I thought I read something on your site and I cannot find it for the life of me. I am starting to think I made it all up some how.
Within the past few days I thought I read something on the subject of early colonists poking around New England and writing about seeing hemp. Not "Indian Hemp", but their hemp, presumably. Thomas Morton references Hemp in his trilogy but I thought there was a direct quote, maybe from the early, early, 1600s from maybe the Connecticut region. It could be something from Thomas Morton in his original 1623 adventure but there is nothing I can find in my computer history about it.
Thanks for writing! Could you be thinking of such references in either or both Morton's contemporary William Wood's "New England Prospect," and/or John Josselyn's later works? Both included relatively substantial New England botanical observations...while, if memory serves, there may also be brief mention in Gosnold's earlier account (which you can find here at Ancientlights). PS to my best knowledge Morton didn't first-arrive until June 1624....Best regards! JD
Ahh thanks, I will have to re-read Gosnold's account now.
Recently, despite driving past it hundreds if not thousands of times, I realized a river just outside of York, Maine (Agamenticus right?) is named the Merriland River. A little light research has yielded me nothing but I feel like its too much to be a coincidence.
Any ideas on that?
edit: Just because the thoughts and ideas are in my head and I know I am talking about doesn't mean others will or do too.
Merriland river being related some way some how to Thomas Morton (and/or Merrymount) who was exiled to the area where the river is.
Thanks for writing! What an interesting find to check out, possibly relating Morton's Massachusetts "merrying" and the Merriland River beside the town where he was buried (after a final phase of his life of uncertain length there). I completely missed that circa 1997 when there looking for Morton material. Greatly looking forward to hearing more on your investigation: facts below may help.
It seems sure that the town hall or historical society will have some kind of documentation on the river's name-change, and I wonder if the timing of it could put that act within reach of Morton's "circa 1647" last period---or, whether the change might have been accomplished by later others with him in mind. I can only report as in biography "Thomas Morton" that when I explored that end of his story, I was told by Virginia Spiller (Librarian/Old York Society) that in the early 1800s the original founders' burial yard "in Clark's Lane" was dug up to build The Emerson Hotel: "some bones and artifacts" were found, photographed for postcards, and "lost or disposed of." (!!!) C.E. Banks traced the yard through an early land transfer (York Deeds Vol. 7, Folio 149), and now St. George's Church sits on it, since the 1950s.
Anyway these might be some key moments in time for searching for a real estate/assessment map or other document that includes the new name of the river. Too bad in a way, "Agamenticus" had/has a fine Native New England ring!
Again, greatly looking forward to your next post, and Good Hunting! Your wellwisher, JD
I find it amazing that not only did people disinter the founder's cemetery to build a hotel but they simply tossed the remains.
To me, Native American and Early Colonial history is very fascinating. I grew up in rural east Connecticut where you could still find arrowheads and cairns out in the woods, though I feel like is this probably the tail end of the last generations where that is possible. The town in Maine I reside in wasn't settled until 1802. A teenage boy and his father settled during the summer but boy was left to winter alone. A passing group of natives left one of their own with the boy to help him. It is history, but it is not very distant and it certainly feels closer when you seek it out.
One of my favorite "hobbies" is looking at old maps and finding discontinued roads and the like and searching for them. I also have a copy of J. Hammond Trumbull's Indian Names of Places, Etc., in and on the Borders of Connecticut that I take with me most places, even outside of Connecticut, because it helps with translating native names.
I would like to purchase copies of your Thomas Morton related books, do you have a preferred retailer or store front? This whole site is great though I am not familiar enough with Minoan Crete as of this time.
Hello again! Last question first---As I now live in Crete, Greece, I am no longer involved with book sales/shipping etc., so I guess the best place to get "New English Canaan" or the others is via Amazon...
I did a very short look into these river matters and it appears that the Agamenticus/York River and the Merriland River are not identical, as we seemed to be thinking before---and I did not find anything stating when/by whom the Merriland River was named....
This is from Wikipedia:
"...First settled by Europeans in 1624, the plantation was originally called Agamenticus, the Abenaki term for the York River. In 1638, settlers changed the name to Bristol after Bristol, England, from which they had immigrated. Envisioning a great city arising from the wilderness, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, lord proprietor of Maine under the Plymouth patent, named the capital of his province Gorgeana. In 1642, by charter of King Charles I, Gorgeana became the first incorporated city in America...."
Yes, sorry if I wasn't clear before. The Merriland river is just north of York and runs into the ocean from Sanford through Wells. Without measuring, I bet it is 10 miles north of the York river. The proximity of the river to the last known area of Thomas Morton and the name coming across like an homage to Merrymount just seemed like too much to be a coincidence.
Yes it would be great to know that contemporary or later people in Maine had such a place of affection for Morton. It would be strange if the Merriland River was NOT named in his connection! I was involved for many years at staging Revels at Maypole Hill in Quincy, Mass. and we had some terrific events: I also heard via City Council that they were going to build a Nature Walk in his honor along Black's Creek which runs 1/2-mile from the hill, and even a little public place right on the sea there to be called Morton's Landing. But as far as I know nothing has actually been done beyond some minor beautification of the hill by local neighborhood people who enjoyed the events. Last efforts before tried to get Quincy to hold an annual Revels (a market day/cookout/talent show etc.) which would have given them the oldest civic festival in the U.S., but again it didn't get far. Ironic: America's First Poet in English gets virtually nothing, while Edgar Allan Poe (a morbid alcoholic esthete) now has a Boston street-corner named for him, because he happened to be born there.
I found a 1794 map of Wells which had the Merriland river labeled the Little river. I dug a bit deeper and found a 1870 book on the history of York and Wells. Prior to the state's 1820 incorporation, Wells encompassed what is modern day Kennebunk and was comprised of 4 villages. One of which was Merryland. The others were Eppeford, Mousam, and Great Plains. I believe they renamed the Little river to the Merriland river in 1820 when they made the Branch river into the boundary between Kennebunk and Wells and renamed it to the Little river, as best as I can tell.
So there was a village in Wells in the 1700s named Merryland, this much is true.
Nice work! If the place Merryland dates to the 1700s it may well relate to Maypole Revel traditions, since the very first record I found telling of a Maypole's New World use by fishermen to promote contacts was on the Maine coast (Richmond Isle area?) c. very late 1500s, and their practice may have spread a bit to become part of Morton's inspiration. He liked to observe and then decide what to do...