May 22, 2018
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Orrington’s 225th anniversary features historic reenactment, schedule of upcoming events

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

ORRINGTON, Maine — A local woman dressed as a pregnant Azubah Freeman Ryder, with children in tow, burst into the town hall on Thursday telling all who would listen that the British were coming.

The reenactment of Ryder’s historic actions on Sept. 3, 1814 during the War of 1812 helped celebrate the incorporation of the town 225 years ago and announce a weeklong “Old Home Week” celebration, scheduled for July 13-21.

“Orrington was originally part of Condustiegg [Kenduskeag] Plantation,” Selectman Howard Grover said, reading from a proclamation in celebration of the 225th anniversary.

The roots of the town are traced to when John Brewer, his brother, Josiah, and sister, Mary, travelled in 1770 from Massachusetts up the Penobscot River to settle around Sedgeunkedunk Stream, creating the village of New Worcester, according to the 1962 book “Brewer, Orrington, Holden, Eddington: History and Families.”

New Worcester, named after John Brewer’s birthplace, was renamed Orrington when incorporated on March 21, 1788, and a misspelling in the paperwork led to the town’s name.

“Early pioneers intended for the town to be named Orangetown after Orangetown, Maryland,” Grover said.

Brewer broke away from Orrington and formed its own community in 1812.

The weeklong birthday celebration this summer will feature parades, a cannon muster, historic encampment, an endless yard sale, home and garden tour, a triathlon, dinners and dances, State Rep. Dick Campbell, a member of the Old Home Week committee, said.

The Old Home Week parade is July 13, and in the works are a boat parade on Brewer Lake, an antique tractor parade and a pet parade, Campbell said.

Local resident Judith Frost Gillis, president of the Orrington Historical Society, was dressed in historic garb to play Azubah Freeman Ryder, who was born in 1784 and who helped inform her neighbors about British regulators arriving in 1814 for the deadly Battle of Hampden.

She was nine months pregnant and ran with three children to the home of Capt. Barzillan Rich, informing all she saw that the war had reached Orrington.

“It’s our responsibility,” Gillis said, speaking as Ryder. “My daughter, Deborah, was born that night.”

Information about the Old Home Week celebration will be posted on the town’s website as it becomes available.

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