IN this State of magnificent rivers, the Kennebec has been widely regarded as
unsurpassed for its beauty, and the power and charms of the towns and cities which adorn its banks. Since the early
days of the colony, Gardiner has always been among the most influential and prominent of the communities in this
part of the State. With Hallowell and Augusta it gives a solidity and power to this heart of the State which makes
it a great center of industrial and political interest. The Kennebec Indians were the first known human occupants
of this vicinity. They have left traditions and memorials not loud but deep. The bones of their departed ancestors
are occasionally discovered throughout this region. All evidences go to show that the tribe was powerful and advanced
beyond the ordinary Indian standard. Their form of government and mode of life was nearly the best that has been
discovered to exist upon the hunting stage. They bad their councils and chief8, their orators, political managers
and medicine men. The fertility of the soil made them more than commonly agricultural in their tastes, so that
they were in the main a peaceful tribe, and did not give much annoyance to the English, who first came into this
region to form a permanent settlement about the middle of the 18th century, though there had been trading stations
along the river before that time.
After various transitions of ownership, a grant of this region was made in 1729 to William Bradford, of the New
Plymouth colony, the title later revoking to the colony itself. Through the "Kennebec Purchase," Dr.
Sylvester Gardiner became a proprietor in the company endeavoring to colonize this region in 1754, and to him this
region owes more than to any other man. Dr. Sylvester Gardiner was one of Boston's most talented, learned and able
professional men. Greatly interested in the growth of this vicinity, he gave such earnest and energetic attention
to its progress that a large grant of land here was awarded him for his services. In 1760, he sent out a little
company of seven men and four women, with their families, who were landed at this point of the river, and laid
the foundation of the town afterward named in Dr. Gardiner's honor.
In the following year Dr. Gardiner had a mill erected here, which was of great utility to the little but growing
village. Among the earliest settlers were Thomas, Pitch, Lovis, Winslow, Davis, MoCausland and Philbrook. The first
white child born was Jonathan Winslow. Before the settlement advanced very far it was confronted with the intemperance
question in the large importation of bad whiskey, etc., which obstruction to their progress was not removed until
after a long and hard struggle. Benaiah Door, who came here in 1763, became influential in the early days of Gardiner.
Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, though very energetic and successful in the druggist business, where he made his fortune,
had strong conservative leanings. He was one of the largest proprietors in the State of Maine, owning here over
100,000 good acres; but when the Revolution came on he gave them all up. for the sake of principle amd the mother
country. As he espoused the British cause he was obliged to leave Boston and his great possessions behind. But
through many Utigations after the war, his Sons managed to gain possession of their legitimate heritage, which
gave immense returns for Dr. Gardiner's laborious efforts. After the war, Dr. Gardiner returned to Boston, and
died at Newport in 1786.
The Revolution, however, found few Tories in this vicinity. Great enthusiasm was shown in the support of the principles
and battles of the Revolution. By united action the settlers around were able to send a company of thirty men,
under Reuben Colburn, to Cambridge in 1775. Others also enlisted in the disastrous expedition to Canada under Benedict
Arnold, who passed through the Kennebec valley in the fall of 1775. The town contributed more than its due share,
and took the deepest interest in the great cause; none rejoicing more heartily in the Declaration of Peace in 1783.
The closing years of the eighteenth and first of the nineteenth century were ones of marked progress. By 1808,
this part of the region bad so increased as to be set off from Pittston and incorporated as a separate town. Its
original name was "Cabbassia," from the Indian, meaning "the place where sturgeon abound."
At this time the population was estimated at about two hundred and fifty inhabitants.
The first town officers were as follows :-Moderator, Dudley B. Hobart; Town. Clerk, Seth Gray; Selectmeil, B. Gannett,
D. B. Hobart and William Barker. Soon after this the primitive name was changed in honor of the family which had
done so much to upbuild the place. The Gardiner Lyceum was founded in 1822, and was a stronginfluence in advancing
the intellectual life of the place from that time on.
Among the most prominent citizens of Gardiner at this period was the Hon. Geo. Evans, who represented this District
in Congress and was a leading man in State politics for many years.
An important commercial epoch was inaugurated in 1826, by the arrival of the first steamer run on the Kennebec,
The Waterville. Since then the facilities for transportation on water have rapidly increased, and now constant
communication by water is. maintained with Boston and other great cities. This fact has been very helpful to our
business interests, developing them and rendering Gardiner one of the choicest places for manufacturing settlement
in the State. Thi8 place is now the practical head of summer navigation on the Kennebec.
In 1848, the beautiful Oak Grove Cemetery was completed and consecrated. In 1850, the arrival of the first telegraphic
dispatch; and in 1851, the entrance of the first railroad train into Gardiner were events of deep and wide importance,
whose influence of upbuilding has been constantly felt up to the present time. Among the most remarkable men Gardiner
produced in the first half of the century was William Burns, born in 1819, who achieved a great success, both in
Boston and New York, as. a leading journalist. The population of Gardiner in 1850 had arisen to 6,486, and its.
valuation was $2,098,000. In the same year it was incorporated as a city, the first mayor being Mr. R. H. Gardiner,
and the city clerk John Webb. Since that time Gardiner has continued to develop its municipal government until
it is so effectual and reliable that it is a model, and has been, to many new cities. The Kennebec river at Gardiner
can easily float a vessel of 800 tons, and during the first half of this cen tury the shipping interests of Gardiner
were prosperous and progressive. The decay of this interest, and the separation from Gardiner of other towns, tended
to retard its growth, but the introducing of manufacturing enterprises has neutralized it and inaugurated a great
The military history of Gardiner has been honorable and energetic. A riflemen company was formed in 1818, which
took an important part in the land troubles about Augusta in that year. In the Mexican war the city was represented
by Col. F. T. Lally, Capt. Chas. N. Bodfish and other gallant soldiers. The duties involved by the civil war were
discharged with eagerness and celerity. A full quota of men was sent, largely enlisted in the 1st, 3d, 9th 11th,
14th, 15th, 24th, 28th and 29th State Volununteer Regiments. CoL Geo. K Atwood, of the 24th, and other gallant
officers and men maintained the honor of the city, not without loss and death. The city contributed generously
to all allied measures, and has not ceased to cherish the memory of its noble soldier eons
The water supply of Gardiner is chiefly confined to the Cabossee Center river, though there is a possibility of
vast power to be obtai ir ed from the Kennebec by wise utilization. Ontheformer stream there are eight powers whose
lowest possible value is 1200 horse, and which is capable, of great advancement. The privileges for manufacturing
here are of the finest, both as concerns the natural power and facilities of market. Among the chief interests
are lumber, machines, iron work, furniture, grain, plaster, woolen goods, paper, carriages, axes, brooms and other
utensils. No observant man can doubt that Gardiner is destined to great progress along these and other industrial
Gardiner has always been famed for its refinement and high moral standard. The schools are liberally and wisely
managed; the churches and all charities and benevo. lent work admirably sustained. The situation of the city is
remarkably beautiful and healthful. All sanitary measures have received careful attention, and natural advantages
improved by wise measures and works. The water supply is unsurpassed, and no luxury or utility necessary to a modern
city is lacking. It is a most delightful spot for a long and delightful summer residence. The cool breezes from
the river, the charming drives throughout the vicinity which contains many attractions, and the easy communications
possible with the great cities, render it a favorite among summer visitors, who have come to see its advantages.
Every year these become better known, and as the fame of the city spreads, there can be little doubt that the spirit
which carried it forward in the past will continue its development until before many aecades it takes its natural
place among the leading social and industrial centers of the State.
From the commercial standpoint recent years have brought good results and promise of greater things in the immediate
future. A more admirable situation to enjoy and share all the advancing prosperity of the Garden State could hardly
be chosen. With the finest water and rail facility, being on the main line of the Maine Central railroad, and connected
with Boston also by a steamer route making several round trips a week. Magnificent passenger steamers render this
line a most enjoyable one during the season, and freight rates to Boston and the whole country are reduced by the
transportation of this excellent route.: The large business deveopment in many lines has served to advance the
prosperity of the whole city.
The advantages of locating here for any manufacturer could hardly be over estimated. Great inducements are offered
and the facilities and privileges here are unsurpassed. With the tested and reliable enterprise of its citizens,
and the great opportunities now opening before the city, it is not unreasonable to expect that Gardiner is destined
to sure and advancing prosperity, and that it will come to be one of the leading centers of the kennebec valley,
after all, and prominent among the largest and most influential cities of the State.