Fryeburg is an old and interesting town in Oxford County, situated between
Bridgton, in Cumberland County, and the New Hampshire line. These are its
eastern and western boundaries; on the north lie Stowe, Lovell and Sweden,
on the south-east is Denmark, and on the south, Brownfield. As originally
incorporated in 1777, the town was 2,172 rods square. A triangle of 4,147
acres was taken from its south-west corner, when the dividing line between
Maine and New Hampshire was run; and a tract was subsequently annexed to the
north part, and another on the south—the latter taken from Brownfleld. That
on the north was known as Fryeburg Addition. It included the valley of Cold
River, and in 1833 was set off and incorporated as Stowe. The extreme length
of the town, north and south, is 12 miles, and the extreme width, east and
west, about 7 miles. The surface is much varied with hills, plains, ponds
and streams. The Saco River forms in the town an immense bow with its curve
toward the north, absorbing 31 miles of its length. There is a connection
with the sides of this bow through the middle of the town by means of a
canal, pond and bog. The river receives the outlets of four large ponds and
several small ones, lying wholly or partially within the town. Of these, the
largest are Lovell's (area, 2 square miles), Kezar and Kimball ponds, the
first in the southern, the second in the eastern, and the latter in the
north-western part of the town. Other ponds hear the names of Pleasant, Bog,
Charles, Clay, Horseshoe, Cat, Round, Black, Haley and Davis. Kezar River is
a considerable stream that comes in on the north-east—the outlet of ponds in
Waterford and Sweden. Bog Pond lies in the centre of the town; and between
the south-eastern part and Saco River stands the solitary “Mount Zion.”
Between the head of Lovell Pond and Saco River, on the west, lies Frveburg
Village; and on the river, west of the village, is Pine Hill. The Portland
and Ogdensburg Railroad approaches the village from the southeast and turns
away toward the south-west, passing between a southern bend of the Saco and
Stark’s Hill on the south. Stark’s Hill is 500 feet in height, and is
succeeded southward by Long Hill and Bald Peak. Three-fourths of a mile
north-east of the village is Jockey Cap cliff, and a mile and a half north
of this, on the eastern bank of the west side of the Saco bow, is Martha's
Grove Camp Ground. In the western part of the town, on the south-eastern
shore of Kimball’s Pond, is Birch Hill. On the north end of Lovell’s Pond,
on the eastern side, comes in Fight Brook, upon the meadow, at the mouth of
which occurred the famous Lovewell’s Fight, from which the pond and brook
take their names. North Fryeburg and Fryeburg Centre are small villages; and
these, with Fryeburg Village (Fryeburg post-office), and East Fryeburg, are
the post-offices. The principal water-powers of this town are on Kezar
River, Ballard and Evans brooks, and at the beautiful Swan’s Falls on the
Saco River, within a mile of Fryeburg Village. The manufactures of the town
consist of leather, harnesses, carriages, lumber in its various forms, tin
ware, cheese, canned vegetables, etc. There are four water-mills and two
The Fryeburg intervals are noted for their richness and beauty, containing
nearly 10,000 acres which are frequently overflowed and fertilized by the
Saco. There is the usual variety of trees, with large tracts of pine and
oak. Fryeburg, the principal centre of business in the town, is a pretty
village on a broad level plain, slightly elevated above the intervals of the
Saco. Many from the cities every summer find rest in its pleasant hotels and
boarding-houses. The views to the west are very mountainous.
This town is celebrated for the fight to which allusion has already been
made. Capt. John Lovewell, the son of an ensign in Cromwell’s Puritan army,
was an able partisan officer of the colonies. In April, 1725, he led 46 men
from the frontier Massachusetts towns by a long and arduous march into the
heart of the Pequaket country. After marching over 100 miles they reached
Saco (now Lovell’s) Pond, with 34 men, and here they encamped over night
near the chief village of the Indians. In the morning, Saturday, May 8,
while they were assembled around the chaplain on the western side of the
pond, and ere the morning devotions had been finished, a gun was heard, and
an Indian was seen on the opposite side. They at once commenced a circuit of
the northern end of the pond; leaving their packs on a small plain among the
brakes in the shade of tall pines, and continued on around the eastern side
of the pond in search of the Indian. They soon met him returning to the
village. Shots were exchanged and he fell. Meantime, a party of savages
about three times as strong as Lovewell’s, led by Paugus and Wahwa, had
discovered the packs half-hidden among the brakes. Paugus ordered his
warriors to fire over the heads of the English, then make them prisoners. As
Love. well led his men back to the little plain by the brook, the savages
rose before them, front and flank, and rushed toward them, presenting their
guns and holding out ropes, and demanding if they would have quarter. “Only
at the muzzle of our guns” replied the brave captain. The forces met with a
volley, and several indians fell. Three more rounds were fired at close
quarters, and Lovewell was mortally wounded, and 8 of his men were killed.
The English retired, fightiug, to a position among the pines with the pond
in their rear, Fight Brook on one side and Rocky Point on the other. This
sheltered position they maintained for eight hours against continued
assaults; and at sunset the Indians retired, leaving 39 of their warriors
killed and wounded, including Paugus. The fight had continued so long that
some of their guns became foul with so much firing, and John Chamberlain
went down to the water to wash his Piece. Just then a warrior, supposed to
be Paugus, came down for the same purpose, only a short distance off. They
watched each other’s movements, and finished the cleaning at the same time,
then commenced to load.
“Quick me kill you now,” exeiaimed the Indian.
“May be not,” answered Chamberlain, thumping the breech of his gun heavily
on the ground. His old flintlock primed itself, and a moment later his
bullet crashed through the brain of the huge savage, whose bullet whistled
harmlessly through the air. Throughout the long day, the yells of the
Indians, the cheers of the English, and the reports of the muskets resounded
through the forests; while chaplain Frye, mortally wounded, was often heard
praying for victory. About midnight the English retreated, leaving 15 of
their number dead and dying on the field, while 10 of the remaining 19 were
wounded. This battle broke the strength of the Pequakets and filled the
neighboring clans with fear; so that most of them removed to Canada.
The larger part of Fryeburg was granted by Massachusetts in 1762 to General
Joseph Frye, who had been at the siege of Louisburg, and commanded a
regiment at Fort William Henry, on Lake George, in 1757. In the same year a
grant was made to some persons in Concord, N.H., who came with their cattle
and commenced clearings, and the next year (1763) came in with their
families. Of these, Nathaniel Smith with his family were the first settlers,
followed in November by Samuel Osgood, Moses Ames, John Evans, and Jedediah
Spring, with their families. In 1766, Lieut. Caleb Swan and his brother
James came in. The year 1766 was a period of great suffering from lack of
food, and the settlers were obliged to send men to Concord, 80 miles through
the wilderness with handsieds, for provisions.
A Congregational church was organized in 1775, and Rev. William Fessenden
ordained as pastor. He was time ancestor of the noted family of his nane.
Fryeburg Academy was incorporated in 1792, and has ever maintained high
rank. Paul Langdon, son of the presisident of Harvard University, was the
first preceptor. He was succeeded in 1802 by Daniel Webster, then “a youth
unknhwn to fame" The new building was erected in 1852. The first lawyer in
Fryehurg, and in what is now Oxford County, was Judah Dana, who came to
Fryeburg in 1798. The town was first represented in the General Court in
1781, by Simon Frye, many years a senator and judge of the Court of Common
Pleas. At North Fryeburg there is a Universalist church; and in other parts
are a Congregational, a Methodist, and a New Jerusalem church. It has
sixteen school-houses, valued at $6,000. The valuation of estates in 1870
was $670,383. In 1880 it was $796,322. The population in 1870 was 1,507. In
1880 it was 1,633.
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From the Maine State Gazetteer By
Geo Varney Published B.B Russell
John Stuart Barrows, Fryeburg
Maine 1938; Pequawket Press
The First Settlers
The first white people to pass a winter in Pequawket were John Stevens,
Nathaniel Merrill and Limbo, a Negro slave, who in the winter of 1762 pastured
cattle on the great meadows, feeding them on the hay which they cut and stacked
the summer before. At the beginning of winter they drove 105 cattle and 11
horses from Gorham to Pequawket, and camped with them on the high land and fed
them all winter. Much hay was cut on the meadows near where Capt. Brown built
his house, in what was first to be Brownfield, now East Conway.
These men lived on hasty-pudding (a
pudding made of corn moistened with water and boiled, or of milk and flour
boiled), cream and maple sugar. Having
many cows they had milk in profusion, enough so that they said of it, "it ran
down hill." Merrill is said to have made his breakfast on two quarts of milk,
thickened with fifteen partridge eggs.
The first settlers began to come in 1763, more followed in 1764. They came on
horses and in ox-carts and afoot, driving their stock before them. They forded
the small streams, and the larger ones they crossed in ferry-boats and on rafts.
Colonel David Page and Timothy Walker built a ferry-boat at the crossing of the
Great Ossipee, near where is now the bridge between Cornish and Hiram. This was
the line of travel from Phillipstown (Sanford) to Francesborough (Cornish),
across the Ossipee to the falls in Hiram, then through what is now Brownfield,
In 1763 came Nathaniel Smith and his wife (Betty Fitzgerald), who settled in
what is now East Conway. He was a mill-wright, and built the mill on the outlet
of Walker's Pond, in what was called, "Sodom". Late that fall came Samuel
Osgood, Jedediah Spring, David Evans, Nathaniel Merrill, John Evans, Moses Ames,
most of them with families. Their route was by Berwick and York, then to the
crossing of the Ossipee, where they camped, November 20, when they had to use
snow-shoes and hand-sleds. They crossed the river in turn, using "a tall horse."
The women rode astride, or as Mrs. Evans said, "We rode the strongest way."
James McMillan came at the same time, and helped the party. By that time a foot
of snow had fallen, but they pushed on the other seventeen miles, and when they
reached Pequawket the snow was two feet deep. There was one log house, which
they occupied until they could build houses for the families. They suffered, but
endured the privations of that winter and until they could start their first
Probably the conditions of daily
life of the settlers of Pequawket were no different from those of any of the
pioneers of this country. The privations were greater when they came to the
settlement than later, and the living was in proportion to the supplies they
brought with them. As travel conditions were so poor, transportation resolved
itself into carrying into the wilderness the absolute necessities for the
immediate needs. The gun and the axe were the principal requirements of the man,
while the housewife had to get along with a kettle and a frying-pan, until they
had a house over their heads and a place to keep the articles they could bring
from their former homes. All their provisions other than what forests and
streams provided were brought from Phillipstown, Me., or Concord, N. H. The
trails were poor, marked only by spotted trees. The means of transportation
other than “shanks mare” [i.e. walking] were horses, which could carry on their
backs but a limited quantity of supplies of any kind. In the winter men went
from Pequawket to Concord, 70 miles, on snow-shoes, and dragged hand-sleds, on
which they brought back sometimes 400 pounds of supplies, more or less.
Indian meal porridge was the chief staple food. This was made more appetizing
with moose and bear meat, peas and sometimes beans. In the spring they had sap
porridge thickened with meal; occasionally they had fish and pork which they
brought from Saco. The customary drink was water unless they had a cow. Tea was
taken on Sunday mornings but only the older women drank coffee. A great luxury
was a broiled beaver's tail; it was fat and juicy. Doughnuts were fried in moose
suet and bears' grease. For vegetables they boiled the roots of the bracken.
Mrs. John Evans brought with her a quantity of potato eyes for planting. Onions
and other vegetables were planted as soon as they had gardens.
The next year from Concord, N. H., came Aaron Abbott, who has the distinction of
being the only first settler to become one of the first members of church. A
number of pioneers came that year (1764) from Andover, Mass., among them being
Simon Frye, a nephew of Colonel Frye, [sometimes called “General” Frye], Isaac
Abbott, Daniel Farrington, John Farrington, and William", Howard; these last two
families went to Stow.
In 1766 Caleb Swan and William Wiley came from Andover [Mass.] Wiley by way of
Newburyport to Saco. He crossed the Ossipee or a raft. He took a grant on the
West side of the township. The families that came later that year from Andover,
Bradford, Atkinson and Crawford crossed the Ossipee at Waterboro. Joseph Knight
and a dozen more families came in 1767.
Lieutenant Caleb Swan, above
mentioned, was a graduate of Harvard College, a classmate of John Adams, second
President of the United States. Having served in the French and Indian Wars he
settled at the Falls, having first drawn a lot at the northern part of the
township, but could not reach it for the high water. Caleb came with three cows,
a yoke of oxen and a horse. Naamah, his daughter, died in April, 1770, and the
snow was so deep that it was necessary to use a hand-sled to move her body.
In 1767 the settlers used batteaux to bring grain from Saco. These boats could
carry eight or nine barrels. The supplies were, paid for with beaver and sable
It was told that after Thanksgiving that year five men went to Saco by boats for
supplies. They were gone longer than they expected, and their anxious families
were quite alarmed at the delay. One evening when they were gathered at the
house of one of the families, it was proposed that they go to Lovewell's Pond to
see if there was any sign of the voyagers. While waiting on the beach they heard
the sound of oars and paddles, and so anxious were some of the women, that they
ran along the shore to meet them. It was said the men's shoulders were almost
worn to the bone from their labors in making the numerous carrys.
In 1768 Rev. Paul Coffin of Buxton visited the settlement. He made a friendly
visit, preaching and baptizing among the people. There were then, in addition to
the names of settlers already given, John Webster, Stephen Knight, Moses Day,
Capt. Henry Y. Brown, the grantee of Brownfield, Joseph Walker, Supply Walker,
Ezekiel Walker, Asa Buck and Jonathan Drew.
Joseph Emery, M.D., the first physician in the town, came in 1768 from Andover,
and built his home on the "Drift Road" .
Some idea may be obtained of the life in the township at this time, from a bill
in Colonel Frye's handwriting:
To [for] my Battow (batteau) £3 ( Batteau: a very long
canoe-like boat built for stability and cargo. )
For mending pair of shoes and making moccasins, 1, 9, 0.
July 1769, For five days battowing 15.
For One Hundred thirty-seven pounds Moose meat
For one Journey to Saco, for myself and oxen 1, 18, 4.
For my oxen to Parsonstown
For battowing [batteauing] for James Osgood, 10 days
For battowing &c &c 14 days
Conway September the 16, 1766.
This day reckoned with James Osgood and ballanced
all accounts, and is due me Thurty Eight Pounds--Old Tenor.
Fryeburg, October 1766. Colonel Frye
For carrying a hide to Saco, and ploughing irons,
For 3 1/2 bush, of Salt, 2, 2, O.
For battowing half a barrel of Molasses. 10, O.
For going to Phillipstown with your team, nine days, 1, 16. 7.
June 1767 for journey to Steep Falls a battowing 4 days, 16.
For my battow to Steep Falls 4.
Two Journeys to Parsonstown
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