Windham Life and Times – July 26, 2019

Nutfield 300

“Bulwark Against the Indians” | Fort George

The Proprietors of the Township of Brunswick, also known as the Pejepscot Proprietors or the Pejepscot Purchase Company, began acquiring the land holdings of earlier owners and settlers in the areas of Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell, and Lewiston in 1714. The company was formed at a time when the Massachusetts General Court was encouraging settlement and the laying out of townships in the “eastern country,” which included the Province of Maine. 

    “After Queen Anne’s War, Fort George was built in 1715 by Captain John Gyles in Brunswick The fort was 3 feet underground with a 3-foot-thick wall base, standing at least 10 feet high above ground, laid with lime mortar. The barracks housed fifteen men. A large two-story dwelling house, appearing above the walls, made living possible. The range of its cannon protected the dwellings within their reach. During Father Rale’s War, the inhabitants of Brunswick were hospitably gathered within the refuge. Many times this hospitality was strained to its most generous capacity as the onslaughts of Indian attacks were incessant. The most significant attack was when the fort was under siege during the early days of Father Rale’s War (1722) Indian Wars of New England Volume 3

Fort Andross. —The first fort ever erected upon the banks of the Androscoggin, by Englishmen, was undoubtedly that built by Governor Andross, which has since been called by his name. After King Philip’s war, Andross, desirous of promoting the eastern settlements, came ‘to Pejepscot in midwinter, with an army of 1,000 men…he erected a stone fort. It was large and in form very zigzag. In 1689 it was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel McGregory and Major Thomas Savage. It was demolished about 1694.”

“Fort George: From about 1694 to 1715 the fort previously mentioned lay dismantled and entirely unfit for purposes of protection to the settlers. Accordingly, on July 28, 1715, the following proposal was presented to the House of Representatives by the subscribers :”

“We the subscribers Proprietors of the Lands in Brunswick and Topsham, etc. being desirous to make such a settlement as may be able to sustain a war with the Indians, Do acknowledge the Favour of the General Court in their readiness to encourage and protect the intended settlements and particularly in the Repair of the Fort there; Yet perceiving the House inclinable to a Wooden Fort on account of the cheapness of it: We being sensible that as this Fort is set so, as to be a Bridle to the Indians; So if a War should arise, it may be expected, they will leave no means untried to become Masters of it; towards which the Remoteness from Succour will give them great advantage; and considering how much the Lives and Estates there will depend upon the strength and security of that Fort: We have been induced to make the following Proposal. That whereas the Wooden Fort at Winter Harbour cost, as we are informed Four hundred Pounds, when Provisions and Labour were much cheaper, than at this time; we can’t suppose such an one now would cost much less than five hundred Pounds; and a Stone Fort supposed to be much more chargeable: yet rather than the said Fort should be of Wood, and so liable to be consumed by Fire, in case it should be assaulted by French as well as Indians. We offer. That if the General Court will please to allow Five Hundred Pounds, and let us now have the Fifteen men, which are designed for that Garrison, we will enter into Engagements to repair and finish the aforesaid Stone Fort: To be Fifty Foot Square, as proposed, with Four Bastions, Two of which of wood on the Top of the Angle, at our own charge, although it should amount to more than that sum. And we shall set admit it in a weeks time, if possible, and hope to finish it before winter, if not obstructed by the Indians. We desire to have Three hundred Pounds of the said sum, as occasion shall require, to provide Materials etc. and the remainder when the work is finished. Signed Thomas Hutchinson, Adam Winthrop, Oliver Noyes In behalf of themselves & partners.

“Memorandum: It is agreed that the foundation of the said Fort shall be Three Foot under Ground. That the Wall shall be Three Foot thick at Bottom, and at least Ten Foot High above the Ground, and laid in Lime Mortar, with Barracks for Fifteen men, to be built on or near the Spot where the Fort now stands.” The General Court accepted this proposal of the proprietors, and ordered the sums of money asked for to be paid out of the treasury. At a meeting of the Pejepscot proprietors, held August 2, 1715, it was voted: ‘That Capt. John Wentworth be writ to dispatch a Sloop from Piscatesqua forthwith, with Four Thousand of Pine Plank and to fill up with good Boards to be landed at Pejepscot Falls. That Capt. Noyes be desired to dispatch a Sloop from Newbury with Seventy or Eighty’ hogsheads of good Stone Lime, the price here 21s p. hid. 100 gallons. That a Sloop be sent from hence with Bricks, Shingles, Clapboards, Nails, Provisions, a horse Team, Six Wheelbarrows, Arms, Crows, Pickaxes, Mauls, Shovels, Blankets, Kettles, Pails, Dishes, Horse Cart, Ox Cart, and a pair of Trucks.’ The erection of this fort was commenced by Captain John Giles in the month of August, 1715, on the ledge of rocks at the northern end of Maine Street, about where two of the factory boarding-houses now stand. It was completed in the December following. The walls of this fort were very thick and the stones were laid in mortar. It was finished with two bastions and two half-bastions, with flanks on the top sufficient for cannon. There was a large two-story dwelling-house erected in the fort, the roof appearing above the wall. The flag-staff was in the southwest corner of the southwest bastion . This fort effectually resisted the aggressions of the Indians, and protected all the dwellings within reach of its cannon. In times of alarm, however, the inhabitants usually congregated inside its walls.”

The Pejepscot Papers in the History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell. 

To give an idea of the size and importance of this fort to the infant settlement, an illustration of it has been given, drawn originally from memory by Daniel Stone. That illustration is shown at top left.

 

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