In the third presentation of a series of lectures by the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, the chief archaeologist of the Merrymeeting Pioneer Project, Bruce Bourque, will be speaking about King Philp’s War and its impacts on Merrymeeting Bay.

Bourque said it is important for people to know the foundations of their communities.

“History reflects how these communities came into existence and how they exist today,” said Bourque.

People should also know about the environment that those people modified, he said, citing extensive overfishing, cutting forests and depleting the population of wild animals.

“They altered the environment in which all modern people live around,” said Bourque.

King Philip’s War, sometimes called the First Indian War, took place in southern New England from 1675 to 1676. Indigenous tribes in the region fought to avoid English authority and stop English settlement on native lands.

As part of the Merrymeeting Bay Pioneer Project, Bourque and his team of archeologists focus on learning more about early English settlers in or around Merrymeeting Bay during the 17th century.

“The war was a quick event. These were small defenseless communities, and the war snuffed them out,” said Bourque. “We are more interested in the fact that this was the Eastern frontier of English colonial settlement in North America.”

“The English settlers were seeking a slightly better life than what they had left behind. They were the vanguards, and the war ended that chapter,” added Bourque. “They formed the basis upon which later colonization was able to take place and sustain itself. That is the story we want to tell.”

Bourque said that the colonization has been the establishment of a branch of American society around the Merrymeeting Bay, which indigenous people formerly inhabited. French colonists had an eye on settling and controlling. Instead, the Merrymeeting Bay became a part of the United States.

“People have a poor understanding of the early colonial period, indigenous people and their lifestyle. It has been exciting to be able to add knowledge through our project and our lectures,” said Bourque.

Remnants of the first settlers in the Merrymeeting Bay aren’t easy to find since many were driven from the area by King Phillips War. Few of those Maine settlements have been discovered, let alone studied.

Bourque and his team, along with other professionals, have excavated six sites in the bay area to learn about the early settlers.

The sites they look for depend on a list of settlers that was put together by the people who resettled in this area. They were known as the Pejepscot Proprietors, who bought the deeds of all the first-generation settlers, reassembled the land, re-divided it, and sold it to the next generation.

“This process began in 1714. They listed the names and locations of all the homesteads, and we used that list to try to locate the archaeological remains of these homesteads,” said Bourque.

Bourque added that though they had some success in finding these lost sites, they also had difficulties because these settlements were not substantial – the houses were burned and scavenged for iron.

The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 via Zoom. For details, visit

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