Chapter 2 – Pioneer Times (1800-1900)

Stage Coach - By Heather

Stage Coach - By Heather

The human children had just gone into the school after lunch recess when Freddy gathered the young squirrels together for their next history lesson.

“Uncle Freddy, I was wondering something,” said Elizabeth.

“Yes, what was that?” asked Freddy.

“How did people travel ?” They must have walked and used horses, but were there roads?”

“Good question. They didn’t have tar roads like we have now, but there were dirt roads. In 1781 Mr. Bagley ‘built’ the River road to Minot, which is called Auburn now. That way people in Royalsborough had a better way to get their goods to Lewiston. After this road was finished people began moving into the North side of town. Stackpole Road was built around 1800 and became part of the stage line between Portland and Minot (Auburn).”

Benjamin looked puzzled, “What’s a stage line?”

“A stagecoach was a kind of wagon pulled by horses that people could pay to ride on. Sort of like a bus, but no engines.”

River Barges - By Hilary

River Barges - By Hilary

“What about crossing the river?” asked Mary.

“Well until about 1818 when the first bridge was built, people crossed on ferries. These were flat boats that used a rope strung across the river to pull the boat and passengers from one side to the other. There were several ferries that were operated in town : The Jones’, Beal’s, Dyer’s and McGray’s to name a few.”

“Did you have to ask their permission to cross?” asked Sammy.

“You had to pay a toll to cross on their ferry. At first you had to pay a toll to use the bridge, too.”

“1820 must have been an important year,” remarked Benjamin.

“Why ?” asked Mary.

“Wasn’t that the year that Maine became a state?” asked Ben.

“Right you are,”said Freddy. “Good for you for remembering that fact. That was also the year that John Rogers of Lynn, Massachusetts began a shoe manufacturing business in South Durham. This business eventually gave rise to lots of small shops with 5 or 6 workers in each. At the height of the business there were more than 200 workers.”

General Store and Post Office - By Mike

General Store and Post Office - By Mike

“Where did people go shopping?” asked Mary.

“In each of the four sections of town there was a General Store and Post Office,” answered Freddy.

“What did the stores look like?” asked Ben.

“What was in them?”Elizabeth wondered.

“Each store sold some groceries like white sugar, flour and special items that came from other places like silk clothing and dishes from other countries.”

“They didn’t need much food in the stores did they since a lot of people lived on farms.” Elizabeth turned to Freddy.

“That’s right. These stores were also places where people would gather to find out what was happening.”

“Were there any other businesses around?” asked Elizabeth.

“As a matter of fact there were. There were 4 large stores on River Road. Also there was a milliner’s, bakery and tailor shops. Near South West Bend in 1820 there was a carding and grist mill owned by John Mayall.”

“What did they do there?” asked Sammy.

“Well, a carding mill takes in the wool from sheep and combs it. A grist mill grinds the flour or corn into flour.”

“Oh, so they didn’t have to go out of town anymore.”

“That’s right. There was also the Durham Steam Co. which operated from 1837-1842. They would grind grain and card wool, too. They also made Plaster of Paris, processed lumber and cotton and worked with iron and steel.”

“Did most of the people work in these places?” asked Mary.

“I don’t think that most people did. There were a lot of farms where people grew most of their own food and had animals.”

“When did the Civil War happen?” asked Elizabeth.

“Hey, was that when the United States fought um-um-um..” Sammy was rather puzzled.

“It was when the North fought the South right, Freddy?” asked Mary hopping up and down.

“That’s right. It was also called the War Between the States because the northern U.S. fought against the southern U.S. It started in April of 1861 and ended in April of 1865.”

“Did some of the citizens of Durham fight in that war?” inquired Sammy.

“Yes, some of them did.”

One Room School House - By Bobby

One Room School House - By Bobby

“This building is a school, right?”

“Yes. Elizabeth it is. Why do you ask?” Freddy turned to her.

“Well I was wondering what schools were like. Were they like this?”

“No, at that time there were one room school houses in the town. By 1890 there were 13 school districts with a one room school house in each area.”

Just then the red doors exploded outwards and a bunch of little children ran out onto the playground screaming as they went.

“It must be time for afternoon recess,” said Mary.

“I believe that you are correct, Mary. Let’s call it quits for today and begin again tomorrow.” By the time Freddy had finished his sentence the 4 young squirrels had scampered into the trees on the other side of the fence.