Historical Sketch of Norway, Maine
Leading Business Men of


Norway Maine

THE growth and present prosperous condition of Norway reveal the distin guishing characteristics of a typical and model New England town. Within a little more than a hundred years wOrthy results have been obtained which merit great admiration. The town was first settled in 1786, though explorations, surveylog and clearing had begun during the two last previous years. The first settlers were Joseph and Jonas Stevens, George Lessley, Jeremiah and Amos Hobbs, Nathan Noble and their families. The soil was very alluvial, fish and game plenty, wood abundant, so that the first few years were not marred by want, though they had most of the usual trials and hardships of pioneer life. These first settlers were of the sturdiest, most progressive New England type, and set to work with a fire and perseverance that soon told perceptibly on the wilderness around them. In the first year, 1786 also came Benjamin Herring, Dudley Pike, John and Win. Parsons who also added force and wisdom to the rough pioneer work. A little later Lemuel Shedd, Jonathan Stickney and Nathaniel Stevens moved in and augmented the number of stouthearted workers. The first child, Sarah Stevens, daughter of Jonas Stevens, was born October 17, 1787. The former name of the town was Rustfield, by which it was known for sometime after its settlement. A saw and grist mill was set up in 1789, which added greatly to the comfort and progress of the place. Benjamin Witt, a skilled blacksmith, also came and was gladly welcomed during the first few yeais. The first shoemaker was Peter Buck who moved here from Paris in 1790. From this time on people began to come in with constantly increasing numbers each year until the population in one decade had increased to five hundred in 1797, in which year the town was incorporated under its present name. The reason for the name is not recorded or appparent. By 1800, at the beginning of the century, the population of the town was six hundred, and through the various difficulties of the embargo, etc.' the town continued to grow steadily. In 1810, the population bad reached one thousand and ten, and to one thousand three hundred and thirty in 1820. Through the intermediate decades of the century its advancement continued, though not without some set-back; but the population had reached one thousand nine hundred and sixty three in 1850. The town took deep interest in the struggle of the Rebellion and contributed liberally of its best men and substance. The volunteers from Norway served mostly in the First, Ninth, Eleventh, Twenty-first and Twenty-fourth Maine Infantry Regiments, and fought with a gallantry and devotion most honorable to their native place. The rneniory of those who fell in the great struggle has been and ever will be most U.rnderly cherished. After the war, for awhile the recovery from the financial strain and depression was not rapid. But after 1870, the town began to go forward with its old spirit and success. A shoe-manufactory established here in 1872 gave added impetus to the business interests of the town. About the most important event in the town's history, from a material standpoint, was the opening of the Norway Branch R. R., opened between this town and South Paris iu 1879. The valuation of the town, which in 1860 was $450,000, has increased steadily, until now it is over $1,000,000. The annual business of the town is valued at more than $2,000,000. The population at the present time is a little over three thousand. The town debt is very small, only $5,041.07, and the taxes are therefore correspondingly light.

The attractions and excellencies of Norway are too extended to receive adequate treatment in this brief sketch. The business interests of the town are conservative, yet progressive. Being the center of a large growing district of the State, these are continually advancing. The advantages offered to manufacturers for settlementare of the first order. The schools and general culture of the town are at the high standard of which New England is so proud, and recieve thorough and appreciative attention. The Norway Public School Building is a fine piece of tasteful architecture. The churches are strong and active; the religous and moral tone of the community is very high and active. All generous and noble works of charity receive merited attention. The sanitary condition of the town is unusually good, and the Water Supply Company is very satisfactory. Considering all these and other facts, it is not surprising that Norway has made a greater gain in population and valuation during the last fifteen years than any other town of the same kind, in the State.

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