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

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

Eastport is a town and island in the south-easterly part of Washington County, in Passamaquoddy Bay. The nearest towns are Perry on the north-west, and Lubec on the south-west. Ltibec Bay and its passages separate it from the mainland on the west, and the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay divide it from Campo Bello and Deer islands, which belong to Great Britain. It is connected with Perry by means of a bridge 1,280 feet in length. The greatest length of the town is about 5 miles in a north-western and south-eastern direction the greatest width is about 2 miles. The form of the island is extrernely irregular, and furnishes several good havens. The village is situated on the south-easterly part of the island, on a spacious harbor never closed by ice. Catching and curing fish has been and is still the principal industry of the town. There are now thirteen sardine factories in full operation in Eastport, employing about 800 hands. These factories run night and day during the season, and turn out about 5,000 cases per week. Some $8,000 per week are paid out weekly to the hands,—men, women and children. The fish-curing houses marking the eastern shore of the town, but numerously clustered along the water’s edge at the village, are a very noticeable feature from the harbor. Another feature is the fortified hill in the village, called Fort Sullivan. “The Prince Regent’s Redoubt” is the highest eminence in the town, the summit being 183 feet above high-water mark. The view of the bay from this point is very beautiful. The rock is generally trap, and the soil is gravel, loam and clay. Hay and potatoes are the principal crops. There are three excellent tide-powers within the town. The manufactories, other than those engaged in the various preparations of fish, are a steam-mill of 75 horse-power, comprising a grain-mill capable of grinding 400 bushels per day, box and spool machinery, making 2,000 boxes, and using 2,500 feet of spool lumber, and carding machinery capable of making into rolls 150 lbs. of wool per day. The village contains about one hundred warehouses and stores. It is prettily laid out, and along the streets are many elm, maple, hackmatac, mountain ash and balm of gilead trees; while everywhere front yards are filled with flowers.

Eastport was incorporated February 24, 1798, and was named Eastport from being the most eastern port in the United States. At this date the town included Moose Island (Eastport), Dudley’s (Allen’s), Frederic (Rice’s) Islands, and the territory of the present town of Lubec. The latter with the two last islands were set off in in 1811. The first settlers were fishermen from Newburyport, Mass., and Portsmouth, N. H. of whom James Cochrane was the first, coming from Newburyport in 1772. Previous to its incorporation, Eastport was known as Moose Island. The chief office of the Passamaquoddy United States Customs District has been located at Eastport almost ever since the incorporation of the town.

During the embargo of 1809 a fortification named Fort Sullivan was built on the hill at the village. In 1814, Major Perley Putnam, of Salem, was placed in command in this region, having a force of 100 militia, 30 of whom were stationed at Robbinston. On the 5th of July, in this year, a small force of British secretly despatched from Halifax, was joined by a fleet from Bermuda, the whole consisting of the “Ramillies,” a 74 gun ship, the sloop-of-war “Martin,” the brigs “Rover” and “Bream,” bomb-ship “Terror,” and several transports, carrying upwards of 1,000 men, consisting of the 102d infantry and a battalion of artillery. The troops were commanded by Colonel Thomas Pilkington, the whole force being under the command of Commodore Sir Thomas Hardy. These arrived before Eastport on the 11th of July. The force was so strong that it appeared worse than useless to contend, and the place was surrendered. The British claimed the island as being on the British side of the boundary-line settled upon in 1783, and ordered the inhabitants to take the oath of allegiance. While some complied with the requirement others evaded it, and many removed to points westward. Among the spoil found by the enemy was $9,000. in unfinished United States Treasury notes, lacking only the signature of the collector of customs to render them valid; but threats and artifices failed to induce the officer to sign them. After some time, having appointed a British collector of customs, the fleet departed, but left 800 troops to hold the place. These were continued here for three years after the war closed, on the plea that this island was included in the original limits of New Brunswick.

The town in 1820, two years after the British force removed, contained one hundred and twenty-five dwelling-houses, seventy-five stores, sixty wharves, and three meeting-houses, one of which cost $10,500. In 1839 the larger part of the business quarter of the village was burnt, but was soon rebuilt. Eastport furnished 403 men to the Union cause during the war of the Rebellion. There are now in the village a national and a savings-bank, the custom house for the Passainaquoddy district, a telegraph office, a United States signalstation, a newspaper, and a public library of 1,800 volumes. The Frontier National Bank has a capital of $75,000; the Eastport Savings Bank, at the beginning of 1880, held in deposits and profits the sum of $153,780.34. The “Eastport Sentinel,” published by N. B. Nutt, Esq., is a valuable and interesting paper. Here is a port of the International Steamship Line, connecting with Boston, Portland and St. John; and of the St. Croix Steamboat Line, by which it is connected with Calais, St. Andrew’s and Robbinston. It is the terminus of the daily stage-line to Calais and Machas, from the first of which it is distant 30, and from the last, 40 miles. Among the honored citizens of this town were Hons. Lorenzo Sabine, Joseph C. Noyes, and Esquires Ichabod R. Chadbourne, Daniel T. Granger, Frederick Hobbs, Aaron Hayden, Bion Bradbury and Jonathan D. Weston. There are resident in the town ten persons above ninety years of age, fifteen about eighty, and one who claims to be one hundred and two.

The churches of Eastport number seven, and are Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Unitarian, Christian and Roman Catholic. The Boynton high-school is located in this village. The number of public schoolhouses in the town is seven, valued, with appurtenances, at $12,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $901,686. In 1880 it was $882,892. The rate of taxation in the latter year was 3 per cent. The population in 1870 was 3,736. In 1880 it was 4,006.

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