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XI. Eighteenth Century Migrations
      Concord, NH
      Conway, NH
      Plymouth, NH
      Warren, NH
      Corinth, VT
      Kennebunkport, ME
      Topsham, ME
      Falmouth, ME
      North Yarmouth, ME
      New Gloucester, ME
      Lewiston, ME
      Buxton, ME
      Greene, ME
      Fryeburg, ME
      Brownfield, ME
      Andover, ME

 
A Merrill Memorial


    Samuel Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983

Some Eighteenth Century Migrations - Chapter XI, pp125-152

New Gloucester, ME

    A grant of a township was made in 1736 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Province to sixty inhabitants of Gloucester, Mass., and the territory thus granted later became known as New Gloucester, Me. In 1737 a road was out from North Yarmouth leading into the new town, but actual settlement was slow. The proprietors repeatedly offered money, in sums ranging from £10 to £30, to induce settlers to make their homes on the tract, but the fear of Indian raids discouraged home-building.

   It was not until 1742 that an attempt was made at permanent occupancy of any of the granted farms, and this effort was soon abandoned because of trouble with the Indians, the military authorities ordering the settlers to vacate the territory. The beginning of the French and Indian War ended the colonization project for the time. The houses were burned and all improvements lapsed, and for a number of years the tract remained deserted.

   In the Winter of 1753-4 a block-house was erected by the proprietors, and armed with two swivel guns. Here for six years a handful of settlers lived, secure in the protection of the thick timber walls, and with an armed garrison constantly on duty. There were occasional Indian raids in the neighborhood, and in 1755 the crafty Redmen attacked the block-house, captured two men and killed another. In 1760, however, when the French and Indian War was drawing to a close, the settlers began building new log houses on their scattered farms, and thereafter the white men remained in undisputed possession of the fertile acres of New Gloucester.

   The proprietors' meetings had hitherto been held in Gloucester on Cape Ann, but in 1763 (Nov. 22) a meeting was held at the block-house in New Gloucester to organize a township. Such organization often preceded by some years the incorporation of the town by the General Court. Samuel4 Merrill (Moses3, Daniel2) was chosen moderator and treasurer of the new town, and Daniel4 Merrill, his brother, was chosen a member of the prudential committee and board of assessors. (See pages 263, 264.) Samuel4 had lived in Salisbury, Mass., and in North Yarmouth, Me., before removing to New Gloucester. A third brother, Moses4 Merrill (See page 262), settled in New Gloucester about 1763, and remained there twenty years or more, but spent the last years of his life in Haverhill, Mass., where his son, Rev. Gyles5 Merrill, was pastor of the North Parish Church. (See pages 8, 9, 362.)

   Ezekiel5 and Moses5 Merrill, sons of Moses4 (Moses3, Daniel2), also settled in New Gloucester in the earliest years of the town (see pages 361, 363.), and their older brother Jacob5 was a pioneer in the settlement of Plymouth, N.H. (See page 129.) Ezekiel5 Merrill later removed to Shepardsfield, now known as Hebron, Maine, where he was one of the earliest white residents. His four sons, Jabez6, Gyles6, Ezekiel6, and Moses6, lived in Hebron, and left descendants. (See pages 542-544)

   Others of the family who settled in New Gloucester in the first decade or two after the organization of its government were James4 Merrill (Nathan3, Abel2), with his six children (see page 274), and Peter5 and John5 Merrill, sons of John4 (John3, Abraham2). (See pages 245, 340.)

   New Gloucester was incorporated in 1774. The first (*) town election was held at the meeting house 12 Sept. 1774, and Moses and Samuel Merrill, with Simon Noyes, were chosen selectmen and assessors, Moses Merrill, Jr., tithingman, and Deacon Daniel Merrill sealer of weights and measures.

   For a century and a quarter a community of Shakers has occupied a village and large tract of farm land in West New Gloucester, near Sabbath Day Lake. In 1782 Shaker evangelists visited the town, seeking converts, and soon Nathan5, James5 and Edmond5 Merrill (James4, Nathan3, Abel2) joined the society. (See pages 386-387.)

   In the Summer of 1784 a party of twenty-five Shakers from Gorham and New Gloucester chartered a vessel of twenty-eight tons to make a pilgrimage to visit Ann Lee, the founder of the sect, at her home near Albany, N.Y. "James Merrill, Sen., Nathan Merrill, Molly Merrill and Raichael Merrill" were members of the party. The vessel in which the journey was made was called the Shark, and it belonged to Greenfield Pote of Portland. (See page 288.) She sailed to New York, and thence up the Hudson.

   "It is stated that Mother Ann saw them in vision before they arrived at Niskenna [Watervliet], and told the little family there to prepare for them, which they did, and when the party arrived they were met at the door with the words, 'Welcome here; we were expecting you. Mother saw you some days ago, and told us to prepare for you.'" (**) Ann Lee died a few days after this visit. Returning, the vessel reached Portland early one Sunday morning, and the entire company went to the house of Edmund Merrill in Falmouth, three miles distant, for breakfast.

   The formal organization of the New Gloucester society of Shakers was in 1794, and Nathan5 Merrill was appointed one of the first trustees.

* The uses made of the New Gloucester meeting house were not altogether ecclesiastical. At the outbreak of the Revolution two casks of gunpowder, three hundred flints and two hundred pounds of bullets were purchased by the town, and concealed behind the great sounding board in the sacred edifice.

**"Portland in the Past," by William Gould, (Portland, 1886), pp. 330-331.

Lewiston, ME


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