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Pittsfield Historical Society's
History of Pittsfield

A. J. Loder's
"History of the Town"

This history is from the first page of
A.J. Loder's Souvenir of Pittsfield, ME 1907.

Back to Souvenir of Pittsfield, ME 1907 home page.

H i s t o r y   o f   t h e   T o w n .

THE town of Pittsfield has no claim to distinction on account of advanced age. It is neither the oldest, nor even one of the oldest towns in the state of Maine. In comparison with many other towns it can claim to be only a youngster, but a well developed, vigorous and active youngster withal. A little more than one hundred years ago the territory included within its limits was an unbroken wilderness. Into this wilderness came Moses Martin in the year 1794, erecting a log cabin and commencing a clearing on the banks of the Sebasticook River, on the farm now occupied by his grandson, W. Perry Martin. Within the next ten or twelve years, quite a number of other settlers established themselves in different parts of the town, many of the most enterprising and influential locating in the western section. John Webb, Jesse Connor, Capt. David Pushor, Philip Powers and many others might be mentioned among those who were men of influence in these pioneer days of the town's history.

The region was first known as Plymouth Gore. In 1815 the settlement was organized as Sebasticook Plantation. In 1819 the inhabitants petitioned the Legislature of Massachusetts and were incorporated as a town with the name of Warsaw. Some five years later the name was changed to Pittsfield, in honor of William Pitts, a large land owner in the town. The growth of the town has been remarkable, especially within the last fifty years.

In the year 1860 the population was a little less than 1500 and the value of the estates about $270,000. Since that date the population has more than doubled, while the taxable property has increased five-fold. This growth has been due largely to the development of the water power furnished by the Sebasticook River, which has been employed for the most part in the manufacture of woolen goods.

The first attempt in this direction, a one set mill erected by Going Hathorn, was opened in 1869 and marks the beginning of the period of the town's greatest prosperity. This mill was soon after bought by Robert Dobson, William Dobson and William Davis. After a few years, Mr. Davis sold his interest to Dennison Walker, and the firm of Robert Dobson & Co., was organized, and continued in charge of the business, though with some changes in its membership, until the present corporation bearing the same name was organized not long ago. Additions and improvements have been made until the mill now employs some three hundred hands and its monthly pay-roll is said to be in the vicinity of $10,000.

In 1883 Dennison Walker sold out his interest in the firm of Robert Dobson and Company and built the mill now known as the Riverside Mill, on the northerly side of the Sebasticook. The property has changed hands once or twice, and the mill is now operated by the Smith Woolen Company of which Fred R. Smith is treasurer and manager. It employs about 125 hands.

In the year 1892 a new corporation, known as the Waverley Woolen Company was organized, and a mill was erected at the fall in the river about a mile above the site of the older mills. This is a nine-set mill, and when all its looms are running it employs 240 hands. All these woolen mills are now provided with engines, for use when the water power is inadequate.

The first mill erected in Pittsfield was a saw mill and the lumber business has always been an important industry in the town. Since 1896 The Pittsfield Manufacturing Company, under different names, has carried on the business of manufacturing long and short lumber, has furnished a system of electric lights for the town during the greater part of the time, and has added to its activities the making of spools and wooden novelties of various kinds. In recent years it has sometimes employed as many as 75 hands.

Bryant's Mill for the manufacture of sash and blinds and all kinds of finish needed in building, was erected in 1892, since which time its capacity has been several times increased. It now employs some 40 men. Frank Bryant, the proprietor of the above mill, has recently become a member of the Portable Mill Company, which has erected a saw mill further up the river and is engaged in the manufacture of all kinds of lumber.

Other industries of value to the town are the corn canning shops of the Northern Maine Packing Company, the Somerset County Creamery and the grist mill of Hunter, McMaster and Company. The Sebasticook Power Company, organized in 1903, has developed a fine water power in the south part of the town. This company now furnishes power for the electric lights used in the village, and it has been hoped that its surplus power may be employed in some manufacturing industry that will add to the growth of the town.

Pittsfield is well supplied with churches. The Union Meeting House, so-called, was erected in 1857 on the site of the present Universalist church building, and served as a place of worship for people of all denominations until 1871, when the Universalists bought out the interests of others in the house and remodeled it for their own use. In 1898 the present church edifice of this society was built and has been in use since that time. The first regular organization of this church was in 1867, and the parish was incorporated in 1892.

The Free Baptist Church was organized in the year 1855. In 1869 this church sold its interest in the Union Meeting House referred to above, and began worshiping in the new school building of the Maine Central Institute. In 1891 the present church building was erected and it has served the people of this denomination since that time.

The first Methodist class in the town was formed in 1870 and a chapel was built for worship in 1872. In the year 1897 this was enlarged and remodeled into a convenient and commodious church building, which is still in use.

A Catholic society was formed by the people of that belief several years ago, and in 1903 a new church edifice was completed on Detroit Avenue for the use of this denomination. All these church buildings, as well as the various school buildings of the village are illustrated on subsequent pages of this publication.

Original Version: 18-Mar-2005.

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Version: Tuesday 29 December, 2009