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  • Town of Starks

A Brief History of Starks by Dr. Paul B. Frederic, PhD.

HISTORY OF STARKS, MAINE  by Dr. Paul Frederic, Professor of Geography (Emeritus)


Aboriginal people occupied the area now contained in Starks for 7,000-8,000 years.  They relied on agriculture, fishing and hunting.  Extensive intervale land along the Sandy and Kennebec Rivers produced excellent yields of corn.  Fish were plentiful in the waterways and game was available.  Canoe routes led to western mountains, the St. Lawrence River and the coast.


French Jesuit priest visits Indian settlement in area.


Earliest detailed European reference to a major Indian village called Naragooc, on the west bank of the Kennebec and north side of the Sandy.  There were 50 households and 150 men in the community.  The settlement, because of its size, was considered by the English as the third town north of the mouth of the Kennebec.  The site is on the National Register of Historic Places (1993).


French Jesuits construct a chapel at the village.


Father Sebastian Rasle arrives at the village.


Village moved to Old Point on the east side of the Kennebec River in an effort to keep it in French territory.  This was a single event within the larger geo-political struggle between France and England for control of North America.  At this time, the Kennebec River was considered a possible permanent boundary between French and English land.


English raid Old Point village.


English destroy village at Old Point killing Father Rasle.  Some inhabitants escape across Kennebec to the Starks side of the river.


James Waugh arrives and selects a site for a farm on the south side of the Sandy River.  Waugh was born in Townsend, Massachusetts about 1749 and had migrated to Clinton (Maine).  He accepted the offer made by the Kennebec Proprietors to settle on land they owned.  James Waugh is recognized as the first settler in Starks. 


Waugh is joined by others including his young bride, Bathsheba Fairfield.


Benedict Arnold and his army passes up the Kennebec on his way to be vanquish at Quebec City.  Waugh provides yoke of oxen to assist in portage around Norridgewock Falls (Madison).  Luke Sawyer arrived in the area in 1774 served as guide for Arnold between Starks and Flagstaff.


Luke Sawyer builds a mill at the site of Starks Village.


Population reaches 327 as settlers arrive.


Samuel Weston surveys great lots along the Sandy River.  The Town incorporates on February 28 and is named Starks in honor of Revolutionary War hero General John Stark.



Much of the land back from the Sandy River is surveyed by Samuel Perham.


Six or seven Revolutionary War Veterans have settled in Starks by now.


Starks sends 11 men to war (War of 1812). 


Population reaches 1,055 with significant migration from eastern Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard, New Hampshire and southern Maine.  The decades between settlement and now experience extensive land clearing.  Lumber fraud dominates much of the timber harvest at this time.  Work was done on credit with suppliers and lumberjacks often not getting paid. 


Part of the town is ceded to Industry.


Part of the town is ceded to Mercer.


First church is built, often referred to as “Starks Lighthouse”  (Dickinson Rips neighborhood).


Population reaches 1,559 (highest before or since for the town).


Starks sends 1 man to war (Mexican War).


Edwin Ladd born, became U.S. Senator from North Dakota and leading national crusader for food safety.         


Starks sends 68 men to war (Civil War).


Part of town is ceded to Mercer.


Grange is organized.

 c. 1899 

Madison Electric dam is constructed on the Sandy River.  There were about 13 schools in town.


Population is 636.


Part of town is ceded to Norridgewock.


Corn shop starts operation.


Starks sends 7 men to war (WW I).


Depression.  Many miles of town roads discontinued. 


Center of Starks Village burns.


Starks sends 26 men to war (WW II).


Starks sends 9 men to war (Korean War).


Henderson’s sawmill in Starks Village is washed away by Hurricane Edna.


Population is 306 (lowest since before incorporation).


Starks Water District is incorporated to supply water to the village.


Corn shop closes.


Starks sends 13 men to war (Vietnam War).


Starks joins School Administrative District #59 (Madison).


Post Office closes.


Historic Thompson Bridge on Starks/Industry town line is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Starks celebrates Bicentennial.


Town builds four new municipal buildings: town garage, fire station, town office and sand/salt facility.


Population  is 640,  highest since 1900.  Last school closes.


Starks receives ¼ million dollars in grants for comprehensive plan, improving library and building 2 bridges.


Starks withdraws from Regional School District # 59 and joins District #9 (Farmington).


Central Maine Power Company completes 9 million dollar project and the company’s assets now represent about 27% of the Town’s tax base

Selected References:

Allen, William. 1869. History of the Town of Starks From the First Settlement in 1774 to 1869 Inclusive. Wilton, ME: Wilton Printed Products.

Hanson, J. W. 1848. History of the Old Towns Norridgewock and Canaan, Comprising Norridgewock, Canaan, Starks, Skowhegan and Bloomfield.  Boston, MA: J. W. Hanson.

Norridgewock Bicentennial Book Committee. 1988. Norridgewock: 200 Years 1788-1988.  Norridgewock, ME: Norridgewock Historical Society.

Starks Bicentennial Book Committee. 1995.  The People and Places of Starks.  State College, PA: Jostens.  


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