Historical Sketch of Waterville, Maine
From
Leading Business Men of
LEWISTON, AUGUSTA and VICINITY

BOSTON
MERCANTILE PUBLISHING COMPANY
1889



THE early history of Water yule is inseparably connected with that of Winslow, of which it was for many years a part. The former place was.settled about the middle of the eightheen century, and underwent the usual experience of a tiny frontier colony in this region, harrassed by the French and Indian war. As a necessary protection a fort, or more properly, perhaps, a block-house, was erected at Winslow in 1754; and aró and this as a nucleus, the embryo town slowly and painfully grew up. After the French wars with their attendant' fears and perils were safely over, the great attractions of the Kennebec valley soon made it a favorite with settiers who soon began to flock hither in ever-increasing numbers. The Indian name for that part of Winslow, now Waterville, was Tacconet, which has since been corrupted to Ticonic. This place was a great center of the Kennebec tribe of Indians. Their greatest orator and the great warrior, Bomazeene, beside other leading men of the nation, lived here. At Tacconet tribal gatherings were frequently held, and one of the great reasons which drew them here was the fact that this was the great burialground of the tribe. The Indians themselves have long since disappeared from this region; but the ancient bones of many generations remain, and will remain for centuries to tell the sad tale of a departed race.

At the time of the Revolution Winslow was too small and unimportant to take any noticeable part in the btruggle, but several settlers from tl)e vicinity were participants, and the region was not entirely unacquainted with the taste of battle, as the passing through of Arnold's expedition, an4 the invasion of the British up the Penobscot, both affected it directly. After it was all over the valley settlements again began to grow, and up to the beginning of the presents century a most prosperous period was enjoyed.

In 1784 the first mill Was erected at Ticonic Falls by Samuel Redington, and this represented the growth of a new settlement on the opposite side of the river from the old town. So rapidly did this section grow that by 1802 it was large enough to be set apart from Winslow as a town by.itself under its present name, derived from its magnificent water supply. After it began its separate existence it grew even more rapidly for a while, as the establishment here of a Baptist Seminary in 1813 is ample testimony, showing that it had become the center and most eligIble site of all this portion of the valley. But the influences set at work by the embargo in 1807, and the war of 1812, spread all through New England, affecting her growth and commercial prosperity; and they did not spare Waterville, which up to the middle of the century underwent the alternate times of "booming" and depression which were the usual experience of the towns in the State. In the war of 1812, the young town took a deep interest, and sent quite a number of its young men down the river as participants in the cruises of the famous Yankee privateers. 'When the British again invaded the Penobscot valley in 1814, it was near enough to witness some of the effects of the defeat and flight of the Americans. Though not directly aft'ected. by the decay of American shipping, it yet suffered indirectly by the general commercial depression which resulted therefrom throughout Maine and New England.

The opening of the railroad, about the middle of the present century, was a most important event for Watérville, and marked the opening of a new epoch in its history. Its commercial prospects were immediately brightened, independent of the important industry which was opened by the establishment of the railroad 1 machine and repair shops here. The magnificent water privilege here, now for the first time, began to be appreciated and it has since received increasing attention. Manufacturing, to which evidently a large part of Waterville's progress has been and must be due, now began to assume considerable proportions, and the consequent benefits have been very extensive.

During the civil war the town performed its duty in a most patriotic and generous manner. A goodly number of its sons and maturer citizens responded to the call for volunteers, and throughout the struggle it never failed to fulfill every request for men and money immediately and ungrudgingly. In the First, Second, Fourth,: Sixth, Foutteenth, Fifteenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Fourth,; Twenty-Eighth and Twenty-Ninth volunteer regiments of Maine, were noble representatives of Waterville's best families, and not a few of these were called upon to. sacrifice a member to the nation's weal. This period, though far from prosperous. materially, is the most honorable and glorious in the history of the town.

Since the war the progress of the town in all lines has been steady and marked. The population in 1870 had risen to 4,852, and the valuation was $1,904,017. Part of the town was set off in 1873, but nevertheless the population in 1880 was 4,672, while the valuation had arisen to $2,612,496; both these figures have since been increased by at least one-half, as the present decade has been one of marked advancement. The expansion of commercial interests and rise of real-estate values have been the most important characteristics of recent years. The valuable manufacturing privileges at the Ticonjo Falls have received attention, and are now undergoing a development which must contribute largely to the material growth of the town. Cotton mills, woolen mills, saw-mills, are already well under way here, and the prospect of the town's becoming a leading manufacturing center seems assured. Among other prominent industries, the tanneries, machine and iron foundries, and furniture manufacturies, deserve attention. The machine shops of the Maine Central railroad have grown steadily with the growth of the roads itself, and are now of considerable extent and first importance. The depot here is one of the most beautiful and convenient of any on the road.

A Street in Waterville

Opposite the railroad station stand the dark-gray, handsome buildings of COLBY UNIVERSITY, in the midst of a fine campus, with greensward and magnificent elms in abundance. This is one of the leading Colleges in the State, and was organized and incorporated in 1813 as a Seminary, especially with the idea of training ministers, by the Baptist denomination of Maine. It was first called the Maine Literary and Theological Institution, and the first President was the Rev. Jeremiah Champlin, D.D. In 1820 it was granted collegiate powers by the State Legislature at its first meeting, and the name was changed to "Waterville College." At the same time important donations of land were made. The first graduates after it became a college were George Dana Board man and Ephiaim Tripp. The former was the great Baptist missionary to the Karens in Burmah. The growth of the College through the middle period of the century was gradual and slow, yet steady. At the time of the civil war it had already become a marked force in the life of the State, and contributed some of its best and most brilliant members to the Union cause. Among other celebrated alumni of this period was Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. Twenty of Colby's sons served in various ways during the war: The beautiful Memorial Hall was erected in honor of those who fell in the service.

In 1867 the name of the institution was changed to Colby University, in honor of Gardiner Colby, Esq., of Boston, Mass., who became a very large contributor and. benefactor. Its influence in the State and New England has always been strongly Baptist; but it has always welcomed students of other denominations, and its courses are thoroughly scientific and unsectarian. It has now about two hundred students and is accomplishing a strong and most useful work. The curriculum is high, many talented instructors are connected with the institution, and the presiding administration is vigorous and progressive. It has become a vital force in the State, and is not only destined togrow continually with it, but beyond it, extending its influence ever wider through the country, and' advancing the interests both of Waterville and of Maine.

The social life of Waterville is in no small degree affected by the fact that it is a college town. Not too large to be thoroughly permeated by this academic spirit, the town is heartily in sympathy with the life and aims of the college. The social season practically begins with the college year and closes at its end. Many students enter the general society of the town and that of the various churches, and. are often its active life. The culture and refinement of the town is consequently of a more than usually advanced type. As the college acts upon the town, increasing and uplifting its intellectual st.andards, so the town reacts upon the college, adding the charms of social life, and these are often among the pleasantest memories of graduates. It is still an open question among educators whether the greater quiet and. freedom from many temptations which the colieges situated in the country and smaller cities enjoy do not more than counterbalance the advantages which come from being situated in a great city, and an interested student will find all the great privileges and beauties of the former class at the highest point of development in Colby UniversIty, here in the delIghtful town of Waterville.

The immense advances made by the State of Maine as a summer resort have been, and will continue to be an even more advantageous influence to Waterville. Situated in the center of a most charming district, and itsell possessed of many attractions for the tourist and summer resident, the advancing years will only serve to increase and enhance these. The Maine Central Railroad, which has already done so much in advancing the town, as its great busine8s increases, makes it better known and more appreciated, and every year is marked by a larger number of visitors. The drives in and about the town are very beautiful, unsurpassed anywhere in the State. Outside of the five handsome buildings of the college and its campus, there are many hand some buildings and grounds. Many charming spots of natural interest and beauty are in the immediate vicinity; and in every direction, whether by rail, stage-coach or ordinary carriage, the country opens up great attractions, many of which are not yet widely known. The Kennebec and Messalonske rivers, beside the other beautiful streams and lakes, offer the best facilities for boating and all kinds of aquatic sports.

The streams and ponds on all sides abound in black and silver bass, and also gamy trout, and partridges, quail, woodcock and other game can be found by the enterprising sportsman in considerable numbers and not far away. Even deer have been known to venture down iwar the town, and some have been shot near by in recent seasons. No more quiet, restful and attractive spot for a delightful and recuperative summer vacation could be discovered. Its convenience to the railroad, and yet unsurpassed attractiveness in all the delights of country life, are great points in its favor, and will gain in influence every year as they become better known. It is also a great railroad center, and this contains great promise of growth. The branch of the MainG Central to Skowbegan, the two main lines through Lewiston and Augusta, and thàse going via. Bangor to Belfast, Bar Harbor, Moosehead Lake and Canada, all meet here and make it one of the most traversed spots in the State. Even short acquaintance shows one that as a commercial, social and tourist center Waterville has a great future before it, which before many decades have passed will make it one of the leading cities in the State. And not the least satisfactory consideration is that by reason of its location and character, its natural and sanitary advantages, and its cultured and progressive people, it is fully worthy of all the prosperity which the great development of Maine has and will bling to it.

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