Winter Speaker Series

2022-2023 Zoom Speaker Series

Order in the Pownalborough Court House

Jay Robbins, Place-Based Historian

Jay Robbins
Place Based Historian

Wednesday, May 10, 2023
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Jay Robbins Jay Robbins is a Place Based Historian and the principle of Robbins Historical Research, Inc. located in Richmond, ME. He has been documenting connections through genealogical and property research since 1975. As an educator, avocational historical archaeologist, and teller of tales, Jay has a particular love for the early history of the Tidewater Kennebec region.

Whether he is piecing together evidence of early discovery and settlement using maps and personal narrative accounts, or uncovering the environmental consequences of the many industries that have thrived along Gardiner’s Cobbosseecontee Stream where 8 dams once stood, or seeking physical evidence of Merrymeeting Bay’s Lost Scots-Irish Colony of Cork (1719- 1722), or reading the original Lincoln County court case files that document the power struggles played out at the Pownalborough Court House, or researching the early tidal mills, quarries and brickyards of Edgecomb, Jay works to peel back the layers of time and to really understand that place. He is Bowdoin College’s 1st Environmental Studies major (1973) and has done graduate work in American and New England Studies at USM.

Jay served as the Executive Director of the Lincoln County Historical Association from 2005- 2010. He also served as an officer/Director with the Arnold Expedition Historical Society and the Friends of Swan Island.

Designed by Boston architect Gershom Flagg and built in 1761 by the Kennebec Proprietors for the newly created Lincoln County, the Pownalborough Court House received such notable visitors as John Adams, Benedict Arnold, Robert Treat Paine, William Cushing, Reverend Jacob Bailey and two future Massachusetts governors: David Sewall and James Sullivan. Numerous trials were held here, including that of Judge North which was featured in the Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, based on the diary of local resident Martha Ballard (1735-1812).

The Court House also served as a tavern, a place for church services, a dancing school, and as the Dresden Post Office from 1807-1855. In addition to its vital role in the legal history of Lincoln County and Maine, the Court House was a family home. From 1761 – when Captain Samuel Goodwin, an original Kennebec Proprietor and captain of the guard at Fort Shirley, moved his family from the guardhouse into the Court House – until 1954, his descendants used the building as their home.

To George Washington from Samuel Goodwin, 17 October 1775 From Samuel Goodwin Pownalborough [District of Maine] Octor 17th 1775


According to your Excellencys Verbal orders by Collo. Bennedeck Arnold I supplyd him with A Plan of the Sea Coast from Cape Elizabeth to Penobscut and the River Kennebeck to the Several heads thereof, and the Several Carrying Placeses to Ammeguntick Pond, and Shaddair River which Ammeguntick Emptys into Said Shaddair River which Shaddair, Emptys into the River St Lawrance about four miles above Quebeck and the Passes and Carrying Placeses to Quebeck, and also made Several Small Plans for Each Department for their Guid,1 and also Gave him a Copy of A Journal which Repersented all the Quick watter & Carrying Placeses to & from Quebeck both ways Viztt East & West,2 the West is the way to Goe, & the East to Come Sir if there was a Road Cut, it would be much Easer Carrying an army & provision and would Shorten the way much, and then you might have a Post to Pass once a week or 10 days.

I think it Would be for the General Intrest for you to have a Copy of Said Plan &c. and then you would be a Judge of what would be best to be don. it hath been a Great Cost & Labour to me to obtain those Plans &c. & make them. Sir if you think it worth your Notice & will Give orders therefor, I will Copy one for you & wate on you with it & Give you the best Intelagance I Can, as I think I Know as much of this Countary as anyone as I have been a Traveling, Surveying & Settling this Part Ever Since the year 1750 I would Willingly Goe to lay out a Road & See it Cleared &c. & do Every thing Neccassory, if agreable and orders therefor, & you &c. Should think it Worth while, but submitting all to your better Judgement,3 I am Sir with all Due Respects your most Obedeant Devoted and very humbl. Servtt Samuel Goodwin N.B. Mr Ruben Coalborn informed me you wanted a Plan I begain it about 3 weeks before Collo. Arnold Arived or I Could not have Gott it Redy for him. Please to Excuse the Smallness of the paper for there is a famin of it here. National Register of Historic Places-Nomination Application


Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler