Eliot, situated in the north-western part of York County, on the eastern bank of Piscataqua River, was incorporated under its present name in 1810. Previously to this it was the north parish of Kittery, and bore the name of Sturgeon Creek. Walter Neal, as the agent of Gorges and Mason, made grants of land here in 1632; and it is thought to have had settlers a little before this date. One of the earliest settlers of whom we have a definite account was Nicholas Frost, who settled at Sturgeon Creek about 1636. He filled various offices of the town, and died in 1663 at the age of seventy-four years. lie has many descendants, several of whom have been eminent in their generation. Other early settlers were the Hills, who came about 1670 or 1680; Anthony Emery, who came before 1652, as he was one of the selectmen in that year; James Tobey came about 1675, receiving a town grant in 1687, and was killed by the Indians about 1705; John Heard, was an early settler and a noted school-teacher in his day; Nathan Bartlett and his brother, who were tanners, came about 1713. The first settlers were allowed to take up as much land as they could fence, on condition of paving 2 or 2½ shillings per acre for 100 years. The best, if not the only, garrison-houses standing in town in 1870 were the two upon the farm of Joseph Frost, Esq., having been built by his grandfather about 1735 and 1740. During the war of the Rebellion the town provided its full quota of men, paying on an average $400 bounty. Among the memorable names of former days are those of the Bartletts, and Alpheus Hanscom, teachers Rev. John Rogers, first minister of the Congregational church, in its service for fifty-two years, until his death in 1768 ; also Rev. Alpheus Spring, his successor, and Rev. Samuel Chandler, who followed; Captain Moses Paul of the Methodist church, and the Aliens, Fryes, Neales and Jenkins, of the Society of Friends.
Along the Piscataqua, the surface of the land is generally level and sloping to the river. Near the middle of the town is an extensive bog swamp; while in the east and north-east the surface is quite hilly. The highest eminences are Frost's, Third or Bartlett's, and Raitt hills. In the north-east of the town is York Pond, from which flows the western branch of York River. The soil is generally good, and much attention is given to orcharding. The common trees flourish wild, and at the roadsides, particularly along the river, there are many noble shade trees. The Piscataqua River sends two arms or creeks into time town, Sturgeon Creek, and in the south-west Orampheagan, which, with the river, forms a peninsula called the Neck. The Piscataqua is navigable the whole length of the town, while Great Bay opens opposite, affording water communication with several New Hampshire towns. The farm-houses and buildings are generally neat and in good repair; while the western part adjacent to the river is adorned with handsome cottages, with gardens and fine orchards. The west branch of York River gives several small water-powers, which are improved by one grist-mill and two saw-mills. A small tide-power on Sturgeon Creek was also utilized in early times. The Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad passes through the midst of the town, from north-east to south-west, having a station at the centre and another near the head of Sturgeon Creek, where it finds connection with shipping. The town has one Congregational and one Advent church, and two Methodist churches. Eight schoolhouses, valued at $5,000, afford the facilities of public school education to the children. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $535,982. In 1880 it was $462,060. The population at the same date was 1,769; in 1880 it was 1,640.
- George J. Varney, A Gazetteer of the State of Maine (Boston: B.B. Russell, 1886), 217-218.