Researching a deed in York County is pretty easy from 1960-the present. For Kennebunkport, Wells, Ogunquit, Start with the appraisal database Vision Appraisal Database to learn the street address of the house or the owners name, when they bought it and to see a picture of the house. Then go to the York County Registry of Deedsand sign up for a free account. Read the deeds associated with the names you found on the appraisal database until you find the correct deed. It will refer to a previous deed. Deeds are online only back as far as 1960 but you can go to the York County Registry of Deeds in the Alfred Courthouse Alfred, Maine to see the rest, all the way back to the earliest deeds. Google Books has early York Deeds online.
July 2009, Michelle Cmaylo visited her mom and dad in Kennebunkport. Mrs. Cmaylo took her daughter kayaking and they found another Indian artifact on a different island in Cape Porpoise Harbor. This one was sitting atop a little ridge where the water washes up. A wave must have deposited it there.
Mrs. 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
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 attacksthat we know took place in the Kennebunks. Included are attacks that took place on Trotts Island and on Vaughn’s Island.
1689 Apr – Attack at Stage Island Fort. John Barrett was killed. An Indian attack on Cape Porpoise is described in a desparate 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 familyupriver were not so fortunate. Philip Durrell’s wife and 4 children were kidnapped while he was away from home. Mrs. Durrell pursuaded the Indians to let her return home with her one infant son. She was kidnapped again in 1726and she , her daughter and infant grandaughter were all killed.
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 unsucessfully attacked.
1724 Mar – Felt, Wormwood and Lewiswere 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 retreive 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.
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.
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