History of Bridgton, Cumberland,
Deering & Falmouth, Maine
From
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

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




BRIDGTON

Bridgton forms the northwestern corner of Cumberland County, and lies between Long Pond and the town of Denmark, in Oxford County. It is bounded on the north and north-west by Sweden and Waterford, in Oxford County, north-east by Harrison, south-east by Naples and Sebago, and south-west by Denmark. Long Pond separates it from Harrison, and extends nearly through the town of Naples to Lake Sebago, with which it is connected by Brandy Pond and a short stream called Songo River. Crotched, Upper Moose, Wood's, Ingalls, Otter and Beaver Ponds are wholly within the town. Kezar Pond lies on the north-western line of the town, and together with its feeder and outlet form the boundary between Bridgton and Fryeburg. The principal streams are Steven's Brook, the outlet of Crotched Pond and Willett's and Martin Brooks. The first furnishes the power at Bridgton Village, where are situated the Cumberland, Pondicherry and Forest woollen-mills, two grist-mills, two saw-mills, a shovel-handle and sash and blind factory, a foundry, machine-shop, hammer and cabinet-shops. There are on this stream ten or more available powers, of which not less than eight are improved. Withen a distance of a mile and a half this stream makes a descent of about 150 feet. The village is busy, thrifty and intelligent. The houses are neat, and generally have spacious grounds which are often ornamented with trees, shrubbery and flowers. The village has church edifices of the Congregationalist, Baptist, Methodist, and Universalist denominations. The schools are graded from primary to high, and their standard is well maintained.

At the little village called "Pinhook" or "Sandy Creek," south of the former, are a grist-mill, a saw-mill, carriage and boot and shoe factories. The Baptist church at this place is very pleasantly situated.

South Bridgton consists principally of one pleasant Street, on which are a Congregational church, and an excellent public schoolhouse. The manufactures are carriages and boots and shoes.

North Bridgton is a prettily laid out village at the northern extremity of Long Pond. This is the northern boat landing for the west side of the pond. The manufactures are cabinet-work, leather, lumber, meal, flour, boots and shoes, etc. The public edifices are the neat church of the Congregationalists, and the well-known Bridgton Academy, which continues to flourish, though so many schools of its kind have ceased to exist. West Bridgton, at the north-western corner of the town, has a schoolhouse and post-office.

The scenery in this town is delightful, both within and about the town; and the pleasure and comfort and safety of inland sailing may here be enjoyed to the full; the boats running from Harrison, at the extreme north of Long Pond, to all points on Lake Sehago. It is now probable that by the summer of 1881, a narrow-gauge railway will connect Bridgton directly with Portland, which must prove a means of much advantage and pleasure to the town and its visitors. Bridgeton was granted in 1761, by Massachusetts, to Moody Bridges and others, being divided into eighty-six shares. Sixty-one of these were held by individual proprietors; one was set apart for the support of the ministry; one, for the first settled minister; one, for Harvard College; one, for the support of schools; one, for the first settler in the township. In 1767 the proprietors named their town Bridgton, in honor of Moody Bridges, one of their number. It had previously been called Pondichorry. This is the name of a town in Ireland, but is said to have been humorously given to a tract lying between Long Pond and Pleasant Mountain on account of its numerous ponds and abundance of wild cherries. Captain Benjamin Kimball, in 1768, in return for the grant of a tract of land, bound himself to build a convenient house of entertainment, to keep a store of goods, and to hold himself in readiness with a boat of two tons burthien, rigged with a convenient sail, to carry passengers and freight from Piersontown to the head of Long Pond and back, at a specified rate whenever called upon by the proprietors, for the term of seven years. The same year, the proprietors in like mariner, contracted with Jacob Stevens to build and keep in repair a saw-mill and a corn-mill-which he did upon the outlet of Crotched Pond, ever since known as Steven's Brook. In 1782, certain lots on the shore of Long Pond were given to those settlers, who by greatest progress in clearings and building, merited reward; and these lots therefore have since been known as the "merited" lots. It was at the same time arranged to build a public mill at the locality now known as " Pinhook." Bridgton was incorporated as a town in 1794. There being a steady increase in wealth and population. In 1805 that part of its territory, lying on the easterly side of Long Pond, comprising about 8,500 acres, was set off from Bridgton to form in part the new town of Harrison. Again, in 1834, a tract of about 2,500 acres at the southeast corner of the town was set off to form a part of the new town of Naples. In 1847, to restore Bridgeton, as far as possible, to its former dimensions, there was acquired on the west, by annexations from the towns of Fryburg, and Denmark, a tract of about 3,500 acres-which territory is known as Texas-perhaps in reference to the State newly annexed at that time. The present area of the town is about 30,000 acres. The soil in general is very productive ; and the town can boast of many excellent and well cultivated farms.

The "Bridgton News," published weekly by its editor and proprietor, H. A. Shorey, Esq., is an able and spicy sheet.

The first minister settled in Bridgton was Rev. Nathan Church, who died in 1836, aged eighty-two. The Methodists, Universalists and Baptists each have a church in the town,-the Methodists have two and the Congregationalist three. Bridgton is unusually well supplied with public libraries; Bridgton village, and North and South Bridgton each possessing one.

Bridgton has twenty public schoolhouses, valued at $18,300. The valuation of real estate in 1870 was $855,197. In 1880 it was $1,102,613. The population in 1810 was 2,685. By the census of 1880, it was was 2,863.

CUMBERLAND

Cumberland oceupies the middle point in the shore line of Cumberland County. Its greatest length is from north-west to southeast, and is about three times its breadth. Yarmouth and North Yarmouth bound it on the north-east, Gray on the north-west, Falmouth on the south-west, and on the south-east Broad Cove and Casco Bay. To its jurisdiction belong Great Chebeague Island, Smooth Clapboard, Crow, Goose, Hope, Sand, Bangs, Sturdivaut, Stave, Ministerial, Bates', Broken Cave Islands and part of Groch Island. The first mentioned island is the largest, having about 600 inhahitants, and upwards of 100 dwellings, a post-office, a Baptist and a Methodist church, two or more schoolhouses, a fish-oil factory, etc. The principal occupation of the inhabitants is fishing.

The surface of the town is agreeably varied, without considerable elevations or depressions. Mill Hills are the greatest elevations. The rock is granite, and the soil clay with sandy and clay subsoil. It is an excellent farming town, and its agricultural fairs are always creditable. The principal collection of houses is at Cumberland Centre, which occupies an elevated site, and is a salubrious and pleasant village. It is also a place of much mental culture, having a Congregational church, and an excellent academy called Greely Institute. The institute is supported by a permanent fund left by the benefactor for whom it was named; and all youths in the town between the ages of twelve and twenty-one years are entitled to its instructions without cost. The institute has a good library, and it is also the Place where many excellent lectures and other intellectual entertainments are afforded to the people. Cumberland is notable for the many clistinguished persons,-ministers, missionaries, authors and teachers, who were born or have lived there. At the Foreside there are some fine residences, and many attractive homes.

The Androscoggin and the Kennebec lines of the Maine Central Railroad form a junction near the station, a short distance from the Centre. The Grand Trunk Railway crosses the town near the sea, having a station at Poland Corners. The manufactories consist of a carriage-factory at the Centre, a grist-mill and two saw and stave. mills at West Cumberland, etc. A large, old-fashioned wooden-build. ing constitutes a town-hall, convenient for many puiposes. The public and private property is generally in good repair, and the town has a thrifty look to the traveler. Along many of the public roads are shade-trees-maple and elm-from ten to one hundred years old. Cumberland was formerly a part of North Yarmouth, and the history of that town embraces the chief palt of the history of Cumberland, also. It was set off and incorporated in 1821.

Besides the churches already mentioned, the town has a Universalist church and two Methodist churches. Cumberland has nine public schoolhouses, valued at $28,500. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $511,920. In 1880 it was $556,460. The rate of taxation in 1880 was 15 mills on the dollar. The population in 1870 was 1,626. In the census of 1880 it was 1,619.

DEERING

Deering, one of the southern towns of Cumberland County, joins Portland in the western half of both, while their eastern parts are separated by the waters of Back Cove. Westbrook, from which it was taken, bounds it on the north-west, Falmouth on the north-east, the waters of Casco Bay on the south-east, and Back Cove, Portland and Cape Elizabeth, on the south. The Presurnpscot River forms the boundary line between the eastern halves of Deering and Westbrook. Fore River penetrates it in the western part, where it is also crossed by Stroudwater River and the Oxford and Cumberland Canal. The surface of the town is not greatly varied. Rocky Hill and Mitchell's Hill are the principal elevations. Granite and argillaceous rock underlie. The soil is generally clayey.

The principal business centre is Morrill's Corner, or Steven's Plains. Woodford's Corner, the next in extent, and nearer Portland, is largely a place of residence for persons doing business in the city. It is a pretty village with a handsome church and several fine residences. East Deering, connected with Portland by Tukey's Bridge and the Grand Trunk Railway, has shipbuilding for its principal business. The village is young and prosperous, and has provided itself with a neat hail for home entertainment. Beyond it is the United States Marine Hospital, situated on Martin's Point, where a bridge extends to Falin o uth Foreside. Beautiful Evergreen Cemetery, the principal burying-place of Portland, lies a little westward of Morrill's Corner. Forest City Trotting Park, and the adjoining grounds used for State Fairs, are on the eastern bank of Fore River. The Portland and Rochester Railway crosses the grounds, and the Cumberland and Oxford Canal terminates near by. West of these, and on the opposite side of the river, is Stroudwater willage. It now has a factory for canned foods, and a grain and salt mill producing about 80,000 bushels of meal and 40,000 boxes of ground salt annually. The first church was organized here in 1765, and Thomas Brown was ordained as pastor. Stroudwater was a flourishing village in the period when shipbuilding and the coasting trade were prosperous. There is another canningfactory at Bride's Bridge (Riverton), on the Presumscot River. At Morrill's Corner are tanneries, man ufac tories of brittania ware, boots and shoes, marble and granite monuments, etc. Near Deerings Bridge are the pottery, tile, and fire-brick works of the Portland Stoneware Co., occupying nearly four acres of ground. They have some of the largest kilns in the country, and turn out monthly about 30,000 firebricks and $2,000 worth of stone ware. About 70 men are employed. Other industries of the town are tree and plant nurseries, brick-making, pork-packing, boat-building, carriage and harness making, etc.

Richard Tucker and George Cleeves were the first local proprietors of land within the limits of Deering, having purchased of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, about 1637, 1,500 acres on Back Cove, between Fore River and the Presumpscot. In 1640 there were four families residing at Back Cove. King Philip's, or the first Indian war, broke out in 1675, but his vicinity was not attacked until August of the following year when an Indian known as "Simon, the Yankee-killer," a fugitive from Philip's defeated forces, made himself familiar at the house of Anthony Brackett, the principal settlei at Back Cove. A few days later one of his cows was missing, and the fact being mentioned before Simon, he said, "I can show you time Indians who killed time creature." He departed; but a few days later he returned accompanied by a hand of savages. "Here are the Indians who took your cow," said he. They killed Mr. Brackett and three of his neighbors, and carried their wives and children away captive, except that one woman with her children escaped in a canoe. Again in 1689, Brackett's farm was time scene of a fierce contest between a large body of French and Indians and the forces under the noted Major Church, by whose victory the neighboring village of Casco Neck was saved. The Deering mansion and farm, just north and west of the Deering Bridge, now occupy the locality of the fight. Futher incidents of its history can be found in the accounts of the towns of Falmouth and Westbrook, from which it was set off and incorporated in 1871.

"The village of Steven's Plains," says Elwell, "with its broad level streets, and side-walks shaded with umbrageons maples and elms, has a quiet and rural beauty. Its chief ornament is the Universalist Church, a very tasteful structure, built in 1867, at a cost of about $14,000. The church stands at the entrance of the grounds of the Westbrook Seminary. This institution, incorporated in 1831, was the first seminary of learning established in New England under the patronage of the Universalist denomination. The seminary building was erected in 1834, at a cost of $7,000." Goddard Hall and Hersey Hall, both large edifices of brick, were built, the first in 1859, time last in 1869. The institution has two courses in the collegiate department, and confers the degree of Laureate of Arts upon all young ladies who successfully pass examination in a classical course, and Laureate of Science in the scientific course. In the academic department diplomas are granted in two courses, English and College Preparatory.

Back Cove, Pride's Bridge, an elegant span of iron, Cumberland Mills, and other points afford views worthy the attention of visitors. The scene of an extensive land-slide into the Presumpscot, which forced the river from its bed, possesses interest to the geologist.

Besides the Universalist church just mentioned, there are in town two Congregational churches and one Methodist. The educational facilities in Deering are excellent. The schools are graded from primary to high. It has twelve public schoolhouses, and its school property is valued at $40,000. The valuation of estates in 1810 was $2,194,096. In 1880 it was $2,585,825. The rate of taxation in 1880 was $1.85 on $100. The population in 1870 was 3,795. By the census of 1880 it was 4,324.

FALMOUTH

Falmouth is situated a little south of the centre of Cumberland County. It is more than twice as long as broad; and its greatest length is from south-east to north-west. The south-east of the town, known as Falmouth Foreside, borders on Casco Bay. On the northeast it is bounded by Cumberland, on the north-wet by Windham, and on the south-west by Westbrook and Deering. The Mackay's, the Brothers, and the Clapboard islands, off the shore belong to the town jurisdiction. The surface is agreably diversified with hill and dale, forest and field; having also considerable salt-marsh. The greatest elevations are Poplar Ridge, in the northern part of the town, and Black' Strap Hill, a couple of miles southward of the latter. The The prevailing rocks are gneiss and granite. The soil is favorable to agriculture and is generally well-cultivated. Duck Pond, about two miles in length, lies at the north-western angle of the town. The Presumpscot passes through the south-western part, forming a considerable basin at its mouth. Piscataqua River, coming from the northern part of the town, is a tributary of the Presumpscot. The other streams are the East Branch of the Piscataqua, and Mill Creek, in the middle and south-eastern part of the town respectively. The Grand Trunk Railway passes across the lower part of the town, and the Maine Central across the middle. The latter crosses the Presumpseot on an iron bridge of a single span 135 feet in length. Falmouth has manufactures of brick at several points; meal and flour at West Falmouth and New Casco; carriages, boots and shoes and tinware, at Presumpscot Falls (Falmouth P. 0.); hubs, spokes, carriage stock, brick and lumber machines at West Falmouth.

The town was incorporated in 1718, being named for an ancient seaport in England. it originally extended from Spurwink River to North Yarmouth, and 8 miles back into the country, embracing a territory of about 80 square miles. It thus included the present towns of Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Westbrook, Decring and Portland. The chief part of the history of ancient Falmouth will, therefore, be embraced in the history of Portland. The first settlement within the present corporate limits was as early as 1632, at Falmouth Foreside, by Arthur Mackworth, who soon after obtained a grant of 500 acres of land from Sir Ferdinando Gorges. He was one of the most respectable of the early settlers, serving as a magistrate for many years. The island opposite his residence has since borne his name, but corrupted into Mackay. This shore is now thickly occupied with neat and substantial farm-houses, and the more imposing edifices of thrifty ship-masters, together with a few summer residences of Portland citizens. Chief among these is that of Hon. Chas. W. Goddard, and Gen. John M. Brown's "Thornhurst Farm," noted for its fine stock.

The broad point on the eastern side of the Presumpscot Basin has much historic importance. The settlements on Presumpscot River in this town were among the first attacked. The family of Thomas Wakely, consisting of nine persons, remote from others, were destroyed with details of shocking barbarity; one only, a girl of fourteen escaping massacre to he carried away captive. The fort and settlemant at Casco Neck (Portland) was destroyed by the Indians in 1690, and in 1698 in pursuance of the recent treaty, a fort and trading-house was erected at this point for the accommodation of the Indians; wherefore the place came to be called New Casco to distinguish it from the Neck where Fort Loyal had stood, which was now called Old Casco. In 1703, Governor Dudley held a conference with the Indians here, to which came, well-armed and gaily painted, a large number of warriors of each tribe of Maine. The Androscoggins in attendence numbered. about 250 warriors in 65 canoes. The chiefs professed the most peace. ful intentions, and the warriors celebrated the occasion in the most demonstrative manner; yet within two months "the whole eastern country was in a conflagration, no house standing or garrison unattacked." In this war, New Casco was a centre of defence for the settlements on Casco Bay. The attack upon it was made by 500 French and Indians, and it was only saved from capture by the opportune arrival of an armed vessel of the province, whose guns quickly scattered the savage fleet of 250 canoes, and compelled the Indians to make a hasty retreat. in 1716 the fort was demolished by order of the Massachusetts Government, to save the expense of maintaining a garrison at this point. A short distance along the main road is a beautiful spot on Mill Creek, which for one hundred and forty years was occupied by a rude mill of the early settlers of the Foreside. The views for the whole extent of this road are very attractive, abounding in noble shade-trees and charming ocean views.

The records of the town previous to 1690, are not known to exist. In 1735, the people of New Casco petitioned for preaching, and in 1752, to be set off as a distinct parish Accordingly, in December, 1753, this parish was incorporated, in 1754 the church was formed, and in 1756 John Wiswall was settled over it. Rev. Ebenezer Williams labored here from 1765 to 1799. There are now two Congregational churches, a Free Baptist and a Methodist church in the town. Falmouth sustains a high-school, and is the owner of twelve schoolhouses valued at $7,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $688,527. In 1880 it was $769,470. The population in 1870 was 1,730. By the census of 1880, it was 1,626.

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