Maine County Settlement by Decade 1650 – 1860
1650 -1- YORK
1760 -2- CUMBERLAND AND LINCOLN
1780 -2- HANCOCK AND WASHINGTON
1790 -1- KENNEBEC
1800 -2- OXFORD AND SOMERSET
1810 -1- PENOBSCOT
1820 -1- WALDO
1830 -3- PISCATAQUIS, FRANKLIN AND AROOSTOOK
1850 -2- ANDROSCOGGIN AND SAGADAHOC
1860 -1- KNOX
Five of Maine’s Counties were organized before the greatest period of settlement: York, Cumberland, Washington, Penobscot and Aroostook.
Five Counties were organized during the decade of their greatest period of settlement: Lincoln, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford and Somerset.
Six Counties were organized after the greatest period of settlement; Waldo, Piscataquis, Franklin, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc and Knox.
Maine Towns Some Possible Reasons for the Corporation
Generally there were only four main reasons for the incorporation of new towns in Maine.
- The town was a new area of settlement, far away from other settled areas: Belfast, Houlton, Machias.
- The town was on the fringe of settlement: Gorham, Berwick, Columbia.
- Rivalries between settled areas within the same town might result in that town being divided: Westbrook, Oakland, Owl’s Head.
- The desire for corporate privileges which settlements did not have without township or at least plantation organization. Examples would include almost every town in the state.
At the time of organization, there were only two of the present 26 towns which were incorporated. Possibly York County was organized because of the distance from previously organized Massachusetts counties and the fact that New Hampshire split the two areas of Massachusetts geographically. Also it may have been part of a general movement in county organization, as three counties of Massachusetts were organized at about this time: Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex.
With five of the present 26 towns incorporated at the time of organization, it is probably that the reason for the organization of this county was also the distance factor. The town of York was not as distant from the areas of Cumberland County as the area of York County had been from Massachusetts counties, but transportation in Maine even by 1760 was still extremely primitive. Another factor may have been the growing importance of the port of Falmouth, which would have wanted to be the major town in the county, rather than a satellite of York.
With only two towns, neither of which were within the present Lincoln County, again, distance to the town of York must have been a major factor favoring the organization of another county to the east of Cumberland.
WITH EIGHT OF ITS PRESENT 34 TOWNS ORGANIZED, DISTANCE WAS PROBABLY A FACTOR. ALSO THE FACT THAT MOST OF THE TOWNS WERE CONTIGUOUS MADE THE ORGANIZATION OF A NEW COUNTY FEASIBLE.
With only one of its present 57 towns, the probably and possibly only reason for its organization was distance, both from Wiscasset, or Castine, the seat of Hancock County.
With 15 of its present 28 towns, distance may have been one factor, but probably the sizable area of settlement between Gardiner and Winslow along the Kennebec would have made the organization of this county sensible.
Fifteen of its present 39 towns were incorporated by 1805. Distance from Portland and York may have been a factor, and also the probability of confusion as to where the exact boundary between York and Cumberland Counties was located would have made the organization of a new county desirable. The area around Norway and Paris was also quite heavily settled.
Of the present 39 towns, 14 were incorporated in 1809. Distance to Augusta may have been a factor, but possibly the settled area around Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Fairfield would have made the organization of this county sensible, also.
Of the present 61 towns, only 20 were incorporated in 1816. The convenience of having a county seat nearby, and the added prestige which the new seat would gain, as well as an economic boon would probably have been the major reasons for the establishment of Penobscot County; Bangor was just beginning its great growth then.
Most of the 25 towns in the present-day county were incorporated by 1827. The difficulty of getting to the county seat, Ellsworth, which was across Penobscot Bay, must have been a major reason. Another main reason was probably the growing importance of Belfast as a seaport.
Convenience for the settlers in the Dover-Foxcroft area must have been a prime reason for the organization of this county with 20 of the present 23 towns incorporated by 1838. The area even today is quite far removed from Bangor and Skowhegan, as major transportation routes bypass the area.
As with Piscataquis, 17 of its present 25 towns being organized by 1838, the distances between the Farmington area dn Augusta or Paris, and the rapid growth the area was experiencing in the 1820’s and 1830’s must have been the major reasons here.
Hancock County Municipalities
Part of Mariaville. T#26 MD
Part of Mariavllle. T#27 MD, Hampton.
BAR HARBOR 1796
Part of Mount Desert. Eden, Hull’s Cove, Salisbury Cove, T#3 E. Union River.
BLUE HILL 1789
T#5 Marsh’s Purchase, Newport, Seaville.
Part of Sedgwick. Port Watson, T#4 Marsh’s Purchase.
Part of Castine, Penobscot and Sedgwick. Cape Rosier, Harborside, Mosekachick, T#3 Marsh’s Purchase, T#4 Marsh’s Purchase.
Buck’s Mills, Buckstown, Chipmans, Hinck’s Landing, Santiago, T#1 Marsh’s Purchase.
Part of Penobscot, included part of Brooksville. Bagaduce, Majorbigwaduce, Pentagoet, T#3 Marsh’s Purchase.
CRANBERRY ISLES 1830
Part of Mount Desert. Baker’s Island, Islesford, T#3 E. Union River.
Included Otis. T#8 Marsh’s Purchase, Lucerne-in-Maine, New Boston, Green Lake.
DEER ISLE 1789
Included Stonington and Isle Au Haut (Knox. County). Dunham’s Point, Reach, Sunset, Sunshine.
Bayside, New Bowdoin, Nocolin, T#7 Marsh’s Purchase, Union River.
T#8 SD, T#9 SD, Beechland.
Included Winter Harbor, Birch Harbor, Bunker’s Harbor, Corea, Indian Harbor, Prospect Harbor.
Part of Trenton, Mt. Desert Ferry, Sweetland, Washington Jct.
Part of Trenton. Includes former township of Marlboro, T#1 E. Union River.
LONG ISLAND PLT.
Frenchboro, Long Island, Harbor Island, Crow Island, Duck Island, E. Black Island, Plasentia Island, Pond Island.
Included Amherst, Aurora and Waltham. Bingham, Mariaville North, T#20 MD.
MOUNT DESERT 1789
Included Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Cranberry Isles, Tremont. Asticou, Northeast Harbor, Otter Creek, Seal Harbor, Somesville, Hall Quarry, Pretty Marsh, Sound, T#3 E. Union River.
Alamasook, Eastern River, T#2 Marsh’s Purchase.
Part of Dedham. T#8 Marsh’s Purchase.
Included Brooksville and Castine. Majorbigwaduce, T#3 Marsh’s Purchase.
Included Brooklin and Brooksville. Naskeag, T#4 Marsh’s Purchase.
Part of Sullivan. T#2 E. Union River.
S.W. HARBOR 1905
Part of Trenton. T#3 E. Union River, Seawall, Manset.
Part of Deer Isle. Oceanville.
Included Sorrento. New Bristol, Ashville, Waskeag, Waukeag, T#2 E. Union River.
T#6 Marsh’s Purchase.
SWAN’S ISLAND 1897
Brule Cote, Burnt Coat Harbor.
Part of Mount Desert, included Southwest Harbor. T#3 E. Union River, Manset, Bernard, Bass Harbor, Gott’s Island, McKinley, Seal Cove.
Included Lamoine. T#1 E. Union River.
Wetmore Isle, Orphan Island, Penobscot Isle.
Part of Mariaville. T#14 MD.
WINTER HARBOR 1895
Part of Gouldsboro.