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

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

Topsham, in Sagadahoc County, is situated in a broad bend of the Androscoggin river extending, in general course, from Lisbon south-east to Brunswick, and from thence north-eastward to Merrymeeting Bay. Bowdoin and Bowdoinham bound the town on the north, and Brunswick on all other sides,—with the northern extremity of Bath across the bay on the east. The streams are Little River, which separates it from Lisbon, Cathance River, which comes down from Bowdoin to the centre of the town; then runs north-eastward into Bowdoinham, imperfectly repeating within the town the course of the Androscoggin about its border. East of this lies Nuddy River, a tide-water creek having the same course as the former. A short distance east of this stream is Pleasant Point,—a part of Bowdoinham, but springing out into the bay from the north-eastern corner of Topsham. The greatest length of the town is between the eastern and western angles, the distance being about 9 miles. Its greatest width is from above the village to Lily Pond at the northern border of the town. The area is very near 25,000. The surface of Topsham is generally level, varied by a few ravines and low hills,—of which Ararat a station of the U. S. Coast Survey a mile north of Topsham bridge is the highest. In the higher portions the soil is a brown loam, on the plains a sandy loam, and in the lowlands, clay and clay loam. The rock is generally a very coarse granite, with a preponderance of feispar. The Trenton Feispar Company are operating a quarry here.

The manufactures are at the first falls on the Androscoggin between the villages of Brunswick and Topsham. There are here the paper mill of the Bowdoin Paper Company, a ship-yard or two, a planing and threshing mill, three lumber mills, door, sash and stair factories, a grain mill, bricks, etc. The Maine Central Railroad runs through the town, having a station at the village. Topsham is connected with Brunswick on the south side of the river by three bridges, two of which are railroad bridges. The upper railroad bridge is of wood; the lower one is a long and beautiful structure of iron. An iron bridge of a beautiful design has just been erected between the two villages for ordinary Street uses.

Topsham was first occupied about 1658 by Thomas and James Gyles, and three men named York with their families, who bought lands on the bay and river before King Philip’s war. One of these built a house and resided at Fulton’s Point, another at the head of Muddy River, and a third Gyles on Pleasant Point. At each of these places, not many years since, the cellars and chimnies of their rude dwellings were clearly traceable. It is thought probable that the settler at Fulton’s Point arrived several years prior to the others; for it is stated that, in 1750, there was a tree upwards of one foot in diameter growing in the cellar. There is also a tradition that this settler lived for many years on friendly terms with the natives, but at last while absent in quest of provisions, the Indians massacred his family and burnt his house; and the bereaved man now returned to England. Both the other families were murdered by the natives. Gyles and his wife were shot while gathering their crops, and the children taken into captivity; but all except a son were ransonied by the officers at Fort George, in Brunswick. The new settlement was projected by the Pejepseot proprietors about 1715. In 1721, sixteen families had located in the town, and a minister was employed; but later the people probably worshipped at Brunswick until the erection of their meeting-house in 1759. The first church organization was Presbyterian, the settlers being largely Scotch-Irish. The town furnished 50 men for various service during the Revolutionary war. In the war of the Rebellion 144 men served on the side of the Union.

The Sagadahoc Agricultural Society laid out its grounds and erected its hail here in 1856; since which other buildings and an elegant judge’s stand have been erected. The annual shows which have generally been successful, grow more and more attractive. A large collection of paintings and engravings some of which are works of great merit and value belonging to Col. Wildes P. Walker, may properly be reckoned as belonging to the attractions of the town; since the owner, with rare public spirit, often throws his gallery open to his townsmen. The churches are neat structures situated in the village, and belong to the Congregationalists, Baptists and Free-Baptists. The Franklin Family School, which attained its highest success under the management of its founder, Hon. Warren Johnson, is still open; and its building and grounds are an ornament to the village. Topsham has 12 public schoolhouses, and the total school property of the town is valued at $7,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $880,265. In 1880 it was $819,537. The population in 1870 was 1,498. In 1880 it was 1,547.

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