William Riley French.

A history of Turner, Maine, from its settlement to 1886 online

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Online LibraryWilliam Riley FrenchA history of Turner, Maine, from its settlement to 1886 → online text (page 1 of 20)
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By REV. ^W. R. I^REIvTCH, D- T).





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Plan of Turner frontispiece

The First Meeting-house 35

House where Hon . Eugene Hale was born . . .83

Portrait of Hon. Eugene Hale 85

Mr. Keene's Chair Factory and Hotel . . . . 91

Mrs. Irish's Hotel . . . 1G9



The " Propriety " 1

Names of the Proprietors 5

Mills Built 22

Settlers in 1779 30

Meeting-house Built 35

Rev. John Strickland Settled 38

Town Incorporated 40

Family Sketches 41

Location of the Early Settlers 66

Turner Village 74

Turner Center 83

North Turner 88

Keen's Mills 91

Chase's Mills 93

North Turner 95

North Turner Bridge 98

Surface, Soil, and Products 100

North Turner Cheese Factory 103

Turner Center Dairying Association 103

Post-offices and Mail Routes 105

Congregational Parish 110

The Baptist Society 118

The Universalist Parish . • 125

The Methodist Church 137

Meeting-houses 138

Ministerial and School Funds 140

Marriages Solemnized by Rev. John Strickland . . 159

Marriages Solemnized by Ichabod Bonney, Esq. . . 163







The First Organ

Turner Grange, No. 23, Patrons of Husbandry
Masonic Organizations ....
Odd Fellows . . . . ' .
Temperance Organizations .


War Record. Soldiers in the Revolution

War of 1812

The Aroostook War ....
War of the Rebellion


The Centennial Celebration .

The Procession

Address of Welcome. Dr. J. T. Cushing
Centennial Poem. Mrs Caroline W. D. Rich
Hon. Washington Gilbert's Address
Judge Wilson's Address
Hon. E. B. Washburn's Address .
Speech of Ex-Governor Merrill of Iowa

" " Clarence Hale, Esq.

" " Col. F. M. Drew

" " Dr. Kendall Newhall .

" " Orin Bearce, Esq., of Missouri

" " Solon Chase, Esq. .

" " Daniel Lara, Esq.

" " Hon. Rufus Prince .
The Great Stone Mortar

































This work was undertaken by the urgent solicitation of others,
knowing something of the difficulties that must be encountered,
and of the tax upon the time and strength which were all needed
for other labors. But it seemed desirable that the history of the
town should be written, as the celebration of its Centennial would
awaken a special interest in it; and as no other came to mind
who could conveniently attend to it, the work was reluctantly
undertaken. Dr. Timothy Howe wrote a history of the town,
which he left in manuscript; this has furnished much valuable
information which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to gain
now. The writer of this has been largely indebted to him, and
wishes to make suitable acknowledgments. The records of the
Proprietors of the Township have been carefully consulted, as
also the Kecords of the Town from the date of its incorporation,
and the Records and Papers in the State House, Boston. Items
of information have been gleaned from histories of towns, and
other publications; and several elderly people have contributed
from the stores of memory, items of interest which have added


value to these pages. Some facts have been learned by corres-
pondence with people in other towns, and no available source of
information known to the author has been neglected, in hope of
thus making the history as complete and reliable as possible.
An effort has been made to condense the history into the compass
of a small volume, which could be furnished at a moderate cost;
and no illustrations have been employed except the plan of the
town and such as have been furnished by interested parties, since,
though adding to the interest, they would add much to the ex-
pense. Great changes have been wrought since our fathers made
for themselves homes in the wilderness, where we now dwell in
the midst of comforts which were denied to them; and instruction
and benefit may be gained by looking upon them, and noting
their manner of life in those early times. The burden of labor
in compiling this history has been lightened by the pleasure found
in the more intimate acquaintance with the life, customs, and
fortunes of the early settlers; and the reward of effort will consist
largely in adding to the enjoyment, pleasure, and information of
the reader.

w. R. F.



The town of Turner lies on the left bank of
the Androscoggin River, in about 44° 15' north
latitude. It is bounded, southerly, by the city of
Auburn and the town of Minot, five and a half
miles ; westerly, by Hebron, Buckfield, and Hart-
ford, ten miles and one hundred and eighty rods;
northerly, by Livermore, three miles and two
hundred and fifty rods; and easterly, by the Andro-
scoggin River. Leeds and Greene are adjoining
towns on the right bank of the river. It originally
constituted a part of Cumberland County, was
afterward embraced in Oxford County, but, in 1842,
became a part of Androscoggin County, which '
was at that time created out of several adjoining

The township was originally granted to the heirs
and assigns of Captain Joseph Sylvester and his
company, for military services, rendered in the
invasion of Canada, under Sir William Phipps, in
1690. Mr. Dean, in his history of Scituate, gives
this account of the Sylvester family : " Richard


Sylvester, the father of Captain Joseph, lived in
Weymouth in 1633, where he acquired an unfortu-
nate notoriety by espousing certain religious opin-
ions too liberal for the age in which he lived.
Mr. Robert Lenthal, his minister at Weymouth,
advanced the sentiment, " that all baptized persons
should be admitted to the communion without
further trial." {Magnolia, /., 222.) This was a
heresy, to be noticed by Government, and he was
ordered to retract in presence of the General Court,
with which order he complied. But Richard Syl-
vester, who held the same sentiments, still adhered
to his own opinion, and, in consequence of so doing,
was fined and disfranchised by the Government.
This put him upon removing from the colony, and
-he came to Scituate in 1642. Joseph, who was his
third son, settled also in Scituate, and had a farm
on Church Hill in 1664."

Joseph Sylvester, of Cumberland County, Maine,
married Lucy Wade in 1788. He lived at a place
called Front's Gore.

Joseph commanded a company under the famous
Colonel Church, in his eastern expedition against
the Indians in 1689. The next year he raised a
company, sixteen of which belonged to Scituate,
and many of whom never returned, and joined in
the enterprise undertaken by Sir William Phipps,
against the French possessions of Port Royal and


Quebec. In this campaign, Israel Chittenden was
his lieutenant, and John Stetson, ensign. This
enterprise proved disastrous and fatal to the brave
Captain Sylvester, and many of his men. The his-
torian, before quoted, says of them : " Many nun-
cupative wills were entered, and proved in the Pro-
bate Court Plymouth County, and that among the
number was that of Captain Sylvester himself.
This will was proved by the testimony of three of
his soldiers, Benjamin Stetson, John Perry, and
William Perry, and reads thus : ' I give all my land
at Hugh's Cross to my son Joseph ; the three
younger sons to be provided for by their mother,
out of my other property. Wife Mary to be exec-
utrix.' " The records show also that Timothy
Roggers was appointed to administer on the estate
of Nathaniel Parker, who joined the Canada expe-
dition of 1690.

The widow, Mary, was appointed administratrix
on the estate of her husband. Ensign John Stetson.
Eliab Turner was appointed administrator on the
estate of his brother, Lazarus Turner, who died in
the same service.

Moses Simmons, in his will, says : " Being bound
to Canada as a soldier, in 1690, in case he shall
never return," orders his property to be equally
divided between his brothers ; his brother John to
be executor. He did not return, and his will was
puly executed.


Samuel Bryant fell in the same expedition, and
an inventory of his property was taken by William
Perry and Samuel Stetson.

Samuel Dwelly died also in this expedition, and
an inventory of his property was taken by Jere-
miah Hatch and Thomas Hyland. His father was
administrator. Robert Sprout was another that
did not return. These few names are rescued
from oblivion.

Mindful of this service, the General Court of
Massachusetts granted a township of land to the
heirs and assigns of Captain Sylvester and his
company, situate, as supposed, in the Province of
Maine; but, on running the line between Maine
and New Hampshire, the township was found to be
in the latter State. A petition was then presented
by the parties interested, to the General Court for
another township, on which action was taken as
follows : —

Province of Massachusetts Bay,

In the House of Representatives,

June 25, 1765.
On the petition of James Warren and Josepli Joslyn Esqrs.
and Mr. Charles Turner, Agents for the proprietors of a Town-
ship granted to Capt. Joseph Sylvester and Company who
served in the expedition against Canada in 1690, which town-
ship was known by the name of Sylvester-Canada, and that
the whole of said Township on running the line between this
Province and New Hampshire, fell with the government of New



Resolved, that in lieu thereof there be granted to the Petition-
ers & the Legal Representatives or assigns of the said Joseph
Sylvester and Company a Township of the Contents of seven
miles square in the unappropriated Lands belonging to this
Province. Provided that the Grantees within six years settle
Thirty Families in said Town, build a house for publick worship,
and settle a learned Protestant Minister, and lay out one sixty-
fourth part of said town for the use of the first settled Minister,
and one other sixty-fourth part for the Ministry, and one other
sixty-fourth part for a Grammar School, and one sixty-fourth
part for the use of Harvard College.

Provided, also the said Township be laid out in such a part
of the unappropriated lands belonging to this Province adjoin-
ing to some former Grants to the eastward of Saco River, and
that they return a Plan thereof into the Secretary's office within
twelve months from this day, for confirmation.

In Council, June 25th, 1765. Read and Concurred. * Con-
sented to by the Governor.

True Copy from the Records of the General Court. Vol. 20,
Page 71.

Attest. John Avery Jun., Secretary.

The number of the original proprietors was sixty,
and the names were as follows : —

Joseph Atkinson,
Samuel Bryant,
Robert Buck,
Nathaniel Bartlett,
John Delano,
Samuel Dwelly,
Samuel Doughty,
William Eaton,
John Field,

Eleazar Jackson,
John Joyce,
Cornelius Jones,
John Kent,
Joseph Knap,
John Kingman,
John Lambert,
Arthor Low,
Mark Lothrop,

Edward Smith,
Thomas Snell,
Thomas Soper,
John Silvester,
Benjamin Sutten,
Joseph Studley,
Mathew Stetson,
Samuel Sprague,
Joseph Shelley,


Benjamin Gannett,
Paul Guilford,
James Glass,
Joseph Goold,
Samuel Hunt,
James Howard,
Thomas Hiland,
Isaac Hanmer,
James Harris,
Nathaniel Harlow,
Nathaniel Holmes,

Gershom Marble,
Thomas Morton,
Samuel Pittifer,
Joseph Prior,
Robert Pheney,
Nathaniel Parker,
Elnathan Palmer,
Peter Roach,
John Reccords,
Capt. Jos. Silvester,
Edward Standley,

James Snow,
Moses Simmons,
John Stetson,
Stephen Totman,
Lazarus Turner,
Thomas Wild,
Jabez Warren,
Return Waite,
Ebenezar White,
Benony Wolly,
John Wetherel.

The proprietors selected and located the town-
ship granted them by the General Court, and
returned a plan thereof, as required. The town-
ship, as located, was confirmed to them by the fol-
lowing act: —

Province of Massachusetts Bat,
In the House of Representatives,

June 2oth, 1768.
Resolved, that the within plan of a Township of the contents of
Seven miles square, granted to James Warren Esqr. and others,
Agents for the Proprietors of a Township called Sylvester
Canada, formerly granted to Capt. Joseph Sylvester and Com-
pany, which Township, by the late running the line between
this Province and the Province of New Hampshire, fell within
the bounds of the Government of New Hampshire, to them and
their legal Representatives and Assigns, and by them laid out
on the west side of Androscoggin River, bounded as follows. Viz
— Beginning at a place in Androscoggin River called crooked
Repels, six miles (as the River runs) above Androscoggin great
falls, which is the easterly corner of Bakerstown so called,
from thence running North Sixty Degrees West, in the North-


easterly line of said Bakerstown, five miles and a half, to the
northerly corner thereof, then running North twenty-six Degrees
East by Province Land Ten miles and i8o rods to a stake
with stones about it, then running by Province land South
Sixty Degrees east Three miles and 250 rods to a heap of
Stones by said River, thence running Southerly by said River
to the bounds first mentioned, be accepted and hereby is
confirmed to the said Petitioners and the legal Representatives
of the said Joseph Sylvester and company, their heirs and
Assigns forever, they complying with the following condi-
tions, Viz — The grantees within six years settle thirty families
in said Town, build a house fit for public worship, and settle
a learned protestant minister, and lay out one sixty-fourth part
of said Town for the use of the first Settled minister, and one
sixty-fourth part for the Ministry, and one sixty-fourth part for
a grammar School in said Town, and one Sixty-fourth part for
the use of Harvard College, in Cambridge. Provided the same
doth not exceed the quantity of Seven miles square, (exclusive
of three thousand and two hundred Acres allowance for Ponds
therein contained) nor interfere with any former grant.

In Council, June 20th 1768. Read and Concurred.

Consented to by the Governor upon condition that there
shall be Eighty-one families according to the engagement here-
with written. The engagement is as follows : I do in behalf of
the Proprietors of this Township engage that there shall be
eighty-one settlers, being the proportion of Settlers agreeable to
the size of this Township.

Signed^ James Warren.

A true extract from the Records of the General Court. Vol.
21, Page 360-61.

Attest : — John Avery Jun., Secretary.

Having secured their township of land and
located it, the proprietors now proceeded to lay out


lots, and to induce the required number of families
to settle on their lands. In July, 1768, they called
a meeting of the proprietors, to be held at Mrs.
Ruth Turner's, innholder, in Hanover, on the 20th
day of October, following. At this meeting, Hon.
John Gushing was chosen moderator; Charles Tur-
ner, proprietors' treasurer, and William Turner,
clerk. It was voted " that each proprietor pay the
sum of twenty shillings on each share to the treas-
urer, on or before the third Tuesday in May, 1769,
for discharging the debts that are or may be due
from the propriety." It was also voted that Colo-
nel James Warren, Charles Turner, and David
Little, Jun,, be a standing committee, to transact
the affairs of the propriety, settle accounts, adjust
the debts that are or may be due from the propriety,
and order payment of the same, and, agreeable to
law, make sale of those proprietors' lands who are
delinquent in paying their taxes ; to determine the
number, quality, and situation of the settling lots,
and about convenient roads ; and procure a plan of
the same, to be lodged with the clerk as soon as
may be." Roads were to be made, and proper
inducements offered to settlers, else they would not
leave comfortable homes to locate in a wilderness,
where they would suffer many deprivations without
compensating advantages. New Gloucester had
already been settled, and its people were enjoy-


ing the comforts of life. But there was no road
through Bakerstown, now Auburn, in which there
was a river to cross before reaching Sylvester-Can-
ada, and the proprietors found it difficult to induce
men to purchase the farms which they had to offer,
or even to accept them without price. The com-
mittee were, doubtless, active and energetic, yet
little seems to have been accomplished for a con-
siderable time. Meetings of the proprietors were
called, and adjourned, without doing any important
business, for the reason, doubtless, that it was diffi-
cult to tell what it was best to do. At a meeting
held in Pembroke, January 2, 1770, it was voted to
raise a tax of thirty shillings on a share, to be paid
to the treasurer, on or before the first day of Feb-
ruary ensuing. In the summer of 1870 something
was done toward making the necessary roads, it
seems ; for, in August of that year, it was voted
that "Major Joseph Josleyn, David Little, Jun., and
Charles Turner be a committee to employ some
suitable person or persons to repair very soon to
the township and continue the road begun by Aaron
Hinkley, Esq., to the limits of the township to
Bakerstown, and, likewise, mark out a road from
thence through Bakerstown."

Meantime the proprietors were troubled by tres-
passers coming up the Androscoggin River, in the
winter time, and cutting valuable pine trees, which


grew in abundance near the banks, and running
them down the river in the spring. Hence, at a
meeting held in Pembroke, October 23, 1770,
"Hon. John Gushing, Esq., and Charles Turner
were chosen a committee to prosecute all trespass-
ers on said township." But the trespassers were
bold and persistent ; they even cut hay on the
meadows, and stacked it for the use of their teams
in the winter. The proprietors, being equally per-
sistent, chose a committee to burn their stacks of
hay, and continue the prosecutions. At the meet-
ing mentioned above, Hon. John Gushing and
Charles Turner were chosen a committee " to
employ some suitable person or persons to clear out
the road laid out from the meeting-house lot, in
said township, to the line of said township, adjoin-
ing Bakerstown." This must be the road now
known as the Upper Street, leading by Mr. Bar-
ren's, over Dillingham Hill, in Auburn, and
through the village of North Auburn.

The first tier of lots was laid out upon the
Androscoggin River, beginning at the Auburn line,
and extending northerly, making twenty lots in
number. A second and third tier of lots, each con-
taining the same number as the first, and lying side
by side, were soon laid out, and a site selected for a
meeting-house. It was at the line between lots
numbered thirty-four and thirty-five, on the ledgy


hill just north of Mr. G. W. Blossom's present resi-
dence. The proprietors, it seems, expected settlers
would purchase lots, and make themselves homes in
the wilderness, when roads were opened for their
convenience. But in this they were disappointed. No
one was disposed to locate in the township, and
subject himself to the inconvenience and hardship
of pioneer life, and expose himself to peril by living
in the vicinity of Indian tribes, who might, at any
time, become hostile. The relations also between
the colonies and the mother country were becoming
unfriendly, and Dr. Howe well says : " The storm of
civil warfare was seen to be gathering over the
country, and, in case of that event, the situation of
frontier settlers in the backwoods, where they must
be exposed to the invasions of wandering bands of V
hostile savages, was not at all inviting." The act
granting the proprietors a township of land was
passed in 1 768, on condition that thirty families were
settled therein within six years, a meeting-house
built, and a learned Protestant minister settled. A
considerable portion of this time was already passed,
and none of the above conditions had been complied
with ; and it does not appear that there were any
grounds for hope that the conditions would be com-
plied with in seasonable time, unless greater induce-
ments were held out to attract settlers to their lands.
Wherefore, in January, 1771, at an adjourned meet-
ing, at Hanover, the following vote was passed : —

'|« I
M« 1



Whereas said Township remains unsettled, although there is a
number of Lots laid out, and a Plan thereof returned to the Pro-
prietor's Clerk, and whereas the time limited by the General
Court for settling said Township is far elapsed ; and the Proprie-
tors apprehending that by granting away to settlers some of the
Lots laid out, to such persons as will perform the conditions
ordered by the said court, the settling of said Township would
be expedited :

Wherefore the said Proprietors agree to grant to any person
that inclines to go and settle said land, one of said Lots, already
laid out and marked on said Plan, being about 125 acres, and
so to every person that inclines to go, not exceeding the num-
ber of 30, and that they shall choose their own Lots, any where
in the three first tier of Lots on Androscoggin (or the great)
river, taking one, or another, that is marked on said Plan, and
make return to said Clerk, of the Lot so chosen, within six months
from this time, and the Proprietors will confirm the same to each
of said Settlers, they giving security to Mr. Charles Turner
their Treasurer, for performing the conditions mentioned in the
grant of said Township, as to clearing of land, and building a
house : and further, if any of those 30 Settlers choose a lot
that has no meadow in it, such settler shall have privilege to
cut hay on any Proprietor's land, during the first five years, the
50th and 51st lots excepted, one for the Minister, the other
for the Ministry, which are not to be included in the above 30

And that Col. James Warren Esq, Joseph Josleyn Esq, Aaron
Hinkley Esqr, Mr. Charles Turner and Mr. David Little Jun,
be a committee to procure settlers upon the terms aforesaid,
and forward the settlement of said Township.

The gift of a lot, at the choice of the settler,
together with certain other privileges, was supposed,
no doubt, to be a sufHcient inducement to incline


men to accept the gift ; but in this the proprietors
were disappointed. Their meeting for business was
adjourned from time to time, hoping, doubtless, that
their committee would be successful in procuring
settlers in the spring. There was, indeed, much to
arouse effort to procure settlers, since the time
allowed them for this purpose was fast slipping away,
and, unless they should succeed in their efforts soon,
they must suffer a considerable pecuniary loss. In
August of 187 1, at an adjourned meeting, the fol-
lowing vote was passed : —

That Mr. Peleg Wadsworth be employed to go to the Township
and lay out two other tier of Lots, in addition to the three
already laid out, and Road lengthwise between them of four rods
wide, and that any person inclining to settle there, on the terms
proposed by vote of the Proprietors at their meeting the 8th
day of January last, have liberty to choose one Lot not already
taken up, any where in said 5 tiers, excepting the two Lots men-
tioned in said Vote ; and likewise 8 other Lots containing the
largest quantity of Meadow, and most suitable for Mills, to be
pitched upon, and the numbers returned by Mr. Wadsworth to
the Clerk as soon as may be ; and whereas the time for taking
up Lots and making return to the Clerk mentioned in said Vote
is elapsed, that the time be prolonged to the first day of May
next: The Proprietors reserving roads oi 2}i rods wide between
any two Lots, where it may be convenient.

Fo^ed to give a bounty of Six Pounds to each settler, that shall
take a Lot and build a house, and clear 5 acres of land, agree-
able to the grant to the Proprietors, by the first day of Novem-
ber, 1772.


Voted to appoint a person to go down the latter part of Sum-

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Online LibraryWilliam Riley FrenchA history of Turner, Maine, from its settlement to 1886 → online text (page 1 of 20)