Volume 27, No. 1 (2003)
Lost in the
by Larry Glatz
“Shadagee” section of Norway was later known as Noble’s Corner, shown
From Caldwell & Halfpenny, Atlas of Oxford County, Maine
Practically every county and town in America has its curiously named
Slab City, Goon Hollow or Songo Pond. But here in central Oxford
County, there are two neighborhoods in nearby towns which share the
same puzzling name of Shadagee.
The Shadagee section of Greenwood lies to the south of Locke Mills and
on the western shore of Twitchell Pond. At least as early as
which time the town’s original nine school districts had been formed,
the Shadagee designation was in common enough usage to have become
attached to District Number Eight school, which was located there.
Ten miles or so to the south of Greenwood’s Shadagee, the town of
Norway has a neighborhood which was once known by that same usual
In the fifty-eighth installment of his newspaper series, "Norway in the
Forties," Osgood Bradbury (1828-1897) tells how North Norway’s “Lower
Corner” (now known as Noble’s Corner) had once been known as
“Shatagee.” Although the North Norway designation is now entirely
forgotten, there are enough references to that name and place to
suggest that there was a time when all “Norwegians” would have known it
“Shadagee” and “Shatagee” are but two of the numerous spellings of the
neighborhoods thus known, but these and all others are phonetically the
same. It seems certain, therefore, that unless one of these
was named after the other, their names had the same original
However, even if one of the names was “original” and the other
“derivative,” the larger question remains. Where did the name
The “Shadagee” section of Greenwood just west of Twitchell Pond is
shown in the map above (center).
From Caldwell & Halfpenny, Atlas of Oxford County, Maine
The word "Shadagee," or a near homonyn, does not appear in any
dictionary I have
seen—not even a dictionary of slang or Americanisms. Although it
sound not unlike a kind of melding of Shadrach and Galilee, it has no
parents or close cousins in the Bible, as far as I can tell. Of
like so many other local geographical designations, the name might be
of Abenaki origin, but Bradbury’s observation that the usage arrived
quite late and replaced the very English “North Norway Lower Corner” as
the area’s name belies this notion. (Although through the
awareness of the tourist trade, more than one very English name has
lately disappeared from the map to be replaced by a “more authentic”
Abenaki one. The renaming of Canton’s Whitney Pond to Lake
Anasagunticook is one nearby example.)
For several years, therefore,
“Shatagee,” along with “Yagger,” “Paris
Cape” and a few others from here and there in Oxford County remained in
my file labeled “Neighborhood Names, Etymology Unknown.”
however, suggestive evidence accumulated—a scrap of information from
one town history, a cursory reference in a journal—enough perhaps to
support an educated guess as to the likely origin of Shatagee as a
place name in Greenwood and Norway. The story, as I have come to
believe, goes like this:
The events and combatants of both the Revolutionary War and the Civil
War received considerable attention in our local histories and lore,
while from the perspectives of most of our historians, the War of 1812
is often lost in the shadows of its two much more intimidating
relatives. However, amid the minutiae and scant local accounts of
war appear details which shed light on the naming of our two Shatagees.
It seems that most of the militia companies which were raised from the
towns of Oxford County were assigned either to the defense of Portland
or the northern front, from Burlington, Vermont, to Plattsburg, New
York, and vicinity. Among the latter soldiers were men of Bethel,
Buckfield, Woodstock, Norway, and Paris, serving in the 45th Regiment
Col. Denny McCobb.
In late October 1813, Col. McCobb’s regiment, under the overall command
of Gen. Wade Hampton, was involved in an action whose immediate purpose
was to secure a staging area on the St. Lawrence which would allow the
American forces a means of attacking Montreal. Hampton’s numbers
superior to those of the Canadians who opposed him, and his plan was to
advance at nighttime into battle position and attack at dawn.
Unfortunately, the American guides were inept, and the ground to be
traversed was a dense hemlock swamp. Various detachments became
and doubled back upon each other, causing their commanding officers to
believe that the enemy force was “everywhere.” The confusion was
exacerbated by the cleverness of the Canadian colonel, who sent buglers
out into various quarters of the woods to sound alarms. The
were baffled into a disorderly rout and were eventually forced to
retreat into winter quarters.
Although for obvious reasons the battle was not widely reported to the
American press, the Canadians hailed it as a great victory. All
it was one of the most ignominious American defeats of the War.
engagement, which would of course be long remembered by the men who
fought in it, was named for the dense forest in which it was fought; it
became known as the Battle of Chateauguay Woods. But the local
returned to Oxford County, being not particularly well schooled in
French (even though some of them were Parisians by birth), soon
corrupted the name to Shatagee or Shadagee.
Just a few citations from the local histories will serve to support
this etymology. In Lapham’s History
of Bethel it is reported that
Jonathan Bean “was killed in the Shadagee fight, war of 1812 (p.
The histories of Paris and Woodstock record the names of several men
who “were in the Army of Northern New York” and “were in the
engagements of Shadagee and Plattsburg” (Paris, p. 366; Woodstock, p.
112). Charles F. Whitman (1848-1932) tells how Joseph and John
had participated in “the battle of Shadagee Woods” and had died of
wounds received in that quarter. (History
of Buckfield, p. 90.) Moreover, a number of Norway men are
listed in Capt. Bailey Bodwell’s company , which served under Col.
McCobb at Chateauguay. (Lapham’s History
of Norway, p. 236).
In fact, in all of the accounts I have been able to find, the only
actions in which area men are said to have been involved during the War
of 1812 were the uneventful march to Portland and the remarkably
eventful battle of Chateauguay. It seems likely, therefore, that
the veterans returned, there would be some discussion of the defense of
the city, but there would be many vivid accounts of the pandemonium
which occurred in the hemlock swamps along the Canadian border.
of “Shadagee” and its dismal results would undoubtedly be everywhere in
the area towns.
Precisely how the name of that northern battle became affixed to the
two local neighborhoods will probably never be known, but some
reasonable assumption may be made.
Perhaps by 1814 or so, the two areas occupied the “frontier” territory
of the towns in which they were located, so those citizens of the more
settled areas may have referred to them in the same dismal terms as the
veterans were using to describe the New York/Canada frontier.
the name was first used jokingly by members of one area of the town to
make sport of the allegedly undeveloped nature of their neighbors’
lands. Or perhaps veterans settled in those particular locales,
then took on the name of the battle for which the new residents had
In any event, it seems that our local Shadagees got their names from
the unusual battle of Chateauguay Woods in which so many of the area
militiamen had served. Now, what about “Goon Hollow?”