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Porter, as a portion of Maine: its settlement, etc. (Volume 1) online

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PORTL k.^D, ME. : '^i;i^F_WAj>>^\^^







HiSTOEY, eveu that of a township in the back-woods of Maine,
should have for its object the improvement of the reader.

His entertainment, too, is certainly desirable, but not at the ex-
pense of that higher purpose. Of the success of this little volume in
either direction, it is for others to judge.

It was not proposed to confine the following pages exclusively to
the township first named Porterfield, but to introduce various subjects
relating more particularly to the Pine-tree State, of which this town-
ship forms a part. The writer, until recently, had no intention of
calling for the services of the printer. He did intend, after obtaining
the materials thought desirable, to arrange them in manuscript for
himself and such friends as might have the curiosity to look over
them in that form.

The individuals now living, who in childhood were familiar with
the faces of our first settlers, are rapidly passing away, and soon but
a meager tradition of these pioneers will remain.

If, by these pages, some memorials of them worthy of record, shall
be saved from oblivion, the labor of the writer will not be wholly in


Porter, Me., June 1, 1879.



Deed of Porterfield, from Committee of Mass. to Hill and others.. 7

Title to Maine, how acquired by Massachusetts 10

Discovery and settlement of Maine 14

Situation, area, and climate of 15

Climate of Maine and Illinois compared 16

State valuation, and population in 1870, by counties 16

Population of Maine and of the United States in 1790, 1800, etc. . . 17

Porterfield, settlement of -^

Families of early settlers in 10

Plantation records ^°

Incidents of the times 31

Timber lands 3"

Church organizations '*0

Porter, incorporation of 42

Town records 43

Soldiers of the Revolution, war of 1812, etc., furnished by 46

Representative districts 48

Mills and bridges in, population and valuation of 49

Town debt, currency, post-office, and registry of deeds 49

Names of the soldiers of the Revolution, war of 1812, etc., resid-

mg in "'^

In memoriam ^^

Plantation and town officers, and Representatives to the Legisla-
ture '^^

Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States 78

Governors from year of settlement, and Senators from the Oxford

County district "^

U. S. Senators and Representatives to Congress from this (2d) dis-

trict .


Cabinet officers who have been residents of Maine 83

State and town vote for Governor, and town vote for Representa-
tive, when a resident of 84

Marriages recorded by town clerk, from the incorporation to 1833. 87

Marriages, later record of, to March 1, 1858 90


The territory which now embraces the town of Porter
(except about 120 acres of Cutler's grant) and the western
portion of Brownfield, was conveyed by the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, by deed to certain persons as follows :
" Know all men by these presents that we whose names are
undersigned and seals affixed, appointed by the General
Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a committee
with full power to sell and convey the unappropriated lands
of the said Commonwealth lying within the counties of York,
Cumberland, and Lincoln, for and in consideration of the
sum of five hundred and sixty-four pounds, lawful money,
paid to us for the use of the said Commonwealth, by Jere-
miah Hill, of Biddeford, in the county of York, Esq., and his
associates hereafter named, pursuant to the contract made
with them some years since, the receipt whereof we do here-
by acknowledge, have given, granted, bargained, sold, and
conveyed, and by these presents do, in behalf of the said
Commonwealth, give, grant, bargain, sell, and convey to the
said Jeremiah Hill and his associates, viz. : Aaron Porter, of
said Biddeford, physician, Thomas Cutts and Nathaniel
Scammon, both of Pepperellboro', in said county of York,
esquires, Seth Storer, of said Pepperellboro', merchant, and
James Coffin, of said Pepperellboro', yeoman, Caleb Emery,
of Sanford, in said county of York, esquire, William Emery,


of said Sanford, and Nathaniel Merrill, of Fryeburg, in said
county of York, yeomen, a township, being a tract of land
lying in the county of York aforesaid, now called ' Porter-
field,' [so-called for the above-named Dr. Porter] as the same
was surveyed by Samuel Titcomb in the month of Novem-
ber, A.D. 1789, containing about eighteen thousand and six
hundred acres, including ponds, etc., lying between the riv-
ers Saco and Great Ossipee, in the county of York, bounded
as follows, viz. : beginning at a pitch pine tree, standing on the
line of New Hampshire and on the north side of said Ossipee
river, thence running on said line north eight degrees east, nine
miles one hundred and twenty rods to a beech tree standing at
the west corner of Brownfield, thence bounded by said Brown-
field, north seventy-eight degrees east, five hundred and fifty-
two rods to a pitch oine tree, thence south twenty-eight degrees
east, seven hundred and sixty rods to a hemlock tree standing
near the south-west side of a small stream called Shepard's
river, being the northei-ly corner of Timothy Cutler's land,
thence bounded by said Cutler's land, south sixty-two degrees
west, nine hundred and fifty rods, thence south twenty-eight
degrees east, two miles, thence north sixty-two degrees east,
nine hundred and fifty rods to said Brownfield line, thence
running on said Brownfield line south twenty-eight degrees
east, seventy rods to a pitch pine tree, thence south eighteen
degrees west, nine hundred and eighty rods to a poplar tree,
thence south seven degrees east, seven hundred rods to a maple
tree standing by the north side of said Ossipee river, thence
running up and by said Ossipee river until it intersects first-
mentioned bounds, excepting and I'eserving four lots of three
hundred and twenty acres each for public uses, viz. : one for
the first settled minister, one for the use of the ministry, one
for the use of schools, and one for the future appropriation of
the General Court, the said lots to average in goodness and
situation with the other lands in the said towaiship, and also



excepting and reserving for the disposition of government
one hundred acres of said land for each of the following set-
tlers who settled thereon before the first day of January a.d.
1784, laid out or to be laid out, so as best to include such
settlers' improvements and be least injurious to the adjoining
lands, viz. : John Libby, Meshach Libby, Stephen Libby,
and James Rankins. [The deed to these four settlers and
this to the proprietors were signed by the same committee.
The settlers' deed was dated June 16, 1792, and is now in
the possession of M. S. Moulton.] To have and to hold
the afore-granted premises to the said Jeremiah and his asso-
ciates as tenants in common, in the following proportions,
viz, : to the said Jeremiah Hill two fifteenth parts, to the
said Aaron Porter six fifteenth parts, to the said Thomas
Cutts one fifteenth part, to the said Nathaniel Scammon one
fifteenth part, to the said Seth Storer one fifteenth part, to
the said James Cofiin one fifteenth part, to the said Caleb
Emery one fifteenth part, to the said William Emery one
fifteenth part, to the said Nathaniel Merrill one fifteenth part.
To them and their several heirs and assigns respectively, in
the proportions aforesaid. And we the said Committee, in
behalf of the Commonwealth aforesaid, do covenant and agree
with the said Jeremiah Hill and his said associates, that the
said Commonwealth shall warrant and defend the afore-
granted premises, saving the exceptions and reservations
aforesaid, to them, their heirs and assigns forever, in the
proportions aforesaid, against the lawful claims and demands
of all persons.

In testimony whereof the said committee have hereunto
set their hands and seals this twenty-fourth day of Septem-
ber, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-
three. Nath'l Wells, [l.s.]

Signed, sealed, and delivered, T wn Ta-rvtsj Ft ci T

ill presence of us, ^^^^- ^^ARVIS, [L.b.J

Timothy Newell, John Read, [l.s.]

Thomas Walcut. 2


Suffolk, ss., Boston, Sept. 25, 1793.

Personally appeared Natli'l Wells, Leo. Jarvis, and John
Read, esquires, and acknowledged this instrument to be their
act and deed.

Before me, Samuel Cooper, Justice of the Peace.

A true copy, examined, and compared. Recorded March
27, 1799, Lib. 64, fol's, 60, 65."


A full and impartial history of the means by which Massa-
chusetts acquired title to these lands, would be read with
much interest by our townsmen, but the limits of this work
will only allow a brief statement of the most important inci-
dents connected therewith. I give the facts as stated by his-
torians of ability to separate the chaff from the wheat, and of
integrity to state the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Li 1620, James I, king of England, granted to the Coun-
cil of Plymouth, a company in the county of Devon, Eng-
land, all the territory, from ocean to ocean, lying between
the fortieth and forty-eighth degrees of north latitude, to be
known by the name of New England in America. This
grant included, of course, the whole territory within the lim-
its of Maine. In 1622 the Plymouth Company granted/to
Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason the territory
lying between the Merrimac and Kennebec rivers. In 1629
Gorges and Mason divided their possessions, Gorges taking
all east of the Piscataqua, and Mason, all west. In 1635 the
Plymouth Company divided their grant among the propri-
etors, and that portion lying between the Piscataqua and
Kennebec i-ivers was awarded to Gorges, who, amid his em-
barrassments occasioned by restless Frenchmen and encroach-
ing Puritans, sought from king Charles I, and received in
1639, a new charter confirming his former claims to the ter-
ritory between the Piscataqua and Kennebec rivers, and


extending one hundred and twenty miles inland. This terri-
tory was then for the first time called " The Province of
Maine." Prior to this time, Gorges called his grant New

As early as 1658 Massachusetts assumed jurisdiction over
a portion of this territory, and, at length, over the whole
State. She did not merely assume jurisdiction, but was pre-
pared to use a more effective weapon than the pen. In 1663
she sent her mandate to the people of Maine, requiring them
to give obedience to her laws. Soon after, she ordered here
a military force of cavalry and infantry. This force proceeded
to York, where a court established by Gorges was in session,
drove the judge and his assistants from the court-house, im-
prisoned the commander of the local militia, and threatened
the judge and all who favored the Gorges' interest. Minis-
ters of the gospel were seized and imprisoned for preaching
doctrines distasteful to the ruling powers of Massachusetts.
Other kindred acts need not here be stated.

Some plausible reason was to be found, or rather invented,
for such high-handed aggressions. The Massachusetts char-
ter estabhshed its northern boundary "three miles north of
the Merrimac." These words plainly mean that its northern
boundary was three miles beyond the river at its mouth.
This point was well known to the grantors and grantees, but
the region three miles beyond the head- waters of the Merri-
mac was a terra incognita — unknown alike to both the king
and council, and to the grantees. In fact, all, before this
time, were agreed in the interpretation here stated ; but after
Maine had been seized, in order to justify the wrong, a new
interpretation must be devised. They found that the river,
about thirty miles from its mouth, turns from its general di-
rection, and making nearly a right angle, stretches to the
north. So, tracing up the river to find its source among the
hills and mountains, and following the lessening stream until



vision keen can no longer discern a tiny ripple or sign of
moisture, they thread the wilderness three weary miles
further to the north, and there the goal of their search is at-
tained. Thence, a course due east is said to have been taken
until the shore of the Atlantic was reached. The northern
line of their grant is established, and a territory embracing
nearly all of new Hampshire, and a large and valuable por-
tion of Maine is, de facto and de jure^ theirs. So much
shrewdness can hardly be excelled at the present day by our
experts in sharp practices. Acquiescence on the part of the
Maine colonists could hardly have been expected. An appeal
was at once made to the crown. The king in council decided
in 1677 that the north line of the Massachusetts colony was
three miles from the north bank of the Merrimac at its
mouth, and that the province of Maine, both as to soil and
government, was the rightful property of the Gorges' heirs.

Thus baffled, Massachusetts was by no means disposed to
yield, even to the king. Forthwith, her agent hastened to
England, found a grandson of Ferdinand© Gorges, paid him
the vast sum of twelve hundred and fifty pounds for his in-
terest in his grandfather's American possessions (a sum but
little more than double that paid to Massachusetts by Hill
and his associates for the plantation of Porterfield), and so,
whatever the value of his inheritance, willing or unwilling to
make sale of it, he received his mess of pottage. The agent
having returned, possession under the spurious title was duly
proclaimed. On the accession to the throne of William and
Mary, who were known to be not unfriendlv to the Massa-
chusetts' colonists, a royal charter was applied for, and in
1691 granted. The colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts,
Maine, Sagadahoc, and Acadia were, by this charter, consol-
idated under one title, " The Province of Massachusetts
Bay." Former charters were utterly ignored, the doctrine
that might makes right, prevailed, and Maine, not Gorges'
grant alone, became an appendage to Massachusetts.



When Massachusetts attempted to subjugate Maine by
military force, she claimed no title to any part of it from
Gorges or his heirs. On the contrary, she imprisoned offi-
cers who had been appointed by Gorges, and threatened all
who favored his interest. How, then, could the contract
with the grandson, made more than twenty years after her
mihtary raid into Maine, in the least degree justify the
wrongs inflicted by her upon our people ? It seems, at this
late day, that the advantages to be derived from the charter
of William and Mary, leather than justification, solely governed
her action. If the charter was granted in consequence of
the purchase from Gorges' grandson, the twelve hundred
and fifty pounds swelled to millions of dollars. Be this as it
may, the gain to Massachusetts from the charter, and the
consequent loss to Maine, was several millions of dollars.

The following is an extract from the speech of Mr. Blaine,
made in the U. S. Senate, session of 1877-78 :

" Mr. Dawes calls Maine the daughter of Massachusetts.
Let us for a moment examine her authority to claim such a
parentage. She had early and gradually extended her moth-
erly jurisdiction over the northern part of Maine, against the
wishes and protest of the inhabitants, especially those east of
Saco, who were Episcopalians. It is immaterial whether they
' came seeking commercial advantage or to worship God,' so
long as we know they did worship him on every returning
Sabbath day in the beautiful liturgy of the English church,
read in the chapel at Richmond's Island, in 1635, first by Rev.
Richard Gibson, a graduate of Cambridge, England, and after
him, by Rev. Robert Jordan, whose baptismal font of bell-metal
has been preserved by his descendants to the present time.
There the boats flocked from all the region round, ' like
doves to their windows.' These good men were forbidden
by Massachusetts to exercise their ministerial functions, and
were imprisoned for so doing. The jurisdiction of Massa-


chusetts was annulled by the king in 1676. Then she sent
her agent, John Usher, to England, to negotiate with the
grandson of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who was dead, for the
purchase of his right to the soil, which was accomplished, in
1677, for twelve hundred and fifty pounds. Yet the English
government denied the right of the purchaser to govern the
district, and not until 1691 did the Massachusetts Colony
finally throttle the Episcopalians of the territory of what is
now Cumbei'land county, which was settled at the same time
as Boston. Then she swallowed Maine and Nova Scotia at
one gulp, and her governor fitted out an expedition to take
Quebec for an outpost, but the elements were against him.
Our District of Maine remained unassimilated in the capa-
cious maw, a century and a quarter, yet I think the so-called
mother is entitled to some credit for her saying to us, go in
peace, which was her only motherly act. Can the old Bay
State claim parentage with propriety when we are as old as
herself, and came under her guardianship by our own weak-
ness and the cupidity of the heir of the good Sir Ferdinando
Gorges ? "


The first discovery of the coast of Maine, says the Hon.
William Willis, was made by the Northmen as early as the
year 990. In 1498, 1524, 1526, 1527, and 1556, the coast
was visited or seen by various adventurers from Europe.
The first attempt at settlement was made as early as 1604 by
the French, but was abandoned the next year. Other un-
successful attempts followed.

The time of the first permanent settlement is not with
certainty known. The same historian states that Gorges
and Mason in 1623 planted a colony at the mouth of the Pis-
cataqua, in the present town of Kittery, which was the first
occupation of the mainland in Maine. Ex-governor Cham-



berlain, in his centennial address, considers 1607 and 1608 as
the time, and the region of the Sagadahoc, as the place, when
and where the permanent settlement of Maine began.

In 1030 the Piscataqua settlement, it is said, contained a
population of 200, Agamenticus (York) 150, Saco 175, and
all the territory between the Piscataqua and Penobscot, 1500
white people. The first' court established in Maine was at
Saco in 1636, and there was a general court at the same
place in 1640. In 1641 Gorges organized a capital at Aga-
menticus, naming it Georglanna, the first chartered city in

Of the distinguished men of our country in the early period
of its history, Maine furnished, as natives or settlers upon her
soil, her full quota. Among these were Sir William Phipps,
the first governor of Massachusetts, born at Woolwich, Maine,
in 1651 ; James Sullivan, another governor of Massachusetts,
distinguished as a jurist as well as a statesman, born at Ber-
wick in 1744 : Gen. John Sullivan, of revolutionary fam'e,
and member of the first Continental Congress ; Gen. Henry
Knox, a favorite of Washington, and his first Secretary of
War ; Gen. Henry Dearborn, Jefferson's first Secretary of
War; Rufus King, a statesman and diplomatist; Gen. Jed-
ediah, and Commodore Edward Preble ; Commodore Tuck-
er ; Gen. Peleg Wadsworth ; and George Thatcher, the
judge and statesman.


The State lies between 42° 57' and 47° 30' north latitude,
and between 5° 45' and 10° 10' east longitude from Wash-
ington. Its area is 32,000 square miles, or 20,480,000 acres.
Its greatest length from the mouth of the Piscataqua to its
most northern point is 320 miles. Its greatest width from
the Atlantic to Canada line is 160 miles ; and a straight line
from the mouth of the Piscataqua to Quoddy Head is 250


The annual average temperature at Portland for 32 years
(from 1825 to 1857) was 43° 23'. The highest point at-
tained was 100° 6'; the lowest, Jan 24, 1857^ 25° below zero.
At Northfield, Vt,, the mercury fell to 40° below ; at Au-
gusta, 42° below ; at Dartmouth College, 30° below ; and at
Bangor 44° below.


According to meteorological records kept at Porter, Me.,
and at Xenia, Clay Co., Ill, the average height of the mer-
cury at sunrise, as indicated by the thermometer, was

At Porter. At Xenia. At Porter. At Xenia.

For January. . .19° 42' and 32° 27' For July 57° 44' and 70° 58'

" February.. 14° 47' " 30° 6' " August. . ..51° 56' " 68° 19'

«' March 22° 8' " 3.5° 13' " Septem'r. .50° 29' " 59° 6'

" April 26° 18' " 38° 36' " October. . .36° 1 7' " 46° 58'

" May 41° .54' " 56° 31' " November. 2-5° 40' " 38° 20'

" June 53° 5C' " 66° 56' " December. 13° 21' " 31° 48'

The average for the year at Porter was 34° 30', at Xenia
47° 56'.


THE YEAR 1870.

Counties. When Incorporated. Valuation. Population.

Androscoggin 1854 $17,592,-555 35,866

Aroostook 18-39 4,992.285 29,609

Cumberland 1760 48,942,323 82,021

Franklin 1838 5,791,659'. 18,807

Hancock 1789 7,5.54,073 -36,495

Kennebec 1799 21,004,034 53,203

Knox 1860 10,507,542 30,823

Lincoln 1760 6,857,610 25,-597

Oxford 1805 9,894,166 33,488

Penobscot 1816 22,697,948 75,150

Piscataquis 1838 4,857,280 14,403

Sagadahoc 18-54 11,041,340 18,803

Somerset 1809 10,990,609 34,611

Waldo 1827 10,090,581 34,522

Washington 1789 9,.566,0.38 43,-343

York * 22,442,875 60,174

Total $224,822,918 626,915

*The first court within the limits of Maine was established by Gorges
at Saco in 1636. He also established a General Court there in 1640. A
Court of Common Pleas in 1659, and a Supreme Court in 1699 were
granted by Massachusetts to the county.



Valuation of the United States in 1870, 130,068,518,507.

As this total of .$224,822,918 does not include property
exempt hy law from taxation, and as the assessors of no town
knowingly render to the State for taxation a valuation ex-
cessively high, the aggregate wealth of the State was many
millions more than these figures indicate.


1790 1800 1810 1820 1830

Maine 95,540... 151,719... 228,705... 298.835... 399,455

United States. .3,929,827. . .5,305,937. . .7,239,814. . .9,6.38,191. . .12,866,020

1840 1850 1860 1870

Maine 501,793.. 583,169.. 628,279.. 626,915

United States 17,069,453. .23,191,876. .31,367,080. .38,925,598

According to Behm and Wagner's statistics, the total pop-
ulation of the earth is 1,439,145,300, Europe 312,398,500,
Asia 831,000,000, Africa 205, 219,500, Australasia and Poly-
nesia 4,411,300, and America 86,116,000.

The plantation of Porterfield, as bought by Hill and his
associates, is sufficiently described in the committee's deed to
them ; but the plantation as incorporated in 1802 included,
in addition, Cutler's grant of 3,800 acres. After the convey-
ance to Hill and his associate proprietors, John Wingate was
appointed by them surveyor of the tract ; and when his sur-
veys and ])lan of the same had been completed (each lot be-
ing marked on the plan with the name of its owner), they
formally agreed that this plan "■ should govern them in all
respects, and should be used in evidence in all cases respect-
ing any part of the premises." Three well executed copies
of this plan are owned in town, one by the town.

In that part of Porterfield embraced within the limits of
Porter as incorporated, the first settlement was made by
Meshach Libby, from Pittsfield, N. H., in 1781. In a short
time he was followed by his father, John Libby, and his
brother Stephen, also from Pittsfield. Michael Floyd came



next. These were the only settlers until 1787, when Ben-
jamin Bickford, Benjamin Bickford, jr., and Samuel Bick-
ford, from Rochester, N. H., and Benjamin Ellenwood, from
Groton, Mass., were added to their number. Mr. Ellenwood
resided here about ten years, and then left with his family.
In about 1791 David Allord, Job Allord, Joseph Clark, and

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Online LibraryThomas MoultonPorter, as a portion of Maine: its settlement, etc. (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 6)