THE EDGECOMB HISTORICAL SOCIETY NICK DEAN LECTURE SERIES
#2: July 8, 2009, 7:00 pm - Joshua Smith, History of Fort Edgecomb
(Lecture series to be continued)
Post Office Box 6
President: Suzanne Carlson
Vice-President: Roslyn Strong
Treasurer: Ruth Bryant
Secretary: Jo Cameron
Genealogist: Cathy Orne
Director: Rebecca Townsend
Director: Zibette Dean
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill, Boston, 1886
[This text is from the Maine state database - for more historical data go to ...]
Edgecomb, in the southern part of Lincoln County, is situated upon the peninsula formed by the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers, having Newcastle on the north and Boothbay upon the south. At the north-western part it connects with Wiscasset by a bridge seven-eighths of a mile in length, across the Sheepscot. West of the southern part is the town of Westport, a long island in the Sheepscot River.
The surface of the town is moderately irregular being varied both by alluvial gorges and by hills. The highest of the latter is known as Mount Hunger. Granite is the principal rock. Crystal Pond, near the centre of the town, has an area of about 100 acres; Matthews Pond, about 40 acres. A mineral spring in this town called the "Rosicrucian Spring," has become favorably known in some of our cities.
The soil of Edgecomb is sandy loam in the uplands, and clay in the lowlands. The crops are hay, barley, oats and potatoes. Ice is a large product, there being two corporations and one or more individuals engaged in the business. The other considerable manufacture is brickmaking, which is carried on in many localities. A stream proceeding southward from a pond near the centre of the town furnishes two or more good powers, where were formerly mills, now fallen into ruins. Folly Island, at the north-western side of the town, sustains the Edgecomb end of the bridge to Wiscasset; and on its south-western point, commanding the entrances to the harbor, is an octagonal block-house, erected shortly before 1812. At the shore below is Fort Edgecomb, an elaborate work of masonry, constructed in 1808-9. Its aspect, as viewed from the water approaches, is quite formidable. The passage between this island and Westport island is known as "Decker's Narrows."
Edgecomb was originally settled in 1744 by Samuel Trask and others,in "several places." After living undisturbed upon their lands for ten years under a possessory claim, three men from Boston appeared and challenged their title to them in virtue of an Indian deed. The new claimants surveyed several lots next the Sheepscot and numbered them. The Indian deed was found to have no definite boundaries, no possession had been taken under it, and the matter savored strongly of speculation. When made acquainted with these facts, a gentleman of the bar in Boston undertook the defence of the settlers without fee or reward, and the three claimants abandoned their claim. In compliment to the lawyer's generosity, the plantation took the name of Freetown. which it retained until it was incorporated as a town in 1774. The name was given by the General Court in honor of Lord Edgecomb, who, at this crisis, was distinguished as a friend to the American Colonies. The Island of Jeremysquam (now Westport), was included in the corporation, but was held by the "Wiscasset Proprietors," who compelled the settlers to purchase of them. The island was set off in 1828. Soon after 1800 there was again difficulty in regard to the squatters' rights, as the lands were supposed to be involved in the "Tappan "claim. But though this town escaped, it was embraced in the Resolve of Feb. 25, 1813, for quieting the squatters, and the lots were surveyed and deeds given the settlers by Jeremiah Bailey and Benjamin Orr, commissioners appointed by the executive for the purpose. By these deeds, the commonwealth quitclaimed its right to the land for 13½ cents per acre.
A church was first formed in Edgecomb in 1783. Rev. Benjamin Chapman, the first settled minister, was installed in 1801. He died In 1804, and was succeeded in 1807 by the Rev. Samuel Sewall. About the time that Mr. Chapman was settled, Timothy Cuningham, a resident of the town, of the Freewill Baptist persuasion, was made elder of that society. Moses Davis, Esq., was the first representative of the town in the General Court. He was also a member of the convention by which Massachusetts ratified the Constitution of the United States. Among later citizens worthy of note were Isaac Pool and Rufus Sewall, Esqrs., and Captain John Chase.
The town has a library association possessing a library numbering upwards of 300 hundred volumes. The Congregationalists and Methodists each have a church in the town. Edgecomb has seven public schoolhouses, and the school property is valued at $3,500. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $202,428. In 1880 it was $189,440. The rate of taxation in 1880 was 1½ per cent. The population in 1870 was 1,056. In 1880 it was 872.
[Thanks to Jo Cameron for editing this text, which must have been initially scanned by a text-reading
program, and had several typos.]