Island Names

Stonington’s harbor is filled with islands. Some are little more than rocks jutting out of the water, others are larger and wooded, and the much larger Isle au Haut looms far out in the bay. But all of the islands, even the tiny ones, have names that you see on the maps of the harbor. You wonder: how did they get their names, and why?

There is a significant diversity in the names, which makes the question more interesting. Some of the islands–like McGlathery Island and Farrel Island–clearly were named for people. Others, like Bare Island, Two Bush Island, and Sand Island, evidently got their name from their physical features. Crotch Island, which is almost split in two by a cove, has an outcropping called Thurlow Knob, and probably has been the punch line for smutty jokes told by teenage boys in Stonington for decades, also falls into that category. Still others, like Buckle Island, Round Island, and Potato Island, likely received their monikers because of their shapes and resemblance to other objects.

But the names of other islands seem to come with a real back story that you’d like to know. Was Grog Island a place where sailors stopped to furtively hoist a tankard on their way back to the docks? Why do Green Island and Camp Island have such pleasant, bucolic names, when their immediate next door neighbor goes by the scary Devil Island? What terrible calamity of the past caused yet another island to be officially dubbed Wreck Island? And was there some kind of dispute that caused someone in a position of authority to officially declare that another chunk of rock in the harbor was No Man’s Island, or did the island namers just run out of naming ideas?