Lincoln County News | Newcastle, ME
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 140 Issue 30

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8/14/2013 2:00:00 PM
Where Did The Name 'Taniscot' Come From?

To the Editor:

I was interested in reading the Letter to the Editor from Otis Page of California on the names of Damariscove Island and the Damariscotta River. ("How did these names come to be?" LCN, 8/8/13, Page 4) I remember Otis. We called him Poppy at Lincoln Academy. I was in the class of 1947 and he was in the class of 1949.

I am pleased that he is still interested in this area even though he lives far away.

As a Newcastle historian, I am not familiar with Damariscove Island. "The Dictionary of Maine Place-Names," by Phillip R. Rutherford gives Damariscove Island as "a shortened form of Damarill Cove, named for Humphrey Damarill, seaman resident about 1614."

However, I am quite familiar with the name Damariscotta as it refers to the river and other places here in Lincoln County. I believe the name Damariscotta comes from the word Tamiscot. As you may know, the Newcastle Fire Company named its historic pumper "Taniscot" and our Historical Society Museum is in the Taniscot Engine House.

Somewhere along the way the "m" became "n."

I would like to quote from my article in The Lincoln County News, dated Nov. 11, 2004. This article is also on page 182 in my recent book, "History Tales of Newcastle, Maine."

"And where did the name 'Taniscot' come from? No one knows for sure. However, Dr. John Johnston in his "A History of Bristol and Bremen," first published in 1873, on page 3 writes, 'Damariscotta river, the Tamiscot of Heylin, in 1645.' Peter Heylin is recorded to have drawn 'A new Plaine and Exact map of the north Part of America.' He named what we call the Damariscotta River, the Tamiscot River."

"Fannie Hardy Eckstrom, in her 'Indian Place-Names of the Penobscot Valley and the Maine Coast,' and John C. Huden, in his 'Indian Place Names of New England,' both give Tamescot as another name for Damariscotta. Huden adds, 'Tamescot, Lincoln County, Me. Abnaki, Alewife place'

"Author Elizabeth Coatsworth had drawn the same conclusion. In her 'Country Neighborhood,' written in 1944, she uses 'Taniscot Pond,' 'Taniscot Fair,' and tells about the bad fire in the village. She writes, 'Taniscot itself nearly burned down.' Spell it Tamescot, Tamiscot or Taniscot, it all seems to be where the Taniscot Engine Company got its name.

"As we know, the Indians had no written language and it would be very easy to hear and spell the word several different ways. Damariscot - Tamiscot."

I would be glad to get any reaction to my understanding of the name and any further information one might have on the words.

Arlene McCurda Cole

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