Happy birthday, Boothbay!
August 22 marks the start of Boothbay’s 250th anniversary, an event celebrated with classic New England homecoming celebrations – a parade, seafood festival and fireworks. As a resort rooted in the early days of Boothbay’s emergence as a summer destination, Spruce Point Inn salutes our history and the deep affection we have for this point of land.
Laid out between the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers this settlement originally called “Townsend” was a place historians describe as “far to the northeast of any existing settlement,” not long after the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth was concluded to end the bloodshed in the thin coastal settlements along the Maine coast when Portsmouth, New Hampshire was the English frontier. Looking out over a temporarily quiet bay, you can imagine what it might have looked like then.
Though the commemoration is of the town’s 1764 charter, we also raise an admiring glass to those who came before David Dunbar’s 1729 settlement – the two 17th century homesteads history notes on the outer islands – and the Scotch-Irish who ventured into Casco Bay after migrating across the Atlantic to Boston. Boothbay’s history runs deep.
It was August 1718 – almost 300 years ago – that four ships arrived in Boston Harbor, including the “Robert” carrying the first Scotch-Irish immigrants of what would soon be a wave out of Ireland. In September, 20 families arrived on the “Maccallum.” Originally expecting to travel to New London, CT they instead put into Boston and were convinced to give the new English lands at the mouth of the Kennebec a try.
Sitting on the deck at Spruce Point, overlooking Linekin Bay sparkling in summer sunshine, all the comforts of summer vacationing this region has provided for more than a century close at hand, it’s hard to imagine Boothbay as those settlers described it: “A howling wilderness, an inhospitable desert, in the midst of Savage beasts and even more savage men,” the spruces of the point a dark and forbidding forest, the land good mostly for harvesting rocks not the seasonal farm-to-fork bounty of today.
Even Samuel McCobb’s petition to the King’s Court that would incorporate Boothbay as a town falls far from suggesting the beauty and good fortune that we who live and visit here enjoy. He writes of the “low circumstances” of the settlers, the broken land and the French & Indian Wars that drove them off and forced them to rebuild each time they returned.
So, as we celebrate Boothbay’s 250th, we raise a glass to those who came before us, to those who followed their dream into these spruce forests, to those who recognized the sense of this place from the start. As Maine’s Civil War hero of Little Round Top, Joshua Chamberlain (the Chamberlain museum is in nearby Brunswick) put it, It’s clear that here “something abides.”