History of Washington County, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine
By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Washington County Towns - Addison - Alexander - Calais - Cherryfield - Deblois - Dennysville - East Machies - Eastport - Edmunds - Harrington - Jonesborough - Lubec - Machias - Machiasport - Marshfield - Millbridge - Northfield - Pembroke - Perry - Princeton - Robbinston - Steuben - Topsfield
Washington County, as originally constituted, embraced
the entire eastern frontier. of Maine. It was established June 25, 1789, by the same act which formed Hancock County.
Its western boundary was the eastern line of Hancock. It was bounded "south and south-east by the sea or western
ocean, on the north by the utmost northern limits of this commonwealth, and easterly by the river St. Croix."
In 1839 it surrendered to Aroostook County established at that date all the terricory "north of the north
line of the fourth range of townships, north of the 'lottery townships.' The area of the county is about 2,700
square miles. It has about 180 miles of sea-coast, abounding in bays and inlets which afford excellent harbors.
The principal rivers are the St. Croix and its west branch, the Scitoodic, Denny's, East and West Machias, Pleasant
and the Narraguagus. Of its numerous lakes, the largest are the Schoodic series, Baskahegan, Meddybemps and Gardner's.
The surface is gradually undulating or varied by swells of no great height, and the soil back from the seashore
is usually fertile. Probably the first European visitor of Maine was Capt. John Rut and his crew of the English
vessel called "The Mary of Guilford," in 1527, when he reconnoitred along our shores, sailing westerly
from Liverpool, N.S. The next of whose landingplace we have definite knowledge was DeMonts, in 1603, who erected
a fort and buildings and passed the succeeding winter on an island at the mouth of the St. Croix River. This is
now known as Neutral Island. By him it was named St. Croix; and from this, probably, the river has acquired its
name. His company was composed of Roman Catholics and Huguenots, or French Protestants, in about equal numbers;
himself belonging to the first, as well as his chaplain. Here was preached the first European sermon in New England.
"There is no authentic record," says the historian of Washington County,* "of a settlement by whites
on Machias River prior to - June, 1763. Richard Vines, however, set up a trading-house on the west side of Machias
River, near Clark's Point, now Machiasport, in 1632 or 1633, leaving it in charge of five men. In less than one
month, La. Tour, a French explorer, deputy and proprietor in Nova Scotia, seized the whole stock of Vines' trading-house,
made prisoners of the men and sent the whole to France. The French planted a few habitations here in 1644, but
were unsuccessful; and a similar attempt in 1674 also resulted in failure. In 1748 Richard Hazen was employed by
the Governor of Massachusetts to make surveys and form a chart and plan of the coast. About 1753 Florentius Vassal,
a resident of the island of Jamaica, proposed that Massachusetts should transfer the territory between St. Croix
and Penobscot to him and his associates, on certain conditions of settlement. The legislative branches of the government
assured him that if he would, within five years, obtain his Majesty's approbation, introduce 5,000 settlers, a
proportionate number of Protestant clergyman, and satisfy Indian claims, the emigrants should have all the lands
they would settle, and all the islands within 3 miles of the coast. In 1760 a similar proposition was made to Massachusetts
h the Earl of Castlereagh and Francis Vassal in regard to lands upon Machias River, but nothing was done. About
this time the King authorized the General Court of Massachusetts to make free grants of land to those officers
and privates who had served in the French and Inlian wars, just terminated. A captain was to receive 3,000, a subaltern
2,000, and a private 500 acres.