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time the Indians killed Mr. Sayer and his family, who lived in the next house, with sundry other persons, and retired the day before this destruction. Mr. Sayer assisted the Indians in grinding their hatchets. In 1712, a great number of people being at the wedding of Captain Wheelwright's daughter, the Indians surprised several of the company, and captivated the bridegroom, Mr. Plaisted, son to a gentleman of Portsmouth. The Indians, expecting a good ransom for such a prisoner, did not carry him to Canada, but sent in a flag, and offered upon payment of three hundred pounds to release the prisoner. The money was paid, and the prisoner returned. It would be almost an endless task to recite all the particulars which relate to the sufferings of the inhabitants of Wells from the Indians. Very few, if any, years elapsed, during the existence of the Indian wars, without some persons being either killed or captivated, until Governour Dummer's treaty with them in 1725, when a peace was established with them, which continued about twenty years with but little interruption; during which time the number of inhabitants in the town considerably increased; but still the people were in fear, and frequently alarmed by small parties of Indians, until the reduction of Canada, which put an end to Indian wars in this part of the country.

The lower road next the sea is in general sandy; but of late it has been in many places meliorated, by the application of clay, which af ter incorporation, makes a most excellent road.

The situation of the town, as it respects the back country, is convenient for trade; but the entrances into the harbours are not commodious, sandy bars extending across them. The depth of the water on the bars is from about nine to thirteen feet, at high water; and not more than three feet, at low water. Formerly but little trade was carried on in town; but of late the trade in lumber and ship-building is considerably increased, especially in that part of the town called Kennebunk, where the people have attempted to make a new harbour. In the course of last season, they stopped the natural course of Mousom river, by erecting a dam across it, sufficient for the purpose, and opened a canal, leading from it through a salt marsh, boggy land, and a short beach, about two hundred rods, to a cove at the sea. The canal is at present about seven feet deep, and about twenty feet wide, the river running through it. The proprietors of the canal intend further to prosecute their undertaking the next season; but the final success of it must be left to be determined by time. If the proprietors succeed agreeably to their expectations, it may be of great utility to them and the publick. If they fail, it is hoped that their failure may not serve to discourage useful enterprises, which in many instances have proveds and may prove, very beneficial to the country.



HEN I had the honour of conversing with you last summer, at

WH Wiscasset, you desired me to give you an account of the settle

ment of the town of Topsham, the hope of conveying more authentick information than I then possessed, is the only reason why I have not answered your request before. I have acquired some more knowledge, but have not gratified my wish. With pleasure I impart what I have been able to investigate, and offer it to you, Sir, a tribute of respect, as my endeavour to save from oblivion the knowledge of the first settlement of this country by emigrants from Europe.

Topsham, situated on Merry Meeting bay, which opened such extensive communication by water with the other parts of the country, was much frequented by the Indians. It lay in their rout from Kennebeck to Casco bay, and from Amarascoggin to Kennebeck, which gave them a passage to the sea.

From Merry Meeting bay, down Kennebeck, to the sea, is eighteen miles. From the navigable waters of Merry Meeting to Maquoit, a small bay which opens into Casco, is but little more than three miles; and the carrying place from Merry Meeting to the head of New Meadows river, is not more than half a mile. On this account, Topsham was a hazardous place to make a settlement, exposed to surprise and attack from the savages in almost every direction. The first Europeans, of whom we have any account, took their residence in Topsham, a little prior, or about the beginning of the present century. Stimulated with the prospect of gain, their design appears to have been to traffick with the natives, rather than to effect a permanent settlement. They were three in number, with their families. One built a house, and resided at Fulton's Point; another, at the head of Muddy river; and the third, on Pleasant Point. At each of these places there are now to be seen the cavity of cellars, and the ruin of chimnies. It is probable that the person who resided at Fulton's Point, came some years before the others. In the year 1750, there was a tree of more than twelve inches in diameter, grown out of the cellar. The name of this person is lost. We have the following traditionary account: That he lived for some time on very amicable terms with the natives; apparently, they rejoiced at his residence among them. This inspired him with confidence, suspecting no injury from his neighbours, till he had this melancholy proof of their perfidy. Being absent in his canoe, the savages massacred his family, and burnt or carried off all his property. Returning, with consternation, he viewed the desolation, and fearing a similar fate with his family, went to Georges, and from thence to Europe. The name of the person who settled at the head of Muddy river, is likewise unknown; but his contemporary who settled on Pleasant Point, was Giles.. Both

their families were cut off by the savages, and their dwellings burnt. Not suspecting any evil from the Indians, with whom they had lived on good terms, Mr. and Mrs. Giles were in the field, the woman gathering beans, and the man topping his corn, when they were both shot down, and their children captivated. All these were redeemed by the officer of the garrison at Georges, except the oldest, a son of Mr. Giles, whom they retained for three years, when he made his escape, and for some years after was commandant of the garrison at Brunswick. This is the best account I can obtain of the unhappy lot of the first Europeans who resided within the limits of what is since called Topsham. After these families were killed and captivated by the natives, there was no settlement attempted for a number of years. The peculiar exposure of the situation, and the hostile disposition of the savages, rendered the attempt too hazardous, till about the year 1730, when some ventured to set down in Topsham. From this period, a habitancy has been maintained, though for many years, with much peril and danger. The inhabitants never felt wholly secure from the natives, till after the peace of Versailles, 1763.

So many discouraging circumstances attended the settlement of this town, that the inhabitants increased but slowly. Many lives, compared with the whole number, were lost. Those, who were not killed nor captivated, were exceedingly harassed and perplexed. Fear was on every side. Their houses, which on an alarm they deserted, were burnt often their cattle were killed. In the year 1750, there were only eighteen families in the town, and seventeen of those were Scottish Hibernians. From this time, by population and new adventurers, the number of inhabitants gradually increased. In 1764 the town was incorporated; and when the last census was taken, it contained eight hundred and twenty-six souls. The town constitutes but one parish, in which is a meeting-house, built by the proprietors, about thirty-five years ago. In 1789 they settled their first minister.

The inhabitants are in general under easy circumstances. The town were never at any expense in supporting the poor; and none ever solicited help. In this instance they are singular from any town of equal date, with which I am acquainted in New England.

The latitude of Topsham is very near 44° N. The longitude is 70° W. It is the first town in the county of Lincoln, proceeding from the west, easterly. It is bounded on the N. W. by Little river, which divides it from a gore of land unincorporated; N. by Bowdoin and Bowdoinham; E. by Cathance and Merry Meeting bay; S. and S. W. by Amarascoggin, by which it is separated from Brunswick in the county of Cumberland.

The town contains a good proportion of arable, pasture, and meadow; with very little waste land. A part, however, of the sandy soil is not very productive. For a general description, we may consider Topsham as containing equal parts of clayey, sandy, and loamy soil;

some hills, but no mountains; broken with gullies, where it is clayey; about five eighths under improvement.

The water-falls in the rivers afford a number of excellent stands, which are occupied with saw, grist, and fulling mills. At the saw mills, on a moderate computation, there are cut, communibus annis, four million feet of boards, plank, joist, &c.

The rivers afford a variety of fish, which are taken in considerable quantities; such as salmon, shad, alewives, and bass; and on their margins is gathered a forage, superiour in quality to that which generally comes under the denomination of meadow hay.

You will see, by the rough draught* which accompanies this, that Topsham is a peninsula. It is about thirty-two miles in circumference, and more than twenty-five miles are washed with water.

The plan is not laid down by any survey, but is sketched as it exists in my mind. It is pretty accurate as to the relative situation of land and water and I believe it will give no very incorrect idea, as to the proportion of its parts. It might have had ornament, had I more leisure. Such as it is, with what I have written, are submitted to your candour, by,

Sir, your most obedient,

Humble servant,




I HERE subjoin the number of Births, and a Bill of Mortality for Topsham, within the term of four years and seven months, or from September 16, 1789, to the present time.

Births, one hundred and fifteen. Deaths, fifty-three.

Under the age of one year



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Deposited in the Library of the Historical Society.

Eleven have died with the consumption; seven with fevers; four, with the general decay of nature, unattended with any particular complaint; one, small pox; one, apoplexy; one, colick; one, tickets; seyen, drowned; one, the accidental discharge of a gun. I assign no special cause for the death of those under one year; nor am I able to point out the particular disease of which the others died. I am accurate as to the number of deaths; but it is probable that there have been more births than have come to my knowledge.

Our climate may be considered as friendly to the life of man, though I think our habit of living is not. The great quantity of ardent spirits, that is drank in this country, has an unhappy influence over the man. They impair the natural vigour of the constitution, lead to many needless exposures, and facilitate the progress of decay, as well as implant the seeds of disease.

My meteorological observations, though daily made, are, for want of proper apparatus, too incorrect for the inspection of any other than myself,

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TAKE the liberty to send you the following Description of Machias, with a few remarks that equally apply to the county at large. If it comes within the views of the Historical Society, and you deem it worthy a place in their Collections, it may be presented with my respects.

I am, dear Sir,'

With affectionate esteem,


Your friend,




ACHIAS, the shire town of Washington county, is the furthest from the capital, of any in the commonwealth. Its distance by water, is nearly one hundred leagues; by land, it is computed at four

hundred miles.

BOUNDS AND NAME.] The town is bounded on the south and west, by townships, Nos. 22 and 23, on the north and east, by Nos. 18, 13, and 12; containing ten by eight miles square. The name of

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