Worster's River

Worster Brook in Berwick, Maine, sometimes called Worster's River, takes its name from Moses Worster/Wooster or Worcester, who built a mill there in 1709 with Timothy Wentworth, according to the book Piscataqua Pioneers. Born November 10, 1643 in Salisbury, Mass., Worster was known as "Old Contrary" and lived to at least age 88. He first farmed for many years on 200 acres in present-day Eliot near Sturgeon Creek, and at 66 built his mill on the creek at Berwick.

Worster’s River was seen in the early 2000s from a small bridge where it runs under Route 236 between South Berwick and Berwick.

Worster Brook flows into the nearby Salmon Falls River. During the conflict between English settlers and Native Americans known as King Williams War in 1689/90, the brook became the scene of a skirmish following an attack on the settlements of Salmon Falls, Quamphegan and Newichawannock, now in South Berwick. Settlers whose family members had been taken captive made an unsuccessful effort to recover the hostages before they were taken to Canada.

    "... our forces proceeded in pursuit of ye Enemy & about 2 mile above ye fort of Salmon falls at the farther house up in the woods there discovered them about ye setting of ye sunn, our meu presently fell upon them & they as resolutely oppos'd them, in short the fight lasted as long as they could see friends from Enemies, in which we lost two men, one of York another of Cochecho kil'd upon ye place & 6 or 7 wounded some is feared mortally: what damage we did the Enemy we can't at present say." (From the Massachusetts Archives, “French Captive Examination from Piscataway 19th March 1690,” transcribed in James P. Baxter, ed., The Documentary History of the State of Maine, Volume V, p. 55-56.)

James Sullivan (1744–1808), in History of the District of Maine, wrote, "In the year 1690 a party under the command of one Hertel, a Frenchman, and Hopegood, a sachem, assaulted the plantation of Newichawanick [Salmon Falls River]; they killed thirty men, and the rest of the people, after an obstinate and courageous defence, surrendered at discretion. The captives were fifty-four, the greater part of whom were women and children. The enemy burned all the houses and mills, and taking with them what plunder they could carry, retreated to the northward. A party of one hundred and forty men collected from the neighbouring towns, pursued and came up with the Savages on Worster's River, at a narrow bridge. Hertel had expected a pursuit, and had placed his people in a posture of defence. The engagement was warm, and continued the whole of an afternoon; but as the men on both sides were shielded by the trees and brush, there was no great slaughter; four or five of the English, and two of the Savages were killed, a Frenchman was wounded and taken prisoner."

Worster’s River as shown on the map of the town of Berwick below, taken from the Atlas of York County,1872.

    "...There was the ford to cross at Wooster's River, - that noisy stream which can never be silent, as if the horror of a great battle fought upon its bank could never be told. Here there was always a good modern moment of excitement: the young horse must whirl about and rear, and show horror in his turn, as if the ghosts of Hertel and his French and Indians stood upon the historic spot of their victory over the poor settlers; finally the Duke stepped trembling into the bright shallow water, and then stopped midway with perfect composure, for a drink." from The Tory Lover, Sarah Orne Jewett, 1901.

(Summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives at the Counting House Museum, updated December 2020.)