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

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




Turner lies on the western side of the Androscoggin River in the north-western part of Androscoggin County. Its length on the river is ten miles, the towns on the eastern side being Leeds and Greene. The western line is of equal length, where it joins Hartford, Buckfield and Hebron. Its width at the north is about three miles, where it joins Livermore. Minot and Auburn hound it on the south, the line being there about five and one-half miles. Its area is near 33,793 acres. The principle streams are Twenty-mile River, which crosses from the western side of the town to Androscoggin River on the east; and Martin's Stream, coming down through the northern part of the town, to Twenty-mile at Chase's Mills. Within its limits and on its borders are several ponds, of which Bear Pond, containing an area of one square mile, and Pleasant Pond, one mile in length and one-half mile in width, are the largest. The others are Little Wilson, Pickerel, Lily, Sandv, Bottom, Frog, Black, Mud, Long and Round ponds. The scenery of Turner is various and agreeable, though there are no high hills or deep valleys. A cave called "Ledge House," about 15 feet square, is a curious freak of nature. The rock is granite; and a quarry in the south-east part of the town is worked through the year. The soil in the valleys and lowlands is alluvial, of vegetable nature at the top, with a substratum of sand. The farmers are generally thrifty; as the neatness and size of the buildings prove. The town has been noted for a culture much above the average agricultural towns. The plantation name of Turner, was Silvester Canada, it having been granted in 1765 to the heirs of Captain Joseph Silvester and Company, for the services of the latter parties in an expedition against Canada in 1690. It was incorporated as the town of Turner in 1786; being named for Rev. Charles Turner, of Scituate, Mass., one of the proprietors, as an acknowledgment of his services in aid of its settlement. The first settlers were Daniel Staples, Thomas Record, Elisha Record, Joseph Leavitt, and Abner Phillips, who removed thither in 1772. The following were eminent citizens of the town at a later period: Dr. Luther Cary, who practiced in Turner from 1798 until about 1848, being hon ored with several elections to the presidency of the Medical Society of Maine, and in 1805 appointed judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Oxford County. Dr. Timothy Howe practiced in the north parish from 1806 until the close of his life in 1848. He was the author of many sketches of Turner families. Of many natives of the town educated as physicians, Dr. Philip Bradford was the only one who remained to practice; retaining the confidence of his townsmen until his death in 1863. Among those more or less eminent who were natives of Turner, are Hon. T. 0. Howe, national senator from Wisconsin; Hon. Eugene Hale, for many years representative in Congress from the fifth district of Maine; Clarence Hale, of Portland; C. S. Conant, of Lewiston; Hon. Washington Gilbert, judge of probate for Sagadahoc County; Hon. Leonard Swett, of Chicago; Hon. E. M. Prince, of Bloomington, Ill., master in chancery for M'Lean County; William Cary, U. S. attorney-general for the Territory of Utah; William W. Cushings, of Missouri, merchant; and B. B. Murray, jr., for several years adjutant-general, and later U. S. marshal of Maine. Among those prominent in his own town and state in the last century we should not omit to mention Hon. Job Prince. At one time or another he served acceptably in all the principal offices of the town; was president of the State Senate in 1839; then judge of probate; and subsequently in several other offices. During his lifetime he administered on the estates of 91 different persons.

A large number of persons, natives or residents of the town, were engaged in the Revolutionary war. Colonel William Turner was aide to Washington; Elijah Dresser was in the battle of Bunker Hill; Lu ther Cary, Joseph Wardwell, Nathaniel Sawtelle and Joseph Ludden, were in the Continental army; Samuel Blake, Mark Andrews, Moses Merrill, Levi Merrill, Malachi Waterman, Richard Phillips, Abner Phillips and Joseph Leavitt, in the defense of Boston, 1775; Gen. Peleg Wadsworth, Benjamin Jones, John Keen, John Keen, jr., Asa Battles, Nathaniel Shaw, Daniel French, James Phillips, Nathan Richmond, William Hayford, Benjamin Merrill, Job Randall, Solomon Nillett, Ephraim Andrews, Benjamin Alden, William Putnam, John Allen, Thomas Atherton, Benj. Chamberlain, Wait Bradford, Isaac Phillips, Ichabod Phillips and Andrew Bass, m the Massachusetts militia; Israel Smith, Laban Smith, James Lara, Bennett Ponipilly, Richard Hine, Benjamin Conant, Paul Lowell, Joshua Davis, Moses Snell and Simeon Caswell, in Massachusetts Continental; Jesse Bradford served as guard of Burgoyne's captured army; Abney Thayer on Castle Wilham, Boston Harbor; Elisha Fisher, in Washington's life-guard; Abial Turner, in commissary department; John Bailey in last three years service; Daniel Pratt, in Rhode Island troops; Cornelius Jones, in Massachusetts troops and as a seaman; James Allen, musician in Massachusetts line; Jacob Gardner, during the war; and Nathaniel Marston, in New Hampshire line. In the war of 1812, Captain Stephen Turner was killed at the battle of Bridgewater, and Theodocius Merrill died in the army. During this war the enemy making a demonstration against Portland; a large number of militia were ordered there in defense; and for this short campaign Mr. Benjamin Jones furnished nine sons. In the war of the Rebellion Turner furnished 319 men, paying them an aggregate bounty of $62,445; and furnishing for sol diers' relief $1,575. Twenty-eight of these were killed in battle or died of disease in the army.

The first mill in town was built by Samuel Blake in 1775, on Twenty-mile River, at what is now known as Turner village, and was destroyed in the great freshet of 1785. It appears to have been both a saw and grain mill. It was rebuilt the next season. At this place there are now a grain-mill, a general saw-mill, a box, carriage and shoe factory, a tannery, and several smaller manufactures. The other principal places of business, are North Turner Bridge on the Androscoggin River; Keen's Mills, some three miles below, where there are mills for grain, lumber and paper pulp; Chase's Mills, on Twenty-mile River, in the western part of the town, having a hub factory and a lumber mill; North Turner, where is a grain-mill, lumber mills, a cheese and a shoe factory; and West Turner, which has a large cheese factory. The first fulling mill in this town was built at Bradford village, and operated by John Haley. A pottery was also established at the same place by Reuben Thorp. By an act of General Court in 1803, William Bradford, Benjamin Evans, John Turner, Daniel Cary, Luther Cary and John Loring, were incorporated as a body politic by the name of the Ministerial and Grammar School Funds in the town of Turner; and they and their successors were to be a body politic and incorporate by that name forever. Their number was never to be over seven nor less than five, and they were to fill from members of the town any vacancy that might occur in. the board. They were authorized to sell and convey in fee-simple all of said minostrial and school lands, and put the proceeds at interest. The latter was to accumulate until there should be a fund, which would yield annually from the ministerial fund the sum of $350, and from the school land $200, when the former should be applied by the trustees to the settlement of a learned Protestant minister; and that it should never be in the power of the town to alienate or anywise alter the funds aforesaid. Time ministerial fund became available in 1811, and the interest arising therefrom was paid to Rev. Allen Greely, Congregationalist, who was the only settled minister. In 1834 a Universalist Society having been formed, it was agreed between their minister, Rev. George Bates, and Rev. Mr. Greely, to divide the income of the fund between them; and in 1840, the legislature of Maine authorized the trustees to divide the fund among several Protestant ministers settled in town in proportion to the rateable polls belonging to the congregations of said ministers. The town now has Congregationalist, Baptist, Universalist and Methodist societies.

The first school taught in town was a private one, kept on the "Lower Street," about 1788, by Mr. Arthur Bradnian, of Turner. The town has now eighteen public schoolhouses, valued at $7,000. The total amount expended for schools from April 1, 1878 to April 1, 1879 was $3,271. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $815,684. In 1880 it was $748,856.. The population at that date was 2,380. In 1880 it was 2,286. The rate of taxation in 1880 was .0145 on $1.

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