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Gorham History » Early Settlement

Early Settlement

In 1733. Narragansett No. 7 was one of seven townships granted by the General Court of Massachusetts to 840 people, called the proprietors, as payment for their services in the Narragansett War, often referred to as King Philip's War. A 21-member committee was formed to asign the different townships. Narragansett No. 7, which is now Gotham, was granted to Col. Shubael Gorham. son of Capt. John Gorham, and 119 others who were living as Puritans in Barnstable and nearby parts of Cape Cod. The name Narragansett No. 7 was changed to Gorhamtown, in honor of Capt. lohn Gorham. Gorham was the 20th town to be incorporated, October 24. I764. At that time Gorham had a population of 340.

Life was not easy for our first settlers. ln I736 Capt. John Phinney and son Edmund had traveled up the Presumpscot River and then up Little River to Þnd what seemed to be a high point of land. The land was heavily wooded with no roads. Edmund fell the first tree there by a white man in Gorham; he was 17. Edmund and his father continued with their axes and only the provisions that they could carry with them. They planted seeds around stumps and were nearly ready to give up after a cold June. Shortly thereafter, the seeds produced corn. peas. and an abundance of watermelon! They were mistaken for pumpkin seeds.

After Capt. Phinney and Edmund had built their log home, they retumed for their family, Gorham's first family for two-and-a-half years. Hugh and Elizabeth McLellan were second. and the Moshers were third. Hugh McLel|an recognized the tremendous value of the large straight pines. He spent every cent he had. which was ten pounds. to purchase 200 acres of land. Some trees measured as large as 6 feet in diameter. and 100 feet tall. This would require several oxen to haul one of these trees to Falmouth (now Portland). The abundance of trees and the appreciation of their value for the King's masts created the first of the harvesting that still continues today. Growing food was a necessity. but at that time it was by no means income producing. More settlers came and the lots were surveyed. There was a need for a meeting home and a fort to protect the settlers from Native American attaclrs.

From Images of America: Gorham by David Arthur Fogg
Accessed via Google Books: http://www.worldcat.org/title/gorham/oclc/156849423