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Legends of The Great Falls - Part 3

Last Updated Dec-2008

Story Eight

The Abenaki of the Deer Rips & Gulf Island villages where having problems with the local settlers harassing their women. The possibility of rape was mentioned. After a while, the Abenaki men had had enough and decided to take things into their own hands. They came down to the Great Falls by canoe after dark. For some reason, someone had been sent ahead to set out torches on each side of the falls. The men from the two villages had planned to split up, 1/2 going to the Auburn side and 1/2 to the Lewiston side to deal with the culprits. Apparently, a settler got wind of what was going on and moved the torches. All of the Abenaki men were killed going over the falls. Some of the surviving families went to Canada to be with relatives. Some of the local settlers brought the remaining survivors (elders, women, and children) into town to be cared for.

Source: Oral tradition - spring 1999
not recorded at the time it was heard

Ne-Do-Ba Comment - - - The person sharing this story is a descendant of a woman known by the family as 'Black Granny'. She was very likely Abenaki/Negro mix - probably the daughter of a freed slave named Benjamin Coffin and an Abenaki woman. 'Black Granny' came from what the family refers to as the Deer Rips Village. There was also a Gulf Island Village according to their oral tradition. This would be at the time of early settlement of the area [1770s].

A picture of the Great Falls

The Great Falls of the Androscoggin River in Flood Stage c1900

Story Nine

I would like to relate a story that my dear Mother told of her Great Grandfather John March many years ago was canoeing down the Lewiston River when he found some Indians following him it was night so he tied a lantern to the back of his canoe and the Indians followed the light which went over Lewiston Falls, he swam ashore and escaped from them ...

Source: Androscoggin Historical Society files - summer 1999
A letter from Leon C. Baldwin of Fulton NY dated 1965
found by Douglas Hodgkin

Story Ten

One early spring, when the waters of the Androscoggin was swollen by the melting snows, they [Abenaki] planned an expedition to go down the river in the darkness of the night and surprise and massacre the colony [Brunswick?]. With the cunning of the wily savage they laid their plans. Several canoe loads of the braves dressed in their war-paint were to make up the expedition. Two of their trusty warriors were sent down in the early morning, ostensibly to make purchases at the village store, and at night to build a fire above the falls at Lewiston as a signal that their approach was not known. The spies came as planned, but their actions aroused the suspicions of the whites, who treated them freely with liquor, and becoming intoxicated, they lost their caution and revealed the plot. The whites immediately prepared to receive their foes. When night approached they built the signal fire below the falls instead of above, and the Indians being thus deceived were swept over the falls, their canoes overturned and those who escaped drowning were easily dispatched.

Source: History of Jay
Rev. Benjamin F. Lawrence, 1912
Contributed: July 2000 by Susan James