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

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





Poland is the south-west town of Androscoggin County. It is 10 miles from Lewiston and 85 from Portland, with both of which places it is connected by the Grand Trunk Railroad, which passes across the north-eastern portion of the town. The territory of Poland is nearly square, its angles marking the points of the compass. It is bounded on the north-east by Minot and Auburn from which it is separated by the little Androscoggin River, on the south-east by New Gloucester and Auburn, on the south-west by Casco and Raymond, and on the north-west by Otisfield and Oxford. It contains 26,000 acres of land, about two-thirds of which is improved. There are six considerable ponds wholly within its limits and another in part. Thompson’s Pond, the last mentioned and largest, is at the western angle, and contains 8 square miles. Tripp’s Pond, lying about half a mile eastward, has-an area of one and one-fourth square miles; the Upper, Middle and Lower Range ponds, lying parallel with the last from the middle of the town southward, contains 85-55 and 50-lOOths of a square mile respectively. The principal business of the town is at Mechanic Falls. Poland Corner, at the centre of the town, has steam, grist, saw and planing mills, and considerable neighborhood trade. There is a lumber-mill and sash and blind factory at Page’s Miii on the river above Mechanic Falls, and lumber-mills at Hacket’s Mills and Minot Post-Office below, and at West Poland. At the southern angle of the town the Shakers have a power used for several small manufactures. East Poland has a post-office and railway station, and West and South Poland and Shaker Village have each a post-office. The most important manufactures at Mechanic Falls are paper, and the repeating rifles of the Evans Rifle Company, and a canning factory. The Dennison Paper Manufacturing Company operates six different mills at this place, producing various kinds of paper, and employing about 225 persons. The surface of the town is in the eastern part level or gentle undulating, while in the western portion there is a combination of hill, lake and forest scenery that is very pleasing, and in some parts highly picturesque. The ledges that crop out along the hillsides show a coarse granite structure with a predominance e of felspar in some localities. Micaschist and argillaceous rock are found in other quarters. The soil in the lowlands and valleys is alluvial, having a surface stratum of vegetable origin underlaid by sand. Poland is one of our best agricultural towns, all the usual crops having a good yield.

The town, however, is most noted for its mineral springs. There are the Poland and South Poland and the Highland springs, the two latter just coming into notice. All are situated at an elevation which affords fine views of the surrounding country, and are recommended for some diseases of the kidneys and associate derangements. The Poland spring, known in the region as Ricker’s, is owned by Hiram Ricker and sons, in whose family the property has been since 1794. Wentworth Ricker opened the Mansion House in 1797 and it has been kept as a hotel by his son and then by his grandsons ever since. Little attention was given to the spring until about 1858; when the valuable qualities of the water becoming generally known, the hotel (whose business had fallen off with the change from stages to railroads) soon had to be enlarged. So popular have the waters of this spring become, that a few years ago it was found advisable to build another and larger house for the accommodation of the patrons who flocked thither in the summer months. The new house bears the name of the Poland Springs House, and contains 120 sleeping rooms, and has 450 feet of broad piazza. The situation on the top of a high, extended hill, or ridge, 800 feet above the ocean, with ponds, forests amid other hills on every side, is one of rare attraction. The spring runs about eight gallons a minute from a crevice in the solid granite ledge. Besides Ricker’s Hill may be mentioned Pigeon, Harris, Johnson’s, Megquier, White Oak, Bailey, Thurlow and Black Cat hills, all considerable eminences. The two neighboring Shaker villages, called the Upper Shaker Village, in the town about one half mile south, and another called the Lower Village in New Gloucester, about a mile south of the last, are objects of interest to visitors. The sect in this town originated in 1784 or 1785 by the preaching of an itinerant disciple of Ann Lee, from Lebanon, New York. There were at this time quite a number of settlers on Ricker Hill, and most of them became converted. They were joined by others from Hebron; but exchanged their lands, and settled together in New Gloucester, forming what is now called the Lower Family, and holding their property in common. The Upper Family, orthe present Poland community, came from Gorham, Maine, in 1819. They then numbered about 50, but now less than 40. They brought with them eight oxen, three horses and twenty cows, with a variety of house. hold goods and farming utensils. They have since further increased their lands by purchase. They have now in addition to the dwelling. houses they have occupied for a half century, a new stone-house three or more stories in height. It contains one or two large central halls, together with a large number of lodging arid living rooms. It was begun before the war, and when finished will have cost about $20,000. Beside this, they have land and other property to the value of about $30,000.

The earliest settlers were Nathaniel Bailey, Daniel Lane, Moses Emery, and John Newman, who settled at what has long been known as “The Empire” in 1768—1769. The Pulsifer family is a leading one of the town, having located here in the person of their ancestor, David Pulsifer, in 1790. The family has furnished several esteemed public men. John Nevins, who claimed to have cut the first tree felled in Poland, died in 1832, being above 100 years of age; other names are Josiah Dunn, “Captain” Davis, John Rollins, “Captain” Farrington, Henry Bray, Benjamin Coombs and Mrs. Woodard. The land titles are from the proprietors of Bakerton (see Auburn). The town is thought to have been named for Poland, a noted Indian chief of the region. It was incorporated in 1795. A portion was set off to Danville in 1852.

The total amount paid out by the town for its expenses in the war of the Rebellion is $45,230, and the total number of men for which it received credit, 304.

The religious societies of the town are the Congregationalists, Universalists, Free Baptists, and Adventists. Poland has twenty-two public schoolhouses, valued at $16,775. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $765,960. The population at the same date was 2,436. In 1880, it was 2,443. The valuation in 1880 was $920,057.

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