Thursday, October 09, 2008


Deputy Sheriff Lewis Loomis set off with Daniel Ellingwood in pursuit of
accused murderer David Robbins. They borrowed a birch canoe from a local
Indian and paddled up the Androscoggin River until they reached Robbin's
last location on the Magalloway two days later. But when they reached the
area an old trapper they questioned told then that Robbins had left just the
day before with a canoe loaded with traps and supplies. He'd told the trapper
he would be gone on a hunting trip for several months. Loomis believed
that Robbins was really headed for Canada to avoid arrest, and if he and
Ellingwood hurried they could still catch him.

They went back to their canoe. It was a tricky situation. They had to
move quickly because Robbins already had a day's lead on them, but they
also had to be careful because if the fugitive heard them, he might
ambush them from the shore. Both men were familiar with the Magalloway
River and having the advantage of being a party of two began to draw
closer to Robbins. They took every precaution they could, paddling
silently and camping without a fire when they went to shore. Two days into
the chase Ellingwood took over all the paddling while Loomis sat at the
front of the boat with his rifle cocked and ready to return fire if they should
be ambushed. But there was still no sign of Robbins and they put into
shore for another night without their campfire.

The next afternoon they reached a portage point where they had to leave the
water and carry their canoe along the shore until they could once more put
it into the Magalloway. This was a well known spot to trappers and
travelers along the river and Sheriff Loomis suspected that Robbins might
still be nearby. Moving quietly, the two men hid their own canoe and checked
the trail for any sign of Robbins and found his pack hidden off the main trail,
probably left there while he moved his canoe across the portage. They laid
their own ambush, Ellingwood hiding in some nearby trees while Loomis
took up a spot near the pack. Shortly after they took their positions, Robbins
came down the trail and Sheriff Loomis tackled him. During the struggle
Robbins tried to draw his knife but by that time Ellingwood had joined the
fight and helped take the man prisoner.

Loomis and Ellingwood placed Robbins in their canoe and towed his along
behind them for the several days journey back downriver to Lancaster
where Robbins was placed in jail. Robbins and Ellingwood were treated as
heroes and people eagerly awaited the forthcoming trial of the suspected
murderer the following April.

But David Robbins was a crafty man, and he had one more trick up his sleeve.

(This series of posts is based on information from William Lapham's
"History of Bethel, Maine" and can be viewed here at the Oxford Triangle

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