Location, Location, Location-Part III

This Land BELONGS to You and Me


Wild blueberry field at Welch Blueberry Farm. https://perkblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/maine_2012_welchblueberryfarm14.jpg. Accessed February 11, 2017.

In the late summer and fall of 1718, the newly arrived Ulster Scots worked hard to settle in before winter snow blanketed Brunswick and Topsham. Mothers and daughters gathered medicinal herbs in the alder swamp between the fort and Maquoit. On the plains, children picked whatever fruits the Natives had left behind on the blueberry plains, and carried home burnt or half-rotted beech limbs for hearth fires. Fathers and sons built cabins from boards sailed up Merrymeeting Bay aboard the sloop Pejepscot.

Perhaps their food stores were supplemented by barter with the Native people, who grew corn on the charred plains and trapped wild animals, or from Boston supplies stowed by the Proprietors in their newly built storehouse at Maquoit. The new arrivals must have hunted deer, game birds, and rabbits by gun, bow, and snares. They must also have fished the plentiful rivers and streams. Perhaps in January or February, some laboriously cut a hole in the ice near the Androscoggin’s shore to gain access to the fish below. Imported rum might have made the task more pleasant.

For the next four years, these Ulster Scot immigrants joined with the English soldiers and Proprietors to build a new community among the Native people of mid-coast Maine. The Proprietors built sawmills at Bunganuck in Brunswick and on Cathance stream in Topsham, for, though there were only small copses of pines on the plains, there were still forests of old growth trees nearby.

Immigrant Andrew Dunning set up his blacksmith shop not far from the fort, supplying his neighbors with strap hinges for doors and shutters; hearth hooks, fire pokers, and cooking kettles; gun fittings and animal traps. Later, when the settlers could afford horses for farm work and transportation, Dunning would hammer out horseshoes, harness rings, and wagon wheels, building the new town as well as his own wealth. Two of Andrew and Susan’s sons joined Capt. Gyles and Sgt. Eaton, soldiering at Fort George.


Maquoit Blockhouse, Brunswick, Maine. Adapted from Southicke map by Barbara A. Desmarais, Feb. 2017.

Newly hired Ulster Scot minister, Rev. James Woodside, settled four miles down the road at Maquoit, where he and his adult son, William, built a house and a trading post, and herded their cattle. William signed on at the fort. Perhaps at his advice, they added two bastions and palisades to their home, transforming it into a blockhouse to protect their family and neighbors against invaders.

Even as more Ulster Scots settled the mid-coast, English settlers returned here from their wartime exile in Massachusetts, many from Cape Cod. They created their own enclave, opting for land away from the Ulster Scots, across the river in Topsham or along the New Meadows River in Brunswick.


Irish spinner and spinning wheel. County Galway, Ireland. Between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. Library of Congress.

Come spring, the English and “Irish” alike cleared and plowed their fields as soon as they could, planting hardy wheat and rye for flour, Indian corn for meal, perhaps flax to spin into thread and yarn for clothing, and hemp for rope.

The English, who considered themselves “natives” after having lived in the New World for several generations, remarked that the immigrants worked very hard for the necessities of life and .dressed simply. The English found it curious that these people never fully opened their doors to visitors without peeking through a seam in a shutter or the narrow opening of cracked door, and identifying the visitor.

Soon the English “natives” learned the wisdom of the Ulster Scots’ cautious behavior.

Next Blog: Beyond the Grave: A Jury of Her Peers 

To be followed by: Love Well, Love War



About Barbara Desmarais

Writer and amateur historian
This entry was posted in Brunswick History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Location, Location, Location-Part III

  1. Julie A. Potter-Dunlop says:

    Another fabulous blog, Barb! Informative, factual, and reminiscent of our shared Ulster Scots ancestors’ lifeworlds during the American Colonial Era.

    Thank you,
    Cousin Julie

    • I’m glad you liked it, Cousin Julie. Now if only I could post it to my Facebook page…

      • Hi Barbara, once again you bring the past to life! Andrew Dunning was my 7th Great Grandfather; how cool to think back with your insight,and see how he lived! Thank you 🙂 I think we must have some relatives in common;we’ll have to compare notes.Love your map,too ,showing the block house on Maquoit,pretty close to where I grew up… As far as your posting on facebook,have you tried the “notes” section on your facebook page? That is how I was able to post some articles before.You may have to change the format to PDF. Good Luck!

      • Great to hear from Andrew Dunning’s 7th great-grandson! The maps are a must as far as I’m concerned. They take a while to produce, but they really tell the tale, don’t they? Re: Facebook – thank you for the input on “notes.” I think my real issue is a very old laptop that needs more RAM. Hoping to do that soon so I can post the link each time I publish a blog.

  2. Deb Gould says:

    So they learned why the Ulster Scots practiced caution? What an ominous last sentence..now I’ve got to hold my breath until the next installment?

  3. Well, my plan was to have you hold your breath until the 2nd next blog. Too cruel?

  4. Rebecca Graham says:

    Which English consider themselves “Native”? Are you referring to the Royalist English who settled Maine before Cromwell’s protectorate shifted the balance of power in London to the Puritan English who later pursued the legal stealing of royalist land claims through proprietorships? The Puritans would claim ownership through defeat but the earlier English settlers would hardly consider themselves native. The Puritans rarely entered Maine, preferring to rule it from away, and send sympathetic soldiers to do their bidding.
    Maine was always a mixture of peoples from the early Anglo-Irish Governors and the Dutch, German, English and French Trading posts along the Penobscot and Kennebec, to the Irish, Spanish, and Norse, fishing stations from whom Columbus learned of the ability to sail west and find land…

    • Rebecca, this blog represents my own research and my personal interpretation of same. It’s my attempt to provide context for the lives of my own ancestors who were among the earliest English settlers and also among the Native Americans and their French allies. I sometimes call the indigenous people “Native” with a capital N and the English “native” with a lowercase n. My point is that the English, whether Royalist or Puritan, considered this THEIR land, and considered themselves superior to the Native Americans. By 1718, some English families had been here for almost a century, so there were those who were born in the New England colonies and considered themselves “natives” or “locals.”

  5. Rebecca Graham says:

    Well, they certainly considered themselves superior to the indigenous on day one, but the Royalist and Puritans did not see eye-to-eye on ownership of land or Indigenous interaction, which is why the proprietor disputes in Maine lasted until after the Revolution. The distinction between the two is very important particularly when looking that the settling of Scots-Irish. The Royalist English were not only familiar with their character, they didn’t care about the nature of their religion, and knew they could be counted on to be industrious. The Puritans did not want the Scots-Irish in Boston at all and established laws to keep them out.

    An excellent source for land use and ownership views is “Changes in the Land, Indians, Colonist and the Ecology of New England”, by William Cronon. It includes case disputes amongst the earlier groups. The earlier Royalist English were a far more tolerant and capital oriented group. Their industrious improvements and open view to who could settled here annoyed Boston Puritans intensely, and hardened their campaign against those land claims when the protectorate under Cromwell gave them the power to do so.

    • Thank you, Rebecca. The Ulster Scots who settled Brunswick did, indeed, land in Boston first, were warned out, and made their way to Brunswick. We’ll see more about Puritans vs. Presbyterians in Brunswick in Love Well, Love War.

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