New Gloucester, Maine

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New Gloucester is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, in the United States. It is home to the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, the last active Shaker Village in the U.S. The town's population was 4,803 at the 2000 census, and has substantially grown 13.7% from then, placing the estimated 2008 population at 5,461 people.

New Gloucester is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area.

Contents

History

New Gloucester was established under a grant from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1736, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony granted a six-square-mile tract of land in the Maine Territory to sixty inhabitants of the Gloucester fishing village on Cape Ann. The first settlers followed the road newly bushed out from North Yarmouth and built cabins on Harris Hill between 1739 and 1742. The settlement was abandoned from 1744-1751 due to the heightened Indian attacks during King George's War. [1]

Settlers returned and in 1753 commenced work on a two story, fifty-foot square blockhouse with a palisade stockade 110 feet (34 m) on a side. This was home to twelve families for six years. The men worked at clearing the surrounding 60 acres (240,000 m2) of common land under the protection of two swivel guns manned by a garrison of six soldiers. One attack was made upon the fort, resulting in one scalping and two men captured. As the Indians gradually withdrew to Canada, the settlers moved out into their own newly built homes. The blockhouse continued to serve for worship and town affairs until the first meetinghouse was built in 1773. In 1788, the blockhouse was sold at auction for seven bushels of corn and moved to a farm in the intervale, where it was rebuilt as a hog house. [1]

New Gloucester became a half shire town with Portland, and the courts met here from 1791 until the organization of Oxford County in 1805, when they returned to Portland. With good soil for agriculture, the town developed as a prosperous farming community. In 1858, when the population was 1,848, other industries included six sawmills, two gristmills and two tanneries. [2]

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