Thursday, March 22, 2007


I first found this on the Oxford County Maine site
celebrating the county’s Bicentennial, but it now
appears to have been taken down. I’m not sure
who the person was who rediscovered the excerpt
while doing research at the Agassiz Museum at
Harvard University so if anyone reading this
knows their identity, please let me know so
I can give them credit.

I’m fairly certain that this could be my great
grandfather Jonathan Phelps West. While the
birth year is three years earlier than his (1834),
he was born and lived his entire life there.
A cached version of the website is here
and mentions several Abbotts.

"Jonathan West spent his entire life in Upton, having
been born on East B Hill in 1831. In his youth Lake
Umbagog was much less extensive in summer than it
is at present. It was then bordered in many places by
natural meadows where the farmers cut large of coarse
hay which they took off with horses and wagons, for the
ground was quite dry and firm except in early spring,
when it was flooded for a few weeks. The forest trees
growing at high water mark and for some distance back
of this, were chiefly white pines. They fringed the banks
of the Cambridge, the Androscoggin and the Magalloway
Rivers and sometimes occurred on highground, but not
very generally or numerously. Most of those near the
water were cut and rafted off by the lumbermen between
1840 and 1850. Very little clear white pine was wasted but
spruce trees were accounted no value and whenever the
encumbered land was desired for farming purposes they
were almost invariably piled up and burned, after being cut

"When Mr. West was a boy, moose were numerous,
although less so than in earlier times. There were only a few
deer and the first settlers had found but few. Caribou
occurred plentifully in certain locations. The Canada Lynx,
the fisher and the sable were common. The otter was perhaps
the most abundantof all the fur-bearing animals (except the
muskrat) which frequented the shores of the lake and that of
its connecting rivers. Partridge abounded in the forest.Wild
pigeons visited the clearings in enormous numbers sometimes
"darkening the sun" as their winged phalanges came between
it and the eye of the observerand doing much damage to the
farmer's grain. They appeared chiefly in spring and autumn
but Mr. West has never known more than a few scattered
pairs to breed anywhere about the Lake.He remembers when
the lake attracted innumerable water fowl, among which
were many Canada geese.

"According to Mr. West, Metalluk was a St. Francis Indian,
banished from his tribe because of some offense of a political
nature committed when a young man. After leaving Canada

he lived for many years about the lower lakes of the Rangeley
chain having a permanent camp at the Narrows on Richardson
Lake and one used less regularly, yet not infrequently on the
island in Lake Umbagog that bears his name. He was a
thoroughly "good" Indian, honest, upright, truthful and very
kind and friendly, in his dealings with the early settlers, all of
whom liked and trusted him. When they were hard pressed
for food he often brought them trout and moose meat, for, like
most of his race, he was an expert fisherman and hunter. He
frequently accompanied them as a guide and assistant during
their excursions into the forest and whenever he visited the
settlement of Upton he was cordially welcomed at their
houses. He stood in much fear of their dogs, however, and
Mr. West remembers that when he came to his father's
house on east B Hill he was accustomed to call from the road
requesting that their dog be tied before he would enter their

door. His only vice was drunkenness, to which he was hopelessly
addicted. But he was invariably mild-tempered and inoffensive
when under theinfluence of liquor."

The Bards of the Lake Umbagog Region of Maine
Professor William Brewster 1907

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