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Misty Legends of Sam Haley



Mid Ocean House

A rugged entrepreneur, Sam Haley turned his island into a self-sustaining kingdom. At its peak Smuttynose had a dock and warehouse, a rope walk, a granary, distillery, brewery, cherry orchard, salt-works, boat house, hotel, bakery, cooper’s shop, brick-works, blacksmith shop and a windmill. When he died the compound was valued at $3,000. But son Sam Jr. said he could pay only $2,000 for the island, which he did, paying each of five other Haley children $400 each for their shares.

But the famous Thaxters left behind hundreds of photographs and letters, while the Haleys left only legends, rotting buildings and a few legal documents. Rosamund Thaxter mentions Samuel Haley on just a single page in "Sandpiper", her loving biography of her famous grandmother Celia. Rosamund or "Aunt Rozzie" later inherited a portion of Haley's Island and her 1950s-era cottage is the only other building standing on the island today. Despite all their industry and fecundity, the Haleys have been swallowed by the Laightons.

The Haley legacy on the Shoals is made up largely of anecdotes, some of them possibly false, that the Laightons promulgated to attract summer tourists to their island resort. Here's what I could gather up:

Haley COve, late 1800s

When Did the Haleys Arrive?

Very early records indicate that an Andrew Haley, a fisherman, came to the Isles of shoals as early as 1629. Like most seasonal fisherman of that era, he probably also left the Shoals as soon as he had the chance. There are a number of Andrew Haleys on record and someone by that name purchased land in York Maine in the mid-1600s and then sold it soon after.

Haley descendents sometimes conclude that Sam Haley, born a century after Andrew Haley's arrival, must therefore have been a native Shoaler, but connecting the dots of history is not that simple. A visit to Haley family genealogy web sites shows a confusing web of names. But according to Shoals historian Bob Tuttle, Samuel was born in nearby Exeter, New Hampshire in March of 1727. He married Mary Orne (born December 1732) of the Isles of Shoals in 1756. So it was his wife, not Samuel, who was the true islander.


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Friday, February 23, 2018 
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