Scarborough is the most southerly town of Cumberland County, having its entire eastern width on Spurwink River and on the sea. Cape Elizabeth lies on the east, Westbrook and Gorham on the north, the latter and Buxton on the north-west, and Saco on the southeast. The form of the town is nearly square, but is longest from north-west to south-east. Libby’s Neck is a broadening point which extends into the sea. On the outer north-eastern side begins Scarborough Beach, about 2 miles in length. Higgin’s Beech succeeds, and continues with one projection to Spurwink River. On the land, or western side of the Neck is a small harbor. Above are Pine Point and Ferry Rock, nearly enclosing from the sea a considerable basin into which are discharged the waters of the several streams of the town. These are Libby’s River, which is little more than a salt water creek, running parallel with the shore from the east; the Nonesuch River, rising in the north-western part of the town, and running almost to the eastern line of the twon, then south-west to the basin; and New River, of which Mill Creek, Beaver Beach, and Oriocoag River, are branches. Scottow’s Hill near the centre of the town is the most elevated portion of the surface. This was the point from which in the early period, the inhabitants signalled danger to the surrounding country, by means of beacons and signal fires. Pleasant Hill, in the eastern part of the town is a more extended eminence. Near its base on the east is a large never-failing spring; and a short distance south are two other springs having a decided mineral character.
Along these streams for a considerable distance inland are salt marshes where large quantities of hay are cut annually. The occupation of the people is chiefly agricultural. The principal business centres are Dunstan Corners, Blue Point, West Scarborough, and Coal Kiln Corners. The Portland, Saco and Portsmouth railroad crosses the southern part of the town, having stations at Oak Hill and West Scarborough. The Boston and Maine railway crosses a little to the south of the other, having stations at Scarborough Beech and Blue Point. The principal manufactures are of canned foods, carriages and soap. At Oak Hill is a small neighborhood library.
The first settler of Scarborough was one Stratton, who about 1630, located on a couple of islands which long bore his name. The tract of land between Black Point and Spurwink River was granted to Capt. Thomas Cammock, a nephew of the Earl of Warwick. Capt. Cammock was therefore the first legal proprietor in Scarborough. In the course of a few years other settlers joined Cammock, mostly as tenants. Blue Point and Dunstan Corners were next settled,—Richmond, Foxwell, Henry Watts, George Deering, Nicholas Edgecomb, Hilkiah Bailey, Edward Shaw, Tristram Andrew and Arthur Alger being the earliest corners. The two hatter purchased land of the Indians at Dunstan Corners, and ever held possession by virtue of that title. John Josselyn the voyager, resided here for a few years with his brother Henry, who was interested in lands, and quite a politician. When Maine was claimed to be under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, one of the articles of submission, read: “That those places which were formerly called Black Point, Blue Point, Stratton’s Island, thereunto adjacent, shall henceforth be called by the name of Scarborough; the bound of which town, on the western side, beginneth where the town of Saco ended, and so runs along on the western side of the river Spurwink, eight miles back into the country.” This incorporation was in 1658. The name was in remembrance of old Scarborough, in England. The Indian name was “Owascoag,” which signifies the place of much grass.
John Libby, who settled here in 1659, or 1660, was probably the first of the name in New England. He came from Broadstairs, Kent County, England. He resided in the town until his death in 1682, becoming one of the most prominent men in the settlement.
Early in the first Indian war, the savages made a descent upon Captain Scottow’s garrison at the Neck, and captured it; and the inhabitants at once abandoned that locality. In 1677, two hundred friendly Indians and about forty English soldiers under Capt. Benjamin Swett and Lieut. Richardson, came to Black Point by water from Massachusetts. On June 29, Capt. Swett with a detachment from the vessel, together with a number of the inhabitants, swelling the force to ninety, set out to meet the Indians, who were lurking in the vicinity. In the neighborhood of the hill, they discovered a body of savages in retreat, and pursued them. The flight was a ruse, and led them into an ambush. In the desperate fight that ensued, all but thirty were left dead or wounded on the field, Capt. Swett among the number.
In 1681 a strong fortification was erected at Black Point, but the inhabItants were so harrassed by the attacks of the Indians that Scarborough, about 1690, was wholly abandoned. The resettlement appears to have been in 1702, by a little band of seven persons, who came from Lynn in a sloop. The peace did not continue long; and in August, 1703, a band of 500 French and Indians under Monsieur Beaubarin, made a sudden descent along the coast from Casco to Wells. The fort at Scarborough was garrisoned only by the little band from Lynn. The demand for a surrender was refused; and the enemy surrounded the fort, and commenced to run a mine under its walls. Some now began to talk of abandoning the defence; but Capt. John Larrabee solemnly assured them that he would shoot the first man who mentioned the word “surrender.” Before the enemy had brought the mine near the walls a heavy rain storm came on, soaking the soil to such an extent that the mine caved in. The workers thus becoming exposed to the fire of the garrison, were obliged to abandon the work; and they departed in search of easier prey. From this time, though occasionally harrassed by the Indians, the che settlement flourished.
In the succeeding wars two men of Scarborough, Charles Pine and Richard Hunniwell, became famous as Indian killers. Hunniwell was especially dreaded by the savages. They had. murdered his wife and child; and the demon of vengeance had seized upon him to such a degree that he would kill any Indian in war or peace wherever he found the opportunity. One day while mowing, an Indian endeavored ed creep upon him unawares; but Hunniwell had seen the skulking savage, yet kept on cutting his swath toward the place of concealment. When near enough, he sprang forward, disconcerting the Indian so that his gun missed its aim, when the enraged mower at once cut off the head of the savage with his scythe. Placing the ghastly countenance upon a pole, he set it up in view of the Indians on the other side of the marsh, and in a loud voice, bade them to come on. They however, consulted prudence, and retired. Pine, at one time, discovering that the savages were holding nightly pow-wows at an abandoned barn at a distance from the settlement, concealed himself in the upper part; and when the first two entered he shot both. The remainder fled. One James Libby had a mare of whose speed he was wont to boast. Returning one day to the fort on horseback, but unarmed, he was pursued and overtaketi by an Indian on foot, who was about to pull him from. the horse, when the approach of two armed whIte men caused the savage to return to the woods. Libby was never afterward known to boast of the speed of his mare.
After the peace of 1749, such was the demand for lumber that a dozen saw-mills were kept in operation in town. Scarborough responded to the call of the Continental Congress by sending 50 men to Cambridge immediately after the battle of Lexington. Many of its citizens also joined the expedition against the British at Castine, in 1779.
The second parish was organized in 1734, and Richard Elvin, of Salem, a baker by trade, but converted under Whitefield’s preaching, became the first minister and proved devoted and useful. Rev. Robert Jordan, an Episcopal clergyman, whose parochial charge embraced all this part of Maine, is credited with having suppressed by his intelligence and decision, the first attempt of “the villainy of witchcraft in Maine.” Rufus King and his half-brother William, were born in Scarborough. The former was considered a consummate orator and statesman. William belonged to the first order of energetic intellect. During his later years, he was at the head of the Democratic party in Maine. Other distinguished citizens were J. Wingate Thornton the historian, and Seth Storer, prominent in the politics of his town and state, and. regarded by all parties as “God’s noblest work, an honest man.”
The Congregationalists, Methodists, Free Baptists and Christians have churches in town. Scarborough has ten public schoolhouses, and its school property is valued at $7,200. It is a port of delivery in the Saco collection district. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $705,728. in 1880 it was $780,702. In the year 1791, its inhabitants numbered 2,235. In 1870, it was 1,692. By the census of 1880, it was placed at 1,848.
- George J. Varney, A Gazetteer of the State of Maine (Boston: B.B. Russell, 1886), 500-503.