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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Missionary Tour in Maine, 1800

Rev. Paul Coffin of Buxton in 1800 made a fourth tour of the frontier towns 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. 385]

[p. 386]
Aug. 25. Monday. Raymondton. Otisfield. Rode to Otisfield and put up with brother Robie, minister and pastor there. By the way called at Hezekiah Cook's and had a horse-shoe set. Visited the families of Gay, Mitchell, Mann and the aged Mr. Spur.

Spur gave me these two anecdotes. Father Gay of Hingham watched a thief taking his hay by night, and by the help of a dark lantern set fire to the heap on his back. The thief thus blasted by angry Heaven, confessed his repeated thefts.

[p. 387]
A man having heard Mr. Whitefield, said to his neighbors, "he exceeds all preachers." "Why, did he say anything new ?" "No." "Well, did you ever hear Bp. Hancock and not find something new." "No." "Then you attended to the manner more than to the matter."

Mr. Robie had a barn happily raised on that day. After that the Scriveners, three brothers, from Waterborough, had a fight with one another and tore their clothes to piece's and horribly profaned God's name.

Aug. 26. Tuesday. Rode to Phillips gore1 and preached from 2d Tim. 3.14, 15, and put up with Squire Anderson.

Aug. 27. Wednesday. Rode to Squire Rust's of Norway. He was absent; his generous wife at home. The weather was very hot and dry. Before this the season here had been quite fruitful.

Aug. 28. Thursday. Norway. Rode two miles and dined with a young candidate, Thompson, preaching in that town. He rode with me back to Squire Rust's and lodged with me after I had preached from Prov. 20. 11.

Aug. 29. Friday. Norway. Paris. Rode to Paris, the weather still dry and warm. Went to David Andrews' and preached to a serious audience from Acts 24. 25.

Aug. 30. Saturday. Paris. Rode back to the center of Paris and put up with Daniel Stowell Esq.

Aug. 31. II Sabbath, Paris. Preached at the house of the Squire from Luke 16:29-31. The audience was small by reason of rain, which fell with small intermission from 5 A. M. to 4 P. M., a moist, seasonable and refreshing shower. Three weeks before this, exactly, it rained all day at Buxton. The Squire has a beautiful situation, very central, of 500 acres of rich land. His house has a stoop and appears

1This was granted to Lieut. Governor Phillips of Massachusetts, and is now a part of Otisfield. W.

[p. 388]
well. Hooper, the Baptist minister of the place, heard me in the afternoon and conversed some time, with some judgment and apparent candor.

Sept. 1. Monday. Paris, Hebron. Rode and took breakfast with Capt. Bolster. He told me they would cut a second crop in Worcester &c., while they had no apples. He has a second crop of clover fit for the scythe. A fine rain fell at Greene the preceeding week. Went to Mr. Turner's in Hebron. One company of militia met at his neighbor Beard's. After dinner the Capt. asked me to pray with his company which behaved decently. Hebron is 21 years old. Stephen Robinson begun his farm 13 years ago, has now 130 acres improved; raises annually 800 bushels bread; has fatted 90 hogs in a year, and raised this year 80 bushels of oats on two acres. Capt. Dean, Lieut. Beard and Ensign Robinson are the officers of the company. The two first are likely and worthy men.

Sept. 2. Tuesday, Hebron. Had much religious coversation to day and yesterday with the people of this town. They are peaceful and agreeable as far as undivided by the baptists and methodists. Two baptist ministers are among them. Hutchinson at the east and Tripp at the west. The former is ignorant, and very earnest and loud, not to say mad. The night meetings held by him are indecent and an open door to undue freedom between the sexes. Young men invite one another to go to them with such views. One who had attended meeting with such views was positively told by Hutchinson that his sins were forgiven. Oh! the wants of a true minister. In the afternoon delivered a discourse from Mark 16:15, 16; then rode to Buckfield with Mr. Benjamin Spaulding and John Clay, Clay is the son of Richard, late of Buxton, whose wife was Ruth Whiton. Clay

[p. 389]
has three married sisters in Buckfield, where is his mother, also.

Sept. 3. Buckfield. Mr. Spaulding is the first settler here of about twenty years standing. He lives about ten miles from Mr. Turner's of Hebron. He owns 800 acres and is from small beginnings advanced to wealth. He has four barns and several convenient out houses, makes about five tons of potash yearly. His situation is rich and pleasant. He lives in plenty and entertains a friend well. The town is a hundred and fifty or a hundred and sixty families; some good houses; no settled minister; all are divided. He says near twenty ministers from Gorham have entered among them to spoil their union and prevent the settlement of a minister, Oh! Gorham, what hast thou done! Spaulding has forty black cattle with sheep and horses. Sumner, at its centre, is 3 or 4 miles from him, N. E. He is two miles from the centre of Buckfield, (where Andrews trades) and is on the road to Paris. He has a grist and saw-mill.

Sept. 4. Thursday. Buckfield. Preached from Acts 24:25. Put up with Mr. Abijah Buck. He, a brother, and Spaulding are beautifully situated on the north side of excellent interval, annually overflowed. It bears usually one and one fourth tons of hay per acre. Buck has a sweet garden running from his door to the stream. Five houses for martins on poles before his door, are ornamental. They went off three weeks ago.

Sept. 5. Buckfield. Friday. Buck's. This morning after a rain is pleasant, all things green, and clover fit for mowing. Visited three families yesterday. Mrs. Taylor, Buck's mother, is 90 years old, was born at Haverhill and remembers Mrs. Dustin killing seven indians. Her husband, with one hand only, built more than two hundred mills. Visited Messrs

[p. 390]
Ricker, Warren, Hussey, John Cole and John Elwell. Put up again with Abijah Buck. Cold night but no frost. New corn was ground here the first instant.

Sept. 6. Saturday. Buckfield, Sumner. Visited Mr. Harlow, long sick and emaciated. He and wife appear very mild and christian like. Gave a Psalter to their little sweet daughter Suky. Mrs. Buck asked me this good question and in the following words, "can a man be a christian before he is clever?" Preached from James 3:7. Then rode to Sumner through a good road and put up with Joshua Robinson, son of the deacon, a pleasant family it was.

Sept. 7. Ill Sabbath. Sumner. Preached to a large and serious assembly from Luke 16:29, 30, and Romans 8:16. This was the best day found in the mission. Preached in the barn of Hezekiah Stetson. The audience was large and not much divided, consisting of people not turned with the travelling doctrines of the day. Mr. Isaiah Cushman, lately from N. Yarmouth was greatly taught and relieved by the sermon on Romans 8:16. This town is settled on a road running six miles from N. to S. Rode on my way to Hartford after supper, and put up with Deacon Robinson. He has two houses, two barns and two mills, saw and grist, and a Potash. He lives well and treated me with water mellons having white seeds.

Sept. 8. Monday. Sumner, Hartford. Rode to Bartlett's of Hartford, and preached from Prov. 20:11 to a pretty good number. Was most kindly received by this couple. Lodged with his neighbor, Freeman Ellis and was kindly treated by him and wife, and very kindly by his daughter Joanna, deaf and dumb, but very careful, attentive and industrious.

Sept. 9. Tuesday. Hartford, Livermore. Rode to Dr. Hamblin's of Livermore, visiting by the way, Messrs Ames,

[p. 391]
Toland, and Parker. Mrs. Ellis has found poppies and carraway seed very good in helping relaxed bowells, being free from the disorder four years thereby. Spake much with the Doctor, who seemed to suppose, as others also told me, that he had lately experienced the new birth. He rather declined giving me an account of it. He is much of a predestinarian baptist. He said we, regular clergy, teach people to do their best, and then, by fifty or sixty years they may arise to a ray of hope. He was evidently for that quick dispatch which pleases many and perhaps deceives thousands. Visited Mr. Bartlett and Major Learned. Mrs. Learned only, was at home. She is, in person and behaviour quite engaging, attentive, decent and industrious. Her husband is beginning to trade. Has sold this summer goods to the amount of $500. His prospects are good.

Sept. 10. Wednesday. Livermore. Mr. Monroe told me that the baptists, who lately multiplied here, suppose religion and trade have no connection. Their religion may be pure, while they make a good bargain. Robinson, pastor at Sanford went from this town and used to boast that he had cheated a man out of one hundred dollars. At Sanford he took a place for which he gave one here. This be commended as truly excellent, with the best water and a house that never smoked, yet the water was too bad to be drunken and the house was truly a smoking one. The cheat was about two hundred dollars in his favor, and the man who exchanged with him is very sick of his bargain.

The season was now happy and the grass green. Rode to my friend, Jonathan Morse, the excellent blacksmith. He set anew my horses fore shoes. Preached from Acts 17:30, 31. His wife was the woman killed by the fall of his

[p. 392]
brother's house, 15th Aug. 1799. Put up with Abijah Monroe for the night.

Sept. 11. Thursday, Livermore. Fayette. Still good weather for corn. A Mr. Bemis of Livermore has this year raised two hundred bushels of rye and his corn is believed to be five hundred. This is a young man, a bastard, bred up at Waltham. His master gave him his land. Dr. Livermore had a most thrifty and bearing orchard. Williams, the baptist minister, bought land of a man at the westward, who had given the refusal of it to a Mr. Morse. The seller was honest but deceived. Morse lost thus about five hundred dollars. The same vile trick he played against a man whose wife he visited in sickness, as her minister, getting information at this very visit to wrong her husband.

[Rev. Coffin then proceeded to Fayette.]


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