Thursday, July 11, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Local History of Buckfield, Maine

A couple of years ago, I found on Google Books, A History of Buckfield, Oxford County, Maine, from the earliest explorations to the close of the year 1900, published in 1915 by The Journal Printshop of Lewiston, Maine. Readers should remember that these are secondary sources. However, these local histories are absolute treasures, and you never know what you might find.

I was searching for the surname Lowell, and came across a story about how my 4th great-grandfather, Thomas Lowell (1761-1810), met his wife, Judith Farrar (or Farrow). The following is transcribed from pages 74-75 of the History of Buckfield.

   A survey of the township was made in 1785, as we have seen and the land run out into ranges and lots which were numbered. The first range in the West Division bordered on Paris town line. In the section west of the settling lots of those who had come into the township prior to Jan. 1, 1784, was some excellent land but the country here was hilly and the bears were numerous. In 1787 the first settler entered the region for the purpose of selecting a lot for a settlement. It was David Farrar—then generally written Farrow— of Hingham, Mass. He purchased a lot in the fourth range, adjoining the lots of the Warrens. Here he made a clearing and erected a log house. In the early spring of 1788 he set out with his wife and children for his pioneer home. They landed from a vessel at Falmouth, now Portland. It is said that he had but fifty cents in his pocket when the family started from Falmouth on foot for Bucktown.

   His family then consisted of his wife, who was Judith Stoddard of Scituate and six children. Judith, the oldest, was in her 16th year; David, 13; Samuel, 9; Phillip, 7; Tamar, not quite 4 and Mehitable one year and three months old. It must have taken them several days to reach the township.

   As the family entered it, on the route traveled by the early settlers over South Hill, tradition says that it was nearly sundown. Ahead of the others of this weary little company was the girl Judith, when a large black bear was espied in the path before her. As might have been expected from a girl reared in one of the oldest towns in the old colony she screamed. This brought quickly to the scene an athletic young man with his gun from a nearby clearing. At a glance he took in the situation and bidding the frightened girl step aside, he took aim at the bear and fired. The sharp report of the gun hastened the footsteps of the rest of the Farrar family and when they reached the place they found the animal just breathing its last. Gathering around the dead bear they had their first experience in pioneer life.

   The young man was Thomas Lowell, who had selected a lot for settlement nearby and had provided a home in his log house for his father and mother. He invited the Farrars to the house, where they were made welcome. In after years they often referred to their first night in Bucktown and the generous hospitality they received.

   The next day leaving his family with the Lowells, David Farrar went on to his clearing. He found that the snow had blown into his log house. This was thrown out and the places where the snow had sifted in made tight. When it was rendered comfortable the family was brought to it. While the father was working on the future abode of the family, it is said that Thomas Lowell began his wooing of the fair daughter, Judith. As may be supposed, it was not opposed by either family. When the father gave his consent, he told his future son-in-law that he must hunt up a minister to perform the marriage ceremony as he had no time to do so. The lovers were married in 1790.

   David Farrar spent the greater part of his time at work for the settlers at his trade as a housewright, as it was called in those days. After a few years he prospered and became well to do. He died in 1810 and Buckfield lost one of its most worthy citizens of that period. David Farrar was of medium height and slightly built, but his wife was a large woman from whom the Farrars have inherited forms of good size. There were ten children in all. Those born here were: Nathan, Sept. 16, 1789: Bela, Dec. 26, 1791; Desire, Oct. 3, 1796 and John, July 10, 1800. They all settled near the old homestead.

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