History of Brunswick, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

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

Brunswick is the most easterly town of Cumberland. County. On the south it Is bounded by bodies of water connected with Casco Bay. On this side lies Harpswell, connected with Brunswick by a bridge and a neck of land scarcely more than fifty rods in width. On the east lies West Bath, in Sagadahoc County, separated from Brunswick by New Meadows River. The Androscoggin River, in the form of a bent bow, separates Brunswick from Topsham, in Sagadahoc County. Freeport lies on the west, and Durham, in Androscoggin County, on the north-west. In the southern part of the town are several good havens for vessels, of which are Maquoit and Middle bays. The Androscoggin soon after passing the falls in this town broadens and becomes navigable for vessels. Many of these have been built at Brunswick in the Narrows, and more in Topsharn, on the opposite bank of the river. This stream is spanned by two elegant iron bridges, one of which is for steam cars. There is also a wooden bridge for both teams and steam cars. The scenery about the falls is quite picturesque, and the vicinity probably affords more pleasing drives than any other town in New England. There is here a natural fall of 40.88 feet (easily to be increased to 55 feet) within a horizontal distance of 1,980 feet. The rock occasioning these falls is a coarse graphic granite with gneiss, and shows some fine crystallization; among others, large garnets, green felspar, quartz, etc. Oak Hill in the western part of the town, the Pinnacle, in the extreme west, and Ham's Hill, on the eastern side, are the prin cipal though not great elevations of land. The eastern half of the town is level, and the soil a sandy loam, with a numerous growth of Norway pine. The western part is much varied with moderate elevations and depressions. The soil is chiefly a gravelly loam. All parts of the town are tolerably productive. The chief crop is hay. The manufactures are cotton cloth, wood-paper pulp, paper boxes, lumber, carpentry, pumps, soap, marble and granite work, carriages and harnesses, leather, furniture, boots and shoes, washing machines, meal and flour, confectionery, ships and boats. The Cabot Manufacturing Co., organized in 1857, owns most of the water-power on both sides of the river. The factory of this company employs upward of 500 hands, and produces fine and coarse sheeting and drills. Below this are a grain mill, a lumber and carpentry mill and a wood-pulp paper factory. There are also in the village one or two paper-box factories, gas works, a grain mill run by steam-power, and in the western part of the town is a plow-factory. Some $10,000 has recently been invested in a corn canning factory. Brunswick was formerly a great lumber-producing, place, having had, half a century ago, thirty saw mills, besides cotton, woolen and grain-mills. It is situated at the head of tide water on the Androscoggin, and is midway between Portland and Augusta, being connected with these places, and also with Bath and Lewiston by railways. Brunswick is the seat of Bowdoin College, the oldest and best furnished educational institution in the State. It was named for James Bowdoin, governor of Massachusetts at the date of its incorporation, June 24, 1794. Five townships, situated in what is now Piscataquis County, were granted by the State for its support. Hon. James Bowdoin, son of the governor, some years later gave the college 7,000 acres of land, £1,100 in money, his library, collections of minerals, paintings and philosophical apparatus. Rev. Joseph MeKeen was the first president, and the first class entered in 1802. His successors have been Drs. Jesse Appleton, William Allen, Leonard Woods, Samuel Harris and Joshua L. Chamberlain. The scholarship has always been maintained at a high standard. Besides the classical course, there are scientific departments open to the undergraduate, and four schools to the graduate, viz.: letters, (including fine arts), science, philosophy and medicine. There is a military professor, and the lower classes are trained in military science and tactics. The library has about 35,000 volumes. There are some 250 students. The college has recently received gifts to the amount of $110,000.*

Brunswick's oldest newspaper, the "Brunswick Telegraph," is edited and published by A. G. Tenney, of the Bowdoin class of 1835. The other is the Brunswick Herald, conducted by J. Dike, a recent graduate. The press of Joseph Griffin, so long associated with the college, has more than a local reputation. Numerous journals and newspapers have been at one time and another issued by him, and up to 1873, he had published works of the different presidents of the college to the number of seventy-eight. In addition to the noted men of Brunswick already mentioned we must name Hon. Robert P. Dunlap, Joseph McKeen, Esq., William S. Perry, and Professors Parker Cleaveland, Thomas C. Upham and William Smyth.

Brunswick was first settled by Thomas Purchas some time previous to 1628. His later dwelling appears to have been on Stevens's or New Meadow River, near the head of sloop navigation. He engaged extensively in the salmon and sturgeon fishing on the Androscoggin River, having a fish-house between the falls and "The Landing" at Brunswick village, and another at Lisbon Falls. The one in Brunswick was of stone. In this business he was associated with a London house. He also engaged in trade with the Indians. Before the breaking out of the first Indian war, in 1675, he had become a large producer of corn; and, after the flight of his family, the crews of a sloop and a boat, which had come to his store-house on the shore of New Meadows River to carry away the corn, were attacked by the Indians while loading. In 1631 he married Mary Gove, said to he the cousin of Sir Christopher Gardner, who was for some years in Massachusetts and Maine as the agent of Gorges. Gardner was sent back to England by the Massachusetts authorities in 1631 on charges which were not sustained. Within two years he was again in New England, spending a part of the time with Purchas, at Pejepscot. it appears that the patent of land on the Androscoggin to Thomas Purchas and George Way was issued during Gardner's presence in England. This tract was four miles square on the river Pejepscot toward the sea. In 1636-8 Purchas was one of the councillors in Gorges' government of Maine. In 1639, fearing the Indians, he placed himself under the protection of the Massachusetts Bay government. In 1654 he submitted to the New Plymouth government on the Kennebec, and was one of the two assistant councillors and justices under that government in that part of Maine. In 1663-4 he was one of Archdale's justices under the King's commissioners. At the date of his first marriage he was about fifty years of age. His second wife was Elizabeth Williams of Essex County, Massachusetts. He died in Salem in 1676, aged 101 years, leaving four children. His heirs sold his share in the patent (except a certain reserve near the present village of Brunswick) to Richard Wharton, a merchant of Boston. Wharton also purchased Mericoneag Peninsula (Harpswell) of the Indians. He soon after purchased of Warumbee and other Androscoggin chieftains a quit claim of the territory four miles on each side of the river to the Twenty-Mile Falls, now Lewiston Falls. From Wharton, the patent and the purchase from the Indians passed into the hands of a number of gentlemen (mostly residing in Boston) who associated themselves under the name of the Pejepscot Proprietors; and from these and General Waldo, who had purchased the reserve of the Purchas heirs, the present titles are derived.

After the desolation of the first Indian war, the settlement was revived; but it was again destroyed in the spring of 1690. The settlements were resumed in 1713-14; and in 1715 a stone fortification named Fort George was erected near the falls by the government. There was also a block-house furnished with small cannon near Mare (Sea) Point about this time. Yet in Lovewell's war, in 1722, the dwellings were a third time reduced to ashes. The town was again repeopled in 1727. In 1735 there were thirty or forty men in town. In 1790 the census was 1,387. The town was incorporated in 1737, taking the name of one of the twelve States of the German Confederation. The first minister of the town, Rev. Robert Rutherford, was settled at this time. He was succeeded by Rev. Robert Dunlap, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, who was ordained to this pastorate in 1747 by a presbytery in the French Protestant church of Boston. There are now in the town churches of the Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, Unitarians, Universalists, Episcopalians, Free Baptists, and Roman Catholics. Brunswick village has excellent schools, graded from primary to high. In the town are twenty-five public schoolhouses, valued at $35,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $2,305,806. In 1880 it was $2,684,374. The rate of taxation in the latter year was 16½ mills on the dollar. The population in 1870 was 4,687. In the census of 1880 it was 5,384.

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