Friday, February 22, 2013

Smuttynose Island

I toured the Smuttynose Brewing Company in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this past weekend. Smuttynose's etymology isn't from something a drunk guy said at a party (heyyyyy yurr nose is dirty, smuttynose ahahaha gettit? 'Cause yurr nose is smutty?), it's a name of an island with a dark history.

Although the brewery is centrally located in Portsmouth, Smuttynose Island is in Maine. It is part of the Isles of Shoals, a small group of islands six miles off the coast between the border of Maine and New Hampshire. Referring to the way seaweed on the rocks looked like the "smutty nose" of a sea animal, a fisherman gave the island its name. The island is 25 acres with a whole lot of nothing going on. There are a few structures, but remains unpopulated.

Besides the beer, Smuttynose Island is known for a gruesome crime that occurred in March of 1873. John Hontvet and his wife, Maren, were the only residents on the island at the time. John was a prosperous fisherman with a growing business. He enlisted the help of 28 year old, Louis Wagner. Wagner was a drifter with a history of job hopping.

Wagner eventually moved on from assisting John on Smuttynose. Maren's brother, sister, and sister-in-law all relocated to the Isle of Shoals, as well as John's brother. The men partnered with John's lucrative fishing business, while Maren and the women, Karen and Athene, took care of the home.

While the men spent the night in Portsmouth awaiting a bait delivery, Wagner became aware of the women on the island alone. Destitute, he stole a boat and rowed to Smuttynose with the intent to rob their home. He brutally murdered Karen and Athene by strangling and striking them with a hatchet while Maren escaped by finding refuge by a rock, now called Maren's rock.

The next morning, Maren identified the murderer as Wagner. Wagner had already fled to Boston, with the measly $15 he stole from their house. He was tried, convicted and hung in Maine over two years later.

And some brewery pics just because:

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