Skip Navigation

Special Collections: Guide to Edwin A. Churchill Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves

Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department

June 2004

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: Edwin A. Churchill Papers.

Dates of the Collection: 1987-2000 (inclusive); 1999-2000 (bulk).

Provenance: The Churchill papers were a gift from Mr. Churchill in 2001.

Collection Number: MS 777.

Box Numbers: 1-4 (formerly new accession 2001-0719b).

Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of four document boxes of material (3 cubic feet).

Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.

Preferred Citation: Edwin A. Churchill Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.

Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.


The collection contains legal documents and research material compiled and collected by Edwin A. Churchill in his work as an expert witness in two land use cases in Wells, Maine, in 1988 and 1999, and in the boundary issue case between New Hampshire and Maine in 2000.

Edwin Churchill is the Chief Curator at the Maine State Museum in Augusta. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maine in 1979, has taught American and European history at several institutions in Maine, and is the author of numerous books and articles on Maine history. His areas of expertise include Maine and northeastern American history, with emphasis on the colonial period, and Maine material culture.

He is a two-time recipient of the Maine Historical Society’s James P. Baxter Award for best journal articles published and received the Neil Allen Award from the Society for outstanding contributions in the fields of Maine history and genealogy.

In 1987 he spent most of a year consulting with the office of the Maine Attorney General in preparation for the so-called Moody Beach lawsuit (Edward B. Bell et al. (plaintiffs) v. Town of Wells et al. (defendants), Supreme Judicial Court of Maine). In this case, fifty plaintiffs living in the area known as Moody Beach brought suit against the town, saying that increased use by the public of their oceanfront property had become unreasonable and overburdensome after the secession of Ogunquit from Wells in 1979. The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the title to their property allowed only the public rights of fishing, fowling and navigation in the intertidal zone. The Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs that public easement for these uses did not include public recreational use and that no public easement by local custom had been proven to exist at Moody Beach.

In 1999, Churchill was active in another land use case in the town of Wells, (Lisle Eaton et al. (plaintiffs) v. Inhabitants of the town of Wells (defendant), Supreme Judicial Court of Maine). At issue was the public’s right to use Wells Beach for a broad range of recreational purposes on both dry sand and in the intertidal zone. Churchill conducted research into the history and usage of Wells Beach, working with the firm of Bergen & Parkinson of Kennebunk, which represented the town of Wells. Churchill stated in a deposition (Sept. 1, 1999) that there was no doubt, in his opinion, that Wells Beach had been used openly and continuously since the 1600’s by the general public for various activities including transportation and access, recreation and harvesting natural resources. The Court ruled in 2000 that the town and public had a right to use Wells beach by way of an easement by prescription.

In 2000, Churchill was involved in research for the case of State of New Hampshire v. State of Maine. In this case, the State of New Hampshire asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle a controversy over the location of the common boundary between the two states in the inner portion of Portsmouth harbor, asserting that its boundary encompassed the islands on which Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is situated. The dispute resulted in part from Maine’s implementation of a state income tax in 1969; residents of New Hampshire working at the Shipyard protested having their income taxed by the state of Maine. Maine asserted that both New Hampshire and Maine had already confirmed a mid-channel boundary, which had been supported in an earlier Supreme Court case (New Hampshire v. Maine, 434 U.S. 1, 1977). In a ruling in 2001, the Court ruled unanimously in Maine’s favor, and the border between the two states remained the same.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains materials gathered by Edwin Churchill in his work as an expert witness for the state of Maine in three court cases. It is arranged chronologically by case. The arrangement and folder headings are those used by Mr. Churchill.

The papers prepared for the Moody Beach case include briefs and the court decision, notes, an index to exhibits entered by the state of Maine, and Churchill’s proposed testimony at the trial.

The papers generated for the Wells Beach case are the largest section of the collection. They are arranged in the following order: administrative, notes, articles, and documents. Most of the material consists of photocopies of legal documents, local histories, and town records, etc. consulted by Mr. Churchill. His work included detailed research through published volumes of York deeds, Maine Province and Court Records, Wells town records, Massachusetts and Maine Acts and Resolves, diaries, maps, and photographs.

The section of material gathered from his work in the case of New Hampshire v. Maine contains notes on research plus court documents issued in the case.

Box List

Box 1


Papers from the Moody Beach case

1                      Edward B. Bell v. Town of Wells. Brief of appellees, Jan. 6, 1986

2                      Bell v. Wells. Superior Court. Trial brief of state and town defendants, July 13, 1987

3                      Bell v. Wells. Appendix to trial brief of state and town defendants, July 13, 1987

4                      Bell v. Wells. Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Brief of appellants, Apr. 6, 1988

5                      Moody Beach: notes, etc.

6-7                   Moody Beach: memos, decisions, etc.

8                      Moody Beach: Broderick

9                      Moody Beach: index of def. Exhibits

10                    Moody Beach: misc.

11                    Moody Beach: Supreme Judicial Court

12                    Moody Beach: proposed testimony of E. Churchill

Papers from the Wells Beach case

13                    Wells Beach (decision), Oct. 20, 2000, Maine Supreme Court

14-15               Wells Beach title report, Jan. 31, 1997, prepared by Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson

16                    Deeds (uncollected)

Box 2

1-2                   Eaton v. Town of Wells. Deed index, May 28, 1999, Vols. 1 & 2

3                      Admin.

4                      Admin.: participants (Wells Beach case)

5                      Admin.: meetings, notes

6                      Admin.: deposition (Ed Churchill), July 9, 1999

7                      Admin.: affidavit (Ed Churchill), Sept. 1, 1999

8                      Trial, Aug. 5-10, 1999

9                      Judicial decision, Wells Beach

10                    Notes: Bourne, History of Wells and Kennebunk

11                    Notes: character of people (heterogeneous)

12                    Notes: fishing

13                    Notes: use of beach, general

14                    Notes: fowling/hunting

15                    Notes: livestock on beac

Box 2 cont.


16                    Notes: recreation

17                    Notes: trespass

18                    Baker, “Defense of title, town of Wells”

19                    Churchill, “Who owned Wells Beach, 1646-1841”

20                    Cohen, Ted, “Payment sought over beach damage,” PPH, 1-7-97

21                    Cohen, Ted, “Who owns Wells Beach?” [PPH?], 1/6/97

22                    Collins, Rachel, “Line drawn in sand over Maine beach,” Boston Sunday Globe, Jan. 26, 1997

23                    Daniels, “Puritans at play” (1995)

24                    Genealogy, Littlefield, notes/reports

25                    Genealogy, Storer, notes/report

26                    Introduction, York deeds, Vol. I

27                    Jacobson, Heather A. “Historical development of the saltmarsh at Wells, Me.”

28                    Land title, Churchill, “Too great the challenge” (excerpts)

29                    Land title, Wells deeds

30                    Land titles, Me. Crt. (MPCR 2:36-7) 1655

31                    Land titles, Moody, Peter, “Observations on Wells Beach ownership”

32                    Land titles, Moody, Robert, “Maine frontier” (excerpts)

33                    Land titles, Reid, John, “Acadia, Maine and New Scotland”

34                    Land titles, notes

35                    Land title, notes, Eaton side

36                    “Low water mark, high water mark,” Maine law affecting marine resources, Vol. II

37                    Luce, Mary, “The Martin cottage”

Box 3

1                      Mende, Christopher H. “Eaton et al. v. Inhabitants of Wells et al.”

2                      Mende, Christopher. “Findings, observations and conclusions w/ regard to ancient deeds”

3                      Notes: resources

4                      Notes: travel on beach

5                      Doc.: Act concerning access to beach, 1636, Dorchester, #35

6                      Doc.: Acts concerning roads in Wells (PCRM)

7                      Doc.: Acts concerning roads in Wells (County Co. of Pleas)

8                      Doc.: Acts concerning roads in Wells (Wells town recs.)

9                      Doc.: Act concerning seawall (Wells), sand beach

10                    Doc.: Act concerning town land titles, 1649, #50, 51

11                    Doc. Act concerning town land titles, Ipswich and Gloucester 1669), #57

Box 3 cont.


12                    Doc.: Act for observance of Sabbath, 1653

13                    Doc.: Act for observance of Sabbath, 1692

14                    Doc.: Act against [misbehavior] on the Sabbath, 1711-12

15                    Doc.: Act for observing Sabbath, 1727

16                    Doc.: Act regarding gathering beach resources, Me., 1820

17                    Doc.: Act regarding livestock on the beach, 1757 (Wells)

18                    Doc.: Act regarding livestock on the beach, 1827 (Wells)

19                    Doc.: Act regarding trespass, 1646, Salem

20                    Doc.: Act regarding trespass (1652), Me.

21                    Doc.: Act regarding trespass, 1666 (Me.), unruly animals

22                    Doc.: Act regarding trespass (Me.), 1680, horses to be branded

23                    Doc.: Ancient history of Kennebunk

24                    Doc.: Beach scenes (Wells), ca. 1900?

25                    Doc.: Biddeford town recs., excerpts

26                    Doc.: Business directory of subscribers to a new map of Maine, ca. 1862

27                    Doc.: Diary-Bates, Anna

28                    Doc.: Diary-Grey, Joshua

29                    Doc.: Diaries-Walker family

30                    Doc.: Donnell versus Clark

31                    Doc.: Drake, Nooks and corners

32                    Doc.: Eaton deeds (related)

33                    Doc.: Epps vs. Hall, Littlefield, etc., Apr., 1720

34                    Doc.: Football, 1657-8, Windsor, Memorial history of Boston

35                    Doc.: Football, 1687 (Ipswich) in Waters, Ipswich in Mass. Bay Colony

36                    Doc.: Fowling and hunting, MPCR

37                    Doc.: Fowl (accidental shooting in marsh near Kittery, 1646/7)

38                    Doc.: Frost. Art of swimming

39                    Doc.: Hubbard and Greenleaf, Acct. of Wells

40                    Doc.: Illegal recreation, Me.

41                    Doc.: Illegal rec. on Sabbath, Me.

42                    Doc.: Indian deed (Capt. Sandy)

43                    Doc.: Jordan. History of Cape Elizabeth

44                    Doc.: Josselyn. New England’s rarities discovered; fowling, 63

45                    Doc.: Josselyn. Travels

46                    Doc.: Littlefield suit

47                    Doc.: Livestock on beach

48                    Doc.: Maps

49                    Doc.: Marsh land deeds

50                    Doc.: Marshes in Wells

51                    Doc.: Mass. acquisition of Wells, terms (1653); 3 Mass. Bay Recs., 332-340

Box 3 cont.


52                    Doc.: Petition, Fellows, Mary, 1753

53                    Doc.: Recreation on beach

54                    Doc.: Resources

55                    Doc.: Roads

56                    Doc.: Sea wall

57                    Doc.: Sewall, David. Topographical description of York

58                    Doc.: Sproul, Alice. Wells Beach legislation

59                    Doc.: State sells Ogunquit Beach, newspaper, Jan. 23, 1889

60                    Doc.: Trelawny papers, 1634

61                    Doc.: Wells, topographical description, 1794

62-63               Doc.: Wells town records

64                    Doc.: Willis, Wm. Journals of Smith & Deane

Box 4

1                      Doc.: Wheelwright property

2                      Doc.: Wills and inventories

3                      Doc.: Copies of early wills and inventories

4                      Doc.: Wood, William. New Englands prospect (swine on beach/fowling)

Papers from the case of New Hampshire v. Maine

5-6                   Me. – NH

7                      Me. Border, Att. Gen.

8                      State of N.H. v. State of Maine. Motion for leave to file complaint, Mar. 6, 2000 (U.S. Supreme Court)

9                      Lodging in support of motion for leave to file complaint

10                    Brief in opposition to motion for leave to file complaint (state of Maine)

11                    Lodging in support of brief in opposition to motion for leave to file complaint (state of Maine)

12                    Plaintiff’s reply to defendant’s brief in opposition to motion for leave to file complaint (state of N.H.)

13                    Letter from commissioners for settling boundary lines between Provinces of Mass. Bay
                        and New Hampshire, 1737 (copy)

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

Return to top level page

Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/17/2015
5729 Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
Phone: 207-581-1661 | Fax: 207-581-1653
© Copyright 2000-2015
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469