Samuel Wasson.

A survey of Hancock County, Maine / by Samuel Wasson online

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At the meeting of the Board of Agriculture held at Calais,
a resolution was passed, urging the importance to our agri-
cultural literature of the publication of surveys of the differ-
ent counties in the State, giving brief notes of their history,
industrial resources and agricultural capabilities ; and direct-
ing the Secretary to procure such contributions for the annual
reports. In conformity with this resolution, and also as car-
rying out the settled policy of the Board in this respect —
evidences of which are found in the publication of similar
reports in previous volumes — I give herewith a Survey of the
County of Hancock, written by a gentleman who has been a
member of the Board of Agriculture, uninterruptedly, from
its first organization, and who is in every way well fitted for
the work, which he has so well performed. It was originally
published in the Ellsworth American, during the summer of
1876, but has been especially revised for the present report.
In many respects the history of Hancock County is a most
interesting one ; some of its industries are important, and
quite distinct from those of other counties, and its agricul-
ture, though not so important as that of some other sections
in the State, is such as to present many interesting features
and practices. The survey is full and satisfactory, and will
be welcomed by the people of the State in the complete and
permanent form in which it is now given to them.


Secretary State Board of Agriculture.
Augusta, Me.



1. Those who are familiar with ancient mythology, will
recollect the story of the good Isis who went forth wandering
to gather up the parts and fragments of her murdered and
scattered Osiris, fondly, ytt vainly hoping that she might
recover and recombine all the separate parts, and once more
view her husband. With equal assiduity, has the writer of
this Survey been for years engaged, at intervals, in collecting
the "scattered fragments" of information relating to Hancock
County, and has arranged his imperfect materials in the form
which they now exhibit.

2. Position. — This, one of the seaboard counties of east-
ern Maine, occupies a geographical position, mainly l)etween
the ' parallels of 43° 58^ and 45° 20' north latitude, and
between (37° 47' -and fi8° 30' west longitude. Its northern
parallel crosses the State, very nearly within its geographical

Its boundaries are Washington county upon the east, the
Atlantic upon the south, Penobscot bay, river and county
upon the west and north. It is of very irregular shape.
From north to south it measures about eighty-five miles, and
in width varies from six to forty miles.

3. Divisions. — It has one city, thirty-one incorporated
towns, and twenty-nine inland and island townships. There
are hundreds of islands within its civic limits, the largest of
which is the most conspicuous of any upon the Avhole Atlantic


4. Incorporated. — This, the fourth county, was organized
in 1789, with Penobscot for its shire town. It included
portions of Penobscot and Waldo counties, and extended
northward to the Canada line. No county in Maine has
undergone more changes in territorial limits. In 1791, a
part was set off and re-annexed to Lincoln. In 1816, a
portion was taken to form Penobscot county. In 1827, a
part was taken off for Waldo. In 1831, a change was made
in the partition line between Hancock and Washington. In
1844, another change, and in 1858 Greenfield was set off and
annexed to Penobscot. The west and north lines are still as
awkward as possible, while none but a skilled scientist can
project the zigzag moulding of its coast-line.

5. History. — The early history of Hancock county, as
now formed, is a part of the earliest history of the State, and
forms an unbroken historical chain, extending back hundreds
of years before " Columbus crossed the ocean blue." Pre-
sumptive, — if not conclusive — evidence is to be found at
Mt. Desert, that the Northmen who peopled Greenland, also
visited this part of our coast, caught fish in its waters, and
cured them upon its shores. Although the coast was fre-
quently seen, and landings made by European voyagers for
some six hundred years, nothing came of it until the explora-
tions of Pring in 1603, and Weymouth and De Monts in
1605. (There is a tradition that Eosier the historian of
Weymouth's expedition, explored Deer Island Thoroughfare,
making a halt at a bold promontory in Brooksville, known as
Cape Rosier.) They found the country inhabited by a nation
of " canoe-men," now known as the Tarratine or Penobscot
Indians. De Monts, who seemed to know of the "nine
points " in possession, claimed the " newly " discovered coun-
try, in the name of the king of France, in true Catholic style,
by setting up a cross and calling the country "Acadia," by
which name it was known for 150 years, or until Gen. Wolfe,
in 1759, waved his banner in triumph over the Plains of
Abraham. The year following De Monts claim, Weymouth
took formal possession of the same country, in the name of


his king, James I. of England. Thus tlic two leading Powers
of Europe became adverse claimants to our soil. France, by
virtue of explorations of Cartier in 1534, and possession of
De Monts in 1602. England, by virtue of discovery of
Cabot, in 1498, and claims of Weymouth in 1603. The
wars which these counter claims occasioned, kept this county
an almost unbroken Avilderness during the provincial history
of Maine.

In point of fact, the county of Hancock was a part of the
French Province of Acadia, for a period of 180 years; and
France did not fully relinquish her claim until after the War
of the Revolution. The first ofiicial efibrt of the Govern-
ment of France to "enter possession," was a patent of Acadia,
granted to De Monts, which, two years after was surrendered
to a Catholic French lady (Madame De Guercheville), who
was desirous of making the experiment of converting the
natives to the Catholic faith. She immediately sent over her
agent (Suassaye), with twenty-five colonists, to take posses-
sion of Acadia. Suassaye and colony landed May 16th, 1613,
at Mt. Desert, built a fort, erected a cross, celebrated mass,
and called the place "St. Sauveur," which is sujDposed to be
the locality now known as Ship Harbor, Tremont. About
the "pool" at Somes' Sound, is supposed to be where the
French missionaries, Biard and Masse, located themselves in
1609. Frenchman's Bay is supposed to have acquired its
name from a peculiar incident which occurred to a French
ecclesiastic who encamped someAvhere between the Union and
Narraguagus rivers, during the winter of 1603. At Trenton
Point is supposed to be where Madam Deville lived.

The first P^nglish possession was a trading post at Pentegoet
(Castine), in 1625-6, which soon fell into the hands of the
French, and the flag of France floated over it during nearly
the whole of the 17th century.

The appearances of the old French settlements have been
found at Castine, Newbury Neck, Surry, Oak Point, Tren-
ton, East Lamoine, Crabtree's Neck, Hancock, Butler Point,
Franklin, Waukeag Neck, Sullivan and upon the "Desert



Isle." Not until after the fiiU of Quebec, in 1759, were any
permanent English settlements made.

6. Land Grants. — The first grants of land, were six
townships each six miles square, between the Penobscot and
Union, then known as the Donaqua River, which were granted
to David Marsh et als, by the (general Court of Massachu-
setts, upon certain conditions, one of which was that they
should settle each township with sixty Protestant families,
within six years. These grants were No. 1, (Bucksport) ;
No. 2, (Orland) ; No. 3, (Penobscot) ; No. 4, (Sedgwick) ;
No. 5, (Bluehill) ; and No. 6, (Surry). Six other townships
east of the Donaqua River, were granted upon the same
terms. But three of these are in this county, which are No.
1, (Trenton), granted to Eben Thorndike et als; No. 2,
(Sullivan), to David Bean et als, and No. 3, (Mt. Desert) to
Gov. Bernard. The whole survey Avas made by Samuel
Livermore, and as six of the townships were on one side of
the river, and six on the other side, the circumstance gave
the present name of "Union River."

The onerous conditions imposed on the grantees, in this
"forest wild," could not be fulfilled, which occasioned a deal
of uneasiness, as a new claimant might oust the occupant.
In 1785, Massachusetts "quieted" the actual settlers in each,
. a hundred-acre lot. The grant of these several townships
was made in 1762. One of the conditions in each grant was,
that the grantee "yield one-fifth part of all the gold and
silver ore and precious stones found therein."

These grantees individually bound themselves in a pena^
bond of £50, conditioned to lay out no one of the townships
more than six miles in extent, on the banks of the Penol)scot,
or on the sea coast ; to build sixty dwelling-houses, at least
18 feet square ; to fit for tillage 300 acres of land, erect a
meeting-house, and settle a minister. There were reserved
in each township one lot for parsonage purposes, another for
the first settled minister, a third for Harvard College, and a
fourth for the use of schools, making 1,200 acres in each
township, reserved for public uses.


7. Gregoire's Claim. — About the year 1688, the King of
France gave to one Cadilliac, a grant embracing the whole of
Mt. Desert, which Cadilliac held till 1713, styling himself
"Lord of Donaqua and Mt. Desert." After the War of the
Revolution, one Gregoire claimed the whole island in right of
his wife, Maria T., a grand-daughter of Cadilliac. Gov. Ber-
nard, to whom the island had been granted, had lost his title
by confiscation ; but to his son John, one-half of it had been
restored ; and in consideration of a request made in favor of
Gregoire's claim, by Gen. Lafayette, Massachusetts recog-
nized it as valid, lohich is the only French claim ever sustained
to lands i7i Maine.

To indemnify this heir of Cadilliac for lands included in
her claim, and which tlie Government had disposed of, there
were quitclaimed to her 60,000 acres.

This tract included the present towns of Trenton and
Lamoine, with a part of Sullivan, Ellsworth, Hancock, Eden
and Mt. Desert, w^ith the islands in front of them. Many of
the present settlers hold their lands under old French titles.
Many of the original titles to lands are acquired from Prov-
ince grants and form Indian deeds.

Gregoire with his family settled in Mt. Desert ; there lived
and died, and himself and wife were buried outside of the
burial-ground at Hull's Cove, Eden. Tradition says they
were so buried because they were Catholics. Some of the
Gregoire deeds are in the possession of the writer.

8. Land Lottery. — In 1786, Massachusetts attempted a
lottery sale of fifty townships, between the Penobscot and
Passamaquoddy. The land intended to be sold, w^as repre-
sented by 2,720 tickets, the price of each ticket $2.00.
These "lottery townships," and those who settled upon them,
were to be exempt from taxes for 15 years. Every ticket
was a prize ticket ; the smallest prize being a half-mile square,
and the largest a six mile square. There were five managers,
one of the number being Leonard Jarvis, of Surry. On the
drawing of the lottery, it was found that but 437 tickets were


sold, and only 165,280 acres drawn, and 942,112 acres re-
mained inisold. The average price received for the lands
drawn was about 52 cents per acre. The lots not drawn, and
also the greater part of the prize lots, were purchased by
William Bingham, of Philadelphia, a man of immense wealth.
Mr. Bingham died in England in 1803, and left one son and
two daughters. One of the daughters married Alexan-
der Baring, of London. At one time the Bingham heirs
owned in Maine, outside of the lottery purchase, 2,350,000

The lottery townships in Hancock, sold to Bingham, -^vere
Nos. 14, 15 and 16, each containing 23,040 acres. The con-
veyance was made January 28th, 1793, by Samuel Phillips,
Leonard Jarvis and John Reed, a Committee appointed by
the General Court of Massachusetts. The "consideration,"
named in the deed, is "a large and valuable sum of money."
Query — Were not the "up-river" townships north of the tier
of townships, sold to Bingham, included in the lottery scheme?
In 1796, Bingham purchased the residue of the Gregoire grant.
A plan of the 60,000 acre grant to Madame De Gregoire, was
made by Nathan Jones and Samuel Thompson, and a survey
of the same, by John Peters, was completed on or before
January 8th, 1789.

August 4, 1792, Barthelemy De Gregoire, after "excepting
out" certain "lots" and "tracts," sold the balance of his grant,
or 23,121 acres, to Henry Jackson, of Boston, for £1,247,
16 shillings. Jackson, July 9th, 1796, sold his claim to
Bingham for $100.

The outlines of the Gregoire grant are thus defined in the
earliest recorded deeds : "A tract of land lying on the main,
on each side of the Donaquec river, in the County of Hancock.
Beginning near the Sweedeland Mill dam, on the Eastern side
of Skillings river, thence due North 550 rods to Taunton bay,
there crossing a cove in said bay 432 rods in the same course,
and running same course from said bay 460 rods, for the N. E.
corner, thence 7 miles and 56 rods to Union river, a due West
course, crossing the river and continumg 2 miles, 172 rods,


thence South 68 East to Union river, crossing the same, and
continuing 176 rods to a stake in Melatiah Jordan's field."

In the conveyance from Gregoire to Jackson, or in that
from Jackson to Bingliam, among the lots "excepted out,"
are 100 acres to Mr. Jennison, 100 to James Hopkins, one-
half of Trenton, and part of No. 8, conveyed to Jean Baptiste
De La Roche ; Gregoire's farm ; a lot at North East Creek,
Mt. Desert, lying between lots of Nicholas Thomas and Eliza
Higgins ; 450 acres intended for the town of Mt. Desert ; a
lot of Col. Jones, a settler on Great Duck Island, and 8,333
acres of No. 7, granted to the Beverly Cotton Manufactory.

The islands "lying in front," granted to Barthelomy De
Gregoire, and his wife Maria Theresa De la Motta Cadilace
De Gregoire, and which were a part of the Bingham purchase,
are Bartlett's island, containing 1,414 acres ; Great Cranberry
island, 490 acres ; Little Cranberry, 73 acres ; Sutton's, 74
acres ; Bear, 9 acres ; Thomas, 64 acres ; Green, 44 acres ;
Great Duck, 182 acres ; Little Duck, 59 acres ; also, two
small islands of 6 acres each. Col. John Black, an English-
man by birth, who resided at Ellsworth for many years, was
the Bingham heirs' agent. Messrs. Hale and Emery now hold
that trust. The Bingham lands presented an inviting field for
"smugglers," and the value of timber pilfered therefrom is

Sketches of Town History.

9 . In the year 1787, Penobscot, the first town in the county,
and the 49th in the State, was incorporated. The Act of In-
corporation was entitled "An Act for Incorporating a certain
plantation in the county of Lincoln, called Majorbigwaduce,
or Number Three, into a town by the name of Penobscot;"
the Bill of Enactment was signed " Artemas Ward, Speaker."

The several town histories must be condensed within a few

lines. We shall attempt to narrate only a few prominent

events. In this matter of town history, I would that each town

in our county emulate the example of Castine, and that too ere

" The times that are gone by
Are a sealed book."


10. Penobscot. — Incorporated (49th town) February 23,
1787. Population, 1,418. Decennary loss, 138. Wealth,
per capita, $148. State valuation, $227,356; United States
valuation, $318,298. Its appellation of Penobscot, is from the
Indian "Penobskeag," or "Penopeauke," signifying "rocky
place." It was a part of the district of ancient "Pentagoet."
In the Act of Incorporation it is called "Majorbigwaduce."
It was Township "Number Three," in the grant to David
Marsh et als. It is situated at the head of Northern Bay, one
of the "great-coves" of the Bagaduce river (Baggadoose), or
written in Indian (Masi-anbaga-8-atoes-ch). The river is an
arm of the Penobscot, the "great river of Nerumbega." At
first, Penobscot included all of Castine, and the westerly part
of Brooksville. The first survey of the town was made by
John Peters. The following names appear among its earliest
municipal otficers : John Lee, Jeremiah and Daniel Wardwell,
John and Joseph Perkins, JohnWasson, David Hawses, Elijah
Littlefield, Isaac Parker, and Peltiah Leach.

The subjoined historic data are from the pen of H. B. Ward-
well : "The first settlers within the present limits of Penob-
scot, were Duncan and Findley Malcom, Daniel and Neil
Brown. They were Scotchmen, and being loyalists or tories,
left for St. Andrews when the English evacuated Majebigy-
uduc, in 1761. Findley Malcom and Daniel Brown married
daughters of my great-grandfather, Daniel Wardwell. The
first permanent settler was Charles Hutchings, in 1765. The
first child of English parents was Mary Hutchings. In 1765
came Isaac, Jacob Sparks and Daniel Perkins, Samuel Averill
and Solomon Littlefield.

The first settler in Penobscot, as originally incorporated,
was Eeuben Gray, in 1760. To him a daughter (]\Iary) was
born, Nov. 4, 1763, and a son (Samuel) May 8, 1767. In
1765, Gray sold out to Aaron Banks, and took up the farm
now occupied by Levi Gray, in Sedgwick."

Union soldiers, 158 ; State aid, $3,172 ; town bounty,

;,782 ; cost per recruit, $170.


11. 8edgio{ck. — Incorporated (2-59, that is, the 2d in the
county and the oOth in the State), January 12, 1789. Popu-
lation, 1,113. Decennary loss, 150. AV^ealth, per capita, $180.
State valuation, $197,706. United States valuation, $285, G9G.
Named in honor of INIaj. Robert Sedgwick. Plantation name
''Naskeag." By the earlier adventurers it was called "Nasket."
In a "census of the people ni this region," in 1688, tw^o French
families, of eight souls, were found at Naskeag Point. The
first permanent settler was Andrew Black, in 1759. Four
years after, came Goodwin Reed, John and Daniel Black, and
two years later Reuben Gray "moved in" from Penobscot.
The first white child, Elizabeth (who lived to a great age) ,
was born in 1759. First minister, Daniel Merrill. The de-
scendants of Reuben Gray are exceedingly numerous. They
preserve i\\e,\Y prolijicness, and other family traits, unimpaired
down to the latest generation. In 1817, 5,000 acres were cut
oif and annexed to Brooksville. In 1849, about 8,800 acres
were taken ofi* to form the town of Brooklin. Benjamin, its
only river, is little else than a spui- of Eggmoggin Reach.
Its first post otfice was established in 1812. Now, it boasts of
a telegraph station. Union soldiers, 120; State aid, $1,464;
town bounty, $8,712 ; cost per recruit, $85.

Prof. Burns, Superintendent of the Burns mine, Ames-
buiy, has taken charge of the Eggmoggin mine, Sedgwick,
Me. It has a capital of $200,000, and reduction works have
recently been erected at a cost of $40,000. There are 500
tons of ore at the Philadelphia mint w^hich will average $100
a ton.

12. ^??«e7n7?.— Incorporated (3-62 town) Jan. 30, 1789.
Population, 1707. Decennary loss, 196. Wealth, per capita,
$225. State valuation, $397,620. U. S. valuation, $572,-
572. First settled near "Fire Falls," April 7, 1762, by
Joseph Wood and John Roundy. Next settlers, Nicholas
Holt, Ezekiel Osgood and Nehemiah Hinckley. First child,
Jonathan Darling, born in 1765 ; second child, Edith Wood,
in 1766. The township first known as No. 5. The planta-
tion name was "Newport." The town takes its name from a


majestic hill, which rises to an altitude of 950 feet above
high-water mark. Congregational Church formed in 1772 ;
Baptist, in 1806. First post office in 1795. Jonathan
Fisher, settled minister from 1796 to 1837. Eccentric "Par-
son" Fisher, 'tho' dead, his good name liveth. Academy
incorporated in 1803, and endowed by a grant or half of No.
23, Washington county. This grant was sold in 1806, for
$6,252. Of this sum, $1,188 have been lost. Has a social
library of some 500 volumes. In 1769, the settlers voted
to raise money " for to hire a person for to preach the gospel
to us, and for to pay his board."

Union soldiers in the war of the Rebellion, 196 ; State aid,
$3,038 ; town bounty, $17,995 ; cost per recruit, $102.

13. Deer Isle. — Incorporated (4-63 town) January 30,
1789. Population, 3,404. Decennary loss, 178. Wealth,
per capita, $120. State valuation, $417,211. U. S. valua-
tion, $680,783. First visited by European voyagers, in
1605. The abundance of deer in its forests, gave it its name.
First settlement commenced near what is now known as the
"Scott Farm," by William Eaton, in 1762. First church in
1773. First preacher. Rev. Mr. Noble. First pastor, Rev.
Peter Powers. Rev. Joseph Brown, a dissenter, installed in
1809. Population in 1790, 682. First white child, Timothy
Billings, born May, 1764. The privations of the settlers
chiring the War of the Revolution, were terrible.

Union soldiers, 314; State aid, $6,294; town bounty,
$59,128 ; cost per recruit, $208.

14. Trenton. — Incorporated (5-65 town) Feb. 16, 1789.
Population, 678. Wealth, per capita, $175. Derived its
name from Trenton, N. J. First settlements by English set-
tlers, about 1763. Anterior to this, French settlements were
commenced at Trenton and Oak Points. This town was first
granted by Plymouth Colony, in 1752, to Eben Thorndike
et als. Massachusetts confirmed it to Paul Thorndike in 1785.
Thompson's and Alley's islands are within its limit. In 1870
it was divided into two towns, and the eastern half incorpo-
rated as Lamoine.


State valuation, $260,729. U. S. valuation, $37544!9i
Union soldiers, 149 ; State aid, $2,361 ; town houwty,
$29,600; cost per recruit, $207.

15. Goiddshorough, — Incorporated (6-66 town) February
16,1789. Population, 1709. Decennary loss, 8. State val-
uation, $224,690. U. S. valuation, $323,560. Received its
corporate name in honor of Robert Gould, one of the original
proprietors — Borough, from the Anglo Saxon burgh, a town ;
in En*yland, a town that sends members to Parliament.
There were squatters here as early as 1700. The first set-
tlers were from Saco and vicinity, and were Libby, Fernald,
Ash and Willy. The first male child was Robert Ash, and
the first female, Mary Libby. The first post office in 1792.
An old inhabitant says: "Nathan Jones and Thomas Hill
settled here in 1764." Maj. Gen. David Cobb of Revolu-
tionary fame, one of Washington's Aids, and afterwards Judge
of the Common Pleas Court of Hancock County, resided here
mau}^ years. This town, embraces Stave, Jordan's, Iron-
bound, Porcupines, Horns, Turtle, and Schoodic Islands.
That part of No. 7, known as "West Bay Stream," was
annexed February 26, 1870. It is the most easterly town in
the county, and has the most extensive sea-coast. On Ash's
Point are the relics of an old French fortification. At Grind-
stone Point is an immense deposit of raetaphoric or silicious
slate, excellent material for grindstones. Its hidden mineral
wealth must be developed by some geological scientist, not
afraid of " sur/-ru7i7iing ."

Union soldiers, 167 ; State aid, $2,584 ; town bounty,
$27,460 ; cost per recruit, $179.

16. Sullivan. — ^Incorporated (7-67 town) February 16,
1789. Area, 17,500 acres. Population, 796. Wealth, per
capita, $195. Named in honor of Capt. Daniel Sullivan.
Indian name, " Waukeag" (a seal), and also called, previous
to incorporation, "New Bristol." First settlement com-
menced in 1762, by Sullivan, Simpson, Bean, Gordon, Bhiis-
dell and Card. Embraces eight islands, viz : Capital A,

Bean's, Dram, Preble's, Bragdon, Burnt, Black, and Seward.


In the Revolution, forty families here were reduced to twenty.
This township was granted to David Bean ; the king refused
to confirm it, and the settlers were quieted in 1803, by

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Online LibrarySamuel WassonA survey of Hancock County, Maine / by Samuel Wasson → online text (page 1 of 8)