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

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




Thomaston is situated on St. George’s River, in the eastern part of Knox County. It is bounded north and east by Rocklaud, west by Warren, south by Cushing and South Thomaston. The latter, with Weskeag Stream, Mill River and Oyster River, are the principal streams. The surface of the town is gently undulating. The soil is clay and loam The usual crops are successfully cultivated, and there are many excellent farms. The forest trees are generally of soft wood. The Knox and Lincoln railroad runs through the town.

Thomaston village is pleasantly situated a little eastward of the great bend of the St. George’s, on a bay-like expansion of the river. Along its broad, well-shaded streets, are many handsome and costly residences. The State prison is a conspicuous oibject, consisting of a high wall enclosing several acres of ground, and including an abandoned lime-quarry. Its principal buildings are of brick and stone, and are of form and solidity well suited to their several uses. Within its walls are manufactured boots, shoes, harnesses and carriages. The building was begun in 1824. At the village and elsewhere in the town are two grist-mills, two steam saw and planing mills, one boatbuilder, three sail-lofts, nine patent litne-kilns, several ship-yards, brickyards, etc. Lime has been manufactured here since 1734. The manufacture of marble slabs from the lime-stone was commenced here by Mr. Dwight, in 1809, and in 1825 there were two mills and factories devoted to it, in which 200 saws were in motion.

Thomaston was the heart of the Museongus, afterward known as the Waldo Patent. As early as 1630 a trading-house was erected by the proprietors on the eastern bank of the river, for the purpose of traffic with the natives. No attempt was made to settle it for nearly a century subsequent to that period. In order to encourage settlers, the proprietors erected in 1719—20, two strong block-houses; and the old trading-house, situated directly in front of where the residence of General Knox since stood, was remodeled and made into a sort of fort. They also built a double saw-mill, on a stream ever since known as Mill River, erected thirty frames for dwellings, and maintained a garrison of 20 men, under command of Capt. Thomas Westbrook. The Indians regarded this settlement as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their rights, and protested; in reply to which the English asserted that the territory had been sold to Sir William Phips, and the deed signed by Madockawando and Sheepscot John. But the Indians declared that these chiefs were not Penobscot Indians, one belonging to Macbias and the other in the vicinity of Boston ; consequently, that they had disposed of what did not belong to them. Failing to persuade or frighten the English to abandon their designs, the Indians determined on attacking the infant settlement. The government sent down a force of 45 men with cannon and the necessary munitions of war. On the 15th of June, 1722, the Indians made their descent upon the place, burning the saw-mill, setting fire to a sloop in the harbor, and destroying all the houses and frames that bad been erected but a short time before. A vigorous assault was then made upon the blockhouses, and it was with great difficulty that the garrison saved them from destruction. The Indians retired, but in the July following, renewed the attack; vigorously pressing the siege for 12 days. The besiegers had made considerable progress in undermining one side of the fort, quite to the alarm of the garrison, when heavy rains came on, causing the banks of the trenches to cave in upon the miners and forcing the savages to abandon the siege. The loss of the Indians in this attack was 20, and that of the garrison was hut 5. On the 28th of December, 1723, they made another onslaught upon the fortress, continuing the siege for 30 days; at the end of which time Captain Westbrook, who had previously been succeeded in the command of the place by Captain Kennedy, came to the rescue, and put the Indians to flight. Another, but unsuccessful attempt was made the next year. In 1735, a company of 27 persons, by arrangement with Waldo, settled on St. George’s River; and in 1740 he erected a grist-mill upon the river, a proof that the settlers were raising sufficient grain to supply themselves with bread. Yet harrassing conflicts with the Indians interrupted time progress of the settlement for some time after. Nothing here seemed permanent until the arrival of Mason Wheaton, who settled on Mill River, in 1763.

Thomaston was incorporated in 1777, and included, until 1848 Rockland and South Thomaston. It was named for Maj. Gen. John Thomas, of Massachusetts, a brave officer who died in the preceding May, at Chambley. Mason Wheaton, before mentioned, a connection of General Thomas, was a colonel in the army of the Revolution, and the first representative of Thomaston, in the General Court. Another notable citizen was John Paine, a most enterprising trader, who, in the single year of 1820, paid $170,000 duties on imports. Mr. Healy was an extensive ship-builder. David Fales, physician, school-master and surveyor of lands, was much employed by Mr. Fluker, son-in-law of General Waldo, as agent. The most distinguished of the inhabitants of Thomaston, was General Knox, commander of the American artillery in the Revolution, and Secretary of War from 1785 to 1794. In the years 1793-4, he built his elegant mansion near the St. George’s River, at the great bend, near where the fort stood. The size and style of the building, its piazzas and balconies, its farm, summer and out-houses, its gardens and walks, formed a residence which, at that and for a long subsequent time, far surpassed any other in the country. Its cost was above $50,000. [See article Knox County.] Though the post-office was not established here until 1794, there was a mail carried on foot from Falmouth to Thomaston during the last years of the Revolutionary war.

Among later citizens may be mentioned Hon. John Ruggles, once a United States senator; Hon. William J. Fancy; Hon. Edward Robinson, representative in Congress in 1837; Hon. Jonathan Cilley, who fell in a duel in 1839, while a member of Congress, and was greatly regretted as a national loss.

The Thomaston Herald is the only newspaper published in the town. It is devoted to local news, and is an entertaining and useful sheet. The Thomaston Savings Bank, at the close of 1879, held deposits and profits to the amount of $161,253.84. The Thornaston National Bank has a capital of $100,000. The George’s National Bank has a capital of $110,000. There are a social and a circulating library in town.

Rev. Robert Rutherford, who came over with Colonel Dunbar in 1729, first preached in Thomaston and Warren. He was a native of Ireland, and a Presbyterian. A Congregational church was gathered in 1807, over which Rev. John Lord was settled. The town now has a church-edifice of each of time following societies, Congregationalist, Methodist, Episcopal and Catholic, and two of the Baptists. The Village has graded schools, from primary to high. There are eleven public schoolhouses and the school property is valued at $18,900. The valuation of real estate in 1870 was $1,854,110. In 1880 it was $2,202,211. The rate of taxation in the latter year was 2 per cent. The population in 1870 was 3,092. In 1880 it was 3,017.

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