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A Brief History of Mexico, Maine

Welcome to Mexico sign, ca. 2008
Welcome to Mexico sign, ca. 2008
Mexico Historical Society

Text by Lorraine Robichaud Legere
Images provided by Mexico Historical Society

The history of Mexico begins with the purchase of wilderness land by Jonathan Holman and a group of 26 men from Sutton, in Worcester County, Massachusetts. At the time of purchase the land was designated as Township #1, and after the purchase the name Holmantown was chosen. In 1803 a portion of Holmantown was set apart, became incorporated, and was named Dixfield.

The land remaining was called Holmantown for the next fifteen years. During this time a form of plantation organization existed in the small community later known as Mexico. Seven pioneer families, those of Thomas Eustis, Joseph Eustis, Samuel Knapp, Stephen Barnard, Isaac Gleasson, Benjamin Edwards, and Zebediah Mitchell were among those who had bought land along the Androscoggin River or upon the rocky hills. Their farms were widely separated, and they struggled for existence in the face of primitive hardships.

On February 13, 1818, this small village became incorporated with the act passed by the legislature of the State of Massachusetts. The name Mexico was chosen in admiration for the country of Mexico and its struggle to be free of Spanish domination. The boundaries were Webb River on the east, northerly by the line separating Mexico from Plantation No 7, now Roxbury, and continuing on the line between Mexico and Carthage to Webb River. Its Westerly line was that dividing Mexico from New Pennacook and the Androscoggin River.

A unanimous vote was taken on July 26, 1819, on the question of establishing a free and independent State. Walter P. Carpenter was the chosen delegate to represent the town at the Constitutional Convention held in Portland to form the Constitution for the new State of Maine. He was one of the best educated of the early settlers and lived on what is now Leavitt Street.

The Gregory Inn, Mexico ca. 1900
The Gregory Inn, Mexico ca. 1900
Mexico Historical Society

At the time of incorporation a cluster of mills had previously been established around the dams built on Webb River, the boundary line between Mexico and Dixfield. Peter Trask settled nearby on Trask Street, and Deacon Joseph Eustis had settled up above the farm of Benjamin Leavitt on Trask Street.

What was known as Trask Street at that time, now Leavitt Street, went all the way to Highland Terrace. Another road, that roughly paralleled Webb River and junctioned with the Backingdom Road went across the Thad White Bridge, past York Hill, and on to Poplar Hill.

There was a county road that went from Dixfield up to the north side of Carr Mountain and on to Rangeley. On the east side of Carr Mountain, near the home of Ben Royal, was a Way Station that had a tie up for horses and lodging for travelers.

In 1798 a road to the Swift River along the Androscoggin River was built and called Rumford Road, now River Road. A rambling vernacular Greek Revival farmstead was built on this road by Joel White. In the 1850s it was Morrill Farm. Later, General Charles Wilson, a Mexico native who became a successful lawyer in Rhode Island, purchased the property and added a carriage house, a hen house with cupola, and elaborate wooden fencing in an effort to create a picturesque retreat. In the 1930s this place became known as the Gregory Inn and was operated as a hotel by the Sweeney family. The buildings and land surrounding it remains much the same now as in early days and is still called The Gregory Inn.