Biddeford, Maine

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Biddeford is a city in York County, Maine, United States. It is the largest city in the county, and is the sixth-largest in the state. It is the most southerly incorporated city in the state and the principal commercial center of York County. The population was 20,942 at the 2000 census. Twin city of Saco, Biddeford includes the resort community of Biddeford Pool, Fortunes Rocks and Granite Point. The city is home to the University of New England and the annual La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival. First visited by Europeans in 1616, it is the site of one of the earliest European settlements in the United States.

Biddeford is a principal city of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan statistical area.

Contents

History

Abenaki Indians, whose main village was upriver at Pequawket (now Fryeburg), once hunted and fished in the area. The first European to settle at Biddeford was physician Richard Vines in the winter of 1616-1617 at Winter Harbor, as he called Biddeford Pool. This 1616 landing by a European predates the Mayflower landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, (located 100 miles to the south) by approximately four years, a fact that is overlooked in much of New England lore.[1] In 1630, the Plymouth Company granted the land south of the River Swanckadocke to Dr. Vines and John Oldham. In 1653, the town included both sides of the river, and was incorporated by the Massachusetts General Court as Saco. [2]

Roger Spencer was granted the right in 1653 to build the first sawmill. Lumber and fish became the community's chief exports. In 1659, Major William Phillips of Boston became a proprietor, and constructed a garrison and mill at the falls. During King Philip's War in 1675, the town was attacked by Indians. Settlers withdrew to Winter Harbor for safety, and their homes and mills upriver at the falls were burned. In 1693, a stone fort was built a short distance below the falls, but it was captured by the Indians in 1703, when 11 colonists were killed and 24 taken captive to Canada. In 1708, Fort Mary was built near the entrance to Biddeford Pool. The town was reorganized in 1718 as Biddeford, after Bideford, a town in Devon, England, from which some settlers had emigrated. After the Fall of Quebec in 1759, hostilities with the natives ceased. [2]

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