Last updated: October 1, 2020
Carroll Homestead was lived in by John and Rachel Carroll from 1825 to 1870. This basic fact about the first generation who lived there only tells us who and when, but not the how or why.
On May 24, 1814, 23 year-old John Carroll saw his family and native Ireland for the last time. Equipped with the skills of a mason and the determination needed to change his life, John sailed westward towards St. Johns, Newfoundland. There he made his living through fishing and logging until he heard masons were needed in Washington DC to repair damage from the British attack in 1814. John headed south in 1820 and stopped on Mount Desert Island where he took jobs cutting wood near Southwest Harbor to earn enough money to continue his trip. An injury to his foot from an ax forced John to adjust his plans. Enoch Lurvey, who worked with him at the lumber camp, took John to his family’s home to recover. There John was nursed back to health by Rachel Lurvey, Enoch’s sister. The two started courting, and on Christmas Day in 1822, John and Rachel were married.
Building the "Mountain House"
The young couple stayed at the family home for the first few years of their marriage, and John worked nearby to clear land and build a house. Using his masonry skills, he built a fieldstone foundation and a massive interior brick fireplace. The first version of the house was almost square (21’ by 25’) and made out of hand-hewn beams. On Thanksgiving Day 1825, John and Rachel with their two young daughters moved into what the family would come to call the “Mountain House.”
Here Rachel and John created a small farmstead to meet their family’s needs. For food, there were cows, pigs, and chickens. They planted small fields of crops and large gardens around the house. To make clothes, they used woolen and linen cloth. They made the cloth themselves by raising sheep and growing flax, and then wove the fibers into fabric. Along with the farm, they added to their diet food from the woods, ocean and lakes. When they needed to buy something, they used the money John received from doing mason work in nearby communities.
As the family grew with more children, and others like Jacob Lurvey (Rachel’s father) moved into the house, more space was needed. John expanded the house and built a barn to help the homestead become more successful. The children thrived in this environment. Some left home for work and some left for marriage, but all kept ties with their parents and often came back to visit the Mountain House.