Fort Frankfort/Shirley, 1754-1759

Fort Frankfort/Fort Shirley,PCH Picture
ME 129-001

The fortified settlement of Frankfort (Dresden) was built in 1752 and then upgraded by Gershom Flagg & Sons for the Kennebec Proprietors in 1754. It was renamed Fort Shirley and served as the first stop of the supply chain to Fort Halifax (Winslow) until 1759. It never saw action and was rarely garrisoned and then by only militia during its eight years of existence. It was in 1760 that most of the Fort buildings were torn down and used by the Kennebec Proprietors to construct a Court House. The Town of Frankfort was renamed Pownalborough, and with the Pownalborough Court House finished in 1761, it became the shire town of the newly incorporated Lincoln County.

Systematic archaeological investigation of Fort Shirley began in 1975, when Robert Bradley, a docent at Pownalborough Court House (After earning his Doctorate, Dr. Bradley became Assistant Director of the MHPC). This preliminary archaeological survey was to look for the southwest blockhouse but proved inconclusive. In 1984, Dr. Bradley’s work was followed up by Dr. James Leamon, Bates History Professor, during the Upper Kennebec Archaeological Survey sponsored by Old Fort Western and the MHPC. From 1985 until 2001, Dr. Leamon conducted yearly field schools of Fort Shirley with Bates students.

Ft Shirley Inset 2 - Copy  Johnston Map inset - Copy (2)
Excerpts from the Thomas Johnston Map of 1754 (Property of Massachusetts Archives)