March 1, 1642: Gorgeana, a Maine community named after Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a co-founder of the Colonial-era Province of Maine, becomes the first incorporated city in America.

Plan of York surveyed by Daniel Sewall, dated 1794-95. Massachusetts Archives

It is now the town of York.

Gorges sent his cousin Thomas Gorges in 1639 from England to Maine as his deputy. The latter, a trained lawyer who may have been the first from that profession in Maine, establishes Gorgeana.

It is by no means a city in the 21st-century sense, although Gorges compiled an optimistic roster of positions to be filled, including that of a lord bishop. He also organizes the first English trek into the northern New England interior, reaching the White Mountains.

Back in England, when the English Civil War breaks out in 1642, the aged Sir Ferdinando takes to the battlefield alongside the royalists, or Cavaliers. Thomas Gorges returns the next year and sides with the parliamentarians, or Roundheads.

Thus distracted, they are unable to control the Maine settlement, which forms its own government at first and eventually is absorbed by the Massachusetts colony.

March 1, 1809: Somerset County becomes Maine’s eighth county, formed from part of Kennebec County.

The county bills itself as the nation’s top producer of all things maple, and it celebrates that distinction by hosting two annual events – the Maple Festival and the Maple Madness basketball tournament, both held in March.

Somerset County, Maine, Portland and Philadelphia : J. Chace Jr., 1860 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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