In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Thomaston Narrative

Text by Margaret McCrea. Images from: Maine Historical Society, Thomaston Historical Society, and Montpelier, the General Henry Knox Museum

Town from River, Thomaston, Maine 2002
Town from River, Thomaston, Maine 2002Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Thomaston, Maine is nestled on the northern bank of the St. George or Georges River, where it bends west for a short distance before heading north and inland some 40 miles to the village of Warren and beyond. Native Americans referred to both the river and the area as Segochet, “a pleasant place,” but Captain George Waymouth, an early English navigator, renamed the river the Georges—often interchanged with the St. George River-- possibly after King George of his native England. Up until the early 20th century, the river played an important role in Maine’s history, both as a means for settlement of the area and later, one upon which over a thousand vessels were launched and, subsequently, navigated to coastal and worldwide destinations. It was the only highway to Thomaston before roads were established along Maine’s coastline.

Map of the New England Coast, 1610
Map of the New England Coast, 1610Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society

In 1605, after making landfall at Monhegan, Captain Waymouth re-anchored his ship Archangel off the islands at the base of the St. George River, exploring upriver where he erected a cross on the shore in “ that part of the riuer which trended Westward into the maine.” During the Thomaston bicentennial celebration of 1977, a permanent cross was erected in a small park overlooking the Thomaston town landing at the westward bend of the river.

When Captain John Smith voyaged to Monhegan on fishing excursions some nine years later, he created a map indicating the area on the Georges River as an Indian village still referred to as Segochet. After Captain Smith reported his discoveries, Prince Charles replaced the local names supplied by Smith, changing North Virginia to New England and Segochet to Norwich, today the site of Thomaston.

Map of the Waldo Patent, 1786
Map of the Waldo Patent, 1786Item Contributed by
Montpelier, The General Henry Knox Museum

The first Europeans to stay in the area came as a result of the Muscongus Patent, a 30-square-mile grant of lands, including the Georges River, which was given by the Council of Plymouth in England to John Beauchamp of London and Thomas Leverett of Boston. In June 1630 five passengers were sent on the sailing vessel Lyon from England to establish a trading post on lower Wadsworth Street, specifically for trading with the Wawenock, Tarratine and Penobscot Indians. English vessels regularly stopped here before returning to England in order to load their hulls with masts from the local forests for the King’s fleet of ships back in England, and trade continued smoothly until King Phillip’s War in 1675 -1678. Over the years, John Alden and others from the Plymouth Colony visited this trading post, perhaps explaining the later arrival of southern New England family names over the next century.

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