There are many towns in the State of Maine of historical interest by reason of the fame of the first purchasers or proprietors, of the original townships, and none more so than the town of Orneville in the County of
Piscataquis. The first owner of the township was General John Parker Boyd, who also owned a part of what is now the town of Medford
(Medway?). The settlement was first called Boyd's Plantation. He was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, December 21, 1764, and died in Boston, October 4. 1830, and was the son of James and Susannah Boyd. James was a native of Scotland, and his wife was a sister of Reverend Paul Coffin of Newburyport, who was a descendant from Tristram Coffin, the first of the name, who came to this country. John, with his two brothers, Robert and Joseph, were when boys placed in stores in Boston and learned mercantile life. Robert and Joseph and their brother, Ebenezer L. Boyd,' settled in Portland, Maine, in 1774, and were extensive traders there for many years and became prominent in the affairs of that city.
The life of a merchant, did not, however, appeal to John Parker as he was possessed of a spirit of adventure and a strong desire for military life. He entered the American Navy in 1786 as ensign in the second regiment. In 1789 he went to India and engaged in a kind of guerilla
service under and by authority of the English government, and gained considerable renown in the wars in India at that time. In a letter to his father from Madras, in June, 1790, he says, "Having procured letters recommendatory to the English consul residing at the Court of his Highness, the Nizam, I proceeded to his capital, Hydrabad, 450 miles from Madras. On my arrival I was presented to his Highness in form by the English consul. "My reception was as favorable as my most sanguine wishes had anticipated. After the usual ceremony was over, he presented me with the command of two kansolars of infantry, each of which consists of 500 men." The English evidently had confidence in his bravery and ability as a military officer as he commanded alone, at one time, more than ten thousand men.
He returned to his home in Boston in 1808 and immediately upon his return, October 7, 1808, was appointed Colonel of the Fourth Infantry and Brigadier General, August 26, 1812, and honorably discharged June 15, 1815. He was at the capture of Fort George and in the engagement at Williamsburg in Canada.
In 1816, he went to England to obtain indemnity for the loss of a valuable cargo of saltpetre, captured by an English cruiser while on its way to the East Indies. In this venture he sustained a considerable loss as he only recovered one installment of thirty thousand dollars, estimated to be less than one-half its value. President Jackson appointed him Naval Officer at Boston in 1830, only a few months before his death.
General Boyd's ancestors being Scotch it is evident that be inherited a love for Scottish history and tradition as he caused what is now the town of Medford
(Medway?) to be known and called by that beautiful and poetic Scotch name of Kilmarnock. This town adopted this name when incorporated January 31, 1824, and
retained it until by an act of the Legislature in 1856 it was changed to the present name of Medford
(Medway?). What could have induced the people of this town to desire this change is incomprehensible. Kilmarnock in Scotland is the largest town in the county of Ayr, which county gave birth to one of the sweetest of earth's singers, Bobby Burns. Its very name is an inspiration from that
land of poetry and romance and it was lamentable that it should ever have been cbanged for the present prosaic Dame of Medford, which is suggestive only of a New England town that once
produced what our fathers loved perhaps rather better than we do and which was undoubtedly a most excellent quality of rum. General Boyd became the owner of the lands above referred to in 1805 and prior to his return from India and England, but there is no evidence extant today that he ever resided there, although it is known that he paid frequent visits to Boyd's Plantation. General Boyd derived his title to Orneville as follows:
On the fourth day of September, 1805, John Read and Wm. Smith, agents for the General Court of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, under a resolve passed by the General Court, March 15, 1805, conveyed by deed to John Parker Boyd of Boston in the county of Suffolk in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in
consideration of six thousand, two hundred and eleven dollars and sixty-nine cents, (balance then due) paid by John Parker Boyd under assignment of John Peck, who was assignee of Calvin Austin, "a township of land six miles square lying in the county of Hancock, said township being number one in the sixth range of townships on the west side of the Penobscot river and north of the Waldo Patent and the same conveyed by Ephraim Ballard and Samuel Weston in the year 1792. " This deed was recorded in the Hancock Registry of Deeds office, May 21, 1836, Book 30. Page 435. By this deed it appears that the original contract for the sale of this land to John Peck was made November 12, 1793.
On the twenty-seventh day of March, 1816, William Smith, acting as agent for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, conveyed to John Parker Boyd "a half township of land lying in the County of
Penobscot, being the one half of a township six miles square called number two in the seventh range of townships north of the Waldo Patent as the same was surveyed by Samuel Weston in the month of November, 1794," this being what is now the town of Medford.
Lossing's History of the War of 1812 quotes William Willis,
who was an intimate friend of General Boyd, as saying that he was " a tall, well formed, and handsome man; kind, courteous and generous."
I find no evidence that General Boyd was ever married. In 1820 only two persons are returned as residing on what was known as Boyd's Plantation. This town was incorporated as the town of Milton in 1832, changed to Almond in 1841, and to Orneville in 1843, in honor of Judge Henry Orne. who had married Frances Boyd Little, a niece of General Boyd. The Boyd land interests in that town having passed into his possession he moved there and made it his permanent home in 1841.