History of Boothbay, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine
By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boothbay, one of the most southerly towns of Lincoln
County, is situated between the Damariscotta and Sheepscot rivers, having the town of Edgecomb on the north. The
surface is moderately irregular, without high hills. Agriculture is largely followed, and fair crops are obtained
in return for thorough cultivation. The principal occupation of the inhabitants, however, relates to the fisheries.
Barter's, Sawyer's and Hodgden's islands lie near together on the west side of the town; and at the south is Squirrel
Island, which, though without other than the family of the keeper in winter, is in
Boothbay was formerly known as a part of Cape Newagen. It is supposed to have been occupied as early as 1630.
Boothbay Harbor (formerly Townsend) is considered by many to be the "Pentecost Harbor," on whose shores
the crew of Captain Weymouth planted and raised a crop of garden vegetables in 1605. Henry Curtis, in 1666, purchased
of the famous sagamore, Robin Hood, the right to settle here; but in the second Indian war (1688) the savages destroyed
the settlement. It lay waste and almost desolate for 40 years subsequent. In 1730, it was revived by Colonel Dunbar,
who gave it the name of Townsend. It was incorporated under that name in 1764, retaining the old name until 1842,
when it received the name it now bears, in memory of Old Boothbay, in Lincolnshire, England. It formerly included
Southport and the western part of Edgecomb. The hardships of that early period were sometimes almost beyond belief.
The set tiers brought in by Dunbar were largely Presbyterians from the north of Ireland, some of whom had been
actors in the scenes of the English Revolution of 1688. The simple faith of these emmigrants is well illustrated
in an anecdote related by Willis, "Scotch-Irish Immigraton" to this country] of Andrew Reed, an uncle
of the celebrated Presbyterian, Rev. John Murray. During the last Indian war the residents of Boothbay Harbor withdrew
to the westward for safety. Mr. Reed alone refused to go, and, in defiance of all persuasian, persisted in remaining
in his rude log cabin. Contrary to all expectation, the fugitives, on their return in the spring, found him alive
and unharmed. To their wondering inquiries lie calmly replied that lie had felt neither solitude nor alarm. "
Why should I? Had I not my Bible with me?" cried the old man. Rev. John Murray, to whom allusion has been
made, was settled at Boothbay in the years just preceeding the Revolution. After "emoving from Boothbay, he
was settled over the "Whitefield Church" in Newburyport, where his services were often attended by audiences
of 2,000 people. Early in the war of the Revolution, British cruisers sometimes put into Boothbay Harbor, where
the sailors frequently went ashore to rob the people. The plundered inhabitants remonstrated with the officers,
but to no effect. As a last resort the people requested Mr. Murray to make an effort for their relief. They embarked
Him in a capacious boat, and paddled out to the British ship, whose crew were at this time bearing so heavily upon
them. The approaching boat challenged the attention of the whole ship's company, who were on the alert to know
its business. Their surprise was great when they beheld upon the deck of their vessel the noble figure of the clergyman,
clad in the full canonicals of the Presbyterian order. They gazed U])Ofl him in silent wonder, while lie set forth
the sad case of his struggling and suffering parishioners with such force and pathos that the town was no more
afflicted by those attached to this vessel.