Our History

Thank you to the Kenney’s, longtime Harmony Hill residents, for providing the following history narrative of our 2 islands, and to Jay Selberg and John Robinson for the photos.

Known to the Abenaki Indians as Susquesong (Cousins) and Pemasong (Littlejohn).

Colonists referred to both islands as Hogg islands. Cousins Island was settled as early as 1628.

John Cousins bought both islands in 1645 from Richard Vines, Steward General and Councilor for Sir Ferdinando Gorges. He sold half of the land to Richard Bray in1650. The other half went to Mrs Mary Sayward ~ 1679. Casco Bay was deserted by white men during King Phillip’s War ~ 1675, and again during King William’s War ~ 1689-97.

At one time, there were two small shipyards on Cousins Island, one on Sandy Point, the other on Birch Point. There was also a blacksmith’s shop. In 1728 the town was surveyed by Capt. Joseph Heath. There were 886 acres on the islands. Around 1730, heirs of Bray and Sayward divided each island in half ~ “for quantity and quality.” Workmen digging for a foundation at Blancy Point dug though shell heaps and came upon a skeleton of a young man with a sword. Investigators are sure the man died during the French and Indian War. People on Blaney Point signaled mainland if Indians were approaching.

Fire destroyed records from 1735-1760.

1822: A boat ran from Portland to North Yarmouth and the islands by Capt. Seward. The flat bottom boat had a steam engine and was named “The Kennebec.” People along the way called her “Horned Hog.”

1825: School was established on Cousins Island on a crest southeast of the present chapel.

1836: Most of the property owners of all the islands in the bay sold “mining privileges” to the Portland, Scarborough, and Phippsburg Mining Company for one dollar each. They were to receive royalties on anything mined.

1861: A fleet of Coast and Geodetic Survey vessels wintered between the 2 islands.

1873: A Lyceum was started under the leadership of B.T. Noble, the school teacher. Everyone attended, including the girls.

1874: The Rockmere Hotel was built on Littlejohn Island. It was torn down in 1973.

1877: Records of the Baptist Church of Yarmouth state “church and society went to Cousins Island and organized a branch church.” The Chapel was built and dedicated in 1895.

1878: Lorenzo Hamilton bought Harmony Hill from Mrs. Doyle for a team of Oxen.

1886: The Casco House, a hotel just east of the Cousins Island wharf was a popular summer retreat for Montreal people.

1893: The Atlantic Improvement Company bought land on thee western end of Littlejohn. It was divided into 325 cottage lots and a large lot for a hotel.

1896: Bridge was built between the 2 islands. Before that, people depended on boats or stepping stones according to the tide.

1900 (approx): A school was built next to the chapel. In 1928 the school was turned into the Community House, where town meetings and minstrel shows were held. There was stage where the current kitchen is.

1922: Cousins Wharf and Improvement Company sold shares of stock in order to rebuild wharf damaged by winter storms.

1925-1958: The islands were incorporated and run by their own Board of Overseers. Yarmouth wooed Islands. By laws stated “levy a small tax at our discretion” as Yarmouth did not want the Islands to get the taxes form the power plant.

1941: New bridge built between the 2 islands.

Littlejohn Wharf & Store 1950 - Submitted by Jay Salberg

Submitted by John Robinson

World War II: During this war, 15 soldiers were stationed on Sandy Point. Also on Littlejohn Island near the wharf. A submarine net was strung between Littlejohn and Chebeague, and from Sandy Point to the mainland, to protect Portland Harbor.

1955: Snodgrass bridge (to mainland) dedicated. Plant production began in 1958.

1968: Causeway between the 2 islands to enable a fire truck to get to Littlejohn. The bridge was too rickety for the weight of a fire truck.

Interesting Tidbits: In 1908 there were 10 year round families on the 2 islands. Spruce Point Road used to be the location of a girls camp. Groves Farm (now Power Plant) had an ice pond. There was store and post office on the corner of Wharf and Cousins roads: It burned down in 1992. Littlejohn also had its own post office and could sell ice cream because they had a generator. There used to be a quarry on Cousins Island. There used to be fields across from the Community House, and the islands played host to baseball teams from all over the region. “Tinker field” was Talbot farm, then owned by Katherine Prescott Tinker (professor of astronomy at Vassar College). The 15 acres, now known as Tinker Property, are in care of the school system and shall remain “forever wild.”