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

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





Lisbon is the most south-easterly town of Androscoggin County on the eastern side of the Androscoggin River. That stream, however, by a bend to the eastward forms the line of separation beween Lisbon and Durham, on the south. On the east of it lie Topsharn and Bowdoin; Webster bounds it on the north, and Lewiston on the west. The town contains nearly 12,000 acres. It lies about 8 miles south-east of Lewiston Falls, and 10 north-west of Brunswick. It has no ponds, but Sabattus River runs through it from north to south, and Little River forms the larger part of the eastern boundary. The surface of the town is little varied by hills and valleys; but a broad elevation called the Ridge extends into it at the north-west; continuing southward to Durham, except where it has been cut through or washed away by the rivers; and the streams have wrought large and small gorges along their courses. The soil is of clay, gravelly and sandy loams, with rich intervals along the streams. There is a considerable extent of pine, interspersed with spruce and hemlock on the plains, with deciduous woods on the upland. The fertile and easily cultivated soil, and its proximity to the markets of Lewiston and Auburn, render it an important agricultural town. Its own villages of Lisbon Factory and Lisbon Falls, also, having a manufacturing population, afford a considerable market. Both are on the Androscoggin railroad, a branch of the Maine Central, by which they have easy communication with Lewiston and Brunswick. The town is also rich in its water-powers. Little River on the south has two, not utilized at present; on the Androscoggin, at Lisbon Falls (the second falls from the sea) is the large woollen-mill of the Worumbo Manufacturing Company, incorporated in 1864, and having a capital of $250,000. This factory employs about 100 males and 70 females, There are two buildings strongly built of brick. The amount of power used is 150 horsepower. The annual production is about 120,000 yards of all-wool beaver cloth. Near by is the saw-mill of the Androscoggin WaterPower Company, manufacturing annually from three to five million feet of lumber, and employing 30 men and boys. The capital stock is $50,000. A short distance below it on a canal, is a grain-mill belonging to the same company. Only about 350 horse-powers of above 5,000 at tins point are used. Sabattus Pond, about five miles long and two wide, with an average depth of 30 feet, is the source of Sabattus River. The latter is near seven miles in length, about half of which is in the town of Lisbon. In this distance there are five powers. The first or upper power is occupied by number one of Farwell's Mills, and a saw-mill. The first manufactures cotton shirtings. Its number of spindles is 3,136; and its annual production is about 500,000 yards. The number of operatives is upwards of 50, about two-thirds being malea The second power is occupied by an excellently built brick-mill 346 feet long, 52 wide, and three stories in height, and having a working capacity of 12,000 mule spindles. This is number two of Farwell's Mills. Captain E. M. Shaw is the agent for all these mills. The next power below is occupied by the Farnsworth Manufacturing Company., incorporated in 1864, with a capital of $100,000, with W. F. Milliken as treasurer. The building is of brick, and there are six sets of machinery. The production is about 222,700 yards of goods, mostly repellant cnssimeres. The number of operatives is, males 41, females 56. The fourth power, next below, where there is a fall of 12 feet with a good wooden clam, is at present unoccupied. There is another power a short distance below, also unoccupied. There was a cloth-mill erected on Little River as early as 1806, but it has been long out of existence. John MayaII in 1808 erected a wooden building for a woolen mill on a power just above the bridge at Lisbon Village on the Sabattus, occupying it until 1822, when it was purchased by Horace Corbett as a satinet-mill until 1850, when he quit the business. In 1860 it was refitted by J. F. Hirst, who manufactured repellants there until 1863, when he removed to Sabattusville and erected a brick-in ill. John Robinson immediately took this old place, and manufactured flannels until 1867, when he removed to Massachusetts. The mill was then sold to N. W. Farwell, who has changed it into a cotton mill. A short distance below on what is known as Moody's privilege, a grist-mill was built on the east side of the streani as early as 1800 by Gideon and Abel Curtis, when what is now called "Lisbon Factory" was called "Curtis' Mills." William Batchelor afterwards built a mill for making scythes just above this mill, and carried on the business for several years. The first mill on the west side was built about 1804 by Gideon Curtis, and was afterward owned by Nathaniel Gerrish, Esq., who carried on the lumber business. He was a justice of the peace, and served as school committee, and in other town offices. He sold the mill property to Joseph Moore. Both these have finally come to the ownership of N. W. Farwell, and have been improved by him in the manner previously described. Besides these, Abner Coomhs built a mill at "The Plains" in 1804; and in 1839 a company from Fall River erected a cotton-mill just below where Farnsworth's Mill now stands, but it was burned in 1840, before any machinery was put in. Cephas Farnsworth came here from Norridgewock in 1823, and carried on a carding and dressing-mill for some years previous to 1845. His son Josiah carried on a saw-mill previous to 1863, when Benjamin B. Farnsworth, a son of Cephas, formed a company and built the present Farnsworth Mill in 1864. At Lisbon Falls (formerly known as Little River-from the stream just below) were at one time, from 1790 to 1800, six large saw-mills, a corn and grist-mill, and a carding-mill. The logs were saw-n at these mills and the lumber conveyed by teams to tidewater at Topsham and Cathance (now Bowdoinharn). The French troubles of 1800, the embargo and war of 1812 following in succession, obliged the owners to relinquish the mills and the business, resulting in their dispersion to other parts.

The Indians are said to have called these falls, Anmecangin, signifying much fish. Thomas Purchas of Brunswick had a fish-house here about 1650, carrying on the business of catching arid curing salmon for the London market. The first settler was probably a Mr. White, who lived in a log-house on the road to Webster Corner, and afterward purchased White's Hill. Then Russell Hinckley scttled a short distance beyond 'White, and Joseph Hinkley near by.

Lisbon was formerly a part of the town of Bowdoin, which was a part of the Kennebec Purchase. Lisbon was incorporated under the name of Thompsonborough in 1799. It was so named in honor of the Thompson family, of Topham, who were large owners in what was then known as Little River Plantation. The name was changed in 1802 to the present one. Little River Plantation (now Lisbon Falls) was a part of the Pejepscot Purchase, being a gore lying between Androscoggin, Sabattus and Little rivers, and was annexed to Lisbon in 1808. In 1840 a portion of the territory was set off from the northern part forming a new town by the name of Webster.

The first ferry was established at Southwest Bend above Bend Island in 1799, by John Dean. In 1810 one was established below the island, and both continued running until 1817 when a bridge was built. In April, 1810, this bridge was carried away. James Sawyer, 'William Green and Lernuel McGrcy were on it at the time, and were carried down the river 400 rods or more, and were taken off by two men in a batteau. The bridge was rebuilt the same season, and in 1846 was again carried away; and a ferry has been the means of crossing ever since.

Prominent in business or in town affairs in the early part of the present century were Abraham 'Whitney, Samuel Tilton, Jabez B. Fletcher, Merrell Jordan, Ebenezer Fellows, Joseph Langden, William Wise, William Coombs, John Raymond, Jacob Gould, Thomas Roberts, John Woodward, Stephen and James Whittemore, John Smullen, Calvin Cowen, Increase Blethen, William Neal, Henry Moulton, James W. Purinton, William Bucknam, William Bickford, True Woodbury, Samuel Nichols, Richard Doan, Ephraim Jordan, Nathaniel Herrick, and others whose names are mentioned nearly as often. Major John Rowe came about 1817, and lived on Rowe's Hill, dying in 1822. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and was also in service during the French troubles of 1799 and 1800. He kept a diary during the Revolution. Abijah Metcalf served under John Paul Jones during the Revolution, coming to Lisbon about 1787. Daniel Green went into the army of the Revolution when sixteen years of age. Of the present business men should be mentioned John G. Tibbits and Edward Plummer, to whom belongs the credit of developing the water-power at Lisbon Falls. Seeing that the projected Androscoggin Railroad would render this available, they associated themselves with Oliver Moses of Bath, an enterprising capitalist, and have become the founders of the present manufacturing business of the place, yet in its infancy.

The town has a Methodist and Baptist church, and two Free Baptist churches. There is a small circulating library at the Falls and another at the Factory, and each place has a hotel. There are fourteen schoolhouses in town valued at $10,000. The estates were valued in 1870, at $971,474. In 1880 it is $1,115,760. The population at the first date was 2,014. in 1880 it is 2,641.

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