More 'Annals of Camden'
In my book, "Who's Who at Mountain View," I wrote about Peter Ott and his son, Peter Oat. I wrote that he came over on the vessel Priscilla Nov. 9, 1791. Germany had been devastated by a 30 year so-called “religious war.” So, I said, he had been in touch with the Broad Bay (Waldoboro) people. On Nov 18, 1772, while in Worchester, Mass., he bought Lot 19 of 100 acres in Camden, according to the Knox County Registry of Deeds. Peter Ott is in Camden history because it was at his tavern that town meetings were held, after Camden became incorporated.
Wish I could say I am never wrong, but that information came from Rev. Locke’s "History of Camden." Now, as I read Fletcher’s "Annals of Camden," a column he wrote for the Rockland Opinion in 1883-84, he disagrees with many things that Rev. Locke wrote. However, Locke was not here at the time to defend himself.
“For several years I had been strongly urged by many prominent men of the town to undertake to present a faithful sketch of one of the oldest and most interesting towns in the state, and one containing the largest number of inhabitants outside of incorporated cities. I yielded to the solicitations of these cherished friends; and I have already poured over many musty records, the lines of which were traced by hands which have long since turned into dust. Were I in the least superstitious, their ghosts would undoubtedly haunt me in my midnight slumbers, and would not vanish at my bidding, however stern my commands might be. But I fear the errors which the people have heretofore received for the truth more than I do the ghosts, which one’s imaginations sometimes creates. But as ghosts disappear at the first ray of the sun, so will these errors in my progress disappear at the borrowed light of the truth which my kind friends shed upon me while groping my way in the labyrinth of errors into which I was lead by the false lights which I have innocently, not to say ignorantly followed.”
I probably would have written that in one sentence, but he felt the errors must be corrected. One of the errors was in relation to Peter Ott, who was prominent before and during the Revolution. Many years ago Fletcher became acquainted with a German clergyman at Waldoboro, who migrated to this country with the early colony to Broad Bay, now Waldoboro. Among those often spoken of by Mr. Starman was Peter Ott, who went from Waldoboro to Camden shortly after his arrival. Then later he received from Wiliam Patterson, Esq., the following deed transcribed by him from the records in the Register of Deeds in Lincoln County, Vol.22, 127 dated 17th November 1772:
“Jonathan Amory and John Amory, both of Boston in the county of Suffolk and Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England, Merchants, in consideration of the sum of fifteen pounds paid by Peter Ott of Worcester, in the county of Worcester and Province aforesaid, Husbandman, conveyed to said Peter Ott one full undivided, or half part of a lot of Land lying and being in a Place or Township now called by the name of Camden, in the County of Lincoln, and Province aforesaid, which whole Lot is numbered nineteen and contains about one hundred Acres more or less now in the hands of Nathaniel Appleton as Clerk to the Proprietors called the Twenty Associates of the Lincolnshire Company.”(It then goes on to describe the Lot.)
Fletcher then relied on his own judgment to decide if he had received facts or errors by those who preceded him in writing our history. He wanted the people of Camden to have reliable history.
It was then Mr. Fletcher’s belief that our Peter Ott, who kept the tavern, at Goose River, was the son of Peter Ott of Worcester, Mass., and was the Peter Ott Jr. named in the deed from Peter Ott Sr.; not the German emigrant whom Locke states came from Waldoboro. For Peter Ott, whom he calls Locke’s hero, had not stepped his foot on American soil, when Fletcher’s Peter Ott had been a resident. I quote Mr. Fletcher:
“If he did not open his eyes upon the light of day in the town of Worcester, Massachusetts. I have not time to spare to say more on the subject, at the present time, nor is it necessary.”
Well, now I had always believed what Rev. Locke wrote and do thank him for writing the History of Camden 1605-1859. Without that book, we would have no history recorded for that early time period.
Really, I now cannot make up my mind to decide who is correct about Peter Ott, Locke or Fletcher. What do you think?
I do question what Fletcher later goes on to say: “We had many heroines in Camden, among the females who became the mothers of our sturdy race, and I fear if we would compare the daughters of the present generation, with those who lived in the days when they were called women, and not ladies, the women would outshine the ladies of the present day.”
Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.