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

BOSTON
MERCANTILE PUBLISHING COMPANY
1889



THE earliest name of the present town of Winthrop was "Pond Town." It was included in the "Plymouth Grant," or "Kennebec Purchase" of land in the District of Maine. Its original size was about five miles by eight. The first white known to have visited this spot was a hunter named Scott, who, about the middle of the eighteenth century, built a hut here and spent several years trapping and fishing in this vicinity. The first permanent settler was named Timothy Foster. He bought Scott's hut about 1764, but was troubled by creditors whom he seems to have sought to avoid by coming hither. They followed him up, sued him and succeeded for a time in imprisoning him, though as the law for imprisonment for debt was very severe at that time, it is probable that he was more unfortunate than guilty. Among the families which now began to come and build up the pioneer town, the most prominent were the Needhams, Wyrians, Halls, Waugha, Blunts, Howes, Floyds, Blys, Snows, Boyntons, Hopkins and Chandlers. These were all characterized by the energy and perseverance which mark the true pioneers, and under their sturdy efforts the foundations of the tows began to be firmly set.

The immediate region was rather desolate in its character and appearance and was surrounded by large deserted tracts, consequently the early settlers had a very hard time and were compelled to exert every energy to maintain their position. But by burning large tracts of the timber land and thus forming new and rich soil, they succeeded in obtaining sufficient necessaries of life at home for a comfortable living. The town now be.gan to grow rapidly, and by 1777 had become large enough to inaugurate measures for the establishment of a church, and with this view a lot was set apart for the minister. From this early period the town has always enjoyed the fame of being one of the most beautiful spots in the State. "Pond Town" was incorporated by the Legislature of Massachusetts in 1771, and at that time its name was changed to Winthrop, in honor of the first great governor of the Bay State. On the same day that it was incorporated, Hallowell, Vassalborough and Winslow also received that honor. The first town meeting in Winthrop was held May 6, 1771, at Bishop's Inn. The first selectmen were: John Chandler, Timothy and Ichabod Howe, Robert Waugh and Jonathan Whiting, the latter also being town clerk and town treasurer. Although Winthrop was a very young town it contributed generously to the expenses of the Revolutionary War. In 1778 £30 were subscribed; in 1779, $260; in 1780, £3,000, and in 1781, 2,800 pounds of beef were forwarded to the army. The town also bad a number of its citizens in the Continental Army. Great enthusiasm for the cause of the colonies was displayed throughout the war. In 1775, at the announcement of war, a military organization was formed, of which Ichabod Howard was chosen captain. Thirteen pounds were appropriated at this time for powder and lead. Nathaniel Fairbanks and eighteen others went to Cambridge and joined the Continental Army after the battle of Lexington.

In 1771, a temporary preacher had inaugurated the first religious services in the town, and in 1775 a church was organized, but was without a pastor for several years. The first settled pastor, Rev. David Jewett, came in 1788, but he left after a short settlement, and for many years great diffienlty was experienced in obtaining a regular minister. The Methodists of the town first met together in 1794, and a church was first organized in 1825. The Baptists organized in 1792.

After the Revolution, progress was rapid up to the first decade of the present century. The town was greatly in favor, during the discussions which arose in 1785, of having York, Cumberland and Lincoln Counties set off from Massachusetts, as a separate State, and this feeling continued up to 1820, when Maine was finally set off. The town had grown sufficiently to be divided in 1791, the northern section being set off and incorporated as "Headfield." Among the early distinguished citizens of Winthrop were Capt. Ichabod Harvard, Jonathan Whiting, Justice of Peace and Representative in State Legislature in 1788, Col. Nathaniel Fairbanks and Lieut. Col. Simon Page.

The first inn in Winthrop was opened by Squire Bishop in 1767. Among other early store-keepers were Mr. John Cole, Maj. Elijah Wood, Capt. Barney Haskell, Mr. Joseph Tinkham, Mr. Samuel Holt. The first school in the town was taught by Mr. Benjamin Brainard, there being twelve scholars. This number increased every year until in 1822 the yearly appropriations for the maintenance of the schools was $650. The schools of Winthrop have long been marked by the :.most advanced methods and fine facilities, the greatest attention being given to this extremely important part of the town life. The culture of the town citizens has consequently been at the highest standard, so characteristic of the towns of New England. Among its prominent citizens have been and are many college graduates and professional men. The valuation of the town has steadily increased during this century. In 1820, it was $111,462.41; in 1830, $244,532; 1840, $459,880; 1854, $528,905. At the present time the valuation is about 1,000,000 and the population 2,200. In 1840, a survey of the town showed that it contained 16,800 acres of land, 8,342 acres of water, 318 acres of road; total, 25,540 square acres.

Winthrop has always been noted for its benevolent and philanthropic spirit, its devotion to every good work and interest in every new movement. In 1815, was established the "Winthrop Society for the Promotion of Good Morals." In 1816, a movement was inaugurated aiming at the crushing out of intemperance, which was. one of the early influences which, united with others, succeeded after many years in establishing the Prohibitory Law of the State. In the year 1833, the anti slavery spirit began to take definite form here and a society was formed to aid in the work for the abolition of slavery. From this time forward the spirit of freedom grew in force, strengthened by the various aggressions of the slave power during the centory, and at the outbreak of the war in 1861, it broke forth in an enthusiastic support of the government. Men and money were devoted without stint throughout the war,. and the most unflinching courage and patriotism displayed. Most of the soldiers who enlisted from Winthrop were enrolled in the 1st, 3rd, 9th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 21th, 24th, 28th and 29th Maine Volunteer Regiments.

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