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Wooden Snowshoes, c. 1810 | Roque Bluffs, Maine
A pair of handmade wooden snowshoes made over 200 years ago by Capt. Samuel Watts of Roque Bluffs, Maine for his son, Stephen Watts. They date to about 1810. Capt. Watts was born in Boston in 1745 and he died in 1816. His son was born in Jonesboro, Maine in 1803 and died in Roque Bluffs in 1876. The snowshoes are about 38 1/2” in length and 16” in width at their widest point. The hardwood used in making the frame of the snowshoes is mostly likely ash and the webbing between the frame is made from rawhide most likely from deer. Capt. Watts was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, having taken part in the capture of the British schooner, HMS Margaretta, in nearby Machias Bay on June 11 and 12, 1775. Capt. Watts’ son in turn passed the snowshoes on to his son who wrote the following handwritten note about the snowshoes in the early 20th century: “Roque Bluffs, Maine, June 17th, 1925: These snowshoe raquetts [raquettes] were made by the Samuel Watts who took part in the taking of the Margaretta at Machias for his son Stephen J. Watts and by him given to me John N. Watts his grandson over 50 years ago and I now pass them on to my son Samuel Watts who is named for the same Samuel Watts.” A separate handwritten note by Capt. Watts’ grandson goes on to say: “These Snowshoes are over 100 years old. Presented to Samuel J. Watts by his Father, John N. Watts.” The snowshoes remained in the Watts family for nearly another 100 years and were still in Roque Bluffs when a descendant of the Watts family there decided to sell the family property and move away. The snowshoes were then acquired by the Tides Institute to keep them in the region. Photo Caption: a pair of handmade wooden snowshoes made over 200 years ago by Capt. Samuel Watts of Roque Bluffs, Maine for his son. They date to about 1810.