Two hundred years ago, in July 1819, Constable Benjamin Goodrich received a directive from the selectmen of Bingham ordering him to notify the town’s qualified voters of a meeting to vote on the separation of Maine from Massachusetts. The text of their notice follows:
To Benjamin Goodridge Constable of the Town of Bingham, Greetings: You are hereby required in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to notify and warn the inhabitants of said that are qualified by the constitution of said Commonwealth to vote for Governor & Senators to meet at the house of Joseph Bean Jr on Monday the twenty-sixth of July instant at three o’clock P.M. to give in there votes on the following question “Is it expedient that the district of Maine shall become a separate & independent state upon the condition provided in an Act relating to the separation of the District of Maine from Massachusetts Proper and forming the same into a Separate and Independent State – Given under our hands and seals this seventh day of July 1819.
- Ephraim Wood
- Joshua Johnson
- Levi Fletcher
- (Selectmen of said Bingham)
Benjamin Goodrich, the youngest son of Joshua and Elizabeth (Phelps) Goodrich, early settlers of Bingham, completed the task and returned his notification to the selectmen on July 22, 1819. The Bingham vote on the 26th was eleven for separation and three against.
Goodrich was about thirty years old at the time of the vote. After this, Benjamin became one of the first settlers at West Forks with his wife Belinda and father-in-law Brown Baker. Records show that he had worked on building the Canada Road during the 1819 season, and he operated an early ferry boat at the place where the road crossed Dead River.
Deed research shows that at the time the vote was taken at the house of Joseph Bean, Jr., formerly of Solon, he owned the land where much later the Hollingsworth and Whitney Farm was located (also called the Trahan Farm) . See this site for a wonderful aerial photograph of the farm taken about 1963. There are very few of the old buildings left on the property, as the house was burned by the Bingham Fire Department some years ago.
Bean and his wife, Margaret (Felker) bought the property in 1818 from a man named Asa Fletcher, who then moved to Hartland (and is not the same Asa Fletcher who lived out his life in Bingham). Bean sold the property in November 1819 when he bought a lot on Martin Stream and moved his family to Concord in 1820, where he lived for the rest of his life. His wife’s Felker relatives were among his neighbors there, where he operated a mill at the base of Bean and Felker Bogs.
On October 29th, 1819 a group of delegates met in Portland to work on the state’s new constitution. Rev. Obed Wilson was the Bingham delegate. The vote to ratify the constitution was taken on December 6, 1819, again at the house of Joseph Bean Jr., with seven approvals and no dissenters.
- Bingham Town Records
- Somerset County Registry of Deeds
- Constitution for the State of Maine: Formed in Convention at Portland, 29th of October, A.D. 1819. Digital Commons
- Sterling-Gondek. The Forks of the Kennebec. 2018.
- Sterling-Gondek. Concord, Maine: An Early History with Family Records. (forthcoming).