Coffin Journal

            The Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed several resolves, dated 16th Feb & 11th June last- in concurrence with Resolves of the State of Maine-By which it was made my duty, in conjunction with the Land Agent of said State Forthwith to take effectual measures to ascertain the extend of the depredations committed on the lands belonging to this Commonwealth and the State of Maine, by whom the same have been committed, or under what authority, if any, such depredations have been made, and all other facts necessary to bring the offenders to justice; also to make and execute good and sufficient deeds, conveying to the settlers, on the undivided public lands on the St John & Madawaska rivers, in actual possession as aforesaid. Their heirs and assigns one hundred acres each, of the land by them possessed, to include their improvements on their respective lots, they paying to the said Agents for the use of this Commonwealth five dollars each and the expense of surveying the same land. Also to sell the timber on such of the undivided public lands as be contiguous to and near to the river St John in all cases where such sale will, in the opinion of the land agent, promote the interest of this Commonwealth.

            In obedience to the power & authority contained in said Resolves, and in consequence of the claim made by the Province of New Brunswick to a large portion of the State of Maine & also granting permits to sundry persons to cut timber, and have been & still are exercising jurisdictional powers over the territory & inhabitants residing north of mars Hill-

            It was thought expedient & necessary to make inquiries relative to the facts, and that some possessary acts on the part of the two states should be resorted to, without further delay.-

            The agents aforesaid, took measures in the first place, to ascertain whether any timber had been cut, encroaching upon the territory of Maine and by our inquiries upon the point, we ascertained that a large amount of timber had been taken over our line by permits issued from the Surveyor General’s Office of the Province of New Brunswick, under the pretense of their right to the soil. And that permits were issued for the approaching winter~ under these circumstances, and to carry into effect the other Resolves, it was necessary that we should make a journey to that section of the country; According to agreement, I engaged to meet General Irish, the Land Agent for the State of Maine, at Portland the first week in the month of September and from there proceed together upon the objects assigned us-

3rd September 1825 Saturday

            I left home this morning at 6 oclock, took passage in the accommodation stage for Portsmouth, arrived there a little before Sunset.

4th Sept Sunday

Left Portsmouth at 11 oclock AM in the Mail for Portland, arrived at Porland about 7 oclock PM

5th Sept Monday

            Called upon Governor Parris, had a long conversation with him upon the object of our expedition, and obtained from him his views upon the subject- he said it was impossible for him to express any particular course for us to pursue as he was not sufficiently informed of the particulars under which the Province of New Brunswick had acted, but said generally, we must be guided in our course according to circumstances- I then called at the Secretary of State’s office to inquire if General Irish had arrived. The Secretary told me he had not yet arrived, but he was ready to go whenever he was informed of my being at Portland & that it was probable he would be at Portland by noon in the Stage, if he came at all this day.-

            At 12 oclock I went to the stage office and found he had not come in the Stage. I thought of sending a note to him by the return of the Stage, but apprehending it might miscarry, concluded it was best to take a chaise and go to his house at Gorham, which I did & found him at home. He said he did not expect me before the middle of the week and was not quire ready, but would be the next mail. Not wishing to remain so long idle at Portland, I agreed to meet him at Augusta on Friday next.

6 Sept Tuesday         

            Left Portland this morning in the Accommodation Stage at 4 oclock & arrived in

Brunswick at 9 oclock AM remained the residue of this day at Brunswick

7 Sept Wednesday

            It being Commencement Day, I attended the various exercises at the Meeting House, Dined with the Corporation & was much pleased with many of the performances but as the whole class had parts assigned, many parts were miserable exhibitions.

8 Sept Thursday

            Left Brunswick at 9 oclock Am in the Mail and arrived at Augusta at 4 oclock PM

9 Sept Friday

            Remained this day at Augusta and about 5 oclock PM General Irish arrived in the Mail

10 Sept Saturday

            We left Augusta this morning at 4 oclock in the Mail for Bangor, and arrived at the latter place about dusk where we found Capt Ezekiel Chase & Mr John Towle (who had been engaged by Gen’l Irish to go with us a Boatmen) waiting our arrival. As we had concluded to go by way of St John’s City & Fredericton, we sent off Chase and Towle in the Batteau they had provided, with instructions to go up the rivers Penobscot, Mattawamkeag & Baskhegan & over Schoodic Lake to Woodstock, there leave their Batteau and go out to Houlton & remain our arrival. Furnished them with provisions and money.

11 Sept Sunday

            Attended public worship, sermons by the Rev Levrn L Pomroy, a young man recently settled in this place as Pastor over the society, which had been made recently by the death of the Rev M Loomis~ Mr Pomroy is a tolerable good preacher, some room however for improvement-

12 Sept Monday

            We remained at Bangor this day obtained information that trespassers were making arrangements to go again upon the Public lands, and that some were already said to have gone over. Called upon John Godfrey, Esq.-the County Attorney & consulted him upon what measures were necessary to take, to defeat their projects, came to no definite conclusion~

13 Sept Tuesday

            We left Bangor in the Stage for Belfast at 3 oclock AM with a view of taking passage in the Steam Boat for Eastport, arrived at Belfast at 10 oclock AM & on inquiry, found that the Steam boat left yesterday instead of remaining till Friday as advertised & that there was little prospect of any Steam boat being at Belfast before Sunday or Monday next~

            We went down to the river to see if we could find a coaster bound East, by which we could have a passage but could not find any, so we concluded best to set off tomorrow by land.

            Wrote a letter to Mr. Godfrey, instructing him respecting his proceedings against trespassers (see letter on file)

14 Sept Wednesday

            Left Belfast in the Stage for Bucksport at 12 oclock & arrived at Bucksport at 4 oclock PM. When we got here, we found the mail was carried to Ellsworth on horseback, through the woods, a distance of 24 miles where wheel carriages could not run. The carrier would not for any consideration, take us & our baggage the old road, we were therefore obliged to charter a man with an open wagon & a single horse; all that could be procured; to carry us round through Blue Hill 36 miles distance & arrive at Ellsworth in time to continue on with the mail carrier from thence. We left Bucksport at 5 oclock PM. It was then pleasant weather and had been ever since I left home but before we got two miles it became suddenly overcast and commenced raining very hard & continued raining all night and was very dark so that our ride was extremely uncomfortable and hazardous. We, however, arrived in safety at Ellsworth at 2 oclock AM wet and hungry.

15 Sept Thursday

            After taking a little refreshment & about two hours sleep, we left Ellsworth at 4 oclock AM with the Mail Carrier, in a wagon & arrived at Machias at 10 oclock PM. This day was very pleasant weather & clear air

16th Friday

            Pleasant morning. We left Machias at 7 oclock & arrived at Lubec at 2 oclock & at Eastport at 4 oclock PM

17 Sept Saturday

            We remained at Eastport this day. It rained very hard nearly all day-on inquiry at the Steam Boat office, was informed that the Steam Boat for St John would not sail till Monday morning.

18 Sept Sunday

            Attended public worship, sermon by the Rev Mr. Farr, who now supplies the desk vacated by Mr. Robinson. Mr. F is a good sound theologian but he is rather antiquated in his pronunciation and inanimate in his delivery.  Pleasant weather this day.

19 Sept Monday

            We went on board the Steam Boat EAGLE for St Johns this morning about 8 oclock (having first provided ourselves with Provincial money for our expenses) & arrived at the City of St Johns about 4 oclock PM had a very pleasant passage & fine weather all day-put up at Mr. Taylors’ boarding house.

20 Sept Tuesday

            We remained at St Johns this day & being pleasant weather, we walked round the city, visited the Stream Grist Mill, a large establishment for grinding & bolting wheat-The wheat they use is principally brought from Russia. They make very excellent flour but rather dark coloured.

            We view it the Falls a little above the city about one mile, where at low water the falls are about 20 feet & the whole current of the river St Johns runs through a narrows not more than 40 or 50 feet wide, making a tremendous thundering noise, the banks of the river are very high and solid rock. At high water vessels pass over these falls with tolerable safety.

            St Johns city appears to be a place of active business, upwards of 20 large English ships were here loading with timber for Europe. The Government have lately built upon an eminerre back of the city, a block of handsome stone barracks three stories high commanding an extensive view of The Bay of Fundy-The public buildings are rather mean-there are however some neat churches and one very handsome new stone church now erecting-

21 Sept Wednesday

            Cold morning & a high wind at NW. Left St Johns in the Steam Boat

ST GEORGE at 7 oclock AM for Fredericton. Passengers Rear Admiral Noel Lake, Capt Stewart Commander of the Menai Sloop of War, Admiral Lake’s son, Commander of the Brig of War RIFLEMAN now lying at St John’s harbour-also Mssrs Hugh Johnson & M Ward, merchants of St John & Mr. Nevers, Mr. Sluson, Members of The Assembly, and Major Needham merchants of Fredericton. These Gentlemen finding out the business we were going upon (probably by a paragraph in the Eastport Sentinel) took occasion to observe, that by the Treaty of 1783 we obtained an advantage over them, which at the time was little understood & that according to that Treaty, the Province of New Brunswick would be nearly disjoined from Lower Canada which could not be submitted to & that all that territory northeast of St Johns & Madawaska rivers must be theirs at any rate, by purchase or compromise. To which we replied, that our government would undoubtably  attend to any proposition & negotiate upon friendly & equitable terms, but that it was not our business to settle boundary lines, we had only to take care of the growth upon the territory given us by the Treaty, and see that no encroachments were made. If further adjudication was to be made, it was the business of higher powers-

            The wind continuing to blow very hard, our progress up river was very slow-We got up as far as Oromocto River about 8 oclock in the evening, here a bar makes across the river St Johns on which there was only about 5 feet water, We grounded on this bar, & was detained at least an hour, so that we did not get up to Fredericton until midnight-put up at the Fredericton Hotel kept by Mr. Miller-rather an indifferent establishment, but the best in the place-

22 Sept Thursday

            Very pleasant morning and a delightful air, we walked around the town, which is pleasantly situated on a tract of level land on the south side of the river about 20 feet above the height of the water, the tide flows here only about nine inches.

            The Government House, about a mile from the center of town, where the Governor has resided, was accidently burnt last week-The public buildings are The Assembly House where the Assembly holds their meetings, The Governor’s Chamber is in this building, in the Assembly Room the courts of Fredericton hold their sessions. This building is a neat stone ediface enclosed with a light cottage fence; at each end is a detached stone building, one story high, the South one is occupied by the Secretary of the Province & the North Building by the Surveyor General, all fronting on the eastward, not far from the Assembly House is a small college, it’s dimensions are small and from what I could learn, it’s pretensions are also small.

            Near the river are considerable large barracks, where the 52nd Regiment is quartered, consisting of about 200 men. This is considered one of the best regiments in the English Service. The number of inhabitants are stated to be near 3000. At 11 oclock, the hour that the public offices open, we called upon Thomas Baillie Esq., the Surveyor General, at his office and stated to him that we wished to obtain some documents from his office, relative to permits granted for cutting timber upon the Aroostook and Madawaska Rivers. To which he replied that he could not furnish such documents without first consulting The Governor who even now absent on a journey and would not return for several days. We observed to him that perhaps when we explained to him more particularly what we wanted he would not think it necessary to advise with the Governor, and if he would name an hour today or tomorrow (as he was just going to take a ride with Admiral Lake & others) We would attend, He however declined acting, until he had seen the Governor. We then returned to our lodgings and addressed a communication to the Surveyor General stating the substance of our request & that we were going up river and would call at his office for an answer when we returned (see copy of our communication on file-see letter book page 132). We then engaged a Mr. Currick to carry us up to Woodstock in a wagon, to call for us tomorrow morning at 6 oclock~

23 Sept Friday

            The weather continues to be very pleasant & warm. Currick did not come with his wagon till 8 oclock when we left Fredericton, passed through the Parish of Kingsland on the southerly side of the river, crossed a ferry over to Queensbury as soon after we crossed the ferry it commenced raining & continued to rain the remainder of the day & all night-we arrived at Hurston’s in Queensbury Parish a little after dusk, drenched with rain as we had no covering to the wagon. We were exposed to its full force.

24 Sept Saturday

            Very rainy morning, held up raining about 10 oclock AM When we left Hurstins & proceeded on about three miles when the wagon broke down. We were obliged to stop at Mr _____ could not get the wagon repaired, we left our trunks to be forwarded to Woodstock by boat. We then chartered another horse with saddles & proceeded on horseback to Woodstock, passing through the Parish of Northhampton & crossed over a ferry to Woodstock, about 4 miles below Meduscnekeag river & arrived at Basley’s about 2 miles below said river at 7 oclock PM

            This is a most beastly house of entertainment. I had an uncomfortable night’s lodging ( I cannot say night’s rest) for their was scarcely a pane of glass in the windows & it blowing fresh in my room might have excited a miller’s wishes to his heart’s content, which together with wood flees tormenting me, I was glad again to see the light of another day.

25 Sept Sunday

            I arose this morning in good health, though I cannon say much refreshed~

Weather clear and a fine bracing air. We took saddled horses and road to Houlton Plantation, about 12 miles. Stopped at Squire Houlton’s house. Here we found our boatmen, they arrived here on Thursday last. We remained at Houlton’s this day, found several persons here that had just come through the woods from Penobscot. They told us there had been no fires in the woods above Matamawcook river, but below that river (as we had previously learned) the fires in the woods had done a great deal of mischief.

            We had an interview with Sam’l Cook Esquire, the person we employed in the spring to ascertain about the lumbering at Aroostook and Madawaska. From him we obtained the following account viz.-

            That James Shoot of Fredericton, Merchant & one Greenlaw, an

            American now settled in the Province of New Brunswick

            Have got on the Machias Stream 1800 tons of timber                                   1800

            And on the Madawaska Stream 1200 tons under a permit

            From the British Government                                                                         1200

            Isaac Smith of Woodstock, NB & James Stinson of New

            Hampshire  1000 tons, five miles up the Machias Stream

            Under a permit aforesaid                                                                                1000

            Wilmot & Peters Merchants of Fredericton & Wm Pyle a

            Settler on the Aroostook have got under permit as                                        1700

            Aforesaid at Beaver Brook 1700 tons & 700 tons a

            Little below the Presque Isle Stream                                                              700

            Wm Black of Saint Johns City & a man by the name

            Of Heckley have got under a permit of Beaver                                              800

            Brook 800 tons of timber and 1000 logs                                                        800

            John & Walter Beedle of Woodstock Merchants and Warren

            Snow a British subject now residing in Hodgdon

            Plantation, have got under a permit on Salmon Brook 2000 tons                  2000

            Wilmot & Peters and Lewis Johnson a settler on the Aroostook

            Have got under permit a little below Salmon Brook 1000 tons                     1000

            John & Walter Beedle have got under a permit at Carribou                           500

            Stream 500 tons & 2000 tons up the Madawaska                                          2000

            William Hallet of Tobique Settlement & George Fields a settler

            On the Aroostook have got under a permit 500 tons near the

            Mouth of the Madawaska Stream                                                                  500

            Wilmot & Peters & Smart an American who now resides in

            The Province of NB have got 1000 tons on the Madawaska                                     1000

            Stream & 400 tons a little below the Aroostook                                            400

            Above the Grand Falls, Wilmot & Peters & one Golden have                       1600

Viz      cut 1600 tons of timber & logs equal to 184 tons                                           184

            Wilmot & Peters & a gang of Irishmen cut 800 tons                                      800

            Wilmot & Peters bought of the French settlers 1100 tons-

            600 of which were cut without a permit                                                         1100

            Lorry & Gordon have cut 500                                                                                    500

            Baker & Goldwait cut 400 tons & logs equal to 1000 tons                            400

            The last mentioned timber and logs without permit, but

            Have since settled with the Government of N Brunswick                             1000

            Belfleur a Frenchman cut without permit 500 tons but                                  500

            Since settled for

            Borgan & Company Frenchman have cut 500 tons                                        500



The first or two first named in each party are those who obtained the permits & furnished supplies and the last mentioned name in each party was chief manager. Other names might have been added, both of American citizens & British subjects but it does not appear to be necessary

26th Sept Monday

            The weather continues pleasant sent our boatmen to Woodstock to set in readiness to proceed up river. We followed them soon after and when we got to Woodstock found that our trunks had not arrived. We sent our men in the Batteau down river to get them & directed them to hasten back as quick as possible & they would find us at Harvey’s ( a very good House) about a mile above the Medwanekeag, where  we should wait for them.

27 Sept Tuesday

            Remained at Harvey’s this day awaiting our men & baggage. Very Impatiently, a the weather continued as pleasant as summer. They arrived about 5 oclock PM, too late however to think of commencing our expedition this day. But late as it was, it would have been preferable to staying at a tavern near a militia muster comprised of Irish, Scotish &  Blue Noses ( A name they give to those born in the Province whose parents are natives of the States) for after the muster was over, they flocked to the tavern & commenced drinking, swearing & fighting. The Government very prudently withholds fire arms from the militia, and it is well they do, for arms in the hands of such spirits would be dangerous to society

28 Sept Wednesday

            All things being in readiness, we left Harvey’s this morning at 6 oclock & proceeded up river. The water in the river begin very low (not having rain of any consequence for a long time) we were obliged to keep near the middle of the river & of course had to meet the swiftest water, which would have been otherwise if the river had had more water in it, for then we could have taken advantage of the eddies, of course our progress was very slow, we however got up as far as Kenney’s on the east side of the river, 5 miles above Presque Isle river about 8 oclock PM and put up for the night. It had been pleasant weather all day. The moon rose soon after the dusk of the evening.

29 Sept Thursday

            Left Kenney’s this morning at 7 oclock & proceeded up the river, and arrived at Tibbett’s on the west side of the river 1 ½ miles below Tobique river about 7 oclock PM. Here we first put up for the night. Pleasant weather all this day Paid for some rum, bread, tea and sugar

30 Sept Friday

            We left Tibbet’s at 6 oclock Am proceeded up as far as the mouth of the Aroostook River, breakfasted on the bank of the river, continued & dined also on the bank of the river, proceeded up river with the expectation of getting as far as the Grand Falls. But night approaching, we stopped & camped 3 miles below the Grand Falls a little before dark. It has been very pleasant all this day until about the time we camped when it became suddenly overcast & began to rain & blow hard. We anticipated a disagreeable night, it however soon cleared away quite pleasant.

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