Love Well, Love War: Part 2: Love to War

Norridgewock 1754 antd

A Plan of Kennebek & Sagadahok Rivers. 1754.

The English continued their unrelenting northward colonization in Maine, invading Wabanaki territory along the Kennebec and Androscoggin River valleys with settlements and forts. They viewed the French mission in Norridgewock as their main impediment to expansion. The Wabanaki, naturally, were angered by the unrelenting English invasion of their land.

The English suspected that Catholic missionary Sébastien Rale of Norridgewock was encouraging the Wabanaki to attack English settlements. In January 1722, Massachusett’s Gov. Shute dispatched Col. Thomas Westbrook from the fort at St. George to attack the Catholic mission and, in particular, to capture Rale.

Before the English could attack, Native scouts warned Rale of the impending raid. He fled into the forest, leaving behind his few possessions. These, unfortunately, included his strongbox containing letters, which did, indeed, support the Wabanaki use of French-supplied arms against the English. Westbrook’s soldiers took away the letters, as well as Rale’s life work, his Wabanaki-French lexicon.

Downtown Brunswick 5.5

Brunswick & Topsham, Maine. Google Maps. May 5, 2017.

In retaliation of the unprovoked attack on Norridgewock, the normally peaceful Pejepscot-area Wabanaki and their allies set about punishing the English/Irish settlers of Merrymeeting Bay.

On Saturday, June 13th, sixty Indians in twenty canoes landed on the north side of the bay not far from Pleasant Point in Topsham. There they captured nine families and subsequently released all but five men who were to be exchanged for four Natives imprisoned by the English in Boston.

 The following month, David Dunning and another soldier were on the blueberry plains when they heard an unusual noise about where First Parish Church is now. Through the brush surrounding Sgt. Thomas Tregoweth’s house, the soldiers observed “a large number” of Natives moving toward the fort. Dunning ran to his nearby home, a blockhouse on the corner of today’s Maine and Pleasant Sts. The other soldier ran north to Fort George, sounding the alarm as he went, dodging rifle shots. Thomas Tregoweth was never seen again.

Wabanaki soldiers continued their mission, killing or capturing English settlers, and ransacking, then burning houses in the settlement. The English and Ulster Scots who managed to escape their homes fled to the fort or to the Woodsides’ blockhouse at Maquoit. When the Natives were unable to breach that fortified garrison, they killed all of the Woodsides’ livestock.

Planning on settling in for the night, Wabanaki soldiers seized a house at Fish House Hill. Capt. Gyles ordered the Fort George cannons to bombard the house, even though the Natives held English and Ulster Scot prisoners there. When at least one cannon ball found its mark, partially destroying the home, the Natives fled to Pleasant Point with their prisoners.

The fire and smoke from the Brunswick blaze was visible for miles.

Early in the attack on Brunswick, Capt. Gyles had dispatched Samuel Eaton to the fort at Arrowsic with a letter requesting reinforcements from Col. Johnson Harmon. The letter was wrapped in waterproof eel skin and hidden in Eaton’s hair. The colonel, meanwhile, had seen the smoke from the devastation of the town. That night, before Eaton’s arrival, Harmon and Major Moody had their men row two whaleboats quietly up Merrymeeting Bay. The English soldiers, guided by the sleeping Natives’ campfires, landed noiselessly nearby.

The soldiers from Arrowsic surrounded their slumbering enemy and shot into them, killing about a dozen and a half men, and capturing some. Natives who had been on the outskirts of the encampment fired back without hitting their targets.

When the English soldiers returned to their boats, they discovered the body of one of their own, Moses Eaton, Samuel’s brother. Moses had become separated from the rest of the group and was captured by the Natives on guard duty. Moses did not die easily: the Wabanaki soldiers had tortured and partially dismembered him before finally killing him. The English troops buried their fallen comrade where they had found him.

It would be two years before Moses was avenged.

Next Blog: Love Well, Love War: Part 3: Lovewell’s War

Sources:

  • Charland, Thomas. Rale, Sébastien, Dixtionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2. University of Toronto/Université Laval. 1969, rev. 1982. www.biographi.ca/enbio/rale_sebastien_2E.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2016
  • Chmielewski, Laura M. The spice of popery: converging Christianities on an early American frontier. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, c2012. Maine State Library. Call number 277.41 C544s 2012.
  • Johnston, Thomas & Thomas Kitchin. Map: A Plan of Kennebek & Sagadahok Rivers. Commissioned by Pejepscot Proprietors. 1731-1754. http://www.oshermaps.org/map/7404.0013. Accessed April 17, 2017.
  • McKeen, John. Four Lectures on the History of Brunswick. Brunswick, Curtis Memorial Library, 1985. Call No. 974-191.
  • Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878. http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/wheeler/index.html, accessed April 17, 2017.
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Love Well, Love War: Part 1: Love God

Norridgewock 1754 antd

When the Pejepscot Proprietors invited Ulster Scot James Woodside to become minister at Brunswick, they expected him to be equal parts community religious leader, cultural monitor, and anti-Catholic Wabanaki missionary. Woodside was to replace Harvard-trained Joseph Baxter, seemingly a fair-to-middling Puritan minister of fair intentions, but middling influence and means.

Baxter should have been an easy act to follow.

The Massachusetts Assembly had agreed to pay Baxter for each Wabanaki child who attended his religious school. To that end, he attempted to learn their language, but found the task beyond his ability. Instead, he tried using an Algonquin bible, which the Wabanakis didn’t understand. Finally, he enticed Native children to lessons with gifts and had Capt. John Gyles translate his sermons.

Perhaps Baxter’s greatest impediment to gathering new converts was French Catholic missionary Sebastien Râle of Norridgewock. Râle had spent decades living with the Wabanakis of the upper Kennebec. In contrast to Baxter, he learned both their language and their ways. He even wrote a Wabanaki lexicon that greatly aided other French missionaries in their work. Râle’s influence was so great that Wabanaki leader Obasawin, languishing in a Boston jail after King William’s War, declared that Jesus Christ was a Frenchman; his mother, the Virgin Mary, was a French Lady; and that the English murdered Christ.

Baxter, Joseph deed crpd

Excerpt from deed to Joseph Baxter & Joseph Metcalf for farm on Arrowsic Island. Complete image at https://archive.org/stream/yorkdeeds121main#page/n161/mode/2up

Even with such strong feelings against the English, if Baxter had understood the Wabanakis’ political pragmatism, he might still have converted acceptable numbers, even if only temporarily. In the end, though, Baxter was only a middling success at fulfilling the multiple roles of a frontier missionary. He did succeed, however, in improving his own family’s influence and financial circumstances, through land given him by the Pejepscot Proprietors and business investments he made during his year in the wilderness.

Now, six months after Baxter returned to his parish in Medfield, Rev. James Woodside was called from Falmouth to replace him. Though Woodside had received several settlement invitations, he chose Brunswick as the right place to improve his family’s circumstances.

Capt. Gyles arranged transportation for Woodside and his family from Falmouth to Brunswick and readied Baxter’s former house near Fort George for the new arrivals.

Brunswick Maquoit blockhouse

Woodside, his wife, and their son William, settled in nicely. William became a soldier under Capt. Gyles, commissioned as a lieutenant. The family settled four miles south of the fort, at Maquoit, where they kept a large herd of cattle and built a good-sized block house for protection against the local Wabanakis. The Woodsides seemed to get along well with the local Natives, though. William, in fact, ran a trading post and conducted a profitable business with them.

All in all, Rev. James Woodside, a man used to straddling two worlds in his Ulster homeland, seemed perfectly suited to creating a bridge between the Wabanaki and English colonials, as well as between the Ulster Scot settlers and Puritan soldiers at the fort.

Alas, it may be that the witty and gregarious Woodside got along too well with the Wabanki or that, as contemporary Cotton Mather observed, he was not puritanical enough. Whatever the reason, after just six months, the town fathers voted to renew his contract for only another half year, and that only so long as Woodside deported himself acceptably. The reverend only lasted four months. It’s possible that Capt. Gyles, who understood the political uses of religion with and against the Wabanaki, convinced others that Woodside’s joie de vivre didn’t further the goal of English domination. In September 1719, the men of Brunswick dismissed him as their minister.

In January, Rev. Woodside headed to Boston. William stayed in Brunswick.

The reverend, however, continued to invest in Brunswick, and in May 1722 he bought part of the meadowland where their cattle roamed.

By that July, Woodside’s investment would be worth next to nothing: all his livestock were slaughtered, his outbuildings were burned to the ground, and the garrison house was filled with his desperate and destitute neighbors.

Lovewell’s War had begun.

Next Blog: Love Well, Love War: Part 2: Love to War

Sources:

  • Baxter, Rev. Joseph. “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Baxter,” in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database: org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.) https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/new-england-historical-and-genealogical-register/image/?volumeId=11581&filterQuery=databasename:register. Accessed Dec. 1, 2016.
  • Johnston, Thomas & Thomas Kitchin. Map: A Plan of Kennebek & Sagadahok Rivers. Commissioned by Pejepscot Proprietors. 1731-1754. http://www.oshermaps.org/map/7404.0013. Accessed April 17, 2017.
  • Maine Genealogical Society (1884-) York County Deeds, Register of Deeds, Vol. 12 part 1. Originally published 1642 by the Register of Deeds of York County. Printed by E. C. Bowler, Bethel, Maine, 1903.  Online source Archive.org from collection newyorkpubliclibrary; american; New York Public Library, Call number b6870121. archive.org/details/yorkdeeds12main. Accessed April 20, 2017.
  • McKeen, John. Four Lectures on the History of Brunswick. Brunswick, Curtis Memorial Library, 1985. Call No. 974-191.
  • Southicke, Cyprian. Map: The Harbour of Casco Bay and Islands Adjacent. Richard Mount Thomas Page and Company, London, 1720. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. http://maps.bpl.org/id/17665. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.
  • Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878. http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/wheeler/index.html, accessed April 17, 2017.
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Beyond the Grave: A Jury of Her Peers 

As so often happens, my research for the upcoming Love Well, Love War blogs is taking me in unexpected directions. While I find my way, please enjoy meeting one of the colonial women I was reminded of while researching the Location, Location, Location series.

Susanna York Deed ed2

Susanna A Negro Woman. York County, Maine, Deed Register, Book XVII, Fox. 328. p 858, archive.org/details/yorkdeeds17main, accessed March 20, 2017.

Though traditional histories of colonial Maine focused on the lives of English men, deeds at the York County courthouse reveal that women were here, too. For instance, two colonial women, “Negro slave” Susannah and “servant” Lydia Felt, testified in support of Capt. John Giles when he laid claim to land at Pemaquid and Pleasant Point. (see This Land WAS My Land)

Two other women, Mistress Jone and Merget Stevens, witnessed the 1672 document from Native sagamores, Sagettawon and Robin Hood, indenturing Merriconeag Neck to Nicholas Cole and John Purinton. That deed wasn’t recorded until 1725, more than fifty years after the fact when John’s daughters, Mary (Purinton) Carr and Elisabeth (Purinton) Conner, needed to prove ownership in order to sell their shares of the land.

Mary and Elisabeth Purinton were my 7th great-aunts. Their grandparents, George and Mary (Pooke) Puddington, left Devon, England in 1634, quite possibly to elude creditors after the family’s woolen mill burned down. They landed in Massachusetts but soon set up as innkeepers at Agamenticus, in the Province of Maine. To make their inn welcoming to locals and travelers alike, they installed a brewing furnace to make ale, and herded cows to supply milk for drinking and cream to churn into butter.

Jury of her peers map

Four hundred years ago, Agamenticus was on the edge of nowhere, a place where English immigrants who were uncomfortable or unwelcome in Puritan society might make a living fishing, trapping, and trading. The small community was far away from the resources of the larger settlements in and around Boston; the nearest neighbors were the Native Wabanakis with whom the English alternately traded and fought. By necessity, the settlers depended on one another both for friendship and for protection. As Mary Puddington could attest, the intimacy of the settlement made secrets exceedingly hard to keep.

Mary, it seems, tried to carry on a clandestine affair. She succeeded at the affair part but failed miserably in the clandestine department. Court records detail the scandal:

…often frequenting the House and company of Mr. George Burdett, minister of Agamenticus aforesaid, privately in his bed-chamber and said Mary was often forewarned thereof, by her said Husband, and the Constable of the said Plantation with divers other; and for abusing her said Husband to the great disturbance and scandal of the said plantation, contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord King.

Her paramour, Rev. Burdett, was prosecuted and fined ten pounds for two affairs, one with Mary and another with Ruth Gouch. Mary was ordered to kneel before her husband and apologize to him in public. He, in the meantime, came drunk to her trial, leading to his own court appearance not long after.

Mary’s life on the harsh coast of Maine must have been exceedingly dreary and hopeless for her to continue a forbidden relationship that was known to her husband, as well as her neighbors. Perhaps she believed her lover would take her away from a troubled life, maybe even back to England. What she might not have realized was that Burdett was a charismatic con man. The radical preacher of free love, and disgraced former governor of New Hampshire, still had a wife and family in England.

We’ll never know why Mary consorted with Burdett because no one at the trial asked. That may be because there were no women as either judge or jury; only men had the right to pass legal judgment. In fact, it wouldn’t be until 1975 that all 50 states recognized a woman’s right to serve on juries.

Mary persevered in the Maine wilderness, raising six children in her husband’s household. Another document, George Puddington’s will, hints that for the rest of his life he reminded his wife of her sin by touting his own faithfulness.

Puddington will p2 crpd

Excerpt from will of George Puddington. Ancestry.com accessed March 14, 2017.

 

Excerpt: First as concerning my wife with whome I Coupled my Selfe in ye fear of God refuseing all other women I link my Selfe unto her, living with her in ye Blessed State of Honourable Wedlock, by whom alsoe by the Blessing of God I have now two Sons and three daughters, John & Elias Mary Frances and Rebecca.

Puddington’s will omitted any mention of Sarah, the daughter Mary bore after her affair with Burdett. One wonders if he ignored the girl in the household as well, either pretending she didn’t exist or treating her as a servant. Both Mary and Sarah prevailed in the only way available to them. Widowed Mary took a second husband, John Davis, and Sarah married John Penwell (Pennell).

Though American history often ignores their existence, colonial women were documented in deeds, court records, and wills. While men owned the land, made the laws, and seemingly controlled the lives of their wives and children, somehow these women of the New World managed to reveal themselves as vital individuals worthy of remembrance.

Next Blog: Love Well, Love War

Notes:

  • Purinton vs Puddington: The surname is spelled in various documents as Puddington, Purrington, Purington, and Purinton. I chose to use the name as spelled in the two documents cited in this blog.
  •  Agamenticus: Agamenticus in the District of Maine was renamed Georgeana, then York.

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com, Maine, Wills and Probate Records, 1584-1999 and George Puddington-Facts. Accessed March 14, 2017.
  • Maine Genealogical Society (1884-) York County Deeds, Register of Deeds, Vol. 15. Originally published 1642 by the Register of Deeds of York County. Printed by E. C. Bowler, Bethel, Maine, 1907.  Online source Archive.org from collection newyorkpubliclibrary; american; New York Public Library, Call number b6870121. archive.org/details/yorkdeeds15main. Accessed March 20, 2017.
  • State of Maine York County Deeds, Register of Deeds, Vol. 17. Originally published 1642 by the Register of Deeds of York County. Published for the State by E. C. Bowler, Bethel, Maine, 1909. ibid. archive.org/details/yorkdeeds17main. Accessed March 20, 2017.
  • Registry of Deeds, York County, Maine. 45 Kennebunk Rd., Alfred, Maine.
  • Taylor v. Louisiana 419 U.S. 522 (1975) re: Louisiana requirement that a woman must register her desire for jury service in order to be selected for same. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/419/522/case.html. Accessed March 20, 2017.
  • Thompson, Robert Chandler, 1917-. Gathering in Maine…A Family History, Thompson, Chandler, Freeman, Fields. Sun City, Arizona, 1989.
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Location, Location, Location-Part III

This Land BELONGS to You and Me

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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.

brunswick-maquoit-blockhouse

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.

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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

Sources:

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Location, Location, Location-Part II

This Land WAS Your Land

By the early 1700s, the English had been established in the New World for several generations. Still, they needed more inhabitants to grow food, to harvest natural resources for exportation to England, and to protect the territory from the Native people and their French allies.

In 1715, the Pejepscot Company had partnered with the Massachusetts legislature to build Fort George on the banks of the Androscoggin River on Merrymeeting Bay, in the northeastern District of Maine. Now they were actively seeking settlers for the area.

They turned to a group of families recently arrived at Boston from across the Atlantic. Though these immigrants weren’t English, they were at least Protestant, not Catholic. Even better, these new immigrants were tough enough to prove a worthy match to the Native savages and French Catholics who continued to plague the English settlers.

These saviors were the Ulster Scots.

uk-and-ireland-1664-maplabels

La Grande Britagne Sheet map, author Janssonius van Waesberge, Johannes, published by Keere, Pieter van den.1646. http://www.oshermaps.org/map/151.0001. Annotated and accessed Dec. 23, 2016.

 

The Ulster Scots’ ancestors were resilient borderland people, the Lowlanders of Scotland. They were a mixture of several ethnicities: Highland Picts, Gaels, Britons, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Normans, Flemish, and an Irish tribe called Scots. They occupied the Lowlands of Scotland located between two longtime enemies, the feudal English to the south and clannish Scottish Highlanders to the north. Ultimately, two things kept the Lowlanders from thriving in Scotland: frequent battles between the English and Highlanders that devastated their home ground, and the Lowlanders’ unsustainable farming practices. These two ongoing problems combined to create a barren landscape where the Lowlanders merely subsisted as best they could.

In the early 1600s, Catholic Ireland surrendered to the invading Protestant English. King James I, seeing an opportunity to create a Protestant stronghold there, encouraged the English of crowded London and Lowlanders in southern Scotland to settle in Ulster, on land belonging to the decimated native Irish. Thus James created yet another borderland, this one between native Catholics’ land and Protestant English holdings.

Over the next century more than 100,000 Presbyterian Lowlanders, eager to lease more fertile ground, sailed across the North Channel to northernmost Ireland. There they joined 20,000 Anglican English immigrants and formed a unique culture marked by self-reliance and independence. These Ulster Scots weathered religious discrimination by the English and guerrilla warfare by the “primitive” native Irish. They also survived continual English religious, civil, and international war—but were ultimately undone by English economics.

In 1710, when most of the Ulster Scots’ land leases expired, the new rates were double or triple what they had been before. After crop failure, they could no longer feed themselves, let alone deliver an even larger part of their harvest to the landlord. Once again, they sought new land. By the start of the American Revolution in 1775, more than 230,000 Ulster Scots had left Ireland for the American colonies, carrying with them a deep resentment of the English and an even deeper will to survive.

When the Ulster Scots sailed into the port of Boston in 1718, they may not have been surprised that the English colonists didn’t welcome them with open arms. Instead, the colonists warned the uncivilized “dirty Irish” out of Boston.

Where could they go?

About fifty immigrant families attempted to settle in the western border town of Worcester, though many abandoned their newly erected log cabins after English residents burned down the partially constructed Presbyterian church. Still others removed to Londonderry, New Hampshire.

brunswick-1720-ann

IRISH NEW SETTLEMENT AT BRUNSWICK: Southicke, Cyprian. The Harbour of Casco Bay and Islands Adjacent. Richard Mount Thomas Page and Company, London, 1720. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. http://maps.bpl.org/id/17665. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.

 

Still others chose a deal too good to be true. An estimated twenty-five to forty Ulster Scots families accepted the Pejepscot Company’s offer of free passage from Boston to the eastern wilderness of Merrymeeting Bay. In fact, so many of them settled in the precarious location, bordered by “civilized” English Boston to the south and enemy French and Native territories to the north, that a 1720 map of the area clearly labels an “Irish” settlement in Brunswick.

The “wild Irish” arrived in Brunswick at the end of summer to find a land still marked by war: formerly majestic oaks now blackened stumps, previously cleared farmland become forest once again, and all of it guarded over by a stone fort and fifteen English soldiers.

The Ulster Scots immediately set to, building shelters and laying in stores for the coming winter. Once again, it would be up to them to take care of themselves.

*****

Next Blog: Location, Location, Location-Part III: This Land BELONGS to You and Me

Sources:

  • Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America, published by Bacon and Brown, Boston, 1910. https://archive.org/stream/scotchirish00boltrich/scotchirish00boltrich_djvu.txt. Accessed June 12, 2015.
  • Janssonius van Waesberge, Johannes, La Grande Britagne sheet map, published by Keere, Pieter van den.1646. www.oshermaps.org/map/151.0001. Annotated and accessed Dec. 23, 2016.
  • McKeen, John. Four Lectures on the History of Brunswick. Brunswick, Curtis Memorial Library, 1985. Call No. 974-191.
  • Southicke, Cyprian. The Harbour of Casco Bay and Islands Adjacent. Richard Mount Thomas Page and Company, London, 1720. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. http://maps.bpl.org/id/17665. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.
  • Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878. http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/wheeler/index.html, accessed July 30, 2016.
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Location, Location, Location-Part I

This Land is MY Land

After the completion of Fort George in 1715, the proprietors of the Pejepscot Company, who had a King’s grant to develop a large swath of land in mid-coast Maine, were ready to divide Brunswick and Topsham into saleable lots. They mapped out long narrow lots to provide water access for traveling, exporting lumber and furs, and importing supplies; and to keep the settlers’ homes close to one another for protection agains marauding Natives.

Some of this land had been abandoned by previous owners during King William’s War. (See They’re Baaack!) Now descendants of those earlier Pejepscot settlers scrambled to reclaim their family homesteads before they were sold to others. Two of those claimants were officers assigned to Fort George, Capt. John Gyles and Sgt. Samuel Eaton.

Capt. Gyles’ late father, Thomas, had owned properties in two communities, Pemaquid and at Pleasant Point in the newly named Topsham. Those places were not just pieces of land, but were the childhood homes of the captain and his siblings. This meant they knew others who had lived there at the same time. It must have taken some time to learn where each potential witness had relocated after fleeing Maine during the war, but over time the Gyles family was able to gather supporting testimony from several people who had known or worked for their father.

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Image of Chief Terramoggus testimony in deed. https://archive.org/stream/yorkdeeds09main#page/590/mode/2up/ Accessed Nov. 19, 2016.

These witnesses included a slave; a former servant, possibly indentured; and a Native sagamore. Susannah, the “Negro” slave, confirmed Mr. Thomas Gyles’ possession of land at Pemaquid. Lydia Felt, the Gyles servant, testified to the boundaries of the earlier farm at Pleasant Point on Merrymeeting Bay. Lastly, Chief Terramoggus confirmed that his father, Darrumquin, originally sold the land to Mr. Gyles and cited the man’s intention to pass the Topsham land to his sons and his sons’ sons, in perpetuity.

john-gyles-lots-1768

Section of map “Plan of the Brunswick lots in 1741 and of the Topsham lots in 1768” from Wheeler.’ Accessed Jan. 10, 2017.

The result was that the Pejepscot Proprietors awarded Capt. Gyles two lots in Topsham on Merrymeeting Bay, including sixty acres of his father’s land at Pleasant Point and another five hundred and fifteen acres at Cathance Point. For the remainder of his assignment at Fort George, Gyles would make his home at Pleasant Point, Topsham.

Sgt. Samuel Eaton and his brother, Moses, sought to reclaim family land in Brunswick.  Some thirty-five years earlier their father, Joseph, and his partner, John Malcom, had regularly traveled from their northern Massachusetts homes, through New Hampshire, and up to Pejepscot to hunt and trap. The land they purchased from local Natives was probably at the most northeasterly point of their range where beaver was especially plentiful.

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Beaver in snow. Image from Morguefile.com. Accessed Jan. 7, 2017.

Joseph Eaton and John Malcom likely had miles of iron traps and snares to tend along river and stream banks both above and below the waterline, in areas frequented by muskrat, mink, and beaver. Eaton and Malcom would have traveled along their entire trapline, dispatching each animal, releasing it from the iron jaws, and resetting the traps.

Back at their encampment, they rinsed off mud and debris before skinning the carcasses, then stretched the valuable waterproof pelts to dry. The American beaver was a particularly important commodity because its European cousin, whose pelts and fur were used for men’s hats, was now nearly extinct from over hunting. The partners also harvested the castor glands and oil sacs to use as lures in their traps, to make medicines, or to sell for use in perfume making. Leaving as little waste as possible, Eaton and Malcom used the fatty meat to make stew over a campfire or jerky to save for later sustenance.

As young lads, Samuel and Moses might have accompanied their father on these treks to the north and back. But, perhaps due to the transient nature of Joseph Eaton’s occupancy on Merrymeeting Bay, Sgt. Eaton was unable to find witnesses or deeds to support his claim.

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North corner of Bank St. Image of 76 Maine St., Brunswick, Maine, from Google.com/maps. Accessed Dec. 29, 2016.

The brothers still intended to make the newly proclaimed Brunswick their home, so Sgt. Eaton contracted with the Proprietors for land located just yards from Fort George, on what is now the north corner of Maine and Bank Streets. The Eaton family would remain in mid-coast Maine for generations.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the new settlements of Brunswick and Topsham grew.

But, even if all fifteen soldiers at Fort George and all eight Proprietors settled their families here, there still wouldn’t be enough people to grow and process food, protect one another from invaders, provide marriage partners, or yield a profit from sale of the land and its resources. The Pejepscot Proprietors needed more people and they needed them now.

They turned to foreign immigrants.

*******

Next Blog: Location, Location, Location-Part II: This Land WAS Your Land

Sources:

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When Church Was State

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While Capt. Gyles and company built Fort George, the Pejepscot Proprietors continued to plan the physical layout and municipal setup of the two towns on opposite banks of the Androscoggin River. These they named Brunswick, after the king’s Braunschweig family dynasty, and Topsham, after a town in Devon, the western English county from whence came many of Maine’s earliest settlers.

The Proprietor’s ancestors were Puritan business and political leaders in Massachusetts who believed God conferred upon them the right and duty to rule over inferior peoples and even the earth itself. Thus they saw commandeering Native lands, enslaving non-Christians, warring against Catholics, or otherwise controlling their world for their own benefit as God’s will.

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Capt.John Wentworth, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons, Accessed Dec. 6, 2016.

This attitude was passed down to the current leadership of Brunswick and Topsham resettlement. Pejepscot Proprietor Capt. John Wentworth, for instance, only hired good Christian men for his crews, requiring ‘piety and faithful religious observances’ of all his sailors.

The first English settlers of Maine had been a mix of Puritans from the east coast of England who lived by strict rules and rougher sorts from England’s west coast who survived Maine’s harsh conditions by sometimes breaking those same rules. Mindful of the earlier lawless settlements, the Proprietors sought to protect their investment by facilitating moral behavior at the outset. To that end, they set aside three lots each in Brunswick and Topsham: one for a ministry, another for a school, and a third for the home of the first settled minister.

Brunswick’s one and only meeting-house would be financed by taxes, with additional funds from the Proprietors. The town-owned facility would be used for church services, as well as town meetings.

The Puritan bid to dominate the New World extended to the pagan Native peoples. While they attempted to convert the locals to their own Protestant religion, French colonial priests in Quebec and Maine were hard at work converting the Native peoples to Catholicism.

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Jesuit Missionary, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons, Accessed Dec. 6, 2016.

Though enemies, these English and French settlers were known to one another and sometimes crossed paths. So it was that Joseph Baxter of Medfield, Mass., the Protestant minister appointed in 1717 by the Massachusetts General Court as missionary to Maine’s Native people, was acquainted with Catholic priest Father Sébastien Râle. The Jesuit priest had been the missionary to the Abenakis at Norridgewock on the Kennebec River since 1694. The two exchanged “heated correspondence” criticizing each other’s religion, but also each other’s countries.

In August 1717, Rev. Joseph Baxter and his wife, likely accompanied by their Negro slave Tony, sailed for Arrowsic Island in the wilderness of Maine. Soon after his arrival, Baxter preached to three Natives at the fort at Brunswick, with Capt. Gyles interpreting. One of his next tasks was to explain to the Natives that keeping the Sabbath holy meant they couldn’t fire their rifles on that day.

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A Plan of Kennebek & Sagadahok Rivers by Thomas Johnston, 1754. Osher Map Library http://www.oshermaps.org/map/7404.0013. Accessed Dec. 10, 2016.

Over the next few months, Baxter travelled by sloop up and down rivers and along the coast from his home base in the Arrowsic/Georgetown area to other settlements: west to Brunswick, north to Richmond, east to the fort on the St. Georges River, southeast to Monhegan, and to points in between. He made progress in the Brunswick mission, his congregation having grown to “several” members who “seemed well pleased therein.”

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Journal of the Rev. Joseph, Baxter. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register online database. Link below. Accessed Dec. 6, 2016.

By January, though, most of the Natives had left for winter quarters and Baxter’s audience had dwindled down to three “praying Indians.” That April, one of these congregants asked Baxter to the bedside of his dying wife. He noted in his journal that Capt Gyles translated his discourse about “the state of her soul, & directed her how to get prepared for death, and she seemed to be very well pleased with what was said to her.”

Baxter left Maine in early September 1718, he and his wife sailing to the port of Boston to return to his Medfield congregation.

Towards the end of Baxter’s stay in Maine, the Pejepscot Proprietors succeeded in attracting several new families to the area. These were Ulster Scots who had recently arrived in Massachusetts from their homes in Bann County, Ireland.

That November, the men of Brunswick, including the soldiers and the newly arrived Ulster Scots, voted at town meeting to engage a new minister, Reverend Mr. James Woodside, a Presbyterian from Bann County, Ireland. The witty and cheerful Woodside, feeling called to teach the “Eastern Salvages,” accepted the post.

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First Parish Meeting House. Image from History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. See Sources below.

The following year the settlers began building the meeting-house on Maquoit Road, halfway between Fort George and the new settlement at Maquoit, about a mile south of today’s First Parish Church. Though it would be several years before the town-owned building was completed, Brunswick had begun to evolve into the town that, three hundred years later, would boast some two-dozen churches, none of them town-owned.

Next Blog: Location, Location, Location

 Sources:

  • Baxter, Rev. Joseph. “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Baxter,” in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database: org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.) https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/new-england-historical-and-genealogical-register/image/?volumeId=11581&filterQuery=databasename:register. Accessed Dec. 1, 2016.
  • Charland, Thomas. “RALE, SÉBASTIEN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003-. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rale_sebastien_2E.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2016,.
  • Johnston, Thomas. A Plan of Kennebek & Sagadahok Rivers, with the adjacent Coasts: taken from Actual Surveys, and dedicated to his Excely. William Shirley Esqr. Governor of Massachusets Bay Prov: in New England. To which is added a draught of the River La Chaudiere by a French Deserter the same Year. T. Kitchin sculpt. 1754. Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of Southern Maine. Accessed Dec. 10, 2016.
  • McKeen, John. Four Lectures on the History of Brunswick. Brunswick, Curtis Memorial Library, 1985. Call No. 974-191.
  • Southicke, Cyprian. The Harbour of Casco Bay and Islands Adjacent. Richard Mount Thomas Page and Company, London, 1720. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. http://maps.bpl.org/id/17665. Accessed Oct. 10, 2016.
  • Wheeler, George Augustus Wheeler, MD. And Henry Warren Wheeler. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine. Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, Boston, Mass., 1878. http://community.curtislibrary.com/CML/wheeler/index.html, accessed July 30, 2016.
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