Lilla Eva Wood.

A brief history of Corinna, Maine, from its purchase in 1804 to 1916 online

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A Brief History of Corinna

Maine, from Its Purchase

in 1804 to I9I6






"If you want to live in the kind of a town

Like the kind of a town you like,

You needn't slip your clothes in a grip

And start on a liang, long hike.

You'll only find what you've left behind,

For there's nothing that's really new.

It's a knock at yourself when you knock your town,

It isn't the town, it's you."

"Real towns are not made by men afraid

Lest aamebody else gets ahead,

When every one works and nobody shirks

You can raise a town from the dead.

And if while you make your personal stake

Your neighbors can make one, too;

Your town will be what you want t»D see,

It isn't the town, it's you."




This history is gathered largely from traditionary sources, though much
of the material was taken from the tiawn records. It is not to be expected
that there will be no errors, and it is to be expected that many, whose
names are quite as impartant to the town as those mentioned, will be
omitted. The reason for such omissions is not a desire to withhold honor
to whom honor is due, but lack of information concerning them. Consid-
ering that the author has known few of the people about whom she has
written, perhaps a few mistakes may be pardonable. She does not claim
any special merit for the history which follows either as to literary style or
completeness, her wish is merely to preserve to future inhabitants of her
native town a few of the interesting facts which it has been her good for-
tune to discover.

L. E. W.

Dedicated to my native town



The period folliDwing the Revolu-
tionary War was a period of emigra-
tion for inhabitants of Massachusetts,
to wliat is now tlie state of Maine, the
emigration being due partly to that
spirit of the pioneer which makes him
always aready to leave the haunts of
his felliDws and push on to new land
to settle, but doubtless greatly influ-
enced by the various acts of the legis-
lature of Massachusetts, which gave
large tracts to the soldiers of the
Revolution, their widows, or children,
on condition of their clearing the land
and residing thereon.

ODrinna, however, was not settled
in this manner, though doubtless
many of her pioneers came to Maine
in consequence of these acts, for we
know that among the first residents
were several veterans of that war.

At Two Cents an Acre.

It became the fad to buy a tract of
land in the wilderness of Maine as a
speculation, and in this manner the
purchase of ODrinna was first nego-
tiated, but when the date of settlement
arrived, the unknown young man who
was to buy it lacked the necessary
funds, and in 1804, it was sold to Dr.
John Warren of I3oston, the whole
tract being sold at two cents per acre.
There are 2.'3,()40 acres in the town,
which would make the purchase
an»3unt to $4G0.S0. Today the valua-
tion of Corinna is $528,300.

The town has increased in valuation
in the past five years, $74,000. The
valuation of the village is 40 per cent,
of the whole and has increased seven
per cent, in the past five years.

The apparent worthlessness in the
pioneer days of the land now the east
side of Corinna village is illustrated
by a story told by the late Joel Young.
His father and mother, "Uncle Jim"
and "Aunt Hannah" Young, went. to
call upon "Uncle Robert" Moore and
his good wife one day taking with
them their dog. The dog in question
was of that kind commonly known as
a "yaller dog," but possessed some
charm for "Uncle Robert," who tried
to trade for the animal. Finally Mr.
Moore offered to deed him what is
now Selden Knowles' farm with sev-
eral acres adjoining it in exchange
for the yellow cur, but Mr. Young con-
sidered "the Cedar Swamp" as worth-
less, and rafused to trade.

Dr. Warren was a brother of Gen-
eral Joseph Warren of Bunker Hill
fame and himself served as surgeon
and head of the Boston hospital dur-
ing the war. His purchase was de-
scribed as "Township number four in
the fourth range of townships north
of the Waldo patent in the county of
Somerset, District of Maine."

Inducement to Settlers.

Dr. Warren immediately showed his
business sagacity by offering induce-
ments to settlers such as would en-
courage them to make their homes
within his boundaries and sent Sam-
uel Lancey, Esq., to bush out a road
near the center of the township east
and west, giving him in exchange for
his lalior 170 acres of land, providing
he should erect a house and barn

Squire Lancey fulfilled his contract
and built his log cabin home at
Corinna Center on land afterwards
owned by Jacob Philbrick and Wink-
worth Allen. This barn was after-
wards used for religious meetings un-
til the erection of a schoolhiause.

The town was sui-veyed by Isaac and
Moses Hodgdon previous to the fore-
going settlement. These men also
surveyed Exeter and many other
neighboring towns. They built a
camp in the southeast part of the
township and brought their supplies
from East Corinth, 16 miles away.

Sixteen miles to East Corinth in
these days of good roads and automo-
biles is a trifling distance, but 16
miles through the dense forest on
horseback with no roads at all was a
far different matter.

The next year, two brothers named
Goodhue came to the same place and
felled 18 acres of forest, and put in a
crop of corn the same year. They,
however, wearied of the solitude and
abandoned their camp, allowing the
grain ti3 rot in the bins where they
gathered it.

It is scarcely to be wondered at that
these men gave up their undertaking
when their nearest neighbors were in
East Corinth, and only a blazed trail
marked the way. Had they brought
with them their wives and children,
their home ties no doubt would have
established them as permanent resi-
dents. •



The First Tragedy.

Had they x'emained, the first ti'age-
dy of which we have recoi-d might
have been a\»jided. Among the first
settlers came Mr. Chase and his fami-
ly, and it was in their log home that
the first child was born. Chase tired
of the wilderness struggle, and left
his wife and babies in the forest while
he returned to Massachusetts there to
remain. One can scarcely imagine the
horror of that desertion to the wife
who was left alone with her little ones
to the deaalation of a wilderness home
and a solitude which had proved too
much for her husband to bear even
with the aid of wife and children to
]ielp him. Probably neighbors soon
came to her aid, but all that is known
of the sequel to her stijry is that she
afterwards married a Mr. Hartwell.

Along the east and west road, other
families settled as follows; Thomas
Barton, James Smith, Joseph Pease
and Ebenezer Nutter; and as time
went on, the township became dotted
here and there with log cabins usually
situated upon a hill or knoll, and
noads were bushed out roughly be-
tween the clearings of the settlers.

Thomas Barton was a gi3od citizen
but not active in public affairs. He
was a soldier of the Revolution and
in the census of 18-10 is mentioned as
one of the four veterans then living
in town.

James Smith settled on what is now
the town farm.

Joseph Pease was a pioneer of Exe-
ter as well as of Corinna. He set-
tled in the eastern part of Corinna,
and sold his farm to Henry Dearborn,
a tanner and shoemaker of North
Durham. N. H. Mr. Pease was one of
the first baard of selectmen.

Ebenezer Nutter, a single man, set-
tled in the western part of the town.
His name appears frequently in the
early town records as holding respon-
sible positions.

Tlie First Mill.

Dr. Warren induced Captain Joseph
Ireland of North Newport and his
nephew, Daniel Ireland, to erect a mill
at what is now Corinna village. This
mill was for both grist and lumber.
The settlers paid for the grinding in
grain and lumber hauled on "hoopling
sleds." The supplies for the mill were
brought on horseback from Bangor.

After two years, the Irelands sold
their rights to William Moore, Esq.,
and it was from then until its incor-
poration called "Moore's Mills," which
name included the whole settlement
at the village.

The history of Corinna is singularly
free from Indian depredations, due no
doubt to the location of the town

which is between the Penobscot and
Kennebec rivers, the water highways
of the Indians, and not being either a
favorite hunting or fishing ground, or
located upon a trail of their favorite
haunts. Their trails lay either to the
east of Corinna or several miles far-
ther west. So it was the occasional
stragglers who came to dwell within
its boundaries or to barter with the
white settlers from time tiD time.
Within the memory of citizens now
living, an Indian named Louis Toma
with his son. Mitchell, lived in their
wigwam at what is called The Horse
Back near Southard's Mills, and both
father and son earned their living by
weaving baskets.

They were probably of the Penob-
scot tribe. However tranquil our town
histijry may be in this respect, many
families have traditions of those of
our first settlers who met with thrill-
ing experiences prior to their settling

These stories of Indian horrors no
doubt kept our little great grandpar-
ents awake long after the tallow "dip"
had been extinguished and the fire in
the fireplace had burned itself out. It
must have been a very real teriiDr to
the older members of the fainily. too,
at times whenever the news of the
outside world reached their settle-

Though we were secure from our
Indian neighbors, there were other
creatures of the forest less friendly
than they for bears were common and
other wild animals absunded.

"Old Doctor" Fisher used to tell
some of his personal experiences in
the early days when he made his
rounds on horseback. Upon one oc-
casion his mare, Jennie, refused to
cross a small footbridge iDver a brook
that at that season of the year was
dried up. The doctor urged the horse
forward to no avail, tried to lead her
across without effect, then finally his
suspicions were aroused and he hurled
stones and sticks at the bridge.
Presently a big bear scrambled from
under the bridge and disappeared intiD
the woods, and the doctor resumed
his way.

At another time his horses were
loose in an enclosure behind his barn.
He went to the bars to saddle a hor!<«
towards dusk and found all three
horses racing excitedly back and
forth across the small field and seem-
ing afraid of siDmething in the further
corner. He walked down toward the
corner only to retreat hastily before
three full grown bears.

As money was scarce in the earli-
days, he commonly accepted in p:<
ment for his services, vegetabl.
grain, a side of beef or perhaps a live
lamb or pig.


Often on retiring at night he would
turn the lamb or pig loose in his back-
yard until a more convenient time to
care for its shelter; but he seldom
needed to give the creature further
thought for before morning the bears
attended to the matter for him.

Mr. and Mrs. Luke Mills came from
Waterboro about 100 years ago and
settled oppiDsite what is commonly
called the Andrews' place. There
their children were born. Azro Mills
of Morse's Corner was their son. One
day Mrs. Mills went to draw a pail of
water at the well a short distance
from the house and discovered in her
path a very cunning bear cub. Her
first inclination was to seize the cub
in her arms and carry it to the house,
but fearing that the mother bear
might be near, she left it in the path,
walked anaund it to the well, drew the
water and returned to the house, leav-
ing the cub in possession of the path.

Some 50 years later a member of
the writer's family was chased by a

Nor have wild animals in recent
years become altogether extinct, for
no longer than eight years ago last
summer, a cow moose walked down
Pleasant street, diawn School street,
forded the stream and wandered off
eastward toward the woods.

Early Homes.

First houses were of hewn logs, fur-
niture was mostly built by the settlers
themselves and their lives were simple
in the extreme.

Every One Worked.

Everybody worked, men, women
and children, and everybody needed
to work to sustain life in the hard
struggle i3f those first years in the

John Briggs came from Augusta in
1816, following a spotted line. He
purchased what is now known as the
Rackliffe placed, felled the trees and
cleared enough land to plant a crop of
corn, erected a log cabin, then re-
turned to bring his wife and children.

That was the usual proceeding, al-
though sometimes, man and wife
came at the same time and worked tij-
gether, clearing the land. All sum-
mer the cow was hitched behind the
cabin, as no barn had been built. At
night the milk- was set upon the
grindstone under a tree. One night
a thunderstorm came and lightning
shattered the tree, which in falling,
upset grindstone and milk.

Mrs. Martha Briggs, who died re-
cently at the age of 100, recalled that
upon one occasion during an unusually
cold snap, to keep the corn from
freezing, they lighted fires around the
ciarn field at intervals and tended them
all night.

Mr. Briggs strapped a feather bed
upon his horse's back for the journey
to their new home and upon the
feather bed Mrs. Briggs and the
smaller two children, nade in state.

This seems rather a novel mode of
travel to us, but in those days was not
uncommon, although the number of
children riding with the mother,
varied, and often, instead of a horse,
they rode upon their cow. Some
families came with a rude ox-cart, or
with poles dragging from the saddle
and their household goods fastened to
the poles. Sometimes they drove two
or three hogs or sheep, or, if their
means would allow, cattle.

Their goods and chattels were for
the most part the barest necessities
with perhaps a flax wheel or a spin-
ning wheel. Almost always there was
a Bible. The luxuries which they
bnaught from their old homes, — a
plate, a cup, pair of brass candlesticks,
or the like,^ — today we treasure as
priceless heirlooms.

The homes they built were at first
log houses only and with floors of
Mother Earth. A big fireplace heated
the one room and lighted it taD, and
the same fire cooked all of the food for
the family.

The later log houses had floors and
were comfortable and even cozy.

Mrs. Frank Ireland bears the dis-
tinctiian of having been born in a log
house near the residence of W. S.




Petition to Legislatui'e.

In 11 years after the purchase of
the township by Dr. Warren, the
population had increased until in 1S15
there were about 25 or 20 faniiUes,
for in May of that year tlie follow-
ing petition was drawn up, signed and
presented to the Massachusetts legis-

"TId the Honorable Senate and House
of Representatives of the Common-
wealth of Massachusetts:
"Humbly represent the subscribers,
inhabitants of an unorganized Planta-
tion on the east side of Kennebec
river, in the county of Somerset, called
Number Four, in the fourth range;
that said Plantation aantains about
25 or 26 families; that they labor un-
der many inconveniences in not being
able to support schools and make
roads, and for the want of other
powers which an act of incorparation
would obviate; that there have been
several corporations in the county
with a population not greater than
ours, which have been greatly bene-
fited by the act. We, therefore, pray
your honors would incorporate us into
a town by the name of North Wood,
with all the privileges and powers
which other towns possess, and as in
duty bound will ever pray.

Benjamin Bodge, Asa Russell, Nathan-
iel Knowles, William Mathews,
Enoch Hayden, Alpheus Hayden,
Asa Heywood, Richard Labree,
John Knight, Varen Packard, James
Labree, Thomas Labree. William
Labree, John Eliot. Samuel Cook,
Nathaniel Winslow. Daniel Eliot,
Charles Elder. James Young, Sam-
uel Grant, David Russell, William
Elder. Seth Knowles, William
Hole, Andrew Crawford."

We are unable to tell how many
more families were actually residing
here wli3se names were not sub-
scribed, but it is probable that Squire
Lancey, who was the first to settle in
town, and whose name appears upon
the town records later, was here then,
but was not in favor of incorporation.
Others seem also to have lapposed it,
though the opposition was small.

No records were kept during the
Plantation days.

I rather doubt if there was at that
time even a beginning of a village in
any part of the town, for as far as I
have been able to locate the first
places settled by these petitioners, it
would seem that every locality of
Corinna today had its representative
among these 25 men.

It was about this time that Squire
Lancey erected the second mill in
town and this necessitated a new road.

These roads were of the crudest
sort, and today would not be consid-
ered passable.

There were no bridges and tlie
streams must be forded in summer,
while in winter one might cross on
the ice. Main street was a footpath
through a cedar swamp.

The act of incorporation was passed
by the House and Senate of the Com-
monwealth of Massachusetts, Dec. 11.
1S16. and bears the following signa-
tures: "Timothy Bigelow," Speaker;
"John Phillips." President of the Sen-
ate; "John Brooks," Governor; "A.
Bradford," Secretary of the Common-

Between the date of the petition for
inoDrporation and the act of incorpor-
ation, more than a year later, the
name North Wood was changed to
Corinna, which was the name of Dr.
Warren's daughter.

Act of Iiicoi'poration.

The act of incorporation reads as
follows: "Oammonwealth of Massa-
chusetts. In the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and six-
teen — An act incorporating the town
of Corinna in the County of Somerset.

Sec. 1. "Be it enacted by the Sen-
ate and House of Representatives in
General Court assembled and by the
authi;)i-ity of the same that the town-
ships north of the Waldow (Waldo).
Pattern (Patent) in the County of
Somerset, as contained within the fol-
lowing described boundaries be and
hereby is incorporated as a town by
the name of Corinna. viz: East by
the town of Exeter, north by the town
of Dexter, «3uth by the town of New-
port, and west by the town of St.
Albans — and the inhabitants of the
said town of Corinna are thereby
vested with all the powers and privi-
leges and shall also be subject to all


the duties and requisitions of other
towns according to the constitution
and laws of this commonwealth.

Sec. 2. "Be it further enacted that
any justice of the Peace for the Coun-
ty of Somerset upon application there-
for is hereby impowered to issue a
warrant directed to a freehold inhabi-
tant of the said town of Corinna re-
questing him to notify and warn the
(lualifled voters therein to meet at
such time and place in the same town
as shall be ai^pointed in the said war-
rant for the choice of such officers as
towns are by law empowered and re-
quired to choose appoint at their an-
nual town meetings in March or April.

"In the House of Representatives,
Decemljer the 10th. ISIO, this Bill hav-
ing had three several readings passed
to be enacted. In Senate, Dec. 11th,
ISKi. this bill having had two several
readings passed to be enacted."

First Town Meeting.

The warrant for the first Ktown
meeting was issued by Samuel Lancey,
Esq., justice of the peace, and was ad-
dressed to John Eliot, the meeting be-
ing called at the home of Benjamin
Hilton, Saturday, March 1, 1817, for
the purpose of choosing a inoderator
and other town officers.

Mr. Hilton was not among the peti-
tioners and may have settled in town
during the year and a half that had
elapsed between the presenting of the
petition and the incorporation of the
town, or he may have been originally
opposed to it, in which case our first
settlers early manifested diplomacy
in town business by having the first
town meeting at Mr. Hilton's house
and further by calling upon another
non-petitioner. Squire Lancey, to is-
sue the warrant.

First Tow^l Officials.

The officers chosen were: Samuel
Lancey, moderator; William Elder,
town clerk; William Elder, Joseph
Peace and Constant Southard, select-
men, assessoi-s and overseers of the
poor; Benjamin Hilton was given the
collectorship at five per cent., upon
the condition that he should furnish a
bond; Benjamin Hilton, constable;
Ebenezer Nutter. town treasurer;
Enoch Hayden. Jaines Smith, Josiah
Burrill, John Burton, Seth Knowles,
surveyors of highways; Enoch Hay-
den, James Smith, surveyors of lum-
ber; John Eliot. William Elder, field
drivers; John Eliot, Liba Smith. Sam-
uel Cook, Ebenezer Nutter, Arnold
Chatman. hogreeves; William Elder,
Simon Young, fence viewers; Enoch
Hayden; Seth Knowles, tithingmen;
Simon Young, pound keeper; William
Elder, sealer of weights and measures.

The second town meeting was held
April 7, 1817, when it was voted to
raise $200 for the support of schools
and $100 for town expenses, a total of
$;{00. This year, March 13, we raised

Cast 35 Votes for Maine as State.

Corinna cast 35 votes in favor of
Maine's becoming a state, and William
Eld€r was elected delegate to the con-
vention at Portland where the con-
stitution was drawn up, and the citi-
zens later, Dec. U, 1811), voted unani-
mously for the adoption of the consti-

William King, the first governor of
Maine, received all of the votes cast
in Carinna which was 48.

William Elder was our first repre-
sentative to the Legislature.

Besides those men who signed the
petition for the incorporation of the
town, the following men must have
been residents here as early as March
1, 1817; Saniuel Lancey, Esq., Janres
Smith, Joseph Peace, Ebenezer Nut-
ter, John Briggs, Constant Southard,
Benj. Hilton, Joseph Burrill, Benoni
Burrill, Saniuel Burrill, John Burton,
Liba Smith, Arnold Chatman and
Simon Young.

There were probably many whose
names appear on the town records a
few years later who were already liv-
ing in the town at that date, but were
not old enough to be voters when the
town was incorporated.

Early Taxpayers.

Corinna was the 220th town in the
District of Maine. The year that the
District of Maine was taken from
Massachusetts and became the State
of Maine, 1820, the taxpayers of Cor-
inna were as follows: Isaac Mower,
Walter Weymouth, Richard Labree,
Peter Labree, James Labree, William
Elder, Joshua Elder, Charles Elder,
Jabez Bates, Samuel Hoyt, Joseph
Blanchard, Thomas Brown, Liba

Smith, James Smith, Jr., Ebenezer
Nutter, Daniel Eliot, John Eliot,
Stephen Vea.zie, William Matthews,
Dodge Bachelder, John Briggs, John
Clark, Benja. Hilton, Simon V'oung,
Philip Morse, William Hole, John Jud-
kins, Seth Knowles, James Couillard,
John Hubbard, Wm. R. Page, Seth
Knowles, Jr., Jonathan Knowles, Lew-
is White, David Knowle.s, Deborah
Young, Josiah Burrill, Benoni Bun-ill,
\'aren Packard, Christopher Well.

John Ireland, Constant Southard.
Daniel Clough, Eunice Judkins, Sam-
uel Kennedy, Eben Quimby, Elihu
Lancaster, Wm. McKenney, James
Young, Thomas Pratt, Benjamin
Bodge, Samuel Morse, David Knowles,
Enoch Hayden, Adkins & Couillard,


Wm. Warren, Abram Cook, Samuel Samuel Sawtelle, Jonas Sawtelle,

Cook, Mekinstey Pease, Joseph Ord- Abram Bean, Freman Craig, Jonas

way. Comfort Spooner, John G. Couil- Warren, Benj. P. Winchester, Andrew

lard, Joseph Pease, Caleb C. Knowles, Cole — 82 names in addition to the Arm

Mace Smith, Samuel Capen, John name of Adkins and Couillard. This

Knowles, Richard Austin. Nathaniel shows with what rapidity the popu-

Knowles, John Burton, Constant South- lation increased after the first few

ard, Joseph Burton, Peter Sanburn, settlements were established.
David Russell, Hammond Russell,





Many of the settlers of North New-
port, as well as Corinna, came from
Bloomfield, a part of Skowhegan, and
the settlement of that part of Corin-
na adjoining must have been made at

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Online LibraryLilla Eva WoodA brief history of Corinna, Maine, from its purchase in 1804 to 1916 → online text (page 1 of 7)