Account of attack by French and Native Americans on English settlement at Salmon Falls and today's South Berwick, Maine.  Likely sites include Quamphegan, present location of the Counting House Museum, and the homestead of Humphrey Chadbourne.
Portsm  18th March 1689/90
Much Hon   Sirs
     Yesterdy we gave accot of ye dreadful destruction of Salmon ffalls the perticulers whereof please take as followeth;



1814: South Berwick Comes into Its Own

by Norma Keim

February 12, 1814 was a momentous day for the village of Quamphegan.  Located on the site of an ancient Indian village still bearing its name, it was the commercial center of the town of Berwick, which then included today’s South Berwick, Berwick and North Berwick.

 Town of South Berwick incorporates 1814

James Sullivan, Massachusetts’ governor from 1807–08, had apprenticed at Quamphegan as a law clerk, and in his 1795 "The History of the Province of Maine," identifies Quamphegan Landing as the "great Landing place," located at what is now the Counting House Park on Liberty Street in South Berwick.


Old Berwick’s story began over 4,000 years ago as home to Native American fishermen and hunters. For millennia, Indians migrated during the spring from the interior of southern Maine to the Salmon Falls River. 

Here, they established encampments adjacent to the river and today’s South Berwick’s Counting House, Quamphegan Falls, Rollinsford, and the Great Falls in Somersworth harvesting the salmon, shad, alewives, and eels that made their annual migratory runs up Maine’s coastal rivers. By the time English explorers such as Martin Pring (1602) and John Smith (1614) sailed along the coast of southern Maine, the Indians of Newichawannock and Quamphegan had established planting grounds of corn and beans along the Salmon Falls River. 

Why “Berwick”?
17th century tower in Dunbar, ScotlandUntil 1814, Maine’s three Berwicks -- South Berwick, Berwick and North Berwick -- were all one town, Berwick.

Why that name?

    Many New England towns were named for English towns -- Plymouth, Massachusetts or Dover, New Hampshire, for example. Some -- like Pittsfield, MA, or Wolfeboro, NH -- were named to honor great English leaders. Throughout the 1600s the area that became the Berwicks in Maine was part of the town of Kittery and known at first as Quamphegan or Newichawannock. But gradually the name Barwick or Berwick took hold, taken from a town associated with England’s old rival, Scotland. Why?

 17th century tower in Dunbar, Scotland

A Summary of the Battle of Dunbar and the Scots of Berwick, Maine

Map from Old Berwick Historical Society collection.  To enlarge map, click on small rectangle.


In January, 1649, Oliver Cromwell’s anti-Royalist forces executed King Charles I of England in London. Until that time, Scotland had sided with Cromwell in the English Civil War. But the king had been born in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, and his murder dismayed his northern countrymen, who later that year defied the English Commonwealth by proclaiming as king his son, Charles II.

 We are grateful to Dr. Terry Heller of Coe College for arranging and typesetting these two documents from the Counting House Museum collection.

 Eastern Argus, #80, July 4, 1825, Portland, Maine


    Gen. Lafayette passed the night of the 23d of June, at Dover, N.H. On the evening of that day a Committee of the citizens of South Berwick, waited on him, and invited him to breakfast with them, the next morning, on his way to Portland, which invitation he accepted.

    At 8 o’clock in the morning of the 24th, he arrived at the bridge, which is on the line of the State, where he was handed over by a Committee of the N. Hampshire Legislature to Cols. Dunlap and Emery, the Aids of Gov. Parris. On the line of the State, under a civic arch of evergreens, festooned with oak leaves and adorned with roses, Col. Dunlap in an appropriate address welcomed him to the State of Maine, to which the General made a suitable reply. He then entered the carriage with Col. Dunlap and rode uncovered to Mrs. Frost’s hotel. The street for nearly the whole distance was lined with Misses and young Ladies on one side, and lads and gentlemen on the other, who, as he passed, retained their stations, and cheered him with “Welcome Lafayette.”

An aerial view of the areaRum, Murder and Arson:  South Berwick’s Struggles of 1845-1855

An aerial view of the area.

On August 26, 1854, a summer Saturday, two penniless young men crossed the Salmon Falls River bridge into South Berwick from New Hampshire by the cotton mill and its Counting House at Quamphegan Landing. It was around noon, and they were drunk.

They climbed the dusty road among the factory boarding houses and the train depot. They passed three churches – Methodist Episcopal, Baptist and Congregational -- and turned down Academy Street. Near Berwick Academy they climbed the slope known as Powder House Hill or Butler’s Hill, and disappeared into some woods behind the home of Judge William Allen Hayes.

    "The Thursday Sketcher" Great Falls NH Thursday Evening 12/02/1847
    Vol.1 #4

    Commerce of South Berwick. Vessels of different sizes have occasionally been built at South Berwick, and then rigged and loaded at this port. Two enterprising young men, Messrs Eben Goodwin of New York, and Mark F. Goodwin of South Berwick, have just built, rigged, and are now loading at Hamilton Wharf, South Berwick, a beautiful bark, build of the best materials. She is a little short of three hundred tons, and is not inferior to any vessel of her size. -Portsmouth Journal.

Civil War monument, 1900

The list of veterans from South Berwick has 294 names, including about 45 students at Berwick Academy. These are individuals who were born in, resided in, enlisted from, or were buried in South Berwick.  Maine sent the highest percentage of its population to war of any state.   


George Washington Frosst 1827-1904

George Washington Frosst (1827-1904) spent his youth in and around South Berwick, Maine, where his father, Nathaniel Frost, worked as a mechanic in the Portsmouth Manufacturing Company, Tatterson woolen mill, and other textile mills. The family boarded in dwellings on present-day Liberty Street, Vine Street, among other local addresses.

Young George was afflicted by poor health, and as he reached his twenties was at one point given only six months to live. During the 1840s, when consumption (tuberculosis) and smallpox swept the mill community, he lost two brothers, his sister, his uncle and his father. Seeking work away from the wet, cold conditions of cotton and woolen mills, he went to work for Griffin Machine Works in nearby Somersworth (now Rollinsford), New Hampshire, but lost an eye in an accident.



Union prisoners from Richmond, Va. sent South via Castle Godwin: James King; John Scully; Price Lewis; August Bittersill; Ja. J. Ash; Alex. Myers; Lieut. Geo. W. Twells; Hugh Mc Mahon; Gabriel Cueto; John McCalland; Jas. Robertson; Henry Wingo alias Smith; Lewis Bache; C. R. Turner; Wm. Reynolds; Chas. Gennell; Frank Livingston; J. S. Lovett; M. Lovett; Allen Leonard; L. H. Trook;

Gabriel Cueto was a Scotchman who was arrested just outside the district of Washington sometime in May and brot. to Castle Godwin. He was supposed to be a spy for the Confeds by most of our party in room No. 8, and at first treated rather cool. But then I extended to him the right hand of fellowship and shared with him what was sent to me from home, and we soon became fast friends.

Map of South Berwick Village Fire of 1870South Berwick Village Fire - July 25-26, 1870

SEE THE VIDEO -- "The Night South Berwick Burned" by Tim Benoit, with photos from the Old Berwick Historical Society

MAP: South Berwick Village at the Corner, about 1860. The shaded area shows the approximate extent of the fire.

The writer of this essay is thought to have been Rebecca Young (1847-1927), a Main Street resident and lifelong friend of Mary and Sarah Jewett. For many years she was connected with the South Berwick National Bank, eventually serving as treasurer.

If we could step backward to the Summer of 1870, and stand by the old town pump that occupied the central place in our village square, the whole western side would appear very strange. But, I imagine that to some of us, the years that have passed would be as a dream in the night, and we should at once walk across the street into Mr. Hollis Witt's little store to ask if our watch could be regulated, and to listen again to the many clocks ranged on his shelves ticking faster or more slowly, and now in unison - or into Mr. Joe Porter Davis' tin shop for a dish that would last longer than a dozen of the present day articles of tin ware. Clock invoice from Mr. Hollis Witt's storeThe buildings on the opposite side are now much as they were at that time, but every thing from the present P.O. [NOTE: this would have been the Parks Store—ed.] to the Huntress block, now replaced by the Ross block, was swept away by the fire that began about midnight of July 25, 1870, and on the morning of July 26, had left nothing behind but coals and smoking debris in the uncovered cellars.

From the South Berwick Chronicle, Thursday, Sept. 2, 1954

A portion of Hurricane Carol smashed through So. Berwick beginning around noontime Tuesday and by dark giant elms, pines, smaller maples, fruit trees and numerous other trees had felt and showed the savagery of her might. A number of homes show damage ranging from broken squares of glass and ripped-up shingles to smashed in roofs where some of South Berwick's beautiful shade trees, ripped up by their roots or twisted mercilessly by the raging winds came crashing down.

South Berwick History Time Line
Cummings Mill workers

History of South Berwick, Maine, from the age of discovery to the 21st Century

Based on the Maine School Administrative District #35 Timeline of Eliot and South Berwick History - March 16, 2001 

Eliot History Time Line

Based on the Maine School Administrative District #35 Timeline of Eliot and South Berwick History - March 16, 2001

by Arthur Stansfield

Lexington, Kentucky

6 August 2014

This is not a re-telling of the Battle of Gettysburg. It is an attempt to show where the soldiers from South Berwick, Maine, and Berwick Academy were during this Civil War battle with a brief description of what was going on around them. The format is the same as Maine at Gettysburg in that it brings the soldiers into the battle in the sequence in which they were involved. The Confederate units they faced are not listed as it was not important to them at the time.

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