Durham is situated in the southern part of Androscoggin
County, on the south side of Androscoggin River. It has Lisbon on the north, Topsham and Brunswick on the east,
Pownal on the south, and Auburn and New Gloucester on the west. Its area is about 18,000 acres. The township was
a part of the Pejepscot purchase, and was formerly called Royalsborough, for Colonel Royal, of Medford, Massachusetts,
who was a large proprietor. It was incorporated as the sixty-ninth town in 1789, under its present name; having
at that time a population of about 700. In 1870 its population was 1,350, and in 1880 it was 1,253. The valuation
in 1870 was $482,861. In 1880 it was $422,724. There are now thirteen schoolhouses in town, and the school property
is valued at $3,000. The first school-master in town was Martin Rourk (the surname since changed to Roak), who
also held the office of town clerk from 1791 to 1807. He was a native of Ireland, but left that country when a
boy, serving in the Continental army during the Revolution. He is the ancestor of the persons of that name in Androscoggin
The first settler of Durham was Captain Samuel Gerrish, and the location was the farm since occupied by A. True
Osgood. Captain Gerrish came into town after the reduction of Quebec, probably about 1770. In 1775, he enlisted
in the Continental army leaving his family in such solitude that often for three months at a time, they did not
see any other person. Judah Chandler came into town and built a saw-mill near where the Runround Mill now stands;
and in 1773 he had quite a clearing built a house and got his mill at work. Most of the settlers came from Duxbury,
Salisbury and Scituate, Massachusetts, and later from Scarborough, in Maine. Other Revolutionary soldiers in the
town were Isaac Davis, Isaac Turner, Samuel Gerrish, John Vining, Eben Woodbury, John McIntosh, and Elisha Lincoln.
The earliest settled minister was Rev. Jacob Herriek, who preached in the old Centre Meeting-house for nearly forty
years. This was the first meeting-house erected in the town, having been begun in 1796 and completed in 1804.
Members of the society of Friends moved into the southern portion of the town from Harpswell in 1775, and others
soon after came from Falmouth. Their first meetings were held in the house of Joseph Estes, at South Durham, now
known as the "Old Hawkes House." A small one-storied meeting-house was built soon after, a two-story
addition was made in 1800; and in 1828 the whole structure was burned. The present brick meeting-house was built
soon after. There are also now a Congregational church at South-West Bend, a Free Baptist, one mile and a half
eastward, and a Methodisthouse at West Durham. The first grist-mill in town was on the Newell Brook where it crosses
the upper Brunswick road, about one and a half miles from the Bend. It was owned by Mr. James Gerrish, who sold
it to Henry Plurnmer. Mr. Plummer was a Freewill Baptist, and devoted most of his Sundays to preaching. Having
the means, he built the church near his mill at his own expense. Later a grist-mill was built at the Run-round
power. Previous to this a mill was built on Dyer's Brook near the Bend, by John Mayall, an Englishman, for the
manufacture of woolen cloth. This was afterwards converted into a grist, shingle, clapboard, and stave mill. A
steam engine was added a few years ago.
In 1818, a corporation was formed and a bridge built across the river near the Bend, connecting Durham with Lisbon;
but it was swept away by a spring freshet the sixth year after its erection. It was rebuilt, and stood until the
great ice freshet in February, 1828, swept it off; since then a ferry-boat has furnished transportation in its
In the war of 1812 several from the town enlisted in the army; and besides these, the militia was called out
to act as a coast-guard, arid marched to Bath. The danger being over, they returned after being on duty from 14
to 25 days. By the report of the adjutantgeneral, it appears the town had under the various calls 161 men in the
army for the suppression of the Rebellion. The amount paid out for bounties duties during the war was $27,673.
The surface of the town is somewhat undulating, from north-east to south-west, with a slope at the north toward
the river. The soil is mostly well- adapted to farming. The extreme south and part of the northern portion is somewhat
rocky; the central portion sandy; while in all parts of the town are rich meadows and loamy uplands well adapted
for hay. In the eastern part is a large peat bog.
East Livermore is the most northerly town in Androscoggin
County. The Androscoggin River separates it from Livermore on the west, Jay forms its northern boundary, Fayette
lies on the east, and Leeds on the south. It contains about 12,000 acres. Its length from north to south is about
three times as great as its width from east to west. Moose Hill at the north-east angle of the town, Jug Hill near
the middle of the town, and Ford’s Hill half way between the two former, are the principal elevations of land.
Moose Hill Pond near the hill, and a group of small ponds east of Jug Hill are the principal bodies of water. It
has one village, situated on the falls at the north-west corner of the town, and bearing the name of Livermore
Falls. It is about 27 miles from Lewiston and 17 from farmington, with which places it is connected by a branch
of the Maine Central Railroad. Other stations in town are Strickland’s Ferry and East Livermore.
The town was formerly a part of Livermore, which was granted by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1771 to the
heirs and assigns of certain persons for services rendered in the reduction of Port Royal. The portion east of
the rivei constituted about one-fourth of the original grant, and was set off and incorporated under its present
name in 1843. The first settler is said to have been a Mr. Cooledge, who made an opening in the woods, and built
a house on the side of Moose Hill. He soon after sold the place to Philip Smith, who died upon it a few years since
at the advanced age of ninety years. The next clearing is said to have been made in the easterly part of the town
about 1780, by a Mr. Gravy, and a third made about the same time on the east hank of the Androscoggin River, at
what is now Strickland’s Ferry. The first settler at what is now the village of Livermore Falls was probably Mr.
Samuel Richardson. The grist and saw mills built at the falls in 1791, were the first in town. They were constructed
under the direction of Elijah Livermore, an original proprietor, and one of the first settlers upon the west side
of the river. There is here a natural fall of fourteen feet. There are on these falls at present, a grist—mill,
three saw-mills, a factory for novelty wood-turning, a leather-board factory, and the Umbagog Paper Fibre Mills.
In the village there are also various small manufactures without water-power. The Indian name of the locality is
Rokomeko, signifying, it is said, “great corn land.” The town yields good crops and is excellent grazing-land.
It has also been noted for its fine cattle.
The town furnished for the war of the Rebellion 68 citizens and 9’ others, a total of 77, at an expense to the
town of $10,654. The town has one Baptist church, one Free Baptist, and two Methodist. There is a Small circulating
library at Livermore Falls; and lectures are occasionally given at the various churches. The town has seven schoolhouses,
valued at $3,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $388,680. In 1880 it was $344,092. The population at the
first date was 1,004. In 1880 it was 1,082.
Greene, situated near the middle of Androscoggin County,
is nearly square in its form, and rests its west side on the Androscoggin River, opposite the town of Turner. Leeds
bounds it on the north, Wales on the east, and Lewiston on the south. It contains 15,905 acres of land. The principal
bodies of water are Allen, Deane, Little Sabattus and Berry; and Sabattus Pond forms the southern half of the eastern
boundary. Allen Pond, the largest within the town, is about one mile in diameter. The chief business centres are
Greene Village and Greene Corner. The principal manufactures are of a carriage-factory, and of a grist, saw and
excelsior mill, known as Sprague’s Mills. The principal occupation is agricultural. The soil is well adapted to
grazing, and the chief crops are hay and apples. The M8ine Central Railroad bisects the town, having a station
at Greene Village, a little east of the centre. The surface of the town is a little more elevated, and more broken
than the towns to the east and south. The hills in the north-western part are quite high. The principal of these
are Clark’s and Ames's mountains and Caswell Hill. Those southward are lower, the highest being Hill’s Ridge, in
the south-eastern part. There are very few pine-trees in town, but other Maine woods are abundant.
This territory was first known as a part of Lewiston Plantation, then as Littlesborough, from Moses Little, of
Newbury, Massachusetts, who was a large proprietor in the Pejepscot Patent, which covered a portion of it. He is
said to have made a large purchase from the Indians of land in this vicinity. In 1788 it was organized under the
present name in honor of General Greene, of Revolutionary fame.
Benjamin Merrill was the first man who became a permanent settler. He came from North Yarmouth in November 15,
1775, bringing his family and goods in an ox-cart. The snow lay a foot deep upon the ground, and was still falling
when they moved into their log-house. Captain John Daggett, who settled in 1786, taught the first school in town
the same year. He was also the first military oThcer whom the town could boast. Colonel William Sprague moved in
from Medford, Mass., in 1779. He built the first mills in town, and excelled as a military tactitian. John Mower,
another of the early esteemed citizens, removed from Charlton, Mass., in 1786. Luther Robbins came to Greene from
Hanover, Mass., about 1788. He was the first representative to the Legislature. Captain Daggett, after teaching
school three years, was succeeded by Elisha Sylvester,—who was noted for a facility of rhyming. The following specimen
was inspired by a conversation with a predestinarian clergyman:
“If all things succeed, that’s already
And immutable impulses rule us,
Then to preach and to pray is but time thrown away,
And our teachers do nothing but fool us.
And if by hard fate, we’re driven this way or that,
As the carman with whip drives his horses,
Then none need to stray, but go on the right way
Like the stars that are bound in their courses.
But if by free-will we go, or stand still,
As best Suits the present occasion,
Then fill up the bowl, and count him a fool
That preaches up predestination.”
After the Revolution several soldiers came and made
their home in Greene. Their names as far as has been ascertained are as follows:
Captain John Daggett and Colonel William Sprague and Luther Bobbins, Esq., previously mentioned; Colonel Jabez
Bates, Captain Ichabod Philips, Jarius Phillips, John Mower, Samuel Mower, Thomas More, George Berry, John Allen,
Joseph McKenney, Ezekiel Hackett, Benjamin Quimby and Benjamin Alden. In the war of 1812, 19 from the town enlisted
in the national army, of whom 5 died in the service. In the war of the Rebellion, the report of the adjutant-general
gives the town credit for 159 men.
There was no cemetery until 1805, when four were laid out in different parts of the town. A Baptist Church, organized
in 1793, was the first religious society. A church edifice was built soon after. Another was built at the centre
in 1826, and one by the Universalists at about the same time. There are now in town, one Baptist, one Free Baptist,
and a Universalist society.
The number of school-houses in town is ten; and the school property is valued at $2,400. The value of estates in
1870 was $439,629. In 1880 it was $394,260. The population in 1870, was 1,094. In 1880 it was 999.