About Hancock County
Excerpts from Maine State Archives
"Counties, Cities, Towns and Plantations of Maine"
A Handbook of Incorporation, Disolutions and Boundary Changes Pages 31 & 32
(The Maine Historical Records Survey Project, 1940)
Because of the great extent of its area the County of Lincoln was divided, June 25, 1789 by the establishment of the new counties of Hancock and Washington (ch. 24). The more westerly, Hancock County, was bounded on the west by the boundary line between the towns of Thomastown and Cambden, thence running northwesterly by the east line of Thomastown, Warren, and Union, to the northeast corner of Union, thence north, 22 1⁄2 degrees east, until it intersected the north line of the Waldo Patent, and thence north to the Highlands. The northern boundary followed that of the District of Maine. The easterly boundary was a line beginning at the northeast corner of Goldsborough and the southeast corner of Township Number Seven, thence running northerly by the east line of Number Seven, and by the east line of Number Ten, to the southeast corner of Township Number Sixteen, and thence due north to the Highlands.
Exactly one year later the town of Cambden and two half-townships were set off to Lincoln County (ch. 24).
Township Number Four in the first range north of the Waldo Patent, now the town of Troy, which had been crossed by the western line of Hancock County, was entirely set off to Kennebec County, February 28, 1799 (ch. 72): The western boundary was further adjusted by the annexation from Somerset County of Township Number Four in the fifth range north of the Waldo Patent (now Dexter) in 1811 (ch. 36); and Township Number Four in the sixth range (Sangerville) in 1812 (ch. 4); Township Number Four in the fourth range was set off to Somerset County in 1813 (ch. 85).
The northern part of Hancock County, lying north of the north line of Waldo Patent on the west side of Penobscot River; and on the east side of said river north of a line beginning at the river at the southwest corner of Orrington and extending along the south side of Orrington, Brewer and the gore east of Brewer to the west line of Bingham's Penobscot Purchase, to the northwest corner thereof; thence easterly on the north line of the Purchase townships to the line of Washington County, was set off to form the new county of Penobscot, April 1, 1816 (ch. 121).
Two adjustments in this new northern boundary were made the same year: land was set off from Buckstown to Orrington (ch. 13), and one estate, from the town of Frankfort, was set off to Hampden (ch. 14).
All of Hancock County lying west of Penobscot River and Bay was set off to form part of the new county of Waldo, July 3, 1827 (Public Laws, chs. 354, 362).
Three townships on the east boundary - number four, North Division, and numbers forty-one and thirty-five of the Middle Division - were annexed from Washington County in 1851 (ch. 154).
A strip 2 miles wide and 6 miles from east to west, lying north of township number two (Grand Falls Plantation) was set off to Burlington in Penobscot County in 1835 (ch. 559).
The town of Vinalhaven, which was made up of a group of islands in Penobscot Bay, was set off to Waldo County in 1838 (ch. 451).
Page's Mills Settlement, a strip 2 miles wide lying north of township number one, North Division, was set off to Lowell in Penobscot County, February 20, 1841 (ch. 102). A tract was set off from Bucksport and Dedham to the town of Brewer, April 10, 1841 (ch. 161).
Matinicus Island was set off to Lincoln County in 1843 (ch. 118).
The Hancock-Washington line was altered, March 12, 1844, by extending the boundary from the northeast corner of Gouldsborough southeasterly and southerly by the middle channel of Gouldsborough Harbor to the ocean (Public Laws, ch. 99).
Land was set off from Bucksport to Orrington in Penobscot County in 1850 (ch. 376).
The remaining islands of the Matinicus group - Hacketosh, Wooden Ball, Nomansland, Two Bush, Ten Pound, and Matinicus - were set off to Lincoln County in 1852 (ch. 578).
The town of Greenfield and townships number one and two of the North Division were set off to Penobscot County in 1858 (ch. 198).
The town of Isle au Haut was set off to Knox County, March 12, 1913 (ch. 83).
The county of Hancock now contains the city of Ellsworth; the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Bar Harbor, Bluehill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Bucksport, Castine, Cranberry Isles, Dedham, Deer Isle, Eastbrook, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Hancock, Lamoine, Mariaville, Mount Desert, Orland, Otis, Penobscot, Sedgewick, Sorrento, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Sullivan, Surry, Swan's Island, Tremont, Trenton, Verona, Waltham, and Winter Harbor; the plantations of Long Island, Osbor, and Number Thirty-three; 14 townships and 21 islands classed as wild lands.
There are 1,532 islands in Hancock County.
- Bald Island
- Bar Islands
- Beach Island
- Bear Island
- Birch Island
- Bradbury Island
- Compass Island
- Crow Island
- Dirigo Island (Butter Island)
- Eagle Island
- Eaton Island
- Fling Island
- Great Barred Islands
- Great Spruce Head Island
- Hard Head Island
- Hog Island
- Horsehead Island
- Inner Porcupine Island
- Little Marshall Island
- Little Spruce Head Island
- Marshalls Island
- Mt. Desert Rock Island (Desert Rock Island)
- Outer Porcupine Island
- Pickering Island
- Pond Island
- Pumpkin Island
- Resolution Island
- Scott Island
- Scrag Island
- Sheep Island
- Western Island
ACCORDING TO THE 2010 CENSUS REPORT
|Cranberry Isles||141||Southwest Harbor||1,764|
|Ellsworth (city)||7,741||Swan's Island||332|
U.S. CENSUS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY TEN (10) YEARS
ACCORDING TO THE 2000 CENSUS REPORT
|Cranberry Isles||128||Southwest Harbor||1,966|
|Ellsworth (city)||6,456||Swan's Island||327|
U.S. CENSUS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY TEN (10) YEARS
ACCORDING TO THE 1990 CENSUS REPORT
|Cranberry Isles||189||Southwest Harbor||1,952|
|Ellsworth (city)||5,975||Swan's Island||348|
1650 -1- YORK
1760 -2- CUMBERLAND AND LINCOLN
1780 -2- HANCOCK AND WASHINGTON
1790 -1- KENNEBEC
1800 -2- OXFORD AND SOMERSET
1810 -1- PENOBSCOT
1820 -1- WALDO
1830 -3- PISCATAQUIS, FRANKLIN AND AROOSTOOK
1850 -2- ANDROSCOGGIN AND SAGADAHOC
1860 -1- KNOX
Five of Maine's Counties were organized before the greatest period of settlement: York, Cumberland, Washington, Penobscot and Aroostook.
Five Counties were organized during the decade of their greatest period of settlement: Lincoln, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford and Somerset.
Six Counties were organized after the greatest period of settlement; Waldo, Piscataquis, Franklin, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc and Knox.
Maine Towns Some Possible Reasons for the Corporation
Generally there were only four main reasons for the incorporation of new towns in Maine.
- The town was a new area of settlement, far away from other settled areas: Belfast, Houlton, Machias.
- The town was on the fringe of settlement: Gorham, Berwick, Columbia.
- Rivalries between settled areas within the same town might result in that town being divided: Westbrook, Oakland, Owl's Head.
- The desire for corporate privileges which settlements did not have without township or at least plantation organization. Examples would include almost every town in the state.
At the time of organization, there were only two of the present 26 towns which were incorporated. Possibly York County was organized because of the distance from previously organized Massachusetts counties and the fact that New Hampshire split the two areas of Massachusetts geographically. Also it may have been part of a general movement in county organization, as three counties of Massachusetts were organized at about this time: Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex.
With five of the present 26 towns incorporated at the time of organization, it is probably that the reason for the organization of this county was also the distance factor. The town of York was not as distant from the areas of Cumberland County as the area of York County had been from Massachusetts counties, but transportation in Maine even by 1760 was still extremely primitive. Another factor may have been the growing importance of the port of Falmouth, which would have wanted to be the major town in the county, rather than a satellite of York.
With only two towns, neither of which were within the present Lincoln County, again, distance to the town of York must have been a major factor favoring the organization of another county to the east of Cumberland.
WITH EIGHT OF ITS PRESENT 34 TOWNS ORGANIZED, DISTANCE WAS PROBABLY A FACTOR. ALSO THE FACT THAT MOST OF THE TOWNS WERE CONTIGUOUS MADE THE ORGANIZATION OF A NEW COUNTY FEASIBLE.
With only one of its present 57 towns, the probably and possibly only reason for its organization was distance, both from Wiscasset, or Castine, the seat of Hancock County.
With 15 of its present 28 towns, distance may have been one factor, but probably the sizable area of settlement between Gardiner and Winslow along the Kennebec would have made the organization of this county sensible.
Fifteen of its present 39 towns were incorporated by 1805. Distance from Portland and York may have been a factor, and also the probability of confusion as to where the exact boundary between York and Cumberland Counties was located would have made the organization of a new county desirable. The area around Norway and Paris was also quite heavily settled.
Of the present 39 towns, 14 were incorporated in 1809. Distance to Augusta may have been a factor, but possibly the settled area around Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Fairfield would have made the organization of this county sensible, also.
Of the present 61 towns, only 20 were incorporated in 1816. The convenience of having a county seat nearby, and the added prestige which the new seat would gain, as well as an economic boon would probably have been the major reasons for the establishment of Penobscot County; Bangor was just beginning its great growth then.
Most of the 25 towns in the present-day county were incorporated by 1827. The difficulty of getting to the county seat, Ellsworth, which was across Penobscot Bay, must have been a major reason. Another main reason was probably the growing importance of Belfast as a seaport.
Convenience for the settlers in the Dover-Foxcroft area must have been a prime reason for the organization of this county with 20 of the present 23 towns incorporated by 1838. The area even today is quite far removed from Bangor and Skowhegan, as major transportation routes bypass the area.
As with Piscataquis, 17 of its present 25 towns being organized by 1838, the distances between the Farmington area dn Augusta or Paris, and the rapid growth the area was experiencing in the 1820's and 1830's must have been the major reasons here.
Hancock County Municipalities
Part of Mariaville. T#26 MD
Part of Mariavllle. T#27 MD, Hampton.
BAR HARBOR 1796
Part of Mount Desert. Eden, Hull's Cove, Salisbury Cove, T#3 E. Union River.
BLUE HILL 1789
T#5 Marsh's Purchase, Newport, Seaville.
Part of Sedgwick. Port Watson, T#4 Marsh's Purchase.
Part of Castine, Penobscot and Sedgwick. Cape Rosier, Harborside, Mosekachick, T#3 Marsh's Purchase, T#4 Marsh's Purchase.
Buck's Mills, Buckstown, Chipmans, Hinck's Landing, Santiago, T#1 Marsh's Purchase.
Part of Penobscot, included part of Brooksville. Bagaduce, Majorbigwaduce, Pentagoet, T#3 Marsh's Purchase.
CRANBERRY ISLES 1830
Part of Mount Desert. Baker's Island, Islesford, T#3 E. Union River.
Included Otis. T#8 Marsh's Purchase, Lucerne-in-Maine, New Boston, Green Lake.
DEER ISLE 1789
Included Stonington and Isle Au Haut (Knox. County). Dunham's Point, Reach, Sunset, Sunshine.
Bayside, New Bowdoin, Nocolin, T#7 Marsh's Purchase, Union River.
T#8 SD, T#9 SD, Beechland.
Included Winter Harbor, Birch Harbor, Bunker's Harbor, Corea, Indian Harbor, Prospect Harbor.
Part of Trenton, Mt. Desert Ferry, Sweetland, Washington Jct.
Part of Trenton. Includes former township of Marlboro, T#1 E. Union River.
LONG ISLAND PLT.
Frenchboro, Long Island, Harbor Island, Crow Island, Duck Island, E. Black Island, Plasentia Island, Pond Island.
Included Amherst, Aurora and Waltham. Bingham, Mariaville North, T#20 MD.
MOUNT DESERT 1789
Included Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Cranberry Isles, Tremont. Asticou, Northeast Harbor, Otter Creek, Seal Harbor, Somesville, Hall Quarry, Pretty Marsh, Sound, T#3 E. Union River.
Alamasook, Eastern River, T#2 Marsh's Purchase.
Part of Dedham. T#8 Marsh's Purchase.
Included Brooksville and Castine. Majorbigwaduce, T#3 Marsh's Purchase.
Included Brooklin and Brooksville. Naskeag, T#4 Marsh's Purchase.
Part of Sullivan. T#2 E. Union River.
S.W. HARBOR 1905
Part of Trenton. T#3 E. Union River, Seawall, Manset.
Part of Deer Isle. Oceanville.
Included Sorrento. New Bristol, Ashville, Waskeag, Waukeag, T#2 E. Union River.
T#6 Marsh's Purchase.
SWAN'S ISLAND 1897
Brule Cote, Burnt Coat Harbor.
Part of Mount Desert, included Southwest Harbor. T#3 E. Union River, Manset, Bernard, Bass Harbor, Gott's Island, McKinley, Seal Cove.
Included Lamoine. T#1 E. Union River.
Wetmore Isle, Orphan Island, Penobscot Isle.
Part of Mariaville. T#14 MD.
WINTER HARBOR 1895
Part of Gouldsboro.
Prepared with information from: Maine County Commissioners Association
About County Government
ROLE OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT
County Government is Maine’s oldest form of government, pre-dating statehood and even the Declaration of Independence. Maine has 16 counties. The County is the only form of regional government whose officials are directly elected by the voters. There has always been a role for county government, providing democratic institutions that operate at the regional level between municipalities and the state. This briefly describes the many functions of county government today. If you would like to know more about county government, call your county office or the Maine County Commissioners Association (MCCA) for more information.
The voters in each of Maine's 16 counties elect either three or five commissioners to four-year terms to oversee the operation of county government. Each commissioner serves a separate district within the county.
Commissioners, as the counties' chief elected officials, are ultimately responsible for the fiscal operations and policy decisions affecting county government. Additional duties include municipal tax abatement appeals and hearings on maintenance of town roads. They also serve, in effect, as the municipal officials in Maine's many unorganized territories.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CIVIL PROCESS
Maine’s 16 county sheriff’s offices are responsible for the majority of criminal investigations in rural Maine, and handle a large share of rural highway patrol. County sheriff’s offices are also responsible for serving all civil lawsuit complaints and related documents throughout the state.
Maine's 12 county jails, three county 72-hour holding facilities and two county re-entry centers are responsible for persons arrested by municipal, county and state law enforcement and probation officials. All inmates sentenced for Class D or E crimes serve sentences up to 364 days in these county facilities. In addition, most adults sentenced for Class A, B, or C crimes to nine months or less serve their time in these county correctional facilities. The average daily inmate population in these county facilities in 2009 was 1,688 compared with 2,177 in the state’s correctional facilities. Of the 1688, 58% 2,343 were awaiting trial or sentencing.
REGISTRY OF DEEDS
The registry of deeds provides two main services to the people of the county. The Registry records all documents and survey plans that effect property lying anywhere within the boundaries of the county. Documents are security microfilmed for safekeeping and a copy is made available for public inspection. The Registry maintains an index of buyers and sellers names so that the documents and maps may be easily found.
Each county has an elected or an appointed Treasurer who maintains the county's financial records. The Treasurer is also responsible for investment of tax revenues.
REGISTRY OF PROBATE; PROBATE COURT
The Probate Court system is under the jurisdiction of the Maine Supreme Court and funded by Maine's counties. The Probate Court handles all estates, as well as guardianship, conservatorship, changes of name, adoptions and other legal matters. Both the Probate Judge and the Register of Probate are elected positions in each county.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Each county operates an Emergency Management Agency which is responsible for the coordination of municipal and county‑wide efforts in times of natural and man‑made disasters and public health emergencies. Each county EMA must develop and maintain plans for coping with disasters, such as toxic chemical spills. Approximately half the cost of the EMA office is reimbursed by the federal government and county government funds the other half.
Counties, in conjunction with municipal governments and various private sector entities including hospitals, are playing an increasing role in organizing, overseeing and delivering public health services in the state. The purpose of county involvement is to augment services, as well as to add the critical component of local and regional government into newly developing public health infrastructure of eight Public Health Districts.
For example, Cumberland County and the City of Portland have embarked on a broad ranging collaborative effort in public health in partnership with existing public health and medical care providers to actually participate in providing public health services. The City of Bangor entered into a similar undertaking with the counties of Penobscot and Piscataquis. Sagadahoc County has initiated the Sagadahoc Health Improvement Project (S.H.I.P.). Other counties are examining their potential role in public health in an effort to better serve their citizens.
COUNTY/REGIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY ANSWERING AND DISPATCH SERVICES
Counties continue to provide valuable public safety answering and dispatching services to fire, police and rescue departments in the surrounding municipalities. This coordinated approach gives smaller communities full‑time, professional dispatch services they could not afford individually. Many large and small communities are now joining county-operated public safety answering points (PSAPs). To date, 10 Maine counties serve as the sole PSAP for their respective communities.
County government provides extensive support for each of Maine's elected District Attorneys. This support includes office facilities, staff, equipment, and witness fees.
DISTRICT AND SUPERIOR COURTROOMS
County government provides much of the state’s District and Superior courtroom space. Superior Court space is provided at no charge to the state. This space has a rental value of in excess of $1 million dollars.
Much of Maine's land area is located outside of any organized municipality. The residents of these unorganized territories require the same services as residents of incorporated municipalities. County government provides these residents with services, including road and bridge maintenance, solid waste disposal and public safety, while the state provides for education and land use planning.
Villages on Mt. Desert Island
- Bass Harbor - in the town of Tremont
- Bernard - in the town of Tremont
- Hulls Cove - in the town of Bar Harbor
- Manset - in the town of Southwest Harbor
- Northeast Harbor - in the town of Mt. Desert
- Otter Creek - in the town of Bar Harbor/Mt.Desert
- Salisbury Cove - in the town of Bar Harbor
- Seal Cove - in the town of Tremont
- Seal Harbor - in the town of Mt. Desert
Villages on Swan's Island
Village On Deer Isle/Stonington
Village on Little Cranberry Island
Village by Brooksville
Villages by Gouldsboro
- Birch Harbor
- Prospect Harbor
The Hancock County Commissioners Office has only records of marriage prior to 1892; "Publication #9, Maine Genealogical Society" which includes name of husband and wife's maiden name, residence, date of marriage and who performed the ceremony. Information was copied from Commissioners hand-written records.
Information may be obtained via telecommunications. There are no fees associated with the requested information.
- For ALL birth, death, and divorce records, contact the municipality.
- For ALL marriage records following 1892, contact the municipality.
Not included in the list of Town Clerks, is a list of villages in the area. When searching for records regarding a village, you will need to contact the nearest town.
For Further Information Contact:
|Maine State Archives
84 State House Station Cultural Building
Augusta, ME 04330
221 State St. 11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04330
(Information below was published in the Bangor Daily News on 1-29-97)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Centers in Maine provides access to the Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index, and Family History Library Catalog; maintained at the largest family history center in the world located in Utah. www.genhomepage.com/LDS.html
Some material can be borrowed from Salt Lake City for use at the centers listed below:
Cape Elizabeth (207)767-5000
Other resources for records or information:
New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston (617)536-5740 www.nehgs.org
National Genealogical Society (703)525-0052 or (703)525-0050 www.genealogy.org
Federation of Genealogical Societies (972)907-9727