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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Early History - 1719 to 1740

After inheriting the Muscongus Patent from his grandfather, John Leverett arranged for a settlement of families in the vicinity of the trading post in 1719. Land patents were only profitable to their owners if families were enticed to clear the land and build permanent homes, and various offers were often made to entice future landowners. A blockhouse or fort was built to ensure success of the settlement and to provide for the settlers’ safety. Referred to as Ft. George (the area later known as Fort Wharf), the fort was located at the southeastern side of lower Knox Street, currently the site of the Lyman Morse Boatbuilding Company.

Leverett named his new settlement Lincoln, which was in the area previously known as Norwich. He built a double sawmill on Mill River to serve as a lumber supply for crude cabins to house the arriving families. Sloops transported several Scotch-Irish settlers and their cattle to populate the area, and they were housed in thirty log cabins constructed between the fort and Mill River, to the east. It was a difficult year for the settlers as they were often forced to seek refuge at the fort when their dwellings and livestock were destroyed, for the most part, through confusion and misunderstanding by both the Indians and the settlers.

Map of Lincoln, Thomaston, Maine in 1719
Map of Lincoln, Thomaston, Maine in 1719Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Throughout Lovewell’s War, 1721-1726, the Indians and their French allies again made raids and attacks on the local settlers. During one of the early conflicts, a major Indian raid resulted in complete destruction of the sawmill, a large sloop, several log cabins and the slaughter of many cattle. Fort George was under attack for several days before the disturbance ended. Similar assaults continued until 1725. At this point, another treaty was made, including a promise to open a trading house at the fort supplied with goods suitable for Indian trade.

From as early as 1734, limestone was quarried on Limestone Hill near the St. George River in what was later to become known as the Prison Quarry. The lime industry soon became a staple of the economy, which continues to this day in the form of Dragon Cement. Samuel Waldo built the first limekiln in which to burn stone quarried from the former prison site for shipment to the Boston market. Soon a second kiln was added to meet the demands of trade and lumber was added as cargo. Encouraged by this profitable business, Waldo gathered several Scottish Presbyterian families together, bringing them to the area with renewed hopes for a permanent and prosperous settlement.

Due to the rivalry between the French and the British for control of the land, the settlers continued to be plagued by attacks. Following the fall of French control to the British at Louisburg, Nova Scotia in 1745, the French enlisted the aid of the local Indians to help with their campaign for land acquisitions. A series of conflicts, known as the French and Indian Wars, persisted from 1745-1763. Locally, the Indians continued attacks on Fort George and the surrounding settlers living in Lincoln (Thomaston). Settlers fled to the safety of the fort, while their homes and livestock were destroyed as before, and many, daring not to return to their homes, continued living within the safety of the fort.

It was 1749 before the settlers again felt safe to venture from the protection of the fort, at which time they relocated to the west side of Thomaston. Thomas Kilpatrick, who had been assigned to command the militia, rebuilt his log house and another blockhouse near the Narrows on the Georges River. To assure protection for the settlers, 20 men were kept on at the fort.

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