The town was named after Colonel Calvin Sanger, an early settler and landowner.  It is the birthplace of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840–1916) and Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet (December 23, 1874 – July 7, 1943).

Sangerville has been a small lumbering and agricultural community for most of its history. Adjacent to Guilford, its main village is just south of the Piscataquis River, which forms its northern boundary.

In the 1880’s Sangerville village hosted a grist mill, a sawmill, a tannery, and a woolen mill, which employed about fifty people. Elsewhere in town there were three sawmills, a shingle mill, and another grist mill.

The town has several ponds, the largest of which is Manhanock, accessible by a boat ramp off Route 23 near Sangerville village. Manhanock and Harlow (in Parkman) ponds are managed as one 595-acre water body since fish pass freely under a bridge separating the two.

The 403-acre Center Pond, a recreational area, is indeed in the center of the township and is accessible off the Silver Mills Road. The 93-acre Marr Pond is in East Sangerville.