"This town, ... first settled by the Acadian French in the latter part of the eighteenth century, bears the Indian name of the river opposite the mouth of which one of their earliest settlements was located. Its meaning has most often been given as 'having its outlet among the reeds.'
"Just after the middle of the eighteenth century, a small group of Acadians escaped deportation at the hands of the English [from Acadia, what is now Nova Scotia], who, on their refusal to take the oath of allegiance in 1755, finally determined that they all be removed and dispersed among the British colonies. This small group made a temporary settlement on the St. John River, a short distance above Frederickton [now New Brunswick]. In the following year they pushed up the river and settled along the banks of the upper St. John, where they were joined by other Acadians from New Brunswick, Maine, and Massachusetts.
"The first settlement was made opposite the mouth of the Madawaska River and because of this, the whole region became known as the Madawaska Territory.
"Some important personages came to Madawaska. Louis Mecure, born at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island [at the time called Île St-Jean], in 1753, was one. His name occurs on most of the documents which concern the primitive history of Madawaska. Joseph Daigle, one of the most interesting of the early figures of Madawaska, was a gentleman farmer and a great supporter of the church. The name of Jean-Baptiste Cyr may also be mentioned.
"It was in June, 1785, that the first group which had just left St. Ann went up the St. John River and founded the settlement of Madawaska. The first comers settled not far from the present site of St. David's Church [in the city of Madawaska]. This can be called the origin of the colony. These are the names of the first settlers on the south shore of St. John River as they appear on the official list sent by the Honorable J. Odell to the commissary of the colony: Pierre Duperré, Paul Potier, Joseph Daigle, Baptiste Fournier, Joseph Daigle, Jr., Jacques and François Cyr, Firmin and Antoine Cyr, Alexander Ayotte, Baptiste Thibodeau, and Louis Sampson. Here the Acadians lived a hard and crude life. They had no money for trade and were forced to live by their own industry and ingenuity, as their ancestors had done. They were their own blacksmiths and outfitters.
"The earliest American settlers came about 1817. They were Captain Nathan Baker, the brothers John and James Harford and Captain Fletcher, all American citizens. They came as far as the St. John River and settled at the confluent stream of Méruimticook River (now Baker River) twenty miles west of St. Basil.
"A short time later others came from the Kennebec region. These new settlers were John Baker, brother of Nathan, Jesse Wheelock, James Bacon, Charles Studson, Barnabas Hunnawell, Walter Powers, Daniel Savage, Randall Harford, Nathaniel Bartlette, Augustus Webster, and Amos Maddocks. Some settled on the Baker River and others established themselves farther up the river in the St. Francis region.
"John Baker came from Moscow. Owing to his talents and activity he soon became the acknowledged leader of the Madawaska region. He received a grant of land from the state.
"Since British justice had been established at Madawaska in 1797, a conflict arose, when Maine incorporated this region in 1831, as to which of the two countries had jurisdiction of this area. The question was finally settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
"Madawaska was incorporated in 1869." (Chadbourne, pp.41-42).
The Legislature of the State of Maine did incorporate the Township of Madawaska on March 15, 1831 as a means of strengthening the US claim to this disputed territory. However, "this incorporation proved abortive, and no further incorporation took place until 1869, when the towns of Fort Kent, Frenchville, Grand Isle and Madawaska were formed." Raymond, pp.354-355

"After a journey of two hundred and fifty miles in birch canoes and being fifteen days on the way, they arrived at the stream, known as Baker Brook [now in New Brunswick]. John Baker went to the Bay Chaleur and carried on lumbering for several years. On the death of his brother Nathan, he returned to Madawaska to look after his property and soon after married his widow. Mrs. Baker's maiden name was Sohia Rice, daughter of Enoch Rice of Brookfield, Massachusetts. She was born in 1785, married at the age of nineteen years, lived sixty years at Baker Brook and died at Fort Fairfield at the age of ninety-nine years.
"John Baker is said, by one of his descendants, to have been about five feet eleven inches in height, and to have wighed about one hundred and seventy-five pounds. He was very erect, had a light complexion, bright blue eyes, heavy chin and a very big nose. He was a good talker, could take a glass of liquor, and was charitable and generous to his poorer neighbors." (Raymond, pp.364-365)

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Last revised 27 Jan 2002
©2003 C.Gagnon