A glance at the map of the western part of Washington County will show that any treatment of the early settlement upon the Narraguagus River, necessarily involves more or less of the histories of Steuben, Milbridge, Harrington and Cherryfield.

Steuben was formerly township “No. 4, East of Union River,” and No. 5 comprised the territory now included in the towns of Milbridge and Harrington. The town of Cherryfield is composed of No. 11, Middle Division, Brigham Purchase, and of the northeastern part of what was formerly Steuben. All that part of Cherryfield lying south of the mills on the first or lower dam was, prior to 1826, a part of Steuben, and was called Narraguagus to distinguish it from the settlement in the southwestern part, which was called “Head of the Bay,” and the post office at Cherryfield was called “Narraguagus” until within some twenty-five years past. What is now the flourishing town of Milbridge was a part of Harrington until 1848. Harrington (No. 5) was incorporated as a town in 1791, Steuben (No. 4) in 1795, Cherryfield (No. 11) in 181G, and the northeast part of Steuben was annexed to Cherryfield in 1826. I find that prior to the incorporation of Harrington, that township and No. 11, Cherryfield, held their plantation meetings and kept their records as one organization. At that time most of the settlers in Harrington lived at Mill River, where the earliest settlement was made. There was no settlement at what is now Harrington village until several years later.

I have found it impossible to ascertain the date of the very earliest settlement upon the river, or the name of the man or men who felled the first tree and erected the first rude dwelling. There is a tradition that a man named Sprague had a home on the point below the creek near the house of the late David Small, and it is said that signs and relics of his forge are still to be found there.

  • History of Narraguagus Valley Maine

Earliest Settlers of Narraguagus Valley Maine

The earliest settlers, whose coming can be fixed by any well authenticated tradition, were Jabez Dorman, John Densmore, Ichabod Willey and Samuel Colson. They came at or about the same time, 1757. Dorman came from Kennebunk. Willey and Densmore, and probably Colson, came from New Hampshire. Willey was English born, or born soon after his parents came over. His wife, Elizabeth Bumford, was born in Londonderry, Ireland. He settled on the side of the hill near where Marshall Guptill now lives. His sons were William, Ichabod, John, Charles and James. His daughters, Susan married Samuel Colson, Elizabeth married John Jordan, Molly married Eben Downs, Annie married Allen Downs, Abigail married William White and Jane married Samuel Davis. Jane, the youngest, survived all her brothers and sisters and died about 1882 at the age of 96 years. All the Willeys in all the region round about, and they are not few, are the descendants of this Ichabod and Elizabeth (Bumford) Willey. Mr. Willey was a millwright by trade and built the first mill on the Narraguagus River. Old people remember him as a large man of great strength and endurance, though not so strong as he sometimes felt when a little elated.

William Willey, the oldest son of Ichabod Willey, married Elizabeth Pinkham. Their children were, Samuel, William, Robert P., Richard P. Polly m. John Door, Betsey m. Robert Leighton and m. Loring Wilson.

Idhabod Willey, Jr., married Sally Fernald. Children, Abraham, John J., Sabin P. Abigail m. Orrin Hall, Lydia m. Robert Pinkham, and Sally m. Major Dinsmore.

John Willey, third son of Ichabod Willey, married Fanny Guptill. Children, William G., Joseph A., Amasa P. Maria m. Samuel Colson, Olive m. J. B. White, Jane m. Oliver Willey, and Elvira.

Charles Willey, fourth son of Ichabod Willey, married Hannah Guptill. Children, Ichabod, Charles B., Oliver and Orrin, twins, Daniel, Andrew and Alvin B. Susan m. William Carlton, Frances m. 1 E. F. Jacobs, and 2 D. E. Nickels, Nancy m. William Carlton and Eliza m. Bridgham.

Samuel Colson settled on the hill where Nathan C. Tucker now lives. His sons were John, who went to Robbinston while young, Samuel, Alexander, Gerrish, Timothy, James and Moses. His daughters, Sarah m. 1 Ben Ingersoll, 2 Thomas Cushing, Molly m. John Anderson, Lydia m. Tenney, Fanny m. John Brady. It is safe to affirm that all the Colsons in the western part of the county are the direct descendants of Samuel Colson, named above.

Jabez Dorman married Mary Godfrey and settled on the lot now occupied by Hannibal Curtis, just west of the Lynch hill, so called, and the lot continued in the possession of his descendants, male or female, until within a few years. His children were Nathaniel — died at sea a young man. Ephraim m. Nabby Wilson, Benjamin m. _____ Weston, Samuel m. Ruth Kingsley, Hannah m. Benjamin Sanborn, Olive m. Marshall Hill, Mary m. Benjamin Wakefield, Lucy m. Elias Foster (Cooper), Hilda m. ____ Carlaw and Annie m. William Lynch. While the descendants of the daughters are quite numerous in the county, but very few of the name remain.

John Densmore — now called Dinsmore — settled on the lot next south of the Dorman lot, where the widow of G. F. Dinsmore now lives. The Dinsmores of Lubec, Trescott and Whiting, as well as all in this vicinity, are descendants of John Densmore. It may be well to remark in passing that in the early days, the name was sometimes called Denbo, and there is at least one family in Lubec who call themselves Denbo, but are descendants of the same John Densmore.

John Lawrence must have been one of the very early settlers on the river. He was by birth an Englishman. His wife is said to have been a Townley. They came here from North Yarmouth in this State, and settled at what we call the upper corner, very near where the Alfred Small house is. They had but one child; his name was John. He was a small child when his parents came here. He grew to man’s estate and married Jenny Rolfe, whose parents lived in the Intervale District near where the schoolhouse now stands. John and his young wife settled on the lot now in possession of Gilbert Sproul and there raised a large family of sons and daughters. The sons were John m. ____ Wilson, Aaron m. Lucy Leighton, Daniel m. ____ Sumner, Larkin m. ____ Kingsley, William m. ____ Reynolds,

James P. Lawrence m. 1 Amy Patten, 2 an Alline, 3 Matilda Jones, and Alpheus. His daughters were Polly m. Alex Leighton, Jane m. William Campbell, Sally m. Amos G. Guptill, Nancy m. Otis Tucker and Betsey m. George Guptill. Of all these, Nancy Tucker and Betsey Guptill, are the only survivors. But the descendants of the sons and daughters are very numerous and are to be found all the way from St. John to San. Francisco, and each one perfectly ready and willing to receive his or her distributive share of the great Lawrence Townley estate that has waited so long for a claimant.

In 1762, John Small came from Cape Elizabeth and settled on the lot below the creek, near the Methodist meeting-house in Milbridge. His son Elisha, afterward so well known as Deacon Small, was then four or five years old. He was the oldest son by a second wife. He had several older half-brothers. One of these, Jonathan Small, took up the lot next south of the Dea. Small lot, the same afterwards owned by Joseph Tucker. The sons of Jonathan were John, Joseph, Timothy, Daniel and James.

The sons of John Small were John, Larkin, David, Alfred and William.

The sons of Joseph Small were John, who was drowned at the age of 14 in the river near the island now occupied by Mrs. Driscoll, and Joseph, father of Joseph now living in Steuben. His daughters were Hannah m. Barna Strout, Elizabeth, Clarissa m. William Nickels and Jane m. Nathaniel Strout.

The sons of Timothy Small were James and Alexander, and his daughter Eliza m. Allen Archer, Sophia m. Thomas Guptill and Priscilla m. Barna Stevens.

Daniel Small, the fourth son of Jonathan Small, m. a daughter of Friend Coffin, so called. Their sons were Samuel m. Betsey Coffin, Thomas m. Bethia Strout, Isaac m. Assenath White, Levi m. 1 Drisko, 2 a Frankland, and James m. a Wakefield, and there were daughters, Mrs. James Wakefield, Mrs. Daniel Buzzell and Mrs. Eli Dinsmore.

James Small, the youngest son of Jonathan Small, m. Priscilla Worcester of Columbia. Their sons, Isaac m. Margaret Spaulding, Aaron T. m. a Plummer, Amaziah m. a Leighton, Stimson m. Pamelia Burnham, Simon G. m. ____ Austin and James A. m. Fanny Wallace, and their daughters, Clarissa m. S. O. Madden, Betsey m. Levi Leighton, Mary Jane m. Moses Austin, and Martha m. John Noyes.

Deacon Elisha Small m. Priscilla Strout. Their children were Benjamin m. Syrene Wakefield, Joseph m. Betsey Tucker, Elisha, Jr., m. Nancy Ward, William m. Lydia Godfrey, Isaac married Irene Leighton, Daniel m. Nancy Coffin, Polly m. Isaiah Leighton, Sally m. Mark Wilson.

Ebenezer Small, a younger brother of Dea. Elisha, m. Nabby Leighton. Their children were Deborah m. James Colson, Samuel m. Molly Colson, Thomas m. Deborah Tucker, Lydia m. James Gross, Nabby m. Samuel Tuttle of Perry, John married at Lubec and removed to Bucksport, Eben married a Harriman at Bucksport, Peggy m. James Gates, Sally m. Timothy Gates, both at Lubec or vicinity, and Anna m. James Leighton.

About the time that John Small came and settled on the river, as before stated, came also Joseph Strout, better known in his day as Deacon Strout. He settled at Back Bay, on what was then called Granny’s Neck, said now to be known as Pinkham’s Island, the action of the sea having separated it from the main land. Dea. Small’s wife, Priscilla, was his daughter. William Ray, who came from England when a small boy, married an older sister of Mrs. Dea. Small, and became the common ancestor of all the Rays of Milbridge and Harrington and those who have gone out from these towns. The descendants of this Deacon Joseph Strout are very numerous in Milbridge and Harrington, especially in the districts of Back Bay, Mill River and Oak Point. But there is another family, or race of Strouts, in Milbridge and Cherryfield not known to be related to these descendants of Dea. Joseph Strout.

Jeremiah Strout came from Cape Elizabeth and took up the lot on the east side of the river, now in the possession of James, George and Tobias Strout. At what time he came is not now known, but I find his name in Lothrop Lewis’s list of early settlers prior to 1783. His sons were Jeremiah and Nathaniel, twins, born in 1765. Nathaniel died at 18 years of age; Jeremiah never married, and died an old man. Joseph m. Annie Lovett, Elisha m. Rebecca Leighton, and 2d Anna Ricker, Barna m. Hannah Small. His daughters, Priscilla m. Isaiah Nash, and Polly m. Ebenezer Nash.

The sons of Joseph Strout were Nathaniel, J. Woodbury and Barna; daughters, Mrs. Thomas Small and Mrs. Larkin Small.

The sons of Elisha Strout — Leonard, Jason, James, George and Tobias.

The son of Barna Strout — John.

Priscilla, who was the third wife of Isaiah Nash, was the mother of Nathaniel Nash, Adkins Nash and Oliver Nash, and of Hadassa Nash, widow of David Wass.

Polly, the wife of Ebenezer Nash, was the mother of Elisha S. Nash, Stillman W. Nash, Shaw Nash and Francis Nash.

Joseph Wallace — better known in his day as Major Wallace — and his brother Benjamin came from Beverly, Mass., some time about 1760. Major Wallace settled on the east side of the river on the road to Fickett Point, near where the late Dea. William Wallace lived. He was a man of some means, owned and run a vessel and had interest in mills in Cherryfield. He had a son, Joseph, Jr., who was known as Colonel Wallace; he married a Smith of Machias. Among his descendants are the families of John T. Wallace, Louis Wallace, William and Charles and George Wallace, and a daughter of his married Stephen Bowles, late of Boston.

Benjamin, the brother of Major Joseph Wallace, settled on the lot on the east side of the river, now occupied by Capt. Moses Wallace.

James Wallace, the son of Benjamin, settled upon a lot on the west side of the river, nearly down to the lower steamboat wharf. His sons were James, John T. 2nd, and Ambrose, and daughters, Mrs. Joseph Cates, Mrs. Jesse Brown, Mrs. Joseph Brown, Mrs. Eli Foster, and Mrs. William Godfrey.

Jesse Brown and David Brown, brothers, were early settlers, and have left many descendants. They came from Falmouth — now Portland. Jesse settled on the east side, near where Fickett’s wharf now is. David took up the lot now in possession of John Hutchings. I have not been able to get such information as would justify me in attempting to give the genealogy of the different families of Browns of Milbridge and vicinity at this time. But I think it is safe to assume that they are all of the seed of Jesse and David.

Among the early colonists were two young Englishmen — Josiah and Samuel Tucker. Samuel settled in Columbia, and from him are descended all of the name in that vicinity. Capt. Josiah Tucker built a house and lived on the hill east of Samuel Ray’s residence in Cherryfield. Some of the very oldest people living remember of having attended school in one room of his house. *

The children of Capt. Josiah Tucker were, Josiah m. a Worcester, Robert m. Elizabeth Jordan, William m. a Small, John (sometimes called the Admiral) m. widow Harrington, and Theodore. Daughters, Betsey m. Daniel Small, Lubec; Dorcas m. Joseph Small, Polly m. David E. Corliss, and Susan m. a Sparks. A third brother of Josiah and Samuel Tucker went to Honduras and accumulated the great fortune that used to excite the hopes of the families here, as it was well known that he died without heirs in that country.

Gowin Wilson came among the earliest pioneers, but where he came from I have not ascertained. He was distantly connected with the Wilsons who came to Columbia. He settled upon the lot afterwards occupied by his son Joel at the Intervale. His sons were Gowin, Mark, Joel and Nathaniel. His daughters, Mrs. William McKoy and Mrs. Ephraim Dorman.

Gowin Wilson, Jr. m. a Libby of Gouldsboro. His sons were Mark, Gowin, Henry, Edward, Warren and Washington, and his daughters, Mrs. Sowle, Mrs. Walker, Mrs. D. G. Dorman and Mrs. Dyer.

Mark Wilson m. Sally Small. His children were Loring, Emery S., Green and William, Mrs. Eben Leighton, Mrs. Joseph Libby and Mrs. E. Fernald.

Joel Wilson m. Polly Burk. He emigrated to Minnesota some years ago; was the last survivor of the family, and died lately.

Another old family of Steuben, many of whom have and do live upon the river is that of the Dyers. Henry Dyer and his wife Batty came from Cape Elizabeth sometime prior to 1769 and settled at Dyer’s Bay. They had fourteen children, Andrew m. a daughter of Jesse Brown, Sarah, Batty, Henry, Jr., Annah, Ebenezer, Lemuel, Abigail, Reuben m. a Whitten, Anna m. Jonathan Leighton, Christiana, Asa m. a Yeaton, Walter and Molly. They were large, strong and healthy men and women. Lemuel settled in South Addison. He had three sons, Luther, Briggs and March, and two daughters, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Hough. Two sons of Andrew, Vinal and Harris, settled in Addison, but emigrated to the West, where they died. Those yet living on this river are descendants of Reuben and Asa, and do honor to their ancestors.

Deacon Jonathan Stevens and his wife, Mary Tracy, were early settlers of Steuben. Their children were Samuel, Lydia, Rhoda Louisa, Polly, Jonathan, Nabby, Bethia and Nancy. Samuel m. Sally Hill, and raised a large family of children, some of whom are still living. Nabby m. Joseph Stevens of another family and raised a family of eight children, one of whom, Luther P., resides in Cherryfield. Jonathan P. married and raised a family in Steuben, who have died or gone to other parts. Nancy, the youngest daughter of Dea. Stevens, m. William Shaw, and died but recently.

Deacon Stevens settled near the head of the bay and owned a grist-mill near where Mrs. Shaw lately lived. He was a pious man and, having a natural gift of language, as those who know his descendants might infer, he used to conduct religious meetings and officiate at funerals. His grist-mill was of rude construction, and some hours were required to convert a bushel of grain into meal, and as all the people for a long distance around depended upon his mill to grind their grain, he generally found it necessary to keep the old wheel in motion day and night, week day and Sunday. Nor did this interfere so much with his rest or devotions, as might seem probable. He used to fill the hopper and leave the gentle old mill to work away upon it while he took a good long nap, or, on Sunday went to the meeting, read a sermon and made a prayer.

A sister of Col. Alexander Campbell married John Todd. Their children were Nancy, Sukie F. and Eliza, and probably James Todd and John Campbell Todd, as these two Todds came here and were certainly connected in some way to Col. Campbell’s family. John Campbell Todd m. a sister of Esq. Alexander Nickels, and was the first settler upon the Nickels lot, now in possession of John H. Nickels. Their children were John Nickels Todd, Nancy Todd m. a Clancy, Peggy m. John Dutch, and William — and perhaps others. William Todd m. his cousin, Mary Ann Nickels. They had a family of children, but parents and children lie side by side in Pine Grove Cemetery.

James Todd took up the lot now known as the Nathan Hinkley homestead. Capt. William Nickels, of whom some mention has been made incidentally, was born in Ireland, probably in North Ireland, as his name and Protestant faith would indicate. He came with his parents to Essex county, Mass., when very young. He married Margaret Breck of Massachusetts. They had three sons and four daughters. The sons were William, and another, neither of whom came here, and Alexander. One of the daughters, Hannah m. Robert Shaw and became the mother of Robert G. Shaw, who died some years since in Boston, leaving a large family and a great estate, and of William Shaw who m. Nancy Stevens and died in Steuben, leaving a family of sons and daughters. Margaret, the second daughter, m. Jacob Townsley, a soldier of the revolution, born in Springfield, Mass. They had two children, Peggy died in childhood, and Persis, who married Philo Lewis. Mr. Shaw having died and Mrs. Townsley also, Mr. Townsley m. the widow Shaw. The third daughter of Capt. Nickels m. Daniel Eliot, and the fourth m. John Campbell Todd.

The death of Capt. Nickels occurred in 1785. He was ship-wrecked in a snow storm on the north side of Grand Menan Island. He and a young grandson succeeded in getting to land, but were found dead, the boy locked in the arms of his grandfather, who had tried to shield him from the pitiless storm. The following inscription is found upon a monument in the cemetery at Eastport:

“Margaret Nickels, died April 26, 1817, aged 87, daughter of Samuel Breck of Boston, and relict of William Nickels of Narraguagus, who was lost at sea, as was his grandson, George W. Shaw, on Grand Menan Island, where they were buried Dec. 18, 1785. This monument erected by Robert G. Shaw of Boston, grandson of the deceased, through the agency of George Hobbs, esquire.”

Alexander Nickels first settled on the lot in Milbridge now occupied by Rufus Fickett and others. Subsequently he purchased the Todd lot in Cherryfield and built the mansion house that used to stand where E. S. Wilson’s house is, and was concerned with Col. Campbell in the tide-mill at the old shipyard. He married Martha Holway of Machias. Their children were William m. Clarissa Small, Jeremiah O. m. Elvira Dodge, Sally m. Otis S. Godfrey and 2d Thomas Milliken, Daniel E. m. Jemima Libby, and 2d Mrs. Jacobs, Margaret m. David W. Campbell, Martha m. Samuel Godfrey, and 2d Eben Wood, Mary Ann m. William Todd, Robert S. m. Betsey Adams, Eliza S. m. Ambrose Snow, and John H. m. Betsey, widow of Robert S.

Shubael Hinkley, some time prior to the revolution, settled for a time upon the east side of the river, near where Mrs. Hannah Strout lives, or nearer to the Talbot Smith house, perhaps. From there he moved to the Intervale, beyond the Archer place. He had two sons, Lemuel and Moses, and a daughter who m. a Miller at Machiasport, Lemuel m. Betsey Norton, Moses m. Mary Wallace, a daughter of Benjamin. Their children, Herbert m. Nabby Strout, Nancy m. John Small, Nathan m. Persis Leighton, Eliza m. Daniel Lothrop, Aaron m. Mary Irons, Benjamin died single, Shubael died young, Mary m. a Davis in Dover, N. H., Naomi m. a Dexter at Salem, Susan B. m. Manning Dunbar, Ann m. Simeon B. Ray.

The first doctor that settled on the river was Dr. Benjamin Alline, whose wife was a Lowell, of Massachusetts. He had been a surgeon in the Continental Army. After the close of the war he came to Gouldsboro and settled. About 1790, he came here and settled upon the lot now known as the Hanson place, owned by Judge Milliken. Of his three daughters, Mrs. Patten, Mrs. Foster, and Mrs. Dea. Crocker, and of his son Benjamin, mention has already been made.

Joseph Bracy was a very early settler. He took up the lot now owned by Peter Smith, next south of William Freeman’s lot. He sold this to Capt. Ambrose Snow, and bought a piece of the Todd or Nickels lot, and built a house on the south side of the old county road that led to the bridge at Shipyard Point. He was the father of John, William, Joseph and James Bracy. John m. Fanny Colson. His son, Augustus, is, I think, the only one of the name now living in the vicinity. William m. Polly Fickett. They had two daughters, Betsey, 1st wife of Lewis Colson, and Martha m. Amaziah Colson.

The Smiths of Steuben, Milbridge, Cherryfield and Columbia are mostly descendants of Job Smith, who, though not one of the earliest, was an early settler. He came from Middleboro, Mass., in the last part of the last century, and settled where his youngest and only surviving son, William, now lives. He had a large family of sons, who mostly lived to be aged men, and have left families more or less large behind them.

John Yeaton, about 1766, came from the vicinity of Falmouth and settled in Steuben. His wife’s name was Sarah. Their children were John, Samuel, Abigail, James, Lemuel, Susanna and Catherine. The oldest born in 1769, the youngest in 1788. These have intermarried with many of the old families, and though those bearing the name are but few, the descendants are numerous.

The Parkers of Steuben — a quite numerous family — are descended from Elisha and Eunice, who came from Cumberland County some time from 1766 to 1769. Their children were Prudence, Abigail, William, Sally, Eunice, Phebe, James, Elisha and Jordan.

Thomas Parritt, a Scotchman, with his wife Lydia, came from Canada and settled in Steuben about 1770. Their children were Levi, Thomas, Samuel, William, Peggy, Sarah, Isaac, Dorcas and Elizabeth. But few of the name remain in the vicinity.

Tristram and Richard Pinkham, brothers, came from Boothbay to Gouldsboro Harbor, and built a tide-mill at “Long Cove,” so called, said to have been one of the very earliest mills built in all the Eastern region. How long they remained there, and what was the fate of their mill is not known. But that they removed to Steuben prior to 1769 is shown by the records. They settled at what is called, from them, Pinkham’s Bay, and built a tide-mill on “Pinkham’s Mill Stream.” Tristram m. Annie, a daughter of the older Thomas Leighton. They had a family of nine children born from 1769 to 1791. Richard m. Mrs. Betsey Davis, another daughter of Thomas Leighton. From these two Pinkhams come all the Pinkhams of Steuben, a numerous race. At a much later period some Pinkhams came from Harpswell and settled in Milbridge and Harrington, where their descendants are found.

Prior to her marriage with Richard Pinkham, Betsey Leighton had married Eleazer Davis by whom she had one child, Samuel Davis. This Samuel subsequently m. Jane, youngest daughter of the original settler, Richard Willey. They had a family of three or four sons, one of whom, Ichabod Davis, is still living at a great age, and many daughters, several of whom are living.

The early — not the earliest — chronicles of Cherryfield would be incomplete without some mention of the name of one who is pleasantly remembered by all middle-aged people of the town and vicinity. About 1807, Joseph Adams, a young man yet in his minority, came from his native place, Lincoln, Mass., to Wiscasset, Maine, and went into trade there in company with another young man. He remained there but a short time, and from there came here. I find his name among the Plantation officers in 1809, and from that time for more than half a century he was identified with the history of the town, its people and its interests. In the course of years, he held nearly every town office, was elected several times to the Legislature of Massachusetts before the separation, and to the Legislature of Maine after the State was admitted. Several times he rode on horseback from Narraguagus to Boston, and back again after the close of the session. He was a man of fine personal presence and of genial manners in society. His first wife was Elizabeth, oldest daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Campbell) Archibald. By her, he had one daughter, Delia, who m. George S. Smith, Jr. After the death of his first wife, he married Nancy, the oldest daughter of Gen. James Campbell. Their children were James C. m. Harriet Nickels, Samuel F. m. Esther Moore, Betsey m. Robert S. Nickels and 2d John H. Nickels, Joseph T. m. Louisa Upton, and John Q. m. 1 Nancy A. Campbell, and 2d Elizabeth Burnham. Col. Adams died in 1872, aged about 90 years.

John Archer, an Englishman, a man of some education, a land surveyor and a teacher in his time, married a Tupper of Jonesboro, and at an early date in the settlement of the place, took up the lot afterwards occupied by his son John, on the Beddington road. They had a family of twenty-three children, mostly sons, and most of whom grew to man’s estate. The youngest of the family was David Cobb Archer, who lived until about a year since, and whom travelers between Columbia Falls and Jonesboro will well remember. But few of the name remain in the county.

Undoubtedly there were individuals and some families connected with the early history of the locality that I have not named.