Neck, and also on Great
Island, but we have no further account of such.


Merriconeag Neck, now Harpswell Neck, and Sebascodi-
gan Island, were purchased ot the Indians in about the year
1659, by Nicholas Shapleigh of Kittery. The price paid for
the deed was "a considerable sum of wampumpeag, several
guns, and a parcel of tobacco." The island was settled prob-
bly about that date, by Francis Small and wife. Elizabeth,
whose child was the first born of English paients, on the
island. Mr. Small was from Kittery, and was a tenant
under Col. Shapleigh. The Neck also had several settlers
about this time, but all were driven off by the Indians at the
beginning of King Philip's War, in 1675.

Richard Potts settled as earty as 1672 and probably a
year or two earlier, on what was known as New Damariscove
Island. In 1673 he owned and lived upon the point which
still bears his name, at the extremity of Harpswell Neck.


Nicholas Cole settled on Harpswell Neck previous to 1691,
for on that year he sought to force a claim under an old title
of Harvard College; this, however was unsuccessful.

In 1683, Shapleigh, finding his property almost worth-
less on account of the Indian troubles, sold the Neck and
islnnd to Richard Wharton, of Boston. After the sale of the
island the Indians continued to hold possession for the pur-
pose of catching fish, seal and porpoise, thus preventing
any further settlements in that locality for some years. In
1702, Benjamin Marston got possession of Potts estate pre-
viously mentioned, and the islands near the point, and is
thought to have made a settlement there, but s\e have no
evidence to prove this.

A few other conflicting claims seem to have been made,
but were either found to be null and void, or were bought
up, until most of the laud now incorporated within the town
of Harpswell, and that which Thomas Purchase had settled
in Brunswick, came into the hands of Richard "Wharton. He
died in England in 1693. His estate was administered upon
by a Mr. Savage, and a large tract of land sold to a com-
pany of Boston men who termed themselves the Pejepscot
Proprietors. This tract contained all the land in Harpswell
except a few islands, all of Brunswick, and much of that in
Topsham, and, as was finally determined, embraced the
Androscoggin valley up as far as Leeds, on both sides of the
river. On a document, dated around 1814, although the
date is uncertain, we find there were then but two settlers
living on Merricoueag Neck. These were Richard Potts and
John Damarell.


The Pejepscot Pro])rietors at once began to make settle-
ments within their new posseesions. The company was
formed in 1814, but it was not until three years later that
any action was taken to layout the territory on Merriconeag
Neck. We find that at a meeting of the proprietors June 17,
1717, it was "Voted that a mile and a half upwards from
Pott's Neck, and the other prongs of Merryconeag Neck, be
left on the lower end of said Merryconeag Neck, for a town,
or fishing settlement, the rest of said neck to be divided into
eight parts equal in Front, to run across said Neck, iu par-
allel lines, from the North West to the South East side,
according to the bearing of the said land, the Lowest Lot to
be No. 1." In 1731, Thiueas Jones was employed to survey
the lands and make plans. He reported the area of Merri-
coneag Neck, 4,670, and Sebascodigan Island, 5,790 acres.

The earlist transfer of land in Harpswell after the forma-
tion of the Pejepscot Company, of which we have found any
record, was in 1720. On May 20, of this year, Nicholas Cole
and Samuel Littlefield, of Wells, deeded to Samuel Boone, of
Kingston, R. I., oue half of Merriconeag Neck, one half of
Great Chebeague Island and one half of Great Island.
Boone is not, however, known to have settled in Harpswell.
In the year 1727, several new families moved to Harpswell,
and settled upon the Neck. Thomas Westbrook, one of the
proprietors, deeded to Col. Johnson Harmon, formerly of
York, one 241 h part of 2000 acres of land on the Neck. In
1741 Col. Harmon deeded all the land in his possession on
the Neck — and he had become proprietor of much of it— to
his son, Joseph Harmon, of York. Previous to this, Col.


Harmon had sold John Stover fifty acres. Moses Getchell
and Gideon Conner also held deeds of land at the upper end
of the Neck, and probably settled soon after the date of their
deeds, May 17, 1741. William Alexander came to Harpswell
probably as early as 1737 from Topsham where his father,
a Scotch-Irish emigrant, had settled in 1719, and ten years,
later Alexander Wilson moved into the same neighborhood.
He was a brother-in-law to Alexander, and his ancestral his-
tory ran like that of his neighbor. From the^e two early
pioneers sprang many of the noble men and women who
have won for Harpswell her high standing as an honest,
thrifty and patriotic community. Near these families was
the sturdy McNess household, their house standing where
that of the Rev. Elijah Kellogg stood for many years and
which qm always called "Hallowed Ground. "

In 1742, Joseph and Clement Orr, of Pemoquid,purchasd
a tract of land at the northerly end of Men icon eag Neck.
In 1743, Richard Jaques, of North Yarmouth, bought 100
acres of land on Little Sebascodigan, now Orr's Island; it is
therefore believed that he was the first purchaser of land on
this island, though tradition says that one Fitzgerald was
the first occupant here. This whole island afterwards came
into possession of the Hon. William Tailer, ot Dot cluster,
Mass., and of Hon. Elisha Cook, of Boston, whose heirs sold
it in 1748 to Joseph Orr. Joseph and his brother, Clement
Orr both moved onto the island and constructed a garrison

We have shown some of the early transfers of land titles,
and a few of the early settlers. Let us now consider the



ancestry of a few of the more prominent families which have
settled and remained in Harpswell. We have already men-
tioned the Alexanders and the Wilsons. Just across the bay
from the Alexanders, on Great Island, was the home of the
Ewings, a family closely connected with those above men-
tioned. Joseph Ewing was. perhaps, the most influential per-
sonagein the early town's affairs, and to him and his brother,
Alexander, were given some of the most important and deli-
cate matters of town and church to perform. Joseph and
Clement Orr were settled just down the bay from theEwings.
From them this beautiful island of world-wide reputation
received its name. With the Orr's came to America and to
Harpswell. the Skolfields. This family has ever been identi-
fied with the interests and progress of all good measures in
the tow T n. The Skolfields located in the northern part of the
town, near the Brunswick line. In the neighborhood of the
old Congregational church Walter Merryman settled and
reared up a family which has now many noble and worthy
descendants scattered throughout this town and elsewhere.
Near the Orrs lived Michael Sinnett who was taken to the
island by Joseph Orr. Both Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Merryman
had been kidnapped and brought to America early in 1700.
Of other Harpswell settlers from across the sea were the
Dunnings. The American ancestor of this family, Andrew
Dunning, with his wife, Susan Bond, and five sons, came to
Georgetown in 1717, from Ashburton, England. William,
the eldest son, settled in York. He left two sons, Andrew
and Benjamin, the former marrying Hannah Shepard of
York, by whom he had twelve children; and the latter mar-


ried Elizabeth Ewing, daughter of Joseph Ewing, of Harps-
well, b}^ whom he had nine children. Although Andrew Dun-
ning did not settle in Harpswell until 1758, and his brother,
Benjamin, not until some years later, both were given places
of honor in the town. Andrew was elected thefiist town
clerk, and filled that office for 25 years. Benjamin was over-
seer of Bowdoin College for several years.

Many of the early settlers here came from the old town
of York. Among those who date their aneest rv back to this
town, are the Webbers, Stovers, Bookers, the Nathan Adams
family, Toothakers, Aliens, Jaques, Thompsons and others,
whom our brief sketch does not allow us to treat separately.
The Randalls and Woodworths were from Scituate, Mass.
The Curtises, Baileys, Barstows, Sylvesters and Gardners
were from Hanover, Mass. Other representatives of Massa-
chusetts were: Rev. Francis Eaton, the first settled pastor
in Harpswell and his family, the Blakes, Bishops, Tans.
Martins, Douglasses, Haskells. and the \Y vers of Orr's Island.
The Bibbers and Johnsons were descended from English
ancestors; the Pinkhams and Halls came from Dover. N. H.

Of the settlers on Great Island, the Snows came from
Cape Cod, and the Smalls from Truro, about 1750; and the
Ridleys, Puringtons and Riches from the latter town. Paul
Raymond and the Coombs ancestors were from Dorchester,
Mass. Rev. Samuel Veazie came from Nantucket in 1767.

These are some of the names so often met within the
borders of this honorable town; and in this town and section
of the state, the descendants of these noble and devoted fam-
ilies have developed a hardihood, character and true moral


worth which is but the natural result of the noble manhood
and fearless courage which ever influenced and moulded the
characters of their ancestry.


The place formerly know as Westcustogo was, on ?ep-
tember 22, 1680, incorporated as a plantation by the name
of North Yarmouth. In 1781 the limits of North Yar-
mouth were determined by order of the General Court. In
1733 this plantation was incorporated into a town, and two
years later a committee was appointed to run the town lines.
The northeastern line was determined to run overMaquoit
Bay, extending in a south-easterly course across Mare Point,
Middle Bay, Merriconeag Neck. Sebascodigan Island, "to an
inlet of water culled the Basin, thence crossing another part
of said island to a small island called Egg Island in Qua-
haug River, thence crossing another part of said island run-
ning a S. E. course across the bay to Small Point:" it then
extended to Hunnewell's Cove, and on to the open sea at
the mouth of the Kennebec River. It will be seen from the
above that the greater part of the present town of Harps-
well was included in the ancient town of North Yarmouth,
of which town it formed a parish.


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Online LibraryH. E. (Harry Edward) MitchellThe Harpswell register, 1904 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 6)