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Blue Hill, Maine

“the charm of its situation, its sparkling bay..."

Blue Hill Spearheads Development on the Downeast Coast

One of the last places on the Maine coast to be settled by the English was the Penobscot Bay region including what is now known as the town of Blue Hill. For over a century the French and British fought for control of the region and as a result there were no lasting settlements east of Castine.

In the 1750’s the British won the third French and Indian War. The French, however, still claimed the territory east of the Penobscot River and endeavored to make the Penobscot river their last opening to the sea and their last avenue into Canada.

This obstacle to an undivided coastline was fixed upon in 1759 by Massachusetts Governor Thomas Pownall and he encouraged the General Court to build a fortification at the mouth of the Penobscot. Soon Fort Pownall was constructed at a place called Wasaumkeag (the seal place) in what is today Fort Point in Stockton Springs.

The entire region was quickly taken with a force of 4 companies of 100 men each, who were assigned to clear land and erect a fortification. By 1760 hostilities had ended and settlement began.

Residents of the Boston colony quickly sought permission to settle the area as hostilities ended. Joseph Wood and John Roundy added their names in Jan 3rd 1762 to a petition “To His Excellency Francis Bernard, Esq’r, Captain General and Governor in and Over his Majesty’s Province afores’d, the Honorable, His Majesty’s Council and House of Representatives in General Court Assembled.”

“We the Subscribers, having been soldiers at Fort Pownall and now settled at a Place called Magebaggadeuce on the Eastern Side of the Penobscot Bay, and others desirous of settling there themselves, or settling other good families in their Room; for the accommodation of Numbers that want Land, and to carry on the Fishery, Humbly request your Excellency and Honours wou’d Please to grant your Petitioners and their Heirs, a Township to be bounded as follows, beginning about three Miles above Casteens River, at a Place called Sandy Point and to run East North East Eight Miles, then South South East to the Ocean and then West South West Eight miles and then to the first Bounds mentioned: containing a Neck of Land, Water, and Islands; and your petitioners as in Duty bound shall ever pray &c.”

The area described in the petition probably included what is now Blue Hill.

In 1762 six townships west of the Union River and 6 townships east of the Union River were granted. The townships west were: #1 now Bucksport; #2 now Orland, #3 now Penobscot, Brooksville and Castine, #4 now Brooklin and Sedgwick, #5 now Blue Hill, and # 6 now Surry.

"In the House of Representatives Feb 23rd 1762
Voted, That the Petition of Eben Thorndike and fifty nine Others his Associates be so far granted unto Him the said Ebenezer Thorndike & his Associates herein mentioned viz."

John Roundy and Joseph Wood and 63 others were granted “as Tenants in Common, one Township of Land….” In April of the same year the first pioneers came to Blue Hill and settled on Mill Island at what is now near the reversing falls.
John Roundy was 36 and Capt. Joseph Wood was 42 when they came to this coastal land whose pristine forests and great pines called to them.

They built their log houses during the summer, went back to Beverly and Andover Massachusetts before winter and came the following year with their families.

The motivation of men who came from established towns with roads and shops to a densely forested coastline with no roads and no people was perhaps the same spirit that infused the passengers on the first ships from England 140 years before them.

There were few necessities at hand beyond their own hard work and toil. These men and women suffered difficulties they had not previously encountered and subsisted on the land and sea like they had probably never done before.
Hard work and a spirit of cooperation instilled a spirit of endeavor and progress. “Endeavor” was the name they gave to the first saw mill. As the early historian R.G.F. Candage said they were:

"desirous of forming a new community, perhaps an ideal
one; so they came to Maine, there being no Great
West then to go to. They saw the fine timber with
which the land was covered ; in that their Yankee
shrewdness discovered a profit, and having a realizing
sense of the beautiful, they saw what every one else
has seen who has visited this town, the charm of its
situation, its sparkling bay, its inlets, its shores, its
landscape of hill, dale, and plain ; they were pleased
with it, and the testimony of a century and a quarter is
" that the place is beautiful to look upon. "

In 1765 Col. Nathan Parker, who fought at the siege of Louisburg, came and married a daughter of Joseph Wood and made the third family. He came from Andover and so did many of the next settlers in 1765; Nicholas Holt, Samuel Foster, Jonathan Darling , Ezekiel Osgood, and more. By 1766, seventeen out of the first thirty settlers were from Andover. Plantation # 5 was for a time named East Andover.

The attraction and the comfort and beauty of the blue hill which rested snugly at the head of the bay certainly influenced what the place was called and the town eventually arrived at the name ‘Blue Hill’.