Today, there are many physical remnants of early Lewiston, but few as reverently preserved as Davis Cemetery, which stands on a rounded corner of Sabattus Street near Bates College.
A darkly etched tombstone in the center of the cemetery states: “Amos Davis 1741-1815 … This ground was given by him to this town for a burial place.”
Amos Davis was one of Lewiston’s first white settlers. According to accounts by William Green Garcelon recorded in 1865 when Garcelon was 79 years old, Amos Davis arrived from New Gloucester in March 1773 under contract by Little & Bagley Company. Amos’ personal diary claims that he had worked for L&B Co. as far back as 1764 and records indicate he moved to Lewiston under their direction. He was tasked with the job of dividing and marking lot boundaries in the sparsely populated farming community.
Amos built a log house on the John Dill lot, subsequently called the Marston Farm. He eventually settled on Lot No. 53 in what is now a large section of Ash Street west of Sebattus and lived there until his death on March 2, 1815.
He was noted for being “an industrious man and worthy citizen.” In addition to surveying work, he was also a farmer, tanner and shoemaker. He was a member of the Society of Friends, an elder Quaker, and his house on Sabattus served as the town’s first religious school. His first wife Alice’s mother, nicknamed “Granny Poor” (there’s gotta be good story here but I couldn’t unearth it!), served as the school’s first headmaster.
Amos had four sons and one daughter who all married and settled in Lewiston. His son David, the second male child born in the new town of Lewiston, was also a Quaker elder, built one of the city’s first schools and public meeting houses, and was a prominent Lewiston citizen. David Davis is among many Lewiston pioneers buried in Davis Cemetery.
Mount David, a short peak off Mountain Avenue, now bears his name. It was part of the David Davis farm that extended from Jepson Brook to Whipple Street and College Street to the Androscoggin River. Before the Industrial Revolution, most of Androscoggin County was dispersed farmland and Davis pastured his horses and cattle on the rocky hill.
Prominent Maine landscape painter, Delbert Dana Coombs, born in 1850 in Lisbon Falls, painted a representation of Mount David in 1860 when it was farmland dotted with cows and chickens.Today, tall pines still guard the peak, but brick buildings, part of Bates College, now stand where cows used to graze.
The view of downtown Lewiston from Mount David, however, has not changed dramatically over the years: The main difference, when comparing Stereoview images with contemporary photographs taken from the top, are mature pines that now obstruct the vista.
David Davis, his wife Mary and their five children lived in a house at 418 Main Street. Built between 1780 and 1790 at the base of the hill, it was once a sturdy structure with portico and sidelights.
The structure stood for many years and was cited as being one of the oldest single-family homes in the area. If you go looking for it today, however, all you will find is an empty, weed-ridden lot.
Special thanks to the Edmund S. Muskie Archives & Special Collections Library, Bates College Museum of Art and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
- Garcelon, W. G. (1930, July 17, 18, 19). Story of the Early Pioneers. Lewiston Daily Sun.
- Leamon, J. S. (1976).Historic Lewiston: A textile city in transition. Lewiston, Me. Lewiston Historical Commission.