Maine’s fragmented coast offers a plethora of islands, towns, and attractions. Still, one parcel of land stands out with its surprising background: Bailey Island harbors centuries of fascinating history with its own name going through numerous iterations. The island’s original Algonquian name, issued by the Abenaki tribe, was Newaggin. William Black, a first-generation free black man, was the first settler to assume squatters’ rights to Newaggin in 1758; this ownership is officially acknowledged in Harpswell’s Act of Incorporation in January 1758 as “Will’s Island.” William Black, formerly known as Black Will Jr., was multiracial: his father, Black Will, had an affair with a white woman and had a child with her. When his father’s owner, Nicholas Shapleigh of York, passed away, his widow manumitted Black Will. This freedom, shortly after William’s birth in 1699, made his son a freeman. Going off information gathered by Bette Bailey Behanna on Richard Wescott’s, A History of Harpswell, Maine, William Black, similar to his father, married a white woman and had children. Unlike his father, William’s marriage resulted in his incarceration due to a Massachusetts law barring interracial marriages — Maine was a part of Massachusetts until 1820. After his release, he moved to Newaggin with his family — that is, until Reverend Timothy Bailey bought the island for an undisclosed sum. This transaction likely occurred with a deed (dated 1771) in which William Black bought land in Little Sebascodegan Island — also known as Beals Cove Point — from Joseph Orr for one hundred seventy-two pounds, sixteen shillings; around $31,000 by today’s standards. William purchased additional acreage for thirty-five pounds, nine shillings, and four pence, equating to $6,500 today. The two deeds show that William was no pauper. Timothy Bailey laid witness to the transaction between William and Orr, challenging assumptions that William moving to Orr was forced; Timothy may have made a deal with William.
The island’s entrance offers another subtle attraction; overlooking a lobster house, the Bailey Island cribstone bridge — the only one in the world — connects the islands, Bailey and Orr, through a hatch-like stacking of granite slabs. This unique design allows water to ebb and flow between its cribwork. As noted in Brett Hanson’s article, Stacking Stones: The Bailey Island Bridge, before its construction, traveling to and from the island through the strait — known locally as Will’s Gut — was impossible during stormy weather. The bridge’s exclusivity might not be apparent traveling over it, requiring a trip to a nearby cove to see its granite layers. The cove itself provides an interesting stop in its own right; stacks of lobster traps line the cove’s edge, forming a green, yellow, and orange wall.
Further inland lies the oft-photographed Mackerel cove, peppered with fishing boats and anchored wooden pallets hoisting a myriad of colored lobster traps. Along its coast, a small wooden shack called the Nubble generates its appeal by the hundreds of buoys left by lobstermen. On the end of the island, fittingly called Land’s End, sits one of three bronze copies of Victor Kahill’s Maine Lobsterman statue, initially made for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Of all the interesting history and landmarks there is to see on Bailey, a favorite of mine is the island’s hosting of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s 1936 lectures.
Carl Jung is a Swiss psychiatrist who focused on the permeation of imagery in the unconscious and conscious, including the emergence of the mandala as an archetype in the modern psyche. Carl Jung visited Bailey Island in 1936 and gave a series of lectures in a Georgian Revival styled library, Bailey Island Library Hall. Before Jung, Kristine Mann, a then Jungian follower, spent her childhood summer on Bailey Island; other Jungian psychoanalysts, Mary Esther Harding, and Eleanor Bertine later accompanied Mann to the island, making the island popular summer destination for Jungian followers.
Jung gave his seminars in the morning for two hours and private sessions in the afternoon. As discussed in Jung’s book, Dream Symbols of the Individuation Process, he lectured over eleven days, six on Bailey Island, of physicist/Nobel Prize laureate Wolfgang Pauli’s dreams. From Copenhagen to the consulting room, Suzanne Gieser’s paper noted that he covered only 34 of the intended 81 dreams during his stay. Jung’s seminars and texts are mostly translated from German, using highly edited notes; the Bailey Island seminars served as the first time Jung spoke to an American audience informally with little editing to the notes afterward.
The island’s contribution to the world of psychology is not as well-known as its other landmarks but is undoubtedly an aspect of the island’s rich history worth appreciating. Bailey is one of over 4,000 islands that litter Maine’s expansive coast and should be on your map for those interested in the Maine experience, William Black’s history, the world-only Bailey Island Bridge, or the history of psychology.