Jan. 13, 1629: Pilgrims obtain a land patent along the Kennebec River, authorizing them to trade with local indigenous people.

According to historian William D. Williamson, the patent, later called the Kennebec Patent or Plymouth Patent, “was intended as an express favor to her trade and fishery, and the propagation of religion.”

The land grant consists of about 1.5 million acres stretching 15 miles on either side of the Kennebec River and ranging from present-day Woolwich in the south to the Cornville area in Somerset County in the north.

It also grants the patent holders the right of passage to the open sea. They are entitled to establish trading stations at what later become Fort Popham, the landing in Richmond, and Cushnoc – today’s city of Augusta.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society.

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