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

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




Bethel is situated on both sides of the Androscoggin, a little West of the centre of Oxford County. The Grand Trunk railway also passes through the town, following the course of the river to near the centre, when the road turns away to South Bethel, and thus out of the town on the south side. The greatest length of the town is from north east to the south-west. The area is 25,920 acres. The Androscoggin river enters the western side to near the centre, then turning northward forms the dividing line on the north-east between Bethel and Hanover. Chapman River and Sunday River are the principal tributaries of the Androscoggin on the north, and Mill Stream and Alder Brook on the south, within this town. The surface of the country is undulating and hilly. The principal eminences, beginning at the northwest, are Ellingwood Mountain, then Sparrowhawk Mountain, at an equal distance south of the River; Paradise Hill, near Bethel Hill village (Bethel Post-Office), Walker's Mountain, just north of South Bethel; Waterspout Mountain and Swan Hill, north of the last, in the north bend of the Androscoggin; and in the east, a group of five hills. There are several more that bear no names on the town map. The principal rock is granite. Though so hilly, Bethel has much interval and meadow-land as well as upland. It is one of the best farming towns of the State. Hay and potatoes are the chief crops. The most numerous forest trees are maple, birch, beach, oak, pine, hemlock, spruce, fir and cedar. The scenery of Bethel, like that of many other towns in Oxford county, is very attractive. The winding course of the larger river through intervals and between lofty hills affords numerous bold and picturesque views, as well as many of quiet beauty. From the summits of any of these hills the eye commands an extensive landscape.

Bethel, West and South Bethel are the post-offices and centres of business. There are four steam mills of from twenty-five to sixty horse-power in the town, together with several mills using water power. The manufacturers consist of lumber, spools, flour and meal, leather, furniture, boots and shoes, carriages and harnesses, marble and granite work, etc.

Bethel was originally granted to Josiah Richardson, of Sudbury, Mass., and others, for services in the French war. Being well on toward Canada, and being granted for services there, it gained the name among its settlers and others of "Sudbury-Canada."

Nathaniel Segar, of Newton, Mass., in the spring of 1774, made the first attempt to clear land for the purpose of makiiig a settlement in the region of Bethel. The revolution drew him away until 1779; when be returned accompanied by Jonathan Bartlett and a boy named Aaron Barton. Samuel Ingalls removed from Andover to this town in the fall of 1796. IIis wife, who accompanied him, was the first white woman in town. The last hostile incursion of the Indians into Maine was made in August, 1781 ; when a party from St. Francis made an attack upon the outer settlements, taking all the plunder they could, and carrying away captive, Benjamin Clark and Nathaniel Segar, whom they detained until the war closed, sixteen months later. Settlers came in rapidly after the close of the Revolution. Among the first were the six stalwart Bartlett brothers, from Newton, Mass. In 1789, Rev. Eliphaz Chapman came in with a large family of sons. The town was incorporated under its present name in 1796, and the first religious society was organized the same year. Rev. Daniel Gould, the first pastor, was settled in 1799. Dr. John Brickett was the first physician, coming in from Haverhill in 1796. He returned in a short time, and was succeeded in 1799, by Dr. Timothy Carter, who practiced in this town forty-six years. William Frye was the first lawyer in Bethel. Gould's Academy was incorporated in 1836. Isaac Randal. was the first precepter; and under Dr. N. T. True, preceptor from 1848 to 1861, it attained to high rank. Some of our ablest men have attended this school. In 1881, the old edifice gave place to a new one, costing $4,000. Bethel has twenty-five public school-houses, valued, with other school property, at $7,000. There is a library of 300 volumes. There are in the town two Congregational churches, one Methodist, a Universalist, a Free Baptist and a Calvinist Baptist. The valuation of estates in 1870, was $712,871. 1n 1880, it was 738,586. The rate of taxation in the latter year was 21 mills on the dollar. The population in 1870, was 2,286. In 1880, it was 2,077.

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