PART II, CHAPTER 21.
COMMERCIAL HISTORY OF TOPSHAM
An account of the dams built across the river between Brunswick and Topsham has been given in the preceding chapter, but to that account it may be added that there is good reason for believing that what is called the long, or lower dam extended originally from Shad Island to the small island just west of where it now ends, at the head of "the drain" on the Topsham side. The mills were built from the small island mentioned to the main island in Topsham, and the water came around the island, passing through the gate and under the mill.
In 1807 a wooden sluice from the mill on the upper dam, across the island to the river, below the Granny-Hole Mill, was constructed by Mr James Rogers, of Phipsburg (father of the late Rufus Rogers), and Ezra Smith (father of St. John Smith, of Portland). At the Topsham end of what is now the factory dam, the ledge was blasted to a depth of about ten feet, through which the sluice passed; thence it went along on the ledge just south of the Rogers house; thence across the little cove at the foot of Rogers's hill; thence across Jesse Wilson's garden and the sand-bed, to the island, where it passed under the road about midway between the short bridge and where the black-smith's shop now stands, and thence to the river below. Ezra Smith, Cornelius Thompson, and others were incorporated on June 20 of this year, with all the necessary powers for constructing and using this sluice, under the name of "The Proprietors of the Topsham Sluiceway."1 This sluice was destroyed by a freshet in 1814, but though it did not long serve for its intended purpose, the building of it proved of great value as the means of inciting to the study of another science the author of the first American work on mineralogy.2
In 1871 a substantial stone fishway was made at the factory dam. To construct it the ledge on the northwest end of the dam was cut through. The fishway is on the Topsham side of the dam, at the
1. Massachusetts Special Acts, 1807.
2. Vide Maine Historical Collection, Vol. 7, Wood's Eulogy on Cleaveland.
lower side of the point. The height of the fall at this place is eighteen feet. A year or two later a wooden fishway was put in on the lower dam next to Shad Island. These were not, however, the earliest fishways, for as early as 1789 the fish-wardens were instructed by the town of Topsham to see that the dams were opened so that fish could pass.1
From an entry made in the records of the Pejepscot proprietors, it would appear that the first mill in Topsham was erected as early as the year 1716. On September 10 of that year the proprietors desired Captain Peter Nowell to build a small house near their mill at Cathance Falls, to clear sufficient ground for depositing logs and boards, to get logs cut, and to put the mill in the best condition. He was also desired to look out the two most advantageous places for building saw-mills, and to prepare "running Gear for one Mill with two Saws against the Spring." On November 28, Mr. Samuel Came offered to build the running gear for a mill for two saws for £27, the mill itself for £30, and the dam, "at such a Fall as Cathance is described to be," for £60; and his offer was, in part at least, accepted.
On October 14, 1717, the proprietors agreed to let the Cathance Mill to Lieutenant Heath for three years. He was to run it and keep it in repair, and they were to have one-fourth part of the boards, plank, joists, and other lumber cut at the mill. It was also a part of the contract that no boards should be sold to persons outside of the proprietors' territory until all the settlers in it were supplied.2 It would seem, however, that Lieutenant Heath either declined the contract or forfeited his right, for on November 11, 1719, this mill was sold to Messrs. Minot & Winthrop, in equal halves, for £90. The proprie-tors also voted at this time "that the two branches3 of the western stream of Cathance River be assigned to Messrs. Wentworth & Noyes, they proposing to build thereon," and that 1,000 acres of land should be laid out to each mill. 4
Nothing further is found in regard to the mills upon the Cathance until 1750. This year Samuel Winchell settled upon that river, and erected saw-mills. He acquired, with Jacob Eaton, a joint title to this property, by virtue of a deed from Isaac Royall, dated November 15, 1750. This deed conveyed five hundred acres, and all of Royall's right in the stream. Winchell seems to have become one fourth proprietor of the Cathance Mill right, embracing 1,100 acres.5
1. Town Records, 1789.
2. Pejepscot Records.
3. In Bowdoinham.
4. Pejepscot Records.
5. Winchell Genealogy.
On December 28, 1757, Samuel Winchell sold to Adam Hunter one hundred and twenty-five acres of land, one eighth of a double saw-mill, and a stream called the western branch of Cathance River.1
James Hunter is a grantee in a deed from Stephen Gatchell, of Topsham, dated July 27, 1759, of one hundred and twenty-five acres of upland in the mill-right on the Cathance, and one fourth of the uppermost saw-mill.
On June 15, 1761, Adam Hunter, Samuel Winchell, James Hunter, Samuel Staples, Joseph Graves, Samuel Graves, John Fulton, and John Patten purchased the Cathance mill-right, containing 1,100 acres, and the stream called the western branch of the Cathance, and a double saw-mill. Of this mill and stream Adam Hunter had one eighth; Samuel Winchell, one fourth; James Hunter, one eighth; Samuel Staples, one eighth; Joseph Graves, one eighth; Samuel Graves, one eighth; John Fulton, one sixteenth; and John Patten, one sixteenth.2
On January 24, 1764, Samuel Winchell gave a deed to William Thorne and Robert Clark of one fourth of a saw-mill and stream, "being the uppermost mills on Cathance," and also one fourth of a mill-right of thirty acres.
On February 13, 1765, Winchell sold to James and Robert Fulton "one sixteenth of ye double saw and stream on ye lower falls at Cathance."3 Of these two mills one was on the lower falls, where the mill is now, and the other upon the upper falls.
The first mills in Topsham upon the Androscoggin River were erected prior to 1772. Merrill's map of Brunswick, of the above date, includes the river and shows one mill at the Topsham end of both the upper and middle dam, and one on the Granny-Hole Stream. The latter was the first one erected. It was built some time between 17594 and 1765.5 It was built by a Mr. Hodge, and the privilege is called the "Hodge Mill privilege" to this day. The stream is that which flowed through the natural drain already mentioned This mill stood until it rotted down. It was rebuilt about 1789, but was burned in 1796 and rebuilt the next year. In 1807 it was carried off by a freshet. A new one was built in the same place the next year, but was carried away in like manner in 1814.
The next mill was built on the middle dam about 1770. It was called the "Patten Mill," and was owned by Captain Actor Patten,
1. Winchell Genealogy.
2. Lincoln County Register of Deeds, 1, p. 90.
3. Winchell Genealogy.
4. Pejepscot Papers, Merrill's Statement.
5. 1bid., Haley's Statement.
Pelatiah and John Haley, and at one time, in part, by Nathaniel Quint. It filled up the space between the mainland where the stone fishway now is and the island or rock opposite, and the head gate was where the present dam is. The mill was carried away in 1814 by a freshet, but was rebuilt about 1818, and was in existence as late as 1829.
The Rogers Mill on the upper dam was built about 1770 and had at first only a wing dam1 This mill was carried away by a freshet in 1843, unless it had been previously carried away and rebuilt, but was rebuilt immediately. The new mill was destroyed by fire in 1850.
The mills near the toll-house were first built in the summer of 1784,2 by Brigadier Thompson and others. They were finished with four saws under one roof. They were carried away by a freshet the same year, but were rebuilt the next year under two roofs, from which they acquired the name of "The Double" or "Great" Mills, which name they always retained.
The changes that have occurred in mill property have been too numerous to be given in full, and therefore only such will be mentioned as have happened to come to hand.
In 1798, Samuel Thompson sold to Benjamin Jones Porter and William King his share, or one-fourth part, of the Great Saw-Hill for $666.66.3
About 1800, Elijah Hall and Cornelius Hall, of Brunswick, owned or else leased the Great Mill.
In 1804, Jairus Fuller sold to Gideon and Nathaniel Walker, for three hundred and fifty dollars, one-fourth part of one saw in the Great Mills. The owners of the rest of the saw privilege were William King and Thomas Thompson.4
Thompson sold his part to Roger Merrill in 1808.
Besides the mills already mentioned there was, at a later date, on the Granny-Hole Stream, about on the site of the present flour-mill, one called the new Hodge Mill. Next south of where the flour-mill stands was one called the Granny-Hole Mill, and next below that was the "Embargo" Mill, so called from its being built while the Embargo laws were in force.
In 1791, Humphrey Purinton came to town, and engaged almost exclusively in the lumber business, which he pursued until a few years before his death, in 1840.
In 1817, the Great Mills were owned or occupied by
1. Pejepscot Papers, Haley's Statement.
2. Pejepscot Papers.
Haskell & Bowman, Samuel, Enoch, Jabez, and Nahum Perkins, and John and William Barron. Most of these gentlemen continued in the business for many years. This same year Hugh Wilson and Major William Frost owned the Granny-Hole Mill, and James Rogers owned the Rogers Mill, on the upper dam. In the fall of this same year, David Scribner engaged in the business and continued in it, in Topsham, until 1838. James Haley and John Wentworth were also engaged in the business in 1817.
About 1837, Nathaniel Green and others built and occupied a small saw-mill on the Granny-Hole Stream, near his residence.
About 1845, Charles E. White sawed shingles and did a large business in the mill previously occupied by William Whitten as a carding-mill.
Others who were prominent in the business at different periods within this century were Henry and Stephen Jewell, Gardiner and Nathaniel Green, Alfred and Sanford Perkins, Alfred White, and Rufus Rogers.
The only saw-mill now in operation is that of W. B. Purinton and D. A. Hall.
Valentine G. and Eben Colby commenced business near the Androscoggin Bridge, in Topsham, in January, 1849, for the manufacture of sash, doors, and blinds, under the firm name of V. G. & E. Colby. This firm continued in business until 1850, when the senior partner sold out to Sampson Colby, and the business was continued by S. & E. Colby until May 27, 1859, at which time they moved to Brunswick. The building in which their business was carried on was afterwards moved across the street, and is now used as the machine and repair shop of the paper-mill.
GRIST AND FLOUR MILLS.
According to traditionary accounts, there was a grist-mill on the Topsham end of the lower dam, previous to the erection of the Great Mills.
There was one on the Granny-Hole Stream between 18021 and 1808,2 the machinery of which was in the Granny-Hole Mill. It was owned by Colonel Abel Merrill, Pelatiah Haley, and Joseph Haley. This portion of the mill was used as a grist-mill until about 1854. Mr. Daniel Hall was the miller both before and for many years subsequent to 1844.
1. Reminiscences of James Wilson and of Mrs. Nathaniel Greene.
2. Pejepscot Papers.
In 1856, Francis T. Purinton built the Topsham flour-mill. It was afterward owned by Woodbury B. Purinton and Isaac P. Tebbetts, and then by Woodbury B. Purinton alone. Mr. Jason Ripley, of Brunswick, was the contractor for the work, which cost over $10,000. This mill is thirty-eight by forty-five feet, and is equal to three stories in height, with an attic and basement. In 1874 this mill passed into the hands of Purinton, Beaumont, & Co. Its capacity is sufficient for the manufacture of from 5,000 to 6,000 barrels of flour and 15,000 bushels of corn per year. It is well equipped with the necessary machinery, of the best quality, for both merchant and custom grinding.
In 1802, and probably earlier, Joseph Haley had a fulling-mill in the basement of the Granny-Hole Mill. After a while he removed to the Patten Mill, on the middle dam, and the Granny-Hole Fulling--Mill was then occupied for some years by John and Isaac Brown. Mr. Haley continued in the business at the Patten Mill until 1818, when he was succeeded by his son Abner, who carried it on until 1825 or 1826. Mr. William Whitten established, in 1828, a wool-carding mill on the Granny-Hole Stream, near its outlet, and very near the residence of the late Nathaniel Greene, Esquire. Here he continued until 1841, when he removed his business to Brunswick.
This mill was erected in the latter part of 1868, on the property and under the superintendence of Sanford A. Perkins, for the Topsham Paper Company, a corporation of which Samuel R. Jackson was the president. This mill is from two hundred and twenty-five to two hundred and fifty feet long, and sixty-five feet wide. The main building is three stories high, with an extension two stories high.
This company failed, and the property was purchased at auction by W. H. & A. W. Parsons, September 16, 1874, for the sum of $80,000.
An Act was passed by the legislature of Maine, February 4, 1875, incorporating the Bowdoin Paper Manufacturing Company, with a capital not to exceed $150,000. This company was organized on the nineteenth of the same month, and on the tenth of March the permanent officers were chosen. These were Adna T. Denison, treasurer, and F. C. Whitehouse, clerk.
The mill contained at that time one Fourdrinier machine, four roll engines, one patent Jordan engine, one rotary, and two tub bleachers, and other machinery necessary for a production of two and one half
tons of paper per day. There has been added since another full set of machinery, so that the mill now contains two Fourdrinier machines (eighty-eight and seventy-four respectively), nine roll engines, two patent engines,
--one Jordan and one Kingsland, --two rotary and two tub bleachers, with other machinery necessary for a production of five tons of paper daily, which the mill is now producing. Also the present company have fitted a machine-shop, put in wood and iron working machinery necessary for the mill repairs, and for the manufacture of any new machinery needed in the business. The company at present employs forty-five males and thirty females. They manufacture book and wood newspaper. The stock of the company is owned by parties in New York City and Mechanic Falls, Maine.
In addition to the foregoing mills there have been from time to time, or now are, manufactories of various kinds, which cannot well be classified and will, therefore, be mentioned alphabetically, as in the preceding chapter.
BRICK-YARDS.-The manufacture of bricks was carried on from about the year 1798, by Mr. David Flagg, on Summer Street, near Main Street, until 1847, when he was succeeded by his son Cyrus, who still continues the business at the same place. In some years 400,000 bricks have been made at this yard. About 1865, Thomp-son & Blondell started a yard for brick and tile at the northern end of Pleasant Street. The business soon gave out, however, owing to deficiency and bad quality of the clay.
DERRICK MANUFACTORY.-In 1872 the Howland Brothers established a shop for the manufacture of the Howland Patent Car Derrick, which has met with good success.
FELDSPAR MILL.-In 1869 The Trenton Flint and Spar Company, of Trenton, New Jersey, purchased the property where their mill now stands, and at the same time leased their quarries, then unopened. Work was soon after commenced and the quarries were operated. In 1872 a mill was built for grinding the feldspar. The ground feldspar is used in the manufacture of crockery by the various potteries at Trenton, New Jersey, to which place it is shipped. About a dozen men are employed in operating the quarries and grinding the spar. Mr. George D. Willes, of Bath, has been the superintendent from the commencement of operations until the present time.
MARBLE WORKS. - For many years, up to as late a period as 1844, this business was conducted by Mr. Richard Adams. In 1845 he was
succeeded by his son, Francis, who carried it on for a number of years. The greater part of their business was the manufacture of gravestones.
MATCH MANUFACTORY. - Isaac Brown, about 1825, made matches and shipped them to other parties to be dipped.
NAIL FACTORY. -About 1815 or 1816 there was a nail factory on the upper side of Winter Street, owned by Gardner Green. The brook furnished the water-power. The nails were cut by a machine, but the heads were made by hand. Two men were employed to do the work. Their names were Ives and Leach. They are thought to have come from New Hampshire. This manufactory was run for a short time only. It was very noisy in its operation.1
PITCHFORK MANUFACTORY. -In 1845, James D. Simmons made and sold pitchforks in the building formerly occupied by William Whitten's fulling-machines. These pitchforks were considered excellent at that time, though they would not compare well with those of the present day.
POTTERY. -As early as 1796, Eli Cox had a pottery, and David Flagg worked at the business with him. It was situated at the foot of the hill on the south side of Winter Street. The stone for grinding the clay was at the brook near the road. A bridge crossed the brook at that place. In 1835 or thereabouts, a Mr. Barker had a pottery where Mallett's slaughter-house was at a later date.
SHINGLE MANUFACTORY. -About 1809 a Mr. Kelsey invented a machine for cutting or shaving
(not sawing), shingles. His machine was in the building at the end of the Granny-Hole Stream, which was at a later period occupied by William Whitten and Aaron Hinkley. No description of this machine has been obtained, but it is remembered that a block of wood put into it was quickly cut into shingles. The machine was patented, and the mill bore the sign "Kelsey's Patent Shingle Machine" It is said, however, that Kelsey failed and the machine was run only a short time. There have been numerous shingle-machines in operation at a later date, but they hardly require particular notice in these pages.
TANNERIES.-About the year 1800, perhaps earlier, James Purington had a tan-yard and a grist-mill on the brook that crosses the road just below the lower railroad bridge. In 1820 it was carried on by his son James, and the same spot is now occupied as a tannery by his grandson, Cyrus Purington.
1. Reminiscences of Mr. James Wilson.
From about 1825 till 1830, or later, Nahum Perkins kept a tannery and had a mill for grinding bark for tanners' use, at the gully on Winter Street. He sold out to Daniel Dennett. It is possible that some one preceded Mr. Perkins at that place.
TOBACCO MANUFACTORY.-Previous to 1815, Samuel Veazie owned a tobacco manufactory on the north side of Winter Street, at the foot of the hill. How long the business was carried on is not known.
In giving an account of the various trades that have from time to time been carried on in Topsham and Harpswell, the same arrangement is used as in the last chapter. So far as practicable, the list is given in an alphabetical order, and first upon the list come
BAKERS. -The only bakery known to have been kept in this town was by Card & Gould, about 1800, on the corner of Main and Winter Streets, where Goud's store is now situated.
BLACKSMITHS.-With the exception of farming, lumbering, and trading, blacksmithing was the earliest business carried on in the town. Mr. John Patten, who came here about 1750, was a farmer, but had the trade of a blacksmith, and had a shop on his farm, where he employed a portion of his time, and performed the blacksmith work of the vicinity. In 1802 there was a smith's shop about where Mr. Larrabee's house now stands; also one kept by Francis Tucker, just south of what is now known as the Coffin house.
Some time before 1812, Ezekiel Hinkley began working at this trade in Topsham, and continued in it until about 1817, when he was succeeded by his brother, Aaron Hinkley, who carried it on till after 1840. In 1828 and subsequently he occupied a portion of William Whitten's fulling-mill at the outlet of the Granny-Hole Stream, and had a trip-hammer, the only one, it is thought, ever used in this vicinity.
William Ellis carried on the blacksmithing business from 1822 to 1836, in a building which stood on the east side of the road on the island, not far south of the Granny-Hole Bridge.
In 1836, Messrs. James Maxwell and Samuel Jameson commenced the business and carried it on until 1873, when they dissolved partnership, and the business has since been conducted by Mr. Jameson alone.
BUTCHERS. -The earliest persons known to have made it their special business to supply the citizens of this town with meat were Swett & Jaquis, in 1826. In 1849, Humphrey P. and William Mallett engaged in this business, and continued in it until 1862.
Mr. John Crowley has also been engaged in the business for a long time. Since 1862, Topsham has depended almost exclusively upon the markets of Brunswick.
CABINET-MAKERS. -Mr. Hugh Wilson, in 1766, is the earliest cabinet-maker mentioned.1 In 1802 there was a cabinet-maker's shop where the Major Perkins house stands. It was kept by Luther Kimball. About 1825, Charles White and Isaac L. Cook went into the business. How long they pursued this occupation is not known.
CARRIAGE-MAKERS. - B. T. Bicknell, about 1837, commenced the manufacture of carriages. He continued in it here only a few years.
HATTERS. - The manufacture and sale of hats and caps was carried on in this town by John Coombs, from about 1812 to 1820. He was quite celebrated in his business. He lived in the old red house in the Walker lot, and had his shop just below. At the time of the rush of emigrants to Ohio, he sold out and went to Cincinnati, where he became a rich and influential citizen. Subsequently Jesse Richards was engaged in this business. The exact time Richards was here is not known, but it was probably between 1820 and 1830. He carried on business in the same place that Coombs did. Larrabee & Emery also had, at one time, a hatter's store where Robert P. Whitney now keeps.
HARNESS-MAKERS AND SADDLERS. - In 1850, C. A. Berry had a harness-maker's and saddler's shop in Topsham.
JOINERS. -In 1802, Samuel Towns had a joiner's shop in the yard now owned by Captain William S. Skolfleld. Noah Tobey also had a shop in town at this time. Since then the number of carpenters and joiners has been too large to admit of their enumeration here.
SHOEMAKERS. - In 1802, there was a shoemaker's shop a few feet north of the residence of Mr. Ephraim Griffin, and another about where the office of Mr. W. B. Purinton is now. The names of the proprietors are not known.
About 1820, Andrew Dennison, who had made boots and shoes for some years previously, was succeeded by Samuel Knight, who continued in the business until about 1838. At a later date Parker Nash carried on this business.
TAILORS. - The first tailor in Topsham to whom any reference has been found was Thomas Wilson, in 1775 and previously. In 1802 a tailor by the name of Carr occupied a small house which stood just in front of where Deacon David Scribner now resides. Other tailors
1. Pejepscot Papers.
known to have carried on business in this town were John Chambers, 1828; John Brown, 1840; Warren Hathorn, 1844; William Heath, 1845 ; Frank T. Littlefield, 1850.
TIN SHOPS AND STOVE MANUFACTORIES. - Mr. H. M. Prescott had a tin shop here as early as 1828, in a store which stood about where Mr. W. B. Purinton's office is now. In 1836, William H. Winslow had a tin shop and manufactured air-tight stoves for his customers. In 1844, H. P. Hubbard & Co. carried on the same business for several years.
WEIGHERS OF HAY, ETC. - Nathaniel Walker is supposed to have owned the first hay-scales in town. They were of peculiar, though simple construction, as the accompanying engraving shows.
The first patent scales (Fairbanks) were bought about 1839 by Gardner Greene, and were placed on the lot where the engine-house now stands. Isaac P. Tebbetts purchased the next scales, which were on Winter Street.
There have never been in Topsham any stores devoted to a special branch of trade, unless the two first mentioned should be deemed such, but they have all been of the variety order, keeping a general assortment of goods.
At the May term in 1761, William Wilson and Philip Higgins, both of Topsham, were licensed by the Court of General Sessions for
Lincoln County to sell tea and coffee. In 1764, William Reed, of Topsham, was licensed by the same court to sell tea.
Brigadier Thompson kept store near the site of the present depot, as early as 1790. It is probable that there were no regular stores in Topsham earlier than that date, but that the settlers relied on Brunswick for their supplies.
In 1792, Joseph Haley was licensed as a retailer. Benjamin J. Porter and William King, under the name of Porter & King, kept near the southwest corner of Winter and Main Streets, from 1792 until 1802, or a few years later.
Between 1794 and 1799, Ezra Smith, father of St. John Smith, of Portland, was in business here as a store-keeper, but not meeting with much success, moved away about 1801. Isaac Johnson was also licensed as a retailer in 1792.
About 1798, Robert Labish and John Blanchard were engaged in trade here. Blanchard's store was on Green Street, about opposite Thompson Street. According to the statements of some of the aged people now living, these two were the first stores in town.
In 1801, Ezekiel Winan, David Holden, Ezra Smith, James Cushman, James Stone, John Morse, and Porter & King were all licensed as retailers.
In 1802, James Stone, father of the late Colonel Alfred J. Stone, of Brunswick, kept store in a low, one-story building, on the spot where Mrs. Joshua Haskell now lives, on the corner of Main and Elm Streets. At that time there were woods back of it. Henry Wilson kept a store where Charles E. White now does. James Cushman kept a store next south of White's, and Thomas G. & Nathaniel Sandford kept one where Mountford's shop now is, Thomas G. continuing in trade as late as 1829.
Prior to 1815, Nathaniel Quint was in trade. His store was destroyed by fire about the date given above.
In 1819, Bowman & Haskell commenced to trade in the small house now occupied by Mrs. Berry, opposite the blacksmith's shop on the Island, and continued for ten years or more.
Between 1819 and 1829, and perhaps both earlier and later, George F. Richardson had a store in town.
About 1820, Samuel and Nahum Perkins opened a general retail store. After a time Samuel sold out his interest to Nahum, who continued it until 1826, when his store and stock were consumed by fire. He subsequently went into business again. Green & Hallett kept store in 1820 in a wooden building where the bank is now.
From 1820 to 1834, Jonathan Baker kept store in a building which used to stand directly opposite the bank. The cellar of it still remains.
From 1822 to 1825, perhaps longer, William Frost kept store in a building which stood about half-way between where W. B Purinton's office now is and Summer Street.
In the spring of 1825, John Tebbetts moved to Topsham, from Lisbon, and engaged in general trade, and also in the boot and shoe business. At first he was in partnership with Jeremiah Clough, under the title of Tebbetts & Clough, but the partnership was dissolved November 24, 1828, and the business was afterwards continued by Mr. Tebbetts alone. His stock of goods is said to have been large and choice, and he carried on a very extensive business for the place for many years thereafter.
In addition to those already mentioned, the following individuals and firms were prominent in general trade at or about the dates given:-
In 1822, Gardner Greene, to 1829 or later; Nathaniel Greene, to 1840; Hallett & Brown, Charles Thompson, Samuel Veazie, to 1829 or later.
1824. Samuel and George Dennett, Frost, Swett & Co.
1825. George and William Dennett.
1826. Calvin B. Robbins & Co, William Dennett, the latter continuing in trade for many years.
1828. Jairus Fuller, Jr., Samuel R. Jackson & Co., Abel Merrill, Jr.
1829. Alfred White, and either alone or with others to 1857.
1830. Green and Barron.
1833. J. & B. Barron.
1836. Obed Frost, to 1849; Sandford A. Perkins.
1844. Frost & Whitney, Isaac P. Tebbetts; Tebbetts, Howland, & Co.
1845. Clough & Thompson.
1850. A. G. Poland, George S. Holt.
1853. Lewis P. Work.
1855. Alexander Ridley.
Some of the above-named traders were doubtless in business some years before the dates given, and many of them, after retiring for a while from active trade, recommenced either in partnership with others or singly. At the present time, however, the greater number are residents of other towns or are no longer amongst the living.
The proximity to each other of the villages of Topsham and Brunswick affords of itself an assurance that the prices of standard articles of trade did not vary much in the two towns.
The early settlers in Topsham, and perhaps in Brunswick too, used to trade somewhat at Richmond Fort. From an account-book of Judge Minot, of Brunswick, who was stationed at that fort in 1732 and subsequently, the following statements are taken:-
In 1732, William Reed, of Topsham, was charged with 30 lbs. pork @ 1s. 3d.; bread, 2s; rum, 5s.; "phlip," 1s. 2d.
From 1736 to 1739 the following articles were charged to Jacob Clark, of Topsham:-
1736, May 20, 7 1/2 yds. "Ozmb," 4s.; rum to James, 1s. 8d.; rum, 1s 3d. July 30, 6 yds. swan skin, 7s. 6d.; 1-1/2 yds. linen, 8s. April 15, 4 lbs. shot, 1s. 3d.; bread, 4s.; thread, 4s. August 15, tobacco, 1s. 8d;
3 galls. molasses @ 7s. 1739, 4 yds. linen, 7s.; a pr. hose, 1s. 6d.; 2 prs. yarn hose @ 6s.; 1 cap, 6s. 6d,; indigo, 1s.; 1 pint of rum, 1s. 4d.; 5 yds. swan skin @ 11s. 6d.
Thomas Thorne, of Topsham, also had a very similar account about the same time.
In 1777 the selectmen, in accordance with an Act of the legislature of the Commonwealth, "To prevent Monopoly and Oppression," fixed the price of labor and of all articles in general use.
The prices named were so nearly like those adopted by the town of Brunswick that their insertion here would be substantially a repetition of that list, and they are therefore omitted.
The only bank ever in operation in Topsham was the ANDROSCOGGIN BANK. It was chartered in 1834. Charles Thompson was the president and John Coburn the cashier for the whole term of its existence. Its charter expired in 1854 and was not renewed. The capital stock of this bank was $50,000.
The earliest valuation of the town of which any record is to be found was made in 1752. It was at this time as follows:-
Polls, 28; property, £180 7s.
The wealthiest man in town then was Lieutenant Adam Hunter,
whose real estate was estimated at £1 15s., and personal property at £18 4s.1
The total valuation for 1758 was, polls 47; property, £1,052 12s. Adam Hunter, then a captain, was still the richest man, his whole estate being estimated at £115.2
A new State valuation was completed in 1761, and "Topsham precinct" was assessed but seventeen shillings.3
The following is the valuation of the town in the years named. We have been unable to find the valuation for any year between 1771 and 1841. In 1771 the number of polls was one hundred and six; personal property, £21 11s. 8d.; estates, £204 17s. 5d. In 1841, the valuation of the town was $428,931. In 1850 it was $581,232. In 1860 there were three hundred and forty-five polls, and the valuation was $810,623. In 1870 the number of polls was three hundred and sixty-five, and the valuation was $879,051.
The assessment of the town for county expenses was, in 1764, £6 10s.; in 1787, £18 12s. 6d.; in 1807 it was $440.89; and in 1813, $245.58.
The first regular census of the town, known certainly to have been taken was in 1765. At this time there were in Topsham fifty-four houses, fifty-two families, seventy-eight males under sixteen years of age, eighty-five males over that age, eighty-five females under and seventy-eight over sixteen, and one negro, -- a total population of three hundred and twenty-seven, exclusive of Indians. The population subsequently to the above date has been as follows:--
1. Pejepscot Papers.
3. North's History of Augusta, p. 71.