Trails to the Past- Waldo County Maine-Index



 Waldo County





A history of Waldo County properly begins with an account of the Muscongus, or Waldo Patent. This grant, issued by the Plymouth Council in 1630, to John Beauchamp of London, and Thomas Leverett of Boston, Eng., extended on the seaboard between the Muscongus and Penobscot rivers, and comprised nearly 1,000 square miles, taking in the whole of the present county of Knox, except the Fox Islands, and of Waldo County, with the exception of territory now covered by five towns. No price was paid for this tract; it was thought that the settlement of the section would enhance the value of others.

Success in the fisheries at Monhegan, and in other localities along the coast of Maine, hastened an occupation of the Muscongus grant; and in the spring of 1630, Edward Ashley and William Pierce, agents of the patentees, came with laborers and mechanics, and established a trading-house on the George's River, in what is now Thomaston.. This settlement was broken up by King Philip's war, which terminated in 1678. After this the whole territory lay desolate for nearly 40 years.

On the death of Beauchamp, Leverett became by law possessed of the whole grant; and for several years he assumed its management. Through him the patent descended to his son, Governor John Leverett of Massachusetts, and in 1714, to President John Leverett of Harvard College, the grandson of the latter, and the great-grandson of the original grantee. In 1719 peace was apparently restored, and Leverett entered upon measures for re-settling and re-organizing the patent. He parceled the land into ten shares in common, and conveyed them to certain persons thenceforth called the "Ten Proprietors." These proprietors admitted 20 other partners termed the "Twenty Associates," among whom were Cornelius and John Waldo of Boston. The Twenty Associates afterwards transferred to the Waldos, 100,000 acres. Under their auspices, 1719-20, two plantations, which subsequently became the thriving towns of Thornaston and Warren, were commenced. This may be regarded as the first permanent settlement of the patent.

In 1726, one David Dunbar, who had obtained an appointment styling him "Surveyor-General of the King's Woods," became very aggressive. Samuel Waldo was sent to England to procure a revocation of Dunbar's authority, and in the end succeeded. For this and other valuable services the 30 partners conveyed to him one-half of the whole patent. In 1744 he distinguished himself at the capture of Louisburg, and gained the title of General or Brigadier Waldo. After the accession of General Waldo to so large an interest in the patent, added to what he had inherited of his father's share, about 200,000 acres still belonged to the old proprietors. In 1734 General Waldo contracted with the Twenty Associates to purchase one-half of their shares, leaving them 100,000 acres. This arrangement was not completed until 1768. General Waldo offered favorable inducements for European immigration, and in 1749, German colonists established the town of Waldoborough. Owing to his influence Fort Pownall, Stockton, was built at a time when no white inhabitant retained a dwelling-place upon the shores of Penobscot River or Belfast Bay. While upon a tour of observation to this portion of his estate, he died suddenly near Bangor, May 23, 1759, at the age of 63 years. A county, two thriving towns, and the lofty elevation of Mount Waldo perpetuate his name. The land descended to the General's four children, Samuel, Francis, Lucy and Hannah. The last named became the wife of Thomas Flucker, secretary of the Province. Flucker afterward purchased the shares belonging to Samuel. Lucy died without children, and her interest fell to the brothers and sisters. Flucker and Francis Waldo were Tories. They removed to England, and their property became forfeited to the State.

In 1774, Henry Knox, afterwards a general in the Revolution, married Miss Lucy Flucker, the second daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Waldo) Flucker, and the grand-daughter of General Waldo. When the Revolution had ended, General Knox purchased four-fifths of the whole. patent; the remainder was the property of his wife. The territory was surveyed, the lines adjusted, and in 1792, General Knox took formal possession of his estate, which then contained only 9 incorporated towns. He did much to induce immigration. Sometime before his death-which occurred in 1806-he became involved in pecuniary embarrassments. In 1798 he mortgaged that part of his domain now comprised in Waldo County to General Lincoln and Colonel Jackson, who had been his sureties. This mortgage was, in 1802, assigned to Messrs. Israel Thorndike, David Sears and William Prescott of Boston; and they foreclosed it. They established a land agency in Belfast in 1809. Many of the land titles in Waldo County are derived through these proprietors. It is not known what price was paid for the mortgage by Thorndike, Sears and Prescott. The valuation of their unsold land in the county was in 1815, $148,000. The lands owned by the original mortgagees are now alienated excepting Brigadier's or Sear's Island in Searsport,-which is the property of David and Henry F. Sears of Boston, great-grandsons of the first mortgagee. It was not until the year 1759 that a permanent settlement was planted in Waldo County.

The British crown had secured and fortified St. John's River, and the enemy bad no other outlet to the sea than through the Penobscot River. Governor Pownall of Massachusetts having called the attention of the legislature to the importance of establishing a fortification at Penobscot, an expedition, headed by the Governor, proceeded to the region, and began the construction of a fort at Wasaumkeng Point, now Fort Point, within the present limits of Stockton. It was while accompanying a detachment which had ascended the river a few miles above where Brewer now stands, and had taken formal possession of the county for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, that General Samuel Waldo dropped down in a fit of apoplexy, and soon after expired. The deceased general was buried at the "Point," with military honors and religious services, on the evening of May 25, 1759. A sermon, the first in Waldo County, was preached by Rev. Mr. Philips.

The fort, completed July 28, 1759, was called Fort Pownall. Until the Revolutionary war a garrison was constantly maintained. General Jedediah Preble, with a force of 84 men, was first placed in command. Both in civil and military life he so distinguished himself as to inscribe his name upon the page of history. He was the father of Commodore Preble, a still more distinguished man. He died at Portland in 1807, at the age of 77. In 1763, General Preble resigned command of the fort, and was succeeded by Col. Thomas Goldthwait. a native of Chelsea, Massachusetts. He was paymaster in the expedition against Crown Point in 1755. While resident at Fort Pownall he was commissioned as the first justice of the peace in this section. He solemnized the first marriages on the river. In 1770 he was superseded by John Preble, son of the first commander of the fort. But Governor Hutchinson, a zealous royalist, coming into power the following year, he re-instated Goldthwait into his former office. Being a Tory, Goldthwait permitted Captain Mowatt, of the British sloop "Canseau" to dismantle the fort and take away its defenses in 1775. This brought down upon him the wrath of the settlers. The next year all his commissions were revoked, and Goldthwait joined the British forces. He was drowned during the Revolutionary war by the shipwreck of the vessel in which he had taken passage for Nova Scotia. In July, 1775, the block-house and all the wooden works were burned to the ground for fear that they would be occupied by the enemy to the prejudice of the neighboring inhabitants. The trading-house was kept up until 1777.

The remains of the breastwork of Fort Pownall are still to be seen about 25 rods from the water's edge, in front of the present great summer hotel called the Wasaumkeag House. Fort Point is the outer promontory of what is now the town of Stockton, but was the town of Prospect formerly. It rises quite abruptly on the south and east, some 60 or 70 feet from the sea, but on the westerly side a passage opens of easy ascent from the water's edge to the heights above. Looking down the eastern channel of Penobscot Bay, a long and fine sea-view is had; while all the towns and villages from Bucksport round nearly to Owl's Head, are distinctly seen. On the old parade ground a growth of trees-some 18 inches in diameter-now stands.

One of the first centennial celebrations ever held in this country was held at Port Point on the 28th of July, 1859. The number of persons present was estimated to be at least 8,000.

When it was found that the garrison at Fort Pownall afforded protection and security, the tide of emigration began to set in the direction of Waldo County. Between 1760 and 1772, all the towns washed by Penobscot waters between Camden and Bangor on the one side, and Castine and Brewer on the other, were penetrated by hardy yeomanry, designing here to make a home for themselves and their descendants. All the towns within the shore limits of the county, except Searsport, Stockton and Winterport, received acts of incorporation between 1773 and 1812. Little did the men who erected Fort Pownall, or the men, who, under its protection, first settled the shores of the Penobscot, apprehend what marvelous changes the succeeding century would witness.

Waldo County formed part of York County's territory until 1760, when Lincoln County was established, which included it until 1789, when Hancock County was erected; this next held it until 1827, when, on February 7th, it was incorporated as the County of Waldo, and was named for Gen. Samuel Waldo. The erection of Knox County in 1860 took off from Waldo County the towns of Appleton, Camden, Hope, North Haven and Vinaihaven. In its present form, Waldo County embraces 25 towns and one city, the latter being Belfast, the county capital. The population in 1870 was 34,640. In 1880 it was 32,468. The valuation in 1870 was $10,090,581. In 1880 it was $9,577,834.

Source: Varney, George J., Gazetteer of the State of Maine.  Boston: B. B. Russell, 1886.


Cities and Towns

Stockton Springs

Surrounding Counties
Penobscot County, Maine - northeast
Hancock County, Maine - east
Knox County, Maine - south
Lincoln County, Maine - southwest
Kennebec County, Maine - west
Somerset County, Maine - northwest



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