Under many of the photographs are notations as valuable as the pictures them-selves. Dr. Joseph W. Warren, the nineteenth-century Star Island physician who made the album, lists the owner of each dwelling, barn, and fish house. This same information also was used to prepare several Star Island maps reproduced in this book.
Students of the nineteenth-century Isles of Shoals have devoted most attention to the hotel era and the Laighton-Thaxter families. But these old photographs offered the perfect opportunity to discuss the people who lived on the islands, those rugged fishermen and their families who were the last residents of the Isles of Shoals.
In order to give more meaning to the photographs, we have selected a variety of firsthand accounts of nineteenth-century life on the islands. The last Shoalers apparently had little reason to record daily activities. Therefore, we have had to rely primarily on visitors to tell the story. With one exception, all of the written material in this volume has been published elsewhere, although some sources are not readily available. It is remarkable that several of America's greatest nineteenth-century authors visited the islands and wrote about their experiences. We have selected excerpts from the writings of Richard Henry Dana Jr. and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Included are works by John Scribner Jenness of New Castle and Samuel Adams Drake, author of many nineteenth century New England travel books. Celia Thaxter and her brothers, Oscar and Cedric Laighton, all left written accounts of life on the islands. The Laightons lived on Appledore and often viewed their fellow Shoalers with some amusement, although accompanied with respect for their difficult lives. Included with Cedric's letters (published as Letters to Celia) are notes compiled by Frederick T. McGill. Relatively unknown are letters by Dr. Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, a pamphlet by Rev. Thomas Gage, and material from the annual reports of the Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Indians and Others (read Shoalers) in North America.
Here then is the story of a long lost village, brought to life again with rare photographs and words of humor, compassion, and appreciation for the difficult days of the nineteenth-century residents of the Isles of Shoals.