Monhegan, Maine

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{household, population, female}
{land, century, early}
{water, park, boat}
{island, water, area}
{household, population, family}
{township, household, population}
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{village, small, smallsup}

Monhegan is a plantation on an island of the same name in Lincoln County, Maine, United States, about 12 nautical miles (22 km) off the coast. The population was 75 at the 2000 census. As a plantation, Monhegan's governmental status falls between township (unorganized territory) and town. The island is accessible by mailboat ferry (no automobiles) from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor and Port Clyde.



The name Monhegan derives from Monchiggon, Algonquian for "out-to-sea island." European explorers Martin Pring visited in 1603, Samuel de Champlain in 1604, George Weymouth in 1605 and Captain John Smith in 1614. The island got its start as a British fishing camp prior to settlement of the Plymouth Colony. Cod was harvested from the rich fishing grounds of the Gulf of Maine, then dried on fish flakes before shipment to Europe. A trading post was built to conduct business with the Indians, particularly in the lucrative fur trade. It was Monhegan traders who taught English to Samoset, the sagamore who in 1621 startled the Pilgrims by boldly walking into their new village at Plymouth and saying: "Welcome, Englishmen."

Despite success as a fishing and trade center, Monhegan would be caught in the conflict between New England and New France for control of the region. During King Philip's War, dispossessed English settlers from the mainland sought refuge on the island before being relocated elsewhere along the coast. During King William's War, the island was captured for the French in 1689 by Baron de Saint-Castin. He destroyed the fishing fleet and burned the buildings, with many inhabitants escaping to Massachusetts. But even during periods when Monhegan was abandoned, its convenient offshore harbor remained a stopover destination for ships. The conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763 brought peace to the area, and on September 4, 1839, Monhegan was incorporated as an island plantation.

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