History of Bowdoinham, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

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

Bowdoinham in Sagadahoc County, is situated on the west bank of the Kennebec river, at its junction with Androscoggin. It is bounded north by Richmond, west by Bowdoin, south by Topsham, and east by the Kennebec. Woolwich and Bath lie opposite the southern part. The town lies about 8 miles along the river, with an average width of about 5 miles. The principal streams are the Abagadusset and Cathance rivers. The former rises in the northern part of Richmond and runs southward through the eastern part of Bowdoinham, parallel with the Kennebec. The Cathance rises in the northern part of Bowdoin, runs south into the middle of Topsharn, then north in Bowdoinham until it receives the “West Branch,” then south to Merrymeeting Bay. Bowdoinham village is situated in the southern part of the town, near the junction with the West Branch. There was formerly considerable ship-building carried on at this point, and the business has not yet wholly ceased. There are in Bowdoinham three saw-mills, a grist-mill, a plaster-mill with capacity to grind eight tons per day, two clothing manufactories, a cheese-factory and about one dozen ice companies. Other manufactures are boots and shoes, tinware, carriages and harnesses, etc. East Bowdoinham, near the Abagadusset, has a railroad station and post-office.

The principal rock in town is a feispathic granite. The soil is chiefly clay, with some sandy loam on the uplands. The principal crop for export is hay. Maple, birch and ash flourish in the woods.

The Indian sachem, Abagadusset, had his residenee on the point which now bears his name. It lies between the river of the same name and the Kennebec. Alexander Thwait purchased land of the Indians and lived at this place before 1656. He removed to Bath for a few years, but returned in 1665. It is said that during the first Indian war nine families living on the north shore of Merrymeeting Bay were destroyed or made captive by the Indians. Remains of orchards planted before this date have been mentioned by later inhabitants.

The township of Bowdoinham was claimed by the Plymouth proprietors, who conveyed 3,200 acres of it to William Bowdoin, of Boston, but Sir Ferdinando Gorges had, in 1637, granted to Sir Richard Edgecomb a tract of 8,000 acres, situated near Merryrneeting Bay— then called the “Lake of New Somerset.” In 1718 John Edgecomb, of New London, appeared for the heirs of his name, and entered a minute of the grant in the book of claims. In 1756 the claim was again revived by Lord Ecigeconib, one of the heirs, who entrusted his business to Sir William Pepperell, of Kittery. The latter having died without settling his claim, his lordship empowered Nathaniel Sparhiawk to pursue it. Mr. Bowdoin, claiming from the Plymouth proprietors, brought an action to sustain his claim, showed title from the Plymouth proprietors, and a quit-claim from Abagadusset. The court ruled that this should prevail against the obsolete and indefinite grant made by Gorges, and Mr. Bowdoin won the case. This ruling and decision were in 1758 and 1763; but some years later the Superior Court ruled that this town was not included in the patent, the north line of the town being fixed as the southern boundary of the patent. It is also said that the Pejepscot proprietors claimed this territory and built mills within it. The settlement of Bowdoinham began soon after the building of Fort Richmond ; but its increase was much retarded by the wars with the Indians, and the disputes about the title to the land. The National Bank of Bowdoinham hasa capital of $50,000. Orrington Lunt and Samuel Gray are among the most valued of former citizens. The salubrity of the climate of this town is shown by the number of old persons living here, there being thirty-three over eighty years old. It was incorporated in 1762, being named in honor of the Bowdoin family.

The Free Baptists have two churches, the Baptists one, and the Methodists one. Bowdoinham has fifteen schoolhouses, the entire school property being valued at $6,000. The valuation of the estates in 1870 was $646,422. In 1880 it was $610,409. The rate of taxation in the latter year was twenty-four mills on a dollar. The population in 1870 was 1,804. In 1880 it was 1,681.

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