SOME EFFECTS OF THE REVOLUTION AT
FALMOUTH & CAPE ELIZABETH
As the country settled around Falmouth, the neck of the land which is now Portland became very important. The harbor was very easy of access for the largest ships and the trade increased in proportion with the inhabitants. By the year 1775 there were upwards of 200 houses, a large Congregational Meeting House, a fine Episcopalian Church, and a Court house. Falmouth was thought to be the coming metropolis of the new province of Maine which was comtemplated. The strife between England and America began to be felt in Falmouth as early as 1770. There was a Custom House and Officers of the Crown stationed there. The Crown Officers believed strongly that Parliament always had the right to legistlate in all cases for the colonies. The Episcopalian minister also was a controlling influence. He contended that the hierarchy was in danger unless the supremacy of the King was supported over the Civil Government and Church. The animosities between the Whigs and Tories increased daily and finally became so bitter that the Episcopalian clergyman, the Crown Officers, and many others fled for protection to the British Army and Boston.
There had been for a few years a small Sloop of War, which was commanded by Captain Most, anchored just outside the city. Captain Most had frequently been in Falmouth and was treated with great hospitality. In the year 1775 after hostilities had commenced at Lexington he, encouraged by the former courtesies of the inhabitants, ventured to land in the town. This time, however, the feeling was differnet, for he was greatly surprised, while conducting himself very regally through the town, to have a party of volunteers rush from a copse of pines, and make him their prisoner. Although his leaving His Ship was an act of indiscetion, and ;might forfeit him his commission, the people became alarmed that their act might endanger the town and troops be sent to destroy it. Acting upon these ideas they set him free. As soon as the Captain was set at liberty he sailed for Boston, but he apparently did not consider his freedom an act of kindness, for on October 18 he returned to the town with his Sloop of War and two or three others vessels. He gave the people notice that he was under orders to reduce the town to ashes, and that he should begin the business the next morning at Sunrise.
The inhabitants had two six-pounders to protect themselves, but they were not of much value as there were no cartridges prepared for them. They employed themselves during the night in removing such of their effects as they could carry away. The next morning the town was in flames. With the exception of the Congregational Church, all the public buildings including 130 dwelling houses, stables and "appendages" were reduced to ashes. When Captain Most and his fleet drew off 160 families were reduced to want with no form of shelter to protect them from the coming Autumnal storms. (Burning of Falmouth -- Sullivan, History of Maine)
The effect upon the Jonathan Thrasher estate is shown when the "Jonathan Thrasher, administrators, petition for losses by the unnatural enemies in 1775. Loss in buildings -- 230 pounds"
Below is found Benjamin Thrasher's petition as found in the Collections of the Maine Historical Society, Volume 18:
To the Honorable Council and Honorable House of Representatives of the State of Massachusetts Bay. The petition of Benjamin Thrasher of Cape Elizabeth in the County of Cumberland. It Humbly shews --- tht sometime in the year 1776 a Fort and Battery was erected on his land at Spring Point in said town by which great damage was arrived to your Petitioner.
The gound has been broken up --- fences destroyed -- & land laid common which has prevented him from making that improvement and use thereof which he formerly did. He is willing to suffer everything for the good of the Public which may be deemed necessary but he humbly thinks your honours will not expect he should be so far injured in his property as he has been by building the above mentioned Fortresses without any compensation, and therefore humbly prays that your honours whould take his case into consideration and grant him such recompense therefo as your honours should judge reasonable.
This may certify that damage done to Lieutenant Benjamin Thrasher's land, fences, etc. was appraised at 500 pounds for said damage done by building a Fort on Spring Point Cape Elizabeth.
October 19, 1779 Attest
Selectmen of Cape Elizabeth
This is the property on which the cemetery and Fort mentioned in the preceding chapter are located. Lieutenant Benjamin Thrasher was a regular commissioned officer in the militia from the County of Cumberland in 1762-1767. Our George Deake, was responsible for design and construction of the Fort.