XI. Eighteenth Century Migrations
North Yarmouth, ME
New Gloucester, ME
A Merrill Memorial
Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983
Eighteenth Century Migrations - Chapter XI,
Gen. Joseph Frye was a brave officer of the French and
Indian War. In 1762, in recognition of his military service,
the General Court of Massachusetts granted him a township
six miles square, the territory to be selected by him
on either side of Saco River, in the District of Maine.
General Frye promptly made choice of the tract now known
Indians of this neighborhood had been pacified nearly
forty years earlier as a result of the battle known as
"Lovewell's fight" (8 May, 1725). In this engagement,
fought near the site of Fryeburg village, thirty-four
Massachusetts rangers were pitted against eighty warriors
of the Pequawket tribe. Each party suffered a loss, in
killed and wounded, amounting to two-thirds or more of
its fighting strength, and both leaders, Captain John
Lovewell and Paugus, the Indian sachem, were killed. It
was a severe reverse for the white men, but it ended for
all time the military power of the Pequawkets.
In the Summer of 1762 pioneers arrived
from Concord, N.H., eighty miles distant, and set about
clearing land and building log houses on the present site
of Fryeburg village. Their families remained at their
former homes, awaiting the completion of cabins and other
conveniences of a permanent settlement. In the Fall most
of the pioneers returned to Concord, but Nathaniel5 Merrill
(John4,3, Nathaniel2) (see page 297),
being unmarried, remained through the Winter, with John
Stevens and a negro known as Limbo, to continue preparations
for a settlement, and to care for the cattle which had
been taken to the valley of the Saco. An abundant stock
of hay for the cattle was secured from the intervales
beside the river.
families of the settlers began to arrive in the Summer
of 1763. Nathaniel Merrill was one of the owners of the
"Seven Lots" at Fryeburg village. He was a farmer
and a skilled surveyor, and lived on the lot opposite
the modern site of the academy. Fryeburg Academy, it may
be mentioned, in 1802 enjoyed the distinction, then not
duly appreciated, of having for its preceptor Daniel Webster.
The great Expounder of the Constitution had received his
college diploma a few months before.
Nathaniel Merrill had been one of Rogers'
Rangers in the French and Indian War, and had received
a wound in the head from a musket ball while in the service
of the Colony. He married, in 1764, Ann Walker of Concord,
and raised a sturdy family of seven sons and seven daughters,
the sons being men of consequence in Brownfield, Conway
and Portland. The average age attained by the parents
and their fourteen children was sixty-nine years.
Fryeburg received its act of incorporation
in 1777, and on the 31st of March in that year the first
town meeting was held. At this meeting Nathaniel Merrill
was chosen a member of the board of selectmen. He was
known as "Squire" Merrill, and was often intrusted
with public duties. In 1786 he was a delegate to a convention
held in Portland to seek the separation of Maine from
the jurisdiction of Massachusetts; in 1787 he was a member
of a committee to draft a plan for the first meeting house
in the town.
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