Saturday, June 24, 2017


In 1699, Colonel Wolfgang William Romer returned with an exploratory expedition.  From the Fort Loyall ruins, Romer wrote,
"There are still to be seen the remains of houses of two stories high, with stone walls and chimneys, and there are 180 farms, beside  a great many fisherman's houses.  'Tis a great pity that so fine a country should be deserted."
(Taken from Deering; A Social and Architectural History by William David Barry and Patricia McGraw Anderson, pg. 35.) 

     The reference speaks to the abandonment of the town of Falmouth, which included all of Portland, Westbrook, South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and present day Falmouth,  after the destruction of Fort Loyall and the massacre of 200 men, women and children in May of 1690.  the frightened folks had received an alarm about the potential invasion by French and Native forces and gathered for protection at the fort at the foot of India Street 

    The constant and acrimonious relationship between the French and English for dominance and possession of the province of Maine resulted in open warfare where, for the most part, the first Nation members sided with the French and put the inhabitants of ancient Falmouth in peril.  The whole area remained uninhabited for twenty-six years until the Treaty of Portsmouth also referred to as the Treaty Utrecht in 1713.

     Troy R. Bennett is a photo journalist who recently presented an excellent piece on the destruction of Fort Loyall that I'm sure followers of this blog will find interesting.  I really enjoy Troy's work and though he claims not to be an historian, nor am I, his vignettes of historical events in Portland history create a vivid and entertaining picture of the past.  I was pleased and a bit surprised to see that Troy Bennett chose to dedicate two articles to two of our inhabitants of the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery:  William Blake and the younger Crispus Graves.  Both video tapped at the cemetery.

     Before venturing further, I want to acknowledge that for the last several months I have been accumulating notes and stories which have led to my taking a look backwards in order to understand how it is that the key players in the Back Cove settlement around the area associated with our Grand Trunk Cemetery came to be.  As a result, I have been dragging my 'mental feet' in the hope of achieving a better understanding myself of the who, what, when and where. 

   Beside the Deering book, I used Theodore Sawyer's Back Cove to Quaker Lane to look more closely at the land grants purchased by Isaac Sawyer, Joseph Noyes, Isaac Illsley and Jasper Blake.  I found myself wanting to know more about the people from whom they purchased their land:  the names of Moses Gould, Ebenezer Hall, Sr., Eben Hall, Jr. Cornelius Hall, John Wass, and others kept appearing.  I learned that the Halls and Moses Gould were soldiers who served in the conflicts between the French and English and were probably among the soldiers who returned to the area with Major Samuel Moody and actively engaged in resettlement.   I learned that Isaac Sawyer received his grant through John Wass and this was originally a grant from George Cleeves, considered to be the founder of Portland.

The statue of George Cleeves was donated to the City of Portland by his descendants,  however the City Council declined the offer.  The statue is now located  on private property over looking Portland Harbor, because controversy ensued over whether Cleeves and his family kept a slave.  There was never substantial evidence as to the veracity of this claim.
      Please view this post as an introduction to a series which I hope readers will find interesting and informative and helpful in doing your own historical sleuthing.  Signing off for now!