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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, lying on its northeastern border, so called from Maine, a department of France, of which Henrietta Maria, queen of England, was proprietor. It lies between 43°5' and 47°20' north latitude, and 66°49' and 71°4' west longitude from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Canada East, from which it is separated by the river St John's; east by New Brunswick, from which it is separated in part by the St Croix; south by the Atlantic; west by New Hampshire, from which it is separated in part by Piscataqua and Salmon Falls rivers; and northwest by Canada East.  Superficial area, 32,628 square miles.

Physical Aspect-- On the seaboard the surface is generally level, though not very fertile.  Some ten or twenty miles back the soil is sandy, gravelly, clayey or loamy, seldom very rich, but tolerably fertile in some places, though oftener poor.  In the tract lying north of this, extending from 50 to 90 miles from the sea, the same kinds of soils are found, but generally more fertile.  The surface rises into large swells of generally good soil, between which, along the margins of the streams, are frequently rich "intervale," or alluvial lands; while in other places sandy or gravelly pine plains occur, or spruce or cedar swamps.  In the central parts of the state, the surface is more broken; and in many of the river valleys the soil is not exceeded in fertility in any of the other New England states.  At the extreme north the country is less hilly, and is but little setteled.

Mountains-- On the western side of the state, a little to the eastward of the White mountains, in New Hampshire, an irregular chain of high lands commences and extends northeastwardly, more or less interrupted, to the easterly boundary of the state, terminating at an isolated peak 1,683 feet in height, called Mars hill.  Katahdin mountain, which may be considered as a part of the above named range is much the highest land in the state being 5,335 feet above the level of the sea.  Agamenticus, which is of considerable elevation, is in York, near the southwest corner of the state.

Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- The principle rivers are the Penobscot, Kennebec, Androscoggin, Saco, Sheepscot, Damariscotta, Machias, Salmon Falls, Piscataqua, St Croix and the St John's.  The lakes or ponds, are rather numerous, the most noted of which are, Moosehead, Umbagog, Sebago, Schoodic, Chesuncook, Pemadumcook and Mooselogmaguntic.  The principal bays are Casco, Penobscot, Frenchman's, Englishman's, Machias and Passamaquoddy.

Islands-- The chief islands are Mount Desert, Deer, Long, Boon, Fox and Cranberry.

Climate-- Although the climate is subject to great extremes of heat and cold, the air in all parts of the state is salubrious and pure.  Near the ocean and bays, the heats of summer are greatly tempered by the breezes; and the rigors of winter, through severe, are more uniform and less trying to health than in many situations father south.  The range of the temperature varies from 100° Fahrenheit to 27° below zero.  Snow often lies upon the ground from four to five months in the year.

Productive Resources-- The principal products of the state are horses, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, wool, butter, cheese, sugar, hay, wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes and Indian corn.  Among the other resources are line, lumber, ice and fish.

Manufactures-- There are about 20 cotton and double that number of woolen factories in the state. Ship building is also extensively carried on

Railroads and Canals-- The railroads already completed in Maine are of essential value to the interests of the state.  They extend about 500 miles, and connect Portland, the commercial capital, with important points in Maine, and with Boston and Montreal.  The only canal in this state is the Cumberland and Oxford canal, connecting Portland with Sebago pond, 20 miles, and by a lock in Sago river, navigation is extended to Long pond, 31 miles farther.  It cost about $250,000.

Commerce-- The commerce and navigation of this state are mostly confined to coasting and fishing.  Its principal exports are lumber, stone, lime, fish, prepared meats &c.  Its commerce with foreign states, in 1850, amounted to about $2,500,000 and the shipping owned within the state to somewhat over half a million tons.

Education-- The common schools in Maine are supported by the districts in which they are located.  They number over 5,000.  The principal collegiate institutions are Bowdoin college at Brunswick, to which is attached a medical school, and Waterville college, at Waterville.  There are theological seminaries at Bangor and Redfield, and upward of 100 academies in various parts of the state

Government-- Is vested in a governor, senate, and house of representatives, who are elected annually on the 2nd Monday in September.  The senate can not be less than 20, nor exceed 31 members.; the house of representatives can not be less than 100, nor exceed 200 members.  Seven councilors are elected by the legislature, to advise the governor in his executive duties.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme judicial court, and such other courts as the legislature may establish.  Judges are appointed by the governor, and hold their offices during good behavior, or until 70 years of age.  The right of suffrage is vested in every male citizen, 21 years of age (except paupers, persons under guardianship, and Indians not taxed), who shall have resided three months in the state next preceding an election.

 Population-- In 1790 was 96,540; in 1800 was 151,719; in 1810 was 228,705; in 1820 was 298,335; in 1830 was 399,955; in 1840 was 501,796; and in 1850 was 583,188.

History-- This state embraces a part of New France, as named by Verrazanni, in 1524; or a portion of Acadia, as granted to De Monts in 1603; or a part of North Virginia, or the Plymouth Company as claimed by the English in 1606; or more recently, a part of the territory of the "Council of Plymouth," charted in 1620.  In 1622, a grant was made to Ferdinand Gorges and John Mason, of all the country between Merrimack and Kennebec rivers, extending interior to the lakes and rivers of New France, or Canada, which they called "Laconia."  In 1629, that portion of this tract lying between the Merrimack and Piscataqua, extending sixty miles from the sea, was conveyed to Mason alone, and then first received the name of "New Hampshire."  In 1639, Gorges obtained a royal charter, constituting him lord proprietor of the province; but, from his stately scheme of government, the people became dissatisfied and sought protection of Massachusetts, who took them under her jurisdiction in 1652, and called it the county of Yorkshire.  In 1677 she purchased the claims of the heirs of Gorges, as to both jurisdiction and soil.  In 1686 Sir Edmund Andros was appointed royal governor over all New England.  Plymouth, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island immediately submitted to his jurisdiction.  A few months after Connecticut was added, and in 1688 his power was further extended over New York and New Jersey.  In 1691, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Maine, Acadia or Nova Scotia were formed into one royal colony, under Governor Phipps, upon which Plymouth lost her separate government, contrary to her wishes; while New Hampshire then under the protection of Massachusetts was forcibly severed from her.  Massachusetts obtained a confirmation of her charter, and through long disputes with the Indians and the French, those additions to her territory were maintained under her jurisdiction until she became an independent state.  The first settlement in Maine was by the "Sagahahock colony," which consisted of one hundred planters, under the command of George Popham.  They landed at the mouth of the Kennebec, in 1607 (13 years before the settlement of Plymouth), at the place now called Hill's Point, Phippsburg, and erected a few cabins, a storehouse, and some slight fortifications, naming their plantation "St George."  75 of the number were left to pass the winter, who lost their storehouse by fire, and their president by death; and the year following they abandoned the enterprise, and returned to England.  The first permanent settlement was in Bristol, as early as 1620, Maine, from its first corporation, was a district of Plymouth, or Massachusetts, and was usually called the "province or district of Maine." Although it had long been sufficiently populous to become a state, and efforts had been made for that purpose, in 1785-86, ad in 1802, it was not admitted into the Union before 1820, when it became a sovereign state.  The motto of its seal is Dirigo, "I direct" having reference to the north star on the crest of the coat-of-arms, which is a directing point to the mariner; it also implies that this state was the northernmost member of the confederation at the time of its admission.

1850 Counties of  Maine

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Aroostock northeast part, on westerly side of St John's river.  crossed by Aroostock & Matawamkeg rivers. North part unsettled not listed Conway 12,529
Cumberland southwest part, Atlantic ocean on southeast, water by Saco, Androscoggin & Kennebec rivers 990 Portland 77,549
Hancock south eastern part on Atlantic ocean, Penobscot river & bay on west 1850 Castine 34,372
Kennebec southern part, cross by Kennebec river 1050 Augusta (Capital) 62,520
Lincoln southern boundary, on Atlantic ocean, crossed by Kennebec river 950 Wiscasset 74,878
Oxford west boundary, crossed by Androscoggin, Oxford & Cumberland canal 1600 Paris 39,763
Penobscot central part, crossed by Penobscot river 3282 Bangor 64,089
Piscataquis central part, Moosehead lake on west blank Dover 14,735
Somerset northwest boundary, crossed by Kennebec river, Moosehead or Umbagog lake on east 3600 Norridgewock 35,581
Waldo in south part, Penobscot river & bay on southeast 812 Belfast 47,129
Washington at southeast corner, Atlantic ocean on southeast, St Croix river & Passamaquoddy bay on northeast, Schoodie lake toward north 3500 Machias 38,113
York at southwest corner, Atlantic ocean on southeast, Salmon Falls & Piscataqua rivers on southwest 818 Alfred & York 60,106

Augusta, ME

Capital of ME and seat of justice of Kennebec Co, is situated on both sides of the Kennebec river, at the head of sloop navigation, 42 miles from the ocean, 163 miles northeast of Boston and 595 miles from Washington.  In 1831 the seat of government was removed from Portland to this place.  The statehouse is situated a little south of the ton, on the west side of the river, and is constructed of granite, after the plan of the Massachusetts statehouse in Boston.  Length of the central part is 84 feet: depth 56 feet, with a wing on each side 34 by 54 feet.  It is entered by a Doric portico of eight granite columns, 21 feet high.  The central part of the building is surmounted by a handsome cupola and dome and the whole is embosomed in a spacious park of ornamental trees.  An elegant and costly stone bridge of two arches, each of 180 feet span, connects the two parts of the village.  Among other public structures are the United States arsenal, which is on the east side of the river, the state lunatic asylum, and the Augusta high school.  The growth of the place has been rapid since it became the capital of the state.

Population 1810 was 1,805;  1820 was 2,475:  1830 was 3,800;  1840 was 5,314;  1850 was 8,255

Bangor City, ME

The seat of justice of Penobscot Co, ME, situated on the west side of Penobscot river, at the head of tidewater, 58 miles from the Atlantic, 68 miles NE of Augusta and 230 miles NE Boston.  Vast quantities of lumber are annually floated down the river to this place, where it is shipped to the West Indies and various parts of the Union.  This city is built on elevated ground, affording a fine view of the surrounding country, and is tastefully laid out, and adorned with trees.  The public as well as private buildings are, many of them, neat and elegant.  The harbor is inaccessible for 4 months of the winter, but will admit, at other times, vessels of 300 or 400 tons, the tide alone rising to a height of 17 feet.  Lines of steamboats connect the city with Portland, and a railroad extends 12 miles up river to Old town.  The Bangor Theological seminary was incorporated in 1834, and is in prosperous condition.

Population in 1790 was 169, in 1800 was 277, in 1810 was 850, in 1820 was 1,221, in 1830 was 2,867, in 1840 was 8,627 and in 1850 was 14,432

Portland, ME

City, seat of justice of Cumberland Co, ME, situated on a peninsula, at the southwest extremity of Casco bay, facing the Atlantic, from which it presents a beautiful view.  It is 50 miles southwest of Augusta, 110 northeast of Boston, and 545 miles from Washington.  The harbor is one of the best in the United States, being capacious and protected by the islands at its entrance, from the severity of the northeast storms, which prevail on this coast.  A lighthouse, 72 feet high, built in 1790, still in good preservation, stands on Portland Head.  On an eminence, in the northeast part of the city, is an observatory, 70 feet high, which affords a fine view of the neighboring harbor and islands, and the surrounding country, to the White mountains in New Hampshire.  Railroads extend from this city to Vermont, via the valley of the Androscoggin.  Augusta, Portsmouth, Boston &c, and steamboats and packets ply to Boston and other ports, during the season of navigation.  Cumberland and Oxford canal communicates with Sebago and Long ponds in the interior of the county.  Portland has an extensive inland and coasting trade, and exports large quantities of lumber, ice and provisions, to the West Indies and elsewhere.  The city is regularly laid out with wide streets, some of which are lined with beautiful shade trees and handsome dwellings.  The hospitality and intelligence of the citizens, and the sea breezes by which the city is fanned, render it a pleasant resort in the warm season.

The population in 1790 was 2,240; in 1800 was 3,677; in 1810 was 7,169; in 1820 was 8,581; in 1830 was 12,601; in 1840 was 15,218 and in 1850 was 20,815.

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