China is situated in the eastern part of Kennebec County,
on the western branch of the Sheepscot River. It is bounded by Winslow and Albion on the north, Vassalboro on the
west, Windsor on the south, and Palermo, in Waldo County, on the east. It touches Augusta at the south-western
angle. Stage-lines from Vassalboro to Bangor and Belfast to Waterville run through the town. China was a part of
the Plymouth Patent, and was survayed in 1774 by John Jones sometimes called "Black Jones," from the
darkness of his complexion. He was not of the present Jones family in the town. The first settlers were a large
family named Clark, who came from Nantucket. They were members of the Society of Friends. Mrs. Clark, whose maiden
was Folger, is said to have been a sister of Benjamin Franklin's mother. The Clarks, on one of their fishing excursions
in the fall of 1773, ascended the Kennebec as far as Gardiner, where they fell in with surveyor Jones, and the
next year removed to the new plantation. The place was first organized under the name of Jones' Plantation. In
1776 it was incorporated under the name of Harlem; in 1818 portions of this and of Albion and Winslow were incorporated
as the town of China, and the remainder of Harlem was annexed in 1822.
The principal body of water within the town is China Lake, which is 7 miles long and about 1 mile wide, extending
from near the northern line of the town south-west nearly to Three Mile Pond, at the south-western corner of the
town. On the western side extending into Vassaihoro, and connected by a passage called the Narrows with a longer
division of the lake, is another about 4 miles long and 2 wide. The Sebasticook River forms the outlet. The land
along the lake rises from its gravel beach in gradual slopes to moderate heights. The rock in town is mostly granite.
The usual woods are found. The soil is excellent. The western branch of the Sheepscot passes through the eastern
part of the town, affording several small powers. At Weeks's Mills on this stream arc a grist-mill, lumber, and
two shinglemills. At Palermo post-office, or Branch Mills, are a lumber and grist mill. The town has a cheese-factors,
tannery, several small boot and shoe factories, etc. The centres of business in the town besides those already
mentioned, are China Village, at the north, the seat of China Academy, and South China, beautifully situated at
the south end of lake.
China sent 125 soldiers into the army in the war for the Union, of whom 10 were lost. Major James P. Jones and
Mr. Joseph Stuart are among former distinguished citizens. Eli and Sybil Jones, preachers of the Society of Friends,
have become widely known and. esteemed, even as far as Palestine, by their ministry. The Baptists, Methodists,
Friends, and others have churches in the town. China has twenty-one public schoolhouses, estimated at $3,000. There
is also a library of about 500 volumes. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $650,588. In 1880 it was $571,203.
The population in 1870 was 2,118. In 1880 it was 1,769.