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

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




Yarmouth is a seaport town on Casco Bay, and is situated near the middle of the sea-coast line of Cumberland County. The stations of the Grand Trunk and Maine Central railroads, near the middle of the town, are about 11 miles from Portland. The two roads form a junction about half a mile from the village. In the area of land, this is the smallest town in the county, except, possibly, Deering. It is nearly square in form, and is divided through the midst by Royal's River. Cousin's River separates it from Freeport on the north-east, and the latter with Pownal bound it on the east, North Yarmouth on the north, Cumberland on the west and Casco Bay on the south. Included in the corporation are also Cousin's Island, Lane's Island, Great and Little Moges, Little John's and Crab islands. The first island is the largest, having a fish-oil factory, a schoolhouse, and fifteen or twenty families. Little John's Island has four dwellings, and Great Moges, one. The surface of the town is not greatly variable in its elevation. The woods are chiefly of the evergreen sort; yet thert are many elms along the public ways, of an age from one to a hundred years. The soil, in general, is clayey. The principal crops are grass and sweet corn. The manufactories of the town are chiefly on Royal's River, near the village. They consist of a factory making cotton warp and seamless bags, a grain-mill, the wood pulp factory of the Forest Paper Co.; a machine-shop and foundry; factories for corn-canning, for earthen-ware, stove polish, blocks and cigar boxes, wood-filling, lumber, coffins and caskets, medicine, and boots and shoes, etc. Usually there are also one or more vessels built each season.

Yarmouth constituted the eastern part of North Yarmouth until 1849, when it was set off and incorporated as an independent town. Though losing the ancient name, Yarmouth comprises the localities of the earliest settlement and history. When some settlers arrived at the place in 1640, they found a fort already built, which had for some time been occupied by George Felt, who had purchased it of John Phillips, a Welshman. In 1646, William Royall, purchased a farm on the river which has since borne his name. This stream and its vicinity was called by the Indians, Wescustego. They had a burying-place on Lane's Island, a short distance from the mouth of the river; and during the Indian wars they sometimes held carousals at that place. John Cousins had arrived a year or more earlier than Royall, occupying the neck of land between the branches of the stream which has since been ailed Cousin's River, and owning the island now bearing his name. Richard Bray, James Lane, John Maine, John Holman, Messrs. Shepard, Gendall, Seward, Thomas Blashfield, Benj. Larrabee, Amos Stevens, Thomas Reading, and William Haines, were also early settlers. The first set of trustees for the corporation was appointed in 1681, They were Bartholomew Gedney, Joshua Scottow, Sylvanus Davis and Walter Gendall. The last bore the title of captain, and previous to the second Indian war had become well and favorably known to the Indians as a trader. In 1688, while the inhabitants on the eastern side of the river were building a garrison, they were attacked by the Indians, and Benedic Pulsifer, Benj. Larrabee and others attempted a defence. Capt. Gendall, at the garrison on the west side of the river, observed the contest, and set off in a float to carry ammunition to his neighbors, who had ceased firing. The Indians fired upon and wounded both Gendall and the man who was paddling the float before they could reach the shore. Gendall succeeded, however, in getting the ammunition to his friends, who continued the contest until night; when the savages retired. It was not long before they appeared again, in such force that the thirty-six families which constituted the settlement were forced to fly from the place, abandoning their homes and stock to the fury of the Indians.

It was not until about 1713 that settlers ventured to revisit their homes, when they found their fields and the sites of their habitations covered by a young growth of trees. Among the new proprietors at the time of re-settlement, were Gilbert and Barnabas Winslow, Jacob Mitchell, Seabury Southworth, Cornelius Soule, who were descendants of the Plymouth pilgrims. Until after the year 1756 the Indians were again very troublesome. In 1725 William and Matthew Scales and Joseph Felt were killed, and the wife and children of the latter carried into captivity. A grandson of Felt, Joseph Weare, became a noted scout, pursuing the savages with unrelenting hate at every opportumty. In August, 1746, a party of thirty-two Indians secreted themselves near the lower falls for the purpose of surprising Weare's garrison, killing Philip Greely, who came in their way. This was the last attack of savages which occurred within the limits of the town.

From this time until the Revolution, the people of Royall's River had peace; but in that momentous struagle the inhabitants of what is now Yarmouth were not surpassed in their devotion to the American cause. On the 20th of May, previous to the Declaration of Independence, they "voted unanimously to engage with their lives and fortunes to support Congress in the measure."

Many distinguished people have resided in the town. One of the earliest was the Rev. Ammi R. Cutter, who was settled as pastor in 1730, but subsequently studied medicine. He led a company to the siege of Louisburg in 1745, remaining there as surgeon of the garrison after the surrender. The town has two Congregational churches, and one each belonging to the Baptist, Universalist and Roman Catholic denominations. The North Yarmouth Academy is situated in Yarmouth village, and notwithstanding a good town high-school, it still flourishes. Yarmouth has ten public schoolhouses, and the school property belonging to the town is valued at $3,500. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $1,034,336. In 1880 it was $1,022,670. The rate of taxation in 1880 was 1 7/8 per cent. The population in 1870 was 1,872 In the census of 1880, the figures are 2,021.

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