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Catalog entry

inv. 192
"General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine
1850
Graphite on paper
9 1/2 x 11 in. (24.1 x 27.9 cm)
Inscribed across bottom (in pencil): "General Gates" at anchor off our encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mt Desert Maine / by F.H. Lane Aug. 1850; Inscribed upper right (in pencil): Lane / Tilden / Stevens / Adams

Commentary

The “General Gates” is a good example of a shallop descendant, classified as a New England boat, and further modified to become a regional variant known as a Casco Bay boat. While the first examples of this variant were built in the Casco Bay region, copies were built elsewhere along the Maine Coast, a simple ketch rig (with a choice of gaff-headed sails or spritsails – but no jib) being most popular.

Penobscot Bay being an archipelago, water transport was essential for its island inhabitants, and even those who lived on the mainland, so large and isolated was the region. People in small communities were reliant on small craft to go anywhere, with only the larger ports being served by sailing packets and steamboats. Lane’s exploration of the Penobscot was dependant on the “General Gates,” the sloop “Superior,” and other small crafts for finding the places and subjects that would appear in his paintings.

In addition to this drawing, “General Gates” appears (distantly) in a second drawing View of Bar Island and Mount Desert Mountains, from the Bay in Front of Somes Settlement, 1850 (inv. 177) and a painting based thereon, Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement, 1850 (not published).

–Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

Howard I Chapelle, “American Small Sailing Craft” (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1951), pp. 136 – 141, 152 – 155.

 

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Subject Types:   Ship Portrait »
Vessel Types:   New England Boat »
Maine Buildings & Locales:   Mount Desert & Mt. Desert Rock Light »   //   Somes Sound »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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publication
1850 Gloucester Daily Telegraph 9.11.1850
Stevens, Joseph Jr.
9.11.1850
Newsprint
Gloucester Daily Telegraph
Article by Joseph L. Stevens

"The beauties of this place [Maine] are well known and appreciated among artists. We heard of Bonfield and Williams who had reluctantly left but a short time before. Fishe had spent several weeks there. Champney and Kensett were then in  another part of the island, and we have reason to believe that Church and some  others were in the immediate vicinity–Lane who was with us, made good additions  to his portfolio."

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Mount Desert was in the Frenchman's Bay Customs District, and in 1850 the district ranked 4th, at 11.2%, among Maine's 13 customs districts, for its investment in the cod fisheries. The thick, old-growth forest provided ample opportunity for sawmills and the export of pine lumber and timber, as well as shipbuilding, which went hand-in-hand with fishing vessels for the cod fisheries.The coasters of the island found ample freight in the shipment of lumber from the sawmills of the Union River at Ellsworth. The rugged interior of the island limited settlements to the coastal fringe, creating a number of independent, isolated communities. Mount Desert's small fishing and farming communities, in the early 1850s, were set like small diamonds in an incredible crown of natural beauty. These small, isolated villages, clinging to a jagged coastline which stood resolute against the breaking sea, would have reminded artists like Lane of an America untouched by the progress of time. This was New England as it had once been, and there were few places in coastal New England where this claim could still be made.

Mount Desert, as it is colloquially known, has been known by many names throughout its history. The Etchemin called it Pem-etn-ic, "a range of mountains," as seen from the sea, "where the hills rise in a long saw-toothed range," Champlain called the island, notable for its granite mountains, of which one rises 1530 feet , "Isle des Monts Deserts," "barren mountains Island," and Sieur de la Mothe de Cadillac, who was granted a large tract at the head of Frenchman Bay in 1687, called Douaquet. Cadillac is one of a number of Frenchman whose presence in history is denoted by Frenchman's Bay.

At the beginning of recorded history Asticou was an Etchemin Sakom who lived seasonally on Mount Desert with his band. His larger homeland, Ketakamigwa, "the big land on the seacoast," was "an ecologically diverse coastal woodland environment, combining a saltwater archipelago with a 1000 mi.² freshwater hinterland broken by hills, swamps, lakes and ponds, and drained by a few major rivers in numerous smaller streams." The highly mobile Wabenaki families, ethnically identified as Etchemins, inhabited Penobscot Bay, making full use of the abundance of natural resources, including the building of a fish weir, K'chi-siti-mokan'gan, "The Great Fish Weir," between Little and Big Deer Isle, from which Eggemoggin Reach is derived), and shaping the natural environment to suit their needs.

Asticou, or members of his band, were on hand to greet Champlain in 1604, and he was at Manchester Point in 1613 when Father Baird and three Jesuit priests dropped anchor on their way to establish a Catholic mission on the Penobscot River. Asticou invited them to stay, the invitation was accepted, and the mission of St. Sauveur at Fernald Point began to be built. The work had barely begun when the mission was destroyed by Capt. Samuel Argall, an English privateer from Jamestown.

Champlain named Mount Desert but left its sentinel rock, 26 miles off shore, unidentified. The island was given the name of Mount Desert Dry Rock in the 18th century, and shortened somewhat after this. The island served as a navigational aid, not a hazard, for coastal seamen. The US government purchased this pile of rocks from the State of Maine in 1829, there surely must have been a few laughs over this transaction, and the government authorized $5000 to build a light station, which began operation in 1830.

– Mark Honey

References:

Conkling, Philip W, "Islands in Time," A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine, Island Institute, Rockland, and Downeast Books, Camden.

Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy, "Indian Place-Names of the Penobscot Valley and the Maine Coast," University of Maine Studies, 2nd Series, #55, November 1941, reprinted 1960 by the University of Maine Press.  Frank G Speck's "Penobscot Man," University of Pennsylvania Press, 1940.

Duncan, Roger F, "Coastal Maine, A Maritime History," WW Norton & Company, New York, 1992.

 Prins, Harald E L, and McBride, Bunny, "Asticou's Island Domain: Wabenaki Peoples at Mount Desert Island," 1500-2000, Acadia National Park, Ethnographic Overview and Assessment, Volume 1, repaired under cooperative agreement with The Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, Maine, Northeast Regional Ethnography Program, National Park Service, Boston, Massachusetts, September, 2007.

Rowe, William Hutchinson, "The Maritime History of Maine," Harpswell Press, 1996.

 

 

 

publication
1850 Gloucester Daily Telegraph 9.11.1850
Stevens, Joseph Jr.
9.11.1850
Newsprint
Gloucester Daily Telegraph
Article by Joseph L. Stevens

"The beauties of this place [Maine] are well known and appreciated among artists. We heard of Bonfield and Williams who had reluctantly left but a short time before. Fishe had spent several weeks there. Champney and Kensett were then in  another part of the island, and we have reason to believe that Church and some  others were in the immediate vicinity–Lane who was with us, made good additions  to his portfolio."

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publication
1859 Gloucester Telegraph 2.9.1859
2.9.1859
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph p. 2, col. 3
Boston Public Library
Accession # G587

"PICTURES. – Two of Lane's finest paintings are on exhibition at the Marine Insurance Reading Room. One is a most spirited representation of a gale on the sea coast. Huge rollers come rumbling towards the rocky foreground where the spray dashes high and the receding wave is thrown up sharp and wedgelike by the great crested breaker under which it is speedily overwhelmed. In the middle distance a bald headland receives the sun's rays which slant through the mist from an opening in the heavy clouds. A close reefed ship leaps proudly over the waves and safely weathers the dangerous point beyond.

The companion-piece is a bay scene in which the setting sun throws a flood of golden light over the placid water. Vessels of different kinds, with sails in light and shadow, enliven the picture. A homely old sloop getting underweigh well sets off the most prominent object - a handsome ship under full canvass, slowly gliding over the ground-swell with a light breeze afloat, while there is hardly enough below to make a cat's paw.

These pictures were painted for the spring exhibition of the National Academy at New York, whither they will go unless stopped by some appreciative purchaser.

In Lane's studio are several gems of art. - Wind against Tide on Georges, a stirring pure marine, and Recollections of Mount Desert, an exquisite bit of landscape, evince a versatility of pencil which he is not generally known to possess.

The demand for a View of Gloucester worth having (as that poor caricature of Tidd's is not) has induced Lane to supply another, which is the third and largest of his series. It is taken from Rocky Neck, like its predecessor. Of course all the modern improvements visible from that point of view are represented with the artist's usual accuracy of drawing. To the first 300 subscribers the print will be offered at the low price of $2.25 per copy. The original painting from which it is lithographed, and several other of his pictures, will be distributed by lot among those who choose to take their copies at $2.75 – a price which the print alone will command before the entire edition is exhausted."

Image: Boston Public Library
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chart
CHART G, Penobscot Bay to Machias (detail of Southwest Harbor)
George W. Eldridge
1905
Chart G
Charles G. Hutchinson, Publisher
Private Collection

George W. Eldridge was a Boston-based publisher of charts, pilot books, and tide tables for yachtsmen cruising in the New York–New England region. Detail of the Mount Desert portion of a much larger chart.

Also filed under: Maps »   //  Northeast Harbor »   //  Somes Sound »

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chart
Chart showing route of Lane's 1852 cruise from Castine to Bar Harbor
Erik Ronnberg/US Coast Survey chart
c. 1875
Chart
U.S. Coast Survey

Chart with key showing the route of an excursion on the sloop "Superior" out of Castine made by William H. Witherle, Lane, Stevens and friends during which Lane made several sketches of Mt. Desert scenery. The trip was chronicled by Witherle in his diary of 1852.

Image: Erik Ronnberg
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chart
Entrance to Southwest Harbor
1891
Illustration
"U.S. Coast Pilot, Atlantic Coast, Parts I–II." First edition. Published by Washington GPO, 1891
Folded plate between pp. 62 and 63
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photo (historical)
Mt. Desert Rock
N. L. Stebbins
c.1891
Photograph

From The Illustrated Coast Pilot with sailing directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston, Mass.

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PDF
view ]
publication
The Story of Mount Desert Island
Samuel Eliot Morison
1960
Book
Boston: Little Brown and Co.
pp. 75-76

Morison lists the original names of mountains and other features on Mount Desert and the corresponding new names designated as official when Acadia National Park was created.

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine
H. F. Walling
1860
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine.
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2011588006

1860 map, including census of towns. 

Image: Library of Congress

Also filed under: Castine »   //  Maps »   //  Penobscot Bay »

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map
Topographical Map of Hancock County Maine under the direction of H.F. Walling 1860 (Mount Desert or Somesville Business Directory detail)
H. F. Walling
1860
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
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PDF
view ]
manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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Mount Desert "displays several U-shaped valleys, almost perfectly parallel and trending a bit east of south; Somes Sound, nearly dividing the island in two, is of particular interest because it is a fjord, a valley cut much deeper than sea level by a glacier that extended an unknown distance out to sea. The Valley was later filled by the sea when the meltwater from the wasting ice raised sea level to its present elevation."              

Abraham Somes is alleged to have made seasonal fishing trips to Somes Sound as early as 1755, though he did not begin the process of settlement until 1761. He removed his family through the Head of the Sound in 1762 and erected a sawmill. The Sound and the village bear his name. Through extended family kinships, the Somes family would be connected to the sawmill families of Flye of Union River and the Herrick's of Mount Desert, Sedgwick, and Penobscot.

– Mark Honey

References:

Honey, Mark E, "King Pine, Queen Spruce, Jack Tar," An Intimate History of Lumbering on the Union River, Volumes 1-5.

Kendall, David L, "Glaciers & Granite," A Guide to Maine's Landscape and Geology, Downeast Books, Camden, 1987

chart
CHART G, Penobscot Bay to Machias (detail of Southwest Harbor)
George W. Eldridge
1905
Chart G
Charles G. Hutchinson, Publisher
Private Collection

George W. Eldridge was a Boston-based publisher of charts, pilot books, and tide tables for yachtsmen cruising in the New York–New England region. Detail of the Mount Desert portion of a much larger chart.

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map
U.S. Coast Survey Chart: South West Harbor and Somes Sound
1872
19 x 28 in.
Survey of the Coast of the United States, Washington, D.C.
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artwork
View in Somes Sound
Thomas Cole
1844
pencil, white highlights on blue paper
11 1/8 x 17 in
The Art Museum, Princeton University, gift of Frank Jewett Mather, Jr.
artmuseum.princeton.edu
Image: Princeton University Art Museum
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PDF
view ]
manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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Essay to come.

PDF
view ]
letter
Dorothy Little Stevens to F. H. Lane, 2.9.1853
Dorothy Little Stevens
1853
Letter
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
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The colonial American shallop is the ancestor of many regional types of New England fishing craft found in Lane's paintings and drawings, including "New England Boats" (known as "boats"), and later descendents, such as "Chebacco Boats," "Dogbodies," and "Pinkies." (discussed elsewhere)

These boats were very common work boat types on Cape Ann throughout the 1800s. They were primarily used for inshore coastal fishing, which included lobstering, gill-netting, fish-trapping, hand-lining, and the like. They were usually sailed by one or two men, sometimes with a boy, and could be rowed as well as sailed. An ordinary catch would include rock cod, flounder, fluke, dabs, or other small flat fish. The catch would be eaten fresh, or salted and stored for later consumption, or used as bait fish. Gill-netting would catch herring and alewives when spawning. Wooden lobster traps were marked with buoys much as they are today, and hauled over the low sides of the boat, emptied of lobsters and any by-catch, re-baited and thrown back.

THE SHALLOP

Like other colonial vessel types, shallops were defined in many ways, including size, construction, and rig. Most commonly, they were open boats with square or sharp sterns, 20 to 30 feet in length, two-masted rigs, and heavy sawn­frame construction which in time became lighter. (1)

The smaller shallops developed into a type called the Hampton Boat early in the nineteenth century, becoming the earliest named regional variant of what is now collectively termed the New England Boat. Other variants were named for their regions of origin: Isles of Shoals Boat, Casco Bay Boat, No Mans Land Boat, to name a few. No regional name for a Cape Ann version has survived, and "boat," or "two­-masted boat" seems to have sufficed. (2)

Gloucester's New England Boats were mostly double-­enders (sharp sterns) ranging in length from 25 to 30 feet, with two masts and two sails (no bowsprit or jib). They were used in the shore fisheries: hand­lining, gill­netting, and gathering or trapping shellfish (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and /entry: 240/). (3)

Larger, double­-ended shallops became decked and evolved in Ipswich (the part now called Essex) to become Chebacco Boats. (4) This variant retained the two­-mast, two-­sail rig, but evolved further, acquiring a bowsprit and jib and becoming known as a pinky (see Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18), and The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30)). The Chebacco Boat became a distinct type by the mid-eighteenth century giving rise to the pinky in the early ninetennth century; the latter, by the early 1900s. (5)

References:

1. William A. Baker, Sloops & Shallops (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1966), 27–­33; and “Vessel Types of Colonial Massachusetts,” in Seafaring in Colonial Massachusetts (Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1980), 13­–15, see figs. 10, 11.

2. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 136­–45.

3. Ibid., 145, upper photo, fourth page of plates.

4. Baker, 82–91.

5. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825­–1935 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973), 23­–54.

THE NEW ENGLAND BOAT

By the 1840s, the Gloucester version of the New England Boat had evolved into a distinct regional type. Referred to locally as “boats,” the most common version was a double-ender, i.e. having a pointed stern, unlike the less common version having a square stern.

Both variants had two masts, a foresail, a mainsail, but no bowsprit or jib. Lane depicted both in several paintings, beginning in the mid­-1840s (see View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97), and /entry: 240/), all ranging 25 to 30 feet in length. In View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a double-­ender can be seen on the beach while a square-stern version lies at anchor in the harbor, just to the right of the former. (1)

Lane’s depictions of the double-­enders show lapstrake hull planking in View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), and cuddies (short decking) inboard at the ends for shelter and stowage of fishing gear in View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94). The few square-­stern examples (see View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)) suggest carvel (smooth) planking and paint finish, rather than oil and tar. The presence of an example of the latter variant in Boston Harbor, as noted in Boston Harbor, c. 1850 (inv. 48), suggests a broader geographical range for this sub­type. (2)

The primary use of Cape Ann’s “boats” was fishing, making “day trips” to coastal grounds for cod, herring, mackerel, hake, flounder, and lobster, depending on the season. Fishing gear included hooks and lines, gill nets, and various traps made of wood and fish net.

Some boats worked out of Gloucester Harbor, but other communities on Cape Ann had larger fleets, such as Sandy Bay, Pigeon Cove, Folly Cove, Lanesville, Bay View, and Annisquam. Lane’s depictions of these places and their boats are rare to nonexistent. (3)

The double­-ended boat served Lane in marking the passage of time in Gloucester Harbor. In View from Kettle Cove, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 1847 (inv. 94), we see new boats setting out to fish, but in View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848 (inv. 97) and Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240), a boat of the same type is depicted in a progressively worn state. In Stage Fort across Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 237), the boat is a stove hulk on a beach, and in the same year, Lane depicted the type’s shattered bottom frame and planking lying on the shore at Norman’s Woe in Norman's Woe, Gloucester Harbor, 1862 (inv. 1).

Regional variants of the New England Boat appear in Lane’s paintings of Maine harbors, including one­ and two­-masted versions, collectively called Hampton Boats (see Bear Island, Northeast Harbor, 1855 (inv. 24), Ten Pound Island at Sunset, 1851 (inv. 25), Fishing Party, 1850 (inv. 50), Father's (Steven's) Old Boat, 1851 (inv. 190), and "General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192)). Some distinctive regional types were given names, i.e. Casco Bay Boats ("General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192) may be one), but many local type names, if they were coined, have been lost. (4)

References:

1. Howard I. Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), 141–42.

2. Ibid., 152­–55.

3. Sylvanus Smith, Fisheries of Cape Ann (Gloucester, MA: Press of the Gloucester Times, 1915), 96–­97, 102–05, 110­–13.

4. Chapelle, 152–55.

photo (historical)
Casco Bay boat "Grey Eagle" at head of Lobster Cove, Annisquam
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archives

Variant of the New England boat described by Howard I. Chapelle in American Small Sailing Craft (1951), pp. 152–55.

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model
Colonial Shallop model (broadside)
MIT Museum
Image: Colonial Shallop Model made by Malcolm Gidley under supervision of William A. Baker, N.A. Courtesy of Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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model
Colonial Shallop model (stern view)
MIT Museum
Image: Colonial Shallop Model made by Malcolm Gidley under supervision of William A. Baker, N.A. Courtesy of Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum, Cambridge

Also filed under: Ship Models »

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Samuel Adams, Jr. was a friend of Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. from Castine. He joined Stevens, Lane and Witherle on their excursions in the Penobscot Bay area in 1850 and 1852. (1)

Samuel Adams (1828-1861) married Mary Brewer Martin, daughter of Silas Martin and Margaret Crawford of Castine and Wilmington, North Carolina. He was the son of Deacon Samuel Adams, born in 1790, and Lucy Sewall Moulton. Deacon Adams was a merchant and shipbuilder, and in 1850 he was one of the wealthiest men in the community. Deacon Adams and his extended family were invested in the cod fisheries and the cotton trade with New Orleans, and financed the building of some of Castine's greatest ships. Samuel Adams's sister, Sarah F. Adams, was married to William H. Witherle.

-Mark Honey

References:

(1) Frederic Alan Sharf"Fitz Hugh Lane: Visits to the Maine Coast, 1848–55." Essex Institute Historical Collections 98 (April 1962), 117.

 

PDF
view ]
manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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Joseph Lowe Stevens, Jr. (1823–1908) was Lane's closest friend and traveling companion. He was also executor of Lane's estate, and a tireless promoter of Lane's work. He was a supporter of abolition and animal welfare, and an active member of the Gloucester Lyceum. It was the Stevens family who encouraged Lane to make a print of Castine and who published and promoted it there Castine, from Hospital Island, 1855 (inv. 448). Joseph first worked as a dry goods salesman and in later life “engaged in the wholesale dry-goods and woollen trade on Summer St. Boston, travelling daily to and fro” on the train. (1)

Joseph's father, Dr. Joseph Lowe Stevens, Sr., was born in Andover, Massachusetts, and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He married Dorothy Little of Castine, Maine, where the couple settled, and where Joseph Jr. was born in 1823. In the spring of 1840, at the age of seventeen, Joseph, Jr. left Maine and moved to Gloucester to work in his uncle’s Samuel Stevens' dry goods store and to live with his grandfather, Zachariah Stevens. Seven years later, Joseph, Jr. married his second cousin, Caroline Stevens Foster. The couple eventually had five children, one of whom died very young.

Like most of the educated population of the town, Joseph joined the Gloucester Lyceum shortly after arriving in town; the signature of John J. Piper appears next in the membership book; and the next after him was Fitz Henry Lane. (2) Joseph remained involved with the Gloucester Lyceum and Library for most of his life, acting as director for many years, and was the superintendent at the time it became incorporated as the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library.

Joseph also helped his father work on a history of Castine, and he was sufficiently concerned about the welfare of animals to serve on the boards of three animal-aid societies. He became the secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the New England Humane Education Society, and treasurer of the Band of Mercy. (3) Joseph was committed to more than animal welfare; he involved himself in the Free Soil movement and the slavery debate, to the extent that he left Gloucester for Kansas in 1855 “to see for himself what was going on,” returning about two years later. (4)

Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. first became friends with Lane after the artist had returned from Boston and had set up a studio on Elm Stree. That same year, Joseph invited Lane to accompany him to Castine. It was the first of many such trips to the Maine coast, where Lane sketched and painted and visited with Joseph’s parents.

When Lane fell out with his brother-in-law, Joseph Stevens came to the rescue by purchasing the contested stone house from Lane and evicting the troublesome in-laws. He was also at Lane’s side when he died and was named as one of two executors in Lane’s will. In addition, he inherited two-thirds of the residual property of the estate.

Joseph’s wife Caroline died in 1886, and Joseph left Gloucester nine years later to marry Charlotte M. Todd of Milton. He remained there until his own death. He is buried in Oak Grove cemetery alongside Caroline and their infant son. Lane is also buried in their family plot.

– Stephanie Buck

(1) Joseph L. Stevens Jr., letter written as Superintendent of the Sawyer Free Library, for the 1876 Women’s Time Capsule. Gloucester Archives, CC195 and AS300.

(2) Gloucester Lyceum Records, vol. 1, 1830–1852.

(3) The New England Humane Education Society is not to be confused with the coastal lifesaving institution which was then known as the Massachusetts Humane Society. The Band of Mercy was associated with the Massachusetts SPCA.

(4) F. A. Sharf, "Fitz Hugh Lane: Visits to the Maine Coast, 1848–1855," Essex Institute Historical Collection 98, no. 2 (April 1962): 112.

photo (historical)
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
B. Adams. Front St., Gloucester
December 1876
Carte de visite
Gloucester City Archives.

This carte de visite was included in the Women's Centennial Collection time capsule.

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photo (historical)
Photograph of Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
n.d.
Photograph
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (a02156)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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publication
1850 Gloucester Daily Telegraph 9.11.1850
Stevens, Joseph Jr.
9.11.1850
Newsprint
Gloucester Daily Telegraph
Article by Joseph L. Stevens

"The beauties of this place [Maine] are well known and appreciated among artists. We heard of Bonfield and Williams who had reluctantly left but a short time before. Fishe had spent several weeks there. Champney and Kensett were then in  another part of the island, and we have reason to believe that Church and some  others were in the immediate vicinity–Lane who was with us, made good additions  to his portfolio."

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manuscript
1852 Journal of John M. Stevens
John M. Stevens
September 1–November 18, 1852
Personal journal
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Box 2, F1 (A00772)

John Stevens was the younger brother of Joseph Stevens, and acquainted with Lane, spending time with him in Gloucester and at the family home in Castine. His journal, quoted below, includes reference to hunting plover and teal, school, sailing, local events. Mentions Castine mill, lighthouse, and block house.

"Friday [September] 17th: Cloudy all day. Wind N. blowing quite hard. A British Rig loaded with salt from Liverpool came into port last night. She run way up by the Monument and got aground. They kedged her off this P.M. and came down. She came in with one of these old English charts as her guide. They have the town set down on the Brooksville side, two miles + three quarters from the lighthouse."

"Wednesday [September] 22. . .Went down to the Indians Camp on the Back Cove. There were five camps of them." 

Visits Gloucester from Castine:

"Wednesday [October] 27th. . .Left for Gloucester [from Boston] at 5 o'clock this P.M. arrived there safe + sound at 6 1/2 o'clock; went right down to the store and saw Joe. We then went up to his house and got supper.

"Thursday [October] 28th. At. Gloucester. Pleasant day. Went down to the "Cut" a gunning this morning before breakfast but saw no birds. Went out in the harbor this forenoon alone, had a fine sail but couldn't get a chance at any birds. Went out again this P.M. got down to East Point Light and the wind died all away, so I had to scull home."

"Friday 29th. Very pleasant day, went out in the harbor this morning with Joe. Took a walk this A.M. with "Lina", called on Mr. Lane + Doct. Hildreth. Joe + I went out in the harbor this P.M. I fired at some birds several times, but didn't get any. . . ."

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publication
1863 Gloucester Telegraph 10.7.1863
W.E.P. Rogers
10.7.1863
Newspaper
Gloucester Telegraph

"Ignatius Winter v. Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.—This was an action of tort brought by the plaintiff to recover damages for personal injury in ejecting him from his dwelling house, as the plaintiff claimed. Defendant justified his expulsion of the plaintiff on the ground that he expelled him from his own, the defendant's house, using no more force than was reasonably necessary to accomplish this."

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manuscript
1865 Diary Entry 10.22.1865
Samuel Sawyer
10.22.1865
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection

"Met Mr. Tuckerman the artist walking with Jos. Stevens."

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
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1867 Cape Ann Advertiser 10.25.1867
Procter Brothers
10.25.1867
Newspaper

Letter to the editor: "Fitz H. Lane's will and gift of the Old Fort painting in the Town Hall, sketched in 1859, from T. Sewell Lancaster and Joseph L. Stevens, executors."

Reply from Selectmen: "Mr. Lane was much esteemed by his townsmen not only for his skill as an artist, but also for his character, as a gentleman of Honor and Integrity."

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manuscript
Complete Subscription List and Mailing for "Castine, From Hospital Island," 1855
1855
Handwritten list
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00787-1a-1d)
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letter
David Dennison receipt 1849
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
1849
Printed paper receipt with handwritten entries by Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.
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letter
E. D. Knight to Joseph Stevens, Jr., Boston, 8.15.1869
1869
Letter regarding the burning of the packet ship "Boston"
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass.

"Dear Sir, Agreeable to your request that I would write something to attach to the picture in your possession of the Burning of the Packet Ship Boston in 1830, your object I suppose more fully to establish the fact that it is really one of the early productions of our fellow townsman and afterward most distinguished artist Fitz H. Lane.

The picture was drawn the same year by Mr. Lane from a sketch I made soon after the disaster aided by one of the passengers S.S. Osgood Esq. afterward a distinguished portrait painter. Mr. Lane had made not reputation of course at this time as an artist. And probably had received no instruction. It afforded me great pleasure to present this picture to you who was so devoted to him, knowing full well tho nothing very great of itself would be highly appreciative [...] as the early work of that [...] particular friend."

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letter
F. H. Lane letter to Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
Fitz Henry Lane
n.d.
Letter
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

". . . will fully appreciate all that I have done in my garden, in ornamenting it, with flowers and plants, Rustic Arbours and Statues, and I only wish that you could be here to witness and enjoy his [Dr. J. L. Stevens] expressions of delight and interest, when a new flower attracts his attention, or some beauty of arrangement meets his eye. Samuel [B. Stevens of Castine] he tells me came up with the expectation of going on a voyage to Australia, but when he arrived in Boston he found the vessel with her compliment of men, and it is very uncertain if he goes in her. Your Mother and all at home are well. I yesterday made a sketch of Stage Fort and the surrounding scenery, from the water. Piper has given me an order for a picture from this point of view, to be treated as a sunset. I shall try to make something out of it, but it will require some management, as there is no foreground but water and vessels. One o’clock, it is very hot, the glass indicates 84° in my room, with the windows all open and a light breeze from the east, this is the warmest day . . .

. . . than devoting it to you. Since writing you last I have painted but one picture worth talking about and that one I intend for you if you should be pleased with it. It is a View of the beach between Stage Fort and Steep bank including Hovey’s Hill and residence, Fresh water cove and the point of land with the lone pine tree. Fessenden’s house, likewise comes into the picture. The effect is a mid day light with a cloudy sky, a patch of sunlight is thrown across the beach and the breaking waves, an old vessel lies stranded on the beach with two or three figures, there are a few vessels in the distance and the Field rocks likewise show at the left of the picture. I think you will be pleased with this picture, for it is a very picturesque scene especially the beach, as there are many rocks which come in to destroy the monotony of a plain sand beach, and I have so arranged the light and shade that the effect I think is very good indeed, however you will be better able to judge of that when you see it, the size is 20 x 33. . ."

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PDF
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Gloucester Lyceum Record Book
1849
Handwritten ledger
Sawyer Free Library
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letter
Joseph L. Stevens to Joseph L. Stevens, Jr., 1856
Joseph L. Stevens
1856
Letter
Castine Historical Society, Maine

"[John] says Charles proposes to come down on Saturday—to return on Monday—so that may be so—I think of defering sending the pictures till then—it has been my intention to have sent them tomorrow. [??] went away on Monday last before I had time to have them boxed. Mr. Noyes will see to that. The have been, for a day or two, in Witherle & Co.'s store, where they were much admired—& a little remarkable, among the visitors there yesterday was Mr. King—the son of the Keeper of the Light—who was engaged in catching herring while you was at the Rock. He was very much pleased—thought it as natural as life—as it was to his recollection—having only left there a week since. He observed that he would not have believed Mr. Lane had so much in him. In case Charles does not come on Saturday how shall I direct the box—for I shall send it by express to Boston—I don't remember any thing was said about that. I hope you will come over to Owl's Head, as proposed—if so, you & Lane must come & spend one night at least. Our two teacher boarders came in the boat that took you away—but we can continue to accommodate some way or other. Mary is to leave on Monday next."

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letter
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr. to Samuel Mansfield, 10.17.1903
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
1903
Four-page letter
Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive, Gloucester, Mass.

"[The painting] is offered you for $150 on as long time and in as many notes at 3% interest as you choose. . . I believe this to be the only important painting of Gloucester Harbor that Lane never duplicated. . . .Returning from a Gloucester visit while I was still under the roof there, father brought a print of Lane's first Gloucester view, bought of the artist at his Tremont Temple studio in Boston. An extra dollar had been paid for coloring it. For a few years it was a home delight.. . .I had been a few years in Gloucester when Lane began to come, for part of the time a while, if I remember rightly. He painted in his brother's house, "up in town" it then was. I recall visits there to see his pictures. But it was long after, that I could claim more than a simple speaking acquaintance. The Stacys were very kind, aiding him as time went on in selling paintings by lot. I invested in a view of Gloucester from Rocky Neck, thus put on sale at the old reading room, irreverently called "Wisdom Hall." And they bought direct of him to some extent, before other residents. Lane was much my senior and yet we gradually drifted together. Our earliest approach to friendship was after his abode began in Elm Street as an occupant of the old Prentiss [sic-corrected Stacy] house, moved there from Pleasant. I was a frequenter of this studio to a considerable extent, yet little compared with my intimacy at the next and last in the new stone house on the hill. Lane's art books and magazines were always at my service and a great inspiration and delight—notably the London Art Journal to which he long subscribed. I have here a little story to tell you. A Castine man came to Gloucester on business that brought the passing of $60 through my hands at 2 1/2 % commission. I bought with the $1.50 thus earned Ruskin's Modern Painters, my first purchase of an artbook. I dare say no other copy was then owned in town. . . .Lane was frequently in Boston, his sales agent being Balch who was at the head of his guild in those days. So in my Boston visits – I was led to Balch's fairly often – the resort of many artists and the depot of their works. Thus through, Lane in various ways I was long in touch with the art world, not only of New England but of New York and Philadelphia. I knew of most picture exhibits and saw many. The coming of the Dusseldorf Gallery to Boston was an event to fix itself in one's memory for all time. What talks of all these things Lane and I had in his studio and by my fireside!

For a long series of years I knew nearly every painting he made. I was with him on several trips to the Maine coast where he did much sketching, and sometimes was was [sic] his chooser of spots and bearer of materials when he sketched in the home neighborhood. Thus there are many paintings whose growth I saw both from brush and pencil. For his physical infirmity prevented his becoming an out-door colorist."

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photo (historical)
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr. home in Castine
George E. Collins
1871
Photograph
Maine Historic Preservation Commission (2000.24)
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letter
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr. to Fitz H. Lane, 1.29.1851
Joseph L. Stevens, Sr.
1851
Single sheet, writing both sides
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

"My dear Sir,

I hope you will not attribute the delay in acknowledging the receipt of your splendid, and most unexpected Gift to a want of a due appreciation of it. Many reasons have consipired to prevent my doing it – unnecessary to repeat. But I can no longer defer the expressions of our warmest acknowledgements for a present in itself so valuable, and endeared to us by many associations, as a representation of scenery often admired, and which I have many times wished could be transferred to canvas, although vary far from thinking that wish would ever be gratified. You must premit me, however, to say that the Painting, valuable as it is as a work of Art, and pleased as I may be as the possessor of it, is less appreciated by us than the delicate and very generous manner in which its acceptance has been tendered. My love of Art, to which you do politely allude, I am sensible has only wanted opportunity of indulgence to have amounted to a passion. From my earliest days I have wished for opportunities to visit places, where that desire could be gratified, and my reading has only had the effect of increasing my regrets for the want of them, and of encouraging envy for those more fortunate - I feel, too, under great obligations for the Drawing of the "Siege"(1) – I had no expectations you could have produced anything so good from so rough a copy. I shall have it framed for presentation and future reference. Several gentlemen who have called in to see the painting have expressed a desire to have a drawing from you of our town, similar to yours of Gloucester, which they much admire, and of lithographs, I have no doubts copies enough could be disposed of to remunerate you. That of Homans you are aware is feebly drawn, & still worse printed. I feel desirous myself it should be done, if it suits your wishes. There are several points of view, which you did not see, & to which it will be my pleasure, next summer, to carry you. I know many of our citizens would be gratified to have this done by you. Our house we shall expect to be your home, and if, as you suggested in Gloucester, you should come in your Boat, this place could be made the rendezvous, from whence you could start to any place that convenience & inclination might dictate – . . . Permit me again to tender acknowledgements for the picture. It hangs in our parlor, & I never come in to the house, without looking in to see it, & can never cease to feel grateful for your generosity and politeness. "

 (1) Joseph Stevens was very interested the Revolutionary war event known as the "Penobscot Expedition" or the "Siege of Castine" by the British on July 25, 1779. In 1852 he handwrote an account of it and many articles are in the family's scrapbook at the Wilson Museum in Castine.

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chart
Stevens Family Tree
Stephanie Buck
2007

Appendix G: Family Trees, in Sarah Dunlap and Stephanie Buck, Fitz Henry Lane: Family and Friends (Gloucester, MAChurch & Mason Publishing; in association with the Cape Ann Historical Museum2007), 164–66.

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manuscript
Trask's Rock
Joseph L. Stevens, Jr.
c. 1855
Personal notebook
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine

Note about historical importance of this Castine landmark: "On Saturday afternoon, August 11, 1855, with my friend the marine artist Fitz. H. Lane of Gloucester" visited Trask's Rock

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manuscript
Will of Fitz H. Lane
FItz. H. Lane
October 3, 1865
Essex County Probate Records, Volume 424, Leaves 34 & 35

The will disposed of Lane's property (including watch and diamond breast pin), his monetary assets, and gave to the city of Gloucester a painting of the Old Fort. Joseph Stevens, Jr. and T. Sewall Lancaster were named executors. It was signed by Lane on March 10, 1865.

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manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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George Tilden was a lifelong resident of Castine. According to William Witherle's diary, George accompanied Lane and Stevens on their 1852 boat trip. The inscriptions from the drawings from the 1850 excursion indicate that he was on that trip as well.

George Francis Tilden, 1825-1883, was the son of Capt. Charles K. Tilden and Mary Reed of Castine. George was in partnership with his father at Castine, and though the family was a minor player in the cod fisheries, they still ranked 5th in terms of relative wealth in 1850. Capt. Charles K Tilden supplied lumber to the shipyards of Belfast and Castine, and had business interests as far afield as Vinalhaven. George had his own enterprise and invested in sawmills and timberlands at Cherryfield. Charles William Tilden, 1832-1914, the youngest son, would later enter the family enterprise. Charles would rise to prominence as a Col. in the 16th Maine Regiment, during the Civil War, and would earn the brevet of Brig. Gen. The expedition in 1852 began at the wharf of Capt. Charles K Tilden at Castine.

-Mark Honey

References:

Doudiet, Ellenore W, "Majabigwaduce, A History of Castine, Penobscot, and Brooksville, Castine Scientific Society (Wilson Museum), Castine, Maine, 1978.

Honey, Mark E, "Abigail & Sarah Hawes of Castine," Navigators & Educators, with Lois Moore Cyr, 1996.

Honey, Mark E, "Before the Mast," Volume IV, articles 7-9, Holbrook Island and the Holbrook family, and in particular, Robert Applebee, "Vessels of the Penobscot Customs District," Stephan Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, which source also has the diaries of Capt. Jonathan Holbrook and the genealogy of the Holbrook family in the Priscilla Jones collection. The "Before the Mass" series can be found in the collections of the Castine Historical Society and the Wilson Museum, both in Castine.

Wheeler, Dr. George Augustus, "Four Flags," A History of Castine, Penobscot, and Brooksville.

 

 

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manuscript
William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
1852
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.

 

Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."


The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

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Marks & Labels

Marks: Inscribed upper left (in red ink): 15 [numbering system used by curator A. M. Brooks upon Samuel H. Mansfield's donation of the drawings to the Cape Ann Museum]

Exhibition History

No known exhibitions.

Published References

McCormick 1952: "Fitz Hugh Lane, Gloucester Artist, 1804–1865," p. 293. ⇒ includes text
Cape Ann 1974: Paintings and Drawings by Fitz Hugh Lane, fig. 126.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, ill. in b/w p. 97 fig. 31, as "General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine.
Keck 2006: Walking in the Wilderness: The Peripatetic Tradition in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Painting, fig. 35, text, pp. 266–67.
Citation: ""General Gates" at Anchor off Our Encampment at Bar Island in Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1850 (inv. 192)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=192 (accessed September 26, 2017).
Record last updated March 3, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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