American History and Genealogy Project


Biographies From Swan Island

Joshua Grindle

Joshua Grindle came here from Sedgwick in 1794. We find he sold the same year the lot he had formerly lived on "to James Douglass a lot of land at Buck's Harbor, township number 4, county of Lincoln, Massachusetts Bay, New England, for the sum of £12, s10, Halifax currency". (3105) He took up a tract of land here extending from Moses Staples' to the carrying place, which contained one hundred acres. It is the lot occupied by Horace E. Stanley, Daniel McKay and others. The hill above the carrying place is still called "Grindle hill". Joseph Prince gave a bond for a deed to Mr. Grindle on May I, 1794, to be given when he had lived on the place for seven years.

The island having been sold to Swan again, he gave to Prince the power of attorney, Feb. 28, 1798, to give Grindle a deed, and although Grindle lived on this lot until 1800, no deed to him was ever recorded. In the year 1800 he returned to township No. 4 (Brooksville), where he bought two lots of land of Abner Dodge, where he lived on his farm the remainder of his life. He died about the year 1849, aged near seventy-five years. Mr. Grindle's wife was Ruth Stanley, of Sedgwick, whom he married before coming here, and by whom he had ten children. When he left this island his place was taken by John Van Namberg, a Dutchman, whose wife's name was Sarah. They had no children. After a short residence here, he left and went to Brooksville. Samuel Kempton afterwards took this same place. His wife was Lydia Dunham. They had one daughter, Hannah, who moved to Hampden. The property fell into the hands of Edward Gott, whose heirs still own it. Whether Mr. Grindle ever secured any title to this land or not we never learned, nor is there any record of his deeding it to the subsequent occupants.

Mr, Grindle's family consisted of four daughters and six sons. The daughters were: Anna, who became the wife of Richard Grindle and settled in Brooksville; Joanna, who was the wife of Israel Johnson, and resided in Bluehill; Mary, who married William Wescott, and lived at North Bluehill; Eliza, who died young.

The sons were: Eben, who was born here in 1800; his wife was Mary Grindle; he was the father of Mrs. E. J. Orcutt, whose husband was formerly light-keeper at Hocomock Head; Stephen, whose wife was Hulda Snow; their home was in Brooksville; Lowell, who married Mary Stephenson and lived in Surry for many years, finally returning to Brooksville where they died; Joshua, who married Mercy Farnham and settled in Surry; John, who married Eliza Smith and settled in Surry; Daniel, who married Ruth Rogers and settled in Salem, Mass.

All the children of Mr. Grindle, sr., survived him except Eliza. They are now all dead except Joshua.

Alexander Nutter

Alexander Nutter was the first settler on Irish point. He came here about 1796 from Gloucester, Mass. He first came to the island in a coasting vessel. This was after the mills were erected and the manufacture of lumber was begun. He thought it would be an excellent opening where he could find lucrative employment coasting. So he bought a vessel and moved to this place. His wife was Betsy Kent, whom he married before coming here. He moved from this place to Mount Desert and later to Ripley's Neck in the town of Harrington, then to Gouldsboro where he took up a farm and spent the remainder of his life. He died at the age of ninety-six years. His wife died at the age of sixty-four years. They had a family of live children, of whom Amelia was the oldest. She married a Mr. Robbins, of Harrington. She died at the age of nearly ninety years. Another daughter, Salome, was twice married. Her first husband was a Mr. Wheeler. After his death she became the wife of Frederick Burns. Jonathan Nutter, the oldest son, married Louisa Cole, of Harrington, by whom he had fourteen children. One of these children, Albert, perished on the south side of Nantucket Island during a winter gale. He was mate of the schooner "Haines". They were driven ashore and the whole crew lost. Other vessels were wrecked here at the same time, and among the dead that washed ashore his body could not be recognized. Isabell was the fourth child. She married a Mr. Mitchell and resided in Boston. Reuben Nutter, the youngest child, married Ruth Frfe, of Harrington. He is now an inmate of the Sailor's home, Staten Island. He is a very old man.

John Rich

John Rich came here in 1794, and took up the first lot of land on the eastern side of the island, a part of which is now owned by Francis Torrey. He built a log house near the shore. He remained here, however, only three years, when he removed to Isle au Haut. Here he took up a lot of land north of Robert Douglass, whose daughter he married.

When Mr. Rich left here his property came into the possession of Moses Staples. It was said that he came to this place from Mt. Desert. He had many relatives there.

Mrs. Rich was a woman of prepossessing appearance. She was the mother of Capt. Stephen Rich, who removed to Gloucester, out of which place he sailed as master in the fishing business several years. He was an active, enterprising man. He was lost at sea, together with all his crew, in 1841.

Another son was Jonathan Rich, who was an invalid for many years, and died not far from the year 1864.

Another son was Thomas Rich, who was drowned in 1839.

The two remaining sons were Perez Rich, who removed to Islesboro, and Stillman Rich, who became the occupant of the property of Mr. Douglass.

There was one daughter in the family, who was the first wife of Josiah Pierce, of Vinalhaven, and they became converts to Mormonism and moved to Narvoo, Illinois. While there she became disgusted with it, and made her escape. With but little means she returned to her friends, and was divorced. She afterwards became the wife of Noah Barter. She was the mother of one daughter, who died some years ago. Mr. Rich, sr., died near the year 1860, his wife surviving him a few years.

William Davis

William Davis, a relative of Mr. Rich, came here also in 1794. He took up the lot of land adjoining Rich on the north, now owned by Oilman Staples. He left with Rich in 1797, and went to Long Island, which furnished a better harbor to shelter his boat, and was more convenient to pursue the fishing business. Mr. Davis has many descendants at Long Island.

Richard Carpenter

Richard Carpenter came here from some town on the Penobscot River, and took up the lot now owned by Mrs. Lenora Wharton and George E. Stanley. It contained one hundred acres. I do not know the date of his coming, but he was the first occupant of this land. His wife was Betsey Hamblen, of Gott's island, by whom he had eight children, as follows: Abigail, Nathaniel, Ambrose, Susan, Emmeline, John, Philip and Margaret. None of these children settled here. Mr. Carpenter built a house near the shore, below where Mrs. Wharton now lives, where all his children were born. He was found dead in the woods where he had gone to chop. After his death his widow sold the place and went to Bucksport, where she became the wife of Ephraim Emerson. After his death she married Charles Wheeler, of Carmel.

Moses Staples

Moses Staples came here in 1793 from Deer Isle. He was, next to David Smith, the oldest permanent settler, coming some two years later than Mr. Smith. He took up a tract of one hundred acres adjoining Joshua Grindle on the south. He was at this time the only settler on the west side of the harbor. Here near the shore he built a log house and brought his family. The crevices between the logs were plastered with lime made by burning clam shells, which were found in great quantities near where his house stood. Its location was near where David Smith, 3d, now lives. Mr. Staples was a ship carpenter, and came here because building material was plenty and cheap. Excellent ship timber was made of the trees that grew close to the water's edge, and small vessels were then in great demand in the coasting trade.

After living on this lot for a few years, he, in 1797 moved to the eastern part of the island, and bought the lots just being vacated by John Rich and William Davis. He also took up all the land north of the Davis lot to the salt water. So his tract of land extended from where James Joyce now lives to the end of Trask's point. Pie received a deed of this lot together with the lot near Old Harbor from Rufus B. Allyn, Swan's agent, in 1824, in consideration of the small sum of $83.37, and gave Allyn a mortgage. He at first built a log house just to the eastward of Joseph W. Staples' present residence. Afterwards he built a frame house and barn. He did an extensive business in shipbuilding at the place where Henry D. Joyce now has his boat shop, and it is still called "The Yard". One of the vessels built there, the "Arcadie", was seen in Boston nearly sixty years after she was built, having, of course, been several times repaired.

Moses Staples was born in 1753, and in the year 1764 he came to Deer Isle with his parents. He had a younger brother named Joshua, and one older brother. He had several sisters, one of whom was Hannah, wife of Stephen Babbidge: another was the wife of Courtney Babbidge, sr., after whose death she became the wife of James Joyce, whom we shall notice as one of the early settlers here. Another sister was the second wife of Thomas Conary. By each of his wives Mr. Conary had ten sons, twenty in all. Another sister was the wife of Jonathan Torrey, and the last sister, Ann, was the wife of Timothy Saunders.

The brother Joshua spoken of married a daughter of John Raynes, sr., by whom he had one daughter, Jane, who married Elias Morey, jr., who lived and died on this island.

The father of this Staples family was impressed on board of an English man-of-war during the Revolution, and was never heard from. The mother of this family, Mrs. Mercy Staples, afterwards married a Mr. Hutchinson, of Sedgwick, by whom she had two sons and one daughter. The sons were Rev. David Hutchinson, a presiding elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the western part of the State, and Timothy Hutchinson, who lived and died on Little Deer Isle. The daughter, Susan, was the wife of Capt. Benjamin Gray, of Penobscot.

Moses Staples married Judith Eaton, of Deer Isle, before coming here. They were the parents of thirteen children. Their descendants formed the largest family on the island.

After Mr. Staples' marriage he went from Deer Isle to live in Sedgwick, where he remained about a year. While there their first child was born. He came back to Deer Isle. Seven children were born to them there, and after coming back to Swan's Island the remaining five were born. Mr. Staples was an active, intelligent man, who always took a great interest in the transaction of town business, and was ever foremost for public improvement.

In 1844, some two years previous to his death, he very thoughtfully had a sworn statement drawn by Joshua Trask, esq., of the dates when many of the earliest settlers came, and the lots of land taken up by them. This was prompted, no doubt, by the fact that no public records had been made. This document has been a great help in making a record of his family. He accumulated considerable property which he disposed of before his death.

The lot of land bought of John Rich, being the property of Francis Torrey and Asa Joyce, went to his son, Moses Staples, 2d, in the year 1800. The lot he bought of William Davis, which is now owned by Oilman Staples, he sold to his son-in-law, John Finney, in 1803. The place now owned by Joseph W. Staples went to his son, Abel E. Staples. The remainder of the point of land he divided into two parts; the eastern half he gave to his son Alexander, and the western half to his son Mark.

Moses Staples died in 1846 at the age of ninety-three years. His wife died three years before at the age of eighty-seven years. The children of Moses and Judith Staples were as follows:

The daughters were Elizabeth, wife of John Finney; Dorcas, wife of John Skinner; they lived and died in Boston: Mrs. Skinner died in 1839. Another daughter, Sarah, married Capt. Thomas Bunker, of Cranberry Island. He was a master mariner, and went on foreign voyages. Mrs. Bunker died at the age of forty-five years. Her children were Thomas, Marietta, Martha, Hulda, Joseph, Warren and Moses. Another daughter, Hannah, died at the age of sixteen years, and the last daughter, Judith, was the wife of Robert Mitchell.

The sons were Joshua, Alexander, Moses, Samuel, Mark, Abel, Washington and Amos. The sons and their families all settled here, and so will be further noticed.

I. Joshua Staples took up a lot of land adjoining his father on the west in 1819. It is the land now owned by Capt. John S. Staples. He built a house over a cellar near where Emery Barbour's house now stands. His wife was a daughter of Josiah Closson, of Deer Isle, by whom he had fourteen children. Mr. Staples moved to Sedgwick, where he died in 1860, at the age of seventy-seven years. His wife survived him several years, dying at the age of eighty-one years. The following are their children:

Abel, who, when a young man went to sea, and was gone from home eighteen years, during which time he visited nearly all parts of the world; he then came home and married Caroline Kane, of Brooklin, where he resided until his death, which took place by the capsizing of a boat in Eggmoggin Reach; although he was an excellent swimmer, he was drowned; this was due to his grasping a rope to which an anchor was attached, and which he held firmly, thus keeping his head below water until life was extinct; the other men, except John Ross, who was also drowned, saved their lives by clinging to the boat; Nathan, who settled in Sedgwick; he was a carpenter by trade; his wife was Sally Grant; Isaac, who died at the age of eighteen years; William, who lived and died at Bluehill; his wife was Irena McFarland; Ephraim, who married Caroline Merchant, of Merchant's Island, where he resided for a number of years, after which he moved to Rockland where he died; Johnson, who at present lives in Rockland: he is a carpenter by trade, and is now foreman of the South End railway; his wife was Lucy Chatto, of Long Island, in the town of Bluehill; Levi, who married Hannahetta Staples, built a house near where Joseph Remick, whom we shall notice, once settled; Capt. Ebenezer M., who lived for some time at Deer Isle, married a daughter of Alexander Staples, widow of Washington Staples, a singular occurrence, her maiden name being Staples, as well as that of her two husbands.

The daughters were: Charlotta, wife of Jonathan Bridges, of Sedgwick; Lucy, who died young; Sarah, who married first David Whipple, and after his death became the wife of John Murch, of Trenton, who is now dead; Lois, who was the wife of Levi Closson; after his death she married Pickering Eaton, of Sedgwick; she is now dead; Caroline, who was the wife of John Hamilton, of Bluehill; Lydia, who died when a child.

II Alexander Staples did not occupy the land left him by his father, but sold it to Solomon Barbour, who moved here in 1843. Mr. Staples married Margaret, daughter of John Stinson, of Deer Isle. After his death she married Joseph Small, of Deer Isle. After Mr. Small's death she came here to reside. She died in 1882. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Staples were the parents of the following children: Isabel, first wife of Asa Joyce; Elizabeth, first the wife of Washington Staples, and after his death the wife of Capt. Ebenezer Staples; Hulda, wife of William Bunker, of Cranberry Island, and who now resides in Massachusetts; Julia, wife of Benjamin Gray, and Margaret, second wife of Joseph C. Judkins. The last two reside at Deer Isle; one son, Amos, died when a child.

III. Moses Staples, 2d, in 1800 bought the tract of land first taken up by John Rich, extending from the Finney to the Joyce lot. His wife was Betsey Rufnelle, of Tremont, whose father was a Frenchman and came to Mount Desert from Boston. They occupied for several years a log house left by Mr. Rich, their first child being born there. He afterwards built a house that was located just across the road from where Francis Torrey now lives. Mr. Staples died in 1862, aged eighty four years. Betsey, his wife, died in 1858, aged seventy-seven years. They were the parents of ten children, the first of whom was born in 1800. Most of the children settled here, and they were an enterprising family.

Their daughters were: Mary, wife of William Joyce; Hannah, wife of Rev. Benjamin F. Stinson; Sally, first wife of Jacob Reed, who died in 1865, aged fifty-nine years; Susan, wife of Edward Gott, who died in 1894, aged seventy-seven years. Mrs. Stinson died in 1895, aged eighty-five years. She was the last survivor of the family.

Their sons were: Franklin B., who bought the land we have spoken of as being taken up by Joshua Staples; it included all the land now owned by Capt. John S. Staples, besides the lots owned by Capt. Ebenezer M. Staples, Thomas Pinkham, Capt. Emery E. Joyce, Emery Barbour, Ellis R. Joyce and William H. Burns; his wife was Lucy R. Smith, by whom he had five children, as follows: Capt. Hezekiah Staples, who married Abigail York, of Ellsworth, where he now resides; Oilman, whose wife was Mercy Stockbridge, and resides on the Finney place; Reuben, who died young; Capt. John S., whose first wife was Rosilla Staples, who, together with her child, died of diphtheria; he afterwards married her sister, Lucy J. Staples; he owns the homestead lot; one daughter was the wife of Levi Staples; Mr. Staples died in 1879, aged seventy-eight years; Lucy R., his wife, died the same year, aged seventy-three.

Augustus R., who bought the Carpenter lot, which contained one hundred acres, of the widow of Richard Carpenter; he built the house where George E. Stanley now lives, it being one of the oldest houses in town; his wife was Susan Hamblen, of Gott's Island; Mr. Staples was a man endowed with a good share of common sense, and was a practical business man, serving the plantation in its early days in many positions of trust; his death, which was much lamented, occurred in 1856, at the age of forty-four years; his wife died July 4, 1875, at the age of sixty-four years. Their children were: Amanda, widow of Oliver L. Joyce, esq.; Nancy, widow of Lephen Babbidge, who now resides in the West; Isadore, wife of Joseph Reed; soon after their marriage she accompanied her husband on a voyage to New York in a vessel which was lost, probably foundering in the gale which overtook them soon after leaving New York; this was in the year 1867; Mr. Reed's age was twenty-five and, his wife's twenty-two years; Ida, who married Frank Staples and lives in Rockland. There were two sons, between whom their father's land was divided; Benjamin S. built a house to the eastward of his father's; his wife was Lenora Joyce; he died in 1884, at the age of forty-five years; after his death his widow married William Wharton. The other son, Augustus W., married Abbie Barbour, of Deer Isle, and resides here.

Moses, 3d, bought the Finney place and built the house standing thereon; his wife was Mercy Smith. Mr. Staples was subject to epileptic fits, and during one of these seizures he fell upon a fire and received injuries from which he died in 1845, at the age of twenty-six years.

Mrs. Staples afterward became the wife of Benjamin S, Dolliver, of Mount Desert.

Washington had a part of his father's land, being that now owned by Asa Joyce's heirs, and built the house thereon. He died in 1849 and, as has already been stated, his widow, Elizabeth, married Capt. Ebenezer M. Staples.

Simeon took his father's place, and with him his parents lived during their latter days. His wife was Saphrona Joyce. He was a carpenter, having learned his trade with John Adams. He moved from this place to Rockland. His place became the property of Francis M. Torrey. Mr. Staples died in Rockland in 1892; his widow still resides there.

IV. Capt. Samuel Staples married Ruth Bunker, of Cranberry Island, at which place he lived for several years, afterwards going to Lubec and finally to Bangor, where he died in 1853, aged sixty-six years. They were the parents of seven children: Hannah, Philo, Samuel, Isaac, George, Priscilla, Judith.

V. Mark Staples married Lydia Gott, of Mount Desert. He built a house near where John Stockbridge afterwards lived. He then sold this place and occupied the land left him by his father, which we have spoken of, it being the land now occupied by Capt. Olando Trask, Henry D. Joyce, Jefferson Torrey and Elmer I. Joyce estate. He built a house near where Capt. Trask's now stands. He afterwards moved to Aroostook County, and subsequently moved many times, being of a roving nature.

He died at Rockland in 185 1, at the age of sixty-one years.

VI. Abel E. Staples took up the lot of land extending westward from his brother Joshua. It begins to the western line of Capt. John S. Staples' land, and extends around the cove to the land now owned by Reuben Joyce; it contained one hundred acres. He was the first settler on this land. He built a house near where Herbert W. Joyce's store now stands. In 1837 he moved upon his father's place, and lived with his parents until their death. His wife was Rebecca Whitmore, of Deer Isle. They were the parents of ten children. The daughters were: Mary E., wife of Joshua Trask, esq., who was lost in the Bay of Chaleur in the great gale of October 3, 185 1, aged forty-four years; after his death she married Philip Moore, of Gott's Island; she is now dead; Abigail, wife of Stephen B. Lane, of Deer Isle; Joanna, wife of Capt. Levi Terrey; she died in 1887 at the age of sixty-six years; Harriet N., widow of Solomon Barbour; Louisa, wife of Henry D. Joyce. The sons were: Samuel W., John, Joseph, who died young, Seth W., and Joseph W.

Abel Staples died in 185 1, aged sixty-six years; his wife died in 1873, aged eighty-one years. Previous to his death he divided his property among his three sons. Joseph W. and Samuel W. received the homestead lot and the western part of the lot he first took up (that lot extending from Reuben Joyce's to near the steamboat road). The rest of this lot, extending from the steamboat road to the land of Capt. John S. Staples, went to the other brother, John. Samuel died in 1883, aged sixty two years. After his death his part of the property went to his brother Joseph W. Joseph W. married Caroline Stinson, of Deer Isle; she died in 1874, aged forty-five years; after her death he married Mrs. Ellen Stanley, of Gouldsboro. John built the house now owned by Alfred W. Joyce; he was a master mariner, and accumulated considerable property; during the latter part of his life he was engaged in trading. He was three times married; in 1841 he married Maria Barbour, who died in 1874, aged fifty-one years; after her death he married Mrs. Helen Merrill, who died in 1880, aged forty-eight years; his last wife was her sister, Mrs. Henrietta Marshall; all of his wives belonged in Deer Isle. He died in 1891, aged seventy-one years. His children were: Capt. Benjamin J., who is a merchant here; Capt. Charles, who died in 1888, aged thirty-eight years; Matilda, wife of Levi B. Joyce; Rosilla and Lucy J., wives of Capt. John S. Staples; Durilla, wife of Herbert W. Joyce; Maria, wife of Andrew Torrey. There were several other children who died young.

VII. Washington died when a young man. He was taken ill while on a sea voyage, and was brought into Cranberry Island, where he died.

VIII. Amos died young in 1807.

Joseph Remick

Joseph Remick came here from Hancock soon after the war of 1812. For a few years he lived in a house with Deacon James Joyce; afterwards he built a house to the west of where Mrs. Hannahetta Staples now lives, the cellar of which can still be seen. Mr. Remick married Miss Priscilla Noble, of Mount Desert, by whom he had nine children. They left this place in 1830 and returned to Hancock. Later they moved to Roxbury, Mass., where Mr. Remick died in the year 1834, aged nearly fifty years. Mrs. Remick, after the death of her husband, made her home in Ellsworth, where she died. Their children were as follows: Reuben died in Ellsworth; his wife was Mary A. Finney; Nathan was lost at sea; he was with his brother returning home from a coasting trip. One day during the voyage he was at work in the yawl boat at the davits, when one of the falls broke and precipitated him into the water. He seized two oars as he fell, which kept him afloat. In the excitement of lowering the boat, the painter was dropped and the boat drifted away. The wind died away so that the vessel could not be managed. Hatches and everything that would float were thrown to the now helpless man, but being unable to swim he could not reach them. For over half an hour he sustained himself within speaking distance of the vessel. At last a small wave rolled over his head when he sank from view. He was twenty-one years of age, and was to have been married on his return home. The other children of Mr. and Mrs. Remick were Philip, who married Maria Milliken and settled in Ellsworth; Capt. Lewis Remick, who married Elizabeth Milliken; after her death he married Henrietta Jordan; they lived at Bayside, Ellsworth; Hannah was the wife of Mr. Carlton, of Boston; Catherine was the wife of George Lorn, of Boston; Phebe married Dr. John F. W. Lane, of Boston; Judith was the wife of Capt. Watts, of Ellsworth, and Margaret was the wife of Gardiner Milliken, of Ellsworth.

The only survivors of this family are Philip, Lewis and Mrs. Lane.


Source: A History of Swan's Island, Maine, by H.W. Small, MD, Ellsworth Me, Hancock County Publishing Company, Printers, 1808



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