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Revised 27 December 2010

MAINE

Maine was visited many times in the period between 1598 to 1605, but it was not until 1623 that the first permanent settlement was established.  The first community came into existence that year on the Saco River, in the extreme southwestern region of the area.  The settlers arrived as English subjects and brought with them the laws of England.  They had permission granted by the English rulers to create for themselves property in American lands according to the tradition of the times.

When the two vessels left Plymouth on 31 May 1607 there were two hundred Englishmen aboard two vessels.  They established a settlement at the mouth of the Kennebec, then known as the Sagadahoc, but disbanded that the following year when the remaining settlers returned to England.  It is said by some historians, that some of the settlers did not leave the area, but appeared later in what is now Pemeaquid, Lincoln County around 1608.

The would-be settlers were attracted to the area by the words of one of the returning explorers, who wrote of this land, "Here are no hard landlords to rack us with high rents, or extorted fines to consume us.  Here, every man may be a master and owner of his own labor and land, or the greatest part, in a small time."  (Obviously he did not stay through one of the Maine winters.)

Various small groups brought over from England, settled along the coast of Maine where they engaged in fishing, but the first large contingent to arrive were the English Pilgrims or Puritans who arrived via Leyden, Holland and Plymouth off Cape Code in Massachusetts on 11 November 1620.  Most of these so-called dissenters came originally from Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England.  (For further information on this group, there is an extensive (about 400 pages in the original text) history posted on my on-line library in the book on the Separatist movement by George Punchard, published in 1850.  There is further information in the Hooper book regarding the early English separatists and their harsh treatment under the English rule.  The Hooper book was written in about 1906.)

In 1622 two members of the Plymouth Company in England, Sir Ferdinando Gorgas and Captain John Mason were granted all of the land between the Kennebec and the Merrimac rivers.  At about that time, the communities of Dover and Portsmouth in New Hampshire were being established.  Later the grant was divided.  Mason took the part that is now New Hampshire and Gorgas took the eastern section called Maine.

Late in sixteen hundred, many communities existed along the coast of Maine and along the shores of the many rivers.  As a traveler of the time, you would have seen the names of Kittery, York, Kennebunk, Saco, Arundel (now known as Kennebunkport) and others with a rather large population.  The early settlers apparently took a dislike to Gorgas and his sons, as it appeared they were rather aristocratic in their outlook, and so Main was annexed into Massachusetts.  After the death of King Charles in 1685, however, and during the brief ascension of James II, Massachusetts suddenly lost its legal standing in the matter and landholders had to re-secure their holdings at high fees.  The new land titles were recorded in Boston, but Maine also established a special land office in York.

The area east of the Kennebec river was only sparsely settled.  Most of the settlers preferred to gather on the ocean shore or along the rivers between Kennebec and the Piscataqua.  You would have found the communities of Biddeford, Portland--then known as Falmouth Neck, Berwick, Sanford and Alred.  More towns extended north along the western state border, such as Hollis (Little Falls), Newfield ( Hubbardstown), Waterborough (Massebesic), Limington (Ossipee), Baldwin (Flintstown), Bridgtown (Bridgetown), Fryeburg (Pequawkett) and Stow.

As a county of Maine, Yorkshire covered the entire state in the period of 1716 through 1760.  Later it was divided into the three counties of Lincoln, Cumberland and York.  The roads in Maine were deemed so horrid that they were a dread to the travelers.  In many places, the roads were almost impassible.  To traveler a distance of less than sixty miles would require at least two days.  The roads were muddy and full of ruts.  In winter the travel was easier because the roads would be frozen, thus making them hard and more passable.  Most travel at that time was done by horseback.

From 1650 through 1819, Main was under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.  It took numerous attempts, but Main finally broke away in 1819, the year prior to being admitted to the Union.  Main became our twenty-Third state on 15 March 1820.

Although the earliest settlers were English, settlers began arriving from other countries as well.  You will find many Scotch-Irish families and Huguenots during the first century.  By 1740, German families began arriving from Rockland on the southeastern Atlantic short.  These families settled around Waldoboro.  As factories began to come to life in the area, the artisans of England , Scotland and the Scandinavian countries were brought over to run the mills and factories of Main.  The Swedes settled in the northeastern corner of the state and gave these places the Swedish place names of home--such as New Sweden, Stockholm, Jemtland, and Linneus.  The Finnish came to log the great forests of the northwest.

For a more detailed history of the state, I would refer you to thewebsite. They go into details about the founding and Revolutionary War period and have some lovely artwork for sale as well as a rather detailed time line.  Maine has an activeas well.

name Date Formed Parent county County Seat
Androscoggin 1854 Cumberland, Oxford, Kennebec Auburn
Aroostook 1839 Washington Houlton
Cumberland 1760 York Portland
Franklin 1838 Cumberland Farmington
Hancock 1789 Lincoln Swans Island and Ellsworth
Kennebec 1799 Lincoln Augusta
Knox 1860 Lincoln, Waldo Rockland
Lincoln 1760 York Wiscasset
Oxford 1805 York, Cumberland S. Paris
Penobscot 1816 Hancock Bangor
Piscataquis 1838 Penobscot, Somerset Dover & Foxcroft
Sagadahoc 1854 Lincoln Bath
Somerset 1809 Kennebec Skowhegan
Waldo 1827 Hancock Belfast
Washington 1789 Lincoln Lambert Lake & Machias

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