Kennebunk Road

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Did an ancestor travel the Kennebunk Road of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine? Learn about this settler migration route, its transportation history, and find related genealogy sources.

Map of the Kennebunk Road in maroon from Boston, Massachusetts to Augusta, Maine.

History[edit | edit source]

The Kennebunk Road is a 170 mile (274 kilometer) route mostly near the Atlantic shore from Boston, Massachusetts to Augusta, Maine.

New England inherited a network of Indian pathways including the Kennebunk Trail, later known as the Kennebunk Road. Indians used the route to connect to English fisherman in Maine and New Brunswick, as well as to Pilgrim settlers to the south in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Kennebunk Road was a coastal route[1] that connected Augusta, Maine with Massachusetts, and was an important colonial route from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Boston. It was also used from 1630-1761 as a migration route for settlers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. Starting in the 1670s the Kennebunk Road served as a northern extension of the the King's Highway.

The Kennebunk Trail started as an Indian footpath, but Europeans expanded it into a horse path, then a wagon road, stagecoach route with inns, and then a turnpike (toll road) by the early 1800s. In 1820, when Maine became independent of Massachusetts, there were already five turnpikes in operation along this route during the heyday of long distance wagon roads.[2]

However, settlers could travel faster, less expensively, and safer on railroads than on wagon roads. So, as railroads entered an area, the wagon-road traffic in that area declined. The first railroad from Boston, Massachusetts reached Portsmouth, New Hampshire[3] in 1840, and went on to Portland, Maine in 1842. Rail service continued on to Brunswick, Maine in 1847; by 1849 it reached north of Augusta as far as Waterville, Maine.[4]

Route[edit | edit source]

Settlers who traveled the Kennebunk Road from Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy to Augusta, Kennebec County, Maine Genealogy passed through these places:

Connecting Routes. The Kennebunk Road  connected with half a dozen other settler migration routes out of its Boston end:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the Kennebunk Road  from Boston to Augusta are:

Settler Records[edit | edit source]

The coast of Maine was settled as early as 1517 by British fisherman drying their catch. Boston was founded in 1630 by Puritan immigrants from England. The Indian footpath between these two attracted settlers who would be able to more easily get access to the markets. Many of the earliest settlers along the Kennebunk Road would have been from Boston, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut. Look at the earliest deeds along the Kennebunk Road to learn the names of the first settlers. If you already know the name of a settler near the Kennebunk Road, you have a good chance of finding his or her genealogy in sources like:

  • Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, c1995). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974 W2a.
  • Lucy Mary Kellogg, et. al., Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Descendants of the Pilgrims Who Landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, 23+ vols. (Plymouth, Massachusetts: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1975- ). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.4 D2mf.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Frederic J. Wood, The Turnpikes of New England and the Evolution of the Same Through England, Virginia, and Maryland (Boston: Marshall Jones, 1919), 25. Internet Archive version online.
  2. Edgar Allen Beem, Maine Road Trip: Route 1: Many Names, One History in Down East - The Magazine of Maine (accessed 27 October 2014).
  3. Boston and Maine Corporation in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 27 October 2014).
  4. Railroad history of Portland, Maine in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 27 October 2014).

Chester B. Price "Historic Trails of New Hampshire", The New Hampshire Archeologist, 14(1967)1-2,