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

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





Leeds, in Androscoggin County, lies Oetween Androscoggin River and Androscoggin Pond, sometimes called Wayne Pond. The town is about 5 miles wide at the middle portion, and nearly 13 miles long. It is also about 13 miles from West Leeds to Lewiston Falls, and the same distance from Livermore Falls. On the west lies Turner and a small portion of Livermore; the latter town and East Livermore are on the north, Wayne and Monmouth on the east; on the south is Greene and the western part of Wales. The Androscoggin River forms the western line, and by a bend to the eastward, nearly two-thirds of the northern line. Androscoggin Pond, on the eastern side, is about 4 miles long and 3 wide in its greatest extent, and has an area of nearly 6 square miles. The town contains about 23,000 acres of land. The Androscoggin Railroad passes through the midst longitudinally. Three villages of the town, Curtis's Corner, Leeds Centre, and North Leeds, are on this road. West Leeds, the other village, is on the Androscoggin River, about midway of the town. The manufactories consist of a board and shingle-mill at the Centre; a saw-mill and gristmill at West Leeds, and a board and shingle-mill at Curtis's Corner.

The streams are all small, Dead River being the largest. This stream is the outlet of a chain of ponds, of which Androscoggin Pond is the largest and last. It has the rare power of running either way at different times. Upon a sudden rise of the Androscoggin River, the flow sets back the current of Dead River into the pond. It sometimes flows into the pond for three or four days. The face of the county is diversified with hill and dale. North Mountain, Boothby Hill, Bishop's Hill and Quaker Ridge are the principal eminences, the highest being about 100 feet. Woodland, containing the usual trees of the region, exists in due proportion. The valleys of the larger streams contain much good interval, usually the best for cultivation; yet the dark soil of the high land yields well and is the best for fruit, and less liable to frost. The town has several peat hogs, the largest of which contains about 300 acres from 10 to 30 feet deep. The surface of the bog is 75 feet higher than Dead River, and a ditch less 75 rods in length would drain it. The amount of fuel this might afford is immense.

The territory was first called Littleborough from the Massachusetts family of that name, who were the largest proprietors. It was incorporated as the town of Leeds in 1801. A portion of Livermore above Dead River was annexed to it in 1802; in 1809 a strip half a mile in width, including Bishop's Hill, was set off from Monmouth and annexed; in 1810 the section known as Beech Hill was set off to Wayne, and in 1852 the south-east corner of Leeds was set off to Wales.

The first settlers were Thomas and Roger Stinchfield, who removed their families to Dead River in June, 1780. The two brothers had become acquainted with the vicinity in their hunts; and the year before had raised corn and vegetables, and in the winter transported thither four goats atid sundry household implements on the snow crust. They had also provided venison and maple sugar; so that their families were supplied with comfortable housing and subsistence at once. Other names of early families are Fish, Millett and Bishop. Several soldiers of the Revolution followed, of whom were Gilbert and Lothrop. Leadbetter, Lane, Lindsay, Pettengill, Turner, Morgan, Brewster, George, Cushman, and Robbins. The oldest inhabitant the town has had was Robert Gould, who died in 1868, aged ninety-nine years.

The Jennings family of this town has given some able men to the country, of whom may be mentioned Orville, an able lawyer in the Southwest, Roscoe G., formerly surgeon in the navy, later in resident of Arkansas. General Oliver O. Howard, well-known in the whole country, is a native of Leeds, together with his brothers, Rowland B., a minister and editor of ability, and Charles H., now publisher of "The Advance," a religious journal in Chicago.

The first religious meeting held in town was in 1794, at the request of Thomas Francis, a resident. In 1800 a Baptist church was organized, and Mr. Francis was ordained pastor. The Quakers formed an organization and erected a meeting-house about 1807, but the sect now appears to he extinct. The first Free Baptist church was erected about 1836, and the Methodists in 1851.

The number of schoolhouses in town is twelve, and the estimated value of school property, $4,000. The value of estates in 1870 was $456,348. In 1880 it was $415,486. The population in 1870 was 1,288; in 1880 1,194. The rate of taxation is about one cent on the dollar.

A number belonging in town rendered service in the war of 1812; and 161 were furnished to the national forces in the war of the Rebellion.

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