Colonel Jonathan Buck
He was the Founder of Bucksport, Maine, settling the area in July 1762. The original site was destroyed by the British in 1779 but he returned and rebuilt it.
Revolutionary War hero.
He is buried at Buck Cemetery, Bucksport, Hancock, Maine.
"In 1762, a group of 352 citizens of Massachusetts and New Hampshire petitioned the English General Court of Massachusetts for a land grant of 12 townships between the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers. Deacon David Marsh of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was issued the grant in the name of all the petitioners. Marsh chartered the sloop Sally to survey and explore the new lands, and the petitioners each posted a bond of fifty pounds and signed an agreement that each township, within 6 years, must:
· Be settled with 60 Protestant families; · Build 60 houses at least 18 feet square; · Be only 6 miles on the river of seacoast; · Have 300 acres of land fit for tillage; · Have a church with a minister settled; and · Reserve 1 lot for parsonage purposes, 1 for the minister, and 1 lot for Harvard College and for the use of schools.
Jonathan Buck of Haverhill was third on the list of signers and captain and owner of the sloop Sally. The Sally left Newbury, Massachusetts, on June 18, 1762, and sailed to Fort Pownell (Stockton Springs) 8 days later. The Haverhill group, and one other, cast lots for the townships. The Haverhill group drew the 6 townships west of the Mt. Desert River, renamed the Union River because it united the two groups of townships.
The 6 townships drawn by Buck and his party were: · Plantation No. 1… Bucksport · Plantation No. 2….Orland · Plantation No. 3…Penobscot (Castine) · Plantation No. 4…Sedgwick · Plantation No. 5… Blue Hill · Plantation No. 6 …Surry
This group was back in Haverhill by August of that year, but Buck, along with a group of settlers, returned again on the Sally in June, 1763, to begin building the town. In 1857, Rufus Buck wrote a history of Bucksport. In fancy prose, he tried to paint for his readers a picture of what Buck and his companions might have seen from the shores of their new village-to-be:
…Not a mark of civilization greets the eye. Before us the great Penobscot is silently rolling to the ocean, its mirrored surface giving aback a true picture of every variety of foliage upon its banks. The island, with its varied hues of green, is now dressed in its richest attire, and the rays of the rising sun are just breaking upon the tops of the tall pines like streaks of gold. As we look in the west, there seems to arise a vast pyramid of wood, whose branches are reaching down to the water’s edge. On yonder point a little opening is seen, and two Indian wigwams of conical form, from which the smoke is slowly ascending till it vanishes in the thick forest behind. There for a time dwelt the natives of the woods. Behind us, all around is one vast primeval forest, which has cast a gloom over the earth for centuries.
The settlers fell to the tremendous task of carving their homes out of the wilderness, and what a formidable undertaking it must have been. Virgin pines towered over 100 feet into the sky, 3 to 4 feet or more in diameter. Felling one of these giants with hand tools was difficult enough, but the difficulties were compounded when the massive turns finally rested on the ground. Having no draft animals to move them, the trees were chopped up with axes and fed into roaring bonfires built around their stumps, turning both the tree and stump into ashes.
Fishing, hunting and agriculture, in a primitive form, were an endless chore in putting food by for the long winters. To add to their travails, the Revolutionary war moved to the Penobscot. A British naval blockade effectively shut off any communications or supplies, and the settlers of Plantation No. 1, short of food and powder, faced almost certain extinction. Several children died from lack of food and the town fathers sent off a message to the General Court of Massachusetts seeking aid. A portion of that message read:
… Sensible that winter is approaching and that we have been deprived of any succor from the eastern towns for near three months past occasioned by the present distressed situation the whole colony is in and we your petitioners more especially from a number of vessels lying in the bay at Long Island (Ilesboro) the mouth of said river who had made prizes of numbers of vessels bound in here for our relief and if said vessels continue there our distress will be increased and that your petitioners are in a very defenseless state respecting ammunition- your petitioners humbly pray that your honors would take our case into your considerations and in your great wisdom would point out and direct us in a method that we may be supplied ammunition and provisions of bread kind.
The message was delivered and 200 bushels of corn, along with powder and shot, were smuggled into the town, to be paid for with lumber.
Massachusetts sent a fleet of 19 armed ships, twenty transports, and a force of over 1000 men to dislodge the British from Fort George in Castine. The 21-day battle that followed resulted in one of the greatest fiascoes in US military history. Until Pearl Harbor it remained the largest naval defeat. Because of the incompetent leadership, a small British force was able to defeat an opponent who vastly outnumbered it. Writing of this, an historian of the day said that the leaders managed to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory." Every one of the colonists’ ships was destroyed, their corpses littering the shores of the Penobscot from Sandy Point to Bangor. The survivors took to the woods, walking their way to safety. The day was August 14, 1779. One of the American commanders later wrote:
To attempt to give a description of this terrible day is out of my power. It would be a fit subject for some masterly hand to describe it in its true colors, to see four ships pursuing seventeen sail of armed vessels, nine of them were stout ships, transports on fire, men of war blowing up every kind of stores on shore, throwing about, and as much confusion as can possibly be imagined.
Buck and his family, along with the other princes of Plantation No. 1, left their homes with what possessions they could carry and rowed or walked north to Bangor, thence overland 200 miles to Haverhill. Land travel, away from navigable waters, was relatively safe then.
The day after the naval disaster ended, the British sloop NAUTILUS dropped anchor in the harbor of Plantation No. 1. The NAUTILUS crew went ashore to pillage and burn the properties of the departed patriots. The few settlers who remained, by pledging allegiance to the crown, were spared. Colonel Buck and his family, now in Haverhill, were not to see the town again for five more years.
After a treaty was signed with British in 1783, most of the former townspeople, along with some new adventurers, returned from Haverhill, some again aboard the sloop Sally. The town was rebuilt rapidly after the sawmill was put in operation. Saw logs of the highest quality were readily available and houses and barns sprang up, but the people were poor by the end of the war, so no fine buildings were built.
In 1784, the people began governing themselves by meeting each March to choose a committee that acted much as the Selectman form of government does today. No records have surfaced regarding the activities of this committee. With this government already in place, the Plantation was prepared when the General Court of the Province of Massachusetts passed an act in 1789 establishing the County of Hancock. They immediately petitioned the Court for permission to incorporate Plantation No. 1 as the town of Buckstown, honoring by its name, Colonel Jonathan Buck."
"Buck might have remained a traditional local hero, but in August of 1852, his grandchildren erected a monument near his grave site. As the monument weathered, an image in the form of a woman’s leg and foot appeared under the Buck name. Although there is little doubt that stories began to circulate as soon as the image was noticed, the first record of it appearing in print was in the Haverhill Gazette of Marsh 22, 1899. However, that article attributed a quote to an undated edition of the Philadelphia Enquirer. The Gazette article’s recounting of the Buck legend has become the classic version, although there are certainly many variations on the theme. Briefly restated, the tale runs: Jonathan Buck was a Puritan to whom witchcraft was anathema. When a woman was accused of witchcraft, he sentenced her to be executed. Then according to the Haverhill Gazette, "the hangmen was about to perform his gruesome duty when the woman turned to Col. Buck and raising one hand to heaven, as if to direct her last words on earth, pronounced this astounding prophecy: ‘Jonathan Buck, listen to these words, the last my tongue will utter. It is the spirit of the only true and living God which bids me speak them to you. You will soon die. Over your grave they will erect a stone that all may know where your bones are crumbling into dust. But listen, upon that stone the imprint of my feet will appear, and for all time, long after you and you accursed race have perished from the earth, will the people from far and wide know that you murdered a woman. Remember well, Jonathan Buck, remember well."
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