American History and Genealogy Project


Miscellaneous Events

Following are the names of the representatives to the State legislature who have been chosen from Swan's Island. When the first representative was chosen this island was classed with Mt. Desert. The others represented the towns of Deer Isle, Swan's Island and Isle au Haut. The vote given below is for the whole representative district:

Benjamin Stinson was elected in 1837; he received 89 votes; Enoch Spurling, 70.

Benjamin F. Stinson was elected in 1855; he received 162 votes: Solomon Barbour, 134. Mr. Stinson was a candidate for the same office in 1844. His vote in this town was 45; Humphrey Wells, 1. But Mr. Wells received a majority in the district.

Ebenezer Joyce was elected in 1859; he received 135 votes; Franklin Closson, 134.

John Stockbridge was elected in 1867; he received 152 votes; William H. Reed, 74.

Martin V. Babbidge was elected in 1876; he received 268 votes; Augustus O. Gross, 173.

William P. Herrick was elected in 1884; he received 238 votes; Wilmot B. Thurlow, 237.

Charles E. Sprague was elected in 1894; he received 239 votes; Charles L. Knowlton, 155.

The Swan's Island Mutual Fire Insurance Company was organized for the purpose of insuring against loss or damage by fire of buildings and household furniture located on Swan's Island. Afterwards the property on Gott's Island and Orino Island was included. The first meeting to effect an organization was held in the schoolhouse in district No. 2 on January 29, 1893. On February, 10 following the signers of the "Articles of Agreement" met and proceeded to elect a board of directors, and adopted a constitution and bylaws. The following was the first board of directors: Frank E. Pettingill, Emery E. Joyce, Edmund F. Bridges, W. Leslie Joyce, Hermon W. Small, Joseph W. Staples, Herbert W. Joyce, James Joyce and Isaac W. Stinson. The board of directors chose Hermon W. Small president; Joseph W. Staples, secretary, and James Joyce, treasurer.

The plan of this insurance was for mutual home protection against loss by fire, at the least expense possible to the policyholders. The policies ran for a period of seven years, and the policy fees at first were 17, afterwards 25 cents on each $100 insurance. This was just to meet the incidental expenses. The president and secretary together received $1 for the writing of each policy, and the treasurer received 10 per cent, of the gross receipts of these policy fees for his compensation. There were to be no other expenses except loss by fire, when each policyholder was to pay his part of the loss in proportion to the amount for which lie was insured. The policy notes were for 10 per cent, of the amount insured. About $25,000 was written the first year. A State charter was issued to this company by the secretary of State on March 23, 1893. The first policies were issued April 18 following.

Post offices

For some fifty years after the settlement of this town, there was no post office here. Such mail as was received stopped at the post office either at Deer Isle or Mount Desert and was brought to this island when a sailboat chanced to visit those places. This was very inconvenient to the settlers, and often the delivery was long delayed or the mail lost. The first office was established in 1844, and Benjamin Stinson was appointed postmaster. The mail at this time came to the island from Brooklin once a week, and the mail carrier was to be paid by subscription; but as many received little mail, interest in the enterprise soon waned and the burden of carrying the mails fell mostly to the lot of the postmaster. Few newspapers were taken here at that time. Letters were merely folded and secured with sealing wax, no envelopes were used. Postage was charged according to the distance the letter was sent. It often cost twenty-five cents or more to send a letter to some places even in this country. The postage was collected when the mail was delivered.

Mr. Stinson was succeeded as postmaster by James Joyce, in 1852, and after him Joseph W. Staples was appointed. The mails during the last two appointments, and a long time subsequent, were carried to Tremont.

The receipts of the office were all the department allowed for the compensation of the postmaster and mall carrier. The pay was so small that great difficulty was experienced in getting a mail carrier, and it was carried so irregularly that a large part of the outgoing letters, from which the revenue came, was sent off by private conveyance. So the receipts of the office were small indeed.

In 1861 Cornelius Wasgatt was appointed postmaster, after which the mails were carried much more regularly. When he moved from the island Mrs. Mary Gott received the appointment. After her resignation Isaac W. Stinson, a grandson of the first Swan's Island postmaster, was appointed, and at the present time the office is held by Capt. William Herrick.

As the town increased in population and the amount of mail became much larger, it proved inconvenient for one office to accommodate the whole island. So, in 1884, an office was established at the eastern side of the island, called Atlantic. Mrs. Durilla Joyce was appointed postmistress. She held the office until 1897, when she was succeeded by Llewellyn V. Joyce. In 1897 a new office was established in what was formerly school district No. 4, and was named Minturn. Mrs. Arwilda Newman was appointed postmistress.

After the mails became somewhat larger than at first, they were carried to Tremont twice a week when the weather would permit a sailboat to cross the bay. Later they were carried daily. The department established a mail route, and paid the mail carrier. In 1894 this old mail route was discontinued, and a steamboat company contracted to bring the mail daily from Rockland to Old Harbor. This is a much more direct route than when it went by the way of Tremont, and thence by stage to Ellsworth. We have now daily communication with the city, and daily papers are received on the day of publication. In no other way has the improvement been greater than in the management of the mails, which is so vital to the business interest of any community.


The early settlers here were a religious people, and, although they had no pastor or place for public worship, they made up for this lack of privilege by holding Sunday service in some dwelling house, where one of the company performed the service usual in those times by reading a sermon. Midweek prayer meetings were also held. These services were attended by the people from the different sections of the whole island, and on pleasant days they would come from the neighboring islands. Most of the first settlers were of the Congregational denomination, but that church never formed an organization.

A Baptist preacher came here about the year 1814, and conducted a series of revival meetings; as a result, quite a number joined the church of that denomination. In 1817 a Baptist society was organized in that part of the town now known as Atlantic. According to the minutes of the Baptist association, held in Sedgwick Oct. 12, 1820, the Swan's Island church was taken into the association. Rev. Bryant Lennan, a licensed preacher, and Joshua Staples represented this church at this association. They reported the membership at that time to be twenty-three.

In 1821 the Swan's Island church was represented at the Baptist association held at Surry by Rev. Bryant Lennan and Courtney Babbidge. Two members had been excluded during the year, leaving twenty-one members in good standing. In the association held in Addison in 1822, this church was not represented. Rev. Bryant Lennan was ordained during the year. This church was represented at the association held in Brooksville in 1823, by Rev. Bryant Lennan, Deacon James Joyce and Joshua Staples. The membership was the same as last reported. In 1824 the association that met at Bluehill reported this church membership to have been increased by the baptism of thirteen candidates, making the total membership this year thirty-four. This year the church was represented by Rev. Mr. Lennan, Courtney Babbidge and Ebenezer Joyce.

Mr. Lennan was connected with the church for many years. He is said to have been a faithful pastor and was considered a good preacher. He finally returned to Hampden, his native town. After some fifth teen years Mr. Lennan returned and preached a few years, after which I find no further record of him.

Rev. Theophilus Batchelder preached alternately here and at Deer Isle for several years. Rev. Benjamin F. Stinson preached here a great deal at different times. He did faithful service and was much loved and respected by the church here. After the schoolhouse was built at the eastern side of the island services were held there. Services in those limes were very long. After a sermon of an hour, a short intermission would be taken, after which a second sermon was preached.

Rev. Daniel Dodge preached a part of the year 1838. Ebenezer Joyce was chosen deacon. The conference delegates were James Joyce, John Stockbridge and Ebenezer Joyce. In 1840 quite a revival took place under the pastorate of Rev. Samuel Macomber. Asa Joyce, Sally Stockbridge, John Cook and Jane Morey were taken into the church. In 1842, 26 more joined. From 1843-5 meetings were held more or less regularly by Elder St. Clair, Carey or Dunham. From 1847 to 1850 the preachers were Revs. Messrs. Macomber, Hall and Pendleton. During the latter Nears several more were taken into the church.

For the next few years the interest of the church members gradually declined. On July 14, 1857, a church meeting was called. Those present were Rebecca Staples, Betsey Staples, Sally Morey, Catherine Joyce, Rosalana Morey Nancy Morey, Polly Babbidge, Ebenezer Joyce, James Joyce, John Stockbridge, Joseph S. Babbidge and Elias Morey. They made an effort to establish the meetings again. As a result Revs. Samuel Macomber and Theophilus Batchelder preached a part of the year.

The following were the members of the Baptist church on April 6, 1867: James Joyce, Ebenezer Joyce, Joseph S. Babbidge, Joseph R. Torrey, Asa Joyce, Hezekiah Morey, Benjamin Stockbridge, Samuel Stockbridge, Isaiah B. Joyce, Eben S. Joyce, Henry D. Joyce, James Joyce, jr., Benjamin F. Staples, Simeon R. Staples, William A. Joyce, Otis Morey, Rebecca Staples, Mary Trask, Polly Babbidge, James Joyce, Catherine Joyce, Olive Torrey, Roxana Torrey Isabel S. Joyce, Jane J. Joyce, Martha Torrey, Harriet Staples, Sophronia Staples, Louisa Staples, Nancy Morey, Susan Reed and Sally Morey, thirty-two in all.

'On April 7, 1857, nine more joined; on the next Sunday fifteen more joined, making the total membership at this time fifty-six. On May 16, 1886, Rev. C. E. Harden baptized nine persons. The following Sunday Rev. Gideon Mayo baptized five.

Among the preachers during the previous twenty years were Revs. B. F. Stinson, N. G. French, C. E. Harden, Mr. Pierce and Gideon Mayo.

In 1886-9 Rev. George D. B. Pepper, D. D., president of Colby University, preached here during the summer. During 1888-9 Rev. William H. Hall preached here. From 1888 to 1891 thirty-one persons joined the church. The membership had now increased to over seventy.

A church was built by this society in 1883 at a cost of $3,500. In 1890 and 1891 Rev. W. II. Hall conducted a series of revival meetings, and a large number was added to the church membership. Rev. J. Frank Jones was the pastor in 18912. In 1894 Rev. S. O. Whitten came and preached three years. A two story parsonage was built in 1891 at a cost of $1,400. At present there is no settled pastor, and the church membership has fallen to fifty-nine.

The Methodist Society was organized in 1834. The first preacher of that denomination here was Rev. Asa Wasgatt. Soon after Rev. Mr. Douglass came here from Bar Harbor, and baptized several candidates. In 1859 Rev. Benjamin F. Stinson, of this town, entered the ministry, and for the twenty-eight years that he preached, much of the time was devoted to the church in his native town. In 1860 Mr. Stinson preached in Tremont; '61, '62 in Deer Isle; '63, '64 in Franklin; '65, '66 in Columbia; '67, '69 in Tremont; '70, '71 in Harrington; '73 in South Deer Isle; '75 and until his death in 1887 he preached at Tremont and this town on alternate Sundays.

Rev. John A. Oakes came in 1861, and preached two years. The services were held during this time at the Center schoolhouse. The other preachers were Rev. A. Plummer; Mr. Caldwell, who stayed here two years. He was followed by Rev. Theophilus Batchelder, who also preached in the Baptist church. For several years after this there was no regular preacher. In 1882 Rev. Israel Hathaway came and preached about two years until his death. He was followed by Elder Roberts, George A. Fuller and I. B. Conley.

In 1888 a church was built at a cost of $2,500. Since then a pastor has been regularly employed. They have been Revs. Wesley Haskell, Samuel E. Dunham, George M. Bailey, Horace Haskell, Andrew J. Turner, Lester McCalf, Chester Butterfield. The present pastor Is Rev. John L. Pinkerton. The present membership is thirty.

The Advent Society has been organized for some years, and has quite a large number of church members. A church was erected in 1893. There is no regular pastor, but one is furnished more or less regularly, and when without a pastor, the services are conducted by a member. Their church seems to be in a vigorous and growing condition.


This work has extended far beyond my original intentions. It has covered, I think, nearly everything likely to be of public interest since the discovery of this island. As stated elsewhere, errors will undoubtedly appear. The author knew of but few of the people or events personally; he has had to depend, in some parts, almost wholly upon the memory of aged people. But the best information gleaned from these sources has been faithfully recorded.

I have been five years in collecting these records, much of which, had it not been secured during the lifetime of the oldest residents, would have been lost beyond recovery.

The descendants of many of the early families who lived here are scattered among different towns and states, and it has required a great deal of patient toil to find them all, and collect their family history, so as to make their record complete.

To the many who have so kindly furnished the material for this work, the author extends his thanks, and to them he is greatly indebted.


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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