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

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




Bristol, in Lincoln County,. occupies the peninsula between the Darnariscotta River and Muscongus Bay. The towns of Daniariscotta and Bremen bound it on the north, and Newcastle, Ecigecomb, and Bootbbay lie on the west, separated from it by Damariscotta River. John's Bay, and the irregular sheet of water extending inland from it, called John's River, make a peninsula of the western part of the town. East of this, Pemaquid River, connecting with Biscay and Pemaquid Ponds at the north, divides the town into nearly equal sections. Other harbors are Seal Cove on the south-west side of the peninsula, Muscongus Harbor, forming a part of the north-eastern boundary, and New Harbor on the eastern side, opposite the mouth of Pernaquid River. The long projection seaward of of the south-eastern part of the town is known as Pemaquid Point. Rutherford's Island, south of the western peninsula, contains a small harbor called "Christ mas Cove." On the eastern side of the town, and separated from it by Muscongus Sound, is the long Nuscongus Island. The territory of the town is very large and the territory very uneven. There is much granite, but of a coarse quality. The soil is largely a clay loam. Potatoes form the largest crop. The principal pond is Biscay, forming part of the boundary at the north, and Burns' Pond, near the centre of the town,-both connected with Pemaquid River. The river itself expands into a harbor and empties into John's Bay. Bristol embraces the ancient Pemaquid, a place justly celebrated in the early history of New England as one of the earliest and most important settlements on the coast. The town forms about one-third of the Pemaquid patent, which was granted by the Council of Plymouth (England) in 1631, to Robert Aldsworth and Gyles Elbridge, two merchants belonging in Bristol, England. The patent covered the entier peninsula between the Damariscotta and Medomac Rivers to the sea, including the Darnariscove Islands, and all others within twenty-seven miles of the mainland. The proprietors commenced the settlement on the peninsula on the east side of the Pemaquid River, between its basin and John's Bay. This peninsula contains 27 acres; which, at that time, was covered with heavy forest trees. By 1632, there was quite a village at this point, and a fort of palisades had been erected. It was at this date that Dixy Bull, the renegade English coast trader, attacked and plundered the village.

In 1664, Bristol was claimed by the Duke of York to be within the patent he held from the crown, including also Sagadahoc and New York. Sir Edmund Andros, governor of New York, and later of New England, ruled in this part of Maine from 1674 to 1682. In order to secure English control in New York (New Amsterdam), he transported many of the Dutch settlers of that place to Pemaquid. Here some of them were sent to garrison Fort Charles. This structure stood at the south-western angle of the village, in such a position as to cammand the entrance to the harbor. Gyles in his "Tiagedies of the 'Wilderness," says that he built a city at the mouth of Pemaquid River, and named it Jamestown in compliment to time proprietor, the Duke of York, subsequently James I. The government of the region was for many years located here. The great number of old cellars that have been found, and some paved spaces as of a street, from time to time discovered beneath the soil, seem to corroborate this statement. Gyles also says that Andros built a fort here, which he named Fort Charles, and garrisoned with "a considerable number of soldiers." In the spring of 1675, King Philip's war broke out in Massachusetts, and by autumn had extended to Maine. The attitude of the Indians toward Pemaquid was threatening. By the untiring exertions of Abraham Shurt, a magistrate and very influential man at Pemaquid, the chiefs of the tribes dwelling at the heads of the rivers were induced to meet him in council. He promised them just remuneration for the furs which had been stolen from them, and security from future aggressions. The savages had great confidence in his probity, and the destruction of Pemaquid and the neighboring settlements was for a time averted. Neither side wholly observed their pledges; and several measures adopted by those having the control in Maine, the most important of which was the orders for the seizure of every Indian known to be a manslayer, traitor or conspirator." A ship-master having got possession of one of these warrants decoyed several Indians of this region on board, and carried them away with the intention of selling them as slaves. Shurt had warned the Indians of the designs upon them but to no effect; and the warriors made no discrimination in their rage. A murderous attack was at once made upon all time settlements and trading stations along the coast, and they were destroyed relentlessly.

Pemaquid, the centre of civilization in the Wilderness-one of the first born cities of the new world, was to meet its doom. The torch was applied, and the infant city soon enveloped in one devouring mass of flame." The settlers returnrd at the close of the war, in 1678; but the settlement had scarcely been placed on a comfortable footing when the English Revolution of 1688 began, and England was again at war with France. The colonies of each nation in America were quickly involved, and the savages again burned with rage against the English. Pernaquid was attacked by the French and Indians and destroyed; the fort being battered down, and most of the inhabitants either killed or taken prisoners. In 1692 the place was again in the control of the English; and Sir William Phips, a native of this region, and first governor of Massachusetts under the second charter, commenced its reconstruction; erecting a strong stone fort on a point of land whose extremity is marked by a large rock. Though so strong, the fort was in 1696 captured by the French by means of artillery, from the vessels and on the opposite shore. During Lovewell's war (1722-6) the fort became a rendezvous for the returned inhabitants of Pernaquid and vicinity,- though considerably decayed. Colonel Dunbar repaired it in 1729-30; but during the war of the Revolution it was destroyed, lest it might become a stronghold of the enemy.

An engagement between the British and the Pemaquid people actually occurred in 1814. On account of various annoyances which they had received from the venturous yeomen of the place, the British had for some time threatened Pemaquid. Accordingly on the 29th of June, the frigate Maidstone anchored in Fisherman's Island Harbor, whence 8 barges containing 275 men, set out for Pemaquid Harbor. Captain Sproul with about 100 men met them in the night; a dense fog enveloping the rival forces, so that neither the barges nor the men could be seen, except by the flashes of musketry. It is not known that any person was injured during the engagement, which lasted about an hour; but the British gave up the attempt on Pemaquid, and turned their boats toward New Harbor, one mile distant by land and seven by water. At their approach, the two boys stationed on guard fired the signal gun, and Captain Sproul and his men hastened to the rescue. William Rodgers, who lived near, called from the simore, warning them that a hundred Bristol boys would soon be upon them. They received his friendly counsel with ridicule, and the officer in command uttering an oath, ordered the bow gun to be discharged at him. The promised force was soon at hand; and from the shelter of the rocks along the shore, they sent havoc among the English forces. The foremost barge being disabled, fell back, amid another took its place. But fiimding they were suffering considerably while their enemies were secure, they gave up the contest, and returned to their ship without having inflicted any serious injury upon the Americans. The Maidstone hovered about the coast for a few weeks after this affair, wherm she returned to England, where the captain was court-martialed and discharged from the service "for making an attack upon Bristol without orders."

The inhabitants of Bristol are mainly of Scotch descent, with a mixture of Scotch-Irish. There are also descendants of the Dutch, some of whom were transported here from New Amsterdam (New York) by Governor Andros. There is also a sprinkling of German stock, who emigrated under the patronage of Waldo.

At Bristol village are a lumber-mill, a grist and threshing-mill, a block-factory, cooper's-shop, etc. At Pernaquid are lumber, grist and carding-mills, a fish-oil and scrap factory, etc. South Bristol has three oil companies, a shipyard and a lobster-canning factory. Round Pond, on the eastern shore, has five oil and scrap companies, a sail-factory, and a granite quarry.

The nearest railroad stations are those at Newcastle and Damariscotta. There is a stage-line from those points to Round Pond, Bristol and Pemaquid. The other business points are New Harbor, South and West Bristol. There are two churches of the Methodists, one church of the Congregationalists, and one of the Advents in the town. Bristol has twenty public schoolhouses, and its school property is valued at $10,200. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $488,125. In 1880, it was $589,159. The rate of taxation in the latter year was 2½ per cent. The population in 1870 was 2,916. In 1880 it was 3,196.

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