Sunday, July 13, 2008

Captain Samuel Haley Jr's Lucky Day

My mother atttended a reunion of the Haley family, her father's people, in New Hampshire in July 1993. It was held at a cousin's bed & breakfast. My motto is "My presence is a present" so when I learned they were charging admission I didn't go. She brought back a bottle of Shoals Pale Ale, a gift from a cousin who works on the floor of the New York Stock exchange. The picture of the cabin on the label is the home of Captain Samuel Haley. It is the oldest house in both the states of Maine and New Hamshire today. Captain Haley's older brother Thomas was my 6 generations removed grandfather.

I can remember visiting my grandfather's grandpa on several occaisions when I was a toddler and trying to engage him in conversation as I clutched at his knee trying to keep my balance as I was just learning to walk. He wasn't hard of hearing; it was a matter of I hadn't learned to talk yet. He had grey hair, a long grey beard which had red hair in it, bright blue eyey. I was only two years old when he died in October 1954. His funeral was at home.
I got under foot so was put in a bedroom upstairs for a nap in the same room as my sister who was 5 months old. She didn't want to take a nap either and I can recall her standing in the crib screaming with rage. A couple of my boy cousins ages 5 & 7 were also in this room behaving badly, playing catch with containers of dusting poweder and pouring the contents of bottles of cheap cologne out of the window.
Their mother came up several times to chastise them for all the noise. Those boys had the nerve to tell their mom that my baby sister, an infant, had been jumping up and down on grandma's bed, had written on the wallpaper with lipstick and it was she who had spilled 'Evening in Paris' out of the window and poured 'Cashmere Bouquet' dusting powder all over the top of the vanity table. Their mom wasn't buying it and took them off to some more secure environment. I don't think they ever did take a nap although I did eventually fall asleep after making sure the wild boys weren't going to bean us with cosmetics baseballs. One of these boys is now the stock broker. His brother is a musician in a California rock band.

I was surprised to come across mention of Captain Samuel Haley in Anita Shreve's 1997 book The Weight of Water. What she said was that acording to the January 18,1813 Boston Gazette on the night of January 14 a Spanish ship, the Conception, weighing up to 400 tons and laden with salt shipwrecked on Smuttynose Island in the Isles of Shoals and the 14 man crew froze to death in a blizzard trying to crawl the 40 feet to Captain Haley's cabin. Only 1 made it as far as the stone wall. Because there was no light house on the island Captain Haley and his son Samuel Jr. always kept a lit candle in the window of the cabin nightly. Captain Haley Jr. found one of the sailors the next day. 6 more were discovered by January 17, 5 more on January 21 and the last washed up on Hog's Island on January 27th.

Captain Haley settled on Smuttynose Island a few years before the American Revolution. He built the cabin which is now a museum. He and his son Captain Samuel Haley Jr. planted a cherry orchard, built a wind powered grist mill, a bake house, a salt works, blacksmith and cooper shops, a rope walk and a break water between Smuttynose and Malaga Islands.

It took a long time to finnish the break water. While Captain Haley Jr. was building it he turned over a flat rock and found 4 silver bars. It was a fortune in those times. With the proceeds from the silver he finnished the breakwater and built a pier around Smuttynose. The breakwater was destroyed by fire in February 1978.

Captain Haley Jr. said the silver bars were from the ship wreck but in all probability they were part of Blackbeard the pirate's treasure trove. Blackbeard's real name was Edward Teach. He honeymooned on Smuttynose Island in 1720 with his 15th and last wife Esmeralda and it is rumored he buried his treasure there.

Other things that happened on the Isles of Shoals: in 1724 Betty Moody hid herself and her 3 children from Indians in a cavern. The youngest was an infant. She accidentally smothered the baby while trying to keep it quiet enough to avoid detection from Indains who were hunting them.

Boston painter William Morris Hunt drowned while staying at the Appledore Hotel in September 1879, an apparent suicide.

On the night of March 5,1873 two Norwegian women, Anethe and Karen Christensen were murdered and a thrid woman who survied, Mara Christensen, their sister/sister-in-law blamed it on an ininerant worker named Louis Wagner. The case eventually went to court in Maine. Poet Celia Thaxter wrote a story about it in 1875, A Memorable Murder.

It was interesting watching the film Weight of Water to see what a cabin on Smutty Nose Island looked like. Life must have been bleak. There were no trees.

Further research on the area tells me that the Isles of Shoals is a group of 9 small islands located 10 miles southeast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the Gulf of Maine near the Atlantic Ocean. The total area is only 3 1/2 miles north to south and 1 1/2 miles east to west. White and Seavey Islands are connected at low tide so it essentially 8 islands.

The largest island was christened Hog Island because it looked like a fat pig wallowing in the sea. It is now called Appledore although it has also been known as Farm Island. It is 95 acres, 1 mile from east to west, 5/8 a mile from north to south. Appledore is the operating station of Shoals Marine Laboratory, a joint effort of Cornell University and University of New Hamshire.

The next largest is Star Island, 46 acres. Star is the only island in the group served by a commercial boat from the main land. It has a religious conference center affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Asociation and the United Church of Christ. During the summers the island hosts week long conferences which are held at the Oceanic Hotel and Gosport House, the 150 year old chapel and several buildings dating back to the original village.

Smuttynose is the next largest after Star. It got its name from seaweed clumped on a rock extending into the ocean. Smuttyose Island is 2800 feet east tp west. 1000 feet north to south, 27.1 acres of rocks. It is 30 feet above sea level. Captain Samuel Haley and his son were the first to settle it so for a time it was known as Haley's Isle.

Of the other islands White Island has 1 of the 2 light houses on the coast of New Hampshire. Londoners Island is now called Lunging Island and was the site of an early trading post for codfish. Duck Island is 1.5 miles to the north and was used by the US Navy for a bombing range but is now a wildlife sanctuary and is home to a seal colony.

Breakwaters connect Smuttynose, Malaga, Cedar and Star Islands.

Those islands were used for seasonal fishing camps by Native Americans and were an important fishing area for the British and French colonies. They were first setttled by Europeans in the 1600's. The Isles of Shoals were named by Captain John Smith but he never landed there. The first recorded landfall of an Englishman was Christopher Levett in 1623 along with 300 fishermen in 6 ships, reporting the place was largely abandoned.

In 1635 the islands were formerly divided between the Masachusetts Bay Colony provinces of New Hampshire and Maine. 5 of the islands in the group - Duck, Hog, Malaga, Smuttynose and Cedar went to Maine. The other 4 - Star, Londoners, White & Seavey went to New Hampshire. When the ordinance was enacted all the residents of Star moved to Smuttynose because it was still legal to drink in Maine. The province of Maine under Massachusetts Bay Colony rule incorporated Gosport on Hog Island. Massachusetts increased taxes and recent availabilty of housing on Star Island in New Hampshire caused another mass migration in 1715, establishing the township of Gosport on Star Island.

Gosport prospered until 1778 when the islanders had to evacuate to Rye, New Hampshire due to hostilities in the Revolutionary War. The Isles were sparesely populated after that until mid-19th centruery when Thomas Laighton and Levi Thaxter opened a hotel on Appledore Island. Laighton's daughter Celia married Thaxter when she was 16 and she became the most popular American female poet of her time. She hosted an arts community and was visited by Nathaniel Hawthorne and impressionist painter Childe Hassam. The Apppledore hotel was lost in a fire in 1914.

The popularity of the Appledore Hotel led to establishment of the Mid Ocean Hotel on Smuttynose and the Oceanic on Star Island which is still in use today.
What we know about Captain Samuel Haley is that his father was Thomas Haley, a joyner by trade, born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1692. He died at an advanced age, 103, some say 107.
Thomas had 2 sons, Thomas and Samuel Haley. Captain Samuel Haley, a mariner by trade was born in March 1727 in Exeter, New Hampshire and died on Smuttynose in 1811 aged 84.
Captain Samuel Haley had a son, Captain Samuel Haley Jr., also a mariner. He was born April 4,1760 and died October 15,1839, aged 79.
Thomas Haley, Captain Samuel's brother was 5 years older than he. Thomas was born December 17,1722 in Exeter, New Hampshire and died November 12, 1815 in Epping, New Hampshire.
Thomas had a son, Samuel Haley, born June 10, 1759 in Epping, New Hampshire and died there December 6,1834.
Samuel Haley had a son, Gordon Haley, born March 5,1781 in Epping, New Hampshire and died there December 6,1834.
Gordon Haley had a son named Deacon Thomas Haley, who was a farmer. Deacon Thomas was born September 20,1801 in Deerfield, New Hampshire and died January 26,1889 in East Andover, New Hampshire.
Deacon Thomas had a son, Thomas Jefferson Haley, also a farmer. He was born July 7,1836 in East Andover, New Hampshire and died October 4,1918 in Buda, Illinois.
Thomas Jefferson Haley had a son, Scott Fred Haley, also a farmer. He was born December 11,1877 in Buda, Illinois and died there October 16,1954.
Scott Fred is the one whom I remember. His son died at an early age and his grandson, my grandfather Hubert Gaskill Haley passed away when he was 42 years old in 1950 before I was born.
Smuttynose Brewing Company is a microbrewery operation in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and was started by a group of young men who were college friends in the late 1970's.
Information on the Isles of Shoals came from these books and periodicals:
Ten Miles Out: A Guide Book to the Isles of Shoals by the Isles of Shoals Unitarian Association, 1972
Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend, 1976 and Moonlight Murder on Smuttynose, 1958 by Lyman Rutledge
Isles of Shoals: A Visual History by John Bardwell, 1989
Death of William Morris Hunt, New York Times, September 9,1879
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve, 1997
Wikipedia, July 11,2008