Skip to main content

Edwin A. Churchill Papers

Identifier: SpC MS 0777

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials gathered by Edwin Churchill in his work as an expert witness for the state of Maine in three court cases. It is arranged chronologically by case. The arrangement and folder headings are those used by Mr. Churchill.

The papers prepared for the Moody Beach case include briefs and the court decision, notes, an index to exhibits entered by the state of Maine, and Churchill's proposed testimony at the trial.

The papers generated for the Wells Beach case are the largest section of the collection. They are arranged in the following order: administrative, notes, articles, and documents. Most of the material consists of photocopies of legal documents, local histories, and town records, etc. consulted by Mr. Churchill. His work included detailed research through published volumes of York deeds, Maine Province and Court Records, Wells town records, Massachusetts and Maine Acts and Resolves, diaries, maps, and photographs.

The section of material gathered from his work in the case of New Hampshire v. Maine contains notes on research plus court documents issued in the case.


  • Creation: 1987-2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1999-2000


Restrictions on Access

Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Restrictions on Use

Information on literary rights available in the repository.

Biographical Note

The collection contains legal documents and research material compiled and collected by Edwin A. Churchill in his work as an expert witness in two land cases in Wells, Maine, in 1988 and 1999, and in the boundary issue case between New Hampshire and Maine in 2000.

Edwin Churchill is the Chief Curator at the Maine State Museum in Augusta. He received his PhD from the University of Maine in 1979, has taught American and European history at several institutions in Maine, and is the author of numerous books and articles on Maine history. His areas of expertise include Maine and northeastern American history, with emphasis on the colonial period, and Maine material culture. He is a two-time recipient of the Maine Historical Society's James P. Baxter Award for best journal articles published and received the Neil Allen Award from the Society for outstanding contributions in the fields of Maine history and genealogy.

In 1987 he spent most of a year consulting with the office of the Maine Attorney General in preparation for the so-called Moody Beach lawsuit (Edward B. Bell et al. (plaintiffs) v. Town of Wells et al. (defendants), Supreme Judicial Court of Maine). In this case fifty plaintiffs living in the area known as Moody Beach brought suit against the town, saying that increased use by the public of their oceanfront property had become unreasonable and overburdensome after the secession of Ogunquit from Wells in 1979. The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the title to their property allowed only the public rights of fishing, fowling and navigation in the intertidal zone. The Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs that public easement for these uses did not include public recreational use and that no public easement by local custom had been proven to exist at Moody Beach

In 1999, Churchill was active in another land use case in the town of Wells, (Lisle Eaton et al. (plaintiffs) v. Inhabitants of the town of Wells (defendant), Supreme Judicial Court of Maine). At issue was the public's right to use Wells Beach for a broad range of recreational purposes on dry sand and in the intertidal zone. Churchill conducted research into the history and usage of Wells Beach, working with the firm of Bergen and Parkinson of Kennebunk, which represented the town of Wells. Churchill stated in a deposition (Sept. 1, 1999) that there was no doubt, in his opinion, that Wells Beach had been used openly and continuously since the 1600's by the general public for various activities including transportation and access, recreation and harvesting natural resources. The Court ruled in 2000 that the town and public had a right to use Wells beach by way of an easement by prescription.

In 2000, Churchill was involved in research for the case of State of New Hampshire v. State of Maine. In this case the State of New Hampshire asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle a controversy over the location of the common boundary between the two states in the inner portion of Portsmouth harbor, asserting that its boundary encompassed the islands on which Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is situated. The dispute resulted in part from Maine's implementation of a state income tax in 1969; residents of New Hampshire working at the Shipyard protested having their income taxed by the state of Maine. Maine asserted that both New Hampshire and Maine had already confirmed a mid-channel boundary, which had been supported in an earlier Supreme Court case (New Hampshire v. Maine, 434 U.S. 1, 1977). In a ruling in 2001, the Court ruled unanimously in Maine's favor, and the border between the two states remained the same.


3 cubic feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Legal documents and research material compiled and collected by Edwin A. Churchill in his work as an expert witness in two land cases in Wells, Maine, in 1988 and 1999, and in the boundary issue case between New Hampshire and Maine in 2000.

Conservation Note

The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Churchill papers were a gift to the Special Collections Department, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine from Mr. Churchill in 2001.

Guide to the Edwin A. Churchill Papers
Box And Folder List Available
August 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States