All across this land, the names that American Indians gave to places they knew have undergone some extreme distortion in translations through the years.

Androscoggin, our county and river name, has some interesting variations.

As if that name is not difficult enough for folks from away to spell and say, it might have come down to us as Aumoughcaugen, Amascongan, Amasagu’nteg, or even Anconganunticook. Those are some of nearly 20 spellings that can be found, and they basically indicate “the presence of migratory fish, with alewives in greatest abundance but also salmon, shad and bass.”

That’s some of the information to be found in “Maine Place Names,” a series of booklets written by Harriet Chadbourne in 1957. One booklet in the series offers some brief descriptions of how the towns in our county got their names, and this column completes the list of stories about naming the towns of Androscoggin County.

So, if Androscoggin was significant enough to become the county’s name, wouldn’t you expect that naming the towns might have been influenced by the language of the area’s native inhabitants?

It didn’t happen that way. For the most part, early settlers or their home towns got the honor.

However, there is one location that might have become known as “Pokomeko,” which is said to mean “great corn land.” That’s Livermore Falls, which also encompassed East Livermore.

The town of Livermore originally included all of the area, but it was divided for a very interesting reason, and it kept the name that honored its early settler, Deacon Elija Livermore.

The Androscoggin River ran right through the middle of the village of Livermore, which was incorporated in 1795. The town meetings were held in March on the west side of the river. Many times, the swollen stream and floating ice of the spring snow melt prevented people living on the east side from crossing the unbridged river.

When they failed to get approval for a bridge, the east side residents sought a division of the town. The change took place in 1843. Three years later, a March freshet caused by ice backing up over the falls carried away just about everything on the riverbanks . . . grist and sawmills, stores, a carding mill, a scythe factory and one home.

It is said that some of the ice didn’t disappear until the following July.

Although Livermore is the name that was picked for the areas at the northern end of the river’s route through Androscoggin County, there was another man who is credited with rebuilding the town after that terribly destructive flooding. He is Capt. Ezekiel Treat Jr. He purchased water rights on the river and was instrumental in harnessing water power for mills that thrived for many years.

The town of Durham, at the southern end of the river’s course through the county, was first called Royalsborough or Royalstown after Col. Isaac Royal of Medford, Mass. He owned about 3,000 acres of the original Pejepscot Purchase when the plantation bearing his name was laid out in 1768.

The Royal name didn’t stick, but the town indirectly honored the man by adopting the name of Durham, Col. Royal’s hometown in northern England.

Minot was included with Poland and old Auburn when the area was known as Bakerstown because of a 1765 grant to a man named Baker and others. In the early 1800s, the towns separated, and the Chadbourne book says the Minot name appears to have honored a Judge Minot who assisted in the town’s incorporation.

Chadboune says the town was to be called Raymouth, but the agent, Dr. Jesse Rice, caused Minot to be inserted in its place.

As for Lewiston, there’s little said in the book about the reasons for the name. Lewiston was simply the name that was provided for in the 1768 grant to Jonathan Bagley and Moses Little for settlement of the region. The farming town, which was to become the county’s principal city, grew slowly at first, but when the power of the river was harnessed for mills, its population increased rapidly.


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