History of Newcastle, Maine
From
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine
By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boston 1886
Transcribed by Doreen Crocker



Newcastle is situated near the middle of Lincoln County, on the peninsula between the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers. Jefferson lies on the north, Nobleboro, Damariscotta and Bristol, on the east, Edgecomb on the south, and Alna and Wiscasset on the west. The principal streams within the town are Dyer's River and Great Meadow Brook. The town is about six miles in length and four in breadth. The surface is varied more by gulleys than hills. There is a variety of soils,-generally well adapted to the usual crops,-of which hay is the chief. An expansion of Sheepscot River where it receives the waters of the two streams mentioned, forms "Old Sheepscot Neck" and contains an island of many acres in extent.

A remarkable object of the town are the oyster beds on the northern shore of a peninsula in Damariscotta River, a short distance above the village. A bank of these shells 30 feet in depth, at some points of a corresponding width, extends the entire length of the peninsula. By whom or when deposited is not known; but they are generally supposed to have been taken from the adjoining salt-water basin in the river by the Indians. Oysters are still found in these waters in small numbers.

The principal village is at the lower falls and head of navigation on the Damariscotta River. Other small ones are Damariscotta Mills, on the river a short distance above the last; north on the eastern side, opposite Nobleboro; and another at Sheepscot Bridge, which connects the town with Alna, on the west side of the river. There are two grist mills, and three lumber mills, one of the latter at each of the three villages on the Damariscotta. Other manufactures are ships, leather, boots, and shoes, match splints and large quantities of bricks.

The Knox and Lincoln railroad has a situation at the village and at South Newcastle and Damariscotta Mills, the first 18 miles from Bath.

Newcastle was settled at about the same time as Pemaquid and Arrowsic, and was for 35 years or longer called Sheepscot Plantation. The first settlement was made on a neck on the SHeepscot side of the peninsula, occupying an area of about 400 rods in length and 92 in width. A street ran the whole length of the neck, upon both sides of which, at uniform distances, were laid out the two acre lots into which the homesteads were usually divided. On these, traces of cellars have been found; and not far away the remains of an extensive reservoir. Easterly from these were the farms, consisting of 100 acres each, reached by a road called the "Kings Highway",-which led to the woods and the mill. The latter was on a stream called Mill Brook, or river, about a mile from settlement. On the highest point, opposite the falls and overlooking the town, was a small fort. Sullivan, in his histrory of Maine, says, quoting from Aylvanus Davis, a resident proprietor: "There were in the year 1630, 84 families, besides fishermen, about Pemaquid, St. Georges, and Sheepscot, and about 50 of these were said to be on the Sheepscot farms."

In 1665, Robert Carr, George Cartwright and Samuel Maverick, commissioners appointed by the Duke of York, arrived at Sheepscot, this being within the limits of the territory claimed by him under his patent from the English crown. The house of John Mason, at which they met and organized a government, is supposed to have been in the Sheepscot Plantation. Mason, about 1649-50, purchased of the sagamores Robin Hood and Jack Pudding, a considerable tract about his residence. The commissioners erected the whole extensive territory (see History of Maine, ante.), into the county of Cornwall, applied the name, New Dartmouth, to the whole region about the plantation, and established the line between this and Pemaquid. The commissioners vested justices of the peace, and a recorder. The justices were Nicholas Raynal, Thomas Gardiner and William Dyer. This government lasted until 1675, when the first Indian War desolated the region. When Arrowsic fell beneath the tomahawk, a little girl escasped, flying 10 miles through the woods to the Sheepscot, giving the inhabitants a timely alarm. A ship which William Phips, a Boston citizen, had been building near this place was ready for sea; and instead of taking to Boston a cargo of limber, as he had intended, he took the affrighted inhabitants and their goods, and conveyed them to a place of safety. Phips, who was a native of this region, was afterward knighted by the King, and became a distinguished governor of Massachusetts. Three years later the war had closed, and many inhabitants returned. Commissioners John Palmer and John West, appointed by the Duke's governor at New York, and Colonel Dungan, arrived at Sheepscot in 1686, and began to lay out the town in lots as before. Their administration was obnoxious to the inhabitants, but was soon terminated by another French and Indian War in 1688. The settlement were again laid in ruins, continuing in this condition for nearly 30 years.

In 1718, Rev. Christopher Tappan, of Newbury, sent two men to inclose a portion of the territory in this region, which he had purchased of Walter Phillips and other claimants as early as 1702,-some of these being settlers who had been driven away by Indians. Philli[s' title was derived from the Indian sagamores by three several purchases, in 1661, 1662 and 1674. Tappan himself arrived in 1733, and began to survey his lands on the Sheepscot side of the town; laying out 45 one hundred acre lots, two of which were allotted to the first settled minister and the first parish. The latter still remians in the hands of the first parish. Tappan's title to the east of Mill River was disputed by William Vaughan and James Noble, who held under the Pemaquid Patent (which see) and Brown clain (for which see Nobleborough.) A sharp litigation followed, and Vaughan's title prevailed; and the lands are held from him to this dayl while on the west side of the river the titles are derived from Tappan/

The town was incorporated in 1653, being named, probably, in compliment to the Duke of Newcastle, known as a friend to the American colonies. The town was first represented in the General Court by Benjamin Woodbridge in 1774. The census of 1764 shows a population of 454 persons. The Newcastle National is the only bank in town. It has a capital of $50,000.

The Rev. Alexander Boyd was employed to preach at Sheepscot soon after it was made a district, having been ordained by the Boston Presbytery in 1754. He was dismissed in 1758. After a lapse of 18 years, during which Messrs. Ward, Lain, Perley and Benedic were employed as preachers, Rev. Thurston Whiting was settle (1776), and a Congregationasl Church formed. There are now two Conmgregational churches, an Episcopal, an Advent, andMethodist church in the town. Lincoln Academy, located in the village, was incorporated in 1801, and is still flourishing. Newcastle has 14 public schoolhouses, valued together with other school property, at $4,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $697,981. In 1880, it was $827,108. The population in 1870 was 1,729. In, 1880, it was 1,534.

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