History of Winthrop, Maine
From
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine
By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boston 1886
Transcribed by Betsey S. Webber



Winthrop, a thrifty agricultural town, lies in the south-
western part of Kennebec County, 10 miles west by south-west from
Augusta. It is bounded on the east by Manchester, and has West
Gardiner at the south-east and Monmouth at the south, Wayne on the
west and Readfield on the north. Winthrop has an area of 25,540
acres, a portion of which is water. The greater part of Cobbossee
Contee Great Pond, of Annabessacook, Maranocook, Wilson's and
several smaller ponds lie within the limits of the town. Maranocook
Lake has now become a place of much resort in summer. It has a
pretty steamer; and on the shores are convenient buildings for the
regattas, musical and other entertainments held here. The lake is
about 8 miles in length. The Maine Central Railroad, back route, has
a station here. The numerous places where Indian relics are found
show these ponds to have been favorite resorts of the aborigines. The
surface is quite hilly, forming with the ponds much variety and beauty
of scenery. From the town-house, which occupies an elevated position,
the hills of Dixmont, a little west of the Penobscot, and a section of
the White Mountains, are plainly visible. A high hill called Mount
Pisgah extends nearly across the western portion of the town. The
soil is good, and agriculture is the leading pursuit, the farms generally
being in high cultivation. Dr. Ezekiel Holmes, widely known in con-
nection with the Maine Farmer, formerly resided in Winthrop; and
chiefly from his influence, stock-raising has been made a specialty, so
that the Winthrop Jersey cattle have attained a wide reputation. The
town has also long been noted for its fine apple-orchards.

At the village, situated between Annabessacook and Maranocook
ponds, which divide the town, considerable manufacturing is done.
There are here a woolen factory, producing about $150,000 worth of
goods per annum; a grain-mill, grinding upwards of 12,000 bushels of
grain of all kinds annually; bark and fulling-mills, a saw-mille, manufac-
turing about 200,000 feet of lumber every year; a cotton-factory, which
manufactures cotton yarn and lines; a foundry and machine-shop;
“Whitman's Agricutural Tool Manufactory,” which makes cider-mills,
horse and hand-rakes, planning, threshing and winnowing-machines,
etc., to the amount of from $75,000 to $100,000 yearly. In other
localities are several small mills and a tannery; and at Baileyville, in
the eastern part of the town is a large manufactory of oil-cloths. The
other village is East Winthrop, situated in the north-eastern part of
the town, near the northern extremity of Cobbossee Contee Pond. The
National Bank of Winthrop has a capital stock of $100,000. The ter-
ritory of Winthrop was a part of the Plymouth Patent. The first
settler was Timothy Foster, who, in 1765, located his habitation by the
great pond. A hunter named Scott was then occupying a hut on the
same lot. The next settler was Squire Bishop, who came in 1767.
The families of Foster, Fairbanks, Stanley, and Pullen, soon after set-
tled near. These being accustomed only to cultivated farms, suffered
many hardships from their inexperience in subduing the wilderness,
and must have perished, had it not been for the abundance of game
and wild fruits. Three brothers, Nathaniel, William and Thomas
Whittier, came in soon after; and felling at once some twenty acres of
timber, burned over the ground, and planted their corn without plough-
ing, obtaining a wonderful crop. The other settlers, profiting by
observation of the Whittiers, as well as by their own experience, soon
began to thrive. The first saw-mill was built by John Chandler, in
1768, and a grist-mill soon after, on the site now occupied by the cotton-
factory. It is said that it required the whole strength of the settlement
for nearly a week to get the mill-stones from the Kennebec to their
place in the mill. For building those mills Mr. Chandler was granted
by the proprietors of the township 400 acres of land. The first road
was cut through to the “Hook,” now Hallowell. The first tax levied
in town was in 1784 and the first payment was by Benjamin Fairbanks;
the money used being the sum received for bounty on the head of a
wolf.

As a plantation, Winthrop was called Pondtown. It was incur-
porated in 1771, being named for John Winthrop, the first governor of
Massachusetts. It included Readfield until 1791. Winthrop was first
represented in the General Court in 1783, the representative in that
year being Jonathan Whiting. A post-office was first established in
town in 1800. The Winthrop Woollen company was incorporated in
1809 and went into operation in 1814. Among those who received
grants of land in the early years of the settlement, were Samuel and
John Needham, Abraham Wyman, Nathaniel Stanley, Peter Hopkins,
Amos Boynton, Jonathan Whiting, John and Joseph Chandler, Samuel
and Amos Stevens, Joseph Baker and Elisha Smith. The first town-
officers were John Chandler, Timothy Foster, Robert Waugh, Jonathan
Whiting, Stephen Pullen, and Gideon Lambert.

The first ministers resident in Winthrop were Messrs. Thurston
Whiting and Jeremiah Shaw. Rev. David Jewett was settled in 1782,
and died the next year, when the town was divided into two parishes.
Mr. Jonathan Belden was ordained in 1800, and was succeeded by
Rev. David Thurston, in 1807. At present the Congregationalists,
Methodists, Universalists, Baptists and Friends have each a society
and church edifice in the town. Winthrop has ten public schoolhouses,
valued at $16,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $1,122,839.
In 1880 it was $1,125,317. The population in 1870 was 2,229. By the
census of 1880, it is placed at 2,136.

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