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

2013 Photo Contest Winners

Thank you so much for everyone who submitted photos!  They were all great and we had a tough time deciding.


Landscape Category:

Don Loring

Don Loring

People Category:

Eila Shea

Eila Shea

Rephotography Category (original first):


Don Loring

Don Loring

Landscape (staff (emeritus) category):

Elizabeth Oshel

Elizabeth Oshel

Pipes – Close, but no cigar

If you have ever seen an old clay pipe, you may (or may not have) been curious about other pipes of the sort, and how they became such a trend in our history. What did some of their decorations mean, and who smoked them? In the film National Treasure, actor Nicholas Cage discovers an old clay pipe with the carving of an intricate ship on the base of the pipe. Spoiler alert…we then discover that also on this pipe is a secret inscription which leads the treasure hunters on another journey to discover the priceless treasures of world history. Now, unfortunately, not all pipes are that exciting and hold the key to invaluable historic artifacts. Sorry to get your hopes up. Though, here on Star Island, we have unearthed many full pipes and even more bits and pieces of pipes that were used by the people who used to live on the islands.

The women and children even smoked pipes out here! A poem from the historic account Gosport Remembered, entitled “A Woman From Star Island. Isles of Shoals, 1844” tells of the pipe-smoking women of the shoals:

“Over the embers she sits,

Close at the edge of the grave,

With her hollow eyes like pits, and her mouth like a sunken cave.

Her short black pipe held tight 

Her withered lips between,

She rocks in the flickering light

Her figure bent and lean…”

To the rest of the world, these little pipe pieces might seem pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But to us lovers of the island history, they are tangible proof of the kind of life that the early Shoalers lived. Needless to say, they are pretty significant in our book. Take a look and see for yourself!


Check out these cool clay pipes by Dawnmist Studio!

Have you ever seen any cool old pipes? Tell us about it!

The Isles of Shoals was almost part of an Oil Refinery!

I had read a little bit about this part of our Isles of Shoals history, but it was greatly illuminated last week at ISHRA – Isles of Shoals History and Research Association‘s annual meeting at the Seacoast Science Center.


Dudley Dudley was the theme speaker, and was truly riveting.  She began and ended with personal parts of her story and the middle was fascinating and nail biting, even though we obviously knew Continue reading

Pel lexicon

Pelicans, (what we call Star Island staff), speak what seems to be “in code” sometimes.  We don’t always know we’re doing it, and sometimes we have a hard time talking about Star Island in a way that mainland folks will understand.  This is not new, but it is constantly changing.  I decided to start work on a Pel lexicon to help break down some of the language barriers  Continue reading

Exciting News!: Rutledge Marine Lab has a cool new blog!

Have you heard?  Did you see the new button in our sidebar?  No, not the one of the dreamboat that you can use to link to us from your blog, (but feel free to do so!), the Rutledge Marine Lab has a new blog!  And they have been blogging about some cool historical stuff!  Way to go, Drew Bush and Matt Terenna for spearheading this!

marine lab blog

They have already posted about historical flora and fauna, geology and more!  Head on over there and check it out.  

Appledore’s swimming area seen through DDP’s postcard collection

Dave Pierson, Jr. brought Vaughn Cottage Dave Pierson Sr‘s postcard collection the day of the memorial service on Star, September 2nd.

I scanned some of the postcards, and will share them here.

Appledore had a swimming area with a men’s bathhouse on one side and a women’s bath house on the other.  There was a big wooden gate that they would close at high tide, trap all the water so it would warm up and be nice for swimming and boating.  Enjoy these views!

Ghosts at the Isles of Shoals- Happy Halloween!

Caswell Cemetery on Star Island

As it’s Halloween, I thought you all might want to hear a little about the ghosts at the Isles of Shoals.  I was prompted to write about it as I saw this article in Gossiportsmouth‘s twitter feed.  At the very bottom they mention Isles of Shoals ghosts:

Since the 1800s the nine islands ten miles off of Portsmouth have been haunted. Hawthorne even wrote about “Old Bab,” a ghost who lived between the hotel and the sea. At the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island people have heard sounds as if someone is rummaging through drawers and moving furniture on the fourth floor – only there’s nothing but Continue reading

First meetinghouse at Isles of Shoals was 45 years before Star Island’s chapel

I started this blog as a way to share interesting reference questions and their answers.  I responded to one today that may surprise some of you.  Many folks may not know that there was a brick meetinghouse on Smuttynose Island in 1640, 45 years before we had our first meetinghouse built on Star Island in 1685.  Lots of folks know about Rev. John Tucke and all of his contributions, but there was many clergy who predate him, about 100 years of various visitors to Shoals pulpits before Tucke.  So to get to the question I received:

According to the book, “The Hull Family in America”, Rev
Joseph Hull was minister of Accomenticus in 1643. The Isle of Shoals was under his jurisdiction.  He served there until 1653 when he left for England.  He again returned to the Isle of Shoals and died there in 1665.

Another source from the Internet states that Rev Hull built a church on the Isle of Shoals.  Unfortunately, we do not know which island.  If you possibly know what island was settled as early as 1643 we would appreciate it.  Most of the  references say he was in Oyster River (York, Maine). Continue reading