Weld, Maine

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Weld is a town in Franklin County, Maine, United States. The population was 402 at the 2000 census. Set beside Webb Lake and almost surrounded by mountains, Weld is noted for its scenic beauty. It is home to Mount Blue State Park and Camp Kawanhee for Boys.

Contents

History

Originally called No. 5 (or Webb's Pond Plantation), it was first settled in 1800 by Nathaniel Kittredge and his family from Chester, New Hampshire. The town was part of an extensive tract purchased about 1790 from the state of Massachusetts by Jonathan Phillips of Boston. Phillips was an investor whose agent, Jacob Abbott of Wilton, New Hampshire, resold parcels of the land to settlers. Together with Benjamin Weld of Boston, Abbott and his brother-in-law Thomas Russell Jr. in 1815 bought what remained of the Phillips tract. [1]

Incorporated on February 8, 1816, the town was named for its proprietor, Benjamin Weld, a member of the Weld family. [2] Inauspiciously, 1816 was the Year Without a Summer, when unusually cold weather threatened northeastern communities with famine.

A longtime resident of Weld was Pomp Russell, an African-American man born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1765. Russell served at the Battle of Bunker Hill as a young boy, and was later caught spying behind British lines. Russell was lined up to be shot when he managed to escape. Following the Revolutionary War Russell moved to New Hampshire, and then to Weld, the home of the Russell family, into which he had been adopted at age five, when Thomas Russell paid £5 for him. Pomp Russell was raised as a member of the Russell family, was awarded his freedom at age 21, and ultimately settled on land at Weld given him by Abel and Joseph Russell, sons of Thomas. Pomp Russell married Margaret Southwick of Charlestown, and he was a farmer.[3]

Weld is located on a fairly level area of gravelly loam almost surrounded by mountains, some of which are beyond the town's limits. Farmers cultivated corn, potatoes, wheat and oats. Weld was noted for numerous and prolific apple orchards. Streams provided water power for mills, which included 5 sawmills, 3 box mills, a gristmill and a carding machine. It also produced fork and shovel handles, butter tubs, harness and tinware. Other industries were a starch factory, blacksmith and tannery. [1] By 1870, the population was 1,130. [4]

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