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

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





Hampden is the most south-easterly town in. Penobscot County west, of the Penobscot River: having Bangor on the northeast, Herinon on the north, Orrington on the east—separated by the Penobscot. Newhurgh on the west, and Winterport, in Waldo County, on the south. The area is 23,040 acres. The surface is rolling rather than billy. The soil is favorable for agriculture. Hermon Pond lies on the north-west corner, with which are nearly connected two smaller ponds, Stetson and Patten, lying wholly within the town. Through these ponds flows the Soadabscook, entering the Penobscot at Hampden Village. The principal stream beside this is the west branch of the Soadabscook, rising in the south-west part of the town and emptying into Stetson Pond in the north-west. The principal water-power is near the mouth of the Soadabscook, at Hampden village. The manufactures of the town are paper (two mills) meal and flour, boats, barrels, coopers’ ware and stock, etc. This and Hampden Corners, a short distance south on the river are considerable villages. Both are ports, and have in time past had a large maritime commerce, and still have some business on the sea. Other small villages are East and West Harnpden, both in the northern part of the town.

The first settler in Hampden was Benjamin Wheeler, who came from New Ham nshire about 1767, and built his dwelling near the “Basin” at the mouth of the Soadabscook. Other settlers came in; and Wheeler, being a carpenter, built mills; and the settlement soon became known as Wheelersborough. Being molested and threatened by the British, the settlers, in 1779, retired through the woods to the Kennebec, and from thence to Woolwich and Portland. In 1783 they returned. In 1796 the township was surveyed and lotted by Ephaim Ballard, and every householder received 100 acres of land. If he were a settler before 1784, he paid the government $6 but if afterward and before January, 1794, he paid $50. The residue of the township was assigned to General Knox, to make up for a deficiency under the Waldo Patent. After the peace there were large accessions of settlers, many from Cape Cod ; and in 1794 the town was incorporated. The name was chosen in honor of the English patriot, John Hampden.

Among the early settlers were Gen. John Crosby, who entered into commercial business, and carried on an extensive trade both with Euiope and the East Indies. Another prominent man was General Gabriel Johonot, a brave Frenchman who served under Washington, and was subsequently his friend and correspondent. lion. Martin Kinsley, General Jedediah Herrick, Enoch Brown and John Godfrey were also prominent citizens of the town. Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, Vice-President and Senator of the United States, settled in Harnpden as a lawyer about 1832.

During the last war with England the United States corvette “Adams,” of 24 guns, commanded by Capt. Charles Morris, having struck a sunken rock in Penobscot Bay, came to Harnpden to repair the injury. A principal object of the British expedition up the river in the autumn was the capture of this vessel while she was dismantled and helpless. The British force consisted of two sloops of war, one brig, and several transports, with their crews and several hundred regulars. Captain Morris landed his guns, and erected two batteries, one on the wharf, and one on a hill 200 yards below. The militia collected to the number of about 600; and under the command of General Blake, of Brewer, took up a position on the ridge to oppose the troops as they advanced up the road from where they had landed at Bald Hill Cove. When within about 300 yards of General Blake’s position, the British opened fire, then advanced with fixed bayonets in “double quick.” Being without breastworks, and outflanked, the militia quickly gave way and made a precipitate retreat. The foe then charged on Captain Morris’s batteries, driving their few defenders from their cannon at the point of the bayonet. Captain Morris at once blew up his ship, and with his men retreated to Bangor, thence to Portland. Incensed at thus losing their prize, the officers for three days permitted the sailors, marines and infantry full liberty on shore, where they Comitted many excesses in the plunder of citizens and destruction of property. When the enemy finally departed they took with theni nearly 80 of the citizens as prisoners of war, who were only released on the promise of the selectmen to pay a ransom of $1,000. This incursion was a heavy blow to the citizens of Hampden; but they fully recovered in a few years, and have ever since continued prosperous.

The well-known Hampden Academy was incorporated March, 1803, and is still doing its good work of education. Many persons who have taken leading positions in town and State were educated here. Hampden has churches of the Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodists, there being two of the latter. The number of public schoolhouses is eighteen; and the value of the school property is estimated at $10,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $739,339. In 1880 it was $676,017. The population in 1870 was 3,068. In 1880 it was 2,911.

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