Captain Stover Rines

Captain Stover Rines was the head of the Maine Militia unit that was stationed at the Block House at the mouth of the Fish River (now Fort Kent) in 1839 and 1840.

In February 1839, in response to people cutting timber in the disputed area along the Upper St.John and Aroostook Rivers, the Maine State Legislature "empowered and authorized" the State Land Agent

to employ forthwith sufficient force to arrest, detain, and imprison all persons found trespassing on the territory of this State, as bounded and established by the Treaty of 1783; and that the Land Agent be, and is hereby empowered to dispose of all the teams, lumber, and other materials in the hands and possession of the trespassers... (cited in Scott, p.129)

The Land Agent, Rufus McIntire, asked the Sheriff of Penobscot County to organize an armed posse or militia to fulfill this task. Rines, who was from Orono, Maine, headed up the group organized at Bangor. (In one list Rines is listed as an Infantry Captain under Colonel Charles Jarvis, who was the Acting Land Agent of the State of Maine.) An article in the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier described Rines as one of the leaders of the three original sections of the first posse to go to the Aroostook area. (Scott, pp.130, 354-355)

Rines was mentioned in the report of the Maine Land Agent, Rufus McIntire, to the Maine Legislature in 1840. McIntire had been directed by the Legislature to investigate the unauthorized cutting and sale of timber from the public lands in the disputed territory along the Fish, St.John, and Aroostook Rivers. In his report of his trip to the area sometime in 1839, McIntire mentions that

"At Fish River, Capt. Rines, with a party of thirty-five men, is stationed, to guard the forests in that quarter from depredations. They are employed, when not exploring the woods, in strengthening and extending the boom in the St.John's, to secure any timber that may be attempted to be floated from above, and from the Fish River; in making a house for quarters, and defence against mobs of trespassers. I have also directed Capt. Rines, to employ spare hands in preparing some of the forest for a crop, so necessary for the comfort and support of the men, should it be necessary to keep them there in the coming season. ...
"Capt. Rines..., I am confident will keep [his] men profitably employed" Source: Report of the Land Agent

Stover Rines is the first person listed in the 1840 US Census of Madawaska South of the St.John. He is listed as the head of a "household" that contains 17 men between the ages of 30 and 40, these most probably being the troops under his command.

Fort Kent blockhouse
Blockhouse in Fort Kent, at confluence of Fish and St.John Rivers, where Stover Rines and his men were stationed.

Rines is also referred to in some British documents of the period; in particular, in a letter from Francis Rice, Justice of the Peace in the Madawaska Settlement, to J.A.MacLauchlan, Warden of the Disputed Territory for the Province of New Brunswick, dated November 3, 1840, in which Rice describes Rines as the head of the State Militia that was stationed at the Block-House at the mouth of the Fish River (now Fort Kent). At a meeting of Americans to vote for President, Rines and other Americans present threatened Rice with arrest for attempting to stop the proceedings (for full text of letter see below).

Madawaska, November 3, 1840

J.A.MacLauchlan, Warden of the Disputed Territory
Upon my arrival from Quebec on the 20th ultimo [last month] , I was informed by Mr. Tighe, that, on the Friday previous, the Americans held what they term a town meeting, at the house of one Joseph Nedeau, next above the American block-house, at the outlet of the Fish River, the purpose of which was to elect town officers. They accordingly did so, and have elected Barnabas Hanawell, Miles Emery, and Elias Baker, Americans, to be Assessors; Elias Baker was also elected Town Clerk; and John Baker, the well-known agitator of Madawaska, Moderator for the day. A lawyer of the name of Sewell, from Bangor, opened the meeting, by making a long speech to the people. Previous to this meeting there had been notices put up in the settlement, notifying the inhabitants to attend. After they had finished their meeting, they fired three discharges from a field piece, hoisted the American flag, drums beat, music played, and a general rejoicing took place.
On receiving your letter directing me to attend the meeting, and to protest against these proceedings, I made further inquiry, and found that hand-bills had been up in the settlement, notifying the people to attend another meeting to be holden at the same place on the 2nd of November. Early in the morning of that day I left home, and arrived at Nedeau's about one o'clock, P.M.: met Captain Ryans, the officer in command at the American block-house, and told him that my business up here was to protest against those proceedings. He answered me, "If you do so officially, I will be under the necessity of arresting you, and sending you to Augusta." I told him that I was determined to do what I considered my duty. There were about one hundred persons present, principally Americans, there were a few French Canadians of the lower class; shortly after my arrival, Barnabas Hanawell, Miles Emery, and Elias Baker, Americans, proclaimed order, and that they were about to open the meeting; Elias Baker commenced by opening a packet, and read to the following effect: --
"In the name of the State of Maine, we open this meeting, pursuant to an order to us directed for the purpose of electing a President and a Vice-President for the United States of America, and in the name of the said State come forward and give your votes. Signed, Barnabas Hanawell, Miles Emery, Elias Baker."
I then asked if I would be allowed to speak. I was answered, "No; that the meeting had opened, and that I should not be allowed to say one word." I then stood up and said: "As the Queen's civil officer, and in Her Britannic Majesty's name, I protest against your proceedings and meetings as unlawful, illegal and uncalled for." I was then ordered out of the room, or rather taken out by the arm by Captain Ryains, when I was roughly used by John Baker, Joseph Wiles, and others. Baker made different attempts to strike me, but was prevented by Captain Ryains. Captain Ryains also stated publicly at the meeting, that if any peace officer of New Brunswick should attempt to arrest any person, or serve any writ, or excercise any act of jurisdiction whatever, from the Madawaska River upwards, that he would arrest them, and send them off to Augusta prisoners; that that was the order he had recently received, and that he would actually put it in force.
(Signed) Francis Rice, Justice of the Peace
N.B. In further conversation with Captain Ryains, he plainly and distinctly told me, that if the Warden of the Disputed Territory should attempt for the future above the entrance of the Madawaska River, that he would most certainly make him his prisoner, according to his instructions.
(Signed) Francis Rice, Justice of the Peace
Source: British Documents on Foreign Affairs, pp.100-101

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Last revised 21 Jun 2005