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Captain James Budge

This is an excerpt from "History of Penobscot County Maine", 1882, Cleveland: Williams, Chase & Co., Pages 537-8

When Captain Budge removed to Bangor he occupied a log house near the intersection of Oak and Washington streets, overlooking the Penobscot.  He afterwards built as one-story frame house on the northerly side of York street, a few rods northerly of Oak street—now Stetson Square.  The Plantation and town meetings were held at his house for ten or twelve years afterward.


On March 27, 1787, the people of Condeskge assembled there and chose him Moderator, Andrew Webster Town Clerk, Jacob Dennet, Isaac Frees, and Simon Crosby Committee, John Budge Treasurer, and the pioneer, Jacob Bussell, “Tithenman,” and “voted Andrew Webster, Phillip Lovejoy, and William Holt is hog Reafts, and that “hogs shall Run at Large Being well yoked,” and that “every hog the hog Reaft yoak shall have 4 shillings; and voted to Buld a meating house forty and thirty-six feet large,” and “that the meating house Shall be Bult at Condeskge;” and “Mr. Budge and Mr. Smart agreed to gave an acor of Land to the town to Set the meating house on;” and “voted that the timber for the meating house is to be 12 shillings Per hundred or tun Delivered at the spot where the house is to be Bult.”


It was in “Sunbury” that the inhabitants met on March 3, 1788, and elected a part of their officers.  Of course Andrew Webster was again elected Clerk.  Mr. Robert Treat was Moderator at this meeting, and Thomas Howard was elected culler of hoops and staves, and Jeremiah Colburn and others surveyors of roads.  The meeting was adjourned to April 10, when Captain James Budge, Silas Harthorn, and Archibald McPhetres were chosen Selectmen, Levi Bradley Collector, and Daniel Campbell Fish Committee and Church Warden, and it was “voted that hogs is to run at large being well yoaked.” 


Th inhabitants of “Penobscot River on the west side” met again on October 6, 1788, and chose SimeonGorton (who lived nearer the Sowadabscook than the Condeskeag), Thomas Howard, Abraham Tourtelott, and Archibald McPhetres, Assessors, and John Crosby (who lived near the Sowadabscook) and Robert Treat (who lived near the head of the tide), Collectors.


At the annual meeting, on March 2, 1789, the inhabitants, besides their action in regard to “Mr. Noble’s Sallary,” elected Captain James Budge Surveyor of Highways, and “voted four days to be worked on the hiway this year for every man,” and that “every man that don’t work on the hiway is to Pay 6s. PerDay.”


On June 30 it was voted to raise L10 to defray “Plantation Charges,” and to raise “tax No. 7” this year.


Mr. Budge was a prominent man at this time in the Plantation, as may be supposed from the positions he occupied.  He was the owner of the lot where he lived, --the City Point lot, --containing one hundred acres, with the point which, during that generation, was familiarly known as Budge’s Point.  As has been said, he was a man of much business ability; and he was a ready and fluent speaker.  He succeeded Captain Edward Wilkins as captain of the militia company organized after the Revolutionary War below the Penjejawock Stream, Mansell being captain of that above.  Physically he was rather stout.  Ten or twelve years after the war he became involved in debt, and as the facilities for drowning trouble were everywhere at hand, he resorted to them until he became a pitiable wanderer.  He finally became deranged and so continued until a few weeks before his death, when “his reason was fully restored, and he expressed a willingness to resign a life which, he said, had been as troublesome to himself as to his friends.”  He died at Garland, May13, 1827, at the age of seventy-six.


While living his unfortunate street life in Bangor, he was famous for rhyming, and for another habit which was sometimes inconvenient to people having trifling articles of property lying carelessly exposed.  But he was not without wit, and his delinquencies were good-naturedly borne with.  Mr. Thomas Bartlett, a worthy and witty dealer, once made an effort to protect his goods by presenting him with a goodly quantity of fine fish, on condition that he should steal none.  The captain took them and went away, apparently delighted.  But he soon returned and surprised and amused his compromising friend by throwing down the fish and saying:--

            “Here Bartlett, take your fish.  I can do better!”

A building, the lower story of which was occupied by a trader who was a Federal politician, and by the family of a lame citizen, and the upper story by the fashionable tailor, John Reynolds, Esq., he made the subject of a piece of his doggerel, which may be taken as a specimen of all his rhymes:--

Down by the shore

There is a store

Occupied by a Fed.

Prouty, the lame,

Lives in the same,

And Reynolds overhead.


Prouty was the same individual who afterwards resided in Hampden, just below the Bangor line, and remonstrated against a proposition to set off that part of Hampden to Bangor because of the unhealthiness of the latter place.


Rev. Lemuel Norton, in his autobiography, published in 1861, says that he was an apprentice in 1800, with David Jones Waters, editor of the Castine Gazette, and that Mr. Waters was appointed a deputy Sheriff and took charge of the jail, and that he (Norton) had to convey to the prisoners their food; that among the prisoners was “James Budge, a man forty-five years of age, who was brought down the river from Bangor, who owned a large part of the land on which the city now stands.  This Major Budge, as he was called, was a notorious drunkard and dangerous man, so much so that his wife swore her life against him and had him put into prison.”  The Rev. Mr. Norton states that he detected the prisoner in an enterprise which indicated that he was possessed of ingenuity and industry enough when himself.  This was an attempt to release himself from jail.  When discovered his work was so far advanced that he would have probably been out that night.  With a knife and a file he had removed the sheet iron from the door and made a hole almost through, large enough for the passage of his body.  He had been at work upon it for weeks, and removed the wood in small pieces, which he founds means to convey to the exterior of the building.  Accidentally Norton got sight of two or three pieces on the floor which awakened his suspicions, and he then went outside of the jail and came upon a pile of “hacks or small chips, as large as a winrow of hay, as much as ten or twelve feet long.”  This led to Budge’s being placed in more secure quarters.  After some weeks “he having greatly improved and become humble and penitent, his friends came and took him out of prison and carried him home to Bangor.”  Mr. Norton closes his notice thus: “He was a man of strong intellectual powers, rather a good scholar, and something of a poet; wrote a great deal, made some excellent poetry—but rum, that demon rum, which destroys its thousands every year, destroyed him, got the mastery over him, and probably ruined him for this world and for that which is to come.”


History of Penobscot County Maine.  Cleveland: Williams, Chase & Co. 1882.  Pages 537-8.


Keep in mind that I am an amateur at this. I have tried to gather my information responsibly, quote my sources reliably and type carefully but mistakes are still possible. If you find any corrections that need to be made or have additions, please email them to me.

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