History 2129/EnvS 2449 Reading Guide

The settlement, unsettlement, and resettlement of Harpswell and the coast of Maine

  • Christopher Bilodeau, “Creating an Indian Enemy in the Borderlands: King Philip’s War in Maine, 1675-1678,” Maine History 47.1, (2013), 11-41. (e-reserve)
  • Mary Beth Norton, “George Burroughs and the Girls from Casco: The Maine Roots of Salem Witchcraft,” Maine History 40:4 (Winter 2001-2002), 259-277. (e-reserve)
  • Wescott, History of Harpswell, Ch.3, “Johnson Harmon: an Early Settler,” Ch.4, “Beginning of the Settlement of Harpswell,” Ch.5, “The Separation of Harpswell from North Yarmouth,” 17-53


  • How does Bilodeau characterize the causes of tension between settlers in Maine and the various tribes in the 17th century settlement areas?
  • What series of events led to violence in the summer of 1675? What was the long history behind these new events?
  • What misunderstandings about tribal organization and allegiance heightened those tensions and exacerbated colonial reactions to deeds done by individual native Americans?
  • Why were the English so prone to assume and spread rumors about French involvement and tribal unrest?
  • What does Bilodeau argue about the special nature of the war in Maine, 1675-78, and about its consequences for settlement, both short term and long term?
  • According to Norton, what were the most significant aspects of the Maine “roots” of Salem witchcraft?
  • How does Norton connect the experiences of particular Maine settlers, with either former or future ties to Salem Village, with the patterns of witchcraft accusations in Salem?
  • To what extent does it matter that those experiences happened to be gendered in significant ways?
  • How does Norton’s argument that the accusations against Burroughs created the pivotal moment in the Salem witchcraft hysteria both enhance and alter our understanding of witchcraft as a community phenomenon?
  • What does her study, in conjunction with the other studies of early settlements that we’ve read, suggest about the nature and process of seventeenth-century settlements in Maine?
  • What were the social and cultural consequences of the Indian Wars for settlers on the Maine frontier?
  • Why did Wescott devote a separate chapter to Johnson Harmon?
  • How does Harmon’s experience (and Wescott’s narrative) contrast with those of the seventeenth century settlers?
  • What are the disadvantages of separating a biography rather than incorporating it into the rest of the account?
  • How does Wescott present the beginning of settlement? What kind of perspective does he bring to his history? What is his focus?
  • How might the settlers have described their early experiences?
  • What did the Pejepscot Proprietors hope to achieve with their claim approved by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay?
  • How might the various disputes, resulting from overlapping grants, claims and deeds affect the experiences of individuals and families and their efforts to create a community?
  • What might be the enduring significance of the long process by which Merriconeag Neck, Sebascodegan Island, and the surrounding islands separated themselves from North Yarmouth, first as religious precincts and then finally as a separate district?