Samuel Waldo, of the Waldo Patent, actively recruited about 1,500 Germans settlers to the Broad Bay area of Maine in the 1750s. Many factors contributed to their immigration, including economic opportunities and religious tolerance. Waldo and his compatriots in colonial Massachusetts Bay encouraged German settlement in the area to act as a buffer between the English and the French along the Maine frontier.
A neighboring land claim by the Pemaquid Proprietors disrupted the German settlement in Waldoboro in the late 1700s. The Pemaquid Proprietors claimed the land west of the Medomack was theirs, not Waldo’s, and therefore settlers must re-acquire their homes from the Pemaquid Proprietors, at a price.
Some German settlers paid the Pemaquid Proprietors for their land, but many could not afford to do so, and either sold the land for a fraction of its value or simply abandoned their land all together. According to the History of Old Broad Bay and Waldoboro, “others from sheer fury burned their houses, barns, sheds, and outhouses, and, so far as they could, dragged back into the fields and meadows the stones which they had originally removed for clearing land. This was done to decrease the value of these lands to those claiming them”.
Copy of a plan of lands on the west side of Madomack River, Waldoboro, 1774
Item 102767 info
Maine Historical Society
German immigrants and first generation German-Americans owned land on the west side of the Medomack River in modern-day Waldoboro when this map was made, twenty-two years after Germans originally settled the area. The numbers next to each name represent acreage.
In 1773 and 1774, this survey was commissioned, likely in preparation for the incorporation of the town of Waldoboro set for 1774. An inscription on the reverse of map reads “Surveyed for the Germans in consequence of the Pemaquid Claim.”
The Pemaquid Patent was a 17th century land grant given to two Englishman consisting of 12,000 acres near modern day Bristol, Maine. About a century later, considerable efforts were made to clarify holdings in the region. These efforts were spearheaded by an heir to the grant, Shem Drowne. Drowne organized a holding company in 1753, known as the Pemaquid Proprietors. As with many colonial land grants, conflicting information and a lack of structured government or agreed upon boundaries resulted in legal disputes.
A competing land grant in the mid-coast region, the Waldo Patent, distributed land around the Medomack River to German immigrants who began settling in the region as early as 1739. By 1774 the Germans were well established in Broad Bay.
Conrad Heyer (1749-1856) was reputed to be the first white child born in Waldoboro, then a German immigrant community. Other sources list his birth date as 1753.
He served in the Continental Army for one year, discharged mid-December 1777.
Heyer bought a farm in Waldoboro after the war, where he lived the rest of his life. When he died in 1856, he was buried with full military honors. After the introduction of the daguerreotype to the United States, Heyer is credited as the earliest-born American to be photographed.
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