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Scarborough: They Called It Owascoag

People Who Called Scarborough Home

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Rufus King

Rufus King of Scarborough, ca. 1820
Rufus King of Scarborough, ca. 1820

Item Contributed by
Scarborough Historical Society & Museum

Rufus King, the first child of Richard King and his wife Isabella Bragdon, was born 24 March 1755 in Scarborough. He was a half-brother of William and Cyrus King. After attending Dummer Academy, Rufus graduated from Harvard College in 1777. In 1778, he served in the Continental Army in the Rhode Island campaign as aide-de-camp to General John Sullivan. After his service, Rufus studied law with Theophilus Parsons in Newburyport. He was admitted to the bar in 1780 and became a member of the Massachusetts General Court. In 1784 Rufus was elected to represent Massachusetts at the Continental Congress. As a delegate to the Federal constitutional convention in Philadelphia, he served on a subcommittee that prepared the final draft of the U.S. Constitution. Rufus was a prominent opponent of the extension of slavery in the colonies.

Rufus King relocated to New York City two years after his 1786 marriage to Mary Alsop, daughter of wealthy New York merchant John Alsop. He became a member of the New York assembly and then was elected to the United States Senate, resigning in 1796 to become United States Minister to Great Britain. In 1804, he was an unsuccessful Federalist candidate for Vice President of the United States. Rufus again was elected to the United States Senate in 1813 and reelected in 1819. While serving in the senate, Rufus worked on the Missouri Compromise that permitted Maine to enter the Union as a free state. In 1816 he was an unsuccessful candidate for both Governor of New York and President of the United States. He served once again as United States Minister to Great Britain 1825-1826. With his health failing, Rufus returned to his home in New York where he died 26 April 1827.

Sources

Ernst, Robert. Rufus King: American Federalist. Williamsburg, VA: The University of North Carolina Press, 1968.

Moulton, Augustus. Grandfather Tales of Scarborough. Portland, ME: Katahdin Publishing Co., 1925.

William King
William King

Item Contributed by
Scarborough Historical Society & Museum

William King

William King, son of Richard King and Mary Black King, was born 9 February 1768 in Scarborough. When he was thirteen, William was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover for a term, but other than that experience he had little formal schooling. He was largely self-educated and a self-made man. After working first as an apprentice at a sawmill in Saco, William joined his sister Elizabeth and her husband Dr. Benjamin Porter in Topsham, where they opened a store and lumber and shipbuilding business. Beginning in 1795, he became active in local politics, representing Topsham in the Massachusetts General Court. William lived with the Porters in Topsham until 1800 when he married Ann Frazier of Boston and relocated to Bath. After the move to Bath, William represented that town in the Massachusetts General Court in 1804 and also served twice as state senator for Lincoln County.

When the War of 1812 broke out, William served as a major general in the militia in charge of the Maine district. Also, as a colonel in the United States Army, he led recruiting efforts for the regular army. During the war, he was particularly concerned with coastal shipping and defenses in the District of Maine. Noting the hardships Maine had suffered, he began a seven-year effort toward statehood that began with a petition to Massachusetts for separation. He realized his goal when Maine was recognized as a state on 15 March 1820. Elected the next month as the state’s first governor, William served until May 1821 when President Monroe named him as a special minister to negotiate a treaty with Spain. Three years later William returned home to private life. In spite of his limited schooling, he was a trustee of Waterville (now Colby) College, a trustee and overseer of Bowdoin College, principal owner of Maine’s first cotton mill in Brunswick, and a founder and president of Bath’s first bank. William died at home in Bath on 17 June 1852.

Sources

Moulton, Augustus. Grandfather Tales of Scarborough. Portland, ME: Katahdin Publishing Co., 1925.

Smith, Marion Jacques. General William King: Merchant, Shipbuilder and Maine’s First Governor. Camden, ME: Down East Books, 1908.

King Burial Ground
King Burial Ground

Item Contributed by
Scarborough Historical Society & Museum

Cyrus King

Born in Scarborough 16 September 1772, Cyrus King was the youngest son of Richard King and Mary Black. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover and graduated from Columbia College. Cyrus studied law and then served as private secretary to his half-brother Rufus when he was United States Minister to Great Britain in 1796. After completing his law studies in Biddeford, he was admitted to the bar in 1797 and began his practice in Saco. Cyrus served as major general of the Sixth Division, Massachusetts Militia; was one of the founders of Thornton Academy in Saco; and was elected representative to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses (4 March 1813 to 3 March 1817). He returned to Saco where he died 25 April 1817.

Source

Ernst, Robert. Rufus King: American Federalist. Williamsburg, VA: The University of North Carolina Press, 1968.