Friday, April 30, 2010

Treat Island (Allan's Island), Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine; John Allan; Cannon Insignia

Treat Island
Background: Campobello, New Brunswick at left; Lubec, Maine at right
There's now a bridge in this view, linking Campobello with mainland Lubec

Treat Island, sometimes called Treat's Island or, farther back in time, Allan's Island, is situated near the juncture of  Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bays, along the border of Maine and New Brunswick.  It lies on the Maine side of the border, near Lubec and Eastport.   Luckily, it's had owners who have cared for it for generations and who recently made it available to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust for protection forever.  It's a beautiful island of varied habitat and vistas and worthy of preservation on those points alone, but the island also has historical significance.

The island's most famous resident was Colonel John Allan, a member of General George Washington's personal staff.  He was appointed Military Commander of the Eastern District of Maine and was tasked with organizing colonists in the area and working with area tribes to keep them neutral in the Revolution.

After the Revolution, he opened a store on the island and continued his friendship with area tribes, who hold him in high regard to this day. His records show that he traded on occasion with Benedict Arnold, who lived for a time on the neighboring island of Campobello.

I noted online that someone was surprised that Allen didn't try to capture Arnold for the bounty on his head.  Perhaps Allan was sympathetic to him, knowing of Arnold's shabby treatment by Gates and Wilkinson.  [I'm looking forward to reading the new biography of James Wilkinson and to seeing the new movie currently being made about Arnold by a UK historian]

Allan also was a customs official at Eastport, on another neighboring island, Moose Island.

John Allan Cenotaph on Treat Island

I'd be very surprised if Franklin Delano Roosevelt and family didn't also explore this island on occasion, as their summer cottage, now Roosevelt Campobello International Park , is on a nearby part of Campobello.   Campobello is now accessible by bridge from Lubec, Maine.

Treat Island reportedly had up to fifty houses at one point, but has long been uninhabited.  There are ruins of foundations and the telltale mounds of an artillery battery dating to the 1860s when the Union feared a Confederate threat to the area.

Foundation foreground; mounds remaining from battery, center
Campobello in background, at left

 I haven't been on the island for decades but we found a cannon, as you can see.  There's a local legend that some folks attempted to steal a cannon at one point, got it into their boat, got underway and then capsized, with the cannon going overboard.

Pointing to the Insignia

Rubbing taken from cannon insignia

It's my understanding that the "P" at the base of the insignia represents Portsmouth, England.  If you have further information on the possible origin of this cannon, please let me know.

Thanks for stopping by!   Hopefully, there's a visit to Treat Island and Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bays in your future.
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  1. Hi- wonderful site! Col. John Allan was my 8th Great Grandfather.... I was doing some searching for Allan Island and found your site.

  2. I'm glad you found us! Col. Allan led a very interesting life. You must have made some interesting discoveries.

  3. Nice site. Colonel Allan's (that's ALLAN) legacy unfortunately gets far too little notice.

  4. Thanks for your comment. Sorry about the misspellings (now corrected) - I should know better since I know some of Col. Allan's descendants!

  5. my name is lacey mccoy-allan, could johns lineage have descended down to a william g. allan married to phyllis l. allan, children terry glenn, paul arthur and sharon allan. you can contact me at thank you

  6. Pam, Those shots are lovely! Wonderful job telling the story!!!

  7. John Allan is my 5th generation great-grand uncle. His sister, Elizabeth Allan Pyke, is my 5th generation great-great grandmother. Your site has been very helpful to me in understanding my Nova Scotian ancestry more completely than I had before. Thank you very much.
    Jim Masters

  8. I hope you have had or will have a chance to visit Treat Island. There's a summer water taxi between Eastport and Lubec that passes right by. Is the Pyke surname a variant of the Pike surname of downeast Maine? I don't know if you are a member of the Washington County [Maine] Historical and Genealogical Society or not, but several members are Allan descendants, including a Mr. Carter who is very knowledgeable about area history and genealogy.

  9. My great grandmother Mattie Blanche Bryant was born on the island. I don't know her parents name? Any info would be great.

  10. There was a Mattie Blanche Bryant who is listed in the 1910 Census of Edmunds, Maine (not far away, on the mainland), daughter of Henry and Livenia Bryant, born about 1901.

    If you think this is your great grandmother, I'll do some more research. There was a Mattie A. Bryant of Edmunds who married Alan Leighton of Edmunds on 29 January 1916. Could she be the same Mattie?

    In the 1900 Census of Eastport, Maine, Henry Bryant is living as a boarder in the household of Benjamin Newman and wife Delia, who had a daughter Livenia Newman. There's a Maine Marriage record for the marriage of Lavinia L. Newman and Harry E. Bryant, both of Eastport, on 2 May 1900, which was shortly before the enumeration, so she was actually Levinia Bryant by that time.

    So if I have the correct family, I think Mattie's parents were Henry and Livenia (middle initial L. or S.) (Newman) Bryant, but more work needs to be done. The Newman family on that 1900 Census were all born in Canada, perhaps Campobello, as there were a lot of folks named Newman there, and Benjamin and Delia are on the 1881 Census of Campobello. Campobello Island is a short row from Treat Island, and it's not much farther to Eastport, Maine.

    You might want to check out the Maine & Maritime Canada Genealogy network at It's a free site. Thanks for contacting me.

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  12. I like your site, I found it when searching for Treats Island because I am planning a trip up that way soon. Thank you.
    Col John Allan was my 5th great grandfather - down through Horatio and Charlotte.