Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
January 26, 1893


Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.


In 1779 or the following year, so far as can now be ascertained, there were nine persons settled on the present site of the town of St. Stephen-James and Jeremiah Frost, Benjamin Getchell, Samuel Milberry, Samuel, Jacob and Eben Libby, John Rolfe and Dr. McDonald.1  On the opposite side of the river, (soon afterwards known as Plantation No. 5, now the city of Calais,) three more had made their homes-William Swain, David Ferrol and Daniel Hill.  The latter were joined a year or two later by Samuel Hill, Jones Dyer, Abiel Sprague, James Sprague and others; and at the time of the landing of the Loyalists there were perhaps fifteen or twenty families living in log houses, on both sides of the Schoodic, at or near the head of tide waters, and within the present limits of the three towns.  Most of these settlers had come from Machias; and the valuable timber lands and convenient water powers were the attractions which brought them here.  They built a saw-mill at the mouth of Dennis stream, which now forms the eastern boundary of the town of St. Stephen; and there began, under most unfavorable circumstances, the lumber trade of the St. Croix.  They found their principal market, probably, in the Annapolis valley and other parts of Nova Scotia where Loyalist refugees were already beginning to settle in considerable numbers.

The owners of this first mill are said to have been Daniel Hill, Jacob Libby and Jeremiah Frost.2  It does not appear that any effort was made at the time to obtain a grant of the mill privilege, or to establish a legal claim to their land.  In 1792 the mill privilege at the mouth of the stream was granted to a company, in which were Jacob and Eben Libby, Jones Dyer and Ebial (Abiel) Sprague, and also James Chaffey, of Indian Island, with others who were later comers.  Another mill privilege adjoining this was at the same time granted to John Curry, James Chaffey and Sarah Frost; the latter, the widow of Jeremiah Frost, holding six of the eight shares.

Of the persons above named, James and Jeremiah Frost were probably the first to come.  We know little more about them, except that Jeremiah came to Passamaquoddy in 1770.  Swain and Ferrol were also here before the coming of the Machias men.  Swain’s house stood near to where the pumping station of the water works stands to-day, not far from the Calais end of the upper bridge in Milltown.  The site of Ferrol’s house is somewhere near the railway station in Calais.

Tradition says that Daniel Hill and his family came from Machias in 1779.  He settled on what is now the Calais side of the river, his house and clearing being on the point of land opposite the Cove, hence called Hill’s point for many years-now Ferry Point.

In 1779 or 1780, the company which included Benjamin Getchell and his family and Samuel Libby and his sons, came from Machias to St. Stephen.  They are said to have made their way through the woods, guided by two indians named Denny and Sabattis.  Coming out back of Maguerawaak mountain, they crossed the river at Stillwater, where now stands the town of Milltown.  There they wished to settle; but they were prevented by the Indians, who had a camping ground and burial place there, and claimed the land as belonging to their tribe.  They next made choice of ‘the ridge opposite the Fishing Falls,’ and, with their cattle and other effects, which they had brought across the river on a raft, they came down and took possession.  It is known that there were at the time five settlers here-probably the two Frosts, Swain, Ferrol and Hill.

Benjamin Getchell built his house where the residence of Mrs. W. T. Rose now stands.  We have little information concerning him, except that he had settled at Machias some time before the close of 1769, and had married Mehitable Meserve.  His eldest son, Jonas, was born about 1776, probably in Machias; and his second son, Samuel, about 1779.3

Samuel Libby was born at Rye, N. H., and was about sixty years of age when he came from Machias to Schoodic.4  He died of small-pox not many years after his arrival.  Jacob Libby, his eldest son, was born in Epsom, N. H.  He accompanied his father to Machias, about 1765, and was about thirty-two years old when they came to Schoodic.  He also died of small-pox in 1805.  His house was at the Cove, (afterwards called Libby’s Cove,) on the hillside, a little to the north of where the Cove school house stands.  Eben Libby, a half-brother of Jacob, when he wished to build a house for himself, perhaps some two or three years later, chose a spot farther down the river, where a little brook came out of the forest.  The St. Stephens bank building stands upon the spot to-day.  Eben was but four years old when his father moved to Machias, and nineteen when they came to this place.  His eldest son, Samuel, was the first child born in St. Stephen.

Samuel Hill came from Machias about 1780; Jones Dyer and James and Abiel Sprague in 1781.  They settled on the southern side of the river.  Dyer build the first framed house in what is now the city of Calais.

Among those who came later was Robinson Crocker, who had been engaged in privateering.  His house was on the river bank, directly in front of Eben Libby’s.  He afterwards occupied land farther down the river, including the little island which still bears the name of Crocker’s Island.

Of the other pre-Loyalist settlers at Schoodic, very little is known, excepting their names; and it is quite possible that even some of these are now forgotten.

1The chief authority for this list of names is a statement found in the files of the Courier for 1868, based upon an interview with the late Mrs. Porter, then the oldest person living in St. Stephen.  Brief notes concerning the pioneers of the border towns, from this and other information, are given in Knowlton’s Annals of Calais and St. Stephen, published by J. A. Sears, Calais, 1875.

2Knowlton’s Annals.

3In a collection of historical papers belonging to Mr. Arthur M. Hill is an application for grants of land on Chiputneticook Ridge, (Scotch Ridge,) in which it is stated that Jonas and Samuel Getchell were born here on or near the dates above given; but from family traditions and other evidence there is little doubt that both were born in Machias.

4Genealogy of Libby Family in America; Thornton & Co., Portland, Me., 1882.

Addition: Article LXXXVIII contains the following addition to this one: "Daniel Hill was an ardent Loyalist, though not a member of the Loyalist associations.  After it was decided that the St. Croix would be the boundary line, he left his land at Ferry point, (Calais,) or was dispossessed by the Massachusetts authorities, and went to some place near Horton, N. S., but returned and settled at Hill’s point, now in the parish of Dufferin." 

Correction: Article XCII contains the following correction to this one: "In the fourteenth line of the seventh paragraph, for ‘a little to the north of,’ read ‘near.’  In the following sentence, relating to Eben Libby, for ‘when he wished to build a house for himself, perhaps some two or three years later, chose a spot farther down the river,’ read, ‘lived with his father, (until the death of the latter, in 1785,) at a place father down the river.’"

Correction: Article CII contains the following correction to this one: "In second paragraph, for ‘Jeremiah Frost’ read ‘James Frost.’"

Correction: Article CIV contains the following correction to this one: "Following the authority of Knowlton and others, it was stated that William Swain was one of those who had settled on the Maine side of the St. Croix before 1780.  There is good reason, however, to think that he was the Mr. William Sween mentioned in article lxxxi, whose goods were brought from Penobscot; in which case he was not a resident here until 1784, though he might still, perhaps, have been the first to settle above the falls."