Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
November 24, 1892


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


A busy and prosperous community occupied the shores of Passamaquoddy from the establishment of the Owen settlement, in 1770, to the outbreak of the war of the American revolution.

This settlement, like most of those along the coast of Maine, owed its origin to the speculative enterprise of English merchants.  The natural resources of the country, the fish, the furs, and the timber, were practically free to all; but the well organized business carried on by the company soon put them ahead of their competitors, and made their post and village the centre of trade and influence in the region.

The Campobello company were sixteen in number,1 and Thomas Wright, in his evidence before the Boundary Commission, speaks of them as ‘a company of Liverpool merchants.’

Three of the colonists, William Owen, Plato Denny and William Isherwood, were appointed justices of the peace for the county of Sunbury, on the 14th of April, 1770; but it was not until June 4th (as we learn from his journal)2 that Capt. Owen and his people arrived at their destination, took possession of their island, and fixed upon a site for the town ‘to be called New Warrington.’

The visit of Lord William Campbell to the island in August of this year, and his conference with the Indians, have been mentioned in a former article.3

In May, 1772, John Moreau was also appointed a justice of the peace for the county.  Wright, in his evidence, mentions him incidentally, as ‘Mr. Munro, or Moreaux, a very intelligent person, who resided on Campobello Island in the capacity of agent to the proprietors.’

The other names in the list of magistrates are James Boyd, (before mentioned, as holding an earlier commission,) Thomas Proctor, Benjamin Yoxhall and John Curry.  Yoxhall, or Yoxall, was an employee of the Campobello company.  Curry had come from Ireland, and first settled as a trader at Saco.  He first came to Passamaquoddy about 1770, and a little later became a permanent resident.  He carried on a lumbering business on the Digdequash [sic], and probably owned the first mills at the mouth of that river.  His commission of the peace was dated 1774.

On June 9th, 1772, an act was passed by the Nova Scotia assembly for establishing a court of general sessions of the peace ‘at Warrington in the island of Campobello.’

The inhabitants of all the adjacent region acknowledged themselves within the jurisdiction of this court, and were regularly summoned to attend its sessions.  When the commencement of the war put a stop to all judicial proceedings, Curry held possession of the court records, and they were taken from him by an American privateer in 1778.

The nature and extent of the company’s business, with our present means of information regarding it, is only a matter of inference.  Probably the timber trade was the principal part of it.  We know from other sources that the cutting of pine had begun before their coming.  Vessels from Boston and the neighboring towns came here for timber, which their crews cut and fitted along the river banks.4

Wilson, of Campobello, with Clark and Laighton as his associates, soon after the coming of the Campobello company, formed a co-partnership for the purpose of cutting pine timber and preparing it for shipment, and it is stated that he contracted with them and loaded seven ships.

When the war broke out, John Rowe, of Boston, one of the company’s agents there, sent a vessel and carried off what remainder of goods the company had then on Campobello.  Yoxall, their clerk, was taken off also, and Wilson was appointed their agent.5

Saw-mills seem to have been erected before the war at the mouths of some of the principal streams, though more probably by New Englanders than by the company’s employees; and shipbuilding was a rising industry.6

1Wilson pamphlet.

2See extract in Article xxxviii.  This journal is believed to have been sent to England a few years ago, but cannot now be traced.

3Article xxi.

4Mr. S. A. Wilder gives an account of one of these voyages made in the year 1768; Isaiah Hersey, who was afterwards among the early settlers of Pembroke, being a member of the vessel’s crew.  They came from Hingham, and secured their load of pine on the St. Croix, about a mile above the Devil’s Head.

5Wilson pamphlet.

6See note by Mr. Edward Jack, under Article xv.

Correction: Article XLVI contains the following correction to this one: "In the heading of Article xliii., the first words should be ‘NEW WARRINGTON.’  The second word in fifteenth line of seventh paragraph in the same article should be ‘of.’