By Doug Crowell
Recent episodes of History Channel's popular television show, Curse of Oak Island, have highlighted former island resident Samuel Ball and his various land holdings. One of these holdings has caused many people to ask, "Where is Hook Island?" You will not find it on current maps of Mahone Bay in Nova Scotia, but it is not located very far from Oak Island.
It is a small island of about 3 acres, located only a half mile off the main land of Western Shore.
Formerly owned by Daniel Vaughan (the same Vaughan family as co-Money Pit discoverer Anthony Vaughan Jr.), he sold Hook island to Samuel Ball, labourer, on March 13th 1790, as shown in the following entry in the Registry of Deeds:
As you can see in the record above, Ball paid five pounds for the island, which Daniel describes thusly, "my island situated, laying and being on the west side of Mahone Bay,in the Township of Chester described and known by the name Hook Island."
Many years later, on December 14th 1845, Samuel Ball passed away. His will left his estate to his servant Isaac Butler, and provided for the care of Sam's widow and a Mrs. Best. The story of Sam's will is very interesting and it stipulated that Isaac Butler must change his last name to Ball in order to inherit Sam's land. Whether Isaac did this or not is unclear, but he did take possession of Sam's land holdings because we pick up on the trail of Hook Island almost 40 years later when Isaac Butler (not Isaac Ball) sells Hook island to Archibald Rafuse on May 30th 1884.
In the deed transfer record, Isaac describes Hook Island as "that certain island in Chester Bay known as Hook Island situated near the Western Shore and containing three acres more or less".
Then Hook Island disappears. You can no longer find Hook Island on a map of Mahone Bay. Did it erode away over time? No. Was it renamed? Yes. What is the new name by which Hook Island is now known? You will likely shake your head and proclaim how obvious it should have been, for you can easily see the former Hook Island directly off the South Shore Cove of Oak Island. Only now it is known as Sam's Island.
So how can we be sure that this is the Hook Island Samuel Ball owned (other than it now seemingly being named after him)? The only record we can find of Archibald Rafuse selling an island is in this deed record:
As you can see from the segments of a lengthy deed record above, Archibald Rafuse sold to Anslom Rafuse "that certain island in Chester Bay in said county, known as Sam's Island and which said island lies to the east of lands of Albert Shupe and Edmond Shupe about one half mile from the mainland and containing three acres more or less."
We believe it is certain that the Sam's Island mentioned here was formerly Hook Island, and that it simply became known as Sam's Island to the locals for obvious reasons. There is no doubt that the description matches Hook Island, and the chain of custody of the land went from Sam Ball to Isaac Butler to Archibald Rafuse. Sometime during the ten years that Archibald owned Hook Island, the name was likely dropped in favour of calling it by the name of its former owner, who likely had some notoriety by that time from living on "Treasure Island".
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