History of Deer Isle, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

By Geo. J. Varney
Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill,
Boston 1886

Deer Isle, in Hancock County, is a group of three islands lying between the northern part of Isle nu Haute Bay and Brooklin and Sedgewick on the mainland. It is 35 miles south-south-west of Ellsworth. The town includes Little Deer Isle, Great Deer Isle, and Eagle Isle. The first mentioned and most northerly of the group has an area of 1,000 acres, which is well suited to agriculture. Great Deer Isle is about 10 miles in length, from north to south, and near 5 miles in width. The surface in the northern part is rather level, while in the south it is rough. Nicaceous limestone was undoubtedly the parent rock of Deer Isle, but it has been crystalized, and is thus rendered unfit for quicklime, though suitable for architectural sculpture. At the “Reach” is a quarry which is operated for this marble, affording a yearly product of 4,000 tons of rough and cut stone; while roofing slate of a good quality has been found on Little Deer Isle. At this place, it is stated, are found conclusive evidences of an extinct volcano, which in some of rhe by-gone years, belched forth its showers of ashes, and poured out its molten lava. As will be apparent, the transition series of rocks is well charicterized in these islands. Large deposits of silver, also, have recently been found, and two companies now hold property on the island for the purpose of mining this mineral.

The soil is loamy, and the largest crop is potatoes. The forest trees are principally spruce and fir. Along the roadsides in the most thickly settled parts of the town, are many shade trees from five to forty years old, of various kinds, but mostly chestnut. Adam’s Hill, is the principal eminence, reaching a height of 256 feet above the sea. Torry’s and Marshall’s are the only considerable ponds, one being a mile long, the other two miles. Smith’s mineral spring has a local celebrity. The manufactures consist of sails, wrought granite; while at Oceanville and at Green’s Landing, are establishments for the packing of the various kinds of fish.

Deer Isle was incorporated in 1789, being the fourth town in the county. The first known visit of Europeans was that of Weymouth in 1605. It early received its name from the abundance of deer in its forests. The first settlement was commenced by William Eaton near what is now known as the “Scott Farm,” in 1762. The first church was built in 1773, and the first preacher was Rev. Mr. Noble; the first pastor was Rev. Peter Powers. In 1809, Rev. Joseph Brown, a dissenter, was installed. The first white child was Timothy Billings, born May, 1764. The privations of the settlers during the war of the Revolution were terrible.

The number of Deer Islanders in the service of the Union during the war of the Rebellion was, soldiers and sailors, 386, and of these 55 were lost. The amount of bounty paid by the town was $59,128.

The climate is quite salubrious, as is apparent from the number of old people, there being 10 between eighty and one hundred years of age. As a summer resort, it is highly esteemed by its visitors, having good hotels, ample boating and fishing facilities, as well as drives. The roads are good, and the buildings are generally in good repair, and a look of thrift prevails. There is a nice town-hail, three stories in height. There are in town two Congregational church-edifices, two Methodist and two Baptist. Deer Isle has three high-schools, and its public schoolhouses number twenty. The school property is valued at $8,810. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $417,211. In 1880 it was $373,182. The rate of taxation in 1880 was two per cent. The population in 1790 was 682; in 1870, 3,414; in 1880, 3,267.

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