Category Archives: Further Info

Mrs. Cmaylo’s excellent adventure

Scraper backMrs. Kathy Cmaylo, teacher at Consolidated School in Kennebunkport is an avid Kayaker. She loves to visit the islands in Cape Porpoise Harbor and take photographs of the treasures she finds there. In August of 2008, something tapped against her leg as she stepped out of her boat onto Green Island aka President George H.W. Bush Island.  She gave the artifact to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust.  They have teamed up with the Maine State Museum to do some archeological investigation on several of the islands in Cape Porpoise Harbor.   For more information, see Hunt for Stage Island Fort  and  Desperate Letter from Wells 

Walking All Over A President at

Scraper front

Ancient skulls uncovered at Cape Arundel

Olean Evening Times October 17, 1919
Olean Evening Times October 17, 1919

Atwater Kent’s neighbors called him a grave robber when he bought the land next to his Cape Arundel home near St Ann’s and dug up the graves of early Cape Porpoise Settlers to expand his lawn.

In a letter to her daughter Alice, Eleanor Rogers, who summered at what is now the Franciscan Monestary, wrote of Atwater Kent:

“Since he bought the point and dug out the old fort and burned off the rubbish, he has just had permission from relatives left, of the buried ancestors to remove their bones.  It is hard to locate those without stones as it was the habit of that day to remove the handles from the coffins and the name plate and mount them on velvet, as a parlor ornament.  He had in his pocket a white obsidiary arrowhead, one of the best I ever saw, which was under a skull as they lifted it, and the skull had a hole into which the arrow had just fitted, at the base of the brain.”

The Biddeford Weekly Journal reported the remarkable discovery on October 10, 1919.  The story in the Biddeford newspaper varied slightly from the one Mrs. Rogers told.   The reporter considered the discovery of special interest to students of the earliest history of Maine.

“In removing a grassy mound which was situated close to the fort and was no doubt embracedin the land occupied as a cemetery the workmen came across at a depth of about six feet a perfect skull (not skeleton) of a white man imbedded in which was an indian arrow, the weapon sticking out from the top of the skull just as apparently it had been left when the victim was buried after being slain by a redskin with bow and arrow.  Equally remarkable and interesting was another find in almost the same spot, which was that of a skull showing plainly that the man had been scalped by Indians.  The very tip of the victim’s head had in this case been cut off as clean and smooth as the most skillful scalper could do the job.”

The only partial skeleton found, according to the Biddeford reporter, was that of the man that based on the size of individual bones was hypothosized to be seven feet tall.  “It is certain,” the newsman continued, “that when the facts reach the ears of the of the officials at the Maine Historical Society… doubtless further excavations will be made.”  Apparently that never happened, in spite of the fact that Henry S. Burrage, the State Historian, summered in Kennebunkport.

The cemetery was that of the Jeremiah Smith family.  Atwater Kent moved most of the Smith’s to the Landing Cemetery and Arundel Cemetery but the skeleton and two skulls found under the grass mound adjacent to the old 1812 fort must have been much older.  Indians were using guns for hunting  during the 17th century but arrows and tomahawks were war weapons into the 18th century.  Many of the Indians described in Bradbury’s history used guns to attack the settlers.

Mrs. Rogers calls the arrowhead “white obsidiary”.  Even assuming she meant “obsidian,” it is still puzzling since obsidian was reportedly not found in New England.

The Kennebunkport Historical Society has a human skull in the vault that in the catalog is described as a skull found by Atwater Kent at Kennebunk Point.  It is further explained that at one time the arrowhead accompanied the skull but it was lost before the Historical Society received it.  The damage to the skull looks more like the clean cut described as having been caused by a tomahawk.  There is one scalping described in Bradbury’s history.  Old white-haired Mr. Joseph Bailey was scalped by an Indian at the site of the Garrison House in Cape Porpoise in October of 1723.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn how old the skull at the Historical Society is?

Read about the Indian attacks that we know took place in the Kennebunks.  Included are attacks that took place on Trotts Island and on Vaughn’s Island.

Known Indian attacks on the Kennebunks

Apr 1689 Stage Island attack

1688 Oct 11 –  Bussey and Barrow – Barrow may actuallyhave  been Barrett.  (see 1689).  A letter dated Oct 16, 1688, written by John Allyn to Gov Andros, refers to an attack at Cape Porpoise that took place on Oct 11.

  • 1689  Apr  –  Attack at Stage Island Fort.  John Barrett was killed.  An Indian attack on Cape Porpoise is described in a desperate letter from Wells   “they came to Cape-Porpus burnt a house begun to be Garrisoned, belonging to Nicho Moorey slew one young man: uiz: John Barrett (whose father and two Brothers, were killed by sum Indians as is supposed, ye last fall)”

1703   –  Stephen Harding and his family fled their home in time to save themselves from an Indian attack.

The Durrell family upriver were not so fortunate.  Philip Durrell’s wife and 4 children were kidnapped while he was away from home.  Mrs. Durrell persuaded the Indians to let her return home with her one infant son.  She was kidnapped again in 1726 and she , her daughter and infant granddaughter were all killed.

1713   –  William Larrabee’s family was killed at his home near Butler’s Rock.

1723   –  The Old Garrison House now stands in Cape Porpoise at the site of the earlier Major’s Garrison.  White-haired Mr. Joseph Baily was scalped and killed by Indians there in October of 1723.   During the same month, two men from Huff’s Garrison, Fitz Henry, and Bartow, being on Vaughn’s Island for wood, were surprised and wounded by three Indians.  The Indians tortured the two men, trying to get them to reveal the number of men at the garrison.  The Indians killed them and threw their bodies into a creek on the island which still bears the name Fitz Henry’s Ditch.  Also in 1723, Thirty women and children were sheltered at Harding’s Garrison when Chief  WaWa of Great Hill and his men unsuccessfully attacked.

1724 Mar   –   Felt, Wormwood and Lewis were killed by Indians while loading lumber onto a vessel anchored on the Kennebunk River.  All three were killed with bullets.  Sergeant Smith, of the Cape Porpoise fort, was killed by Indians on March 23, 1724.  Bradbury says he was killed at the fort on Stage Island but the new fort had already been built.  Others say Smith was killed on Vaughn’s Island.

1725  –  Mr. Huff’s daughter was milking his cow near Huff’s garrison when she was attacked by an Indian.  She knocked him down with her milk pail and made her escape to the house.  The same year, a boy was sent to Trott’s Island to retrieve his father’s cow.  When he didn’t return another son was sent and then a third.  None of the boys ever returned.  The next morning their heads were discovered elevated on poles and seven Indians were tracked from Trott’s Island.  A man was also killed by Indians at Goff’s Brook in 1725.

1726 – Oct The Durrell family home was once again attacked by Indians on October 26, 1726. John Wheelwright described the attack in a letter he wrote to Boston the following day:

“Phillip Durrell of Kennebunk, went from his house with one of his sons to work, the sun being about two hours high, leaving at home his wife, a son twelve years old, and a married daughter with a child 20 months old. He returned home a little before sunset, when he found his family all gone, and his house set on fire, his chests split open and all his clothing carried away. He searched the woods and found no signs of any killed.”

In his History of Kennebunkport, Charles Bradbury wrote of the horrible event:

“The Indians encamped the first night near where Sherburn’s meeting house now is. In the morning, finding they were hotly pursued,* and Mrs. Durrell being lame and Mrs. Baxter not being in a situation to keep up with them, they cruelly and brutally killed them both. John, Mrs. Baxter’s child, being rather troublesome, two Indians took it, one hold of each leg and dashed its brains out against a tree. They were killed near Duck brook. John Durrell was carried to Canada, and exchanged in about two years. He had however so far acquired the habits of the savages, that he ever after appeared more like an Indian than a white man. After peace was firmly established, Wah wa [Sagamore of Wells] used unfeelingly to describe to Mr. Baxter, the inhuman manner in which his wife was killed, and boast of his agency in her murder. Mr. Baxter’s friends advised him to roll the savage into a well, as he was
lying intoxicated near its brink, but he refused to do it A bible belonging to Mr. Baxter, was left by the Indians, in the woods where they encamped ; and it was
found the next spring but little injured. The leaves were taken out separately and dried, and the book rebound. “

The Perkins family were not the first to have a mill on Mast Cove.

Grist Mill Lot

Reynolds was given a 200 acres lot by the Court for running a ferry across the Kennebunk River

1675 Apr 12 Rishworth to John Reynolds Certificate to father’s estate

1684 Nov 4 Son John had inherited.

1687 Jan 2 John Rennals sold to Nich Moorey a 60A lot on Long creek aka Mast cove oppisite Gillams point. Moorey’s lot ran 20 poles upstream from the creek’s mouth and 60 poles downstream.

Book VI Folio 49 John Rennels to Nicholas Moorey Jan 2, 1687
In the town book in 1688/9 Nicholas Morey has a mill on land that ajoins that of Rennals.
1701 Oct 2 Moorey sold his lot to Storer, Hill and Batson 60A at Long Creek or Mast Cove bot of John Reynolds.

October 2, 1701

Cape Porpoise was deserted more than once. Upon the settlers return the town reassigned lots in 1720 to those who could prove ownership. Book XI Folio 205

This new lot assignment shifts the lot from both sides of Mast Cove to the land between Mast Cove and Bass Cove and adds 40 acres. Note the location of the known mills


1725 Mar 12 Samuel Hill to John Storer my son mill privilidges at Long Creek (and land at Kennebunk River land at Bass Cove T19) lot then shared by just Batson and Storer

1725 Dec 6 Widow and heirs of Batson to Dependence Littlefield Son in-law. Dower rightes in Mill is occupation of said Dependence