Submitted BY JAMES WINTLE
Athens seemed to be the jumping-off point for a number of Dexter’s early settlers as William Mitchell of Gilmanton, N.H. landed there. Leaving his family in Athens as others had done he travelled the route to the township, felled enough trees to build his cabin on Lot 14, Range 4 at Carr’s Corner and then returned to Athens.
The next year in the spring of 1803, he started out again from Athens with his family, his wife, an infant son and five daughters all under the age of fourteen. They all moved into this rough cabin that had no heat and no place to lay their heads. It must have been an ordeal for this young family to put up with.
In the History of Dexter, Stanley Plummer explains it this way: “In coming from Athens, they encountered great hardship. A thaw set in, and the winter road became so slumpy that it was extremely difficult for the teamster, who had undertaken to transport them together with some necessary articles of household utility to their new home, to proceed. Finally, when about six miles from their destination, he refused to go further, unloaded the furniture and the family, left them in the midst of a sea of snow, and turned his face back towards Athens. Nothing daunted, the family made their way with extreme weariness on foot, and at last found a resting-place in the home of John Tucker, which seems to have been a wayside asylum for emigrants of those days.”
After a short stay at the John Tucker place, the weather having grown colder, the William Mitchell family gathered their belongings together and walked on the crust to their own cabin on the Upper Garland Road, just a short distance from the Seba French place. As you might recall, The Seba French place is the present home of Ruby Towle. As I mentioned before, William Mitchell built his cabin at Carr’s Corner and his family was the fourth to settle in the township.
Let me mention a few more of the early settlers and their lots: John and Simeon Safford came from Washington, New Hampshire and settled on Lot No.9, Range 4 in 1803. John was born 8-12-1765 and died 1-7-1822. Simeon was born 7-29-1773 and died 9-13-1845.
Justin Whitcomb, it doesn’t say where he was from or what lot he had, only that he resided near the Safford place. He was born on 7-29-1773 and died 9-13-1845.
Jonathan Weatherbee came from Harvard, Massachusetts in 1806 and bought Lot No. 11, Range 4. In 1823, Mr. Weatherbee sold it to Samuel G. Batchelder from Gilmanton, New Hampshire.
Captain Samuel Copeland came from Washington, New Hampshire and settled on Lot Number 12, Range 4. He brought a large family of his boys with him and one or two of them settled on Woodchuck Alley. This street is now known as Cross Street.
These were only a few of Dexter’s early pioneers. I could go on and on with some of the names of the families. Names that you would rocognize, possibly your relatives, your friends and, yes, maybe even your next door neighbor. They came from all parts of the country and settled into this small community, braving all kinds of dangers, suffering the rigorous hardships of traveling by foot over trails that were rough, muddy and often so thick that the pioners had to cut their way through. Their nights were spent huddled to- gether on the ground wrapped in whatever they could use to keep warm, animal furs or bows from trees but with no protection from rain or snow.
Contact Jim Wintle by email or call 207-924-7598.
|The Daily Me * 122 Number 10 Road * Dexter, Maine 04930 * 207.924.3067|