Historical Sketch of BRUNSWICK Maine
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BRUNSWICK is an ideal town in New England, alike charming for its natural beauty and its quiet air of refinement. A subtle aroma of culture seems to pervade its streets and buildings and give peculiar dignity to its people. Whether it was peculiarly fitted for a college town, or has been transformed into Marrnony with the scholarly, academic spirit, it would not be easy to decide; but no one can escape the power of its beauty and charm. The history of Brunswick has been carefully studied and compiled by able men, so that its historical archives are unusually full. Its colonial history extends back to the very earliest activities of the English in this part of the new world. Thomas Purchase, an energetic pioneer and trader with the Indians had established himself here as early as 1628. His fame spread throughout the growing band of Englishmen along the Atlantic coast of New England, and in 1632 he was joined by George Way. These two obtained a patent from the Plymouth Company in England for a large piece of territory at the mouth of the Androscoggin River. It was about four miles square, and contained the great salmon fisheries, which were widely celebrated for their rich supplies of salmon, especially among the Indians. As early as 1639, the Indians already gave signs of an intention to do the English colonies no good, and in that year, for the sake of protection, Thomas Purchase placed his little colony under jurisdiction and control of Massachusetts. It continued to grow slowly but steadily up to the time of the outbreak of the King Philips War, in 1675. In that year the wrath of the Indians was poured out upon the little settlement, but though they devasted and burned the whole town,all the inhabitants succeeded in escaping. From this time for about a quarter of a century, the place lay desolate; but at the beginning of the eighteenth century, old families began to come back and the place so rapidly recovered its former size that it was incorporated as a township by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1717. Its territory comprised six square miles, and it was named Brunswick, in honor of the recently founded royal family of England. The first selectmen were Capt. M. Gyles, Thomas Wharton, James Storratt, John Cochran and John Heath, the latter also being the first town clerk.

In 1722, the township which had grown to number about forty families, bad to be abandoned again, on account of the Indian wars. After a few years, however, it regained its former size and began again to grow, receiving a renewed charter as a town in 1788. In 1752 the town contained twenty dwelling-houses, four mills and one meeting-house. On account of the river, the salmon fishing, which was very extensive here, was the earliest and most important industry. The soil was also unusually fertile, and game furnished large quantities of fur. It is said that at this time one man caught thirty-nine barrels of salmon in three weeks. The town officers elected in 1689 were Samuel Hinkley, Town Clerk; Capt. B. Larrabee, Samuel Hinkley, John Getchell, James Dunning and David Dunning.

The Indians of this region belonged to the Anasagunticook tribe, and were of a bold, fiery nature, large in numbers and powerful in organization. Having their headquarters at Brunswick Falls, they gave the early inhabitants of this region a great deal of annoyance and trouble. Brunswick furnished about thirty men to the expe dition against Louisburg in 1745, and other volunteers during the French and Indian wars. In 1760 among the leading families here, were the Pennell, Gross, Harding, Stone, Weston, Curtis and Meicher. In 1775 the town united with the rest of the colony in the agressive measures taken against the tyranny of England. It furnished a full quota of men and monies to the Revolutionary struggles, and spared no effort to help in establishing the liberty and government of the United States. Among other gallant officers from Brunswick were Col. Samuel Thompson, Col. Nathaniel Purinton, Major Nathaniel Larrabee and Capt. John Merrill. After the Revolutionary war the town continued to grow with increasing rapidity, and about 1800 the first stage line was opened between here and Portland. The population in 1740 was 160; in 1765, 506; in 1776, 867; in 1790, 1,387, and is now about two thousand. A considerable shipping interest was established here during the early years of this century, which was effectually killed by the Embargo Acts of 1807 and 1809, which caused immense indignation here as in other parts of New England. In the war of 1812 Brunswick furnished three hundred men, who nobly- sustained the honor of the country and their native town. Though the war was locally disadvantageous, home issues were laid aside and the common cause supported with earnest devotion. After the war was over, the upward progress of the town was again resumed, and in 1820 the population had become 2,931, and the valuation $408,793.

In the war of the Rebellion, Brunswick took an honorable and distinguished part. The culture of the citizens and the added enthusiasm of the college, war made all the movements of the town thorough and generous. Several prominent field officers went from Brunswick, and over 700 private soldiers were enlisted here, a large proportion considering the number of inhabitants. In 1861, $7,000 were raised here for the support of the soldiers and government; in 1862, $15,700 were raised; in 1863, $42,800; 1864, $33,500; 1865, $83,200; making total of $132,200, during the war, which only represents a part of their generous contributions. The ladies of the town contributed great assistance in many ways, and throughout the war Maine had no more energetic and responsive town or city than Brunswick. Most of the soldiers who went from Brunswick enlisted in the 3d, 5th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 17th, 19th, 25th, or 30th, but the town was represented in almost every regiment that left the State. The memory of those who fell in the great conflict has ever been tenderly cherished, and no means spared to perpetuate the memorials of their glorious and patriotic devotion.

Bowdoin College, which has been so long and intimately connected with Brunswick, is deserving of more than passing notice, being the oldest and most famous educational institution of its kind in the State. The first movement for the college was started in 1788, by the Senator in Massachusetts Legislature from Cumberland Co., Hon. Josiah Thatcher, and the charter for the institution was granted by the Legislature in 1794. Brunswick was chosen as the cite because it made the most generous offers of land and support. It was named Bowdoin College in honor of the Hon. James Bowdoin, a graduate of Harvard, in 1745, delegate to the first Congress in 1776, and Governor of Massachusetts. One of the earliest and chief patrons of the college was the Hon. James Bowdoin, son of the former, a graduate of Harvard in 1771, who contributed money and land valued at $6,000. The original trustees were Rev. Thos. Brown, Falmouth; Samuel Deane, D.D., Portland; John Frothingham, Esq., Portland; Rev. Daniel Little, Wells; Rev. Thomas Lancaster, Scarboro; David Mitchell, Esq., North Yarmouth; Rev. Tristram. Gilman, North Yarmouth; Rev. Alden Bradford, Wiscasset; Thomas Rice, Esq., Pownalboro; William Martin, North Yarmouth. The original purpose, as stated in charter, was “to found a seminary to promote virtue and piety, and a knowledge of the languages, and of the use of the liberal arts and sciences.” Five, townships of lands, each six miles square, were granted to the college by the Legislature. The college did not formally open until 1802, the Rev. Joseph MoKeen of Beverly, Mass., having been chosen the first President in the preceding year. Massachusetts Hall, completed in 1802, was the first college building. In the first year there were eight students. Among the most prom.. inent of the early professors, were John Abbott, first professor of languages, and. Parker Cleaveland, first professor of mathematics and sciences. In 1805 the Pencinian Society was founded. In 1807 there were forty-four students and 1,500 volumes in the library. In the same year President MeKeen died and the Rev. Jesse Appleton of Dartmonth was chosen his successor. In 1808 the Athenaeum Society was established. In 1811 the Hon. James Bowdoin died, leaving to the college another legacy of 2,000 books, many valuable maps, paintings, etc., valued at $15,000, and made the college his residuary legatee. In 1819, on the death of President Appleton, the Rev. William Allen, former President of Dartmouth, succeeded him. President Allen was féllowed in 1839 by the Rev. Leonard Woods of the Bangor Theological Seminary, who served the longest term of any President of the college, continuing in office until 1865, and was one of Bowdoin’s ablest leaders and most distinguished. Among Bowdoin’s. other famous graduates were Henry W. Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne, both of class of ‘25, and two of the most brilliant lights in American literature. Bowdoin has, indeed, been always distinguished for its strong literary tone and atmosphere, and is not surpassed at the present time in this respect by any college in New England. In 1855 King’s Chapel was completed, and two years later the beautiful Memorial Hall, in honor of the Bowdoin men who fell during the war. The Rev. Samuel Harris was President from 1865 to 1871; he was succeeded by Gén. Joseph H. Chamberlain in 1871, and the latter by the Rev. William D. Hyde, D.D., the present incumbent. The total number of graduates up to 1876 was 1,887. The medical school, which is now in a flourishing condition, was established by the Maine Legislature in 1820. Since 1820 this department has graduated 1,174 pupils. At the present time there are eighty-five students in the medical department and 137 in the academic department, making a total of 222. The college is now in a prosperous condition, and admirably maintaining the laurels of former years. The campus is spacious and beautiful, with wide lawns, long, shaded walks and beautiful buildings; among the chief of these are King’s Chapel, Sargent’s Gymnasium, Memorial Hall, Massachusetts Hall, Winthrop, Maine and Appleton Halls, the Medical School and Laboratory. The library now contains, together with those of the Athenaeum and Pencinian Societies, over 35,000 volumes, and there are large art collections and valuable scientific collections and apparatus. The faculty now numbers twenty-four, thirteen of whom are in the academical faculty, and the ability and scholarship of the teachers with the accumulated resources of many years, render Bowdoin’s facilities for imparting higher instruction on a par with the best standard in the country.

The town of Brunswick is remarkable for the beauty of its environment, no less than the culture of its citizens. It seems to breathe the quiet air of refinement, and its broad streets, with arching elms, cool river drives and hilly outlooks, render its natural beauties of a high order. It is becoming more famed every year as a quiet and ideally restful summer resort. Although it has kept advancing, it has never cared to change its town government, which has worked with the greatest satisfaction. The population of Brunswick has increased as follows : 1740, 160; 1765, 506; 1776, 867, valuation, £19,000; 1790 1,378; 1810, 2,682—$325,280; 1820, 2,931— $403,793; 1830, 3,547—$815,178; 1840, 4,259; 1850, 4,975—$1,107,822; 1860, 4,723—$1,421,091; 1870, 4,727; 1880, 5,384—$1,979,877.

It is probable that few people have a correct knowledge of Brunswick as a manufacturing center. That it affords regular employment to some sixteen hundred operatives in its various industries, is a matter of surprise to many who have been accustomed to look upon this good old town as a seat of learning and the abode of retired sea captains; and that there should be still better opportunities for a large increase of these manufacturing enterprises, where, on its lines of railroad, buildings can be erected affording the cheapest shipment obtainable.

The Board of Trade, with over one hundred members of the lending business men of the place, are seeking to bring some of the natural advantages offered by Brunswick to the attention of manufacturers, and any party of standing may be assured of a cordial welcome should be visit the place with a view to investigating the claims put forth.

At the present time the population is about six thousand, and the valuation $3,496,128. All the town’s interests are in a prosperous and progressive condition, and it seems that she has entered upon a period of unparalleled advances. The slowly accumulated’ forces of generations of enterprise and forethought are now being reaped in increasing abundance, and. it cannot be other than a great satisfaction to all who have known this beautiful and delightful town to learn that its days of prosperity are lengthening into the deserved rewards of steady and upward growth.

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