Texts Related to the Works of Sarah Orne Jewett
Selections from The History of the District of Maine (1795)
Related to "The Old Town of Berwick," The Tory Lover,
and other works of Jewett.
James Sullivan -- 1795
Augusta: Maine State Museum, 1970.
from pp. 19-22.
Having thus given a general sketch of the bays, and capes, I shall proceed to describe the rivers, which pass through the main land to the ocean.
The first river demanding attention is the Piscataqua, which gives the western limits of the District. This river finds the sea in forty three degrees five minutes of northern latitude; (1) and at the distance of thirty miles on a north course from the head of Cape Ann. The Isles of Shoals shew themselves opposite to and southerly from the mouth of the river. These islands are three leagues from the points which form the river's mouth. As we pass up this river, we have Kittery on the east, and Newcastle, Portsmouth, and Newington on the west. The waters are sufficient to bear ships of the largest size for the space of ten miles from the sea; but the tide is very rapid: at this distance from the sea, we meet with the waters of several rivers, the confluence of which forms the aggregate of the waters, which are so deep and useful in the main river for navigation.
At this place, ten miles from the ocean, we meet with the waters which issue from Exeter river, Newmarket river, Durham or Oyster river, Quochecho river and Back river: these all come from New Hampshire. Leaving the waters of these rivers, we proceed up the river of Newichwawanick to Berwick. The waters of the last mentioned river are sufficient to bear vessels of nearly one hundred tons burthen, up to a place four miles within the town of Berwick. Below this, in the town of Kittery, is a small creek, called Sturgeon Creek. It has been related by the aged people of this part of the country, that the fish called sturgeon were plenty at the mouth of that Creek in the early day of the country: but there have been none seen in the river within the memory of any person now living. This creek will be occasionally mentioned in other parts of this history, which renders it necessary to notice it in this place. Above the head of the navigable part of this river, the tide flows over a small fall of water nearly the space of one mile; and within that space, the river receives another, called the Great Works River, and by some Chadbourne's river. This river arises from a pond called Bonnebeag Pond, about thirty miles from its mouth, and is said to have taken the appellation of the Great Works River, from there having been anciently a saw mill on a great fall in it, at the distance of one mile from the river wherein it loses itself. This mill, as is reported, was erected by one Ledgors. None of his posterity live in the town at this day. As the story is, he had eighteen saws which were moved by one wheel; but the force necessary to set these in operation was so great, and so difficult to continue, that the project was soon laid aside. The river was called Chadbourne's River, because Mr. Chadbourne, one of the first settlers of the country, purchased the lands on the mouth of it, of the natives, in the year 1643. His posterity continue to hold the lands at this day. Nearly the whole of the tract is now in the possession of the honourable Benjamin Chadbourne, Esq. the great grandson of the first purchaser. The Indian name of this river is lost. There are several valuable mills on the river, within and above the town of Berwick.
At the head of the tide in the river Newichwawanick, we meet the falls of Quampeagan. The natives gave this appellation to the place, because fish were there taken with nets.
The language of the Abenaquies, of eastern Indians, was very barren: and it is not possible at this day to form a just idea of the mode in which they compounded their words, to render their language significant in its use. The word eag signified land, and when they intended to express lands of a particular property, quality or situation, they joined such other word to that, as would with it express their meaning. The lands at Salem were called Naumkeag: this, in the Indian dialect, signified the land where the water is winding in its course. We shall find many instances of this kind in the progress of this work.
At the falls on Quampeagan are a set of saw, and other mills. Here also is the Great Landing Place, where immense quantities of lumber are rafted, or carried in scows. From Quampeagan, the river Newickwanwanick loses that name, and asssumes the English appellation of Salmon Fall river. This name was given by the English, by reason of the plenty of salmon which the waters afforded. The aged people, who lived within fifty years last past, related, that when they were young, that kind of fish was so plenty on the falls now called Salmon Falls, one mile and a half above Quampeagan, that the people used to take them with spears on the rocks: but there is no man now alive who remembers to have seen any there. The saw mills, where the dams extend across the stream, are the sure destruction of that species of fish. The people have tom cod, or what they call frost fish, smelts and also alewives in great plenty, there, in the proper seasons. The place called Salmon Falls, is covered with useful mills. Above these, at the distance of four miles, we meet what is called the Great Fall, where saw mills are continued to great advantage. On many places on the river from Quampeagan to the pond, from whence it issues, we meet with mills for boards and corn.
There are only two rivers above the head of the tide, which run into Salmon Fall river from the District of Maine: These are both in Berwick. The one is called Worster's River, and the other Little River. These are neither noted for usefulness, or for the quantity of water, which the shores conduct to the principal river. The head of Newickwawanick, is in a pond forty miles nearly from the sea; and is fed by two other ponds: these three are called Salmon Fall Pond, the North East Pond, and Lovell's Pond.
1. This is according to Holland's observations. Others place it in forty three degrees four minutes north.
The History of the District of Maine.
Of the Manners of the Natives.
The Savages found in the country (1) southward and westward of Sagadahock and Piscataqua, were under the general name of the Abenaquis. They were divided in tribes, under particular sachems or chiefs, and had above these higher officers called Bashabas. But what the qualifications of those officers were, or in what manner they were inducted, is not ascertained: nor is their power, if defined among them, so well known to us, as that we can describe the lines of it. The Indians east of Sagadahock, had from the French the general name of Etchemins.
The only law necessary to a state of savage life, is that by which a man can guard his possession of the article he holds in his hand; and the dread of retaliation for injuries, all the sanction which can be had. There were as few rules established for the decision of questions of property among the Abenequis and Etchemins, as among any people discovered on the globe. They had no established tribunals to apply to for justice: nor any executive officers to carry decrees into execution. Their plighted faith for the permanency of marriage contracts, appeared to be more obligatory upon them than any other general rule. The writers on the manners of the Savages in South America, and the travellers among the Savages on the banks of, and beyond the Missis[s]ippi, give an account of those people's practice respecting constancy in marriage, and the chastity of their women, very different from what has been observed among the natives in New England, in Acadie, and in Canada. It is said that the women in South America, and on the banks of the river mentioned, are prostituted by their parents and husbands for the gratification of strangers, and that the marriage contract is frequently dissolved by consent of the parties. The Savages in our part of the continent have been rather chaste than otherwise, and the husbands have been found jealous of their wives, and watchful of their exclusive marriage rights; and there have been frequent instances of resentment, where strangers have been found guilty of rudeness to the Indian women. There is no instance which has fallen within the reach of my inquiries, wherein a separation between husband and wife has taken place by mutual consent.
De Motte, in his journal, mentions, as the Abbe Raynal says, an instance, where a young man of his family debauched a young Savage, and that it was highly resented by her father, who was a chief on the banks of the Machakadawick, but that the injury was finally compensated by the marriage of the parties. This is very wide from the accounts given by Ogilby, and other writers; but I believe that those large volumes contain a great deal of misinformation. Perhaps the practice of promiscuous cohabitation is a very important line between a savage and a civilized state. Where we find the public opinion well established in favour of the permanency of marriage compacts, and in favor of female chastity, there we find the bounds of civil government commensurately strong, and property well secured: and however weak the bonds of government might be, on the natives of North America, yet the toil of raising their offspring in this inclement country, might maintain an idea of the necessity of permanency in the marriage obligation. Where there is no idea of civil government, generally speaking, there can be no solemnity in the rite of marriage. A distinction of property, excepting what arises from immediate and unceasing occupancy, is not to be found among a people who have no established rules of justice. The Savages of North America selected wives, and though they did not possess those high degrees of passion which are found in the breasts of Europeans, yet they had a jealous regard to the exclusive rights of a husband. They indulged themselves in some instances in a plurality of wives, but this was merely a mark of distinction which is found among the Asiatics, as well as amongst the Americans.
Obedience and respect from children, depends altogether on the sacredness of the contract between the parents. The duty of the father to protect, and to provide for his children, depends for its existence on the matrimonial bond alone.
What rules of distributive justice were established among the Abenaquis is unknown to us, but we may safely conclude that they had but very few which they regarded. Where laws are well made, and properly executed, there is always a constant accession of members and strength to the community. The idea of security connects and consolidates different tribes into one nation: we have instances of this among the Italian and Grecian tribes, as well as among others of a later date. But where there are no established tribunals or permanent rules of justice, each tribe is hostile to its neighbours, and the sword, without rule or measure, decides each controversy.
Gorges, in his narrative, informs us, that there was a Bashaba, near Pemaquid, who presided over a large tract of territory: that he was at war with the Tarratines, who came upon him, surprised and killed him, and carried away all his women, &c. He adds, that after his death, the Sagamores, having no common head, made war with each other, and destroyed their people: that the calamities of famine and pestilence, which are generally consequent to a war, took place, and swept the people away. The account is, that this plague, so fatal to the natives, did not affect the Europeans, who were in the country: but that they lodged in the desolated cabins of the Savages in perfect safely.
Dr. Belknap mentions a chief, or king, call a Bashaba, who was found by Smith on the river Piscataqua: and James Carthier, in his voyage to Canada, found a sovereign of similar rank.
This kind of empire among the Savages of North America, was not continued long after the Europeans had got possession of the country on the borders of the sea. The little we have known among the natives, has led us to believe, that a very weak kind of aristocracy, supported by the valour and wisdom of a few, upon the interested feelings of the whole, has been the only government which they were ever capable of supporting.
Madockawando, was the chief of the Penobscott tribe. He was the adopted son of Assaminasqua. Whether the chiefs claimed an hereditary right of rule in their families or not, it seems that they had a power to point out their successor. (2) If the law or rule for directing the descent, or the continuance of power, provided that when the sachem or chief of the clan found his own children too weak, or too wicked to govern, he might appoint a suitable successor; it was an institution more suitable to justice, than the practice of succession in Europe is.
Squando was the late chief on Saco River, and the Ossipees; Robinhood, at Sagadahock; but we hear of no acknowledged chief at Newichawanic, since the one called Passaconoway, spoken of by Dr. Belknap. This chief, according to the Doctor's account, presided over a number of lesser sachems in that part of the country. There appears, if we take the sale of lands by the natives as evidence, to have been a great number of sachems or chiefs, from the year 1660 to the year 1675; but we have no other evidence of their possessing authority, than what arises merely from their executing deeds. There is no dependence for evidence of the possession of agoverning power, to be collected from acts of this nature, because they sold the land every where, and to every one who applied; and for very little consideration, and without any evidence of an exclusive right in the grantors.
1. Purchas, Gorges, Raynal, Belknap.
From Chapter 6: Of the European Grants of Lands.
B E R W I C K,
WAS anciently, a part of Kittery; the two towns were called the plantations of Piscataqua (1) and Newichawanick. The first settlers on Sturgeon Creek, began the plantation where Berwick now is. Those were the Frosts, Heards, Shapleighs, and Chadbournes. The ancestor of the Chadbournes came over on the invitation of Gorges and Mason, and under them erected a famous house, at Little Harbour in Portsmouth. In the year 1643, he purchased a tract of land of an Indian called Mr. Knowles, sometimes called Mr. Knolles, being a neck between the Bason, in Newickawanick River, at Quampeagan, and the Great Works river. The other early settlers were Spencer, Broughton, Leden, and Wincall. Broughton had lands purchased of the Indians, and confirmed by the town of Kittery, in the year 1643, situated above Spencer's, and between that and Salmon Falls. Wincall and Broughton, had a grant of the lands on Salmon Falls, from the town of Kittery, upon condition of their erecting a saw mill there. (2) It is imagined, and may possibly appear from ancient conveyances, that the brook called Salmon Falls Brook, was the line of division between Broughton and Wincall. Above those tracts, the lands are held under proprietary grants, all of which have been made since the plantation, in the year 1673, was incorporated by the name of the Parish of Unity.
The first minister settled in Berwick, was John Wade, who was ordained in 1702, and died in 1703. Jeremiah Wise was ordained in 1707, and died pastor of the church there in 1756. Her was a man of eminent piety and goodness. The learning in which he made great proficiency, was of a kind suited to the age in which he lived, and like that of the Mathers, and other great men, partook more of the scholastic modes, than of the belle letters, or of philosophy. Soon after the death of Mr. Wise, the Rev. Jacob Foster was ordained, and in 1777 was dismissed, at his own request, and the Rev. John Tompson, the present minister, succeeded him.
In the year 1751, the town was divided into two parishes. In the second, John Morse, a valuable, and pious young man was settled, but died in early life. His successor was the Rev. Mr. Meriam, who is the minister there at this day.
There are two small Baptist, and one Quaker society in the town. There are no other religious persuasion, or denomination of christians, excepting what have been mentioned.
The inhabitants of the town of Berwick, have been very careful in supporting grammar, and other schools. The Rev. James Pike, who was the first minister of the town of Sommersworth in New Hampshire, and who died since the year 1790, aged ninety two years, was the first grammar schoolmaster of Berwick. There is an Academy lately established in the town.
The towns of Kittery and Berwick, while considered as one town, had no particular bounds, or description as to the extent of the territory up the river, until the year 1711, when the general court ordered the town to be laid out. The town of Berwick was made a separate corporation in the year 1713; and there appears to be a report made in the year 1720, which extended the town eight miles above Quampeagan to a fall in the river, called Stair Falls, and to run from the river northeast, and by east, eight miles, to Bonnebeag Point, then southeast to a pine tree, at Baker's Spring, and a rock, being the bounds between York and Kittery. (3) The extent of eight miles up the river, was according to the ancient grant to Wincall and Broughton; but the town lines are not established by a possession on these boundaries.
There was, as early as the year 1699, a ministerial lot, laid out by the town of Kittery, on the north side of the road leading to Wells. (4)
The inhabitants of Berwick, the principal of whom were the Chadbournes, the Lords, Goodwins, Gerishes, Keys, Smiths, Spencers, Shoreys, Prays, Plaisteds, Hills, Abbotts, Smiths, &c. claimed a part of the proprietary lands with Kittery, and a line of division was established, by which the Berwick people had the lands comprehended within three miles of the river, and the Kittery proprietors took the residue.
The settlements at Berwick were several times destroyed by the Savages, and the present settlement may be considered as one recently made. Seventy years ago there were no houses between Quampeagan, and Canada. (5) This delay, or rather interruption of settlement, was occasioned by the attacks and depredations of the Savages, which shall be attended to.
Berwick being contiguous to New Hampshire, the calamities which the people suffered by the hostilities of the natives, have been related in Dr. Belknap's elegant history of that state; one or two circumstances are ommitted in that work, and agreeably to the plan proposed for this history, it will be proper to give a general account of the wars in which the people have been engaged.
In October, 1675, Hopegood, with a party, assaulted the house of John Tozier. That house stood about half a mile above the mills on Salmon Falls. Tozier was one of Broughton and Wincal's party. There were fifteen persons in the house, who were all saved by the courage of a girl of eighteen years old, who alarmed the people, and barred the doors. This retarded the attack, until the rest of the people had secured themselves in another house. When the Savages had hewed down the door, they wounded and left the girl dead, as they supposed, but she survived and lived a great number of years afterwards. The next day they attacked the settlement again, but upon the people's coming out of the garrison, they fled to the wilderness, having previously burned the house of Captain Wincal, which stood near where the upper mills now are. The cellar perhaps remains; it has been seen within forty years last. On the seventh, a man was shot, as he was passing on horseback from one garrison to another; and two young men were killed within one mile of the garrison, on the same day. On the 16th one hundred Indians attacked the plantation. They killed Tozier, and took his son a captive. Upon hearing the guns, Captain Plaisted sent out a small party, two of whom were killed. Immediately upon this, Plaisted sent an express to major Waldron of Cochecho, informing him that Richard Tozier, James Barrey, Isaac Bottes and Tozier's son had been killed, and requesting help. This letter was signed by Roger Plaisted and George Broughton.
Plaisted, wishing to bring off the bodies of those who had been killed, yoked a pair of oxen, and took a cart for that purpose. They recovered Tozier's body, and while they were attempting to get the others, they were attacked by one hundred and fifty Savages. The small party made a desperate defence, and killed many of the Savages; and Plaisted, denying to surrender himself as a captive, which the Indians repeatedly urged him to do, he fell in the action; his eldest son was also killed, and another of his sons badly wounded.
There is a tombstone, near the road in Berwick, on the land which was Plaisted's, and near where this battle was fought, upon which there is the following inscription, "Here lies interred, the body of Samuel Plaisted, Esq. who departed this life, March 20th, 1731, AE. 36. Near this place lies buried the body of Roger Plaisted, who was killed by the Indians, Oct. 16, 1675, AE 48 years; also the body of his son, Mr. Roger Plaisted, who was killed at the same time." His father was Ichabod, the grandson of lieutenant Roger Plaisted, who lived at Salmon Falls; the widow of Capt. Plaisted married one Brown of Salem; after Brown's death, she returned to Berwick, and lived in what was called the great house, which after her death, was burned by accident in 1738.
The Indians attacked Saco, Wells and other towns on the sea coast, which urged Captain Wincal to go to their relief, but he was attacked and lost several of his men.
In the year 1690 a party under the command of one Hertel, a Frenchman, and Hopegood, a sachem, assaulted the plantation of Newichawanick; 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. (6)
There were some great cruelties exercised on some of the captives taken by the Savages. These are strongly described in Mather's Magnalia; and were the truth of the facts evinced beyond a doubt, there would be no necessity for repeating the disagreeable tale in this place. The weak and infirm died by cruelty or neglect, and the more robust and hearty were sold in Canada as slaves.
There was, before this time, no bounty bid by the French, on the scalps of the English; when that practice was introduced, it caused a great encrease of cruelty in the savage wars. The idea of selling a captive as a slave, might induce the Indians to save the lives of all those who would surrender; but when the capture or death of an enemy, became equally lucrative, and the latter more sure and less troublesome then the former, the Indians chose to slay all who were unfortunate enough to fall within their power. This vile practice was set on foot by the priests, under the sanction of christianity, and upon the foundation, that hereticks ought not to be suffered to live.
The war which began in 1709, was more favourable to the plantation of Newichawanick, than the former had been; but the three years war, gave the people there much more trouble than they had ever met with after the year 1690. One Thompson was killed in April, 1724, and his son carried away. Thompson lived on the road which leads from Quampeagan to Wells, at Love's Brook. One Stone, a boy, was mangled, and scalped, near where Thompson fell, by the same party, but he survived it, and lived to be an old man. His life was miserable, he wore a silver caul on his head, went on crutches, had the use of only one hand, and was subject to strong convulsion fits. (7)
In the year 1754, the Savages had parties infesting the frontier, for the sake of obtaining the bounties which the French government offered for scalps. A daughter of Peter Morrill, a Quaker, on the northeast side of Berwick, went out on a Sunday morning into the woods, near her father's house, to gather hemlock bows for a broom; the Savages shot her, and carried away her head, not having time to take off her scalp.
The practice for an alarm, as agreed upon and understood, was, to fire three muskets in succession, with short intervals between them. This alarm was given on the killing of Morrill's daughter, and the people in the upper part of the town removed to garrison houses. From that time until the year 1759, the inhabitants carried their fire arms to the houses of public worship.
There may be an amusement to those who shall succeed the present generation, in that town, in reading the account of the places where the garrisons were erected. There was a fort and block house, a mile from Quampeagan landing, on the west side of what is called Salmon Fall Brook. One William Gerish owned the place and lived there. The Author of this history, remembers being at garrison in that place. Another block house was one mile further up, called Key's garrison, which has been standing within a few years. Further up, and near that, were Wentworth's and Goodwin's block houses. Indeed all the houses which were built there, between the year 1690, and 1745, were of hewed logs, sufficient to oppose the force of small arms. One fort was at Pine Hill, called Hamilton's garrison, which was standing in 1750. There was a picketed fort, made of pales set in the ground, about twenty feet high, and sharpened at the upper end, on the height of land at Pine Hill,which stood there as lately as the year 1760. There was no dwelling house in that fort, but it was intended that the people should assemble there on an alarm, and continue to defend themselves, until aid should arrive from the people further down the river.
The Hon. Mr. Chadbourne, who is now alive, says, that he remembers several Indians, who used to come down in the sum
mer, and reside on Chadbourne's River. These were said to be of the Ossippee Tribe. This was in the long interval between the three years war which ended in 1727, and that which commenced in 1744.
When the war in 1752 was commenced, there came in from St. François, to Berwick, an Indian, named Amberuse, with his wife; he said that he hated war, and only wanted a place where he could make his brooms, and his baskets, and live in peace; he was indulged with a place on the bank of Worster's River, a few rods south of the road, where he remained peaceable for several years, and finally removed to the river Kenebeck.
The posterity of the first settlers remain in Berwick at the present day. Judge Chadbourne, is the great grandson of Humphrey Chadbourne, who came over in 1636, and purchased land of the sachem Knowles, in 1643. Captain Samuel Lord's wife, was the grand daughter of Tozier, who was killed in 1675. She died since the year 1758, and has left a numerous posterity.
1. York Records, Book first.
2. York Records.
3. Kittery and York Massachusetts Records, Vol. II.
4. Kittery Rec.
5. Hon. Judge Chadbourne's Manuscript, written in 1793, wherein he says, "I am now seventy five years old, and since I can remember, there was no house between mine and Canada."
6. Belknap's History, Vol. II.
7. The Author knew him personally.
Edited by Terry and Linda Heller, Coe College