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A Brief History of Oxford County, Maine

When Johnathan Keyes came to New Pennacook [Rumford] to select him a lot for a homestead, the wilderness of western Maine had been invaded at many points. General Joseph Frye begun the settlement of Fryeburg in 1762. Like Rumford, most of the first settlers were from Concord, New Hampshire. Capt. Henry Young Brown of Haverhill [MA], settled Brownfield a year later [settled 1765]. Lovell was settled in 1779 [1777], Hiram in 1774, Porter in 1781 [1784], Waterford in 1775. These were Saco River towns. On the Androscoggin, Turner was settled about 1772 [1690], Livermore a little later [1770]; Bethel in 1774, and Norway in 1781. Ezekiel Merrill, the first Andover settler, came from Andover, Massachusetts, in 1786 [notes] and was the sole occupant of that region, save straggling Indians, for over two years. Paris was settled in 1781 [1779], Buckfield in 1777 [1776], and Jay about the same time as Paris [1776]. Sumner and Hartford, the territory of which was originally called Butterfield, were settled soon after 1780 [both in 1783]. The small party of first settlers in Rumford, therefore, had neighbors not very far distant, but there were no roads connecting the different colonies, and no communication was feasible, except on foot, through the rough paths of the forest. Spotted trees guided the traveller between the different settlements, but when journeying outside he was obliged to depend partly on his own sagacity and partly on the course of the sun and the position of the mountains.

A census of the District of Maine was taken in 1790, but New Pennacook was not then incorporated and made no report. In 1800, the town was incorporated and its population was then two hundred and sixty-two. There were then between fifty and sixty families in the town. Rumford was in the County of Cumberland until 1805, when the County of Oxford was created, made up of towns which had previously been in the counties of Cumberland and York. The act erecting these towns into a county, was as follows:

That the counties of York and Cumberland shall be divided by a line beginning at a place called the Crooked Ripples on the Androscoggin river, at the southeast corner of the town of Turner, from thence to run westerly on the dividing line between the towns of Turner and Minot, to the most northeasterly corner of the said town of Minot; from thence south- westerly on the lines between the towns of Minot and Hebron; thence northwesterly on the line between Hebron and Otisfield, to the town of Norway; thence westerly and northerly on the line between the towns of Otisfield and Norway, to the southeasterly corner of the town of Waterford; thence westerly on the line between said Waterford and Otisfield to the northeasterly corner of the town of Bridgton; thence westerly on the northerly line of said Bridgton to the northeast corner thereof; thence southerly on the westerly side of said Bridgton to the southeast corner thereof; thence westerly on the north line of the town of Baldwin and Prescott's Grant, to Saco river; thence down the middle of said Saco river to the mouth of said Saco river to the mouth of the river called the Great Ossippe; thence westerly by a line drawn on the middle of the river last mentioned, to the line of New Hampshire, and the county of York and Cumberland aforesaid: That all that part and parcel of the counties of York and Cumberland situated on the northerly side of the line before described, and extending northerly and westerly so as to comprehend all the territory lying between the State of New Hampshire and the County of Kennebec, and on the northerly side of the line aforesaid, excepting the towns of Wilton, Temple, Avon, and township number three on Sandy river, northerly of Avon, which towns shall be considered as be- longing to the County of Kennebec, shall be and the same is erected into an entire and distinct county by the name of Oxford.

The subjoined list embraces the original towns in Oxford County, the date of their incorporation, and the name of their first Representative to the Great and General Court:

FryeburgJanuary 11, 1777John McMillan.
TurnerJuly 7, 1786John Turner.
HebronMarch 6, 1792William C. Whitney.
BuckfieldMarch 16, 1793Enoch Hall.
ParisJune 20, 1793Elias Stowell.
JayFebruary 26, 1795James Starr, Jr.
LivermoreFebruary 28, 1795Simeon Waters.
BethelJune 10, 1796Eliphaz Chapman.
WaterfordMarch 2, 1797Eber Rice.
NorwayMarch 9, 1797Luther Farrar.
HartfordJune 13, 1798David Warren.
SumnerJune 13, 1798Simeon Barrett, Jr.
RumfordFebruary 21, 1800William Wheeler.
LovellNovember 15, 1800Philip C. Johnson.
BrownfieldFebruary 20, 1802Joseph Howard.
AlbanyJune 20, 1803Asa Cummings.
DixfieldJune 21, 1803Silas Barnard.
East AndoverJune 23, 1804Edward L. Poor.
GileadJune 23, 1804Eliphaz Champman, Jr.
NewryJune 15, 1805Melvin Stowe.

Franklin County was erected in 1838, and took from Oxford County the towns of Jay, Carthage, and Weld. Androscoggin County was erected in 1854, and took the towns of Livermore and Turner.

NOTES: A Brief History of Oxford County, Maine* Source: History of Rumford, Oxford County, Maine From its First Settlement in 1779 to the Present Time, by William B. Lapham (Augusta: Press of the Maine Farmer, 1890), pp. 53-55. *Corrections made 07 February, 2000 using The Length and Breadth of Maine, by Stanley B. Attwood (Augusta, Maine: Kennebec Journal Print Shop, 1946).

Notes on Andover. According to Andover: The First 175 Years (1979), the town of Andover was not settled until 1789.




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