Early settlement on Westport Island topic of talk Oct. 23

Wed, 10/03/2018 - 12:00pm

“Settlement of the Midcoast, Conflicting Land Claims” is the topic of a talk and discussion at the Oct. 23 meeting of the Westport Island History Committee and Friends of Westport Island History. The speaker will be local historian Carl R. “Chip” Griffin, from Boothbay Harbor. The meeting will be at the Westport Island Town Hall, starting at 6:30 p.m., with a brief business meeting for the History Committee afterwards. The meeting is open to everyone with an interest in local history.

The early settlement of Midcoast Maine, including Westport Island, or Jeremy Squam as it was known in the 18th century, was marked by much confusion and dissension with land titles. Originating in the early land purchases from the local Indians in the mid-1600s, where title descriptions poorly identified boundaries, the ownership and title to land were subject often to conflicting claims. Agents for the Wiscasset and Kennebec Proprietors, the major claimants based in Boston, would force early settlers to pay multiple times for their land title, and this history was seen in the research done for the six houses in the recent Westport Island Historic House Tour. It wasn’t until 1815 that the legislature of Massachusetts Bay had parcel maps drawn and gave property owners an opportunity to acquire clear title for a cost of 7.5 cents per usable acre. That survey, done by Stephen Parsons for the town of Edgecomb, which then included Westport Island, created a map that shows parcels which, in some cases, are still recognizable in today’s property lines.

Chip Griffin has long had a strong interest in the history of Midcoast Maine. He graduated from Boothbay Region High School, then went on to graduate from Bowdoin, winning highest honors for his senior thesis “History of Fishing in the Boothbay Region.” Since graduating from the University of Maine School of Law, and setting up Griffin Law Offices in Boothbay Harbor, Chip has also authored three books, including “Coming of Age on Damariscove Island,” in 1980, and has written and presented on many local history topics in the years since. The settlement of the Scots Irish in America generally, and in Midcoast Maine particularly, has been a recent focus, with these 18th century immigrants often at odds with the land claims of the Kennebec and Wiscasset proprietors.

For more information please email wihistorycommittee@gmail.com, check the Westport Island History Committee Facebook page for the event, or call Jeff Tarbox at 207-882-641.