Alexander/Crawford History news

Town News

By John Dudley & Cassie Oakes



In 1786 Rufus Putnam, while in Boston drew the plan for the Massachusetts Land Lottery, which was fifty townships between the Schoodic (St. Croix) and the Penobscot rivers.  In 1784 he actually had surveyed on the ground seven townships that became Perry, Pembroke & Dennysville, Charlotte, Robbingston, Calais, Baring and Baileyville.  Alexander’s (#16) odd shape is because it fell between the actual survey of #7 (Baileyville) and the square townships to our west.

Crawford (#20) is a square township on paper and almost square by survey.  All townships were supposed to be 36 square miles in area.  The square townships should have been 6 miles on each side (6+6=36).  Benjamin R Jones was hired by John Black, agent for landowners William Bingham Heirs, to survey Crawford into 144 settlers’ lots of ¼ square mile each.  Each is ½ mile on each side or 160 rods.

By 1839 a couple dozen of those Crawford lots had settlers.  Lots sold in the lottery, public lots (school & ministry) and settler lots could not be sold.  So in 1840 Micah Talbot of East Machias purchased the rest of Crawford.  Talbot hired surveyor Richard V. Hayden of Robbinston to make a map of Crawford showing land that Talbot owned.  (We should note that many had owned (or had made a small down payment on) the wildland of Crawford including William Bingham, Neal Shaw and James S. Pike of Calais).  Hayden kept a journal that today is at the Calais Free Library (built in memory of James S. Pike) with a copy available for research.  His record of his journey in the fall of 1840 is there to read.

Crawford is in the East Machias River watershed.  The Popes and Talbots were the families in East Machias who owned the mills and ships and needed logs to manufacture into lumber to be sold and shipped.  Township 21 is on the St. Croix River watershed and Duran and Copeland were two of the many mill owners in Calais who also needed logs for lumber.

Charles Copeland had acquired much of #21 (Big Lake Township).  It was, like Alexander, an odd shaped block of land. Talbot claimed the north line of Crawford was wrong, he claimed a strip of #21 ½ mile north to south and 6 miles east to west or 3 square miles of land.  Richard Hayden was hired again in 1848, likely by Talbot, to survey.  Both of Hayden’s maps are registered and available at the Deeds’ Office in Machias.
How did this dispute affect lot 26 in Alexander?  Stay tuned; the research will continue.