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Isles of Shoals Famous Faces

Rosamond Thaxter Presents  
Historic Portsmouth #354

Spring is the time to plan your annual visit to the Isles of Shoals, so let’s spend the next few weeks digging deeply into Shoals history in this photo column. Here are two frequent island visitors. Unitarian minister John Weiss (1818-1879) was a close friend and Harvard classmate of Levi Thaxter. Poet James Russell Lowell called Weiss “the most comical of persons.”  (Continued below)



Often sickly, Weiss was an early visitor to the Mid-Ocean House hotel on Smuttynose where he first met the Laighton family. Weiss assisted at the marriage of Celia Laighton (age 16) to Levi Thaxter (age 27) in the south parlor of Appledore House in 1851. Licensed only to marry in Massachusetts, Weiss had to bring in a Maine minister from Kittery, Maine to complete the final vows.


Celia and Levi had three sons – Karl, John, and Roland. Rosamond Thaxter (1895 – 1989), see here as a young woman, was John’s daughter. Although she wrote a popular biography of poet Celia Thaxter entitled Sandpiper, Rosamond never met her famous grandmother. “Aunt Rozzie” lived and died in Kittery Point, traveled widely, never married, and became a well-known local philanthropist and Girl Scout leader. She was an early supporter of Strawbery Banke Museum. Today a parcel of ocean-front land near Sea Point Beach is preserved in her honor by the Hubbard Family. Rosamond’s unadorned rustic “Gull Cottage” (also called “Rozzie’s Cottage”) is one of only two surviving structures on Smuttynose Island. (Photos courtesy Star Island Collection at the Portsmouth Athenaeum.)




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