Wells, Maine

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Wells is a town in York County, Maine, United States. Founded in 1643, it is one of the oldest towns in Maine. The population was 9,400 at the 2000 census. Wells Beach is a popular summer destination.



The Abenaki Indians called the area Webhannet, meaning "at the clear stream," a reference to the Webhannet River. In 1622, the Plymouth Company in England awarded to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Lord Proprietor of Maine, territory which included the Plantation of Wells. His young cousin, Thomas Gorges, acting as deputy and agent, in 1641 granted to Rev. John Wheelwright and other settlers from Exeter, New Hampshire the right to populate the land from northeast of the Ogunquit River to southwest of the Kennebunk River. Following the death of the elder Gorges in 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony laid claim to Maine. In 1653, Wells was incorporated, the third town in Maine to do so, and named after Wells, England, a small cathedral city in the county of Somerset. It then included Kennebunk, set off the year Maine became a state in 1820, and Ogunquit, designated a village within Wells by the legislature in 1913, then set off in 1980.

Wells was the resilient northeastern frontier of English settlement. Other early attempts to colonize Maine above Wells, including the Popham Colony in 1607, and Pejepscot (now Brunswick) in 1628, were abandoned except for a few forts and garrisons. Beginning with King Philip's War in 1675, Native American attacks destroyed many incipient towns. New France resented encroachment by New England in territory it considered its own, and used the Abenaki inhabitants to impede English settlement. During King William's War, when Wells contained about 80 houses and log cabins strung along the Post Road, the town was attacked on June 9, 1691 by about 200 Native Americans commanded by the sachem Moxus. But Captain James Converse and his militia successfully defended Lieutenant Joseph Storer's garrison, which was surrounded by a gated palisade. Another sachem, Madockawando, threatened to return the next year "...and have the dog Converse out of his hole."

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