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Northeast Harbor: From Rustic to Rusticators

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Pogey press, Mount Desert, ca. 1850

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Pogey press, Mount Desert, ca. 1850 / Great Harbor Maritime Museum

Although many of the early families of Mt. Desert Island were self sufficient farmers, many also carried special talents that provided additional income for the families. Samuel Hadlock came as a lumber man, William Roberts was a carpenter and cooper, and many others were esteemed seamen. From the 1830s on for about four decades, the pogey industry provided a booming business for Northeast Harbor men. Pogies (also called porgies) were small oily fish that were caught, cooked, then put into a press and squeezed for their oil. The leftovers were used as fertilizer. In Abram Gilpatrick's memoirs he recalls cast very large iron kettles in the back yards of many people in town to cook the pogies. Sometime in the 1820s, brothers James and Samuel Gilpatrick revived the milling tradition at Wasgatt Cove, milling the wood to construct their houses, as well as other buildings. Samuel Gilpatrick also owned the mill at Jordan Pond, where he lived and worked from Monday through Saturday, then came home on Sunday. He sold the Jordan Pond mill in 1841. Squire Daniel Kimball built a prosperous store near the Clifton Dock beach in the 1850s or 60s. His store was used by many of the coasting schooners from Northeast Harbor and also those sailing by. In the latter part of the 19th century, a new business came to Northeast Harbor and proved quite lucrative. The business of catering to rusticators would shape Northeast Harbor into a very different town. This is a pogey press that probably came from the Smallidge house on Smallidge Point. It would be attached to a barrel and a large flat piece would be placed under the bottom. It would then be screwed, increasing the length of the press and squeezing the oil out of the fish.

 

Item 3 of 12