by Esther Wood
Blue Hill was one of the David Marsh townships granted in 1762 to the veterans of the last war against the French. The first comers to the area were Joseph Wood and John Roundy from Andover, Massachusetts, who built homes on Mill Island at the tidal falls (Blue Hills Falls). Other settlers joined them, and in this neighborhood were the first mill and schoolhouse. The area was first known as North Andover, then as New Port, and in 1789 the town charter established its name as Blue Hill.
Settlements grew up in other localities - the Neck (South Blue Hill), Head-of-the Bay between the head of the tide, and the foot of the Mountain (Blue Hill Village), East Blue Hill where McHard's Stream flows into the Bay, and North Blue Hill back of the Mountain. In time each settlement had a school, store, and a chapel or church.

Head-of-the-Bay outgrew the other settlements, A library and an academy were built, and by the mid-nineteenth century it could boast of mills, forges, stores, inns, and two churches. Some village families prospered and built handsome homes.

Shipbuilding and trading by sea gave Blue Hill its first prosperity. The first vessel was built in 1792 at the tidal falls, and between 1792 and 1882, one hundred thirty-three vessels were built. Some were brigs and ships, but most were schooners.

Usually shipyards grew up beside saw mills. Yards were located by the tidal falls, at the shore of the Dodge house opposite the Town Spring, and at the site of the Town Park. Several were at Mill Brook, and there were others at Peters Cove and East Blue Hill. Now and them farmers built small vessels in meadows by the Bay. At least one vessel was built behind the mountain and hauled to the Head of the Bay by oxen.

Blue Hill - built craft took lumber, masts and shingles to Atlantic coastal cities. Other cargo included farm products, fish clams, porgy oil, and kiln wood. Parson Jonathan Fisher, the town's first minister, sent cranberries to Boston. Often trade was three cornered. Vessels took local products to Portland where they were unloaded and reloaded with lumber and staves for Cuba. On the trip home the cargo was sugar and molasses for Portland's sugar houses.

Esther Wood, a Blue Hill native, returned to her family's East Blue Hill home after teaching at University of Southern Maine. She is a published author and writes for several Maine publications.


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