Town of Greene, Maine

The History of Greene

Indian Aborgines

But little of historic value is to be found connecting Greene with the early Indian inhabitants; but that little may be deducted by a brief review of the native stock.  The Indians inhabiting the western and southwestern part of Maine were the great Abanaki group or nation, and are thus divided:  The Sokokis or Saco Indians, which again had a division called the Pequawket tribe near Fryeburg; the Wawenocs or Sheepscot Indians who occupied from Merrymeeting Bay along the Sagadahoc River to the coast; the Canibas or Kenabes who inhabited the Kennebec Valley, and were triply divided; the Norridgewocks, the Taconnets near Waterville, and Chusnocs at Augusta; the Anasagunticooks or Androscoggin tribe occupying the valley by that name to Merrymeeting Bay.  Their chief stronghold was on Laurel Hill, Auburn.  These latter were a strong body of warriers numbering about 1500, and took part with fierce rigor in the terrible raids of King Phillip's War at Pemaquid and the coast towns further south; but became much broken up and by 1744, as one record has it, but 160 warriers remained, of which a remnant were peacefully centered along the banks of the Androscoggin Lake and Thirty Mile River, over whom Sabattis was chief.  Doubtless he had roamed over part of this town in his various journeyings; one trip being to visit the Pejepscot agent at Brunswick, during his latter years, urging the establishment of a store house for supplies, that his tribe could thereby be conveniently furnished.  Sabattis served in the American Revolution in the Arnold Expedition up the Kennebec, probably hired as a guide.  He lived to be over 90.  Sabattus Mountain, Lake and River perpetuate his name; also Little Sabattus Mountain; and Hooper Pond and its outlet to the larger lake were, in early time, Little Sabattus Pond and Little Sabattus Stream.  Legendary report has it that Chief Sabattus has spent many a night in the old cave on the eastern slope of Sabattus Mountain.

The Pejepscot Patent

The Pejepscot settlement originated in the enterprise of Thomas Purchase and George Way in 1624-5.  The name is taken from the "Great Falls" of the Androscoggin at Brunswick, called by the Indians, "Pejebscot".  A few miles below, the Androscoggin and Kennebec rivers unite at Merrymeeting Bay, and it was about here from Abagadasset Point, named for one of the Chiefs, to Brunswick, that the various tribes of Indians used to assemble for their great war parlays or other powwows during King Phillip's War, 1675-6 and later.

Purchase had effected a settlement in 1628, locating as related at what was later Brunswick, dealing extensively with the Indians in Peltries and became quite wealthy.  To protect himself more completely from ravages of red-skins, through the beneficence of the Massachusetts Commonwealth, Purchase deeded to Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts, this land, Pejepscot; and the originial Patent included the territory of four miles adjacent to the river on either side to the "Great Falls" (Androscoggin Falls at Lewiston) and extended to Casco Bay south to include Harpswell, consisting of the main peninsula of Merriconeag and Island or Sebascodegan, and out to Cape Small Point.

Here, near the present town of Brunswick, Thomas Purchase lived for over forty years or till King Phillip's War was over, 1675-6, when his place was destroyed.  He was away in Boston at the time.  His loss was estimated at £1000.  Purchase died at Lynn, May 1, 1678, leaving one third of his estate to his wife, Elizabeth, and two-thirds to his five children, Thomas, Jane, Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah.

In 1694, Richard Wharton, a Boston Merchant, an Englishman by birth, thought to establish a "Manor" after the style of an English gentlemen, bought by deed of transfer from Worumbee, (Worumbo of later spelling) and five other Sagamores of the Androscoggin tribe of Indians, which was a division of Anasagunticooks, the entire Pejepscot territory, through quit claim and consideration of the Purchase heirs, the sea as southern boundary and including nearly all of Harpswell, and extending to the Upper Falls of the Androscoggin, etc. (Lewiston Falls).

Wharton at once sailed for England to obtain from the Crown a recognition of his claim, and authority to establish his "Manor" in the then "Province of Mayne".  He died before the matter was completed.  Four years afterward, in 1693, the General Court authorized administration de bonis non on the estate to liquidate the debts; and sold, November 5, 1714, the whole of Wharton's claim on the Pejepscot to Thomas Hutchins, Adam Winthrop, John Watts, David Jeffries, Stephen Minot, Oliver Noyes, John Buck and John Wentworth for £140.  These men constituted the original "Pejepscot Company", taking name of river below "Twenty Mile" Falls.

Fort George was built at Brunswick in 1715.  After the ravages of 1722, the fort was rebuilt and a large garrison established in 1727.  Thus strong protection was provided, and in 1730, so prosperous was the place that Sebattis, a sagamore of the Anasagunticooks, requested the local government to establish "supply stores" whence his people might be supplied in time of need.

But from 1715, although the general court of Massachusetts had established the validity of the Pejepscot title, bitter controversies arose in regard to the limits and boundaries of their claims.  These were forced first by the Plymouth Company who had lands on the Kennebec and whose Patent extended over the limits of the Pejepscot title; and also by other settlers whose titles were not clear.  Litigation followed litigation.  Many concessions were made; and in 1754 the matter occupied much time of the court; and the renowned James Otis of Boston, one of the ablest advocates in the country, represented the Pejepscot Company in their litigated case.

Not until 1766 was a final compromise made when the Pejepscot Company released all lands south of Brunswick; but the northern boundary was not finally settled till 1814, after much litigation.  Some claimants were so grasping and extreme as to call the "Upper Great Falls" of the Androscoggin those at Rumford, instead of Lewiston as was finally determined.

Greene, being a part of "Lewiston Plantation", was thus included in the Pejepscot territory, and the "Pejepscot Purchase", as finally settled, embraced on the west side of the river, Brunswick, Durham, Danville, Auburn and part of Poland; and on the east side of the river.  Topsham, Lisbon, Lewiston, Greene and three-fourths of Leeds; and all this after nearly a century of litigation covering three generations; and showing how many of the old Indian deeds, though given in good faith, could be misconstrued.

It may be of interest to add that one John Parker of the Sagadahoc Valley, was a witness to the Warumbee or Worumbo deed, and was the witness sworn before Edward Tyng, Esq. Justice.  The names of the five other Indians with Worumbo were Darumkin, Wehikermett, Wedondomegon, Neonongassett, and Nimbanewett; and their "mark" of signature was given with seal in original deed.

It was during the troublesome years of litigation that the Pejepscot Proprietors granted January 28, 1768, to Moses Little and Jonathan Bagley of Newberry, Massachusetts, the tract of land commencing at "Twenty Miles Falls" on the Androscoggin, to extend up river five miles from thence, to extend northeast five miles, from thence southeast four miles, from thence south to Androscoggin river, then up river to above named falls.  The territory was named Lewiston Plantation, and Greene was then included.

Litigation over this grant followed, and not until 1790 was the title confirmed.  Moses Little and his son, Col. Josiah Little, who had been appointed agent for the Proprietors as local representative, wer fine business men, broad-minded, energetic and prominently potential figures in the early settlements of this new territory.  Much of the success in establishing Proprietors and settler's claims was attributable to them, through wise, efficient counsel and square dealing; and many of the earlier settlers of Greene have much to thank them for.

Androscoggin County

The act establishing Androscoggin Co. was passed by the Legislature, March 18, 1854.  Lisbon, Lewiston and Webster were taken from Lincoln Co.; Durham, Auburn, Danville, Minot and Poland coming from Cumberland Co.; Livermore and Turner from Oxford Co.; and East Livermore, Leeds, Greene and Wales taken from Kennebec Co.; thus, with the Androscoggin River about equally dividing it, is given the genesis of this new county, which though small in area, has been a conspicuously potential force in the history of our State and Nation, and clothed with honor to herself.

In all the various fields of public service, and labor, her sons have left illustrious chapters of accomplishments as distinguished leaders in their several vocations - as statesmen, clergymen, educators, sculptors, physicians and surgeons; in the Army and Navy; also as hotel and business men.  Thus the county holds a position, unique and undying.  The names of Howard, Hamlin, Bradford, Daggett, Washburn, Simmons, Stetson, Garcelon, Frye, Dingley, Chase, Leavitt, Ricker, Herrick, Sprague, Gilbert, Cummings, Prince, and Robbins, are but a few of many others that might be mentioned.  "Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit", and perhaps it will be pleasing to remember these things afterward", Virgil, Book 1.

The Plymouth Patent

 "The Plymouth Company easily stands foremost among the early colonizing agencies in Maine.  The claim for this distinction is grounded in several considerations.  The bounds of the Patent embraced territory of exceptional natural resources - fertile soil, a surface varied by valley, plain and hill; abundant waterpower, heavy forest growth of such valuable varieties as white and yellow pine, hemlock, cedar, oak, maple and birch; its situation in the center of a vast lake region insured excellent natural drainage, consequently, pure water and air; and its lakes and woods contributed liberally to the settlers' food supply and resources.  Accessiblity from the older communities of New England were a decided advantage.  The Kennebec river, flowing through the Middle of the territory, with its tributaries ramifying all sections of this broad domain, which extended fifteen miles on the westward side and fifteen miles on the eastward side of the river, became the pioneer's convenient highway."

By several deeds of transfer, the following Indians, sagamores of Kennebec Valley, by virtue of original title to the Kennebec River lands, affixed their signatures, viz: Matahanada, son of old Matawormet; Jassuck, his brother; Bagadussett; Agodoademego, son of Wasshermett; Agomagut; Abumkett, wife of Bagadussett; Washomake; Waskamak; and Kenebas of the Kennebecs; and Skumbee and Agadoadumagoe of the Agnascorongan (or Androscoggin) Indians, Feb. 9, 1761.  Kenebas signs with mark of a turtle, the ancestral totem of his tribe.

This westward bound was known as the Plymouth line which formed the eastward bound of Greene.

"Besides natural advantages, the Plymouth Company was fortunate in the character of the men who composed it during the last half of the 18th century.  Among these were John Hancock, James Bowdoin, James Pitts, Benjamin Hallowell, Sylvester Gardiner and the Winslows and Vassals.  In honor of these men, towns with the Plymouth Patent were named.  The first five names mentioned constituted a committee to transfer land titles to settlers."

"The east and west bounds of the Plymouth Patent were definite and capable of exact determination; but the other bounds were different; 'utmost limit of Cobbiseconte, alisas Comaseconte, which adjoineth to the river of Kennebeck, towards the Western Ocean, and a place called the Falls, Nequamkike, in America', seemed rather indefinite.  Thus its south territory and the souteast division of the Pejepscot Patent overlapped and for years, became the disputed vortex of trouble."  (The falls above referred to was Lisbon Falls, probably).

"It is to be regretted that a more sympathetic understanding and a more kindly spirit should not have prevailed between the two companies and its settlers in this territory.  Practically all the squatter difficulties existed within the disputed titles of the Plymouth and Pejepscot companies.  The lawlessness, which for a time existed was the direct result of the high-handed methods of 'legal' procedure.  The poor man was always the victim, either ejected or sold out for debt; or if stubborn and determined to stay, paying twice for his title, which was done!  The companies worn out by costly and tedious litigation, tried to bring final settlement by employing the best advocates of the day, Attorney General Gridly for the Plymouth Company and the renowned James Otis for the Pejepscot claimants; and from 1754 to 1766 the matter was before the Courts, when the Pejepscot Company released all territory between New Meadows and the Kennebec rivers which included Bath and Phippsburg.  But matters were not settled nor satisfaction reached till 1814, when action of the Massachusetts General Court made it final."

"Before that date, the territory set off was bounded, as determined, by the mouth of the Cathance river on the north and the fifteen mile bound on the east.  This line was disputed; and finally reference of the matter was given to three men selected for that purpose, Levi Lincoln, Samuel Dexter and Thomas Dwight; but the Pejepscot claimants would not accept until compelled to as above given.  Validated titles, however, were secured for settlers in the undisputed territory.  Yet, many of these pioneers were suspicious of their titles till final settlement was made and these uncertain titles affected many of the earliest settlers under both the Pejepscot and Plymouth Patents."

A good example of this fact is given by one grantee in town, who having obtained a perfectly valid deed from the "party of the first part" had an exact duplicate granted him by the Littles also;  when as a matter of fact, this deed was a part of the original title given by the Littles to first proprietor of the same; and John Pettengill who settled at Greene Corner was obliged to pay twice for his lots, a rather hard obligation.

Many of the earlier settlers thought much of the territory was state land; and it proves the pluck, spirit and perseverance of those early pioneers of Greene who attacked the forest and made improvements on their claim, with the faith that time would work the matter out right for them; yet, many were compelled to pay additional for the improvements already accomplished.

[Footnote:  A short history and formation of their territorial bounds as given by J. H. Underwood of Fayette is here included. (Quoted sections.)]

Original Surveys

Diligent search has not determined who made the original lot surveys.  All this work was done by the Littles before settlement .  A date for that work in Lewiston was given as 1773, without name of surveyors.  Lot No. 10 in Lewiston was across the border from the S. E. section of Greene; which by following out the range lots from No. 1, it seems logical that the work continued southward by lot count.  This gives the survey in Greene that same year, 1773, which may be correct, unless part of it may have been completed the year before.  This however, is but supposition; yet the logical statement of above facts seemes to deduce the resulting conclusions.  The territory was all one then.  Theory confirmed.  Rangeways north and south continuous.

In building their permanent homes, the first settlers were required to build their framed house at least 16 x 20 with 7 foot stud.

The Littles

Of the original Little Proprietors, it may be stated that Col. Moses Little of Newbury, Mass., served in the Rev. War, was in the battle of Bunker Hill, and several other engagements.  He served in the Mass. General Court - 1780 to 1781.  He dealt extensively in real estate, and was one of the owners of that part of the Pejepscot territory called Lewiston Plantation.  And at one time probably holding in fee simple a greater part of 6 towns in the northern section of old Pejepscot Patent.  He died May 27, 1798.  His son, Moses Little, Jr., served in the Mass. Legislature for 13 years between 1819 and 1837.  He appears to have had nothing to do with settlement claims.  He died on April 25, 1851.  Another son, Col. Josiah Little, inherited this territory, and had most to do with the transfer of titles in Greene, as well as other towns; and because of so much uncertainty as to titles, he suffered at times considerable hardship.  He served in the Mass. General Court for 25 years from 1793 to 1822.  His business was real estate and shipping.   He died Dec. 29, 1830.  His son, Edward Little, settled in Auburn at about age 50, and aided much in the settlement of the proprieties; and no man exerted a greater influence for 20 years towards prosperity than he.  He was a graduate of Phillips Exeter and Dartmouth, founder of Lewiston Falls Academy. (Edward Little Inst..)*  His statue was placed on the Campus in 1877.  Before settling in Auburn, he had become a lawyer of wide experience and served in the General Court, from Newburyport, and attorney for this county.  His 50 years experience had taught him that moral and intellectual forces were as necessary as financial prosperity in building a community life.  He was prepared to aid in every way possible.  He died Sept. 21, 1849 at the age of 76.  Three of his sons are mentioned:  Dea. Thomas Little; Dea. Josiah Little; Hon. Edward T. Little.

Henry Little, Post Master of Auburn, was a son of Thomas.

Horace Chapin Little of the Insurance firm, Chamberlin and Little, widely known for 30 years, and Post Master in Lewiston, was a son of Josiah, whose home was the original Elm House, Auburn.  Elm trees set by him.

Edward was the father of Prof. George T. Little, late of Bowdoin.

The superlative career of these men is not carried out here.

* Lewiston Falls Academy, founded in 1834, was changed to Edward Little Inst. by act of the State Legislature, in 1864.