HITTY
PREBLE
Where Hitty was born home
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Although a work of fiction, Rachel Field did base Hitty, Her First Hundred Years on some facts.  First and foremost, of course, is the doll itself.  Rachel, and Dorothy Lathrop really did find Hitty in a New York City antique shop, and they took her to the Cranberry Isles while working on the book.  Hitty currently resides at the Stockbridge Library Museum, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Also, in the book, the family that Hitty first stays with, and their house, in which she was carved, does actually exist, and Rachel Field knew of them.
click to enlarge

Rachel Field
1894-1942
On Great Cranberry Island, Maine, there still stands today a large white clapboard house, with lilacs out front, and a tall tree on the side -- the Preble house.  This house was once owned by William P. Preble and his wife, Abigail.  We believe Rachel Field had them and their house in mind when she wrote Hitty.
the Preble house
It is certain that Rachel Field knew of the Prebles and their house because another book of hers, God's Pocket, relates the life and adventures of Captain Samuel Hadlock, Jr., who built and lived in that very house, before the Prebles.  When Hadlock died, frozen while seal hunting in Canada, his sister Abigail inherited the house, and it came to be called the Preble house when she married William Preble.

Later, Lucy Field, Rachel's mother, owned "Bunchberry Bungalow," a summer cottage on Sutton Island, one of the five Cranberry Islands.  As a young woman, since at least 1919, Rachel spent many summers at her mother's cottage, and often took day trips to the other islands.  One day while raspberrying on Great Cranberry Island, in "a place 'way down by the shore" near Preble Cove, she met Sammy Sanford, who lived in a cabin there, and learned from him the story of his grandfather, Capt. Sam Hadlock Jr., which she eventually turned into God's Pocket, published 1934.

(It came out five years after Hitty because Rachel researched for many years before starting to write it -- and the writing took two years.)

There can be no doubt that Rachel had these Prebles in mind when she wrote Hitty because the existing house and the fictional one are so similar -- although Rachel did add touches of her own imagination in some details.

The Prebles in
Hitty, Her 1st 100 Years
The Prebles on
Great Cranberry Island
Father:
Captain Daniel Preble
William Pitt Preble, Postmaster,
Justice of the Peace,
Wreck Inspector, and
Notary Public
Mother:
Kate Preble
Abigail Cobb (Hadlock) Preble
Children:
Phoebe Preble

and (not very likely)
Andy the chore-boy
  (see Who was Andy?)
Wm. Henry, 1840-1899
Eunice, ca. 1840-????
Wilhelmina, 1842-1912
Frances, 1849-????
  (m. Ben Spurling)
Eber C. (1852-1853)
Eber M. (1855-1856)
Church: the Prebles owned a pew in the Meeting House, "several miles" (a long sleigh ride) away the Prebles owned a pew in the Meeting House, only ½-mile away
House: "between Portland and Bath", Maine

tall pine tree beside house

lilacs in front of house, with a path between them to the house

sun sets behind spruce-covered hills across the road (house faces west)
Great Cranberry Island, Maine

tall spruce tree beside it

identical lilacs



sun sets behind spruce-rimmed Preble Cove in back of house (house faces east)

Sam Hadlock Jr.
1792-1830



Abigail Preble
1808-1874
(Hadlock's sister)



Wm. P. Preble
1811-1905



Sammy Sanford
1852-1933


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