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Preserving the History & Heritage of Lake Winnipesaukee & Vicinity
 

 

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AN EARLY HISTORY OF BEAR ISLAND



Artist's Rendition of Early Settlers Facing Danger on Bear Island.

Continued from page 2

residents of the Island for forty-five years and brought up a family of five children. One of these children was the mother of Mr. Woodbury Davis, who gives me this information. In those old days there were fourteen families on the Island, and there was a school with seventeen scholars. Out of all these people there was left only Mr. Waldo Maloon's family. When I first knew of the Island, Waldo was a customer of mine, as well as Stephen Maloon, his son. Waldo had a son away from home, an engineer on the railroad. One night his engine went into a river and he found himself under water, but he got out of the cab and got on top of it and could just keep his head above water. Here he stood until rescued and taken care of. When he recovered he found that his nerve, on which he had depended, was gone and that he could not run an engine any more, so he came home and went to farming on the Neck. I do not remember what became of his family.

When Waldo was on the Island we boys and girls once had a picnic and went to Bear Island to spend the day. Waldo came over to the mainland with his old flat bottom boat and we embarked and started for the Island. Waldo at the stern with a single oar was propelling the boat. This he could do and got straight by looking at marks on the main land. We boys, to test his skill a little, put an oar over the side of the boat and got her off a straight course. This Waldo knew in a minute, although his back was turned towards us. He did not say much the first time, but when we tried it again he gave us fits, Later he put a horse power on this boat and made the horse do the rowing. Now there is a steamer from Lakeport that carries the mail and makes regu­lar trips. Waldo and all the old ones are gone and in their place is a new lot of younger men. Where Waldo's house once stood is now a nice hotel that can take care of one hundred people. There are forty camps on the island, also several summer schools for boys. To me, it seems a shame that no one seems to have any records of this old historical spot which has always been full of mighty interesting history.

Although our knowledge of the early history of the island remains incomplete, research by Clayton and Dorothy Puffer Ernst reveals that by the end of the 18th century, a road ran down the center of the island and connected all the farms. At that time, Theopholis Dockham, who was born on the island and who later fought and was taken prisoner in the War of 1812, lived in a house near where St. John's Church now stands. His son, Nathaniel, moved to Meredith Neck on the mainland when he was grown and built the house that still stands next to the Meeting House Cemetery.

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