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Monday, January 09, 2006

Missionary Tour in Maine, 1796

Rev. Paul Coffin of Buxton in 1796 made a missionary tour along what was then the frontier of Maine. Below are those entries in his journal that refer to places in Oxford County. Annotations in square brackets are my own.

Source: Collections of the Maine Historical Society, 1st Series, Vol. 4. (Portland, Me., 1856).
[p. 301]
MISSIONARY TOUR IN MAINE,

MY TRAVELS AND LABORS FOR TWO MONTHS, WITH AN ACCOUNT OF SANDY RIVER. 1796.
June 15th. Left home and rode to Windham.

16th. Raymondton. Rode to this, this morning. Put up with Lewis Gay, and tarried three days. Preached at Capt. Dingley's from Mathew 5:23-24. Preached at Capt. Simonton's from Acts 17:30-31, among the Baptists, under their Pastor Leach. They allowed my doctrine to be good, and me a good man, but not a preacher, as I read my sermons.

Sabbath, 19th. Preached from Mark 16:15-16, and Luke 2:13-14. One baptism, Peter Staples, an infant.

This town has about sixty families. One man in it sold his logs this spring for one thousand one hundred dollars.

20th, 21st. Otisfield. Preached from Timothy 2:14, and Acts 17:30-31. This is a good township. The meeting house stands on a beautiful hill commanding an extensive prospect. From this you see Poland, Paris, Rustfield,1 &c. Was kindly entertained at Benj. Patch's, who has a fine farm of two hundred acres lying on each side of the road. He

[1] Norway.

[p. 302]
has a trout in a spring, which darts to the top of the water and takes a fly, &c., as soon as you drop them. Thus this pretty fish has lived for two years.

23d. Philips Gore [now part of Otisfield]. Heard Mr. Stephen Hall, the Methodist, from Mathew 5:8.

[A scathing critique of Methodist doctrine, and Mr. Hall's performance, follows.]

23d. Philips Gore, Preached at Ezekiel Rich's from Acts 17:30-31. Here Hall had preached before, and now

[p. 303]
heard me. Went on to Rustfield, about three miles, in a road rocky, rooty, muddy and truly bad.

24th. Rustfield. Rustfield, Philips Gore, and Cummings Gore, run by the east side of Waterford. Rustfield affords good land and an extensive prospect. Preached from 2 Tim. 4:13-14. Good attention. Mr. Jno. Rust [Henry Rust is meant], the proprietor of this place was here with his wife from Salem. I dined with these hospitable and agreeable folks. He has used the settlers kindly—owns a saw and grist mill. He has a shop for a blacksmith, in which the water blows the bellows and makes the trip hammer go quick, which does the office of a sledge and enables the smith to make an horse shoe, &c., with great dispatch. This is a good place, and the grass is rich. From this to Sudbury Canada,1 is twenty miles.

25th. Paris. From Rustfield to this we cross Little Androscoggin. Here is a predestinarian society of Baptists under Mr. Hooper. 'Tis a good place, the clover and herdgrass were headed in the road.

26th. Sabbath. Preached all day from John 15:14, to about three hundred hearers, very attentive, decently dressed and well behaved; making the largest and most hopeful assembly to which I had as yet spoken. We met in a barn of Capt. Bolster's. He is sociable and very hospitable. Rode after meeting to Hebron, and put up with a Mr. Bass, (Bearce.) This place like all the rest had some Baptists. Mr. Bass (Bearce) would give two hundred dollars with all his heart to see the town united under a Congregational minister. No hopes of it! Just so is the rich township of Paris.

27th Hebron. Preached from Hebrews 4:12. Heard the same Mr. Hall, from Isaiah 40:31; a very lean dis-

1 Bethel.

[p. 304]
course from an excellent text. He remembered my talk with him, I suppose, and often begged us to be patient under his broken way of speaking. Messrs. Bass, (Bearce,) Squire Greenwood and Turner of this place have fine farms, affording a large and pleasant prospect. This town was greatly injured by a Mr. Porter, now in Boston jail, for moneymaking. He had a united call to settle here in the ministry.

28th. Buckfield, formerly Bucktown. This lies N. of Hebron. N. E. from this is Livermore; above which is Butterfield [Sumner and Hartford], Pennycook [Rumford], &c. Nearly E. from this is Turner. Preached from Acts 17:30, 31. Put up with Mr. George Buck, originally from Newbury, who, with nothing but his hands has advanced to five hundred acres of good land. He has eight pails of milk from ten cows.

29th. Turner. Rode to this from Buckfield, having on my left Twenty mile river. Turner is beautiful. The roads houses and farms, make the town appear old, improved and very agreeable. This was much the prettiest place seen since I left Gorham. Poland joins this, easterly and reaches the Great Androscoggin; and joins New Durham.

Turner lies on Androscoggin river, and Twenty mile river empties into this great river in Turner. Little Androscoggin empties into the great Androscoggin in Poland. Visited Brother Strickling the pastor. Put up with Dr. Hay, who boards with a Mr. Leavitt; whose house, farm and situation are elevated and good. This town is twenty-five years old and yields to few inland towns in America for its agriculture. Yet 'tis dispirited in religion, tired of its minister, and vexed by a party of Baptists and its own covetousness. Such are the circumstances of this lovely town! The sight of it will make a man wish it virtuous and mentally im-

[p. 305]
improved [sic]. Indeed he is loth to believe it is not so. Preached from Hebrews 4:12.

[Rev. Coffin the next day proceeded to Littleboro' (Leeds).]

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