Map of Criehaven                                                      Criehaven Novelist

History  of  Criehaven
Charles Long
    The Island of Criehaven, consisting of approximately three hundred acres of land of the same formation as that of Matinicus, is situated about two miles to the south.  Its Indian name (Racketash) was corrupted to "Ragged Ass," and it is referred to by this name in several historical documents and deeds.  This appellation eventually gave place to "Ragged Island," and many of the older people still refer to it as such.  

    To a great extent, the history of Matinicus is the history of Criehaven.  For many years the smaller island was simply an adjunct of the larger one.  At one time it was owned by Henry Brookman, a native of Sweden, and was used for the pasturage of sheep.  It has not been ascertained from whom Brookman acquired it, nor is it evident that he himself ever resided at either of the islands.  Bucksport is said to have been his home town.  

    The name of the first resident on Criehaven is not known for a certainty.  In 1830, David Hall and Robert Marshall were living there with their families, but it is probable that  before this others had made of it a temporary abode.  In 1850 the inhabitants were:  Robert F. Crie and wife, Joseph Leighton and family, David Hall and wife, Robert Wilson and wife.  
    The outstanding figure in the history of the place is that of Robert Crie, from Matinicus.  In the winter of 1848, he and Harriette, his newly  wedded wife, started housekeeping in a log camp.  During the winter he cut and hewed the timber for a house, and in the spring of 1849, he erected the
Crie homestead, which with its several additions is still standing.  In 1879, he had acquired by purchase, the whole of the Island.  Besides raising sheep, and farming, and lumbering, he carried on a fish business, and kept a general store.  He died June 25, 1901, and is buried near the home in which he spent the fifty-three years of a happy, useful married life.

    When the plantation of Matinicus was inaugurated in 1840,  Ragged Island was included in the incorporation.  The seat of government was on the larger island and all municipal business was transacted thereon.  For many years the two communities moved along in unison.  The dreams, the hopes, the desires, the ambitions of one, were identical with those of the other.  However, as the population increased and the families grew larger, the question of the education of the children became the cause of much dissension.  Finally, as it was found impossible to make satisfactory arrangements for the instruction of the children at Ragged Island, that colony seceded, as it were, and in 1896 was incorporated as a separate plantations, under the name of Criehaven.  And a Criehaven indeed it had always proved.  The rocky shores and adjacent ledges and reefs have witnessed many wrecks.  Many a homeless one, and many a shipwrecked mariner, half frozen and nearly perished, have here found a haven, and enjoyed the ever ready hospitality of Robert Crie and his wife, and have been tenderly cared for in the old homestead.  A Criehaven, indeed.
    Soon after the institution of the new government, the steamer Butman began making regular trips to Criehaven, and a post office was established.  The first postmaster was Horatio D. Crie, son of Robert.  He was succeeded by his brother, Eben, who held the post for many years.  Eben in turn gave place to H. J. McClure, the present incumbent (1925).  After nearly thirty years of independence, the inhabitants became dissatisfied with its form of government, and in 1925, upon petition to the legislature, it was disorganized as a plantation and is now the protege of the State.

    A school-house has been built, sufficiently large for its purpose, which is also used for religious purposes.

    Mr. Fred S. Rhodes is an extensive property owner here and has expended many thousands of dollars in the improvement and exploitation of the place.  He has erected several fine cottages, and under his direction "Hillside Farm" has been modernized and beautified.

    During the winter the population of the island is not large, but it is greatly augmented in the summer by seasonal fishermen and by many visitors who have discovered the beauties and attractions of the place.  The community spirit is deeply implanted upon this small bit of earth.  A commodious building has been erected by the people in common, and furnished with a piano and other accommodations.  It is used as a clubhouse, and for dancing, and for social gatherings of every kind.

    In 1896, Robert Crie and his wife, together with all of their children, with their wives, husbands and children, were living at Criehaven.  Since that time, although they still own the greater part of the land, the Cries and their descendants have become practically extinct as bona-fide residents.  Robert and his wife have died; their son Eben is deceased;  Frank L. has removed to the West where he has become a successful dentist;  Horatio D. resides in Rockland and is Commissioner of Sea and Shore Fisheries; and John Crie, who is a widower, together with the family of Fred S. Rhodes divide their time between their residence in Rockland and the scenes of their youth.  Unlike Matinicus, whose population consists chiefly of descendants of the old stock, Criehaven is now peopled by families of comparatively recent arrival, who are there mainly for the fishing and lobstering, owning their houses, but with no extensive land holdings.
                               View of Criehaven from Matinicus                                               (Photo: Suellen McDonough)

    The harbor is situated on the northerly end of the island, and is adequately protected on the south, the east and the north.  However, the gales from the north-west and the south-west play havoc with the boats, and on Feb. 2, 1908, a great storm occurred which destroyed the steamboat wharf and did much other damage.  The following season a substantial wharf was built.  Attempts have been made to induce the government to construct a breakwater, but without success.

    Not many years after the reconstruction of the wharf, all the buildings thereon, which were originally erected by Robert Crie, for use in his business, were destroyed by fire, and have never been rebuilt.

    In all the United States it is doubtful if there can be found a community which, in proportion to its size, furnished as large a number of men for service in the Great War, as did this small maritime hamlet.  Out of a total of less than fifty souls, seven of the youth and manhood saw service in the army and navy, several of them across the ocean.  Following are the names of those who served their country on land and sea in its time of need:  In the army were Ralph Wilson and Fred Wilson; in the navy were Leslie A. Wilson, H.J. McClure, Ira Tupper, Roy Simpson, and Harry McClure; three brothers from one household, and a father and son from another.

    At present (1925) H. J. McClure buys fish and lobsters, keeps a general store, and is postmaster.  Leslie Wilson runs the store formerly occupied by Eben Crie for so many years.

(From: MATINICUS ISLE, Its Story and Its People; by Charles A. E. Long; 1926)  Reprinted by: Lewiston Journal Printshop

  Map of Criehaven
                              US Department of the Interior Geological Survey

                              View of Criehaven from Matinicus                                              (Photo: Suellen McDonough)

  Criehaven Novelist
The Tide Trilogy:
and other sequels
by Elisabeth Ogilvie
are novels which have their setting on Criehaven,
called in the stories: Bennett's Island.
(Many of Miss. Ogilvie's works are available from Down East Books).

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