BAR HARBOR TIMES
March 26, 1924
The Tragedy Of Newport Mountain
To the Editor of the Bar Harbor Times;
I was very much interested in the article and the poem in a recent issue of the Times from Mrs. Smith nee, Miss Jennie Lynam, and it brought to my mind the tragedy of Newport Mountain of long ago, almost forgotten now but which at that time was an awful thing to happen in that quiet little fishing village. For a long time as a boy I remembered the date, as the story told to me by my father left a very strong impression on my mind, but the years have gone by and I have forgotten but it must have been just previous to the civil war.
One bweautiful morning in blueberry time, the men and boys were about all away fishing; some of the women and girls made up a party to go to Newport after blueberries; a good early start was made. Among those who made up the party were two beautiful young girls about fourteen years of age, almira Conners and Leucretia Douglas, near neighbors at Cromwells Harbor, Miss conners living in the so-called Zack Bijar Higgins house that stood on the spot on the Dorr estate, where was built the house that Charles Southard lived in while caretaker for the Dorrsw, Miss Douglas lived in an old house that stood on the spot on which Gardiner Sherman built first.
The happy little party had a nice time and after they had all partaken of a late lunch it was decided to start for home. The two girls mentioned had chatted and talked so much that their pails were not as full as the others, so they decided that they would stay a while longer and fill their pails. The older ones demurred at this. Finally it was decided that the two come to the path and pick along the side of that, and the others went home. They picked along under near the edge of a steep bluff they both espied a beautiful bunch growing near the edge and both made a run for the spot. As they reached it an awful roar greeted their ears, and they both went off into space. Miss Conners was lucky enough to catch a limb in her fall and escaped with a broken arm and some scars which she carried to the grave with her, but fate had ideereed otherwise for Leucretia. She went to the bottom of the cliff, and her life was crushed out by a large piece of falling rock. When the girls did not return a searching party was made up and everyone who was able to go searched all night, with what few lanterns they could procure, and built fires but without success.
Mr, Lynam, father of Miss Jernie, Charles and John, wencing his way very early that morning to the upper meadow at Schooner Head to mow while the dew was on. As he neared the place where his days work was to commence, he heard faint cries, curious as to what it might be, that sturdy old pioneer lay down his scythe and started to investigate. As he drew nearer the cries became fainter and fainter and finally ceased altogether, but he had become convinced that it was a person in distress and soon he saw an object like a body hanging in the tree. Not being able to reach it alone he went back to the house. By that time some of the people had come to his house and told of the two missing girls. They immedeately gathered ropes and ladders and went up the side of the mountain, by no means a safe thing to do. Miss Conners was rescued in an unconscious state, and taken to her home where she soon recovered. They than went to get the other girl and had to pry the rock off her body. It was afterwards said that she did not die until nearly morning. Mrs. Higgins, who was the other girl, told that she heard Leucretia until sometime near morning when she herself became unconcous. Miss Leucretia Douglas was my father's youngest sister and Miss Conners became the wife of Charles Higgins and the mother of Dr. Herbert Higgins. Everyone that I ever heard tell the story always spoke of the splendid grit and courage of this Mr. Lynam had. It who as I remember must of been quite an old man at the time.
J. Sherman Douglas
And now, the poem and article that Mr. Douglas was replying to;
BAR HARBOR TIMES
May 27, 1887
(from the Eastern Freeman, 1853)
Lines on the fall of Lucretia K. Julia Douglass, aged eleven years, four months, and Elmira F. Conners, aged ten years, from one of the heights of Newport Mountain, on the island of Mount Desert, August 3, 1853, which resulted in the death of the former. The latter was rescued by her grandfather Lynam and others.
Historic Muse whose ponderous book
contains the facts of ages past,
thy office is with watchful eye,
to mark their current to the last.
How vast the sphere on thy command,
what themes within thy knowledge fall!
Or joy, or grief, or gain or loss,
thy faithful pen records them all.
Accept the tribute which we bring,
nor let out tears unbeeded flow,
those guardians of our children's weal,
partake of a parent's woe.
Yon mountain rising in the east,
has oft embraced the morning ray,
but never in his long, long reign,
behold the close of such a day.
The sun had turned her western way,
and left the shadows on the vale,
and all was lovely till the scene
was changed by sorrow's fearful wail.
Grandfather's name with piteous cries,
rolled sad along the craggy steep,
Grandfather ran and rescued her,
while one remained in her last sleep.
Night came - dark night, and all was well,
save when the breezes made their moan,
or when the neighbors footsteps broke
the silence reigning through the gloom.
They said she mat be yet alive,
we'll go with lights and bring her home,
but she was laid in death asleep
where man nor beast had ever come.
The fishermen of Frenchman's Bay,
beheld the fires, but did not know
their friends were seeking for the lost
amid the rain on Newport's brow.
Well might the heavens weep that night
sweet innocence lay in her flood,
but unrelenting, ragged rocks,
were only footsteps to her God.
The morning came Lucretia's fate
was still in deep, dark mystery bound.
Elmira Conners said she lay
above the place where she was found.
The neighbors stood with awful gaze,
and looked upon the fearful cleft
than at the peril of their lives,
they found the trust with angels left.
With mournful pleasure we have left
her dust with Him who that will save,
and ask of death where is thy sting?
And where's thy victory, boasting grave?
And when some cloud o'erspreads the sky,
and throws its darkness all around,
you leave the vendure green behind
so may this providence be found.
Infinite goodness cannot err,
infinite wisdom does no wrong,
good when he gives, good when he takes,
His rule deserves our constant song.
submissive is a Father's hand,
this lesson well becomes our heart,
through life's brief day O, may we seek,
and find by grace the better part.
The young lady who was killed by the fall was a sister of Mr. John H. Douglass of Bar Harbor, the one who was rescued afterwards became Mrs. Charles Higgins and the leader of the rescuing party was the father of Mr. John Lynam, of Lynam's Hotel. The verses were written by Mr. Douglass, father of the unfortunate young lady.
The girl's gravestone states she was age 12 at the time of her tragic death, but everything I have found on this tragic death states she was almost 12. I was doing research on the Great Cave when I came upon an old map showing about where the cave was located on the side of the Precipice, and noticed an X above the cave area and the words, spot where young girl fell to her death. This would of placed the two girls just above the cave along a very high cliff.
Today a path along that area is an abandoned section of the Great Cave Loop and that dirt path very well may of been the path the yound girls were picking blueberries along. While picking berries the group of women and girls stopped for lunch, and old piece I came upon in an old book at the COA stated that the Great Cave along the Precipice was a favorite spot people went to for picnics, that does not mean they had lunch at the Great Cave, I merely point this fact out. They clearly had lunch somewhere along the mountain side. Back than Champlain Mountain was named Newport Mountain.
If you have never experienced the side of a mountain or cliff suddenly give way, it is something you will never forget should you experience such a thing. One day while following the base of Great Hill, as me and my oldest son Wesley were making our way forward, the entire side of the cliff suddenly gave way and rocks and boulders came crashing down in a cloud of dust and it sounded like thunder and had we advanced another 12 years we may very well of been buried alive.
Lucreatia K. Douglass was the daughter of Rev. William S. Douglass and Priscilla Douglass. She is buried in the tiny cemetery named the Mount Desert Street Cemetery in Bar Harbor, Maine - where her gravestone rests between two churches. Her parents are also buried there but they have no stones. From my research I learned her parents did not have much money and at the time of her death she lay for several years in an unmarked grave. One day a brother returned to the village and purchased a stone for his sister - this is stated at the bottom of her gravestone. One piece I found on her death stated that her parents went to the site of where she died and placed a wooden cross there.
Even though all the deaths which have taken place on the Precipice are tragic, this has to be one of the more tragic deaths to have taken place there.
And the following was copied from The Mount Desert Street Cemetery website;
E. Woodman (son of John H. [no stone] and Margaret[t]2 H.) - d. 23 August 1881 Æ 9 m., 26 d. (gravestone)
H. Emery (son of John H. [no stone] and Margaret[t]2 H.) - d. 12 July 1880 Æ 1 y., 2 m., 12 d.3 (gravestone)
Lucreatia [sic] K. (dau. of Rev. William S. and Priscilla [no stones]) - d. 3 August 1853 Æ 12 y.; (“was killed by falling from Cliffs on Newport Mt. Eden Me.”) (gravestone)
Margaret[t]2 H. (wife of John H. [no stone]) - d. 2 March 1887 Æ [1?]8 y.3 (gravestone)
Mary Alice (dau. of John H. [no stone] and Margaret[t]2 H.) - d. 4 January 1885 Æ 7 y., 5 m., 27 d. (gravestone)