Family located: Haverhill MA; Gilmanton NH; Otisfield ME
William Edwards enlisted in Capt. Nathaniel Gage's Co., Col. Jacob Gerrish's Regt. of Guards, serving from Dec. 19, 1777 to Apr. 3. 1778. guarding Gen. Burgoyne;s troops at Winter Hill, Mass. Roll dated Bradford.
An original subscription book of the person employed in Haverhill, Mass. to collect clothing the Continental Army contains the name of Will Edwards, and opposite the name the item, - two shirts.
Neither tradition nor family records establish the date on which William Edwards moved to Gilmanton, N. H. The public records of Strafford Co. at Dover, N. H., show that the year 1782 was probably the year when this movement took place, since on Mar. 7th, of that year, Joseph Badger, Esq., one of the original proprietors of Gilmanton, conveyed for one hundred and fifty Spanish Mill dollars to William Edwards of Meredith, N.H. "the one-half and ten rods more than the one half of the width the whole length of a certain hundred acre lot of Land lying and being in Gilmanton . . . . . . . to be taken from the Northwesterly side of said lot and said lot is number nine in the ninth range."
Dec 9, 1784, William Edwards sold twenty acres of the above to his brother, Jonathan; and Apr. 28, 1795 he sold to James Dame for four hundred and seventy dollars "the whole of my homestead farm in said Gilmantown containing about fifty acres of Land with buildings thereon."
The first census of the United States (1790) shows that the family of William Edwards of Gilmanton, N. H., then consisted of 1 male over 16 years of age, 6 males under 16 years of age, and 2 females which included his wife.
Jonathan and William Edwards, when in Gilmanton, signed a petition "To His Excellency The President, The Honorable Senate, and The Honorable House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire" praying that the courts of Strafford County be held at Norway Plain in Rochester instead of Dover and Dunbar.
William arrived in Otisfield, Me., Feb. 16, 1797. On the way from Gilmanton, he stopped in Gorham, Me., taking dinner with his brother, Richard. His son Simeon had previously come to Gorham and stayed with his uncle until the arrival of his father, when he accompanied him to Otisfield. The family and all household possessions were moved on a single ox sled. Over the stakes of the sled bed quilts were drawn to protect his wife and children and to furnish them shelter at night. The last eight miles of the journey was through the virgin forest, over trackless snow, blazed trees being the only guidance.
It had been agreed between William and another party, probably the Proprietors of Otisfield that "they would have his house built by Feb. 15th." As only the walls, however, were up, the family was obliged to pass the first night in a house which had the starry vault of a February sky as a roof.
The public records of Cumberland Co. on file at Portland, ME., show that William Edwards purchased from James Johnson and John Kilby Smith for one hundred and forty dollars and one hundred and twenty six dollars respectively a right and title to two fifths of the undivided lands described as follows:-"a certain tract of land lying on the northwest side of Thompson Pond . . . . . . . bounded as follows:- Beginning at a bunch of white maple trees standing in the line of Otisfield, said maple trees being the most northerly corner of Raymondtown, running thence southwest on hundred and eighty six rods to Thompson Pond thence by the pond northerly to a pine tree standing nigh the pond, in the line of Bakerstown (now Poland, Me.) thence northwest on said line of Poland until it strikes the line of Otisfield. Thence southwest on Otisfield line to the first bound mentioned."
The parcel of land above described was then known as Thompson Pond Plantation. The total area was divided into five lots of which William Edwards became owner of Nos. 1 and 2, and Nathaniel Edwards in 1814 of No. 4. This plantation was set off into the town of Poland and later, with the exception of the major portion of Lot No. 5, into the town of Otisfield. The area not so disposed of was set off from Poland, and in consequence remains to this date (1915) independent of any town in Maine. It was at one time the home and farm of Washington Edwards, but is now owned by Forrest L. Edwards.
William, when three years of age, was sent to the shoemaker with a pair of shoes to be repaired. It happened that Lydia Baker, a little girl of equal years, had been sent on a similar errand. The shoemaker noting that they were about the same size, inquired their ages. When he learned that Lydia was only twelve days older, he told them that they must be married and that he would act as esquire and marry them. He took his broom and holding it a short distance above the floor performed the ceremony by requiring them to jump over the handle. When William returned home he told his parents that he had been married to Lydia Baker. In relating the incident to one of his grandchildren, he said that at that time he really believed he was married. This unique romance was consumated in 1776 when William and Lydia had grown to mature years.
In this connection it is of interest to note that at the date of his death (Dec. 15, 1845) William had no less than seventy-five grandchildren.
1800 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
2 males 1 female under 10
1 male 1 female 10-16
2 males 16-26
1 male 1 female 45+
1810 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
2 males under 10
1 male 1 female 45+
1820 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
1 male under 10
1 male 1 female 45+
1830 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
1 female under 5
2 females 5-10
1 male 1 female 10-15
1 female 15-20
2 males 20-30
1 male 30-40
1 female 40-50
1 male 1 female 70-80
1840 Otisfield (Cumberland) ME
Asa B Edwards
1 male under 5
1 female 10-15
1 female 30-40
1 male 1 female 50-60
1 male 80-90
William Edwards and wife Lydia are buried in Forrest Edwards' Cemetery, Otisfield ME.
for information about the (possible) ancstors of Lydia Baker, see this section of The Wight Family Genealogy.
William Edwards and his family came from Gilmanton, NH to Otisfield in Feb. 1796, the goods being hauled on a sled by oxen, but the family was drawn by horses. His older brother, Nathaniel who had been settled there six years or more, had agreed to put up a house for them but when the family of father, mother and eight children arrived in mid winter, they found a log house with walls but no roof or floor in it. And in that log house, looking up at the stars, the family of ten passed their first night in Otisfield. The house stood in the lower part of Otisfield, on the east side of the road leading to the brick house. Simeon the oldest child was bound out, and as it lacked a year or two of the end of his service he did not come with the family. Wm. Edwards purchased from James Johnson and John Kilby Smith, Mar. 11, 1802, for one hundred and forty dollars, and one hundred and twenty six dollars respectively a right and title to two fifths of the undivided lands, described as follows, "A certain tract of land lying on the northwest side of Thompson Pond, bounded as follows; beginning at a bunch of white maple trees standing in the line of Otisfield, said maple trees being the most northerly corner of Raymondtown, running thence southwest one hundred and eighty six rods to Thompson Pond, thence by the pond northerly to a pine tree standing nigh the pond, in the line of Bakerstown (now Poland), thence northwest on said line of Poland until it strikes the line of Otisfield, thence southwest on Otisfield line to the bound first mentioned."
The parcel of land above described was then known as Thompson Pond Plantation. The total area was divided into 5 lots of which Wm. Edwards became the owner of lots 1 and 2 and Nathaniel Edwards Jr. in 1814 of lot 4. This plantation was set off into the town of Poland and later with the exception of the major portion of lot 5 was annexed to Otisfield in 1858. The area not so disposed of, was set off therefore had no taxes to pay. Washington Edwards built a house and had his farm there at one time.
Source: History of Otisfield by William Samuel Spurr; Reprinted by the Town of Otisfield, 2nd edition