Sunday, August 21, 2016

Town Divisions are Complete

The division of the Piscataqua Plantation or Kittery was complete by the incorporation of Eliot, Lebanon, North and South Berwick. When boundaries change (and how many haven’t?) it is important to be cognizant of the dates for your research comparing them to the time frames for activities of that area.  In New England and most any other area which had a start from scratch scenario for not only boundary changes but location name changes as well, people could have been born, married and died in 3 different counties or even states, yet never moved at all.  

South Berwick

Seal for Town of South Berwick
South Berwick was incorporated in 1814. It is bound by Berwick and North Berwick on the North, Wells on the East, York and Eliot on the South and West by the Salmon Falls River. The early history of Berwick repeats the history of South Berwick. Many of the people who history records as living in Kittery, then Berwick we find now in South Berwick. Near the confluence with the Great Works River, Ambrose Gibbons built the Great House, a palisaded trading post, to exchange goods with the Indians. It was in South Berwick that after William Chadbourne, James Wall and John Goddard sailed to the Colonies in 1634, they wasted no time building the sawmills, gristmills and the first houses. Richard Leader, the manager of the Scottish prisoners in at the Saugus Iron Works and here in the Parish of Unity, rebuilt the saw mill to increase production, handling up to 20 saws.
During the 19th century, various mills were erected at the rivers to utilize the available water power. Quampheagan Falls on the Salmon Falls River became the site of the Portsmouth Manufacturing Company. Established in 1831, the cotton textile mill had 7000 spindles and 216 looms, which by 1868 produced 2 million yards of sheeting per year. The mill closed in 1893, and most of its brick buildings were razed about 1917, but the Greek Revival counting house is now the Old Berwick Historical Society Museum. South Berwick also made woolens, shoes, plows and cultivators, as well as sawn and planed lumber. The town was good for its fruit farming, especially noted for its apple orchards. The village center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
A local author, Sarah Orne Jewett in 1901 set her historical romance, The Tory Lover at the Hamilton House in South Berwick. The Federal style mansion built about 1785, is now a museum operated by Historic New England. Historic New England also owns the Sarah Orne Jewett House, built in 1774 in South Berwick’s Central Square.

North Berwick

Originally the part of Kittery called Kittery Commons, the area was first settled in 1693 by John Morrell, a Quaker who built a log cabin on Wells Street. Once Berwick was incorporated in 1713, the land mass known today as North Berwick became a part of Berwick. Doughty Falls in the Great Works River provided water power for a saw mill, gristmill and carding mill. After the Revolutionary War, the small mill town grew rapidly. It was set off and incorporated as North Berwick on March 22, 1831. The town was bordered by Lebanon and Sanford on the North, Sanford and Wells to the East, South Berwick on the South and Berwick on the West.
A factory in North Berwick
North Berwick became a railroad hub with the arrival in 1842 of the Portland, Saco & Portsmouth Railroad, and the Boston & Maine Railroad in 1873. The railroad became the main mode of transportation at that time, shipping goods manufactured in the mills.
These goods included lumber, shingles, clapboards, wooden boxes, firewood, bricks, carriages, caskets, clocks, stove and shoe polish, toboggans and sleds. Also railroad cars were loaded with barrels of apples, blocks of ice cut from frozen ponds, granite from quarries, and tins of corn packed at a canning factory. With all this manufacturing, the two biggest North Berwick businesses during the 19th-century made woolens and farm implements.
The wooden mill was destroyed by fire in 1861, but rebuilt in brick in 1862. During the Civil War, the woolen factories in North Berwick produced blankets for the troops. With 40 looms, the factory turned 1,500 yards of flannel daily, in addition to blankets. By 1955, the factory closed. The Greek Revival building was used as the Parrish Shoe factory, and appeared in the 1995 movie, Jumanji. The building is now renovated and used as housing.


Old Grist Mill
Lebanon known as “the New Township at the Head of Berwick" and called by the Indians Towwoh, was granted by the Great and General Court as a Township, April 20, 1733. The Parish was organized June 26, 1765, and approximately 2 years later, the Town was incorporated June 17, 1767.
On April 20, 1733, the Massachusetts General Court granted Towwoh Plantation to 60 colonists, who first settled it in 1743. The township was incorporated on June 17, 1767, renamed Lebanon after the biblical land of Lebanon, becoming Maine's 23rd town. The town swapped and annexed land from 1785 to 1825 with its neighbors, finally setting the boundaries to what they are today. To the North, Lebanon is bordered by Action, the East, Sanford.  The South border is North Berwick and the West the Salmon Falls River which created the state line between Maine and New Hampshire.
The Southeast was good for farming but the Northwest area of Lebanon was populated with pine forests. Hay was the cash crop. The Salmon and Little Rivers were used for water power to run the mills.  Lebanon had several types of mills: saw mills, grist mills, shingle mills, a wool carding mill and a tannery. The Honorable Thomas M. Wentworth, one of the many descendants of the political Wentworth line, represented Lebanon while under Massachusetts rule for many years.  He was a large landholder and a mountain in Lebanon was named in his honor.


Ambush Rock 
Originally called Sturgeon Creek, Eliot was a part of the Piscataqua Plantation in the 1630-40s, it became the North, or Second, Parish of Kittery in 1713 following the incorporation of Berwick. On March 1, 1810, Eliot became a town. Eliot was located on the south extreme of York County. The town bordered on the West by the Piscataqua River, separating Maine from New Hampshire, on the North by South Berwick, the East by York, South by Kittery.
Prior to its incorporation, the Second Parish had been in conflict with Kittery's other parishes since at least 1791 over the choice of ministers with the Parish. In 1791, the parish's minister died. His successor, according to a majority of the inhabitants, was a man of "unfair character" imposed by "a small party" of people. He was rejected.  A new minister was installed in 1792. The internal strife between inhabitants didn't stop there.  This removal prompted the angry faction petition the government to become a separate town.
Eliot had good soil, creating good crops such as hay, corn, vegetables, potatoes and apples.  The settlers realized early that the river was a good power source as around Eliot Neck became the most populous area.
There has always been a question of the reason for the name of the town.  It was either named after Robert Eliot, who was a member of the Provincial Council of New Hampshire, or for the famous Indian preacher, Reverend John Eliot of Boston, a friend of General Andrew P. Fernald, the town agent largely responsible for its separation.

Some stayed, some migrated

Some of the original settlers stayed where they first settled but others moved in hopes of finding a better situation for themselves and their families.  Thomas Spencer, the Chadbourne family and Nathan Lord were permanent settlers.  Thomas Crockett who moved to the lower part of Spruce Creek in Kittery Point, Nicholas Frost and his family moved from Kittery Point to Eliot. The Shapleigh family moved from Kittery Point to Eliot. Others such as Anthony Emery came over from Dover.  Many generations migrated into unincorporated areas such as Wells, Sanford or beyond as they started their families.   

Old Kittery and her families by Stackpole (History of York county, Maine with illustrations of prominent men and pioneers. by W. W. Clayton) [town name]
Images courtesy of Google images

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