The names that Peaks Island has borne at different times are of much interest in its history. The first known name of the island was Pond, but that name was changed by George Cleeve to Michael’s Island in 1637. Probably about 1661 it was called Munjoy’s Island, for George Munjoy, and then about 1670 it became known as Palmer’s Island, for John Palmer, which name it seems to have borne up to the resettlement of the town in 1716, although it was then sometimes called Munjoy’s Island. Perhaps soon after the town was resettled the island became to be known as Peaks Island, although there is no known reason why that name was taken. Joseph Peake was a soldier in Capt. Dominicus Jordan’s Company in 1744; he may be the man for whom it was named, as he must have lived at Cape Elizabeth or perhaps on the island. There appears no record of any person of that name ever owning the island before 1741, when it was called Peaks Island.

Map of Peaks Island Maine

Map of Peaks Island Maine

Peaks Island is next to the largest island in Casco Bay, and in its widest part is one and one-half miles long, and one and one-quarter broad. It had, in 1896, a resident population of 343. In the early times it was probably covered with a growth of hard wood, of small size, and bushes. For two centuries there was not a regular road or a horse upon the island. The farm work was done by oxen. The inhabitants were formerly engaged in a little farming and a good deal of fishing, but in later years the entertainment of summer visitors engaged most of their attention.

At the time of the Revolution there were probably but three houses on the island: Thomas Brackett’s, Benjamin Trott’s, and the house near Trefethen’s Landing, where Capt. John Waite had lived. In 1830 there were on Peaks Island thirteen families and seventy inhabitants. In 1833 there were the following houses there: Joseph Reed’s, occupied by his sons-in-law, Nathaniel S. Millett and Walter S. Hatch; Benjamin Welch’s, John T. Brackett’s, now the Peaks Island House, Joshua Trott’s (the old Trott house), Luther Sterling’s (the Mansfield house), Benjamin Trott, Jr.’s, with Francis and Charles Woodbury’s, near Trefethen‘s Landing. They were all one-story except John T. Brackett’s and Joshua Trott’s, which were two.

Many families have lived on the island in different generations who have had no titles to the land, who have been long, long forgotten.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction. — Names of the Island. — Area of Islands. — Early Houses
  2. Titles to Peaks Island. — Captain John Waite and Family. — Brackett and Trott Lands
  3. The Stone House. — Its Location and History. — ” The Refuge.” — George Felt, Jr., and his Massacre. — Indian History
  4. Revolutionary Alarm. — Shipwreck. — Harbor Frozen.— A Hermit. — Soldiers Of the Rebellion. — Regimental Buildings. — Religious Meetings. — Home of the Ancestors of Two Famous Americans
  5. Steamboat Lines. — Steamers Kennebec, Antelope, Casco, Gazelle, and others
  6. Family Histories. — Brackett, Trott, Woodbury, Parsons, Jones, Skillings, Sterling, Trefethen, Scott
  7. House Island. — The Owners and Some of Their History

 

Source: Gould, Nathan. A history of Peaks Island and its people: also a short history of House Island, Portland, Maine. Portland, ME: The Lakeside Press. 1897.