History of Alfred, Maine
From
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boston 1886




Alfred, the shire town of York County, is situated very near the geographical centre of the county. It is on the Portland and Rochester Railroad, 32 miles from Portland. The surrounding towns are Waterborough on the north and north-east, Lyman on the east, Shapleigh and Sanford on the west, and Kennebunk and Sanford on the south. The town is about 12 miles long from north-west to south-east, and 4 miles wide at the middle, and contains 12,989 acres of land. The northern part is hilly, and abounds in granite rocks and hardwood forests, while the southern portion is comparatively level, with evergreen and hard woods. The soil is a gravelly loam in higher lands and sandy loam on the plains. The chief eminence is Yeaton's Hill. The town has good roads, and the general appearance of the buildings indicate thrift. The principal bodies of water are Shaker and Middle Branch, or Bungernuck Ponds, the first in the eastern and middle part of the town, and the latter at the north. The principal streams are Hay Brook on the west, and the outlets of the pondsall running southward and joining with the Mousam River on the south-west. The manufactories are woollen, saw and grist mills at Littlefield's Mills, and the Shaker's saw-mill. The business centres are Alfred Village, Littlefield's Mills, North Alfred and the Shaker Village. The early history of the town is involved in that of Sanford, and it formerly bore the name of the "North Parish of Sandford," and the Indian name of Massabesic. It was incorporated in 1794, being named in honor of Alfred the Great. The territory of the town was included in several quit-claim deeds purchased in 1761-4 of the Indian chiefs Fluellen, Hobinowell, and Captain Sunday, by Major William Phillips, of Saco.

The first settler was Simeon Coffin, who in 1764, dwelt for a time in an Indian wigwam, a few rods south-west of the present residence of Colonel Ivory Hall. There were, at that time, several Indian families about Shaker Pond and the Hill. Other settlers soon followed. The first saw mill in town was built in 1766, by Charles and John White, a Mr. Ellenwood, Thomas Kimball, Seth Peabody and Benjamin Tripe.

In 1782 a few families of Shakers settled at Moosebesic or Shaker Pond and Hill, and at Mastcamp, a few miles north. They were at this time, fanatical in religion and intemperate in their indulgences. They were organized as a body in their Present order and discipline in 1793. In 1782 a Congregational church was organized in Alfred, forming the North Parish of Sanford; but in revivals some became excited and joined the "Merry Dancers" (as the Shakers were then called), so that a minister was not settled until 1791. In 1834 the present house was erected, and an organ added in 1854. The Baptists built a church on the Back Road in 1818, and another at Littlefield's Mills soon after 1855. A second church was organized at the Gore in 1841, and a church built there in 1847. The first permanent meeting of Methodists was in 1830, by Rev. John Lord, at the court-house; and in 1834 a church was built. There is now an Advent Society also.

Alfred became a half shire town in 1802; and a court-house was erected in 1807, which was remodelled and enlarged in 1852. The present fire-proof wings were finished in the fall of 1854. A log jail was built in 1803, and the present stone jail in 1870. The town-house was erected in 1854, and burnt in 1861. The new one was luilt in 1862. The Academy building was erected by private subscription in 1828. W. C. Larrabee was the first preceptor. It was kept in operation for some time each year until the erection of the graded school building in 1862. The High School is at Alfred village. There are now seven school-houses in the town, and the value of the school property is estimated at $5,500. The population in 1850 was 1,319; 1870, 1,224; 1880, 1,102. Valuation of 1870, $427,140; of 1880, $421,418 Rate of taxation in the latter year, about 19 mills on a dollar.

The most notable citizens have been Hon. John Holmes, who was United States Senator from 1829 to 1833; Hon. Daniel Goodenow, a judge of the Supreme Court of Maine, from 1855 to 1862; Hon. Nathan D. Appleton, attorney-general of the State from 1857 to 1860; Hon. William C. Allen, judge of probate for the county of York from 1847 to 1854; Hon. Jeremiah Goodwin, State treasurer in 1839; Hon. Joshua Herrick, representative in Congress in 1843; Hon. Nathan Dane, State treasurer in 1860. Among other valued citizens should be mentioned Dr. Abiel Hall, George W. Came, Esq., Major Benjamin J. Herrick, Israel Chadbourne, Esq., Deacon Nathan Kendall, Hon. Ira T. Drew, Caleb B. Lord and others. Among the natives of the town who have attained to eminence in their calling, are Usher Parsons, M. D., William Lewis, M. D., Daniel and John Lewis, Hon. N. S. Littlefield, of Bridgton, David Hall, Alvah Conant, Henry Farnum, William Parsons, Dr. Usher P. Leighton, Benjamin Emerson, Esq., Rev. John Parsons, Edwin Parsons, Dr. Frank B. Merrill and many others.

Return to [ Maine History ] [ History at Rays-Place ] [ Rays-place.com ]

Maine Counties - Androscoggin - Aroostook - Cumberland - Franklin - Hancock - Kennebec - Knox - Lincoln - Oxford - Penobscot - Piscataquis - Sagadahoc - Somerset - Waldo - Washington - York