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

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


Windham, in Cumberland County, at its northern angle joins Raymond, forms for a short distance the eastern shore of Jordan Bay and Lake Sebago, and thence extends down the Presumpscot River to Westbrook. Jordan Bay, Standish, and Gorham bound it on the west ; a part of Westbrook, with Falmouth lie on the south-east; and Gray bounds it on the north-west. Little Sebago Lake, for about one-third its length, lies in the north-eastern part. Near this on thc south is Collins Pond; and Little Pond lies about a mile distant on the north ; south-west of this about one mile distant, is the Basin of Lake Sebago. On the eastern line of the town, midway of its length, lies Puck Pond about two miles to the Eorth. The streams are Outlet Brook, by which Little Sebago discharges into the Basin; Ditch Brook, connecting Collins Pond with Pleasant River; Black Brook, Callerwright Brook in the southern portion of the town; and Inkhorn Brook, at the southern angle of the town. Pleasant River, which passes through the middle of the town southward, is the largest stream except Presumpscot River, which forms the western boundary. Five powers on the Presnmpscot River and two or more on Pleasant River, are improved by mills. At Great FaIls are a saw-mill and a barrel factory; at Gambo Falls are the numerous buildings of the Oriental Powder Company; at Mallison Falls is a woolen-mill; and at Popeville, on Little River are a woolen and felt-mill. Other manufactures are, boots and shoes, lumber in its various forms, meal and flour, wood-paper board, carriages, harnesses, coffins, clothing, wooden-ware, etc.

In 1814, an artificial outlet which had been made at the south end of Little Sebago Pond became so enlarged that great quantities of the water of the pond escaped, carrying away mills and bridges and doing much damage along Little and Presumpscot rivers.

The grant of this township was made in 1734 to Abraham Howard, Joseph Blaney, and fifty-eight other citizens of Marblehead. The township consequently took the name of New Marblehead. In 1762 it was incorporated as Windham, the name being the same as that of a town in Norfolk County, England. Capt. Thomas Chute felled the first tree, and in 1737 built of logs the first house on the banks of the Presumpscot. A meeting-house was erected in 1740. The surface of the town is uneven, though there are no lofty hills. The soil is loamy and easily worked. In the southern part are inexhaustible quarries of granite. Perhaps it was this part of the town that Whitefield looked upon late in the autumn of 1744 or 1745, and exclaimed, “Pray where do they bury their dead?”

In 1744 a substantial fort was erected in the settlement, and furnished at the expense of the inhabitants with two swivel guns and the necessary ammunition. From 1745 to 1751 the inhabitants lived within its walls. It was a period of great suffering and danger; yet during this time none of the inhabitants lost their lives by the Indians, though William Maxfield was wounded, and William and Joseph Knight, William Bolton and Seth Webb were taken and held prisoners for a short time. After a respite of peace and prosperity for three years, Indian hostilities again comenced. Beside the defense of the fort, many dwelling-houses had now been prepared as garrisons. The last and most important attack upon Windham was made in May 14th, 1756, by about twenty savages led by Poland, the chief of the Rockoineko tribe. On the morning of that day, Ezra Brown and Ephrairn Winship, accompanied by four men and four boys as a guard, left the fort for the putpose of working on Brown’s lot. In passing through wood. Brown and Winship being some distance in advance, were fired upon by ambushed Indians; Brown being shot dead and Winship severely wounded, and both scalped. Four of the party in the rear hastened back to the fort, while the others, Abraham Anderson, Stephen Manchester, Timothy Cloudman, and Gershorn Winship, continued on to avenge their companions or perish in the attempt. As they approached the spot, the Indians sprang behind the trees, the white men also dropped behind some logs, arid the conflict began. As the result, Poland, the chief, and two of his followers, were killed by our four Spartan pioneers. After this, the people of Windham had peace and prospered until the Revolutionary war.

With the zeal which springs from a consciousness of being engaged in a just cause, Windham took all necessary measures to prepare her citizens at home or abroad. Officers were chosen to impart military instruction; ammunition and accoutrements were provided; and many of his townsmen served under Capt. Richard Mayberry through the campaign of 1777, till the surrender of Burgoyne in October of that year. No less than seventy-two men from Windham served in the Federal armies, and $2,280 in silver money were given by the town for the prosecution of the war. Tile first church was organized in 1743, when John Wight was ordained as pastor. The next pastor was Peter Thatcher Smith.

Windham has produced quite a number of eminent persons. Among these may be mentioned John A. Andrews, distinguished as governor of Massachusetts; and Mrs. Abby Goold Woolson, favorably known as an author and lecturer. Her father, Hon. William Goold, still a resident, has rendered useful service to the historical interests of the State.

Windham has two Congregational churches, one Free Baptist, one Universalist, one Methodist, one Friends, and one Union church. The number of public schoolhouses is nineteen, valued at $7,800. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $1,014,877. In 1880 it was $819,839. The population at the same date was 2,428. The census of 1880 places it at 2,313.

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