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Great Cranberry Island's Preble House

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Artifacts

William Pitt Preble wallet, Great Cranberry Island, 1836
William Pitt Preble wallet, Great Cranberry Island, 1836

Item Contributed by
Great Cranberry Island Historical Society

Many documents and artifacts have been recovered from the Preble House property and grounds in the 20th century.

They are examples of the diversity of 19th-century enterprises undertaken at the Preble House.

William Pitt Preble's well worn and repaired leather, tri-fold wallet has the inscription, "William P Preble Property, Cranberry Isles 1836."

In Preble's possession since age 25, it was recovered from the Preble House in the mid-20th century.

Corkscrew end of iron 'worm' tool, ca. 1890
Corkscrew end of iron 'worm' tool, ca. 1890

Item Contributed by
Great Cranberry Island Historical Society

The iron "worm" tool was found buried on Preble House property.

With a long handle attached, this tool may have been used to insert or remove wadding from a long tube, perhaps even a ship's cannon.

Among his many enterprises, William Pitt Preble built and salvaged ships on Great Cranberry Island.

Balance scale arms, Great Cranberry Island, ca. 1900
Balance scale arms, Great Cranberry Island, ca. 1900

Item Contributed by
Great Cranberry Island Historical Society

The arms element from an old iron balance scale was dug up near the Preble House shed in about 1970.

The shed served as the Post Office on Preble's property when he was postmaster in 1847 and again in the 1890s.

Brass candle spike, Great Cranberry Island, ca. 1850
Brass candle spike, Great Cranberry Island, ca. 1850

Item Contributed by
Great Cranberry Island Historical Society

Preble also ran a store on his property where goods would have been weighed and sold.

The brass candleholder with spikes is known as a "tommy sticker" by many miners.

It was recovered from the Preble House property. It could have been forced into a wooden beam in Preble's barn, shipyard, or fishing outbuildings shedding light during long, dark, winter afternoon work.


"Crazy quilt," Great Cranberry Island, ca. 1880

Item Contributed by
Great Cranberry Island Historical Society

Tommy stickers were also used in underground mines. Abigail Hadlock Spurling Preble's son, Samuel E. Spurling, went west to California during the gold rush of 1849 and was involved in mining for years.

Cranberry Islanders have a long quilting tradition, and in the Preble's large household spanning several generations, this "crazy" quilt may well have been made on the island.