Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Winslow, Benton, Clinton

A 19th century photo of the Clinton schoolhouse.

by Mary Grow

Winslow is the next town north of Vassalboro along the east shore of the Kennebec River. According to Henry Kingsbury’s History of Kennebec County, its location was determined by the junction of the Kennebec with the smaller Sebasticook River, as a river junction was a convenient meeting place for groups from different areas.

When the first white settlers reached the area is unclear. Kingsbury cites a 1719 survey showing a building on the south side of the Sebasticook and east shore of the Kennebec that is identified as a trading post built in 1653.

By 1675, despite the earlier resumption of fighting between Natives and settlers, there were two trading posts at the rivers’ junction. Kingsbury surmises they did not survive a 1676 Native attack, although he found evidence suggesting at least one building was still standing in 1692.

In 1754, the Massachusetts General Court ordered a fort to be built at the Sebasticook-Kennebec junction for protection against the French and the Natives. Massachusetts Governor William Shirley personally chose the site, which commanded both rivers and could interrupt water traffic between tribes and with Québec.

General John Winslow, described in Wikipedia as a major-general of militia, was sent from Massachusetts with 800 men to build the fort. He superintended such a speedy job that early in September, a 100-man garrison under Captain William Lithgow moved in. Winslow’s plan did not suit Lithgow, Kingsbury says, and was substantially amended.

The main building was supported by two separate two-story blockhouses, each equipped with cannon. One later became a house for a man named Ezekiel Pattee and was moved down the river. In 1791, the list of resident taxpayers in Winslow, per Kingsbury, included four Pattees, Ezekiel, Benjamin, William and Daniel.

(Ezekiel Pattee is probably the man found on line who was born Sept. 3, 1732, in Gloucester, Massachusetts; on May 24, 1760, married Margaret Harwood, born at Fort Halifax in 1740; had a son, also named Ezekiel, born on Feb. 26, 1775; and died Nov. 24, 1813, in Winslow, Maine.)

Fort Halifax in 1754.

Kingsbury commends the Town of Winslow for its efforts to preserve the remaining Fort Halifax blockhouse.

Winslow, like Augusta and Vassalboro, was originally laid out on both sides of the Kennebec. Originally called Ticonic (there are various spellings), the Native word for the river junction and the rapids just upstream, and then Kingsfield Plantation, it was incorporated on April 26, 1771, as Winslow, one of the first four towns in Kennebec County (the others were Hallowell, Vassalboro and Winthrop).

The name of the new town honored General John Winslow.

As in other Kennebec River towns, the early survey by John McKechnie (who was also a doctor) laid out some long narrow lots, but the majority are only about three times as long as they are wide.

The east-side (Winslow) plan reproduced in the History of Kennebec County shows lots along the east shores of the Kennebec and Sebasticook and out to the 15-mile east boundary, but none in the northeastern triangle between the two rivers.

The 1771 Winslow included what is now Waterville and Oakland. Kingsbury believes the settlement on the west side of the Kennebec, now Waterville, grew faster than the east side. His evidence includes E. A. Paine’s 1791 population count of 779, of whom Paine believed only about 300 were on the east side of the river.

One of those Winslow-side inhabitants, according to Ernest Marriner’s Kennebec Yesterdays, was the town’s first lawyer, George Warren. In 1791 Warren went to Boston, where he petitioned the Massachusetts General Court, unsuccessfully, for approval to hold a lottery to raise money to build a bridge across the Sebasticook. Because he had business in southern Maine as well, he chose to make the Portland to Boston leg of his trip by land, Marriner says.

Massachusetts law, in the 1700s and as late as 1815, required every town to raise taxes to support religion (meaning the Congregational church, usually). Marriner says many Maine towns could not afford to comply, and lists Winslow as one of the more recalcitrant.

Twice, he says, the town was threatened with legal action if its officials continued to ignore the law. In 1772, they voted to pay for one month’s worth of services; in 1773, they agreed to pay a man named Deliverance Smith for 12 Sundays. That year, too, Rev. John Murray came inland from Boothbay for a service at Fort Halifax, where the children he baptized included three of John McKechnie’s.

In 1774, Rev. Jacob Bailey, of Pownalborough (now Dresden), preached at Fort Halifax. (When the Revolution broke out, Bailey remained loyal to the British monarchy and eventually had to leave the country for Nova Scotia.) The next year, Marriner says, Winslow voted not to pay for any preaching.

In 1794, Marriner says, Winslow hired a clergyman named Joshua Cushing to settle as the town’s minister. Marriner describes Cushing as a Revolutionary War veteran and a Harvard classmate of John Quincy Adams who became a community leader and served in the Massachusetts legislature and in Congress.

Maine towns had trouble complying with another Massachusetts law that required an elementary school for a town with 60 families and a grammar school if there were 200 families. In 1784, 1788 and 1789, Winslow voted no public funding for schools, Marriner says.

By 1795, there was discussion at town meeting of creating two towns divided by the river. A June 23, 1802, legislative act incorporated the Town of Waterville and defined it as the part of Winslow on the west side of the Kennebec.

The Conforth homestead, in Benton, in this 19th century photo.

Benton, Winslow’s northern neighbor along the river, was the southern part of Clinton until 1842. Kingsbury mentions two deeds from the Plymouth Company in the 1760s, but he dates the first settlement inside the present town boundaries to 1775 or thereabouts, when two Irish emigrants named George Fitzgerald and David Gray cleared land about a mile north of the present Benton Station (the cluster of buildings at the end of the bridge across the Kennebec.

Later settlers moved farther north along the Kennebec and took up land on the west side of the Sebasticook.

In 1790 or earlier, Kingsbury said, the area that is now Benton and Clinton became Hancock Plantation. There were then 278 residents, the majority in the southern end that is now Benton. The first town meeting was held on April 20, 1795; Kingsbury lists the town officials then elected.

By the 1797 town meeting, Kingsbury wrote, there were eight school districts, again mostly in the Benton area, and 166 students; the town voted a $300 tax for education.

After four decades of growth, on March 16, 1842, the by-then-Maine, rather than Massachusetts, legislature approved an act dividing Clinton and creating a new town named Sebasticook. Kingsbury provides no information on who wanted the separation or why.

On March 4, 1850, town meeting voters told selectmen to choose a new name – again, Kingsbury offers no reason. The selectmen chose Benton, in honor of Missouri Democratic U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton. In September 1850 the Town of Benton first appeared in town meeting records.

The history of Clinton, the northernmost Kennebec County town, overlaps with the history of Benton until the two were separated in 1842.

Settlement along the Kennebec that began in the southern (Benton) area spread north up the river. Kingsbury lists Pishon’s Ferry (or Pishon Ferry, shown on 20th-century maps opposite the Hinckley section of Fairfield) as the east end of the ferry owned by Charles Pishon, who moved there before 1800. At least three other families began farming in the area, the first before 1790.

Clinton developed an early second center along the Sebasticook, an area that became the present downtown. Kingsbury names six families settled in the area before 1800.

Several sources say Clinton was named after DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), a United States Senator, mayor of New York City and the sixth governor of New York, largely responsible for the building of the Erie Canal. However, the Wikipedia entry on Clinton, Maine, says that information is false: the town was named after DeWitt Clinton’s uncle, George Clinton (1739-1812), the first governor of New York and the fourth vice-president of the United States, serving under both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

MAJOR SOURCES:

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892

Marriner, Ernest Kennebec Yesterdays 1954.

Web sites, miscellaneous

NEXT: Moving upstream from Augusta on the west bank of the Kennebec, earliest history of Sidney, Waterville and Fairfield.

[See also: Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Augusta & Vassalboro]

Area roads earmarked for improvements in 2020-21

by Roland D. Hallee

The Maine Department of Transportation has announced plans for road improvements in the China – Vassalboro – Winslow area, in 2020-2021.

For 2020, the work will include Rte. 137, from China to Winslow, with the work to begin at Rte. 202 and extending west 6.14 miles to Rte. 137B, then extend north 1.04 miles to Rte. 201. This will include overlay.

From China to Vassalboro, along the Neck Rd., Webber Pond Rd., Bog Rd., and Stanley Hill Road. That will begin 1.39 miles north of Village Street and extend north 5.65 miles to 1.14 miles north of the Gray Road. And beginning 0.21 of a mile north of Preble Hill Rd. and extending north 2.4 miles to Timber Oaks Dr. This will include highway rehabilitation.

In China, Rte. 202, a large culvert improvement located .17 of a mile north of the south intersection of Pond Rd.

Vassalboro, Rte. 32, beginning 1.14 miles north of Gray Road and extending north .73 of a mile. Includes highway rehabilitation.

In 2021, the Stanley Hill Rd., in China and Vassalboro, beginning .02 of a mile from Rte. 32 and extending east 6.21 miles. This will include a light capital paving.

Oak Grove Rd., Vassalboro, beginning at Rte. 201 and extending northeast 3.12 miles to Rte. 32, light capital paving.

In Vassalboro, Webber Pond and Bog roads, beginning at Rte. 201 and extending northeast 8.03 miles to Rte. 32.

Stanley Hill Road, beginning .02 of a mile from Rte. 32 and extending east 6.21 miles, light capital paving.

The local roads assistance in China for fiscal year 2020 will be $54,896.

The department reported maintenance accomplishments in 2019, specifically recorded to China, that included six drainage structures cleaned; 4.6 miles of shoulder repair; 81.7 miles of shoulder mowing; one bridge washed; 1,449 linear feet of backhoe ditching; 205 miles of striping applied; 92.9 miles of shoulder herbicide applied; 13.8 tons of patch applied; five tons of shim applied.

Also, 13 trees removed; one emergency event response; 154 linear feet of guardrail or fence maintained; 1,722.6 tons of hot mix paving; two drainage structures intalled or replaced; 21.4 miles of litter and debris removed; 12.9 miles of shoulder graded; 452 square feet of pavement legend applied; one underwater inspection performed; 896 linear feet of shoulder rebuilt; 54.3 miles of shoulder sweeping; and six person hours of traffic signal maintenance.

Local road assistance to Vassalboro for fiscal year 2020 is $66,916.

Maintenance accomplishments specific to Vassalboro in 2019 included: 34.8 miles of shoulder litter and debris removal; one emergency event response; 32 linear feet of bridge joints repaired or replaced; 25.1 miles of striping applied; 4,292 linear feet of shoulder rebuilt; 58.5 shoulder miles of sweeping; 205 linear feet of backhoe ditching; seven drainage structures installed or replaced; 57 miles of shoulder mowing; four bridges washed; 22 trees removed.

Also, five tons of shim applied; two drainage structures cleaned; 16 miles of shoulder graded; 265 linear feet of bridge rail repaired or replaced; 13.6 tons of patch applied; and 34.8 shoulder miles of herbicide applied.

“Foundations of Investing” coming to Winslow Public Library

Sasha Fitzpatrick

“Foundations of Investing,” presented by local financial advisor Sasha Fitzpatrick, is coming to Winslow Public Library, 136 Halifax Street, on Wednesday, March 4, starting at 5:30 p.m. Ms. Fitzpatrick’s 30-minute overview presentation will clearly explain the basics of sound investing, and how developing an investment strategy can help you grow your money, so you can better finance your retirement, your children’s education, and more.

Illuminating today’s most popular investment options—including stocks, bonds, and packaged investments—Sasha will clearly explain each type of investment, and the potential benefits of each for those seeking to grow their money. She also will explain key investment terms and the importance of asset allocation.

Sasha’s 30-minute presentation will be followed by a Q & A session, in which attendees can receive specific answers to their questions. The event is free and nothing will be sold.

Now a financial advisor with Edward Jones® Investments located at 22 Common Street, in Waterville, Sasha Fitzpatrick previously was a language arts and math teacher at Winslow Junior High School, in Winslow.

Winslow resident to have principal role in the Dean College theatre production, La Bete

Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow, will play Elomire in the Dean College production of La Bete, beginning Thursday, February 20 through Sunday, February 23, 2020, in Franklin, Massachusetts.

“La Bete,” translates as “the beast” or “the fool” in French, and this comedy — inspired by French playwright Moliere — centers on the dueling temperaments within a court theatre troupe and its royal patrons. Set in 17th century France, our story is told in rhymed iambic pentameter and presents the overbearing actor and manager Elomire pitted against the wild and irreverent street performer Valere. Winner of a Drama Desk Award and the 1992 Olivier Award for best comedy of the year, La Bete was a critical and commercial success in London’s West End and has been a popular choice of theatre groups for years. Described as a “rocky ride”, this inventive and remarkably funny play makes it seem as if Moliere had returned to the present day.

The Dean College production will take place in the Main Stage in the Campus Center at Dean College, 109 West Central St.,at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, visit dean.edu.

Local students on dean’s list at Dean College for Fall 2019

Dean College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, has announced the local students that have earned a place on the dean’s list for the Fall 2019 semester. These students have demonstrated a serious commitment to their studies while at Dean College.

Zoe Derosby, of Waterville;
Cami Dubois, of Winslow;
Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow.

Founded in 1865, Dean College is a private, residential college located in Franklin Massachusetts, 45 minutes from Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Dean College offers baccalaureate degrees, associate degree programs, as well as a robust schedule of part-time continuing and professional education credit and certificate programs throughout the calendar year.

McCowan was named to the Fall 2019 dean’s list at Muhlenberg College

Kathleen McCowan, of Winslow, was named to the Dean’s List at Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for the Fall 2019 semester.

Students with a term GPA of 3.50 or higher were recognized for this academic achievement.

Winslow native patrols the sea aboard Navy warship

Petty Officer Second Class Trevor Lovely (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller)

by Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO — Three years ago, Petty Officer 2nd Class Trevor Lovely joined the Navy because his family has a tradition of military service.

“Most of my family were in the Marines,” said Lovely. “I knew I wanted to join the military, but wanted something a little different, which is why I joined the Navy.”

Today, Lovely is serving aboard USS Boxer, stationed in San Diego.

Lovely is a fire controlman responsible for working on the data systems that provide information to the weapons required to defend the ship.

“Fixing something that is broken feels really nice,” said Lovely. “It’s very satisfying seeing an issue that needs to be resolved and knowing that you’re able to make a difference with the people you work with.”

Lovely is a 2014 Winslow High School graduate and native of Winslow, Maine.

According to Lovely, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Winslow.

“I learned that being in the Navy is one big team,” said Lovely. “Growing up playing sports I learned the importance of working with others as part of a team.”

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

Boxer is an amphibious assault ship that has recently returned from a Western Pacific-Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf deployment. It is the sixth ship to carry the name Boxer.

Amphibious assault ships are used to transfer Marines, equipment and supplies and can support helicopters or other aircraft. They also are capable of accessing 75% of the world’s beaches.

According to Admiral Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, the focus of today’s Navy is squarely on warfighting, warfighters and the capabilities needed for the Navy of the future.

“I am confident we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Gilday. “And we will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”

There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers. Lovely is most proud of his ship’s completion of a deployment and recent inspection.

“During our deployment, we visited a lot of places, like Thailand, Okinawa and Guam,” said Lovely.

For Lovely, serving in the Navy is a tradition passed down from generations and one Lovely hopes to continue.

“My dad and uncle served in the Marines and my stepbrother is currently in the Navy,” said Lovely. “Carrying on a military tradition is definitely something to be proud of, and in the future, I hope that my children or grandchildren will decide to do the same.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Lovely, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“Serving in the Navy is something I’ll remember forever,” said Lovely. “I’ve had a lot of great experiences, and I’m definitely a better individual based on my service.”

Trevor is the son of Randy Lovely, and his wife Robin, and Amy LeClair, and husband Mark, all of Winslow; sister to Bethanie Lovely, of Winslow; and grandson of Trudy Lovely, of Waterville.

St. John School, in Winslow, to close at end of school year

St. John Regional Catholic School, in Winslow. (photo by Roland D. Hallee)

Press release from the Diocese of Portland

Upon reviewing the parish’s consultative process which led to the recommendation by the pastoral council, finance council, and school board of Corpus Christi Parish, Bishop Robert P. Deeley has acknowledged their decision to close St. John Regional Catholic School, located on 15 South Garand Street in Winslow, at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“Parents and parishioners, as well as the religious and clergy who have served the parish over many years, worked tirelessly to try to find a way to keep the school open. As evidenced by the sustained efforts over a long period of time by the devoted faculty, the generous support of the parish community, and the extensive consultation process by the parish leadership, their decision was not reached easily or quickly,” said Bishop Deeley. “The parish remains dedicated to the mission of Catholic education, and the diocese’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation will be working with Corpus Christi to ensure that alternative programs and ministries are in place to nurture the children’s spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth.”

“For over 90 years, students, teachers, and parishioners have generously supported this school.”
– Bishop Robert P. Deeley.

“There was a consensus among our parish councils that continuing to operate the school could risk the financial stability and health of the parish moving forward,” said Fr. Daniel Baillargeon, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish (Notre Dame Church, Waterville; Sacred Heart Church, Waterville; St. John the Baptist Church, Winslow; St. Helena Church, Belgrade Lakes). “We have already started helping current school families to assess their options, including possible enrollment at other Catholic schools for the next academic year.”

“The sad truth is that rising costs, a decline in school-aged children in the Waterville/Winslow area, and an increased demand for financial assistance made it unfeasible to keep the school open,” said Marianne Pelletier, superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools. “As heartbreaking as this is for school families and alumni, we are grateful for the opportunity the diocese had in providing a quality education to generations of students. We also look forward to exploring new and creative ways to help children in the area cultivate their faith.”

St. John opened in 1927 with the Ursuline Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyons overseeing the school, which was originally operated in the church’s assembly hall and south annex. In 1939, the north annex was attached. The Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in 1960 and the school building in use today was constructed.

“For over 90 years, students, teachers, and parishioners have generously supported this school,” said Bishop Deeley. “The closing of St. John is not a result of a lack of generosity, but simply a demographic and financial reality. Corpus Christi Parish and the diocese will use this sad moment to strengthen our resolve to reach more young people with Jesus’ message of love.”

Three local students on Dean College fall 2019 dean’s list

Dean College, in Franklin, Massachusetts, is pleased to announce the local students that have earned a place on the dean’s list for the fall 2019 semester. These students have demonstrated a serious commitment to their studies while at Dean College.

Zoe Derosby, of Waterville;

Cami Dubois, of Winslow;

Joshua Veilleux, of Winslow.

“Fighting Mental Health Stigma” and “Living with Depression” presentations set for Augusta and Waterville in coming weeks

Free presentations on the topic of improved mental health will be offered by parishes in Augusta and Waterville in the coming weeks. All are welcome to attend either presentation.

As part of its ongoing “Coffee and Conversation” series, the St. Michael Parish Social Justice Commission will sponsor a presentation and discussion on “Fighting Mental Health Stigma.” The session will be held on Thursday, January 23, at 7 p.m., in St. Monica Hall, on 5 Kendall Street, in Augusta.

St. Michael parishioners Emily Dowdell and Andrew Phinney, both professionals in the mental health field, will lead the discussion. For more information, contact the parish at (207) 623-8823 or St.Michael@portlanddiocese.org. You can also visit the parish’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StMichaelMaine.

Corpus Christi Parish, in Waterville, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon, in Winslow, will co-host “Living with Depression” on Sunday, January 26, from 2 p.m., to 3:30 p.m. in the hall of Notre Dame Church, on 116 Silver Street, in Waterville.

Marc Sirois, a parishioner of Corpus Christi and the manager of outpatient behavioral services for MaineGeneral Medical Center, will discuss the causes and treatments of depression as well as strategies for living with depression and supporting those who do. For more information, call (207) 873-4512 or email csjsoflyon.maine@gmail.com.

For more information about these and other special events occurring in the Diocese of Portland, visit the special events section of the diocesan website at www.portlanddiocese.org.