News 

Upcoming Programs – Announcements & Survey

Sunrise on New Year’s Day from Pigeon Hill in Steuben. Did you know there was a silver mine on Pigeon Hill in the 1800s?

Happy new year!

At the Society, we are very excited to be planning some new programs in the coming months. These will be held virtually for the time being and in-person as soon as we are able to do so safely. As we plan and prepare our upcoming schedule, we would very much like your input! 

You can complete our short survey here. Thank you for your time and for your support of SSHS. We hope to see you soon!

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If you have any questions or comments, please email info@sullivansorrentohistory.org or call Gary Edwards, SSHS President at 207-422-0995.

Backyard Archeology Project Uncovers Assortment of Historic Artifacts

Seamus Schunk, 10, first spotted something unusual and distinctly metallic protruding from the ground in his backyard in April. He returned with a spade and started to dig, finding an old metal arrowhead. He quickly realized that there was an outline in stones on the ground and explored the whole area.

Over the following weeks, Seamus uncovered an assortment of artifacts, including parts to a cast-iron stove, an oil lamp, ball hitch, and various tools. One day, he used a metal detector, noted where it signaled, and unearthed more treasures! Upon making the discovery, Seamus recalls rushing into the house with excitement; his parents, who had been making dinner, went outside expecting just a couple pieces of rusted metal—but they were quite surprised at the things he had found!

 For Seamus, who homeschools, the archaeology project became a big unit study. He and his parents, Tim and Brandi, worked to identify the artifacts through communication with the historical society and their own research. When Seamus unearthed a nearly intact glass bead necklace, they concentrated on learning more about glass bead necklaces, looking for the time period that they were made and most fashionable. On some items, they found names and inscriptions that led them to businesses to investigate for further context.

 Seamus uncovered the vast majority of the artifacts within one area roughly 6 feet by 8 feet wide, and when he discovered a complete glass inkwell, he had to wonder: why would someone throw that out? If there had been a structure there, the wide selection of tools and various pieces of melted metal and charred wood suggest the possibility of a shed that burned down.

 As Seamus and his parents dove deeper into the history of the place, they added the information that they could find about the property and its prior owners to the puzzle. Documents show that their house was either built in 1830 or 1880, depending on which digit is an error. From their neighbors, they learned that their house may have once been combined with a second house on the foundation of what is now a third house—and an early owner of the parcel may have run the quarry—before the houses split, moved, and settled where they are now.

 For Seamus, the best part of the project is the joy of discovering new pieces. He spent all of his free time digging until fire ants took over the area in full force, and he says that he plans to start again as long as the ants aren’t there come spring. Further research about the property may be able to uncover a more complete picture of the people who lived there centuries before. In the meantime, the story behind the artifacts remains a mystery—and a reminder to keep our eyes open to other stories that may be lurking right under our noses just waiting to be uncovered.

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If you are looking to uncover your own pieces of local history, the Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society is here to help. We are currently open by appointment only, and you can reach us at (207) 422-0995 or info@sullivansorrentohistory.org.

Island Fellow Begins Work for Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society

September 2020–Raina Sciocchetti began working with the Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society Aug. 31 as the society’s Island Institute fellow.

Raina is a recent graduate of Unity College, where she majored in environmental writing and media studies with an emphasis in sustainability societies. She hails from a small coastal community in Northern California, where she “became more aware of its story of depleted natural resources, rapid changes and growing challenges.”

Raina’s work plan encompasses engagement within the region, including partnering organizations, local schools and citizens and Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society volunteers and members. The Historical Society has a wealth of artifact, archival and family history to share. Its goal is to use its resources to connect the community to the local, natural and human history. Raina also will be working to better organize and further develop the Urann Historic Home project collection.

Since 1999, the Island Fellows Program has placed college and master’s degree graduates in Maine’s coastal and year-round island communities for one to two years.

Fellowships provide an opportunity for recent graduates to apply their skills and gain experience helping to build sustainability within communities whose way of life and identity face many challenges.

Anyone wishing to participate in or support these efforts in any way is welcome to contact the Historical Society at P.O. Box 44 Sullivan, ME 04664, info@sullivansorrentohistory.org, or 207-422-0995.

Sullivan-Sorrento Historical Society Summer 2020 Update

August 2020–Due to the COVID-19 situation, not much at S-SHS can be considered normal. All of our Bi-Centennial programs, except the Historic House Project, have been cancelled or re-scheduled to 2021. The Archive/museum will not have regular hours, but individual visits may be scheduled by calling us at 422-0995 or e-mail at gandjedwards@gwi.net .

On a more positive note:
* The Paul Urann House project – we recently received a grant from the Davis Family Foundation of $8,000 for continued work on the project.
** The annual Hotson scholarship to a Sumner Senior was given to Sydnie Cunningham.
*** The best news of the year is the Society being chosen as a host site in the Island Institute Island Fellow program. In mid-March, S-SHS made application to the Institute to be a host site and on April first we were notified of our acceptance as one of four host sites to be named in this year’s cycle. Information provided by the Institute states: “The Island Fellows Program is one of the signature programs of the Island Institute. Since 1999, the Island Fellows Program has placed college and master’s degree graduates in Maine’s coastal and year-round island communities for one to two years. Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for recent graduates to apply their skills and gain experience helping to build sustainability within communities whose way of life and identity face many challenges.”

On September first, Raina Sciocchetti will begin working with S-SHS as an Island Fellow employed by the Island Institute. Raina comes from California and has been in Maine to attend Unity College, where she recently graduated. She will be working with us on a three-quarter time schedule. She will be assisting with on-going projects and services. We hope to use her skills and time to improve our social media presence, do more community outreach, especially with the schools and young folks, and work with partner organizations to improve and market services in our region, increase membership and to recruit and support volunteers to help with our mission.

We hope you can visit us in person at some point, but for now please enjoy this virtual tour of the two towns of Sullivan and Sorrento in Maine. Our Historical Society is 41 years young and we have approximately 15,000 items archived. Here you can find information on local mining, ship building, genealogy and the summer colony. Did you know that Sorrento was originally part of Sullivan?

First photo: The rebuilding of Route 1 at the causeway at Sullivan Harbor.

Second photo: Photo of Treasure Island before the causeway was built. Probably taken from the vicinity of Blink Bonny Golf Course.