Volume II Issue 4

April - May 1997



You will notice a definite theme in this issue. If you read last month's article by Bea Hariman, this edition of The Dunton Times will be a sequel. The first article was written by a cousin in Maine who is working on a special project. Please take the time to read it and contact her if you are related to any of the first families of Westport (once Jeremysquam Island), Maine. The second article was submitted by another cousin. His sources are noted at the end of the article. These combined articles create a fairly comprehensive story regarding Timothy Dunton and the early settlement of Westport, Maine!

On a different subject . . . with Spring and Summer fast upon us, farm duties start chipping away at my spare time. You will notice that this issue is a combined April - May edition. If I get the time, and if someone wants to contribute an article, I may get another issue out sooner than June. Enjoy, and keep your comments and contributions coming!

The Westport (Maine) "First Familes" Project

by Anne Cole Fairfield

This project had its beginnings with a labor of love (and a love of local history) by Beatrice Harriman, in an effort to preserve the old records of Westport, Maine, before they were lost forever. Bea was one of the founding members of the Westport Community Association, an organization dedicated to the preservation of our rich, local heritage. Her efforts culminated in 1970, in a large typescript that she had duplicated and bound in 10 copies, titled: FAMILY RECORDS OF WESTPORT, MAINE. These 10 volumes were distributed among the State Library in Augusta, the Wiscasset Public Library, and various family members. This is the only remaining source for a number of records that have been either lost or deteriorated beyond usefulness. I find this a remarkable work in that it was all accomplished before the existance of the modern word processor or computer.


The second half of the book has listed alphabetically, with a paragraph or a page, most of the other families or individuals who passed through our town from 1735 to about 1900.

My personal involvement with this project started when I began researching my husband's family on Westport in 1985. "Families of Westport" was my starting point on most of the lines involved, and included more than half of the families listed above. I finally joined the "computer age" 15 months ago, and started entering over 10 years of research into a database. When I realized how much of the information from Bea's book was already in my database, with a lot of information added to it on the descendants of these first families, I decided to enlist the help of descendants and researchers of the remaining families to update the entire work. My original intent was to give the completed database to the Westport Community Association to preserve and/or possibly publish as a fundraiser.

I was recently contacted by members of the WCA, including Bea Harriman's niece, who asked me to help prepare a series of presentations on "First Families of Westport and their Descendants". The first of the series is scheduled to start on July 17, 1997, at the Westport Community Association Meeting at the Westport Town Hall, Main Road, Westport Island.

If you are a descendant of one of these "First Families", I would appreciate any information that you may have to share, as this project is still a long way from completion.

Anne Cole Fairfield
P.O. Box 8
Wiscasset, ME 04578
Email: fairfld@gwi.net or fairfld@biddeford.com

The Dunton Family in Maine

Submitted by Dan Vaughan

Timothy Dunton was the founder of this family in Maine. It may well be safe to assume that all those who bear this name now living in the state may be traced back to him. Many others who removed to other states may also claim descent. There are also numerous other descendants with different surnames, because of marriage alliances, who live in the state and in other areas of the United States. The early settlers all had large families and it would be impossible to estimate the total number of descendants.

Timothy and Elizabeth came into the District of Maine when he was about 20 years old. This can be proved by a statement signed by him when he affixed his name to a petition for the incorporation of Pownalborough (Wiscasset). There seems to be a variance of opinion as to the place where he first settled. "Wiscasset in Pownalborough - A History of the Shire Town and Salient, Features of the Territory between the Sheepscott and Kennebec Rivers" by Fannie S. Chase, published in Wiscasset in 1941, gives the following information: "As far as can be learned, the first permanent settler on Jeremy Squam (Westport) Island was Timothy Dunton and his family. He was one of the petitioners for the town of Wiscasset, which was read in 1750 to the House of representatives of Mass. Colony. It was ordered granted, but the matter proceeded no further. A second reading was presented in 1754, but it was not until 1760 that the town was incorporated under the name of Pownalborough. In the first petition which was drafted in 1749, Timothy stated that he had been a resident of the area for fourteen or fifteen years. Cornelius Tarbox, John Knight (who married Sarah Dunton in 1767), Samuel Tyler and John Dunton were leaders on the island after the time when Pownalborough was incorporated." Timothy could not have signed the petition unless he lived within the limits of what was then Wiscasset at the time.

Francis B. Greene, an historian who wrote "The History of Boothbay, Southport and Boothbay Harbor, Maine" also wrote a booklet entitled "The Ancestry and Descendants of Abinather Green". In one section devoted to the families allied by marriage, he has one brief sketch about Timothy Dunton in which he states "Timothy must have been on Jeremy Squam (Westport) by 1735".

Rev. Henry Thayer, who compiled data on "The History of Wolwich, Maine, (formerly Nequasset)", states "It is safe to believe that Timothy Dunton came to the area of Nequasset by 1738. The name Dunton and a house were put on lot # 29 at the northwest corner of Wadley's Bay (now Brookings Bay) by the surveyor in May, 1740, this lot having been assigned him by the proprietors. This lot could not have reasonably been within the limits of the proposed town of Wiscasset, for which for which he was one of the petitioners and which did comprise the Montsweag Bay section at the time, hence he doubtless had moved nearer the Montsweag shore. He did not move over to Jeremy Squam until 1759. He doubtless joined his sons who settled on the island."

Thayer's material was written long before "The History of Pownalborough" was published, and as some of his data is not absolutely accurate, one is inclined to believe that Timothy did settle on Jeremy Squam in 1735. "The History of Pownalborough" stated that Stephen Greenleaf and others purchased land on the island as early as 1743, yet Timothy is said to have been there. It has been my privledege to see a 1760 map of Jeremy Squam which is kept at the Pownalborough Courthouse, the first seat of the government for the area. This map shows all the lots owned and occupied in that year, the Dunton lots are on it.

In "The History of Pownalborough" several pages are devoted to the island and its settlers, before and after the Indian Wars that drove the earliest white men from the greater part of the District of Maine. The island was first purchased from the Indian Chieftain, Robinhood, in 1649. Among the names of the first settlers who were driven away, it is interesting to note that the latter settlers bore the same names, probably sons of the first ones. The following statements were copied from the above history to show some facts about the island and its remarkable growth over the years.

"Jeremy Squam was the early name for Westport. The name is said to be part Indian and part English. In some old documents it appears under the name of Long Island and still earlier Boren Island. It is eleven miles in length, has an average of over a mile in width, and contains 15,460 acres. At one time it formed one-third of the town of Edgecomb to which it belonged until Feb. 5, 1828, when it was incorporated under the name of Westport. A survey by Nathaniel Donnell in 1744 showed thirty-four lots that had been purchased on the island. By 1840, the island had one hundred nine families, numbering six hundred fifty-five persons. In 1870 there were twelve hundred inhabitants. It is said that in 1853 the town of Westport was the richest town per capita in the state of Maine.

The pursuits of the inhabitants were lumbering, fishing, and the cutting and shipping of ice. The timberland produced quantities of red pine masts which were exported. During the Revolutionary War, when no salt could be brought to the colonies from England, salt works were started in many places, one of these at Hogdon's Cove at Westport. The men of the island were as much at home on the sea as on the land. There were fifty-four vessels engaged in fishing the Banks, and their catch was shipped to Boston and to Gloucester. Many men joined the porgy fishers from Boothbay, in order to supply bait for the vessels that went to the Banks. Other sea-farming men, in coastal schooners, plied the whole Atlantic seaboard, The West Indies and ports of South America."

Timothy and Elizabeth Dunton owned a sizable tract of land on the island. He probably devoted his efforts to the clearing of his property and in farming. There is nothing on record about his activity in town affairs, but doubtless he did his share in the early settlement. His sons and grandsons are listed in positions of authority as the settlement grew. As it is a matter of record that all of the early Dunton men were large, both in height and stature, it seems that Timothy could also be described. If early records of the island had not been destroyed in one of the fires that swept the area, there might have been more to tell about Timothy. It is said that he lived to an old age, no date available, but the Maine Genealogical and family History that according to tradition, Elizabeth was at least one hundred eight years of age when she died. If Timothy and Elizabeth cannot be accorded great honors, it can be said that they were parents of a fine family and progenitors of numerous descendants scattered all over the United States.

If Timothy were on Jeremysquam in 1735, the children would have been born there. If not there, the birthplaces would have been in either Woolwich or Wiscasset. It is my belief that they were born on the island.

This material is part of "The Ancestry and Descendants of Timothy Dunton" by Adelade Swett Dunton Bowker NSDAR # 419467. It can be found on the Surname index microfilm "Dunton Lineage" and also in the D.A.R. Books at the Maine Public Library, Augusta, Maine

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Last Updated April 10, 1997