Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

New Vineyard Town

Franklin County, Maine

The Town of New Vineyard administrative offices are located at 20 Lake Street, New Vinyard, ME 04956.
Phone: 207-652-2222.

New Vineyard [†] is a small, rural community with a year-round population of 757 people. In the summer the population expands modestly because of a number of seasonal residents visiting camps on Porter Lake and second homes tucked in the mountains. The town's greatest assets are the pristine lake which it shares with the neighboring community of Strong, the rugged mountains that surround the community, and its small town atmosphere. New Vineyard's outdoor assets, including its lake, streams, mountains, forests, open spaces, farmland and trail systems define the landscape.

In 1790, a company on Martha's Vineyard which included Abner Norton and Daniel Collins, purchased 1,564 acres of land from Massachusetts "for 45 pounds sterling" (less that 14 cents an acre) in a section of New Vineyard that became known as the "Gore", located on the back side of the New Vineyard Mountains next to the Town of Industry. This was a parcel of land "left over" after the survey of New Vineyard's longest sides from east to west had been established, bounded on the north by New Vineyard, on the west by Reeds Town (Strong), on the south by Sandy River Plantation (Farmington) and on the east by Lowell Strip (New Portland). In 1791 Norton and Collins came to the "Gore" with their families and spent their first year in log cottages they constructed on their parcels where they later established farms. The Nortons and Collins, therefore became "The first settlers of what was to become New Vineyard. It was not until 1802 that the settlement finally adopted the name "New Vineyard" Prior to that, the settlement was called "Vaughan's Mills", "Luce's Mills", and "Stewart's Mills", named after the "current owner" of the grist mill. The population at that time was 500 residents.

Other families soon followed, and over the next twenty years, more families claimed land along the Gore, building homes and creating farms. However, more families began to settle the west side of the New Vineyard Mountain. By 1814, the "town" of New Vineyard was centered on the "other side of the mountain" from the Gore, making it difficult for growing population of the Gore settlers to participate in town affairs "with a mountain between them". Although not all of these families agreed, the State Legislature voted in 1815 to allow that section of New Vineyard (1600 acres) to become a part of Industry. (The record also shows in 1840 land was set off to Anson and in 1844 New Vineyard voted to give up another 7,000 acres of the mountain area to Industry.) At the time, the New Vineyard Mountains were truly a legitimate barrier, but a few decades later this really would not have mattered because there were fewer and fewer inhabitants living in that area. By the end of the 19th Century, the farms were virtually gone and the land had reverted back to woodlands, although there remained a scattering of stone walls, cellars, and wells. A study of old grave markers and final dates also show the exodus from the farming area. The Pinkham Cemetery on the back side of the mountain is an example with the most recent dates in the 1880's. The Captain Daggett Cemetery on the Brahmer Road is marked with even older stones. The Civil War also helped to spur the movement west as new land opened up for settlement and many people decided to "go west". Other people just simply did not return after the war. The land was quickly being bought up by lumbermen and lumber companies.

Tristam Daggett, after having served 5 years in the Revolutionary War, became one of the first purchasers of land in the township by drawing a hundred acre parcel in the first range of land which adjoined the Lowell Strip on the east side of the New Vineyard Mountains. He built a temporary camp, cleared several acres and built a log home into which he moved his family the next year. Many of the first settlers were Revolutionary War veterans who, having no money to buy land, came to the township and took up wild land which they hoped to hold by possession or by the payment of a nominal sum to the government in consideration for their faithful service, since they knew the government had no money to pay their wages.

Tristam Daggett, after having served 5 years in the Revolutionary War, became one of the first purchasers of land in the township by drawing a hundred acre parcel in the first range of land which adjoined the Lowell Strip on the east side of the New Vineyard Mountains. He built a temporary camp, cleared several acres and built a log home into which he moved his family the next year. Many of the first settlers were Revolutionary War veterans who, having no money to buy land, came to the township and took up wild land which they hoped to hold by possession or by the payment of a nominal sum to the government in consideration for their faithful service, since they knew the government had no money to pay their wages.

Tristam Daggett, after having served 5 years in the Revolutionary War, became one of the first purchasers of land in the township by drawing a hundred acre parcel in the first range of land which adjoined the Lowell Strip on the east side of the New Vineyard Mountains. He built a temporary camp, cleared several acres and built a log home into which he moved his family the next year. Many of the first settlers were Revolutionary War veterans who, having no money to buy land, came to the township and took up wild land which they hoped to hold by possession or by the payment of a nominal sum to the government in consideration for their faithful service, since they knew the government had no money to pay their wages.

Two branches of settlement took place on the high ground along the west face of the New Vineyard Mountains and on the east face from the New Vineyard Basin and Mosher Hill northeasterly to today's Rand Road. By the late 1830's the town could boast 3 churches, 2 post offices, 4 stores and a population of 902. Many of the shops were located in the Gore which was later ceded to Industry in 1815. The early mills, however, were located on the northwest side of the New Vineyard Mountain range, taking advantage of Barker Brook and other streams running down the mountain side to Lemon Stream. The 1807 map also shows virtually no development north of the Vaughan farm on Lemon Stream (property owned for many years by Colonel Syme and now the home of Laurie Barker). Everything west of today's Route 27 was untouched until the northwest corner of the town (Peabody Corner area) experienced some homesteading. It was not until later that it would become a thriving farm community.

Upon incorporating in 1802, New Vineyard had a formal government in place based on the New England town meeting format. The selectmen, duly elected, would manage the affairs of the new town and serve as tax assessors, assisted by a town clerk, treasurer and tax collector. A fire destroyed the New Vineyard town office in 1925, along with the town records. Consequently records before that time are sketchy with the exception of some records from 1807, 1852-1867 and 1868-1892 which were in the possession of some citizens at the time. From these records, it is possible to develop a clear understanding of the town and its people during this half-century as the town went from a mere agricultural community to a balanced economy which included wood turning mills and a market far beyond the boundaries of Maine. The New England town meeting concept has endured the test of time as the same system of government, which began in 1802 still continues today. The earlier book, 1852-1860's, also has school district reports running to 1886. There were many changes in the 1800's, but there is no doubt the town was well served by dedicated men who, for very little pay, guided the town through a critical time in its history; for during this period many of its citizens joined the Union Army, never to return again either because of battlefield or illness related death or because they joined the westward movement following the war.

† Town of New Vineyard, Comprehensive Plan, 2014, www.newvineyardme.org, accessed December, 2021.