Rebecca Emery Chapter
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
Organized January 25, 1897
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If we go back in history to 1615, we find the King of England sent an emissary to this country, to the part which is now York County, Maine, to learn whether the climate was suitable for people to live here through the winter months. As a result, a dwelling house was built in 1616, about one mile from Biddeford Pool, at a plot known as Leighton’s Point, which was the beginning of the settlement in that locality, and here Richard Vines lived for many years. Richard Vines, agent of Sir Fernando Gorges, was sent to experience and report upon the climate of New England. He visited the Indians in their huts and survived the winter of 1616 at the present Leightons Point, territory of Biddeford, while his ship lay in the nearby winter harbor until spring. Our interest in the matter comes later, after the house, referred to above, had long since disappeared. On July 2, 1912, William E. Barry of Kennebunk, a wealthy man, one of whose hobbies was the marking of historic spots, purchased from John W. Reooper, a part of the tract of land on which the Richard Vines house was built, and erected thereon a granite monument, with a suitable inscription. The monument is placed diagonally with the current road, but at the same angle on which the house stood, as the action of wind and weather affected it less in that position. In later years, Mr. Barry was concerned about the future of the monument he had erected, and about 1930, he contacted members of Rebecca Emery Chapter DAR and made a proposition to give the chapter funds to be used for the protection of the monument. The chapter accepted and he had a will drawn up containing the bequest and stipulating, among the things, certain restrictions concerning the monument. Our chapter was incorporated, and in 1931, soon after Mr. Barry passed away, we took care of the monument. At that time, the work of vandals was apparent, as bullets had been shot through the bronze tablet on the monument in two places.
Today on the Pool Road by the University of New England parking lot is the second marker placed by the Rebecca Emery Chapter. In 1904, the chapter erected a marker on a boulder in the first City Cemetery. It also marks the First Church (1718-1830). The marker set in the large boulder reads: “Town Burying Ground 1717-1803 – A meeting house 30 feet X 35 feet was built by the town on this lot formerly called Hendersons Hill about 150 feet easterly from this point, in 1719. This memorial placed here by, Rebecca Emery Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution in 1904.” There is quite a story connected with the old Burying Ground. It was a private lot belonging to one Ben Haley until in 1719, when he exchanged it for a “thatch bed.” Years passed and the city forgot that it was theirs. A road was cut through one corner. The fence of the remaining portion was torn down and the graves desecrated. Children were using the human bones as clubs in their play. One nearby resident was using a broken gravestone as a doorstep. Under the chapter’s influence the city proved its ownership, fenced the land, and turned it over to Rebecca Emery Chapter for good keeping. As of 2012 there were about eight stones left standing, five intact with three broken.
Jefferson Street, Biddeford, Maine
GPS: Lat:43.49341 Lon: W70.45786
A marker was placed by the Rebecca Emery Chapter at the Jefferson Street Church to honor Marquis de Lafayette. The chapter members discussed placing a marker on June 3, 1916. They had collected $28.75 by the October 1916 meeting, and were promised more. It wasn’t until May 6, 1917 that the chapter placed the tablet on the church. This was done during the Biddeford Tercentenary Celebration of Richard Vines building. Marquis De Lafayette, patriot, soldier, and friend of American independence, worshiped in this building on his visit to Biddeford, Maine June 26, 1825. The church, the First Baptist Church, is now for sale. The frame of this church dates back to 1797, when it originally stood on Crescent Street. The church was moved from Crescent Street to Jefferson Street in 1850. It was known as the Free Will Baptist Church and was remodeled in 1899. Lafayette worshiped in this church during 1825, before it was moved from its original Crescent Street location.
Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, Maine
GPS: Lat: 43.44795 Lon: W70.35715
The first photo is of the Fort Mary Monument around 1913. This original Fort Mary Monument was placed by the Rebecca Emery Chapter DAR in 1907. It was made of stones collected from the area and then placed in cement. During King William’s War, known as “the ten year war," Fort Mary was the last stronghold for the people in the vicinity, and as the war progressed and conditions became more alarming, fear set in that the entire Saco settlement would have to be abandoned. The history started in 1675, when King Phillip conceived the idea of having the Indians exterminate the whites throughout New England and fortifications sprung up in every settlement until almost every dwelling became a garrison. In 1693, shortly after the breakout of the second Indian war, called King William’s War, the Governor of Massachusetts ordered a stone fort to be built here on the Saco River. Then in 1703, the third terrible Indian war broke out, called Queen Anne’s War. The following year Saco Fort, which had been unoccupied for a few years, was again garrisoned by order of the General Court. This in turn led the General Court to order in 1708 that a new stone fort be built on the tip of the point, at the entrance to the Pool. This was Fort Mary. The entire armed forces of the Saco Fort were transferred here and the old Fort abandoned. In August of that year, a force of French and Indians made an attack upon the Pool, and succeeded in killing one woman and capturing two men. In the summer of 1732, the condition of the fort became so bad that the long-suffering Captain could stand it no longer. He drew up a petition to leave the fort. No records show of any repairs, and in 1737, the land upon which the late Fort Mary stood was sold for 15 pounds.
The stone monument no longer exists as a whole. Some of the stones are now on private property. The heavy slate plaque was moved and mounted to a boulder at the end of Hill Beach Road. The boulder was hit by what we presume to be a snowplow. The large boulder had been moved and turned. The plaque was jolted off the boulder and had resided under a neighbor’s front porch for several years. The city placed gravel and then placed the boulder. An experienced master mason re-attached the heavy slate plaque back onto the boulder. Lindy Anderson, President of the Hill Beach Association, was extremely helpful in this process.
Corner of Main Street and Water Street, Saco, Maine
GPS: Lat:43.48826 Lon: W70.45450
By 1919, a report was given at a chapter meeting that there was an old fort, called the “Brown Fort,” near the site where the new bank block is being erected in Saco. This was the first of many discussions on placing a marker on the spot of the Brown Fort. On September 5, 1924, the committee on preservation of historic spots had met the trustees of Saco and Biddeford Savings Institute and had their permission to place a tablet on the building at the corner of Water and Main Streets in Saco, the site of the old fort. June 6, 1925, the chapter report mentions the old fort known as “Browns Garrison," which was built on land purchased by William Pepperell, Nathaniel Weave, and Patrick Humphrey Scammon of Saco about 1720. It was used for the protection of settlers as late as 1737, and on August 5, 1925, the tablet was finally erected. It reads: "The Site of John Brown’s Garrison A stockade and Block-House Erected about 1720 As a refuge for those who settled Near the falls during that period This tablet placed here by Rebecca Emery Chapter."
Main Street, Biddeford, Maine
GPS: Lat: N43.49264 Lon: W70.45183
A tablet was placed on what was called the Laconia Counting House in 1907 by the Rebecca Emery Chapter. From the chapter secretary's report of January 6, 1906, Miss Bickford reports that Robert McArthur was willing for the chapter to place a tablet on the wall of the Laconia Counting Room. The marker would be placed opposite Emery Lane, or Emery Street, as it was now called. This marked the area where "The Old Stone Fort," also known as the "Major Philips Block House," was located. The garrison, or sometimes called fort, near this spot was used to store supplies and house men for "Fort Mary." It also served as refuge from the Indians. The marker reads: "A Stone Fort was built in 1693 rear of this place near the banks of the Saco River as a refuge from the Indians. This Memorial placed here by the Rebecca Emery Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution. 1907." The marker has been partially cleaned and lowered on building for better visibility. It has become part of "Biddeford Walking Museum."
At 19 Crescent Street, Biddeford, Maine
This builiding iIs now the United Church of Christ Congregational.
Plaque Corner of Myrtle and Rt. 111, Biddeford, Maine
GPS: Lat: N43.48807 Lon: 70.45889
A marker was placed at the Thomas Emery School. Thomas Emery had been a teacher in the ”Summer Street Grammar School.” He had studied medicine and had been an assistant to the surgeon of the 11th Maine Volunteers. He had to give up his commission because of his bad knees. He used a wheel chair for years. In 1865, he started teaching school. He was a teacher and principal in the Biddeford School System for over 40 years. The Rebecca Emery Chapter, with the help of his former students, purchased a tablet. A ceremony took place June 21, 1914, to honor Mr. Emery, a descendant of Rebecca Emery. The inscription starts with Mr. Emery’s quote. “Their Works Do Follow Them. In Memory of Thomas H. Emery M.D. for 40 years teacher on the public Schools at Biddeford, Maine twenty years of which he was principal of the Summer Street Grammar School a man whose untiring devotion to the cause of education whose daily example and high ideals were inspiring influences that live in the character of hundreds of men and women who were under his instruction." Years after the city closed the Emery School, two members of the Rebecca Emery Chapter went to get the plaque from the wall, only to find it gone, along with the picture of Thomas Emery that had been donated. About a month later City Hall called the chapter and informed them that they had found the plaque in the back of the janitor’s closet. Our regent at the time, Natalie N. Johnson, tried to clean it and found that she could not do it. Roger Ciufo, Assistant School Superintendent, arranged to have it cleaned professionally. After about a year more, the picture was found in the same closet that the plaque had been stored. On October 1, 1992, a rededication took place at the Biddeford Adult and Education Center in Biddeford for the “Thomas H. Emery Plaque.” The marker is now in good condition and still hangs on the wall at the Ross Center.
For three years, the chapter discussed and read letters from the State Regent and state chairman of historic spots, about placing a historical marker at Cape Porpoise. This was finally accomplished and the marker reads: August 8, 1782, a British ship of 18 guns attacked a small force of inhabitants gathered on Goat Island and was driven away by severe musket fire, losing 17 men. Lieut. James Burnham of this town was killed. This tablet is erected by the Maine State Council Daughters of the American Revolution August 8, 1921.
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