Soldier's Monument 1898On this site in the late 1700s stood the Meeting House of the Plains, a Baptist church.   It still appeared on a map of about 1860 as the Town House.  In 1898, the town approved the Soldiers' Monument to be placed on the site, and annual Memorial Day gatherings recalled the sacrifices of the Civil War.    For over 100 years the monument has been the scene of tributes to South Berwick veterans of all wars.

 

 
Baptist meeting house. A map of 1795 shows that on this site stood the Meeting House of the Plains, a Baptist church that often doubled as a seat of government.  One of Maine’s first Baptist congregations had been meeting at Great Hill for decades, and by the turn of the 18th century another group of Baptists had "gathered in Berwick, on the Plains now known as South Berwick village,” according to church histories. They worshipped here till the present First Baptist Church was built on Main Street in 1824. Early ministers included Rev. William Chadbourne and Rev. Ebenezer Boyd. The latter lived in the William Lambert House and sometimes held services there.

In those days, churches often also functioned as town halls, and this Baptist meeting house served this dual purpose, as did Congregational/First Parish meeting houses.  

Here at the Plains Meeting House, on November 7, 1796, voters assembled to cast their ballots in the first Presidential election since the retirement of George Washington, in which John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson.  The Berwick electors on the local ballot were Richard Foxwell Cutts, Nathaniel Wells and Ichabod Goodwin.

Maine at the time was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and so voters also cast ballots for Massachusetts representatives to Congress.  Locally they filled seats for such posts as the selectmen, surveyors of lumbers and highways, "hogreeves" to catch loose pigs, and an overseer of the poor.

South Berwick Town House. After the Baptists moved to their new Main Street meeting house, their old church remained a Town House through the middle of the century, as shown by the map at left.  Author Sarah Orne Jewett had childhood memories of playing inside. “I remember that the unpainted woodwork had taken a beautiful brown tint with age,” she wrote in her essay, “The Old Town of Berwick,” “and that it used to be a vast pleasure in my childhood to steal into the silent place, and to sit alone, or with small, whispering friends, in one of the high, square pews.”

At town meetings before and during the Civil War, merchant Thomas Jewett, Sarah Orne Jewett's wealthy great uncle who lived across the street, was a prominent speaker, according to The South Berwick Register, 1904. Jewett's son-in-law and daughter, Elisha and Sally Jewett, lived on the corner. The monument area became known in the early 20th century as Jewett Park.

Militia drills.  The intersection the Portland Street and Agamenticus Road has long been associated with soldiers.  This flat part of town had been dubbed “the Plain,” and in the early 1800s, and perhaps long before, the militia came here to drill in nearby fields, presumably on the level ground that is now Norton Street near the Cummings Shoe Factory.

Second Regiment first Brigade and first Division of Maine Militia -- South Berwick, September 24, 1829:

“Pursuant to a Brigade order of September 21st, A.D. 1829, Capt. Samuel F. Staples will parade the company under his command on the plain near The Revd. Mr. Boyd's Meeting house in South Berwick, on Wednesday the fourteenth day of October next, at Seven o'clock in the forenoon, armed and equipped as the law directs for military duty, review and inspection: and there await the orders of the Adjutant of Said Regiment. Capt. Staples will make written application as by law directed to the Select Men of the town wherein his Company belongs for the rations to which they are entitled. The Regiment will be ready for the reviewing officer at nine o'clock in the forenoon.

    -- By order of the Colonel, Isaac P. Yeaton, Adjutant (From
Old Eliot, Book Three, Vol. VIII, p. 195)

The monument.  In 1898, the South Berwick town warrant proposed the town spend “the sum of $500 in aid of the erection of a soldiers' monument in said town.”  The voters, like many in America at the time, gratefully wanted to erect a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War.

The Civil War monument also is over a century old now. About the time the it was constructed, Berwick Academy – then South Berwick’s high school – built the Fogg Memorial building, and Sarah Orne Jewett also donated a Civil War window in honor of the soldiers and sailors of the community who fought and died.

The sides of the Soldiers’ Monument list the names of South Berwick’s soldiers who served during the Civil War. Below, from the 1880 History of York County, is the South Berwick “Roster of Soldiers” in the “War of the Rebellion.”

Please click here for our most complete list of Civil War veterans of South Berwick and Berwick Academy.

 

Bowen Abbott
James Bedell
John W. Adams
George H. Abbott
James Buckley
Isaiah Boston
George Boucher
Augustus Bennett
Elijah F. Boston
John Brown
Thomas Chadbourne
Whitney R. Carpenter
William H. Carpenter
Richard Carpenter
Ransom B. Crook
George E. Coffin
William Clary
William H. Chick
Joseph F. Chase
Andrew Chaney
Charles H. Chaney
Benjamin F. Cooper
John F. Doe
Benjamin Doe
Benjamin Doe
John L. Dillingham
Joseph Doe
Benjamin F. Davis
Reuben Dennett
George W. Durgin
George W. Emery

John Earl
Franklin Emery
John B. Foote
Isaac P. Fall
Flavel H. Goodwin
Robert Goodwin
George W. Goodwin
John P. Grant
John Gray
Charles A. Goodwin
James W. Goodwin
Ivory L. Goodwin
Edward Hogan
William H. Hooper
Albert A. Higley
Edwin Hatch
Aaron Hubbard
Henry G. Harvey
Lorenzo S. Hanson
Lyman M. Hanscom
Nelson Harmon
Charles A. Harvey
John W. Harvey
Granville Hasty
James N. Hatch
Albert A. Highley
Eben N. Higley
George S. Joy
Greenville W. Jay [Joy?]
Charles W. Jenkins
Joshual C. Jellison William H. Jellison Reuel Jackson
William Kerr
William W. Keyes
Addis Luke
George W. Luke
Andrew I. Luke
Jedediah Littlefield
James H. Littlefield
George A. McIntire
Frank W. Martin
Albert D. Mason
Dennis McLaughlin
Elihu J. Mills
Robert H. Mathes
Charles E. Nealley
Daniel Nason
Elwell Nason
Luther Nason
Robert Nason
Edward P. Nicholson
Charles S. Norman
William F. Pray
Ivory Pray
George Pierce
Sylvester Pierce
John F. Pierce
Jonas Reynolds
Timothy F. Ricker
Alexander Rowell
Chas. G. A. Stevens Henry W. Shorey Joseph F. Spencer Joshua Spencer
Chas. E. Stevens
Wm. Thompson
George W. Trickey
George W. Tucker
John E. Tucker
Charles Tucker
Daniel H. Tucker
Oliver Walker
Frederick Wilkinson
Albert R. Walker
George Wilkiunson
John W. Whitehead
James E. Wiggin
Charles H. Wadleigh
Chadbourne Warren
Nathaniel F. Warren
Albert F. Wentworth
Bradford H. Wentworth
Samuel T. Wentworth
Wentworth Welch
Harrison Whitehouse
John H. Wiggin
George A. Wiggin
Edward Wiley
Henry Wentworth
Lysander B. Young
Daniel P. York

Foreign Enlistments:

Sylvester Abbott, 16th New York Infantry
Benjamin Austin, 13th NH Infantry
John Abbott, U. S Navy
Henry Atkinson, U. S Navy
Levy Bradley, 13th NH Infantry
James Bedell, 6th NH Volunteers
Erastus Dennett, 1st MA Cavalry
Joseph T. Durgin, NH Battery
Alexander Fife, U. S Navy
Charles Fuller, U. S Navy
Alonzo Garvin, 29th MA Infantry
Franklin Grant, 13th NH Infantry
Edwin A. Goodwin, 6th NH Volunteers
George A. Gregg, U. S Navy
Edwin R. Goodwin, U. S Navy
George W. Hatch, M. D., volunteer surgeon in hospital at Washington, D. C.
Allen W. Hanscom, U. S Navy
George Hanson, U. S Navy
Samuel Hodsdon, U. S Navy
William H. Ricker, 6th NH Volunteers
Eli Ricker, U. S. Army
George W. Shorey, 26th MA Infantry

George W. Smith, U. S Navy
Charles C. Jewett, surgeon, 15th MA Infantry
Alonzo Joy, 30th MA Infantry
Charles H. Joy, NH Battery
Horace Jewett, lieut. in U. S Army
Charles E. Knight, U. S. Army
Horatio Lowell, MA Volunteers
William Luke, MA Volunteers
Stephen H. Meader, 4th NH Volunteers
John McDaniel, U. S Navy
Henry Nichols, 2d MA Infantry
Charles Nason, U. S Navy
Daniel G. Nason, U. S Navy
John F. Nason, U. S Navy
Oliver Nason, Jr., U. S Navy
Benjamin Norman, U. S Navy
John Pierce, 4th MA Volunteers
Henry Philpot, U. S Navy
Charles A. Ricker, 26th MA Infantry
John Ricker, 11th MA Infantry
Henry Warren, 9th NH Infantry
Charles Welch, NH Volunteers
Ebenezer R. Wadleigh, U. S Navy
Charles G. Yeaton, U. S Navy

 (This article was revised January 2010.)

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