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Hallowell, Maine, USA
1889 - Hallowell
The irony of history is well illustrated in the fortunes of the twin cities-Hallowell and Augusta. A century ago the former place seemed to have much the better prospects. Including all of the present territory occupied by both cities,. it gave strong evidence of becoming the leading city of the Kennebec valley. But though that part of the original town set of and named Augusta, has had better fortunes than the rest, there is still much of great interest and historical value in the older city of Hallowell. The earliest settlement within the limits of old Halloweib was at Cushnoc, now Augusta. Here the Pilgrims built their block-house in 1629, and here in. 1754 was Fort Western established by the Massachusetts colonists. Around this fort for several miles up and down, and on both sides of the river, the old settlement grew up until it was all incorporated, in 1771, under the name of Hallowell in honor of Benjamin Hallowell of Boston, a leading owner of real estate in the town. What is now the city of Hallowell was origin all called "Bombahock," by. the Indians. Among the earliest settlers at this point were Jonathan Davenport, who came in 1762, Samuel Bullen and Ezekiel Chase who came in 1783. When the town was incorporated in 1771, the settlers from this section took a leading part in the Local government. In the following year there were ninety-six tax-payers within the limits of the town. The first religious meetings were held in the vicinity of Fort Western, and the first minister, Rev. John Allen, came in 1774.
The growing settlement naturally took a deep interest in the symptoms of war which now began to manifest themselves. Being of a liberty-loving, enterprising disposition, it immediately espoused the cause of its countrymen, regardless of evil consequences to itself; for, although the war greatly retarded its advancement, it never murmured or bated a jot of its strong endeavors to promote the struggle for victory. A committee of safety and correspondence was' formed at Hallowell, among the earliest of the Revolutionary committees in the District of Maine.
In the early part of 1775, soldiers were sent to Boston and engaged with gallantry in the fighting around that city. Hallowell, itself, had a glimpse of the battle-field and of the stern-faced men who were engaged in the struggle, when Col. Benedict Arnold, with his heroic and unflinching band of volunteers passed through the town in the fail of 1775. Quite a number enlisted for the expedition from this town, and but few returned from the desperate, forlorn expedition. In the year of Independence, 1776, this little settlement subscribed the sum of £66 to advance the cause, an amount which at that time and place was equivalent to many thousands of dollars now. A company of volunteers was also raised.
The years of the war dragged slowly on, each one increasing the burdens on the people, yet evidently bringing the close and reward of the struggle nearer. The year 1779 was remarkable for the fact that an unusually large tax was raised, amounting to over $12,000. In that year fifty men were sent from Hallowell to engage in the unsuccessful expedition against the English posts at Castine and Bagaduce; the failure being due to the inefficiency of the leadership, and not to the gallantry of the soldiers.
The close of the war in 1783, not only caused great rejoicings, but also more practical fruit in an immediate resumption of the forward movement in size and wealth which the war had stopped. Business now began to expand; new settlers came and laid out farms, and especially around Fort Western. Every year witnessed marked changes, already foreshadowing a town of considerable size and importance. By the beginning of the next decade, both the "Fort" and "Hook" sections of old Hallowell were prospering and spreading w&dely through the surrounding country. A post-office had been, established in each section and at the "Hook "; besides the mercantile stores were several flour and saw mills, a distillery and brewery. A meeting-house had already been built and opened, and in 1791 the "Hallowell Academy" was incorporated by the General Court of Massachusetts. At that time it was the highest institution in the District of Maine, and was the best in New England, north of Exeter, N. H. This fact well illustrates the leading position in the State, which. Hallowell had so early taken, and also the cultivated character of its citizens. The population in 1790 had risen to 1194, and was increasing rapidly.
The year 1797 was marked by an event, than which hardly a more important one has taken place in the history of the town, namely, the separation of Augusta. This movement had caused much discussion for several years, thesettlement at the "Fort" claiming a distinct name and government, and after much fighting they carried their point, inflicting a blow not yet overcome in the growth of the old town. After the separation Hallowell continued to advance, but slowly, up to the present century.
The first decade witnessed much growth in size and wealth, though the Emgargo had a paralyzing effect on commerce for a time. At the beginning of the war of 1812 considerable business interest was manifested here, but the war had a deadly effect, and it was long before it was recovered from. Although at much personal loss and inconvenience, the people of Hallowell entered into the war of 1812 with patriotism and devotion.
The valuation Of the town in 1830 was $315,000, and among its property were 8,916 tons of shipping, which showed that the town had already gained quite a marine interest. The decline of this and the cotton interest injured the growth of the town more than any other two agents, but other openings came to help supply their loss, and especially the great development of the granite business.
The Hallowell artillery, formed in 1821, was a great institution, the first, and best at the time in the State. Two brass six-pounders and a tunbrill formed the battery of this primitive organization, but it accomplished a good work, introduced a salutary discipline, and was a strong and healthful influence in the social and political life of 'the time and locality. Many anecdotes and reminiscences of this "ancient and honorable" body exist to the present day.
The history of Hallowell through the middle of this century was one of slow and natural development, unmarked by any striking events. A great tornado in 1846 caused a great deal of damage, but no loss of life. From 1850 on, the slavery question became more and more prominent and exciting, the sentiment of the town being strongly in favor of the abolition of slavery. When the civil war broke out a large number of its citizens were ready to offer their lives for the maintenance of the Union and the freedom of the slave. Considerable detachments from this town joined the First, Ninth, Eleventh, Thirteenth, Twenty-fourth, Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth Maine Regiments, and some soldiers from Hallowell, were in almost every regiment sent out by the State. Many gallant men and talented officers went from Hallowell.
Since the war the progress at Hallowell has not been so rapid as at an earlier period, yet sufficiently marked to be undeniable. Among other interests the granite resources of the town have been admirably developed, making the name of the town famous in many parts of the land, for the unusual density, durability and beauty of 'the celebrated rook found here. The name of the late lamented Governor Bodwell naturally suggests itself in connection with this interest, which he did so much to develop here. The late Governor was highly honored at his home in Hallowell, and his death, while occupying his responsible position, was a sad blow to numerous friends and sympathizers in this city.
The city government of Hallowell was incorporated in 1850, and has always been noted for the extreme care and honor with which its business has been conducted. All protective measures through the employment of trained and competent fire and police officers are carefully provided for, and every endeavor made so that an unusual degree of security is obtained for property and person. The sanitary standard is among the highest in this unusually salubrious State, and the death rate very low, hardly one in one hundred. A city physician is employed to exercise careful supervision over every health interest of the city. The moral standard also of the town is of a rare and lofty type, the slow growth of the city having prevented the introduction of influences which tend to break down the bulwarks of society. There are churches of almost every important denomination, which are largely attended and exert a wide and efficacious influence for the highest good of the citizens of the city.
Leading Business Men of LEWISTON, AUGUSTA and VICINITY BOSTON MERCANTILE PUBLISHING COMPANY 1889
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