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History

Timeline for the First Years of Settlement

Resolves of the State of Maine

Letter From an Old Settler

Progress of Settlement on the Aroostook Road

The Catholic Church

Treaty Lots

Lyndon in 1860

 

When our first settlers arrived in the Aroostook River area, there was a border dispute between the United States and Great Britain. They settled on land claimed by both countries. The earliest settlers came across the Aroostook River from the St. John River. Some had lived in New Brunswick for a time and some had come from the United States by way of Canada. Even though Maine had become a state in 1820, some of the land still belonged to Massachusetts. Here is a timeline for the first years of settlement:

1815

War of 1812 ends and lottings are begun

1817 James Monroe 5th president
1820 Maine admitted to the Union
1825 John Quincy Adams 6th president
1827 Beginning of road to Houlton
1829 Andrew Jackson 7th president
1832 Military Road built from Bangor to Houlton
1837 Martin Van Buren 8th president
1839 Aroostook War begins
1839 Aroostook County is set off from Penobscot & Washington Counties
1840 Road had been cut from Presque Isle to Fort Fairfield
1841 William Henry Harrison 9th president
1841 John Tyler 10th president
1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty settled boundary lines
1843 Customs office established in Fort Fairfield
1843 Another part of Penobscot annexed to Aroostook County
1844 Parts of Piscataquis and Somerset Counties annexed to Aroostook County

There has been an excellent book written about the boundary dispute (TIES OF COMMON BLOOD:A History of Maine's Northeast Boundary Dispute with Great Britain, 1783-1842, by Geraldine Tidd Scott, published by Heritage Books, Inc.), so I'm not going to add information about the dispute. I am including  excerpts of material from the collection of the late George WHITNECK (1899-1966) which is housed at the Caribou Public Library. He had transcribed some of the  Resolves of the State of Maine and these Resolves give us a picture of what life must have been like for the early settlers.  

Resolves of the State of Maine

In Senate Jan. 18, 1825 The Committee on Public Lands, to whom was referred so much of the Governor's message as relates to depredations committed upon the Public Lands, have had the same under consideration, and report that it is evident great quantities of timber have been cut upon lands belonging to this State, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and carried down the St. John river by British subjects, and thence transported to Great Britain.

The principle scenes of these depredations is upon the Aroostook and Madawaska rivers, many miles within the territory and jurisdiction of this State and far west of the line settled by the Treaty of 1783, as claimed by the Government of the United States. These depredations are still continued upon a large scale, and the value of the timber annually taken from our territory is so great as to render it the duty of the government to adopt some sufficient measures to obtain satisfaction for the past, and to prevent further depredations in the future. Jonas Parlin, Jr. Chairman.

Resolve respecting depredations on the Public Lands:Resolved, that the Governor be authorized and requested to correspond with the Governor of the Province of New Brunswick relative to the depredations which have been committed by British subjects upon the timber of the Public Lands of this State, west of the boundary line between this State and the Province of New Brunswick, as heretofore recognized; and to ascertain whether that government have authorized any persons to cut timber upon these lands; or to settle thereon....... (Resolve passed January 24, 1825)

Resolve respecting the conveyance of lands granted by the State:Resolved, That in all cases where any lands have been, or may hereafter be, granted by the Legislature, to be located by, or under the direction of, the Land Agent of the State, it shall be lawful for the said Land Agent, having completed such survey, to make and execute, in behalf of the State, a good and sufficient deed, conveying the same, according to the terms of the grant; which deed, so executed, shall be effectual to transfer all the right and title of the State in and to the lands thus granted. (Approved by the Governor, March 6, 1826)

Resolves of the State of Maine for the year 1828. Message of the Governor, To the Senate and House of Representatives: I transmit, for the information of the Legislature, the Report of Charles H. Davis, Esq., the Agent appointed by the Executive of this State to inquire into and report upon certain facts relating to the aggressions upon the rights of the State of Maine, and of individual citizens thereof, by inhabitants of the Province of New Brunswick.

Report. Portland, January 31, 1828

Sir, I have already acquainted your Excellency with my proceedings at Fredericton, and the manner in which I had performed the duty assigned to my by your appointment, within the Province of New Brunswick.

The first course of inquiry relates to the condition of settlers on the river Aroostook. The rights of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were exercised upon the territory situated on this river, at a very early period after the source of the St. Croix was settled under the convention of 1794. Grants were accordingly made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of sections of land embracing both banks of the Aroostook and bordering on the boundary line, namely, one to the town of Plymouth and one to General Eaton. Locations on these lands were made and surveys were commenced under the authority of Massachusetts, and lines were run around one of the tracks, in the year 1808, and lottings were made in the year 1812.

It was discovered that trespasses were committed on this territory by persons belonging in the Province, in cutting timber. With whatever impression the original trespassers may have gone on, the present settlers appear to have established themselves generally in that country under the opinion that is was American territory. They understood that they were within the boundary lines, as it had been repeatedly run. They were so informed by respectable persons and assured to the same effect by public agents. They learned that a part of the land had been granted by the government; and knew that the country had been surveyed by the States; and their object was to obtain title of confirmation to their possessions, either from the proprietor or the States. It is believed that these remarks apply to all the native Americans; and the only exceptions to them are understood to be individuals of foreign extraction. The population of this settlement is represented to be of the same general description, which has been formed on the new American settlements in the vicinity of Houlton. The traits of character by which their appearance and conduct are chiefly marked, are industry, activity, hardihood, sense and honesty. These settlers have only an equitable title to their lands, some of which they have cleared up and cultivated, and from which they have taken good crops for several successive seasons. they have made some attempts to avail themselves of the advantage afforded upon the streams for the erection of gristmills, which have not been fortunate; and their means for this purpose are quite inadequate.

The settlers of this sections have been peculiarly situated - they are nearly insulated from the rest of the community. They have not enjoyed the benefit of any legal magistracy, nor the advantage of any internal intercourse, being surrounded by wilderness, except by the circuitous course of the Aroostook. The connections of these people have been necessarily with that river, where they have sought a market or conveyance for their produce, and whence they have been obliged to derive their supplies.

The settlers upon the Aroostook, in addition to their ordinary privations, have been effected by the general depression occasioned by the recent embarrassment of business and injury to credit among the larger dealers upon the river St. John; and it is natural to suppose that they may have found it difficult to obtain the means to satisfy debts, generally small, which they owe upon the river. On the other hand, the American territory has afforded them no asylum.

Mr. George MOREHOUSE resides at Tobique, he formerly bore the commission of a subaltern officer in the army; and at present, it is stated, actually exercises a commission of the Peace for the County of York. For two or three years past he appears to be in the habit of issuing precepts directed to the constables of the parish of Kent, for the recovery of small demands, made against the inhabitants on the Aroostook. The manner in which these persons proceed to execute their offices, some with more mildness and civility, and one who is represented as generally seeming armed, and treating the settlers with greater harshness, is detailed in several affidavits. In the execution of these precepts it appears that the cattle and movables of the inhabitants are subjected to be taken and immediately carried away, to be disposed of within the British territory, and that the practice is extended to take articles of property belonging to the settlers, which are exempted from attachment and execution by the laws of this State. In one instance, it appears, that the same cow, being the last and only one, was taken twice on a warrant, issued on the same demand, the second seizure being on account of costs. The inhabitants themselves have also been arrested on these precepts, and not being able to find bail where none could be legally taken, are removed as fast as possible over the lines to places of safety in the Province, where they may be able to procure sureties, or settle the debts, or otherwise make their peace with the officer or magistrate.

The inhabitants on the Aroostook, while they thus have been subject to process from Mr. MOREHOUSE, do not seem to have been considered by him as being entitled to the protection of the government which he undertakes to personate. Early last spring he appeared among them and forbid their working on the lands and continuing their usual labors of clearing and cultivating, to get a living. He posted up written notices to this effect on the Eaton Grant, and in different places, and marked some small parcels of timber, which they had cut, for seizure. It was shortly after this period that George FIELD, whose affidavit is exhibited, appears to have left the country in consequence, as he says, of the inconvenience to which he was exposed, and went with his family to Houlton. These settlers seem to have been generally regarded by Mr. Morehouse in some light as a sort of outlaws, or wild people, who had no proper habitancy, and were liable to be dealt with in any manner that might please the Province of New Brunswick or its proper officers. In no legal light do they seem to have been regarded as subjects, except as trespassers and intruders on crown lands, liable to judicial process; and under color of some such character, measures appear to have been subsequently applied to divest them of their property, and expel them from their possessions.

Early in the month of July last, Daniel CRAIG came and delivered summonses to the settlers on Eaton Grant to appear forewith before the Court, which was then on the point of setting at Fredericton, to answer to the King of Great Britain, in pleas of trespass and intrusion on crown lands. This process was served by him on all the inhabitants, including the citizens of the United States, as well as those born in the Provinces, or others. This sudden proceeding naturally produced a state of confusion and consternation among the settlers. No time was offered them to deliberate. It was necessary to set out immediately in order to arrive in session. Some concluded to go and others determined to stay. Some proceeded part way and then returned home. Others kept on their journey to Fredericton; among whom were some of the Americans. Those who continued to the end were subjected to severe privations, and were obliged to remain several days, without means of support, or being able to obtain any other satisfaction, then that it would be necessary to appear again the present winter. The narrative of these circumstances is contained in some of the affidavits, and may suffice to convey an impressions of the embarassment and distress occasioned among these settlers by the service of this process.

A circumstance occurred some time in the month of November last. The dwelling of Ferdinand ARMSTRONG was entered about break of day by a small party from the Province, who seized his brother, James ARMSTRONG, soon after he had risen from bed, and conveyed him in a canoe, without loss of time, out of the territory. He was obliged to give up articles of wearing apparel, and part with what means he had, in order to obtain his release, the party pretending to have authority to compel payment of a debt and costs. Threats were also uttered that men and horses were coming up the first sledding, to take those who were residing there away.

In consequence of these occurrances and impressions, the inhabitants of the Aroostook on the Eaton and Plymouth Grants have been afraid to go down to the river St. John, either to mill, or to obtain their necessary supplies, and have undertaken the present winter to effect a communication with Houlton, by cutting out a road altogether within the American territory. They were employed upon it the last of December, and judged they were about abreast of Mars Hill and hoped to accomplish it in about 30 working days. The guides employed to mark out the direction had found their way out at Foxcroft, after enduring intense cold, and suffering most severe hardships. 

The condition of the inhabitants on the Aroostook river may be shortly summoned up. The are of the same general description as those who have made purchases and improvements within the new townships or plantations on the American territory, living in the neighborhood of each other and of the river St. John. They are upon land, of which grants and surveys were commenced many years ago, sometime before the War with Great Britain in 1812, under the authority of Massachusetts, without remonstrance or objection from New Brunswick. They have settled upon the territory, without title, subject to the rights of the proprietors, and to the laws of this State. They acknowledge its authority, and, as it would seem to follow, are entitled to its protection.

(The above is taken from the Northeastern Boundary report, Resolves of Maine, 1828, pages 771 to 778, inclusive.)

Resolves of the State of Maine for the year 1829 Resolve in favor of Jonah Whiteknacht. Resolved, that there be allowed and paid out of the Treasury to Jonah Whiteknacht, of Eaton Grant Plantation, the sum of $58, in full compensation for his travel and attendance at the seat of government in March, 1828, to represent to the Governor of this State the alarming and suffering condition of the citizens of this State, on the Aroostook river, in consequence of cooperative measures against them by the Province of New Brunswick. (Approved February 11, 1829)

Resolves of the State of Maine for the year 1831. Resolve respecting Eaton's bridge in the town of Plymouth. Resolved that the County Commissioners, in and for the County of Penobscot, be, and they hereby are authorized to expend, in building or repairing a bridge over a Mill Pond in the town of Plymouth, known by the name of Eaton's bridge, such sum or sums of money as they may from time to time adjudge to be necessary and proper for such purpose, Provided, That the sums so appropriated shall not exceed six hundred dollars. (Approved March 30, 1831)

Resolves of the State of Maine for the year 1832. Resolve relating to the Aroostook road. Resolved, That the authority given to the Land Agent of this State in conjunction with the Land Agent of Massachusetts by a Resolve of March 30, 1831, be so enlarged that they may be authorized to locate and survey the Aroostook road, so that it may strike the Aroostook river, at any place between the west line of the third range, and the east line of the sixth range of townships West of the East line of the State. (Approved March 8, 1832)

Resolve providing for the survey of lands on the Aroostook Road and River, for settlement. Approved March 16, 1839. Resolved, That the Surveyor General under the direction of the Land Agent, shall survey and cause to be surveyed into suitable lots for actual settlement at as early a period as may be practicable the following townships, of the lands of this state on the Aroostook Road and River, Viz: half township of Letter H, in the second range, township Letter F in the second range, township numbered 8 in the fifth range and townships numbered 9 and 11 in the sixth range.

Resolve for opening a road from Houlton to the Aroostook River. Approved March 19, 1839. Resolved, That the sum of $10,000 be and the same hereby is appropriated for the making of a road from the South line of township letter A in the first range west from the east line of the State to the Aroostook River; provided, that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts appropriate a like sum to be expended on said road.

To the Senate and House of Representatives: (Confidential) On the 14th of December, 1838, the Land Agents of Massachusetts and of this State appointed George W. Buckmore to proceed to the Aroostook and Fish rivers for the purpose of preventing as far as he was able any trespassing upon the Public Land. Mr. Buckmore has just returned from those places and made a report which has been communicated to the Governor and Council, and is herewith laid before you for your consideration. By this report it appears that a large number of men, many of them, I am informed, from the British Provinces, are trespassing very extensively upon the lands belonging to the State: that, they not only refuse to desist, but defy the powers of this Government to prevent their cutting timber to any extent they please. Upon the Grand River, it is estimated there are from 40 to 50 men at work. On the Green River, from 30 to 40. On Fish River, from 50 to 75 men, with 16 yoke of oxen and 10 pairs of horses, and more daily expected to go in. On Township Letter H. 10 men, with 6 oxen and 1 pair of horses. On the Little Madawaska, 75 men with 20 yoke of oxen and 10 horses. At the Aroostook Falls, 15 men with 6 yoke of oxen. The quantity of timber which these trespassers will cut the present winter is estimated in value, by the Land Agent, at $100,000. [Note by L. Allen: In 1999 currency, this amount would be $1,517,269.18 From The Inflation Calculator at http://www.westegg.com/inflation.] 

These facts, it seems to me, present a case in which not merely the property, but the character of the State, is clearly involved. The supremacy of law, as well as the sanctity of right, cannot be thus condemned and set at naught with impunity, without impairing the general authority of the Government and inviting renewed aggregations on the part of daring and lawless men. Conduct so outrageous and high handed as that exhibited by these reckless depredators upon the public property, calls for the prompt and vigorous action of the Government. Under the circumstances, therefore, I would recommend that the Land Agent be instructed forewith to proceed to the place of operation on the Aroostook and also upon the Fish River, if practicable, with a sufficient number of men suitably equipped, to seize the teams and provisions, break up the camps, and disperse those who are engaged in this work of devastation and pillage. The number suggested by the Land Agent as sufficient for this purpose, is 50. This estimate is probably too small. The Land Agent under the law of 1831, may, perhaps be invested with sufficient authority for this purpose. 

But considering that it would be an extraordinary measure, and would involve considerable expense for which there should be an appropriation, it was deemed best to ask the sanction of the Legislature. It is not to be supposed that the Provincial Government wink at these lawless proceedings on the part of its citizens. On the contrary, we are bound to believe that it would be as willing as this Government, to have them arrested. Be it as it may, we are bound by every consideration of duty to ourselves and to those who have confided their interests to our care, to take some strong, decisive and efficient measures in a case of so flagrant a character. Nothing else will save our beautiful and valuable forests from destruction and plunder.... John Fairfield. Jan. 23, 1839.

To the House of Representatives: In compliance with the request of the House of Representatives I herewith communicate such information as I have in relation to "the reported abduction of the Land Agent." 

Under the Resolve of the 24th of January last, entitled a "Resolve relating to trespassing upon the Public Lands," the Land Agent repaired with about 200 chosen men, to the scene of operation on the Aroo. River. Prior to his reaching there, it is understood that the trespassers, amounting to 300 men in number, and all well armed, had combined and were determined to resist every effort that should be made to break them up. Finding, however, that the Land Agent had prepared himself with a six pounder, they chose to retire from the ground, passing down the river.

The Land Agent with his company also passed down the river to the mouth of the Little Madawaska, finding the places of operations abandoned by the trespassers. On Monday last, they captured a gang of about 20, who had been operating further up the Aroostook River, and sent several, who were considered the ring leaders, to Bangor, where it is supposed they are now in jail. On Monday, the Land Agent sent a letter to Mr. Maclauchlin, the Land Agent for the Province of New Brunswick, inviting a meeting with him at the house of Mr. Fitzherbert, about 4 miles from where the company was stationed; and on the same evening, with four others, Mr. McIntire repaired to the house of Mr. Fitzherbert, intending to pass the night there. The trespassers, however, in some way became possessed of the facts, and detached a company of about 50, who seized the Agent and those accompanying him, and transported them, it is believed, beyond the bounds of the State.

Our Company is now at No. 10, on the Aroostook, fortified and anticipating an attack, in case any attempt should be made on our part to execute the resolve of the 24th of January by destroying the timber which has already been cut.

I have advised the sending of a reinforcement of 300 men, as it is probable the number of the trespassers will be constantly augmenting - and if a Resolve to that effect be passed, shall appoint an Agent to supply temporarily the place of Mr. McIntire, and lead on the expedition. I have also dispatched a special messenger to Sir John Harvey, Lt. Governor of New Brunswick, for the purpose, among other things, of ascertaining whether these high-handed proceedings of the trespassers are authorized, or in any way countenanced by the Provincial Government - and to secure the release of the Agent and those with him. The Agent was also charged with other matters pertaining to this most extraordinary and outrageous proceeding.

The facts about related, except in relation to my own doings, have been communicated to me verbally by the Sheriff of Penobscot Co., who formed one of the Company of the Land Agent.      Feb. 15, 1839 John Fairfield.

Letter from an Old Settler

Following is a transcription of a letter written March 30, 1874 by Deacon E. S. Fowler of Maple Grove (Fort Fairfield), and published in The Aroostook Republican, Dec.21, 1905. George Whitneck had copied it in the 1905 Book, page 70.  (note - in the interest of clarity, I have corrected a few typos. You may view the original on microfilm at the Caribou Library.)

Sitting in my room and thinking of the past I thought I would write a few facts relating to myself and others which you are at liberty to publish or throw into your wastebasket.

On May 27, 1839, I started for the Aroostook with Hiram Hardison, Charles Parsons - a brother-in-law of Hardison's - and George Fowler, a cousin of mine whom I brought up from childhood. We arrived in Patten the third day at noon in a violent rain storm which lasted three days, making a great freshet so that we had to leave our wagons and park our gear and provisions on our horses' back, and foot it through to the nearest point on the Aroostook River, now known as Masardis, passing the night on the way in a cold camp with no hay for our horses. We built a raft from the logs of the old camp left by Sheriff Strickland on his famous retreat, to take our horses across the river where we could get them kept on straw with a bundle of unthreshed wheat a day.

We intended to go on with our raft to Presque Isle (Fairbanks) the people saying there was no danger in our doing, Mr. Hardison being a good waterman. We arranged to send our baggage down to Leavitt's where we were going to stop. Having completed our plans, we took our horses on the raft to go out the mouth of the St. Croix, across the Aroostook and down one mile on the shore. Before reaching our destination for that night we came to a large cedar tree that had fallen into the river, reaching out more than 50 feet, lunging just above the water and the limbs sticking down into it. We saw the tree as we approached it, but could not clear it. Hardison directed the raft to the shore in order to stop it above the tree. He caught hold of the bushes on the shore, but the raft swung around, leaving the forward end up the river, and they could not hold it. I had hold of the horses when the raft struck the tree. The raft went under, swooping us all off except Hardison, who crouched down and went through clinging to the raft. I went backward and the horses after me, into the deep chilling waters of the Aroostook River in May. I think I went ten feet under water. I let go of the horses and was not hurt by them. Coming to the surface I caught hold of some splits that had washed off the raft and got them under me, not being able to swim. I saw the danger I was in, but I felt calm although I was thirty feet from the raft. Mr. Hiram Hardison stood upon the raft, very much agitated, screaming at the top of his voice for help. Charles Parsons could swim and he came so near that he knocked the splints out from under me so that I had nothing to depend upon. I kept treading with my feet and paddling with my hands, and so was able to keep my head above water. Parsons was so near part of the time that I could have taken hold of him but did not. Being a good swimmer, he kept pace with the raft. I began to grow tired and called for Hardison to throw something from the raft. He threw the sweep, telling us both to keep hold of it, that it would hold both of us. I took the middle and rested easy. Parsons did not take hold but shot ahead from the other side from where he had been.

At that time a boat came from shore. As they came to take me in, Hardison said, "That man is safe, take the other one first who is drowning." They gave me a shove ahead toward the raft so that Hardison pulled me on. But Charles Parsons went down before the boat reached him. It was getting dark and we saw no more of him. Poor George Fowler went down to rise no more when the raft first struck the tree.

Hiram Hardison and I were both taken into the boat and by poling up the stream a mile we got to shore. It was very cold and I came near chilling to death. For a long time the fire had no effect on me. I think a vial of hot drops which I had in my pocket saved my life. Our horses swam safely to shore and were caught.

The reader can judge of our feelings. Four of us had started out together to make homes in the wilderness and now half our number had ended their career in a watery grave. We were strangers in a strange land far from home. We got help and searched three days for the bodies of our companions, but could not find them.

Then we took passage on a raft down river with the late William Johnson of Fort Fairfield, then known as Township D. Range 1. The land on the Aroostook had not been surveyed and lotted for settlers, but Mr. Johnson kindly stopped at the mouth of what was to be known later as Caribou Stream, where we found a very rude grist mill, run by one Alexander Cochran and his estimable wife. Mr. Cochran had located here at the request of the settlers several miles down the river in what was then known as the Eaton Grant, and the squatters on Letters H and I, roughly one hundred in number at the time, none of whom had title to their land.

Here we spent the night, being hospitably received and cared for by the miller and his wife. During the evening Mr. Cochran told us a few incidents of his residence here, that he had located in 1829, at the request of the settlers, so that they might now have to journey into New Brunswick to have their milling done. Mr. Cochran had been granted title to lots 3, 4, and 9, comprising in all several hundred acres of land, by the State of Maine, on account of the erection of said grist mill, but that, in his opinion, the land would never be of much value in this wilderness, that might never be settled.

The next morning, being fair and pleasant, Hiram Hardison and I, in company with Mr. Wm. Johnson, journeyed comfortably on the swiftly moving waters of the Aroostook River, that had so recently claimed two of our companions and, after rounding the bend within one mile of Mr. Cochran's grist mill, we soon came upon signs of habitation along the banks, both on the north and south sides.

We learned from Mr. Johnson that this small settlement was on Eaton Grant, that it had never been lotted for settlement, but that quite a few daring pioneers, both from Maine and New Brunswick, had made clearings here, thinking the land belonged to the State of Maine; that their lot had not been a comfortable one, being harassed by the New Brunswick authorities, without being subject to their law, and that during the past winter the settlers had lived in constant fear, their land being the disputed area between the British lumbermen and the settlers.

Mr. Hardison favored stopping here with the idea of taking up a lot. To this Mr. Johnson was very much opposed, saying the land had to be "squatted" upon, without title, and that until was lotted for settlement a man did not have the legal right to any clearing he might make. As Mr. Johnson intended making another trip to Masardis within several days, and that he would stop and pick us up, and that we could pay our passage by helping pole the raft up against the swiftly moving current of the Aroostook River, Mr. Hardison and I decided to look over the land until his return.

Here we found a full dozen settlers on the South side of the Aroostook, all with small clearings, growing their own grain for bread, and their camps and hovels with a thrifty air about them. As soon as it was learned we were Americans, we were warmly welcomed, and we spent the first night at the home of David Parks, having comfortable quarters in the attic of the small 12 x 12 log camp, which we reached by a ladder. The pancakes served by Mrs. Parks were of the same quality of buckwheat as we had enjoyed at Miller Cochran's humble abode near the mouth of the stream on Letter H., but here we had the added refreshment of cool fresh milk, as our host's cow had recently given birth to a highly-prized heifer calf.

This seemed an ideal land to make a home and sink down roots in the rich soil, and Mr. Hardison and I were considering some of doing it, when an incident happened that changed our minds. This was the coming of a Mr. Morehouse of Tobique, a Justice of the Peace for the County of York. Mr. Morehouse - an arrogant, overbearing, boastful man, who thought little of trampling upon the rights of others - accompanied by several officers, immediately issued summons to all the settlers on Eaton Grant to appear forewith before the court, which was then at the point of setting at Fredericton, to answer to the King of Great Britain in pleas of trespass and intrusion on Crown lands. The officers, armed, seized Mr. Parks' recently freshened cow and calf, among many others, loaded them upon a flatboat, and was soon out of sight on the broad expanse of the river.

Mr. Hardison and I decided to have a talk with the settlers on the North side of the river Aroostook, and were received in a very hospitable manner at the home of Patrick Kelley, whose family included seven children. Mr. Kelley informed us he had located here in 1823, that he had a clearing of 40 acres, with a comfortable log camp and hovel, and that he had as neighbors Laurance Kelley, Jonus Whiteknact and Samuel Wark, that the settlers were being harshly dealt with by the Canadian authorities, their land robbed of its timber by the Canadian lumbermen, that Jonus Whiteknact had made the long journey on foot in the proceeding March to Augusta to tell the authorities there of the alarming and suffering conditions of the Eaton Grant settlers.

Mr. Hardison and I took passage with Mr. Johnson on his return trip and paid our way by helping pole the raft up the river. We stopped the second night with Mr. Dennis Fairbanks in Presque Isle, then continued on our way, passing many lumber camps where the red-shirted Canadians were cutting Aroostook pine and finally reached Masardis.

The next morning we started for home with our horses, and Mr. Hardison decided to stop at Patten. I went home feeling sad enough, and without that consolation which comes from our Heavenly Father, I could not have gone through so much and lived. 

The bodies of Charles Parsons and George Fowler were later found and given decent burial.




[Does anyone have any information about the "hot drops" mentioned in this letter?]

George WHITNECK (1899-1966) indexed the Aroostook Republican from 1887 to 1949. The following information is taken from his index, which is housed at the Caribou Public Library. The newspapers are on microfilm and can also be viewed at the Library.

October 3, 1888 p.95

Progress of Settlement on the Aroostook Road

Wm. H. Smith, Esq., of Portland, sends us the following article, published in the August Age, 1842. At that time Wm. R. Smith was publisher of the Age and George Melville Weston was Editor:

In 1831 the Aroostook Road was surveyed through an unbroken wilderness, and the first settlement was made upon it in 1834. No part of the road was turnpiked until 1836, and it is now completed for the distance of 64 miles, from the Military Roat to the Aroostook River, and nearly every lot upon it taken up by settlers; lateral roads are made in many places, and not less than 1500 inhabitants settled upon the road.

On one half township purchased by Bishop Fenwick are many settlers, most of them from Boston, who are getting a comfortable living in their new homes, and nearly every family have a surplus of production to dispose of, for which they find a good market at their own doors. Upon this half-township is erected a two-story College with one wing completed and the other wing in progress. There is also a Catholic Chapel erected, and partly finished. The settlers on this half-township, have nearly all paid for their lots, all industrious and thriving. It is the intention of their principle men to purchase still more land for future settlement.

The town of Patten on this road was first settled in the year 1834, when the first tree was felled within its limits. It now has three stores, a saw and grist mill, and tannery, a potash, and other machinery, with mechanics' shops, two taverns, and six barns that cost one thousand dollars each, and the buildings of the inhabitants. The settlers in Patten have a surplus of hay and grain the present years to the amount of from $7,000 to $8,000, for which they will find a ready market. One man in Patten raised, the present season, 2,000 bushels of grain, and even more than that was raised by another man in the same town last year.

We had sent us, a few days since, an enormous blood beet, raised in Patten, by Mr. Taylor, which weighed 12 pounds, showing that the soil there is good for root crops as well as grain, for which the who Aroostook County is famous.

The whole amount of surplus productions which the settlers upon the Aroostook Road have for sale the present season will not fall short of fifteen thousand dollars.

From two to three hundred settlers, many of them industrious, smart young men, from the good farming county of Kennebec, have purchased lands and commenced farming operations the present year. The State offers liberal encouragement to settlers by the low price of land, and an opportunity to improve the roads by a payment of a portion of the amount upon them in labor.

The military stations at Fort Fairfield and Fish River (Fort Kent) with the travel which they cause upon this road; the lumbering business - the facilities for purchasing land cheap, and paying mostly in labor, with the superior quality of the soil, all combined, makes Aroostook County one of the most desirable places for settlement for the young men of New England to commence life, or those more advanced to mend broken fortunes, and to provide support for a family, that can probably be found, taking health and all things into account, in this world.

In stating what has been done there, we feel that it is giving but an imperfect and faint idea of what may be accomplished with the superior advantages now enjoyed.

The Catholic Church

Around 1840, and earlier, there stood a small building, poor, simple and humble, built of rough boards, its roof covered with shaved shingles, located on the Boulier Hill, one and one half miles from Fort Fairfield on the Caribou road, or what became later the Caribou road, but only a spotted trail through the forest then. This was the first Catholic church in that vicinity, and for many miles around there was no church nearer to worship that Indian Point, Tobique River, New Brunswick, and northward none nearer than at North Lyndon, build to accommodate our French Acadian population.

Our first and respected Catholic pioneers, most of whom came from Ireland, and settled along the Aroostook river, many years before Letter H was lotted for settlement, built and worshipped in that little building, until the settlers became more numerous along the river and Eaton Grant had quite a large population. Then it became necessary to move this little church nearer the center of the settlement and the then Catholic worshippers. It was then moved two miles further up river to within one quarter mile of the town line between Eaton Grant and Letter D, now Fort Fairfield, adjoining the old Catholic Cemetery.

As there was then no church of that name or faith in Letter H, or Fort Fairfield (Plymouth) or Fairbanks (Presque Isle), people came from long distances in many directions to worship, also the clergy or priests were sent often to minister to the wants of the simple and faithful parishioners to solemnize births, and to pronounce the last sad rites of the dead at funerals in the little church beside the lovely river.

The church had to be moved, and repaired, with new windows and doors, with new rough board seats, and a desk, and a cross beside the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dennis Hale and William Haley went up and down the river, soliciting help to rebuild the church. As all the people were poor then, with little or no money, they took board and shingles and nails, which were the old square cut ones, and went to work with a will. 

The Protestants along the river, among them being the Kelleys, the Keens, the Thompsons, the Warks, the Waltons, the Whiteknacts and the Wings, contributed in material and work in rebuilding the church, and it is said that Jonus Whiteknact built the desk and the chair and the altar, and a fine piece of workmanship he did, too. Many Protestants worshipped here, as there were no other churches near them.

Aunt Betty Shea had a quilting bee and a sale afterwards to finish the interior of this little church.

David O. Parks, late of Co. H, 30th Maine Infantry, was the boss carpenter.

Treaty Lots

1911 Aroostook Republican

In his column in the current issue of the Republican, Bailey G. Mitchell tells the names and describes the coming of the "Treaty Lot" settlers on Eaton Grant, from 1820 to 1840, when that hardy band of pioneers located homes along the banks of the Aroo. River. These "Treaty Lots" were occupied by the following persons at the close of the Bloodless Aroostook War:

Abel Humphrey, Solomon Brown, Elias Brown, John Gallagher, Patrick Somers, Jesse Partridge, Nathaniel Bubar, Charles Bubar, John Bubar, William Bubar, David G. Parks, Hannah Parks, James Calkins, Dennis Sugroe, Robert Richards, James Shay, John Sands, Thomas Walton, James Keegan, Elisha Hale, Dennis Hale, David Doody, Thomas Kelly, Jonah Whitknact (Whitneck), James Walton, Cornelius Gamblain, James Work, Laurence Kelley and James Doyle, making a total of 29 families.

Most of these early settlers gave material aid in the building of Sandy Cochran's grist mill near the mouth of Caribou stream in 1829. John Sands and David Doody shaved the shingles for the roof, David G. Parks was the boss carpenter, James Calkins, Elisha and Dennis Hale, Dennis Sugroe, Laurence Kelley and James Doyle helped build the dam. Jonah Whitknack (Whitneck) built the water wheel that lasted until the mill was torn down in 1865.

Lyndon in 1860

I take the following from Mrs. Harriet Small Thomas' sketch of Lyndon in 1860.

Imagine a little hamlet of not more than a dozen houses situated on the bank of the steam with hills on each side, with a road that ran up and down the hills, which, with one or two exceptions, was the only one in the place, and you have Lyndon as I first saw it in 1860. Now come with me and we will go over the road a little way.

We will start at Jacob Hardison's farm. Going north the first house was the one built by A. M. York, the next building was the old school house that stood in the yard of the present one, the next was Blake Roberts' house on the left, on the right was part of what is now Dr. Thomas' house.

Now there was a road that turned to the right which led to the ferry across the river.

I quote from Bailey G. Mitchell's writings of early Lyndon history. Warren and Evert Drake, brothers, ran the first ferry across the Aroostook river, although previous to that passengers had been carried across by a Baptist Beauchard, by using large canoes for that purpose. But to the Drake brothers go the honor of building and operating the first ferry. Mr. Warren Drake lived on the east side of the river, where the Canadian Pacific now stands. Portions of the old posts used in the ferry now can be seen at the point named, also one at the foot of Bridge street. These stand as silent witnesses of how the old settlers crossed the Aroostook river.

I take the following from the history of Alexander Cochran's mill on Caribou stream, by Prof. Olaf A. Nylander, as published in the Star-Herald, Presque Isle. 

Alexander Cochran married for his second wife, Olive Virginia Jane Parks, the daughter of David O. Parks, early Eaton Grant settler and Civil War veteran. She had been married before to a Mr. Gardiner, who was drowned while crossing the Tobique river. They had one daughter, Lucy Gardiner, who married Daniel Sughrue, Civil War veteran and early settler on the Little Madawaska stream.

Olive Virginia Jane Cochran was very helpful to her husband, often grinding the buckwheat herself that the settlers brought to his mill. While she was grinding the buckwheat, she would have her daughter, Ann, take a pan of buckwheat flour from the mill and cook a dinner for the settlers while they waited for their grain to be ground. From her own larder she brought maple honey for the pancakes. Olive Virginia is said to have been very generous and pleasant, and her daughter Ann was the same, and it is said both mother and daughter had long flowing bright auburn hair that reached almost to the floor.

At this time, we learn that Evert Drake did not devote his entire time to running the ferry across the Aroostook river with is brother Rodney, because he made a chopping lit letter I (Forestville), just above the Caribou airport, and it is safe to assume that the romance between Evart Drake and Ann Eliza Cockran started when Mr. Drake took a grist of buckwheat to the old mill, and was served delicious hot buckwheat pancakes and maple syrup for his dinner by Ann Eliza Cochran.

There are no records of those days in existence, but there is in the Aroostook Registry of Deeds the following: "Ann Eliza Drake to Olive Virginia Cochran, Quitclaim, $50. All my right, title, claim and interest in and to all the property of every kind, name and nature that my father, the late Alexander Cochran, died possessed of on the 6th day of Nov., 1864, and which is invested in me by right of heirship or otherwise, be the same more or less. No dower released. Dated Nov. 22, 1864. Recorded Dec. 31, 1864."

Evert Drake of Jackson Brook married Ann Cochran, of Lyndon, July 29, 1855, by David w. Adams, Justice of the Peace. To this union several children were born, Allen, Joseph and Mary.

 

Copyright 2002 Linda L. Allen

All Rights Reserved

 

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