Park Holland, excerpt from his autobiography

Park Holland was the Surveyor of the Bingham Purchase. The Bingham purchase was the name given to a huge tract of prime timber land, two million acres, in the Province (from 1820, the State) of Maine, that was sold to wealthy Philadelphia banker William Bingham in 1786. [Much of this land was sold in 1795 to Alexander Baring, who, in 1842, as Lord Ashburton, would negotiate for the British on the final border between Maine and New Brunswick.]

In 1790 Park Holland (1752-1844) was sent to survey Bingham's holdings. In the course of his survey, he visited the Madawaska Settlement, and mentions it briefly in his field book from 1797, (Park Holland's field book, 1797, of the survey part of the lands on Penobscot river purchased of the Indians & including settlements). This excerpt is below.

My thanks to Prof. Béatrice Craig for providing me with this text

Account of a 1790 trip to the St John river.

«We go 300 rods on the 138th mile and strike the St John's river running westerly. This was a joyful time for us, as we were now entirely out of provisions, and had been out of bread for several days. We move down river, expecting to find some inhabitants, soon come to a hay stack, which raises our hopes of once more seeing a human creature. It rains, and we must camp and go supperless. Next morning we go on two miles and find a French family on the opposite side of the river, who came after us in a canoe and inform us it is 11 miles to the village. The Frenchman had on the fire, when we entered his house, a pot of hulled wheat, to which he made us welcome, telling us to eat all we wished, which was no trifle, as he found, and it proved a good substitute for bread, which we had not seen for more than a week. This old man had followed hunting all his days. Early in life he had hunted with the St Francois Indian, some where in the vicinity of lake Memphremagog, had married a squaw of that tribe, and moved on to the St John's river, where we found him, sometimes before the Ffrench settled at Madawaska. He had two sons grown to manhood, one as white as anybody, the other pure Indian. In the afternoon, Mr. Lequires took us in his boat, to go to the village, but the wind began to blow, accompanied by rain, hail and snow, and after going two or three miles, we halted for the night, where there was a small grist-mill, a temporary thing, built of logs, and covered with bark, which answered the purpose of dwelling house and mill. Here we supped and lodged, and procured 150lbs of flour which was manufactured in the course of the night. We proceeded next morning to the village to get our flour manufactured into bread.

«Oct. 1st. At the village of Madawaska, which is very pleasantly situated on intervale land, on the St John's river, high enough to be out of reach of the freshets, which here rise sometimes to a great height. The Madawaska river empties into the St John's, not far from the village, which was settled by the French at the close of the Revolution. The British gave their American soldiers land upon the St John's, where these people had settled, 60 or 70 families in number, and who, in their anger, moved up river, determined to have no communications with them. They appear happy and contented, though they begin to suffer for the want of edge tools, etc. They have never used any salt since they came here. They have a church and priest, cattle, horses, sheep and hogs, raise wheat, oats, barley and peas, and flax, and tobacco, which, though of a poor quality, answer for smoking, make their own cloth, etc. Their houses are built of logs, and those we entered were neat and in order. They make their meat into soup, to which they add onions and garlics, which grow wild upon the bank of the river. They are very kind and hospitable. We scarcely entered a house, that they did not ask us to take soup with them. We met among them a Mr. Everett formerly from New Hampshire, who was a hunter, and who had been here three or four years. He was of great service to us as interpreter, and gave us a small yellow dog, which, with our provisions, the second day after our arrival, we took on our journey up river, passed the night with the Frenchman at the mill who gave us a half peck of hulled wheat to use instead of rice in broth and pushed on our unknown and dreary way.»

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Last revised 10 Jun 2007
©2007, C.Gagnon