American History and Genealogy Project


Swan Island Families

Peter Gott

Peter Gott, one of the most interesting characters of eastern Maine, took up the tract south of Moses Staples or the point of land to Hocomock Head. This is now owned and occupied by the descendants of Isaiah L. Stanley and others. Peter is said to have been a cousin of Daniel Gott, who owned Gott's Island, and after whom it was named. This Gott family came from Cape Ann, at which place there are still many of that name.

Peter came to this State previous to the Revolutionary war, and settled at Ship Harbor, a small inlet east of Bass Harbor, and later moved to Swan's Island, where he reared his family. He married, near the year 1776, Charity Kain, by whom he had eleven children, born between the years 1777 and 1799; I have been able to trace only nine; the other two presumably died young. After coming here he built a house near where the widow of Isaiah L. Stanley now lives.

After the death of his wife Charity, and the accidental drowning of Daniel Gott, of Gott's Island, with two sons, David and Charles, Peter married, in 1824, the widow. He then sold his place here to his son-in-law, William Stanley, and moved to Gott's Island, where he lived many years until after the death of his second wife, when he came back to Swan's Island, where he remained until his death, which occurred in 1839. He was over eighty years of age. He was buried in the little cemetery near Hocomock Head.

The Gott family spread far and wide among the early settlers, and has left its particular and distinctive features on the people of these islands down to the present time. A rough and hardy people, vigorous and tough; they have continually intermarried, and the family today differs in many respects from its vigorous ancestors. The following nine children of Peter and Charity Gott reached adult age; there were seven daughters and two sons; the daughters were:

(1) Mary wife of Thomas Trevitt;

(2) Eunice, wife of Asa Conary, of Bluehill; her children were Alvin, Asa, Belinda and Augusta Conary;

(3) Margaret, wife of Jonathan Rich, of Bass Harbor; Mr. Rich died in 1817, aged thirty-seven years; her children were John Rich, who married Rhoda Dodge and settled at Bass Harbor; Robert Rich married Ann Bushee; Samuel Rich married Clarissa Gaily; Maurice Rich married Data Peters, of Bass Harbor; Zebadiah Rich married Eunice Robbins, of Tremont; Lydia Rich married John Smith and settled on Swan's Island; Amy Rich married William Nutter, whom we shall notice, and Lucy Rich married James Marsh;

(4) Ruth Gott married William Stanley;

(5) Lydia Gott married Mark Staples; these last two married and settled on this island, and their families have been considered elsewhere;

(6) Patience Gott married

1] Morris Peters,

[2] James Camel,

[3] James York; by her first husband her children were Data, Betsy, Mary Calvert and James Peters; (7) Charity Gott married William Rich and settled on Outer Long Island, where they have many descendants.

Capt. John Gott, the oldest son of Peter and Charity Gott, married, in 1798, Ruth Barton, of Castine. They lived at Ship Harbor for several years, where some of their children were born. He was for many years a master mariner. He came here and took up the tract of land adjoining Joshua Grindle on the northeast; it includes the whole lot from where Horace E. Stanley now lives to David H. Sprague's land, and went to the brook north of Ambrose Gott's. He built a house where Albion Smith's barn now stands. When quite an old man he abandoned the sea, and began to cultivate his farm. But he was induced to make one more voyage which proved to be his last. A party of nine young men from Sedgwick or near there, secured a vessel commanded by Capt. John Gordon to go on a fishing trip. The captain, being young and inexperienced, came to this island for a pilot to accompany them on this voyage. After much urging Capt. Gott consented to accompany them. They left for Green Bank. When a few days out a terrible storm came up, and it is supposed they foundered at sea, as they were never heard from. This was near the year 1840. Capt. Gott's age was about seventy years. After his death his widow married Abraham Kingsland, of Kingsland Landing, New York city. It is said he was heir to a valuable tract of land in that city, and had affidavits to prove his claim, but while intoxicated these were gotten from him. Repeated efforts were made to recover these papers, but without avail. In after years he left here to go to New York, where he was to live with his children by a former marriage, but he never arrived there. A man answering his description was found dead in Portland, and it was thought he met his death while under the influence of liquor, to which he was addicted. His death occurred about the year 1859. Mr. Gott's property went to his son Joseph, except what was known as the Babbidge lot, which was owned by Edward Gott. Mrs. Kingsland died in Rockland in 1865, aged eighty-four years.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Gott were: Martha, wife of Israel Conary; Prudence, wife of John Foster; after his death she became the wife of Samuel Irving, an Englishman; both her husbands belonged in Boston; after she became a widow the second time, she moved to Palermo, where she died; Ruth, wife of William Fife; she died in 1844, aged twenty-eight years. The sons were John, David, Samuel, Joseph, Edward and Ambrose; three other children, Samuel, Hiram and Sally, died young. These children, most of whom settled here, will be further considered.

Martha Gott married Israel Conary, and settled on the lot known as City point; he afterwards moved to Black Island, where he lived several years; he finally came back here, and bought a part of the Gott lot, then owned by Joseph Gott, and built the house where David Stanley now lives. This family is noticed in another place.

John Gott married Abigail Merchant and settled where the widow of Daniel Bridges now lives, and to whom Mr. Gott sold his place when the latter went to Rockland. Mr, Gott died in 1875, aged seventy-nine years. His wife died in 1874, 'lifted eighty-two years. Their children were: Harriet, wife of James Joyce, 3d; Prudence, wife of William Smith; Mary, wife of Wilbert Boynton; David, who married Jane Ingraham: Caroline, wife of John Ham. The last three settled in Rockland.

David Gott married Clara Winthrop, of Palermo. They were the parents of three children. He died in 1877.

Samuel Gott married Mary Merchant. His children were Mary, Lydia, Samuel, William, Roxana and Eudora, all of whom are dead except Lydia. After the death of his wife, Mr. Gott, in 1852, married Barbara M. Carter, of Brooklin, by this wife he had several children, of whom Augusta and Fred live here. His second wife died in 1895, aged sixty-two years.

Joseph Gott bought the lot at City point of Israel Conary. He built a house on the east side of the road nearly opposite where Verenus Reed now lives. His wife was Eunice Sprague, by whom he had the following children: Manley and Susan, who died young; Rodney, who married Nancy Joyce, and now resides in Somerville, Mass.; Freeman, who married Mary Stinson; Augusta, wife of Capt. William P. Herrick; Leroy, who died in the civil war; Fred, who married Hannah Gott; Harris, who married Diantha Bridges; Myra, wife of Hardy Stinson.

Edward Gott settled on a part of the lot first taken up by Joshua Grindle, and which is now owned by Horace E. Stanley. His wife was Susan Staples, a daughter of Moses Staples, 2d; she died in 1895, aged seventy-seven. Mr. Gott's death occurred in 1885, at the age of seventy years. They were the parents of eleven children, as follows: Gilbert J., who married Mary Carter, of Sedgwick; he was lost at sea February 10, i860, at the age of twenty-three years; Susan F., who is now a resident of Boston; Pathena J., wife of Hezekiah Holbrook; Martha, wife of Charles W. Kent; Edward Warren, drowned November 6, 1869, aged twenty-three; Lucy A. married John Beal, of Deer Isle, and now resides in Bucksport; Hattie A., wife of Horace E. Stanley; Emma R., wife of James E. Kent, of Addison; Delora A., wife of Leaman D. Bridges; she died February 17, 1882, aged twenty-seven; Mary E., wife of Thomas J. Stanley; Mina M., unmarried, is in the millinery business at Bath.

Ambrose Gott had his father's lot at City point. His wife was Sarah A. Herrick, with whom he lived in wedlock over half a century. He died in 1894, aged seventy years. His widow still occupies the place. Their children were Aurilla, Ellen, Alice, Hannah, Clara, Joseph, Alvarado, John and Emery.

Peter Gott, jr., the second and last son of Peter and Charity Gott, settled at Bass Harbor. His wife was Puah Richardson. Their children were Alpheus, who was drowned with his father in a great gale off Cape Ann; Benjamin; William; Martha, wife of Joseph Gott, settled at Goose Cove; Betsey, who married a Mr. Kent; Joanna, wife of William Tinker: Lydia M., wife of William Scott Richardson, of Bluehill.

Cushing Stewart

Cushing Stewart came here from North Haven in 1822, and took up the lot south of Benjamin Smith. It is the land now owned by his son, George Stewart, and the Rowe estate. He built a house near Spirit cove. Mr. Stewart was born at Fox Island in 1797 and was of Scotch parentage. He served through the war of 181 2. After coming home from the war, he married Ann Robinson, of Mount Desert, where he lived several years previous to coming here, and where his first two children were born. He died in 1838 at the age of forty-one years. His death occurred in Rockland while on board a vessel. After his death Mrs. Stewart became, in 1840, the wife of Abel Lane, who came here from Deer Isle. Mr. Lane lived here for some years, then moved to Brooklin, where he died about the year 1874. After his death Mrs. Lane returned to this town and lived with her daughter until Mrs. Lane's death. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were the parents of five children.

The daughters were: Elvira, wife of Samuel Robinson, of Gouldsboro; Mary, wife of James Smith; Cordelia, widow of James Rowe; he came here from Baldwin, and settled on a part of the Stewart lot; Mr. Rowe died in 1891, aged sixty-nine years.

The sons were: Otis, who married Louisa Marshall, of Islesboro, and afterwards moved to Georgetown; George, who married Elizabeth Robinson: he now lives here on the homestead lot.

Benjamin Stinson

Benjamin Stinson came to this place from Deer Isle near 1810. His grandfather, Thomas Stinson, was the first settler on that part of Deer Isle called Stinson's Neck and after whom that place was named. He came there from Woolwich in 1773. It is said that he held the first religious services ever held in Deer Isle; its occasion was the regret of his wife that they could not have the religious privileges that they enjoyed in Woolwich. So the next Sunday Mr. Stinson, accompanied by his family, went to the shade of a large tree that grew near his house, and performed the services usual on such occasions, reading a sermon. He was the first justice of the peace on Deer Isle, and was a man of integrity and had considerable influence. He had a large family, one of whom was William Stinson, the father of the subject of this sketch. Another son was Samuel Stinson, who was a Revolutionary soldier. William married Miss York, by whom he had his family; after her death he married Polly Calef, and after her death he married the widow of William Webb. William, as well as his father, was deacon of the Congregational church for many years.

Benjamin, the subject of this sketch, was born in 1778. He came here and took up a tract of two hundred and forty acres of land near Seal Cove. This property is now owned by Call and Dyer. Here he built a log house and later a frame house. In 1811 he married Sarah B, Smith, a daughter of David Smith, sr., whom we have noticed was born in 1792 on Harbor Island, being the first white child born there. He afterwards bought the tract of land first taken up by Moses Staples, sr., which extended from William Stanley's to the Grindle lot. Previous to buying this last lot he had moved to Exeter, Maine, but he soon returned. Later he exchanged lots with his son John, and lived where Daniel McKay now resides. His farm at Seal Cove was divided between his two sons, John and David.

Mr. Stinson was one of the early justices of the peace here. He represented Swan's Island and Mount Desert in the State legislature in 1837. For several years he was a master mariner. Mr. Stinson was a well informed man, very decided in his views, and fond of discussing any subject. When he came here there were no public schools, and no municipal organization. He was foremost in getting this island organized as a plantation, which was accomplished in 1834 and he was tireless in his efforts to establish public schools, a most worthy undertaking for which he should long be remembered. He also was the means of having a post office established here, and he was appointed the first postmaster. Previous to this time there had been no regular mails or any place to receive them. Mails were sent and brought by any boat that chanced to go to the main land. He was in all a public spirited man, and worked for the public benefit of his adopted town, an example which, if more generally practiced at the present time, would result in much benefit now as well as to future generations.

Mr. Stinson died in 1867, aged eighty-nine years. His wife died in 1856, aged sixty-four years. They were the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, all of whom lived to adult age. The sons were: Rev. Benjamin F., born in 1812; John, born in 1815; William, born in 1817; David, born in 1821; Capt. Michael, born in 1833. The daughters were: Livonia, born in 1819, was the wife of Hardy Lane; Keturah, born in 1823, was the wife of Oliver Lane; Catherine was born in 1825, and was the wife of Roderick Joyce; she died in 1893, aged sixty-eight years. Sarah, born in 1827, was the wife of Eben Joyce; she died in 1855, aged fifty-eight years; Mary, born in 1832, married George Hemmingway, of Chelsea. The sons will be farther considered.

1. Rev. Benjamin F. Stinson, the oldest child of the family, was born in 1812. He attended the common school, and later the Maine Wesleyan seminary at Kent's Hill, where he prepared to enter the ministry in the service of the Methodist church. He married Hannah, daughter of Moses Staples, 2d. He occupied the place that his father had bought of Moses Staples, sr., and built a house where his brother, Capt. Michael Stinson, now lives. For several years he traded, doing a good business, and having an extensive trade. During the time he was trading there was no other store on the island. He also owned quite extensively in shipping. His store was located on the site now owned by S. Morse.

His methods of doing business were rather slack for his own benefit, and he soon went out of business. He then devoted his whole time in the service of the church, and was ordained about the year 1862. While belonging to the conference he preached at Deer Isle, Tremont, Addison, Hancock and other places. During the declining years of his life he settled down at Tremont, where he bought a farm belonging to Rev. Charles Brown. He preached at Tremont and Swan's Island alternate Sundays, often coming here in an open boat; he would subject himself to any exposure or inconvenience to meet an appointment. He was an earnest, faithful worker, and for his time was considered a good preacher, much beloved by those with whom he labored. A Methodist church recently erected at Gott's Island has been dedicated to his memory for the faithful services rendered it. While here he was often honored by offices of trust in the town affairs. He represented this town in the State legislature in 1855. His death occurred in 1887, at the age of seventy-five years. His wife died at Swan's Island in 1895, at the age of eighty-five years. She was the last survivor of a large family.

II. John Stinson settled on that part of the Grindle lot now owned by Daniel McKay, and he built the house now standing there. His wife was Lucy Smith, by whom he had the following children: Nelson, who married Mary Reed, and who now resides in Harpswell; Meletiah J., who married Viola Rowe; after his death she became the wife of Byron Morse, who died in 1897; Deborah, wife of Leroy Smith; she died in Belfast in 1896; Charlotte, wife of Frank Gott. Several other children died young. As already stated, John exchanged places with his father, and, together with his brother David, went to Seal Cove. They both lived in their father's house there for some years. Later they divided the lot of land, John building the house now owned by Henry B. Call, and David built the house now owned by Mr. Dyer. Mr. Stinson died in 1852, aged thirty-seven years.

III. William Stinson bought a part of Harbor Island, and built the house that now stands there. This island is still owned by his heirs and by Capt. Michael Stinson. He married Elizabeth Lane, of Deer Isle. After her death he married Lizzie, daughter of Billings Hardy, of Freeze's island. He died in 1890, aged seventy-three years. His children were: Sarah, wife of John Hardy, of Frankfort; Hardy and Oliver, who now reside in Boston.

IV. Capt. Michael Stinson is the only one of this family who resides in this town. In 1859 he married Naomi G. Whitney, of Shelburne, Nova Scotia. He was for many years a successful master mariner. He also did considerable business in trade.

Enoch Billings

Enoch Billings came here from Sedgwick in 1826, and took up the tract of land north of David Smith. It contained one hundred and seventy-five acres, and is known as the "Narrows lot". This place was afterwards bought by James Smith, and at present is owned by J. T. Crippen, of Ellsworth. On it are located some valuable stone quarries. Mr. Billings' wife was Sarah Carter, whom he married in Sedgwick previous to his coming here. She was a large, powerful woman, often performing feats of strength that would have done credit to a man.

Most of their children were born in Sedgwick; they were Enoch, who was afflicted with epileptic fits; one day while fishing in a boat, he had an epileptic seizure, fell from the boat, and was drowned; his boat was found anchored; John, another son, lived here for some years, and afterwards moved to Brewer, where he bought a large farm, and there he died; his wife was Harriet Billings; Johnson, another son, was born in Sedgwick in 1810, and came here with his father; he married Eliza Smith, a daughter of David Smith, sr.; he built a house over a cellar north of where Capt. John C. Kent now lies; this place he sold to Asa Smith when he moved to Stinson's Neck, Deer Isle, where he bought the farm near the schoolhouse. Mr. Billings was an industrious man, and lived in easy circumstances; he is now living, in his ninety-first year, hale and vigorous; his wife died in 1891, aged seventy-seven years.

The daughters of Enoch Billings were Edna, wife of Thomas Conary, of Surry, and Sarah, wife of Lovan Conary, of Surry. William and David Carter, brothers of Mrs. Enoch Billings, lived for some time here. William was drowned from a boat while coming from Deer Isle. David in after years moved away. They were both unmarried.

John Valentine

John Valentine came here from East Haddam, Conn., in 1852, and married the widow of John Stinson, on whose place he lived while here. Then afterwards moved to Rockland, where Mrs. Valentine died. Their children were Ann, who married a Mr. Manson in Massachusetts; Betsey and John, jr., also married in that state; the latter afterwards moved to Pennsylvania, and with him his father now resides.

Thomas Colomy

Thomas Colomy came here from Damariscotta in 1823, he being then only eighteen years of age. He made his first visit to the island while in a fishing vessel. Afterwards he came and lived for several years with the family of Samuel Kent. His wife was Mercy Kent, whom he married soon after coming here. He bought the land and built a house near where David Smith now lives. This place he sold at the solicitation of a friend and bought Conary's island near Deer Isle, but in this purchase he was greatly deceived; the condition of this place was so much different from what he had been led to expect that he soon came back here and bought the place of William Annis, where Hezekiah Holbrook now lives. Previous to going to Conary's island he sold his farm here to David Smith, 3d, who still occupies it. After living on the Annis place some years, he moved to Irish point and bought the place then owned by David Stinson, next adjoining the Smith lot, where he spent the remainder of his years. He died in 1884, at the age of seventy-nine years. Mrs. Colomy died in 1879, aged fifty-nine years. They were the parents of ten children, most of whom have moved from this town.

The daughters were: Roxana, wife of Joseph Whitmore; Caroline, wife of Joel Whitmore, both of Deer Isle; these two daughters now reside in California; Lizzie, wife of Capt. Courtney Crockett, of Deer Isle; he was lost at sea in 1883 in the schooner "J. H. Miller", while he was on a voyage to Boston where he was to sell his vessel; this was to be his last trip to sea; his widow still resides at Oceanville; Lorenia, wife of William Sullivan, of Nova Scotia; they reside at Deer Isle; Margaret, Marietta and an infant died young.

The sons were: Franklin, who married Mary Whitmore; Edwin, who married Carrie Whitmore, both of Deer Isle, where they now reside; Hiram J., who was the only one of the family who settled here; he owned the place formerly occupied by his father at Irish point; his wife was Eva Smith; Mr. Colomy was drowned from an open boat Oct. 10, 1894: he started to row out from Seal Cove around Irish point in the face of a furious gale. It was raining very hard, rendering his frail boat very slippery and it is supposed that in trying to change his position in the boat he slipped and fell into the water: his brother coming from Deer Isle in a boat picked up his empty boat and towed it into Old Harbor; he was forty-nine years of age.

Kimball Herrick

Kimball Herrick came to this island and bought the John Smith place at Irish point, in 1839. His father was Eben Herrick, of Brooklin, one of the pioneer settlers there. His mother's maiden name was Priscilla Bridges. He had eight children. The daughters were: Affie, Emmeline, Hannah and Matilda; the sons were: Walter, Shadrich, Elijah, and Kimball, the subject of our sketch: they are now all dead.

Kimball was born in Brooklin in 1803, where he lived until after his marriage. His wife was Abigail M. Babson. Previous to his coming here he lived three years on Marshall's island, but he never owned any property there. Mr. Herrick died in 1887, aged eighty-four years. His wife died in 1884, aged eighty years. They were the parents of three daughters, all of whom are living here. They are Sarah A. widow of Ambrose Gott; Sapphira, widow of Isaiah L. Stanley; Abbie, wife of Abram Holbrook.

Samuel Kent

Samuel Kent came here in 1805 from Annisquam, Mass., and for a number of years lived with his brother=in=law, Alexander Nutter, whose place he had when Mr. Nutter moved away. His place is what is now known as the Irish point farm.

The Kents are a very old family in this country. Three brothers came here from England in 1630, and landed in Portsmouth, N. H. Tradition says that in England they were in hiding five years to escape being beheaded during the reign of Charles I. They finally escaped and came to this country. Three brothers, Charles, Martin and Daniel, descendants of these Kents, came to this State from Marshfield, Mass., in 1793, and settled what has since been known as Kent's Hill, the location of the Maine Wesleyan seminary and female college. The Marshfield records also give the name of Samuel Kent, who married in 1728, Desire Baker, and in 1731 they had a son, also Samuel. Another of this family, Thomas Kent, settled near Gloucester in 1649. He had two sons, John and Samuel; the latter was married in 1654. He also had a son Samuel, born in 1661. This family being the only Kent family recorded as ever settling on Cape Ann, was undoubtedly the ancestor of the Mr. Kent who came to this town. The names given to his children here are but a repetition of the names of the Kent family on Cape Ann. This custom of naming children for family relatives was then almost universal. There are many Kents now living in or near Gloucester, and many of their descendants are scattered through Maine.

Mr. Kent married before coming here Katie Woolens, of Gloucester. They were the parents of nine children. Mr. Kent was drowned about the year 1831, while coming from Deer Isle in an open boat, where he had been to get Richard Warren to perform the marriage ceremony for his son Samuel. He accidentally fell overboard; a strong breeze was blowing, and before assistance could be rendered he had become exhausted and was drowned. His wife died in 1838. His property afterwards fell into the hands of ex-Governor Edward Kent, of Bangor, and was afterwards sold to John Smith and Kimball Herrick. Their daughters were: Abigail, wife of Asa Smith; Asenath, wife of a Mr. Smith, of Boston, where they reside; Mercy, wife o

I. Benjamin, who was born in 1801, in Annisquam. His wife was Ann Smith, by whom he had five children. The daughters were: Sabrina, wife of John Wallace, of Jonesport; Sarah, wife of John Dobbin; Mercy, wife of Levi Alley. The sons were: David, who married Elvira Wallace; John, who married a Mrs. Alley. The whole family settled at Jonesport.

II. Samuel was the second son. He was born in Annisquam in 1803; his wife was Mary, daughter of David Smith, sr. Mr. Kent, with George Smith, bought the Billings lot and built the house where Charles W. Kent now lives. They were the parents of six children, Eliza, Henrietta, Charles W., John Calvin, James E. and Hosea M. Mr. Kent died in 1877, aged seventy-four years. Mrs. Kent died in 1897, at the age of eighty-five years. The only survivor of the family of David Smith, sr., is Mrs. Kent's sister, Dorothy, wife of Benjamin Smith, 2d.

III. James, another son, married Rebecca Stower, of Gouldsboro. They settled in Brooklin where they died.

IV. Martin, in 1844, married Lois Billings. They resided in Sedgwick. He was a master mariner.

V. Hiram married, in 1848, Nancy, daughter of William Stanley. He owned the house built on a part of the land formerly owned by Benjamin Stinson, where lie always resided. He died very suddenly; he retired in his usual health, and in the morning was found dead in bed. His death occurred in 1894, aged sixty-seven years. His wife died in 1866, at the age of thirty-five years.


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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