In 1952 a summer resident of Seal Harbor, ME named John Joseph O'Brien (1882-1971) mounted a bronze plaque on a granite cliff in his "Sea Bench" estate garden and invited garden tours to visit and enjoy it.*1 The memorial commemorated the first settlement of Europeans on Mount Desert Island, ME and the introduction of Christianity to the island in 1613. The memorial inscription reads:
FIRST RECORDED LANDING OF WHITE PERSONS ON MT. DESERT ISLAND, MAINE
FRENCH EXPEDITION, UNDER SIEUR DE LA SAUSSAYE, INCLUDING THREE JESUIT PRIESTS, FATHERS PIERRE BIARD, ENNAMOND MASSA, JACQUES QUENTIN AND JESUIT BROTHER GILBERT DU THET, LANDED ON WEST SIDE OF SOMES SOUND AT WHAT IS NOW KNOWN AS FERNALD’S POINT. THEY NAMED THEIR SETTLEMENT SAINT SAUVEUR. SEVERAL MONTHS LATER, A BRITISH FORCE ATTACKED THE COLONY, KILLED BROTHER DU THET AND DISPERSED THE COLONY. BROTHER DU THET’S BODY IS BURIED SOMEWHERE ON THE SHORE OF WHAT IS NOW KNOWN AS THE JESUIT MEADOW.
|Jesuit Settlement outside St. Ignatius|
Courtesy: Clewiston Museum
In 1934, two years after Marian's death, O'Brien married Louise Webber Jackson (1883-1960), niece of the founder of Detroit's Joseph L. Hudson department store and widow of Hudson Motor Car pioneer Roscoe B. Jackson. Bar Harbor's Jackson Laboratory, a cancer research facility funded earlier by Jackson, the Webber family and Edsel Ford, is named for him.*5 O'Brien was a Michigan neighbor of Edsel Ford and living close by was Richard Webber, Louise's brother and a family financier of the Jackson Memorial Laboratory. In 1935 O'Brien was appointed the director of the Wayne County (Detroit) Works Progress Administration. The WPA (1935-1943) had a mission similar to that of the Civilian Conservation Corps (1933-1942) -- to provide jobs and income for unemployed, unskilled workers to do public works projects.
|John J. O'Brien|
Courtesy: Kebo Valley Golf Club
J. J. O'Brien's Jesuit Settlement Memorial stands today as a silent witness to a seminal event in Mount Desert Island's history. Its 400th anniversary will occur next summer.
1 Bar Harbor Times, 7/24/1952; p. 1.
2 Memorial GPS coordinates: N44° 17.643' W068° 17.619'
3 George's father, Dr. Phineas Horwitz, a surgeon general of the United States Navy, summered in Bar Harbor from 1879 until his death there in 1904.
4 The O'Briens named the town of Clewiston in honor of their Tampa friend and financier Alonzo C. Clewis.
5 Established in 1929, its original name was the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory. Today its name is simply The Jackson Laboratory.
6 The name Crobb comes from the initials letters of the founders' surnames -- Irving Clement, Gerald Richardson, John O’Brien and Horace Bucklin. Crobb Box continued to produce its lumber products until purchased last year by Pleasant River Lumber.