The area was set off from Canaan and incorporated on February 5, 1823 under the name Milburn. The Dudley’s Corner School House, on U.S. Route 2 east of the main village, was the municipal center in the early 19th century. The first officials of the town were as follows: Moderator, Joseph Patten; Town Clerk, Samuel Weston; Selectmen, Benjamin Eaton, Joseph Merrill, Samuel Weston, and Josiah Parlin. However, inhabitants preferred the old name of Skowhegan, as it would be renamed in 1836. In 1861, the town annexed Bloomfield across the river. Parts of Norridgewock were annexed in 1828 and 1856, and parts of Cornville in 1831 and 1833. The defunct town of Bloomfield (set off from Canaan and incorporated in 1814) was annexed in 1861. Part of Fairfield had been annexed to Bloomfield in 1858. Skowhegan became county seat in 1871.
Local Industry and Commerce
Farms produced hay, potatoes, wheat and wool. In 1818, the Skowhegan Fair was organized by the Somerset Central Agricultural Society, with the first fair held in 1819. The Somerset and Kennebec Railroad (later part of the Maine Central Railroad) reached the town in 1856. Skowhegan Falls provided water power for industry, and Skowhegan developed into a mill town. Numerous mills were built on Skowhegan Island, which separates the river into north and south channels. In the 19th century, the town had a paper mill, sawmill, two sash and blind factories, two flour mills, a wood pulp mill, three planing mills, a woolen mill, an oil cloth factory, two axe factories, a scythe factory, two harness and saddlery factories, a shoe factory and a foundry. A survey of labor organizations in 1903 noted the presence of the Bricklayers, Masons and Plasterers’ Union; Carpenters and Joiners’ Union; Laborers’ Protective Union; and Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers. No mention of textile workers or shoemakers unions. However, by 1907 textile workers had joined the Industrial Workers of the World and declared a strike against the Marston Mills Company, saying that they needed a wage increase to ”live rather than merely exist”. The strike ended in victory for the workers, with every demand being met, including the reinstatement of forty-two workers who had been fired for union activity.