OLD STORIES FROM SWAN'S ISLAND
A collection of re-typed newspaper articles found in scrapbooks, along with items located, or accumulated in other ways, is available for your reading pleasure. Some of the stories are very interesting, and all tell a part of the story of Swan's Island and its people.
Read the stories...

V
iew over 1,000 photographs from Swan's Island's past.
ISLAND HISTORY

At the time of the first charting of the island by Champlain in 1604, it was inhabited by local bands of Indians as a summer retreat. In 1786, Colonel James Swan of Massachusetts purchased the island with hopes of founding a settlement. However, the events of the times prevented his ever residing on the island and the first permanent white settler was David Smith, a Revolutionary War veteran who came to the island from New Hampshire in 1791. Tales of his strength and prowess led to the nickname "King David", and the 24 children produced by his two marriages did nothing to diminish the legend. Even today most of the native island residents can trace some lineage to King David. He died in 1840 and is buried in the cemetery "up at the north".

Through the 1800's the island settlement grew and prospered. By the turn of the century it was a thriving community of over a thousand hardy souls engaged in fishing, farming and quarrying. Fish processing was an important part of the economy from the early 1900's to the 1930's when it was discontinued due to changing economic factors. Lobstering sustains the island economy now. Today there are approximately 350 year-round residents with more than triple that number in the summer.

Aside from privately owned fishing boats, major access to the island between the late 1800's and the 1940's was by daily steamboat from Rockland. From the 1940's to 1960, there was mailboat service to the island. However, in 1960 the State instituted a regular ferry service from Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island, making profound changes in the island economy. Yet, despite the impact of a larger summer community, the pace of the Island life is still determined by an economy tied closely to the demands and vagaries of the surrounding ocean.

There are three villages, Swan's Island, Atlantic and Minturn, but all three belong to the Town of Swan's Island. In 1954 a consolidated school was built and it has been a unifying influence of the three distinct communities.
Dr. Small wrote a book called the "History of Swan's Island" and had a small printing published in about 1898.
He began, and possibly finished, a second edition before his death in 1937. Included here on this website is a portion (fewer than 100 pages) of this second edition, which was recently located.
Find out more about Dr. Small's work and download the second edition in PDF format.

The Swan's Island Historical Society has been gathering family history or 'Genealogy' information based upon the work of Dr. Herman W. Small's 'History of Swan's Island'

and the work of Grace Bischoff, a former summer resident of the Island.  Ms. Bischoff traced connections of many Island families to Mayflower and Revolutionary ancestors.
View Swan's Island's Genealogy...