In 1792 Ephriam Ballard and Samuel Weston surveyed 23,000 acres
of what is now called Newport. At the time of the survey the area
was part of Lincoln County and called East Pond Plantation. In 1795,
John Hubbard of Readfield purchased what later became the entire
township. In 1800 the township was sold to David Greene of Boston
for $5,635. The deed which changed the ownership from Hubbard to
Greene also set up funds for a church and a school. Four lots, 230
acres each, were to be reserved as follows:
"...one lot for the
first settled minister, his heirs and assigns; one lot for the use
of the ministry; one lot for the use of schools; and one lot for
future disposition of the General Court."
Before its settlement, the township was a great hunting and
fishing area. Prior to 1800, trappers supposedly spent a great deal
of their season in the area. The first settler, John Houstin, came
from Fairfield, Maine in 1800. He built a log cabin on Birch Point.
Later he built a camp for trapping near the junction of Martin
Stream and the East Branch of the Sebasticook River. Although he
died in the neighboring town of Palmyra in 1817, he was buried near
his camp on Martin Stream.
In the summer of 1804 Deacon John Ireland, his wife, Sarah, son
Daniel, his brother Joseph, came from Bloomfield (now known as
Skowhegan). They settled on what is now known as the Clark's Hill
Road (Russell Road) in North Newport. They were the first permanent
settlers of the Town. Elam Pratt and Nathaniel Burrill followed some
By 1808, as others arrived they settled in the Mill District (the
village). The village, located at the outlet of Great East Pond
(Lake Sebasticook), was settled by Esquire Benjamin Shaw and
Iphidiah Ring. Ring cleared the highest elevation in the town (a
hill outside the village known as Libby Hill.). Squire Shaw
purchased all the land between the pond (Lake Sebasticook) and the
present Main Street, and from the river (the East Branch of the
Sebasticook River) to the present West Street. Squire Shaw built the
first frame house, a part of the double tenement which may be seen
today at the head of Shaw Street, on North Street. Today it is used
as a warehouse.
During the early settlement of the area there was much concern
over the native Indians. The Indians came from the Penobscot River
up Kenduskeag Stream, then carried across to Stetson Pond, proceeded
down Stetson Stream to Great East Pond (Lake Sebasticook) to the
East Branch of the Sebasticook River, and finally reached the
Kennebec River. This water system was the Indian highway between the
two great rivers. Because of their Indian portage on Great East Pond
near its outlet, the spot became known as New Port (Newport). The
settlers concem over the Indians was unfounded, as their only motive
for being in the area was for fishing and trapping purposes.
By 1810 there were sixty-two inhabitants in East Pond Township;
in 1812,100 inhabitants. It was not until 1813 that forty-two voters
signed a petition to incorporate the town. At the time the bounds of
the town lay partly in Somerset County and partly in Hancock County.
The town of Newport was officially incorporated in June of 1814.
In 1810 the first settled ministers came to Newport: the Rev.
John Whitney, a Methodist minister, and the Rev. John York, a Free
Baptist minister. The first church was built in 1837 by the High
Street Union Meeting House Society. The few owners represented the
Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist and Universalist Societies.
Each denomination was represented at the pulpit one Sunday per
month. The Union Church was remodeled and rebuilt in 1902. In 1960
the name Union was changed to Congregational.
In North Newport, the Baptist Church held their first services in
the school house in 1817. A Calvinist Baptist minister, Rev. Robert
Coburn came to North Newport in 1824. His first services were also
held in the North Newport school house, later known as the Coburn
In 1840 the Christian denomination began services in North
Newport. They held their services in a different school house. The
Hubbard School named for John Hubbard. In 1857 a church was built
the west side for the Baptists and the east side for the Christian
denomination. This church is still standing in North Newport today
and is open for services four times a year, Memorial Day, the Fourth
of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The church is managed by the
North Newport Church Association. Several other churches have been
built since the 1800's and many are still in use today.
The first post office in Newport was established in 1817. There
were three masters: one in the village, one in North Newport, and
one in East Newport. After 1902 there was no longer a Postmaster in
North Newport. They receive their mail by a Rural Free Delivery from
Corinna. In 1960 the village Post Office was moved from the old bank
block to its new location on Main Street.
By 1830 the town's center of activity was still located near the
present middle bridge. A tannery, a grist and saw mill, a carding
mill, a wagon maker, a village smith, and a potash plant accounted
for being the center of town.
In 1838, Mark Fisher from Levant and Joseph Southwich built the
largest tannery in the state on the east side of the river below the
present bridge (Main Street Bridge). During his ten year stay in
Newport, Mr. Fisher built a foundry on the little island just below
the present lower bridge. He found it difficult to obtain the raw
material needed for the foundry so he moved away. The foundry stayed
in operation until 1868 when it burnt down.
Although the town was making steady progress it was not booming.
By 1840 there were 160 dwellings within the town, forty-eight of
which were in the village. The 1840 census stated that the
population of Newport was 1,138. Around this time several businesses
and industries began. Thomas Dexter began manufacturing carriages,
sleighs and pumps. A shingle mill also started up in 1840.
In 1857 a mill was established which made boxes to export to
foreign countries for the transportation of fruits. During the Civil
War, however, so many vessels carrying their cargo were captured by
the Confederates that the mill failed. Twenty years later the mill
was destroyed by fire.
During the 1800's destruction by fire no doubt hurt businesses
more than anything else at this time. In 1847 the tannery of Fisher
& Southwick, destroyed by fire, was not rebuilt. In 1862 Prott's
tavern and stables burnt. In 1866 the Masonic Hall, three stores,
and two homes burnt. In 1868 the residence of W.A. Frye and the D.
Dudley & Company Shoe Factory were destroyed by fire. Although
fires seemed to be a major problem in town nothing was done about
fire protection until 1886. In 1886 the Newport Fire Department was
organized, at which time a hand tub and hose carriage was purchased.
Since then the Fire Department has progressed steadily.
By 1873 the village had an auctioneer and two carriage makers. By
1874 there was a livery stable and the Newport Cheese Manufacturing
Association was established. In 1889 the Sebasticook Ice Company was
During the 1880's, East Newport had two general stores, two
blacksmiths, two dressmakers, a wool puller, and the railroad
buildings. Union Hall (later the Grange Hall), a community hall, was
used for years as the setting of the religious services provided by
the village's Methodist Church Society on Sunday afternoons.
Eastville Grange was organized in 1904 and still meets in the old
Union Hall. A grange was also organized in North Newport and it
flourished for many years.
History has shown that the Lake has been the center of activity,
especially during the summer months, since the town was first
settled. Since the late 1800's, however, the lake was looked on with
a different light. The residents began to enjoy the lake, not only
as a source of power and food, but as a source of recreation. Many
of the inhabitants owned and enjoyed canoes and rowboats, and in the
early 1880's there was quite a sailboat fleet.
1891 marked the real beginning of industrial development for
Newport. The woolen mill was built that year. The Aroostook
Condensed Milk Company, which later became the Maine Condensed
Company in 1894, and Borden's Condensed Milk Company in 1902, was
built in 1891. The milk company announced that upon completion of
the factory, the area would need 4,000 cows to supply their plant
with the milk it would need.
On the shore of the lower cove of Lake Sebasticook, in 1892, the
Cooper Brothers, built a large veneer mill which employed from fifty
to sixty men. In 1893 a branch of the Portland Packing Company came
to town. Today, Cooper Brothers is known as Banton Brothers, who
established themselves in 1926 as manufactures of wool products.
The Newport Water Company was formed in 1895. Nokomis Pond,
located partly in Newport and partly in the town of Palmyra, is the
source of Newport's supply of public water.
Around the turn of the century there were at least five dairies
in Newport. The Turner Center System, a creamery, operated from
1921-1928. Whiting's Dairy was open from 1929-1946. Herbert Turner
and Edward Rowe started their dairies in 1938. H.P. Hood and Sons
established themselves in 1946 and the Newport plant was soon the
largest Hood plant in New England. They renovated and expanded the
building formerly used by Borden's Condensed Milk Company.
In 1922 the Newport Bottling Company started manufacturing
carbonated beverages. In 1934 the Daniel E. Cummings Company, Inc.
(the woolen mill) located in Newport. In 1949 the mill employed
about ninety workers. As of 1964 they employed only a few workers.
The mill shut down in 1964, but maintained a mill outlet for the
Guilford Mill for almost 10 years.
In 1949 the woolen mill, Banton Brothers, the milk factory, the
bottling works and the canning factory (Portland Packing) were the
active industries in Newport. Banton Brothers and the milk factory
are the only ones left today.