"The Old Town of Berwick” is Sarah Orne Jewett’s history of her hometown, South Berwick, Maine, with an emphasis on the years before 1814 when the name Berwick applied to present-day Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick. The essay was published in 1894 in New England Magazine with the illustrations that appear here. We are grateful to Terry Heller of Coe College for typesetting this document. Further notes on this essay are at the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project .
Throughout Jewett’s writings, her descriptions of the physical landscape are often very accurate. Taking her father’s advice, she wrote about what she knew, and her short stories sometimes read like 19th century travelogues. Her purpose in writing “The Old Town of Berwick” was to keep alive the places and people and stories which were familiar and dear to her. However, a few references in her essay here are not historically accurate. Because “The Old Town of Berwick” is often read as a local history, there has been a need to point out a few important inaccuracies in Jewett’s account. These will be mentioned in the notes accompanying the essay.
From William D. Williamson,
The History of the State of Maine , 1832.
Hallowell, Maine: Glazier, Masters, & Co.
Description of the area now comprising York County, Maine and parts of the area of Portsmouth, N.H.
From vol. 1, Introduction. pp. 21-24.
THE WESTERN COAST.
The Piscataqua 1 river in its whole length, forms a part of the western boundary of Maine. Its head is a pond, the body of which is in Wakefield, on the New-Hampshire side, and the end in Shapleigh. It is fed by two other ponds; and the three are called Salmon Fall pond, the Northeast pond, and Lovell's pond. The river runs a S. S. E. course about 40 miles to the sea. From the ponds to Quampeagan falls , near the mouth of Great-works river, at the head of the tide, the distance is 26 miles; and that part of the river, being only a large mill stream, is called Salmon Fall river, from the abundance of salmon formerly taken from its waters. It is said, fishermen anciently, when standing on the rocks, could spear them in great numbers, though not one has been seen there for an age past. Within the space of ten miles above Quampeagan are three waterfalls; the upper are about the point where Berwick and Lebanon angle on the river, and are called the Stair falls . Four miles below are the Great falls , where mills are worked with great profit and convenience. Not far from these two falls, are the mouths of two inconsiderable streams, Little river and Worcester's river , both in Berwick. 2
Near the angle, (at the river,) between Old and South-Berwick, are Salmon falls , a mile and a half above Quampeagan, well covered with useful mills, and affording eligible places for machinery. Hereabouts are caught frost-fish and smelts in great plenty, and also some alewives.
Quampeagan falls are ripples or descents of a mile long, washed by the tide nearly to their head; and the river is navigable from the foot of them, 14 miles to its mouth. Against these, on the east side, empties the river Great-works or Chadbourn's river , which issues from Bonnebeag pond, a mile long and half a mile wide, in the northeast part of old Berwick, 30 miles from its mouth. In this river are Doughty's falls , 5 miles from the pond, and others still greater a mile above its mouth. Here [in South-Berwick] were the celebrated mills of ancient days, erected by one Ledgors (Richard Leader), who is said to have had 18 saws moved by one wheel; which, however, required too much head of water to work them with advantage. Here also Mr. Chadbourn, a first settler, purchased lands of the natives in 1643, and formed a noted stand and frontier.
At Quampeagan, so called by the natives, (because fish were taken here with nets,) is the great landing place, whence immense quantities of lumber have been rafted or shipped to market; and where are now many mills of different kinds.
From Quampeagan to the junction of Cocheco, Oyster, Exeter and New-Market rivers, on the New-Hampshire side, a run of four miles, the river is called Newichawannock , and is sufficiently large to bear vessels of an hundred tons burthen near to the falls. Thence to the sea, 8 or 9 miles, the course is from S. to S. E. and the river itself has the name of Piscataqua , commodious for navigation and too salt and too rapid to freeze.
Where the river changes its name from Newichawannock to Piscataqua, on the eastern side, is Sturgeon creek . Lower down on the same side, is Spruce creek , which makes up into Kittery, northeasterly around the point, three miles or more; and here, in water two or three fathoms deep, is the harbour. On the N. and E. side of the channel, in proceeding to the sea, are Rising Castle, Furnal's or Navy, Seavey's, Bager's, Trefethin's , and Clark's Islands , all which are small except Seavey's, which lies opposite Spruce creek and may be 3-4ths of a mile across either way; and Furnal's, or NAVY ISLAND of 58 acres, which has been purchased by the United States, at the cost of $5,500, for a ship-yard, in which several war ships have been already built.
Southeastwardly of Kittery point are Gerrish's and Cutts' Islands , 3 which are separated from the main by a very small strait only boatable, and which two together may contain an area equal to a league square; poor and uninhabited, belonging to the town of Kittery. West of the former and north of Great Island is the Pool .
The celebrated Isles of Shoals , which are often mentioned and partially described in the succeeding History, lie nine miles southerly from the mouth of Piscataqua harbour, and are seven in number, -- three (besides Anderson's rock,) on the west and four on the east side of the line; the former belonging to New-Hampshire and the latter to Maine. Here is a good naval road with moorings; where ships sometimes take shelter in bad weather. Formerly the inhabitants were engaged in the codfishery to great advantage; and on one of the Islands, saltworks have been erected, which yielded salt of a most excellent quality for curing fish.
The most conspicuous of them is Star Island , which forms the town of Gosport, and is on the New-Hampshire side of the line. It is 3-4ths of a mile long from N. W. to S. E. and half a mile wide; and has a meeting-house fronting the west, painted white, with 12 feet walls and a steeple in the middle, about 30 feet in height. It may be seen 25 miles distant in almost any direction. It bears from the western Agamenticus south 1-2 east; -- the buildings are on the north end of the Island.
White Island 4 is a mass of rocks 3-4ths of a mile in length from N. W. to S. E. and is the southwesternmost one of the cluster. It is one mile and 3-4ths from Star Island meeting-house. In the tower of the lighthouse is a bell of 300 lbs. tolled by machinery.
The northernmost of all on the N. H. side is Londoner's or Lounging Island , which has rugged rocks projecting in every direction; about half way between which and Star Island lies a rock, bare at low water. This Island is 5-8ths of a mile in length, and one third of a mile from Star Island, and lies southwest of Hog Island.
On the Maine side of the line are Duck Island, Hog Island, Smutty-nose Island , and Cedar Island .
Duck Island , which is north of all the others, is an ill-shapen, low, rocky Island, the most dangerous one of the whole seven, as the rocks project on all sides, and from the N. W. part, a ledge runs off half a mile. It is 7-8ths of a mile in length from N. W. to S. E. and a league from Star Island meeting-house.
Hog Island , at its east end, bears from the meeting-house N. N. E., 7-8ths of a mile distant, and is about one mile in length from E. to W. and 5-8ths of a mile across. It is much the largest one of the seven.
South of Hog Island is Smutty-nose or Hayley's Island , which has an artificial dock, constructed with great labour and expense by Mr. Hayley, for the accommodation of fishing vessels. It is a mile long from E. to W. and nearly half a mile wide. It has a windmill on its northerly part, and Hayley's cove at the west end, where 15 or 20 small vessels may lie safely from all winds, and where the buildings are situated. The east end of this Island bears E. N. E. 5-8ths of a mile distant from the meeting-house.
Cedar Island , one third of a mile in length from E. to W., small in territory, is situate between Star and Smutty-nose Islands; its east end bears E. 1-4th N. 3-8ths of a mile distant from the meeting-house. Between this and the latter Island, the channel is crooked, and a rock lies off the S. E. end. 5 Sometimes vessels passing between Casco bay and Boston, run within side of these Islands. 6
1 Piscataqua is of Indian origin, and means "right angles."
2 MS. Letter from Berwick.
3 "Brave boat harbour," is N. E. of these Islands, next to the main.
4 The Lighthouse is 67 feet in height above highwater mark, containing 15 patent lamps with reflectors, on a revolving triangle.
5 MS. Let. Hon. M. Dennet.
6 It was on these Islands that the dun fish was cured in so celebrated a manner as to be known in Spain and other places in the Mediterranean. In 1745, a quintal of it would sell for a guinea, when other articles of food were low. The fish is caught in the summer season, cured on the rocks by drying them slowly and very carefully without much salt. It was an art thought to be peculiar to tile Isle of Shoals, but is now known elsewhere.
On Chief Passaconoway, vol. 1, ch. 17, pp. 460-462.
Between the four tribes of New-Hampshire, however, there was a political connexion, -- probably a confederacy. In 1629-30, the Pentuckets were a people more numerous than the Pennacooks . At Squamscot, [Exeter] there dwelt a chief who was at the head of a small Inland tribe , in that vicinity. Another, or fourth tribe, inhabited the banks and branches of the Piscataqua, including an Indian lodgment at Cocheco, or Dover. These were commonly called the Newichawannocks , or as Gookin says, the " Piscataways ;" of whom Rowles , otherwise named Knolles , was many years the Sagamore. All of them were under political subordination to the celebrated Passaconaway , chief of the Pennacooks, whom they acknowledged to possess a paramount superiority. 1 The dwelling-place of Rowles was on the northerly side of the river, not far from Quampeagan Falls in Berwick. 2 He was a Sagamore of some celebrity. In 1643, he conveyed the lands of his vicinity to Humphrey Chadbourne; and others afterwards, to Spencer; the former being the earliest Indian deed found upon our records. It is certain that all the Indians upon the river to its mouth, were his subjects; 3 though he was under Passaconaway, his superior lord.
The depredations frequently committed by the Tarratines upon the people of these tribes, induced the Sagamores to encourage English settlements among them, in expectation of their assistance against the enemy. It was an expedient, adopted from necessity; and the four chieftains are reported, May 17, 1629, to have joined in a quit-claim to John Wheelwright and his associates, of all the country between Piscataqua and Merrimack, -- below Quampeagan and Amoskeag Falls. The only reservations in this acquittance, were "the old planting lands, and free liberty of "hunting, fishing and fowling." 4 If, however, the veracity of this transaction be, for good reasons, doubted, it is certain, the natives lived many years, on terms of friendly intercourse with the settlers; and in the first Indian war, the Sagamores of those tribes were resolved to be neutrals. But their conduct was evidently controlled by fear, more than by friendship; and above either, by a presentiment that all quarrels with the English, would be ruinous to the Indians.
Passaconaway possessed wit and sagacity, which gave him the most exalted rank and influence among his countrymen. He made them believe he could give nature's freshness to the ashes of a burnt leaf, raise a living serpent from the skin of a dead one, and transform himself into a flame. Becoming old, he made a great feast in 1660, 5 to which he invited his tribe, calling them his children. He spake to them as a dying man, to dying men. Hearken , said he, to the last words of your father and friend. -- The white men are sons of the morning. The Great Spirit is their father. His sun shines bright about them. Never make war with them. Sure as you light the fires, the breath of heaven will turn the flames upon you, and destroy you. Listen to my advice. It is the last I shall be allowed to give you: Remember it and live.
Similar presages affected the mind of Rowles. About 1670, when bed-rid of age and sickness, he complained of the great neglect with which the English treated him. At length he sent a message to some of the principal men in Kittery (now Berwick). to visit him. 'Being loaded with years,' as he told them, 'I had expected a visit in my infirmities, especially from those
'who are now tenants on the lands of my fathers. Though all
'these plantations are of right my children's; I am forced in this age of evils, humbly to request a few hundred acres of land to be marked out for them and recorded, as a public act, in the town books; so that when I am gone, they may not be perishing beggars, in the pleasant places of their birth. For I know a great war will shortly break out between the white men and Indians, over the whole country. At first the Indians will kill many and prevail; but after three years, they will be great sufferers and finally be rooted out and utterly destroyed.' 6
Wonnolancet, the son of Passaconaway, and Blind Will, the successor of Rowles, regarding the premonitory counsel with sacred respect, determined to obey it, and perpetuate amity with the white people.
1 Hubbard's N. E. p. 32. -- 2 Coll. M. Hist. Soc. p. 142. -- Belknap's N.H. p. 289.
2 Then Kittery.
3 Morse's Geog. p. 310, ed. 1812. - Sullivan, p. 143.
4 Belknap , p. 289-91, where the deed is entire. Mr. Mather thinks it genuine: But in 1 Coll. N. H. Hist. Soc. it is doubted.
5 Hubbard's Indian Wars , p. 67-8, 329. -- Hist. N. E . p. 60, -- Some of the English were Present -- Belknap .
6 Supplement to King Philip's War , p. 82. -- The facts were attested "by Maj. Waldron, Capt. Frost, and Joshua Moody." -- Ib .
A note on the establishment of the town of Berwick.
From Volume 2, ch. 3, footnote on p. 77.
The original settlement of Berwick, was at Quampeagan Falls, and Great-works river, by men whose surnames were Frost, Heard, Shapleigh, Chadbourn, Spencer, Broughton, Leader, Plaisted, and Wincoln. In 1720, the town was extended eight miles above Quampeagan to Stair Falls, thence from the river, N. E. by E. 8 miles and 29 rods, to Bonnebeag pond, thence S. E. to Baker's spring and a rock -- being the bounds between York and Kittery. At that time there was not a house standing "between Quampeagan and Canada." All, which were built here, between 1690 and 1745, were of hewed logs, sufficient to oppose the force of small arms. There was a block house on the western side of Salmon Fall brook, a mile above Quampeagan, where William Gerrish lived; a mile higher, was Key's garrison; next were Wentworth's and Goodwin's block houses. The fort on Pine Hill , called Hamilton's garrison, was standing in 1750. It was made of poles 20 feet high, and picketed at the upper end. -- As to land-titles of the settlers, Mr. Spencer, A. D. 1643, purchased of Sagamore Rowles or Knowles, a tract on the banks of Newichawannock and Great-works rivers. George Broughton, the same year, obtained lands of the Sagamores, between Spencer's and Salmon Falls; where Broughton and Wincoln had lands granted by the town of Kittery, on condition of erecting a mill. Lands above, are holden under proprietary grants. Berwick was first represented in the General Court, in 1714, by Elisha Plaisted . In 1751, the town was divided into two parishes; and the first parish was made a town, in 1814, by the name of South Berwick . 1n 1790, Berwick contained 3,894 inhabitants. Since the division, upper or Old Berwick contains 30,000 acres; -- had within it ten mills, in 1820, 6 of them being at Doughty Falls on Great-works river.
Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College
"A Description Of The Town And Village"
By Judge Benjamin Chadbourne in the 1790s
This article was written by Judge Benjamin Chadbourne, great grandson of Humphrey 2 Chadbourne, who gave the land upon which Berwick Academy was built in 1791. Written in the style and language of that period, this text was forwarded to Judge Chadbourne's friend, Hon. James Sullivan (1744-1808), the Berwick native who wrote The History of the District of Maine in 1795, and in 1807-1808 was governor of Massachusetts. "A Description of the Town of Berwick" is believed to have been reprinted in the THE INDEPENDENT, a newspaper published in South Berwick in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Edward Townsend, a trustee of Berwick Academy for many years. Read more about Judge Benjamin Chadbourne.
INCORPORATION AND SETTLEMENT
To give a history of the town of Berwick without taking some notice of the town of Kittery would afford but few materials of antiquity as Berwick was originally a part of Kittery and never separated and incorporated into a town until A.D. 1713.
Before the separation took place what is now Berwick was called Newickawanock. I suppose it took its name from the name of the river on which it lies and was the boundary between the Province of Maine and Newhampshire. How early settlement was made in the upper part of Kittery I can not precisely determine perhaps as early as 1636. The first settlers were men of property and fond of acquiring lands for themselves and children. They were greatly attached to fresh meadows which afforded them present fodder for their cattle. The first adventurers as far as I have heard were Shapleigh, Heard, Frost, Chadbourne, and Emery.
They took most of the land opposite Bloody Point in Newington to the upper part of the town which included a very large tract of fresh meadow ready cleared by the Beavers, through which runs a creek called Sturgeon Creek and as far as the tide flows afforded them salt-fodder as there is considerable marsh and thatch beds which lie on each side of the Creek.
I do not remember that I ever saw records of Kittery more ancient than 1648 and that I think was two years before the town was incorporated.
Humphrey Chadboume, my great grandfather, was the first town clerk. This Chadbourne, it seems, had a peculiar fondness for fresh meadows and mill-privilege. He soon penetrated into Newickawanock and chose a mill-privilege and a tract of land adjoining which he purchased of the Indians as early as 1643. A copy of this deed is now in the hands of Geo. R. Minot, Esq., to whom I gave it as a piece of curiosity. This is the farthest I can revert back. When Berwick was separated from Kittery she being the mother took care of herself retaining five-eighths of all the common and individual lands in that town. They ran three miles from the river upon the head line of the town and took a course keeping that distance from the river extending their line from the upper to the lower part of the town.
This has ever since been called the Interest Line. The proprieters of Kittery owned all to the eastward of that Line and those of Berwick to the westward. There were then three incorporate bodies within the town. Berwick as a town, Kittery Proprietors on the east and Berwick Proprietors on the west, so that Berwick only had the jurisdiction and the Proprietors the soil and free hold.
In 1736 the Proprietors divided their interest in 100 acre lots which comprehended the best land in the town and is now settled which I think includes more than half the inhabitants now in the town. For some it caused uneasiness, but now we are so intermixed that we have forgotten past grievances. By a revolution of the wheels of human events within fifty years
past, those families that were the lowest are now the highest, and those that were the most respectable are now the lowest.
EXTENT AND BOUNDARIES
The town of Berwick contains about sixty-five thousand acres of land, and is bounded by Newickawanock and Salmon Falls River to Isinglass or Stair Falls, from thence a course northeast by east eight miles to certain marked trees, east and southwardly by the towns of Sanford and Wells, York and Kittery.
It was located by a committee from the General Court before a separation took place which was about the year 1707. I do not remember of hearing that an exact admeasurement of the length of the town was ever ascertained, but from Kittery to Lebanon as the road goes, which is pretty straight is I think about sixteen miles.
SOIL AND PRODUCE
As to the soil it varies, some good, some middling, and some fit for no improvement.
In some parts of the town, Iron Ore is found in considerable quantities.
The land is pretty good for Indian Corn, Barley, Flax, Potatoes, with the assistance of manure.
This town formerly abounded with a growth of valuable timber. Pine for logs and large masts, Oak fit for ship building, but little of either is now left.
On the west side of Bonnybeag Pond are three hills, the largest of which is called Bonnybeag Hill. The other two bear the names of those who live on them, and are the only hills remarkable in the town.
The only pond of any consequence is called Bonnvbeag Pond, situated about three miles from Doubty's Falls.
The inhabitants of the town according to the last census amounts to three thousand eight hundred and ninety-four. (1796)
MEANS OF SUBSISTENCE
Lumbering formerly was the principal business but since I can remember those who did the most of it for a living failed many years ago. Their estates, after laboring hard for many years have generally fell into the hands of traders who purchased their lumber. The people in general are now more independant and live much better by improving their lands, than they did formerly by lumbering, although their advantages at times were great.
The most considerable river in this place was formerly called Newickawanock River being the Indian name of the river.
The tide flows as far as Quamphegan Landing, Quamphegan being an Indian word, it is difficult to give a just definition of it. When I was a boy I conversed with an aged man by the name of John. Holmes.
In his youth had been a pioneer with the Indians and learned their language and was a sensible man. I had the curiosity to ask him what was the meaning of Quamphegan. He told me it was a compound word and signified several things. I can only remember that it conveyed this idea: “A place for scooping fish out of the water with a net." About one mile below this landing is a large rock which has been called Newickawanock Rock as long as I can remember. The river from this rock to the harbour's mouth was anciently called Piscataqua and above the rock, Newickawanock River. Near this rock are Falls and ledges of rock, which much impede the transportation of lumber unless in very full tides.
The river to the distance of six miles below Quamphegan is frozen over about four months in the year so that the water communication is cut off from this to the Capitol of Newhampshire during that time.
In the summer season there is a constant passing and repassing in boats to and from Portsmouth, which in distance by water is about fourteen miles and nearly the same by land. The inhabitants set out upon the ebb find time to transact business in Portsmouth and return next flood.
Formerly large fish such as salmon, bass, and shad came up the river in plenty, but they have forsook it and now there remains only Tom Cods, or what we call Frost fish which come in the month of December, smelts in the month of April, alewives in the months of June and July, and eels in about all seasons of the year. Before the dam was built at Quamphegan, salmon ran up the river and were taken in great plenty at the falls above since which they have borne the name of Salmon Falls, and are situated one mile of Quamphegan Landing. About three miles farther up are the Great Falls, so called as they are the largest in the river.
Six miles from there are Isinglass or Stair Falls, which is the north or upper corner of this town. These Falls derive their name from the impregnation of the rocks with Isinglass and ascending like a flight of steps which is the occasion of their being called sometimes Isinglass Falls and sometimes Stair Falls.
The river called Great Works River originates in the town of Sanford, passing through low flat land and a pond called Bonnybeag, enters the town at the N.E. corner running generally from N.E. to S.W., empties itself into Newickawanock or Salmon Falls River short of a mile below Quamphegan. About one mile above the mouth of this river there is a remarkable fall of water which rolls with great rapidity over rocks perpendicular into a basin very deep, formerly it was said to be unfathomable but of late it is supposed to be much shallower.
The falling of the water, the height of the banks, together with the ruggedness of the rocks, form a noble and pleasing prospect to the spectator. These Falls were named the “Great Works” by the two men who came from England and settled there, by the name of Ledres. They obtained a grant of land of the Town of Kittery, I think of five hundred acres, and located it on both sides of the river, including these Falls. I have heard that they brought great property with them, and with it they built a sawmill which carried eighteen saws. The carriages were made of Cast-Iron and when broke were used, and still are in use, for Kitchen hand Irons, whence originated the name of Great Works River and Falls. There are now two saw-mills and one double Grist-Mill at this place. About ten miles (as the river runs) above this are Falls called Doubty's Falls, whence it obtains that name I cannot determine, but suppose it merely accidental. There is nothing particularly worth noticing here. The stream runs with a gradual descent, on it are now standing one saw and one grist mill.
Iron works through this town are very beneficial to the Inhabitants, but expensive building and maintaining the bridges that are necessary.
At every convenient place on these streams are erected not less than twelve Grist-Mills and many saw-mills, as likewise a fulling mill and Iron Works, yet since my
remembrance at Salmon Falls only eight saws were continually going. It is a question with many whether the advantages arising to the inhabitants from their mills are so great, as Salmon Fishery would have been, had no mills been erected.
We now have an Academy nearly completed, a handsome and commodious building, situated upon an eminence which commands an extensive and delightful prospect, and which will be fit for the reception of scholars the first of May next. The first Grammar School that ever was kept in this Town was begun by the late Rev'd Mr. James Pike, and we have had a succession of good grammar schoolmasters ever since – the present instructor is H. Weld Noble.
There are two Congregational Societies in this Town, one large Society of Friends and several others of different denominations. Before Berwick was incorporated into a Town, I cannot say how long but I suppose as early as 1700, a Parish was incorporated which extended from Sturgeon Creek to the north part of Kittery, by the name of the parish of Unity, and sometimes by the name of the parish of Berwick. Their first minister was Mr. John Wade, who was ordained in November, 1702 and died in November, 1703. The next, Mr. Jeremiah Wise, who was ordained 1707 and continued minister till his death, which was in January, 1756. His character is too well known to need any encomiums.
After his death Mr. Jacob Foster was ordained minister in 1756 and continued in his ministry about twenty years.
Mr. John Thompson is the present minister installed in 1783.
The town was divided into Parishes about 1750. The first Minister in the New Parish was Mr. John Morse. He lived but a few years after he was settled. His successor was Mr. Matthew Miriam who is now the present Minister.
As to Indian affairs, Doc't Belknap in his history of Newhampshire has so fully related the most remarkable circumstances that have come within knowledge, that it would be needless for me to recapitulate them, and would swell my narrative to too great a length. I suppose that there was formerly a Tribe that lived in this place called the Newickawanock Tribe.
Their Sagamore, styled Mr. Rowles, as you may see by his deed to my Great Grandfather before mentioned. I heard when he died he was buried at Cochequo Point, with his Tin-Kettle by his side. When that Tribe removed from Newickawanock, I suppose for a while they might sit down by the Great Ponds at the head of the Salmon Falls River, and so up to Ossipee, as I well remember of hearing of the Ossipee Tribe. They were very dangerous in time of war, and troublesome in time of peace, for as soon as the wars were over, they used to come down among us, with their families and dogs, and pitched their tents in a low piece of ground just above my mill pond. Their stay was sometimes long and sometimes short, but went backwards and forwards a considerable part of the summer season. They were acquainted with the Inhabitants and the Inhabitants with them, and called them by their names, as they could all speak English. The women spent their time in going from house to house begging, the men in trading, buying and promising to pay, but seldom performed. When they could procure liquor they got drunk, would then lie down and sleep 'till they got sober, then up and at it again'. Sometimes they were abusive in their language, but do not remember of hearing that quarrels ever took place between them and our people. Their dogs were generally under good discipline, but the pain of hunger often obliged them to allay it with killing fowls and other creatures belonging to the Inhabitants. Taking them and their dogs together, they were very disagreeable neighbors. They often made boasts that the Lands all around belonged to them. These circumstances are all within my remembrance.
As to the House that was called the Great House, who built it, and when burnt, I will give you the best accounts in my power. I always understood that it was built by Col. Ichabod
Plaisted, who was one of the greatest men of the East at that day. This house I suppose was large at first, but a number of additions being made, that it might with propriety be called Great House, it was burnt in Jan'y 1738. This Col. Plaisted, whom I have just mentioned, I think died about the year 1718. He was a man of business and employed himself in getting masts.
He built the mills at Salmon Falls and acquired a great estate. In consequence of employing many men in business, and supporting their families, as likewise possessing a happy talent at pleasing, he acquired the affections of the people to such a degree, that it has been generally said, since my remembrance that he had not left his equal. I have heard that he was portly well-looking man, very facetious who lived beloved and died lamented.
Humphrey Chadbourne, my great grandfather was one of the first settlers in Kittery near Sturgeon Creek. In 1643 he purchased of the Indians the neck of land, so called, and the water privilege where I now live, as I find by his will dated 1667 in the reign of Charles the second that he gave his son Humphrey, who was my grandfather, all his lands, marshes and mills, which he had at Newickawanock, and ordered him to pay legacies to his daughters out of the profits of his mills in the same place ever since. It is the same place where my mills now stand, at present there are two Grist-mills, with three pair of stones, one for hulling barley, peas, etc., and one sawmill. This first Humphrey entailed the estate which lie had at Newickawanock to his eldest son, and the heirs lawfully of his body, from generation to generation, which consisted of two large tracts of land, and it remained until 1760, when Humphrey Chadbourne his grandson, who was heir intail, after he was more than eighty years of age, suffered a common recovery to be taken upon the whole, and as he had no children, in 1762, he made his will and divided the whole among his brothers and sisters children, of whom I am one.
He had but two brothers who both died before him. He left one sister and one who died sometime before him. Here is an end of the entailment, an end of the history of my family, and with it an end of the description of Berwick.
The principal families that were in the town at the time of its incorporation, as I have been informed, were Plaisted, Hill, Chadbourne, Lord, Goodwin, Spencer, Grant, Nason, Pray, Keays, (one name torn off) Smith and Abbotts. When I was first old enough to attend trainings, there was but one foot company in the town, and that not very large, and there are now as I think, seven. If I mistake not, there is no house now standing between my house and Canada, that has not been built within my remembrance by which it appears that the settlement of the country back has been exceedingly rapid, as I have not yet attained the age of seventy-five years.
There are several persons of note, land holders who lived at Newickawanock, as I have heard, and were all gone with their families before my remembrance, the principal ones Broughton, Leader, Crowde and Wincoll. Broughton obtained a grant of land, including Quamphegan, Salmon Falls brook, and so back into the country, until five hundred acres, were completed, and another large tract at the Great Falls. It was afterwards conveyed to certain gentlemen in Boston. Dr. Elisha Cook, I think, was the principal owner, Leader's was sold to John Plaisted. The other estates, I know not who were the purchasers or what became of them.
From The Atlas of York County, Maine (1872), p. 121.
BY WILLIAM F. LORD.
Settlement - Berwick originally formed a part of the possessions of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who by his enterprise and energy established permanent settlements at Saco, York, and Kittery. Berwick was called by the Indians Newichawannock. Some who had been by the liberality of Gorges induced to make their homes in the new world, having no tastes for agriculture or the fisheries, were early attracted to Berwick on account of its dense forests. Settlements are supposed to have been made as early as 1624, as mention is made of the settlement of Newichawannock being seven years old in 1631. Neal, whose residence was partly in Kittery and partly at Strawberry Bank, had five associates engaged in fishing, lumbering, and salt-making, two of whom, Gibbins and Chadbourne, lived at Newichawannock in 1631. There were also Frost, Heard, Shapleigh, Plaisted, Spencer, Broughton, Leader, Wincoln, and others, living there about the same time. In 1643, Humphrey Chadbourne purchased of Rowles, the Sagamore of the Newichawannocks, a part of the land on which the village of South Berwick now stands. He was a Sagamore of some celebrity, and all the Indians upon the river to its mouth were his subjects, through he was under the noted Passaconaway. His dwelling-place was on the easterly side of the river, near Quampheagan Falls. In 1670, five years before King Philip's War, Rowles, being bed-ridden of age and sickness, complained of the great neglect with which the English had treated him. At length he sent a messenger to some of the principal men of Berwick to make him a visit. He told them that he was loaded with years, and that he expected a visit in his infirmities from those who were now tenants on the land of his fathers. He said, "Though all these plantations are of right my children's, I am forced in this age of evil, humbly to request a few hundred acres of land to be marked out for them and recorded as a public act in the town book, so that when I am gone they will not be perishing beggars in the pleasant places of their birth. For I know that a great war shortly take place between the white men and the Indians all over the country. At first the Indians will kill many and prevail, but after three years they will be great sufferers, and finally be rooted out and destroyed." Blind Will, the son and successor of Rowles, regarding these premonitory counsels with sacred respect, at the commencement of the King Philip War entered the English service, where he remained two years till his death.
Seven years after the purchase of Humphrey Chadbourne of Rowles, Richard Leader obtained the following grant: "Whereas at a Court held at Kittery on the 11th of March, 1650, Mr. Richard Leader made certain propositions for erecting mills at Newichawannock, it is ordered therefore by this court and consent of the country, that the aforesaid Richard Leader, his heirs and assigns, shall have the sole property and privilege of the little river at Newichawannock, commonly called or known by that name, to erect a mill or mills upon the river aforesaid together with like property and liberty of all such timber as is not yet appropriated to any town or person." Leader erected a mill on the Little Newichawannock at Assabumbadoc Falls, which contained eighteen saws. This gave the location the name of Great Works. Mills were also erected a Salmon Falls and Quampheagan Falls. But for a period of thirty years there seemed to be a slow but steady progress in the settlement. They suffered much from the rigors of winter and the scarcity of provisions.
Newichawannock was organized as the Parish of Unity in 1673, and still remained within the limits of Kittery until 1713, when the northern part of Kittery, from Thompson's Brook to Stair Falls on the Salmon Falls River, was incorporated as the town of Berwick. It was the ninth town incorporated in the province. In 1814 the southern part of the town was incorporated as South Berwick. In 1831 the town was again divided, and the northeastern part was incorporated as North Berwick.
Indian Wars* - At the commencement of the King Philip War in 1675, Berwick was a frontier town. There were no white men living between the line of Berwick and the Canadas. All north of Berwick was an unbroken wilderness, the home and hunting-ground of the natives, who had now learned to whet their savage blades by the arts of civilization. No notes of preparation were heard in their camps; they came not with drums and flying banners, but in the stillness and darkness of night, springing with savage fierceness upon the defenceless inhabitants. History does not furnish us with the details of all these bloody scenes, nor tradition point out all the localities stained with blood, but many of them have come down to us red with the blood of brave men, heroic women, and innocent children.
September 24th, 1675, the dwelling-house of John Tozier was attacked. It was situated one hundred and fifty rods above the mills and garrison at Salmon Falls. Tozier and sixteen men in the neighborhood had gone with Wincoln, captain of the town company, to defend or relieve the distressed inhabitants of Saco, and left his household unguarded, consisting of fifteen persons, all women and children. The attack was led on by Andrew, of Saco, and Hopehood, of Kennebec, two of the bravest warriors in their tribes. Their approach was first discovered by a young girl of eighteen years, who shut the door and held it fast until it was cut in pieces with their hatchets, and the family had escaped. Madly disappointed by finding the house empty, they inflicted repeated blows upon the heroic maid until she was apparently expiring. They pursued the family, overtook two children; one three years old being too young to travel they at once dispatched, the other they kept six months. The young heroine revived after their departure, went to the garrison, and was healed of her wounds and lived many years. The next day a large party set fire to the dwelling-house and buildings of Captain Wincoln, which stood near the upper mills, and reduced them and their contents to ashes. They were followed closely by the men from the garrison until darkness put an end to their pursuit. The next morning they appeared upon the western side of the river, fired several shots across at the laborers who were working in the mill, calling them English dogs and cowards.
October 16th 1675, they assailed the house of Richard Tozier, killed him and carried his son into captivity. Lieut. Roger Plaisted, the commander of the garrison, who was an officer of true courage and a man of public spirit, having full view of the massacre, about one hundred and fifty rods distant, sent out nine of his best men to reconnoitre the movements of the enemy, and falling into ambush, three were shot down, the others escaped with difficulty.
A letter addressed to two gentlemen at Dover communicates the distresses of the place. "To Richard Waldron and Lieut. Coffin: These are to inform you that the Indians are just not engaging us with at least on hundred men, and have already slain four of our men, Richard Tozier, James Berry, Isaac Bottes, and Tozier's son, and burnt Benoni Hodsdon's house. Sirs, if ever you have any love for us, show yourselves with men to help us, or else we are in great danger of being slain, unless our God wonderfully appears for our deliverance. They that cannot fight, let them pray. Roger Plaisted, George Broughton."
To bring in for interment the bodies of his slain companions, Plaisted ordered a team, and led twenty of his best men in the field; placing first the body of Tozier, which was most remote, in the cart, they returned to take the others, when a party of one hundred and fifty savages, rising from behind a stone wall amidst logs and bushes, fired a well-directed volley upon the soldiers, and pursued the assault. The oxen took flight and ran to the garrison. The engagement instantly became fierce but unequal. Plaisted and his men withdrew a few paces to a more eligible spot of ground, and being greatly overmatched the most of his men returned, but he disdaining either to fly or yield, though urged again and again to surrender, fought with desperate courage until literally hewn down by the enemy's hatchets. A fellow-soldier and Plaisted's oldest son, unwilling to leave their intrepid leader, sought their retreat too late, and were slain. Another son a few weeks after died of his wounds. Such was the fate of this Spartan family, whose intrepidity deserves a monument more durable than marble. Roger Plaisted had four years represented Kittery in the General Court, was highly respected for his uncommon valor, worth, and piety. He and his son were buried on his own land near the battle ground, on the old road from Great Falls to South Berwick. The lettered tomb of this Christian patriot is now displaced and neglected, but as the place has recently fallen into the hands of Ex-Gov. Goodwin, of New Hampshire, a native of Berwick, his liberality and patriotism will not allow it longer to be neglected.
The Richard Tozier Garrison was on the place now occupied by John Spencer, Esq.
Not withstanding Berwick had suffered so much during the King Philip War, it had so revived that at the commencement of the King William and Mary War, 1690, it contained twenty-seven houses.
On the 18th of March, a party under the command of Hartel, a Canadian officer of great repute, and the famous Hopehood, with fifty-two men, twenty-five of whom were Indians, commenced an assault on the settlement at daybreak in three different places. The people, though entirely surprised, flew to arms and defended themselves in their garrison so bravely that they were applauded by their enemies. They fought till thirty-four of their men were killed, when they were forced to surrender. The assailants took fifty-four prisoners, the most of them women and children. They then took all the plunder they could carry away, and set fire to most of the houses, the mills, and barns, which were consumed with a great number of cattle. The party with their prisoners and plunder retreated on their way a mile and a half above the village "where they had burned twenty houses." They set fire to the house of Thomas Toogood, took him prisoner, and murdered his wife and children. Toogood lived on the farm now occupied by Mr. Daniel Wentworth, who still retains the deeds and papers given by Toodgood to his descendants. Toogood's cellar is still to be seen in Mr. Wentworth's field. While the Indian who captured Toogood was preparing strings to tie him, holding his gun under his arm, Toogood seized the gun, ran backward pointing it at his breast, telling him he would shoot if he alarmed the others, he escaped, crossed the river, and arrived safely at Dover. The Indian had no recompense but to call after him by the name of "Nogood." The enemy were pursued by one hundred and fifty men, who had been aroused to arms by the smoke of the burning village. They came up with Hartel in the afternoon, at a narrow bridge over Woster's River. Expecting an attact, Hartel posted his men to great advantage on the northerly bank of the river. A sharp engagement ensued, which lasted until night. Four or five of the English were taken prisoners, and several were killed; three of the enemy were killed, and several wounded and taken prisoners.
There are [is] not, perhaps, in the annals of Indian warfare instances of greater cruelty than was executed towards the prisoners taken at that time. They were compelled to travel through pathless deserts and deep swamps, over craggy rocks and windfalls, in cold, rain and snow, poorly clad and hungry, their minds depressed by the loss of home and friends, loaded with burdens, pushed forward by the point of the bayonet, tortured or made the victims of instant death. Robert Rogers, being unable to carry the burden which they had imposed upon him, dropped it in the path and went aside in the woods to conceal himself. They found him, stripped him of his clothing, beat him, pierced him with their swords, tied him to a tree, and danced around him. Kindling a fire, they gave him time to pray and take leave of his fellow-prisoners who were placed around to see him die. They would push the fire towards him, and when he was nearly suffocated would take it away and allow him time to breathe, and thus prolong his sufferings; his dying groans were drowned by hideous singing and yelling, they all the time dancing around the fire, cutting off pieces of his flesh and throwing them in his face; and when he was dead they left his body broiling on the coals. Mehitable Goodwin was taken with a child a few months old; they dashed the child against a tree and hung it upon one of its branches, telling the mother she might come that way again and have the pleasure of seeing it. This woman was a prisoner five years, and returned home. Mary Plaisted was taken with a child three weeks old, and made to travel through the snow. To ease her of her burden they dashed the child against a tree, and threw it in the river. Mary Furgerson, a girl fifteen years old, was so overburdened with plunder laid upon her back that she burst into tears and said she could not go another step. An Indian led her aside, cut off her head, holding it up exclaiming, "So I will do with you all if you cry or complain."
In July, 1690, Hopehood, fired with uncommon revenge toward Berwick, appeared with a gang of desperadoes and proceeded to reduce that ill-fated settlement to utter ruin by shooting the inhabitants and burning their buildings. As a specimen of his character an instance of his cruelty is recorded: James Keay, a boy five years old, taken at Berwick in March, had spells of crying to see his parents; to still the little sufferer they stripped him, lashed him to a tree, and whipped him until he was covered with blood. Soon after the child had a sore eye, which Hopehood said was caused by crying; he turned it from its socket with his thumb, and because the child could not keep up in traveling, cut his head in pieces with his hatchet. In 1697, of four men mowing in a meadow in Berwick, three of them were cut down with tomahawks. This war of ten years ended Jan. 7, 1699.
To encourage the settlers who had so manfully struggled with war and want, the General Court made them a gratuity towards the support of the gospel ministry.
Another Indian war commenced in 1703, and on the 26th of Sept. five men fell into an ambush at Berwick; one was killed, one wounded, and three taken prisoners; two houses were burned, and a descent was made upon the garrison of Andrew Neal, where they were repulsed. To retaliate they burned Joseph King, a captive. The returning spring was a season of distressing melancholy, aggravated by an early renewal of hostilities. But as Berwick was an important pass, Major Mason was posted there with 95 men; but this did not cover the settlement, for on the 25th of April Nathaniel Meader was shot while at work in his field; two others were killed on their return from public worship, by a small scouting party. This aroused the inhabitants, and a band of them acquainted with their paths laid in wait for them, and by having the first fire threw them into such consternation that they dropped their packs and fled to the woods.
In the Lovell War, Berwick was still the out-post of civilization on the north, and the inhabitants were in constant peril and alarm. At this time, 1723, there was not a house between Berwick and Canada. All that were built in Berwick between 1690 and 1745 were of hewed logs, sufficient to oppose the force of small arms. At this time there was a block-house on the western side of Salmon Falls Brook, a mile above Keay's Garrison; and next was Wentworth and Goodwin's block-house. A fort on Pine Hill, called Hamilton's Garrison, was standing in 1750; it was made of poles twenty feet high, and picketed at the ends.
In May, 1723, two men were killed; soon after Mr. Thompson was killed, one of his children was carried off, another left bleeding on the ground, and a man named Stone was scalped near the same place. When they had killed one other, and taken a captive, the savage scouts left the place.
The Capture of Louisburg. - For the defence of Berwick in this war, one hundred pounds were appropriated by the General Court of Massachusetts, and twelve men were detailed to scout from Berwick to a block-house in Sanford; but to more effectually check the aggressions of the French in the Province, an expedition was sent to capture a fortified town at Cape Breton. Wm. Pepperell, a wealthy merchant of Kittery, a man greatly beloved in York county, and personally known to the people of Berwick, was in-trusted with the command. This expedition took the character of a crusade, and Berwick furnished for it one hundred and fifty men and several commissioned officers. Pepperell writes to Major Hill, Feb. 21st, 1745: "Yesterday I heard that Capt. Busted** had enlisted fifty brave soldiers in Berwick. This news is like a cordial to me. The commissioned officers of Berwick are as brave and as good men as any in the Province. Please tell them all that I sincerely value and love them. If any of them wish to go, give them the offer and tell them to be with me to-morrow."
War of Independence. - At the commencement of the troubles with the mother country, Berwick was a town of importance and influence; it had been settled 140 years, and was extensively engaged in lumbering and other branches of business. It contained in 1735 two thousand three hundred and seventy-four white inhabitants. She was consequently consulted and kept apprised of all that transpired at Boston; and although she manifested some modesty in dictating what should be done, alleging as a reason her remoteness from the scenes of action, she did not hesitate to assert the rights of her citizens.
The public records during that period are of an interesting character. They are copious, bespeak bold and patriotic sentiments. Space does not allow me to transcribe but a single specimen. At a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Berwick legally assembled, Capt. Ichabod Goodwin was chosen moderator; and after considerable deliberation the question was put, whether the town would proceed to act upon the article contained in the warrant, calling the meeting, and it passed in the affirmative; upon which Capt. Nathan Lord, Capt. Philip Hubbard, Benjamin Chadbourne, Esq., Capt. Wm. Rogers [Roges], and Capt. Humphrey Chadbourne were chosen a committee to compose some notes and resolves for the town to act upon, as follows: "The melancholy state of this Province, of which this town is a part, calls upon us the inhabitants to declare our sentiments and show how far they agree with those of our brethren in this and the neighboring colonies of North America, relating to the improprieties of the Parliament of Great Britain in taxing North America. But the distance we are from the metropolis of this Province, and the little acquaintance we have with the nature of the dispute, renders it needless for us to attempt to say much upon the subject; yet as the cause is general we are in duty bound to declare our sentiments upon this important dispute, and so far as we understand it we join with our brothers in this and the neighboring colonies in opposing the operation of those late acts of the British Parliament subjecting any article sent here from Great Britain to pay a duty for raising a revenue in North America, more especially that relative to East India teas, which we apprehend is unrighteous and unconstitutional, and has a direct tendency to destroy this and all other colonies in North America; and if the East India Company are permitted to send their teas and vend them here whilst they are subject to a duty to be paid in this Province, it will fully complete our ruin, and that speedily. We acknowledge and profess true and faithful allegiance to our rightful sovereign King George the Third, and are willing at all times to risk our lives and fortunes in defence of his person and his family, but at the same time must earnestly contend for those rights and liberties we are entitled to by the laws of God, Nature, and the Constitution of this Province. Therefore, Resolved, that no power on earth hath any just right to impose taxes upon us but the great and general Court of this Province, and all others are unconstitutional and not to be submitted to. That the East India Company sending their teas and vending them, subject to a duty to be paid here to raise a revenue, is a high infringement upon the rights and liberties of this people, and has a direct tendency to complete our ruin. That we will at all times join with our brethren in all legal methods in opposing the East India Company in sending their teas here subject to a duty. That the thanks of this town be presented to the people of this and the neighboring colonies for their steady and resolute conduct in opposing the landing of the teas sent by the East India Company, and that we will at all times and by all legal and constitutional measure assist to the utmost of our power in opposing such impositions. That the thanks of this town be presented to the town of Boston for the timely notice sent to this town of their proceedings in town-meeting relative to the East India Company sending their teas; asking the favor that upon like occasions they will again do the same, wishing that union of sentiment may take place in this and every colony in North America, and that the proceedings of this meeting be recorded and a copy sent to the Committee of Correspondence in the town of Boston."
Meetings were frequently held during the war, in which large bounties were offered out of the town stock to encourage enlistments. One full company went out under Capt. Ebenezer Sullivan. An old historian writes: "To their everlasting honor be it said that they furnished as many men, according to the number of inhabitants, as any town in the country. There are but few ancient homesteads in the town that are not honored by the graves of some Revolutionary soldier."
In forming the government, the people of Berwick asked by their resolves for a simple government, one that could be easily understood, with the lines so justly drawn between the ruler and the ruled that those in authority could have no power to oppress their fellow-men.
The War of 1812. - In this war the government was well supported, although meetings were held in some parts of the town declaring it to be an unjust and an unrighteous war.
The Rebellion. - Owing to the peculiar location of Berwick, being contiguous to several large towns of New Hampshire, 78 of her citizens enlisted outside the limits of the town before she received credit for an enlistment. But they furnished for the war 138 men, mostly of her own citizens; and paid out for bounties and incidental expenses, $44,802.
Eminent Men. - John Sullivan sailed from Limerick, Ireland, in 1723. The vessel was driven by stress of weather into York harbor. Being a man of education, on the recommendation of Dr. Moody of York, he was employed as a teacher at Berwick, where he opened his public schools, one for boys and one for girls. These schools were opened but part of the year. On his voyage out, his attention was attracted to a pretty child, 9 years of age, named Margery Brown, whom he appears to have brought up as his own child, whom he afterward made his wife in 1735. He soon after purchased 70 acres of land on the easterly side of the Salmon Falls River, near Great Falls, where he resided more than 60 years. He died in May, 1796, in his 105th year, and his widow died in 1801, aged 87; they were buried upon the place which they occupied so many years, which is now occupied by Winslow T. Ricker, Esq. On this farm were born John and James Sullivan. The former was a leader in the first overt act of the Revolution, a general in the war, and a governor of the State of New Hampshire; the other, the acknowledged leader at the bar, a governor of Massachusetts, and who by his speeches and writings contributed to the successful establishment of our national liberties. They were companions in counsel with Hancock and Adams, and in arms with Washington and Warren, and of whom Washington said that, when a spirit of insubordination or despondency prevailed in the army, all that he needed to dispel it was the eloquence of one of the Sullivans. From these men have descended some of the most pleasing orators and eminent men of New England.
* From Williamson's and Sullivan's Histories of Maine, and Belknap's History of New Hampshire.
** This is probably a reference to Captain Moses Butler
We are grateful to Terry Heller of Coe College for typesetting the text of this article.