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

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




Calais is situated at the eastern extremity of Washington County at the head of the tide on the St. Croix River. It is bounded by Baring on the west, Robbinston on the south, and on the east and north by St. Andrews and St. Stephens, in New Brunswick. The St. Croix River forms the dividing line between Calais and the two latter places. The area of the town is 19,392 acres. The sheets of water are West Magurrewock Lake in the south-west, and East Magurrewock, stretching from the centre of the town southward, and about these, Beaver, Vose, and Round Lakes. Granite and slate are the prevailing rocks. The territory was formerly covered with dense forests of pine timber. When Napoleon excluded the British from the Baltic, they resorted to Calais for the supplies of timber necessary to their shipyard. From that day to the present the place has been noted for its lumber business. Within city limits are eight valuable water-powers, of which five are improved. These improvements consisted, in 1860, of saw-mills having a total of twenty-one gangs of saws, capable of cutting annually 55,000,000 feet of long lumber; nineteen lath-machines, cutting 49,000,000 laths; shingle-machines, capable of cutting 2,500,000 shingles. There are also two planing-mills, one run by steam-power, one planing-machine factory, one saw-factory, two axe-factories, and four grain-mills. The aggregate annual production of the ]ast is 70,000 bushels of grain converted into meal and flour, and of the axe factory, 600 dozen axes. The value of the annual production of Calais mills is about $2,000,000. There remains a large surplus of power unused, and a cotton-mill and other industries are projected. Other manufactures are bricks, bedsteads, brooms, carriages, plaster, ships, etc. There are two marine railways and one dry-dock. Being a port on waters navigable by large vessels, and having a harbor open nine months in the year, the facility of transportation enables the products to be placed in sea-coast markets at a lower cost than those of almost any other lumber-making place. At Red Beach are immense deposits of variegated granite, which are extensively wrought, and about which quite a village has sprung up. In 1872, besides laths, clapboard and shingle-mills there were in operation at Calais and Baring thirty-eight mills, mostly owned by residents of Calais. Calais is connected with the towns up river as far as Princeton by the St. Croix and Penobscot Railway, which will probably, in a few years, be extended to a connection with the European and North American. A connection of Calais with the latter road is already made by means of the St. Andrews branch, which here crosses the river by a bridge. There are also three highway bridges connecting Calais with St. Andrew and St. stephens Surrounding towns including Eastport, 30 miles south, are reached by stages; and various sea-ports, east and west, by the Frontier and International steamboat lines. The Post-Offices are Calais, Militown at the northern, and Red Beach at the southern border. The telegraphic connection is also good.

Calais is a small, but pleasing city. There are many tasteful and handsome residences. Several of the streets have shade-trees of recent, and others ancient of growth; and some have charming vistas. There is an odor of pine lumber about the city, with just enough of tile provincial character accompanying to give a fresh and attractive flavor to the place.

The first permanent white settler of Calais was Daniel Hill, from Jonesboro, Me., who made a clearing on Ferry Point. He was an athletic and fearless man, and had served in the Indian war of 1758-60. The Indians about him knew this fact, and greatly feared him, though he kindly aided and instructed them in their farming. Samuel Hill came in 1781. In 1782 Daniel Hill, Jacob Libby and Jeremiah Frost built the first saw-mill, the location being iiear the mouth of Porter's Stream. There were so few men that the women assisted in raising the frame. Daniel Hill brought in the first oxen and did the first farming. By order of the General Court of Massachusetts, the territory along the southern part of St. Croix was, in 1789, divided into townships. In June of the same year the township which is now Calais was sold to Waterman Thomas of Waldobrough, Me., for the sum of £672.

About six years later Mr. Thomas sold half the township to Shubael Downes, of Walpole, Mass., one quarter to Edward H. Robbins, of Milton, Mass., and one-quarter to Abiel Woods. Subsequently Edmund Monroe bought a large portion of the lands of Downes and Woods. A few years later Samuel Jones re-surveyed the township and divided it into settlers' lots of 50 to 100 acres each; and Jones's lines still remain the boundary and farm lines. In 1801 Jairus Keen, from Duxbury, Mass., built at Calais the first vessel launched on this river, naming it "Liberty." In 1803 a saw-mill was erected at Milltown by Abner Hill and others ; the machinery working so effectively that this became known as tile "Brisk Mill." Stephen Brewer, Esq., of Boston, who became a resident of Calais in 1804 or 1805, was the first to export sawed lumber from Calais. He was educated, of good property, and soon became influential. He presided at the first town-meeting, was the first justice of the peace, and first post-master. He introduced the first wagon, and aided liberally in fitting and furnishing the first church. His widow, in 1815, received a chaise from the Boston friends of her late husband ; and this was the first carriage of the kind seen in Calais. Shubael Downes, Jr., a proprietor, constructed the first gristmill, and kept the first hotel. The first bridge across the St. Croix was at Milltown, built in 1825. The bridge between Calais and St. Stephen was erected in 1826. In 1849-50 a railroad was built connecting Calais with Baring, and a few years later it was extended up the St. Croix to Princeton. Calais was originally township No. 5. It was incorporated as a town in 1809, and was granted a city charter in 1850.

In a later period, Frederick A., James S. and Charles E. Pike, sons of William Pike, an early settler, became distinguished in finance authorship and politics. Frederick represented his native district in Congress eight years, and James S. was several years on the editorial staff of the New York "Tribune." Another resident of Calais, the wife of Hon. F. A. Pike, before mentioned, is the author of the novels, "Ida May," "Caste" and "Agnes"; and Harriett Prescott Spofford, of Newburyport, Mass., the popular magazinist, was a native of this plate.

Calais was incorporated as a town in 1809, and as a city in 1850; Hon. George Downes being chosen as the first mayor. Calais Savings Bank, at the beginning of the present decade, held in deposits and profits the sum of $172,651.47. The Calais National Bank has a capital of $100,000. The "Calais Advertiser," issued every Wednesday by John Jackson, Esq., is a sterling newspaper. It is republican in politics. The "Times" is a newsy sheet published every Friday by Messrs. Whidden Rose. It is an organ of the greenback party.

the first minister who preached in Calais was Rev. Duncan McCall in 1790. The Congregational society, was organized in 1825, and the first church edifice was built in the year following. Revs. Mark Trafton and Jeremiah Eaton were among the first itinerant preachers in these parts. There are now several handsome houses of worship in Calais, and the usual religious societies to be found in a place of this size. The city has seventeen public schoolhouses, and the school property reaches a valuation of $50,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $1,523,452. In 1880 it. was $1,732,056. The population in 1870 was 5,944. In 1880 it was 6,172.

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