In 1837 the Legislature of the State of Maine called for a census of the state to be undertaken in order to distribute "surplus revenues" to the various communities.
Since the Madawaska Settlements on both sides of the upper St.John River were considered by the US to be part of the State of Maine (at that time within Penobscot County), this census was also to include these settlements. The State appointed Ebenezer Stevens Greeley (1797-1869) of Dover, Penobscot Co., Maine, to undertake the census of Madawaska.
Greeley duly set off to undertake his duties in May 1837, and began surveying the population of the valley. Near the end of that month, however, he was arrested "while performing his duty" by James MacLauchlin, Warden of the Disputed Territory for the Provincial authorities of New Brunswick.
Here's a summary about his actions, from Aroostook: The First Sixty Years by Clarence A. Day:
The British description of Greeley's activities:
Upon his arrest, the adjutant general of Maine issued a general order:
Raymond explains further events: "The militia were called upon to hold themselves in readiness for service. After a little negotiation, however, Greely was set a liberty, the general government of the United States meanwhile bringing pressure to bear upon the State of Maine to prevent any further attempt to complete the census, pending the negotiations in progress for determining the boundary."
Here is Day's explanation:
The part of the census that Greeley did manage to finish seems to have disappeared. I have sent information requests to the Maine State Archives as well as to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick asking whether this census information is in their holdings. Both archives responded that they did not have the documents.
update 8/26/2010: Larry Glatz recently located a letter written by Greeley in June 1837 while he was in the Fredericton jail, addressed to Major General Isaac Hodsdon (1781-1864), who was in command of the state’s militia division based in Bangor and who would eventually lead Maine’s troops in the Aroostook campaign. In the letter, Greeley states that he had managed to count 1,247 persons; he notes that he estimated the total population of Madawaska to be about 2800. The main gist of the letter is Greeley's belief that the state of Maine needed to be more aggressive in asserting its claim to the disputed territory. Here is the text of the letter, with an introduction, thanks to Larry Glatz, who found it in the papers of Isaac Hodsdon at the Maine Historical Society.
Here is correspondence among New Brunswick provincial authorities related to Greeley's attempts to undertake the census and his arrest by provincial officials.
If you have any further information about Greeley's attempts to conduct the census of Madawaska, or of the fate of the census returns, please
Last revised 26 Aug 2010