Volume Two of a Continuing History of the Town of Whitefield, Maine

By Henry C. Waters July 1983


It is often said nowadays — one more generation and no one will know where Kings Mills is.

With that prediction it seemed something should be written about the settlement — and how it contributed to the growth of the Town of Whitefield, Maine — over the past two hundred years.

The area around the "Great Falls on the Sheepscot River" —situated about four miles above the "Head of the Tide" was surveyed in 1771-72. The first Improvement of the Hill site was undertaken in earnest around 1773. Shortly thereafter homesteaders or 'people with a purpose" Joined In the growth of the village — establishing sawmills — gristmills and blacksmith and carpenter shops.

Settlers had settled on homesteads before 1772 and they were ready to avail themselves of products of the mills as soon as they became available.

To get an idea of the growth and. expansion of the settlement a study of a few deeds was undertaken. These deeds tell a fairly complete story of the buildings, their location — and Identify the Inhabitants by names with descriptions of boundaries and lines enabling historians a wealth of information.

Sylvester Gardiner

Sylvester Gardiner, physician, born South Kingston, R.I., on June 29, 1708. Son of William and Abigail (Bemington) married Amie Gibbons December II, 1732. Married Abigail Eppes 1772. Harried Catherine Goldthwait February 18, 1785. Six children including John. Established Apothecary shop in Boston 174-, later established similar stores in Hartford, and Meridan, Connecticut, practiced medicine in Boston, proposed and established hospital for smallpox in 1761; purchased land in Maine 1753. Founded Town of Pittston (now Gardiner, Maine). Loyalist, banished 1778, went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, later to England — returned to United States 1785. Settled in Newport, R.l., died Newport, August 8, 1786.

— Who's Who in American History

Vol. 1607-1896


The company's title (Plymouth Company) to land east of the Kennebec River and towards the lower part of the patent, being disputed by the Proprietors and the company not being able to warrant In their corporate capacity — or to sell them without warranty. Dr. Gardiner undertook the responsibility for them, which proved troublesome to himself and vexatious to his heirs. The company conveyed to him large tracts of land on each side of the Sheepscot River and he gave two bonds each in the penal sums of

20,000 sterling, to sell and account with them for the process —

The Revolutionary War interrupted the business and he had no opportunity after the close to complete it before his decease.

Ended in court — ruled $2,500 due the Doctor and Company.

—Notes from Collection of Maine Historical Society

Taken from Liberty Hill facing west.
The Norris-Lewis and. Crowell houses, and. Choate Bridge in the foreground..
Sauren King's store and. and. Manning house in left side of picture.
David Crowell (Brad-ford. King) upper right.



The instrument between Dr. Sylvester Gardiner and. Jeremiah Norris executed. September 9, 1773 describes the location of the first mill site at the Great Palls on the Sheepscot River.

"To all People unto whom these Presents shall come Sylvester Gardiner Esq. of Boston in the County of Suffolk and. Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Esquire Sendeth Greeting. "

Know ye that I the said. Sylvester Gardiner for and. in consideration of the sum of Two Hundred. and. Sixty Pounds, thirteen shillings and. four Pence lawful money to me in Hand. well and. truly paid. by Jeremiah Norris of Epping in the County of Rockingham and. Province of Hew Hampshire, yeoman "certain Tracts of land. situate lying and being on the East and West sides of Sheepscot River in the County of Lincoln about three miles and. an half above the Head of the Tide."

The tract of Land was described as "about Two Miles long and fifty Rods wide and divided into two lots, the lot on the West Side numbers Eighty six and Lot Thirty three on the East Side of said Sheepscot River on a Plan of said River and lots made by Lieutenant John McKechnie for the Kennebec Company. In witness whereof I the said Sylvester Gardiner have hereunto set my Hand and Seal the Eighth Day of September Anno Domini One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy three".

Jeremiah Norris of Epping N.H. started the improvement of the mill site 1773. The first dam and mill was built down river and near the Choate Bridge. The Norris house was built on the west side of the river, opposite the mill and bridge. Many times the house was referred to as the "Gun Barrel."

1779 all stream and mill tract and appurtenances to Norris to Choate and Bridge — 177 Norris sold a quarter part of all privileges in this tract and appurtenances to Abraham Choate and Edmund Bridge, both of Pownalborough, County of Lincoln. The deed recorded the price paid was twelve hundred pounds and signed September 1779.

An instrument signed the ninth day of October 1779 states that Edmund Bridge sold one half interest in Lot 33 and Lot 86 to Abraham Choate. The amount was three thousand pounds with the stipulation that Abraham Choate would discharge the Mortgage Deed dated October 1773 for two hundred sixty six pounds, thirteen shillings and four pence with interest given by Jeremiah Norris to Sylvester Gardiner. The description included the wording " together with half part of the stream and. double sawmill standing on the Great Palls in said Sheepscot River and. all privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging or appertaining. "

Abraham Choate to John Choate et al — August 28, 1788

This instrument made by Abraham Choate conveyed to his sons John, Aaron, and Moses the tract of land about two miles long and fifty rods wide called Lots number 86 on the west side and lot number 33 on the east side of said River.

Thus it would appear that the entire tract deeded by Jeremiah Norris was now held by the Choate family.

This deed furthermore conveyed a lot of land lying upon the west side of the Sheepscot River, beginning upon the said River where the north line of Lot No. 86 falls upon said River running a NW course 320 poles — then running about 60 rods to Land In possession of Thomas Turner and numbered Lot 87.

In the meantime, according to "Middlesex County of Massachusetts," Benjamin King Jr., a farmer, settled in 1779 ten miles east of Gardiner, Maine on the Sheepscot River at a place called Ballstown. The locality became known as Kings Mills from the fact that King built a saw mill and grist mill on the excellent water privilege at this point.

Benjamin King Jr. was born May 23, 1749 at New Ipswich, New Hampshire. He married Ruth Bartlett, who accompanied him where they resided in Ballstown with their children Peter, Elizah, Benjamin, Moses, John and Rice.

Benjamin King Jr. died at Ballstown August 30, 1801. His death was caused by a falling beam while working in the mill.

The Kings had settled on a strip of land adjoining the mill lots — and numbered 85 in the McKechnie survey of 1772. Litigation of the size of this homestead tract ended in 1799.

In 1795 the following "The Proprietors of the Kennebec Purchase from the late Colony of New Plymouth, Plaintiffs vs. Benjamin King of a place called Ballstown, Dept. in a plea of Ejectment against said King four hundred acres of land with appurtenances."

November 20, 1799 Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts begun and holden within the County of Lincoln and. for the Counties of Lincoln, Hancock and Washington.

"After a full hearing and viewing the demanded premises do report that Benjamin King shall have and hold one hundred acres of the land being lot No. Eighty five on the west side of Sheepscot River fifty rods fronting on said river and extending northwest holding that width one mile — adjoining another on the mill lot so called on lot No. eighty four agreeable to plan by John McKechnie, being the same lot on which the said King now dwells. "

The Abraham Choate to John, Aaron, and Moses deed dated August 28, 1788 changed the holdings of the Choate family In the lots numbered 33 and 86, considerably. Abraham Sr. and Abraham Jr. were now out.

Abraham Sr. is recorded as having returned to Wiscasset in 1783 for the birth of son Ebenezer. Abraham Sr. died in 1800 and apparently buried in Wiscasset.

Dr. Sylvester Gardiner died on August of 1786, which may have had a bearing on the disposing of Choate's holdings in Lots 33 and 86.

Abraham Jr. sold the "Plymouth Grant to Choate" to Jona. Jones who owned the adjoining lot — in 1788 — The title went back to Abraham Jr. In 1791 with 100 acres added to the original 200 acres. Hoses Choate was deeded 150 acres on Pleasant Pond in 1800 by Abraham Jr. Apparently Abraham Jr. retained the remaining acreage and settled thereon.

Abraham Choate sr. is listed as an Assessor of the Plantation of Ballstown, 1790, and would become one of the first selectmen of Whitefield as well as clerk of Whitefield in 1809.

Abraham Choate Jr. to Jona. Jones Book 22 P. 161, 1788

I Abraham Choate Jr. of Ballstown in the County of Lincoln in consideration of eighty five pounds paid me by Jonathan Jones of Newcastle bounded, beginning at a pine and hemlock trees standing on the western shore of Pleasant Pond, so called thence running Southwest till It strikes the land of Richard Poor being about one mile, thence running Northwest one hundred and fifty rods, thence northeast one mile thence Southeast to the first mentioned Bound being Lot No. 54 and the Northwest half of Lot No. 55 and contains about 300 acres.

—Twelfth Day of June 1788

The Jeremiah Norris House — situated to face the Choate Bridge and the road leading to the Longfellow spread and Turners Corner. Torn down 1922.

Jona. Jones to Abraham Choate Jr.

Book 27 P. 55, 1791

"Being 300 acres be the same more or less reference being had to a Deed. given by said. Abraham to the said Jones bearing date the twelfth day June 1788 excepting the strip of land of ten rods width from said Poor's line to Pleasant Pond — the 10 rods ly on the south side of said lot adjoining a rail fence underpinned with stones but on southeasterly side of fence. To continue the line parallel with said rail fence from Poor's line to said pond, which 10 rods said Jones reserves for himself..." etc.

Abraham Choate Sr. was active In Wiscasset and surroundings soon after 1772, coming from Ipswich Massachusetts. He was born In Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1732, d. 1800. By 1779 his wife and family were living in Ballstown.

Francis Choate, Abraham's father, was born Ipswich 1701. It is written of this man "Esquire Choate became prominent in church as well as in the town. He was a 'tower of strength' In the Whitefield Movement. Understandably his sincerity and belief toward the Reverend George Whitefield was shared with his grandson, Abraham Jr., who was clerk of the Ballstown Plantation when Whitefield was incorporated in 1809.

Abraham Choate Jr. was born Ipswich, Massachusetts 1759. He came to Ballstown 1776 — and married Abigail Norris, daughter of Jeremiah Norris. She was born in Ballstown where they resided. Deacon Choate — as he was called died April 20, 1837.

The picture of the Hills changed considerably with the death of Benjamin King Jr. August 30, 1801, while working in the mill. He had come Into possession of the lots referred to as # 33 and # 86 around 1800.

An Indenture was made April 12, 1802 between Ruth King on the one part and. Peter King, Moses King, Elijah King, Benjamin King and Rice King.

This instrument stated in part that, the said Ruth King for and consideration with the covenants here after mentioned doth remise, release and forever quitclaim to item the said Peter, Elijah, Benjamin, Rice and Moses all rights of dower or any other right In and to all the real estate of her the said Ruth's late husband Benjamin King — exception and to one half of the house lot and one half of the Grist Mill as here after described and she (Ruth) doth for herself and her assigns quit all her right, title to all the aforesaid real estate to Peter, Elijah, Benjamin, Moses and Rice do on their part release to the said Ruth for the term of her natural life all their right and title in and to one half of certain lot and tract of land bounded as follows —

Beginning at a stake in a bunch of alder bushes on the bank Sheepscot River, thence running up said river to the line of land this day deeded to Peter King — by the heirs of said Benjamin King then running westerly bound on the said land of Peter King to the road, then bounded on the land of Moses King to the Chamberlain Brook, thence Northwest on said Moses King's line to a beech tree at the corner of Lot Ho. 85, thence Southwest fifty rods to a pine tree thence Southeast to Sheepscot River, thence up the river to the first mentioned bound.

A deed Rice King to Peter King dated July 20, 1805 confirms that title to Lot 33 had passed to Benjamin King before his death. It said in part: "It being Lot # 33 on the eastern side of the Sheepscot River according to Hallowell and Whipples' deed to my father and also all my rights in and to one forth part of a sawmill and one fourth part of a grist mill at the Great Falls on said Sheepscot River and to one fourth part of the millyard and privilege bounded westerly by land of Moses King and easterly by Sheepscot River containing one acre."

June 1805. Peter King sold a considerable interest in Lot 33 to Thomas Eldred and David Crowell of Pittston for $1400.


1 Peter King of Ballston — $1400 paid. by Thomas Eldred and. David. Crowell, both of Pittston — following tract or parcel or mill privilege in Ballstown being partly covered with water and. bounded, thus:

Beginning at the bank of the Sheepscot River — 8 rods above the mill Dam on the Great Falls opposite a pine tree standing within a few feet of said bank: thence running down said. bank to said dam. Thence northwardly perpendicular to the course of said bank to said dam 50 feet — thence eastwardly parallel with the course of said bank 14 rods. Thence 50 feet to said bank to strike same perpendicularly thence down said bank 20 rods to an elm tree thence by a line perpendicular to the said river -- thence up the center of said river to the place where a perpendicular line will strike the first mentioned bound; thence to first mentioned together with the right of taking, applying and rising water of said river on the eastward half thereof on the privilege aforesaid.

Also the right and privilege of occupying and improving as a millyard for laying logs and lumber and all purposes necessary and convenient for the accommodation and improvement of a saw mill on the premises — the following piece of land adjoining the premises bounded partly thereby and partly by a line beginning at the elm aforesaid thence running H,W. W rods to a white oak tree marked on two sides. Thence S.W. 8 rods to the pine tree and the bank of the river and the right of way 2 rods wide lying on the eastward side of the following line, beginning at the northeastward end of said dam and running N 34 within 2 rods of Nathan Longfellow's line, so called; N.W. to the road leading across Choate's Bridge.

Peter King

Mary King

Benjamin King and Israel Glidden wit to Mary.

24th day of June, 1805.



Three days before executing the previous deed. (Peter King to Thomas Eldred and David Crowell), Moses entered into an agreement with the same parties.

"Moses King in consideration of nine hundred twenty four dollars deeded unto Eldred and. Crowell the following: three undivided eight parts of the sawmill on the Great Falls on the Sheepscot River including the Mill Dam, the stream and the ground on which they are. Also three undivided eight parts of the Mill yard, bounded partly by a line running from the west end of Choate's Bridge --so called to an oak tree standing six rods southwest from the southwest corner of said Mill and. thence south to land in sole possession of Peter King, partly by the land last mentioned and partly by said river, it being understood that the proprietors of the Grist Mill on said privilege have such right therein as Is necessary for the improvement of said Grist Mill."

Volume 57, P. 52 LCE

Thus enter David Crowell who would play an important role in the growth and importance of the settlement called Kings Kills. He, along with Abraham Choate and Eliakim Scammon, would become the first selectmen of Whitefield in 1810. David Crowell was elected treasurer the same year. The Reverend Joseph Bailey and David Crowell were chosen to represent the town in the Government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Crowell was also representative to the State Legislature several times.

In 1805 Crowell was a storeowner and by 1810 he had erected a large house overlooking the Sheepscot River Valley.

In the indenture made by Ruth King, widow of Benjamin King in 1802, lot 86 had passed to Moses King. David Crowell purchased the land that his store stood on in 1805 from Moses King, the store was built in 1803.

Peter King died September 3, 1818 and the Mill and Grist operation was taken over by his son John. Soon after he entered into Articles of Agreement with Thomas Eldred and David Crowell for relocating and rebuilding the dam and sawmill. It is assumed that the improvements were done.



From the Collections of Maine Historical Society

In 1797 the Reverend. Paul Coffin made a missionary tour through Maine. On. October 19th he rode nine miles in Patrick Town and. then seven in Ballstown to Abram Choate's. He described his host's residence as being on the west side of the Sheepscot River. Four miles above New Milford »or the head of the tide, and, 14 as I think above Pownalboro, but with a good bridge over it. Mills were located in front of Choate's door. Patrick Town was sparsely settled; there were more houses In Ballstown where the road was tolerable but rocky. He declared the settlements near Choate's had been made "since the war." While In Ballstown he met "a Nathan Longfellow, preached in the evening. A good auditory were satisfied. A Mr. Turner thanked me abundantly. Mr. Choate's is a kind family."


From Jamesons' Choates of America

Abraham Choate 96 born Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1732 Harried. Sarah Potter, born Ipswich, Massachusetts They came to Ballstown after 1772 and. returned, to Wiscasset, 1783.

Abraham Choate 241 son of Abraham 96 born Ipswich, 1759

Married Abigail Norris, born Whitefield, daughter of Jeremiah and Hannah Norris. They resided, in Whitefield — Deacon Choate died April 12, 1837. Mrs. Choate died January 24, 1845.

Hannah Choate 251 daughter of Abraham 96 born in Whitefield, August II, 1777.

Harried Jeremiah Norris, son of Jeremiah and Hannah Norris, May 30, 1798. Mr. Norris died 1825 — Mrs. Norris died 1873.

Abraham Choate 508 son of Abraham Choate 241 born March 30, 1789.

Married Lydia Norris, daughter of Carter Norris, born August 1, 1791 in Whitefield where they resided. Mr. Choate died August 25, 1866. Mrs. Choate died May 27, 1859.


English religious leader — born December 16, 1714

At Oxford he met John and Charles Wesley, already engaged in evangelistic work. He received deacons' orders in 1736, and then went to America to join Wesley, who was establishing missions there. After his return he preached in the open air with such success that he spent much of his life as a traveling preacher. His Calvinistic views led to a breach with the Wesleys, but he received great support from others. He made seven evangelist trips to America, dying there (Newburyport), September 30, 1770.

The following is quoted or closely paraphrased from the prose statement posted alongside Whitefleld's portrait. The portrait was painted by E. John Wallaston in 1742, and is part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London

The reverend George Whitefield (1714-70), Methodist evangelist. He was more Calvinistic than John Wesley, the founder of Calvinism from whom he broke away in 1741. He was a preacher of great fervor and had a wide following In Wales and Scotland as well as in America, which he visited frequently. He established an orphanage in Georgia in 1738, and opened the Moorfield Tabernacle in 1741, and the Chapel in Tottenham Court Road.


From: "Strangely Enough," by C. B. Colby The Congregation Church in Ipswich, Massachusetts is fifth to stand, on its present site. The first, built 1640, was the scene of an interesting and. fantastic legend about a fight between a minister, the Reverend. George Whitefield of England, and the devil himself. It is all faithfully recorded, in the history of the town, and. some of the evidence is still there to see. It was in 1740 that Reverend Whitefield went on a tour of New England villages. In each town he preached a resounding sermon, calling on the citizens to put down the devil and all his teachings. When he arrived in Ipswich a great crowd awaited him and the church overflowed. According to the records, his sermon was so powerful that the devil himself decided, he better get up here and hear what the minister had to say. In the middle of the sermon he arrived, complete with horns and a long tail. It only took him a moment to decide that he had better stop the sermon before he lost face altogether. And so he challenged Reverend Whitefield to a wrestling match to decide who was the better man. They fought all over the floor of the church, rolled outside and finally worked their way up the steep sides of the steeple. Before the horrified throngs below they strove to push each other off the peak of the spire to certain destruction on the ledges below. It looked pretty bad for the Reverend Whitefield, until with a mighty heave he shoved the devil from the steeple. Down he fell, straight for the rocky ledge jutting out of the grassy hill. Just as he seemed about to crash into the ledge, head first, Satan righted himself and landed with a thundering crash upon his feet. As he hit the ledge of granite, he sent up a shower of smoke and sparks. Then, with a great cry, he leaped off down the hill and was never seen in Ipswich again.

Next issue will begin with  1813