“A Scene of Perfect Desolation” By 1700, Portland and the islands in the harbor were largely deserted. The Ango-Abenaki Wars raged on and off and any English settlers who straggled back to the area were driven off again. Fort Loyal, at the foot of what is now India Street, built to defend the area, …

The New World Wasn’t New “Between 1500 and 1800, roughly two and a half million Europeans moved to the Americas… and as many as 50 million Native Americans died, chiefly of disease…” Jill Lepore Peaks Island was inhabited when Italian explorer Verrazzano sailed up what is now the Maine coast in 1524.  The islands …

Interesting things pop up in the Fifth Maine Museum collections weekly. The most recent was a handwritten “yarn” about a fisherman’s close call with a big fish in Casco Bay. Some context about details that appear in the story to follow: In the 1800s and early 1900s, “horse mackerel” was a vernacular term for …

What is the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery? Read on to find out! For a relatively small place (one square mile, approximately), Peaks Island has a lot of cemeteries, a testament to our long history of settlement. The earliest is the somewhat awkwardly named Ye Olde Trott Burying Ground off Upper A …

“The scene of indescribable confusion among the prisoners presents them in every imaginable position, standing, walking, running, arguing, gambling, going to or coming from the Branch with cups, dippers, canteens, or rude pails with water, lying down, dying, praying, giving water or food to the sick, crawling on hands and knees, or hunkers, making …

Maps are rich historical sources that can help people visualize the past, and how geographic places have changed over time. The Fifth Maine Museum collection contains many maps, plans, and surveys, and they document how Peaks Island’s land was used over the past 150 years. Map, Exploring Peaks Island, circa 1980. This ephemeral map …

What do these words all have in common: Belle Arbre, Casa Loma, Chula Vista, Chinquilla, Kakoosak, Mecca, and Deostehgaa? Or Dab-da, Gilt Edge, Lambkin, and Chubby? How about Comet, Enid, Over There, and Snookums? You might guess geographic places, or possibly names of family pets, but…no. These are just a few of the names …

There’s a fascinating collection in the Fifth Maine Museum archive that documents the history of Peaks Island secession movements. Long-time islanders likely remember the most recent attempt, in 2011, to leave the City of Portland and establish an independent town. But did you know that islanders have toyed with the idea of self-governance at …

September means back-to-school, fresh notebooks, sharp pencils, and a bittersweet reintroduction of structure into many families’ lives. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted these rituals, and it has us thinking about how a school serves as a linchpin that holds a community together. Some of the girls at Peaks Island School circa 1925   …

On March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state as part of Maine-Missouri Compromise. The state-wide celebration of Maine’s 200th birthday – years in the planning – was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many events are delayed until 2021. While we wait to mark the anniversary, we can look back to the centennial celebration …