The Town's Beginning
Chapter 1 from the Reflections of Readfield (The Story of our Town) Book
Readfield was once part of old Pondtown, now Winthrop, settled in 1764, part of the Kennebec Purchase from Governor Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.
The purchasers were wealthy English colonists and they formed a land company later known as the Plymouth Company. Their names were Antipas Boyes, Edward Tyng, Thomas Brattle, and John Winslow. Their heirs were many, and after the French and Indian wars they reorganized into the Plymouth Company, and were also known as the Kennebec Proprietors. Many familiar names of towns along the Kennebec come from men like Sylvester Gardiner, Benjamin Hallowell and James Bowdoin. Their names still appear as landowners on the map of Readfield as it was in 1791 at the time of its separation from Winthrop.
Romance, adventure, and intrigue are all part of the tale of the settling of the Kennebec. Here were the outposts for trade with the Indians. This trade was necessary to pay off the debts of the Plymouth Colony to those who had financed their adventure in America. Robert Cushman had handled much of this early financing in England and in Leyden, sometimes with little thanks. Some of his descendants are living in Readfield today. John Alden was once involved in a murder on the Kennebec, but fortunately for Priscilla, he was cleared.
Maine was still a part of Massachusetts, and the Plymouth Colony was still a part of England. It is understandable that LutherSampson’s Kents Hill School has been called “the ripened fruit of the Mayflower” because the benevolent founder, who came from Marshfield, Massachusetts, was a descendant of the Plymouth Colony. Now his descendant Luther Russell lives in Kents Hill. Warren Butman’s ancestor came as an indentured servant on the third trip. Mayflower descendants are as natural to Maine as salt is to the seashore.
One of the proprietors was a Bostonian named James Bowdoin, later governor of Massachusetts. He was particularly involved in this area and bequeathed to Readfield its original common lot and muster grounds. Another proprietor named Jonathan Reed often acted as Bowdoin’s agent, as did a young man of the same family, Major John Reed from Roxbury, Massachusetts. It is for him that Readfield was named, at one time being spelled Reedfield.
You can read more about the history of Readfield by purchasing the Reflections of Readfield book at the Town Office for $3.50.