William Pitt Preble

b. 6 Apr 1811
m. 1st Abigail Hadlock Spurling, 1839
m. 2nd Jane Matilda Hadlock, 1875
d. 13 Apr 1905


William P. Preble was the husband of Abigail C. Preble,
  then her niece, Jane Matilda Hadlock.
He was a Mason.
He was a notary public,
He recorded captains' reports of shipwrecks near the Cranberry Isles.
Buried in the Preble Cemetery.
Maine Memory Network has our exhibit about Preble.

William Pitt Preble (1811-1905) descended from one of seven Preble brothers who had emigrated from England to Portland in the 17th century. Related to an influential Portland family, he was the son of the Mount Desert Rock lighthouse keeper.

He survived two wives, spanning nearly six decades of marriage. In 1839, Preble married Abigail Hadlock Spurling (1808-1874), the widowed sister of the builder and first owner of the "Preble house", Capt. Samuel Hadlock, Jr. In 1875, he married Hadlock's widowed daughter, Jane Matilda Hadlock Sanford (1826-1898). She was born in Paris, France during Hadlock's tour of Europe with his Northern Curiousities Show, as told in Rachel Field's book, God's Pocket.

Preble came to Great Cranberry Island as a schoolteacher, became a church elder, selectman, justice of the peace, notary public, gentleman farmer, tax appraiser, postmaster, storekeeper, fish inspector, shipbuilder, ship owner, and shipwreck appraiser.

He processed, witnessed, and composed documents for himself and others including correspondence, store ledgers, and shipwreck salvage papers.

He officially witnessed the marriages of many Cranberry Islanders over the years, and was instrumental in civic projects including establishment, on Great Cranberry Island, of the first local Post Office in May 5, 1847, and construction of the non-denominational Union Meeting House in 1866.

In 1901, Preble's stepson, Samuel "Sammy" Sanford (1852-1933), won a lawsuit against him for payment due for services rendered at the Preble House.

Sanford had moved out of the main house and lived for decades in a tiny cabin on the property. It is there he met and inspired the author Rachel Field, and thus earned the homestead a place in literary history.


From "Bar Harbor Record" Wednesday, April 26, 1905

Mr. Wm. Pitt Preble, ninety-four years and one week old, the oldest inhabitant of this town, quietly passed away April 13. He was born in York, Me., April 6, 1811, and came to Mt. Desert rock lighthouse station, where his father was the keeper, at the age of eighteen years. The following winter he came to this place to teach school and has since that time been closely identified with the interests of this town. In 1839 he married Mrs. Abagail C. Spurling, by whom he had seven children, only two of whom are now living, Mrs. Horace G. Bunker, of Westfield, N.J. and Mrs. Fannie A. Spurling of Boothbay, who with Mrs. Elmenia T. Preble, widow of his son, Wm. H. Preble of Chicago, have tenderly cared for him during the last two years of his life.

He was the prime mover in having the first post office established in this town, and was the post master for many years in succession, and has served several terms since going out of office for the last time, eight years ago next July. He had held the office of first selectman of this town more years than any other man in town, and was faithful to his trust in every way. He has been greatly interested in the war with Japan [Russo-Japanese War, 8 Feb 1904 - 5 Sept 1905], and up to within two days of his death, insisted upon having the war news read to him and expressed his sympathies with the "Japs" although he regarded war as a cruel means whereby to obtain justice or judgment.

The funeral services were very impressive, being conducted under the auspices of the Free Masons of Tremont lodge of which he was in years gone by the head officer. Rev. Mr. Aldrich, the Methodist minister at Southwest Harbor, spoke words of comfort and consolation to the bereaved ones.

click to enlarge

Wm. P. Preble ca. 1850

Wm. P. Preble ca. 1900

Abigail Cobb (Hadlock) (Spurling) Preble

b. 3 Jul 1808
m. 1st Samuel Spurling, 14 Sep 1825
m. 2nd Wm. P. Preble, 3 Mar 1839
d. 17 Jan 1874, Cranberry Isles


Abigail was the daughter of Samuel & Sarah (Polly) (Manchester) Hadlock, of Islesford.

She was a sister of Sam Hadlock, Jr..

She first married Samuel Spurling (b. 4 Dec 1795, d. 20 Oct 1837, drowned.) When Sam Spurling died she was left with five children:
  Samuel Hadlock (b. 23 Jan 1827, d. 1895 in CA)
  Zulma Mills (b. 14 Oct 1831, d. ?)
  Andrew Barclay (b. 25 Mar 1833, d. 22 Aug 1906)
  Sarah Hadlock (b. 20 Jun 1835, d. 9 Jun 1919)
  Abigail Cobb (b. 29 Sep 1837, d. 28 Jul 1860)

Abigail C. (Hadlock) Spurling then married William Pitt Preble, her second husband, his first wife.

We know Abigail was President of the Cranberry Isles Benevolent Sewing Circle at least in the years 1863-1865 because we have the original drafts of her President's Reports for those three years.

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Abigail C. Preble ca. 1855

Abigail C. Preble ca. 1870

Jane Matilda (Hadlock) (Sanford) Preble

b. 16 Mar 1826 (Paris, France)
m. 1st George E. Sanford, March 1843
m. 2nd Wm. P. Preble, 1875
d. 1898


Jane was born in Paris, France, the daughter of the adventurous showman Samuel Hadlock, Jr. of Cranberry Isles, and Dorothea Albertina Wilhelmina Celeste Russ, the "Prussian Lady", for whom the house later called "the Preble House" was originally built.

She first married George E. Sanford b. 1812, d. 1873). When George died she was left with three children:
  Albertina A., b. 1842 (before the marriage), d. 1867
  Samuel C., b. 1852, d. 1933
  Dorothea R., b. 1862, d. 1899

Jane Matilda Sanford then married William P. Preble, 1875.

She was the third Hadlock to reside in the Preble House: first the Captain himself, followed by Abigail C. Preble, William Preble's wife, who was born a Hadlock.

Jane Matilda Hadlock came to the house as an infant and returned as its mistress at age 49.

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Jane Matilda Sanford ca. 1855

Jane Matilda Preble ca. 1890

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