Posts Tagged With: coastal Maine

Maine’s Malta War

This story relates the uprising of the settlers from an area we know today as Windsor, Maine. Only one person was killed, and seven men were tried for the murder of that one man. Follow along as we explore a moment in Maine’s past….

The Malta War

An uprising in Maine

The town of Malta was incorporated on March 3rd of 1809. Between then and now, it has been referred to as New Waterford and Gerry. Today we know it as Windsor. This community is situated at the headwaters of the Sheepscot River. On the 8th of September of that year, 1809, one Mr. Paul Chadwick was Murdered. The lands of that town were claimed to be owned by the holders of the Plymouth Patent. Mr. Chadwick was hired by the proprietors of the patent to survey the lands.

The settlers of the area were understandably upset, as the truthful ownership of the area was being called into question. They had presumed to be the lawful owners, when in fact, that may not have been the case. Joined as one, the people living on the lands being surveyed made a resolution to defend their property at all costs. Ten or more men gathered themselves together, and went to speak to Mr. Chadwick.

Some were disguised as Indians, and were fully armed, as they were resentful upon the encroachment of their homes. They advised Chadwick to cease his survey operations and quit the territory, or suffer the consequences. To his error, Chadwick did not believe the men, and was subsequently shot. His wounds, though mortal, allowed him to live until the following day, when he died.

Almost immediately, seven men were arrested for the crime. These were; David Lynn, Nathaniel Lynn, Ansel Meigs, Jabez Meigs, Adam Pitts, Elijah Barton and Prince Cain. They were brought to Augusta and confined in the jail there, and charged with the crime of murder.

While awaiting trial rumors began circulating around Augusta that a large party of armed men intended to storm the jail to rescue the seven men. Prone to believing the wild stories, the residents felt they were in imminent peril. The fear of the possibility of the town being burned down by these people turned into “supposed fact”. To calm the public, the judges of the court, known then as “Justices of the Common Pleas” and the Sherriff requested that Maj-General Sewall of the 8th division send troops to quell the uprising.

However, General Sewall did not believe that this situation required as drastic a response that was requested. He replied by sending a couple of patrols to stand watch and patrol the streets. October 1st was a night that would change this view. After midnight approximately seventy men approached the town. All were armed and some were in disguise to hide their identity.

They came to within one hundred fifty rods on the East side of the bridge into Augusta. The leaders of the mob sent a spy closer to the bridge to reconnoiter the situation and report back, so a plan could be made. Unfortunately, the spy got too close to the guards and was taken prisoner. He was dragged off some distance, and nearly three dozen men took chase and attacked the soldiers.

They managed to subdue the soldiers because of their numbers, and rescued their fellow miscreant. A few soldiers fired their muskets as a warning and the reports were heard in the city. Immediately, the bell in the courthouse tower was rung. The streets of Augusta were filled with citizens, some in terror of the rumored attack on the city.

General Sewall immediately called up three hundred soldiers to curtail the commotion and return peace to Augusta. The following day, when it was shown that there would be no more violence, he recalled two hundred, leaving the other hundred soldiers in town for guard and patrol duty. The seven prisoners were indicted on charges of murder, and held until their trial in November of that year.

The trial commenced on the 16th of November and lasted eight days. In addition to remarks and testimony of the defendants and their legal representation, testimony from a total of forty four witnesses was heard. The jury deliberated the case over a course of two days, and acquitted the seven men by unanimous verdict.

The prosecutor in this case was Daniel Davis, representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Attorneys for the defendants were Prentiss Mellen, Samuel S. Wilde, Thomas Rice and Phillip Leach. Comments made by Judge Parker on the case indicated that the State was not in agreement with the verdict. However, as the law was held by the court the verdict was allowed to stand.

It is interesting to compare the situation of two hundred years ago to today. While a mob of people protected the land they felt was lawfully theirs the same would not be allowed today. In this day the written law has become so convoluted with caveats and loopholes that only a team of lawyers could have tackled the problem.

I would wonder why the Plymouth Company still had valid title to the area. One would think that all patents by the English Crown would have become null and void at the end of the Revolutionary War. They were not, however, as a court had given title back to the original patent owners after the war.

Another interesting note on this incident is that an act was made to institute a statute prohibiting any person from disguising themselves as an Indian, with the intent of prohibiting a law enforcement officer or surveyor from completing their duties.

Maine History news

A look at the past of America’s pastime

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — One hundred and fifty years ago, when batters were called “strikers” and home plate was actually an iron plate, you couldn’t blame the umpire for striking out. There were no called strikes in the early days of a game called “base ball.” “The only time a …

Family of World War II tank driver arranges surprise visit

AUGUSTA, Maine — Family members of World War II tank driver Harry Grimm, who turned 90 on Monday, have undertaken a secret mission. They are taking him on a ride Friday to a place that should put a smile on his face and may cause a tear to fall from…

Transylvania by the sea: Washington County rich in ghost stories

LUBEC, Maine — She walks the trails at West Quoddy Lighthouse State Park, stopping only to gaze out to sea. The wind billows her long…

Categories: articles, history, Maine, Maine oddities, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ellsworth Historical Society Has New Website

THE ELLSWORTH HISTORICAL SOCIETY ANNOUNCES ITS NEW WEBPAGE

Ellsworth, Maine – February 15, 2011 – Today, The Ellsworth Historical Society announces its first ever webpage at www.ellsworthme.org/ellshistory/

Terri Weed Cormier – Co president of the society was pleased to make this announcement and said “This webpage marks a transformative experience for the society’s long history. This represents the next major step ahead as we continue to expand our community outreach and make more people aware of the society’s goals and continued preservation of our building and archives. We could not have done this without the help of John and Allison of MDI Web Design who offered their services to us as well as the webhosting at Ellsworthme.com and Ellsworthme.org who have been wonderful to work with in helping us achieve this goal”

The Ellsworth Historical Society evolved from a meeting held in 1978 of interested members of the community to save and protect our history. An item in the Ellsworth American invited those interested in forming a local historical society to meet at the First Congregational Church.  The attendees decided to meet again and the first meeting of the Historical Society was held on May 22, 1978.

Since that time the society has been collecting the history and memorabilia of Ellsworth and serving the local community in preserving and sharing our local history through exhibitions and local outreach. 

The Society and the Ellsworth Historic Preservation Commission joined forces to preserve the Old County Jail from demolition in 1980 and after working with the County Commissioners office an agreement was made that the building was a fitting place for the society and in 1980 a lease was signed that allowed the society to finally have a home.  The first meeting was held in the Old County Jail in June 1981. The building was officially transferred to the society with the signing of the deed in 1998. 

Restoration of the interior of the building started at once and with local help from area businesses, groups, and concerned citizen’s work began to restore the interior of the beautiful brick Queen Anne Revival Building that was built in 1886.  The building now houses the society’s collection of Ellsworth history, with displays and changing exhibits from the society’s collections.  The museum is open on Thursdays and Saturdays in July and August free of charge.

In 2008 the building was named to the National Registry of Historic Places. The announcement was made by Earle Shuttleworth Jr., President of the Maine Historic Commission which submitted the nomination.  The front of the building was a former residence for the jail warden and his family, and the back contains 14 small cells on two floors. A dividing wall between the two sections once allowed the warden to monitor inmates through two small wickets that are still in place today.

The Ellsworth Historical Society is an all volunteer society that is dedicated to preserving the history of Ellsworth for future generations.  Membership is open to all and we look forward to growing more in our local community, continuing to collect and preserve local history, and to helping others know the history of our home town we hope that everyone will visit our new website and join us to show your support. For additional information please email us at ellsworthhistory@yahoo.com or write to us at The Ellsworth Historical Society PO Box 355 Ellsworth, Me 04605

Categories: breaking news, events, headlines, historic buildings, historical societies, museum news, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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