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

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

Pembroke lies on the north-west side of Lubec Bay in the south-eastern part of Washington County. Its greatest length is north-west and south-east, above 8½ miles; and its width is about 3½. Perry lies on its north-east side, Charleston on the north, Dennysville and Edmunds on the south-west. The surface of the town is uneven, but without lofty eminences. The land is well suited for agriculture, and the town is becoming one of the best in this respect. Pemmaquan River, the principal stream in the town, furnishes not less thaii five good water-powers, all of which are occupied. There are two mills for manufacturing long and short lumber, a planing-mill and a sash and blind factory, two grist-mills, and works of the Pembroke Iron Company. These consist of furnaces, rolling-mill, machine-shop, etc. The main building of this establishment is 171 feet wide and 160 feet long. The dam is of stone, and the power is very uniform. General Ezekiel Foster, an enterprising merchant of Eastport, was the originator of this enterprise, having commenced building the work in 1832. They were operated by Foster and Bartlett for a few years, then sold to Gray & Co., of Boston. In 1849, they were purchased by William E. Coffin & Co., of Boston, the present proprietors. For fifteen years prior to 1873, these works did an extensive business in the manufacture of iron spikes, rivets and other articles. The iron produced here is said to be surpassed by very few factories.

The southern shores of this town are washed by the sea; and there are several places where the flow of the tide in and out of basins might be made available for mills. The chief natural curiosity of the town is Cobscook Falls, formed by the tide, which rushes tuinutuously through a narrow passage over rugged rocks, into and out of an immense basin or reservoir. The bay formed by the mouth of the Pemmaquan is easy of access and safe. During the century in which the town has been settled, though every year a hundred vessels visit the harbor, not one was ever lost within its precincts. Shipbuilding began in this town as early as 1825; yet the vessels built were very few until Hon. S. C. Foster, in 1844, commenced the industry, constructing in a few years quite a fleet. In 1860 the business had so increased that there were in the town seven ship-yards. Two only are in operation at present. Many of the vessels built here are for coasting and the fisheries.

Pembroke was first settled in 1774, Hatevil Leighton, from Gouldsborough, Maine, being the pioneer. Edmund Meagher (Mahar) and William Clark, from Boston, came in 1780, settling near Cobscook Falls. These were followed by Robert Ash, M. Denho, Joseph Bridges, Zaclock Hersey, Caleb Hersey, Samuel Sprague, Theophilus and Bela Wilder, Moses Gardiner, Stephen Gardiner, and M. Dunbar, most of whom came from Maine and Massachusetts. Theophilus Wilder is said to have become a resident as early as 1740. These pioneer families were marked by industrious and frugal habits, a love of order, and the stern virtues of our illustrious ancestors. The proprietors of the lands in this town were Thomas Russell, John Lowell and General Benjamin Lincoln, of Revolutionary fame. The Herseys and Theophilus Wilder were soldiers in the war for independence; and the latter was a captain in the army under General Gates, and present at the surrender of Burgoyne.

Pembroke was a part cf Dennysville until Feb. 4, 1832, when it was set off and incorporated. Hon. Stephen C. Foster, a native of East Machias, but long a resident of Pembroke, represented his district in Congress from 1857 to 1861.

Union Church, the first in the town, was erected in 1842. Robert Crosset, a Congregationalist, was the first settled minister. Now there are also a Baptist and a Catholic society, and two Methodists. Pembroke has 13 public schoolhouses, valued at $15,000. There is a high school, and the village schools are graded. The population in 1870 was 2,551. In 1880 it was 2,324. The valuation in 1870 was $388,233. In 1880 it was $409,443.

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