Maine: An Encyclopedia


Location Map for Exeter

Location Map for Exeter

Year Population
1970 663
1980 823
1990 937
2000 997
2010 1,092
Exeter Population Chart 1820-2010

Population Trend 1820-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:57:59
W. Latitude 69:08:29
Maine House District 104
Maine Senate District 10
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 38.4
Area sq. mi. (land) 38.4
Population/sq.mi. (land) 28.4
County: Penobscot

Total=land+water; Land=land only

sign: "Welcome to Exeter" (2014)[EX-et-er] is a town in Penobscot County, incorporated on February 16, 1811 from township T3 R4 NWP.

The township was granted to Marblehead Academy in 1793 and was settled beginning in 1801. The boundaries were surveyed by Ephraim Ballard and Samuel Weston. Dr. John Blaisdell was an early proprietor and developer and the area was known as Blaisdelltown before the town was incorporated. The new name reflected the fact that some settlers had come from Exeter, New Hampshire.

In the mid-19th century the streams supported three sawmills, several shingle mills and four grist mills. Exeter Mills is a small village where Allen Stream runs near the corner of Mills Road and Between the Mills Road, names that recall the early history of the area.

Allen Stream at Exeter Mills (2014)

Allen Stream (2014) @

Houses and Bridge over Allen Stream at Exeter Mills (2014)

Houses and Bridge over Allen Stream at Exeter Mills (2014) @

The first school was established in 1804, and by 1886 the town had thirteen public schoolhouses.  The population in 1880 was 1,274.

According to the town’s 2011 Comprehensive Plan,

The Town was divided into school districts and as soon as there were 20 children between 4 and 21 years of age, a school would be built. The first public school was taught in the summer of 1811 in District One by Miss Susan Prescott in a log house on the James Brown place. Exeter High School was incorporated in 1838; a large building was erected for this purpose, which still stands.

The Exeter Town House was erected in 1843; previously Town Meetings had been held at private residences or school houses.
. . . .
Perhaps a series of bad fires beginning in the late 1800s and lasting into the early 1900s contributed to a declining sense of community in Exeter. In 1896 the Methodist Church burned down. In 1899, the Exeter House Hotel burned, destroying stables and a large set of adjoining buildings as well. A mainstay home, the George S. Hill place and the John Walker store was also destroyed. In the next few years a number of homes of prosperous citizens of the town were destroyed.

The Exeter Fair opened in 1867 during the peak years of the Town. A race track and grandstand were constructed on the Exeter Road (Routes 11/43). Horse racing drew participants from New England and spectators from central and eastern Maine. The fair closed during World War II and was not sustainable thereafter.

While no single village stands out as a population center, Exeter Center has many of the traditional elements of a main village.

Exeter Town Office (2014)

Exeter Town Office at Exeter Center
(2014) @

Town of Exeter Municipal Office Building and Post Office at Exeter Center (2014)

Town of Exeter Municipal Office Building and Post Office at Exeter Center (2014) @

Cornerstone Baptist Church at Exeter Center (2014)

Baptist Church in Exeter Center (2014)@

Veterans Memorial at Exeter Center (2014)

Veterans Memorial at Exeter Center (2014) @

The local economy depends on agriculture and other natural resource based industries, as confirmed on the “Welcome” sign:  “The Agricultural Center of Penobscot County.”

Since the 1990s, agricultural businesses have expanded and thrived. The largest dairy farm experienced a 400% increase in milk cows. Potato farms have increased their yields.

Crop Storage Facilities at Exeter Corners (2014)

Crop Storage Facilities at Exeter Corners (2014) @

Cropland at Exeter Corners (2014)

Cropland at Exeter Corners (2014) @

Crop Spray Irrigation at Exeter Corners (2014)

Crop Spray Irrigation at Exeter Corners (2014) @

Barns at Exeter Center (2014)

Barns at Exeter Center (2014) @

Farm in Exeter on Avenue Rd Ext (2014)

Farm in Exeter on Avenue Rd Ext (2014) @

Uncharacteristic for most Maine towns, Exeter has neither a lake, pond or mountain of note.  However, it does have a number of small villages: Exeter Center, Exeter Corners, Exeter Mills, East Exeter, French Mill (through which French Stream flows), South Exeter and Stubbs Corner.

"The Exeter Store" at Exeter Corners (2014)

“The Exeter Store” at Exeter Corners (2014) @

Crawford Memorial Park near Exeter Center (2014

Crawford Memorial Park near Exeter Center (2014) @

Old Auto Garage in East Exeter (2014)

Old Auto Garage in East Exeter (2014) @

Masonic Temple at Exeter Corners (2014)

Masonic Temple at Exeter Corners (2014) @

Maine combined Routes 11 and 43 zigs and zags in a generally east-west direction through the town, serving Exeter Corner, Exeter Center and Stubbs Corner.

Exeter is also a bedroom community for the Bangor area and is dependent on the vitality of service center businesses there.

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Select Board-Manager.

Additional resources

Abbee, M. C., Mrs. Military History of Exeter. 1943

Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns.

Exeter, Town of. 2011 Comprehensive Plan. (accessed March 11, 2014)

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This entry was last modified: November 24, 2014 09:05 PM

2 Responses to Exeter

  1. Cheryl Degner says:

    My fourth great grandfather Luther Cleveland Bachelder was a potter in Exeter from 1830 to 1847. His wife was Jane Polly Whittemore who died at age 28 …she is buried in Crowell Cemetery. She died in 1832. Luther appears in taxation records…his pottery of hedgehog kiln, horse to clean the clay. There is a jar that Luther signed with his name and date Oct 28, 1837. Recently sold for Abt $7000 . Why he signed this utilitarian object is unknown.
    In 1840 three sons were listed….Calvin, Carlton, and Cleveland were born in New Hampshire. There is a mystery boy listed in the 10 year old group. Could this be a child of Luther and Polly? I believe she died in childbirth.
    Isaac Lord, Jr of Methodist Church presided at Jane Polly death.
    Is there any record that shows who this mystery child was?

    Or where Luther’s pottery was located.
    Also Luther was an Exeter Minute man in Aroostook war.
    Is there a cost for research?
    Thank you

    • Jim says:

      Thanks for your insights into the history of Exeter and its people.
      The Encyclopedia does not conduct genealogical or other private research. Contact the Maine State Archives for family history resources. In the Encyclopedia, under the “History” category at the top of any page click on “Primary Sources” for more about the Archives and contact information.

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