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Black history in Maine: was Acadia's Frazer Point named for the first documented, free Black resident of the area?

Public records show Thomas Frazier lived in Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula.
Credit: Phillipa Harvey
Frazer Point is seen in the top left and Norris Island is in the center, looking southwest, about 1850-1900. Image courtesy of Phillipa Harvey, saved from an unidentified book, 1940.

WINTER HARBOR, Maine — The lack of public records is creating a mystery around the naming of a location on Acadia National Park's Schoodic Peninsula in Maine.

According to Acadia National Park, Thomas Frazier is the first documented, free Black resident of Frazer Point in Acadia National Park. 

Park staff said Frazier had a homestead in what is now called Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula. They said Frazier "took advantage of the bountiful seascape," fishing, farming, hunting, trapping, "and some say, operated a salt works."

Records show Frazier enlisted in the U.S. Revolutionary War in 1780 in Captain Henry Dyer's company of Rangers at Frenchman Bay.

Later, records from the first U.S. Census in 1790 document him living with his wife, Mary, and seven children. 

The U.S. Censuses in 1800 and 1810 have records of Frazier and his family, as do town tax records.

But in 1820, the Fraziers apparently "disappear from the landscape," Park staff wrote in a Facebook post.

"Frazer Point was probably named for the earliest recorded landowner—a London merchant named Thomas Frazer—but one can only wonder where in history lies the connection between Thomas Frazier the free African-American settler, and Thomas Frazer, the London merchant who seemingly never stepped foot on the land which bears his name," Park staff wrote.

"As we continue to research the life of Thomas Frazier and his family, we have to consider that past documentation may not provide us with answers to the questions we ask. Historical records reflect the times in which they were created, and the faces and institutions creating them. Retracing Frazier’s path to Downeast Maine, the American Revolution, landownership, and freedom, may be a difficult undertaking.  Yet, seeking—and telling—these hard stories benefit us all."

In the image, Frazer Point is seen in the top left and Norris Island is in the center, looking southwest, about 1850-1900. Image courtesy of Phillipa Harvey, saved from an unidentified book, 1940.