Text Box: A Brief History of Sunday River
Benjamin Barker, his Family and later
Text Box:

The Joe Spinney place, one of the oldest surviving homes on the river in 1945.  It was the first house on the right as one crossed the Bethel/Newry town line going up the Sunday River road. It was torn down in 1947.


 It is quite likely that this house stood on the ground were in 1781, the Benjamin Barker family were attacked and their house plundered by a small raiding party of Indians from Canada. Photo taken, 1935.


Since the Barker’s had been here for less than a year at the time of the Indian raid, they were probably living in a log house



Home of Charles and Beth Bean stands approximately where the old house to the left stood.  The red building to left rear was once the mill office for Bryant’s Mill—it was moved to this location about 1939/1940.

Most of the photos of early Riley and Newry were published in 1977 in “Sunday River Sketches” by Martha Fifield Wilkins and edited by Randall Bennett.

Rectangular Callout: Bethel/Newry town line
Rectangular Callout: Site of old Joe Spinney house


Benjamin Barker and his family traveled from Methuen, Mass to settle on the first lot north of the Bethel-Newry town line on the Sunday River.  They are supposed to have arrived in September 1780.  Their first house almost had to be a log house that would have continued to be their home until sawmills were built along Sunday River some years later. 


In August 1781, the Barkers had the misfortune of being attacked by a small raiding party of Indians from the St. Francis Indian village in Canada.  Although the family was terrified, plundered of some precious family heirlooms, they were fortunate to escape any serious harm.


In Newry’s industrial history,  Benjamin Barker’s contribution to the Sunday River part of town was making bricks.  His brick yard was started across the road from his house. It was carried on by the Burbank family that followed the Barkers.


When Newry was incorporated as a town in 1805, the first town meeting was held at the Barker’s house. By then sawmills on Sunday River had  been  built and the  Barkers probably had built a frame house to replace the log home.  Below is a photo from Sunday River Sketches of the Joe Spinney home on what was originally the  Benjamin Barkers property.  It is possible that the house in the photo was also the  Barker home—it was thought to be the oldest house on Sunday River.  There is no mention found in the existing town histories that the house in question replaced one or that an earlier home had burned.