Who is the Shoals Pirate Bride Ghost?

He will come back! He will come back! He will come back! Let’s dig deeper into this classic Isles of Shoals pirate and ghost story with Garrett Hastings, the Vaughn Cottage Intern. Here’s what he has to say:

When I first came to the Isles of Shoals, I became entranced with the lore. Admittedly, ghost stories are an interest of mine, and I enjoy hearing the different ones. Probably the most prominent tale here is of the one of the lady with the sea cloak looking for Blackbeard, her lover. That’s how I was introduced to the story from my time on Appledore Island. I even went searching for her on the rocks of Devil’s Glen, where she is positioned on an older map with lore characters scattered around it. However, I didn’t find anyone from the search. Coming out to Star Island, I realize that they call her the Lady in White, or the White Lady, so I decided to research further to find more about her. I figured, as a tribute to the lore of the Shoals, I’d leave on a tale that represents these isles and one that has caught my eye since the beginning. As I do this, I add my own lore story of Veyman with the shapeshifting monster with sharp teeth to further hold the theme. Veyman is a character from my own stories who is as old as time and a mistake from the original creators. Since I created him my first summer out here, much like I heard of Blackbeard’s Bride my first summer, I found it only fitting that he make an appearance in this last video of this Shoals sequence.

As a short synopsis of the video: Lore is everywhere, and to understand a place is to understand their lore. Most places have a weeping woman story looking for a lost lover, and the Shoals is no exception. Here there is the pirate bride ghost, or Blackbeard’s Bride. The oldest written account, and only ghost story I could find, was Celia Thaxter’s story from Among the Isles of Shoals from 1873. According to Celia, the story is from a newspaper forty years prior from a man who stayed with a fisherman’s family on Star Island. One day, he wandered on Appledore Island, probably around Devil’s Glen, and stumbled across a woman in a sea cloak waiting for someone, maybe a lover. She calmly said, “He will come again,” before disappearing. The man returned to Star to find that no one matched her description, so he was determined to find her again. He visited her upon multiple occasions but one day felt a feeling of dread and vowed never to return. Upon getting back to Star, his fisherman friend told him her origin, which is something that constantly changes in accounts over time. That’s the beauty of lore, and since it was an oral tradition before being written down, each account has as much reliability as someone playing a game of telephone. A summary of her origin is that around 1720, a pirate, maybe Blackbeard, buried immense treasure on one, most, or all of these islands and left his thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth wife to guard it, most likely in a sea cloak for warmth or in white. She maybe Martha Herring or something like Annie, died in 1735, and she looks out for her missing pirate lover saying, “He will come again,” to this very day. At the end of the video, my own character in lore makes an appearance as well to drive the theme home. I hope you enjoy the video!

Here’s the Script:

TRIP: Good morrow, and welcome to Trip Tips. (Trip Tips intro.) Who is she? To really understand a place, one should really look at a place’s lore. It’s the stories children grew up with and shaped. You can find lore anywhere you go, and most places have a weeping woman story, someone looking for a lost lover. The Shoals is no exception. So, today we’re talking about-

VALENTINE: The sharp teeth!

TRIP: Let it go, Valentine.

VALENTINE: It’s really Vey-

TRIP: Let it go, okay? I’ll let you choose the next one.

VALENTINE: Let me choose? Why you-

TRIP: So, today is: Who is the Shoals Pirate-Bride Ghost? Now, before I begin, I want to point out that lore is very fluid. It ebbs and flows, has currents and tides, and its origins are usually impossible to trace. I will relate the versions I have come across, but there sure are more. So, if you know an unrepresented version, comment and let me know. To begin, I’ll introduce the story as it was introduced to me, the oldest written version from Among the Isles of Shoals by Celia Thaxter in 1873. Celia found an article in the newspaper forty years before the book was written about a man who went to live with a fisherman’s family on Star Island in 1826. His health was failing, and he figured Star would help him, as people believed the sea air was a cure from the bustling main. On one still morning, the man traveled to the cliffs of Appledore Island, presumably Devil’s Glen, and he stared into the water when he was aware “of a figure standing near him.” He turned to see a woman wrapped in a dark sea-cloak and light hair flowing loosely down her shoulders. “Fair as a lily” the man called her, staring unmoving into the ocean. The man assumed she was a nearby inhabitant, waiting for a lover or fishing boat, so he asked her, “Well my pretty maiden, do you see anything of him?” The woman turned to the man with melancholy eyes and said quietly, “He will come again.” She then disappeared over a jutting rock. The man returned to Star to find that no one matched the woman’s description. So, he was determined to find her again. The wind was blowing hard, but he heard her voice in the wind. “He will come again.” The man returned many times to see the woman, watching her wait in the winds and storm, all weather moving around her, her footprints making no noise. The man got closer to the woman with every visit, and one day he probably grew rather close or realized the humanity of who she used to be. Either way, a sudden feeling of fear overcame him, and he vowed never to return. He returned to Star to tell his fisherman friend about the woman, but he seemed to already know since he had seen her too. He said that at the time of the first settlement, these islands were infested by pirates, Blackbeard being the most notorious. One of Blackbeard’s men, Captain Scot, buried immense treasure out on the Shoals, his separate from the others. He also left something else: a maiden. She was forced to swear to guard the treasure “with horrible rites that until his return, if it were not till the day of judgement, she would guard it from the search of all mortals.” So, she still paces the Shoals today. Celia also mentions how she screams like a banshee during storms.

VALENTINE: That’s it, right? End of story?

TRIP: Haha. Silly Valentine. Far from it actually. This story was passed via mouth far before it was written, as mentioned by the man in the story. I started with this one since it’s the only ghost story I know of her in lore. There are many different versions of her origin and description. For the sake of organization, let’s go in order of accounts. Other islands are involved, such as White Island. In one version from 1911, the pirate Quelch leaves a maiden in a sea cloak to look after his treasure. In 1904, another account says she was Blackbeard’s bride and repeated, “He will come back” instead of “come again.” Fast forward to 1951, referencing a source from twenty years prior, where Blackbeard is again mentioned to have left his gold. However, names are in this account. It’s said that Blackbeard’s lieutenant, Sandy Gordon, left his treasure and wife, Martha, on White Island. What also distinguishes this? She is mentioned to be in “white” and not a sea cloak. The earlier ones mention Blackbeard, but later accounts change to Captain Scot, one of Blackbeard’s men. The burials change too. It changes from Smuttynose to a honeymoon on Smuttynose and treasure on Smuttynose and Londoners. Also, she is mentioned again on White. Even Celia mentioned that someone might have seen her or some ancient spirit on Duck Island. What these stories agree on is that she was left on the Shoals around 1720, as Blackbeard died in 1718. And she died in 1735. Stories about who is referred to as Blackbeard’s bride developed, and a children’s book was written in 1992, reinforcing Celia’s descriptions. However, the spirit was on Smuttynose in the book, as described by Rutledge. In a Haunted New Hampshire book from 2006, “He will come back,” is the chant again, and the story happens on Lunging Island. The island family also resurfaced an old name, Martha, with the last name of Herring. This woman was also Blackbeard’s thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth wife. Two other written accounts refer to her as the lady ghost from Lunging saying “He will return” and Blackbeard’s wife on White Island, looking for her baby. So why all these changes? Well, have you ever played telephone? The 2019 Star Island Historian, Ann Beattie, gives some explanations. Apparently, early versions of the story have her as Captain Kidd’s wife, which changed to Blackbeard, Captain Scot, either, and just Blackbeard once more. “He will come again” had already been used in the form of “He will come back” by the staff of the Appledore House before moving to Star and in use by 1915 as a chant by the people of Star Island. Another possibility is that in early versions of the story, Blackbeard was the one who said, “I will come back.” So, the story moderated in suite. Maybe even “back” was used first, but going off of records, this seems to be possible. As for the pirate, Beattie believes that it changed to Blackbeard because he’s a “juicier pirate,” if you will. Now, the Quelch story on White and Blackbeard’s wife were separate stories, but time seemed to combine them. The lady in white on White Island and sea cloak became the same. Beattie says this is because of misinformation on cruise boats, which is one possible solution. Another is people confusing the similar stories on their own. Or, it’s the same story that separated and is reforming again. Oooo! I love this! Maybe her name is Martha, Martha Herring, or something like Annie or Annabel. We’ll never know for sure, but that’s the beauty of it. What came first, the sea cloak or the lady in white? Blackbeard or Captain Kidd? Back or come again? But here’s a short summary: around 1720, a pirate, maybe Blackbeard, buried immense treasure on one, most, or all of these islands and left his thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth wife to guard it, most likely in a sea cloak for warmth or in white. She maybe Martha Herring or something like Annie, died in 1735, and she looks out for her missing pirate lover saying, “He will come again,” to this very day. Or does she? We’ll never know. Our game of telephone will prevent us. Today, she is referred to as the white lady by conferees and Pelicans on Star. I think we can all agree to at least call her Blackbeard’s bride, just another step in our game of telephone.

VALENTINE: Okay, Trip. I’m done with this! You’ve had your fun!

TRIP: I said you can choose the next one.

VALENTINE: No! I let you choose! (Valentine hits Trip but in the side, as Trip dodges it.) That’s it. (Valentine transforms into a fish with sharp teeth.) Whoops. Just a second. (Valentine transforms into a figurine of Sir William Pepperell.) That’s a tiny man. (Valentine transforms back into a gull.) That’s a gull again. (Valentine turns into human form.) There we go. (Valentine pulls down his bandana to smile and reveal sharp teeth. He fakes out Trip, and Trip shoots. It doesn’t affect Valentine. Valentine smiles.)

TRIP: What are you?

VALENTINE: (Laughs.) I am Veyman, shapeshifter, old as time. This is my domain, and I’ve had about enough of you. (Trip shoots again.) And you can’t kill me save for one thing.

TRIP: What?

VALENTINE: Now, why would I tell you that? (Valentine lunges, and Trip runs.) Get back here! I’m not that hungry! (Trip dashes from Vaughn to the beach and into the water. Valentine’s voice comes from somewhere.) Run then. I’ll be here. I can wait. (Valentine is a gull again behind the rocks. Valentine watches and chuckles.)

TRIP: Thanks for joining me on Trip Tips. Good e’en. (Trip swims off. Roll Credits.)


What Was John Smith Doing At the Isles of Shoals?

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the John Smith associated with Smith Monument on Star Island?

Our intern, Garrett Hastings, tells the story:

After the video on the bear, I wanted to take things back a bit, time-wise, in order to discuss the Shoals as a whole and its earlier beginnings. One of the first things I remember seeing when visiting Star Island that stood out in my head was the John Smith memorial. I was rather confused as to what he was doing all the way up here, as people usually associate him with Jamestown and acts we would consider to be villany in present society. However, he was an adventurous character that was also a product of society back in the day. So, it’s only fair to look things over in an unbiased light, and I wanted to give a general history of the man, highlighting the Shoals. It’s interesting to see how a character from history changes over time, especially in Rutledge’s book where he said how “no breath of scandal ever touched” him. Years later, people seem to associate him with controversy and hatred. But, he was here in the Shoals, and I wanted to give what he was doing here. He may have had questionable motives by today’s standards, but he was still highly regarded back in the day. As for those of you who may not get the John joke, there are many Johns (sometimes with different spellings) working out on Star Island.
As a short synopsis of the video: John Smith was baptized in 1580, and by the time he was 16 or 17, he had an itch for adventure. He fought abroad in Spain and Hungry before making his way back to England to enlist in the efforts to colonize the New World of the Virginia colony. However, he had to return back to England in 1609 due to a gunpowder accident. After recovering, John Smith was recruited by Sir Ferdinando Gorge to survey what they called North Virginia. On the expedition, John found the Shoals and decided to call them Smyth’s Isles. After returning to England, he tried to make it back to the Shoals but failed due to shipwrecks, pirates, and uncooperating winds. John’s map was used by geographers for many years and helped the New Plymouth settlers. The name Smyth’s Isles never stuck because of unnamed fishermen that came out to fish and had already named the place the Shoals. They had also already named the isles, such as Smuttynose, Hog (now Appledore), and Star Island. In 1864, a monument was erected, but storms blew it down. So, in 1914, a smaller granite one was erected. In 1631, John Smith died and is buried in the St. Sepulchre’s Church in London. I hope you enjoy the video!

Here’s the Script:

TRIP: Good morrow, and welcome to Trip Tips. (Trip Tips intro.) Well, today we’re talking about a character, as described by Lyman Rutledge in The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend from 1965, who “no breath of scandal ever touched.”

VALENTINE: (Laughs.) Yes! Mislead them! Nothing ever changes over time, right? (Laughs.)

TRIP: Well, maybe people don’t see him like they used to.

VALENTINE: (Laughs.) Yes! Now tell these poor morsels who you’re talking about!

TRIP: (Sighs.) Okay. Well, today I’m talking about…

VALENTINE: John Smith! Mwahahahahahahahahaha!!

TRIP: (Eyes Valentine.) Yes, today the question: What was John Smith doing at the Isles of Shoals? Meet John Smith. No, the other John. No, the other John. Jeez, how many Johns are there on the Isles? Okay, yes, meet John Smith. John was baptized on January 6th, 1580 and grew up on a farm until he was 16 or 17. His zest for adventure coaxed him to enlist in battle abroad. He fought for the Netherlands in their independence war against Spain. By 1601, he was reassigned to fight as a mercenary alongside Austrian forces against Hungarian Turks. The following year, he was captured by the enemy but fought his way out to Englanf via traversing Russia by 1604 or 1605. By 1607, John was ready to travel again. He helped lead an effort to colonize a little unknown area called the United States of America. But, we’re not here to talk about that voyage. Besides, we’d have to be some crazy romance show to talk about that.

VALENTINE: Are you seriously basing your history off of Disney movies now?

TRIP: When has Disney fabricated anything?

VALENTINE: You’re kidding, right?

TRIP: Birds. John Smith arrived in 1607 to start Jamestown, and he led as “president” until 1609 when there was an incident with his powder bag that forced him to return to England. This endeavor became the source of controversy in one of his writings that we will not be diving into. After he recovered, John was commissioned by Sir Ferdinando Gorges, well at least the ladies thought so. Come on! Hi five, err wing. (Valentine slap!) Anyway, John’s mission was to collect whales, fish, furs, silver, gold, and any goods as he surveyed North Virginia, or Norumbega. However, New England was already claimed by France and called New France, but England could care less. In 1614, John Smith made it to these Isles, instantly deciding to call them his own: Smyth’s Isles. In his various works from 1616 to 1622, he described them. “The remarkeablest Isles and mountains for Landmarks are these… Smyth’s Isles are a heape together, none neere them, against Accominiticus… a many of barren rocks, the most overgrowne with such shrubs and sharpe whins you can hardly passe them; without either grasse or wood but there or foure short shrubby old Cedars… And of all foure parts of the world that I have yet seene not inhabited, could I have but meanes to transport a Colonie, I would rather live here then any where; and if it did not maintain it selfe, were wee but once indifferently well fitted, let us starve… By that acquaintance I have of them, I may call them my children; for they have bin my wife, my hounds, my cards, my dice, and in totall my best content.” I particularly like where John says that if they can’t sustain themselves, they’ll just starve. Historians believe that John Smith landed, and made his observations from, the summit of Hog Island, now Appledore. The now entranced John attempted to return to New England in years to follow but was constantly stopped by either shipwrecks, pirates, or uncooperating winds. (Stop sign holder improvises.) He managed to publish his map, and it was to be used by the New Plymouth settlers. John Smith was the first European to indicate the Shoals on a map, and it was accepted by geographers for many years. Well, then why are they the Isles of Shoals, not Smyth’s Isles. Well, that’s because John Smith was the first to map them, not the first to use them. Around 4000BCE, Native Americans used the Shoals to fish until the water gap became too great. And, some time after Lief Erickson in 1000CE, unnamed European fishermen came down to the Shoals and named it for themselves. The Shoals, named for the enormous schools of fish found there, was already named by those fishermen. These islands were already named too. For example, Smuttynose was from a smutch of dark seaweed on the nose of an extending rock. Malaga was in reference to Spanish vineyards remembered by Spanish sailors. Duck had a freshwater pond in its center where ducks rest during migration. Hog Island resembled a fat hog wallowing in brine. I mean, if you squint, I guess. Star Island was so named for the “broken crags” that extended in all directions like the spangles of a star. Although, I don’t know if I could see that even if I squinted. Old fishermen are notorious drunks, folks. Don’t let your drunk uncle name your islands next time. It looks more like an Africa to me anyway. Well, this area was called the Isles of Shoals by these fishermen years before John Smith dropped by, so Smyth’s Isles never caught on. He obviously was not thinking of the people, as he never mentions them in his documents. I mean, he said, “Not inhabited.” In 1864, 250 years after John had arrived, Reverend Daniel Austin erected a monument with a triangular base that rose to three effigies of the heads of Turks he beheaded in Transylvania. However, the monument was destroyed in a storm, and fifty years later in 1914, the New Hampshire Society of Colonial Wars restored it with a smaller granite block and no Turks’ heads? Ha, yeah. That was a sad day. The monument still lies on Star Island to this day. John Smith sadly died on June 21st, 1631, and his tomb is in the St. Sepulchre’s Church in London with an inscription that reads, “Here lies one conquered who has conquered kings.”

VALENTINE: Too bad he couldn’t conquer nine islands. He would have had to deal with me.

TRIP: Of course. Now, can I pick the next topic?

VALENTINE: You’ve done well, Trip. Yes.

TRIP: How about some lore?

VALENTINE: I’d be flattered.

TRIP: Okay, next time, some lore.

VALENTINE: Yes, watch for the sharp…

TRIP: He will come again!

VALENTINE: (A beat.) Really?

TRIP: Thanks for joining me on Trip Tips. Good e’en. (Roll credits.)

The Bear on Appledore Island

Did you know that there was once a bear that lived on Appledore Island?

Our intern, Garrett Hastings, tells the story:

This is my fourth time out to the Shoals, and along the way I have read many a detail about the history and culture of these beautiful isles. I came across one story that stood out in particular in Celia Thaxter’s Stories and Poems for Children from 1895: the brown bear. I don’t know what it is exactly that’s so striking; perhaps it’s the fact that having a bear at a supposedly relaxing resort, one which is aimed at making the guests feel at peace with nature, is out of character. So I dove further into the subject to learn more about it, and the video before you is what I learned.

As a short synopsis of the video: in 1873, a relative of Celia Thaxter gifted her a brown bear cub from Georgia. It then lived on the island for a summer before breaking free during a storm in September. After Celia came across it briefly, it disappeared for about seven months before getting caught disappearing over the wall to the Appledore House. They managed to catch it, and it had some peace before the summer months, but it disappeared before the season started. It hid away during the summer, and they caught it again when it emerged the following spring. Celia then sold the bear to a man on Londoner’s Island and forgot about it for the summer. She found it again when she was out wandering on Londoner’s. It was a wild and crazed beast that the family was paying five cents to see. In September of 1875, they took it back, but it escaped again. After it scared two women and ate a stockpile of food, they decided it was too dangerous and killed the bear. I hope you enjoy the video!

Here’s the script —

TRIP: Good morrow, and welcome to Trip Tips! (Trip Tips intro plays.) Hey, guess what? We’re back to the Shoals, and you know what that means. Lots of… (VALENTINE flies and hits Trip.) Ah! (Trip falls, sits up, and sees Valentine landing on the couch.) Please don’t hurt me, Mr. Gull.

VALENTINE: Get up Trip. And, it’s Valentine to you. (Valentine flies back to sit higher on the couch, and Trip sits back up.)

TRIP: What do you want?

VALENTINE: I see what you’re doing here: capturing these poor souls and forcing them to learn. Well, I say I’m in charge now, and you will do exactly as I say. The Shoals are my territory.

TRIP: Then, what do you want me to talk about?

VALENTINE: (Evil laugh.) Yes, it shall be truly terrifying. (Bigger laugh.) Yes! Right from 1873!

TRIP: Wait. I already covered the axe murders.

VALENTINE: No, you fool! (Valentine slaps Trip.) The bear!

TRIP: The bear! Oh, that’s not scary. (A beat.)


TRIP: So, today’s topic is: There was a bear on Appledore Island?

VALENTINE: Stop wasting time, puppet.

TRIP: Before the summer season on Appledore Island, and after the tragedy on Smuttynose in 1873, the Appledore House on, well, Appledore Island received a gift from one of Celia Thaxter’s relatives. Now, this wasn’t a puppy, or a kitten, or a lifetime supply of chocolate. It was a brown bear cub all the way from the wilds of Georgia. Because that’s what every child-friendly, relaxing resort needs. However, life was surely less relaxing for the bear then the guests, as it spent its existence tethered to a pole on the front lawn. On top of that, the children would harass it and poke it with sticks, only some showing it kindness. The bear was tormented until September 8, 1873 when a storm hit that shattered windows and ripped shingles off of roofs. The next morning, the bear was gone. In fear, it had found the strength to break its bonds and run to freedom. Celia Thaxter managed to find it by accidentally kicking rocks on its head from a cliff above. By the time she returned with sweets for the bear, it was gone once more. The bear then disappeared for nearly seven months, and everyone, except for Celia, thought it was dead. But, one evening in April 1874, the bear was spotted escaping over the wall. The men gave chase to find its lair littered with bird bones and feathers. After dragging the bear back the next morning, the bear had some peace before the summer season. Celia took it on walks to make it feel better, but it had tasted real freedom and despised captivity once more. Just before the summer, he broke free again and disappeared into the night. By day, he hid. By night, he gorged. This terrified the mothers, and they kept their children under close watch. The bear managed to evade the people of the Appledore House until 1875 when it emerged in the spring. With some difficulty, they dragged it out and struck a deal with the man living on Londoner’s Island (now Lunging) to care for it since the people of Appledore believed it had gotten too wild for them. By August, Celia and the others somehow forgot about their gracious gift, and Celia found the bear chained on Londoner’s, a wild and crazed beast, that the family was charging five cents to see. In September, for whatever reason, Celia took the bear back. Maybe the bear was too much or gave the man on Londoner’s nightmares. Either way, the bear was back on Appledore, and you’ll never guess what. Yeah, it broke free and ran away. Again, it looked for food at night, climaxing one evening in the store room below two terrified women. While the women were trying not to have a heart attack, the bear might have had one with the fat it was swimming in. It devoured beef, pork, lard, and molasses, half eating it, half bathing in it. It then carried off a barrel of pork to continue dining. By morning, it was decided that the bear was too dangerous. It was hunted and shot, unaware of its hunter’s malicious intents. That was the first and only time a poor bear was brought to the Shoals.

VALENTINE: Haha! Good. Good.

TRIP: You know, I recognize you somehow.

VALENTINE: I’m a gull, you fool. Now, I think I’ll give you a more controversial character next time.

TRIP: Oh great. (Valentine throws his head back and laughs heartily.) Thanks for joining me on Trip Tips. Good e’en. (Roll Credits.)

Putting the Isles of Shoals on the Map

Maps have long played interesting and important roles in the history of the Isles of Shoals. John Smith published a map with his book A Description of New England in 1616 that helped introduce the Isles to Europe and named the region “New England” for the first time. Fishers, traders, and military navigators have relied on nautical charts to get in and out of Portsmouth Harbor or stop at the Isles of Shoals safely up to the present day. Authors and tour guides have also used maps for their artistic and illustrative purposes, helping secure a sense of place in texts about the Isles of Shoals. Finally, descriptive maps provide instructions for harbor and walking tours of the Isles, helping visitors to make the most of their trips.

Below are sample of the many maps housed in the Vaughn Cottage Museum collection. Perspective, detail, and scope vary on maps of the Isles of Shoals and Star Island according to the cartographer’s purpose. Bird’s-eye views with north at the top of the map are typical for illustrating landmasses, but many variations are seen in the examples here. Some maps are oriented with the South at the top, the direction one would face approaching Gosport Harbor to land on Star-Island. Profile or pop-out views of landmarks provide references to help tourists identify landmarks and also serve as decorative illustrations. Contour lines and careful numeric labeling show elevation and sea level to aid with navigation.

Maps can help us understand where we are or where we are going, but they can also inspire imagination. Perhaps the nature of being on an island prompts people to draw and read maps to feel connected to the rest of the world. Enjoy the selection of visual representations below and think about what the cartographer wants you to see.

For Detailed Image Descriptions, Click Here

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Star Island Recently Celebrated its Centennial

By Helen Ball
This year Star Island is celebrating its centennial, with 2015 serving as 100 years since the non-profit Star Island Corporation first purchased the 43-acre island in 1915. In honour of this incredible event, 27th June 2015 saw officials, dignitaries and members of the public invited to visit Star Island aboard the specially chartered boat provided by the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company. [1] As well as having the opportunity to explore Star Island and really appreciate the beauty of this wonderful and unique place, invited guests also joined in with festivities such as the cutting of the island’s birthday cake, and a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the new solar panel array [2] that was built and opened in honor of, and as part of, the centennial celebrations. This solar display has the honour of being the largest off grid solar display in the state of New Hampshire. [3] Star Island is very proud of its sustainable programmes, so the centennial celebrations on the island also included a tour that focused on highlighting both the island’s sustainable efforts as well as its history.
The Ideal Opportunity to Visit Star Island
Whilst the official centennial celebrations in the island have now been completed, the centennial provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors to Star Island, both new and old, to appreciate and experience everything that Star Island has to offer. The past, present, and future of the island will be on display for visitors to appreciate this summer in honour of the centennial, and the incredible picturesque views that the island affords means that this is a wonderful place to spend a beautiful summer’s afternoon. There is no better time to visit Star Island than in 2015. Star Island is one of a small group of islands that forms the island group The Isles of Shoals: these islands are situated approximately 6 miles off the coast of America.  However Star Island is the only one of these islands that is served by a regular boat service from the mainland, which is why it is the most well-known of the islands and also the island that receives the most visitors on both a daily basis and overnight, as it is the only one of the island that is officially open and welcoming to visitors.
Overnight visitors on the island are welcome as part of one of the many conferences and events programmes that are hosted in the Oceanic Hotel on the island throughout the year. However if you prefer not to sign up for a programme then you are welcome to sign up for a personal retreat [4] : a wonderful way to test the waters, to enjoy island life, and to appreciate the true beauty that Star Island has to offer without having to commit to a longer programme. The island is relatively small, so visitors are advised to arrange many of their traditional tourist requirements, such as organising their banking, protecting their belongings with travel insurance [5] or purchasing vital supplies such as sun lotion, before they arrive on the island. However that doesn’t mean that you won’t find plenty to see and do: visitors can swim, hire row boats, and try their hands at a wide range of different sporting activities.
The Changes of a Century
It is interesting to note that the Oceanic hotel, much like the rest of Star Island, doesn’t look too much different to the way that it did a century ago. [6] The old burial ground sits to the right of the hotel, just as it always has, and when you approach the hotel you will immediately notice the distinctive shapes of dozens of old rocking chairs lined up on the porch. It is a wonderful place to celebrate America’s rich history, and a wonderful place to visit in honour of the Star Island centennial.                                      
Additional Reading
[1] “Star Island to unveil solar array to celebrate centennial”,  My San Antoniohttp://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Star-Island-to-unveil-solar-array-to-celebrate-6353068.php
[2] “Sustainable Star Island”, Vaughn Cottage, https://vaughncottage.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/sustainable-star-island/
[3] “Star Island to unveil solar array to celebrate centennial”, The Washington Timeshttp://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/14/star-island-to-unveil-solar-array-to-celebrate-cen/
[4] “Personal Retreats”, Star Islandhttp://starisland.org/registration/retreats/
[5] “Compare Travel Insurance,”  Quote Zonehttp://www.quotezone.co.uk/travel-insurance.htm
 [6] “Visit Star Island and the Oceanic Hotel”, Yankee Magazinehttp://www.yankeemagazine.com/explore-new-england/visit-star-island-and-the-oceanic-hotel

Sustainable Star Island

 Getting Back To Basics By Moving Forward

Solar Panels, 2015

Solar Panels, 2015

Written by Helen Ball

Star Island has long been a place where people can escape from the pressure and grind of everyday life. The Star Island Corporation holds the potential of their island for spiritual renewal very dear [1], and do their utmost to ensure that visitors have an island experience which enables them to connect or reconnect with what’s basically important. It may seem that the recent addition of the largest off-grid bank of solar panels in New England [2] disrupts the peace, serenity, and sense of history inherent in the look and ‘feel’ of the island. Certainly the panels look prohibitively modern and industrial. However, the ethos behind this progressive move towards sustainable energy does in fact spring from commendably old roots. Self-sufficiency, as well as respect for the environment, is at the heart of the move – and these are values which island peoples the world over will recognize as of the greatest historical import for the insular way of life.
The Solar Panels
The new solar array is expected to provide around 130,000 KWH of power to Star Island – hopefully 60% or more of the island’s total power usage during the summer time [3]. It covers half an acre of the 44 acre island, and does, admittedly, look rather too modern to be in keeping with the island’s pristine aesthetic. In all fairness, the corporation have done their absolute utmost to position the array in such a way that it will cause minimal aesthetic disruption to people’s enjoyment of the island, but there are always some who look askance at banks of solar panels in beautiful areas. Such things have caused a deal of controversy in other areas before now [4], and continue to do so. However, such doubts can perhaps be allayed by looking at what is hoped to be achieved through the erection of the solar array. Ultimately, it’s all about self-sufficiency and preserving environmental integrity. 
Modern Malaise
We live in an increasingly high-octane society, which consumes at a rate far above that which is really sustainable. We are becoming so accustomed to thoughtlessly consuming without replacing, and doing little to either produce or sustain that which we consume that we are arguable losing touch with our roots in a manner which is having some alarming consequences. Quite apart from the undeniable environmental damage caused by reckless consumption, and the impact upon poorer global communities who suffer in order to feed our relentless appetites, the demands of the modern world and our growing disconnection from the world around us is having a terrible effect upon ourselves. Consumerism [5] and a sense of subsequent alienation from ‘real’ things has been linked to depression, particularly among women [6]. While the way our forbears lived may not have been perfect, it is notable that their lifestyles were a lot more sustainable – which in turn gave them a far greater sense of connection to the places in which they lived, of control over their resources, and acceptance of the natural way of things. Their lives may have been simple, but they were sustainable, and that sustainability brought with it a degree of happiness.
The Star Island Corporation has been perfectly clear all along in stating that the aim of the solar array is to render the island a more sustainable, self-sufficient location [7]. It’s about putting the resources used by Star Island back within island hands, and about being responsible for our own actions without compromising on comfort. This is simultaneously a step forward and an acceptance of the wisdom of our self-sufficient ancestors. While retaining the comforts of modern society, we are discarding the disconnection and unsustainable methodology which has characterised modern life thus far. Instead, we are returning to an era of sustainable self-sufficiency which will harm neither the environment nor our own health – although we are using some very modern technology to do so!
[1] Star Island Corporation, “About”
[3] Deborah McDermott, “Solar array ‘a big deal’ for Star Island”, Seacoast online, Jun 2015
[5] Jill Krasny, “STUDY: Consumerism Is Making Us Depressed And Anti-Social”, Business Insider, Apr 2012
[6] PsychGuides, “Depression in Women”
Image retrieved from http://starisland.org/img/StarIslandSolarPanelsAlexdeSteiguer.jpg

The Portable Vaughn Cottage

Have you heard the buzz? The Vaughn Cottage Museum artifacts are the subject of a brand new book!

Vaughn Book Cover

The pages are curated by Tara Kelly in collaboration with Melissa Saggerer, and the photographs were taken by Mikael Kennedy, all of whom are former Pelicans!

To preview and purchase your copy of the Vaughn book, click here. Books may also be purchased here on Star Island in the lobby book store.

*All of the proceeds benefit Vaughn Cottage and the Thaxter Museum. Thank you for your support!

This book is amazingly well-done and the photos are simply classic—a beautiful display of the Isles of Shoals history.


Interactive History Days!

This summer here on Star Island, is quite an exciting one indeed. We are celebrating 400 years of the mapping of the Isles of Shoals!

John Smith Map

To celebrate this anniversary, we are venturing back in time as interpreters to see what life was like in the fishing village days of Gosport. We will host these 3 Interactive History Days on June 25th, July 23rd, and August 27th.  We would love it if you could join us! Click here for more information.

Don your nicest breeches and petticoats and make your way to Star Island!

A little more history…

John Smith came here in 1614 and Continue reading

Back on Star!

Vaughn Blog pic 2

Hello Shoalers!
Around here, Shoalers is the name we use for people who love to hang out at the Isles of Shoals. I can now say that I am one of them. I am so excited to return for the summer of 2014! It is going to be one full of history, community, old friends, chirping birds, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and oh yeah, maybe a bit of rain to help our veggies and flowers grow. The Vaughn Cottage Museum also has some exciting exhibits that I honestly cannot wait to share with you. Keep checking our blog for the riveting history news.

We have an exciting summer planned for this year, and I hope you can come join us! We’ll save you a seat on the porch.

Vaughn Blog pic 1

Benjamin Green’s Apothecary

above location^

“What was Benjamin Green’s Apothecary?” I wondered this summer when two very sweet little girls brought me this little glass artifact.


This glass piece is what we think to be the bottom of a pill bottle from the 1800s. As you can see, the inscription reads “Benjamin Green Apothecary Portsmouth, NH”. The little girls found it on an outing to Smuttynose Island and were so excited to show it to us! So, we did a bit of research to tell us about the artifact, and found a cool blog called “Walk Portsmouth”–check it out! We discovered that the drugstore was opened by Benjamin in the late 1800s and was “one of the most elegantly equipped drug stores east of Boston”, as said by the Portsmouth Herald. A patron who came into the Vaughn museum joked that maybe it was Louis Wagner’s pill bottle. Well, we are not sure about that, but you never know! The apothecary, which was like a drug store, would have sold all sorts of medicinal remedies for ailments. The building was located in the Peirce Block of Portsmouth (which is in Market Square) where a Starbucks currently stands.