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Cumberland & North Yarmouth

A Neighboring History of Two Towns

Representative Industries of Cumberland and North Yarmouth

1850s shipyard
1850s shipyardItem Contributed by
Brick Store Museum

In 1812, the area that later became Cumberland Foreside was the location of the Spear shipyard, started by David Spear and carried on by his son David Spear Jr. until 1869. David Pratt, who moved to North Yarmouth from Freeport sometime prior to 1818, is credited with establishing shipbuilding on the Royal River. Until his retirement in 1844, Pratt launched two to three vessels annually, mostly small schooners or brigs ranging in size from 46 tons to the 335-ton Saratoga. Two of Pratt’s workmen married his daughters and became builders. Albion Seabury, who married Dorcas Pratt, established his yard on the northeast side of the Royal River in 1826. George Dunham married Susan Pratt, and in 1834 formed Seabury and Dunham with his wife’s brother-in-law Albion Seabury. The partnership was dissolved around 1848, whereupon Dunham partnered with Matthias Allen. Other builders in North Yarmouth prior to Yarmouth’s secession included Jonas Mitchell, Levi Mitchell, Ralph Kelley, Benjamin Webster, Jeremiah Baker and Samuel Fisher. Some vessels were built in the vicinity of Walnut Hill and hauled by oxen in the winter down to the Falls, perhaps a distance of five or six miles. Samuel Chase is said to have built several crafts near Walnut Hill. What was probably the last vessel built there was a craft of 40 or 50 tons which was hauled in the spring of 1843.

Wilson's Mill
Wilson's MillItem Contributed by
Prince Memorial Library

Sawmills in existence in 1904 were operated by Hollis Mountford, Lorenzo H. Wilson and Oren S. Thomes in Cumberland, and Isaac E. Hayes in North Yarmouth. Mr. Mountford purchased his site at West Cumberland on the brook which is the outlet of Goose Pond around 1864, at which time it was occupied by an old grist mill. Mr. Mountford built a new saw and grist mill and increased the water power by improving the dam. There was a carding mill operated by Mr. Purvis south of the bridge, near Mr. Mountford's mill, but it crumbled to decay. Mr. L. H. Wilson's mill on the same stream is on the site of an old saw mill which was owned and run by many of the farmers in the neighborhood, each running a certain length of time each season, or until a sufficient amount of lumber had been cut. Wilson purchased the old mill about 1875 and used it as a saw, stave, and grist mill. Mr. O. S. Thomes established his steam saw and grist mill at Cumberland Center around 1884. The stave and shook mill on Cold Water Stream was built by Levi H. Morrill in 1854 or 1855, and was in operation until around 1895.

Merrill Bros. label
Merrill Bros. label

A canning factory was established by Merrill Brothers at Cumberland Junction in 1881. A few years later it was sold to William R. Wood, of Portland, who was proprietor in 1904 and ran the business as The United Packers, with a capacity of 3000 cans per day. Corn was canned extensively, with other vegetables and fruit handled. While under the management of Merrill Bros., meat was also canned. Charles E. Herrick and his son Horatio Herrick operated a second corn canning factory in the late 1890s that provided seasonal employment for many of the town’s young people.

Growing carnations
Growing carnationsItem Contributed by
Prince Memorial Library

The Carnation Industry
In 1888, Chase Brothers erected their first greenhouse on Tuttle Road in Cumberland, establishing the industry in the area. In 1893 they dissolved and Arno Chase established his operation at the intersection of Main Street and Tuttle Road, and had 10,000 feet of glass in 1904. Arno Chase’s greenhouse burned in March 1933. Frank Chase built a greenhouse on Main Street, and had about 8,000 ft. of glass. C. H. Jenkins established his houses in 1900 with around 6,000 ft., while Howard C. Blanchard started around 1903 with over 4,000 ft. of glass. Jenkins sold his business to Maurice Small in 1945, who in turn sold it in 1964 to Charles Haynes. Howard Blanchard expanded his operations at Sunnyside Farm on Blanchard Road in 1914, and during the 1920s added 30,000 square feet of glass. Blanchard’s son-in-law, William J. Garsoe, bought the business in 1949, and operated it until 1972. In North Yarmouth, Fred Morrill and Sons, located just above Walnut Hill cemetery, grew carnations and snapdragons. Fred Morrill died in 1939, after which the business was operated by Arthur Dunn. The greenhouse was later moved to Allen Farms on Gray Road in Cumberland.

Chicken houses Cumberland, c.1960
Chicken houses Cumberland, c.1960

Poultry Farming
By 1904, poultry farming had become one of the leading industries in North Yarmouth and Cumberland. Prominent among those in the poultry business were Winfield and Edgar Shaw, Samuel and George Porter, R. H. Anderson, Levi Morrill and George Hall, in Cumberland; and Gardiner Leighton, Fred Merrill, J. F. Mountford, Nathaniel Shurtleff, Harry Dolloff and Sidney Leighton, all in North Yarmouth. White Wyandottes, Plymouth rocks and Rhode Island reds were the principal breeds kept, and many eggs were shipped for hatching. Shaw Bros. poultry business, established in 1895 at the old Shaw homestead at West Cumberland, wintered about 600 hens and hatched from 1000 to 2000 chicks each season. Shaw Bros. is cited as a typical operation.

Blanchard Apple Shed
Blanchard Apple Shed

Apples continue to be an important piece of the agricultural heritage of Cumberland. As early as the 1830s, Samuel Sweetser and Amasa Sweetser were grafting trees and developing new strains of apples. In 1874, George Blanchard planted apple orchards on Broadmoor Farm, situated behind the Blanchard house at 371 Tuttle Road. Arthur Blanchard, George’s son, maintained the orchards and operated an apple stand at the site until 1974. Samuel Sweetser’s son Frederick Sweetser was an early member of the Maine Pomological Society, and planted the orchards at 15 Blanchard Road in Cumberland. Frederick's son, Herman Sweetser, was a professor of horticulture at the University of Maine at Orono who returned to Cumberland to run the family orchard. Around 1922, Herman planted two 20-acre orchards on Orchard Road in Cumberland. The orchard closest to Cumberland Center was sold to Arvid Terison, and it was renamed the Double T Orchard when Arvid’s son Tom Terison took it over. The second Orchard Road orchard was operated by Mr. Mayo. Dick Sweetser, Herman’s son, and Dick's wife Connie Sweetser operate the Apple Barrel store and adjoining orchard on Blanchard Road in Cumberland.

Brook trout
Brook trout

Trout Farming
Trout farming was established in Cumberland around 1902 when William H. Rowe created the Roland and Rowe ponds by building successive dams across the valley of Millbrook Stream on his farm. The stream had its sources in numerous springs on the farm, which gave Rowe entire control of the flow. He later built a stone dam down stream to create Red Rock Pond. The ponds were stocked with over 5000 trout.

Mitchell, H. E. Cumberland and No. Yarmouth register, 1904. Reprint. Salem, Mass.: Higginson Book Co., n.d. Originally published Brunswick, Maine: H.E. Mitchell Pub., 1904.
Rowe, William Hutchinson. Ancient North Yarmouth and Yarmouth, Maine, 1636-1936. Yarmouth, Maine: The Author, 1937.
Sweetser, Phyllis Sturdivant. Cumberland, Maine in four centuries. Cumberland, Maine: Town of Cumberland, 1976.

Text by Thomas C. Bennett