History of Mount Desert, Maine
A Gazetteer of the
State of Maine

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

Mount Desert, in Hancock County, formerly included the whole island, with some neighboring small islands. It now includes a belt across the middle of the island, with several small islands near it. The chief natural features of the town are its mountains, and an arm of the sea called Somes’ Sound. This body of water is two miles wide at its mouth, and extends northward through the mountain ranges, affording a sail through the heart of the best scenery of the island. The considerable bodies of fresh water in this town are Long Pond, Echo Lake, or Deering’s Pond, and Seal Cove Pond, the first 5 miles in length by 14 in width, the others about one-half as large. The mountains are Pemetic (1,202 feet in height); the Bubbles, —North (845 ft.), and South (780 ft.); The Peak of Otter (506 ft.), The Beehive (540 ft.); Otter Cliff (112 ft.); The Cleft, North (610 ft.), and South (460 ft.) ; Jordan’s Hills, North (340 ft.), and South (360 ft.); Brown’s Mountain (860 ft.); Flying Mountain (300 ft.); Robinson’s Mountain (700 ft.); Dog Mountain (670 ft.); and Carter’s Nubble (480 ft.).

The bowider phenomena is exhibited in this town to a wonderful degree. There are wandering rocks of red and blue granite, trap, gneiss, mica schist, clay slate, and fossiliferous sandstones. The greater part of the bed rock here called granite, is protoginetaic being substituted for mica. There is also considerable sienite in which is hornblende instead of mica, having veins of magnetic iron, arsenical iron and pyrites.

The principal harbors are Somes’, Pretty Marsh, and North East. Somesville, the principal village, is situated at the head of the sound, having an excellent harbor. There is quite a water-power at the place, furnished by Somes’ Stream, on which are a saw-mill, woollen-factory, and grist-mill. There is also a steam saw-mill. The post-offices are Mount Desert (Somesville), North East Harbor, Pretty Marsh and Long Pond. Considerable business is done in the town in gathering ice, the annual crop being estimated at 12,000 tons. There are also several granite quarries, one of which employs about 40 men. The annual shipment of cut stone is estimated at 3,500 tons. It is said that there is not a level field in town. Hay is a small crop, and it brings a better price than in neighboring towns.

Mount Desert Island was a familiar landmark to the early voyagers of the coast. Its name seems to have been first applied by De Monts in 1604. It was temporarily occupied by the French in that year. In 1608, the Jesuits, Peter Biard and Enemond Masse established a mission on the island, supposed to have been located at Fernald's Point at the base of Flying Mountain, about two miles north of South-West Harbor. “Here they constructed a fortified habitation, planted a garden, and dwelt five years; entering with great seal and perseverance upon the work of converting the natives to their faith.” In 1613. the island having been granted to Madame de Guercheville, a lady of zealous piety, connected with the French Court, a colony of about twentyfive persons, led by Saussaye, were sent out by her to join the two missionaries. Before their fort was fully completed, they were attacked by Argall, Governor of South Virginia, who captured or scattered both the colonists and their Indian friends. No attempt appears to have been made by the French to resettle the island until one Cadilliac received from Louis XIV. a grant containing 100,000 acres, bordering for two leagues on the bay near Jordan’s River on the mainland, and the same on Mount Desert Island, including the smaller islands lying in the bay. He made a resolute attempt to hold his ground, but in 1713, after the cession of the whole of Acadie to England, he abandoned it. In 1785, however, his granddaughter, Madame de Gregoire, claimed of the General Court of Massachusetts the lands of her ancester. The Court naturalized the claimant and her husband, and quit-claimed to them all but lots of 100 acres each for actual settlers. Having been abandoned by the French, in 1688, an Englishman named Hinds, with his wife and four children, lived here. The first permanent settlement was by Abraham Somes and James Richardson, in 1761. The first child, George Richardson, was born in August, 1793. The first marriage was on August 9, 1774. Mount Desert Island became a Plantation in 1776, and was incorporatec1 as a town in 1789. In 1838. Bartlett’s, Hardwood and Robinson’s Islands were set off and incorporated. into “Seaville.” Christopher Bartlett first settled on Bartlett’s Island about 1770. The act incorporating Seaville was repealed in 1859, Bartlett’s Island again becoming a part of Mount Desert. Eden was set off in 1796, and Tremont in 1848. The island contained an area of about 60,000 acres, of which Eden has 22,000, and Tremont half the remainder.

The Congregationalists have a church in the town, and maintain a clergyman. Mount Desert has nine public schoolhouses, and its school property is valued at $3,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $158,069. In 1880 it was $160,803. The population in 1870 was 918. In the census of 1880 it was 1,017.

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