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 A Brief History of our Town



     On January 30, 1829, by legislative authority, this municipality's name was changed from "Mattanawcook" to "Lincoln" and incorporated as the 284th town in Maine. Named for Enoch Lincoln, the sixth governor of Maine, the town's early growth was considered better than that of many towns due to its intelligent and enterprising newcomers. Census records show that, during the ten-year period beginning in 1830, Lincoln's population grew from 404 to 1,121- a 177% increase.


     The primary activity in the early days was lumbering. Farming was also an important activity with wheat and corn as the principal crops in the early years, and potatoes and beans later. With the rapid increase in population during the first twenty years since the arrival of the first settler, Aaron Woodbury, of Orrington, the building trades, blacksmith shops, harness makers and mercantile enterprises began to flourish. In the 1930's, Lincoln, like many communities across the country was hit hard by the Depression. These years of economic devastation changed forever the importance placed on the agrarian way of life to one of manufacturing for the Town of Lincoln. Pulp and Paper production became the primary economic activity, followed by a healthy growth in retail activity and municipal services.

The Lincoln Band has been around for years.  This thumbnail picture to the right is of the band marching down Main Street in 1924!  (Picture courtesy of Duncan Webster of Auburn, Maine) 1924 Lincoln Band


     Lincoln's form of government changed during the late 1930's when the first town agent was hired. In 1942, the first Town Manager was hired and the selectmen/manager/town meeting form of government continued for over twenty years, until April 4, 1969, when Lincoln was granted a municipal charter establishing a council/manager form of government. For the first time in over 140 years, the people did not have a direct voice in the Town's affairs.

In the fall of 1825, Ira Fish came to Mattanawcook from New Hampshire and immediately began to build sawmills on Mattanawcook Stream. Work began on the upper mill in September 1825 and was completed the following spring. This mill was on the east bank of the stream near the present day location of the Lincoln Memorial Library. In June 1826, a second sawmill was completed and this was known as the lower mill. More than five million feet of pine logs were put into Mattanawcook Stream during the winter of 1825-1826.


    The spool mill in South Lincoln was an important and profitable industry in the community. In 1871, James Emerson built a small sawmill on the site of the future spool mill and engaged in sawing lumber for various purposes, especially white birch for spool bars. The lumber was shipped to the Clark Company of Newark, NJ to be manufactured into spools. John MacGregor, who came from Scotland in 1869, moved to Lincoln permanently in 1875 and built the first spool mill. The first carload of spools was shipped on February 28, 1876. The mill burned on August 21, 1885 and was rebuilt with the work starting again on January1, 1886. In February 1898, the business was incorporated as the John MacGregor Company.


     Quarrying for granite was also a well established and busy enterprise around 1880 and was a profitable business for many years in the Town of Lincoln. Many of the foundations of the older homes we see in Lincoln today most likely came from one of the quarries here. They included the Jewell Granite company, operated by V.E.Libby, as well as others operated by A.E. Hurd, W.W. Wells and E.A.Stinson.


    Lincoln Pulp and Paper Company, under the control of the Mattanawcook Mill Co., was organized on August 11, 1882, with its chapter approved on February 21, 1883. Pulp Mill construction was completed that year and a paper machine, which was actually a crude pulp dryer, was installed. Business continued until 1888 when operations were suspended that year. The mill remained idle until 1893 when purchased by N.M.Jones, James B. Mullen and others, who made extensive repairs, erected some new buildings, installed four small digesters and engaged in the manufacture of sulfite pulp under the name of Katahdin Pulp and Paper Co. Various improvements were made during the next twenty years and in October 1914, the mill was purchased by Eastern Manufacturing Company of Brewer, Maine. Operations continued under the name of Katahdin Division of the Eastern Manufacturing Company. At that time the mill employed approximately 250 people. Over the next fifty years new machinery was added and buildings constructed. In 1964, tissue production began, issuing a new and profitable enterprise for the mill. Six years prior, in 1958, Eastern Manufacturing merged with Standard Packaging Corporation, becoming Eastern Fine Paper and Pulp Division, Standard Packaging Corporation. This relationship lasted ten years until March 8, 1968, when Eastern Division's Lincoln and Brewer Mills closed. This was a frightening and anxious time for the people of Lincoln; however, through this adversity, the people of Lincoln showed their true character. On June 24, 1968, in less than three weeks, Lincoln had raised its needed share of $350,000 to secure financing. In August that same year, Standard Packaging transferred ownership to the Premoid Corporation (now PRECO), which renamed the mill Lincoln Pulp and Paper. Since that time, Lincoln Pulp and Paper has continued to modernize and it is the only integrated producer of deep-dyed tissue in the world. Currently, Lincoln Pulp and Paper employs approximately 525 people.


     The first schoolhouse in the Town of Lincoln was built around 1827 and was located on what was known as the "hay scales lot", near the present location of the WW1 monument on lower Main Street. In 1830, the Town bought the building for$142 and $9 for "necessary articles" and used it as a place for Town Meetings, in addition to a schoolhouse.


     Other schoolhouses sprang up throughout the community in the ensuing years. From Lincoln Center (1833), Transalpine (1835), East Lincoln (1838), South Lincoln (1838), North Lincoln, Enfield Road and other locations, the citizens of Lincoln realized, even then, the importance of education. In 1870, a series of enactment's began which radically changed the management of the schools. At the annual Town Meeting in March 1888, Lincoln abolished the school districting system and adopted a town school system. The various school locations remained; however, they now were placed under the management of the Town.


     The second schoolhouse to appear in Lincoln village was built in 1839 on the Common on School Street (located opposite to the now Lincoln Court Apartments). It was repaired two or three times until 1903, when it was moved to Mattanawcook Lake and used as a fire station.


     At the annual Town Meeting in 1902, the townspeople approved the $10,000 appropriation to build a new school house. On September 10, 1903, the Primary School was officially dedicated. It functioned, at different times, as a primary and grammar school, and continued to do so for sixty years, until 1973, when it closed. Later, it was turned back to the Town and used as a museum by the Lincoln Historical Society until it was sold to a private developer in June 1985. The building was torn down in December 1985 and replaced with a new senior citizen housing structure.


     The building of the Ballard Hill School was authorized March 17, 1919, with classes beginning January 19, 1920. For a short time it housed grades 3-9, but for many years grades 4-8 and, later k-5 went to school there. It permanently closed as a school in 1984. The building received much needed work and is currently used as a community center.


     In 1954, the Ella P. Burr School was built and named in honor of a long time Lincoln educator. It has been expanded and renovated extensively during the late 1980's and early 1990's and, today, children from kindergarten through 4 attend classes there.


     Lincoln High School was incorporated by a legislative act on July 29, 1846, and built in 1847 at a cost of $1,000. It continued under this name through the academic year ending November 1849 and was officially changed to Mattanawcook Academy on June 26, 1850, its date of incorporation. For the first twenty years, Mattanawcook Academy offered a curriculum designed to provide a degree of culture as well as competence in business affairs. However, in 1871, it began to offer normal (teacher training) classes in an effort to increase enrollment. For twenty years, until 1892, the Academy was useful as a provider of teachers. However, that year, the emphasis shifted from teacher training to a college preparatory curriculum. Normal classes were reintroduced in 1909 but ended fifteen years later in 1924. Within a decade, Mattanawcook Academy began to show signs of age, and talk had began about a new and modern academy building. The Community's dream was realized with the dedication of a new $100,000 building on October 15th, 1933. The Academy building was expanded in 1962 and again in 1993. Since 1974, it has been used as a junior high school.


     On July 1st, 1968 the Towns of Chester, Lincoln, and Mattawamkeag joined together for mutual benefit and formed School Administrative District #67. Six years later, on November 24, 1974, the new Mattanawcook Academy was dedicated.


     Former schools still standing include the Webber's Mill School, built in 1891, and last used by the Lincoln Credit Union during the 1970's, currently located across from the Lincoln Memorial Library; the South Lincoln School, built in 1923, and closed in 1955, now used as a community building and owned by the Community Progress Club; and, the Lincoln Center School, built in 1925, and now owned by the Veteran's of Foreign Wars (VFW).


     In March 1847, the Mattanawcook Observer was the first periodical ever printed in Lincoln. It was published once a week by J.R. Hopkins at seventy-five cents a year. It probably remained in existence for no more than 2-3 years. The Upriver Weekly News was the next paper to appear in Lincoln. It was "A weekly paper devoted to the interest of Northern Penobscot County and vicinity" and was first issued on June 12, 1885. It was published in Bangor and then sent to Lincoln for circulation. This paper continued to about 1889 when it merged with the Semi-Weekly News. After the Bangor Daily News, which began in 1892, consolidated with the Bangor Whig and Courier in 1900, the Up-River News probably was unable to compete and was discontinued soon after. Five years later, in September 1905, the Lincoln Chronicle appeared. It apparently sprang from the Millinocket Journal and at one time carried the double title, "The Lincoln Chronicle and Millinocket Journal". It remained in circulation for ten years. Other papers have come and gone at one time or another, including the Lincoln News of the 1930's and late 1940's, the Lincoln Sun, Gateway News and possible others. However, since 1959, the Lincoln News has been the local paper. It is published every Wednesday and available the following day. It currently has a circulation in excess of 5000.


     The Lincoln Memorial Library was founded in 1879 and for many years was housed in stores and homes until book display space became inadequate. Through the generosity of many, but most notably Ella Pickering and the family of John MacGregor, the building of the Library became reality. On March 25, 1925, the splendid new colonial brick building was opened to the public. For its time, the library had no equal in the other towns within the region. It was, and is, a building of which the Town of Lincoln can be justly proud. Today, the Library is a valuable asset, not only to Lincoln, but to the surrounding communities as well. It works in close cooperation with the various schools in the area and many services are free to those wishing to avail themselves of them. The Library also works very closely with the Lincoln Historical Society in helping to preserve important records for genealogical research and general historical information.


     The Lincoln Historical Society was organized on June 10th, 1935 and incorporated December 10th, 1962. From 1973 - 1985 it supervised and managed a museum that was housed in the former Primary School. The museum was visited by citizens of Lincoln, and the surrounding communities as well as people from other states and countries. The Lincoln Historical Society had items on display such as a Native American birch bark canoe and war clubs, farm implements, tools, schoolroom items, a 19   century hearse, early 20th century clothing and many other interesting and historical artifacts from the early days of Lincoln. With the loss of the Primary School building, the Historical Society returned items to the donors when possible, and either found other locations for their display or stored the remaining historical items at various locations in the town.


     The Historical Society continued to meet with the goal of owning a building to become a museum. This goal was realized February 2, 1999 when they purchased a building on West Broadway. It took another year of work to clean, repair and refinish the building interior and to reside and paint the exterior. The Historical Society now has a museum to display many historical items from Lincoln's past. Work to further improve the building and to landscape the grounds is on going.


     The Society has also taken possession of the Webber's Mill School, which in 1997 was moved to The Historical Society's lot on the corner of West Broadway and Perry Street. The exterior of the school building has been refurbished and work to restore the interior is on going. The grounds around the schoolhouse have been landscaped and are considered to be one of the most attractive areas in Lincoln.


     The Historical Society is very active in their goal to preserve the history of Lincoln for the future generations to enjoy.


     The fist organized church in Lincoln was the Congregational Church, organized in 1831. However, an actual building was not constructed until 1851. The first organized service occurred on August 28, 1831, by the Rev. J. Sawyer. The Methodist Church, organized in 1836, was the first to have an actual church building, having constructed a building in 1839. Its first preacher was the Rev. Elliot B Fletcher, who came in 1836 before the building of the church. The Baptist Church, located in Lincoln Center, was dedicated on January 1, 1846. Its first minister was the Rev. Sylvester Besse of Paris, Maine. The Catholic Church was completed in 1902, and the first mass was celebrated on November 30th, 1902, by the Rev. Matthew W. Reilly. Since that time, many other churches have been organized and built through out the community, each with a faithful following.

The Chesley Hayes house, built in 1830, was the first hotel in town. Other early hotels included the Mansion House, Lincoln House and Penobscot House. The latter, located in Lincoln Center, was a stopover for many people traveling by steamboat along the Penobscot River during the mid-19th century. The first steamboat, under the ownership of the Penobscot River Navigation Company, to make it to Lincoln and beyond was the Governor Neptune, which passed by on November 27, 1847. The following summer, on August 1, 1848, a second steamer, the Mattanawcook, traveled to Lincoln for the first time and continued to do so for approximately ten years. A third steamer, the Sam Houston, built in 1849, also made frequent trips to the Town of Lincoln.


     Nearly twenty years prior to the first steamer stopping in Lincoln, The Brewer and Sunhaze Daily Stage began running August 18, 1829, between Bangor and Houlton. The trail along the Penobscot, at that time, was rough and broken at best, so traveling was often slow and, at times, dangerous. With the building and expansion of the railroad, the stage and steamer business slowly died and rail became the largest mover of passengers and freight. In the early 1850's there was talk of building a rail line from Old Town to Lincoln. This never occurred until 1869. The rail line was managed by the E & N.A. for over eleven years after it reached the St. John (N.B.) in 1871. However, later, some difficulties arose and, in October 1882, the Maine Central Railroad leased the track and eventually controlled the line. Currently, Guilford Transportation owns the railroad.


     In 1825, a forest fire started in the Piscataquis Valley and did immense damage. Strong northwest winds fanned the fires and they soon became uncontrollable. It was said that it crossed the West Branch of the Penobscot and came to the River and came to the river again at the Town of Chester, sweeping down the river to the Old Town line. It evidently did not touch Lincoln, but approximately 1,300 square miles of forest land was burned. Other fires, both large and small, have, over the past 170 years, affected Lincoln businesses and homes. Most recently, on February 28, 1995, a fiery explosion at Tibbetts Building and Fuel Supply proved to be devastating. The resulting fire spread so rapidly that the concrete building was nearly totally destroyed along with all its contents. Had a safety relief valve on a propane truck not worked properly, a catastrophe in one of Lincoln's busiest areas would have resulted.


     The name Mattanawcook, a word given to a lake, stream, island and, later, other Lincoln landmarks, has an interesting history. As early as 1793 on a survey map by Maynard and Holland, they note a stream as Mordenarcooch Stream. In 1822, it appears again on another survey map as Matenorcook. A year later, in a letter written by Moses Greenleaf, it is spelled Madanaukook. It appears in its present form in 1829 in a survey by Moses Greenleaf. The Indian meaning of Mattanawcook Lake is "lake that ends almost at the river". The island translation of Mattanawcook is "small, broken islands".

For more information on the history of Lincoln, see the book, History of Lincoln, by Dr. Dana Fellows, available at the Lincoln Memorial Library. Other readings include the History of the Transalpine by Mae Edwards Bailey, the pictorial history of Lincoln, as well as various reports and papers available from the archives of the Lincoln Historical Society and the Lincoln Memorial Library.


     The above summarization of Lincoln's history was compiled by the Lincoln Historical Society.


Now that you've learned about our past, we invite you to become part of our future!


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