The History of the State of Maine by William D. Williamson, 1832

Excerpt from 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 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


    Williamson's Notes.

    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.


    Williamson's notes

    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, Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project