History of York County, 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


York County Towns - Acton - Alfred - Berwick - Biddeford - Buxton - Dayton - Eliot - Hollis - Kennebunk - Kennebunk Por - Kittery - Lebanon - Limerick - Limington - Lyman - Newfield - North Berwick - Old Orchard Beach - Parsonsfield - Saco - Sanford - Shapleigh - South Berwick - Waterborough - Wells - York


........York County, forming the south-western portion of the
State, grew into its present name and form by degrees, and during a
long period. Its beginning may be considered to have been the estab-
lishment of the government of the Province of Maine in 1640, by the
proprietor, Sir Ferdinando Gorges. The limits of this province ex-
tended from the Piscataqua River to the Kennebec. The province
soon came to be considered as two districts, first spoken of as the East
and West districts, or counties, of which the Kennebunk River was re-
garded as the dividing line. The town of York being the shire town
of the western section, that portion gradually came to be called York
district, or county, the other being called Somerset, or New Somerset.
The Kennebunk River also proved to be the western boundary of the
temporary Province of Lygonia. In 1652, Maine came under the con-
trol of Massachusetts, and the Isles of Shoals and all the territory
northward of Piscataqua River to the White Mountains, and thence
eastward to Penobscot Bay, were included in the re-named and ex-
tended jurisdiction of Yorkshire. All this was overturned by the
King's commissioners in 1664, who revived the divisions as established
by Gorges, and formed the territory east of the Kennebec into the
county of Cornwall. In 1677, however, Massachusetts purchased the
Province of Maine of Gorges' heirs; and again Yorkshire was ex-
tended eastward as far as the Kennebec. In 1716, the General Court
ordered the extension of Yorkshire, so as to include all the settlements
eastward; and accordingly Penobscot Bay became again the eastern
boundary. In 1735, courts were ordered to be held at York and Fal-
mouth, and the county received its present name. The establishment
in 1760 of the new county of Cumberland, gave York County its pres-
ent boundary on that side. In 1805, Oxford County was formed, when
York County first assumed its present limits.

The Saco River passes through the eastern section, then forms its
boundary line for some fifteen miles on the north-east. The Ossipee
River continues this line ten miles or more further to the New Hamp-
shire line. The Salmon Falls River forms the western boundary line
for about thirty miles, and the Piscataqua continues it some ten miles
further to the sea. The other considerable rivers are the Little Ossipee,
Mousam, Kennebunk, Great Works, Little and York. In the northern
part there are numerous ponds; Little Ossipeee - somewhat north of
the center of the county - being the largest, except Great East Pond,
which is partly in New Hampshire. In the northern part the hills are
numerous, several of which are near 1,000 feet in height. Agamenticus
Mountain, 600 feet high, is the greatest elevation near the coast. The
rocks of the region are chiefly granitic; though at some points near the
coast they are argillaceous. The soil of the southern and eastern parts
of the county inclines to sandy loam, though clay, and clayey and
gravelly loam are frequent. The latter increases to the north, where
the soil becomes strong and productive, though often difficult to work
on account of the stones. The Portland and Rochester railroad crosses
the middle of the county from north-east to south-west, while the
Portland, Saco and Portsmouth, and the Boston and Maine railroads
follow a similar direction near the coast. The county contains twenty-
four towns and two cities; and three United States Customs districts,
Saco, Kennebunk and York, are within its limits. It has twenty-six
towns and two cities. The shire town is Alfred. The valuation in
1870 was $22,442,875. In 1880 it was $22,423,960. The population
in 1870 was 60,174; and in 1880, 62,299.

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