How the Town of Old Orchard Beach Got Its Name.
The Abenaki tribe inhabited parts of Old Orchard Beach prior to a visit by a British explorer Martin Pring in 1603. Pring hailed from Bristol, England and at the age of 23 he was in search of North America’s commercial potential. He was the first white man known to walk the sands of the beach and interact with the Native Americans.
What started out as a harmonious relationship between the natives and the white man, quickly deteriorated into attacks on the native people. Pring and his crew would use mastiffs to keep the natives at bay. Pring and his crew returned to England and provided rich historical accounts of the Abenaki and this area of the Maine coast.
It was not until 1657 that the area was officially settled by a man named Thomas Rogers. Rogers and his family came from Salem, Mass in 1636 referring to the area as “the Garden by the Sea”. He established his home and planted an apple orchard near Goosefare Brook which sat on high land above the long sandy beach. For sailors, it became a beacon of land referred to as “The Orchard”. In 1675 the Abenaki tribe, attacked and burned Roger’s homestead. The Rogers family fled to Kittery and never returned.
The “Old Orchard” sat deserted for the next 42 years, when sometime around 1722 a man named Patrick Goggins arrives with his wife Mary Rogers, Granddaughter of Thomas Rogers. Patrick Goggins came to the New World from Ireland. He was a woolen weaver by trade.
The couple were given the 200-acre estate in Old Orchard which used to sit on what is now Ocean Park. They remained there until he died in 1784 at the age of 84, had six sons and 1 daughter.
The apple orchard planted by Thomas Rogers still had standing trees 100 years later. The name “Old Orchard” stuck and in 1929 the word “Beach” was added to the town name.