Shapleigh's Villages

Shapleigh Corner, the most central village is the seat of town government and contains a fine wooden town-house, a church, high school, common school and twenty-four dwellings. A thriving trade is conducted with the surrounding country, The business consists of the general store and custom shoe-shop of Thomas Ricker, established in 1865; store of Charles M. Abbott, established by Elisha Bodwell, who was a prominent citizen, and held the office of town clerk here as early as 1837. Mr. Abbott became the proprietor in 1878 and is the present postmaster. Mails are received by Springvale and North Shapleigh stage. Daniel Newbegin opened a blacksmith shop here in 1876.

Emery Mills received its name from the mill erected by Simon Emery, a few rods below the church, previous to any other improvement or permanent occupation of lands in the town. The place contains eighteen dwellings and a church. The business consists of the saw-mill and general wood-working machinery of Edmund Goodwin, on the site of the old mill; clothing manufactory of H.S. and C.W. Merrifield, established by Hosea S. Merrifield in 1873, and employing six to eight operatives in the shop; the stores of H.S. and C.W. Merrifield, opened in 1875, and John Hemingway, opened in 1878. J. Hubbard, Esq., was a merchant here for many years previous. John Hemingway is postmaster.

North Shapleigh, formerly known as Shapleigh Iron Works or Twombly's Mills, is located in the northern part of the town on the Little Ossipee River, which is the line between Shapleigh and Newfield. It contains within a church, a school, and general store with a post office. A bed of iron was discovered about a half mile up the river on the Shapleigh side. In 1836 a blast furnace was erected by Huse & Company. The ore yielded about 40 percent iron, but the bed was small and the operation closed down after about 6 years.

A box shop and a hat manufactory later took over the buildings and water power.There were three water powers in the length of the village. The first, with a fall of 11 feet, was the Twombly privilege and 50 rods below that was the Leather Board Factory with a fall of 18 feet. Up the river in Newfield, Balch Pond was the headwaters of the Little Ossipee River with a flowage of 1600 acres and a fall of 10 feet.

Hargraves Woolen Mill was established in 1844 by John Hargraves as a custom carding and woolen mill and afterwards for the manufacture of blue blouse flannels, (possibly Civil War uniforms) and cashmere. They also made something called plaid back for shoe overtops. The mill was later enlarged by John Hargrave's son, Edward, to four sets of 1600 spindles and employed from 60-75 operatives. The Mill closed in 1904 and was torn down in 1928.

Ross Corner was a busy little community. The roads were lined with beautiful shade trees. Most of the houses were painted white or yellow, and many had long porches. The square was a beehive of activity. There were two stores, a post office, two blacksmith shops, a church, a butcher shop, an ice house, a corn house, a hide barn and an old home that had originally been a stagecoach inn.

In the summer the general store was a collection center for blueberries. Fifty bushels of berries were crated there during the evening and prepared for shipment. In the morning, the berries were sent by horse and wagon, six miles to Waterboro. They were shipped by rail to Faneuil Hall in Boston, in care of the W.L. Lawrence market where a Shapleigh native named George Mann ran a stall. If families were able to pick enough berries to earn $100, they were financially set for the winter. The price of berries was ten cents a quart.

The General Store was later converted to the "Ross Corner Dance Hall" which was run for years by Mr. & Mrs. James Bradburn.