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it has ever since remained.

At the session of Congress in Januar}', 1S24, a grant was
made to Wells of the sum of five thousand dollars, for the pur-
pose of i.mproving the main harbor in the town. With this aid
a pier of eight hundred feet in length was erected in the summer
of 1825.

Soil and PpvOductioxs. Wells contains a great variety of soil,
though its general character is sandy. Without being at the
trouble of actual survey, it may be presumed that the following
estimate of the quantities of the ditFerent kinds of soil in the
town may be relied on as tolerably correct :


Saltmarsb l.h*/)

Natural i:;'?ado\v>, 300

Very good laud, under iiiiprovement, o.OOO

Clay aud loa.ii, under improvement, 1 ^-U'J


Low and heathy lau'l, loostly covered with hushes, hut capahle

of iuiprovemetu, pft.-)

Barren heath, C'l''

Led<Tes and heaches. generally unimprovahle, .... 000

Pitch-jiine plains, scarce worth improving, .... 5,0r.>0

Sandy and cjravelly land, rather poor, 9,400

Land capaltle of improvement, hut covered at present with wood

and timber, 10,000

Total . 35,000

It will be perceived by the above estimate that about six
thousand five hundred acres of land in Wells, being almost a
fifth part of the whole town, may be considered waste land,
being barren heaths, ledges, beaches, and pitch-pine plains. The
plains, however, are still valuable for what wood and timber may
remain on them. It will al&o be seen that nearly one-fourth part
of the town is considered as poor land, viz : the sandy and
gravelly soils. They are improved, but require much manure,
or they will scarce pay for the labor of cultivation. The salt
marsh is generally considered poor, some parts of it having failed
very much within the memory of the present inhabitants. The
average crop of hay on the marsh does not exceed half a ton
from the acre, but the hay is considered of a very good qualit}'.
Tlie time of cutting the marshes is during the neap tides in Au-
gust and September. They were formerly cut a month or two
later, and it has been thought by some that early cutting has
injured them.

The heathy land is capable of being made very productive.
Some experiments have been made upon it, enough to show that
when subdued, it will become some of the most valuable land in
the town. Experiments have also been made on what is termed
the fresh marsh, which is a strip of heathy land lying between
the salt marsh and the high land. In some places it is ten or
twelve rods in width, and is generally covered with alder-bushes.
It is seldom, if ever, flowed by the sea. This ground may be
ploughed in the dry part of the season, and with considerable
labor and expense may be subdued. It will then afford a heavy
burden of the best grass, and is not liable to bind out like the
higher lands. Had the inhabitants heretofore depended less on
their .salt marshes, and paid more attention to the cultivation of


thi'ir grasslands, their farms would liavo been far more valuable
th.m they now are. They are beginning to perceive this, and a
.•..nirit of improvement is visible,

The productions of "Wells are such as are common on the
F.-ime soils through the country. The sea dressing, of which vast
quantities are liauled on to the ground, enables the people to
raise Indian corn, and in some cases grain, to good advantage.
It is doubtful, however, whether a supply of corn and grain is
raised in the town for the use of the inhabitants. The average
crop of corn does not exceed twenty bushels from the acre ; of
wheat, six bushels from the sowing of one; of potatoes, one
liundred and sixty bushels from the acre ; and of other produc-
tions about in the same proportion. Clams in great abundance
are dug from the flats.

Trade. The difliculty attending the entrance into the principal
harbor in the town has prevented the increase of trade at this
place, although there have not been wanting those who have
overcome all these difficulties, and rendered merchandising more
or less profitable. The principal article of export from the town
is wood, whicii has been sent to Boston, Salem, and Xewbury-
port. It is estimated that not less than fifteen hundred cords of
hai-d wood and tifteen hundred cords of pine are annually ex-
ported from Wells ; one half of which is supposed to be cut in
the town, and the remainder in the towns adjoining. Several of
the largest vessels owned here are constantly employed in the
"West India trade. The total amount of shipping owned in the
town is about six hundred tons. Considerable ship timber is cut
in the town, and vessels of various sizes are built here from year
to year.

Trade has increased considerably in Wells within ten years
past. There are now in the town eleven .stores, in several of
whicli business is transacted to a very considerable amount.
There are also in the town eight houses of public entertainment.*

*[The Portlanfl, Saoo, and rortsmouch Railroad, which crossr-s the north-
western part of the town, has made a serious divension in the trade and
hotels. Wood and lumber, now, instead of froing to the shippinj;, are trans-
ported bj- rail, and the few travelers on the common roads, render tavern-
keeping a ])rofitless occupation. There is a large hotel on the b'^ach, wliich
i-i Jiiuch patronized in summer by persons who are in search of sea air and
bathing. — £d.]


Statk of Learxixg. Wells is divided into fourteen Sciu.)!
Districts, in which schools are kept from two to six nionthr in
the winter season, and as mnch longer in the summer. Ti:e
general character of tlie commoa schools is low.

There is not a person living in the town who has received a
public education at any college, and it is not known tliat m^ro
than seven native inhabitants have ever been thus educated.
Hon. Xathauiel ^Y'ells and ^Mr. Josiah Clark were educated at
Harvard College, and were both of the class of 1760. Eev.
Nathaniel Wells, now the minister of Deerlield in New Hamp-
shire, was educated at Dartmouth College, and was of the class
of 1795.

Samuel ^Morrill, ^l. D., of Boston, was graduated at Bowdojn
College in 1821, and ^Ir. James Furbish completed his collegiate
course at Cambridge in 1S25.

Of the six ministers who have been settled in the town, five
of them were graduates. Bev. Samuel Emery, Rev. Samuel
Jefferds. Eev. Gideon Richardson, and Rev. Moses Hemmenwuy,
D. D., wt>re all educated at Harvard College, and were of the
classes of 1G91, 1722, 1749, and 1755. The Rev. Benji:nin
"White was from Dartmouth College, and of the class of 1^07.
In 1792. Dr. Hemmenway received the degree of S. T. D., both
from Harvard and Dartmouth Colleges.

HisTORV. The first settlers of Wells came from Exeter, in
New Hampshire, but the precise date of their settlement is un-
known. It is conjectured to have taken }(lace about the year
1640. There is no evidence that the land was ever purchased
of the Indians. One Wawwaw, a noted Indian Chief, lived in
the town something more than eighty 3'ears, and pretended to
claim this and some adjoining towns.

The original charter of the town is preserved in the town
record, and is in the following words : " Whereas. ^Ir. Hurr: in-
6on, Mr. Xeedham, and some others of the plantation of Exeter,
have been with me, Thomas Gorges, superintendent of the atfiirs
of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, knight, lord proprietor of the provia.-e
of ]S[ayne, and have desired in behalf of themselves and others
to take a certain tract of land lying between Ogunquitt river and
Kennebunk, and for eight miles up ia the country; but whereas

.■■J tr 'J ' i

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;i {'.irt of tlu>. said land (as I heard) is t-laiined by Mr. StraHoii
:^:i'i others, I caunot for the presuut ir'ivc any farther answer
'iulr>: That all the right and interest Sir Ferdinando Gorges liath
in the said land shall be freely granted unto them. Ecserving
to Sir Ferdinando Gorges live shillings for every hundred acres
of land, as well as marsh and uplands that they shall maneur, and
to me, Thomas Gorges, the ])riety of Ogiiniiuitt river, of whlrh
I have desired a patent, which when I have received, I do
jToinise to surrender upon reasonable demands any thing that
may be beneiieial to them, not doing myself any notable damage,
in the mean while they have free liberty to build and take up any
laads that are therein Sir Ferdinando Gorges' power to grant
to have and to hold them, and their heirs and assigns forever.
Given imder my hand Sept. 27th, 1G43. Tno : Gorges."'

Among the original settlers at ^Yells, was the Eev. John
Wheelwright, who had been banished from Boston for holding
Antinomian sentiments. He assisted in founding Exeter, but a
dispute soon arose there between him and Capt. Underhill, as
they said, respecting religion, but as others said, respecting which
of them should be governor. Be this as it may, the contention
was so sharp between them that they went asunder, and ^Mr.
Wheelwright came to Wells. The Mr. Hutchinson, mentioned
in the charter, was probably Mr. Edward Hutchinson, the hus-
band or the son of the celebrated Ann Hu-tchinson, the sister
of John Wheelwright, whose name stands conspicuously in the
religious dissensions of that day,*

'Gov. Sullivan says this was the husband of Ann Hutchinson, but he states
also that this same Mr. Hutchinson died in Rhode Island, in 1642. But the
aforesaid charter is dated September, 1043, and if Sullivan's date of his death
is correct, the person who came to Wells must have been his son, or perhaps
some other relative. But it may have been the husband of Ann, and the
date of bis death as stated by Sullivan, may be correct. [The husband of
the celebrated Ann Hutchinson was William, the eldest son of Susannah
Hutchiason, v.ho came over with her family to Boston in 1634, accompanied
by Rev. John Wheelwright, who married her daughter Mary. The maiden
name of Ann, the wife of Wilham, was Marberry. The other sons
were Richard, Edward, and Samuel. In the previous persecution of the
Oovernraent against this family for their antinomian sentiments, these enter-
prising and valuable people were driven from the field which they would liave
cultivated and adorned. William and Iiis wife went to Rhode Island in 1C38,


About two montlis j^rior to the date of the charter, ilie fol-
lowing instrument \Vcis issued by Tliomas Gorges lor surveyi.'j^r
the town :

" \Vitnesseth these presents that I Thomas Gorges, Deputy
Governor of the province of Mayne, according unto the powir
unto me given from Sir FerJinando Gorges, knight, lord pro-
prietor of the said province, have for divers good causes and
considerations in and thereunto moving, given and granted unio
Mr. John Wheelwright, minister of God's word, !Mr. Henry
Boads, and Mr. Edward Uislnvorth of Wells, full and absolute
power to alot bounds and sett forth any lott or bounds unto any
man thai shall come to inhabit in the plantation, themselves
paying for any land they hold from Sir Ferdinando Gorges five
.shillings for every hundred acres they make use of, the rest tive
shillings for every hundred acres that shall be alotted unto them
by tbe said !Mr. John Wheelwright, Henry Boads, and Edward
Eishworth. The bounds of the plantation to begin from the
north-east side of Ogunquitt river to the south-west side of
Kennebunk river, and to run eight miles up into the country, and
in case differences arise between the said ]\Ir. John Wheelwright,
Henry Boads, and Edward Rishworth, concerning the adn:ii33ion
of any man into the plantation, or of bounding any land, the said
diflference shall be determined by the agent or agents or Sir
Ferdinando Gorges, to whom full power is reserved of admitting
any one into the aforesaid limitt. Given under my hand and
Beal at Armes this 14th July, 1G43. Tiio : Gorges."

and were tlie founders of thai colony ; lie was chosen one of the first luapis-
ti-ates, and resided there until his death in 1G42. Hichard returned to Eng-
land, and became a wealthy merchant in London. Edward also went back to
England, and did not return. Samuel became a retired scholar in Boston,
and died, unmarried, in 16G7. The mother. Mrs. Susannah Hutchinson, died
in Wells in 1042. The " Mr. Hutchinson" mentioned in Gorges' grant above
quoted, was no doubt Edward, the son of William and Ann. He was born in
England about 1G08, came over in 103:3, and was the nephew of Mr. Wheel-
wright's wife. He ])ecame a very prominent man in the civil and military
afTairs'of the Colony of Massachusetts, firmly resisted the persecution of the
Quakers, and was otherwise distinguished for manly qualities, ibi died of
wounds received from the Indians in 1G75, in a treacherous assault by them.
It is not piobai)!e that he ever resided in Wells, but was desirous of sptM'U-
lallng in land there, as he did in several places in the neighborhood of Bos-
ton. — Ed.]


The following instruniont relating to the plantation of AYells
lias iilso been preserved, at the bottom of tlie above grant :

" Saco — Memo, at a court bolden here the 14th day of August,
1G44, this grant was here exhibited, and is by us allowed; for
further confirmation we have hereunto sett our hands in court
the day and year above written.

EiCH. Vines, Dep. Gov. Nicholas Shapleigh.

Henry Joceline. Francis IvObinsox.


The Mr. Rishworth, mentioned in the foregoing instrun^.cnt, is
well known in the ancient annals of !Maine. It is, however,
doubtful whether he was an inhabitant of AVells for any consider-
able time. Mr. Wheelwiight resided in AVells for a few- years,
and was useful and active in promoting the settlement.^ He
received a grant of land in the town, known for many years by
the name of " the Wheelwright farm." It extended from the neck
of land south of the meetingdiouse to the Ogunquit river, and
from the road then traveled to the sea. He had two deeds
^vhich covered the property. They are as follows :

"Know all men by these presents, that I, Thomas Gorges,
deputy govr. of the Province of Mayne, according unto the
power unto me granted from Sir Ferdinaudo Gorges, knight,
proprietor of the said Province, being hereunto especially moved,
for divers good reasons and considerations, have given, granted,
bargained, sayled, enfeoffed and confirmed, and by these presents
do give, grant, bargain, sell, enfeotf and confirm unto Mr. John
"Wheelwright, pastor of the church of Exeter, his heirs and
assigns, a tract of land lying at Wells, in the county of Summer-
sett, to be bounded as followeth, viz : all that neck of land next
iidjaceut to the rnarsh on the north-east of Ogunquitt river, with
sixscore acres of the said marsh, next adjacent to the said neck
of laud, being bounded toward the sea with a crick of Ogunkigg
river, also two hundred and fourscore acres of upland, being next
adjacent on the north-west of the said marsh, the said neck being

TiUlnvurtli loarried Wlu'clwri^ht's dau^jliter; lie lived in York many yca.-s-,
and probably died there. [Farmer says he was living in l'JS3 ; he repre-
sented York in the Gen.-ral Court in 1G70, the la^t year in which Maine hud a
rejiresentation in the f^olonial Le^i^latiu-e. — £d.]


included witl.iu the said number of two hundred and eighty
acres, the said premises to )iave and to hold unto hin) the said
John Wheelwright his heirs and assigns forever, yelding there-
for and paying unto the said Sir Ferdinando Gorges, his heirs
and assigns, on the 29th of September yearly, and forever here-
after, the sum of five shillings for every hundred acres that sliall
hereafter be made use of, either by inclosure or otherwise, for
meadow or tillage, by the said John ^Yheelwright, his heirs or
assigns. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and
seal at Armes this 17th April 1043. Thomas Gorges dept. Gov.
Gorgeana. Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of us
Joseph Hull, "Will. Coole.

"Vera copia taken out of the original. Edw. Eishworth, Eec."

The second deed was from Boad & Eishworth, who, with
himself, were commissioned by Thomas Gorges to "lot out'" the
town. It here follows :

" Know all men by these presents, that we Henry Boad and
Edward Eishworth, do, according to power given unto ns,
grant and alott unto John AVheelwright, pastor of the church in
Hampton, all that tract of land lying betwixt Ogunquett river and
his farme, except that which is already allotted unto John Crosse,
which tract of upland is bounded on the south-east side with the
marshes, and on the north-west side is to be bounded with a
streight line from his, the said John "Wheelwright's fence, set up
on the northwest side of his farnie to the said river of Ogunquett,
to have and to hold the said land to him and his heirs forever.
Id witness whereof we have hereunto sett our hands, Nov. 25th,
1651 ; Henry Boad.

Edwakd Eishworth.

" This deed recorded March 26, 1653."

Mr. Wheelwright remained at Wells but a few years. He
then removed to Hampton,* and afterward to Salisbury, on
Merrimac river, where he died suddenly Xov. 15th, 1679. Sev-

*[Mr. Wheelwright went to Hampton in 1G47, as colleague of the Ilev. Mr,
Dalton. In a few years after, he wont to England, where he was in favor with
Cromwell. On the accession of Charles II. to the throne, ICCO, he returned
to New England. He is supposed to ha\e been eighty-live years old at his
death.— i:</.]


oral families of ]Mr. "Whoelwriglit's de?ceadants of the fifth and
sixth generations are fii\]\ living in tlie town. His son, Samuel
"Wheelwright, Esq., was a man of much respectability in tho
town, and died hero in the year 1700. His grandson was Hon.
John "Wheelwright, a man much distinguished in the public
annals of that day. He died in 1745.

Among the early inhabitants of Wells, was Francis Littlefield,
who came from England, and settled here. He was the eldest son
of a respectable family, and having been absent several years, his
parents supposing him to be dead, named another sou Francis.
In process of time he also jiushed his fortune in what was then
called " the New World," and coming to "Wells, he here found
his long lost brother. Francis the elder had settled on a farm
near the present meeting-house, and Francis the younger toolc a
farm a little to the southward of it. Another brother subse-
quently came to Wells, and from these three all of this name in
the countiy are supposed to be descended. The families are
numerous in Wells. No less than sixty-eight legal voters of this
name are at present on the town Hst.

On the 20th of ^Nlarch, 1716, tho inhabitants formed themselves
into a regular proprietary. Thirty-five proprietors were thou
numbered. The town suffered much during the Indian war-*
near the close of the seventeenth and commencement of tlio
eighteenth century, but was not finally broken up. A particular
account of these troubles being preserved in ilather's Magaaiip,
is here omitted.

Ecclesiastical Affairs. There is good reason to believe that
many of the first inhabitants of Wells were religious persons, and
there is some evidence of the existence of a church here soon
after the settlement of the town. Authentic accounts have been
transmitted to this time of difficulties which arose on account of
religion when the people submitted to Massachusetts in 1653,
particularly as some claimed to bo a church. Bellingham, the
Deputy Governor, and the other commissioners, took a summary
way to end the dispute b}'' pronouncing them no church.
Whether the persons referred to" had been organized as a church
or not, is uncertain, but we hear of nothing more of the kind for
nearly fifty years. But tho people v.-ero not destitute of stated


religious worsliip. In July, IGGl, the county court oi\lcrod tlir^t
Mr. Ezekiel Knight and Mr. William Hammond should take the
lead of a religious meeting at AVells on the Sabbath, when they
were unprovided with a minister,^ so careful were those in au-
thority, that the public worship of God should be maintained.
But a minister was soon provided. The practice of the people
was to agree w-ith a person to preach, and give him a stipulated
8um as an annual salary as long as he saw fit to remain. As
there was uo church in the town, no ecclesiastical forms were
observed in the induction of any minister, nor any at his dis-
mission. The natural consequence of this practice was the em-
ployment of many ministers, and frequent changes. Six ministers
were employed in this way in the space of about thirt3'-st'ven
years. The first was Mr. Joseph Emerson, of York. He was
hired in 1664:, and remained the minister of Wells between two
and three years. In April, 1GG7, the town made an agreement
with Mr. Jeremiah Hubbard, he agreeing to remain seven years.
His salary was to be fifty pounds a year, with a settlement of
thirty-three pounds. The town agreed to give him also one-half
of the parish lands, and to assist him in building a house, and in
case he found it more convenient to build his house on the parish
land, the tpwn agreed to buy the house of him when he removed.
But for some reasons, now unknown, Mr. Hubbard staid in
"Wells but about four months, and in September of the same
year, Mr. Eobert Payne was engaged as the minister of the
town, and remained with the people five years. A house was
built for him on the town lot, and he was allowed a salar}' of
forty-five pounds annually. On September 2d, 1672, an agree-
ment was made with Mr. John Buss, wdio officiated as the minis-
ter of Wells at least ten years. His salary was sixty pounds,
with the use of the parsonage house and land, and a contri-
bution in labor annually. His salary was to be paid thus : five
pounds in money, and the remainder in specific articles at the
following prices, viz., wheat at five shillings per bushel, corn
at four .shillings per bushel, beef at four pence per pound, and
boards at four .shillings per hundred. Mr. Buss preached
afterward at Oyster river, now Durham, in New Hampshire.

• Commou Pleas Records for the couiity of York— pamphlet 15, page i'j.


He was there called Doctor Buss, had llie reputation of a very
pious and worthy man, and died tliere at the advanced age of
one hundred and eight years. After he left Wells, in IGSo, the
town agreed with Mr. Percival Greene as their minister, who
appears to have remained with them between five and six years.
His salary was fifty pounds and the parsonage. On June 21st,
1GS9, the town agreed with Richard Marten, who was then living
in Wells, in the capacity of a school-master, to become their
minister. They voted him the use of the parsonage, and a yearly
salary of fifty pounds, to be paid in specific articles, thus : wheat
at four shillings per bushels, rye at two shillings and six pence,
peas at four shillings, pork at two and a half pence per pound,
boards at nineteen shillings per thousand, and staves at seven-
teen shillings per thousand. How long ho remained with them,
is unknown, Mr, Greene and Mr. Marten were both graduates
from Harvard College, and both of the class of 16S0, but are not
marked as ministers in the catalogue. It is a tradition among
the people that the celebrated George Burroughs, who was exe-
cuted for witchcraft in 1C92, was preaching in Wells at that time,
and was apprehended in the meeting-house on the Sabbath, but
there is no record of any such proceeding.

In the mouth of October, 1701, the present church was formed.
Mr, Samuel Emery had been preaching in Wells several years.
In 1G98, the ancient record speaks of him as "the minister of tho
town," He had married in Wells before this, and in August of
tho same year, the birth of a child of his is recorded. The town
had suffered considerably during the Indian wars, and the meet-
ing-houses had been burnt, but it would seem the settlement was
advancing. In November, 1699, the town voted to build a new
meeting-house on the site of the old one, and at the annual town
meeting in March, 1701, an agreement was entered into by tho
town with Mr. Emery for his subsequent support. His salary
was forty-five pounds, one-half 'to bo paid in money and the other
in " merchantable provisions'' at the following prices : wheat at
five shillings per bushel, corn at three sliillings per bushel, rye at
three shillings and six pence per bushel, pork at throe pence per

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