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Mark A. York Descendant of Major Reuben Colburn

Updated November 22, 2013

About Our Family Research


INTRODUCTION

It was like finding a priceless gem in the attic. When I searched my roots and found that a mere twenty miles from my hometown in the village of Pittston, Maine, stood the home of a man that was not only significant locally, but nationally: My great, great, great . . . grandfather, a local hero and a founding father of the State of Maine, Major Reuben Colburn. The Colburns were early immigrants to America first arriving in 1635 from London, England. In that year, young Edward Colburn settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and later founded the Town of Dracut on the Merrimack River. His great grandsons and their legacy are the guides on this American journey.

The home still sits on a hill above the Kennebec River where Reuben and his brothers Oliver and Benjamin erected the oak post and beam frame in 1765. That alone is amazing in this day and age. This family epic is one of the great American tales of all time. When Colonel Benedict Arnold arrived at the shipyard in the front yard of the house in September of 1775, history was in the making and they were at the forefront among those making it. The journey on the Arnold Trail had begun. It is uniquely, America's story.

Update July 06: The Desjardin book has been out for six months out and paints Colburn in a favorable, if still incomplete chronicle. There are two points of contention: The use of "Colburntown" from my genealogy, and the NHL draft on this page, and my thesis of "no dried lumber" for boat building in August of 1775. The only sources for the first are me and JW Hansen, neither cited in his book. Desjardin claims both are "common knowledge" in Maine, yet no one else has ever written of them but me. The Getchell treasure was amusing to read about. The idea no journalist on the expeditiion would have noticed carrying a barrel of gold coins to Quebec is hilarious. So is going back later to find it and pay for the farm.

12/2007

James Nelson cited my historic site paper in Benedict Arnold's Navy. The Edward Colburn garrison house in Dracut, MA, long since a part of Lowell, is an apartment building on Varnum Ave.

1/2011

I've dusted off my Colburn book, "Patriot On The Kennebec: Major Reuben Colburn, Benedict Arnold and The March To Quebec 1775" for submission to a small history press after getting excellent feedback from Lehigh University Press. It may happen after all.

8/23/2011

On the heels of a crushing rejection by Lehigh University Press, I sold my Colburn book to The History Press of Charleston, South Carolina. PATRIOT ON THE KENNEBEC: MAJOR REUBEN COLBURN, BENEDICT ARNOLD AND THE MARCH TO QUEBEC 1775 will be out in spring 2012 at long last. Book tour next summer.

3/18/12

Patriot is out! Link at the bottom.

 
Family Trees (viewing trees requires 4.0 or later browser)
 
Family Photos
  • Colburn House 1901 (117 KB)
    Photo taken by Justin Smith of Dartmouth in 1901. Smith visited with Bertha Colburn, her brother Richard and Wife Idell, residents of the home at that time. Major Colburn was her great, great grandfather. She died in 1941 and the home passed from the Colburn family for the first time since 1765.
  • Aireal Photograph-Colburn House in Pittston, ME (39 KB)
    The original home built by Major Reuben Colburn and his brothers Oliver, and Benjamin in 1765. Several generations of Maine Colburns were born and raised in the home. In 1775 Col. Benedict Arnold and the 1100 man Continental Army assembled in the yard for the mission to capture Quebec city. It is here that the bateaux were built in Colburn's shipyard. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places, and a Maine state historic site.
  • Parlor (22 KB)
    This Wainscot is in original condition.
  • Site of Colburn's Shipyard (74 KB)
    Reuben Colburn's shipyard was in operation from 1761 to the 1830s.
  • Arnold Bedroom (17 KB)
    The hand-planed fireplace in the NW upstairs bedroom where Arnold slept for two nights in 1775.
  • The Major Reuben Colburn House (48 KB)
    Overview of the home and shipyard site where the bateaux were built for the expedition to Quebec in 1775.
  • Arnold Expedition Historical Society H.Q. (62 KB)
    Colburn House is leased by AEHS in a partnership from the State of Maine since 1972. Tours are availble in July and August on weekends and by appointment at 207-582-7080.
  • Major's Wine Closet (23 KB)
    Location of the punch bowl where Arnold, the officers and Aaron Burr regaled themselves on Sept. 20-23, 1775.
  • Colburn House in Pittston, Maine (107 KB)
    Former condition of the west-facing wall of the home, clearly reveals the deteriorated conditions rapidly advancing under State of Maine ownership. Sill replacement was finally completed but further work has ceased due to a lack of original construction documentation.
  • Colonel Arnold (44 KB)
    Arnold in 1776.
  • Grave of Major Reuben Colburn 1740-1818 (74 KB)
    Grave of Major Colburn and his wife Elizabeth at Riverside Cemetery in Pittston, Maine down the street from his house.
  • Arnold's Letter to Colburn (288 KB)
    Original letter from the National Archives
  • Bateaux On The Dead River (236 KB)
    Sidney Adamson's depiction of the bateaux in the flood on the Dead River, still well afloat.
  • Adamson's Carrying The bateaux at Skowhegan Falls (107 KB)
    The difficult portage at Skowhegan. Colburn has been blamed for the "heavy" and "bad" construction of the bateaux ordered by Washington and Arnold. Colburn had just two weeks to fill the order including supplying maps, scouts and food for the 1100 man army. Green wood was used as there was no dried lumber to be found in September of 1775. Colburn was never paid for the bateaux and fought Congress for the money until his death in 1818, the family until 1856, when a resolution was passed, denying forever, payment of Revolutionary claims. The prominence of the claim and the Congress's assertion that its validity was "doubtful" is an alarming statement of arrogance from elected officials.
  • Washington's Orders to Colburn (286 KB)
    Original letter to Colburn from George Washington from the Reuben Colburn Papers at the National Archives of Congress.
  • Colburn House NRHP (75 KB)
    The Offical NPS Citation 2004
  • Sons Of Liberty (31 KB)
    Flags flown at Colburn's.
  • Orders to Colburn 1 (280 KB)
    Washington's Letter to Colburn ordering the Bateaux.
  • Navy Jack (4 KB)
    As shipbuilders and sailors this flag was flown on Colburn vessels.
  • Liberty (31 KB)
    Early in 1775 this flag adorned many liberty poles in New England.
  • Arnold's Letter 2 (262 KB)
    The remainder of Benedict Arnold's letter to Colburn 1775
  • Continental (2 KB)
    "Pine Tree" flag.
  • Arnold's Letter cont'd (277 KB)
    The second half of Benedict Arnold's inquiry to Colburn, written at Watertown, MA in August, 1775
 
Related Files
  • Petition To The NPS (7 KB)
    A petition to the National Park Service to make Colburn House a National Historic Landmark
  • NHL Nomination Form (248 KB)
    Document used for the National Register listing. NHL was denied.
  • My mother (7 KB)
    Norma Colburn York 1916-2013
 
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