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A H istory 


R. A. Douglas-Lithgow, m.d., ll.d. 

Formerly Vice-President and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society 

of Literature of Great Britain and Ireland ; Life Fellow of the 

Royal Geological Society of Ireland ; Member of the 

Anthropological Society of Washington, etc. 

Author of "Dictionary of American-Indian Place and Proper Names 
of New England," "Heredity: A Study," etc. 

" It is important that many facts, which now exist but in memory, should 
be seasonably secured. Time flies, and without some attempt to preserve 
these historical data, many of them must be obliterated forever." 

Samuel H. Jenks. 

With Illustrations and a Map 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York and London 
G:be iftnicfierbocfter press 


Copyright, 191 4 



Ube ■ftnichetbocfcer iprees, mew Hotft 



my appreciative companion 

in many historic rambles 

this volume is affectionately 



As no systematic historical record of Nantucket 
has appeared since 1835, when Obed Macy's History 
was published, and as for some time past a general 
desire has been expressed that a new history, of a 
popular character, be issued, the writer, at the solicita- 
tion of several prominent islanders, at length consented 
to compile such a work. The present volume, which 
is the result of such an endeavor, has been written under 
difficulties, not the least of which has been the author's 
residence on the mainland. In view of this circum- 
stance it could not have been produced at all without 
the collaboration of numerous friends and much corre- 

While every competent authority has been con- 
sulted, a special effort has been made to compress the 
material at the writer's disposal into a work of limited 
compass, and at the same time to leave unchronicled 
no important matters. 

The history of the island in the latter half of the 
nineteenth century has not before been systematically 
recorded. In presenting this period in fuller outline 
and in offering a fresh survey of a section of the country 
that is deserving of the attention of the historian, the 
author trusts that he has done something towards 
supplying a want that has been long felt, and if such 

vi Foreword 

should be the case, he considers himself well repaid 
for this labor of love. 

Cordial and most appreciative thanks are due to Miss 
Grace Brown Gardner for the use made of her masterly- 
contribution on the Botany of the island; to Alexander 
Starbuck and to H. B. Turner of the Inquirer and 
Mirror for valuable collaboration; to Hon. Benjamin 
Sharp, Ph.D., Mrs. Eva C. G. Folger, Arthur H. 
Gardner, Henry S. Wyer, and William F. Macy, for 
their assistance and uniform courtesy, in addition to 
the granting by them of copyright privileges. 

Among many others to whom a debt of gratitude is 
owing for esteemed assistance, the writer must mention 
the names of Mrs. Ackley, Mrs. Hinchman of Philadel- 
phia, Irving Elting, Mrs. Albertson; Miss Caroline 
Parker, the courteous Librarian of the Athenaeum; 
J. H. Robinson of Washington; Sumner J. Kimball, 
General Superintendent of the U. S. Life-saving Ser- 
vice at Washington; Mrs. Anna Starbuck Jenks, the 
late Mrs. Judith G. Fish, Miss Anna Gardner Fish, 
Mrs. F. S. Raymond; J. Arthur Burton, Principal 
of Nantucket High School; James Walter Folger, 
John C. Gardner, Horace Coleman, and Miss Adah 

If the writer's labors tend in any degree to promote 
the welfare of the island or the happiness of the 
islanders, he will esteem such a result some slight return 
for the golden hours afforded him during his several 
sojourns in the region described. 

R. A. D.-L. 

Boston, Mass. 



I Geology and Physiography of the 

Island ...... i 

II Legends, Discovery, and Amerind 

Place-Names . . . • • 17 

III The Aborigines 35 

IV The White Settlers and the Settle- 

ment . . ... . 58 

V The Early Development of the Island 78 

VI The Nantucket Whale Fishery . 103 

VII Quakerism in Nantucket . . . 115 

VIII Nantucket Records .... 130 

IX The Nineteenth Century . . . I54 

X The Nineteenth Century— Cow/iwMe^ . 179 

XI Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 205 

XII Eminent Nantucketers . . . 222 

XIII The Nantucket Flora ... 245 

XIV Villages, Districts, etc. . . . 269 
XV " Quaint Nantucketers " . . . 284 




XVI Life -Saving Service and Wrecks 

XVII The Island Steamers . 

XVIII The Newspapers of Nantucket 

XIX In the Dredge-Net 

XX Chronological Data, 1602-1912 
Index ..... 





The Oldest House 


Dorcas Honorable . 

. 52 

Abram Quary . . . . 

. . . 56 

The Old Mill . . . . 

. 84 

An Old Friend . . . . 

. 116 

Main Street . . . . 

. 206 

Billy Clark, Town Crier 

. 300 

The Historical Society 

. 360 

Map of Nantucket . 

At End 


History of Nantucket, Obed Macy, 1835. 

" " " " 2 ed., 1882. 

The Island of Nantucket, Edward K. Godfrey, 1882. 
Early Settlers of Nantucket, Mrs. Lydia S. Hinchman, 1896. 
Handbook of Nantucket, Isaac H. Folger, 1874. 
Topographical Description of Nantucket, Walter Folger, 

Jr., 1791. 
Nooks and Corners of Massachusetts, S. G. Drake, 1875. 
Nantucket Scraps, Jane G. Austin, 1883. 
Miriam Coffin, James C. Hart, Reprint, 1872. 
Trustum and his Grandchildren, Harriet Worron, 1881. 
Papers Relating to Nantucket, F. B. Hough, Albany, 1856. 
Wrecks around Nantucket, Arthur H. Gardner, 1877. 
Life of Tristram Coffin, Allen Coffin, LL.B., 1881. 
Genealogy of Macy Family, Sylvanus J. Macy, 1868. 
Sconset Cottage Life, A. Judd Northrup, 1901. 
MSS. OF Geo. W. Howland Folger. 
Churches and Pastors of Nantucket, Myron S. Dudley, 

Timothy White Papers, M. S. Dudley, 1878. (Nantucket 

Historical Association.) 
MSS. OF F. C. Folger. 
Report of Geological Survey, Professor Shaler, Washington, 

Portfolio, 1 811. 
Letters of an American Farmer, Hector H. John Creve- 

CGEUR, 1778. 

xii Bibliography 

The Glacier's Gift, Eva C. G. Folger, 191 i. 

Quaint Nantucket, W. Root Bliss, 1907 

Nantucket Steamers, H. B. Turner, 1910. 

Guide to Nantucket, J. H. Robinson, 2d ed. 

Lands and Landowners of Nantucket, H. Barnard Worth, 

1 901. 
File of Nantucket Gazette, 1816. 

Files of Nantucket I?iquirer and Mirror, covering sixty years. 
Annual Reports of Life-Saving Service. 
Sea-Girt Nantucket, H. S. Wyer. 
The Oldest House, 1905. 

Nantucket Town a?id County Records, 170 vols. 
Scrap-hooks OF F. C. Sanford, Athenceum. 
Map OF Dr. Ewer. 

History of Martha's Vineyard, Dr. C. E, Banks, 2 vols. 
Indian Converts, Experience Mayhew 
Nantucket : Picturesque and Historic, H. S. Wyer, 1891. 
American Merchant Marine, John A. Spear, 1910. 
Talks about Nantucket, Christopher Coffin Hussey. 

Etc., etc. 


Oh, lovely Isle, where Peace and Beauty reign 
Amid thy moorlands wild, and fragrant flowers; 
Where with Arcadian joys fond Nature dowers 
A thousand scenes within thy fair domain. 
Here, care-forgetting, have I oft-times lain, 
Dreaming, within the shade of thy sweet bowers, 
Winging the flight of summer's golden hours. 
Gazing the while upon thy wondrous main — 
God's glorious ocean, in its matchless might. 
Exulting in its awful majesty. 
How sweet its diapasoned song by night! 
How it still surges through my memory ! 
Oh, Isle of joy, serene and exquisite. 
May Heaven's choicest gifts abide with thee ! 

R. A. D.-L. 

God bless the sea-beat island! 

And grant for evermore, 
That charity and freedom dwell. 

As now, upon her shore! 

J. G. Whittier. 

Nantucket: A History 



In the evolution of the earth's surface as a dwelHng- 
place for man, the Great Architect of the Universe 
subjected the hthosphere, or body of the earth, to a 
series of transitional changes differentiated from each 
other and marked by the stratified deposition of certain 
rocks, for the most part characterized by the fossil 
remains of plants and animals, many of which forms 
are no longer in existence. 

The study of these changes constitutes the science 
of Geology. 

The strata of the earth were formerly divided into 
Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Quaternary in an 
ascending scale, the Primary being the oldest and 
deepest, and the Quartemary the most recent. Each 
of these divisions required incalculable ages of time 
for their production. More recently the formulary 
of geological epochs has been altered according to the 

2 Nantucket 

order of the succession of the forms of Hfe, as follows: 

1. Palaeozoic, or oldest life. 

2. Mesozoic, or middle life. 

3. j Cenozoic, or recent life. 

4. ( Pleistocene or most recent life. 

The Pleistocene, or Glacial period (now usually con- 
sidered a subdivision of the Cenozoic), although, com- 
paratively, of shorter duration than those preceding 
it, probably gave character to many succeeding ages. 
While the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic epochs 
are usually distinguished by their respective faunas and 
floras, the Pleistocene is especially marked by its 
climatic history. It is with this period that the an- 
tiquity of Man is intimately associated. 

As the Glacial period advanced, the temperature 
became increasingly colder, and mountains and fields 
of ice covered, to a great extent, the surface of the earth. 

Many theories have been propounded to explain the 
natural causation of this tremendous glacial submer- 
gence, but while none of these is universally accepted, 
the m.ost plausible are the following: (i) that which 
accounts for it by changes in solar radiation, — upon 
which atmospheric heat depends, — and (2) that which 
supposes changes in the geographic position of the 
earth's axis. Whatever theories may be assigned, how- 
ever, they are at best but hypothetical, and, as far as 
the present development of science extends, no mere 
theory can be established with absolute certainty. 

The Pleistocene period includes three epochs, or 
classes of phenomena, which may be briefly described 
as follows: 

1st. The Glacial period, when great continental 
areas in the higher latitudes were raised to much higher 

Geology and Physiography 3 

altitudes than at present exist, and when the inten- 
sification of climatic cold prevailed to such an extent 
as to produce an immense development of glaciers. 

2d. What is known as the Champlain period, when 
the ice had melted, and the great high latitude areas 
were reduced to a lower level than at present, re- 
sulting in a vast co-extensive deposit of river and lake 
formations, and marine formations along the sea-coast. 

3d. Recent period, when the land was again raised 
almost to its present level. 

The Glacial and Champlain periods were united by 
Lyell, in his later works, under the general designation 
of the Pleistocene period. 

It may be generally stated that while the Cenozoic 
period tended to the formation and differentiation of 
rock, and was characterized by the inclusion of recent 
organic forms, the operations of the Pleistocene period 
were applied to the broad surface of the continent, 
and particularly to its middle and higher latitudes, in 
filling up and leveling interstices, in rounding hills and 
constituting valleys; in a word, in smoothing over and 
consolidating the surface of the earth, to make it meet 
as a dwelling-place for man. 

According to modern science, the more recent geo- 
logical periods, i. e., the recent or post-Glacial, and post- 
Pliocene or Glacial, are estimated to cover a period of 
625,000 years, as follows: post-Glacial or Recent, 25,000 
years; Glacial or post-Pliocene, 600,000 years. These 
figures represent an approximate mean of the estimates 
made by the most trustworthy chronologists, and can 
be relied upon as at least suggestive of the relative 
lengths and orders of magnitude of the periods.^ 

' Professor W. H. Holmes, American Anthropologist, vol. xii., No. 2, 

4 Nantucket 

From his frigid fastnesses in Labrador and New- 
foundland, the desolating breath of the Ice-King smote 
the North American continent, and the glaciers already 
in existence, as those of the Rocky Mountains, the 
Sierras, and Alaska, rapidly expanded, and descended 
the mountain-slopes to greater distances. New glaciers 
were formed in many directions, and those of Alaska 
and the western mountains of British America coalesced 
and filled the intervening valleys, thus constituting an 
immense ice-field, almost as extensive as that of Green- 
land. In Northeastern America a still greater ice- 
field was produced, which spread eastward to the 
Atlantic, and westward almost as far as the Great 
Lakes. The entire surface of New England to its 
farthest southern boundary — some sixty or seventy 
miles beyond the spot where Nantucket stands to-day 
— was submerged beneath a vast, thick mantle of ice, 
which covered also the whole of New York State, most 
of New Jersey, and part of Pennsylvania, extending 
even to the Ohio River, at Cincinnati, and at several 
points to the Missouri. 

For incalculable ages the earth lay bound in icy 
fetters, ever increasing in massiveness, ever indurating, 
ever consolidating, spell-bound as in a sleep of death, 
while the Ice-King exulted in the white crystalline 
palaces of his frozen domain. 

After her aeonial swoon, however. Nature, obedient 
to the fiat of the Eternal, slowly and quietly awakened 
from her long rest, and stirred the earth in her awaken- 
ing. The gentle south wind hastened to do her bidding, 
and as its warm breath touched the cheek of the Frost- 
King, his crystal fastness shrank in terror, and, by 
degrees, his whole realm slowly but surely retreated. 

The masses of rock, which were separated by atmos- 

Geology and Physiography 5 

pheric pressure from the mountains pounding the 
valleys along which the glaciers flowed, found a tem- 
porary resting-place on the surface of the ice, at the 
margin of the glacier, and were carried along with it. 
Sometimes two glaciers united, and one large trail in 
the middle of the trunk glacier was thus formed by the 
carried drift. Eventually, when the superimposed 
masses reached the end of the glacier, the melting ice 
deposited them in the form of a huge mound. These 
superficial forms of drift are known as moraines, and, 
from their position on the glacier, are generally recog- 
nized as constituting three varieties, distinguished as 
lateral, median, and terminal. 

The results of glacial action — to w^hich are attributed 
many startling changes on the earth's surface — are 
classified as deposits, erosion, and drift. The most char- 
acteristic detrital deposit is known as bowlder clay or 
till, a mixture of fine and coarse clay or sand without 
lamination or stratification. The coarse material 
imbedded in the finer matrix ranges from grains 
and pebbles to cobbles and bowlders of immense 
size, showing worn surfaces and parallel markings, or 
flattened facets produced by grinding or attrition. 
Such material is mostly conveyed from long distances. 
In addition to the bowlder clay are found also marls and 
raised sea-beaches. / Gravels and sands more or less 
laminated, some of which seem to have been subjected 
to the action of running water, are also characteristic. 
Sometimes, also, broad tracts are found covered by 
laminated clays, including scratched pebbles and bowl- 
ders like those in till, and these deposits are ascribed 
to bodies of water in which icebergs have floated.^ 

Coincident with the great expansion of glaciers, 

' G. K. Gilbert. 


6 Nantucket 

local changes in the relative altitude of land and sea 
were produced, and the connection of these phenomena 
has been definitely determined in the case of the New- 
England coast. 

Inasmuch as the island of Nantucket came into 
existence as the result of glacial action, this preliminary- 
sketch may be acceptable as an introduction to an 
account of its geological formation. 

The island of Nantucket lies near the extreme south- 
eastern point of a great projection of lands and shoals 
forming the southern front of New England. It is 
composed of sands, gravels, and clays, which were 
brought into their present position during, or immedi- 
ately before, the last Glacial period. 

It may be stated that Nantucket Island is but a 
small fragment of a vast sheet of this glacially-trans- 
ported matter. 

The greater part of Plymouth Co., Mass., the whole of 
Cape Cod, the larger portion of Martha's Vineyard, and 
the whole of Long Island, with all the many islands and 
islets at its eastern extremity, are the dissevered remains of 
a great shelf formed of the debris brought to its present 
position by the glacial ice, and by the streams of water 
which flowed beneath it.^ 

As the result of glacial action, this vast shelf of land 
extended southwards of Long and Block Islands, 
Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket ; it was at this time 
above the level of the sea, but became almost entirely 
submerged with the exception of the lands still existing 
as islands, ranging from Nantucket on the east to 
Staten Island on the west. The deposit of this sub- 
merged land was much more recent in its formation 

' Professor N. S. Shaler. 

Geology and Physiography 7 

than Nantucket, which, as a terminal moraine, had 
accumulated a vaster amount of drift material, and 
thus, as Dr. Ev/er says: 

The whole region of southern New England was elevated 
at least six hundred feet above its present height, and this 
uplifting or uptilting of the eastern part of our continent 
pushed the Atlantic back some seventy miles south of 
where it is to-day, entirely out of sight from Quanaty. 

When the expanse of more recently formed land on 
which Nantucket stood was submerged, Nantucket was 
insulated by the advance of the sea around it, and the 
other islands in the same chain — Martha's Vineyard, 
Long, Block, and Staten Islands — were similarly left 
standing in the ocean. 

Nantucket was, therefore, a terminal moraine, — a 
halting-place of the glacial movement, — that is, it was 
formed by the advancing lower rim of the glacier which, 
melting, deposited its accumulations of drift — sand, 
clay, and bowlders — caught up in its southward march, 
and frozen within its substance, in great heaps where 
they exist to-day as islands in the ocean. There are 
evidences that, arrived at Nantucket, the glacial ice, 
owing probably to an increase of temperature, receded 
northwards for some distance, and advanced again. 
This testimony is sustained by the fact that a chain 
of glacial islands — more recent terminal moraines — 
stretches from the eastern coast of Cape Cod, and ex- 
tends through the Elizabeth Islands and Point Judith, 
to Fisher's and Plum Islands. 

In certain glaciated regions, as in Nantucket, glacial 
deposits are found overlain by peat and other growths, 
which could not have been formed under the ice, and 
these, in turn, also overlaid by other deposits. In 

8 Nantucket 

the attempt to account for these phenomena, it has 
been suggested, with much probabiHty, that mountain 
glaciers and lowland ice-sheets advanced and retreated 
more than once. Some, indeed, aver that there must 
have been several glacial epochs; others maintain that 
there were at least two, separated by an inter-glacial 
epoch ; but this is not yet determined. 

With regard to the general geological structure of 
the island, the lowest deposit is till, or bowlder clay, 
blue in color, and sparsely intermingled • with pebbles 
and sand. The clay is slightly laminated, and some 
of the pebbles are scratched, as glacial pebbles fre- 
quently are. This can be readily seen at Wannacomet, 
near the pumping station, at Squam Head, and in the 
town. As a rule, the upper surface of the till is below 
the level of the sea, and it assumes in general an un- 
dulatory form. 

Above the surface of this clay deposit is a mass of 
more or less stratified sand, easily recognized in its 
formation and aspect as constituting kames and ter- 
races. These kames are low hills varying in height 
and shape; sometimes conical and sometimes elongated, 
sometimes isolated, more frequently crowded together. 
Between the ridges are small narrow valleys, often 
extending downwards to swamps or ponds. 

Where these hills are steepest, bowlders of various 
sizes are usually found, but, as the stones on the island 
have been generally appropriated for economic pur- 
poses, they are not now seen as much as formerly. 
These kames are found for the most part in the central 
and northern portions of the island, and in few, if any, 
instances approach the shore. As a rule they taper 
down to a sandy plain, which descends gradually to the 
Atlantic. Professor Shaler thought that these kames 

Geology and Physiography 9 

and moraines were deposited at a considerable depth be- 
neath the sea, and that the low spaces often found 
between them were formed by the separation of icebergs 
at the front of the glacier. 

These all slope oceanwards. Their lower extremities 
are invariably below the sea-level, and thus contain 
more or less ponds which are barred from the ocean by 
walls of sand. There are upwards of two dozen of 
these lacustrine depressions on the island. 

The internal structure of the kames and terraces 
presents a curious mixture of stratified and unstratified 
materials, — sand and small pebbles accumulated ir- 
regularly in layers. The bowlders frequently found 
among these pebbly sands are believed to have been 
deposited on floating ice, and, if this theory is correct, 
it goes far to prove that the kames and terraces were 
accumulated under water. 

Professor Shaler was of the opinion that all the glacial 
drift of Nantucket, except the bowlders transplanted 
by icebergs, came from far east of the Narraganset 

The fossiliferous deposits of Nantucket are compara- 
tively unimportant, consisting mainly of fresh-water 
peats, and a variety of recent marine species, and need 
not be further noticed here. 

A few words may be devoted to the succession of 
geological events on Nantucket. 

The deposition of the unstratified blue clay under- 
lying the island must have taken place during the 
Glacial period, when the ice-sheet covered this section. 
It was probably formed as ground moraine either 
under the surface or immediately in front of the ice- 

After the deposition of the clay, the ice-sheet re- 

10 Nantucket 

treated, and the climatic conditions permitted the 
return of marine Hfe to the shore Hne. The level of 
this shore at one time must have been at least fifty feet 
below the present high-tide mark. After the fossil- 
iferous beds were formed, the ice again advanced until 
its southern front came at least to the middle of the 
island. During this readvance were accumulated the 
existing heaps of stratified and amorphous sand, gravel, 
and bowlders, and the southern sand-plains, which 
constitute the principal features of the island, were 
formed under the following conditions: 

1 . The surface was below the present level of the sea. 

2. The drift materials were partly shoved forward by 
the glacier and partly deposited by the streams which 
escaped from below the ice. 

3. The existence of considerable streams rising from the 
ice front, and extending to the south, is shown by the 
numerous deep channels which are excavated in the south- 
ern terrace or sand plains. 

4. The sand plains on the southern part of the island, 
which exist nowhere else on its surface, were deposited 
during the time when the detrital hills of the northern 
section were being accumulated. 

5. After the foregoing stages of the re-advancing ice, 
the glacier appears to have again retreated northward for 
the last time. During, or after, this recession the surface 
must have been suddenly elevated above the level of the 

It is therefore inferred that the series of delicately 
moulded kames were formed below the surface of the 
sea and uplifted above its surface after the last retreat 
of the ice. 

So far as can be determined, the front of the ice, 

' Professor N. S. Shaler. 

Geology and Physiography ii 

during the formation of the Nantucket moraine, lay- 
in a nearly east and west direction. 

A few post-Glacial changes in the island may be 
briefly referred to, under three heads, viz. : changes of 
level; changes due to the alteration of the surface; 
and changes due to the wearing of the sea. 

The principal change of level was that which brought 
the sand and gravel hills, and the fringe of lower land 
on the south, above the sea-level. Allowing that the 
sandhills were originally formed on the sea floor, at the 
front of the ice, their summits must have been sub- 
merged to a depth of at least 200 feet below the sea- 
level. As the highest of these sandhills now lies about 
100 feet above the sea-level, the post-Glacial uplift 
must have been over 300 feet, and probably much more. 

There must have been a subsequent submergence 
which brought the fresh-water peat deposits below the 
sea-level, — probably a submergence of ten feet. 

That part of 

the northern shore which lies inside Coatue beach has a 
very indented shore line, while the coast to the west of the 
harbor has an outline such as all shores have which have 
been subjected to the long-continued action of the waves. 
This shore, after the post-Glacial elevation, must have been 
much farther to the northward than it is at present; then 
came the subsidence indicated by the submerged peats, 
which brought the land to about its present level. The 
beach of Coatue was rapidly formed in front of a portion 
of the north shore, and has since served as a protecting 
barrier against the assaults of the vigorous waves which 
form in Nantucket Sound. 

It may be assumed that, when the island of Nan- 
tucket was deposited in the ocean, the salient points 

12 Nantucket 

which now surround it were not in existence, and that 
Nantucket itself, Tuckemuck, and Coskata all appeared 
as separate islands. The great Glacial masses were 
moving southwards, and from their southern rim the 
waters were rushing in the same direction with their 
freight of drift. Doubtless the northern range of hills 
on Nantucket were then deposited, and, gaining im- 
petus in their southern flow, the drift-bearing waters 
spread their sand and gravel over the southern plains, 
excavating valleys in their impetuous course, and 
scooping out basins for pools and lakes, as they speeded 
on to sink once more within the breast of mother-ocean. 
Such, in briefest, if not in blurred outline, is a sketch 
of the geology of Nantucket, — the most interesting 
specimen of a terminal moraine in existence. ^ 


Nantucket Island is the most southern point of 
Massachusetts. Its geographical position has been 
indicated elsewhere; a brief reference to its topography 
may be made here. 

The shape of the island is somewhat difficult to define, 
but has been described as "triangular" and "crescen- 
tic." The writer believes that it resembles, more 
than anything else, a rough diagrammatic outline of 
the human stomach. 

The general surface of the island may be said to be 
level, but much of it is undulating, owing to a multi- 
plicity of Glacial drtmilins. These run in the path of 
the ice movement, and, especially along the northern 

' In the compilation of this chapter the writer must express his 
obligations to a masterly scientific Report on the Geology of Nantucket, 
by the late Professor N. S. Shaler. 

Geology and Physiography 13 

side of its main body, where the melting rim of the 
glacier stood, are a number of hills, in several instances 
approaching one hundred feet in height. Between these 
hills and the southern shore a level expanse extends 
gently downwards to the ocean, which expanse probably 
resulted from the glacial waters carrying down south- 
wards floods of drift laden with gravel, sand, bowlders, 
and clay, from the top and southern sides of the moraine, 
and their deposition upon the southern plains. The 
hills are known as Saul's, Trot's, Sankaty, Popsquat- 
chet, Shawkemo, etc., and the expanse is apportioned 
among districts known as Southeast Quarter, South 
Pasture, Smooth Hummocks, the Plains, Great Neck, 
Nanahuma Neck, etc. 

The southern plains are, moreover, diversified by a 
number of parallel valleys, all tending southward, viz.: 
Chappapemeset, Coffin's, Starbuck's, Madequecham, 
Barnard's, Wyer's, and other valleys, in several in- 
stances terminating in ponds, as Weeweder, Miacomet, 
Hummock, and Long Ponds. Indeed, quite a chain 
of ponds ^ formerly existed round the southern shore- 
line, but many of them have been, and are being, filled 
up by sand deposits swept down from the higher ground 
above, and by beach-sand blown or washed over from 
the ocean. 

The outline of the coast, especially on its northern 
and western aspects, is rendered unsymmetrical by the 
several sandy points and prolongations which reach 
out from it, but the southern and eastern shores are 
comparatively regular. 

The outer harbor is formed by an extensive bay on 
the north, and is enclosed by two sandy points, one 
at the northeast — Great Point; and one at the north- 

• Vide Chapter XX. 

14 Nantucket 

west part of the island — Smith's Point, — both tending 
towards the northwest. 

The inner harbor is entered between Brant Point 
and a long sandy promontory known as Coatue, which 
formations are about three-fourths of a mile apart, 
and almost entirely land-lock the harbor. Near 
Wauwinet, at the head of the harbor, there was a 
narrow strip of sand which divided the ocean from the 
harbor and which was known as the "Haulover," 
because the fishermen found access to and egress from 
the harbor by hauling their boats across at this point. 
During a severe storm on December 17, 1896, the 
angry waves tore away the sandy partition, and, as 
time went on, the opening was gradually extended 
until it eventually reached Coskata, and converted the 
northern extremity of Coatue peninsula into an island. 
Subsequently the opening gradually closed up, and 
the "Haulover" now remains in its original condition. 

Within and on the west side of the inner harbor are 
the town of Nantucket and its wharves. A dangerous 
shoal crosses the outer harbor about two miles north 
of the island, extending from Muskeget Island to Cos- 
kata. Another great shoal extends round the southern 
shore, and there are several shoals on the east side of 
the island. These have proved terribly disastrous to 
navigation, for hundreds of vessels have perished round 
the island, in sight of home. 

The names of the many ponds of the Island will be 
found elsewhere. ^ 

The moors are thickly covered with scrub-oak, bay, 
wild straw- and black-berries, and an infinitude of 
shrubs, ferns, mosses, and lichens, and present a very 
paradise of flowers from May to October. For those 

• Vide Chapter XX. 

Geology and Physiography 15 

who love solitude amid the charms of nature, a stroll 
over the fragrant moorlands forms, perhaps, the su- 
preme attraction on the island. 

If ever the island was wooded, it must have been 
before the beginning of the eighteenth century. That it 
was wooded in places, is very probable; but the settlers 
evidently had little relish for forestry, and soon ex- 
hausted the supply. Nevertheless, the trees planted 
in the town, after the great fire of 1846, — especially 
those on Main, Centre, Federal, and Broad Streets, — 
have grown splendidly, as well as they do in any district 
in New England. 

The roads on the island are almost innumerable, 
and radiate in many directions from the town. There 
is a fine macadamized State road running from Nan- 
tucket to Siasconset. These unconventional roads 
are a delight to all to whom adventure appeals, and 
they lead to such varied scenes, and enticing solitudes 
of nature that every artistic soul must indeed be 
thrilled with joy. 


From whatever aspect the town of Nantucket is 
regarded it is certainly imique. Yet if one attempts to 
analyze its uniqueness, the experiment is usually dis- 
appointing, because the elements are so multiform and 
elusive. We may exhaust its historical associations, 
the beauty and fragrance of its moors, the absolute 
purity of its ocean-air, the proverbial geniality and 
quaintness of its inhabitants, the natural wildness of 
its gardens, the brightness of its sunshine, the pictur- 
esqueness of its buildings, the varied joys of its social 
life, the magnificence of its ocean views, the sublimity 

i6 Nantucket 

of its sunsets, the peacefulness of its solitudes, but all 
in vain. There is a spell about the place; and he who 
has once succumbed to its gentle mesmeric influences 
ever leaves them with regret, ever longs for their 
renewal, and never forgets them. 



Among the Indian tribes of this vast American con- 
tinent much legendary lore prevailed, and there were 
few problems connected with human existence which 
had not been solved for them by the myths, legends, 
and traditions which had been passed down from gener- 
ation to generation. 

Unfortunately very few legends of the Nantucket 
Indians have been preserved, and, however difficult 
it is to account for this paucity of legendary lore, the 
fact remains. 

The following legends of the Nantucket Indians are 
all that the writer has, after much searching, been 
enabled to find. The first, concerning the creation of 
Nantucket as an island, is very interesting: 

Once upon a time there lived on the Atlantic coast a 
giant who used Cape Cod for his bed. One night, being 
restless, he tossed from side to side till his moccasins were 
filled with sand. This so enraged him that, on rising in the 
morning, he flung the offending moccasins from his feet, 
one alighting to form Martha's Vineyard, while the other 
became the since famous island of Nantucket. ^ 

' The Glacier's Gift, Eva C. G. Folger. 
2 17 

i8 Nantucket 

With regard to the primeval discovery of the island 
of Nantucket by the Indians the following legend is 
interesting (as all legends are), and it was related by 
the aborigines to the early English settlers, soon after 
their arrival: 

In former times, a good many moons ago, a bird, ex- 
traordinary for its size, used often to visit the south shore 
of Cape Cod, and carry from thence in its talons a vast 
number of small children. Maushope, who was an Indian 
giant, as fame reports, resided in these parts. Enraged 
at the havoc among the children, he, on a certain time, 
waded into the sea in pursuit of the bird, till he had crossed 
the Sound, and reached Nantucket. Before Maushope 
forded the Sound, the island was unknown to the red men. 
Maushope found the bones of the children in a heap under a 
large tree. He, then, wishing to smoke his pipe, ransacked 
the island for tobacco; but finding none, he filled his pipe 
with poke — a weed which the Indians sometimes used as a 

Ever since this memorable event, fogs have been frequent 
on the Cape. In allusion to this tradition, when the abo- 
rigines observed a fog rising, they would say, "There comes 
old Maushope's smoke. "^ 

(Here the legend unfortunately ends.) 

In approaching the consideration of the Nantucket 
Indians, the following beautiful legend^ cannot be 
passed over in silence, as it reveals the fact that self- 
sacrifice and the tender passion are not limited in their 
influence to any race or color, but are the hallowed 

' Col. Mass. Hist. Soc, vol. v., First Series, p. 57. 

' A worthy poetic setting of this legend was published by The Inquirer 
and Mirror nearly forty years ago, from the pen of Miss Charlotte P. 
Baxter. It was republished in the Inquirer of January 21, 191 1, and 
the poetic quotations in this chapter have been taken from it. 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 19 

heritage of mankind. Such a record deserves a fore- 
most place in any associated local history. The in- 
cident referred to is supposed to have occurred about 
1630, or, as Dr. Ewer suggested, about thirty years 
before the arrival of the white men. 

Wauwinet was the sage and beloved Sachem of the 
northeastern section of the island. He had one 
daughter, Wonoma, — 

The loveliest and the gentlest, 

and they were devoted to each other. 

Well she knew the art of healing; 

Skilled was she in all the uses 

Of the herbs that grew around them. 

And whenever from the waters 

Spoke the voice of the Great Spirit, 

She could tell unto her people 

What the words were, and the meaning. 

Fever had broken out among the natives of the 
southwestern section of the island, which was under the 
dominance of the chief, Autopscot, and he feared that 
his people would be swept away by the rapid spread 
of the pestilence. In his extremity he thought of the 
fair and graceful Wonoma, Wauwinet's daughter, and 
knowing she possessed the knowledge of a great medi- 
cine-man, he despatched one of his maidens, named 
Wosoka, to speed to Wonoma, 

Praying her to come and save them. 
From the cruel, blasting Fever. 

Wonoma, always delighting to do good, accompanied 
the little maid back to her stricken people, and, in a 
little time, the plague was stayed, and she healed and 

20 Nantucket 

comforted those who would have died but for her skill- 
ful and kindly help. By her skill, her winsomeness, 
and her sympathy she won the hearts of all the natives, 
and, when the time of her departure came, they begged 
her to remain with them, so that they might show their 

For the boon of Life She gave them. 

Then the brave Autopscot pleaded, not only for his 
people, but for himself, that she should not go from 
them, and he ended by eloquently and fervently de- 
claring his love for her; and Wonoma, deeply touched, 
smilingly replied: 

That because she loved his people 
But more truly loved their leader, 
She would come again among them, — 
Come again to go not from them. 

Later, the friendly and fraternal feeling which had 
long existed between the tribes of Wauwinet and Autop- 
scot gradually changed to feelings of anger and hatred 
in consequence of some petty differences as to the 
dividing line between their respective territories. A 
feud was generated and bloodshed was threatened 
between the contending parties. Wauwinet and his 
braves, in solemn council, had agreed upon a subtle 
plan for overcoming their enemies; but Wonoma had 
overheard the deliberations of the war-council, and 
resolved to save her lover at all hazards. When her 
people were asleep she stole out of her wigwam, and, 
securing a canoe, rowed through the darkness, with a 
prayer in her heart to the Father of all mercies that 
she might be enabled to save him who was now dearer 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 21 

to her than even her own people. Over sea and land 
she hurried on, her feet bleeding and weary, and when 
she arrived at her destination she was completely ex- 
hausted. When she had found him whom her heart 
desired, she told him what she had heard, and leaving 
her in charge of some of the maidens to rest, Autopscot 
called his people together, and bade them to be prepared 
to receive the enemy on the morrow. 

When, next day, Wauwinet and his braves proceeded 
to attack the enemy unawares, and found them armed 
and ready to receive them, instead of imprepared as 
he had expected, he simply turned around, and, with 
his warriors, retraced his footsteps to his own possessions. 

On the following evening, as Wauwinet stood in 
deep thought at the door of his wigwam, an oncoming 
footstep aroused him, and, bending courteously, Autop- 
scot stood before him, and thus addressed the father 
of his love : 

Oh, my father! Oh, most noble! 
Dark have been the days about us, 
And still darker have the nights been ; — 
In our hearts the darkest hatred. 
Hear me speak, Oh mighty father ! 
For the love I bear Wonoma, — 
For the sake of both our people, 
May there not be peace between us? 

Wauwinet 's brow was clouded with anger as Autop- 
scot spoke, but graduall}'- the frown relaxed, and when 
the brave young chief had finished, the elder was silent 
for a time, and thus replied in tones of friendly feeling: 

. . . Oh, my son, Autopscot, 
Great has been the lesson taught me, 

22 Nantucket 

That I, myself, am not almighty, — 

That there is a power beyond me, 

Unto which I have to yield me. 

Great the love I bear Wonoma, 

And if she so truly loves you, 

There should only be between us 

Words and thoughts that are most friendly. 

When Wauwinet had thus spoken, the two chiefs 
grasped each other by the hand in mutual affection, 
and, before they parted, they amicably arranged be- 
tween them the land which had caused their dispute, 
and while pledging themselves to enduring peace, 
Wauwinet gladly sanctioned the union of Wonoma and 
Autopscot. From that day to this peace has reigned 
over and blest the island of Nantucket. 

In his interesting Talks about Old Nantucket, the late 
Christopher Coffin Hussey reproduces a legend of curious 
interest, connected with Abram Quary, the well-known 
Indian half-breed. 

When the great sickness of 1764, elsewhere alluded to, 
carried off the Indians, from some cause, perhaps from the 
action of some deep-lying law of the connection between 
all animal life, the blue-fish, which had been plenty, sud- 
denly disappeared from the waters around the island. 
The Indian said, "When the houses of the red-men are 
laid low, the blue-fish will return." Whether from mere 
coincidence or nature's law it was so. Not far from the 
time of Abram's death, the blue-fish reappeared. 

The writer goes on to say: 

I distinctly remember hearing two men say that there 
had been taken at Madeket that afternoon, two blue-fish, 
the first that, with possibly an occasional exception, had 
been taken for nearly three quarters of a century. 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 23 

Since, with varying seasons, they have always been more 
or less plenty. 

On one occasion, Michabo, the Great White One, 
the Spirit of Light of the Dawn or the East, had 

an offering made to him, (by his subjects on Martha's Vine- 
yard), and, filling his great hopuonk or pipe, he sat down 
in front of his "den, " and enjoyed this huge smoke. After 
taking his fill of this diversion, he turned over the bowl, 
and knocked the ashes from it, and as they were carried 
by the wind to the eastward, they fell in a heap and formed 
the island of Nantucket which was known as the "Devil's 
Ash Heap.'" 


the natives of the Elizabeth islands say that the Devell 
was making a stone bridge over from the main to Nanamesit 
Island, and while he was rowling the stones and placing 
them under water, a crab catched him by the fingers, with 
which he snatched up his hand and flung it towards Nan- 
tucket, and the crabs breed there ever since. ^ 


The date of the original discovery of the island of 
Nantucket by white men is still a moot point, although 
there can be little doubt that many of the adventurous 
navigators of early times sailed past its ocean-laved 
shores, without deigning however, to pay it a visit, or 
preserving a descriptive record for the benefit of pos- 
terity. What does history say about these ancient 

' Mrs. M. A. Cleggett Vanderhoop, in New Bedford Standard, 1904. 

* Memoranda of Naushon, by Wait Winthrop, 1702. For the last 
two legends the writer is indebted to Dr. C. E. Bank's admirable 
History of Martha's Vineyard. 

24 Nantucket 

mariners? Erik the Red, a Norwegian, born a.d. 950, 
and the discoverer of Greenland, was probably the 
first white man who visited the American continent. 

Bjarne Herjulfson, voyaging to Greenland, in 986, 
had sailed too far south, and, in retracing his route, 
sighted land at three points. He did not, however, 
attempt to go ashore. It has been confidently deter- 
mined that the land he saw on each occasion was the 
American coast, and that the first land he observed was 
some part of New England; the second, Nova Scotia; 
and the third, Newfoundland. 

Leif Erikson, son of Erik, left Norway A.D. 1000, 
sailing to Greenland. Having heard of Bjarne's 
experiences, he resolved to investigate the lands previ- 
ously seen by him. He succeeded in discovering New- 
foundland, thence proceeded to Nova Scotia, and finally 
reached New England, where he remained during the 
winter of looo-i He sailed for Greenland early in 
the latter year. 

In what part of New England did he spend the 
winter? On what portion of New England did he 
bestow the name "Vinland"? If an answer had been 
possible to these two questions, much argument and 
speculation might have been spared; but so far no 
correct answer is possible, as there are not sufficient 
facts to warrant a determination of either question. 
It has been surmised and alleged that the island of 
Nantucket was the "Vinland" of Leif, and, perhaps, 
as much has been said about the "basin of the Charles 
River": but who knows? 

Leif is said, and with much probability, not only to 
have visited Nantucket, but to have bestowed the 
name of Nauticon upon it, and, if this is so, it seems 
corroborative that the name Nautican is that applied 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 25 

to the island by Sir Ferdinand Gorges {circa 1630), 
and Na/ztican in Hough's book, under date 1641. In 
all likelihood the name Nauticon was merely a Norse 
approximation to the original Indian name of the 
island, viz.: Natocket, meaning "The far away land," 
or "The far away land at sea" (literally, "The place 
of the land that is far off").^ 

A circumstantial account of Leif Erikson's voyaging 
and of the Norse discovery of America is given in the 
Norse Saga, — the Flate-yar-bok, and the Hauks-bok. 
These accounts were subsequently confirmed by Adam of 
Bremen, in the History of Bremen Church, etc., and in the 
MSS. of numerous historians from the eleventh to the fif- 
teenth century ; but the conjecture is not adequately sub- 
stantiated by facts to warrant a conclusion, and it seems 
impossible in this age to divest the ancient story of the 
cloud of myth and mystery which surrounds it. 

Numerous accounts are subsequently given of Nor- 
wegian and Icelandic navigators who reached the 
shores of America from time to time, but they have 
left no records of importance, and history has profited 
little by their ocean- wanderings. 

From 1347 to 1496 history records little of interest 
concerning voyages to North America, until June 24th 
of the latter year, when John Cabot, commissioned by 
King Henry VII. of England, arrived at Labrador. 
Ridpath declares that "this was the real discovery of 
the American Continent." Columbus never had his 
foot on North American soil, and there is not a shred of 
proof that Amerigo Vespucci made his vaunted voyage 
in 1497, with the exception of his own ipse dixit, which 
can be readily controverted.* 

' H. B. Worth, Nantucket Hist. Assoc, vol. ii., Bull. 6, p. 290. 

= Vide Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America, ii., 137, 142. 

26 Nantucket 

Cabot obtained a patent from the King "for the 
purpose of discovering unknown lands in the eastern, 
western, and northern seas." His son Sebastian ac- 
companied him, and, in 1497-1498, they cruised along 
the coast of America from Florida to Labrador. The 
claim of the English Government to Nantucket, Martha's 
Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands was based upon the 
voyages of the Cabots. 

Nantucket, however, looms out of mythland and 
into genuine history in June or July, 1602. In one of 
these months — it is not certain which — there landed 
upon its shore at Sankaty Head, Bartholomew Gosnold, 
an English mariner, accompanied by some thirty 
sailors, who were en route for Virginia, seeking a new 

In May, 1605, Captain Weymouth is said to have 
"become entangled among the Nantucket shoals," 
and in 1620, Captain Dermer certainly visited the 
island. ^ 


Agamy or Accomac, signifying "land on the other side, 
or beyond the water." The term was apparently 
applied to the plain on the western side of Hummock 

Ahapahant or Ahapachonsett, a tract of land on the 
western side of Squam Pond, referred to in a deed of 
1667. A large Indian village was in its vicinity. 

^ Drake's Nooks and Corners of New England, p. 324. 

* While the large majority of these Amerind place-names is copied 
from the writer's work entitled Dictionary of the American- Indian Place 
and Proper Names in New England, he is nevertheless indebted for aid 
to other sources, and especially to the list compiled by Mr. H. B. Worth 
in Bulletin No. 6, vol. ii., of the Nantucket Historical Association's 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 27 

Aquidness Neck, in the neighborhood of Shimmo, now- 
known as Abram's Point. It was known as Aquitnet 
Point in 1722, and the adjacent land was named 
Aquidnose tract. 

Aqunoonogqutut. a bound-mark mentioned in deed of 
January 9, 1668. It was on the property of Nicor- 
noose, and has been translated as "the hole where a 
stone stands." 

AsHiMMO, same as Shimmo, q. v. It means "a spring." 

AsTiMMOOST tract, mentioned in deed of June 5, 1677. 

BococHico. Main, Federal, and Broad streets bounded a 
section of Nantucket town so-called. It was laid out 
in 1744, and the word probably means "near to or 
next the harbor." 

BoGUE. "The end of Coatue Peninsula, across the harbor 
entrance from Brant Point." — H. B. W. 

Canopache, east end of Nantucket. "A place of peace." 

Chapomis and Chappapemiset, situated between Surfside 
and Tom Never's Head. Chappapemisset was alluded 
to as "the great valley" in 1691; also in a deed of 
July I, 1690. 

Coatue Neck or Coweightuet. This neck and point was 
given to Edward Starbuck by Nicornoose "out of 
free, voluntary love" on January 5, 1660. It was 
called "Coretue" in the deed. It means "At the 
pine- woods" which were then located there. The 
point was also known as Nauma, meaning "Long 
Point." — O. Macy, Coatue is also called "Coddude" 
in a deed of 1690. 

Cocyeania, the name of an unidentified valley mentioned 
in deed of 1687. 

CoNSUE, a name distinguishing some meadows at the south 
end of Union Street. It may mean "a long miry 

CosKATA Pond, and Beach. The name is applied to the 
section of Great Point north of Wauwinet, which 

2S Nantucket 

contains the pond. The derivation of the word is prob- 
ably from aboriginal words signifying "at the broad 
woods, " which are stated to have existed in the locaHty. 
The word has also been written Coskaty and Koskata. 
CoTACKTA or CoTOCHTA represents a tract southwest from 

Wauwinet where there is a large bowlder. 
Hashkinnit-chaopket, a bound-mark of Nicornoose's 

territory mentioned in deed of January 9, 1668. 
Hummock Pond, a corruption for Nanahumack. 
Kachkesset, a tract on the west side of Hummock Pond, 
where John Swain (the proprietor) and his father had 
their first residences on the island. The name means 
"at the beginning." 
Kestokas Field, a tract mentioned in deed of 1715. 
Koskata Head, vide Coskata. 
KoTGET, a term used for Muskeget Island. De Laet's 

map, 1630. 
Lakeutta, mentioned in deed of July 6, 1751. 

Madaket, the west end section of Nantucket, and harbor. 
Maddaket, The word Madaket usually means "bad 
Madaquet. land." 

Maddequet Harbor. 

Madequecham Pond, at east of Surfside, on south shore. 
Maddequecham Pond. 
Mattaquitchame Pond. 
Mattaquitcham, applied to "land at west side of Matta- 

quitcham Pond," 1692. 
Mamre, a tract mentioned in deed of 1690. 
Mana, vide Mona. Spotso's deed, 1692. 
Mardadpoquehy, a boggy tract near Masquetuck. Polpis. 
Mascotuck Neck, west side of Polpis Harbor. This neck 
was reserved by Thomas Mayhew when he sold the 
island to the settlers. The name has been transferred 
from the river flowing into the harbor and means 
"Reed River." 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 29 

Masquetuck, same as Mascotuck, and Quaise. 

Mashquttoohk River. Polpis. "Reed River." Deed 
January 9, 1668. 

Mashquaponitib, a bound-mark of Nicornoose's territory, 

Masquopack or Masquopeck Creek, running through 
Pocomo Meadows. It means "Reed Creek land." 
Deed, 1687. 

Mattaquatcham, same as Madequecham, q. v. Deed, 

Mekinnoowake, a bound-mark of Wauwinet's territory. 

MiACOMET Pond, west of Surf-Side. Means "at the meet- 

Miacomet Village. 

MioxES, two small ponds near Surfside. The word is a 
diminutive of Miacomet, and means " the little meeting- 

MoNA or Moona: vide Mana. A tract "on the 'Sconset 
Road, south of the second milestone." There is "a 
well at Mona" mentioned as a bound-mark in a deed 
of 1692. The word means "deep," and may refer to 
the well.— H. B. W. 

MoNOMOY, a large tract in the vicinity of "the Creeks," 
opposite Nantucket, on the other side of the harbor. 
The word means "black earth or soil." 

fMusKEGAT Island, west of Nantucket. 

JMusKEGET Island. Possibly "place of grass-land." 

MusKEGET Channel. 

Myacomet, same as Miacomet, g. v. 

Nanahumacke. Petty sachem's name. He owned the 
neck which bears his name, of which Hummock 
is a corruption, and it has been transferred to the 

Nanakumas (Gov. Winthrop). 

Nantucket (Natocket). "The far away land," or "the 
land far away at sea." — H. B. W. 

Naphchecoy. Sankaty. (0. Macy.) Vide Sankaty. 

30 Nantucket 

Nashawomank Neck, near No-Bottom Pond. Meaning 
said to be, "an enclosed place in the midst of the 
swamp." — H. B. W. 

Nashayte-Neck, Polpis; also known as Swain's Neck. 
It means "land between two branches of a tidal 

Natuckett. Nantucket. Mass. Bay Col. Rec, vol. iv., p. 

Nauma, another name for Coatue Point. "Long Point." — 
O. Macy. Now called " Great Point." 

Nebadier or Napaneah Pond, east of Surfside. A bound- 
mark, 1668. 

Nobadeer Pond. 

NoPQUE. Smith's Point, at the western extremity of the 
island. It means "the farthest point." It was 
formerly used as a landing place by the Martha's 
Vineyard Indians, who were known as Noapogs or 
Noapx, — meaning "the far away people," — during 
their intercourse with the Nantucketers. 
OccowA Tract. Plainfield, Nantucket. 1752. 
OcCAWA, name of Indian village, and place of meeting- 
Oggawame or Oukawoom. Deed, June 5, 1752. 
Orkawa. Deed, 1751. 

OuGQUAHQUAM. A marshland in Shimmo near bowl- 

Pacummohquah Neck, same as Pocomo. 1662. 

Pasocha Valley, near Chappapemiset : "a detached 
place." July i, 1690. 

Peedee Village, southeast of Sesachacha Pond. 

Penetahpah Creek, near Shimmo. 

Poatpos Creek. Polpis? 1684. 

PocHiCK Shoal, off Siasconset. 

PocHic Rip, off Siasconset. 

PocoY, a tract east of Hummock Pond, signifying "clear or 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 31 

PocoMO, a head and tract northeast of Polpis Harbor. 

"A clear fishing-place." 
PoDPis, same as Polpis. Mass. Hist. Soc. Col. 
PoKAMQUOH Neck. Deed, July 19, 1673. 
Polpis Village, about equidistant from Nantucket and 

Polpis Harbor. 
PoNCAMMOONCOE Neck, Same as Pacummoquah and Po- 

como, 1662. 
Popsquatchet, or Mill Hills, south of Nantucket. 
PoQUOMOCK Neck, east of Nantucket, same as Pocomo. 

Deed, 1671. 
Pquaopuackus, a tract in Gibbs's Swamp. 
Potcomet Tract, same as Pottacohannet. 
Pott ACOH ANNEX Tract. Named after old sachem of 

QuAiSE, another name for Masquetuck, meaning "the end 

or point." 
QuAYZ, same as Quaise. 
QuANATA, a bluff or hill on the east side of Orange Street. 

"A long hill." 
QuiDNET, probably a contraction for Aquidnet or Aquit- 
net. "At the point." It is situated south of 
Sanckatuck, same as Sankaty. Deed, Nov. 3, 1691. 
Sankaty Head, north of Siasconset, where the light- 
house stands. Derivation uncertain. 
Sankoty Head. 

Sachacha Pond, north of Sankaty. Derivation uncer- 
Sasacacheh Village, same as Sachacha. Mass. Hist. 

Soc. Col. 
Sasagachah Pond. Deed, 1745. 
Seanakonkonet, a bound-mark near Toupche Pond. 

. Sesachaca Pond, same as Sachacha. 

32 Nantucket 

Shaukimmo Tract, north shore. — Governor Winthrop. 
Shawkemo Tract, north shore, "middle field of land." — ■ 

O. Macy. 
Shawkemo Hills and Creek. Deed, 1673. 
Shaukimnes, same as Shawkemo. Mass. Hist. Soc. Col. 
Shimmo Point and Shore, same as Ashimmo. "A spring." 
Shimmoah, Indian village. 

Siasconset. "Near the great bone." — H. B. W. 
SisiCKECHAR, same as Sachacha. Deed, 1682. 
Squam, a contraction for Wunnisquam, 1668. It may mean 

"at the top of the rock," or "beautiful water." 

{Squatesit, applied to a place where an Indian meeting- 
house stood. — Governor Winthrop. 
Squotesit. It has not been identified. 
Stirvakenishoos, a spring denoting a boundary at Mas- 
quetuck, 1678. 
Tautemco, the south part of Hummock Pond. 

Tautemeo, "the west sea called Tautemeo." — Z. Macy. 
Tawnatpeinse, a tract near No-Bottom Pond. 

{Tetankimmo, "a spring." — Governor Winthrop. 
Tetaukimmo, "a place north of second milestone on 
Siasconset Road."— H. B. W. 
TouPCHE, a small pond on south shore. 
TucKANUCK Island, west of Nantucket. The original 
word was Petockenock, signifying "a round cake of 
bread." De Laet, 1630. 


Wagutuquab Pond, same as Waquettaquage. Deed, 1671 . 
Wamasquid, an unidentified locality where there was a 

meeting-house in 1674. — H. B. W. 
Wammasquid. — Governor Winthrop. 
Wannacomet, district on north side of island. 1664. 

"Beautiful field." 
Wannasquam, same- as Squam. 1751. "Beautiful water 
or rock." 

Legends and Amerind Place-Names 33 

Waquettaquage, usually applied to a pond, but should 

be a tract. Deed, 167 1. 

Waqutuquaib, applied to ponds north of head of Hum- 
mock Pond. 
Waunashqua, same as Wannasquam. 
Wauwinet, village at head of harbor, named for old 
sachem of district. 
Weecodnoy, the rim of land between Sachacha Pond 

and the ocean. 
Weeweder Pond, at south shore; from its shape, meaning 

"a pair of horns." — Macy. 
Wequitaquage, same as Waquettaquage. A bound- 
mark in 1660. 
Wesko, site of Nantucket town, meaning "a white stone." 

"Indian Bulletin," 1867. 
Wesquo, tract in east section of island. 
WoNNASHQUOON, same as Wannasquam. 


The red-man trod thy hills, 
His thirst slaked at thy rills 

In days of yore; 
His cattle grazed the plain. 
His lowing herds' refrain 
Sounded in mingled strain 

From shore to shore. 

Ofttimes, at close of day, 
He hummed his own low lay, 
Along his sandy way 
Beside the sea: 

' Condensed from Centennial Ode (in memory of Abram Quary), 
by the late Samuel Haynes Jenks. 

34 Nantucket 

Taking his finny prey, 
He feasted daintily 
By the soft evening ray, 
In wildness free. 

Now softly doth he sleep 
Beside the bubbHng deep, — 

The whispering foam; 
His life-work fully done, 
Its battle ably won, 
With dreams of setting sun 

To lure him home. 

Secure he rests from harm 
On the Great Spirit's arm, 

With upturned face. 
Where still at eventide, 
His soul to God alUed, 
He rests in all his pride, 

Last of his race. 

Here the white-crested wave 
Doth in its beauty lave, 

And vigil keep: 
Madly the wild winds rave 
Within each secret cave, 
Where the lone Indian brave 

Sleeps his last sleep. 



A CONCENSUS of modem scientific opinion favors the 
belief that the so-called American Indian race repre- 
sents the autochthonous people or aborigines of the 
great American continent. Referring to the origin of 
the American Indians, Professor Pritchard says: 

The era of their existence as a distinct and insulated 
race must probably be dated as far back as that time 
which separated into nations the inhabitants of the Old 
World, and gave to each branch of the human family its 
primitive language and individuality. 

The origin of the Amerinds of America has still to be 
sought amid the sources of the various races of mankind 
from primeval times. 

The Indian tribes of New England belonged to the 
great Algonquian Confederacy — the most widely ex- 
tended of all the North American Indians, their terri- 
tory stretching along the Atlantic coast from Labrador 
to PamHco Sound, and westward, from Newfoundland 
to the Rocky Mountains. 

The three principal Massachusetts tribes were the 
Massachusetts or Naticks, the Nipmucks, and the 
Wampanoags, the latter under the dominance of Mas- 
sasoit when the Pilgrims arrived, and, at that time, the 
third greatest nation in New England. 


36 Nantucket 

The island of Nantucket, when first settled by the 
whites, was occupied by two tribes whose names have 
not been preserved. One occupied the west end of the 
island, and was supposed to have come from the main- 
land by way of Martha's Vineyard. The other lived 
at the east end, and is said to have come direct from 
the mainland. The two tribes were independent and 
were, at a time, hostile to each other. The tribe which 
came from Martha's Vineyard was subject to the 
Wampanoags. ^ 

With regard to the number of Indians occupying 
the island when the whites arrived the statements vary 
considerably, some writers alleging 3000, others 1500, 
and some still less. There is some difficulty in forming 
a correct estimate, but it is known as a fact that they 
only numbered about 360 before they became victims 
to the epidemic which destroyed so many of them. 

When Nantucket was purchased, in 1659, by the 
colonists, there were two chief sachems, Wanackma- 
mack and Nicomoose (acting probably for Wauwinet), 
and at least two other sachems, Autopscot (or Atta- 
pehat) and Potconet or Pottacohannet, — besides a few 
petty sachems, — governing all the Indians on Nan- 
tucket and Tuckemuck. It may be assumed that at this 
time Wauwinet was old and feeble, and that his eldest 
son, known as Nicomoose, acted as his deputy, inas- 
much as among several of the earliest deeds we find 
Nicomoose signing as sachem, and there are no signa- 
tures by his father. Mr. Zaccheus Macy, in his valu- 
able letter to the Massachusetts Historical Society dated 
October 2, 1792, ^ mentions Wauwinet as living when the 
settlers arrived, but alludes to him as "the old sachem." 

' Handbook of American Indians, vol. ii., p. 26. 
* Vide Macy's History of Nantucket. 

The Aborigines 37 

Among the Indian tribes there were generally one or 
two sachems who controlled all the others. These 
were known as chief or head sachems, and they ex- 
ercised absolute control. Such in Nantucket were 
Wanackmamack and Wauwinet or the latter's son. and 
successor, Nicomoose. 

According to Zaccheus Macy, Wanackmamack's 
territory represented the southeast of the island and 
was bounded by a line running from Toupchue or 
Toupche Pond in the south, northward, roughly to 
Gibbs's Pond, and so over toward Podpis Swamp, and 
then eastward to Sesacacha Pond.^ 

Wanackmamack had one son, Saucoauso or Jeptha, 
who married Eastor. 

Saucoauso had two sons, Cain and Abel. 

Cain had one daughter, Jemima, who married James 
Shay, Shea, or Shaa. 

Abel had two sons, Ben Abel and Eben Abel. 

Wanackmamack died before June 9, 1682, because 
his son, Saucoauso, on this date, "having understood 
that his father Wanackmamack now deceased, had 
granted [to] English pasturage on east end of island, 
also sells same." 

Wauwinet's boundary line adjoined that of Wanack- 
mamack on the north, extending due north to Coatue 
and Nauma, westward to Wesco (now Nantucket), and 
hence almost due south to Weeweder Pond. 

Wauwinet had two sons, Isaac or Nicornoose (also 
known as Nickanoose), and Waupordongga, and one 
daughter, Wonoma, who married Autopscot. 

Nicomoose had two sons, Joshua and Isaac Wau- 
winet, and one daughter, Askommopoo, by his wife. 

' These and the boundaries of the other sachems' property are clearly 
delineated on Dr. Ewer's map of Nantucket. 

38 Nantucket 

Askommopoo married Spoospotswa, known as " Spotso." 

Nicornoose forsook his wife and by another woman 
had two sons, Wat and Paul Noose, 

Joshua Nicornoose was so disgusted by his father's 
leaving his mother that he left home altogether, and 
did not return until after an absence of over fifty years, 
when he claimed his inheritance. This was, after some 
delay, restored to him. 

Autopscot's jurisdiction extended over the south- 
west of the island from Weeweder Pond northerly to 
Monomoy, and then westward to the Popsquatchet 
hills and to Hummock Pond. 

Autopscot had a son, Harry Poritain, or Beretan, by 
Wonoma, his wife, who was the daughter of Wauwinet. 

Harry Poritain had a son named Isaac Masauquet. 

Masauquet had a son named Peter. 

Peter had a son known as Lame Isaac, who ceded 
the last rights of his sachemdom. 

Autopscot had also grandchildren named Tashama, 
of whom more anon. 

Potconet's (or Pottacohannet's) dominions are im- 
certain, and there is some doubt as to their limitations. 
It is at least certain that he was sachem of the adjacent 
island of Tuckemuck, but Zaccheus Macy, in his well- 
known letter, states that his bounds extended from 
Madaket down eastward to Wesko and Capaum Pond, 
thus lying north of Autopscot's possessions, and that 
they also included the western coast. Moreover, Dr. 
Ewer's map — probably based upon the information 
supplied by Macy — delineates the northwestern section 
of the island as having belonged to Potconet; but no 
proof is in evidence, and although it seems reasonable 
to suppose that some sachem must have represented 
this section of the island, no deed has been found to 

The Aborigines 39 

cover it. Macy also asserts that Potconet sold all his 
rights to the English settlers, save those reserved and 
secured to some of the old natives. The sections re- 
served — known as the Hoights and Jafets — were in 
the neighborhood of Wannacomet or Capaum Pond. 

Be this as it may, from a footnote to Hough's -Nan- 
tucket Papers, it appears that, on February 20, 1661, 
Wanackmamack, head-chief of Nantucket, sold to 
Tristram Coffin, Sr., Peter Coffin, Tristram Coffin, Jr., 
and James Coffin, for £10, half of the island of Tucker- 
nuck — one half down, and the other, when Thomas 
Mayhew decides who is the proper owner. 

Potconet or Pottacohannet had two sons, Akeamong, 
or Ahkeiman, and Jacob. 

Why did neither of these sons claim his rights until 
1672 — a period of eleven years? Was Potconet living 
in 1661? These questions have still to be answered, 
although the writer has unsuccessfully sought in every 
direction for a satisfactory reply. 

In the Registry of Nantucket Deeds, under date 
Jime 20, 1672, is the following entry: 

Ahkeiman laying claim to part of Tuckanuck his claim 
thereto is found no other but as he was a duke or principal 
man upon Nantucket; the Nantucket Sachems, together with 
his father, having sold Tuckanuck, it is ordered that he shall 
have such a part or portion of land for his use at Nantucket 
of the present Sachems as will become one of such quality, 
and a portion of the whales. 

On page 211 of the Book of Town Records, dated 
March, 1681, there is a record of a bargain between 
James Coffin, Peter Coffin, John Coffin, and Stephen 
Coffin, and Ackeamong and Jacob, sons of Pottacohan- 
net (Potconet), concerning Tuckanuckett, said Ackea- 

40 Nantucket 

mong and Jacob claiming half of it. The said Coffins 
having delivered them forty acres arable land on Nan- 
tucket and £5, and disclaiming any right to any whale, 
the said Ackeamong and Jacob renounce any claim to 
any part of Tuckemuck, reserving liberty to save their 
whale that may come ashore. 

To this are affixed the marks of Ackeamong and Jacob, 
and the signatures of James Coffin and Stephen Coffin, 
6th of March, 1681. 

Witnessed by William Worth and Richard Pincom 
(Pinkham), and acknowledged on the same date before 
William Worth, magistrate. 

It does not appear, however, why the order of the 
Court made in 1672 was not carried out until 1681 — 
a period of nine years. 

Potconet must, therefore, have died before March 
6, 1681, or his sons could not have made the above 
agreement; if, indeed, he was not dead before 1672, 
when Akeamong made his first claim. 

Some confusion has arisen as to the standing of Nana- 
huma, who signed the first Indian deed with Nicka- 
noose. Mr. H. Barnard Worth' says: 

. . . They (the English) obtained a deed, dated June 
20, 1659, from the Sachems Nickanoose and Nanahuma, 
of a tract comprising the section of Nantucket west of 
Hummock Pond.^ George Nanahuma was the sachem of 
the Indians that lived in this section but Nickanoose held 
some sway over him, and joined in the conveyance. 

With this the writer is in perfect accord, with the ex- 
ception of Mr. Worth's using the definite instead of the 

'Bulletin 3, vol. ii., p. 112, Nantucket Historical Association's 

^ The western half of Nantucket was sold by Wanackmamack, 
February 20, 1661. 

The Aborigines 41 

indefinite article, as indicated in boldface in the above 
quotation. It should read thus: "Comprising a section 
of Nantucket west of Hummock Pond"; and further, 
"George Nanahuma was a sachem of the Indians, etc." 
The force of this will be seen presently. 

There is no deed to prove who was the legitimate 
sachem, if any existed, of the western section of Nan- 
tucket, but a section west of Hummock Pond appar- 
ently belonged to Nanahuma, viz., the neck which 
bears his name, part of the woods to the north of it, 
and he possibly may have had a proprietary interest 
in the large plain farther west. This view is borne out 
in the "first Indian Deed." 

In this deed "the plain" is evidently immediately 
west of Nanahuma' s Neck from the use of the word 
Acamy in the deed ("on the other side of the water"), 
and its locality is further fixed by the description of its 
position, which agrees almost mathematically with its 
exact actual position.' While the writer is sorry to 
differ from Mr. Worth when he says, "the deed of 
Nanahuma indicates that at the time he was sachem 
over the west end of Nantucket," it might as truly be 
said that the co-signer was sachem over the west end 
of Nantucket, which we know he never was. 

It is very probable that Nanahuma was a subsidiary 
or petty local sachem, tributary to Nickanoose, and 
that all the property he owned as a sachem was re- 
stricted within the limitations already indicated. This 
is confirmed by his only subsequent deed, dated June 
24, 1678, by which he disposes of "all his interest in 
the West plains, and to the Neck or long woods" to the 
English. Besides, according to the delimitation of 
the other sachems as already given, none of them 

• Vide Ewer's map. 

42 Nantucket 

interfered with those just mentioned as belonging to 

Indeed, it is doubtful whether Nanahuma at this 
time owned the neck which bore his name, for, on July 
4, 1664, "all the fields belonging to the Neck" were 
sold to the English by Pakapanessa, Jonas Kimmo, and 
Harry, son of Wapakowet, who were probably residents 
of the identical "plain" which was sold by Nanahuma 
in 1659. Moreover, in 1667, we find Nanahuma asso- 
ciated with "Mr. Larry Ahkeramo" and Obadiah in a 
plea to the Court that "whereas the sachems had sold 
the ground they formerly lived on to the English, the 
said sachems would not entertain them on the land 
unsold." Curiously enough, in 1678, we find George 
Nanahuma, alias Cowpohanet, selling to the English 
"all his interest in the West plains, and in the Neck or 
long woods." There verily seems to have been a 
joint stock company in these lands! 

If Potconet had no jurisdiction over the northwest 
section of Nantucket, and if no evidence is in existence 
as to any other sachem holding predominant rights 
over it, may it not be suggested that it was mainly 
divided up into reallotments for the Indians who were 
dispossessed by the requirements of the whites, and 
over whom subsidiary sachems or sagamores were ap- 
pointed, of whom there were several? Of course, this 
is a mere suggestion. 

We talk glibly and deprecatingly of the poor Indians 
as "mere savages," but the annals of American history 
afford but few instances of really nobler men than 
Massasoit, Passaconaway, Samoset, and Wanackma- 
mack, the controlling head sachem of Nantucket. 
Had it not been for the high personal qualities of such 
men New England might not have occupied to-day the 

The Aborigines 43 

proud position which she now holds among the United 

The venerable chief Wanackmamack was not only 
the pride and glory of his insular braves, but the tried, 
true, and loyal friend of the English immigrants. He 
was as kind-hearted and judicious as he was courageous 
and high principled, and he governed his home-land 
so ably and satisfactorily as to justify his memory in 
history as an exemplary ruler. 

Of Wauwinet little is known but that he was very 
old and much respected when the settlers arrived, and 
nothing, so far as I have been able to ascertain, has 
been said against him. 

Nicomoose, his eldest son and successor, has not a 
good record, as he deserted his wife and children, and 
had two children by another woman. 

Beyond the fact that Autopscot was called "a great 
warrior and got his land by his bow," and that he per- 
manently established peace throughout the island, very 
Httle is recorded of him. Nor does history mention 
anything concerning Potconet, the sachem ruling the 
proximate western islands, with the exception of a 
record of the sale of his lands to the settlers, in 1659. 
Such were the rulers of Nantucket when the settlers 

What a revelation the incoming of the whites must 
have been to the red men, who had lived on the island, 
probably from a very early age, among their own people, 
under their own laws, perpetuating their own habits 
and customs — living close to Nature — for the most part 
in peace and amity — simple in their lives, and knowing 
nothing, caring nothing for the external world beyond 

Yet, on the arrival of the new people who had come 

44 Nantucket 

to supplant them, they received them amicably, treated 
them justly, and as they treated one another, relying 
upon what they recognized as the instinctive and in- 
alienable principles of humanity to govern their rela- 
tionships and to promote the mutual good and harmony 
of all. It is needless to inquire as to who first took 
advantage of the racial differences which distinguished 
these two peoples, or how the greater intellectuality 
and experience of the one eventually overcame the 
other, but Time tells the story; and to-day, while the 
whites glory in the beauties of, and the opportunities 
afforded by their island home, where are the poor 
Indians, the aborigines? All gone — melted away like 
dewdrops in the sun, and not even one remains to tell 
the story of their past history! 

When King Philip visited the island in 1665 ^^^ 
tried to induce the natives to join in his contemplated 
war with the English, they emphatically refused to do 
so, expressing themselves as perfectly satisfied and 
desiring to be at peace with the whites. Indeed, at a 
town meeting, on October 10, 1665, Attaychat (Autop- 
scot) "signified that himself with all the Tomokom- 
moth Indians subject to the EngHsh Government in 
Nantucket acknowledge subjection to King Charles II. 
This was done in the presence of Metacomet, alias 
Philip, Sachem of Mount Hop." 

Unfortunately, civilization has too often brought in 
its wake habits and customs which have ever proved 
degenerative, if not destructive, to the uncivilized races 
of the earth, and so they proved to the Indians, who 
were sober, industrious, and happy before the settlers 
introduced among them the iniquitous "fire-water," 
to the abuse of which they fell a prey. Acting under 
its pernicious influence their primitive instincts were 

The Aborigines 45 

aroused within them, and never afterwards were they 
the same people. Discontent soon spread among them, 
and litigation in the courts — to which they had equal 
access with the whites — became so very frequent that 
the records extend from 1673 to 1754. 

It is not alleged that alcohol was at the bottom of 
all these cases, but that it made the natives excita- 
ble, litigious, and dissatisfied is certain, without any 
reference to the misconduct and crime which it often 
prompted, and which frequently resulted from its in- 
fluence. In many cases they found that the courts 
decided against them, and they became discouraged. 
Moreover, they were astounded at the fastly increas- 
ing number of whites on the island (so that offensive 
measures were out of the question) , and as a matter of 
fact they never could be made to understand that the 
execution of a sale-deed of their property involved its 
absolute surrender to the purchaser, however many 
attempts they made to regain their land. 

Mr. Thomas Macy wrote a forceful letter to the 
governor, in May, 1676, as to the pernicious effects of 
drink upon the natives, but every effort made to miti- 
gate the evil by legislative measures failed ; the natives 
who craved for it would sacrifice all they possessed, 
and one way and another they generally found 
means of obtaining it. Fines and whipping were 
inflicted for drunkenness and misdemeanors, but the 
death-penalty was never exacted except in cases of de- 
liberate murder. It is recorded that, between 1704 
and 1769, ten natives were executed for capital crimes.' 

On the other hand it has been stated that Quibby — 
who murdered Harry Gardner — was the first and only 
Indian executed in Nantucket since its settlement by 

' Obed Macy, opus cit. 

46 Nantucket 

the whites. Macy's instances, however, seem well 
substantiated. ^ 

While allusion to such misconduct is made with 
some reluctance yet facts cannot be concealed, although 
the evildoers were always in the minority, but in 
justice to the memory of the natives it must be said 
that perhaps the majority of them were exemplary in 
their lives — many of them pious — and good steady 
husbandmen and craftsmen. As a race they have 
been much misrepresented, and if revengeful, it was 
only when their subduers had treated them cruelly or 

Spirited efforts had been made to introduce Christian- 
ity among the natives, and the results on Nantucket 
were probably more successful than in any other sec- 
tion of New England. Thus Barber (in his Historical 
Collections, p. 448) says: "Soon after the English had 
settled on the island, attempts were made to convert 
the Indians to the faith of the Gospel, and, in course of 
years, all of them became nominal Christians." 

Soon after 1680, all the old sachems who were alive 
when the English arrived had passed away, and their 
successors reigned in their stead. 

As Macy says: "The Indians were instructed in the 
mode of fishing practised by the whites, and, in return, 
the whites were assisted by the Indians in pursuing the 
business." Another writer says: "There is no doubt 
that the Natick Indians hunted the whale in canoes, in 
a manner somewhat similar to that practised to-day by 
the Bow-Headers of the north coast of Siberia." More- 
over, the writer has been personally informed by a 
gentleman of much culture and experience who knows 
as much about the Nantucket whaling industry as any 

' Miriam Coffin. 

The Aborigines 47 

man now alive, that "hunting the whale was well- 
known and long practised by the Nantucket Indians." 
If any further evidence is deemed necessary it may be 
found in the following quotation from Weymouth's 

One especial thing in their manner of killing a whale which 
they [the Indians] call powdawe, and will describe his form, 
how he bloweth up the water, and that he is twelve fathoms 
long, and that they go in company with their King, with a 
multitude of their boats, and strike him with a bone miade 
in the fashion of a harping iron, fastened to a rope, which 
they make great and strong of the bark of trees which they 
veer out after him; that all their boats come about him, 
and as he riseth above water, with their arrows they shoot 
him to death. When they have killed him and dragged 
him to shore, they call all their chief lords together, and 
sing a song of joy, and these chief lords, whom they call 
sagamores, divide the spoil and give to every man a share ; 
which pieces so distributed they hang up about their houses 
for provision, and when they boil them they blow off the 
fat, and put in their pease, maize, and other pulse which 
they eat. 

There can be no doubt that the Nantucket Indians 
joined gladly in the chase of whales, and that they were 
fully as dexterous as the whites, not only in securing, 
but in dealing with the carcasses afterwards. 

The year 1763-64 was, indeed, a sad one for the 
Indians of Nantucket, inasmuch as, from August in 
the former year to February in the latter, they suffered 
from a malignant form of epidemic which, even yet, 
has not been identified, although the probability is that 
it was either typhus or typhoid fever, smallpox or yellow 
fever. Curiously enough, of the English who visited 
them daily, caring for and nursing the afflicted natives, 

48 Nantucket 

not one was affected by the pestilence, which ceased 
suddenly, without previous abatement, on the i6th of 
February, 1764. Before the epidemic broke out there 
were 358 Indians on the island, of whom 222 perished, 
leaving only 136 natives to represent the race.^ 

In 1 791 there were but four male Indians and sixteen 
females left on the island, and in 1809 there were only 
three or four persons of pure blood and a few of mixed 

From 1664 to 1774 the records consist mainly of land 
sales from the Indians to the EngHsh; of complaints 
of one Indian against another, or others in relation to 
land sales, and of controversies about their respective 
claims to whales. Within this period also one re- 
peatedly notices the names of the successors of the 
old sachems, for several generations; but, concurrent 
with these, up to 1754, are the records of many attempts 
on the part of some of the Indians to regain their lands. 

The perusal of these is very interesting, but those 
who may desire to obtain a full knowledge of such 
matters are referred to the ample and careful reports 
given by Mr. Henry B. Worth in the Bulletins of the 
Nantucket Historical Association. ^ 

In 1693 the island of Nantucket, ceded from the 
Provincial Government of New York, was incorporated 
in the Province of Massachusetts. 


Wanackmamack, head sachem of Nantucket in 1659. 
Wauwinet, aged head sachem of northeastern section. 
NicoRNOOSE, successor to Wauwinet. 

' Obed Macy, opus cit. * Vide vol. ii., Bulletin 3. 

The Aborigines 49 

AuTOPSCOT (Attapechat or Attaychat), sachem of south- 
western section. 

PoTCONET (or Pottacohannet), sachem of Tuckernuck, etc. 

Nanahuma, probably a petty sachem. 

Harry, a witness, son of Wapakowet. 

Wauwinnesit, or Amos, second son of Nicornoose. 

Saucoauso, alias Jeptha, son of Wanackmamack. 

Joshua Jethro, eldest son of Nicornoose. 

Wat Noose, bastard son of Nicornoose. 

Paul Noose, bastard son of Nicornoose. 

Masauquet, son of Autopscot. , 

Harry Poritain, alias Beretan, son of Masauquet. 

Isaac Masauquet, son of Harry Poritain. 

AsKOMMOPOO, daughter of Nicornoose and wife of Spotso 
or Spoospotswa. 

Felix Kuttashamaquah, an interpreter. 

Cain, son of Saucoauso, or Jeptha. 

Abel, son of Saucoauso or Jeptha. 

Ben Abel, son of Abel. 

Eben Abel, son of Abel. 

Jemima, daughter of Cain, and wife of James Shea. 

Pakapanessa, Indian associated with Nanahuma. 

Jonas Kimmo, Indian associated with Nanahuma. 

Tequamomany, sold lands to English in 1604. 

Mekowakim, sold lands to English in 1604. 

Peteson, a complainer, 1667. 

Larry Akkeramo, a complainer, 1667. 

Obadiah, a complainer, 1667. 

Wequakesuk, a sachem, 1673. 

Isaac Wauwinet, son of Nicornoose, successor of father. 

Heattohanen, another name for one of Nicornoose's sons. 

Wohwaninwot, another name for one of Nicornoose's sons. 

Cowpohanet, another name of Nanahuma. 

Spotso, son-in-law of Nicornoose, signed also as Spoos- 

Sasapana Will, sold land to the English, 1687. 

Henry Britten, sachem, 1701. 

50 Nantucket 

Eastor, wife of Saucoauso, 1709. 

JosHiAH or Josiah, son of Spotso. 

James Shay, Shea, or Shaa, husband of Jemima. 

Esau Cook, an Indian who sold land, 1742. 

Isaac Woosco, an Indian who sold land, 1745. 

Samuel Chegin, an Indian who sold land, 1747. 

Titus Zekey, an Indian who sold land, 1762. 

John Jethro, a descendant of Nicornoose. 

Abigail Jethro, a descendant of Joshua Jethro, son of 

Jacob, son of Potconet, 1672. 

Ahkeiman, son of Potconet, 1676. 

Desire, or Desiah, a partner of Washaman in whales, 1676- 

Waquaheso, related to Nicornoose. 

Wakeikman, Sessanuquis, Wienakisoo, three associated 
Indians, 1678. 

Nautakagin, a companion of Nanahuma, 1678. 

Quench, an Indian who divorced his wife, 1677. 

Mequash, an Indian with whaling rights, 1678. 

Machoogen, an Indian burglar, 1677. 

Debdekcoat, a fraudulent creditor, 1677. 

Shaakerune, an anti-prohibitionist, 1677. 

Seikinow, a complainer, 1699-1700. 

Titus Mamack, Joshua Mamack, John Mamack, descend- 
ants of Wanackmamack. 

JouAB, descendant of Wanackmamack. 

John Jouab, a disgruntled complainer. 

Jonathan, a disgruntled complainer. 

James Asab, a disgruntled complainer. 

John Tashime (Tashama), a descendant of Autopscot. 

John Jethro, a petitioner. 

Paul Jouab, a petitioner. 

Richard Napanah, a petitioner. 

Solomon Zachariah, a petitioner. 

Naubgrachas, a petitioner. 

Abel Nanahoo, a petitioner. 

John Asab, a petitioner. 

The Aborigines 51 

Barnabas Spotso, sachem. 

James Papamoo, son of Barnabas Spotso. 

John Quass, the choice of Lakedon Indians for sachem 
when they repudiated Ben Abel, the legitimate chief. 

Sanchimaish, a witness to Isaac Wauwinet's will. 

Abram Tashama, son of John Tashama, 1741. 

Old Hannah, a witness. 

Ben Jouab, grandson of Pampason, 1752. 

Memfopooh, a messenger, 1752. 

OowAMASSEN, a witness to Isaac Wauwinet's will, 1670. 

Joshua of Chappoquiddick, same as Joshua Jethro, eldest 
son of Nicornoose, 1706. 

Talagamomos, Keostahhan, Wumoanohquin, Quaquah- 
CHOONiT, witnesses to Nicornoose's will, 1668. 

Ben Joab Pampushom, a claimant to sachemdom of 
Occawa, 1745. 

Peter Tuphouse, witness to Pampushom's petition. 

Peleg Tuphouse, witness to Pampushom's petition. 

David Pompasson, said to have been a grandson of Nicor- 

Samuel Humbrey, a witness to John Jouab's petition, 1752. 

Sarah Nesfield, a squaw. 

W1LLLA.M Cowkeeper. 

Jack Never. 


Tooth Harry. 





Patience, a squaw. 







52 Nantucket 


QuoQUASHA, a squaw. 



Imqueness, Sam, Indian magistrates. 




Damaris, an Indian girl, 

"the last roll-call" of the NANTUCKET INDIANS 

(Copied from a private Indian Register hitherto 

Peter Mica, died March 28, 1801. 

Sarah Gutradge (Goodridge), died April 22, 1801. 

Orra Gethro (Jethro), died June 14, 1799. 

Isaac Tashmay (Tashama), died November i, 1801. 

Abigail Wainer, died November 10, 1801. 

Abigail Quary, died September 30, 1806. 

Mary Squab, died June 28, 1807. 

Abigail Job (Jouab), died October 21, 1808. 

MoACA Job (Jouab), died May 7, 1809. 

Hannah Joel, died August 27, 18 10. 

Abiah Jeffrey, died October 12, 1810. 

Hannah Foster, died July 26, 181 1. 

Sarah Eeese, died February 16, 1812. 

Jemima Tobey, died February 3, 1816. 

Mary Abil, died July 21, 18 17. 

Eliza Rose (or Ross), died January 22, 1818. 

Tabitha Marsh, died March 8, 1820. 

Abigail Jethro, died January 16, 1822. 

Sarah Tashmay (Tashama), died October 8, 1821. 

Molly Morrells, died January 21, 181 7. 

Dorcas Honorable 

The last pure-blooded Nantucket Indian 

Photograph by H. S. Wyer 

The Aborigines 53 

Mary Warracks, died July 29, 1794. 

Abigail Taster (or Tastoo), died April 24, 1808. 

Betsy Goodrich, died July 21, 1838, aged seventy-nine 

Esther Keeter, died March 23, 1803. 
Venus, died December 14, 1789. 
Margaret Hunter, died September 30, 1789. 
Indian Girl, died November 17, 1784. 
Joseph Tobey, died May 22, 1796. 
HuLDAH Reefer, died September 30, 1797. 
Abram Quary, died November 25, 1854, aged eighty-two 

years and ten months. 
Darkis Onerable (Dorcas Honorable), died Friday night, 

January 12, 1855, at the Asylum, aged seventy-nine 

years. Buried from Baptist Church. — The last of 

her race ! 

Petty crimes and misdemeanors on the part of the 
Indians — too often caused by " fire-water " — frequently 
resulted in producing considerable trouble and annoy- 
ance to the proprietors. When the latter found that 
the imposition of fines and the infliction of whipping 
in graver cases were inadequate to permanently restrain 
them, they at length appointed a superior Indian to 
undertake the office of superintendent and local magis- 
trate, and with considerable success. The officer ap- 
pointed was James Shouel, better known as Korduda, 
and he soon became a terror to evildoers, his usual 
procedure being, when one Indian complained of an- 
other, to order both the complainant and the defendant 
to be well whipped. This subsequently became known 
as "Korduda's law," and in many, if not in most cases, 
it was found very effective. He was also in the habit of 
having deHnquents whipped for neglecting the cultiva- 
tion of their com, for drunkenness, etc. 

54 Nantucket 

A few other special Indians are referred to in Zaccheus 
Macy's well-known letter, viz. : " Old ^sop, ' the weaver, 
who was also a schoolmaster; "Old Saul," "a stern- 
looking old man"; Richard Nominash and his brother 
Sampson and little Jethro, who are described as "very- 
substantial and very trusty men"; Zacchary Hoite, a 
minister who told his hearers "they must do as he said, 
but not as he did!" There were also some members 
of the old Hoight and Jafet families, and Benjamin 
Tashama, an Indian of strong individuality, to whom 
I shall now refer in detail. 

Benjamin Tashama, or Tashima, was, perhaps, the 
most noted Indian within the bounds of Autopscot, 
He was a grandson of Sachem Autopscot, and was 
distinguished as a good and worthy man, an esteemed 
preacher, and a successful schoolmaster. 

A portion of the industrious life of Tashima [says the author 
of Miriam Coffin] had been devoted to study; and he had 
succeeded, with infinite labor, in adapting his literary 
acquirements to the language and capacity of his tribe. 
He had nourished the vain hope of preserving the nation 
without a cross in its blood, and the language of his people 
in its pristine purity. It was a magnificent conception! 
The design was worthy of the last, as he was the greatest, 
chief of his tribe. He was the last, because none succeeded 
him; he was the greatest, for he was the most benevolent. 

While few details of his life are known, it is attested 
that he latterly lived on the eastern boundary of Gibbs's 
Swamp, about forty rods northeast of the fifth mile- 
stone on the 'Sconset road. Here, some years ago, the 
cellar of his dwelling still remained, and the large stone 
which formed the entrance may now be seen in the 
rooms of the Nantucket Historical Association. 

The Aborigines 55 

Here Tashama, often called "the last sachem of 
Nantucket," dwelt with his son Isaac and his daughter 
Sarah. Benjamin Tashama died in 1770, His brother, 
John Tashama, was alive in 1754, when he signed a 
petition to the Court. John had one son, Abram, 
mentioned by John CofP.n and Abishai Folger in a 
report dated May 25, 1743. 

Sarah Tashama married Isaac Earop, and on April 
27, 1776, a daughter was bom to them. She was 
named Dorcas Honorable. When this child grew up, 
she became a domestic in the family of Mr. John Cart- 
wright, where she lived for many years, and she died 
in 1855 at the asylum. She was a full-blooded Indian, 
and the very last of her race on Nantucket; and thus, 
little more than two centuries from the discovery of the 
island, passed away the only remaining one of the aborig- 
inal people who had dominated it from time immemorial. 

Abram Api Quady, or Quary, a half-breed, who lived 
in a hut at Shimmo for many years, died on November 
25, 1854, ^^ the age of eighty-two years and ten months, 
respected by all who knew him. He was the son of the 
notorious Quibby, already referred to, and of Judith 
Quary — a half-breed fortune-teller well-known on the 
island at one time. Abram, for obvious reasons, chose 
to assume his mother's name. A fine portrait in oil 
of this dignified old man may be seen in the Nantucket 

It may seem strange that no burial place of the Indi- 
ans has been discovered on the island of Nantucket, 
so far as I am aware. Skeletal remains and a few 
bones have been discovered at one time and another, 
and in various places, but I believe no regular place of 
Indian burial has ever been found. This may be thus 
accounted for, viz.: 


56 Nantucket 

Island Indians usually buried their dead contiguous 
to the coast-line, and the progressive erosion of the 
coast during two centuries may have possibly washed 
such remains into the ocean. This is merely a sugges- 
tion, and as I have but few proofs to offer, I am subject 
to correction. It is probable, however, that the Indi- 
ans buried their dead in the neighborhood of Shawkemo, 
Pocomo, Folger's Hill on the Polpis road, at Quaise, 
beyond the present water-works, and at or near Mia- 
comet. It is recorded that there was a circular burying- 
ground for one of the tribes near the headwaters of 
Lake Miacomet, and that Benjamin Tashama was 
buried there. 

An opinion too generally shared, which regards the 
American Indian race as consisting of mere savages, 
almost inhuman in their ferocity and cruelty, and with- 
out a redeeming feature of any kind, is as untrue as it 
is unjust. They naturally possessed those character- 
istics shared by all unenlightened races of men who 
have been deprived of the elevating influences of civil- 
ization and a high code of ethics, but a careful study 
of their lives and history shows that, according to their 
enlightenment, they were actuated by many virtues 
which, in superior races, count for dignified manhood 
and nobility of mind. In personal bravery and courage 
they had few equals and yet they accepted conquest 
or punishment with a sublime fortitude and stoicism 
which scorned to ask for either life or pardon. Equal- 
ity, freedom, and independence constituted the very 
atmosphere of their being and, in their dealings with 
their own race, the rights of each individual, and his 
personal freedom, were universally acknowledged. 
Judged from our modem standard the principles of 
morality which governed their lives, if of a lower order, 

Abram Quary 
The last Nantucket Indian half-breed 
Photograph by H. S. Wyer~ "^ 

The Aborigines 57 

were yet in keeping with their instincts and their en- 
vironment, and they beHeved that "the crimes of the 
vicious were punished by the disgrace, contempt, and 
danger they ensured for transgressors." 

When all that can be said against the Indians has 
been spoken, it must be conceded that they embodied 
a pure and lofty patriotism, for which they fought and 
died like men and true patriots, and although they 
had to gradually yield up their possessions and their 
homes in the land they loved, and to recede and dis- 
appear before the advancing wave of civilization, yet, 
as De Forest says: "We may drop a tear over the 
grave of the race which has perished, and regret that 
civilization and Christianity have ever accomplished 
so little for its amelioration." 

In the somewhat severe words of Obed Macy, "Their 
only misfortune was their connection with Christians, 
and their only crime the imitation of their manners." 



The purchase of the island of Nantucket, in 1659, 
and its subsequent occupation by the white settlers 
form an interesting section of Massachusetts history, 
upon which much has been written. From time im- 
memorial the island had been inhabited by the abo- 
rigines of the country, and was therefore in a primitive 
and uncultivated condition when the settlers arrived. 
It has been alleged that their motive in selecting such 
an insular wilderness as a colony was to escape from 
religious persecution in their old home across the ocean, 
but such allegations have not been sustained by either 
fact or history, and are now utterly discredited. 
There cannot be any doubt that, mayhap associated to 
some extent with a spirit of adventure, their chief 
motive was really nothing more or less than a business 
speculation. That they were worthy, brave, and 
fearless men cannot be gainsaid, and, as Englishmen, 
they had manifestly inherited the grit and endurance 
which characterize their race. Then they were doubt- 
less impelled by duty to themselves and to their fami- 
lies, and not fear of persecution — golden opportunities 
and radiant possibilities — which had led them out of 
their ancient homes to a new and unknown land. 


The White Settlers and the Settlement 59 

They had seen a vision of hope, freedom, and opportu- 
nity beckoning them to a Httle island in the ocean 
where the white man's foot had seldom trod, an island 
unknown, uncultivated, a wilderness teeming with the 
hosts of a barbaric and uncivilized race. Yet they 
never hesitated. Taking their lives in their hands, 
and with a humble yet sublime trust in God, they 
arrived in safety, — dug their new homes in the hill- 
sides, wrought like men, and prospered accordingly. 

Numbering nineteen persons all told, — a number 
increased to twenty-seven later, — these men became the 
proprietors of the island of Nantucket, divided and 
cultivated the land, and lived with the aborigines in 
peace and amity. In less than a hundred years from 
its inception in 1690, the whaling industry in Nan- 
tucket port became the largest and most famous in the 

Not only one, but many volumes would be necessary 
to chronicle the experiences and achievements of these 
worthy men and their successors, but here a faint 
biographical outline of some of them is all that space 
will permit. 

Facile princeps was Tristram Coffin, a man of 
ancient lineage, a strong will, and dominant person- 
ality whose activities in many directions ensured the 
success of the settlement. He was bom at Brixton, 
Devonshire, England, in 1605, and married, in or 
about 1630, Dionis Stevens, of the same place. Im- 
pelled by a desire, which was very prevalent at the time, 
to visit the New World, and to found new plantations 
there on an agricultural and stock-raising basis, in 1642, 
when he was thirty-seven years old, he emigrated to 
America with his wife, five small children, his widowed 
mother, and two unmarried sisters. Until 1659, he 

6o Nantucket 

lived alternately in Salisbury, Haverhill, and Newbury, 
Mass. In that year, he came to Nantucket, and made 
arrangements for the purchase of the island by a com- 
pany which he organized at Salisbury. He returned 
to the island with part of his family in 1660,' and there 
he lived until his death, which occurred on October 3, 
1 68 1, at the age of seventy-six years. 

During his entire residence on Nantucket he resided 
near Capaum, and for the most part at a house which 
he built, and named "Northam." The interests which 
he and his sons and sons-in-law represented gave him 
power to control to a large extent the enterprises of 
the island. ^ 

He was appointed Chief Magistrate of Nantucket 
by Governor Andros in 1667, and again by Governor 
Lovelace on June 29, 1671. 

Benjamin Franklin Folger, speaking of Tristram 
Coffin's relation to the Indians, says: 

The Christian character which he exhibited, and which he 
practically illustrated in all the varied circumstances and 
conditions of that infant colony is analogous to that which 
subsequently distinguished the founder of Pennsylvania, 
so that the spirit of the one seemed to be but the counterpart 
of the other. 

The names of more than twelve thousand descend- 
ants of Tristram Coffin can be traced. The ramifica- 
tions of the family extend to England, to all the British 
dominions, and to every State of the Union. ^ 

Indeed the Coffin family furnishes an exceptionally 
good illustration of the persistence of fecundity, for 

' Hinchman. 

' Lije 0/ Tristram Coffin, Allen Coffin, LL.B., p. 32. 

3 Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, July 22, 1826. 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 6i 

Tristram Coffin, Sr., had seven children, Peter, his 
eldest son, had nine, Tristram, Jr., had ten, and left 
177 descendants, James had fourteen, John had eleven, 
and Stephen had ten, Tristram's two daughters, 
Mary Starbuck and Elizabeth Greenleaf, each had 
ten children, a total of seventy-one children in his own 
immediate family ! 

Thomas Macy, often described as "the first settler," 
was a native of Chilmark, Wiltshire, England. It is 
stated that he embarked for America "probably in 1635, 
but not later than 1639." He occupied a good posi- 
tion in the old country, where he was much respected 
and prominent. Macy's History says: "He lived in 
Salisbury in good repute for twenty years, and acquired 
a good interest, consisting of a tract of land, a good 
house, and considerable stock." 

The allegation that he was compelled to leave Salis- 
bury, Essex Co., Mass., on account of having harbored 
Quakers, is entirely fictional. He was, however, along 
with a number of others, fined ten shillings^ for "en- 
tertaining Quakers," in contravention of a law that 
was then in force. Furthermore the island of Nan- 
tucket had been purchased and deeded before the 
charge was made, and Macy had returned to Salisbury 
to settle his affairs, and was actually living there in 
1664. In addition to this, in a letter written by Joshua 
Coffin, the historian, in 1831, he says: 

Thomas Macy was a merchant, an enlightened man, and 
much too wise to apprehend any danger to his person or 
property from any person or persons either legally or ille- 
gally. He was certainly a man of fortitude, courage, good 
sense, and education. 

' Joshua Coffin, quoted by Allen Coffin, LL.B., opus cit., p. 26. 

62 Nantucket 

During the time he spent on the island, 1659-61, 
Macy propitiated the Indians, and opened up negotia- 
tions with them on behalf of the other settlers. He 
probably lived with Edward Starbuck, who had built 
a house at Madeket. From 1661 he lived at Capaum 
Pond, near Tristram Coffin. 

Later his services on the island were highly appre- 
ciated. He was the first Recorder on the island and, 
in 1675, was appointed Chief Magistrate. He died at 
Nantucket, on April 19, 1682, aged seventy-five years. 

Edward Starbuck emigrated from Derbyshire, 
England, in 1635, and settled at Dover, N. H. It is 
stated that it was at Macy's suggestion that he left 
Dover for Nantucket. However this may be, it is 
an established fact that he accompanied Macy, with 
his family, Isaac Coleman, and James CofBn on their 
historic voyage to the island, which was accomplished 
in an open boat. Starbuck was a man in easy, if not 
affluent, circumstances who had attained a high posi- 
tion at Dover and an equally exalted reputation for 
worth and probity. He is also represented as having 
been "an active, enterprising man, fearless of danger." 
In 1660, it is said that he returned to the mainland 
where his representations regarding the island induced 
some eight or ten families to remove from Salisbury 
to Nantucket, thus adding to the number in the little 

Edward Starbuck was one of the associate members 
of the proprietary of the island, and he witnessed the 
sachems' deed confirming the sale of the island to the 
original purchasers. His wife was Miss Katharine 
Reynolds, and their son Nathaniel married Mary 
Coffin, the seventh child of Tristram, who was "uni- 
versally acknowledged to have been a great woman." 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 63 

It is recorded that Edward Starbuck died on June 12, 
1690, aged eighty-six years. From his son Nathaniel, 
and his wife Mary, daughter of Tristram Coffin, have 
sprung all the Starbucks in America. 

Peter Folger, one of the eariy settlers, was, in 
many ways, a very remarkable man. A native of 
Norwich, England, where he was bom in, or about, 161 7, 
he fell in love with Mary Morrell, who was sailing in 
the same ship, and married her soon after their arrival 
in 1635. Peter's father and mother accompanied him 
to America. His father, John, had married Meribah 
Gibbs, in England. He died in Martha's Vineyard in 
1660; she died in 1663. 

For a time Peter and his wife lived in Watertown 
but removed to Martha's Vineyard in 1660. Here he 
became acquainted with the Mayhews, and acted as 
their surveyor, while he also discharged the duties of 
pedagogue. He became proficient in speaking the 
language of the Indians on the Vineyard, and in acting 
as an interpreter for those who did not understand it. 
In 1658, he visited Nantucket (in all likelihood accom- 
panied by Tristram Coffin) for the purpose of inspect- 
ing the island, and, in 1663, returned there in order to 
become a permanent resident. 

He later became the most useful man on the island 
of Nantucket as, in addition to a large store of general 
knowledge which he had accumulated, there was little 
in the way of handicraft to which he could not turn his 
skill. Not only was he a surveyor but had officiated 
as preacher and as schoolmaster; he was an excellent 
clerk, and ultimately became keeper of the records on 
the island; moreover he interpreted the Indian lan- 
guage when required, was betimes an author and a poet, 
and acted as miller, blacksmith, and weaver for the 

64 Nantucket 

settlers. His son Eleazer was appointed shoemaker to 
the settlement, and Peter himself was constituted a 
half-shareholder with all the privileges that pertain 
to such a relationship. He died in 1690, and his de- 
scendants, numbering not a few distinguished men and 
women, inherited from this grand old settler the gifts 
and versatility which he possessed in such marked 

His daughter Abiah, the only child of his that was 
born in Nantucket, became the mother of Benjamin 

Another distinguished man must be alluded to who, 
although not one of the original settlers, was persuaded, 
in 1672, to cast his lot among them by the offer of a 
share of land to enable him " to carry on the cod-fishing 
business." His name was John Gardner, a brother of 
Richard Gardner who, since 1666, had been located in 
Nantucket. John had a family of twelve children. 

From his advent he became prominent in all the 
affairs that concerned the welfare of the island, and was 
undoubtedly the most capable man among the English 
settlers. His administrative power was little short of 
genius, and he thrice attained, in defiance of the fiercest 
opposition, the office of Chief Magistrate of the island. 
Ultimately he secured Governor Dongan's patent, 
which made him, with six associates, "One Body Cor- 
porate and Politiq to be called by the Name of the 
Trustees of the Freeholders and Comonality" of Nan- 
tucket. The keenest rivalry for leadership on the 
island was generated between Tristram Coffin and John 
Gardner, and for several years it pervaded opposing 
sections of the people. Although Gardner was success- 
ful in the end, peace reigned betw^een the rival chiefs 
at last, and Tristram, doughty old warrior though he 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 65 

was, before his death forgave Gardner, and alluded to 
him as his "loving neighbor." 

A tie of friendship was also strengthened between 
the two families by the marriage which took place in 
1686, between Jethro Coffin, the grandson of Tristram, 
and Mary, a daughter of Captain John Gardner. • 

In 1699, Gardner was appointed Judge of Probate, 
an office which he held until his death. Bom in Dor- 
setshire, England, in 1624, he died in Nantucket in 
1706, aged eighty-two years. He was buried in the 
Forefathers' burying-ground, east of Maxcy's Pond. 

Christopher Hussey, the son of John Hussey and 
Mary Wood, was born in Dorking, Surrey, England. 
During his earlier years he resided for some time in 
Holland where he fell in love with Theodate, daughter 
of the Rev. Stephen Batchilder. When, in due time, 
he proposed to her, her father would only give his con- 
sent to the alliance on condition that they should both 
accompany him to America, which they ultimately 
agreed to do, arriving in Boston on the ship William and 
Francis, in 1632. 

Christopher Hussey became one of the original set- 
tlers in Hampton, New Hampshire, and from 1636 
went through the various grades of promotion until, 
finally, he was elected as one of the Selectmen. In 1639 
he was made a Justice of the Peace, holding the office 
for several years; later he was appointed Town Clerk, 
and one of the first deacons of the church. In 1659, 
he became one of the purchasers of Nantucket. Later 
on he pursued the occupation of sea-captain. 

From the evidence of Joshua Coffin and the Town 
Records of Hampton, N. H,, there can be little doubt 
that he died on March 6th, and was buried at Hamp- 
ton, March 8, 1686. Although he was not one of the 

66 Nantucket 

resident or active settlers of Nantucket, his eldest son, 
Stephen, to some extent made up for his deficiencies 
by residing in Nantucket, and by marrying a fair 
Nantucketer, Martha Bunker, on October 8, 1676. 
Stephen died on the island on February 2, 171 8, in 
his eighty-eighth year, leaving seven children. 

Stephen Greenleaf was the son of Edmund Green- 
leaf who came to America in 1635, and settled at New- 
buryport, Mass. Stephen was bom in 1630 and married 
Elizabeth Coffin, daughter of Tristram and Dionis 

"He was one of the original proprietors of Nantucket, 
and authority says, 'a religious man.'" He was a 
soldier by profession and had had considerable experi- 
ence in the Indian wars. He was Ensign and Lieutenant 
in 1686, and Captain in 1690. He was also represent- 
ative to the General Court in 1676, a commissioned 
magistrate and overseer of the poor, and a deacon over- 
seer, in Newbury, in 1686, and in 1689 was appointed 
as a consultant "for the conservation of the peace of 
the Country." 

In 1689 he petitioned the General Court for compen- 
sation for repulsing an Indian raid, in which he was 
severely wounded, and it was directed that forty 
pounds should be paid to him "out of the treasury of 
the Province." 

Stephen Greenleaf, with nine others, was wrecked 
and drowned off Cape Breton, December i, 1690. 

Little is known of Robert Pike beyond the fact that 
he was one of the original settlers of Nantucket, — 
that he shared the interest of Christopher Hussey as 
one of the proprietors, and that he was a warm friend 
of Thomas Macy. He was a representative to the 
General Court in 1648-49, and in 1658-59; Captain 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 67 

and Major in 1670; an Assistant in 1682, and a member 
of the Council of Safety in 1689. He was actively 
associated with the settlers of the island "until his 
death, which occurred about forty years after the 

Thomas Coleman probably came to reside in Nan- 
tucket previous to 1673, as it is recorded that during 
October of that year he was "drawn on the jury." 
His name appears with that of Christopher Hussey 
and others in a list of settlers of Hampton, N. H. 

Thomas and Robert Barnard are said to have come 
to America about 1650. Thomas was one of those who 
in 1659 purchased Nantucket. He transferred half of 
his holding to his brother Robert. "Thomas died 
abroad," but Robert came to Nantucket in 1663, and 
died there in 1682. He had a son, John Barnard, bom 
in 1642, who married Bethiah Folger, daughter of 
Peter Folger, and a daughter Mary, who married her 
cousin Nathaniel Barnard, son of Thomas and Eleanor 

Richard Swain came to Nantucket with his second 
wife and family. He had previously lived at Hampton, 
N. H., where he settled after his arrival in America, in 
1635. His second wife was Jane, the widow of George 
Bunker, whom he had married in 1658. "John, the 
son of his first wife, married Mary, daughter of Nathan- 
iel Wier." Richard Swain, Sr., died in 1682. 

John Swain, the original settler, son of Richard, 
resided near Hummock Pond, and ultimately at Polpis. 
His house was standing until 1902, when it was de- 
stroyed by lightning. He died in 171 7.' 

' For a few of the previous biographical sketches the writer is indebted 
to Mrs. Hinchman's Early Settlers in Nantucket, to which he has had 
access through her courtesy. 

68 Nantucket 


The story of the transfer of the island of Nantucket 
from the EngHsh Government to Thomas Mayhew, 
and from him and the Indians to the white settlers, 
has so often been told that a mere summary is all that 
is required here, in order to preserve the continuity 
of the narrative. 

Nantucket was included in the royal grant to Ply- 
mouth Company in 1621, and Lord Stirling and Sir 
Ferdinand Gorges were the Commissioners deputed 
to promote the colonization of the territory, including 
the islands south of Cape Cod. 

Lord Stirling appointed James Forrett as his agent 
in New York for the sale or other disposal of the colony, 
and Forrett sold the island of Nantucket, in 1641 
(when it was under the jurisdiction of the Province of 
New York), to Thomas Mayhew, an Englishman, who 
emigrated to New England in 1631, and who first 
settled at Watertown. Mayhew not only purchased 
Nantucket, and the adjacent islands, but became a 
part proprietor of Martha's Vineyard and Governor 
of that island. He is said to have been a good colonizer 
— always a friend to the Indians, and was the means 
of preventing them from engaging in Philip's war. He 
founded Edgartown in 1647, and from him were de- 
scended numerous missionaries to the Indians, amongst 
whom they had much influence, and spoke the Indian 
language fluently. 

The islands remained in the possession of the May- 
hews (father and son), imtil 1659, when they were 
transferred to ten purchasers, including Mayhew him- 
self (as he reserved to himself and his heirs one 
twentieth part of the property for his own use). 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 69 

From a reliable genealogy of the Coffin family' it 

appears that in the spring of 1659 Tristram CofRn pro- 
ceeded upon a voyage of inquiry and observation — first 
to Martha's Vineyard where he secured Peter Folger, the 
grandfather of Benjamin FrankHn, as an interpreter of the 
Indian language; and thence to Nantucket, his object being 
to ascertain the temper and disposition of the Indians, and 
the capabilities of the island, so that he might report to 
the citizens of Salisbury what inducements for emigration 
thither were offered. 

He was evidently impressed favorably by what he 
saw and heard, for, when he returned to Sahsbury, 
Mass., a company was formed, and the purchase of 
the island determined. In the autumn of 1659 Thomas 
Macy, Edward Starbuck, James Coffin, Isaac Coleman, 
and some of their wives and children sailed in an open 
boat for Nantucket, where they arrived safely, and 
spent the winter of 1659-60 on the island at Madeket. 

In July, 1660, Starbuck returned to Salisbury and 
Amesbury, and induced a number of families to accom- 
pany him back to Nantucket, and as time went on the 
little colony received numerous additions, ^ 

Each of the original colonists was permitted to name 
an associate, so that the island was primarily divided into 
twenty shares, and as the colonists were anxious to add 
to their number, and to induce artisans and mechanics 
to come among them, the number of shares was ulti- 
mately increased to twenty-seven, these including the 
entire island, with the exception of the "common" 
land, and that reserved by Mr. Mayhew for his own use. 

' Vide Godfrey's Island of Nantucket, p. 169. 

= Most, if not all, of the English settlers came from Salisbury, Mass., 
and its neighborhood. 

70 Nantucket 

The first meeting of the proprietors was held at Salis- 
bury on the 26. day of February, 1659, i^i order to take 
in their partners. First, the partner of Thomas May- 
hew was John Smith; of Tristram Coffin, Nathaniel 
Starbuck; of Thomas Macy, Edward Starbuck; of 
Richard Swain, Thomas Look; of Thomas Barnard, 
Robert Barnard; of Peter Coffin, James Coffin; of 
Christopher Hussey, Robert Pike; of Stephen Greenleaf, 
Tristram Coffin, Jr.; of John Swain, Thomas Coleman. 

At the same meeting the above-named persons agreed 
to have ten other partners, who should each have half 
as much land as they themselves, called for that reason 
half -share men. They also agreed that John Bishop 
should have two of the said half-shares. After they came 
to Nantucket they granted the following rights: To 
Thomas Macy one half -share in the year 1663. To 
Richard Gardner two half- shares in 1666; to Joseph 
Gardner one half -share, in 1667; to Joseph Coleman 
one half-share in 1665; to William Worth two half- 
shares in 1662; to John Gardner two half- shares in 
1672; to Samuel Stretor one half-share in 1669; to 
Nathaniel Wier "one half of a sort of a poor one" in 
1667. In the aggregate these shares and fractions of 
shares were equivalent to twenty-seven whole shares. 

Mr. Thomas Mayhew's Deed of Sale is as follows: 

Copy of Deed of Nantucket to Nine Purchasers 
(dated July 2, 1659) 

Recorded for M^ Coffin and M^ Macy afores'', ye Day 
and Year afores^ 

Be it known unto all men by these Presents that I, 
Thomas May hew of Martha's Vineyard, Merchant, doe 
hereby acknowledge that I have sould unto Tristram Coffin, 
Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swayne, 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 71 

Thomas Bernard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleafe, John 
Swayne, and WiUiam Pike that Right and Interest I have 
in ye Land of Nantuckett by Patent : ye w'^'^ Right I bought 
of James Forrett, Gent, and Steward to ye Lord Sterling 
and of Richard Vines, sometimes of Sacho, Gent., Steward- 
Gen®'^ unto Sir Georges Knight as by Conveyances under 
their Hands and Scales doe appeare, ffor them ye aforesaid 
to Injoy, and their Heyres and Assignes forever w*^ all 
the Privileges thereunto belonging, for in consideration of 
ye Sume of Thirty Pounds of Current Pay unto whomsoever 
I ye said Thomas May hew, mine Heyres or Assignes shall 

And also two Beaver Hatts one for myself and one for my 

And further this is to declare that I the said Thomas 
Mayhew have received to myself that Neck upon Nan- 
tucket called Masquetuck or that Neck of Land called Nash- 
ayte the Neck (but one) northerly of Masquetuck ye 
aforesaid Sayle in anywise notwithstanding. 

And further, I ye said Thomas Mayhew am to beare 
my Part of the Charge of ye said Purchase above 
named, and to hold one twentieth Part of all Lands 
purchased already, or shall be hereafter purchased upon 
ye said Island by ye afores'^ Purchas" or Heyres or 
Assignes forever. 

Briefly: It is thus: That I really sold all my Patent to 
y*' aforesaid nine men and they are to pay mee or whom- 
soever I shall appoint them, ye sume of Thirty Pounds in 
good Marchantable Pay in ye Massachusetts, under w'^^ 
Governm* they now Inhabit, and 2 Beaver Hatts, and I 
am to beare a 20*^ Part of ye Charge of y® Purchase, and 
to have a 20*^ Part of all Lands and Privileges; and 
to have w^'' of ye Necks afors'^ that I will myselfe, 
paying for it; only ye Purchasers are to pay what ye 
Sachem is to have for Masquetuck, although I have 
y® other Neck. 

And in witness hereof I have hereunto sett my Hand 

72 Nantucket 

and Seale this second Day of July sixteen hundred and 
fifty nine — (1659) 

Per me 
Tho. Mayhew. 
Witness: John Smith 

Edward Searle. 

Before the legal purchase of the island could be rati- 
fied, it was necessary to secure the sanction of the repre- 
sentative Indian chiefs and this was duly obtained as 
appears from the following deed, dated May 10, 1660: 

Sachems^ Deed of Nantucket 

These presents witness, May the tenth, sixteen hundred 
and sixty, that we, Wanackmamack and Nickanoose, head 
Sachems of Nantucket island, do give, grant, bargain, and 
sell unto Mr. Thomas Mayhew of Marthas Vine3^ard, 
Tristram Coffin, Senior, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, 
Richard Swain, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleaf, Thomas 
Barnard, John Swain and William Pile, all the Land, 
Meadow, Marshes, Timber and Wood, and all appurte- 
nances thereunto belonging, and being and lying from the 
west end of the island of Nantucket, unto the Pond, called 
by the Indians, Waqutuquab, and from the head of that 
Pond, upon a straight line, unto the Pond situated by 
Monomoy Harbor or Creek, now called Wheeler's Creek, 
and so from the northeast corner of the said Pond to the 
sea, that is to say, all the right that we, the aforesaid 
Sachems have in the said tract of land, provided that none 
of the Indian Inhabitants, in or about the woodland, or 
whatsoever Indians, within the last purchase of land, from 
the head of the Pond to Monomoy Harbor, shall be removed 
without full satisfaction. And we, the aforesaid Sachems, 
do give, grant, bargain and sell, the one-half of the remain- 
der of the meadows and marshes upon all other parts of 
the Island. And also that the English people shall have 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 73 

what grass they shall need for to mow, out of the remainder 
of the meadows and marshes on the Island, so long as the 
English remain upon the Island, and also free liberty for 
timber and wood upon any part of the Island within the 
jurisdiction. And also, we, the aforesaid Sachems, do 
full grant free liberty to the English for the feeding all 
sorts of cattle on any part of the Island, after Indian Har- 
vest is ended until planting time, or until the first day of 
.May, from year to year forever, for and in consideration 
of twelve pounds already paid, and fourteen pounds to be 
paid within three months after the date hereof. 

To have and to hold the aforesaid purchase of land, and 
other appurtenances, as aforementioned, to them, Mr. 
Thomas Macy, Tristram Coffin, Thomas Mayhew, and the 
rest aforementioned, and their heirs and assigns forever. 

In witness whereof, we the said Sachems, have hereunto 
set our hands and seals, the day and year above written. 
The sign of Wanackmamack [S] 
The sign of Nickanoose [SI 

Signed, sealed and delivered, in the presence of us 
Peter Folger, 
Felix Kuttashamaquat, 
Edward Starbuck. 
I do witness this deed to be a true deed, according to 
the interpretation of Felix the interpreter; also I heard 
Wanackmamack, but two weeks ago, say that the sale made 
by Nickanoose and he should be good, and that they would 
do so, whatever comes of it. 

Witness my hand, this 17th day of first month, 1664. 

Peter Folger. 
Witness: Mary Starbuck. 
The mark of John (I. C.) Coffin. 

Wanackmamack and Nickanoose acknowledge the above 
written to be their act and deed, in the presence of the 
General Court, this 12th of June, 1667, as attest. 

Matthew Mayhew, 
Secretary to the General Court. 

74 Nantucket 

It is rather curious that this deed, although duly 
witnessed on May lo, 1660, was not confirmed by 
Peter Folger until January i, 1664, and did not receive 
official attestation by the Secretary to the General 
Court until the 12th of June, 1667. 

This deed purchased the island from the original 
patentee and a greater part of it from the Indians, and 
the English are said to have paid twenty-six pounds 
for it. Almost a year before the execution of the above 
deed, however, what is known as "The First Indian 
Deed" was executed by Nickanoose and Nanahuma 
on June 20, 1859. It is as follows: 

This doth witness that we Nickanoose of Nantucket, 
Sachem, and Nanahuma of Nantucket, Sachem, have sold 
unto Thomas Mayhew of the Vineyard the plain at the 
west end of Nantucket that is according to the figure 
under written, to him and his heirs and assigns forever. 
In consideration whereof we have received by earnest of 
the said Thomas Mayhew the sum of twelve pounds. Also 
the said Sachems have sold the said Mayhew of the Vine- 
yard the use of the meadow and to take wood for the use 
of him, the said Mayhew, his heirs and assigns forever. 

In witness hereof, we the Sachems aforesaid have here- 
unto set our hands this 20th of June, 1659. 

The said Acamy lyeth north and by east, and south by west 

or near it. 

Nickanoose, X (his mark.) 
Nanahuma, X (his mark.) 
Witness hereunto: 
Mr. Harry, 
John Coleman, 
Thomas Macy, 
Tristram Coffin. 

During the next hundred years — say from 1664 to 
1774 — the records contain the many transfers of lots 

The White Settlers and the Settlement 75 

of land deeded by the Indians to the English, until, 
indeed, the entire island became the property of the 
white settlers. 

As an example of further deeds the following may be 

January 5, 1660, Nickanoose out of free voluntary 
love for Edward Starbuck gave him "Coretue," which 
was reassigned by Edward Starbuck, August 30, 1668. 

June 22, 1662, Wanackmamack signed a deed con- 
veying a neck of land in the eastern section of the 
island known as Pocomo Neck. This was witnessed 
by the younger Wauwinet, son of Nickanoose, and by 
Peter Folger. The purchase was made by Tristram 
Coffin and Thomas Macy. 

February 20, 1661, Wanackmamack, head sachem, 
sold the west half of Nantucket. 

November 18, 1671, shows that Tristram Coffin 
bought of Wanackmamack and Nicomoose from Mono- 
moy to Waquittaquage Pond, Nanahumack Neck, and 
all from Wesco to the west end of Nantucket. 

June 20, 1682, deed of Nicomoose, sachem, to 
James Coffin, William Worth, and John Swain — the 
grass and herbage of all his lands from Indian harvest 
to first of May. 

And thus the land sales go on, until 1774, when the 
sachems and Indians had virtually sold every spot in 
their possession to the English. 

As Mr. H. B. Worth aptly points out, 

Nickanoose signed deeds only of territory belonging to 
some other sachem; the fact is true of Wanackmamack. 
Neither signed a deed of any portion of the territory under 
his direct control. The sachem Attapehat (Autopscot), 
as far as has been found never signed any deed. 

76 Nantucket 

These facts may be accounted for by assuming that 
these chief sachems thought it beneath their dignity 
to sign deeds conveying their own property while at 
the same time they permitted no deeds to be signed 
without their approval and attestation. This may 
appear a lame suggestion, but it is the best the writer 
can offer. 

The Provincial Governor of New York in 1671 
(Lovelace) thought it desirable to obtain a new deed 
from the sachems, attesting the legality of the land 
sales, and an assurance that the stipulated terms had 
been duly complied with, before issuing a new patent. 
The necessary proofs were furnished in that year by 
Wanackmamack the chief sachem. 

The number of settlers who had arrived from Salis- 
bury in 1660 and 1661 soon began to make themselves 
comfortable in their new and strange environment, 
while the Indians could not but admire the novel type 
of dwelling houses which the newcomers had set up 
in strange contrast with the humble wigwams of the 
aborigines; indeed the new procedure which was being 
introduced in many directions must have caused them 
much surprise. 

For a time the English and the Indians — the civilized 
and the uncivilized — worked together amicably for the 
agricultural development of the island. Together they 
cleared and tilled the land (for the most part existing 
as a primeval wilderness), settling the allotments, cut- 
ting down the timber, which is said to have almost 
covered the island, and mutually performing the nu- 
merous farming operations involved in the reclama- 
tion and cultivation of the soil. In addition to farming 
they engaged also in fishing, in which art the natives 
were expert. Much time was also devoted to the rais- 

The White Settlers and the Settlement ']'] 

ing of sheep, and thus while mutual forbearance was 
exercised, mutual trust was generated, and while the 
settlers acted faithfully and justly with the Indians, 
the latter were equally loyal in the discharge of their 
duties in their new relationships. 

What has been written thus far will, it is hoped, 
serve to illustrate the conditions under which the 
white settlers became established on Nantucket. 

It may be noted that the names of many of the origi- 
nal white settlers are perpetuated in teeming numbers 
among the inhabitants of Nantucket until the present 



When the Indians found that the white men had 
come among them for peaceful purposes and not for 
warfare or to take advantage of them, they received 
the settlers kindly and with every assurance of friend- 
ship and help that they could offer. They were willing 
to work for them, or to sell their lands on fair terms, 
and, on the other hand, the settlers dealt fairly with 
them, and claimed nothing for which they were not 
willing to pay — making no bargains that were not 
strictly in accordance with the law, and not even deny- 
ing the red men permission to utilize part of the lands 
which had been purchased from them, when these 
lands were required for family purposes. 

Notwithstanding much that has been written to the 
contrary, the Indians gave little or no dissatisfaction, 
nor did they prove in any way troublesome until the 
demon rum was introduced among them by the settlers 
themselves. From that hour they began to degenerate, 
and it was the main cause of nearly all their disaffection 
and misconduct, contributing in no small degree to 
their ultimate extinction on the island, as elsewhere. 

That Tristram Coffin was a leading spirit in the 
development of the island will be generally conceded 


The Early Development of the Island 79 

as the statement is supported by history and tradition ; 
and that his strong personaHty gave him a controlHng 
influence in almost every direction cannot be gainsaid. 
Towards the Indians he exercised a uniform kindliness 
which was almost paternal, and they soon learned to 
know, to esteem, and to trust him. In his relations 
with his fellow-settlers, although self-willed, and some- 
times obdurate, he was, nevertheless, conscientious in 
the discharge of every duty, as well as being kind- 
hearted, worthy, and reliable. 

The first care of the settlers on their arrival was to 
provide shelters for themselves and their families. 
This they succeeded in doing by digging cellars on the 
hillsides, or by building log cabins, which served every 
immediate purpose. They had also to examine the 
general conditions existing on the island, to provide a 
water supply, and to clear and divide the land for culti- 
vation. In these various endeavors they received 
valuable help from the Indians. 

In accordance with a plan which some of the settlers 
had previously inaugurated in Salisbury, they resolved 
to divide the island into twenty-seven shares, — one for 
each original proprietor, reserving a certain adequate 
portion for house-lots, and a large area for common or 
undivided land. When Mayhew sold the island, he 
reserved for his own private use about 370 acres at 
Quaise. The entire area of the island, when surveyed 
in 1813, was 29,380 acres, from which were subtracted 
10,993 acres and 69 rods as common land, leaving 
18,387 acres and 22 rods to be divided and laid out 
between 1659 and 1821.' 

The subdivision of shares into what was called Cows' 
Commons was somewhat complex, but I quote the 

' O. Macy, History of Nantucket, p. 24. 

8o Nantucket 

following explanation from a masterly report by the 
late William Hussey Macy, which renders the subject 
easily intelligible: 

A sheep common, as used by the early settlers, signified 
as much land as would furnish commonage or pasturage 
for a sheep. Its original equivalent seems to have been 
an acre and a half of land. In the olden time all the land, 
except such pieces as were set aside for homesteads, and 
designated as "house-lot land," was held in common by 
the twenty-seven original proprietors. Estimating, the 
whole extent of available land in round numbers at about 
29,000 acres, each man's share would be 720 commons for 
sheep. The product of 720 x 27 = 19,440, which represents 
the whole number of sheep commons at the outset. When 
at a later period certain large tracts of land were laid out 
to form "divisions," and designated by names such as 
"Squam," "Southeast Quarter," "Smooth Hummocks," 
etc., each division was divided into twenty-seven shares as 
nearly equal in size as the nature of the case would admit, 
— quality and quantity considered. When these divisions 
were laid out, the number of proprietors was no longer 
twenty-seven, as it was constantly increasing by inherit- 
ance, as well as by bargain and sale, and few individuals 
could claim a whole share in any one of the divisions; but 
each share was supposed to contain seven hundred and 
twenty undivided parts, and each landowner owned the 
same fractional interest in one of these shares as in a full 
share of all the common lands. Lots were then drawn to 
determine in what particular share of the new division 
each man's interest should fall. The share might contain 
one acre or it might contain fifty acres, according to the 
extent of the division laid out; but 720 was the constant 
denominator, and a man who owned, say, forty-five sheep 
commons of the original land, or more correctly ^^4To of 
the common land, would also be the owner of 7^0, undivided, 
of a certain "share in Southeast Quarter"; of a certain 

The Early Development of the Island 8i 

other "share in Squam," and so on in the several divisions 
as they were successively laid out. All the land of the island, 
excepting house-lot land, was owned in this manner, whether 
used for planting or stocking purposes, — the several pro- 
prietors of each share holding it in common and undivided, 
and buying and selling only undivided fractional interests. 
The lands so laid out in divisions were known by the name 
of "dividend lands." 

The proprietors formed themselves into an organization 
under the name of "The Proprietors of the Common and 
Undivided Lands of Nantucket," held meetings, and kept 
records of their own, distinct from the records of deeds. 

For more than a hundred and fifty years, down into the 
beginning of the last century, all the land of the island — 
aside from the house-lot land — was thus owned in common, 
and the proprietors steadily refused to set off any one 
person's interest to him in severalty. 

But these fetters were soon broken by Obed. Mitchell 
and a few others, who, being large proprietors, desired to 
obtain a title in severalty to the district known as Plainfield, 
lying north of the village of Siasconset, and containing 
some two thousand acres. Failing in their efforts at the 
proprietors' meetings, they carried the case to the courts, 
and after several years of litigation they gained their point, 
and others followed their example with similar results. 

In 1 82 1 several tracts were laid out and apportioned 
under the names of Smooth Hummocks, Trott's Hills, 
Head of the Plains, and others, and these are often spoken 
of as the new "divisions." 

By the great set-off to Obed. Mitchell and others, the 
number of sheep commons had been reduced from 19,440 
to 17,172 ; and although there were still twenty-seven shares 
in each division as before, the constant denominator was 
changed from 720 to 636. The owner of 2-0 part of an original 
share of land — provided no part of his interest had been 
sold — would own (or rather his heirs would own) — when 
this statement was made in 1 882 — thirty-six sheep commons 


82 Nantucket 

in the common and undivided lands, with thirty-six sheep 
commons (meaning thirty-six undivided 720th parts) of a 
certain share in each of the old divisions, as Squam, South- 
east Quarter, etc., as also thirty-six sheep commons (mean- 
ing thirty-six undivided 636th parts) in some certain share 
of each of the new divisions, as Smooth Hummocks, Trott's 
Hills, etc. It was possible to buy and sell these interests 
in the "dividend lands" separate from the interest in the 
common land, and thus a proprietor who bought out all 
his co-tenants would own an entire share defined by certain 
specific boundary lines. 

A sheep common, then, signified, 19,440 of all the common 
land on the island. The original idea was an acre and a 
half of land ; but, as the term is now used, it indicates nothing 
definite, either in area or value, but means simply a certain 
undivided fractional part of a very uncertain something 
else, until the whole circumstances of each particular are 

As soon as a division was laid out and drawn in shares, 
the proprietors as an organization, ceased to have any control 
of it. If the owner of any portion of a share desired to hold 
his part in severalty he must make a formal application to 
the judicial courts, which would appoint commissioners to 
set off his portion; and many good titles have thus been 
secured. But in many cases where an undivided interest has 
remained in the same family for three or four generations, 
it has become so subdivided and split up by inheritance 
that it is practically impossible for a would-be pur- 
chaser to find all the present owners, and secure a perfect 
title by deed. ... By a gradual process of cancellation 
or absorption the whole number of sheep commons is now 
brought down to comparatively few, and the quantity of 
common land remaining is very much reduced. The greater 
part of the remaining commons are now in a few hands, 
while a small number of them have been quite lost sight of 
by the process of infinitesimal subdivision caused by death 
and inheritance. 

The Early Development of the Island 83 

According to the records, the first sheep-shearing 
took place in 1696. The western shear-pen was near 
Maxcy's Pond, and the eastern near Gibbs's Pond. 
The last shearing took place near Miacomet, in 1847. 

It may be mentioned incidentally that in 1775 the 
flocks numbered over 15,000 head. 

As to the settlers' farming operations: 

The proprietors commonly plant about twenty-five acres 
of corn to a share, which are 675 acres for the twenty-seven 
shares which are in one field, and will produce on an average 
twelve bushels to the acre: that number multiplied by 675 
gives 8100 bushels. The next year the same land is sowed 
with rye and oats; about eighty-one acres with rye. The 
produce, about six bushels to an acre, is 486 bushels. The 
remainder, 594 acres, is sowed with oats, which produces 
about fourteen bushels to an acre — that is, 8316 bushels. 
On the private farms there are about 200 acres planted 
with corn which will yield twenty bushels to the acre 
and as many acres for rye and oats. 

In addition to the commons there were, as Zaccheus 
Macy points out, various other portions of land, swamps 
and salt-meadows, which w^ere divided among the 
shareholders in proportion to their shares, and these 
were utilized, as a rule, for house-lots, mowing land, 
and pastures. There can be no doubt that the settlers 
found the cultivation of the land sufficiently remuner- 
ative, and that it eventually enabled them to enjoy 
competence and prosperity. But times have changed, 
and we have changed with them! 

Farming, however, did not altogether monopolize 
their time, for the surrotmding ocean teemed with 
almost ever}^ variety of fish, and during intervals of 
labor the settlers were able to supply their households 
and to find recreation in the process; besides, the island 

84 Nantucket 

contained an abundance of wild-fowl and small game, 
which contributed materially to their food resources. 

The population was gradually increasing and indus- 
trial pursuits were soon organized, thus affording 
employment to artisans, while adding to the successful 
development of the settlement. 

The first grist-mill built by the English was erected 
in 1666 or 1667 at Lily Pond, which, at that time is said 
to have covered three acres. Peter Folger was placed 
in charge, but the bursting of the dam seems to have 
put the mill out of commission. About 1676, the second 
mill, a fulling mill, was installed in its place, with Peter 
Folger once more as manager. Subsequently four grist- 
mills were built and operated on the mill-hills, and are 
said to have been kept running until 1822. The first, 
having become useless, was blown up in 1836, in order 
"to prove the practicability of blowing up buildings in 
case of fire." Another was destroyed by lightning in 
1817; a third was taken down in 1873, one of the mill- 
stones being used as part of the foiindation to the 
Soldiers' Monument. The fourth grist-mill was erected 
in 1746, and still remains on its ancient eminence to 
tell of Nantucket's quondam enterprise. It commands 
a magnificent view of the surrounding island. From 
1723 to 1875 there were no less than twelve mills oper- 
ated upon the island. Some were worked by wind, some 
by water; some of them were grist-mills and others fulHng 
mills, and they were placed in various positions through- 
out the island, tending much to its prosperity, and giving 
employment directly or indirectly to many workers.^ 

' Those interested in the subject of Nantucket mills will find many 
interesting details in Mrs. Eva C. G. Folger's volume, The Glacier's Gift, 
to which the writer wishes to express many obligations. Vide Chapter 
XIX in this volume. 













The Early Development of the Island 85 

While cereal and textile industries were thus inau- 
gurated and developed, the islanders had to select 
their house-lots, and build their residences. Some 
writers have asserted that the earliest settlers, includ- 
ing Thomas Macy, built their houses in the immediate 
neighborhood of Madeket, but this is undoubtedly" an 
error, as there is not a shred of evidence to support the 
statement beyond the fact that Edward Starbuck had 
built a house at Madeket, and that Macy resided with 
him during their first winter on the island. On the 
other hand, it is a matter of established history that 
Tristram Coffin made his first home near Capaum Pond 
(where he resided until his death), and that Thomas 
Macy had his house-lot laid out to the eastward of 
Tristram Coffin's near the Wannacomet Pond, in 1661. 
It was, indeed, in this locality that the first village was 
located, viz: in the neighborhood of Hummock Pond, 
and to the south and east of Capaum Pond. In a few 
instances the places where some of the houses stood are 
still indicated by the remains of brick cellars, especially 
in the vicinity of Reed Pond, where it is believed Thomas 
Macy's residence was located. 

At a meeting held at Wannacomet, July 15, 1661, of 
the owners or purchasers residing there, it was agreed 
that each man should have liberty to choose his house- 
lot within the limits not previously occupied, and that 
each house-lot "shall contain sixty rods square to a 
whole share." 

As far back as 1642, the Mayhews, father and son, 
had been trying to convert the Indians to Christianity, 
but it is not generally known that the first house of 
worship erected on the island was built for the Indians 
in 1674, that in this year they had thirty devout com- 
municants, and, at least, three meeting-houses in 

86 Nantucket 

different parts of the island, viz: at Miacomet, at 
Polpis, and at Occawa now known as Plainfield, — 
where every Sunday, and sometimes during the week, 
three hundred of the natives were in the habit of attend- 
ing service. John Gibbs, whose Indian name was 
Assassamoogh (whom King Philip previously sought 
on the island, 1665), was sent to Harvard by Mr. May- 
hew, and, when he was sufficiently educated, he served 
as a preacher to the Nantucket and Vineyard Indians 
for twenty-five years. Pastor Gibbs was assisted by 
three "praying Indians," Joseph, Samuel, and Caleb, — 
the last a sachem's son, whose Indian name was Wee- 

This part of the history of the island has not hitherto 
received the attention it deserves. The noble efforts 
of the Mayhew family to Christianize the aborigines 
are worthy of the highest commendation, and should 
never be forgotten. ' 

The first church, town-house, and jail were, it is 
generally believed, built on the road represented by the 
present West Center and Chester Streets a little to 
the north of No-Bottom Pond, and approximately 
half a mile west from where West Center joins Liberty 

A tradition exists that the "first church" was 
identical with the building now known as "the old 
North Vestry," which was moved to Beacon Hill, 
Nantucket, in 1765, first placed where the Congrega- 
tional Church now stands and eventually, in 1834, 
removed to its present position at the rear of the church. 
Built of island-timber it may have been (although even 

' Many and ample details will be found in Mr. Experience Mayhew 's 
attractive book entitled Indian Converts, and in a valuable addendum 
to that work by Mr. Thomas Prince. 

The Early Development of the Island 87 

this is problematical), but not in 171 1, as indicated by 
an inscription on its gable-end. That it was brought 
from the vicinity of the "first church" there can be 
little doubt, but the following, extract from Judge 
Lynde's Diary, dated at Nantucket in June, 1732, 
when he was visiting the island, shows pretty clearly 
that it could not have been the first church: "Lord's 
Day, June nth; Mr. White preached very well at the 
new-built Presbyterian Meeting-housed This should 
be enough to disprove the allegation that it was the 
original church of the settlers; but, in addition, a careful 
examination of the building itself, fortified by expert 
opinion, proves unquestionably that, although prob- 
ably built some years before its removal, it could not 
have been erected in 171 1, nor for perhaps twenty years 

That the Presbyterians had an earlier meeting-house, 
which was existent in 1725, is evident from the town 
having issued an order to have one of its official notices 
"placed on the door of both meeting-houses," but as 
to what was done with it, or what became of it, there 
is not a vestige of proof to show. 

There is no evidence to show that any regular church 
establishment was in existence before the arrival of 
Timothy White, in 1725; nor had any minister been 
appointed to the charge before that year. In the 
Timothy White Papers,'' however, it is suggested that 
ministers of the Gospel temporarily visiting the island 
occasionally held religious services and ministered to 
the spiritual needs of the people. 

On May 9, 1725, Mr. Timothy White notes that he 
"began preaching the Gospel at Nantucket," and this 
is the first authentic record. Mr. White, although he 

' Page 13, footnote. 

88 Nantucket 

had been educated at Harvard, was not an ordained 
minister, but had been appointed by a religious society 
to serve as the superintendent of religious work among 
the Nantucket Indians, and as a private school-teacher. 
Later he became minister of the congregation of the 
first little church. The first record of the administra- 
tion of baptism is made on September 29, 1728, by 
the Rev. Joseph Baxter of Medfield, and "at that time 
a Covenant is owned." 

Mr. White was appointed minister of the Presbyte- 
rian meeting-house at Nantucket in or about 1732, 
and it is almost certain that no church organization 
existed among the whites until that year or thereabout. 
Mr. White surrendered his charge in 1750, and there 
is no record of any minister having succeeded him until 
1 76 1. "Since that date the roll of Pastors of the 
first Congregational Church has never been incom- 
plete."^ There was formerly a tower on the old Con- 
gregational Church, now known as the "Old North 

Much collateral testimony tends to prove that the 
education of their children was not neglected by the 
settlers, although no public schools were probably 
erected before 1827. There can be no doubt that the 
Quakers had schools from an early period, and that 
there were, contemporaneously, private schools for 
pupils of various ages, supported by the general com- 
munity. It is a matter of record that, as early as 171 6, 
Eleazer Folger was engaged as schoolmaster at the 
rate of "three pounds current money to keep school 
one year"; and from 1725 to 1750, Mr. Timothy White 
acted as a private-school teacher as well as a mission- 

' Dudley's Churches and Pastors of Nantucket, p. 20, and Timothy 
White Papers. 

The Early Development of the Island 89 

ary and a minister. Many private schools existed from 
1800 to 1827. 

There is not a word in the Town or Land Records 
to indicate where the town-house and jail were placed 
prior to 1 716. It has been stated that the original 
meeting-house, jail, and town-house occupied contiguous 
sites, but however probable this may have been, there 
are no known facts to sustain the allegation. Allusions 
are made in the records referring to these three institu- 
tions, records of orders for their erection, for repairs, 
etc., but not in a single instance is there any reference 
to the locality in which the buildings themselves were 

In 1 7 16 it was voted that a town-house should be 
erected and here the location is sufficiently indicated 
to surmise that it was built on the south side of West 
Center Street, north of No-Bottom Pond. This is 
precisely the situation which tradition has always 
assigned to the three original institutions now under 
discussion, but no proof is offered as to whether they 
were erected here or not ; and even in this instance 
there is not a word about either the original jail or 
meeting-house having been placed in or near the same 

In 1783, the town-house erected in 17 16 was moved 
to the comer of Milk and Main Streets, where it stood 
for many years. 

As to the location of the old jail, no facts are forth- 
coming. There is a record to the effect that, in 1748, 
the town voted to sell "the old prison at Wesko to 
William Swain." Twenty years later it was voted "to 
repair the old prison, and build a new one near it." 

The town built a workhouse thirty feet long and 
sixteen feet wide in 1770. Later "the workhouse and 

90 Nantucket 

the new poor-house were on the lot now occupied by 
the jail."' 

Judging from an inscription on the building, the 
present jail in Vestal Street may have been erected in 


In 1665, the redoubtable King Philip visited the island, 
bringing with him a number of natives in canoes. The 
alleged object of his visit was to find an Indian who 
had committed the unspeakable crime of having men- 
tioned the name of Philip's dead father! Philip finally 
found his Indian culprit, and the whites at once offered 
to purchase his liberty; but the sum asked by Philip 
was exorbitant, and beyond their means. However, 
they actually gave him all they could afford, viz: £11, 
which he immediately appropriated. After some bar- 
gaining, Philip remaining obdurate, the settlers at 
last became angry, and threatened that, if he and his 
braves did not leave the island immediately, they would 
rally the inhabitants. The result was that Philip 
became alarmed, and left the island at once, leaving his 
prisoner (John Gibbs alias Assassamoogh) unmolested. 

Civil government was instituted on the island and 
the town incorporated in 1671, when Tristram Coffin 
was appointed Chief Magistrate, with two assistants 
under him, and with Mr. Mayhew, of Martha's Vine- 
yard, and his two assistants, they constituted a General 
Court with appellate jurisdiction over both islands, 
under the Governor and Council of New York. 

In 1672 the first Selectmen were appointed. The 
Board comprised Edward Starbuck, John Swain, John 
Gardner, Peter Coffin, and William Worth. In 1673 
Captain John Gardner was appointed Captain of the 
Military Company for the defense of the island. 

' H. Barnard Worth, Nantucket Lands and Landowners. 

The Early Development of the Island 91 

It was in 1673, also, that the name Sherburne was 
bestowed upon the Httle township of settlers by Gover- 
nor Lovelace of New York Province, under the juris- 
diction of which the island was at this time; but in 
1693, it was once more ceded to the Province of Mas- 
sachusetts by special act of King William III arid Mary. 

Shore- whaling also commenced in 1673. 

Captain John Gardner was appointed Chief Magis- 
trate by Governor Andros in 1680. Tristram Coffin 
died in October, 1681. 

In or about 1700 the little harbor of Capaum was 
turned into a pond by a great storm which blocked the 
entrance, and cut the harbor off completely from the 
ocean as it remains to this day. The islanders were 
thus obviously placed at a great disadvantage for want 
of harbor accommodation, but evidently hesitated to 
repair their misfortune by immediate removal. They 
had been centred in the neighborhood of Wannacomet 
for many years, and were apparently well-satisfied 
with the locality they had selected until a catastrophe 
happened which was beyond their control, and under 
all the circumstances they doubtless felt that, in many 
ways, their interests would suffer by an immediate 
removal. Be this as it may, when they found that 
increasing prosperity would eventually force them to 
seek a new township with larger and more permanent 
harbor accommodation, they at length selected Wesko, 
— now Nantucket — for their future dwelling place. 
The exodus was accomplished in or about 1720. 

The new center commended itself in every way. 
Extensive building operations were carried on, and 
soon the town was flourishing apace. 

The outlook of the settlers about this time was hope- 
ful in the extreme, and the attractions of the island were 

92 Nantucket 

being noised abroad. The inhabitants were increasing 
rapidly; artisans and mechanics had come among the 
islanders in sufficient numbers to ensure the skillful 
execution of handicraft in its various branches, and 
the settlers had added to their resources by engaging 
in cod -fishing, in which the red men were as proficient 
as the whites. A little later, having observed many 
whales disporting themselves about the island, the 
settlers resolved to capture some of these leviathans of 
the deep, and to turn them to their own advantage. 
They secured expert help in order to learn the best 
modes of killing whales, and extracting their oil, and 
Macy tells us that "the pursuit of whales commenced 
in boats from the shore, and increased from year to 
year, till it became the principal branch of business 
with the islanders." 

The Indians joined the whites with much spirit in 
these adventures, and, being good-natured and obedi- 
ent, as well as especially dexterous in every kind of 
sport, they were of the utmost assistance in the manning 
of extra boats. 

It was not, however, until 1690 that the whaling 
industry, which made the island famous, was thoroughly 
organized and established on a business basis. This 
subject is, however, of such importance in relation to 
the progress of the island that a special chapter must 
be devoted to its brief consideration. 

In the meanwhile the dawn of the i8th century found 
the development of the island and its resources in a 
very satisfactory and hopeful condition. The popula- 
tion was increasing rapidly, money was circulating more 
freely, the transfer of nearly all aboriginal lands had 
been arranged with the natives, and the soil had been 
proved sufficiently fertile and productive; the natives 

The Early Development of the Island 93 

themselves were, for the most part, zealously co-operat- 
ing with the whites, the whaHng industry was proving 
a great boon to the islanders, and prospects of still 
greater progress and success were fully assured. 

On the 1 2th of April, 1742, the House of Represent- 
atives voted that 

His Excellency the Captain General be desired to give orders 
that within twelve months there be erected within the Town 
and Harbour of Sherburn on Nantucket a good and sufficient 
Breast- Work, and a Platform built, and six guns, six pounders 
and others equivalent mounted, and all suitable Warlike 
Stores procured, and that the sum of £150 be granted, etc.^ 

The above vote was taken for the purpose of forti- 
fying Nantucket. 

Numerous collateral branches of industry directly 
or indirectly connected with whaling soon became 
essential, and were duly instituted. Thus wharves 
had to be built for the accommodation of an increasing 
fleet of vessels, and that still known as the Straight 
Wharf was erected in or about 1723. From 1772 to 
1775 new industries were established in every direction. 
The first candle factory for the manufacture of sperm 
candles was erected in 1772 and its annual output, at 
one time, amounted to 4,560,000 candles. Large rope- 
walks for the making of whale-lines and every de- 
scription of rope, were constructed; also salt-works, a 
brush-factory, brickworks (at Gull Island), a rum dis- 
tillery, a woollen factory, and many other mechanical 
arts and devices were established. The numerous mills 
which had been erected and were working upon the 
island about this time and other manufacturing indus- 
tries are referred to elsewhere.^ 

• IMass. State Records. » Vide Chapter XX. 

94 Nantucket 

In 1746 the first lighthouse built at Nantucket, 
being the second built in the United States, was erected 
at Brant Point.' For forty-five years a light was 
maintained here by the town authorities until 1795, 
when the government assumed the responsibility. 

In 1764 a Hospital for Inoculation was established 
in Boston, and Dr. Gelston established a branch on 
Gravelly Island. The people, however, soon became 
dissatisfied, and eventually disapproved of the measure 
so strongly that the town was induced to petition the 
government against the practice, and this requisition 
stopped it for a time: but it was resumed in 1778, when 
the people persisted in their opposition, and Dr. Gel- 
ston was refunded for his outlay (£1072.17.6 — old 
tenor), and he was banished from the island. 

In 1775 the present jail was probably erected.^ 

A volume would be required to adequately describe 
the terrible experiences of Nantucketers during the 
Revolutionary War of 1 775-1 784, but beyond a few 
general statements, the briefest reference is all that the 
exigencies of space will permit here. It may be truth- 
fully said, however, that no other place in the Union 
paid a higher price for the independence thus obtained 
than the inhabitants of Nantucket. While their insular 
position laid them open to every kind of attack by an 
enemy inured to warfare for hundreds of years, and 
infinitely superior in numbers and experience, they 
were by the same conditions prevented from making 
any adequate defence, while, for obvious reasons, their 
own country could afford them but little protection. 
The islanders had no choice but to submit to the in- 

' Boston Light was erected in 1715. 

' The adjacent House of Correction was built in 1805, and removed 
from Quaise, with the Asylum for the Poor, in 1854. 

The Early Development of the Island 95 

evitable, and to do the best they could under any 
circumstances that might arise. 

The whaHng industry, on which the vital interests 
of the island entirely depended, ceased, and beyond a 
little risky trading carried on with the West Indies, 
and a little shoal-fishing round the shores of the island, 
all their maritime activities were paralyzed. In ever- 
increasing distress many of the islanders enlisted, others 
ventured on privateer service, and of those who left 
few returned to the island. It soon became impossible 
to import goods of any kind, the supply of fuel and 
provisions was almost entirely cut off, and many of 
those who ventured forth to obtain them were captured 
and imprisoned in the loathsome prison-ships, which 
the islanders dreaded far more than the suffering and 
privations which prevailed to such an extreme degree 
on the island. 

By degrees their pecuniary resources were almost 
expended and rank famine stared the people in the 
face; employment of every kind was at a standstill; 
food was becoming scarce, and fuel could not be pro- 
cured. In the latter emergency the inhabitants were 
driven to utilize peat, scrub-oak roots, and dried bark. 
The Nantucketers became as starving prisoners on 
their own island, for British cruisers infested the Sound 
night and day. Worse than all, perhaps, were the 
repeated threats of the enemy to plunder and rob the 
island; and on one occasion, in 1779, they landed about 
a hundred men, who robbed the islanders of property 
to the amount of £10,666.13.4.' 

In simple justice to the British Army and Navy it 
should be stated that the commanders-in-chief of both 
services, on being petitioned by the Nantucket authori- 

' Macy, History of Nantucket, p. 91. 

96 Nantucket 

ties, sympathized with the islanders and assured them 
that "no further depredations should be made upon the 
island, on property belonging to the inhabitants, by 
persons under the authority of Great Britain," 

But a few months afterwards, it having been falsely 
represented to the enemy that, on the 12th of Septem- 
ber, 1779, the armed schooner. Royal Charlotte, was 
prevented from seizing a Nantucket sloop by "wafts 
and signals" from the said sloop, a squadron of English 
armed vessels was despatched against Nantucket, and 
had actually arrived in Vineyard Haven; and it was 
only after explanations and interviews between the 
representatives of the island and the commanders of 
the royal forces that the matter was adjusted, and the 
war- vessels took their departure. 

Such vicissitudes and embarrassments kept the 
imfortunate Nantucketers in a continuous state of 
anxiety and alarm, but they had found in their isolated 
position that submission was the best test of prudence, 
and that patience under the decrees of Providence 
would in the end ensure their deliverance. 

In addition to the blighting ravages of the war, the 
exceptionally inclement winter of 1780 rendered the 
lot of the brave islanders desolate indeed. Not only 
was the cold intense, but the harbor, as well as the 
entire island, was fast-bound in fields of ice, thus 
cutting off supplies of fish and fuel, while there was a 
dire want of provisions and raiment. All classes 
of the community, however, joined in a mighty co-oper- 
ative effort to prevent the threatening famine, and 
everything that could be suggested was accomplished 
in order to improve the condition of the suffering people 
and to save their lives. Vegetation had been more 
prolific than usual during the preceding year, and the 

The Early Development of the Island 97 

farmers had been enabled to accumulate a surplusage 
of grain and vegetables beyond their own requirements, 
and this was divided among the famished islanders 
without stint; there being thousands of sheep on the 
island, the women spun the wool, and kept those 
dependent upon them supplied with raiment; the pro- 
prietors of the island placed large tracts of land, amount- 
ing to thousands of acres, at the disposal of laborers 
for improvement and cultivation, and the people were 
permitted to dig peat out of the extensive island-swamps. 
From these conjoined agencies, added to the charitable 
organizations of the town authorities, much relief was 
brought to the poorer classes of the inhabitants, but 
the hearts of the seafaring men were ardently longing 
for an opportunity to plow the watery deep once 
more, and efforts in this direction were made by pe- 
titioning and interviewing the British authorities. 
Certain privileges were thus secured which enabled 
the whalers to re-engage in their industry. 

Peace was at length proclaimed in 1784, and, as 
Macy says: "Joy pervaded all parts of the country, 
and was nowhere more heartfelt than in Nantucket, 
for perhaps no place had suffered more."^ 

In 1775, when the war broke out, the aggregate 
tonnage of Nantucket ships was 14,867 tons. During 
the war fifteen ships were lost at sea, and 134 captured; 
total loss in tonnage, 12,464 tons, of which more than 
10,000 tons fell into the hands of the enemy. 

The war had indeed demoralized every industry on 
the island, and while time and the continued blessing 
of peace could alone restore to the inhabitants generally 
their former happiness and prosperity, the poorer 

' It has been stated that 1600 Nantucketers perished in one way and 

another, during the Revolutionary War. 

98 Nantucket 

classes were severely handicapped for years to come, 
while many of the whalers were incapacitated from 
following their strenuous calling after such a lapse of 
activity as they had experienced during the "seven 
years war." Many were the trials made by the island- 
ers to recover from their deplorable condition. Cod- 
fishing was tried, and gave promise for a time, but it 
gradually failed from a variety of causes; agriculture 
languished, because those who had been farmers were 
no longer sufficiently strong or active to carry on the 
necessary operations, and the younger men were dis- 
inclined to engage in it. The whaling industry offered 
the best prospects, and the majority of the men turned 
instinctively towards it, but those who re-embarked 
in it could not make it remunerative, although the 
government had put a bounty on whale oil. The 
English Government held out such inducements to 
whalers, if they would come to Nova Scotia or to 
Milford Haven in the west of England, that many 
Nantucketers left their island home, and this to a great 
extent thinned the ranks of those capable of taking 
arduous sea-voyages and engaging in whale-fishing. 
The industry, however, was spreading in other coun- 
tries, and Nantucketers at length determined not to be 
outdone in a calling which they had made their own ; and, 
although handicapped for a time, they succeeded at last. 

In 1784 the State erected a lighthouse on Great 
Point, and in 1790 the site became the property of the 
United States. 

The first vessel to engage in the pursuit of whales in 
the Pacific Ocean sailed from Nantucket in 179 1. In 
the latter part of May or early in June, 1795, the 
Nantucket Bank was established, and it was robbed 
of over $20,000, on June 20th of the same year! 

The Early Development of the Island 99 

The following is a list of the money stolen, copied 
from an official source: 


400 pieces of French-coined gold $1733 

150 Spanish Pistoles 550 . 

300 English Guineas 1400 

50 English Half-guineas 116 

22 pieces of coined gold called Half Joannes 1 76 
18 " " " " " Quarter Jo- 
annes 72 

In Dollars 12,007 

4430 French Crowns 4,873 


It was in 1795, also, that the name of the town was 
changed from Sherburne to the modem form of its 
aboriginal name, Nantucket. ' 

During 1796 general business depression prevailed, 
and a number of inhabitants sought for better conditions 
elsewhere. Some succeeded in their quest, while 
others might have done better if they had remained at 

Reverting to the exodus of the islanders to other 
places, from time to time, on account of abandoned 
hope, if not actual privation, it should be mentioned 
that, as early as 1 761-2, a large number of Nantucketers 
migrated to Nova Scotia; in 1771-75 nearly fifty fam.i- 
Hes removed to New Garden, Guilford, North Carolina; 
a little later, with the idea of bettering their fortime, 

' An appropriation of about $900 was made in 1796 for the purpose 
of building a school, but the writer has found no other record concerning 

100 Nantucket 

many of them effected a settlement on the Hudson 
River, New York. After the Revolutionary War, in 
1786, mainly through the instrumentality of Mr. 
Rotch, the well-known Nantucket shipowner, a large 
contingent of whalers were induced to go to Dunkirk, 
in France. Still later, between 1835 and 1849, a 
further exodus took place to Maine, New York, Ohio, 
and California. These emigrations depleted the island 
of whalers to a great extent, and doubtless contributed 
to the failure of the whaling industry on Nantucket. 

From time to time the question has frequently been 
asked "Was Nantucket ever heavily wooded?" As 
far as can be ascertained, while undoubtedly possessing 
in certain sections clumps or groves of trees at an early 
period, the island was yet never what may be termed 
afforested. Trees of various kinds, but especially of 
white oak, grew at Coatue, Coskata, on the cliff, — near 
the O'Connor and John Gardner houses, — at Dead-horse 
Valley, in the "Plains Country," and here and there 
over the island; but by 1780 these trees had, for the 
most part, been cut down and utilized by the settlers, 
so that after this period it could scarcely be said that 
any extensive growth of trees was in existence. In 
some of the island swamps tree-roots of good size have 
been dug up occasionally, but these simply testify 
that the trees of which they had formed part had been 
used for building and other purposes by the white 
proprietors before 1780. 

Although well-authenticated, it is not generally 
known that, between 1 790-1 800, a whipping-post stood 
at the comer of Main and Gardner Streets, and that a 
woman named Polly Walmsley was here publicly 
whipped — her outstretched arms being tied to the back 
of a cart. 

The Early Development of the Island loi 

In 1798 the islanders were in fear of being implicated 
in the troubles between France and the United States, 
and were filled with gloom and anxiety as to the possi- 
bilities of another war. Although these forebodings 
were, fortunately, not fully realized, the resources of 
the island suffered to the extent of $150,000.' 

Fresh anxiety and alarm were felt concerning the 
safety of Nantucket ships around the Horn during the 
next year, but happily these fears were groundless, for 
although the Nantucketers had little confidence in the 
Spanish authorities, the ships proceeded safely after a 
few days' detention at St. Mary's. 

Between the War of the Revolution and that of 18 12, 
a formidable fleet of privateers infested the high seas. 
In 1793, when there was warfare between France and 
England, the United States was the leading neutral 
maritime nation. England foresaw that American 
shipping would soon dominate the Mediterranean if 
means were not taken to prevent such a contingency, 
and, as a check, pirates were loosed upon the Atlantic. 

On May 9, 1793, the French Government authorized 
the seizure of "all neutral vessels which shall be laden 
wholly or in part with food-products and destined for 
an enemy's port." This action was the cause of what 
has since been known as the "French Spoliations" 
of the American merchant marine, giving rise to a 
multitude of claims, which were finally settled by 

England was acting in defense of her maritime su- 
premacy, and was, therefore, bound to oppose all possi- 
ble rivals of that supremacy, and, food being scarce in 
France, she determined to stop all food-laden ships 
bound for that country. 

' Alexander Starbuck. 

102 Nantucket 

Spain also, in her privateering enterprises, seized 
scores of American ships, and under one pretext or 
another many were carried into the ports of Denmark 
and Sweden from piratical motives alone. But it 
should be remembered that despite all this, in 1880, 
America possessed 667,107 tons of shipping engaged in 
foreign trade.' 

The Nantucket streets were first named in 1797. 

The closing years of the century passed away amid 
alternating hopes and fears; but, notwithstanding 
their many discouragements, the islanders still looked 
forward hopefully for better fortune in the new era 
upon which they were entering. 

* Spears's American Merchant Marine. The Macmillan Co., 1910. 


the nantucket whale fishery 

By Alexander Starbuck 

The prosecution of the whale fishery from the little 
island of Nantucket was an undertaking that might 
well have been a matter of pride for any community 
or any nationality. Such was the skill and daring of 
the islanders in this pursuit that they carried their 
employment, hazardous enough under the most favor- 
able aspects, to an extreme that seemed audacious, 
and won the plaudits even of those who were their 
rivals in the business. 

What England and France were unable to accomplish 
with a monopoly of trade and heavy bounties, whale- 
men of the United States carried on successfully with- 
out assistance from their government and in the face 
of all competition. Among the foremost were the 
seamen of Nantucket. Their keels vexed every sea, 
and the American flag floated from the mastheads of 
their ships in every port. Pushing their pursuit into 
unknown seas, large numbers of the islands of the 
Pacific were discovered, and their locations determined 
by these pioneers of the sea. At once producers and 
factors, their trade extended from China in the west to 


104 Nantucket 

the shores of the Mediterranean in the east ; and they 
traded as well in the teas and silks of the Orient as in 
the fruits and wines and manufactured goods of the 
Occident. They brought as curiosities the dresses of 
the Esquimaux and the weapons of the natives of the 
Pacific islands; the trinkets of the Japanese and the 
natives of the lands bordering Behring's Straits, and 
the papyrus books of the people of India. At home, 
when peace reigned, the people were all busy, happy, 
and prosperous, the warehouses were crowded with 
goods, and the streets thronged with teams and foot 
passengers. At the wharves lay a large fleet of vessels 
taking in or discharging cargoes or refitting for new 
voyages. The cheery din of the coopers' hammers and 
the ring of the blacksmiths' anvils resounded on all 
sides, the sail-lofts, the shops of the riggers, and the 
"walks" of the rope-makers were occupied by the 
multitudes that the demands of the shipping gave 
employment to. In a thousand ways the activities 
of a prosperous business showed themselves. But 
all this is now changed. The ships long ago sailed on 
their last voyages from Nantucket. 

Not an ocean on the face of the globe but holds in its 
embrace the shattered remains of a portion of her fleet, 
while the surviving portion hails from other ports. 
The tools of the mechanic are silent, and the bustle of 
traffic no longer crowds the streets. The wharves are 
deserted, decaying, or decayed, and the warehouses 
have long been vacant and closed. 

To a native of Nantucket, it is a sad sight to thus 
see Ichabod written on her desolate places ; to look upon 
the ruined wharves and storehouses, and to see even 
the "toilers of the sea" themselves look old and 
weather-beaten; to see them rapidly nearing that port 

The Nantucket Whale Fishery 105 

in which the anchor will be cast never to be weighed 

Of the early history of whaling at Nantucket, much 
is involved in obscurity. In common with all the 
hardy settlers of the New England coast, those here 
must have paid early attention to fishing, since it 
aiforded one of the — by no means numerous — methods 
of subsistence to the first comers ; and to men inured to 
the sea, and appreciating the value of a pursuit which 
had already brought a goodly recompense to the Bis- 
cayans, the Dutch, and the English, it was natural that 
with the waters adjacent to their island teeming with 
the gigantic mammals, they should soon have turned 
their attention to the pursuit and capture of the whale. 

On the records of the town, under date of June 5, 
1672, appears the draft of a proposed agreement be- 
tween one James Loper of the one part and the proprie- 
tors of the island of Nantucket of the other part. As 
this is the first recorded recognition of whale-fishing 
in the history of our island, it may be a matter of interest 
to the reader, and is in these words: 

5th. 4th. mo. 1672 James Lopar doth Ingage to carry on 
a design of whale Citching on the Island of Nantuckket, 
that is the said James Ingages to be a third in all respeckes, 
and som of the Town Ingage also to carrey on the other 
two thirds with him in like manner, the Town doth also 
Consent, that first one Company shall begin and afterward 
the rest of the freeholders or any of them have liberty to 
set up another Company Provided that they make a tender 
to those freeholders that have no share in the first Company 
and if any refuse, the Rest may go on themselves, and the 
Town do also Ingage that no other Company shal be al- 
lowed hereafter ; also whosoever Ivil any whale of the Com- 
pany or Companys aforesaid they ar to pay to the Town 

io6 Nantucket 

for every such Whale five Shillings — and for the Incorrage- 
ment of the said James Lopar the Town doth grant him 
Ten acres of Land in som convenant place, that he may 
Chuse in, (wood Land exceped) and also Liberty for the 
Commonage of the Cows and twenty sheep and one horse 
with necesary Wood and water for his use on Conditions 
that he follow the Trade of whaleing on the Island two 
years in all the season thereof, beginning the first of March 
next insuing. Also is to build upon his land, and when he 
leaves Inhabiting upon the Island then he is first to ofer 
his Land to the Town at a Valluable price, and if the Town 
do not buy it — then he may sel it to whome he please — 
the commonage is granted only for the time he stays here. 

But although this would seem at first glance to imply 
that Loper took up his abode among the islanders, 
there is no proof that such was the fact. One James 
Loper (or Looper) was a resident of Easthampton on 
Long Island, and carried on the business of whaling 
at that place; but there is no evidence that up to 1678 
he had left there, for at that time he was still a tax- 
payer in that town. Nowhere else on the Nantucket 
records, neither in the proprietors' list of grantees 
forwarded to New York in 1674, nor in the record of 
lands "layd out by the land layers," is his name men- 
tioned, nor does the document just quoted appear to 
be signed. In the absence of such evidence, which 
must have existed had he removed to the island, we 
must conclude that he had no share in giving to the 
islanders instruction in the art that subsequently made 
them world-renowned. 

According to the account of Macy {History of Nan- 

the first whaling expedition in Nantucket was undertaken 
by some of the original purchasers of the island ; the circum- 

The Nantucket Whale Fishery 107 

stances of which are handed down by tradition, and are 
as follows: 

"A whale of the kind called 'scragg,' came into the 
harbor and continued there three days. This excited the 
curiosity of the people, and led them to devise measures to 
prevent his return out of the harbor. They accordingly 
invented and caused to be wrought for them a harpoon, 
with which they attacked and killed the whale. This 
first success encouraged them to undertake whaling as a 
permanent business, whales being at that time numerous 
in the vicinity of the shores." 

The date of this expedition does not appear. Our 
judgment would be that it was prior to 1672, however, 
and that the proposed agreement with Loper was a 
result of it. 

"In 1690," writes Zaccheus Macy in a communica- 
tion to the collection of the Massachusetts Historical 
Society "the Nantucketers, finding their neighbors on 
Cape Cod more proficient in the art of killing whales 
and extracting the oil than themselves, sent thither 
and employed Ichabod Paddock to remove to the 
island and instruct them on these points." It is prob- 
able that the removal was made, and that Ichabod 
proved a good teacher; we know that he had apt pupils. 

The early stages of whaling on Nantucket did not 
require either large vessels or elaborate equipment. 
So numerous were the whales that boats were sufficient 
for the former and for the latter such "craft" as could 
be easily and cheaply made was all that was necessary. 

For the purpose of systematizing the work, the 
southern shore of the island was arranged in four dis- 
tricts, to each of which a crew of six was assigned; the 
business as a whole being, however, carried on in com- 
mon. Near the center of each division, or about three 

io8 Nantucket 

and one half miles apart, was erected a mast provided 
with cleats, which was used for the purpose of a look- 
out. Nearby was built a temporary hut for the pro- 
tection of all excepting the one whose station was on 
the lookout. When the man at the masthead observed 
a whale spouting, the alarm was given, the boats were 
manned and launched, and the chase commenced. A 
capture made, the whale was towed ashore, and the 
oil-producing parts were removed in a similar manner 
to the custom on shipboard. Try-works were erected 
on the beach and the blubber, which had been cut and 
sliced, was subjected to the process of trying out. 
These try-works were used for many years after shore- 
fishing had ceased as a constant pursuit; the blubber 
of the whales captured at sea being cut up and stowed 
into casks on board of the vessels, and removed to the 
try-works and the oil extracted after they returned 

According to Macy's History, the first sperm whale 
known to Nantucket people was found on shore dead; 
and the discovery, according to the account, created 
quite a sensation. In 1712 Christopher Hussey, while 
cruising near the island for "right" whales, was blown 
some distance offshore, and falling in with a school 
of sperm whales, killed one and brought it home. The 
discovery of Hussey gave a new turn to the business, 
and small vessels of about thirty tons' burden were 
fitted out for deep-sea whaling. These vessels were 
fitted out for cruises of about six weeks' duration, and 
carried a few hogsheads, — enough probably to hold 
the blubber from a single whale, which having obtained 
they returned home; the owners taking charge of the 
blubber and trying out the oil, the vessels sailing again 
on another voyage. 

The Nantucket Whale Fishery 109 

In 1 715 six sloops were engaged in this fishery from 
Nantucket. Five years after this, Paul Starbuck, in 
the ship Hanover, WilHam Chadder, master, made the 
first shipment of oil from Nantucket to England, the 
vessel sailing from Boston to London. 

In 1723 the Straight Wharf was built for the better 
accommodation for the vessels which were demanded 
by the necessities of trade and fishing. 

In 1730 twenty-five whaling vessels, of from thirty- 
eight to fifty tons' burden each, were owned at Nan- 
tucket; the returns being about 3700 barrels of oil, 
worth £3200. 

It was not far from the year 1 726 that the high- water 
mark of shore whaling was reached at Nantucket. In 
that year eighty-six whales were taken by boats from the 
shore. From that time this mode of whaling declined, 
and that of carrying on the pursuit by means of vessels 
increased. As the boats had been manned in part by 
Indians, so the crews of the vessels contained many 

In 1732 Davis Strait was visited by whalemen, prob- 
ably from Cape Cod, and we may be sure that the sea- 
men of Nantucket did not long delay following this 
example. It is difficult to prove, however, at what date 
trips to that locality commenced. Among the entries 
and clearances at Boston in 1737 are several to and 
from the strait. Among the names are many familiar 
to Nantucket. In 1745 our people loaded a vessel 
with oil and sent her direct to England. From this 
beginning grew a trade that eventually became world- 
wide, — France, Russia, Spain, the nations bordering 
on the shores of the Mediterranean, even China con- 
tributed in turn directly to the prosperity of our little 

no Nantucket 

Matters continued to progress favorably, on the 
whole, with our whalemen down to the commencement 
of the Revolution. French and Spanish privateers 
had captured some of our vessels, and one time forced 
them to abandon the northern fishery ; but these troubles 
were of short duration, and of little comparative import- 
ance as affecting the general thrift. 

The Revolution found Nantucket with a fleet of 
150 vessels with an aggregate burden of 15,000 tons, 
manned by 2025 men and producing 30,000 barrels 
of sperm and 4000 barrels of whale oil. Her seamen 
were familiar with the Atlantic Ocean from Davis 
Strait to the coasts of Guinea and Brazil. The cur- 
rent of the Gulf Stream was as familiar to them as the 
harbor of their island home ; and the first man to describe 
upon a chart that now well-known body of water was, 
so far as history informs us, Captain Timothy Folger 
of Nantucket. 

Every effort was made by the best friends of the 
colonies in England to avert war; and it was in the 
debates in Parliament, in 1775, upon the adoption of 
severe measures towards the colony of Massachusetts 
Bay, that that speech of Burke's so familiar to the 
people of Nantucket, in which he so warmly eulogized 
those engaged in the fisheries, was delivered. 

During the Revolution, Nantucket was the only 
port from which any attempt was made to carry on the 
whale fishery, and from here the work was carried on 
under the most discouraging circumstances. No com- 
munity in the colonies was so hard pressed as was that 
of Nantucket. The Colonial Government was utterly 
powerless to protect them, and the island itself was 
indefensible, even had the people been disposed to 
protect themselves. By far the larger portion of the 

The Nantucket Whale Fishery iii 

population were of the sect of Friends and abhorred 
war as a matter of religious faith. All provisions, fuel, 
clothing, the outfits for their vessels, everything that 
was needed for their sustenance, had to be brought to 
the island ; if they imported nothing, they must perish ; 
if they procured their supplies from colonial "ports, 
they traded with rebels, and the British seized their 
vessels; if they got their supplies from foreign markets, 
they were smugglers, and they became a prey to colo- 
nial armed vessels and boats. Thus they struggled 
through the terrible seven years of war. Realizing 
the straits to which the islanders were reduced, the 
Colonial Government relaxed the rigors of their laws 
as much as was possible, and beyond a doubt closed 
their eyes to many things which, under other circum- 
stances, they would have punished. 

It would be extremely interesting, did space permit, 
to follow closely the history of the fishery during the 
Revolution, but the limits assigned to this article make 
such a narration impossible. 

At the earliest moment after peace had been declared, 
when safety rendered it expedient, the ship Bedford, 
Captain William Mooers with a load of four hundred 
and eighty-seven butts of oil, was despatched to London 
and to this ship belongs the honor of having been the 
first vessel to hoist the American flag in any British 
port. ^ 

Recovery from the disasters of the war was slow. 
The principal market for oil was in England ; and to 
shut off the importation from America, Parliament 
passed an alien duty of £i8 sterling a ton. Although 

' F. C. Sanford, Esq., informed the compiler that this was February 3, 
1783, and that she arrived at Nantucket from London May 31, 1783, 
her entry at the custom house at the time being in his possession. 

112 Nantucket 

the General Court of Massachusetts, in response to 
the petitions of the people of Nantucket, declared a 
bounty, it did not permanently remedy the trouble. 
So heavy was the pressure brought to bear upon Nan- 
tucket by the adverse circumstances immediately 
succeeding the Revolution, that large numbers of her 
hardy mariners and wealthy merchants were compelled 
to leave the home endeared to them by so many happy 
associations, and seek in foreign countries the recom- 
pense for their toil and their investments that they 
were unable to obtain in the United States. Some of 
them settled in Nova Scotia, some in England, and 
some in France. To the English and French fisheries 
there sailed a large number of officers and men who 
once found a home on Nantucket. 

Following closely upon the stagnation resulting 
from the Revolution came the troubles with France, 
in which Nantucket suffered to the extent of nearly 
$150,000. Then again came complications with Eng- 
land early in the nineteenth century. Scarcely had a 
slight gain been made, and the business again become 
remunerative, when the War of 18 12 occurred. A large 
portion of Nantucket's fleet of forty-six whale-ships 
was then at sea. The first of the fleet captured was the 
schooner Mount Hope; in rapid succession came the 
tidings of the capture of ship after ship, until one half of 
the number besides smaller vessels, had fallen a prey 
to British cruisers. Some were taken on the return 
voyage within sight of the island. The miseries and 
deprivations of the Revolution were repeated ; the same 
struggle for existence was maintained against the same 
terrible odds. In February, 1815, came the tidings of 
peace, and again our islanders essayed to restore their 
shattered fortunes. The first vessel to return to any 

The Nantucket Whale Fishery 113 

port in the United States with a cargo of oil after the 
last war was the sloop Mason's Daughter , which after a 
six weeks' voyage returned to Nantucket on the 9th 
of July, 1 815, with one hundred barrels of oil. 

Recovery from these disasters of 18 12-15 was rapid. 
In December, 1820, Nantucket possessed a fleet of 
seventy- two whale-ships (aggregating 20,449 tons), 
besides brigs, schooners, and sloops. 

In 1 8 19 occurred the accident to the ship Essex of 
Nantucket which has always been accounted one of 
the most singular and direful that has ever happened 
to a whaling vessel. An enraged sperm whale attacked 
and sunk her, and her crew were obliged to make a 
journey of three months' duration, and about 2000 
miles in extent in frail, shattered whale-boats. But 
eight of the crew of twenty men survived to tell of the 
terrible perils and privations of their voyage. 

In 1824 occurred another memorable disaster to the 
crew of a Nantucket whaling ship. The crew of the 
ship Globe mutinied, killing the superior officers and 
some of the men. But eight of the crew returned alive 
to Nantucket to tell this tale of horror. The others — 
those who were not killed by the mutineers — were 
massacred by the natives of the Mulgrave Islands, 
to which place the vessel had been taken by the 

The business of whaling from Nantucket reached 
its culmination in 1842 when eighty-six ships, and two 
brigs and schooners belonged to the port, having a 
capacity of 36,000 tons. From this time the pursuit 
from Nantucket declined. Losses from a terrible 
visitation of fire, the stampede for the gold mines of 
California, the scarcity of whales, the expense of fitting 
and increased dangers of the Arctic fishery, the decline 


114 Nantucket 

in the value of the product, the discovery of petroleum, 
— all served to cause the downfall of whaling, not only 
in Nantucket, but in other ports. In 1869 the last 
whale-ship sailed from the port of Nantucket; and the 
business, so far as the island's interest is concerned, 
is a thing of the past. Nantucket's mariners now sail 
from other ports, and the stories of their skill and daring 
are stories of by-gone years. 



" Nothing is more difBcult of explanation than the strength and moral 
influence often exerted by obscure and uneventful lives." — John G. 

The sect known as Quakers was founded in England, 
by George Fox, about the middle of the seventeenth 

It has been stated that the name Quakers was first 
applied to them in 1650, when George Fox was brought 
before the magistrates of Derby, and he having told 
them to "quake at the name of the Lord," one of the 
magistrates, Gervose Bennet, an Independent, caught 
up the word, and, as Fox himself said, "was the first 
to call us Quakers." 

Without any definite creed of religious faith, the 
essential principle of their belief was that an inner 
Light "lighteneth every man that cometh into the 
world." This formed the basis of the sect's organiza- 
tion, and constituted its moral and intellectual claims 
for adoption. This inner light was a free gift from 
Heaven which dowered every individual bom into the 
world, and every soul was responsible for its recognition 
and development, while its directing influence was the 
unerring guide to the interpretation of the Holy Writ. 


ii6 Nantucket 

In the seventh year of Fox's preaching (about 1650) 
there were more than sixty preachers following in his 
footsteps, but their peculiar views subjected them to 
persecution in every direction. As early as 1647 Fox 
had traveled twice to America — at that time little 
better than a wilderness — and during the two years of 
his sojourn was frequently maltreated, and suffered 
persecution and privations innumerable. He was 
beaten by a mob and left for dead. Abuse of every 
sort, imprisonment in the loathsome jails of that time, 
exposure, lack of decent food, all failed to touch his 
indomitable spirit; yet, in after years. North America, 
became the stronghold of the sect, numbering, as it 
did, at one time, over 100,000! 

In 1656 two Quaker women — Ann Austin and Mary 
Fisher — came to Boston — but they were regarded as 
witches, imprisoned, and later banished from the 
country. In 1650, three men and one woman were 
subsequently hanged for their fanatical zeal. It is 
further stated that 

the persecutions inflicted upon Quakers, during the first 
forty years of their existence, have hardly a parallel in the 
history of the last two centuries. Bad as are many of our 
prisons now, they are places of comfort compared with the 
loathsome dungeons of the 17th century. In these pesti- 
lential cells there were confined at one time more than 
4000 Quakers. 

It has been estimated that there were in the world 
200,000 Quakers during part of the nineteenth century, 
more than one-half of which flourished in the United 
States. Principally, it may be inferred, to escape 
persecution a number of Quakers became domiciled 
in the quaint, freedom-loving island of Nantucket, 





■ ^B^^^9 



^Hl' Aj^ « ^^k 



f^^^^^ *^aa||^Bp|H|H 



*^ J 





^>i\»fiiiH|E* ***"„".■■'. "'"^B 



t . -^'-'f' 


An Old Friend 
Photograph by H. S. Wyer 

Quakerism in Nantucket 117 

early in the eighteenth century, but, although they 
met some opposition, they were never maltreated as 
they had been on the mainland. 

As early as 1664 (as appears from an original official 
document never utilized before), Jane Stokes, from 
England, was the first "Friend" that visited the island. 
In 1698, Thomas Turner, from England, and Thomas 
Copperthwaite, from Long Island, both Quakers, 
visited Nantucket. 

Thomas Chalkley, an Englishman, arrived in June 
of the same year; also John Easton and Joanna Mott, 
from Rhode Island. In 1699 came Ebenezer Slocum, 
Jacob Mott, and his son, from Rhode Island. 

In 1700 (from which year, the writer essays to faintly 
trace the history of Quakerism in Nantucket), Thomas 
Story arrived from England, and John Butler from 
Ireland. From this time forward, the leaven of the 
new doctrine began to work, and gradually propagated 
itself. Several other visiting Friends arrived in the 
meanwhile from England and various parts of the United 
States. Thus, in June, 1701, Thomas Thompson from 
England, and Jacob Mott, with Walter Clark, from 
Rhode Island, came amongst them, as did also, during 
July of the same year, John Clark, from England, and 
Susannah Freeborn and Ruth Fry, from Rhode Island. 
Between 1701 and 1708 the following visiting Friends 
arrived : 

April, 1702: Jedediah Allen, from New Jersey; 
Thomas Cornell, from New Jersey; John Richardson, 
from England ; James Bates, from Virginia ; Jacob Mott, 
from Rhode Island; Susannah Freeborn, from Rhode 
Island; Peleg Slocum (first visit), from Dartmouth. 

June, 1703: John Kinsey, from England; Richard 
Gove, from England; John Hussey, from England; 

ii8 Nantucket 

Ephraim Hicks, from Rhode Island; Peleg Slocum 
(second visit), from Dartmouth. 

1704: Thomas Chalkley, Richard Harper, Mary 
Slocum, from England. 

April, 1705: Samuel Bownas, Mary Banister, from 

July, 1705 : Ann Chapman, from England ; Hugh Cop- 
perthwaite, from Long Island ; Peleg Slocum (third visit) , 
from Dartmouth ; William Anthony, from Rhode Island. 

January, 1706: John Fothergill, celebrated London 
physician; William Comstead, from England; John 
Smith, from Philadelphia; Susanna Freeborn, from 
Rhode Island; Hope Borden, from Rhode Island. 

June, 1706: Joseph Man ton, from Rhode Island; 
Ephraim Hicks, from Rhode Island; Mary Lason, from 
England; Esther Palmer, from Rhode Island. 

1707: Jacob Mott and wife, from Rhode Island. 

It was fortimate for the success of the new religious 
movement that it received its first impulse from such 
zealous and eloquent preachers as Thomas Chalkley, 
who arrived in 1698, Thomas Story, who came in 1700, 
and John Richardson, who followed them in 1702. 
These three Englishmen were stalwart upholders of 
the new faith — well-versed in all its details, while pos- 
sessing enthusiastic temperaments, persuasive tongues, 
and rhetorical experience — and their meetings in 
Nantucket were not only well attended, but effective 
and highly appreciated by the islanders. There was 
an undercurrent of opposition to their peculiar views 
at first, but it never became aggressive, and was con- 
fined almost entirely to the official authorities, while 
no repressive measures were instituted. Little by 
little the tenets of the new religionists influenced the 
minds and hearts of the Nantucketers. 

Quakerism in Nantucket 119 

In 1 70 1, at the age of fifty-six, principally through 
the preaching of Story, Mary Starbuck became inter- 
ested in the faith of the Quakers, and no event could 
have been better calculated to give a great impetus 
to the new movement which had already been inaugu- 
rated, for, from that time, she took the spiritual concern 
of the whole island under her special superintendence. 

Mary Starbuck was the seventh child of Tristram 
Coffin — the mother of four sons and six daughters — 
a woman of strong magnetic personality and extra- 
ordinary administrative ability, who had a judicial 
mind, clear understanding, and possessed a genius for 
participating in public, social, and domestic duties. 
She was withal a fluent and impressive speaker, and the 
whole island looked up to and consulted her in all 
matters of importance. She became one of the most 
celebrated preachers among the Friends, and gained 
many converts by her stirring and heart-touching 
addresses. In her own home she had a large room, 
known as the "Parliament House," and here the 
meetings took place during four years. 

In April, 1708, the Quakers were fully established 
in Nantucket, and in this year they sought communion 
(by means of a petition to the Rhode Island Yearly 
Meeting) with some "Quarterly Meeting," and to have 
a yearly meeting of their own. The latter was duly 
established. They evidently became affiliated with 
the Rhode Island and Sandwich Quarterly meetings, 
and a special note in an unpublished official return 
states that "the first quarterly meeting held at Nan- 
tucket was on the ist of the seventh month, 1782." 
Be this as it may, from 1708 the sect gained so rapidly 
that, in 171 1, they secured a lot, serving for meeting- 
house and burying-ground, and built their first meeting- 

120 Nantucket 

house a little to the southeast of the ancient burial 
ground; and in 1717 they were obliged to enlarge this 
by adding twenty feet more to its length. 

Mary Starbuck died on December 13, 17 19, and her 
death was a serious loss to the community. 

In or about 1720, the town was moved from Wanna- 
comet to Wesko — the present Nantucket — and the 
Quakers, still increasing, resolved to build a new and 
larger meeting-house in the new town, which they 
accomplished in 1731, at the comer of Main and Sara- 
toga Streets, in the space still known as the "Quaker 
Burial Ground," and here the Friends held their meet- 
ings and flourished for over sixty years. 

Still increasing rapidly in numbers, and finding their 
second meeting-house inconvenient, owing to its remote 
situation, the Friends once more, in 1792, determined 
to build a still larger house on the comer of Main and 
Pleasant Streets, and, in the building of this, much of 
the material of the former house was utilized. It was 
a spacious building of two stories, fifty-six feet long 
and thirty-eight feet wide, and, owing to its size, had 
on several occasions been used as a courthouse, and 
also for holding the annual meetings of Nantucket 
Friends, added to those of adjacent or affiliated centers. 

In the autumn of the same year (1792), they erected 
yet another meeting-house — the fourth — in order to 
accommodate the northern members. This was situ- 
ated on Broad Street, but was not so large as that on 
Main and Pleasant Streets. The membership was 
divided between these two meeting-houses, according 
to locality of residence, and up to the end of the eigh- 
teenth century, both houses were filled with large con- 
gregations, each being active, vigorous, and flourishing. 
A Nantucket monthly meeting was not established 

Quakerism in Nantucket 121 

until 1794; and the monthly meeting was the real source 
of power among the Friends. 

During this period, the success of the Quaker organ- 
ization reached its climax, and the elders had secured 
a hold upon the islanders such as no other religious 
denomination had ever acquired. They professed that 
although in the world, they were not of it, and therefore 
despised and spurned every form of worldliness, al- 
though in this matter they were frequently inconsistent. 
They were rigidly economical, and were opposed to a 
paid ministry, or to the slightest extravagance in 
outward attire, as a principle, and they had no sym- 
pathy with anything calculated to make earthly life 
either happy or even pleasant; but they were absolute 
in their self-righteousness, unnatural in their formal- 
istic aceticism, and as time wore on they tightened their 
authoritative grasp upon all concerned. 

Their form of church government consisted of a 
select committee comprising the "unco guid" in the 
community and connected with each meeting-house; 
monthly meetings for business and religious purposes; 
quarterly meetings, at which the agenda of monthly 
meetings were further discussed, and to which all 
matters concerning the monthly meetings were reported ; 
and yearly meetings, at which the combined power and 
wisdom of the organization considered and determined 
the discussions, findings, and suggestions of the various 
quarterly meetings "for the good of the order." 

From a Hst of English and off-island Friends who had 
visited the society at Nantucket from 1698 to 1845 — 
the year when the "sorrowful division" took place — it 
appears that Thomas Chalkley, from England (later 
of Philadelphia), visited the island four times, viz: in 
1698, 1704, 1713, and 1737. 

122 Nantucket 

Phebe Nichols, afterwards wife of James Newbegin, 
in June, 1746. 

John Woolman, in June, 1747. 

Samuel Fothergill, Esq., in 1755. 

Elias Hicks (subsequent Reformer), 1793. 

John Wilbur, of Hopkinton, Reformer, 1818, 1829, 
1836, and 1839. 

Joseph John Gumey, of Norwich, England, Reformer, 

Curiously enough, one of the visitors in 1793 was 
Benedict Arnold of Smithfield. The name of Lucretia 
Mott does not appear at all, either on the visitors' 
list, or on an official "List of Female Members of 
Nantucket Monthly Meeting," dated "8th month, 


Before the end of the i8th century, when the popu- 
lation of the island was 5617, nearly one-half of this 
number belonged to the Society of Friends. 

It may here be in order to glance rapidly at some of 
the intrinsic causes which, originating early in the 1 8th 
century, became gradually more potential during the 
19th century, and ultimately broke up and completely 
disintegrated the Society of Friends in Nantucket. 
A few of these can only be outlined here in the faintest 
manner; but fortunately Henry Barnard Worth has 
ably described the strife and subsequent divisions which 
hastened the decline of Quakerism on Nantucket 
during the last century of its existence, in one of the 
Bulletins of the Nantucket Historical Association' to 
which the attention of all interested in the matter is 
specially directed. 

For some years after the beginning of the 17th cen- 
tury the Quaker organization was flourishing on the 

' Papers of Nantucket Historical Association, vol. i., bulletin i. 

Quakerism in Nantucket 123 

old lines although their members had been thinned by 
an exodus from the island, by the War of 18 12, and by 
the institution of more popular sects. Symptoms of 
cleavage had also manifested themselves, arising from 
austere and uncompromising discipline, but in 1827-28, 
a great schism, which arose in the Philadelphia yearly 
meeting, almost disrupted the organization, and caused 
a permanent division in the American branch of the 
society. The orthodox party protested against the 
heretical teaching of Elias Hicks, which threw doubt 
upon the absolute divinity of Christ, and the full 
meaning of the Atonement, while the Hicksites pro- 
tested against unwarrantable interference with the 
liberty of individual belief. The division was, however, 
restricted to the Friends on the mainland, and did not 
affect Nantucket until 1830. 

Elias Hicks was a farmer in Long Island, and had 
for many years been a Quaker preacher, with a well- 
deserved reputation as an orator. In 1830, a preacher 
representing Hicks's views came to Nantucket, and 
those who sympathized with his views succeeded in ob- 
taining a meeting-place; so successful were his efforts 
that many of those who heard him, — including a number 
of those who had hitherto been staunch supporters of the 
orthodox sect, — were convinced by his preaching, and 
broke away from the original organization. Popular 
interest in the society gradually declined, and the 
membership of the sect was by degrees becoming less 
and less. On May 13, 1829, it was thought advisable 
to close one of the two meeting-houses which had been 
in such a flourishing condition at the beginning of the 
century, and accordingly the house in Broad Street, 
which had been instituted to meet the convenience of 
the northern section of the society, was dissolved and 

124 Nantucket 

the remnant of members was transferred to the older 
meeting-house on Main Street. 

In 1833, the Hicksites, who became affiliated with 
the Westbury Quarterly meeting of Long Island, pur- 
chased a lot on Main Street on which in 1836, or 1837, 
they erected a large meeting-house where they met 
during several years, but with gradually decreasing 
congregations, until finally the building was sold. 
After its sale it was known as Atlantic Hall, and was 
used for various secular purposes. 

In 1833, also, the orthodox Friends resolved to re- 
move from their meeting-house on Main Street, which 
was no longer convenient, and, having purchased a lot 
on the west side of Fair Street, they erected, on the 
southern part of it, a large two-story building, which 
was opened for worship during September of that year. 
A little to the north was another building, which was 
utilized as a school-house. 

The old meeting-house on Main Street was sold 
and removed to Commercial Wharf as a warehouse.' 

Up to 1845 the orthodox Friends continued in the 
old paths, but in addition to other influences their 
rigorous disciplinary code was gradually reducing their 
membership more and more. 

For a number of years previous to 1832 a new schis- 
matic movement had been gradually spreading itself 
among the members of the society generally through 
the teaching of Mr. Joseph John Gumey, an educated 
Englishman who, although belonging to an old Quaker 
family, introduced the study and interpretation of the 
Bible into the sect, as the sole guide in religion, instead 
of entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Gurney's 
powerful and persuasive pleading made him very 

' H. B. Worth. 

Quakerism in Nantucket 125 

popular in England, as well as in America, and gained 
him many adherents, and in him the orthodox Quakers 
recognized an iconoclastic opponent far more dangerous 
than Hicks had been. Matters came to a climax in 
the New England Yearly Meeting at Newport, in 1845. 
After thirty years of a severe struggle, and although 
the American Friends had appointed John Wilbur of 
Hopkinton, R. I., as far back as 1838, to oppose Gumey 
and his heretical propaganda, Gumey had carried every- 
thing before him in Great Britain, and every meeting 
he addressed had approved not only his preaching but 
his teaching. In New England, however, the bitterest 
contest was waged, and the Friends became divided 
into Wilburites and Gumeyites. Nantucket favored 
the Wilburites and stood out for the essential of the 
old Quaker faith; and when the division took place in 
the Nantucket meeting the majority was found to 
favor the Yv^ilburites, — the only section which had 
remained faithful to the old principles throughout 
New England. 

A decision of the Supreme Court with regard to a 
division of property favored the Gumeyites, who 
demanded from the Fair Street Friends their meeting- 
house, records, and other property in accordance with 
the decision. To this demand no reply was given. 

The Gumeyites therefore sought temporary quar- 
ters, and on New Year's Day, 1846, had made arrange- 
ments for securing Atlantic Hall, where they continued 
to meet until November, 1850, when a new meeting- 
house, which they had been building, was ready for 
occupation, on Centre Street. Here they remained 
until 1866, when all their property was transferred to 
the New Bedford Monthly Meeting, and their last 
meeting was held on January 10, 1867. This building 

126 Nantucket 

is now a part of the "Roberts House" property and is 
used as a dining-room in connection with that hotel. 

The orthodox members, or Wilburites, after 1845, 
struggled on with varying success until 1863, when the 
society was weak and dwindling. Under these cir- 
cumstances they deemed it advisable to sell their 
Fair Street meeting-house, but the Centre Street 
representatives put in a claim against it, and would not 
allow the property to be sold without their permission. 
At length by mutual concessions it was arranged that 
the deed of sale should be signed by both parties and 
it was ultimately sold and carried off the island. The 
north part of the property was repurchased by the ortho- 
dox Friends, and the building that had been used as a 
school-house was remodeled into a meeting-house in 1864. 

Only one member of the Nantucket orthodox Friends 
resided in the town in 1894, ^.nd as there were only 
twenty-three persons in the Nantucket Monthly Meet- 
ing altogether, it was therefore determined to sell the 
meeting-house, and, in June of this year, it became the 
property of the Nantucket Historical Association, who 
still hold it as part of their premises. 

Beginning about 1700, and flourishing for a century, 
—at the end of which their membership amounted to 
thousands, — at the end of another century their last 
members, William Hosier, in 1899, and Eunice Paddock, 
in 1900, both died, and to-day there is not a single 
representative living in Nantucket. Such a history 
as this surely conveys a useful lesson, which cannot 
be better formulated than in the following apt and 
forcible words by Mr. Henry B. Worth: 

... If they had established a better proportioned the- 
ology; if they had not obscured or undervalued any portion 

Quakerism in Nantucket 127 

of Divine Truth, wherever revealed ; if they had abandoned 
their discipline and allowed the laws of the land to deal 
with offenders ; if, instead of expelling members for trivial 
offenses, they had exercised towards them a wise charity; 
if, instead of maintaining their society as an organization 
composed of men and women who never departed from 
rectitude, it had been regarded as a portion of the Church 
of Christ, in which were men and women of every degree 
of moral acquirements; if their beautiful system of sim- 
plicity had been built on the rock, and not on sandy 
foundations they might have been as vigorous to-day as 
they were a century ago.^ 

There can be little doubt that, in proportion to its 
numbers, no other sect has so influenced public opinion 
as the Quakers, and it would be difficult to find a parallel 
under similar circumstances to their active and practical 
philanthropy. The consistent purity of their lives, 
and their united protest against immoraHty in every 
form have had a restraining and civilizing force which 
can be compared with no other similar movement of 
modem times; but they became too prosperous and 
this resulted in the development of a tendency towards 
arbitrariness and despotism in connection with the 
enforcement of their disciplinary code, which harassed 
and ultimately disgusted the rank and file of the 

• Quakerism, in its essentials, was Utopian and reac- 
tionary — a dream of spirituality incompatible with the 
vital experiences and intellectual expansiveness of 
humanity. While generally law-abiding, the Quakers 1 
instituted a code of their own which made no allowance 1 
for the conventionaHties of life sanctioned by custom 
and experience; nor did they recognize the recreative 

' Optis cit. 

128 Nantucket 

form of human activity or the usual amenities of poHte 
societies; in fact, their narrow and inelastic formalism 
excluded the rational exercise of instinctive pleasures 
to a vanishing point. 

Acknowledging no duty to the state, and holding v 
themselves aloof from all the political duties of citizen- ' 
ship, they outlawed themselves and were persecuted 
for it; but among their own people, and especially in 
the social life of their membership, they gradually ' 
assumed a rigidity of discipline which eventually became 
intolerable. They frowned upon music, mirth, and 
sports of every kind, and even dogmatized as to the 
apparel which young people should or should not wear, 
and to every infraction of their Draconic code punish- , 
ment was invariably meted out; while in everything^ 
concerning love, courtship, and marriage they adopted 
such inquisitorial espionage as in these latter days 
would have caused a rebellion. 

Their zeal for purity, and for what they called "the 
good order of truth," was doubtless commendable, but 
they went too far, and failed to foresee or to recognize 
the spirit of tolerance which was evolving itself in all 
directions; the standard of ethics which they imposed 
so rigorously was far too high; in a word, they sought 
to oppose the rising wave of intellectual expansion 
which was gradually overspreading the country, by a 
too restrictive formaHsm in faith and morals, and 
thus becoming submerged their numbers melted away. 

Flattering themselves that they alone enshrined the 
"Inner Light," the Quakers assumed the right to be- 
lieve that all who remained out of their pale were 
heterodox and heretical. "Pride goes before a fall," 
and thus, becoming autocratic and tyrannical, they 
gradually instituted a system of petty despotism, under 

Quakerism in Nantucket 129 

the guise of discipline, which, even at the cHmax of 
their success, thinned the ranks of their followers, and 
later disrupted the organization altogether. 

Human nature, even in religious matters, is much 
the same in all places and at all times. The Quakers 
but followed in the footsteps of the Pilgrims and the 
Puritans who preceded them, in dictating to the world 
what was right and what was wrong; but the world 
still goes on, buoyed up by Hope. Truth-seekers are 
everywhere, but 

God's in His Heaven — 

All's right with the world. 

By way of postscript it may be stated that the first 
burial ground of the Quakers was situated just to the 
west of Elihu Coleman's house on the old Madeket 
road, but, left for many years without a stone, a fence, 
or any kind of protection, it has long been unrecogniz- 
able, and no one could imagine that it had ever been 
a place of interment. 

In the latest burying place of the Quakers, at the 
corner of Upper Main and Saratoga Streets, with the 
exception of a few small markers in the Hicksite section, 
there is nothing to indicate that, beneath the weedy 
grass of the enclosure, between nine and ten thousand 
human bodies are buried without even a flower to 
mark any of their graves, and yet there is none of the 
older Nantucket families whose ancestors are not 
sleeping their last sleep in this neglected field. 



The records of Nantucket County and Town cover 
a period of nearly 250 years, and are contained in 
about 170 volumes embracing 

Land Transfers 
Vital Statistics 
Court Proceedings 
Probate Records 
Town-AIeeting Records 
Proprietors' Records 
Financial Transactions 

and a host of incidental matters, in later years separated 
and properly classified, but in the early days wofully 

From 1660 to 1693, Nantucket was subject to the 
Province of New York, and all public documents were 
lodged in New York State House until 1795, when they 
were transferred to Albany. After 1692, when Nan- 
tucket was ceded to Massachusetts, all such papers 
were sent to Boston, where they remain in the State 

In 1 67 1, the town was incorporated under a Patent 


Nantucket Records 131 

from Governor Francis Lovelace. By this Patent it 
was authoritatively decreed that certain lands were 
purchasable from the Indians by the English, and that 
such purchases would be ratified and confirmed by the 
English King and Parliament. 

In 1687, another Patent was rendered necessary by 
the capture of New York by the Dutch, and Dongan's 
Patent was issued on June 27, 1687. By this document 
a general grant of the entire island was secured, which 
rendered unnecessary the provisions imposed by Love- 
lace's Patent with regard to the English being com- 
pelled to have all purchases from the Indians fully 
confirmed ; and thus were consolidated all the privileges 
granted by previous Patents on a basis which secured 
all the island's municipal rights. 

In 1692, Nantucket, with the adjacent islands, re- 
verted to the governance of Massachusetts Province 
in accordance with a special act of Parliament, and in 
the following year all grants previously made with the 
sanction of the governors of New York were confirmed 
by a law of the General Court, and thus all land- 
rights vested in the settlers were fully secured and 
confirmed by Dongan's Patent, was indeed 
their Magna Charta. This voluminous document 
is copied in full in Hough's Book of Nantucket 
Deeds, and the original may be seen in the Nantucket 

Fortunately all the deeds and papers concerning 
Nantucket, which were transferred to the State capital 
at Albany in 1795, were copied and published by Mr. 
Hough of the Secretary of State's office, in 1856, 
and a list of the principal documents is herewith 
reproduced ^ : 

'Hough's Papers Relating to the Island of Nantucket, 1856. 

132 Nantucket 

Passing over some deeds concerning Martha's 
Vineyard, and others already given or referred to in 
this volume, there are several grants or disposals of 
land upon Nantucket, dated from 1659 to 1670, with 
regard to, inter alia, the prescribed limits of house-lots, 
the bestowal of several half-shares, and the appoint- 
ment of a seaman, a weaver (Thomas Macy), a shoe- 
maker (Joseph Gardner), and a "Taylour" (Nathaniel 

Next, Captain John Gardner's grant as a seaman, 
dated August 15, 1672. Governor Francis Lovelace's 
"Notice to the Inhabitants of Nantucket," etc., calling 
upon them to make proof of their claims, etc., dated 
May 16, 1670, and a certificate of appointment of 
Tristram Coffin to appear for them, dated April 2, 

The proposals of the Nantucketers about set- 
tling the government to the governor (undated: 
Deeds, iii., 59. Secretary's office), and the gov- 
ernor's answers to above proposals, dated June 28, 

Commission granted to Tristram Coffin as Chief 
Magistrate, June 29, 1671. 

Instructions to Mr. Mayhew, as Governor and Chief 
Magistrate of Martha's Vineyard, to consult and co- 
operate with Tristram Coffin as Chief Magistrate of 
Nantucket: undated. {Deeds, iii., 71. Secretary's 

Additional instructions and directions for govern- 
ment of island of Nantucket, sent by Richard and John 
Gardner, April 18, 1673. 

License to purchase lands for the purpose of estab- 
lishing "a fishing trade" upon Nantucket. Dated, 
April 15, 1673. 

Nantucket Records 133 

Richard Gardner's Commission as Chief Magistrate 
of Nantucket and " Tuckanuckett," April 15, 1673. 

Commission of John Gardner to be Captain of Foot 
Company on the island. April 15, 1673. 

Letter from Secretary to inhabitants of Nantucket 
dated April 24, 1673, acknowledging receipt of "8 
barrells of ffish for two yeares," and a token of "fifty 
weight of ffeathers," etc. 

A Petition from Tristram Coffin and Mr. Mayhew 
{Colonial MSS., xxiv., secretary's office) with regard 
to interpretation of charter. 

Thomas Mayhew to Governor Andros, as to Gorge's 
Patent, etc., April 12, 1665. 

A petition from Nantucket to Governor Andros, 
praying that the liberties and rights conferred upon 
them by Governor Lovelace's charter "may not be 
impaired or diminished by any pretence of other aver- 
saries whatsoever." 

Sharborn, the 12 Aprill, 1675. 

An order to the Magistrates of Nantucket for per- 
mitting searches and copies of their records to be 

E. Andros, April 17, 1675. 

Petition and proposals from Tristram Coffin and 
Mr. Mayhew (dated April 7, 1675), to the Governor 
as to charter rights. 

Petition of Magistrates and others of Nantucket to 
Governor Andros, concerning same. Dated April 
28, 1675. 

Instructions and orders for establishing Courts and 
Prudential Bye-Laws in Martin's Vineyard and Nan- 
tucket, from Governor Andros, dated April 25, 1675. 
"To Governor Andros" 

"Petition from Peter Foulger about proceedings 

134 Nantucket 

at the General Court of Martin's Vineyard, 1676." 
Dated "from Shearburn as a prisoner, March 2^] , 167!." 

Letter from Thomas Macy to the Governor, dated 
May 9, 1676, concerning the drinking habits of the 

Letter from John Gardner to the Governor, during 
the "insurrectionary period," dated 15th March, 1677. 

Sentence of Captain John Gardner (for refusing to 
appear at the Quarter Court, after being summoned), 
disfranchising him, and fining him £10. 

Appeal of John Gardner: undated (iV. Y. Col. MSS., 
xxvi., sec. office). 

Decision of case of John Gardner. 

"At a Councell, August 3d, 1677." 

Order about John Gardner and Peter Ffoulger, 
Septr. 21, 1677. 

Decision of a Court of Admiralty held at Nantucket 
with reference to Tristram Coffin's having sold part 
of a derelict. 

Tristram Coffin to Governor Andros, Nantucket, 
August 30, 1680. 

A discharge of Tristram Coffin from the judgment 
of the Court of Admiralty compounded. Dated 6th 
of November, 1680. 

Charges against Joseph Coleman for "revilling and 
reprochefull speaches against authority." March 25, 

Commission for pursuing a Pirate. Signed by Gov- 
ernor Dongan. 

March 30, 1685, 

Petition of Stephen Hussey (New York, August 12, 
1686), about ten or eleven gallons of Rum of which 
Joseph Gardner forcibly dispossessed him. 

Dongan's Patent, dated June 2y, 1687. 

Nantucket Records 135 


From 1 66 1 to 1671 (when the town was incorporated 
in accordance with Lovelace's Patent), whatever govern- 
ment was in force on the island was exercised entirely 
and absolutely by the landowners. The settlers had 
previously applied to the Governor of New York, and 
made certain proposals about a settled government 
{Deeds, iii., 59, Secretary's Office), and, in answer to 
these proposals, "at a Councell held at Forte James in 
New York, ye 28th day of June in ye 23d years of his 
Ma 'ties Reigne Annoq Dom. 1671" the Governor sug- 
gested the formation of a General Court consisting of 
two Chief Magistrates, one in Martha's Vineyard and 
the other in Nantucket, — one acting as President in 
each Court, and acting in concert together, with two 
Assistants in each place. With additional instructions 
and directions a form of government was thus consti- 
tuted, and the town being duly organized and incor- 
porated the inhabitants met periodically to transact 
municipal business. 

The Town Records were instituted in 1699, and now 
consist of some twenty volumes in addition to nine or 
ten volumes of Vital Statistics. They contain the 
records of the Town-meetings and therefore the pro- 
posals, votes, discussions, and resolutions of all the 
town business, — the appointments of all municipal 
and county officers — the votes for Governor, Senator, 
and Representative, all appropriations of municipal 

' In the compilation of this chapter the writer acknowledges his 
indebtedness to the State Library, New York, the State Library, Boston, 
Hough's Pap^/'S concerning Nantucket, H. Barnard Worth's Nantucket 
Lands and Landowners, Dr. C. E. Banks's History of Martha's Vineyard, 
and principally to the courtesy of the departmental staff of the Nan- 
tucket Public Record offices. 

136 Nantucket 

funds, the selection of petty and grand jurors, and every- 
thing concerning the government, regulation, and 
administration of the town. 

Before a separate book was kept for recording the 
town-meetings' business and ordinances, viz: from 
1662-99, the limitations of space will prevent anything 
but the most meager reference to the matters recorded. 
Fortunately none of the entries is of much historical 

At a meeting held in 1663 it was ordered that "no 
man shall fell or make use of any timber on Cowatu 
(Coatue), except it be for building houses, upon the 
penalty of ten shillings for every tree impred to any 
other use." 

On September, 1664, at a meeting of the town it 
was ordered that "the clerk shall have for his wages 
twenty shillings p. Ann. beginning at ye yeere 62." 

Again later (1667). "Every Indian to kill his dogs 
before March loth or be fined." 

November 20, 1669. Stephen Coffin to keep the 
pound "when once there is a lock to it, and he is to 
have twopence a time for turning the key to lock or 
unlock the pound." 

November 30, 1 670 . "No hogs to be placed upon any 
land belonging to any Indiand." 

October 16, 1671. "Thomas Macy to have five 
pounds for going to New York." 

January 19, 1679. "The town-meeting was held at 
the house of Nathaniel Barnard."' 

And so on until 1699. 

The earliest vital statistics are also found among the 
town records, thus: The first death recorded on the 

' A few more quotations from early Town Records may be found in 
Chapter XV. 

Nantucket Records 137 

island was that of Jean Godfrey, afterwards Bunker, 
wife of Richard Swain, who died October 31, 1662. 

The first birth was that of Mary, daughter of Natha- 
niel Starbuck, who was bom March 30, 1663. 

The first marriage was that of William Worth and 
Sarah Macy, on April 11, 1665. 

At a Town-meeting held at Sherbom, January 17, 
1784, it was voted "that the workhouse near the jail 
be repaired." This was presumably on the lot still 
occupied by the jail v/hich was erected in 1775. 

At the same meeting it was voted "that our repre- 
sentatives be entrusted to move for a Light-house to 
be erected on the end of our large Point, called Sandy 
Point, in the next sessions of the General Court." 

Also that "the selectmen be a Committee to rent 
out the Town-House for any Term not exceeding one 
year for a school-house to such person and upon such 
a Term as they shall think proper during the recess 
of public business." 

At a meeting at Sherbom, July 2"], 1785, "The votes 
for a County Register were brought in and bundled 
up in order to be opened next Court." 

The following is selected from a Report of the Finance 
Committee for 1850, and appears on p. 149 of Town 
Records for 1849-52: 

The undersigned regret the absence of their comrades, 
the only two gentlemen who signed the Financial report 
of last year, and who were also members of this Committee, 
one of whom, beloved by all, has quietly passed away to 
that "bourne from whence no traveler returns." 

The absence of the other gentleman, owing to his having 
left the island, is alluded to in language equally rhetorical. 

138 Nantucket 

The Report of the Committee of Firewards contains 
the following on page 116 of Records for 1849-52. 
After providing for the licensing of dogs : 

It is hereby further instituted, resolved, and enacted that 
the Selectmen be, and they are hereby requested, authorised, 
and empowered to appoint and employ one or more judi- 
cious and discreet men whose duty it shall be to kill and 
destroy all and any dogs and puppies of the canine species 
which may be found running at large without collars, 
provided that it be done in as quiet and humane manner 
as possible, and as much as can be conveniently done away 
from the more compact part of the town, and the presence 
of the citizens generally. 

What follows is selected from a Report of the Health 
Committee in the same volume, and it speaks for itself. 

After animadverting upon measures to restrain the 
public use of alcohol, the report goes on to say: 

How different it would have been if our supposed wise had 
have been really wise enough, have turned their attention 
to the consideration of the best interest of their constituents 
by endeavoring to find out some method to preserve the 
public health and morals and prevent and assuage that rag- 
ing pestilence which still scatters its ruinous consequences 
throughout our State; and among the least of its evils 
costs every community a large proportion of its annual 
earnings: had they have done this Massachusetts might 
now have worn the brightest jewel that ever adorned any 
State or nation ; that jewel is now worn by her noble sister 
daughter, the State of Maine, and well may the son of that 
thrice-honored Commonwealth walk erect and feel that 
they have indeed attained a preeminence, a glory beyond 
all Grecian, beyond all Roman fame. 

The Old Bay State should have won it, 'twas her's, and 
it would have been her's but that too many of her noble 

Nantucket Records 139 

sons were diverted from the pursuit of pure glory, by the 
petty, party interests of the day, old hunker conservatism 
and the preservation of old errors on the one hand, and 
truck dicker and gluten on the other; but, let it pass, her 
daughters achieved the true Kohinoor, mountain of light, 
compared to which that all the World's Fair is but a-bauble. 
We speak of the acquisition of this honorable fame by our 
sister State only in relation to the conservation of public 
health which though not its most blessed consequence, yet 
it is only secondary to that purity of heart which it may 
reasonably be hoped will prevail wherever alcohol is not 
used as a common beverage, but when it is so used, never, 
no never. 

From which it appears that there was much Prohibi- 
tion eloquence in those earlier days! 

The Town Records have been well-preserved, and 
are in excellent order. It only remains to be said that 
they contain much interesting and entertaining matter. 

The first volume of the Selectmen's Journal, beginning 
April 9, 1784 — the only volume accessible of an early 
date — is preserved in the Town Clerk's office, and is 
all the more interesting and valuable inasmuch as the 
subsequent early journals are missing. Its contents, 
however, are of little historical importance, consisting 
mainly of receipted bills, permits, town warrants, etc. 


The first Nantucket court records are contained in 
Book 2, in the Registry of Deeds, and the first entry is 
dated September 21, 1672. As the settlers took posses- 
sion of the island eleven years previously, it is reason- 
able to surmise that a court of some kind must have 
been instituted and records duly kept before 1672, 
especially as the Indians had to be kept in subjection, 

I40 Nantucket 

and many cases, doubtless, occurred among the whites 
and the aborigines, and between the Indians themselves, 
if not among the whites, which would necessitate ju- 
dicial intervention. However, no court records of any 
kind, concerning the earliest administration of the 
island, have been discovered. 

The absence of such records is accounted for by the 
fact that there was a feud, beginning in 1673 and con- 
tinuing for some years, between two parties of the 
islanders, one section being partisans of Tristram Coffin, 
and the other of John Gardner, who were implacable 
rivals. Peter Coffin had been elected Assistant Magis- 
trate and Peter Folger (who was clerk of the writs and 
recorder to the General Court of the island) resented 
the appointment, and "refused to perform the func- 
tions required of him by the Chief Magistrate." Folger 
refused to produce his "Court Booke," and he was 
indicted for contempt, and bound over in £20 to appear 
at the New York Assizes. Finding no bondsmen, he 
was placed in prison whereof he writes : 

A place where never any Englishman was put, and where 
the Neighbors Hoge had layd but the night before, and in a 
bitter cold Frost and deep Snow. They had only thrown 
out most of the Durt Hoge Dung and vSnow. The Rest the 
Constable told me I might ly upon if I would, that is upon 
the Boards in that Case, and without victuals or Fire. 
Indeed I perswaded him to fetch a little Hay, and he did 
so, and some Friend did presently bring in some Beding 
and Victuals. 

He was imprisoned on February 14, 1677, and in 
June of that year the missing court records had not 
been produced ; and it was not until about two months 
later that Governor Andros ordered his release. 

Nantucket Records 141 

Whether the book was destroyed or not is unknown, 
nor has it ever apparently been discovered, notwith- 
standing a report that the missing book had been 
found. The writer has taken pains to find out if there 
were any truth in the report, but no member of the 
official staff at the town offices had ever heard of such 
a discovery. 

This "Little Record Book" doubtless contained the 
court records from 1661 to 1672 or after, and its loss 
has been acutely felt. It is believed that all the other 
records in every department are practically perfect and 

As has already been referred to, a judicial tribunal 
to be elected annually was established in 1672, in 
accordance with Governor Lovelace's order of June 
28, 1671, and was regularly sustained until 1692. 

In 1672 Richard Gardner was elected Chief Magistrate. 

In 1673 Thomas Macy was elected Chief Magistrate. 

In 1674 Tristram Coffin was elected Chief Magis- 

In 1675 John Gardner was elected Chief Magistrate. 

In 1673 Peter Folger was appointed Clerk, and, 
after his imprisonment, William Worth succeeded to 
the appointment. 

In addition to the above offices there were nine 
Assistant Magistrates or Deputy Justices. ^ 

The Court, as above constituted, had plenary juris- 
diction over "all matters civil, criminal, probate, and 
appeal from Indian Courts, in which the penalty did 
not involve forfeiture of life."^ 

The Court of Common Pleas was established in 1 720. 
The Records consist of twelve volumes up to 19 12, 

' H. Barnard Worth, opus ciL, p. io6. ' Ibid., p. 107. 

142 Nantucket 

Volume I containing records dated from October 5, 
1725, to October 4, 1785; and Volume 2 containing 
records from March 28, 1786, to December 28, 1802. 


Exclusive of plans and indices these records are con- 
tained in volumes numbered from i to 95. 

Volumes 1,2, and 3 are the most important because 
they contain most of the early historical matter. 

Volume I contains land transfers for the most part, 
records of early town-meetings, court matters, allot- 
ments of land, etc. The first deed recorded is dated 
1659. Up to page 77 the book consists of ordinances 
relating to the organization of, and laws for, town 
management at town-meetings. These were first 
described as meetings of freeholders, but subsequently 
as of trustees or selectmen. The remaining two- 
thirds of the book (which is inverted from page i to 
109) consists mainly of transfers and sets-off of land 
dating from 1664. 

It is impossible here to chronicle the various deeds, 
but they have all been copied by Mr. H. Barnard 
Worth, and the copies at some future time will be de- 
posited at the rooms of the Nantucket Historical Asso- 
ciation. A few of the more important deeds may be 
enumerated here, viz: The conveyance of the island 
of Tuckernuck to Tristram Coffin et alt: by Governor 
Lovelace, on June 29, 1671 ; the deed appointing Tris- 
tram Coffin as Chief Magistrate, instead of Thomas 
Macy, by Governor Andros, dated September 15, 1677. 

The protest of Spotso and other Indians against the 
English settlers for placing them at a disadvantage 
with regard to their lands (undated). 

Nantucket Records 143 

Deed annexing Tuckernuck to Nantucket, June 6, 


Protest and petition of Seikinnou and Spotso to 
Lord Bellamont, concerning transactions with the 

Curiously enough among these deeds is included an 
ordinance of the freeholders, dated at their meeting 
held on December 31, 1686, to the effect that owing to 
sheep having been chased on the island by dogs, all 
dogs must in future be muzzled; and that, whether 
muzzled or not, all dogs found harrying sheep should 
in future be killed. 

Book 2 contains items of court procedure, land 
transfers, and lay-outs. 

Passing over the court proceedings, the deed of 
sale of the west part of the island by the Indians to 
Tristram Coffin et alt: is recorded, bearing date May 
10, 1660. 

There are also numerous Indian deeds, a few being 
written in the Indian language. 

Matthew May hew' s renunciation of Nantucket 
property, January 6, 172I. 

Thomas Macy's deed conveying to his son one- 
fourth part of his land, etc. December 13, 1675. 

Tristram Coffin's deed conveying one-fourth of his 
house-lot "at Cappamet," etc., to his son, John Coffin. 
May 12, 1677. 

Tristram Coffin's gift of land to his grandchildren. 
October 3, 1678. 

Up to page 80 this book consists mainly of transfers 
of land, from July 21, 1673, to June 9, 1674, After 
page 80 the contents of the book are inverted and paged 
from I to 47, consisting of court records from July 19, 
1673, to March 27, 1705. 

144 Nantucket 

Of the Court proceedings the following will serve as 
an example: 

The sentence of the Court is that Edward Cowles shall 
be soundly whipt, and to go away from the island on the 
same vessall that he came in. And when he is a board the 
vessall he is not to come a shore upon the penalty of being 
whipt every time that he com a shore. 

Peter Folger's sentence for contempt of court appears 
on page lo; also the case of Quensh, an Indian, who 
sued his wife for divorce, which he obtained, and the 
woman was fined twenty shilHngs "in regard to his 

Thus minor charges are dealt with page after page, 
many of them concerning misconduct of the Indians. 

On page 26 is the appointment of John Gardner "as 
true and LawfuU Aturney" to Governor Andros, dated 
November 16, 1680, and John Gardner's appointment 
as Magistrate, on June 26, 1680, by Governor Andros, 
followed by oath to be taken on appointment. 

On page 29 is Governor Andros's release of John 
Gardner as to the fine and disfranchisement inflicted 
upon him, and the sentence declared null and void, 
dated October 10, 1680. 

On page 30, an order by Governor Andros that a 
Court of Sessions (separate from each other) shall be 
held at Martha's Vineyard and at Nantucket, dated 
October 10, 1680, as requested by John Gardner and 
Matthew Mayhew. 

On page 31 is John Gardner's appointment as Chief 
Magistrate of Nantucket, signed by Governor Andros, 
and dated November 10, 1680. 

The last court entry in Volume 2 is dated March 
27, 1705, on page 47. 

Nantucket Records 145 

Book 3 consists of land transfers from page 2 to 149, 
the date of first record being May 6, 1708, the last 
March 29, 1720. Many of the earlier deeds in this 
book were not recorded until a number of years after 
their execution; for example: one on page 10 was exe- 
cuted on March 2, 1696, by Stephen Hussey, arid was 
not recorded until June 14, 1700, Another executed 
by Peter CofBn, September 10, 1697, was not re- 
corded until June 10, 1700; and another (page 2), 
executed by William Worth on May 2, 1704, was not 
recorded until July 17, 1708. A deed from Wauwinet 
transferring land to Paul Noose (page 4), although 
executed on October 2, 1689, was not recorded until 
August 9, 1708. 

One deed (on page 3), purporting to conve}^ a dwel- 
ling-house and land by Robert Evans, carpenter, to 
Jonathan Pinkham, and dated merely "the i8th of 
August," without specifying any year, has neither been 
duly executed nor recorded. 

Some of these deeds are written in the obscure and 
perplexing autography of John Gardner, and are almost 

Many of the ear-marks, which were used to distin- 
guish the sheep belonging to different owners are 
recorded on pages 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 61, 62, and 66, 
and consisted of various devices cut in the ears of the 

On page 60 is a deed executed by the original pur- 
chasers of Horse Commons from the Indians, and in 
this ("in order to avoid any contention or strife which 
might hereafter arise between us"), we "fully and 
absolutely give up our claim to all such privileges . . . 
unto the inhabitants, freeholders of Nantucket, accord- 
ing to their several and respective shares, reserving to 

146 Nantucket 

ourselves no more than our just and respective pro- 
portion in common with the rest." 

This is signed by twenty-two original purchasers, 
executed in 171 1, and recorded January 16, 17x2- 

Many of these deeds are executed by Indians as on 
pages 63, 64, 65, etc. 

On inverting the book there are some records of the 
Court of Common Pleas, unpaged, and beginning 
October 7, 1701, evidently in the handwriting of John 
Gardner, the primary records ending March 30, 1708. 

To these succeed a num^ber of records of marriages, 
occupying about one page and a quarter, and dated 
from January 8, 1700, to August 5, 17 12, twenty mar- 
riages altogether, and all performed by William Worth, 
Justice of the Peace. 

Beginning on October 5, 1708, are Court of Common 
Pleas records, the last ending March 28 or 29, 1721. 

Book IV. Land transfers are recorded from April 
24, 1 72 1, to January 29, 1744. 

On pages 64 and 87 are records which are written 
in the Indian language, and on page 93 the first Indian 
deed is recorded, being the transfer of a tract of land 
in "the Plain Country" from Nickanoose and Nana- 
huma to Thomas Mayhew, executed June 20, 1659, 
but not recorded until March 26, 1731. It seems to 
have remained in the hands of Mayhew and his family 
until the Indians appealed to the General Court to 
recover their lands, when the owners of Nantucket 
found the old deed, and placed it on record. 

The Registry of Deeds also contains the list of Nan- 
tucket streets compiled by Isaac Coffin in 1799. 

The following record is quoted from the Registry 
as interesting, inasmuch as the locality of the "hors 
Commonage" transferred is not mentioned in the deed: 

Nantucket Records 147 

This Bargain and sale made the 27th day of June, 1701, 
Witnesseth that Moamug, an Indian of Nantucket have 
bargained and solde unto Mira on hors Commonage or 
pasturage on the Island of Nantucket for a valuable consid- 
eration by Mira payde, the Recept wherof i do acknowledg 
to my full satisfaction and Content befor the Signing and 
Sealing of these presance I Moamug aforesaid do therfor 
Sell, Alline, Rattifie and Confirme pasuredg or Liberty for 
the keeping on hors on the Island of Nantucket unto — 
Mira aforesaid, to him his heirs and Asigns for Ever to 
Have and to Holde and peaceably to Injoy the Said Liberty 
to him his heirs and assigns for Ever hearby binding me my 
heirs and assignes for Ever to Warantise and defend said 
Sale and Liberty against any person or person whatsoever 
Laying Claim thereto by, from, or under me, in witnes 
whear of i have put to my hand and Seal the day and year 
above Written. 

Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of us 

„-., William Gayer Moomak LS 

Witness: , „ 

Isaac Colman 

The above Written Instrument was Acknowledged by 

Moamak to be his ackt and deed on Nantucket July ye 9, 

befor me 

William Gayer 

Justice Peace. 

Recorded, August 13th. Seventeen hundred and one. 

proprietors' records 

A meeting of the original ten purchasers was held 
at Salisbury, in 1659, when it was adopted that each 
of the ten should be permitted to select a partner, thus 
increasing their number to twenty : it was also 

determined and concluded that no man whatsoever shall 
purchase any land of any of the Indians upon the sd. yland 
for his own or other private or pticular use, but whatsoever 

148 Nantucket 

purchase shall be made shall be for ye general accompt of 
ye twenty owners or purchasers. And whatsoever pson 
shall purchase any land upon any other accompt it shall be 
accompted void and null, except what is done by license 
from ye sd. owners or purchasers. 

In pursuance of this order they were enabled to 
prevent any one outside of the Proprietary from pur- 
chasing land from the Indians, and "this policy was 
strictly followed by the English until every foot of 
land on the island had been conveyed by the red-men 
to the Proprietary."' Much confusion was, however, 
created later when, in 1692, Nantucket was annexed 
to Massachusetts and became subject to its laws, and 
the monopoly hitherto vested in the Proprietors had 
to be shared with the other citizens, and when, in 
addition to the freeholders, the town citizens became 
voters. For a time the Proprietors and citizens some- 
what indiscriminately assumed the functions of each 
other, — the freeholders discharging municipal duties 
and vice versa, the records of each being chronicled 
in the same books. In December, 17 16, this practice 
came to an end, and the meetings of freeholders and 
citizens were held separately and apart, while their 
respective records were kept in separate books. ^ 

"This book," begins the first record of the Proprie- 
tors in 1 716, "is appointed for to Enter of business 
and votes of proprietors' meetings in from time to 
time pr. order of ye meeting." 

The first meeting recorded was held at Nantucket 
on "ye 13th day of 12 mo. 1716." 

These records contain for the most part the arrange- 
ments of house-lots, lay-outs, and divisions of land all 

' H. Barnard Worth, opus cit. ' Ibid. 

Nantucket Records 149 

over the island, the naming of locahties, the making of 
highways, the erection of mills and wharves, the ap- 
portionment of pasturage, the fixation of boundaries, 
and a hundred other matters cognate to Proprietary- 
rights involving the welfare, division, and governance 
of the island. After 1700 the title of "Proprietors of 
the Common and undivided lands of the Island of Nan- 
tucket" was assumed instead of "freeholders and 
comonalty of the town of Sherborn."^ 

The records consist altogether of eight volumes, and 
one Stock-book. 

In Volume i, page 136, is a table of the "several 
owners of the twenty-seven shares as they are mated and 
connected in draughting of the same, together with 
each man's several and exact interCvSt therein"; and on 
pages 169, 170, and 171 of Volume i is 

a Regulation of the twenty-seven shairs of Land on the 
Island of Nantucket, and each man's interest Put as much 
together as is Covenient could be, and when Done Laid 
before a Proprietors' meeting and accepted and ordered to 
be passed on the Proprietors' records as by a vote on record 
ye 15 of 12 mo. 1790 will appear. 

The last record in Volume i is dated November 25, 

From page i to 10, inverted at end of Volume i, is a 
complete list of the sheep "ear-marks" "of the Inhabi- 
tants of Sherborn on Nantucket." 

These records, after 1700, are very carefully kept, 
and the manifold agenda of the Proprietors' meetings 
are chronicled with much exactitude, while in many 
instances the various allotments of land are delineated 

' H. Barnard Worth, opus cit., p. 187. 

150 Nantucket 

with admirable accuracy, and the volumes have an 
ample index. 

Volume 2 is thus headed: "This Book was bought 
the 12 mo:, the 13, 1808, by the Proprietors of the Island 
of Nantucket to record all their doings in that they 
think ought to be recorded in their records." This 
volume, like Volume i, consists of lay-outs of land for 
the most part, the first record being dated 19th of 
December, 1808, and the last recorded on the 2d of 
May, 1836. 


The most important deeds executed between the 
settlers and the Indians in connection with the trans- 
ference of the island have already been reproduced in 
Chapter III. 

The Indian deeds conveying individual grants of 
land are numerously distributed through the Registry, 
and extend from 1659 to 1774, — ^ period of 115 years. 
Space will not permit further reference to these in any 
detail, but, as they have all been epitomized and tabu- 
lated by Mr. H. B. Worth, ^ the reader is referred to his 
work for particulars. The first deed in this category 
is from Nicornoose and Nanahuma to Thomas Mayhew 
transferring land, and is dated June 20, 1659, and the 
last is from John Jethro, ceding "a sheep's Common" 
to the Proprietors, and dated in 1774. 

There are also in the Registry numerous regulations 
with regard to "drift whales" (which the Indians had 
some undiscovered means of turning to their advantage) ; 
also records of much litigation in the courts from 
1673 to 1757-8, concerning the many attempts made 

' Opus cit. 

Nantucket Records 151 

by the Indians to regain the lands they had sold and 
deeded to the settlers. These, however, are fully 
recorded in the work just cited, and, albeit interesting 
in themselves, cannot be further referred to here for 
the reason already stated. 

These efforts on the part of the Indians were insti- 
gated by the natives misunderstanding the English 
principle of land transference notwithstanding its 
perfect legitimacy, and their believing that the deeds 
they had executed did not absolutely convey their 
lands from them in perpetuity. The aborigines were 
also, doubtless, encouraged in their action by receiving 
aid and advice from disreputable Englishmen who were 
capable of skillfully drawing up petitions to the court 
and authorities for their own selfish interests. 


Book 2 in the Registry of Deeds contains the earliest 
existing records of Probate, from 1671 (when Richard 
Gardner was elected Judge), until 1680, when John 
Gardner was appointed Chief Justice; and from that 
time until 1706, when John Gardner died. Earlier 
records probably existed concerning Probate matters 
before 1671, but if such records were made, they have 
never been discovered, and were possibly lost or de- 
stroyed. From 1706 the deeds have been well and 
carefully recorded in the Probate Office. 

After the death of John Gardner, James Coffin was 
appointed Judge, and Eleazer Folger, Registrar, the 
latter holding his appointment until 1 754. 

During the twenty-six years elapsing between 1680 
and 1706, the paucity of deeds recorded is easily observ- 
able: this goes to show that there must have been 

152 Nantucket 

great carelessness on the part of the Registrar in failing 
to record the estates administered, or else that the 
records themselves are no longer existent. 

The estates of the following — eight in number — are 
all that have been recorded from 1 680-1 706, viz: 
Nathaniel Wyer, Benjamin Austin, Tristram Coffin, 
Thomas Macy, Sarah Wyer, Sarah Gardner, Joseph 
Coleman, and John Walch. 

There are thirty-two volumes of Deeds in the Probate 
Office. A full list of all wills administered, from 1706 
to 1778, will be found in Mr. H. Barnard Worth's 
volume already referred to, to which the writer is under 
many obligations. 

The following method of electing officers in Massa- 
chusetts Colony in 1643 was prescribed, and, as it is 
interesting, it may be mentioned here : 

The freemen shall use Indian Corn and Beanes, the Indian 
Corn to manifest election, the Beanes contrary, and if any 
freeman shall put in more than one Indian Corn or Beane, 
he shall forfeit for every such offence Ten pounds/ 

An allusion to this custom is thus described by Peter 
Folger, in 1676: 

In the Hke uncivil manner they chose two young men 
more, the said Stephen [Hussey] bringing his corn which 
betoken choice in his hand, and called upon others to corn 
this man and that man. (From Peter Folger's letter to 
Sir Edmund Andros, in New York Col. MSS.) 

Probably the first reference to a jail in the Massa- 
chusetts islands is found in the following quotation 
from the records of the General Court. 

' Vide Dr. C. E. Banks's History of Martha's Vineyard, vol. i., p. 143. 

Nantucket Records 153 

It is ordered by the Court in case there be not a sufficient 
prison built in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard within 
three months after the date hereof, they shall pay a fine 
of Ten pounds. ^ 

This was passed on September 21, 1686, but was not 
carried out, as no jail had been erected in March, 1699.^ 

' Nantucket Records, ii., 38. ^ Dr. C. E. Banks, opus cit. 



When the new century dawned upon Nantucket, 
the inhabitants were still suffering, directly and in- 
directly, from the effects of the Revolutionary War, — - 
effects so disastrous as to render recovery inevitably 
slow and uncertain. Many of them became so dis- 
couraged that they left the island altogether; but, amid 
doubts and difficulties, alternating waves of prosperity 
and adversity, the majority "with a heart for any fate," 
worked on, hoped on, doing their best, and oft amid 
circumstances which were neither hope-inspiring nor 

At this time, the population of the island was be- 
tween five and six thousand (5617), and, curiously 
enough, was gradually increasing. 

The earlier years of 1800 were not marked by any 
events of more than ordinary interest, save the pursuit 
of some large whales on the north side of the island, 
two of which were secured, and one of which produced 
thirty-one barrels. 

After much previous consideration, the islanders, 
who for reasons which are obvious, had long been 
impressed with the necessity of having the sand-bar 
(extending from Muskeget Island to opposite Coskata 


The Nineteenth Century 155 

Pond) removed from the mouth of the harbor, resolved 
to petition Congress for its removal, and also for the 
deepening of the channel. Surveyors had prepared 
their plans, and duly reported their proposals, but, in 
the end, the entire matter was rejected by Congress, 
and thus abandoned for many years. 

With brightening prospects, the hopes of the Nan- 
tucketers were soon again in the ascendant. The ships 
were having successful voyages, and the demand for oil 
and sperm candles, at prices constituting good profits, 
had materially increased, keeping the whole machinery 
of the industry in active and remunerative operation. 

In 1804, the Paci;fic Bank and two insurance com- 
panies were established and in 1805, the present House 
of Correction was built at Quaise, was later removed 
to the town, and is now standing beside the jail. Up 
to 1807, the island was prospering; business w^as good 
and increasing; the outlook was hopeful; many new 
buildings were erected, and everybody, lulled in ap- 
parent security, was more than satisfied when, on June 
22, 1807, a British war-vessel fired upon the Chesapeake, 
belonging to the United vStates. The possible results 
of this act created consternation in the minds of the 
islanders, and fears for the worst almost paralyzed the 
commercial activities of the island. Ships were with- 
held from sea,— in many instances hauled up and 
stripped; day-laborers could find no employment, 
mariners returned home in enforced idleness, and, only 
too generally, once more destitution threatened. 

Thus matters proceeded from bad to worse, when, 
as Macy says: "Every new omen of war seemed to 
threaten a renewal of similar sufferings and distress." 
Many people sold their residences, and removed else- 
where to more desirable localities. The residents 

156 Nantucket 

petitioned Congress, enumerating their grievances and 
praying that a declaration of war might be averted. 

On June 24, 18 12, the American Government de- 
clared war against Great Britain. 

It is not the purpose of the writer, nor is it feasible, 
to chronicle in detail either the privations and sufferings 
of the islanders during this terrible war, or the spirited 
efforts they made to mitigate its evils by fervent appeals 
to both the American and the British authorities. 
Their ships at sea, which represented their most valu- 
able possessions, were in imminent danger, all business 
was at a standstill, many of the families were reduced 
almost to beggary and starvation, and the condition 
of the involuntarily unemployed was, indeed, desperate. 
Nor is it possible to describe the feelings of joy and 
gratitude with which the Nantucketers greeted the 
news of peace being duly ratified on February 28, 181 5. ^ 

In addition to the direful privations to which the 
islanders were subjected during the reign of terror 
just happily ended, they lost many of their vessels. 
When the war broke out, they had 43 ships, 47 sloops, 
7 brigs, 19 schooners, — 116 vessels all told, and of this 
number only 23 remained, the others having been cap- 
tured, condemned, or lost. 

One incident occurred during this war, on October 
10, 1814, which cannot be passed over, and of which 
the Nantucketers were naturally proud, although the 
loss of life involved was very considerable, viz: the 
so-called " Maddequecham Fight," off Tom Nevers's 
Head, Nantucket, between boats from the British 
frigate Endymion and an American privateer. Prince 
of Neufchatel, in which the Endymion s men were re- 
pulsed with loss of 121 in killed and prisoners, and the 

» A full account of this eventful period will be found in Macy's History. 

The Nineteenth Century 157 

English merchantman Douglas was captured and 
beached after the fight. The fact that a Nantucket 
pilot (Kilburn) was engaged aboard of the Prince of 
Neufchatel was doubly gratifying to the islanders, who 
even yet recount the tale with much satisfaction. 

Relieved from the horrors of what had virtually been 
a blockade of the island, it can easily be imagined how 
readily the emancipated people set about repairing 
their misfortunes as far as possible; but although the 
war was ended, when they considered the dreadful 
ordeal through which they must pass before they could 
recover what they had lost, it cannot be a source of 
wonder that they felt discoiiraged and despairing. 
In the first flush of peace their hearts were rejoiced, 
but when the excitement was over, and neither money 
nor work could be had, the poorer islanders were driven 
almost to desperation to obtain the necessaries of life. 
A small number of ships had been sent to sea, but until 
these returned, the islanders could only exercise pa- 
tience, do their best, and trust in Providence. 

The island experienced a phenomenal fall of tem- 
perature on February i, 18 15, such as had never been 
known either before or since, viz : 1 1 degrees below zero! 

On the 5th of May, 18 16, The Nantucket Gazette, the 
first newspaper published on the island, was issued by 
Tannatt and Tupper. It failed to win support, and 
did not survive beyond the first year. 

In November of the same year, the lighthouse on 
Great Point, a wooden structure erected in 1784, was 
destroyed by fire, and it was replaced, under the di- 
rection of the government, by a new stone building. 
This light is seventy feet above the sea-level, and can 
be seen at a distance of fourteen nautical miles. 

Erelong the whaling ships began to arrive after 

158 Nantucket 

successful voyages, and their coming revived the still 
drooping spirits of all classes ; for, owing to many causes, 
and notwithstanding the fact that two years had 
elapsed since the war, the islanders generally, and 
especially the laborers, were still suffering from reaction- 
ary distress from which time alone could deliver them. 
However, fortune smiled again when the ships came 
home, for new manufactures were started, ship-owners 
increased their fleets, and once again, it was hoped, 

I J the island would soon resume its wonted activities, 

/?«] and constant employment be secured for all. 

Inspired with new life themselves, the islanders soon 
emerged from the slough of despair into which they 
had been cast ; all classes of the community were work- 
ing together for the good of all; new markets were 
opening, food was no longer scarce, prices had fallen 
materially, and, notwithstanding all the terrible ex- 
periences of the past, the population had increased to 
over 7000 by 1 8^Q^ while the whaling fleet had also 
increased to" over seventy-two vessels, and the coasters 
to over eighty. 

In 1 82 1 , trees were first planted in the town — a species 
of two-thorn acacia, known as locust-trees. 

Between 1810 and 1840, ship-building was instituted 
on the island, but not to a large extent. The vessels 
built were, for the most part, comparatively small, 
averaging about thirty or forty tons. The islanders, 
however, succeeded in building one beautiful ship, the 
Joseph Starbuck, which made one successful voyage, 
but was, unfortunately, totally wrecked on Nantucket 
bar on November 27, 1842, when proceeding on a 
second. ^ 

Still later a large schooner was built. So far as the 

' Vide Chapter XVI. 

The Nineteenth Century 159 

names of these ships are known, the first (built at 
Brant Point in 1810) was called the Rose, the second, 
in 1832, the Charles Carroll, and the Nantucket and the 
Lexington, in 1838. But, alas, this industry shared 
the same fate as the others which preceded and suc- 
ceeded it. In 1823, the tonnage engaged in Nantucket 
whaling was at its height, that of New Bedford exceed- 
ing it subsequently. 

About 1824, the Sconset milestones were set by Peter 
F. Ewer; they have been removed twice since then, 
once over to the middle Sconset road which runs by 
Hensdale, and finally to the road latest laid out. At 
present, they are all accurately located, with the excep- 
tion of the 7th and 7^2 stones. 

In 1835, Daniel Webster appeared professionally on 
the island, and he was so astonished at its appearance 
and importance that he called it "The unknown city 
in the ocean!" 

Education. The early settlers were somewhat tardy 
in recognizing the necessity of educational development 
among their children beyond such domestic instruction 
as they could obtain at home, and probably from a 
few private elementary schools. In 17 16, they ap- 
pointed Eleazer Folger as their first schoolmaster.^ 
Mr. Timothy White, in the first instance a missionary 
(since 1725) among the Indians, was, in 1732, appointed 
minister to the local church. It is now believed that 
a new meeting-house was built about the time of, or 
shortly before, Mr. White's appointment. Mr. White 
conducted a school during the time he remained in the 
district. However, it was not until 1827 that the 
corporate authorities founded two large public schools 
on the monitorial plan, after the removal of the town 

I Vide Chapter V. 

i6o Nantucket 

to Nantucket. Previous to this period, the Academy 
had, in 1800, been erected on Academy Hill, and there 
had been a number of private schools, in addition to 
an appropriation officially set aside for the benefit of 
the poorer classes of children. 

In 1835, there were two large grammar-schools, and 
four primary schools with an attendance of about three 
hundred, in addition to private schools ; but within half 
a century there were twelve flourishing public schools on 
the island, directed by thirty teachers, and aggregating 
twelve hundred pupils. The High-School was insti- 
tuted in 1838, but the present schoolhouse was not 
erected until 1854. 

The South Grammar School (now partially used as 
a Town-Hall and Courthouse), was on Orange Street, 
and the West School on Upper Main Street, beyond 
Gardner Street. These two schools were erected in 

Schools were established at Tuckemuck, Madeket, 
Sconset, and Polpis. 

In addition to these the famous Coffin School was 
founded in 1827, by Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart, 
(a lineal descendant of Tristram Coffin in the fifth 
generation). This Lancastrian School was originally 
founded for the descendants of Tristram Coffin, but 
owing to a variety of causes it was closed in 1898. 
The school building, in the first instance, was placed 
on the east side of Fair Street, nearly opposite Farmer 
Street. In 1903, the school was reopened as a manual 
training school, and it is now in a flourishing condition 
and doing excellent work in this direction. The 
present building was erected in 1852. 

The schools of Nantucket, as at present carried on, 
are models of excellence in every department, and, so 

The Nineteenth Century i6i 

far as administration and educational results are con- 
cerned, will not suffer in comparison with any other 
schools in the United States. The futiire of the country 
is safe amid such fostering evolutional conditions and 

In 1830, Nantucket was described as "the third 
commercial town in the Commonwealth, viz: Boston, 
Salem, Nantucket." Would that she could have re- 
tained that position! 

The Poor Farms. There is no accessible record as 
to the date of erection of the building, still standing 
at Quaise, on the east side of Bellows Pond — which 
was utilized as the first Poor Farm. As far as can be 
ascertained, it was originally the homestead of a branch 
of the Coffin family, and was built probably about 
the middle of the i8th centtuy or later. It is at least 
known that it was the country home of Mark Coffin, 
who was born October 16, 1768, married, first Judith 
Hussey, and secondly, Sarah Olney, of Providence, R. I. 
He died October 2, 1839, aged seventy-one years. He 
was the son of Shubael Coffin, w^ho was born in 1739, 
and died in 1817.' 

Mark Coffin, or, as he was familiarly known, '' Cousin 
Mark," had a sad and curious history. He is reputed 
to have been wealthy, well-educated, and the author 
of several books. Misfortune gradually assailed him 
during the time he occupied the Quaise homestead as 
his summer home, after leaving which the house became 
the first Poor Farm. He became a schoolmaster after 
the loss of his wealth, and had his school on the second 
floor of the house on Liberty Street, now occupied by 

' Mark Coffin was the son of Shubael, who was the son of Henry, 
who was the son of Jonathan, who was the son of James, who was the 
son of Tristram and Dionis. — W. B. Starbuck Papers. 

i62 Nantucket 

Mr. Voorneveld, the florist. From this he migrated 
to Federal Street, where he kept a book and gen- 
eral store, on the site afterwards occupied by the 
Phoenix Bank, near the Roman Catholic Church. 
The bank was subsequently destroyed in the great 
fire of 1846. 

Tradition asserts that, toward the end of his 
life, Mark Coffin became an inmate of the Poor Farm 
which had once been his summer home. He died 
on October 2, 1839, leaving a daughter Mary, who 
became a school-teacher, and died on August 13, 

In April, 1822, the town bought Quaise Farm, for 
which they paid $6700. They also erected a new Poor 
Farm, consisting of four buildings, at a cost of $1910, 
to which additions, etc., were afterwards made (costing 
$1679.96), in 1825. In 1823, the poor were removed to 
the new asylum. 

In 1826, the Committee reported that 

the buildings are in fine condition, and there is sufficient 
accommodation for a very large increase in the number 
of tenants. They extend from east to west more than one 
hundred feet, two stories high, and about forty feet wide, 
with a cookery and ample accommodation for colored 
people in the rear.^ 

This building was situated on a knoll to the east side 
of Bellows Pond, and was totally destroyed by fire 
on the night of February 21, 1844, when ten of the 
inmates were burned to death. The following are the 
names and ages of those who perished: 

' W. C. Folger Papers, and Quaker Records. 

' Report of the Committee on Town Accounts, 1826. 

The Nineteenth Century 163 

Paul Jenkins, 66 Sophia Beebe, 57 

Thomas Hull, 67 Lydia Bowen, 33 

Jonathan Cathcart, 79 Phebe Jones, 80 

WilHam Holmes, 41 Abial Davis, 87 

William Hutchinson, no age Welthy Davis, 53 

During the ensuing year it was rebuilt on the same 
site, but in 1854 it was removed, in sections, to Orange 
Street, Nantucket. Here it still stands, and is now 
known as "Our Island Home," — this beautiful name 
having been bestowed upon it by the overseers of the 
poor on July 4, 1905. Its removal and re-erection cost 

On May loth, 1836, a great fire occurred in lower 
Main Street. 

On the original site of "Miriam Coffin's" famous 
house, situated at Quaise, to the northwest of Bellows 
Pond, the late Mr. W. B. Starbuck, in 1851, erected 
his dwelling-house, which is still standing. 

The Chiirches. Congregational. The original 
Congregational Church has already been discussed in 
Chapter V. 

The present orthodox Congregational Church in 
Nantucket, on Beacon Hill, was built in 1834, and 
superseded the little church, now known as "the old 
North Vestry," which was moved to the rear after the 
new church was built. 

After serving as the Congregational Church for 
nearly seventy years, it is now used as a Vestry and 
Sunday School, 

Methodist Episcopal. Methodism was introduced 
on the island in 1799. The public services were, at 
first, held in the Town Hall. 

The First Chiu"ch was situated at the southwest 

1 64 Nantucket 

corner of Fair and Lyon Streets, and was dedicated on 
New Year's Day, 1800. This building was known 
as the Teazer meeting-house from "the flag of the 
sloop Teazer, which was raised over the church during 
an early period of its occupancy," The chapel, sub- 
sequently erected on Centre Street in 1823, is said 
to accommodate seven or eight hundred people. The 
organ in this Church was formerly used at the "Old 
South" Church in Boston. 

Unitarian, or Second Congregational, Church on 
Orange Street. This was instituted and incorporated 
in 1 8 10. This large and commodious church is distin- 
guished by the possession of a tower which, for the 
most part of a century, has enshrined that most valued 
of public benefits — the town clock. The first clock, 
made in Nantucket in 1823, was, in May, 1881, super- 
seded by a new one, a gift to the town by a respected 
and generous townsman, Mr. W. H. Starbuck. In this 
tower, also, is a Portuguese bell which was cast in 
Lisbon in 18 10, brought over to this country in 18 12, 
and placed in the belfry, in 181 5, at a cost of $500. 
It is a remarkably sweet-toned bell, and bears the 
following inscription, translated from the Portuguese : 

To the good Jesus of the mountain the devotees of Lisbon 
direct their prayers, offering Him one complete set of six 
bells, to call the people and adore Him in His sanctuary. 

lose Domingos da Costa has done it, in Lisbon, in the 
year 18 10. 

A splendid view of the island and the ocean beyond 
can be obtained from this gilded tower, from which, 
also, "in the good old days of yore," a watch was kept 
for the return of whaling ships. 

For many years the late Town Crier, William D. 

The Nineteenth Century 165 

Clark, signalled, from this tower, the approach of the 
Nantucket steamboat, as soon as she was discernible 
through a powerful telescope, the signal being several 
long toots on his horn from the windows towards each 
point of the compass. This great convenience was 
entirely a voluntary and unpaid service on the crier's 
part, and has been greatly missed by many since it was 
discontinued. On hearing the horn, old Nantucketers 
used to say: "There's Clark — the boat's in sight." 
On very windy or stormy days, and in the early morning 
after a gale during the night, Clark was always on the 
watch for wrecks, warning the townspeople of vessels 
in distress, that help might be despatched. Probably 
many a poor sailor owed his life to this vigilance of the 

In the South tower, watch was kept also for fires at 
night, and the direction of fires was signalled by lan- 
terns. These watchmen were paid by the town, and 
the custom was continued to within a few years, when 
the present system of electric fire-alarms was installed. 

The Episcopal Church owes its establishment in 
Nantucket to the efforts of the Rev. Moses Marcus, 
who, in 1837, visited the island as a diocesan missionary 
from New York. A church was organized in 1838, and 
Mr. Marcus was appointed the first Rector. The new 
church, known as Trinity, was built on the site of the 
Friends' meeting-house in Broad Street. The meeting- 
house was moved to the rear of the lot, and remodeled 
into a chapel and Sunday-school room, while the 
church itself was erected on the front of the lot, being 
consecrated September 18, 1839. It has been said, 
that Trinity Church was architecturally beautiful, and 
that the turreted tower contained a latticed window 
through which "the wind sighed forth, as an .^olian 

i66 Nantucket 

harp, strains of fitful melody, 'most musical, most 
melancholy.' " 

The church was totally destroyed by fire during the 
great conflagration of 1846. After this catastrophe, 
the Trinity Society was dissolved and reorganized as 
St. Paul's Church. 

For some time afterwards the Episcopalians met for 
worship in the North Vestry, and removed in 1848 to 
Harmony Hall, on the site of which St. Mary's Roman 
Catholic Church was subsequently built. In 1849, 
they erected on Fair Street another church, which 
was opened for service in 1850. 

In 1902, a splendid stone-church was erected and 
presented to the parish by Miss C. L. W. French, 
of Boston, in memory of her father, and it stands 
on the site of the former less pretentious building, 
having been consecrated on St. Barnabas Day, June 

The First Baptist Church on Summer Street, was 
organized in 1839, but the meeting-house was not 
erected until 1840. 

The Roman Catholic Church has been represented 
in Nantucket since 1849, but no priest was in residence 
and no regular place of worship instituted until about 
1858. In that year the Rev. Father Hennis secured 
possession of Harmony Hall in Federal Street, and it 
was duly consecrated as St. Mary's Church. Previous 
to this time the church had been under the spiritual 
guidance of New Bedford priests. 

In 1897, on the old site, enlarged by the purchase of 
an adjacent lot, a new church was erected under the 
incumbency of Father C. McSweeney, who began his 
ministrations in 1883. 

The Rev. Father McGee was appointed resident 

The Nineteenth Century 167 

priest in 1903. The Rev. Father Kelly is now in 
residence, 191 2. 

There was at one time a Reformed Methodist 
Episcopal Church, an offshoot from the First Metho- 
dist Episcopal Church ; but there are no records. 

The York Street Colored Baptist Society was 
formed in 1831, and occupied the York Street meeting- 
house for some years, while the society existed. 

The Pleasant Street Baptist Society and Church 
was organized by and for colored people in 1847, when 
the Rev. James E. Crawford (colored) — the barber- 
minister — was appointed pastor, a position which he 
sustained very acceptably and efficiently for forty-one 
years, preaching every Sunday evening to large congre- 
gations. He died in 1888. 

The Universalists had a church where the Athe- 
naeum now stands, but it was destroyed by fire in 1846. 
The present Athen^um building was erected on the 
site in 1847. 

The First Universalist Church was incorporated 
on January 20, 1827, but it was in existence for less 
than ten years. 

The African Methodist Episcopal Church was 
instituted in 1835, near corner of Pleasant and York 

A People's Baptist Church was organized in 1897. 
It was the result of a secession from the First Baptist 
Church. Meetings were held in the Friends' meeting- 
house on Centre Street, now a part of the "Roberts 

The Nantucket Athen^um, when incorporated 
in 1834, was known as the Athenaeum, Library, and 
Museum, and was the result of a coalition between 
two previously existing societies, one, the "Me- 

i68 Nantucket 

chanics' Association," organized in 1820, and the 
other, the "Columbian Library Association," estab- 
lished in 1823. These two societies had become 
amalgamated, under the title of the "United Library 
Association," in 1827, but when some of the promi- 
nent members of the society offered a valuable cen- 
tral site for the erection of a large and suitable 
building for the Association, the matter was taken 
up with much spirit and subscriptions were insti- 
tuted. These soon exceeded the amount required 
to carry out the wishes of the land-donors, and the 
association, with the donors' permission, seciired the 
house and land then recently vacated by the Univer- 
salist Society. Having remodeled the house to suit 
their purposes, the "Nantucket Athenaeum, Library, 
and Museum" was inaugurated, under the most 
auspicious circumstances. Unfortunately the premises 
with their valuable contents were totally destroyed by 
the terrible fire of July 13, 1846. 

The official report of the trustees for the following 
year particularizes the irreparable losses sustained, 
which included 3200 volumes of books, many invalu- 
able records and documents pertaining to the early 
history of the island, and also valuable collections 
housed in the museum, consisting of shells, minerals, 
birds, insects, coins, and foreign objects of interest, 
and antiquities. 

Notwithstanding the inexpressible havoc wrought 
throughout the town by this tremendous conflagration 
and the disastrous effects upon the inhabitants, they, with 
much commendable enterprise, determined to erect a new 
building, and so prompt and effective was their activity 
that the imposing structure now existing was finished 
and ready for occupation on February i, 1847. 

The Nineteenth Century 169 

Through the genial influence of Mr. William Mitchell, 
the then President, and some of his generous friends, the 
new library opened with 1600 volumes, a substantial 
basis on which to build up the splendid collection of 
books which now constitute the Athenaeum Library, 
amounting to over 20,000 volumes. 

The museum was subsequently taken over by the 
Historical Society (which is referred to elsewhere^), 
thus leaving more room at the Athenaeum for the ac- 
cumulation of literary treasures. 

Main Street, or "the Square," as it was then called, 
from the Bank to Rotch's market, was first paved 
with cobble-stones about seventy -five years ago (1837?). 
Above the Bank and extending up to the Starbuck 
houses, the street was first paved about sixty years ago 
(1852?).^ The street was repaved in 1889. 

In the years 1836-37 a financial panic occurred 
which not only caused disaster among Nantucket 
merchants, but involved the island and its inhabitants 
in a web of difficulties and adversities from which they 
were unable to extricate themselves without severe 
and prolonged suffering. The situation was intensified 
by the suspension of specie payment by the banks, 
and the baneful and far-reaching results of this mis- 
fortune can better be imagined than described. 

The two Cliff beacons were erected in 1838, and 
were first lighted during November of that year; they 
were refitted in 1856. At Monomoy, in range with 
Brant Point, there was also a beacon, which was dis- 
continued about twenty years ago, and within the last 
six or seven years the government paid a man a nominal 
salary to look after it. 

' Vide Chapter X. 

' David Folger, as reported to John C. Gardner. 

170 Nantucket 

During 1842, a terrific storm burst over the island, 
washing away part of Sconset bank and several houses. 

The year 1842 was the banner year of the Nantucket 
whaling industry. The fleet had then reached its 
climax, comprising 86 ships and barks, 2 brigs, and 2 
schooners, with a capacity of 36,000 tons, and the 
island contained a population verging upon 10,000 
inhabitants. But it is from this year, also, that its 
decline must be dated, for a series of grave and una- 
voidable misfortunes soon afterwards succeeded one 
another and these gradually dispelled all hopes as to 
the restoration of the industry. A few of these disasters 
must be briefly referred to here. 

For many years Nantucket had been exceptionally 
free from the ravages of fire, and from its settlement, 
in 1661, until 1832, the aggregate losses from this cause 
were computed to amoimt to only $36,000, for the most 
part incurred by the destruction of isolated houses and 
places of business. In 1838, however, a fire occurred 
which was described as ' ' the most extensive and disas- 
trous ever experienced in the community " up to that date, 
and the loss then entailed was estimated at $200,000. 

It was not, however, until 1846 that the terrible 
catastrophe distinguished as the "Great Fire" broke 
out on a sultry July night, and, since the town was 
principally built of wood, nearly the entire business 
section of the town was utterly consumed in the de- 
vastating virulence of the flames. Over three hundred 
buildings, extending over thirty-three acres, were 
burned, and property estimated at nearly $1,000,000 
was completely destroyed. After the fire one could 
stand on the steps of the Pacific Bank and see the 
ships anchored back of the bar, between the chimneys 
left standing. 

The Nineteenth Century 171 

The progress of the fire was eventually arrested by 
four brick houses, viz: one at the corner of Main and 
Orange Streets, the Pacific Bank, the Ocean House, 
and Aaron Mitchell's house on North Water Street. 

This direful calamity contributed largely to the 
decline of the Nantucket whale fisheries, already 

Although, at first, the inhabitants were almost para- 
lyzed by the results of this awe-inspiring holocaust, 
they, nevertheless, manifested the marvelous reserve 
force which has ever characterized them, by having 
most of the business thoroughfares rebuilt, reopened, 
and relighted nine months from the date of the fire, viz : 
on March 24, 1847, when they, very rationally, made a 
festival of the occasion. 

During the year 1847 also, Norwegian pine-trees 
were first planted on the island, and more pine-groves 
were added, in 1852-53, by Josiah Sttugiss. 

As early as 1848, Nantucket boasted of two excellent 
hotels, the Ocean House in town, and the Atlantic 
House in Sconset. 

On February 12, 1849, an order was made by the 
Selectmen that the bells be rung at 7 a.m., 12 noon, and 
9 P.M., the custom continuing to this day. 

The general decline of Nantucket, however, which 
appeared to have set in when its prosperity was at its 
zenith, was further hastened by circimistances which 
threatened to depopulate the island altogether, during 
1849, when the people became crazed with the "Cali- 
fornian fever," which had spread to their shores from 
the mainland, and when every islander was seized with 
a violent desire to seek his fortune anew in the promise- 
land of El Dorado. Fourteen vessels, all owned and 
officered by Nantucketers, sailed for San Francisco 

172 Nantucket 

during this year, bearing a freight of passengers in 
addition to stores of a manifold and various character. 
After their arrival, some of the gold-seekers remained 
and made their fortune; some never came back, and 
still others returned poorer, sadder, and wiser men. 

The year 1849 had, on the whole, been a m.ost dis- 
tressful one for Nantucketers, and before it had ended 
commercial activities were weak and languishing. 

In 1850, the prospect seemed brightening, and final 
spasmodic efforts were made to reanimate the moribund 
whale-fishery. The ship-owners succeeded in refitting 
fourteen vessels, but such difficulties arose in obtaining 
officers and men for the ships that it became impossible 
to carry out the undertaking with anything like the 
desired success. In 1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, and 1856, 
similar efforts were made, but, on the whole, with 
unremunerative results. 

In 1851-52, Main Street was planted with elm-trees 
by Charles G, and Henry Coffin, and Centre Street 
was planted with English maples by N. A. Sprague. 
The pines at Miacomet were planted by Henry Coffin 
in 1866-67. The willows on Centre Street are said 
to have grown from slips taken from Napoleon's grave 
at St. Helena. 

In addition to the causes already indicated as tend- 
ing to depreciate the whaling industry, the greater 
expenditure involved in the fitting out of vessels in 
consequence of the then prevailing high prices ren- 
dered the business less remunerative than it had been; 
whales were decreasing in the high seas, the consump- 
tion of whale-oil was lessening, the prices were declining, 
and petroleum was fast replacing sperm-oil in general 
use. All these factors militated against any further 
profitable sea-whaling, and in Nantucket, as well as 

The Nineteenth Century 173 

elsewhere, the industry was soon among the things 
that had been. 

In 1850, the population of Nantucket amounted to 
8779, a decrease of nearly 1000 since 1840. 

In 1852, efforts were made for an extension of the 
Cape Cod Railway to Hyannis as likely to establish 
a readier communication between the island and the 
mainland. The Legislature was petitioned to permit 
the town to subscribe for $50,000 worth of stock, and 
accordingly the town purchased stock. The desired 
communication was duly opened up by Captain Brown, 
and the steamer Massachusetts on October 9, 1854. It 
may be mentioned that this service was suspended in 
1872, and a more practicable route to the mainland 
established between the island and Woods Hole. 

The West schoolhouse was destroyed by fire on 
July 8, 1852. 

The first installation of gas works and light was 
carried out during 1854, and the Asylum for the Poor 
and the House of Correction were removed to Nan- 
tucket during this year. 

In September, 1855, the steamer Islafid Home, which 
was specially built to traverse the Sound, arrived at 
Nantucket, and became very popular, as she was an 
excellent sea-boat, and many pleasant memories are 
still associated with her. 

In 1856, the present lighthouse at Brant Point was 
erected, and the Nantucket Agricultural Societ}^ was 

In 1857, yet another panic prevailed, and with dire- 
ful results throughout the country. Nantucket was 
not so much affected by it as she was by that of 1837; 
inasmuch as her commerce was already reduced to 
almost a minimum; but it succeeded in depleting her 

174 Nantucket 

population still ftirther, and by i860 her inhabitants 
were reduced to 6094, a decrease of 2685 diiring the 
previous ten years. 

In this year, also, attempts were made to connect 
the island with the mainland by a submarine cable, 
but the service was not successfully installed, and it 
was ultimately abandoned, after many futile endeavors 
to make it effective, in 1861, 

General commercial depression prevailed in Nantuc- 
ket during the three following years, notwithstanding 
many vigorous efforts on the part of the townsmen to 
obviate it. Many of them had given up hope of im- 
provement, many left the island to seek better fortune 
elsewhere, but some still persisted in believing there 
was yet a great future in store for her. 

The West schoolhouse was rebuilt and used as such 
for about twenty years. 

The making of shoes was subsequently instituted 
in it, but with varying success until August 3, 1873, 
when the factory was destroyed by fire, with a loss of 
$18,000, and the business was destroyed with it. 

The Civil War broke out in the spring of 1861, and 
the distinguished position which Nantucket achieved 
for herself during its continuance is minutely recorded 
in the archives of the State. The history of this san- 
guinary but necessary warfare is better known in 
Nantucket than in most places, for so many of her 
patriotic sons have survived the terrible conflict, even 
though maimed and scarred by honor's wounds, that 
there are few of the islanders who have not heard their 
narration of heroic deeds and the thrilling episodes 
of death and victory. 

Here, unfortunately, only a few of the main facts 
can be briefly referred to. When the war began, and 

The Nineteenth Century 175 

the Presidential call was made for men, every Nan- 
tucketer's heart thrilled with patriotic fire, and every 
man who responded to the call was a native-born 
islander, swayed alone by courage and patriotism. 

The island contributed two hundred and thirteen 
men to the army, and one hundred and twenty -six to 
the navy, being fifty-six above its quota, — thus earning 
the proud distinction of " Banner- town " of the Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts. Of those who joined 
the services seventy -four met a soldier's death! 

Where every man distinguished himself it may seem 
invidious to single out any one for special mention, but 
there is not a Nantucket soldier who will not admit 
that General George Nelson Macy well deserved all 
the honors he attained. The following record appears 
in the Genealogy of the Macy Family. 

From Ball's Bluff to Appomattox Court-House he 
marched and fought. He served through the Peninsular 
campaign of McClellan; through the dangers of the first 
and second attacks at Fredericksburg; lost a hand at 
Gettysburg ; was wounded in the Wilderness, and again on 
the James. Starting as a Lieutenant, he won his way by 
gallantry and efficiency to be Major-General by brevet 
and Provost Marshal-General of the Army. 

Nantucket may well be proud of such a record as 
this ! Those who nobly did their duty to their country 
and still siu-vive must be proud to mingle with their 
thanks of gratitude their tears of sympathy for the 
heroic dead — their brothers in arms — whose names are 
inscribed upon the enduring monument which com- 
memorates them. 

The total amount of money raised and expended by 
Nantucket for State aid to soldiers' families during the 

176 Nantucket 

war was $27,492.20. The ladies of the island realized, 
by a Soldiers' Fair, $2038.12, which was almost equally- 
divided between the Sanitary Commission and the 
soldiers and their families; and the Ladies' Soldier 
Relief Society raised $2579.16 during the war for sol- 
diers and their families. It is the duty of men to fight, 
but in war, as in peace, it is the angelic prerogative of 
womanhood to minister relief to all who need it. 

In 1865, the population of the island had further 
decreased to 4830. 

During August of this year the High-School Alumni 
Association held its first meeting, the late Rev. Dr. 
Ferdinand C. Ewer giving the oration. The Governor 
was present and the celebration was continued for 
three days. In 1866, the second meeting took place, 
and a third in 1869, after which, for some reason, the 
meetings were discontinued. Such reunions of old 
schoolfellows are often among the sweetest joys of life, 
when old times and old experiences can be revived and 
compared with the present, and the friendships of 
youth are renewed, and new friendships formed even 
in old age. The happiest days of life are oftenest 
found among school-days, and the sweetest memories 
of school-days often brighten and sweeten old age. 
Such reunions should be encouraged. 

Diu-ing the next two years, 1865-66, ineffective efforts 
were made once more to revive the whaling business, but, 
although some ships were purchased and fitted, the 
attempts were abortive and had to be given up. 

In 1867, during June the Children's Aid Society was 
instituted. In 1869, the last whaling ship — The Oak — 
sailed for the Pacific on November 15th, but she never re- 
turned, as she was sold at Panama during the same year. 

In 1870, the condition of the island was reversed 

The Nineteenth Century 177 

from what it had been in 1842. Then her famous 
industry was at its chmax, and then also her dechne 
set in. In 1870, she has reached the nadir of her mis- 
fortunes, but an alluring bow of promise is dawning 
over her which re-awakens Hope from her slumber, and 
the prayers of those who had never lost faith in her 
future seem about to be answered at last. 

Not a ship remains to the island; scarcely a sound is 
heard where erstwhile the busy hum of a mighty in- 
dustry echoed and re-echoed among her glacial hills: 
all is silent save the lapping of the waves upon her 
sandy shores. 

According to the Census of 1870, the following stand- 
ard names of Nantucketers were thus recorded among 
a population of 4120: Coffin 185, Folger 138, Swain 
and Gardner 112 each, Chase 83, Hussey 76, Macy 76, 
Ray 67, Fisher 64, Coleman 61, Dunham 53, Starbuck 
50, Brown 45, Chadwick 41, Barnard 38, Clark 38, 
Gibbs 36, Cathcart 35, Winslow 34, Smith 32, Bunker 
30, Paddack 30. 

As far back as 1865, Mark Salom of Boston had 
advocated placing the island in a proper light before 
the country as a health resort. The interests of the 
people had, however, been identified so long with sea- 
faring and whale-fishing that, at first, and for a number 
of years afterwards, the new idea did not commend 
itself as of much practical importance, and it was 
considered as Utopian. 

In the meanwhile the regular communication with 
the mainland was attracting an increasing number of 
visitors to the island-shores, year after year, who not 
only spent money freely among the islanders, but 
served to advertise the many attractions of the island 
itself. At length, about 1870, some of the more far- 

178 Nantucket 

seeing inhabitants awoke to the imperative necessity 
of developing the island on new principles in accord- 
ance with the requirements of a progressive age, and 
with a view to exploiting its many natural beauties 
and hygienic advantages. 

In 1872, a new steamboat service was inaugurated 
between the island and Woods Hole, and with its 
improved accommodation it soon became popular with 
tourists, and the traffic increased rapidly. 

Tending further to foster and develop this desirable 
enterprise, a few prominent citizens instituted an 
active and vigorous campaign with a slogan of "Two 
boats a day," by which they sought to establish a 
service of two boats daily between the mainland and 
the island. This was at length accomplished by the 
united efforts of Joseph S. Barney, the Rev. Ferdinand 
C. Ewer, Alexander Starbuck, and William B. Drake, 
powerfully re-enforced by active correspondence and 
editorial comment in the Inquirer and Mirror, which 
eventually convinced the public of its absolute neces- 
sity, in order to promote the best interests of the island. 
There can be little doubt that the realization of this 
enterprise secured, in no small degree, the subsequent 
recognition of Nantucket as, perhaps, the most desira- 
ble health resort on the Atlantic Coast. 

As usual the proposition met with considerable 
opposition, in accordance with the instinctive conserva- 
tism of the islanders, and their determined obstinacy 
with regard to innovations of any kind; and, as a matter 
of fact, "two boats a day" was not practically realized 
until June 6, 1874, although the press and many of 
the most important and most influential Nantucketers 
had been contending for its accomplishment during 
the preceding years. 


A NEW era of prosperity was inaugurated by the 
regular installation of the improved steamboat service 
to and from the island : the consequent influx of visitors 
increased rapidly during the summer months, and the 
islanders, however disinclined at first to provide for 
them, soon foimd that the coming of the "strangers" 
was a source of considerable profit to them.selves. In 
the meanwhile the town authorities were fully alive 
to the new duties devolving upon them in the requisite 
development of the island's natural charms, and in 
the establishment of such measures as were calculated 
to secxire and improve its hygienic conditions and 
advantages. They had to convert an obsolete fishing- 
port into a sanitary and attractive summer resort; 
but Nature had already done so much for the island 
that cooperative zeal and persistent energy were all 
that were required to merit and ensure success. 

Many of the islanders, however, fought as long as 
possible against the innovations proposed from time to 

' The facts recorded in this chapter are so numerous that it has been 
found impossible, for the most part, to weave them into a continuous 
historical narrative. It has, therefore, been deemed best to transcribe 
them in chronological order. 


i8o Nantucket 

time, but in most cases they were forced by the yearly 
increasing influx of visitors to provide accommodation 
and entertainment for them. 

It has already been stated that the disposition of 
Nantucketers has always been first to oppose strongly 
any innovations, hovv'ever calculated to benefit the 
community, and then to relent and regret, while gladly 
acknowledging the beneficence of the schemes which 
they had done their utmost to frustrate. 

Now that many of the innovations have been adopted, 
developed, and are in good working order, who would 
say that their institution was not a boon and a blessing? 
Who would dare to offer opposition now? But it was 
ever thus: primitive minds and ideas have always 
combated the march of civilization until overcome by 
the progressive factors of education and experience. 
The truth of this assertion will be apparent during the 
course of this chapter. 

But to return. Hotels and summer cottages were built 
and the town took on new lite. As usual the brunt 
of the hard work fell upon the women of the island, 
who were ever distinguished not only for their industry 
and prevision, but for their preeminent biisiness quali- 
fications. Since the ruination of the whaling industry 
dtiring the forties, the men, who were then in their prime 
and inured to every hardship, had become, in perhaps 
the majority of cases, aged and incapacitated, and were 
no longer eager to enter into a new mode of life for which 
they were utterly unfitted. Too, the stalwart young 
men of the island had departed in droves to seek their 
fortune elsewhere. But the women, ever ready for 
emergencies, had to fit out their homes and cater for 
the visitors who were coming in increasing hosts every 
summer to their shores. Who can even enumerate the 

The Nineteenth Century i8i 

new duties which this peaceful revolution had imposed 
upon them, or would have the temerity to assert that 
they, in any way, failed in their faithful discharge? 

During the eighth decade of the century, moreover, 
there was kindled in the community a spirit which 
takes care of its public buildings, its churches, its insti- 
tutions of learning, and which encouraged the founding 
of educational organizations, establishments of thrift, 
and schools for the arts, and this spirit manifested itself 
throughout the island, and with considerable effect. 

1870. From 1870, the summer visitors annually 
increased and the islanders were kept busily engaged 
in making preparations for their comfort and in pro- 
viding for their accommodation. 

It is almost impossible to do more than record the 
general progress, adding merely a more or less detached 
note on any point of interest as it arises. 

1871. Ini87i, the Cash House — so long the sentinel 
of the Newtown Gate — which stood as late as 1821, 
w^as demolished, and this old landmark had siu-vived 
for over 150 years.' 

During this year also, on June 27th, a grand Masonic 
Festival was held, and, before the close of the year, a 
large shoe factory was established in the old West 
Grammar-School building by Hayden and Mitchell. 

1872-73. There was an unusually heav}^ snowstorm 
on the island during March, 1872 — the heaviest since 
December, 1867. The recently erected factory of 
Hayden and Mitchell was destroyed by fire on August 

3. 1873. 

1874. As already stated "two boats a day" were 
inaugurated on June 6, 1874, and since this event the 
number of visitors to the island materially increased, 

' William Cash died October 23, 1828, aged eighty-eight years. 

1 82 Nantucket 

320 passengers having landed from the boat on August 
13th, and there were several thousands of visitors during 
the season. 

The Island Review, a new paper, published by Folger 
& Rich, appeared on August 24th. 

General Grant visited Nantucket on August 28th. 

1875. On June 5, 1875, the Monument (in Monu- 
ment Square), erected in memory of the brave citizens 
who gave their lives for their country during the Civil 
War, was dedicated on Memorial Day. 

1876. The Nantucket Literary Union was instituted 
and held its first meeting on February 3, 1876. 

1877. The Sherburne Lyceum was organized in 

1877, met first in the small hall in the Atlantic Hall 
building, and later at Wendell's Hall. It had a large 
membership for many years, and most interesting 
meetings at which lively and interesting debates, etc., 
were held, which did much to stimulate the general 
uplift which had been inaugurated. 

The election of President Hayes was celebrated by 
general rejoicing and a display of illuminations on the 
island, March 5, 1877. As first suggested by Mr. F. 
C. Sanford during November, the Monument to the 
Forefathers was erected near Maxcy's Pond before 
the close of this year. 

1878. A terrible storm visited the island on Satur- 
day, October 12, 1878, and very serious damage to 
property resulted. Nothing equal to it had occurred 
since the October gale of 1841. The loss was variously 
estimated at from $20,000 to $50,000. 

The Island Review ceased publication August 31, 

1878. The Nantucket Journal, under the editorship 
of Arthur H. Gardner, was first issued September 27, 

The Nineteenth Century 183 

1879. A protracted storm visited the island on 
March 31, 1879, during which many vessels were dis- 
abled or lost, while a number of deaths resulted, and 
there was a large general loss to vessel property and 

After a lapse of twenty-five years, steam service 
between Nantucket and New Bedford was restored, 
on June 30, 1879. The site of the homestead of 
Tristram Coffin, south of Capaum Pond, was marked 
by a monolith, during the last week of September. 

The establishment, during 1878-79, of the water- 
works at Wannacomet, drawing the supply of water 
from spring-fed Wannacomet Pond, about one and a 
half miles from the town, was one of the most benefi- 
cent innovations ever introduced upon the island. The 
entire scheme was propounded, planned, and completed 
by Moses Joy, Jr., a native Nantucketer, in face of 
bitter public opposition, which was not overcome until 
the town of Nantucket was plenteously supplied with 
excellent water; and this inestimable boon remains as 
a monument to his persistency, enterprise, and skill. 

The pond has an area of almost eight acres, and a 
depth stated to be eighteen feet. The water is pure 
and of good quality, and is tested once in every month. 
The original pumping engine had a capacity of about 
five hundred gallons per minute, but, in 1900-01, a 
second pumping station was built, and a second line 
of piping laid to the town, which safeguards against 
any accident or emergency. The reservoir is one hun- 
dred and four feet above low water-mark, and is about 
forty-two feet from the ground, the pond itself being a 
few feet higher than the sea-level, and even from a 
distance it forms a conspicuous object. 

The summer supply of water is said to represent 

i84 Nantucket 

300,000 gallons, and 60,000 in winter. There are some 
fifty -five or sixty hydrants in the town, for use in case 
of fire. 

1880. During 1880, the Legislature granted a 
charter to the Nantucket Railroad Co. on April 19th, 
and in the following month a single narrow-gauge line 
was begun. But it was not until July 4, 1881, that 
three miles of the road were completed, and transit 
established between Nantucket and Surf- Side. 

It is stated that during this summer 30,000 passengers 
were carried over the road without an accident. 

On May 4, 1880, groimd was broken for the Nantucket 
Railroad extension. 

An appropriation of $50,000 was passed by Congress 
for the improvement of the harbor, as a port of refuge, 
on June ist. On August ist, the Bug-lights under the 
Cliff were temporarily discontinued, and a successful 
trial of the Wannacomet waterworks was realized. 

1 88 1. On Tuesday, August 16, 1881, the reunion 
festivities of the Clan Coffin began and lasted until 
the following Thursday. Great preparations had been 
made for this auspicious occasion, and members came 
from every part of the country to join in the commemo- 
ration of the two hundredth anniversary of the death of 
Tristram Coffin, the first of his race who settled in 
America. The members of the clan, to the number of 
over five hundred, went by train to Surf-Side, where a 
sumptuous banquet awaited them. 

Tristram Coffin, of New York, was the orator of the 
day, and in an interesting and eloquent address he 
dilated upon the Coffin family and its association with 
the history of the island. His speech was listened to 
with profound attention, and was received with enthusi- 
astic applause. The address of Hon. Charles Carlton 

The Nineteenth Century 185 

Coffin on "The American Citizen" was remarkable 
in many ways, and was characterized by subhmity of 
thought and elegance of diction. 

Perfect unanimity and the most cordial feeling per- 
vaded this immense family concourse throughout the 
notable festival. ' 

In this year also, the "Nantucket Improvement and 
Industrial Association" was instituted. 

On February 4th, five oxen were driven over the ice 
from the steamer to the shore, it being the coldest day 
for years. 

At the annual town-meeting, February 21, 1881, a 
resolution was adopted formally accepting the gift of 
a new town-clock from W. H. Starbuck, which duly 
arrived on May 23d. 

Work commenced upon the new jetty on April 26th. 
On December 20, 1881, a new gravestone was placed 
at the head of Captain John Gardner's grave in the 
Forefathers' Burial-place at Wannacomet, and the old 
stone, which had become dilapidated, was removed to 
the oldest house, where it still remains. 

The shoals around Nantucket have been accumu- 
lating from time immemorial and have always been 
not only an insuperable barrier to maritime commerce, 
but at all times a source of serious danger to navigation 
around the island. These obstructions and dangers 
have long been recognized and deplored, yet for many 
years the government tiirned a deaf ear to all petitions 
for aid in removing them or in making them viable. 
In face of the requisite outlay, it was obviously as 
useless as impossible for the islanders, imaided, to un- 
dertake such a gigantic proposition, and even when, 

' A full report of these exercises will be found in the Nantucket 
Inquirer of August 20th, 1881. 

1 86 Nantucket 

by their own exertions they had organized the great- 
est whale-fishing industry in the world, nothing was 
done to mitigate the evil. 

In 1826, the whole bay was surveyed from Brant 
Point to Great Point, and diiring the following year 
extensive dredging operations were carried out for two 
or three years; but it M^as found to be an Augean task, 
for the subsequent autumnal gales silted up the sand 
again and neutralized all the work that had been done. 
Several other projects were suggested from time to time, 
but it was not until 1879 that another careful govern- 
ment survey was instituted, and General Warren 
recommended the construction of two jetties, one ex- 
tending into the Sound at Brant Point, and the other 
from Coatue. 

An appropriation of $50,000 was secured from the 
government, and in 1881 the construction of the west- 
ern jetty was commenced. The eastern jetty was 
begun a few years later. From time to time consider- 
able sea-dredging has also been done, and general 
conditions are much improved, but there is still much 
to be done in this direction, and eventually it will be 
necessary to extend the jetties. 

During the same month, August 30th, a plot of land 
intended for a Union Chapel for all denominations — 
the gift of H. G. Brooks, of New York, was dedicated 
for that purpose, at Siasconset. 

President Arthur visited Nantucket on September 
27, 1882. 

1883. On the 8th of January occurred one of the 
most severe snow storms that for years had been ex- 
perienced on the island. 

The desirability of instituting a sewerage system in 
Nantucket was strongly advocated, but more strongly 

The Nineteenth Century 187 

opposed, in consonance with the conservative predilec- 
tions of the islanders. 

March 1st, work was commenced on Surf -Side Hotel, 
and it was opened for public use on July 4th, the occa- 
sion being celebrated by general rejoicing. 

On March i8th, was duly solemnized the first w^ed- 
ding that ever occurred on Tuckernuck. 

July 15th, the Union Chapel was first opened at 
Sconset. On the 17th, a musical and literary enter- 
tainment was given to celebrate the event, but the 
formal dedication did not take place until July 26, 1883. 

August 29th, an unusuall}^ heavy surf at Surf-Side 
was witnessed by thousands of people, the terrific fury 
of the ocean being phenomenal. 

September loth, the taking down of Atlantic Hall 
on Main Street commenced; it was removed to Brant 
Point to become part of Hotel Nantucket. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church on Centre Street 
was dedicated on September 24, 1823, and its sixtieth 
anniversary was observed on September 23, 1883. 

November 20th, the hands of the town-clock were 
changed to "standard time." 

Diiring the autumn of 1883, in addition to the erec- 
tion of the Springfield and Surf-Side Hotels, the Ocean 
View annex at Sunset Heights and the Nantucket 
Hotel at Brant Point were erected. The latter was 
two hundred and sixty feet in length and with a 
spacious piazza and balconies. 

1884. January 7th, the harbor was sealed with ice. 
Another mighty surf occurred on the south side on 
January 9th, hills and bluffs were swept away, and the 
bed of the railroad was seriously endangered. Febru- 
ary 4th, the proposed installation of a sewerage system 
was further considered from a hygienic point of view, 

1 88 Nantucket 

and on the 9th official reports appeared concerning the 

On February 23d, was organized as a corporation, 
a new cemetery company to be known as the Mount 
Vernon Cemetery Co. This was for the purpose of 
controlHng the land adjoining Prospect Hill Cemetery. 

March 226., a new bell-buo}^ was placed on the bar. 

On July 8th, the Nantucket Railway was extended 
to Siasconset, when a spirited celebration was held. 

August loth, a shock of earthquake was felt all over 
the island. September loth, the hottest day of the 
year— 88°. 

1885. During this year there is little of special 
interest to record concerning Nantucket town, but 
Siasconset made marked progress in its development. 
Many new buildings were added, the railway facilities 
naturally attracted an increased host of visitors, a 
post-office was established, and the many attractions 
of this famous village speedily enhanced its popularity. 

Some notice must, however, be taken of General 
Grant's funeral which took place on Sattuday, August 
9th, and very interesting and impressive memorial 
services were held at the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
Nantucket, at which Captain Dahlgren delivered a 
spirited address on "Grant as a Soldier," and the Rev, 
R. R. Shippen, of Washington, followed with an eloquent 
tribute on "General Grant as a Civilian." A touching 
and sympathetic memorial, in blank verse, was sub- 
sequently read by the gifted author, Dr. Arthtu" El well 
Jenks. Similar services were also held at Siasconset. 

1886. A terrific storm occurred which involved great 
damage to property. 

On April 20th, the installation of the electric tele- 
graph on the island was completed. 

The Nineteenth Century 189 

On the 30th of the same month, a citizens' meeting 
was held to celebrate the completion of the cable 
between Nantucket and the mainland. In order to 
carry out this purpose, a cable had been laid, in 1840, 
by way of Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard, and Tucker- 
nuck, but it proved unsuccessful, the only important 
message received through it being news of the loss of 
the steamer Lexington, by fire, on January 13, 1840, 
when one hundred and forty lives were lost. Another 
submarine cable was laid between Great Point, Nan- 
tucket, and Monomoy Point, Cape Cod, on August 
19, 1856, but this also proved a failure, and it was not 
until October 18, 1886, that a satisfactory cable was 
laid by the Government across Nantucket and the 
Vineyard Sounds. This is still in every way competent 
and effective. 

During this year also, a station of the U. S. Weather 
Bureau was established on Nantucket. The geographi- 
cal position of the island renders this easterly station 
most essential, and of great importance. All meteoro- 
logical observations are daily reported to Washington, 
and when the approach of storms is indicated, warnings 
are radiated by the cable in various directions. The 
station is well equipped with the most complex and 
delicate instruments and appliances requisite for all 
meteorological purposes, and is in charge of a coiirteous 
and competent observer. 

The anniversary of that ancient, time-honored festi- 
val of sheep-shearing was celebrated at the Quaise 
farm by Harrison Gardner on June 21st, when the 
Union Benevolent Society and friends were present to 
the number of three hundred and thoroughly enjoyed 
themselves in the realization of old scenes and modern 

190 Nantucket 

1887. The "Sea-Cliff" was built in this year, and 
opened under the management of Mrs. Pettee. 

1888. The personal property of Nan- 
tucket amounted to .... $1,312,264 
and the real property to . . . $1,572,334 

(From Assessor's Book) . . . $2,884,798 

The Nantucket season diiring 1888 was most suc- 
cessful, thousands of strangers having visited the 
island, and the weather having been almost uniformly 

During three days of the week ending December ist, 
a dreadful wind-storm visited Nantucket and did 
irreparable damage to property, the railroad having 
perhaps sufifered most. 

1889. On August 14th, the electric -light plant was 
first operated on the island, and the lights were satis- 
factorily tested. 

On December 27th, the Muskeget Life-Saving Station 
was totally destroyed by fire. 

1890. Up to this time the island never had so many 
visitors as during this year, although an epidemic of 
grippe was prevalent. 

On February 29th, a blizzard, and on October 27th 
a cyclonic storm, did much damage. 

The Athenaeum was made a free library in May, by 
an arrangement with the town authorities. 

Once more the sewerage question was discussed and 
reported upon. 

1 89 1. March was a month of storms; indeed 1891 
was a stormy year, for from the first week in May until 
the last week in June was the greatest storm period 
since 1832-33. 

The Nineteenth Century 191 

Point Breeze Hotel was opened for its first season 
on June 20, 1892. On February 8th, at a special town- 
meeting, the report as to a sewerage scheme was 
adopted, and an appropriation of $50,000 voted for its 
being carried out. 

Among the closing acts of the annual town-meeting 
held on March 2d, was the passing of a resolution to 
the following effect: "That we the voters of Nantucket 
in annual town-meeting assembled, will put forward all 
our energies and use all reasonable means, both in our 
corporate capacity and by encouraging individual 
efforts, to make Nantucket one of the most popular 
resorts in America." 

At this meeting also, after being agitated for seven 
years, the sewerage question was settled affirmatively, 
the votes being "Yes" 334, "No" 148. 

On March 31st, it was resolved to increase the num- 
ber of electric lights in the streets. 

On April 8th, a franchise was granted to extend the 
railroad to Siasconset by a new and shorter route, 
under the management of the Nantucket Central 
Railroad Co.; and an additional appropriation was 
granted during this month for further work on the 
jetties. During April, also, a new filter was built for 
the waterworks. 

In November, a new light ship, "No. 54," was placed 
at the mouth of Nantucket Sound; and, at the end of 
the month, a violent tempest, with a maximum velocity 
of sixty miles an hour, visited the island. However, 
although the hurricane was terrific, little or no per- 
manent damage resulted. 

1893. In this year there is nothing of historic 
interest to chronicle except perhaps ' ' the usual August 
storm," which occurred on August 20th and which 

192 Nantucket 

attained a maximum velocity of fifty-nine miles and 
caused much and irreparable damage. 

1894. On April 14th, Alexander vStarbuck proposed 
the institution of an association consisting of the Sons 
and Daughters of Nantucket, which was duly estab- 
lished and incorporated, and an annual meeting, with 
a large and progressive membership, has, every year 
since its inauguration, been held in Boston, where the 
islanders meet for recreation and social enjoyment. 
The meetings are usually held during November, at 
one of the large Boston hotels, and while conducing 
much to promote the confraternity of Nantucketers, 
they have brought them together from their new homes 
on the mainland, made them acquainted with each 
other, while renewing old friendships, and tending to 
foster ties of amity and camaraderie among new friends. 

On June i8th, a devastating whirlwind occurred on 
the island. During September a great fire broke out 
in Gibbs's Swamp and the surrounding neighborhood. 

The Nantucket Historical Association was established 
in May, 1894. The members constituting the Council 
purchased the old Quaker schoolhouse, on Fair Street 
(built in 1838), and became incorporated during the 
following July. Here a varied and valuable miscella- 
neous collection, consisting of maritime implements, 
domestic and foreign curios and antiquities, pictures, 
books, maps, charts, and historical sundries, soon 
accumulated, and rapidly increased to such an extent 
that, in 1903, the Council resolved to erect at once a 
fireproof building in order to protect and display the 
manifold objects with which they had been entrusted. 
In 1900, the Museum, which had been housed in the 
Athenaeum, and which, owing to alterations in the 
arrangement of the latter institution, the trustees were 

The Nineteenth Century 193 

willing to transfer, was turned over to the Historical 
Association, and the union of the two collections con- 
stituted an historical and representative collection 
such as is probably unsurpassed by any other provincial 
museum in the State. The new fireproof building 
was erected in the rear of the meeting-house, and con- 
sists of a large basement, ground-floor, and gallery, 
with a vestibule of one story on the east fagade, and the 
premises are all that could be desired, so far as utility, 
lighting, convenience, and ample room are concerned. 
The old meeting-, or schoolhouse, is still used for annual 
or other meetings, and remains much as it was when 
it was used for religious purposes. The Council was 
fortunate in receiving bequests which not only enabled 
them to liquidate all the expenses of building, but to 
serve as a partial endowment and to defray the expenses 
of their publications. 

Work on the new State road to Siasconset was be- 
gun at Barnard's Valley, on October 2d. 

1895. An epidemic of grippe was prevalent on the 
island during June. 

Nantucket Island was widely advertised through 
circulars of its approaching centennial celebration. On 
July 9th, a century had passed since the name of the 
town was changed from Sherburne to Nantucket, and 
this occasion the islanders resolved to commemorate. 
Moreover, the town having been incorporated in 1671, 
the auspicious occasion really partook of the nature of 
a bi-centenary. 

No more extensive demonstration was ever attempted 
on "the little purple island." It was held on July 9th, 
loth, and nth, and was most successful and impressive, 
being most happily conceived and thoughtfully executed. 

Hundreds of the sons and daughters of the island, 

194 Nantucket 

who had wandered far and near and to many climes, 
returned to their island home to share her rejoicing, 
and to renew the inspiring associations of childhood; 
and right heartily were they welcomed to the bosom 
of the fond mother who bore them. The old town was 
joyously arrayed, almost every house being gaily deco- 
rated, and while the national flag adorned every 
point of vantage, streamers and banners of every color 
fluttered brightly from one end of the town to the other. 
Triumphal arches, masses of taste and coloring, decked 
the prominent places of the principal thoroughfares, 
and everywhere, and in every way, the islanders showed 
how heartily and with what unanimity they had re- 
solved to make the occasion one never to be forgotten. 

Sheep-shearing, festivals, and squantums were re- 
instituted, and the quondam glories of the famous 
whale-fisheries were reproduced as far as possible once 

The proceedings commenced with the pealing of 
bells and artillery salutes, which re-echoed over the 
ocean, while the rapturous cheers from many hundreds 
of happy hearts made the island ring with joy. 

Literary exercises, as varied as interesting, as exten- 
sive as excellent, were held in the North Church, con- 
sisting for the most part of centennial odes, and of 
many masterly addresses on appropriate historical, 
social, and religious subjects. In the evening a ban- 
quet was held at which covers were laid for 1 150 guests. 
As a chronicler has well said: "It was a universal week 
of rejoicing, love, and good-will to all mankind, which 
ought to make every Nantucketer sound the gladsome 
paeans of Nantucket for ever."' 

■ For a full report of this notable commemoration, vide supplement to 
Nantucket Inquirer, issued July 13, 1895. 

The Nineteenth Century 195 

The Nantucket Central Railroad extension was 
finished to Sconset, and the first train ran through, 
amid much rejoicing, on August 15th. 

On November 27th, a fierce gale (fifty or sixty miles 
an hour), wild waves, snow, high tides, and cold ternpera- 
ture made up an experience which those who realized 
it will not soon forget. 

1897. The "Old Mill" was purchased by Miss 
Caroline L. W. French at public auction, and presented 
to the Nantucket Historical Association on August 4th. 
The price realized was $885. 

1898. January 31st. A storm of tremendous energy 
burst over the island, but comparatively little damage 
was done. 

During April of this year, legislative authority was 
granted to the town to spend $1000 annually in adver- 
tising, and the resolution was approved by the Governor 
on April 26th. 

On July 29th, a collision occurred between the Nan- 
tucket and Gay Head steamers, off Nobska Light, in a 
fog. No Uves were lost, but the Nantucket was badly 

Saturday and Sunday, November 26th and 27th, 
a terrible storm (popularly known since as "the Port- 
land storm," from the loss of the steamer Portland 
with all on board), having its centre at Nantucket, 
burst over the island, and did damage to the amount 
of $5000 ; the wind attained a velocity of ninety miles 
an hour, and the tide rose to an unprecedented height. 

1899. February 12th to 15th, an unusual spell of 
cold and storm, followed by a severe fall of snow, was 
ushered in. The island became ice-bound. During 
this month the cold weather exceeded in severity and 
duration anything that can be remembered. 

196 Nantucket 

Union Street was repaved, beginning April loth. 
The work of building the Orange Street road commenced 
during the week ending April 29th. 

1900, Grippe was again prevalent on the island, 
during January. 

During the early part of this year there was much 
talk of progress in many directions. In connection 
with the exploitation of Coatue, a Coatue Building 
Syndicate was formed and builders were engaged, a 
railway to the Cliff was projected, a street railroad was 
proposed and discussed, a sewerage system for Sconset 
was considered, the relaying of Nantucket streets, a 
new road to Monomoy, tree planting, the booming of 
Surf-Side and general building operations ; all these had 
their advocates, but the projects failed to materialize, 
and for a period peace and quietude reigned once more 
upon the island. Such spasmodic activities had been 
noticed aforetime with similar results, and no doubt 
this gave rise to the saying that "the authorities of 
Nantucket seem to wake up and to do something once 
in seven years!" 

About the middle of August, twenty-seven miles of 
electric wire had been installed on the island, and nearly 
one thousand incandescent lights. 

1 901. An unusually heavy snowfall, eight inches, 
occurred on the island on February 23d, affording a 
splendid opportunity for sleighing. 

The leasing of Long Pond and Madeket Ditch was 
again considered after many previous discussions. 

After several previous trials, Nantucket Central 
Railroad new service was instituted on July 4th. 

Wireless telegraphy was installed at Siasconset during 
August, 1 90 1, and Nantucket Island was honored 
when it was selected as the first station in America 

The Nineteenth Century 197 

whereon was erected Marconi's wonderful invention 
for the transmission and reception of messages to and 
from steamers on the ocean. This surpassing effort 
of inventive genius has indeed proved an inestimable 
boon to the "ships at sea," and it would be rash to 
forecast the future possibilities of this marvelous new 
system of intercommunication. ' 

A loop from the telegraph cable connects the office 
to the mainland, and the service is open both by day 
and by night. 

The first message received was from the steamer 

The tide of travel to the island during the season of 
1 90 1 tried the capacity of the hotels and boarding- 
houses to a degree never before experienced, and 
augured well for the continued success of Nantucket 
as a sea resort. 

1902. At a town-meeting held on February 3d, 
appropriations were voted to the amount of $60,335, 
and a bill to acquire the Cliff Bathing Beach as public 
property was withdrawn, owing to the opposition of 
the committee. 

The River and Harbor Bill providing for the expen- 
diture of $70,000 passed the U. S. Senate on April 21st, 
$35,000 to be expended upon Nantucket and Hyannis. 

After much discussion at the annual town-meeting 
held on April 21st, by a vote of forty-nine to ten it was 
decided to raise $20,000 on notes, and $40,000 by taxa- 
tion, and thus maintain a lower tax rate. 

The manufacture of hygienic ice was established on 
the island during April, 1902. 

On May 2d, a bill to place the regulation of fares 

' An accurate description of the system and its modes of operation 
will be found in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror August lo, 1901. 

198 Nantucket 

and freights on steamboat lines plying between ports 
of Massachusetts iinder the control of the Railroad 
Commission was carried in the House, after strenuous 
opposition and spirited debate, through the persistence 
of Arthur H. Gardner. St. Paul's Church was con- 
secrated on St. Barnabas Day, June 11, 1902. 

During September, Sconset wireless station was 
lighted by electric light; and the season closed as one 
of the gayest and most successful which the village 
had known. 

A lack of coal supply, owing to a great strike among 
the coal miners, made the islanders very anxious. 

On Tuesday, December 9th, occurred the last zero 
temperature recorded on the island, viz: 1° below. 

1903. The minds of the islanders were relieved by 
a supply of coal arriving on January 4th. 

$60,852.67 was appropriated at February town- 
meeting, a large portion of which was devoted to roads. 

A bill was also passed by the Massachusetts Legisla- 
ture authorizing the town to purchase the Cliff Bathing 
Beach through a loan by the State to be repaid by the 

In June, an act was passed enabling Nantucket to 
provide a water supply for Sconset. 

On October 5th the Coffin School was reopened for 
teaching manual training. 

The following inscription was found on a beam in 
the Unitarian Church tower, on September 26th, during 
repairs: "This tower was rebuilt by Perez Jenkins 
in 1830, — height 10 feet 5>^ inches to top of points." 

The Nantucket Athletic Club was incorporated in 
1890 for the purpose of offering facilities for athletic 
games and recreation. It was not, however, until the 
autumn of 1904 that the proposed building was begun, 

The Nineteenth Century 199 

and on April 5, 1905, it was finished, equipped, and 
opened to members and their friends. 

The club-house, near the steamboat landing, con- 
tains two bowling alleys, a billiard room, reception 
room, card rooms, and a large room for meetings, 
conversazioni, etc. In connection with the club-house 
are fine tennis courts, where tournaments are frequently 
held. Balls, receptions, concerts, readings, lectures, 
etc., are occasionally given in the spacious amusement 
hall. The club consists entirely of men but they accord 
many privileges to the fair sex, and the institution is a 
source of many refined pleasures not only to the town, 
but, during summer, to throngs of visitors.^ 

During 1903 also, the Electric and Power Co. suc- 
ceeded by purchase to the Citizens Gas Co. and the 
amalgamation of these two companies under the name 
of the Citizens Gas, Electric, and Power Co. insured a 
vastly improved joint service which is now keenly ap- 
preciated, and the equipment is all that could be 

1904. The Civic League was formed on January 
14th, in order to promote the welfare of the town gener- 
ally, especially to secure its cleanliness and good order, 
and in every respect the League has well fulfilled the 
purposes for which it was established. 

The Bathing Beach was leased for fifteen years, at 
$350 per annum, and the Bathing PaviHon was erected 
during May of this year. 

During June, a water plant was installed at Sconset. 

The Marconi Co. established a station at Siasconset, 
in this year. 

' In 1912, the name of the club was changed to the " Nantucket Club," 
and a fine pier was built out from the veranda at the back, which gives 
ample facilities for boating and aquatic sports. 

200 Nantucket 

The corner-stone of a new fireproof building for the 
security of the historical collection was laid at the 
Nantucket Historical Association on September 17, 
1905, A station of the New York Yacht Club was 
established at Nantucket in this year. This was due 
entirely to the enterprise and generosity of Paul The- 
baud, the well-known yachtsman of New York, who 
supplied the building, fully equipped, with landing- 
stage, tenders, and every accessory at his own expense. 
There is also an attendant in charge of it. Since its 
establishment the visiting yachts in the harbor have 
increased threefold, doubtless encouraged also by the 
deepening of the channel. 

During the spring, an appropriation of $80,000 was 
secured for the purpose of deepening the harbor and 
channel, of which $70,000 was available for Nantucket. 
At the same time economy and reform in town matters 
were strongly advocated owing to unhealthy financial 

The museum at the Athenseum was transferred to 
the Nantucket Historical Association during April. 

Five thousand dollars was granted by the Legislature 
for improvement of the harbor during the same month. 

A reception was given by the Historical Association, 
on the occasion of the opening of their rooms, on June 

The overseers of the poor named the Asylum for the 
Poor "Our Island Home." 

The Civic League held their annual meeting and 
banquet at the Point Breeze Hotel on July 20th, eighty 
members being present. 

"Billy Clark," the Town Crier, had a successful 
"Song Recital" as a testimonial, at the Athletic Club 
on September 23d, added to a subscription of $388.50. 

The Nineteenth Century 201 

The Nantucket Hotel property was sold at public 
auction on September 30th. 

Harbor dredging temporarily ceased at end of De- 

1906. Alvin Hull, one of the town criers, died sud- 
denly during this year. ' He was a veteran of the Civil 
War, a whaler, and had officiated as town crier for 
over twenty years. He was generally esteemed. 

1907. The new Bathing Pavilion was opened at 
Sconset in August. 

At the town-meeting in February, $1000 was appro- 
priated to further advertise the island as a health 
resort, and spirited efforts were made in this direction. 

During May, the town adopted a modern telegraph 
fire-alarm system; and the dredging of the harbor was 
recommenced in July. 

The question as to admitting automobiles on the 
island was rediscussed, and settled negatively during 

During the season the hotels and boarding-houses 
were filled to overflowing. 

The Marconi wireless station at Sconset was de- 
stroyed by fire on November 15th. 

A motor car arrived for Nantucket Railroad, and 
ran to Sconset in less than thirty minutes. 

1908. On January ist, new automobile railroad 
mail service was installed between Nantucket and 
Sconset, vice the old mail coach. 

On January 23d, the worst storm for twenty years 
burst over the island; greatest maximum velocity 
eighty-three miles. Damages estimated at $5000. 
It is said that one puff registered a velocity of over 
one hundred and twenty miles per hour! 

' August 10, 1906, aged sixty years five months. 

202 Nantucket 

The new lightship, "85, " was placed in position dur- 
ing the first week in February. 

The town-meeting on February ist appropriated 
$60,000. An appropriation for defraying the expenses 
of a band was voted in opposition to one proposed for 
advertising. One thousand dollars was voted for the 
establishment of a town gymnasium. It was resolved 
to erect a new stand pipe at Wannacomet waterworks, 
eighty feet high, with a capacity of 180,000 gallons 
more than the present tank, and to contain 400,000 

The expense of erecting the eastern jetty was com- 
puted at $375,000. The estimated cost of the western 
jetty, the construction of which was begun in 1881, 
was $112,000. 

The Cliff beacons ("Bug-lights") were finally dis- 

In April a bill was passed at the State-House per- 
mitting the Selectmen practically to exclude auto- 
mobiles from the island, from June 15th to September 
15th in each year. 

The Maria Mitchell Observatory was dedicated on 
July 15th. 

New range lights (skeleton towers) were placed at 
Brant Point on July 14th. 

The season of 1908 was the most successful in 
Sconset's history. 

A new motor car on the Nantucket Railroad had 
its trial trip, between Nantucket and Sconset, on July 
30th, and the result was very satisfactory. 

On November 9th, the opening at head of harbor was 
entirely closed, and much discussion was entailed as to 
the possible results. 

1909. The appropriation for town expenses has 

The Nineteenth Century 203 

almost doubled during the past sixteen years, between 
1893 and 1909, In 1893 it amounted to $34,900, and 
in 1909 to $68,455.38. 

"Billy Clark" died on Tuesday, August 17, 1909, 
(having been born at Nantucket, on November 17, 
1846), after many years' service as an esteemed and 
respected town crier. 

1 910. Nantucket got another appropriation of 
$50,000 for the jetties. 

The annual appropriations at town-meeting, held 
February 14th, totalled $71,681.08. 

During March it was proposed to raise by pop- 
ular subscription, another $1000, to advertise Nan- 

The Sewer Commissioners' report, issued April 22d, 
showed a total cost of $7,524.00. This sum was 
subsequently appropriated. 

Many important improvements were suggested for 
Sconset in April, principally with a view to improved 

During the past decade many experiments have 
been made regarding transportation to Siasconset, but 
early in June a new system was inaugurated with every- 
thing new. The new rolling stock arrived at the end 
of May, and was placed in operation on June 7th, with 
gratifying success. 

This year's season was not only the best ever experi- 
enced in Nantucket, but also the best ever known in 
Sconset; 10.000 visitors were accommodated on the 

The annual valuation of Nantucket shows an increase 
of more than $160,000 over that of last year, 

A further appropriation for Nantucket harbor was 
granted during December, 1910. 

204 Nantucket 

191 1. The new steamboat Sankaty arrived on 
May 2d. 

During the week ending August 5th, the Sconset 
Carnival was held, including the crowning of the king 
and queen, a street parade, games, etc. 

In the spring and summer dredging was continued, 
previous efforts having been unsatisfactory, if not 
inutile to a great degree, owing to the fact that the 
work had been carried on in deep water ! The present 
contract provides for the deepening of the water over 
the bar to the depth of seventeen feet. 

Another banner season, hotels, summer cottages, 
and boarding-houses being so crowded that many 
visitors had to return by the boats — the much aug- 
mented accommodation of the island being overtaxed. 

1 91 2. This year, while meager in matters of historical 
interest, was devoid of sensations, but replete with 
conventional happenings. The Legislature granted 
an appropriation of $10,000 for deepening the anchorage 
in Nantucket harbor. 



However simple and unpretentious the earliest 
architecture on the island of Nantucket may have been, 
yet, like the law of evolution, it manifests progress 
from a lower to a higher type during the lapse of historic 
time. While the primeval habitations of the English 
settlers in the neighborhood of Hummock Pond and 
Wannacomet were of the humblest possible character, 
we recognize a still higher type in, for example, the 
"Oldest House," built in 1686. 

When the so-called town was removed from Wanna- 
comet to Wesko — the modern Nantucket — about 1 720, 
a still higher type prevailed in the adoption of two-stor}^ 
houses, with the northern roof sloping down to the 
first story, which now constitutes perhaps most of the 
houses in the town. At a still later period many of 
the houses assumed the character of having two stories 
in front and rear, and then, in a few instances, of gam- 
br el -roofed houses, but never to any great extent. 
Many superior houses of a colonial type were subse- 
quently built; for example, the imposing dwellings in 
upper Main Street and elsewhere. 

Probably not a vestige remains of the original houses 
built by the primitive settlers from the settlement in 


2o6 Nantucket 

1 66 1 to 1680. The earliest house of which there is 
any record was that inhabited by Nathaniel Starbuck 
soon after his arrival in 1660, and it was built at the 
western end of the island. It must have been only a 
temporar}^ abode, as in 1670 it was no longer in exist- 
ence. While the location of the original house-lots 
may be indicated with some precision, there is no means 
of ascertaining the exact or even probable situation of 
the houses upon them. 

The "Cambridge Spring," near Hummock Pond, is 
believed to have indicated the position of the so-called 
"Parliament House" — the residence of Nathaniel and 
Mary Starbuck. James Coffin's house is said to have 
stood to the north of this; and tradition asserts that 
Tristram Coffin's dwelling occupied a spot at the south- 
west end of Capaum Pond, which has been marked with 
a monolith by his successors. It is also more or less 
authoritatively stated that John Coleman, senior and 
junior, and Jeremiah Coleman lived on the plains, as also 
did the early Barnards, and Allen and Richard Swain. 

John Mott had land in the Long Woods; William 
Bunker lived near Squam Pond; the earliest Cart- 
wrights, at Pocomo. Peter Folger lived on the western 
side of the Allen Smith house, near the west end of 
Jethro Folger's lane on upper Main Street. Eleazer 
Folger, his eldest son, lived on the hill back of the 
Abner Turner house on West Chester Street, and John, 
the youngest son, lived at Polpis. The Gardners, 
Richard and John, lived at the northwestern part of 
Nantucket, in the neighborhood where Hamblin's 
farm now stands. 

Thomas Macy, after residing near "Maticat," 
(Madeket) for a year or so, lived on the Pond field 
at Wannacomet, where he died in 1682. 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 207 

Edward Starbuck resided near the north head of 
Hummock Pond, where he died in 1690, aged eighty-six 

The first town-house is said to have stood near the 
Thomas Backus house; the second, near the Holmes 
country. Here also stood the jail. 

As time progressed, the residences became centralized 
in the vicinity of Wannacomet; but, about 1720, when 
Capaum had been cut off from the sea, and had become 
a mere pond, the inhabitants resolved to remove the 
settlement to Wesko — now the town of Nantucket — 
principally because of the facilities rendered by spacious 
harbor accommodation at the latter place. A few 
houses had been erected in the neighborhood some years 
previously to the exodus, but it was not until about 
1720 that building operations on an extensive scale 
were carried on at Wesko; and in numerous instances 
houses were removed from the old center to the new. 
With very few exceptions, therefore, Nantucket, as it 
now stands, consists mainly of houses which were 
built diiring the first quarter of the i8th century. 

A few notes on the earlier houses which still in part 
remain may not be without interest, if they serve no 
more useful purpose. 

THE "oldest house" IN NANTUCKET — 1686-I912 

On the quaintly delightful island of Nantucket — 
so full of natural charms, so brimful with historical 
associations — there are few objects of keener interest 
than the ancient house, built in 1686, as a wedding gift 
to a yoimg pair, the bridegroom the grandson of one 
of the earliest white settlers, and the bride — "sweet 
sixteen" — a daughter of Captain John Gardner, also 

2o8 Nantucket 

an early settler, and up to the time of his death, in 
1706, Chief Justice of the island. 

What changes have taken place since, like a lonely- 
sentinel, this primitive dwelling first raised its front 
on the north shore, at the top of Sunset Hill ! Two 
hundred and twenty -four years! Only one hundred 
and ninety-four years after the discovery of the New 
World, only eighty-four years after the discovery of 
the island by Bartholomew Gosnold, only sixty-six 
years after the landing of the Pilgrims! There it has 
stood during the decay of empires, the thwarted am- 
bitions of kings and emperors, and for nearly a century 
before the American Revolution had consecrated the 
United States "as the home of the brave and the land 
of the free" ; and there it still stands, as proudly as ever, 
where it has marked the rise, the fall, and the re-ascen- 
sion of "the little purple island," smiling amid its 
venerable associations, and the pride of all Nantucketers. 

We claim no stately architectural beauties for this 
antiquated dwelling-house, for it was erected long 
before colonial architecture had ever reached the "old 
country" from which it was subsequently imported. 
It was, indeed, a mere cottage, as it stands to-day 
after two hundred and tw^enty-four years, but the happy 
home of one of the pioneers of civilization on this vast 

When the marriage was determined, it was arranged 
that Captain John Gardner should supply the land for 
the building, and, inasmuch as the prospective bride- 
groom's father "owned large acreage of forest at Ex- 
eter, N. H.," it was decided that he should supply the 
necessary lumber for the framework of the house, and, 
accordingly, this was conveyed in one of his own vessels. 

It has been stated that, when the house was built. 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 209 

there were not more than thirty houses on the island. 
When all was prepared, Jethro Coffin and Mary Gardner 
were duly married in their own house. 

"The site selected was about one hundred and fifty 
feet from the brow of the hill, as it stands at the present 
day. . . . The main building occupying a space of 
about eighteen feet by thirty-five."^ 

The house consists of two stories and an attic, and 
the southern aspect of the sloping roof was much shorter 
than that in the rear. When the house was built, the 
northern roof came down to within a few feet of the 
ground, running over a lean-to, which extended along 
the rear of the house from one end to the other. It is 
not generally known, however, that at one time the 
northeast corner of the roof was destro^^ed by fire, and 
when the damage was repaired the angle was not 
restored, so that pictures of the house only represent 
the downward extension of the northern roof on the 
northwest end. The reason assigned for the greater 
extent of the northern roof is that, in most old Nan- 
tucket houses the short roof is on the southern exposure, 
and the long roof on that of the north, because the 
prevailing winds are from the southwest, and in running 
up the south roof and running down the longer northern 
roof, the wind would not tend so much to tear ofif the 
shingles. Under the shingles the roof itself was origi- 
nally covered with boards about eighteen inches broad, 
running lengthwise up and down. 

Midway on the roof bridge is one large brick chimney- 
stack through which all the flues in the house are con- 
nected. Of this chimney more anon. 

On the front, or southern, aspect of the house are 
the front door and two windows. When the house was 

' Tnisttim and his Grandchildren, by Mrs. Worron, 1881. 

210 Nantucket 

built, there was an extensive wooden porch erected in 
front of this door, and upon this opened, on its eastern 
side, a massive door of oak, which constituted the real 
hall door of the house. The outer door was opened by 
passing a finger through a small hole in the door itself 
and lifting a solid bar of oak, which effectually secured 
the door when it was shut. This useful, as well as 
ornamental appendage, is no longer remembered, 
having disappeared in the flux of time. It is stated 
by Mrs. Worron, who resided in the house at an early 
period, that the space disclosed when this outer door 
was opened, "was large enough to admit a yoke of 

On the east end of the house are three windows, one 
for each story, and on the west end are four, one to 
light the living-room on the ground floor, a small narrow 
one lighting the little bedroom north of the living-room, 
one for the second story, and one for the attic. The 
window supplying the living-room, is somewhat remark- 
able, inasmuch as the upper sash has two rows with 
five panes in each, and the lower sash has three rows 
with five panes in each. So far as is known, there is 
no similar window on the island, and being in several 
ways more elaborate than any of the other windows, 
it may be assumed that it was of later origin than the 
house itself. 

The house is very substantially built of large oak 
beams averaging from twelve to fourteen inches in 
diameter, about a foot square ; and none of these, even 
now, shows symptoms of decay. The main beams are 
strengthened on the second floor by means of "ship's 
knees" of oak, bolted to the floor beams and uprights. 
Cedar laths have been nailed to the flooring above, by 
hand-made nails, and the plaster, freely used in covering 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 211 

them, was mainly composed of ground shells. There 
are evidences of more modern lathing and plastering 
having been superimposed at a subsequent date. 

Entering the front door we find ourselves in a small 
vestibule, out of which open two large rooms, occupy- 
ing the whole of the ground-floor, that on the east being 
known as the "keeping-room," and that on the west 
the living-room. Between, in front of the large chim- 
ney, is a winding stairway leading to the second story. 
The keeping-room is a large room, but the ceiling is 
low, not more than six and one-half feet high. 

The superior workmanship of the house is apparent 
the moment one enters: heavy oak beams edge the 
ceiling, and one immense beam, flanked on either side 
by six or eight supports of sturdy oak planking, crosses 
the middle of the ceiling itself. 

In this keeping-room, as well as in the western or 
living-room, is a huge fireplace, which, in its original 
condition, monopolized more than half the length of 
the room, and its depth could easily accommodate a 
whole family. The fireplace in this room has, however, 
been more recently made smaller, part of it having been 
converted into a good-sized closet, and a narrower fire- 
grate installed. 

Here, also, on the spacious mantelpiece, is a specimen 
of colonial carving which is as daint}'' and elegant as 
is imaginable. Its delicacy and flawlessness, after all 
the years that have flown since its construction, are 
really most remarkable. This mantel was placed in 
the living-room at the time of the cutting down of the 

At the north end of the room, is a small, narrow 
"back-entry" or closet, with a narrow back door, 
leading into the back yard, and at the sill of the 

212 Nantucket 

door there is a large, flat doorstep of stone, well worn 
with time. 

The walls of the keeping-room are covered with the 
stern boards of ships (bearing their respective names), 
which have been wrecked in the neighborhood during 
the prosperous whaling industry, and are fraught with 
sad memories of other days. An imitation carpet, 
painted on the floor of this room, can even yet be 

As we cross the small vestibule between the two 
front rooms, there is noticed a small window about 
twelve or fourteen inches long and four inches high, at 
the east side of the front door. This is known as the 
"Indian Peep-hole." It has not yet been fully deter- 
mined why it was so placed, although from its situation 
it would have admirably served the purpose mentioned ; 
for, as has been stated, " It is so high that while persons 
outside could not see in, those inside could see out." 

In the living-room on the west side of the house is 
also a magnificent fireplace in all its original amplitude, 
measuring seven feet four inches in length and about 
five feet in depth. The back of the cavity is semi- 
circular instead of square, as is usual, and it is perhaps 
as perfect a specimen of late seventeenth century work 
as can be seen. 

These two lower rooms contain numerous relics — 
furniture, china, bric-a-brac and other objects of interest 
which space, unfortunately, will not permit to be 
particularized. At the back of this room are some 
domestic offices and a small bedroom. 

Up the gradually narrowing staircase we ascend to 
the second story, where there are three rooms; but the 
western or "Bridal Chamber" is the only one that 
claims our interest. It is a large room, nearly square, 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 213 

with one western window, and an admirable open fire- 
place remaining exactly as it was originally constructed. 
This room contains the only original mantel in the 
house, and its peculiar design is suggestive of the keel 
of a ship. The room measures eighteen feet long, the 
floor being covered with eleven boards, some nineteen 
or twenty inches broad. 

In this room, is a closet still known as "The Indian 
Closet." This room also contains all that remains of 
the headstone erected over the grave of Captain John 
Gardner, one hundred and seventy-five years ago. It 
was the only one discernible in the old burying ground 
near Maxcy's Pond, where it reposed from 1706 to 
1881 ; and, in order to save it from the ravages of relic 
hunters, it was, for preservation, removed to "The 
Oldest House," in 1883. The inscription is still de- 

Another flight of stairs leads to the attic, which has 
never been finished, but is almost made into two rooms 
by the stairway and the chimney. From the scuttle 
in the roof, which is reached by a few rough steps, a 
splendid view of the island is afforded, including the 
beautiful moorlands, the fine harbor, and the interesting 

A few words must here be devoted to the large chim- 
ney-stack projecting from the roof, which is remarkable, 
not only for its size, but for its uniqueness. There has 
been much difference of opinion as to the significance 
of its ornamentation. The chimney is built of bricks 
said to have been brought from England in Nantucket 
vessels as ballast, and it has an ornamental cornice of 
several rows of bricks around the top On its south 
aspect is a figure, wrought in brickwork, resembling 
an inverted U, which measures two feet by three and 

214 Nantucket 

one-half feet, within the bend of which is the monogram 
J. C, representing Jethro Coffin. So strongly has the 
idea dominated the minds of the people generally that 
this U-shaped figure was designated a horseshoe to 
propitiate good luck and to exorcise demons, that the 
house itself is better known by the title of "The Horse 
Shoe House" than by any other, and especially so 
because, at the time the house was built, and for years 
previously, "the dark shadow of witchcraft hung like 
a pall over the primitive homes and hamlets of New 
England"; although the terrible Salem witchcraft trials 
did not take place until some six years later. It is 
possible, however, that the figure was intended only as 
an ornament; but who can settle the question? 

Such in outline is the house erected two hundred and 
twenty-four years ago as a wedding gift to Jethro and 
Mary Coffin, where "Little Peter," their child (named 
after his grandfather), was born, and where the "Bridal 
Chamber" remains almost exactly as they left it during 
the dawn of civilization on the island. When it was 
built (and it has been stated that Jethro himself was 
the principal artificer in its erection), it was considered 
one of the best houses in the neighborhood; and that 
its foundations were "well and truly laid" is proved by 
its having withstood the ravages of time during more 
than two centuries, and in its still surviving, almost 
as hale as ever, amid the vicissitudes of its venerable 

The house was sold by the Coffin family to Nathaniel 
Paddock in 1707, the year after Captain John Gardner's 
death. For many years afterwards, it was abandoned 
as a dwelling-house and utilized for the storage of hay. 

In 1 88 1, at the time of a reunion of the Coffin family, 
commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 215 

original Tristram Coffin's death, when the house was be- 
coming dilapidated, it was rebought for preservation by 
Tristram Coffin, of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and his brother, 
who put on a new roof, repaired the top of the chimney, 
strengthened some of the supports, and partially re- 
shingled the exterior. Thus it remained until- 1886, 
the anniversary of its building, when it was resolved 
to restore "The Oldest House" carefully and judici- 
ously. This was thoroughly done, though the original 
conditions were preserved with as little change as 
possible, and without destroying any of the ancient 

It was during these repairs that the date of the erec- 
tion of the house was discovered in the attic, " 1686," 
in figures eight inches long, being painted on the side 
of the chimney. These were unfortunately, destroyed 
in putting in an iron support to strengthen the chimney. 
. After the house had been put into such repair as 
enabled the workman to say "it was good for at least 
another hundred years," it was kept securely closed 
for eleven years. In 1897, however, the summer visi- 
tors to the island clamored so vigorously that in June 
a curator was appointed, and the house has remained 
open for inspection ever since, much to the gratification 
of the general public. 

An original portrait, in oil, of Mary Coffin, for which 
she is said to have sat three times in Boston, is still in 
the possession of Mrs. Eunice Coffin Gardner Brooks, 
of Nantucket, — a lineal descendant of Mary Coffin, — 
but though the portrait has been attributed erroneously 
to Copley, the artist remains unknown; the picture 
contains some of Copley's characteristics, which would 
suggest the probability of its having been painted by 
some one of the great artist's teachers. 

2i6 Nantucket 

At the east end of the house was the well which sup- 
plied it with water. The old-fashioned "sweep" is 
still in its position, and the curbing having been restored 
and the mason-work put in sanitary repair, the water 
can be drawn to-day as pure and sparkling as when the 
sweet young face of the bride of sixteen was reflected 
from its depths in 1686. 

Up to 1902, the oldest house on the island was un- 
questionably that originally built and occupied by John 
Swain, one of the primitive settlers, who, after living 
for a number of years near the south head of Hummock 
Pond, bought land at Polpis in 1680, and afterwards 
built the house now under consideration. Unfortu- 
nately the house was destroyed by a thunderstorm in 
1902, so that an opportunity of examining it has not 
been afforded, but from a photograph the house appears 
to have been a simple lean-to of one story, with a brick 
chimney, as usual, at the west end. On the east end 
a smaller lean-to was erected subsequently, and, still 
later, another was built on the west end. 

The original house was erected before the last decade 
of the seventeenth century, soon after the purchase of 
the land, but it is impossible to say definitely, under 
the circumstances, as an examination of the interior 
is no longer practicable. The house was evidently built 
on the ground and without a foundation. Many in- 
accuracies have appeared with regard to the year in 
which this house was built. 

What is now known as the barn at Hamblin's Farm, 
near the cliff, was originally part of an early house 
erected in 1696, as appears from a date cut into a 
granite doorstone, together with two initial letters, the 
first of which is indistinctly G, and the other distinctly 
E. Inquiry has elicited the probability that the letters 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 217 

stand for George and Eunice — George Gardner, the 
son of Captain John Gardner, having married Eunice 
Starbuck — and that the land on which the house is 
built was the property of Captain John Gardner. It is 
also alleged that Captain Gardner built the house in 
1696 for his son and daughter-in-law. The allegation 
is further sustained by the fact that Captain Gardner's 
own residence — the site of which is still indicated — • 
was only about four hundred feet from the house in 

George Gardner died in 1750 and was succeeded by 
his son Grafton, w^ho died in 1789, he in turn having 
been succeeded by his son, Silas Gardner. 

In 1800, Thomas Brock purchased the house and 
some thirteen acres of land from Silas Gardner, and 
eventually the house became the property of Thomas 
C. Hamblin, through the descendants of Thomas Brock. 
The house and farm still belong to the Hamblin 

In or about 1842, Hamblin having built another 
dwelling near-by, the original house was used as a barn, 
having been mutilated by the removal of its western 
half, the original chimney, and a lean-to on the north 
side — thus leaving only the eastern section of the origi- 
nal house, which is all that now remains. The original 
house was evidently a double lean-to. 

The writer was unfortunate during a recent inspec- 
tion in being prevented from making a careful examina- 
tion of the interior by the fact that the barn was full of 
hay; but the original frame uprights are still in posi- 
tion. The walls are filled with clay, and clam-shell 
mortar has been used. The upright posts are strong 
and thick, and bracketed. The original two rooms have 
been thrown into one for farming purposes, and when 

2i8 Nantucket 

the house was built it was evidently a lean-to house 
with all the usual characteristics, including a chimney 
in the middle of the roof, and the door in the middle 
of the southern aspect. Although for several reasons 
it might be relegated to a somewhat later period, there 
is other evidence sufficiently strong to justif}'- the claim 
of its having been built before 1700. 

Another interesting old house, associated with the 
Starbucks in early days, is that now owned and occu- 
pied by Mrs. Benjamin G. Tobey, at the corner of Main 
and Gardner Streets. The house, as it now stands, con- 
sists of two incorporated sections — the west end from 
1757, as appears from a date on the wall of an upstairs 
closet, when the house apparently assumed its present 
form — the eastern section of much earlier date. Tradi- 
tion asserts that the eastern section was brought from 
Madeket, which is not very improbable. It was 
unquestionably removed from elsewhere to its present 
position. From its general characteristics — its seven 
feet long brick fireplace and oven, the cedar frames to 
windows, long northern roof sloping down to lean-to, 
in addition to peculiarities of construction — this section 
was probably built during the first quarter of the 
eighteenth century. 

The house was formerly occupied by Zaccheus Star- 
buck, who was born on February 2, 1733, as recorded 
on the handle of a birth-spoon owned by Mrs. Tobey. 
He moved into the house from elsewhere, but it is 
difficult to trace it farther back. 

Tristram Starbuck, his son, was born about 1770. 
He was the grandfather of Mrs. Tobey, who was born 
in the house. In 1763, it was occupied by Christopher 
Starbuck. Tristram Starbuck had eight children, viz. : 
Phoebe and Mary (twins), Christopher, Charles, Eliza- 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 219 

beth, and Lydia, the mother of Mrs. Tobey, two others 
having died early. 

The house, now standing, is a two-story lean-to, 
which might indicate a later age, but some of the pe- 
culiarities of the east end render it possible that this 
section was built, wherever it came from, soon after 

The Caleb Gardner house, behind the present resi- 
dence of John C. Gardner, at the head of Main Street, 
is particularly worthy of notice, especially as it is in 
some respects unique. It is now used as a carriage 
house, and each side is flanked by a lean-to of com- 
paratively modern construction. John C. Gardner has 
a careful record of the house in his possession, estab- 
lishing the fact that it was erected in 1699 by Caleb 
Gardner, son of Joseph Gardner. 

The house itself was a two-story lean-to, the northern 
roof sloping down to the lower story in the rear, as usual, 
the front door being in the eastern aspect of the south- 
ern front. The stairs faced the door, and at the front 
of the door — the original framework of which is in situ 
— is a well-worn red-sandstone doorstone. The chim- 
ney, which has been removed, was, contrary to custom, 
on the east end, and the brick fireplace, which was 
quadrilateral, was about ten feet square. The latter 
has also been removed. 

Each story was occupied by one large room ; the walls 
were filled with clay, and clam-shell mortar has been 
used throughout. The framing of the house is un- 
usually strong and well-finished, and the brackets on 
lower story are, curiously enough, nicely rounded with 
a shoulder upon which the crossbeam, which runs 
north and south, securely rests. The west end was 
girt with cedar shingles, which, for the most part, re- 

220 Nantucket 

main in their original positions, but have been rendered 
very thin by long exposure. 

Some time ago, surrounding the house for a distance 
of about three feet from the walls, a pavement of cobble- 
stones was found about six inches below the surface of 
the ground, and was continued from the east end of the 
house by a causeway leading to a well, which was 
distinguished for the purity of its water, and was much 
esteemed in the neighborhood. This house is remark- 
able as affording conflicting evidences of an earlier and 
a later date than has been assigned to it, and forms a 
very interesting study. 

So far as the writer has been enabled to ascertain, 
this concludes the list of the earliest houses built in 
Nantucket which still remain to some extent; but it is 
fair to assume that many ancient and historic houses 
were destroyed by the calamitous fire of 1846, which, 
beginning about the middle of Main Street, in the shop 
of W. H. Geary, on the 13th of July, destroyed over 
three hundred buildings, covering about thirty-six 
acres, representing about one-third of the town, and 
involving a loss of over $900,000, 

After the removal of the town from Wannacomet, 
during the first quarter of the eighteenth century, ex- 
tensive building took place at Nantucket, but instead 
of the one or one-and-a-half-story houses of the earlier 
period, the houses erected were almost uniformly two 
stories in front, sloping down to one in the rear, and 
these are still characteristic of perhaps the majority of 
the present town residences. A little later, two-story 
houses in front and rear became the prevailing type, 
and many of these may be seen throughout the town. 

The Major Josiah Coffin house on the Cliff is a perfect 
and most beautiful example of the post-removal houses, 

Some Early Dwellings in Nantucket 221 

and was built in 1724. Many others might be cited, 
but space forbids. 

The Paddock house on Sunset Hill (now occupied 
by Calloway), although apparently much older, must 
also be relegated to about the same period, or a few 
years earlier. 

The Reuben Joy homestead, on Monument Square, 
until about five years ago, bore a tablet indicating that 
the house was built "about 1700," but it was probably 
erected some years later. 

There is a dilapidated barn on Gull Island which 
looks very old, but was built probably at the time of 
the Thomas Gardner house in the same locality — the 
latter also a fine example of the "after 1720" period. 

The Zaccheus Macy house is still standing at 99 
Main Street, and probably represents the middle of the 
eighteenth century. Another house, at i Vestal Street, 
although not built until 1790, is peculiarly interesting 
as having been the birthplace of Maria Mitchell, the 
distinguished astronomer, born in August, 181 8. 

The house is now the property of the Maria Mitchell 
Memorial Association, and contains the astronomer's 
library, telescopes, etc. The association has built a 
modern observatory in the grounds. ^ 

Few localities possess more interesting houses within 
a similar superficies than "the little purple island," 
and, if space permitted, many more examples might be 

' Vide Chapter XII. 



The galaxy of intelligence representing the offspring 
of the little island of Nantucket has not been siirpassed 
either in luminosity or numerically by any other place 
of the same size in the United States; and in a survey 
of human progress and knowledge there is not a depart- 
ment which is not either directly or indirectly repre- 
sented by some of those claiming Nantucket as their 
fostering birthplace. Science, literature, art, theology, 
invention, commerce, rhetoric, philanthropy, diplo- 
macy, statesmanship, navigation, the learned profes- 
sions, the military and naval services, pedagogy, and, 
in addition, all that goes to crown the purity, dignity, 
and surpassing worth of noble womanhood, have sent 
their votaries from this freedom-hallowed spot to work 
in the cause of human progress, to achieve national 
distinction and reputation, and to reflect unsullied 
honor upon the place of their nativity. 

A brief epitome of some of their lives and attainments, 
amounting to little more than a mere enumeration, 
must here suffice. Place aux dames! 

Maria Mitchell. On the roll of Nantucket's illus- 
trious women none stands higher than Maria Mitchell, 
the accomplished astronomer. The third child of 

Eminent Nantucketers 223 

William and Lydia (Coleman) Mitchell, she was born 
at Nantucket on August i, 181 8, the family being birth- 
right members of the Society of Friends. Her youth 
was spent mainly in assisting her mother in domestic 
duties, and in helping her father, a distinguished mathe- 
matician, by such aid as she could give him in his -scien- 
tific studies. While still little more than a school-girl, 
she became the librarian of the Nantucket Athenaeum, 
a position which she efficiently filled for twenty years. 
During her spare time she devoted herself to study, 
and supplemented her income by making calculations 
for the United States Nautical Almanac, the joint work of 
her father and herself for many years. On October i, 
1847, she was awarded a gold medal for the discovery 
of a new comet, about five degrees from the North Star. 
Becoming known as an expert in astronomy, the savants 
of the world gladly hailed her as one of themselves, 
while the positions held by her father as one of the 
Board of Trustees of Harvard, and a member of Gover- 
nor Briggs's Council, constituted her a persona grata. 
among the highest literary and scientific circles of New 
England. In the following year, she was elected a 
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 
an honor which she was the first of her sex to obtain. 

In 1857, she visited Europe where she made many 
friends among those distinguished in science and art. 
In 1 861, she was appointed Professor of Astronomy and 
Director of the Observatory at Vassar College, received 
her first degree of LL.D. from Hanover in 1853, and 
her last from Columbia in 1887. She resigned her 
appointment after twenty-three years' valuable and 
much appreciated work, and the Trustees unanimously 
elected her Professor Emerita. She was also offered a 
home for life in the observatory, but this she declined, 

224 Nantucket 

and passed away peacefully at Lynn (where she had 
removed with her father, after her mother's death), 
on June 28, 1889, highly honored and respected by all 
who had known her. Her old home at i Vestal Street, 
still constitutes a Mecca for visitors, and in the house 
is now installed a flourishing institution known as the 
Maria Mitchell Memorial Association, — a well equipped 
establishment for scientific inquiry and culture. It 
contains an excellent reference library, a research 
fellowship, and General Science Committee, in addi- 
tion to an Observatory Committee and numerous 
managerial committees, while the various rooms are 
devoted to branches of natural science, and contain 
manifold specimens and illustrations connected with 
each. In the room set apart for astronomical science 
is the 3-inch Dolland telescope with which Miss 
Mitchell discovered, in 1847, the comet which was 
named for her. 

A memorial observatory was built by subscription, 
after her death, and was dedicated on July 15, 1908. 
This is situated at the northern side of her birthplace. 
It is a square mosque-like building of brick, with a 
revolving dome on the top which, by means of appro- 
priate machinery, can be opened at any angle for astro- 
nomical purposes. The interior contains a convenient 
gallery, Miss Mitchell's scientific library, and the 
telescope which was presented to her, in i860, b}' Miss 
Peabody on behalf of the women of America, 

The genial and courteous Curator and Librarian of 
the Memorial Association, INIrs. Benjamin Albertson, 
— a cousin of the distinguished astronomer, — fulfils 
the duties of her appointment much to the gratification 
of her numerous visitors. 

Miss Mitchell was a great as well as a good woman, 

Eminent Nantucketers 225 

and her star still gleams brightly in the firmament of 

Lucretia Mott. Lucretia Mott, daughter of Thomas 
and Anna Coffin, was born on Nantucket, January 3, 
1793, and died near Philadelphia, November 11, 1880, 
in her 88th year. A long life but nobly lived; an ideal 
type of pure womanhood distinguished by many vir- 
tues, an all-pervading force for good, characterized by 
lofty intelligence, genuine philanthropy, and sublime 
spiritual fervor, a magnetic personality which attracted 
and never repelled, and a sweet voice which expressed 
itself only in golden words. 

Such was Lucretia Mott, moral reformer, abolitionist, 
humanitarian, as noble a woman as any country ever 
produced, and the first woman in America to advocate 
f empale suffrage. As a direct descendant of the Folger 
and Coffin strain, she inherited nothing that was not 
beneficent. Educated in Boston, and subsequently in 
New York State, she ultimately lived with her parents 
in Philadelphia, where, at the age of eighteen, she mar- 
ried James Mott, in whom she met her hallowed affinity, 
and brought up a family of five children with exemplary 
care and maternal affection. She became an eminent 
minister of the Society of Friends, an eloquent moral 
reformer, a profound and active sympathizer with 
human suffering irrespective of class or creed, and she 
has been happily described as "The bright morning 
star of intellectual freedom in America." Who 
can estimate the beneficent influences of such a life? 
Can time or death destroy them? A thousand 
times No! For they are linked with divineness and 

Abiah Folger was the only child of Peter Folger born 
at Nantucket, as "his two sons and other six daughters 

226 Nantucket 

were born at Martha's Mneyard previous to his arrival " * 
on the more southern island. She was born August 15, 
1667, and died in Boston about 1752. By her marriage 
to Josiah Franklin, she became the mother of the phi- 
losopher, statesman, diplomatist, and author, Benjamin 
Franklin, who very rightly attributed whatever of 
character he developed and whatever success he achieved 
to his mother's influence. What could even the Gracchi 
have accomplished without the qualities transmitted 
by their gifted mother, Cornelia? Very few details of 
Mrs. Franklin's life have been handed down; but she 
is known to have had exceptional force of character, and 
to have been a most worthy and excellent mother and 
wife. Defective perhaps in the graces of cultured 
intelligence, she was, nevertheless, apparently of that 
class of women, frequently typified by the early colonial 
mothers of New England, which was characterized by 
distinctive qualities of head and heart, pervasive whole- 
souled excellence, and strong common-sense, fortified 
by a strong sense of duty and a never-failing trust in 
Providence. Be this as it may, her motherhood was 
honored in the birth of her distinguished son, and 
Nantucket is proud to acknowledge her as one of her 
own beloved daughters. The vital force of both 
mother and son was undoubtedly transmitted by that 
sturdy old pioneer, Peter Folger; for breeding tells, 
and without it the nations of the earth would soon 
become degenerate. 

Her tombstone in the old Granary Burying Ground 
in Boston is still standing and the inscription thereon 
may be read by the passer-by on Tremont Street. The 
Nantucket Chapter of the D. A. R. is named "Abiah 
Folger Chapter." 

' W. C. Folger. 

Eminent Nantucketers 22^ 

Mary Starbuck " (The Great Woman)." Although 
not de facto born in Nantucket, she was the mother of 
the first white child born on the island, and as one of 
the earliest and most influential of the settlers, — the 
daughter of Tristram and Dionis Coffin — and perhaps 
the most gifted of them all, she was long regarded as 
the mother of the settlement, and Nantucket is only 
too proud to regard her as an adopted daughter. She 
was married at an early age to Nathaniel Starbuck, son 
of Edward and Katherine Starbuck, virtually spent her 
life among the islanders, and died upon the island. The 
Starbuck family in America trace its descent from this 
well assorted pair. Mary Starbuck was, indeed, a 
remarkably gifted woman, surpassing most in adminis- 
trative ability, and second to none in soundness of 
judgment and general intellectual capacity. In every 
political, social, and domestic movement she took a 
leading part, and no public meeting was considered 
representative without her. She was, moreover, an 
easy, eloquent speaker with a silvery tongue, and her 
arguments were as logical as convincing, while her 
diction was persuasive and elegant. 

At a later period, when she became interested in the 
Society of Friends, she was not only their most cele- 
brated preacher, but took the religious interests of the 
entire island into her care and keeping. The islanders 
hung upon her every word, and were proud to consult 
her on every question concerning their welfare and 
happiness whether as individuals or as the people of the 
island, for they knew her worth, trusted her, and were 
devoted to her. 

Indeed, the island sustained an irreparable loss when 
she passed away on February 2, 1719. 

" Miriam " (Keziah) Coffin has achieved her niche in 



general as well as in local history. She was an extra- 
ordinary woman; and although some of the means she 
adopted to make money were rather questionable, 
she succeeded, and herein her power was exemplified. 
The strength of her character was manifested in mer- 
cantile pursuits, and she became not only the proprietor 
of a splendid town-house, on the west side of Center 
Street, between Pearl and Hussey Streets, which she 
built in 1770, and a country house at Quaise, but an ex- 
tensive shipowner, with her ships on every sea. She 
was the heroine of Colonel Hart's historical novel en- 
titled Miriam Coffin; or, The Whale Fisherman. She was 
charged and tried for smuggling at Watertown, and 
was suspected of having rendered aid to the British 
during the Revolutionary War. The late Mr. Sanford 
wrote of her: "She was a famous smuggler in her day, 
as can be found by the Colonial Records in Boston." 
That she had a mind capable of directing such risky 
enterprises proves her to have been a woman of more 
than average courage and ability, but it would have 
been more satisfactory if her talents had been utilized 
in some more worthy direction. As in most such cases, 
however, she was "found out," and her speculative 
tendencies shrivelled up. She ended her career by 
falling down stairs, which caused her death on May 
29, 1798. 

Her maiden name was Keziah Folger and she married 
John Coffin. She was born on Nantucket, October 9, 

Phebe A. Hanaford. Mrs. Hanaford was born in 
the delightful village of Siasconset, on May 6, 1829. 
She is lineally descended from Tristram Coffin and 
Peter Folger, an inheritance dear to every Nantucketer. 
She received her primary education at Nantucket, 

Eminent Nantucketers 229 

where she also received tuition from a private tutor. 
She is the daughter of G. W. and Phebe Ann (Barnard) 
Coffin, and early in life taught in the Friends' School 
on Fair Street, now the Historical Association. She 
married at an early age, and, between 1868 and 1874, 
she became a pastor of the Universalist Church at three 
places successively. She is a very effective speaker with 
a sweet, well-modulated voice, and has been very 
popular in her ministry: but it is in her auctorial ca- 
pacity that she reveals her real power, as is well exempli- 
fied in her well-known books. Women of the Century, 
and the lives of George Peabody and Abraham Lincoln. 
Here in one sense she is at her best, and some of her 
poems and other works reached a circulation of 20,000 

It is in her own beautiful home, however, that she 
reigns as "The Angel in the House." Surrounded 
with her many books, pictures, and articles of vertu, 
and in the presence of a few choice friends, she shines 
to the greatest advantage. Her charming face and 
sweet voice, with her amiable disposition and gentle 
manner, constitute a personality that, to be loved, 
has only to be seen, and once seen could never be 
forgotten. She is, indeed, a gentlewoman in the highest 
sense, and the memories of her long life must be as 
fragrant as spring flowers. 

Anna Gardner was bom in Nantucket, January 25, 
18 16. She was the daughter of Oliver and Hannah 
Macy Gardner, became a great abolitionist and or- 
ganized a remarkable anti-slavery meeting in Nantucket 
when she was twenty-five years of age. At this con- 
vention Frederick Douglass made his first oration as 
an abolitionist speaker. 

After the Civil War, Miss Gardner journeyed through 

230 Nantucket 

several of the Southern States, lecturing to the freed 
slaves, among whom she remained until 1878. 

She was an ardent reformer, a staunch supporter of 
women's rights, and the author of several volumes in 
prose and verse. She died in Nantucket, February 18, 

The Rev. Louise S. Baker, daughter of Captain 
Arvin and Jerusha Baker, was born at Nantucket, 
October 17, 1846, and was educated in the Nantucket 
schools. For nearly eight years she was the pastor of 
the North Congregational Church, from December 12, 
1880, to February 14, 1888, and it is stated that "during 
her ministry she attracted the largest congregation 
ever known in the church." She was not only an able 
preacher, but a distinguished lecturer, and "a prolific 
writer of graceful verse." A volume of her poems was 
published in 1893 and was well received. While her 
many accomplishments were highly appreciated, her 
charming personality made her, indeed, a beloved 
daughter of the island. 

It must not, however, be thought that the few ex- 
amples just given exhaust the list of Nantucket's 
eminent women. Many more might be cited, but these 
will serve as types, as will those of the men that 
follow, and will, it is hoped, prove that Nantucket 
has not been wanting in either beauty of character or 
intellectual capacity. 

Charles James Folger. The distingmshed subject of 
this sketch was bom at Nantucket in 18 18, graduated 
from Hobart College when eighteen years of age, was 
admitted to the bar in 1839, and became a prominent 
jurist and politician. In 1844, he was appointed Judge 
of the Ontario County Court of Common Pleas ; in 1851 , 
Judge of Ontario County; and in 1861 he was elected 

Eminent Nantucketers 231 

to the New York State Senate. He was Judge of the 
New York Court of Appeals, 1871-81, and became 
Secretary of the United States Treasury under President 
Arthur, 1881-84. In 1882, he was defeated as can- 
didate for Governor of New York by Grover Cleveland, 
and this defeat ended his political career, although he 
held his appointment as United States Treasurer until 
1884, when he died. 

It has been well said of him: "He was the ablest 
State Senator since Seward's time, and maintained 
himself in that trying position without encountering 
a breath of reproach. He was never classed as any 
man's man." Such testimony is creditable to his 
official attainments and integrity; but behind all was 
the uncompromising sense of right and justice, the 
unalienable principles of a sublime selfhood, which 
never swerved from honesty of purpose, and which, 
ever actuating him in the discharge of every duty, were 
as exalted as they were incorruptible. 

"Walter Folger, Jr., the famous astronomer and mathe- 
matician, was also a Nantucketer, born on the island June 
12, 1765. Although generally recognized as an illustri- 
ous and versatile genius, he was, nevertheless, almost en- 
tirely self-taught. Restricted by no school or college 
routine, but always observant, ever studious, his Protean 
natural gifts enabled him to excel in many directions. 
He became an expert mechanic, a profound mathema- 
tician, as well as an accomplished scientist. 

As a lawyer, a jurist, and a statesman he also won 
unequivocal distinction. Of his many other attain- 
ments the late W. C. Folger thus wrote of him: 

He acted as surveyor of land, repaired watches, clocks, 
and chronometers, made compasses, engraved on copper 

22)2 Nantucket 

and other metals, made several chemical and other scientific 
discoveries, calculated eclipses, and understood and spoke 
the French language. ^ 

In addition to all these acquirements, he studied 
medicine, became a justice of the Court of Sessions, a 
member of both branches of the State Legislature, and 
represented the Nantucket district of Massachusetts 
for four years in the United States Congress. 

He was, moreover, a man of exalted character, excep- 
tionally upright and honorable amid all the circum- 
stances of his life, through which he passed with an 
irreproachable reputation. Surely such a man was an 
honor to any place, or to any country, and Nantucket 
honors him as one of her sons of whom she is proud, 
and whose birth within her sea-girt domain has honored 

He died on Nantucket, September 12, 1849. 

William and Henry Mitchell, father and son, shared 
with one another the pride of being, respectively, the 
father and brother of Maria Mitchell, the famous 
astronomer. Quite apart from this distinction, both 
were men of light and leading, each in his own sphere 
distinguished and pre-eminent. William Mitchell's 
father having suffered pecuniary loss by the failure of 
the whale fishery, his son was prevented, when a young 
man, from entering Harvard, as he had intended. He 
was, however, a well-read man, with a cultivated scien- 
tific mind, and became master of the first free-school 
established in Nantucket in 1827. By temperament, 
disposition, and accomplishments he was remarkably 
well constituted for teaching, and he loved the work of 

' For a description of the marvelous astronomical clock, invented 
and made by Mr. Folger, the reader is referred to Chapter XIX. 

Eminent Nantucketers 233 

imparting knowledge as he loved the pupils whom he 
taught ; and he thus won their confidence and affection 
in return. He was modest and retiring, but was re- 
markably tender-hearted and affectionate, and his 
love for his own family was, perhaps, the greatest joy 
of his existence. With all his reticence he was a very 
scholarly man, and his attainments as a scientist were 
of a very high order, while his lectures on scientific 
subjects were always regarded as an intellectual treat. 
After teaching for a few years, his health failed, and 
he became Secretary of the Phoenix Marine Insurance 
Co., and, later. Cashier of the Pacific Bank. He re- 
mained, with great credit to himself, in the latter posi- 
tion until the lamented death of his wife in 1861, when 
he and his daughter removed to Lynn, where they lived 
until Maria was appointed Professor of Astronomy at 
Vassar College. During the previous thirty or forty 
years in Nantucket he had acted as President of the 
Athenaeum, had been a member of the State Senate, 
and for several years was a member of Governor 
Briggs's Council. He had also served as Chairman of 
the Observatory Committee at Harvard, and was for 
a number of years an overseer of Harvard Universitj^ 
He was, moreover, frequently in correspondence, on 
questions and observations connected with astron- 
omy, with the savants of Europe and America, in- 
cluding the Astronomer-Royal of England and Sir 
John Herschel. All who knew him loved and respected 

His last years were spent in quietude and comfort 
with his beloved daughter at Vassar College, where he 
died peacefully in April, 1869. The following expres- 
sions from a Poughkeepsie paper voice the grief that 
was felt at Vassar, for his loss : 

234 Nantucket 

To the younger members of our little community Mr. 
Mitchell was like an affectionate grandfather, to the older 
ones a much loved father; and there is not a home in New- 
England, in the North, or in the South . . . but will feel 
that in his death it has lost a very dear friend. What 
Abraham Lincoln was to our country, William Mitchell 
was to us. 

He was interred in the Friends' burying ground at 
Nantucket on April 22, 1869. 

His son, Henry Mitchell, followed in the footsteps 
of his father and sister. He was an assistant in the 
Coast Survey where he made a world-wide reputation, 
and was a member of the American Academy of Arts 
and Sciences. 

The Rev. Ferdinand C. Ewer, D.D., was well known 
and highly esteemed throughout America, not only as 
a theologian but as a litterateur and a scientist. 

He was bom at Nantucket, May 22, 1826, and was 
always proud of his birthplace, in the welfare of which 
he was much interested. As a clergyman he belonged 
to the Episcopal Church, and was the author of numer- 
ous works more or less of a polemical character, in 
which he displayed notable scholarship and a cultured 
literary style. He was a graduate of Harvard of the 
Class of 1848. Before his ordination he was engaged 
in literary pursuits, and officiated as editor of a news- 
paper and a literary magazine. He was ordained, in 
1857, by Bishop Kip and succeeded him as rector, 
having obtained priest's orders early in January, 1858. 
Two years later, his health failing, he went to New York 
where he became assistant to Dr. Gallaudet and was 
subsequently called to the rectorship of Christ's Church. 
Finally he became Rector of St. Ignatius' Church, New 

Eminent Nantucketers 235 

York, — a position which he occupied for a number of 
years with much success. 

He was an effective preacher and a good adminis- 
trator, and every aspect of his character was distin- 
guished by force, individuaUty, and pervasive geniality. 
He was, indeed, a man of exceptional culture and varied 
attainments, and was ranked as a competent geologist 
as well as an accomplished civil engineer. He made a 
special study of the geology and topography of Nan- 
tucket, and his map of the island is remarkable for 
exactitude of detail and artistic delineation. Much 
esteemed and lamented he died suddenly in his fifty- 
eighth year at Montreal, when preaching in the Church 
of St. John the Evangelist in that city. 

Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin,Bart., was a distinguished son 
of Massachusetts and of direct descent from Tristram 
Coffin, Nantucket's first Chief Magistrate. Although 
not actually bom on Nantucket Island, he loved it as 
the mother of his race, and, during a visit in 1826, 
acknowledged his kinship and alliance, by founding and 
endowing the well-known school which bears his name. 
The mere accident of birth cannot, therefore, justifiably 
preclude him from the fellowship of those representing 
the illustrious sons and daughters of the island. 

From the Life of Tristram Coffin,'^ it appears that 
Isaac Coffin was the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth 
Coffin, and was bom in Boston, Mass., May 16, 1759. 
He entered the English Navy in 1773; was commis- 
sioned Lieutenant in 1778, Captain 1781, Rear- Admiral 
of the White in 1804, when he also obtained a baronetcy ; 
became Vice- Admiral in 1808, and Admiral in 1817. 
He died at Cheltenham, England, in 1839, aged eighty 
years, and without issue. 

^ By Men Coffin, LL.B. 

236 Nantucket 

At the time of his being created a baronet he was 
granted an estate at the mouth of the St. Lawrence 
River, known as the Magdalen Islands. He was a 
personal friend of the Diike of Clarence who, when he 
became King William IV, continued to show him 
favor, and wished to create him Earl of Magdalen. 
The ministers objected, however, on the ground of his 
strong attachment to his native country. They cited 
especially his fitting out of a vessel with Yankee lads 
from his Lancastrian School at Nantucket to make 
master-mariners of them. This could not be viewed 
in England with favor; so it may in truth be said that 
the Cofhn School at Nantucket cost the Admiral an 
earldom, and came near sacrificing his baronetcy. ^ 

Captain George Wiliiam Coffin, U. S. N., was a dis- 
tinguished Nantucketer who was bom on the island 
December 22, 1845. He joined the U. S. Navy on 
December 20, i860, and worked his way up steadily 
through the lower grades until September 27, 1893, 
when he was appointed Captain. The following notes 
are taken from a biographical sketch of his career. 
In 1863, he was assigned to the U. S. sloop Ticonderoga, 
of the North Atlantic blockading squadron, serving in 
both attacks (1864-65) on Fort Fisher and subsequently 
had a long and honorable career. 

Captain Coffin was always a brave and efficient 
officer, who earned his promotion by hard and constant 
routine service. He was on sea duty sixteen years 
ten months; on shore duty for an equal period; on 
leave and waiting orders four years eleven months, 
making a total of thirty-eight years six months twenty- 
six days. In December, 1866, he was married to Mary 

' A fine portrait in oil of Sir Isaac, by Sir Wm. Beechey, graces the 
walls of the Coffin School. 

Eminent Nantucketers 237 

S. Cartwrlght, of Nantucket. She died in 1893, one 
daughter, the wife of Dr. Anderson, surviving."'^ Cap- 
tain Coffin passed away at Yokohama June 16, 1899, 
just as his long service and fidelity to duty were about 
to be rewarded by his promotion to the rank of Admiral. 

William Hussey Macy. It was vouchsafed to but 
a very few of all the thousands of sterling Nantucket 
men who participated in those stirring scenes which 
were enacted by the American whalemen ' ' around Cape 
Horn" in the early half of the nineteenth century to be 
able, in after years, with unfailing memory and facile 
pen, to re-enact those scenes and make them live again 
for the entertainment and information of others. Chief 
among these few, perhaps, was the subject of this brief 
sketch, and it may safely be said that no one has thus 
done more to ensure and perpetuate the fame of his 
native isle, or left a more graphic and enduring record 
of the distinctive type of industry which contributed 
so much to its early prosperity and high repute. 

Born on the island May 18, 1826, a direct descendant, 
in the seventh generation, from the first settler, Thomas 
Macy, he was reared in the faith of the Friends. At 
the age of thirteen, he was attending high school, work- 
ing in a grocery store between sessions, and teaching 
in an evening school — many of his pupils being older 
than himself. But Fate never intended him for a 
pedagogue. The love of the sea, inherited from genera- 
tions of mariners, and fostered by an environment 
reeking with salt and tar, was too strong to be resisted 
by one of his lively and romantic imagination, so in 
the autumn of 1841, at the age of fifteen, we find him 
sailing before the mast in the new ship Potomac, of 
Nantucket, Isaac B. Hussey, master, for a sperm whal- 

' Sea-girt Nantucket, by courtesy of H. S. Wyer. 

238 Nantucket 

ing voyage to the Pacific, which lasted nearly four years. 
His private journal of this voyage is a model of its 
kind, and a document of rare and unusual interest, 
filled with his youthful impressions of the life and of 
the places visited, depicted with both pen and brush 
in a manner scarcely to be credited in one of his years 
and previous advantages. 

Returning in 1845, he apprenticed himself to a cooper 
for eighteen months, mastered the trade, and shipped 
again in '47, commanding a cooper's "lay," which, 
being one of the best, next to that of the captain and 
first officer, doubtless justified the "lost time" ashore. 
During the next ten years, as cooper, second officer, and 
mate, he made three complete voyages, on the return 
from the last of which, in 1857, he married Phebe Ann 
Winslow, of Nantucket, and for the next two years 
worked at his trade ashore. 

But times were hard just then, at Nantucket, so 
in 1859 he was again at sea, this time as mate of a 
brig on a sea-elephant oil voyage to Kurd's Island on 
the edge of the Antarctic. This proved a "broken 
voyage," the ship was sold in a foreign port, and he 
worked his way home, arriving in 1861 poorer than 
when he set sail. 

The Civil War having broken out, he enlisted, went 
south with the 45th Massachusetts Infantry, which 
contained many Nantucket men, saw active service in 
Gen. Burnside's campaign in North Carolina, and re- 
ceived a bad gunshot wound in the leg at the battle of 
Kinston, December 14, 1862, which incapacitated him 
for further service. After eight weeks in hospital he 
received his discharge, and during the next few years 
was located at Philadelphia and Boston, working at 
coopering or whatever came to hand. 

Eminent Nantucketers 239 

Returning to Nantucket in 1869, he was elected to 
the office of Register of Deeds for the county, and 
his wanderings were over. For twenty-two years, 
thereafter, until his death in 1891, he faithfully per- 
formed the duties of his office to the satisfaction of 

In 1874, his eyesight began to fail, the trouble being 
an atrophy of the optic nerves, and, though the best 
specialists were consulted and everything possible done 
to avert the calamity, in a little over a year he became 
totally blind. His devoted wife died at about the same 
time, in 1875, and he was left with a family of five young 
children to support and educate. And bravely did he 
perform the task. For fear of any possible legal com- 
plications, should the question of a blind man's fitness 
for such an office ever be raised, he formally resigned 
his position, and one of his friends (the late Andrew 
M. Myrick) was elected as the legal incumbent of the 
office. But the work was done, as before, by or under 
the direction of Mr. Macy, with a hired assistant, and 
that it was well done the records themselves, as well as 
the hundreds of deeds and other instruments drafted 
from his dictation, amply attest. 

Were this the whole story of the life of this remarkable 
man, interesting though it might be as an example of 
duty well performed and difficulties met and overcome, 
it might hardly prove worthy of a place in this book, 
but his particular contribution to the history of his 
native island is yet to be chronicled. 

From the days of his early voyages he had displayed 
an unusual gift for narrating the stories of his adven- 
tures, and while still in the twenties, with no other 
preparation than has been herein set down, he had 
found publishers for many of them. During the fifties 

240 Nantucket 

and sixties, his whaling "yarns" and stories of the sea 
had found favor with many readers of the old Ballou's 
Monthly Magazine, The Flag of Our Union, Capt. 
Mayne Reid's Onward Magazine, The True Flag, and 
other periodicals, and many of these stories had been 
reprinted in the Nantucket Mirror, and later in the 
Inquirer and Mirror. 

Upon the approach of his blindness he felt the need 
of some method of continuing his literary work, and 
after examining all the appliances then known enabling 
the blind to write, and finding them all inadequate to 
his purpose, he invented a machine of his own, which 
he called his "blmd writer," and with this he turned 
out thousands of pages of fairly legible manuscript, 
continuing to delight a host of readers for many years 

His best known work. There She Blows; or, The Log 
of the " Arethusa,'' published at Boston by Lee Shep- 
ard about 1878, has been called a classic in the annals 
of whaling, and it remains to-day perhaps the best 
all-round story of a whaling voyage which has ever 
been published. Other works of some length were Up 
North in the ''Gorgon,'' a story of a "right" whaling 
voyage in the Arctic, and Beyond Desolation, which 
describes the sea-elephant catching in the Antarctic. 
Scores of shorter stories from his pen were printed at 
various times and places during a period of some thirty 
years or more, and one book of poems Here and There 
in Verse, was published at Nantucket in 1877. 

For many years his "leaders," covering a wide range 
of subjects and appearing weekly in the Nantucket 
Inquirer and Mirror, were eagerly looked for and read 
by his fellow-townsmen, and were widely quoted in 
the metropolitan journals of the day. This was also 

Eminent Nantucketers 241 

true of many of his fugitive verses, mostly of a humorous 
nature, some of them gems of spontaneous wit and 

He died at Nantucket March, 1891, in his sixty-fifth 
year, and was widely and sincerely mourned by all who 
had known him in life, 

A fairly complete collection of his writings may be 
found in the library of the Perkins Institution for the 
Blind at Boston. 

Lieut.-Col. John W. Smmnerhayes, son of the late 
William and Lydia Wyer Summerhayes, was born on 
Nantucket, January 6, 1835. He was a member of 
the Loyal Legion and of the Grand Army and had served 
four years in a regiment of Massachusetts volunteers 
at an early period of his career. For twenty-two years 
he was a lieutenant in the U. S. Army, serving through 
Indian campaigns and wild life on the frontiers. At 
one time, he was with General Stanley, Commander of 
the Department of Texas, at Fort Sam Houston during 
the first preliminary survey of the Northern Pacific 
Railway. Finally, he was raised to the rank of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel, in deserved recognition of his sterling 
qualities as a man and as a soldier. 

Col. Summerhayes was a typical soldier. He had 
much decision of character, and an uncompromising 
repugnance towards anything that was not straight- 
forward; at the same time he was the most genial and 
companionable of men, and had a keen sense of humor 
which made him beloved by all who came into contact 
with him. 

Fortunately his noteworthy and checkered experi- 
ences during many years in the West have been vividly 
portrayed in Vanished Arizona, a most interesting 
narrative written by his brave and gifted wife, who 

242 Nantucket 

was his companion and helpmeet amid all his perilous 

He passed away at Nantucket, on March 8, 191 1, 
and his body is interrred in Arlington Cemetery, Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

Seth Mitchell Ackley, late Rear Admiral, U. S. N., 
was bom at Nantucket, October 13, 1845. He was 
appointed midshipman October 6, 1862. He served 
in regular order until October 25, 1901, when with the 
rank of Captain, he was retired for physical disability. 
He was reinstated, according to the Act of Congress, 
in April, 1904, and promoted to Captain on the active 

He was promoted to Rear Admiral February, 1907, 
and died in Washington, February 7, 1908. 

Born on the island of Nantucket of seafaring an- 
cestors, and bred in that home of hardy and adventur- 
ous seamen (his father a sea-captain, with whom as a 
boy he had made a voyage to California), he was sin- 
gularly well-prepared for the Navy, which he entered 
with enthusiasm. 

An examination of his official record shows that not 
only was his actual sea-duty extensive and varied, but 
that, when given "shore-duty," his scientific and pro- 
fessional bent led him to the Coast Survey, the Naval 
Observatory, torpedo duty, the Naval War College, 
the Hydrographic Office, and lighthouse duty. 

The confidence shown in him by his seniors was 
evidenced by their giving him, at various times, the 
highly important position of Hydrographic Inspector 
of the U. S. Coast Survey, and of Naval Secretary of 
the Lighthouse Board. 

All his life, in whatever position placed, from Mid- 
shipman to Rear- Admiral, at all times and places, as 

Eminent Nantucketers 243 

classmate, messmate, shipmate, friend, or acquaint- 
ance, he was faithful, upright, and just. The keynote 
of Seth Mitchell Ackley's life was a single-hearted 
devotion to his duty, as an officer and a gentleman; his 
reward was the affection and esteem of all who knew 

It is not generally known, nor is it recorded in the 
files of the Navy Department, that Admiral Ackley, 
when a lieutenant, nobly risked his life, in 1873, in 
trying to save a seaman who had fallen overboard from 
his ship, the Omaha. The Lieutenant, divesting him- 
self of his coat and shoes, plunged in after him, in a 
rolling sea infested with man-eating sharks, and only 
after considerable difficulty was he himself saved when 
two miles away from his ship. The poor fellow, whom 
Lieutenant Ackley so bravely tried to save, was in- 
jured by striking the rail of the ship in falling, and, 
probably thus rendered unconscious, soon sank in 
the deep to rise no more. 

Such an act as this assuredly merited public recogni- 
tion, if not the bestowal of a gold medal, but the hero's 
own sense of duty well-performed was the only reward 
forthcoming for such an heroic act. 

Admiral Ackley is buried on Nantucket within 
sound of the sea he loved, on the island which was the 
dearest spot of earth to him. 

Among many others that deserve notice as "Eminent 
Nantucketers" may be mentioned the names of Dr. 
Zaccheus Macy, Dr. Arthur Elwell Jenks, the gentle 
idealist, poet, and artist; Dr. Joseph Sidney Mitchell; 
Owen C. Spooner, Samuel Haynes Jenks, Alfred Macy, 
Roland H. Macy, William Francis Barnard, Reuben 
Chase, William Rotch, Reuben R. Pinkham, Colonel 

244 Nantucket 

Bray ton, and many others who have shed Hfe and lustre 
over the island. 

The limitations of space prevent the inclusion here 
of any biographical details. 


the nantucket flora 

By Grace Brown Gardner 

Islands have always been of particular interest to 
botanists. Their boundaries being definite, it is com- 
paratively easy to collect, classify, and arrange their 
flora, a task much more difficult where one section or 
country is separated from another by artificial boun- 
daries only. Among islands, surely none has proved 
more fascinating, not only to the amateur lover of 
flowers, but also to the most scientific of botanists, than 
has Nantucket. Small in area, but rich in the number 
of its plant species, many of which are rare or entirely 
unknown in the vicinity, the island has for many years 
been a Mecca for botanists. 

Mrs. Maria L. Owen, in her catalogue of Nantucket 
plants, speaks of a "Frenchman, Marsillac, who nearly 
a hundred years ago, regardless of his silk stockings, 
plunged into the swamps for their floral treasures." 
Since then William Oakes, Rev. Thomas Morong, 
Pres. Hitchcock of Amherst, Mr. Loren L. Dame, F. 
Schuyler Mathews, and Mrs. Nellie F. Flynn have 
made collections of the island flora. At the present 
time, Mr. Eugene P. Bicknell is publishing a most 


246 Nantucket 

interesting list of "The Ferns and Flowering Plants of 
Nantucket," in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical 

While Nantucket is only thirty miles from the main- 
land, the nearness of the Gulf Stream modifies its 
climate perceptibly. The temperature averages, by 
several degrees, warmer in winter and cooler in summer 
than on the adjacent mainland. Many people who 
read of the occasional isolation of the island in the win- 
ter, on account of ice blockades, do not reahze that it is 
rarely the ice frozen in place which makes the trouble, 
but drift ice from the shores north and west of Nan- 
tucket. Such drift-ice is driven in this direction by the 
prevailing northwest winds, and, owing to the peculiar 
formation of the island, is caught and piled up between 
Tuckernuck Island on the west and the arm of Great 
Point on the east, thus blocking the northern coast 
and harbor entrance. 

The autumn season is especially mild, and it is not 
uncommon to find garden plants continuing in bloom 
well into December. This not only gives plants a long 
growing season, and opportunity to ripen their seeds, 
but, combined with the mildness of the winter, allows 
plants to flourish here which can not stand the longer 
and colder winters of the mainland. We thus find 
Nantucket given in the botany as the northern limit 
for several species of plants. Among them may be 
noted the cactus {Opuntia vulgaris, Mill.), which is 
found on Coatue, and from there south to South Caro- 
lina. A species of bladderwort {Utricularia suhulata, 
L.) has a range from Nantucket to New Jersey and 
south. St. Peter's-wort {Ascyrum hypericoides, L.) 
grows from Nantucket to southern Illinois, Nebraska 
and southward. 

The Nantucket Flora 247 

The geological formation of the island has a direct 
influence upon its flora. As the soil is mainly composed 
of glacial drift, sand, pebbles, and occasional boulders, 
and as there are no rock ledges whatever, we find a 
marked absence of rock ferns, saxifrages, and other rock- 
loving plants. Since Nantucket is an island at a con- 
siderable distance from other land, some plants in the 
course of years have come to differ slightly from the 
same species elsewhere. Perhaps the most noteworthy 
is our sabbatia [Sabhatia gracilis, (Michx.) Salisb.], 
which varies from the type description in Gray's 

The tree-felling of the early settlers caused great 
changes in the flora. The probability is that at the 
time of the settlement of Nantucket, parts of the island 
were rather heavily wooded. ^ Large trunks and roots 
of trees have been found in peat swamps in various 
parts of the island.^ It is a tradition that several 
buildings now standing were built of native timber.^ 
Early deeds speak of timber and fuel wood, and old 
wills bequeath wood lots. Names, as "Grove Lane," 
and "The Woods" still remain, though there are no 
trees in the vicinity at present. That these woods were 
quickly used up is shown by the fact that in a petition 
to Sir Henry Clinton in 1 780, the petitioners represent 
themselves as being "wholly destitute of firewood."'* 
At present there are only a few pine and larch trees 
which have been planted within recent times. Doubt- 
less the wood plants common to this region were at one 

^ Macy's History of Nantucket, pp. 25-26. 

' Sarah Winthrop Smith, Nantucket : A Brief Sketch of its Physio- 
graphy and Botany, p. 19. 

3 The Congregational church vestry. 
^ Macy's History of Nantucket, p. 117. 

248 Nantucket 

time found in the Nantucket woods. The destruction 
of these woods probably caused the extinction of some 
plants, as the trilliums, the rattlesnake plantains, and 
the wood ferns. Other woodland species seem to be 
slowly dying out. The goldthread [Coptis Irijolia 
(L). Salisb.] which Mrs. Owen, in 1888, includes with- 
out comment in her list of Nantucket plants, is an 
example. No one has been able to find a trace of it 
within late years, though diligent search has been 
made. Still other wood plants have adapted themselves 
to the changed environment. The pink lady's-slipper 
{Cypripediiim acaule, Ait.), which is usually found in 
woods, grows here on the open commons among the 
reindeer moss and the mealy plum vines [Arctostaphylos 
Uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.]. The Indian-pipe {Monoiropa 
tiniflora, L.) grows in great profusion in similar environ- 
ment, while the botany gives its habitat as "dark rich 

The early system of land owning in common, and 
the former extensive industry of sheep raising, also, 
had marked influence upon the island plants. At the 
time of the settlement of the island, all the land, except 
such pieces as were set aside for homesteads, and de- 
signated as "house-lot land," was held in common by 
the twenty-seven original proprietors.^ For many 
years, these "Commons" were used for sheep pastur- 
age, being divided into several pastures which were 
used in rotation, each man being allowed to pasture a 
number of sheep proportionate to the number of 
"Commons" he owned. The land being thus closely 
grazed, the native plants were almost, if not completely, 
exterminated, or grew only in places inaccessible to 
sheep. As may be readily seen, such a system of land- 

' Macy's History of Nantucket, chapter ii. 

The Nantucket Flora 249 

holding soon became full of complications. Since the 
early settlers refused to have land set off to individuals, 
shares were subdivided by inheritance to such an 
extent as to make it practically impossible to determine 
the ownership of much land. This land is unfenced, 
and has never been cultivated. Since laws were 
passed forbidding owners to allow sheep to run at large, 
plants have had a chance to grow unchecked. The 
result is an unusual luxuriance of growth. In the 
latter part of May, the commons are blue with sheets 
of bird-foot violets {Viola pedeta L.). Bluets {Hoiis- 
tonia ccerulea L.) and a large variety of field chickweed 
{Cerastium arvense L.) bloom at the same time, and 
these three plants carpet the commons. The hudsonia, 
or poverty grass {Hudsonia ericoides L. and H. tomen- 
tosa Nutt.), a plant characteristic of poor soil, covers 
acres with its tiny yellow blossoms in June. In July, 
the poly gala {Poly gala polygama Walt.) is perhaps the 
most conspicuous, its tiny pinkish flowers growing in 
sandy soil and bordering the rutted roads. Its flowers 
bear a superficial resemblance to the Scotch heather, 
often deceiving summer visitors to whom the plant is 
unfamiliar. In August, the golden aster [Chrysopsis 
falcata (Pursh.) Ell.] takes its tiirn in beautifying the 
commons with its cheery yellow blossoms. Although 
the evergreen leaves of mealy plum [Ardostaphylos 
Uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.] cover the ground throughout the 
year, it is most noticeable during September, when its 
red berries contrast so beautifully with its glossy green 
leaves and the gray reindeer moss with which it is so 
often associated. The floral display closes with the 
goldenrods and asters which reach their perfection in 
October, but last well into November. While all of 
these plants are found on the adjacent mainland, they 

250 Nantucket 

are not found in such profusion, as our commons furnish 
them with an unusually favorable environment. 

Many peat swamps are found on the island, and, as 
these were inaccessible to sheep and are unfit for cul- 
tivation, they have never been disturbed. Here some 
of our rarer plants reward the patient seeker. Among 
them are the orchids, the arethusa {Arethusa hulhosa L.), 
grass pink [Calopogoji pidchellus (Sw.) R.Br.], and adder's 
mouth [Pogonia ophioglossoides (L.) Ker.], the white 
fringed orchis [Habenaria blephiariglottis (Willd.) Torn], 
and that rarest of all our orchids, the yellow orchis 
[Habenaria ciliaris (L.) R. Br.]. The beautiful rose 
pink sabbatia [Sabbatia gracilis (Michx.) Salisb.] borders 
a few of our ponds. There are also found three varieties 
of sundew, {Drosera rotundijolia L., D. longifolia L., 
and D.filijormis Raf .) , whichhave curious leaves covered 
with glittering drops of a sticky substance to entrap 
tiny insects. The pitcher plant {Sarracenia purpurea 
L.), another insectivorous plant, is found in a few bogs, 
as are many other beautiful and curious plants too 
numerous to mention. Some of these plants, however, 
are in danger of extinction at present, as a result of the 
introduction of the cranberry industry, which makes 
it profitable to clear and drain the formerly worthless 
peat swamps. While we gladly welcome the new 
industry in Nantucket, the botanist can hardly refrain 
from feeling some regret at the passing of many of our 
rare plants with the peat bogs which furnished them 
with a suitable habitat. 

Since the coast line of the island includes exposed 
surf-beaten beaches, quiet harbors, and salt marshes, 
we naturally expect a large variety of marine plants. 
Besides the algae, which form a distinct branch of 
botany, we find many beach plants, as dusty miller 

The Nantucket Flora 251 

(Artemisia Stelleriana Bess.), seaside spurge {Euphorbia 
polygonifolia L.), saltwort {Salsola Kali L.), and beach 
pea [Lathyriis maritimus (L.) Bigel.]. In the salt 
marshes we find the marsh rosemary [Limonium Caro- 
linianum (Walt.), Britton], the samphires {Salicornia 
mucronata Bigel., S. europcEa L., and 6". amhigua Michx.), 
which turn bright red in the fall, and add their ruddy- 
tinge to the yellows and browns of the autumn marshes. 
The hibiscus {Hibiscus Moscheutos L.) opens its great 
rose-colored blossoms on the borders of brackish ponds, 
and the rare centaury [Centaurium spicatum (L.) Fer- 
nald] grows in similar localities. 

Every year, new plants are appearing among our 
Nantucket flora. IMany are introduced with grass 
and vegetable seeds and appear as weeds in the grain 
fields and gardens, while others occur as ballast weeds 
on the wharves and waste places. The cow herb 
{Saponaria Vaccaria L.) is one of these recent importa- 
tions, and has been noted growing in fields of oats. It 
has pink flowers, and is a near relative of the bouncing 
Bet or bunch of keys {Saponaria officinalis L.) so 
common in the lanes and streets in the outskirts of the 
town. The Deptford pink {Dianthus Armaria L.) is 
also a recent introduction, as are several other members 
of the pink family. Among ballast weeds may be 
noted the purple thorn apple {Datura Tatula L.) found 
on one of the old wharves, and the hemp {Cannabis 
sativa L.) , of which Mrs. Owen mentions two plants, is 
now well established on the "dump" west of the town. 
Many garden escapes have strayed far beyond the 
town limits, among them the horehound {Alarrubium 
vulgare L.), catnip {Nepcta Cataria L.), motherwort 
Leonurus Cardiaca L.), spearmint {Mentliaspicata L.), 
and peppermint {Mentha piperita L.). These were all 

252 Nantucket 

introduced from Europe by the early settlers because 
of their medicinal qualities. Yarrow {Achillea Millie- 
joliiim L.), tansy {Tanacetum vulgare L.), and boneset 
{Eiipatorium perfoliatum L.) doubtless recall to the 
minds of many dried bunches of herbs hanging in rows 
from beams in the attic, ready to be brewed into bitter 
teas for some unlucky victim. 

The inhabitants of Nantucket very early deplored 
the scarcity of wood on the island, and various attempts 
at reforestation have been made. To these attempts 
we owe the most noted of all our Nantucket plants, the 
heathers. Among imported Scotch pines at Miacomet 
we find the heather, or ling, [Calhina vulgaris (L). 
Hull,], and a European heath {Erica Tetralix L.). For 
many years, the locality of these two plants was a 
jealously guarded secret, and as a consequence they 
have been protected from ruthless picking, and, at 
present, appear to be thoroughly well established. 
New clumps are found each year, the plants gradually 
spreading in an easterly direction, probably because 
the seed is carried in that direction by the westerly 
winds prevailing in summer. Unless, as hardly seems 
probable, the blossoms are picked recklessly, or the 
plants uprooted, the heather will remain a permanent 
ornament to our island flora. A third species, the 
rarest of all, the bell heather {Erica cinerea L.), is found 
but in one place, the exact locality being known only 
to a favored few. 

This hasty survey of the Nantucket flora indi- 
cates a few of the factors which have operated in making 
it unique and of particular interest to lovers of wild 
flowers. The problems presented here are fascinating, 
and will repay most careful investigation. Of late 
years, there has seemed to be an awakening of interest 

The Nantucket Flora 253 

in the subject of botany, and this science, instead of, 
as formerly, being a matter of dry technicalities and 
analytical keys, has, through the various wild-fiowers 
books published in recent years, become of popular 
interest. Surely, to those interested in "out of doors," 
there can be no more delightful or healthful way of 
spending part of a vacation than in making the acquaint- 
ance of new floral friends on what has been called "a 
botanist's paradise." 

The following list of Nantucket plants has been com- 
piled from various sources. Many specimens named 
are in the herbarium of the writer, others are in that of 
the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association, while still 
others are plants which have been reported by various 
botanists. A Catalogue of Plants Growing without Cul- 
tivation in the County of Nantucket, Mass., published in 
1888, b}^ Maria L. Owen, and " The Ferns and Flowering 
Plants of Nantucket," by Eugene P. Bicknell, now ap- 
pearing in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, give 
detailed information regarding the less common plants. 

While there are doubtless errors, and certainly many 
omissions in this list, it may be of interest to botanists, 
and an aid in compiling a more complete and accurate 
list of the Nantucket plants. 

Nantucket Flora 

Aspidium. Dicksonia 

Boottii Tuckerm. punctilobula (Michx.) Gray 

cristatum (L.) Sw. Onoclea 
noveboracense (L.) Sw. sensibilis L. 

simulatum Davenp. Polypodium 
spinulosum (O. F. MuUer) Sw. vulgare L. 

var. intermedium (Muhl.) Pteris 

D. C. Eaton. aquilina L. 

Thelypteris (L.) Sw. var. pseudocaudata Clute 

Asplenium Woodwardia 

Filix-femina (L.) Bernh. areolata (L.) Moore 



Woodwardia — Continued 

virginica (L.) Sm. 

cinnamomea L. 

Claytoniana L. 

rcgalis L. 

obliquum var. dissectum 
(Spreng.) Clute 

ternatum (Thunb.) Sw., 

var. intermedium D. C. Eaton 

vulgatum L. 

arvense L. 

fluviatile L. 

alopecuroides L. 

var. flabelliforme Fernald 

inundatum L. 

var. Bigelovii Tuckerm. 
var. dendroideum (Michx.) 
D. C. Eaton 

tristachyum Pursh 

echinospora Dur., var. Eraunii. 

virginiana L. 

decidua Mill. 

rigida Mill. 

sylvestris L. 

angustifolia L. 

latifolia L. 

americanum Nutt. 

var. androcladum (Engeim.) 
Fernald & Eames 

eurycarpum Engeim. 

flexilis (Willd.) Rostk. & Schmidt 

guadalupensis (Spreng.) Morong 


epihydrus Raf. 

hybridus Michx. 

mysticus Alorong 

Oakesianus Robbins 

pectinatus L. 

perfoliatus L. 

pulcher Tuckerm. 

pusillus L. 

maritima L. 

palustris L. 

marina L. 

maritima L. 

Plantago-aquatica L. 

Engelmanniana J. G. Sm. 

latifolia Willd. 

spiralis L. 

repens (L.) Beauv. 

alba L. 

var. aristata Gray 
var. maritima (Lam.) G. F. 
W. Mey. 

hyemalis (Walt.) BSP. 

perennans (Walt.) Tuckerm. 
var. alata (Pursh) Hitchc. 

caryophyllea L. 

geniculatus L. 

pratensis L. 

arenaria (L.) Link. 

f urcatus Muhl. 

glomeratus (Walt.) BSP. 

The Nantucket Flora 


Andropogon — Continued 

scoparius Michx. 

var. littoralis (Nash) Hitchc. 

virginicus L. 

odoratum L. 

dichotoma Michx, 

gracilis Ell. 

purpurascens Poir. 

sativa L. 

commutatus Schrad. 

hordeaceus L. 

racemosus L, 

secalinus L. 

sterilis L. 

tectorum L. 

canadensis (Michx.) Beauv. 

cinnoides (Muhl.) Barton 

tribuloides L. 

glomerata L. 

compressa Aust. 

spicata (L.) Beauv. 

flexuosa (L.) Trin. 

filiformis (L.) Koeler 

humifusa Pers. 

sanguinalis (L.) Scop. 

spicata (L.) Greene 

crusgalli (L.) Beauv. 

virginicus L. 

megastachya (Koeler) Link. 

pectinacea (Michx.) Steud. 

var. spectabills Gray 

pilosa (L.) Beauv. 

elatior L. 

myurus L. 

octoflora Walt. 

ovina L. 

var. capillata (Lam.) Hack, 
var duriuscula (L.) Koch 

rubra L. 

acutiflora Torr. 

canadensis (Michx.) Trin. 

grandis Wats. 

nervata (Willd.) Trin. 

pallida (Torr.) Trin. 

septentrionalis Hitchc. 

odorata (L.) Walilenb. 

lanatus L. 

jubatum L. 

oryzoides (L.) Sw. 

fascicularis (Lam.) Gray 

multiflorum Lam. 

perenne L. 

mexicana (L.) Trin. 

agrostoides Spreng. 

Bicknellii Nash 

capillare L. 

clandestinum L. 

columbianum Scribn. 

depauperatum Muhl. 

dichotomiflorum Michx. 

dichotomum L. 

linearifolium Scribn. 

mattamuskeetense Ashe 

meridionale Ashe 



Panicum — Cont inued 

miliaceum L. 

Scribnerianum Nash 

sphaerocarpon Ell. 

tennesscense Ashe 

villosissimum Nash 

virgatum L. 

Miihlenbergii Nash 

psammophilum Nash 

setaceum Michx. 

canariensis L. 

pratense L. 

communis Trin. 

annua L. 

compressa L. 

pratensis L. 

triflora Gilib. 

trivialis L. 

distans (L.) Pari. 

glauca (L.) Beauv. 

imberbis R. & S. 

italica (L.) Beauv. 

viridis (L.) Beauv. 

nutans (L.) Nash 

cynosuroides (L.) Roth 

var. alterniflora (Loisel) Merr. 
var. pilosa Merr. 

patens (Ait.) Muhl. 

var. juncea (Michx.) Hitchc. 

palustris (Michx.) Scribn. 

vaginiflorus (Torr.) Wood 

avenacea L. 


flavus (L.) Hitchc. 

purpurea (Walt.) Chapm. 

aquatica L. 

albolutescens Schwein. 
bullata Schkuhr. 

var. Greenii (Boeckl.) Fernald 
canescens L. 

var. subloliacea Laestad. 

var. disjuncta Fernald 
comosa Boott. 
conoidea Schkuhr. 

var. gynandra (Schwein.) 
Schwein. & Torr. 

var. Rudgei Bailey. 
Goodenowii J. Gray 
hirta L. 

hormathodes Fernald 
intumescens Rudge 
lanuginosa Michx. 
leptalea Wahlenb. 
lupulina Muhl. 

var. pedunculata Dewey 
lurida Wahlenb. 
Muhlenbergii Schkuhr. 
muricata L. 
pallescens L. 
pennsylvanica Lam. 

var. utriculata (Boott.) Bailey 

var. capillacea (Bailey) Fer- 
scoparia Schkuhr. 
seor'=a E. C. Howe. 

var. ambigua (Barratt) Fer- 
silicea Onlcy. 

var. cephalantha (Bailey) Fer- 
sterilis Willd. 
stipata Muhl. 
straminea Willd. 

The Nantucket Flora 


Cares — Continued 

var. echinodes Fernald 

stricta Lam. 

umbellata Schkuhr. 
var. tonsa Fernald 

varia Muhl. 

vestita Willd. 

virescens Muhl. 

vulpinoidea Michx, 

mariscoides (Muhl.) Torr. 

dentatus Torr. 

diandrus Torr. 

esculentus L. 

ferax Rich. 

filiculmis Vahl. 

Grayi Torr. 

Nuttallii Eddy 

rivularis Kunth. 

strigosus L. 

var. capitatus Boeckl. 
var. compositus Britton 

arundinaceum (L.) Britton 

acicularis (L.) R. & S. 

obtusa (Willd.) Schultes 

palustris (L.) R. & S. 

var. glaucescens (Willd.) Gray 

rostellata Torr. 

tenuis (Willd.) Schultes 

tricostata Torr. 

tenellum Nutt. 

virginicum L. 

viridi-carinatum (Engelm,), Fer- 

alba (L). Vahl. 

glomerata (L.) Vahl. 

Torreyana Gray 

americanus Pers. 

campestris Britton 

cyperinus (L.) Kunth. 

nanus Spreng. 

occidentalis (Wats.) Chase 

pedicellatus Fernald 

robustus Pursh 

rubrotinctus Fernald 

validus Vahl. 

triglomerata Michx. 

Calamus L. 

triphyllum (L.) Schott. 

minor L. 

trisulca L. 

articulatum (Huds.) Morong 

caroliniana Walt. 

flexuosa Muhl. 

virginiana L. 

dubia (Jacq.) MacM. 

cordata L. 

acuminatus Michx. 

aristulatus Michx. 

articulatus L. 

balticus Willd., var. littoralis 

bufonius L. 

canadensis J. Gay 

dichotomus Ell. 

effusus L. 

var. compactus Lejeune & 

Gerardi Loisel. 

Greenei Oakes & Tuckerm. 

marginatus Rostk. 

militaris Bigel. 



Juncus — Continued 

pelocarpus Mey 

tenuis Willd. 

var. anthelatus Wiegand 

var. multiflora ( E h r h . ) 

farinosa L. 

officinalis L. 

fulva L. 

philadelphicum L. 

superbum L. 

canadense Desf. 

virginiana L. 

botryoides (L.) Mill 

sessilifolia (L.) Wats. 

umbellatum L. 

biflorum (Walt.) Ell. 

racemosa (L.) Desf. 

stellata (L.) Desf. 

Bona-nox L. 

glauca Walt. 

herbacea L. 

rotundifolia L. 

var. quadrangularis (Muhl.) 

hirsuta (L.) Coville 

prismatica Pursh 

pseudacorus L. 

versicolor L. 


arenicola Bicknell 

atlanticum Bicknell 

gramineum Curtis 


bulbosa L. 

pulchellus Sw. R. Br. 

maculata Raf. 

acaule Ait. 

blephariglottis (Willd.) Torr. 

ciliaris (L.) R. Br. 

clavellata (Michx.) Spreng. 

lacera (Michx.) R. Br. 

Loeselii (L.) Richard 

unifolia (Michx.) BSP. 

ophioglossoides (L.) Ker 

Beckii Lindl. 

cernua (L.) Richard 

gracilis (Bigel.) Beck 

alba L. 

candicans Ait. 

grandidentata Michx. 

tremuloides Michx. 

alba L. 

babylonica L. 

cordata Muhl. 

discolor Muhl. 

var. eriocephala (Michx.) 

fragilis L. 

humilis Marsh 

pentandra L. 

petiolaris Sm. 

The Nantucket Flora 


Salix — Continued 

purpurea L. 

rostrata Richards 

sericea Marsh 

tristis Ait. 

viminaHs L. 

asplenifolia L. 

caroHnensis Mill. 

Gale L. 

alba (L.) K. Koch 

glabra (Mill.) Spach. 

microcarpa Nutt. 

incana (L.) Moench. 

populifolia Marsh 

caroliniana Walt. 

americana Walt. 

rostrata Ait. 

grandifolia Ehrh. 

alba L. 

coccinea Muench. 

falcata Michx. 

ilicifolia Wang. 

prinoides Willd. 

stellata Wang. 

velutina Lam. 

cylindrica (L.) Sw. 
var. scabra Porter 

sativa L. 

japonicus Sieb. & Zucc. 

Lupulus L. 

pennsylvanica Muhl. 


pumila (L.) Gray 

americana L. 

Lyallii Wats. 

urens L. 

umbellata (L.) Nutt. 

esculentum Moench. 

articulata (L.) Meisn. 

acre HBK. 

amphibium L. 

aviculare L. 

var. angustissimum Meisn. 
var. vegetum Ledeb. 

Convolvulus L. 

cuspidatum Sieb. & Zucc. 

dumetorum L. 

Hydropiper L. 

hydropiperoides Michx. 

lapathifolium L. 

maritimum L. 

pennsylvanicum L. 

Persicaria L. 

prolificum (Small) Robinson 
forma atlanticum Robinson 

sagittatum L. 

setaceum Baldw. 

tomentosum Schrank. 

Acetosella L. 

Britannica L. 

crispus L. 

obtusifolius L. 

pallidus Bigel. 

persicarioides L. 

arenaria Nutt. 


var. hastata (L.) Gray 




album L. 

var. viride (L.) Moq. 

ambrosioides L. 

glaucum L. 

hybridum L. 

murale L. 

polyspermum L. 

rubrum L. 

ambigua Michx. 

europasa L. 

mucronata Bigel. 


var. caroliniana (Walt.) Nutt. 

linearis (Ell.) Moq. 

maritima (L.) Dumort 

blitoides Wats. 

graecizans L. 

hybridus L. 

paniculatus L. 

pumilus Raf. 

retroflexus L. 

decandra L. 

annuus L. 

verticillata L. 

Githago L. 

lateriflora L. 

peploides L. 

serpyllifolia L. 

arvense L. 

semidecandrum L. 

vulgatum L. 

Armeria L. 


alba Mill. 

dioica L. 

procumbens L. 

officinalis L. 

Vaccaria L. 

antirrhina L. 

Armeria L. 

dichotoma Ehrh. 

latifolia (Mill.)Britton & Rendle 

arvensis L. 

sativa Boenn. 

canadensis (Pers.) Don. 

marina (L.) Griseb. 

rubra (L.) J. &. C. Presl. 

graminea L. 

media (L.) Cyrill. 

oleracea L. 

demersum L. 

Schreberi Gmel. 

odorata (Ait.) Woodville & 

advena Ait. 

rubra (Ait.) WiUd. 

quinquefolia L. 

canadensis L. 

trifolia (L.) Salisb. 

acris L. 

The Nantucket Flora 


Ranunculus — Continued 

bulbosus L. 

Cymbalaria Pursh 

delphinifolius Torr. 

laxicaulis (T. & G.) Darby 

repens L. 

poh'gamum Muhl. 

revolutum DC. 

varifolium (Salisb.) Ktze. 

mexicana L. 

majus L. 

alyssoides L. 

vulgaris R. Br. 

arvensis (L.) Ktze. 

campestris L. 

juncea (L.) Cosson 

Napus L. 

nigra (L.) Koch 

Rapa L. 

edentula (Bigel.) Hook. 

Bursa-pastoris (L.) Medic. 

parviflora L. 

pennsylvanica Muhl. 

orientaHs (L.) Dumort 

didymus (L.) Sm. 

muralis (L.) DC. 

verna L. 

cheiranthoides L. 


apetalum Willd. 

campestre (L.) R. Br. 

virginicum L. 

maritima (L.) Desv. 

Armoracia (L.) Robinson 

Nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) 


palustris (L.) Moench. 

sylvestris (L.) Druce 

Raphanistrum L. 

sativus L. 

altissimum L. 

var. leiocarpum DC. 

arvense L. 

lutea L. 

purpurea L. 

filiformis Raf. 

longifolia L. 

rotundifolia L. 

acre L. 

purpureum Tausch. 

aquatica L. 

Vaillantii Willd. 

oxyacanthoides L. 

gryposepala Wallr. 

canadensis (L.) Medic. 

oblongifolia (T. & G.) Roem. 

Crus-galli L. 



Crataegus — Continued 

macrosperma Ashe. 

pruninosa (Wendl.) C. Koch 

vesca L. 

virginiana Duchesne 

canadense Jacq. 

Anserina L. 

argentea L. 

canadensis L. 

var. simplex (Michx.) T. & G. 

monspeliensis L. 

pennsylvanica L. 

pumila Poir. 

americana Marsh 

avium L. 

Cerasus L. 

maritima Wang. 

Persica (L.) Stokes 

serotina Ehrh. 

arbutifolia (L.) L. f. 

var. atropurpurea (Britton) 

communis L. 

Malus L. 

Carolina L. 

cinnamomea L. 

rubiginosa L. 

virginiana Mill. 

allegheniensis Porter 

argutus Link. 

frondosus BigeL 

hispidus L. 

var. aculeatissimus (C. A. 
Mey.) Kegel & Tiling 

nigricans Rydb. 

occidentalis L. 
triflorus Richards 

villosus Ait. 

var. humifusus T. &. G. 

latifolia Borkh. 

tomentosa L. 

monoica (L.) Ell. 

tuberosa Moench. 

tinctoria (L.) R. Br. 

Chamaecrista L. 

varia L. 

scoparius (L.) Link. 

obtusum (Muhl.) DC. 

sessilifolium (Torr.) T. & G. 

maritimus (L.) Bigel. 

palustris L. 

var. linearifolius Ser. 

Brittonii Bicknell 

capitata Michx. 

hirta (L.) Hornem. 

procumbens Michx. 

Stuvei Nutt. 

violacea (L.) Pers. 

virginica (L.) Britton 

lupuUna L. 

sativa L. 

alba Desr. 

officinalis (L.) Lam. 

virginiana (L.) Pers. 

agrarium L. 

arvense L. 

dubium Sibth. 

The Nantucket Flora 


Trif olium — Continued 

hybridum L. 

incarnatum L. 

pratense L. 

procumbens L. 

repens L. 

europaeus L. 

americana Muhl. 

angustifolia (L.) Reichard 

sativa L. 

tetrasperma (L.) Moench. 

sulcatum Riddell 

usitatissimum L. 

virginianum L. 

corniculata L. 

striata L. 

cicutarium (L.) L'Her. 

carolinianum L, 

maculatum L. 

pusillum Burm. f. 

Robertianum L. 

cruciata L. 

polygama Walt. 

sanguinea L. 

verticillata L. 

Cyparissias L. 

maculata L. 

polygonifolia L. 

Preslii Guss. 

heterophylla Pursh 

palustris L, 

Conradii Torr. 

copallina L. 

glabra L. 

Toxicodendron L. 

Vernix L. 

glabra (L.) Gray 

opaca Ait. 

verticillata (L.) Gray 

rubrum L. 

biflora Walt. 

quinquefolia (L.) Greene 

vitacea (Knerr.) Greene 

sestivalis Michx. 

labrusca L. 

Moscheutos L. 

moschata L. 

rotundifolia L. 

verticillata L. 

hypericoides L. 

adpressum, Bart. 

boreale (Britten) Bicknell 

canadense L. 

gentianoides (L.) BSP. 

mutilum L. 

perforatum L. 

punctatum Lam. 

virginicum L. 

americana (Pursh) Arn. 

canadense (L.?) Michx. 

ericoides L. 

tomentosa Nutt. 

Leggettii Britten & Hollick 

maritima Leggett. 



Lechea — Continued 

minor L. 

villosa Ell. 

blanda Willd. 

cucullata Ait. 

fimbriatula Sm. 

lanceolata L. 

palmata L. 

pedata L. 

sagittata Ait. 

Rafinesquii Engelm. 

vulgaris Mill. 

verticillatus (L.) Ell. 

Salicaria L. 

virginica L. 

lutetiana L. 

angustifolium L. 

coloratum Muhl. 

densum Raf. 

hirsutum L. 

palustre L. 

palustris (L.) EIL 

biennis L. 

fruticosa L. 

muricata L. 

pumila L. 

humile (Raf.) Morong 

tenellura Bigel. 

palustris L. 

nudicaulis L. 

Cynapium L. 


maculatum L. 

Carota L, 

lanatum Michx. 

umbellata L. 

scothicum L. 

capillaceum (Michx.) Raf. 

cicutaefolium Schrank. 

canadensis L. 

florida L. 

sylvatica Marsh 

Uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. 

vulgaris (L.) Hull 

calyculata (L.) Moench. 

maculata (L.) Pursh 

umbellata (L.) Nutt. 

hispid ula (L.) T. &. G. 

alnifolia L. 

repens L. 

cinerea L. 

Tetralix L. 

procumbens L. 

baccata (Wang.) C. Koch 

dumosa (Andr.) T. &. G. 

frondosa (L.) T. &. G. 

The Nantucket Flora 



angustifolia L. 

latifolia L. 

mariana (L.) D. Don 

Hypopitys L. 

uniflora L. 

americana Sweet 

chlorantha Sw. 

viscosum (L.) Torr. 

atrococcum (Gray) Heller 

corymbosum L. 

macrocarpon Ait. 

Oxycoccos L. 

pennsylvanicum Lam. 

vacillans Kalm 

carolinianum (Walt.) Britten 

arvensis L. 

maritima L. 
var. obtusifolia Fernald 

Nummularia L. 

quadrifolia L. 

terrestris (L.) BSP. 

vulgaris L. 

floribundus HBK. 

americana (Pars.) Pursh 

vulgaris L. 

virginica (L.) BSP. 

spicatum (L.) Fernald 

trifoliata L. 


lacunosum (Vent.) Fernald 

dodecandra (L.) BSP. 

gracilis (Michx.) Salisb. 

androsaemifolium L. 

cannabinum L. 

medium Greene 

amplexicaulis Sm. 


var. pulchra (Ehrh.) Pers. 

phytolaccoides Pursh 

syriaca L. 

tuberosa L. 

arvensis L. 

sepium L. 
var. pubescens (Gray) Fernald 

Gronovii Willd. 

vulgare L. 

arvense L. 

maritima (L.) S. F. Gray 

Laxa Lehm. 

virginianum (L.) A. DC. 

hastata L. 

urticsefolia L. 

Ladanum L. 

Tetrahit L. ' 

pulegioides (L.) Pers. 

amplexicaule L. 

Cardiaca L. 




amcricanus ?.Iuhl. 

virginicus L. 

vulgare L. 

var. canadensis (L.) Briquet 

crispa L. 

gen tills L. 

piperita L. 

spicata L. 

Cataria L. 

hederacea (L.) Trevisan. 

vulgaris L. 

flexuosum (Walt.) BSP. 

incanum (L.) Michx. 

virginianum (L.) Durand & 

galericulata L. 

lateriflora L. 

hyssopifolia Michx. 

canadense L. 

dichotomum L. 

Stramonium L. 

Tatula L. 

halimifolium Mill. 

Physalodes (L.) Pers. 
Phy sails 

lanceolata Michx. 

Dulcamara L. 
nigrum L. 


maritima Raf. 

paupercula (Gray) Britton 

purpurea L. 

tenuifolia Vahl. 

aurea Muhl. 

anagallidea (Michx.) Robinson 

dubia (L.) Barnhart 

Aquatica L., var. tenuifolia 

(Wolf.) Pers. 

canadensis (L.) Dumont 

vulgaris Hill 

lineare Lam. 

canadensis L. 

americana L. 

marilandica L. 

Blattaria L. 

Thapsus L. 

arvensis L. 

clandestina Nutt. 

cleistogama (Gray) Britton 

intermedia Hayne 

subulata L. 

vulgaris L., var. americana 

aristata Michx. 

decipiens Bameoud 

lanceolata L. 

major L. 

Rugclii Dene. 

occidentalis L. 

The Nantucket Flora 



circaezans Michx. 

Claytoni Michx. 

pilosum Ait. 

trifidum L. 

triflorum Michx. 

cserulea L. 

longifolia Gaertn. 

repens L. 

borealis L., var. americana 
(Forbes) Rehder 

canadensis L. 

alnifolium Marsh. 

dentatum L. 

venosum Britton 

lobata (Michx.) T. &. G. 

angulatus L. 

rapunculoides L. 

perfoliata (L.) A. DC. 

cardinalis L. 

inflata L. 

Millefolium L. 

artemisiasfolia L. 

margaritacea (L.) B. &. H. 

neglecta Greene 

neodioica Greene 

plantaginifolia (L.) Richards. 

Cotula L. 


minus Bernh. 

annua L. 

caudata Michx. 

Stelleriana Bess. 

vulgaris L. 

concolor L. 

dumosus L. 

ericoides L. 

laevis L. 

linariifolius L. 

multiflorus Ait. 

novi-belgii L. 

patens Ait. 

spectabilis Ait. 

subulatus Michx. 

umbellatus Mill. 

undulatus L. 

halimifolia L. 

cernua L. 

connata Muhl. 

frondosa L. 

tevis (L.) BSP. 

Leucanthemum L. 

Parthenium (L.) Bernh. 

falcata (Pursh) EU. 

Intybus L. 

altissimum (L.) Spreng. 

arvense (L.) Scop. 

lanceolatum (L.) Hill 

pumilum (Nutt.) Spreng. 

spinosissimum (Walt.) Scop. 

hieracifolia (L.) Raf. 

annuus (L.) Pers. 



Erigeron — Continued 

canadensis L. 

philadelphicus L. 

ramosus (Walt.) BSP. 

var. discoideus(Robbins)RSP. 

hyssopifolium L. 

perfoliatum L. 
var. truncatum Gray 

pubescens Miihl. 

purpureum L. 

rotundifolium L. 

sessilifolium L. 

verbenaefolium Michx. 

parviflora Cav. 

polycephalum Michx. 

purpureum L. 

uliginosum L. 

divaricatus L. 

strumosus L. 

tuberosus L. 

aurantiacum L, 

canadense Michx. 

Gronovii L. 

venosum L. 

Helenium L. 

virginica (L.) Willd. 

canadensis L. 

birsuta Muhl. 

autumnalis L. 

scariosa Willd. 

camphorata (L.) DC. 


alba L. 

racemosa Michx. 

serpentaria Pursh 

trifoliolata (Cass.) Femald 

hirta L. 

vulgaris L. 

asteroides (L.) BSP. 

Hnifolius (L.) BSP. 

caesia L. 

canadensis L. 

EUiottii T. &. G. 

graminifolia (L.) Salisb. 

minor (Michx.) Fernald 

neglecta T. & G. 

nemoralis Ait. 

odora Ait. 

puberula Nutt. 

rugosa Mill. 

sempervirens L. 

serotina Ait. 

tenuifolia Pursh. 

uliginosa Nutt. 

ulmifoHa Muhl. 

arvensis L. 

asper (L.) Hill 

oleraceus L. 

vulgare L. 

var. crispum DC. 

erythrospermum Andrz. 

officinale Weber 

pratensis L. 

echinatum Murr. 



The Indian Villages. The Indians had numerous 
villages scattered over the island, but, unfortunately, 
the sites of but a few of them have been recorded. One 
of the largest is known to have been at Occawa or 
Orcawa, in the neighborhood of the modem Plainfield 
farm near Siasconset, and in this immediate vicinity 
they had also one of their meeting-houses. 

Another large Indian village was located about the 
northern extremity of Miacomet Pond, not very far 
from the northern boundary of the shear-pen district; 
and in this direction evidences of a large settlement 
have been found from time to time. Here also was 
one of their meeting-houses. 

On land occupying the western side of Squam Pond, 
a third village was situated, at a place then known as 
Ahapehant, or Apapachonsett. 

A fourth Indian village stood near Shawkemo, south 
of Abram's Point, and north of Shimmo; and it is be- 
lieved that there was also an Indian burying ground 

At Secacacha, and also at Peedee, southeast of 
Sacacha Pond, there were two villages existing in 1700, 
but whether these were fishing stages erected on pre- 


270 Nantucket 

viously existing Indian villages or not, there is no 
evidence to show. 

The last three wigwams on the island were standing 
at Squam, in 1796. The last one was on Rock Island, 
and it was taken down in 1797. It was on Tristram 
Starbuck's farm, and was occupied by Abigail Fisher. 

Fishing Stages. From an early period the maritime 
advantages of the island induced the settlers to engage 
in the pursuit of fishing, and, as they had found cod- 
fishing remunerative, they naturally engaged in it to 
a considerable extent. Fishing stages were, therefore, 
erected at various points round the shore, especially 
at the south and east sides of the island, for the accom- 
modation of the fishermen. These consisted of small 
wooden huts or cabins capable of sheltering a boat's 
crew, numbering usually five men. There were several, 
at Siasconset on the east coast, and near Weeweder 
Pond on the south. The small village of Peedee, about 
one mile and a half north of Siasconset, had several, 
and a large niimber were erected at Sacacha Pond. 
Also there was a cluster at Quidnet, near the head of 
the harbor. They usually contained a stone fireplace, 
with a brick chimney at the one end, and, at the other, 
two bedrooms capable of accommodating four men. 
Above, a small attic constituted an apartment fo/ the 
boys. A few of these miniature dwellings may still be 
seen at Siasconset. 

As a general rule, the location of these fishing-stages 
gave rise to numerous villages in the course of time, and 
the most important of these is Siasconset. 

Great Point (or Nauma — "Long Point"), with Cos- 
kata, the "Haulover," and Coatue, forms a natural 
breakwater, making the harbor of Nantucket almost 
completely land-locked. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 271 

Great Point, or Nauma, is situated at the extreme 
northeast of the island, at the end of a sandy prolonga- 
tion extending northwards from Coskata. By water, 
it is about nine miles from Nantucket. It has a govern- 
ment lighthouse upon it. The first lighthouse was 
erected in 1794, but was destroyed by fire in 1816. 
The present stone structure was built, probably during 
the same year. " It is a favorite place for bluefishing." ^ 

Coskata ("at the broad woods") is the section of 
Long Point north of Wauwinet which, with the "Haul- 
over," forms the eastern and northern sides of the 
upper harbor. 

The "Haulover" — a narrow strip of sand formerly 
dividing the harbor from the ocean, and constituting 
the narrowest part of the island, still water on one 
side and surf on the other — was so named from the 
fishermen being in the habit of haiiling their boats over 
it in order to avoid sailing round the point, thus materi- 
ally shortening their route. In 1896, the sea, during 
a storm, burst through this sandy partition, and con- 
verted the peninsula of Coatue and Great Point into 
an island, thus necessitating the laying of a cable 
between it and the Life-saving Station at Coskata. 
The opening has since closed up again. 

Wauwinet (named after the distinguished Sachem 
who ruled over this section of the island about the time 
of the arrival of the settlers) is a small village beauti- 
fully situated near the "Haiilover," at the head of the 
harbor, on the eastern aspect of the island, about nine 
miles from Nantucket town (seven by water), and 
about four from Siasconset. Motor- and sail-boats 
ply regularly twice a day between Nantucket and 

' Godfrey's Island of Nantucket, to which the writer is under many 

272 Nantucket 

the village. Wauwinet is situated on the narrowest 
part of the island — the harbor being on one side and 
the ocean on the other. Either the finest surf -bathing 
in the ocean, or the most perfect still-water bathing in 
the harbor, may be enjoyed within a distance of three 
hundred yards. 

Here also is a comfortable hotel, and a beautiful 
view can be obtained of the ocean, the harbor, and the 
town of Nantucket in the distance. Those who delight 
in scenery will be well repaid by a visit to this com- 
paratively wild and romantic spot. 

Squam is a tract of land to the east of Pocomo, and 
at the northeast part of the island. At its eastern 
boundary, very close to the ocean, is Squam Pond. 
This section also contains Herrecatur Swamp, a locality 
called Cotackta — where there is a large bowlder, and 
Eat-fire Spring, alluded to in Col. Hart's novel Miriam 
Coffin. This tract was within the boundaries of 
Wauwinet 's possessions. It has been stated that this 
district during the latter part of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, was covered with trees to a great extent. 

Quidnet (a contraction for Aquidnet, meaning "at 
the place of the point ") was originally one of the fishing- 
stages, but afterwards became a good-sized village 
and famous for its fishing. It is situated north of 
Secacacha Pond, and consists at present of only a few 
straggling houses. 

Here, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, 
lived for many years, in a quaint old domicile, the 
hermit Frederick Parker. He was a genial, urbane 
man, who, although he had separated himself from the 
outer world, was nevertheless pleased to receive 
visitors and to exchange his views with them as to 
current events. He died many years ago. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 273 

Secacacha (usually contracted to Sacacha) village, 
so named from the adjacent pond, was erected about 
1700, and up to 181 8, was well knowa^s a fishing- 
place ; indeed it was for a time the largest fishing-stage 
on the island. It was, however, ultimately abandoned 
for Sconset, and many of its numerous houses were 
removed to the latter place. 

Sacacha Pond covers over three hundred acres, 
and has always been famous as a fishing-place for 
perch. It is situated about seven or eight miles east 
of Nantucket. 

Sankaty Head' is one of the highest points on the 
island — ninety-two feet— and from its proud eminence 
gleams its famous lighthouse, the most important 
beacon on the island. Sankaty Head is about one mile 
and a half north from Siasconset, and the cliff walk 
between these two places is one of the most enjoyable 
that can be imagined. The tower of the beacon, which 
is built of stone, brick, and iron, is painted white, red, 
and white, alternately, and its extreme height is one 
hundred and seventy-five feet from the sea-level. It 
shows a "Fresnel" light which can be seen distinctly 
at a distance of twenty-eight miles or more at sea. 
This splendid light was flashed across the ocean for 
the first time on February 2, 1850; it consists of an 
intense white gleam for fifty seconds, varied by minutal 
flashes, each of ten seconds' duration. 

On October i, 1912, the supply of Sankaty light- 
house lamp was changed from "three- wick oil-burning 
kerosene" to incandescent oil vapor. Kerosene oil is 

' The derivation of this word is obscure. If the hill was called by the 
Indians, as stated by Z. Macy, Naphchecoy, it cannot mean " round the 
head"; Mr. Worth plausibly suggests that it may mean "on the other 
side of Pochick," which is at least intelligible. 

274 Nantucket 

forced by air-pressure from the holding tank, the neces- 
sary amount of pressure used being forty-eight pounds ; 
the oil in burner is heated by alcohol for fifteen minutes 
until it becomes incandescent inside the mantle. 

The lenses from the oil-burning lamp gave light, 
fixed, 4000 candle power — flash 38,000. The lenses 
give from vapor 27,000 c. p. fixed light, and estimated 
flash-light 220,000. ' 

The lenses alone are said to have cost $6000. 

For many years, the genial Captain Remsen has 
been the very competent keeper of the lighthouse. 

It need scarcely be added that a most magnificent 
view can be obtained from the outlook-landing at the 
top of the tower. Sankaty Head is also interesting in 
a scientific sense as the slopes of the bluff afford a good 
opportunity for observing the glacial conformation of 
the island. 

Saul's Hills, about four miles and a half to the east 
from Nantucket, form the highest group on the island, 
Macy's and Folger's being the highest. Macy's hill 
reaches a height of one hundred and two feet. This 
range of glacial hills is very interesting from a geological 
point of view, and their rounded, dome-like tops supply 
a good illustration of glacial action, which was the last 
elemental factor in the preparation of the earth as a 
dwelling-place for mankind. 

Anyone with a heart attuned to Nature cannot fail 
to find amid the solitude and varied natural resources 
of this elevated region a benediction and a perennial jo}^ 

Siasconset, an Indian w^ord signifying "near the 
great bone" (Worth). The word is now usually abbre- 
viated to Sconset, — at present a popular and flourishing 
summer resort on the eastern shore of Nantucket Island, 

' By courtesy of Captain Remsen. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 275 

although, in 1748, it was merely a stage for fishermen, 
and many of its original cottages were removed from 
Sacacha. This quaint little township with its diminu- 
tive cottages has not inaptly been compared to the 
contents of a German toy-box left out of doors to 
sparkle in the sun. 

It is seven and a half miles from Nantucket town, 
with which it is in direct communication by means of 
an excellent macadamized road and a line of railroad. 

It is built upon the brow of a slight eminence over- 
looking the broad Atlantic, and is distinguished by the 
purity of its air, its attractive long sandy beach, and 
the sublime roll of surf which dashes upon its sandy 
shore. It is, moreover, constituted as a unique and 
independent republic, with its own- — for the most part 
unwritten — laws, which are founded upon broad prin- 
ciples of conscience, reason, philanthropy, justice, and 
friendship, and if such as these were universally incor- 
porated, this "round terrestrial ball" would be a much 
better and pleasanter dwelling-place for humanity at 
large. It has been set apart as a recuperative resting- 
place for the dramatic profession, many of whom have 
built their own cosy little bungalows to such an extent 
as to justify its designation as "The Actors' Colony." 

The native inhabitants are distinguished by that 
quaintness, intelligence, and true hospitality which 
have ever characterized the islanders of Nantucket, 
and there are few spots where one can enjoy the pre- 
eminent advantages of natural hygiene, quietude, and 
simplicity of regime so happily associated, as in this 
delightful resort. 

Siasconset can accommodate over 1200 visitors. 
The more recent part of the township extends north 
and south, and many elegant cottages have been erected 

276 Nantucket 

in addition to many furnished dwellings and boarding- 

There are three excellent hotels, viz: "The Ocean 
View," "The Atlantic" (now called "Old Sconset Inn"), 
and the "Beach House, "^ — ^besides a well equipped 
Casino, splendid golf-links, unsurpassed surf-bathing, 
an ideal playground for children, complete telephone 
and wireless telegraph communication, and a chapel 
for worship which is used by all denominations in turn. 

Sunset Heights, at the west end of Siasconset, and 
about eight miles from Nantucket, are a continuation 
of the bank on which Sconset is built, and contain 
about thirteen acres. There is, perhaps, no point on 
the island from which a more sublime view of the broad 
Atlantic can be obtained. Here the mighty ocean 
breaks in elemental strife over Pochick and "Old Man" 
rips, and here, also, the fishermen dart through the 
foam with their laden boats, surf-bathers exult amid 
the music of the waves and the weird cry of hosts of 
sea-gulls, and those who love the majestic roll of 
ocean's diapason have only to listen while their hearts 

Many summer cottages have been erected here, and 
this lovely spot is surely destined to become a colony 
of those who venerate Nature in her sublimest moods. 

Tom Never's Head (named from a distinguished 
Indian, so-called) is an extensive bluff overlooking 
the ocean, of which it affords a view which is unsur- 
passed for grandeur and sublimity. The bluff is in 
height about sixty-five feet from the level of the sea, 
and the headland is about six miles southeast of 
Nantucket. ^ 

' A vivid description of this grand head will be found in Mr. North- 
rup's Sconset Cottage Life. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 277 

Surf-Side, a name given to about four miles of coast 
on the south shore of the island, is about three miles 
and a half from Nantucket, and has received its name 
from the majestic waves which break upon its sands. 
The land is high and level, and the view of the ocean is 
magnificent and uninterrupted. The air is always, pure, 
cool, and refreshing. One of the United States Life- 
saving Stations, installed in 1874, is situated here. 

Madeket, Madaket, Maddequet, Madaquet, Mat- 
taket are orthographical variations for the name of a 
small village on the west side of Nantucket Island, and 
about five miles from the town. It is situated on an 
excellent, though shallow, harbor of the same name, is 
a good place for fishing, and it contains a Life-saving 
Station, a short distance from which are one of the boat- 
houses of the Humane Society, and a school which is 
open for six months of the year. 

On the old Madeket Road is the Benjamin Franklin 
Fountain, erected by the Abiah Folger Chapter of the 
D. A. R., near the site of Peter Folger's house. It was 
in the vicinity of Madeket that Thomas Macy, Edward 
Starbuck, and Thomas Coleman spent their first year 
on the island — 1659-60 — in making preparations for 
the settlement. 

Smith's Point is situated at the extreme western end 
of the island, and extends about two miles beyond the 
Life-saving Station. In 1790, the sea cut off a portion 
of it, thus constituting it a small island in itself. The 
cable-house is situated here ; also one of the boat-houses. 

It is traditional that this point was the landing-place 
used by the Indians of Martha's Vineyard in their 
intercourse with those of Nantucket, and it was called 
by them Nopque, meaning "the point far away." The 
word Noapx, erroneously regarded as synonymous, 

278 Nantucket 

refers to the "Noapogs," or "far away people," i. e. 
the Indians of Martha's Vineyard. 

Smith's Point is about six miles west from Nantucket. 
The boat-house referred to above is that of the Humane 
Society, and is about two miles west of the Life-saving 

Tuckemuck or Tuckanuckett — said to mean "a 
loaf of bread " — -is a small island lying two miles or so 
to the west of Nantucket Island, and contains about 
1260 acres. In 1659, it was sold by Thomas Mayhew 
to Tristram Coffin and others for £6. A number of 
families live on the island, and some influential visitors 
have summer residences there. It is a pleasant sail 
to the island, where there is first-rate fishing. A school 
is maintained during the summer months. 

It is marked on De Laet's map, 1630, as Pentockynock. 

Muskeget is the name of another small island, about 
ten miles west from that of Nantucket, where there is 
also a Life-saving Station. The derivation of the 
word is uncertain, but it may mean "the place of grass 
land." An earlier name was Kotget. It contains 
about three hundred acres, and is comparatively useless 
except for fishing and shooting. It it a popular place 
with those who are fond of these two varieties of sport, 
and it is famous as a breeding-place for gulls and terns. 

The Town of Nantucket is pleasantly situated on a 
gentle slope on the southwest side of the harbor, almost 
in the middle of the island. Until 1795, it was known 
as Sherburne, a name suggested, as some assert, by 
Governor Lovelace of New York Province; while 
others contend that the name was bestowed from Sher- 
burne, a small seaport town in Dorsetshire, England, 
which was the home of Thomas Gardner, the father of 
Richard and John Gardner of Nantucket. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 279 

The town covers a settled area of about six hundred 
and forty acres, or one square mile, and with the old- 
time architecture of its wooden houses it is as quaint 
as it is picturesque. 

The greater part of the town was built when the 
whaling industry was flourishing, when the town had 
a population of nearly 10,000, and the roof-walks on a 
multitude of houses still witness to the "olden golden 
days," when the inmates of nearly every household 
were wont to look for the return of the whalers from long 
and perilous voyages. Many a stately dwelling still 
remains to keep a storied past in sweet remembrance, 
and there is a charm about the town's cobble-paved 
streets which has only to be once felt to be kept ever 
green in memory. About half a century ago, its chief 
thoroughfares were lined with elm-trees and maples 
which have grown into magnificent trees; and their 
interlacing branches, covered with foliage in summer- 
time, form a delightful shade. The variety and bright- 
ness of its many stores and markets rival those of more 
pretentious cities, while its historical associations are 
replete with interest; moreover, the inhabitants are 
characterized by geniality and intelligence, and possess 
a personality which is as unique as indescribable. 

Brant Point is situated at the entrance to Nantucket 
harbor. As early as 1700, beacon-lights of a primitive 
character were maintained by the islanders at this 
point, but the first lighthouse was not erected until 
1746. This was the second beacon-light for ships ever 
built in the United States. Of four lighthouses erected 
on this point, three were destroyed by fire, and one 
was blown down in 1774. In 1791, the point was ceded 
to the government by the town authorities. The 
present lighthouse was built in 1856, and was in use 

28o Nantucket 

until 1900 when, it being found that the construction 
of the jetties interfered with the range of the Hght, there 
was erected a smaller wooden structure, which is still 
in operation, ' 

It was at Brant Point also, that ship-building was 
carried on, at intervals, from 1810-40. 

Coatue — "at the Pine-woods" — is a long, low, nar- 
row point of sand, about a mile from Nantucket, ex- 
tending from the entrance to the harbor to Coskata. 

Sherburne Bluffs is a beautifully situated tract of 
land, about twenty-five acres in extent, a little more 
than a mile due north of the town of Nantucket by way 
of the Cliff road. A magnificent view of the entire 
bay is afforded from this delightful locality, where there 
are also numerous summer cottages and residences. 
It is stated that there was formerly a grove of white 
oaks in this vicinity, but it has long since disappeared. 

Monomoy is a large tract of land across the harbor 
from Nantucket, about one mile from the steamboat 
wharf, and two miles via Sconset road. It forms part 
of the southern boundary of the harbor. In 1678, the 
acreage of South Monomoy was eighty-seven and 
one hundred and fifty rods, and of West Monomoy in 
1726-27 seventy-six acres and fifty-four rods. Several 
inland creeks formerly existed on this land, but they 
are gradually being filled up. There are a number of 
neat summer cottages at the northern end of this 
beautiful district. 

Other Sections of the island are known as Trot's 
Hills in the northwest, North, Middle, and South 
Pastures, Southeast Quarter, Town Pasture, Smooth 
Hummocks, the Woods, the Plains, the Head of the 
Plains, Nanahumack's Neck, etc., but their distinctive 

' For further particulars vide Chapter XX. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 281 

features have been obliterated, the varied uses for 
which they were originally constituted no longer exist, 
and, for the most part, the silence and fragrance of the 
"moorlands" shroud them in oblivion. They call 
for no further notice here. 

Springs. There are innumerable springs of water on 
the island, and the early settlers were careful that one 
of these natural benefactions was in close proximity 
to their respective house-lots. 

A few of those springs which have received insular 
prominence may be enumerated: Sachem Spring, on 
the north shore beyond the bathing beach; Shawkemo 
Spring, at Shawkemo; Eat-Fire Spring, beyond the 
termination of Polpis harbor; Benjamin Franklin 
Spring which marked the site of Peter Folger's house 
on Madeket Road — now conducted to an ornamental 
fountain by the Abiah Chapter of the Nantucket 
D. A. R. ; and Consue Spring near the foot of Union 

Wherever an old house exists, or has existed, one is 
sure to find a living spring of water adjacent, thus 
showing that our forefathers recognized in pure cold 
water one of the most invaluable gifts with which the 
All-Father has dowered humanity. 

Shimmo and Shawkemo — the former signifying "a 
spring," and the latter "the middle field of land," — are 
two conjoined tracts of land which constitute the south 
boundary of the harbor. At one time, it was proposed 
to build a new town in this locality, but the project 
failed to realize. 

Quaise or Masquetuck — the former referring to 
"the end or point," the latter meaning "reed-river, 
but transferred to the land" — is interesting as having 
been the neck of land reserved by Mr. Thomas May- 

282 Nantucket 

hew for his own use when he sold the island of Nan- 
tucket to the settlers. Macy says: "It was a tract of 
land given to Mr. Thomas Macy by one of the old 
Sachems."' Quaise extends into Nantucket harbor 
and forms the western boundary of Polpis harbor. It 
is also interesting as the locality on which the famous 
Keziah CofEn had her country seat, and where she 
carried on smuggling for a considerable time before 
she was arrested and tried. Under the title Miriam 
Coffin, Colonel Hart related in his well-known novel, 
the history and adventures of this extraordinary 

Polpis or Podpis — meaning "the divided or branch 
harbor" — a village about equidistant between Wauwinet 
and Nantucket, is interesting as having had the home 
of one of the early settlers within its boundaries. John 
Swain purchased land here in 1680, and presumably 
built his house when his title was confirmed in 1684. 
Additions had been made to it since it was built, and 
the house remained until 1902, when it was destroyed 
by lightning, — the oldest house on the island. The 
village is situated on an inlet of the upper harbor which 
bears the same name. This district represents the 
" Spotso Country," so-called from the old Indian Spotso 
who, through his wife, was resident Sachem for nearly 
forty years. The land is fertile, and the village still 
contains a number of dwellings in addition to a school- 

Swain's Neck, at Polpis, was known to the Indians 
as Nashua-tuck (generally corrupted into Nashayte), 
and means " the land between two tidal rivers." The 
term Mosquetuck, also applied to the neck of land, 
was originally given to the stream or river which flowed 

'O.'s History. 

Villages, Districts, Etc. 283 

into Polpis harbor beside the neck. It means "reed- 

Pocomo, Poocoomo, or Pacummoquah — "a round 
fishing-place"- — forms the eastern boundary of Polpis 
harbor, and is a headland extending into the upper 
harbor of Nantucket, It is about four and a half, miles 
from Nantucket by water, and contains, among other 
things, a number of good farms. 



The word quaint has many definitions, but, as applied 
to persons or things it usually implies something un- 
common and something attractive, — something which 
is interesting, and at the same time individualistic. 
Nantucket has long borne the reputation of being a 
quaint island, and Nantucketers are usually dubbed 
quaint people, and in both instances the term is, or has 
been, appropriate and relevant. Nantucket is still 
quaint ■ because it is unique; Nantucketers have been 
quaint in other days, — a peculiar people, differing 
from others in manners and customs from the reaction 
of their environment, but they are now in a transitional 
state owing to environmental transmutation. The 
insular position of Nantucket — like a garden in the 
ocean, — the bounteousness of its natural gifts, and its 
remarkable history, render the island exceptional and 
unconventional, while the almost iminterrupted trans- 
mission of the virile qualities which they have inherited 
from the white settlers of over two hundred and fifty 
years ago still forcibly characterize the islanders who 
have sprung from their loins. 

To do this subject justice would require a large 
volume: here there is only space for a brief reference 


Quaint Nantucketers 285 

to those characteristic manners and customs of Nan- 
tucketers which have hitherto distinguished them up 
to the middle of the nineteenth century when the off- 
islanders chose to share the beauties and health-giving 
ocean air, of their island-home, and gradually neutral- 
ized to some extent their personal peculiarities. 

Passing over the prevailing quaintness of the Quaker 
period, in habits, customs, and phraseology, with its 
predominating gray and sunless atmosphere, relieved 
by very few instances of marked individuality amid the 
stagnant uniformity, one does not recognize any thril- 
ling records of personality until the islanders assumed 
the dominance of the sea during the latter half of the 
eighteenth century. 

" Men must work 
And women must weep" 

when the males of a restricted sea-girt community "go 
down to the sea in ships," and so it was in Nantucket 
when they followed the " sparmocityes " "from sea to 
sea" all over the world. The women had to gossip, 
and watch, and weep at home when the men, amid the 
perils of the deep, were risking their lives for their 
support. The minds of both sexes were consequently 
working in a very narrow groove — the one working and 
the other watching — and thus evolutional expansion was 
rendered nugatory, if not impossible. Both were doing 
their duty, but within limits of the severest restriction. 
If we seek for any evidences of personality under such 
circumstances, we can find them only in the log-books 
and ships' records of the male voyagers, and amid the 
reactionary experiences shared by the wives and 
families when the sailor-men returned home. 

286 Nantucket 

These log-books are replete with interest and quaint- 
ness to those who sympathize with the environment of 
these heroic seafarers of a time now long past. For- 
tunately, a number of these characteristic, if well- 
thumbed documents are still accessible, and throw 
much light upon the varied lives and experiences of 
Nantucket's once famous whalers. 

The most meager reference is all that is here possible. 
About the middle of the eighteenth century Peleg — • 
(pronounced Pillick) — Folger began to keep a daily 
journal of his maritime experiences, and he thus begins 
his diary: 

Peleg Folger, his hand and Book written at sea on Board 
the sloop Grampus, May, 1751. Many pe pie who keep 
journals at sea fill them up with trifles. I purpose in the 
following sheets not to keep an over strict history of every 
trifling occurrence that happens; only now and then some 
particular affair, and to fill up the rest with subjects Mathe- 
matical, Historical, Philosophical, or Poetical as best suits 
my inclination — 

"Qui docet indoctos licet indoctissimus esset 
Ille quoque breve ceteris doctior esse queat." • 

This quotation at least evidences the fact that Peleg 
had had a better education than most of those in his 
position, and this is sustained by his apparent penchant 
for using Latin phrases not only correctly but appropri- 
ately, and in every instance with orthographical exacti- 
tude. That he was also of a religious turn of mind 
is evident from the ending of many of his paragraphs 
consisting of expressions in Latin — witnessing to his 

' "He who teaches the unlearned may be most unlearned, although 
he is only a little more learned than the others." 

Quaint Nantucketers 287 

dependence upon, or gratefulness for benefits received 
from, an overruling Providence. He was esteemed as 
a "character" in his day, if we may judge from the 
following fragment of a nautical ditty concerning 

" Old Uncle Pillick he built him a boat 

On the ba — ack side of Nantucket P'int; 
He rolled up his trousers and set her afloat 
On the ba — ack side of Nantucket P'int." 

His diary literally gleams with the strong individu- 
ality of the writer, a glare of selfhood which indeed 
characterized these hardy mariners from the commence- 
ment of the whaling industry, and in page after page 
he faithfully records, in his own quaint language, the 
varied experiences on board his craft, interlarded 
with personal remarks and sometimes with m^oral 

In these earlier days when Peleg's journal begins, 
the cruises of the whalers usually extended for a few 
weeks instead of the several years' absence necessitated 
by their more venturesome ocean-wanderings at a later 
period. At the end of his first cruise, in 1 751, he writes 
on May 15th: 

This day we fell in with the South Shoal and made our 
dear Nantucket, and thro' God's mercy got round the point 
in the afternoon. So we turned it up to the Bar by the Sun 
2 hours high. — Laus Deo. 

Returning from a third cruise, on July 14th of the 
same year, he writes: 

We have killed two spermaceties. Now for home, Boys. 
We have seventy barrels in our Hold — ex heneficia divina. 

288 Nantucket 

Another nautical narrator, yclept Peter Folger, has 
also jotted down his experiences in his log-book from 
which the following memo is taken under date of 
July, 1761: 

July ye 29 we stoed away our whale. We saw 2 sloops 
to the Easterd of us, and we saw divers sparmocities, and 
we scruck one and maid her spout Blood. She went down, 
and their came a Snarl in the Toe-line and catched John 
Meyrick and over sot the boat and we never saw him 
after wards. We saved the whale ! 

A careful perusal of these old journals indicates 
where we must look for the genealogical sources of 
Nantucketers' quaintness, and it is here alone that 
they can be discovered. Every trait and peculiarity 
of an island-bom Nantucketer has filtered through the 
heart's blood of these once-famous American Vikings, 
and it is from them have been transmitted those bright 
attributes of intelligence and character which distin- 
guish Nantucketers all the world over, and which, 
often above the average, and occasionally tending toward 
eccentricity, are always forcible and ever individualistic. 

Still later, the stream of descent receives a fresh 
impulse from the Pacific Club, where, like knights of 
old, the ancient mariners recounted their deeds of daring 
and the dangers of the deep, while their spellbound 
auditors blanched with terror and amazement as the 
blood-curdling narratives followed each other in rapid 
succession. For, as a modem writer has well said, 
"The threads that made up the strand of Nantucket 
were not diverse: in one way or another they all wove 
themselves into the sea." 

The Rotch Market, in which the Pacific Club has 

Quaint Nantucketers 289 

its Captains' Room, was built in 1772, but it was not 
until 1 86 1 that it was purchased by trustees for an 
association of whaling masters to be called the "Pacific 
Club," and since that year the heroic captains of old, 
— unfortunately a fast-decreasing number — have met 
in the "Captains' Room" to tell the story of their 
adventures, to compare their experiences, to enjoy 
well-earned rest and recreation, to smoke their pipes, 
and to interest and entertain their numerous guests 
within their friendship-consecrated quarters, still sacred 
to memory, and fragrant with romance. 

One by one, alas, this jovial band has now disap- 
peared — Crossed the Bar for the last time on their 
last voyage; and the most recent — the sage and genial 
Captain Defriez, known and loved by all Nantucketers 
— passed away quietly in his ninety-first year, during the 
spring of 19 13. The last link of a chain of heroes he 
was, the last leaf on a mighty tree which has borne 
good fruit on the island which bore them, the beloved 
mother of them all. 

The quaintness of manners and customs, of phrase- 
ology and of character, which has been associated with 
the islanders of Nantucket, has sprung from the bosom 
of the ocean, and has been transmitted from generation 
to generation. 

The following is quoted from an old periodical pub- 
lished over one hundred years ago, and shows how "a 
little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." 

Every house in this sea-faring place has a look-out upon 
the roof, or a vane at the gable end, to see what ships have 
arrived from sea, or whether the wind is fair for the packets. 
Sea-phrases accordingly prevail in familiar conversation. 
Every child can tell which way the wind blows, and any old 

290 Nantucket 

woman in the street will talk of cruising about, hailing an 
old mess-mate, or making one bring to, as familiarly as the 
captain of a whale-ship just arrived from the northwest 
coast will describe dimension to a land-lubber by the span 
of his jib-boom, or the length of his mainstay. 

If you have a spare dinner, it is short allowance, if you are 
going to ride, the horse must be tackled up; if the chaise is 
rigged out, you are got under way; should you stop short of 
your destination, you are said to tack about, or to make a 
harbour. This technical phraseology, however, is attended 
with the concomitant frankness and honesty of sea-faring 
life — you meet a hearty welcome wherever you go. 

The same authority says: "From the habit of trans- 
acting business, in the absence of their husbands, 
w^omen are frequently concerned in mercantile affairs, 
and manage them to advantage." Again: 

Before the Revolution, the people of Nantucket were like 
a band of brothers. They were then an unmixed race of 
English descent. They were clad in homespun, and minded 
their own business. Such a thing as a bankruptcy was 
therefore almost unexampled. . . . They still frequently 
call each other by the familiar appellations of uncle, aunt, 
cousin, etc. Persons of note are saluted by everybody they 
meet; and the popular name of captain is often bestowed 
on respectable people who never followed the sea, and per- 
petuated, as a creditable title, like that of squire, on the 
continent, to those who have retired from business. 

Alluding to the absence of corporal punishment our 
ancient narrator says, with regard to the jail: 

The prison is admirably adapted to this state of things, for 
it would not readily contain more than two or three inmates 
at a time. Of its present incumbents one is a little deranged, 
and the other, it is said, might go if he would! 

Quaint Nantucketers 291 

One more quotation: 

In common with other places of easy circumstances and 
difficult access, the people of Nantucket are happy to see 
strangers, and such as have anything to recommend them 
to notice are entertained with unbounded hospitality from 
house to house. Luxuries are held in common, whoever 
has anything better than his neighbours will send it to them 
without asking in cases of company or sickness. ^ 

Such is unimpeachable testimony as to the quaintness 
of Nantucketers a century ago. If it is wearing away 
with age it can only be a matter for regret ! 

A self-reliant, seafaring people, to a great extent shut 
off during many years from the rude world, will, as a 
matter of course, have their character, habits, and 
conversation evolved in accordance with their environ- 
ment, and peculiarities or idiosyncrasies will develop 
themselves in relation to circumstances and experiences. 
Their virtues may savour of ancient history, but they 
are none the less genuine and unaffected; and their 
language, modes of expression, and customs are all in 
strict accordance with the simple conditions amid 
which they have been developed. 

Not only among the seafarers but among the 
municipal authorities of the town the same strain of 
quaintness asserted itself, and a peep into the Town 
Records reveals it in all its integrity. 

The town-house was, and still is, the center of mani- 
fold and various activities, wherein all matters of 
municipal importance are considered amid frequent 
divergences of opinion. As far back as the spring of 
1707, it was decreed that "the towne howse should be 

' The Portfolio, vol. v., No. i, January, i8il. 

292 Nantucket 

repaired," and then it was arranged that "thursday 
next should be the day to goe to a perambelation," 
an annual function involving walking along the bound- 
ary lines of public lands, and noting if the marks were 
standing, or if any man had encroached upon them; 
for which service, of course the " perambelators " were 
"paid for their time," the principal asset of many of 
them. It was somewhat of a hilarious procession, 
being accompanied by all the boys and dogs in the 

Anon, a schoolmaster had to be hired at "three 
score pound current money for the yeare," and sub- 
sequently the following legislation had to be "put 
through" concerning the commons: 

No hogg shall go thereon without an order. 

No man shall mow grass in the ram paster. 

Bethiah Gardner shall mow grass at Coatue in compen- 
sation of her grass eaten up by sheepe at Pacamoka. 

It was further resolved that "John Macy shall build 
a prison for the towne as soon as he can." 

In the records for 1710, it is stated that "George 
Gardner was chosen trustee by vote and was at ye 
same time put out againe." A number of farmers 
having suffered losses from depredating Indians 
who stole their sheep, and from dogs and hogs which 
killed and ate them, the natives were punished, — all 
swine were impounded, and the civic fathers ordered 
"that all the Dogs upon the Island of Nantucket be 
forthwith killed!" Later, as might have been ex- 
pected, a plague of rats infested the island, and the 
town-meeting ordered that "every person who shall 

Quaint Nantucketers 293 

kill a Rat and bring his head to the towne treasurer 
shall Receive for every such Rat a sixpence." In 
order to avoid cheating by bringing the heads of young 
or harmless rats, it was further stipulated that "the 
Rat shall be so full grown as to be all over covered 
with hair." 

Constables were also appointed "to walk the town 
in the night-season, and on the first day of the week, 
to suppress the growing disorder of the young people 
and all others that act inconsistently with the princi- 
ples of morality and virtue" ; and this was followed up 
by the town-meeting petitioning the Legislature of 
Boston "to pass an act to put a stop to masters and 
mistresses of houses entertaining minors at unseason- 
able hours of the night, in Drinking and Carousing 
and Frolicking contrary to the minds of their parents." 

The Court of Common Pleas, sitting in Nantucket, 
licensed John Coffin to sell "Tea and Coffy," and Wil- 
liam Rotch ("who had been complained of by a licensed 
retailer"), to sell "Speritious Lickers" out of doors 

The court recorded the certificates of a magistrate 
that Stephen Norton had sworn "one profane oath," 
and also "one profane curs." 

Those who were found guilty of "not attending 
Public Worship for more than one month" were fined 
ten shillings each, and five shillings and sixpence as 
costs of court. 

A woman in a breach of promise case claimed damages 
of two hundred pounds from a sailor; but, as all the 
property of the defendant amounted to only twelve 
pounds four shillings and seven and a quarter pence, 
the court awarded this sum, and the woman expressed 
satisfaction ! 

294 Nantucket 

It was voted to build a workhouse, and another vote 
was passed not to build one. 

The town paid Silas Paddock "for nursing a squaw 
thirteen weeks at twelve shillings per week"; and or- 
dered that ' ' the negro woman Hager be considered one 
of the towns Poor." 

Finally, the collector of taxes, in 1771, being delin- 
quent, was put in jail, and he "refused to deliver the 
tax books, or any extract from them until he was let 

Thus and thus, for page after page, the town's doings 
are faithfully recorded. It would have been an easy 
matter to quote many other illustrations, but the few 
which have been cited will serve to show that there is 
a congenital undercurrent of humor pervading the 
characteristic quaintness of the islanders of Nantucket. 

Individuality is preeminently a matter of inheritance, 
and, in reckoning up the personality of a Nantucketer, 
we must primarily regard his Quaker and nautical 
ancestry, and the unique elements which he has de- 
veloped for himself, representing a blend of both strains. 
Inherent humor is always a prominent characteristic 
of a Nantucketer, and it will be found on examination 
that, in almost every case, it is closely associated either 
with the sea or the gray fraternity of Friends, and in 
accordance with the elements of both as blent in his 
own personality. A few instances culled from many 
hundreds of island anecdotes will serve to illustrate the 
uniqueness of Nantucket humor, and they may be 
conveniently grouped under three heads, viz : Nautical, 
Quakerish, and Personal. 

An old captain, being invited out to dinner, frankly 
acknowledged that he was ready to "fall to" any time, 
for he'd "come with a swep' hold." 

Quaint Nantucketers 295 

Another being asked why he retired from the sea 
repHed: "Well, I thought when I got to the No'thard 
o' sixty, 'twas time to heave to." 

Yet another, on a visit to New York, found fault with 
the lack of oysters in the stew served to him at a 
restaurant, and, calling to the waiter, inquired, "Say, 
can't you give us a few more oysters? These here are 
a day's sail apart!" 

A member of the " Sons and Daughters of Nantucket" 
wrote on a reply postcard accompanying the announce- 
ment of the annual reunion, "Sorry I can't fetch it, 
but I'll try and forelay for it next year." 

A thrifty wife of the old days, noting that the 
larder was getting low, and seeing no immediate 
prospect of its being replenished, is said to have re- 
marked to her lazy husband, who had been sitting 
in the chimney corner all winter: "Well, John, one 
or tother of us has got to go round Cape Horn, and I 
ain't agoin'." 

Long absences from home were accepted as so much 
a matter of course in the old days that we can almost 
believe the story of the wife who saw her husband 
coming up the street on his return from a four years' 
voyage "around the Horn," and, taking the empty 
water-pail from its place on the dresser, met him at the 
door with "Hullo, John, got back have ye? Here, go 
get a bucket o' water." 

A sailor just home from a voyage was strolling down 
the street on his sea-legs, in a brand new suit from the 
outfitter's shop — his pocket full of money which he 
couldn't get rid of fast enough — smoking a long "nine," 
ogling the maids, and with a general " the world is mine " 
air in his whole attitude and get-up, when he was thus 
indicated — "There's Jack ! Rolling down to St. Helena 

296 Nantucket 

eighteen cloths in the lower studd'ns'l, and no change 
out of a dollar!" 

The captain of a whaling vessel called the Aurora 
had spelled the name phonetically in his log-book, 
Ororor, and this being noticed by the shipowner in 
looking over the log-book after the return of the vessel, 
he inquired the meaning of it, when the skipper in- 
formed him that "it was the name of the ship." 
"But," said the owner, "that is not the proper way 
to spell 'Aurora.' " "Well," replied the captain, 
"if Or-or-or don't spell Ororor, what in thunder does 
it spell?" 

Such anecdotes might be continued indefinitely, but 
the nautical expressions are so interlarded with the 
familiar every-day language of the islanders that they 
are unaware of the fact until their attention is directed 
to it by strangers. A Nantucketer does not pull, he 
always "hauls," he does not tie or fasten anything, he 
"splices" it; he rigs and belays, backs and fills, gets 
under way, heaves to, comes about and squares away 
so naturally and spontaneously that it never occurs to 
him that there is anything imusual in his mode of 
expressing himself. 

Quakerish anecdotes are equally numerous and 
characteristic, and may be exemplified as follows : 

An old Quaker schoolmaster set the following copy 
on the blackboard for his writing-class: 

"Beauty fadeth soon 
Like a rose in 6th month." 

This parallelizes the reference to Robinson Crusoe and 
his man Sixth Day! 

Aunt Elizabeth Black, schoolmarm, used to say, 

Quaint Nantucketers 297 

when a pupil recited well: "Excellent! Excellent! 
Thee deserves a reward of approbation!" 

"Friend Charles," remarked an old Quaker to a 
sailor addicted to the habit of drawing the long bow, 
after an unusually stiff yam, "if thee'd ever been one- 
half as economical of this world's goods as thee is of 
the truth, thee'd be the richest man in Nantucket." 
How much better than calling a man a liar! 

Occasionally the Quakers dropped into verse, as 
witness the well-known proposal of Obed Macy to 
Abigail Pinkham: 

" From a long consideration 
Of the good reputation 
Thou hast in this nation, 
Gives me an inclination 
To become th}^ relation 
By a legal capitulation. 
And if this, my declaration, 
May but gain thy approbation, 
It will lay an obligation 
From generation to generation 

On thy friend. 
Who, without thy consideration, 
May remain in vexation." 

"It is gratifying to be able to record that this effu- 
sion had the desired effect, and that Obed and Abigail 
were married, in 1786, and had ten children." 

An old Quaker blacksmith, who always told the 
truth, when asked by a customer who brought him 
some work, when it would be done, replied: 

"Well, thee may call on fourth day." 

On Wednesday the customer called. "Is my job 
done, Uncle Obed?" 

298 Nantucket 

"No, not yet." 

"Why, you said it would be done to-day." 

"Oh, no; I said thee might call on fourth day. I'm 
always glad to see thee." 

One or two of a personal character may here be 
quoted : 

When the honor of entertaining the minister fell 
to Annie Burrill, the good woman was so flustered that 
she forgot to put any tea into the tea-pot, although 
the water was duly boiled. The minister accepted the 
beverage without remark, and when the spirit of hospi- 
tality prompted his hostess to ask him repeatedly, "Is 
your tea satisfactory?" his invariable response was, "It 
has no bad taste, madam!" Thus, "as weak as Annie 
Burrill's tea " became a simile for her day and generation. 

In the far away time lived one Squire Hussey, lawyer, 
estate agent, justice of the peace, and withal a past 
master of the English language, as will appear in the 
following notices: 

For Sale: A dwelling-house situated on the Cliff. This 
notable headland commands an extensive view of the Vine- 
yard Sound, where vessels may be seen passing to and fro 
in accelerated velocity. 

For Sale: A dwelling-house on York Street. This is 
one of the most popular localities of the town, in the midst 
of a refined and enlightened community. The Colored 
Methodist Society contemplates erecting a house of wor- 
ship immediately opposite, which fact will commend itself 
to all religiously disposed minds. 

Finally, as emphasizing the "self-complacency and 
self-satisfaction of the average Nantucketer" concern- 
ing his native island, the following instances may be 
cited : 

Quaint Nantucketers 299 

A Nantucket schoolboy being asked to mention the 
situation of Alaska, located it as being "in the north- 
west corner of off-island!" 

Another began a composition thus: "Napoleon was 
a great man; he was a great soldier and a great states- 
man — but he was an off -islander ! " Alas, Napoleon! 

Devoted as ever to their island home, as to a fond 
and loving mother, Nantucketers have at length, to a 
great extent, become cosmopolitan, for there is not a 
corner of the earth into which they have not had access, 
and in which they have not maintained their reputation, 
and flourished accordingly. But times have also 
changed. The sea which still laps their island shores 
is no longer freighted with an argosy of ships; Hygeia 
has usurped the rule of Neptune, and association with 
thousands of health-seeking strangers, year after year, 
has wellnigh neutralized the quaintness of Nantucket- 
ers, which was once their birthright and their heritage. 

The lapse of time and the changes which it has 
wrought have relegated most of the old island customs 
into desuetude. No longer does the large blue flag 
floating from the south tower announce the home- 
coming of a whaler from foreign seas, nor do the sheep- 
shearing festivities gladden the hearts of the islanders 
as in days of yore ; no more do the whirring arms of the 
old mill grind the home-grown grist, nor is even the 
fish-horn of the town-crier heard again as it re-echoed 
but a few years ago in discordant blasts. But one old 
custom remains — the ringing of the belfry-bell at 7 a.m., 
noon, and 9 p.m., as if to emphasize time's rapid flight. 

The old "characters," too, who in one way and 
another gave piquancy if not picturesqueness to the 
island's life, have all passed away, — the quartette of 
town-criers, the weird sisters Newbegin, Mrs. McCleave 

300 Nantucket 

and her museum, and others, mayhap forgotten. 
Memories and regrets are associated with each one of 
them, but sic vita est. Who does not remember Billy 
Clark, the genial, the zealous, the indefatigable? 
Drake in his Nooks and Corners of Massachusetts thus 
refers to him : 

This functionary I met, swelling with importance, but a 
trifle blown from the frequent sounding of his clarion, to wit, 
a japanned fish-horn. Met him, did I say? I beg the in- 
dulgence of the reader. Wherever I wandered in my 
rambles, he was sure to turn the corner just ahead of me, 
or to spring from the covert of some blind alley. He was 
one of those who, Macy says, knew all the other inhabitants 
of the island ; me he knew for a stranger. He stopped short. 
First he wound a terrible blast of his horn: T-o-o-t, t-o-o-t, 
t-o-o-t!! It echoed down the street like the discordant 
braying of a donkey. This he followed with the lusty 
ringing of a large dinner-bell, peal on peal, until I was ready 
to exclaim with the Moor, "Silence that dreadful bell: it 
frights the isle from her propriety!" Then placing the 
fish-horn under his arm, and taking the bell by the tongue, 
he delivered himself of his formula. I am not likely to 
forget it: "Two boats a day! Burgess's meat auction 
this evening! Corned beef! Boston Theatre, positively 
last night this evening!" He was gone, and I heard bell 
and horn in next street. He was the life of Nantucket 
while I was there ; the only inhabitant I saw moving faster 
than a moderate walk. 

Poor Billy! Having kept Nantucketers alive for 
forty years, he at length wore himself out, and died in 

He had three contemporaries, in some respects as 
quaint as himself, viz: William B. Ray, Alvin Hull, and 
Charles H. Chase; and each had his own following, 

Billy Clark, Town Crier 
Photograph by H. S. Wyer 

Quaint Nantucketers 301 

while all were useful, obliging, and popular. The last 
named had the misfortune to lose his eyesight. A good 
story is told of him to the effect that when making one 
of his announcements in front of an hotel where a 
number of young ladies were sitting, one of the girls 
dared another to ask the crier where he got his bell. 
Mr. Chase overheard the remark, and when the young 
lady in question asked the crier where he got his bell, 
with a polite bow he replied: "I got my bell, young 
woman, where you got your manners — at the brass 
foundry!" Ding-dong! Ding-dong!' 

Mrs. McCleave — or more familiarly "Lizy Ann" — 
was one of several sisters, all of whom were more 
or less eccentric; she was not only the most peculiar, 
but possessed the strongest character, combining with 
her eccentricities considerable native shrewdness and 
tartness, and withal a kindly disposition. She lived 
in Upper Main Street, beyond Gardner Street, where 
her house became a Mecca for visitors. She came 
by slow and natural stages into her special field as 
** showman," beginning with a few articles (brought 
home by her husband from his whaling voyages as 
a sea-captain) which she was gradually induced to 
show and explain to more and more people, while, 
at the same time, the number of her curiosities 
constantly increased. Some of her visitors, amused 
by the "lecture" into which her explanations grew, 
sent additions of a nondescript nature to her col- 
lection. Thus it embraced things of all sorts, — 
the veriest trash, as well as really rare and choice 
articles — but Mrs. McCleave exhibited all with impar- 
tial appreciation. Of course she was herself more 
remarkable than anything in her collection, and was 

' Godfrey. 

302 Nantucket 

probably well aware of the fact. She ruled her audi- 
ences with absolute despotism, usually selecting some 
one person as the butt of her sallies and the recipient 
of her attentions. 

She expected laughter, and desired it at certain parts 
of her lecture, but woe betide the one who laughed in 
the wrong place! She was known to have dismissed 
from the room a prominent summer visitor to the 
island because he had made that mistake, and no 
apologies on his part would have reinstated him in 
her good graces. Many good anecdotes are told 
of her, but limited space prevents their reproduction 

She had an ingenious way of ridding herself of 
her audience at the end of her lecture by invit- 
ing them downstairs to see the cat, when, finding 
themselves at the front door, they could only take 
their departure. She died about twelve or fifteen 
years ago. 

A few words must be devoted to the three weird 
sisters, well-known to all Nantucketers of a generation 
ago as "the Newbegins." These weak-minded but 
worthy old souls were lifelong members of the Society 
of Friends. They were so eccentric that the islanders 
regarded them as curiosities, and frequently enter- 
tained their visiting friends or strangers from the 
mainland by taking them to pay a visit to the three 
quaint old ladies, who received all comers graciously, 
and on the departure of their guests invariably asked 
them to "come again." 

Phebe Newbegin, the eldest sister, died at the age 
of ninety-four, Mary at ninety-three, and Ann at 

They were buried in the Wilburite section of the 

Quaint Nantucketers 303 

Friends' burying-ground at Nantucket, but the place 
of their interment is unmarked by any gravestone. ' 

Nantucketers not only resent as an aspersion, but 
categorically deny, that there is any quaintness asso- 
ciated with them ; but they might as well repudiate the 
fact that there are certain racial peculiarities which 
differentiate one race from another, or that individuals 
can conceal inherited differences between them which 
are as characteristic as indelible. The old stock from 
which they have descended was resourceful, honorable, 
capable, and self-reliant, and its modem representatives 
have inherited the same elements of character from their 
ancestors; but they have also had transmitted to them 
the maritime proclivities of their forefathers, and, 
generally segregated from the outside world as they 
have long been, in an insular environment, they have 
lived like one large family, in which the peculiarities 
of the original stock have been bred in and in without 
much external variation. They have developed, there- 
fore, into a people capable of being distinguishable by 
certain characteristics which are apparent to every 
off-islander during five minutes' conversation. Un- 
conventional or eccentric might describe their idio- 
syncrasies, but quaintness is more expressive, and 
delightfully quaint they are. ^ 

' Those desirous of obtaining more particulars of these eccentric 
sisters will find a very interesting narrative concerning them in IMiss 
Mary Catherine Lee's volume entitled An Island Plant, 1896; also a 
fully detailed paper by the writer in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror 
of September 2, 191 1. 

^ The anecdotes recorded in this chapter have been selected from a 
most interesting paper on "The Humor of Nantucket," by Mr. Wm. 
F. Macy, whose courtesy has permitted the writer to reproduce them 



It is difficult to convey a just conception of the 
general scope and character of this invaluable service, 
founded in 1871, or even to enumerate the beneficent 
offices which it performs. While fulfilling the functions 
usually allotted to several different agencies, it rescues 
the shipwrecked by both the principal methods which 
human ingenuity has devised for that purpose; it fur- 
nishes them the subsequent succor which elsewhere 
would be afforded by shipwrecked mariners' societies; 
it guards the lives of persons in peril of drowning by 
falling into the water from piers and wharves in the har- 
bors of populous cities; it nightly patrols the dangerous 
coasts for the early discovery of wrecks, and the hasten- 
ing of relief; it places over peculiarly dangerous points 
upon the rivers and lakes a sentry prepared to send 
instant relief to those who incur the hazard of capsizing 
in boats ; it conducts to places of safety those imperilled 
in their homes by the torrents of flood, and conveys food 
to those imprisoned in their houses by inundation and 
threatened with famine; unaided, it annually saves, 
from total or partial destruction, hundreds of stranded 
vessels with their cargoes, and assists in saving scores 
of others; it protects wrecked property, after landing, 


Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 305 

from the ravage of the elements and the rapine of plun- 
derers; it averts numerous disasters by its flashing 
signals of warning to vessels standing in danger; it 
extricates vessels unwarily caught in perilous positions ; 
it assists the customs service in collecting the revenues 
of the government; it pickets the coasts with a guard, 
which prevents smuggling, and, in time of war, surprise 
by hostile forces. In addition to these inestimable 
services, it has also rendered valuable aid to scientific 
research by contributing to the National Museum 
rare specimens of marine zoology; has saved from de- 
struction by fire many hotels, dwellings, mills, and other 
structures; has detected and prevented numerous 
burglaries and robberies, and has assisted in many 
directions in the performance of various and manifold 
incidental duties and emergencies. ^ 

"The Sea and Lake coasts of the United States, 
exclusive of the coast of Alaska, have an extent of 
more than 10,000 miles." 

In addition to the life-saving stations on the Mas- 
sachusetts coast, it is also guarded by the Massachu- 
setts Humane Society, founded by charter granted in 
1 79 1, by the State Legislature "for the purpose of 
recognizing and rewarding all humane, daring, and 
gallant exploits of individual citizens of the State, 
wherever performed." This admirable society, during 
the one hundred and twenty years of its existence, has 
been the means of saving many lives wherever it is 
represented, and many heroic Nantucketers have been 
rewarded by gold and silver medals from the society, 
bestowed for deeds of unselfish and conspicuous daring. 

In 1831, some fourteen humane houses were built by 
private enterprise, provisioned and placed at various 

' U. S. Life-Saving SerAce Report for igio. 

3o6 Nantucket 

points around the island so that shipwrecked mariners 
might find food and shelter near at hand. 

The boathouses of the Humane Society, well equipped 
and always ready, are placed at Sconset, Smith's 
Point, Tuckemuck, Quidnet, Forked Pond, and at the 
head of Hummock Pond. 

In consequence of this extra protection, the Govern- 
ment has located its life-saving stations only at points 
where wrecks are unusually frequent. There are four 
of these stations on the Nantucket coast, viz : the old- 
est, at Surf-Side, founded in 1874; one at Great Neck, 
in the Madeket district, six miles west of Surf-Side; one 
at Muskeget Island, near its western end ; and one at 
Coskata, two miles and a half south of Nantucket Light, 
at Great Point. 

According to the recent report, every dangerous 
section of the shore line is patrolled by a system includ- 
ing two hundred and seventy-eight stations, divided 
into thirteen districts, of which the Nantucket group 
constitutes District No. 2. 

The station structures now being erected are larger 
and more durable than the earlier ones, and better 
conform to modem requirements and conveniences. 
They cost on an average from $10,000 to $15,000 each. 
Telephone service has been extended to the greater 
portion of the Atlantic coast. The active season on 
this coast is from August to May 31st. 

Continuous outlook is kept at all stations both by 
day and night, with beach patrol during hours of dark- 
ness and in foggy or thick weather. 

The night-patrol is divided into four watches, one 
from sunset imtil 8 p.m., one from 8 to 12, one from 12 
to 4, and one from 4 to sunrise. Two surf men are 
delegated to each watch. They set out in different 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 307 

directions, as near the shore as possible, and walk to 
the ends of their respective beats. One patrolling 
surfman when he meets another from the next station 
gives him a metallic check marked with his station and 
crew number, and receives a similar one in exchange. 
The checks on the return of the men are delivered 
up to the keeper, who keeps a record of their- due 

The magnificent work rendered by this inestimable 
service in the saving of human lives and property may 
be partially computed from the following analysis: 





Vessels involved 




Vessels totally lost 




Persons on board 




Persons lost 



Persons succored at stations 




Days' succor afforded 




Value of vessels 




Value of cargoes 




Total value of property involved 




Value of property saved 




Value of property lost 




The above figures represent the results for the year 
19 10, as appearing in the official report with regard to 
the Massachusetts coast. 

These figures speak for themselves. There is no 
branch of the Public Civil Service more entitled to 
generous recognition and liberal reward than is the 
Life-saving Service. Its officers and crews are happily 
exempt from political chicanery, and the unparalleled 
and peril-fraught duties which these brave and dauntless 

3o8 Nantucket 

seafarers have to perform involve no chance of their 
positions in any way approaching governmental sine- 
cures. These noble, self-sacrificing men are selected 
for their noteworthy physical strength and endurance. 
In their exercise of perpetual vigilance, heroic devotion, 
fidelity to duty, and valorous intrepidity, they are 
unrivalled by any other service in the country, and 
should at least be as well remunerated as any. Risking 
their lives for the good of humanity every day, the 
Government should see to it that an ample pension is 
provided for the widows and orphans whom they may 
leave behind, and for themselves when they are inca- 
pacitated for further duty. 

Wrecks. Arthur H. Gardner, in his well-known and 
authoritative w^ork entitled A List of the Wrecks around 
Nantucket, says: 

The chapter of wrecks is perhaps one of the saddest as 
well as one of the most interesting in the history of Nan- 
tucket. Lying as it does directly in the track of vessels 
plying between the principal American ports north and 
south of the island, the waves which dash upon its barren 
shores, or break in angry foam upon the shoals and rips 
nearby, have reaped a harvest of shipwreck and death 
almost unparalleled elsewhere upon the American coast. 

Up to 1877, it has been computed that over five hun- 
dred shipwrecks have occurred around the coast of 
Nantucket Island from the time of its first settlement 
by the white men. This number has at least been 
recorded, but how many noble ships, sailing hopefully 
and well have unexpectedly struck on to the treacherous 
shoals and have become total wrecks, while those on 
board have been engulfed within the ruthless deep, 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 309 

never to be heard from again until "the sea gives up 
its dead"! Floating hither and thither, or sunk in the 
pitiless sand, here a rudder, there a broken spar, here 
a figure-head, and there a stem-board, are all that 
remain to tell, in silence, of the terrible story of those 
who "go down to the sea in ships." Imagination can 
alone supply the ghastly details of such awe-inspiring 

So far as the history of the island extends, the first 
recorded shipwreck on its shores occurred in 1664, when 
a vessel sailing from Martha's Vineyard to Boston 
was wrecked at Nantucket, and all on board either 
met a watery grave or were massacred by the Indians. 
"Amongst those murdered was a Christian Indian, 
named Joel, a senior of Harvard College, and son of the 
Indian preacher, Hiacomes."' 

Between this year and 1800, about thirty shipwrecks 
in all are recorded ; but here space will permit particular 
reference to only a few of the more important or re- 
markable associated with a later period. 

From 1664 to 1800, wrecks were comparatively un- 
frequent around Nantucket Island, and for several 
reasons. At the early period of the white settlement, 
and for many years afterwards, the North American 
continent was very thinly inhabited, and then only 
in a few places. The immigrants were mainly engaged 
in agricultural pursuits, and had little if any interest 
or experience in seafaring industries beyond the use of 
row-boats or canoes for short transit or for fishing 
purposes. Commerce on the high seas was excluded 
by their environment, and the breaking-up and culti- 
vation of the land, added to domestic requirements, 

' Arthur H. Gardner, opus cit., to which the writer is much indebted 
for many facts in this chapter. 

310 Nantucket 

almost absolutely monopolized all their care and atten- 
tion. This will account for the paucity of wrecks 
during most of the first century of their residence in 
the New World, and will also serve to explain the 
meagerness of the records. 

During the first ten years or so of the nineteenth 
century, almost as many wrecks had occurred on the 
Nantucket coast as during the previous hundred years ; 
thus showing how maritime progress had increased 
with the increase of population and the opening up of 
the country's resources. 

Out of the five hundred wrecks recorded by Mr. 
Gardner up to 1877, many are of thrilling interest, 
and contain the saddest narratives of heroism and of 
resignation to the inevitable. One or two may be 
referred to here. 

On January 21, 18 12, an English ship, Sir Sidney 
Smith, a prize to the American privateer General Arm- 
strong of New York, struck on Bass Rip, off Siasconset, 
and all on board perished within sight of the people on 
shore, who were unable to render any assistance. The 
crew took refuge in the shrouds, and some, from time 
to time, were seen to fall off into the water, as their 
strength gave out or as they became numbed with 
cold, until, finally, the vessel rolled over and sank, 
burying the remainder with her. Notwithstanding 
the extreme cold, the mail packet Captain Childs, with 
a crew of volunteers, started to their relief, but, on 
account of the weather, was compelled to put back. 
Nothing was ever recovered from the wreck, although 
she had on board a very valuable cargo. 

Nov. 27, 1842 (Sunday). Ship Joseph Starhuck left 
Nantucket with a favorable breeze, in tow of steamer 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 311 

Telegraph for Edgartown, where she was to load and proceed 
on a whaHng voyage. There were on board, in addition 
to the full complement of hands belonging to her, a number 
of ladies who were intending to accompany their friends to 
Edgartown before taking final leave of them. The wind 
soon came out ahead, and blew so strongly that the steamer 
could no longer make any headway. The towlines were 
then loosened, and the ship came to anchor within about a 
mile of the Tuckernuck Shoal lightboat, while the steamer 
returned to the wharf. In the afternoon the wind increased 
to a gale, and the ship being light rode so violently that 
one chain cable after another parted, and she drove furi- 
ously from her moorings in an easterly direction. To pre- 
vent her going to sea in her then unprepared condition, 
the mizzenmast was cut away, the foresail set, and every 
effort made to return to port, but so fiercely was the gale 
blowing from the northwest that the attempt failed. The 
ship drifted toward the eastern extremity of the Bar until 
midnight, when she struck and rolled over, the seas break- 
ing over her frightfully, and sending volumes of spray far 
above the masthead. Next morning at daybreak she was 
discovered from town in this predicament: on her beam 
ends, her single sail still offering a mark for the hurricane; 
her hulk, with its living freight, lifting and falling with 
crushing force. Of course it was immediately resolved 
by the townsfolk to put forth every possible effort toward 
saving the lives of those on board, and before 9 o'clock 
the steamer Massachusetts, manned by a party of volunteers, 
was on her way to their relief. To many it seemed a hope- 
less adventure. The wreck lay about four miles from town, 
and two miles from the nearest strand, while the sea upon 
the farther edge of the Bar where she lay, and from the vast 
extent of shoals nearby, ran almost mountains high, now 
rising into columns of angry foam, and anon leaving the 
subjacent ground nearly bare of water. Nevertheless, 
the steamer plunged through the accumulated perils before 
her, and in half an hour was made fast to the lee-side of the 

312 Nantucket 

ill-fated vessel by a warp necessarily of considerable length. 
The paddles were kept backing sufficiently to keep the hne 
taut, and the people on board the ship, to the number of 
thirty-five, were taken off by means of a single whale-boat, 
which passed to and fro no less than five times, transferred 
to the steamer, and returned to their friends in town, who 
had suffered the most intense anxiety. So excessively cold 
was the weather that the decks and rigging of the ship were 
coated with ice. 

The Joseph Starbuck was a beautiful and highly valued 
ship. She was built at Brant Point in 1838, of live oak, 
and was copper fastened. She had made but one vo3^age, 
and had now been fitted out for a second in the most liberal 
manner. The vessel was insured for $24,000. 

The ship eventually went to pieces, nothing of any 
material value being saved. 

Two of the most lamentable and terrible wrecks 
recorded as occurring on the Nantucket coast happened 
about the same time, during December, 1865, viz: those 
of the liaynes and the Newton. They are thus de- 
scribed by Mr, Arthur H. Gardner: 

December 22d, schooner Haynes, of and for Boston, 
from the "West Indies, loaded with logwood, ran ashore at 
the south side of the island, near the head of Hummock 
Pond. The crew abandoned her, and perished in attempting 
to reach the shore. Had they remained on board all would 
have been saved. On the following Sunday, a body iden- 
tified as that of the steward was found upon the beach. 
The cause of her getting ashore was unknown, but it was 
supposed that her captain mistook Sankaty light for Gay 
Head, and ran accordingly. The position of the vessel 
warranted this conjecture, as she lay about as far west of 
Sankaty as she should be from Gay Head on entering 
Vineyard Sound. Her cargo was discharged and carted 
to town, but the vessel went to pieces. 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 313 

December 25th, ship Newton, Captain F. G. Herting, of 
and for Hamburg, from New York, with a cargo of kerosene, 
staves, rosin, fustic, etc., went to pieces early in the morning 
on the south side of the island, to the eastward of Madde- 
quecham Pond. One of the crew was found about half-a- 
mile inland, naked, with his face buried in the sand. He 
had probably reached the shore by swimming and started 
for the nearest house, but perished on the way. He was 
about twenty-five or thirty years of age. On his right arm 
were the initials "J. K." marked with India ink, and on his 
left arm "C. U." He was afterwards identified as the 
second mate of the Newton. The beach for miles to the 
eastward of the wreck was covered with fragments, appar- 
ently the result of an explosion, which many thought must 
have occurred, and everything seemed to favor such an 
opinion. Large spars were broken off short, as was also 
an iron truss about the size of a man's arm, and a large 
iron tank lay high upon the beach, one or two hundred 
yards from the wreck. The breakers were filled with bar- 
rels of kerosene, fragments of broken barrels, and other 
articles of which her cargo consisted, while her iron hull 
itself seemed to be crushed like an egg-shell, into a shapeless 
mass. Startling coincidence that within a little more than 
forty-eight hours, two vessels should thus land on our 
shores, and not a soul survive to tell the mournful story. 
Many conjectures were rife as to the cause of both disasters, 
but as there was not a single survivor spared to tell the 
tale, the whole affair must always remain shrouded in 

Along the line of the beach, stretching as far as Quidnet, 
dead bodies were to be seen floating in the surf, and after- 
wards thrown upon the sands. Seventeen bodies in all were 
washed ashore, the most of which were identified as belong- 
ing to the Newton. These were entombed in the Unitarian 
burying-ground, and afterwards buried side by side, each 
grave being numbered according to the order in which the 
body came ashore. Very solemn and imposing ceremonies 

314 Nantucket 

were conducted in the Methodist church on the following 
Sunday afternoon, after which the citizens, with others 
who were inclined, formed in front of t e church and walked 
to the cemetery, where hundreds, including many ladies, 
gathered round the tomb to pay their last tributes of respect 
to the unknown dead. Upon evidence furnished by the 
ship's agent, it was ascertained that Captain Herting was 
a freemason, and his remains were taken in charge by 
"Union Lodge," and buried from their room the following 
afternoon with masonic rites. 

The Newton was an iron ship of 699 tons burthen, and 
nearly new, having made but one voyage. About 2200 
barrels of kerosene, together with a quantity of fustic, etc., 
were saved, and the wreck was subsequently sold at auction, 
as she lay, to New Bedford purchasers for $510.' 

A few more recent wrecks may be briefly referred to 
as affording the highest possible testimony to the self- 
sacrificing bravery, and endurance of the heroic men 
who constitute the crews of the Life-saving Service 
which guards our Atlantic coast. 

To the ever alert Coskata crew came the report of a 
flashlight having been seen on the night of January 20, 
1892, in the direction of the Rose and Crown Shoal. 
With no object to guide them, and unable to see their 
course, these fearless fellows shot their boat into the 
seething ocean, and hastened with all their might for 
twelve miles, before the wind, until they came up with 
an English ship, the H. P. Kirkham, in distress, from 
which, but one hour before the time she sank, to rise 
no more, they rescued seven men. But this was not 
all; for the life-savers had now fourteen men in their 
boat, the wind was dead ahead, and it was only after 

' Some details of awful whaling experiences will be found in Chap- 
ter VI. 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 315 

perhaps the fiercest struggle on record, lasting almost 
twenty-four hours, that they succeeded in landing 
themselves and those whom they had rescued on their 
own sandy shore. Such a feat cannot be erased from 
history, and it is almost needless to say that their 
gallant rescue was rewarded by medals of honor from 
the Humane Society. 

Another wreck, but one, alas, from which it was 
possible to save only two lives, was that of the schooner 
/. B. Wither spoon, which was stranded near Surf -Side 
on January 10, 1886. It was impossible to launch the 
life-saving boat in such a sea, but the men were deter- 
mined to save if possible, and actually shot a life-line 
over the doomed vessel five times before any of the crew 
could avail themselves of it. There were nine souls 
on board, but of these only two were saved, although 
the life-savers stood by the vessel nearly all day, doing 
their utmost. 

On the night of February l, 1908, a terrible stormy 
night with a below zero temperature, keeper Norcross 
of the Coskata Life-saving Station discovered a vessel 
drifting to destruction toward the bar, nearly in front 
of his own station. The patrols were called in, and the 
surf -boat was got ready ; but no boat could be launched 
in such tumbling furious seas, and the darkness was 
intense. Carting the larger of the two surf-boats to 
a point on the beach directly to leeward of the drifting 
ship, the crew waited for an hour, while the cruel wind 
stung and cut their faces. As daylight broke, the 
word was given to launch, and every man sprang to his 
station, but at every attempt to float the boat they 
were hurled back upon the beach. Again and again 
they tried, but with similar results, and with their 
clothing frozen and covered with ice, they could only 

3i6 Nantucket 

wait for a slight lull in the gale. They could see the 
waves strike the brow of the wreck, a mile away, and 
they watched the spray fly in clouds almost mast-high. 

A fishing steamer sailed up the inner harbor about 
noon, on board of which was the well known Captain 
Jesse Eldredge, a former member of the Coskata crew, 
and one of the best surfmen on the island. He volun- 
teered to assist, and Captain Norcross gladly accepted 
his service. With a vigorous and united effort they at 
length vsucceeded in launching the boat; while the icy 
water flew over the living freight, drenching the crew 
through and through, and nearly half-filling the 
boat, and after an hour's hard work they reached the 
brig. To board the endangered craft was impossible, 
but they worked the boat under the lee, and took off 
the Captain and crew of nine men, the Captain's wife, 
and a year-old babe. They began the return journey, 
which was safely accomplished. The rescued family 
and crew were soon made comfortable, and the brig 
turned out to be the Fredericka Schepp, belonging to 
Mystic, Conn., sailing from South Amboy to Vinal 
Haven with coal. 

On December i6th and 17th, 19 10, during a tempestu- 
ous sea and zero atmosphere, associated with a sixty- 
mile gale, Captain Norcross and his men were called 
out of their warm cots. Shortly before 3 a.m., one of 
the night patrols had seen a light about a mile and a 
half from the shore, and had hastened to give the 
alarm. With a cheer the men ran their boat out, and 
with some difficulty managed to launch her, and by 
daybreak had rescued the crew and the mate (who 
had sustained an accident and couldn't help himself). 
The vessel was the Thomas B. Garland, bound for 
Salem with a cargo of hard coal. 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 317 

Once more, on November 16, 191 1, a call came from 
Superintendent Bowley of the 2d Life-saving Station, 
Cape Cod, saying a small vessel was in distress off 
Nantucket. Keeper Norcross sped to the lighthouse 
and saw the vessel about four miles from the shore. 
The wind was blowing a gale, and the surf was terrible. 
All day long he tried to launch the boat but foun,d it 
impossible, and just as he was preparing to spend the 
night on the shore a telegram came from Superintendent 
Bowley saying that a crew from Monomoy (on the 
Cape Cod shore) had boarded the vessel. 

About 2.30 A.M., the following morning. Captain 
Norcross, in accompanying the night patrol, discovered 
a vessel in distress on Great Point Rip. Telephoning 
to the station for his men, they arrived duly after a 
three hours' run, and with strenuous efforts got the 
boat through the breakers. The men were drenched 
with the icy water. They had never before experienced 
such wind or such a sea, so terrific that the oars were 
frequently blown out of the oarlocks, and it was impos- 
sible for the men to row together. They found their 
boat drifting, and, after struggling for three hours, 
they made for the shore once more, and effected a 
landing about a mile from where they had started. 
They got out their horse and truck, loaded their gear 
and dragged it back to the starting point once more. 
They felt there was not a moment to rest, as the masts 
of the vessel were liable to fall at any moment, and 
render all efforts to save the men or the ship impossible. 
They had been working five hours without a let-up, 
yet, when the boat was ready, the men (shivering in 
their wet clothes) were ready to start with a will. The 
tide had changed somewhat and the launching was 
more easily managed. With blistered and bleeding 

31 8 Nantucket 

hands the men never relaxed an effort until they had 
reached the goal, and every frozen man in the rigging 
had dropped into their boat, safe at last ! 

The vessel was the Charles S. Wolston, Macauley, 
master, with a mate, cook, and three sailors. 

Such is a part of the record of the Coskata Life- 
saving Station, which has no habitation nearer than 
the lighthouse, two miles and a half away ; for the town 
is eight miles distant. While it is one of the most 
exposed and desolate stations on the coast, a portion 
of the ocean side of the island being under the 
protection of Captain Norcross and his men, the 
territory he controls is one of the largest on the New 
England coast. ^ 

What has just been said of the Coskata life-savers is 
equally applicable to those of Surf-Side, Great Neck, 
and Muskeget; when danger is in sight the men are 
always ready to spring into their surf -boats, and what- 
ever men can do they will dare and do. 

Thirty thousand vessels pass through Nantucket 
Sound annually, and Coatue makes a lee shore for all 
in a north or northwesterly gale. How many crews 
on those thousands of vessels feel their courage rise 
and their hearts throb with gratitude when they realize 
that, amid the treacherous, complicated shoals of 
Nantucket — which constitute perhaps the most peril- 
ous danger-bed around the Atlantic coast — the steady 
eyes of loyal life-savers are looking after the welfare 
and safety of their ships, by day and by night, every 
hour of the twenty -four, and who are ever ready at a 
moment's notice to hasten to their relief, fearless of 
either danger or death, in the discharge of their self- 

" Compiled from paper, by Simon J. Nevins, in Nantucket Inquirer 
and Mirror, January 20, 1912. 

Life-Saving Service and Wrecks 319 

sacrificing duty, and ready either to succor them or die 
in the attempt! All honor to the noble Life-saving 
Service ! 

"Greater love hath no man than this, — that a man 
lay down his life for his friend." 

the island steamers 
By Harry B. Turner 

Eleven years after Robert Fulton proved the practi- 
cability and feasibility of navigation by steam, the 
island of Nantucket was enjoying steamboat service 
with the mainland for the first time. Nantucket was 
then one of the leading ports on the coast, and it was 
in line with the progressive spirit of the islanders that 
the little steamer Eagle — a crude craft, to be sure, but 
at that time considered a big improvement over Ful- 
ton's Clermont, and in comparison "very fast and sea- 
worthy" — was built to operate across Nantucket 
Sound only a few months after the first steamboat had 
been seen in Boston harbor. Who the promoters of 
this first steamboat project were is not known — that 
much of the first venture has been lost to history — but 
it is safe to state that they were men closely allied with 

The Eagle was an awkward little boat of eighty tons, 
and was built at New London, Ct., miaking her first 
trip over to Nantucket on the 5th of May, 1818. For 
several months, she made trips between the island and 
New Bedford, and oh the 30th of July made a "record" 


The Island Steamers 321 

of eight hours and seven minutes for the passage. The 
Eagle was 92 feet long, 17.8 feet beam, and was equipped 
with two copper boilers, burning wood for fuel. 

It is not surprising that this first steamboat venture 
was not a financial success. Nantucketers were not 
ready to patronize "steam" in preference to "sail," 
and as the cost of operation was heavy, the promoters 
abandoned the project the latter part of September. 
The boat was sold for service between Boston and 
Hingham, where she was operated until the year 1821, 
when she was sold for junk, the copper boilers bringing 
more than they cost when new. 

From the time the Eagle left Nantucket on the 21st 
of September, 1818, sijj: years elapsed before a second 
attempt was made to inaugurate successful steamboat 
service across the Sound. On the 20th of May, 1824, 
a Nantucket man named Captain R. S. Bunker, brought 
the steamer Connecticut to the island and endeavored to 
create enough enthusiasm and support among the 
islanders to form a company for her operation as a 
passenger and freight boat between the island and New 
Bedford. Bunker's project was turned down, however, 
and four years more elapsed before another attempt 
was made. 

In the spring of 1828, the steamer Hamilton was put 
on the route in command of a Vineyard Haven man, 
the project having been started by New Bedford capi- 
talists. The Hamilton was even more of a failure than 
the Eagle, being unable to make any headway against a 
head wind or tide, and therefore able to travel only when 
conditions were favorable. She was a craft of only 
fifty tons, and her principal fuel was tar barrels, of 
which Nantucket and New Bedford could each furnish 
a generous amount in those days. The Hamilton's 

322 Nantucket 

service was even shorter than the Eaglets, her last trip 
being made in August, 1828. 

It remained for Jacob Barker, the famous merchant 
— who, by the way, assisted Robert Fulton in his earlier 
project, importing from London the first steam-engine 
used in the propulsion of vessels — to inaugurate the 
first actually successful steamboat line across Nan- 
tucket Sound. Barker was of Nantucket lineage and 
deeply interested in the island, and, firm in the belief 
that a suitable steamer would receive the support of 
the islanders, he had the Marco Bozzaris built and placed 
her in service in April, 1829, under command of his 
nephew. Captain Edward H. Barker. 

The Marco Bozzaris proved the marked foresight of 
Jacob Barker, for she was successfully operated be- 
tween Nantucket and New Bedford for four years, and 
was withdrawn only when the merchants of Nantucket, 
brought to the realization that "steam" had come to 
stay, were ready to form a company among themselves 
and have a larger boat built for the service. Jacob 
Barker lent his assistance, both personal and financial, 
to the islanders' scheme, and, as a result, the steamer 
Telegraph was built and placed in operation in October, 
1832, under command of the same Edward H. Barker 
who was captain of the Bozzaris. The new steamer was 
built especially for the Nantucket service, with a bow 
well-fitted for battling with the ice in the winter, being 
of 171 tons, 120 feet long and 19 feet 6 inches beam. 
She had copper boilers, and burned wood for fuel, as 
did her predecessor. The Telegraph really proved 
herself an able boat in every way, and remained in 
service in Nantucket waters twenty-three years. 

The Nantucket Steamboat Company, which was 
formed when the Telegraph was built in 1832, ten years 

The Island Steamers 323 

later had a second steamer constructed, naming her 
the Massachusetts and expending $40,000 on her. She 
was of 308 tons, 161 feet long and 23 feet beam, and, 
with the Telegraph, became prominent in wrecking 
operations around Nantucket Island, as well as in the 
operation of regular passenger and freight service 
between the island and the mainland. In those days, 
"tugs" were unknown, and it was expected that the 
island steamers were to go to vessels wrecked or in 
distress, abandoning their regular service at such times, 
the proceeds from such exploits often netting the owners 
of the steamers immense sums of money in salvage. 

The year after the Massachusetts came in service 
(1843) the passenger travel had increased to such an 
extent that the company was operating both the Tele- 
graph and Massachusetts, the former running to Woods 
Hole and the latter to New Bedford. This scheme 
proved to be a losing venture, however, and the Tele- 
graph was thereafter used only as a spare boat. 

Some of the wrecking operations of the old steamers 
were fraught with great danger, especially when the 
Island Home was first in service. This steamer, which 
made a history for herself in a long and hard career, 
was built in 1855 to run on the route between Nantucket 
and Hyannis, and she had some very thrilling experi- 
ences, both in going to distressed vessels and in battling 
with heavy storms and the winter ice-fields. 

She first came to Nantucket on the 5th of September, 
1855, having been built according to the views of 
the Nantucket men who had formed themselves into the 
Nantucket & Cape Cod Steamboat Company, for the 
purpose of opening up the Hyannis route. Her first 
commander was Captain Thomas Brown, but in the 
real history the Island Home made for herself. Captain 

324 Nantucket 

Nathan Manter was at the helm, and the name of the 
boat and her genial skipper will long live in the memory 
of all Nantucketers. The old steamer, with her bluff 
but good-natured skipper, fought many a battle with 
the elements, weathered many a gale, butted many 
an ice-field, and won more laurels than any craft which 
ever traversed Nantucket Sound. She ended her days 
as a coal barge, being sold by the local steamboat line 
in 1895. 

In July, 1858 — having outlived their usefulness on 
the island route — the steamers Telegraph and Massa- 
chusetts left Nantucket for good, the Massachusetts 
towing the Telegraph, both boats having been sold to 
New Jersey parties. What became of the Telegraph is 
not known, but it is presumed she went to the junk- 
heap. The Massachusetts, however, was rebuilt, and, 
under the name of the John D. W. Pentz, saw service 
during the Civil War, resuming, at its close, her former 
name, and plying the waters of Chesapeake Bay as a 
passenger boat until the early eighties. 

In 1873, steamer River Queen was placed in service 
on the Nantucket route as a sister ship to the Island 
Home, the two-boats-a-day schedule being inaugurated 
the following summer for the first time. The River 
Queen was built in 1864, and, during the closing year 
of the Civil War, was used by General Grant as his 
private dispatch boat on the Potomac River. It was on 
board her that the celebrated conference was held 
between President Lincoln of the United States and 
A. H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy. 
The River Queen was continued in service on the Nan- 
tucket route until 1881, and ended her days as an ex- 
cursion steamer, on the Potomac River. 

While Nantucket had its own steamboat company, 

The Island Steamers 325 

operating its own steamers independent of Martha's 
Vineyard ownership, the Nantucket steamers, for 
many years, had been stopping at the Vineyard on the 
way down from New Bedford. Therefore, when the 
route was shifted from New Bedford to Hyannis it 
resulted in the formation of a rival line — the "Martha 
Vineyard Steamboat Company," in 1851, and three 
years later, the "New Bedford, Vineyard & Nantucket 
Steamboat Company." The stock of the new com- 
pany was largely owned in New Bedford, and the 
promoters determined to make every possible effort 
to prevent Nantucket's service from being transferred 
from that city to Hyannis, as seemed probable when 
the Island Home was being built. 

The new company constructed the steamer Eagle's 
Wing, and, while the finishing touches were being made 
to the boat, placed in service the steamer George Law. 
The Eagle's Witig was not ready and in commission 
until October 23, 1854, when she made a trip to Nan- 
tucket in com.mand of Captain James Barker. Nan- 
tucket gave its patronage to the Isla^id Home, however, 
with the result that the Eagle's Wing was running at 
a loss, and she was kept on the Nantucket route but two 
years, then being operated between New Bedford and Ed- 
gartown. She ended her days in 1861, when she caught 
fire on the Providence River and was totally destroyed. 

Between 1840 and 1870 the steamers which were 
operating on the route between New Bedford and 
Edgartown occasionally came over to Nantucket, 
although not in service on this line. Among them were 
the Naushon, Metacomet, Canonicus, and Helen Augusta, 
and, a few days after the great fire of 1846, a steamer 
called the Bradford Diirjee came to Nantucket from 
Fall River with provisions for the stricken inhabitants. 

326 . Nantucket 

In 1856-57, Nantucket had in service between the 
island and New York, a propeller steamer, which was 
called the Jersey Blue, commanded by Captain Nathan 
Kelley of Nantucket. She was owned by Nantucketers 
but was not a paying investment, although she was 
used occasionally in towing vessels up and down the 
Sound. One other propeller came to Nantucket a few 
years before — the Osceola — but only as an excursion 

Not until the Monohansett was built in 1862, to 
replace the Eagle's Wing, was either of the Vineyard 
steamers a familiar figure on the Nantucket route. 
The Monohansett, however, came to Nantucket many 
times during her career, both as an extra boat and to 
force ice blockades, but the greater part of her service 
was on the Vineyard route. In 1904, she was wrecked 
and totally lost in Salem Harbor. 

The Martha's Vineyard, built in 1871, is still in 
service — one of the oldest steamers in these parts, 
although now used as a spare boat. She is 171 feet 
long and 28 feet beam. 

In 1886, the rival companies — "Nantucket & Cape 
Cod Steamboat Company" and "New Bedford, Vine- 
yard & Nantucket Steamboat Company" — consoli- 
dated, the new company taking the name of the "New 
Bedford, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket Steamboat 
Company," as at present. The new concern immedi- 
ately commenced the construction of the steamer Nayi- 
tucket, which made her first trip to the island in July, 
1886. She is of 629 gross tons, 190 feet long and 33 
feet beam, and has been in almost continual service for 
over twenty-seven years, being rebuilt three years ago. 

Steamer Gay Head was built in 1891, and is of 701 
tons, 203 feet long, and 34 feet beam. She made her 

The Island Steamers 327 

first trip on July 8, 1891, under command of Captain 
A. P. Bartow. 

Steamer Uncatena was built in 1902 for the Edgar- 
town route, but each year has been making "alternating 
trips" to Nantucket with one of the other steamers. 
She is the first steel boat built for the island route, is 
of 652 tons, 187 feet long and 31 feet beam. 

The latest addition to the fleet is the steel propeller 
Sankaty, built in 191 1. She is 191 feet long and 36 
feet deck beam, and her service has opened the ques- 
tion of whether or no side-wheel boats or propellers 
are best fitted for this service. Owing to lack of water 
inside of Brant Point, it was impossible to make the 
Sankaty of as deep draft as was desired, but with the 
harbor improvements contemplated, it is probable 
that by the time the company is ready to build another 
steamer, sufficient water can be "carried" into the 
wharf to permit at least three feet to be added to the 
draft of new boats. This would in a large measure 
tend to remove whatever objectionable features there 
may be, at present, to the service of a propeller steamer 
across Nantucket Sound. 

It is now ninety-five years since the little Eagle 
ploughed its way across Nantucket Sound and opened 
up steam navigation between Nantucket and the main- 
land. The changes that have occurred during that 
period have been many. Nantucket reached its zenith 
as a whaling port, suffered a decline and dropped, for 
a time, almost into obscurity; yet, withal, the steam- 
boat service kept constantly improving, and with the 
"rejuvenation " which came when the island commenced 
to develop as a summer resort in the seventies, new 
and modern steamers were built and the service steadily 
improved. To-day, the island, thirty miles out at pea, 

328 Nantucket 

enjoys daily connections with the mainland from Octo- 
ber to June and twice daily connections from June to 
October, over fifty thousand passengers crossing the 
Sound during the twelve months of each year. 


the newspapers of nantucket 

By Harry B. Turner 

With the enterprise characteristic of Nantucket in 
the early part of the eighteenth century, the first of 
the island newspapers was bom in 1816. It was called 
The Gazette and was issued for the first time on Monday, 
May 6th, with Abraham G. Tannant and Hiram Tupper 
as its publishers. Its pages were 12 x 20 inches in 
size, five columns wide, and the first sheet printed was 
purchased, for the sum of fifty cents, by Sylvanus 
Macy, who was anxious to own the first copy of a 
newspaper issued on Nantucket, The Gazette was 
printed in a building which stood on the corner of 
Main (then State) and Water Streets, and sold "for 
$2.50 per annum," yet it did not survive a full year, 
being issued but thirty-six times, its last being on the 
1st day of February, 1817, when it died from want of 

A few months later Mr. Tannant took on renewed 
courage, and from the ruins of The Gazette issued a lox 12 
sheet which he called The Nantucket Weekly Magazine. 
This tiny weekly covered four pages of three columns 
each and was "devoted to literary and com.mercial 


330 Nantucket 

reading. It was published every Saturday evening, 
its first issue being on June 28, 18 17, and its last on 
January 3, 181 8, when Mr. Tannant gave up his news- 
paper efforts in despair, printing the following an- 
nouncement in his last issue : 

It is with extreme regret that we announce to our readers 
that with this paper the publication of The Nantucket Weekly 
Magazine and our labors as Editor, Publisher, et cetera, 
at Nantucket, cease. Imperious custom demands from 
us some few remarks in regard to the decline of the paper. 
The local situation of Nantucket, the still more local views 
of its inhabitants, and the evident want of popular excite- 
ment, commingled, are the ostensible causes of its failure; 
and our repeated trial will warrant us in the remark that 
until a paper shall be better appreciated and more public 
spirit manifested, there can be no hope of a similar enter- 
prise hereafter. 

The first issues of The Weekly Magazine were quite 
readable, however, for among other things they con- 
tained some interesting private correspondence of Dr. 
Benjamin Franklin, published by his grandson, William 
Temple Franklin. In perusing the copies of this little 
paper, one can see at a glance that its editor and pub- 
lisher was using his best efforts to make it interesting 
to his readers, and was bravely striving to "make 
good"; but in this last he failed. 

Mr. Tannant's rather pessimistic farewell when he 
retired from the newspaper field doubtless prevented 
any more attempts to launch a successful newspaper 
on Nantucket for the three succeeding years, but, in 
1 82 1, Joseph C. Melcher laid the foundation of what 
became a permanent institution — a newspaper which 
he called The Inquirer and which has survived the 

The Newspapers of Nantucket 331 

trials and vicissitudes of over ninety years, to-day being 
known as The Inquirer and Mirror. Joseph Melcher 
was only the publisher of The Inquirer, however, for he 
had associated with him, as editor, Samuel Haynes Jenks, 
than whom no more talented and forceful writer ever filled 
the editorial chair on Nantucket Island. The first issue 
of The Inquirer was dated June 23 , 1 82 1 , and it contained 
a two-column announcement signed by Mr. Melcher, in 
which he outlined his intentions and the policies he 
would pursue in the publication of the little newspaper. 
The size of the page was 12 x 20 inches, four columns 
to the page, and the files of the paper are in excellent 
condition to this day, considering the lapse of years. 

In 1823, Mr. Jenks assumed full control of The 
Inquirer and for over twenty years he ably filled the 
position of editor and publisher, by his efforts doing 
much for the benefit and development of Nantucket. 
Mr. Jenks was one of Nantucket's brilliant men — a 
gentleman and a scholar in every sense. In writing 
of the successful efforts of Mr. Jenks in the publication 
of The Inquirer, the late William Hussey Macy said : 

The Inquirer grew rapidly and acquired more than a 
local reputation, Mr. Jenks was a live editor, a ready and 
vigorous writer, and an earnest and fearless advocate of 
what he believed to be the right side of each current issue. 
Although not a native of Nantucket, he was for so many 
years closely identified with the town in all that concerned 
its prosperity that he is deserving a place among its distin- 
guished men and women. It was doubtless through his 
persistent efforts with pen and voice that public schools 
were established on Nantucket. 

Five years after its birth, The Inquirer had a rival, 
The Nantucket Journal having been started by William 

332 Nantucket 

H. Bigelow, a Boston man who moved to the island. 
The Journal was first issued on the 14th of September, 
1826, but the paper survived only thirty-eight issues, 
passing out of existence on June i, 1827. The Journal 
was the only contemporary The Inquirer had until the 
year 1840, and during that period the latter was issued 
not only as a weekly, but as a semi-weekly and, for a 
few months, as a tri- weekly. Between the years 1830 
and 1840, Mr. Jenks was assisted in the publication of 
the paper by G. F. Bemis, T. J. Worth, Charles C. Hill, 
John Morissey, and William A. Jenks, respectively, and, 
for a brief period in the early 30' s, he relinquished the 
editorial chair to Charles Bunker. The Inquirer was 
one of the old Whig papers and strongly opposed the 
re-election of General Jackson (who was, however, 
re-elected, although Nantucket gave him but fourteen 
votes, and was thereby called "the banner Whig town"). 

During the thirties The Inquirer wandered from place 
to place for its home. It was first printed in a back 
room of the second story of a building owned by Wil- 
liam Coffin, which stood on the comer of Main and 
Candle Streets. The lower part of this building was 
then the post-office, with George W. Ewer as post- 

In 1830, The Inquirer moved to a three-story build- 
ing owned by Charles G. Stubbs, where the shop of 
C. W. Ellis now stands on Water Street. It then 
moved to the building of Philip H. Folger, and, in 1833, 
went to a building standing on the west comer of Main 
and Federal Streets, where it remained but a few 
months. Then it again moved, this time taking up 
its residence in a building erected by F. F. Hussey, 
on Union Street. In 1836, Mr. Jenks having built a 
residence on Union Street, the office was transferred 

The Newspapers of Nantucket 333 

to a small building on Coffin Street, near the head of 
Commercial wharf. The transfer was made just in 
time to escape disaster in the Washington House fire, 
which also destroyed the building belonging to Mr. 
Hussey, vacated by The Inquirer a day or two before. 

The Inquirer continued to be published on Coffin 
Street up to the year 1841, when William A. Jenks 
assumed control on the ist of April, and moved the 
office to the new building of Frederick Hussey on Main 
Street. The paper was sold to Hiram B. Dennis in 
December of the same year, and Mr. Dennis continued 
in charge until August 12, 1843, when John Morissey 
assumed the editorship. 

In the year 1840, Nantucket's fifth newspaper, and 
The Inquirer's second rival, appeared in the shape of 
The Islander, a purely Democratic medium which was 
financed by the island Democrats, who at that period 
numbered quite strong. The editor of The Islander 
was Charles C. Hazewell, a young man from the Boston 
Post, who afterwards won considerable fame for his 
writings. Hazewell was a vigorous writer, and he did 
yeoman's work for the Democratic party during the 
fierce political campaign which resulted in the election 
of General Harrison to the Presidency. During the 
anti-slavery troubles of the next year or two, when 
attempts were made to prevent the abolitionists from 
holding meetings in Nantucket, The Islander cham- 
pioned the cause of the lecturers and dealt vigorous 
blows against those who attempted to break up the 
meetings. The paper was printed in a building which 
stood on the comer of Cambridge Street and Coal 
Lane, until March, 1843, when it was discontinued. 

The equipment of The Islander was purchased by 
two young aspirants for journalistic honors — Woodbury 

334 Nantucket 

Bradford and Alexander B. Robinson — who commenced 
the pubHcation of Tlie Weekly Telegraph in the same 
building, in June, 1844. Soon after the first publica- 
tion of the weekly, they commenced issuing a daily, 
which was the first daily paper ever printed on Nan- 
tucket. The Telegraph' s enterprise caused The Inquirer 
to follow suit and for a time both papers were issued 
daily, with the result that neither was a paying propo- 
sition. Both papers were purchased by Edward W. 
Cobb in 1845, who continued publishing The Inquirer 
for ten years. 

After an absence from the loci 1 newspaper field of 
only a few months, John Morissey returned to Nan- 
tucket in 1845, and commenced the publication of The 
Weekly Mirror in opposition to The Inquirer, which 
he formerly edited. The Mirror met with excellent 
success at the start, and for several months a bitter 
rivalry was waged between it and The Inquirer, but, 
on December 27, 1845, a third paper made its debut 
in Nantucket, "making it hard scratching for a living 
for all three," as Edward W. Cobb said when reciting 
his newspaper experiences a half century afterward. 

The third paper, called The Weekly Warder, was 
published by William C. Starbuck and edited by 
Samuel Haynes Jenks, the former editor of The Inquirer. 
Thus the old Inquirer was up against stiff competition 
with two live contemporaries and each edited by one 
of its former editors, and when the "great fire" occurred 
in July, 1846, there were three newspaper offices doing 
active business in Nantucket. 

This memorable conflagration destroyed the plants 
of both The Inquirer and The Mirror, but each re- 
covered from the disaster, issuing single 7x9 sheets for 
several weeks from temporary offices. The Warder, 

The Newspapers of Nantucket 335 

the only one of the three papers which withstood the 
fire unharmed, had but a short Hfe, for it was in exist- 
ence less than two years. It is recorded that w^hile 
the fire was still in progress the wife of Samuel Haynes 
Jenks (who was a worthy helpmeet to him in his news- 
paper work), her husband being away from the island, 
wrote an account of the conflagration, hurried to The 
Warder's office, set her story in type, and ran off an 
edition giving the brief details of the disaster. Air. 
Jenks, in later years, offered large sums of money for 
a copy of this little sheet, but he was unable to secure 

After the fire of 1846, Edward W. Cobb issued The 
Inquirer from a little school-house on Flora Street, in 
the south part of the town, later moving to the rear 
part of Thomas B. Paddock's store, and finally to 
Valentine Hussey's new brick block on Main Street. 
Seven weeks after his plant had been destroyed by the 
fire, Mr. Cobb issued The Inquirer, restored to its former 
size and appearance. The flames had wiped out all 
he possessed in the world, but with the assistance of 
friends he borrowed money enough to purchase a new 
equipment, and on August 31, 1846, issued The Inquirer 
in its old familiar form. That he fully realized the 
difficult task set before him, is apparent from the fol- 
lowing paragraph which appeared in that issue: 

We recommence our publishing deeply involved in debt. 
The proprietor of this paper lost his all by the fire, and he 
has been forced to replenish his office entirely on credit. 
His real struggle is just commencing, for, with but little to 
depend upon beyond the receipts of The Inquirer, he has 
got, within a few months, to raise funds to make some 
heavy payments. 

336 Nantucket 

However, for ten years Edward W. Cobb maintained 
his struggle, but in July, 1855, the control of the paper 
passed into the hands of John Morissey and Alexander 
P. Moore, who published The Inquirer over the firm 
name of Morissey & Moore. At the time of the '46 fire, 
JVIr. Morissey was publishing The Mirror, and, as soon 
as he could get a temporary plant together, he had 
renewed publication over the grocery store of Frederick 
A. Chase on Union Street, issuing a little 7x9 sheet 
until he could make a complete recovery. In 1849, 
when Morissey decided to go to California, he sold 
The Mirror to Samuel S. Hussey and Henry D. Robin- 
son, who published it over the firm name of Hussey & 
Robinson. Mr. Morissey remained in California six 
years, and it was upon his return home that he again 
entered the newspaper field by purchasing his former 
rival, The Inquirer, from Edward W. Cobb, and, 
associated with Moore, he continued its publication 
until 1858, when he retired. 

After the retirement of Morissey, The Inquirer was 
published by Moore for nearly three years, he serving 
as both editor and publisher. In 1861, however, the 
paper passed into the control of William H. Beekman 
as publisher, with Edward M. Gardner as editor. In 
the spring of 1863, Alfred Macy assumed the editorial 
chair of The Inquirer and continued there until April i , 
1865, when Hussey & Robinson, of The Mirror, pur- 
chased the plant, good will, etc., of The Inquirer, from 
William R. Easton, and merged it with their own publi- 
cation under the name of The Inquirer and Mirror. 

For nine years after the union of the two papers, 
The Inquirer and Mirror was the only newspaper pub- 
lished on Nantucket. In 1874, however, Isaac H. 
Folger started The Island Review, in the block on the 

The Newspapers of Nantucket 337 

west corner of Main and Federal Streets, running it 
weekly for a time, then semi- weekly, at times tri- 
weekly, and even daily for a brief period. Later, he 
moved the plant to Center Street, and S. Heath Rich, 
now editor of the Brockton Enterprise, became asso- 
ciated with Mr. Folger on The Review, and they con- 
tinued publishing the paper until the autumn of 1878, 
when they purchased The Advance, in Brockton, and 
removed a portion of their equipment to that place. 

With the field thus left open for another newspaper, 
Arthur H. Gardner, a graduate of The Inqiiirer and 
Mirror office, immediately entered the opening, and 
issued the first number of The Nantucket Journal (the 
second of that name) from the ante-rooms of Pantheon 
Hall (over what is now Congdon's drug store) on the 
26th of September, 1878. Mr. Gardner later removed 
the plant to the brick block on Main Street, over Jer- 
negan's periodical store, continuing its publication as 
a weekly until November 23, 1899, when it was dis- 

Samuel S. Hussey and Henry D. Robinson continued 
publishing The Inquirer and Mirror until 1877, when 
the former retired from the business in favor of his son, 
Roland B. Hussey, who continued the partnership with 
Mr. Robinson, under the old firm name of Hussey & Rob- 
inson, until September, 1887, when Mr. Robinson retired. 

In June, 1878, the newspaper plant was moved to 
the rooms on the upper floor of the brick block on the 
east comer of Main and Orange Streets, where it con- 
tinued publication until May, 1890, when it was again 
moved to a building erected for its use on Milk Street, 
remaining there ten years. In October, 1900, the 
paper moved to its present quarters in Folger Block, 
comer of Main and Orange Streets. 

33^ Nantucket 

For twenty years after the retirement of Henry D. 
Robinson from the firm, The Inquirer and Mirror was 
pubUshed and edited by Roland B. Hussey, whose 
efforts brought the paper up to a high standard as a 
country weekly. In July, 1907, Mr. Hussey retired 
from the business, and was succeeded by Arthur H. 
Cook and Harry B. Turner, under the firm name of 
Cook & Turner, the present publishers. 

The plant of The Inquirer and Mirror has gradually, 
but steadily, become modernized. Prior to 1887, its 
press was laboriously turned by means of a hand-crank, 
but in that year the first mechanical power was in- 
stalled — a one-horse kerosene engine — and since that 
time numerous further improvements in power have 
been made. 

In 1890, a modem cylinder press was installed, and 
shortly afterwards an automatic folding-machine was 
added; and in 1902 the first type-setting machine on 
the island was installed, the first issue of The Inquirer 
and Mirror under machine composition being on the 
29th of March. Other modem appliances have since 
been added to the mechanical equipment, the while 
an earnest and painstaking effort has been made to 
maintain the standard of newspaper inaugurated by 
Samuel Haynes Jenks ninety-odd years ago. 

Having had many contemporaries since The Inquirer 
was first published in 1821, The Inquirer and Mirror 
is now alone in the newspaper field on Nantucket and 
is considered one of the island's "institutions," making 
its weekly visits to every quarter of the globe. 

The last daily paper published on Nantucket was 
The Sconset Visitor, issued from the Journal office 
during the summer of 1889. The previous season 
The Sconset Pump had been issued as a daily from The 

The Newspapers of Nantucket 339 

Inquirer and Mirror office, but neither was a paying 
investment, and each was a diminutive affair. 

In 1873, S. Heath Rich issued an amateur journal 
from a small hand press, it being a four-page sheet, 
8>^ X 12 inches, called The Magnet, two columns to a 
page, six inches long. Later in the seventies Fred 
V. Fuller also issued a little paper which he called The 
Sherburne News, which flourished for a brief period. 
For amateur journals these were both very creditable 



The Town-House and Town-Meeting. The original 
civic assembly-hall on Nantucket was a room in the 
house of Nathaniel and Mary Starbuck, which was 
known as the "Parliament House," and was instituted 
about 1667. 

In 1707, a vote was passed that "the Town-house 
should be repaired." In 17 16, an order was made that 
certain notices should be "posted on the door of town- 
house." In this year, also, the town voted to "build 
a town-house 34 feet long, and 24 feet wide," and the 
site of this has been localized as having been on the 
south side of West Center Street, nearly north of No- 
Bottom Pond. It thus appears that the town-house 
was one of the first public buildings erected on the 

In 1783, it was determined to move the town-house 
again, and it was placed at the comer of Milk and 
Main Streets, where it remained for sixty or seventy 
years. This building was a plain and unpretentious 
one, with a square roof, and was neither structurally 

' In this chapter are included items of historical interest which, 
while difficult to retain in a consecutive narrative, are nevertheless of 
such importance as to justify preservation. 


In the Dredge-Net 341 

nor architecturally imposing. Its seats were upright 
and unpainted, arranged in tiers, one above another, 
and its walls were undecorated by even a picture. 
Many a time, however, these desolate-looking walls 
re-echoed with fervid oratory in the days before the 
Civil War, when the question of abolition and many 
another burning theme were discussed before -"the 

Eventually it was sold, and the town-meetings were 
subsequently held either in the upper story of the West 
schoolhouse, the lower story of Academy Hill school- 
house, or in Atlantic Hall on Main Street. Early in 
the seventies, when no purchaser could be found for 
the South schoolhouse, on Orange Street, the town- 
hall was reconstituted in its upper story, and here it 

But, wherever the town-house may have been placed, 
it is regarded by all good Nantucketers as the cradle 
of their liberties. Almost from the time of the settle- 
ment, attendance at town-meeting was esteemed as 
one of their greatest privileges by the forefathers, and, 
amid the alternating prosperity and adversity of the 
island, this privilege has passed down from father to 
son, from generation to generation, amid peace and war, 
amid the distortions of politics and the transmutations 
of religious faith ; and it still stands pre-eminent as the 
embodiment of municipal rights ever sustained, ever 
appreciated by loyal and patriotic citizens of the island. 
"The local legislature," as the town-house has been 
aptly called, has always been carried on, in the main, 
within parliamentary lines, notwithstanding many 
scenes of perfervid eloquence and passionate zeal 
which have been enacted within its walls. 

Under the presidency of the moderator and the cor- 

342 Nantucket 

porate wisdom of the Selectmen, the democratic As- 
sembly preserves the courtesy and decorum of debate 
in allowing every citizen to express his views, and in 
the genial acceptance of the decisions of the majority. 
It is, indeed, a time-hallowed institution, having 
been in existence for nearly two hundred and fifty 
years; and while it has been the arbiter morum of the 
town from time immemorial, it is still the controlling 
influence in working out and regulating its destiny, 
for everything concerning the municipality is valid 
only when the sign of "the local legislature's" approval 
has been affixed. 

Cemeteries. There is considerable uncertainty as 
to the location of the Indian burying-places on the 
island, but, as stated elsewhere, the writer believes they 
were situated for the most part near the shore-line, 
and in course of time have been washed away. It is 
very probable that there was one at Shawkemo, and 
another near a point intersected by the railroad, north 
of the upper end of Miacomet Pond. 

The original, or ancient (white) cemetery, was set 
apart at an early period, on the hill near Maxcy's Pond. 
John Gardner was buried there in 1706, and his was 
the last gravestone left standing in 1881 ; in that year 
a new granite headstone was erected in its place. In 
1883, the remnant of the old stone was removed to the 
"Oldest House," where it may still be seen. The last 
burial in the old burying-place was that of Jonathan 
Coffin and his wife, who both died in 1773. On the 
burial-hill is now erected a memorial to the early 
settlers, many of whom were interred in its immediate 

The first burial-place of the Friends was a little 

In the Dredge-Net 343 

southeast of the ancient cemetery, and was used from 
1705 or 1706 until 1731. Here, in 171 7, was buried 
the famous Mary Starbuck ; also her husband Nathaniel, 
in 1 7 19; and Stephen Hussey was interred in this 
cemetery in 17 18. 

In Nantucket town, there are six cemeteries still in 
use, viz. : the Prospect Hill or Unitarian Cemetery, on 
Prospect Street, first used in 181 1. 

The Old North Cemetery, at the northwest comer 
of New and Grove Lanes, where many quaint and inter- 
esting inscriptions may be found. This was originally 
called the "Gardner Burying-ground," as the Gardners 
instituted it for themselves originally, and it was 
afterwards taken over by the North Church. It was 
probably laid out during the first decade of the eighteenth 

The North Cemetery is contiguous to the Old North. 

The Friends' burial-place is at the head of Main 
Street. Here there are no floral moiuids or "storied 
urns" to tell of those interred beneath the tangled 
moorland vines, grass, and weeds; not even a wild 
flower decks this simple field of rest and peace; and 
yet it is said that ten thousand bodies have mouldered 
into dust within this unadorned but sacred enclosure. 

In one comer of the cemetery are, however, a few 
small markers to distinguish the graves of those who 
belonged to the Hicksite section of the Society, to whom 
the world appealed in a greater degree than it did to 
the more orthodox Wilburites; but what matter such 
distinctions here, 

" Where Life is perfected by Death "! 

The South Cemetery is in the south part of the town, 
about a quarter of a mile southwest of the Asylum. 

344 Nantucket 

It is also known as the Newtown Cemetery and com- 
prises about two acres. 

The Roman CathoUc burial-ground on Prospect 
Hill is comparatively modem. 

The cemetery for people of color is in the southern 
district of the town, and has many graves. 

There is also a burial-ground at Polpis which has 
been in existence for many years. 

In former days, also, a number of people were buried 
"at the Quaise Farm when the Asylum was there."' 

At the rooms of the Nantucket Historical Association 
may be seen a card catalogue containing all the de- 
cipherable inscriptions upon the old headstones. 

Mills and Manufactures. In addition to what has 
already been referred to in Chapter V., with regard to 
the "Old Windmill" still remaining, the following ad- 
ditional particulars may be interesting. It was built 
for a Nantucket company in 1746. After some years, 
it became the property of Eliakim Swain and the Swain 
heirs, and in 1828 was purchased as fuel for twenty 
dollars by Jared Gardner. In 1834, and again in 1840, 
it was advertised for sale by Jared Gardner, and was 
bought by George Enos, who held it until 1864, when 
it was again sold to Captain John Murray, who finally 
sold it to John Francis Sylvia, in 1866. After Sylvia's 
death it was sold by auction, and, after brisk competi- 
tion, Miss C. L. W. French, of Boston, became its 
possessor for the sum of $850. Miss French, with 
her usual generosity, and in the belief that such an 
interesting landmark should become the inalienable 
possession of the island, presented it to the Nantucket 
Historical Association, who are careful in keeping it 

• W. C. Folger. 

In the Dredge-Net 345 

in perfect repair, and who have installed a keeper 
for the purpose of showing and explaining its 
structure and history to the thousands of visitors 
who evince a lively interest in this attractive relic of 
the past. ' 

To the south of the mill is Dead Horse Valley, where, 
it is said, formerly grew the oak-trees of which the mill 
was built. There was not a nail or bolt used in its 
construction, and its oaken pegs are still in excellent 
condition. From its upper window a splendid view 
can be obtained. 

With the exception of a few gaps the old mill 
has been grinding corn for one hundred and sixty- 
five years consecutively. When fully in opera- 
tion, it had a capacity of ten bushels an hour, 
but one man being required to perform the oper- 
ations. The miller, according to old custom, re- 
ceived about ten per cent, of the grain ground, as 

Other Old Mills and Manufactures. Exclusive of 
the mills already mentioned, one was erected in 1834, 
for the combined purpose of grinding com and sawing 
logs, also staves for oil-casks. This was operated by 
Simeon Starbuck and Philip H. Folger. Previous to 
1800, there was a horse-power grist-mill on Pine Street, 
which, however, was soon abandoned, and the proprie- 
tor (Joseph Chase) built the wind grist-mill which 
stood near New Lane. It was taken down about 

"A wind-mill was erected on his house on North 
Liberty Street, by Thomas B. Field, in 1875. The 

* Mrs. Eva C. G. Folger, opus cit. 

346 Nantucket 

vanes were horizontal, and are said to have worked 
easily in certain directions of the wind."' 

In 1 66 1, the Gardner brothers built a tide-mill east 
of Mill Brook, and, in 1673, they built a fulling-mill 
at Polpis. 

In 1 74 1, Tristram Starbuck and Zaccheus Macy 
set up a fulling-mill. 

In 1763, a mill was built at Polpis Neck, and in 1786 
it was removed to Polpis. 

A fulling-mill was erected at Mill Brook, near the 
old Madeket road, at the west end of the island in 

Another fulling-mill was operated in Shawkemo in 
1770, and was working as late as 1828 or 1830. 

There was a fulling-mill at Quaise which was stand- 
ing in 1820. 

In 1772, a fulling and coloring mill was in operation 
between the schoolhouse at Polpis and the Milton 
House and ran until 1796-97.^ 

When to the manufacture of sperm oil and candles 
was added the manufacture of whale and sea-elephant 
oils, the total number of factories in Nantucket was 
thirty-six, representing an annual product of from one 
to one and a half millions of dollars. The fitting out 
of about ninety ships and smaller vessels involved the 
manufacture of casks, packages for candles, boats, iron 
work, duck, cordage, etc., aggregating about $160,000, 
including fifty thousand casks or barrels. Twenty- two 
were coopers' shops in operation, and eleven or twelve 
blacksmiths' forges for ironwork. There were also 

' Mrs. Eva C. G. Folger, The Glacier's Gift, p. 93. 

* For many of the above items the writer is indebted to Mrs. Folger. 

In the Dredge-Net 347 

utilized thirty-five thousand candle-boxes, from 
eighty to one hundred whale-boats, fifteen hundred 
bolts of duck, wrought into sails, etc. These 
amounts represent the outlay required annually for 
the business of this isolated community. There 
were likewise ten rope-walks in operation at one 
time, for the making of cordage for the whaling-ships 
and others. 

The first cut-nails ever used on the island were 
made by Eliphalet Paddack about 1797 or '98, and he 
continued to make them in Pine Street for several years 
after 1800. 

A duck factory was established by Joseph Chase and 
others in 1792 or '93, and was carried on for six or seven 

For many years a twine factory was operated. 

During the war of 18 12, a woollen factory was estab- 
hshed by Obed. Mitchell on the New North Wharf; 
this continued until 18 18. It employed a force of two 
hundred persons. 

Salt-works of an extensive character were erected on 
Brant Point and on Quaise Point. 

A large brush and bellows factory was established 
during the War of 18 12, on Academy Hill, and was 
carried on for several years afterwards; and there was 
a linen-coat factory on Quince Street, run by John W. 
Hallett in the seventies or eighties. 

From, an early period, and for many years, three 
leather tanneries were in full operation on land east 
of Union Street. 

The first steam mill erected on the island was estab- 
lished on the North Beach by Daniel Mitchell in 1832 
or '33, for the manufacture of candle-boxes, etc. ; an- 
other on a more extensive scale was built later on the 

348 Nantucket 

South Beach, by Levi Starbuck, for the manufac- 
ture of casks, candle-boxes, grain-grinding, and the 
planing of boards, and was continued until the general 

From 1834, ^ silk factory also, on Gay Street, was 
operated by Aaron Mitchell, and the writer has seen 
a beautiful specimen of its manufacture, now in the 
possession of Alexander Starbuck. A brass foundry 
was run on South Beach in 1821, and a straw manufac- 
tory, boot manufactories, block and pump manu- 
factories elsewhere on the island. In addition to these, 
there was a coast-wise and coast-wide trade extending 
from Portland, Me., to New Orleans, in Louisiana, 
which kept constantly running about twenty-six sloops 
and schooners, regular packets, besides lumber, 
coal, and wood vessels; but silence reigns over all 

Wharves. There are five wharves in Nantucket, 
the first, built in or before 1723, and known as the 
Straight Wharf, being at least one hundred and eighty- 
nine years old. 

What scenes must this old pile have mutely witnessed 
during Nantucket's alternating waves of prosperity 
and adversity! How many ships have sailed away 
from its anchorage, buoyed up with hope and happiness 
and returned in safety to find their loved ones with 
loving hearts waiting to welcome them home again! 
How many have sailed away cheerily, — 'alas, never to 
return again ! What rejoicings in prosperity must this 
old pile have seen — what suffering and poverty when 
times were bad, and the curse of war had desolated the 

' The Story of the Island-Steamers, pp. 122-125. 

In the Dredge-Net 349 

hearths and homes of the islanders ! Old age may have 
rotted its timbers but it is still a monument to its 
builders. It has done its work well: would that a 
mighty fleet of whaling ships required its services even 
now! The following is a list of the other wharves: 
Commercial Wharf, about or after 1800. 
Old South, or Swain's Wharf 1 

Old North, or Perry's Wharf [about 1770. 

The New North, or Steamboat Wharf J 
There was a fire on the South Wharf in 1769, when 
several buildings were destroyed, and the loss was 
estimated at $11,000, 

Indian Pestilence. Of the pestilence which assailed 
the Indians in 1764 the following details may be inter- 
esting : 
34 were sick and recovered. 
36 living among the Indians were not affected. 

8 living by themselves in the west end escaped. 
40 living among the whites entirely escaped. 
18 were at sea during the epidemic and escaped. 
222 died of the epidemic. 

358 total number of Indians on the island before the 
outbreak of the epidemic. ' 

Dates of Whale-fishing before the Revolution: 

Davis Strait, 1746. 

The Island of Disco, Baffin's Bay, 1751. 

Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1761. 

Coast of Guinea, 1763. 

Western Islands, 1765. 

Eastward of Newfoundland Banks, 1765. 

Coasts of Brazil, 1774. 

' Obed. Macy. 

350 Nantucket 

The Monument. The monument erected in Main 
Street is in memory of the brave islanders who perished 
during the Civil War, all of whom freely gave their 
lives in patriotic zeal for the land they loved. The 
names of seventy-four of the heroic dead are chiseled 
in granite on the tablets of the memorial, but, deeply 
graved within the hearts of their fellow islanders, from 
generation to generation, their memories will outlive 
the records on bronze or marble; while the flag for 
which they died, and the laurel wreaths they won shall 
be renewed for countless years, as long as patriotism 
is cherished on "the little purple island." 

The inscription, which was written by the late Wil- 
liam Hussey Macy, and which was pronounced by 
President Eliot of Harvard College, on a visit to the 
island some years ago, to be the best he had seen on 
any soldier's monument in this country, is as follows: 
"Eternal Honor to the Sons of Nantucket, who by 
Land and Sea, gave their Lives to Present a United 
Country." Peace to their ashes! All honor to the 
brave ! 

Rotch Market was built, for business purposes, in 
1772, by William Rotch, a successful and enterprising 
Nantucketer. He was a high-spirited townsman, and 
served the best interests of the community in many 
ways. He belonged to the Society of Friends, and 
died in 1828. 

Rotch Market is situated at the bottom of Main 
Street. In the upper part of the building is the custom- 
house; but the large lower room has become famous as 
the "Pacific Club," wherein, in days gone by, the 
shipowners and their agents — known as the "House 
of Lords" — mingled in good fellowship with the cap- 

In the Dredge-Net 351 

tains and other ship's officers, distinguished as "the 
House of Commons." The shipowners have, alas, 
long departed, and there are but few of the old captains 
left ; but there is still happily a remnant to tell of the 
dangers of the deep, and to spin yarns to any extent 
for the entertainment of any strangers who may chance 
to meet them there, and who are always welcome, if 
properly introduced. 

Newtown Gate. This gate extended across the 
southern end of Orange Street in the good old days 
when many hundreds of sheep browsed uncontrolled 
upon the flowery moorlands. A toll of one cent was 
exacted for passing through. 

Ancient Names of Nantucket : 

Natocke. De Laet's map, 1630. 

Nautican. Sir Ferdinand Gorges (born 1566, died 1647). 
Vide Drake's Nooks and Corners, p. 325. 

Nantican. Hough's Book, 1641. 

Nauticon. Macy's History, p. 17. 

Nantocket. 1703. 

Nantoe. Map 1746. 

Neutocket. " " 

Natacei. " " 

Nantuket. " " 

Nantucket. Huske. 

Nantukket. De la Tour. 

Nantukes ] 

Mantukes >ln patents and other documents. 


Natocket. This is probably the spelling representing the 
aboriginal name. It thus signifies "at the 
far away land," or "the land far off" (at 
sea). H. B. Worth. 



Principals of High 



Cyrus Pierce 

1838 (February to June) 

Augustus Morse 


Alden B. Whipple 


B. F. Morrison 


Henry Dame 


Galen Allen 


LoRiN L, Dame 


George R. Chase 


Charles A. Baker 


CM. Barrows 


A. B. Whipple (2d term) 


W. H. Spinney 


G. I. Hopkins 


A. H. K. Blood 


W. H. Russell 


A. J. Clough 


Lucius W. Craig 


William J. Long 


DwiGHT Miner 


Fred. P. Batchelder 


Stanley E. Johnson 

I 893-1900 

Herbert H. Rice 

I 900- I 90 I 

Frank E. Briggs 


Benjamin M. Macy 

I 906-1 907 

M. M. Harris 


J. Arthur Burton 

1909; still in office, 1912 

An Early Abolitionist. It is worthy of mention 
that, as far back as 1733, Elihu Coleman, whose 
house is still standing on the old Madeket road, and 
who was one of the preaching brethren of the 
Society of Friends, published an eloquent plea for 
the abolition of slavery, entitled : A Testimony against 
the Anti- Christian Practice of Making Slaves of Men. 
In connection with this and in justice to the Society 

In the Dredge-Net 


of Friends it is only fair to emphasize the following 

At the Nantucket monthly meeting the following 
resolution was carried : " It is not agreeable to truth for 
Friends to purchase slaves and hold them term of liffe." 

Population of the Island : 






721 whites 


4269 (war). 






" The Camels. " The following description of the 
detachable dry-docks — known as "Camels," — ^ which 
were used for floating ships over the bar, the invention 
of Peter F. Ewer (father of the late Rev, Dr. Ewer), is 
from the pen of William C. Macy: 

They resembled two immense blocks of wood, each half as 
large as a ship, with no top rigging, each block with a ron- 

354 Nantucket 

cave side, the shape of a ship. They were 135 feet long, 
19 feet deep, and 29 feet bottom; 20 feet wide on deck, 
drawing 2 feet 9 inches, and connected at the bottom by 15 
chains capable of bearing 800 tons. 

Each camel was divided into two parts, the lower hold 
and between decks. The lower hold contained 12 apart- 
ments, six on each side, the between decks 10 apartments 
each. These huge arrangements were easily filled with 
water and sunk to any required depth. The ship then 
sailed between the two, and was clasped in the embrace of 
the camels whose concave sides just fitted the shape of the 
ship. Of course these fifteen chains were under her bottom 
and when she was securely in the embrace of the camels, 
they being drawn together and secured tightly, the pumping 
out of the 12,000 barrels of water each held, commenced. 
The race-way running through each camel from stern to 
stern, and through which they were filled with water, was 
closed, and by the use of a double-acting force-pump of six 
horse power, in a comparatively short time the water was 
pumped or forced out, and as the water left, the ship and 
camels rose together, the whole drawing so little water that, 
as was the case with the Constitution (the first ship carried 
over the Bar by their aid) a ship could be taken over the 
Bar fully loaded. 

The camels were introduced in 1842, but were little 
used, were soon abandoned entirely, and were finally 
sold for a comparatively small sum after being in use 
for five or six years. An excellent model of the camels 
may be seen at the Historical Society's rooms. 

Jetties. In 1880 an appropriation of $50,000 was 

obtained from the Government for the purpose of sea- 
dredging, and the building of jetties at Nantucket. 
The western jetty, imder the cliff, on the north shore 
was commenced in 1881 ; it bears a red light at the end. 

In the Dredge-Net 355 

The eastern jetty, begun a few years later, extending into 
the Sound from Coatue, carries a white Hght. The build- 
ing of these jetties occupied a number of years, and in 
time they must be extended. Sea-dredging has been 
carried on from time to time, but much more is necessary ; 
and everything depends upon an adequate appropriation. 

Ponds. The following list of Nantucket ponds ap- 
pears in a book of surveys, by the late Benjamin Bunker, 
who died on April 14, 1842, aged ninety-one years. 

Acres in area Rods 

Hummock or W aqmttaquah 





Long Pond 












Fulling-mill Pond 



Jonathan Small's Pond 



Maxcy's Pond 



Madequecham Pond 



Mioxes Pond 



Nobodeer Pond 



Offey's Pond 



Cain's Pond 



Poot No. I Pond 



Poot No. 2 Pond 



Bellows Pond 



Reedy Pond (near Mioxes) 



Reed Pond (Wannacomet) 



Sheep Pond 



Shallow Pond 


Wannacomet Pond 






Wigwam or Toupche 



Total acreage 



356 Nantucket 

The following additional ponds are figured on Dr. 
Ewer's map, as existing in 1869, but some of them have 
dried up: 

North Pond Rotten Pumpkin Pond 

Saul's Pond Forked Ponds 

Wigwam Ponds (Saul's Hills) Almanack Pond 

Cato's Pond Tom Never's Pond 
Mika's Pond 

Flagroot Pond Pest-House Pond 

These altogether aggregate thirty-seven ponds on 
the island irrespective of extensive swamps, some of 
which formerly contained from one hundred to three 
hundred acres. Some of these were subsequently 
cleared and made into valuable meadow-land, especially 
in the vicinity of the town. 

The Hon Walter Folger's Astronomical Clock. This 
wonderful clock was first set in motion on July 4, 
1790, and has been going ever since. 

But mere time-keeping is but a small part of its surpris- 
ing capacity. In its metallic dial-plate is a truncated ellip- 
tical slit, about three-fourths of an inch wide, in which daily 
circulates a bright, golden ball representing the sun, which 
daily rises at the eastern end of the slit, and sets and dis- 
appears at the western end of it at the exact recorded al- 
manac time; the difference in the length of the days being 
regulated by a slide at the end of this roadway which moved 
up or down by automatic machinery, according to the 
requisition of each day. The same machinery also records 
the sun's due place in the ecliptic. Outside this pathway 
of the sun is another similar slit, concentric to the first, in 
which the moon performs her daily and nightly journey, 
indicating her southing, and the time of full sea at Nan- 

In the Dredge-Net 357 

tucket, and also the chief phenomena attendant upon the 
obhquity of her path, the revolutions of her nodes, the 
hunter's and harvest moons; and in one item involving a 
recurrent motion of the machinery for a period of eighteen 
years and some days. Near the top of the dial is another 
small slit, horizontal, where appears the date of the year, 
with such contrivance that exactly at midnight of the day 
which closes up the year, the old figures are politely dis- 
missed, or benevolently released from further service, and 
the necessary new ones take their place, ready to salute 
the awakening inmates with "A Happy New Year." 

Not even is that all; once in a hundred years there are 
century figures to be changed ; and this also is duly provided 
for by a wheel so arranged as to revolve once in a hundred 
years in the following manner; remaining motionless for 
ten years, then starting along one notch, and so on through 
ten notches until the century is complete. 

In the lifetime of the maker, at 12 o'clock midnight, 
December 31, 1799, three hoary and faded figures meekly 
withdrew, and three bright and beardless youngsters 
stepped briskly into their places shouting " 1800!" One of 
the best authentic instances of spontaneous generation! 

Walter Folger, the maker of this marvellous clock, men- 
tally planned it at the age of twenty-two and submitting 
the plan to his father, himself a mathematical genius, was 
encouraged to undertake its construction. With his own 
hands he made every part of it, and set it in operation in 
1790, from which date it never failed in its contemplated 
movements until his death in 1849. Since that time it has 
been once taken to pieces and cleaned; and through the 
lack of the extraordinary knowledge and skill necessary to 
perfect adjustment, it now hesitates in the performance of 
some of its former matchless feats. ' — From New York Times. 

Brant Point Lighthouse. As there has been much 
discussion as to the date of erection of the first light- 

^ This clock is now in the possession of John B. Folger, of Nantucket. 

358 Nantucket 

house at Brant Point, a few additional facts may be 
mentioned here. There can be Httle doubt that it was 
built in 1746. This opinion was strongly maintained 
by the late S. F. Sanford, who thoroughly examined the 
question, and Brant Point Lighthouse could not have 
been, as has been alleged, the first erected in the United 
States, as that in Boston Harbor was undoubtedly 
built in 1 71 5. 

The first Nantucket lighthouse was burnt down in 
1759, a second was blown down in 1774, a third was 
burned in 1783, and several of a temporary character 
were subsequently erected. The Government assumed 
control in 1795,^ and erected the present brick and 
stone building in 1856. This was used until 1900, 
when it was discontinued and a smaller wooden tower 
built on the beach at low water owing to difficulties 
engendered by the jetties interfering with the range 
of the light. 

The present light is the tenth that has been erected 
on Brant Point, and Nantucket has had a beacon burn- 
ing on her coast for one hundred and seventy-six years, 
thus leading in this as in many other respects. ^ 

Societies, Clubs, and Institutions. There are few 
existing localities of Nantucket's size which have had 
more numerous or more varied social, economic, edu- 
cational, and charitable organizations. So numerous, 
indeed have they been that the bare enumeration of 
some of them is all that can be attempted here. 

Among the earliest, if not the first, are the Ladies' 
Howard Society, incorporated 1846, and the Nantucket 
Agricultural Society, which, founded in 1856, has re- 

'"June 23, 1795": State-House, Boston. 
'Vide, chapter XIV. 

In the Dredge-Net 359 

cently held its fifty-sixth annual meeting, and is still 

The Relief Association was founded February 25, 
1873, and incorporated in 1874. The Farmers' Insti- 
tute was organized about 1880; the Sherburne Lyceum 
■ — a literary and debating society — was instituted in 
1877, and after much success gradually died out. , 

Among others are : the Children's Aid Society, organ- 
ized in 1869, and incorporated in 1894; the Union 
Benevolent Society, incorporated in 1883; the Industrial 
and Educational Society; Nantucket Improvement 
Society; Helping-Hand Society, incorporated in 1900; 
Boys' Gymnasium, 1908; Women's Christian Temper- 
ance Union, 1876; Nantucket Historical Association, 
1894; Sons and Daughters of Nantucket Association, 
1894; the Nantucket County Teachers' Association, 
1896; the Civic League; Nantucket Hospital Corpora- 
tion, etc. 

In 1 771 a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was 
constituted in Nantucket, in which year the Grand 
Lodge of Massachusetts was petitioned for a charter, 
this being granted on May 27, 1771. The petition 
was signed by William Brock, Joseph Deniston, Henry 
Smith, William Worth, Christopher Hussey, and 
Timothy Folger. William Brock was the first Worship- 
ful Master, and the Lodge has been in continuous 
operation since it was first instituted, being the seventh 
in seniority in the State. 

Another Lodge was founded in 18 16, known as 
"Urbanity Lodge," but, during the political anti- 
masonic campaign, it surrendered its warrant and 
rejoined the original "Unity Lodge." 

Unity Lodge commemorated its centennial anniver- 
sary in 1871, when the Grand Officers of the State 

36o Nantucket 

attended as guests, in addition to many visiting breth- 
ren. The celebration was most successful in every way, 
and will not soon be forgotten by those who were 

The "Nantucket Lodge" of Oddfellows was foimded 
in 1845 as No. 66. Unfortunately, during the following 
year, the great fire destroyed all its possessions, a 
disaster which crippled its progress materially for a 
time. It gradually recovered, however, and is now 
flourishing and most successful in every way, having 
two hundred members, and a financial condition which 
is very satisfactory. 

The "Island Lodge," No. 24, Daughters of Rebekah, 
I. O. O. F., was formed in 1874. It has nearly two 
hundred members and admirably sustains its mission. 

The "Wauwinet Tribe" of Redmen, No. 158, estab- 
lished on Nantucket with a membership of one hundred 
and sixty, is well-organized and financially sound, and 
is doing its work well, and prospering. 

Of the many social clubs which have been established 
in Nantucket the following may be mentioned as among 
the most important, viz.: the Sorosis Club, 1872; the 
Mendon, the Golden-rod, the Isis, the Unity, the 
Shakespeare, the Nantucket, the Pacific, and many 
others, some of which are no longer existent. 

Nantucket's Distinguished Inventor. Although 
clothed with all the modesty which characterizes true 
genius, Patrick B. Delany, the illustrious electrical 
engineer and inventor, who has chosen Nantucket for 
his dwelling-place, and has erected his wireless telegraph 
apparatus, and established his laboratory on the Cliff, 
has patented over two hundred inventions mainly in 
electricity and multiplex telegraphs, six messages simul- 

In the Dredge-Net 361 

taneously over one wire, automatic rapid telegraphy, 
a thousand words per minute, cable secret telegraph 
systems, and many experiments in wireless telegraphy. 
He has been honored with ten gold medals from the 
most famous American and European societies and 
institutions, and his private laboratory is in constant 
touch with the outside world. He has recently turned 
his attention to "talking machines," and in his "Vox 
Humana" instrument he has achieved the most won- 
derful and most nearly correct reproduction of the 
human voice ever invented. 

Agriculture. The long and persistent indiffer- 
ence of the majority of the islanders to developing 
the agricultural resources and possibilities of the 
island may, perhaps, be explained, but cannot be 
excused. The writer believes that there are com- 
paratively few acres of the moorland which could 
not be rendered productive by renewal of the soil 
and appropriate fertilization. Even now when the 
land is exhausted by the lapse of time and utter 
neglect, there is very little of it which could not be 
made to produce fruit, flowers, and vegetables to 
almost any extent; and after a time of careful 
preparation, there is no reason why crops of com, 
wheat, barley, and oats could not be as success- 
fully cultivated as they were in the days of the early 
settlers. Even as late as 1870, there were one hun- 
dred and five farms on the island, with an average 
of one hundred and fifty-one acres in each farm, twelve 
acres of grass in each farm, each producing eighteen 
tons of hay, com thirty-seven bushels to the acre, thirty 
bushels of oats, forty bushels of barley, and one hundred 
and tr.n bushels of potatoes. This accurate abstract 

362 Nantucket 

from the census tells its own tale, and no more need 
be said. 

The Nantucket Agricultural Society has striven well 
during the fifty-six years of its history, and with con- 
siderable success; and its yearly fairs are very en- 
couraging. During the past ten years there seems 
to have been a slight gain in agricultural interests, 
but there is too little general enthusiasm and the 
laborers are few. When will Nantucket awake to 
appreciate and to utilize the many opportunities 
lying profusely around them, instead of waiting for a 
lower class of work to be brought from afar, and per- 
mitting a host of foreigners to teach them what can 
be done? 

Board of Health. Nearly as far back as 1791, when 
the first Nantucket vessel rounded Cape Horn, there 
was a Health Committee to safeguard the well-being 
of the islanders and especially of the whalers and their 
families; still later, probably up to 1882, there was a 
Committee of Health appointed from the Selectmen, 
the overseer of the poor acting as their advisory agent ; 
and, still more recently, there has been constituted a 
thoroughly organized Board of Health whose duty it is 
to inquire into and to conserve the public health, and 
to ensure sanitary and hygienic conditions on the island. 
In such competent hands the health of the island is 

Interesting Figures. The following table will doubt- 
less prove interesting reading, as it contains the amount 
of appropriations made by the annual town-meetings 
since 1893, and also the amount raised by taxation and 
the rate of taxation each year: 

In the Dredge-Net 



Raised by 

Rate per 


































































60 791.66 























Nantucket's Expenses. From the table appended 
below it will readily be seen how the expenses of the 
town of Nantucket have increased during the last 
twenty years, through appropriations made at the 
annual town-meetings. In 1893 the total appropria- 
tions was but $34,900, and in 19 13 it had risen to 
$93,091.66 — almost three times as much. 

1893— $34,900.00 
1894 — $31,000.00 
1895 — $41,000.00 
1896 — $41,000.00 

364 Nantucket 

1897— $29,750.00 
1899 — $45,800.00 
1900 — $46,850.00 
1901 — $40,619.46 
1902— $60,335.00 
1903— $60,852.67 
1904— $59,726.50 
1905— $43,385.53 
1906 — $62,091.66 
1907— $69,563.66 
1908 — $60,791.66 
1909— $68,455.38 
1 910— $71,681.08 
191 1— $87,873.37 
1912 — $83,301.66 
1913— $93,091.66^ 

The Gulf Stream. It is not generally known that a 
ship captain,^ from the whaling port of Nantucket, was 
the first man to draw a chart locating and giving the 
course of the Gulf Stream. 

This incident is described in the Works of Benjamin 
Franklin, vol. iii., pp. 353 and 364. 

'From the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, February 15, 1913. 
» Captain Timothy Folger. 



1602. Discovery of Nantucket Island by Bartholomew 

1630. A war waged between the eastern and western 

tribes about this year. 
1641. The island deeded to Thomas Mayhew and 

son by Lord Stirling. 
1659. The island deeded by Mayhew, for £30 and two 

beaver hats, to ' ' The Ten original Purchasers , ' ' 


Tristram Coffin Thomas Macy 

Richard Swain Thomas Barnard 

Peter Coffin Christopher Hussey 

Stephen Greenleaf John Swain 

William Pike Thomas Mayhew re- 
taining one-tenth of the island, consisting of that part 
known as Quaise. 

Each of the above chose an "Associate," with whom 
to settle the island, viz. : 

Tristram Coffin, Jr. Edward Starbuck 

John Smith Nathaniel Starbuck 

Robert Pike Thomas Look 

Robert Barnard James Coffin 

Thomas Coleman Thomas Mayhew, Jr. 


366 Nantucket 

The island was purchased subsequently from the 
natives who owned it in small tracts, the boundaries 
thereof being defined with surprising exactness. 

Thomas Macy and family, with Edward Starbuck 
and others, arrived from Salisbury, Mass. 

Number of Indians on the island, probably about 

1660. Starbuck returned to Salisbury, and brought 
back to the island eight or ten families. 
West end of island bought from the Indians. 
1663. Peter Folger moved to the island. The 
occupations of the settlers were fishing and 
farming. The island, with the exception of 
Quaise, was divided into twenty-seven parts. 

1665. King Philip visited the island. 

1666. The first grist-mill built on Wesko (Lily) Pond. 

1667. August 15th, Abiah Folger born, daughter of 

Peter and Mary Folger. She married Josiah 
Franklin of Boston, and was the mother of 
Dr. Benjamin Franklin. She died in 1752. 

1 67 1. Town incorporated. 

1673. Whaling commenced in boats from the shore. 

The town was named Sherburne, by order of 
Lovelace, Governor of New York. 

1676. About this time Sesacacha (containing about 
thirty houses) and Siasconset villages were 
built. Also the cluster of whale-houses at 
Miacomet, together with the fishing-stages 
of Peedee and Quidnet, and the fishing-stage 
at Weeweder. Sesacacha village continued 
in existence about 140 years, the last houses 
of the place having been moved to Siasconset 
in 1820. 

1 68 1. Tristram Coffin died. 

Chronological Data, 1 602-1 91 2 367 

1693. The island (previously a part of New York 
Province), became a part of Massachusetts, 
in accordance with the request of the proprie- 
tors of the island. 


1704. Up to this date, i.e., for nearly half a century, 
the whites, though numbering now about 
700 souls, had had no settled religious teacher, 
and were without a church, probably the 
solitary exception, in this respect, in all New 
England. They were, and had been during 
the half century, mostly Baptists, a few were 
Presbyterians, and one or two Quakers. 
The Mayhews had christianized the Indians, 
and the latter (with the New Testament 
translated into their language) had four 
meeting-houses (Presbyterian in form) con- 
ducted in their own language. During this 
year a Friends' Society was formed. 
The first Indian execution took place also. 

171 1. The North Congregational Society formed, and 

the first meeting-house erected at the west- 
ward of the North burial-ground. It is said 
to have been built of oak that grew on the 
island. Names, if any, of the first pastors 
The first Friends' meeting-house built on hill 
north of town. 

17 1 2. About this time small vessels began making 

short voyages. 
First sperm whale taken by Christopher Hussey. 
1715. Six sloops engaged in whaling. 

368 Nantucket 

1715-20. Site of the town moved to Wesko, its present 

1 7 19. White population 721. 

1720. Paul Starbuck made first shipment of oil to 

England {via Boston) in ship Hanover, William 
Chadder, master. 

1723. Straight wharf built, probably before. 

1726. White population 917. 

1730, Twenty-five whaling vessels owned at Nan- 
Quanaty Hill dug away to make land from 

Union Street to the present shore. 
Friends' meeting-house built on Main Street 
(comer of Friends' burying-ground). Meet- 
ings were held here for sixty years. Build- 
ing removed in 1792 to lot, comer of Main 
and Pleasant streets, and a new meeting- 
house built on Broad Street. Meetings were 
divided between the two houses. 

1732. Timothy White became pastor of First Congre- 
gational Church. 

1745. First cargo of oil shipped directly to England. 

1746. First lighthouse built on Brant Point, being the 

second erected in America. Supported for 
forty-five years by merchants of Nantucket. 
The Swain windmill built, and is still standing. 
1763-4. White population 3220 
Indian population 358 

Total 3578 

Indian plague swept off 222 natives, leaving 
only 136 on the island. 
1765. North meeting-house removed to Beacon Hill 
(the present site). Out of 3220 whites only 

Chronological Data, 1 602-1 91 2 369 

forty-seven were pew-holders. Whaling in 
boats from shore ceased. 
Ship Neptune built for William Rotch : Nathan 
Coffin, master; she was the first ship owned 
at Nantucket. 

1772. Brick building erected at foot of Main Street 

by William Rotch and used by him as an 
office. Now owned by Pacific Club and 
occupied by them, and by the custom-house. 
First sperm candle factory started. 

1773. Ships Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver cleared 

from Nantucket with cargoes of oil for Eng- 
land. After discharging in London the three 
ships were chartered to bring cargoes of tea 
to Boston. This was the famous tea which 
was thrown overboard by the Americans on 
its arrival in Boston Harbor. The Beaver 
was owned in Nantucket, and her captain 
was Hezekiah Coffin, of Nantucket. 

1774. Population 4545. One clergyman, two doctors, 

and one lawyer on the island. From organi- 
zation of North Congregational Society in 
171 1 to 1 78 1, there was but one settled 
clergyman on the island, and no public 
1775-81. About 1600 Nantucketers lost their lives, in 
one way or another during and on account of 
the Revolutionary War. 

1776. About this time 150 vessels (aggregate 15,000 

tons), owned at Nantucket. 

1777. Twenty men and boys sailed as part of crew of 

the Ranger, John Paul Jones, master. 

1778. Ratable property on island $866,630. Whaling 

seriously retarded by the war, from 1776 to 


370 Nantucket 

1782. Fifteen vessels were lost at sea, and 
134 captured by the British. 
1779. A hundred armed men from an English privateer, 
during April, landed and robbed stores of 
goods valued at $10,665. Soon after a com- 
mittee was appointed by the town to confer 
with British commanders at New York and 
Newport, the result being an arrangement 
for protection on condition of neutrality. 

1783. Ship Bedford, Captain William Mooers, hoisted 

first American flag in an English port (Lon- 
don, February 3d). Returned to Nantucket 
May 3, 1783. 

Many Nantucketers settled along the banks of 
the Hudson, at Hudson and other points. 

Ship Washington, Captain George Bunker, was 
first to hoist American flag in Spanish Pacific 

1784. Population 4269. Lighthouse erected at Great 

1788. Ship Penelope, Captain Tristram Gardner, 

reached latitude 70°, Arctic Ocean. 
1 791. Ship Beaver, Captain Paul Worth, sailed, and 

was the first Nantucket whaler to double 

Cape Horn. 
1793. Sixteen ships, five brigs, and schooners sailed 

from Nantucket. 
Name of town changed from Sherburne to 

Nantucket Bank started. 
Old North tower erected. 
Three Indian wigwams — the last — were the 

only ones left standing on the island at 


Chronological Data, 1 602-1 91 2 371 


1800. The Academy incorporated, and the building 
erected on Academ}^ Hill. It was not a 
public school. 
Bell (weighing 1000 lbs.) placed in North 

The Methodist Society organized. 
Population 5617. 
1804. Pacific Bank and two insurance offices estab- 
1807. Ship Union, Captain Edward Gardner, lost by 
striking on a whale. Crew made voyage of 
six hundred miles in boats. 

1809. The Unitarian Society formed, the Rev. Seth 

F. Swift, pastor. 

1 8 10. Population 6807. 

Ship Rose built at Brant Point. The Charles 
Carroll, 1832; the Lexington and the Nan- 
tucket, 1836, and the Joseph Starbuck, 1838, 
and a large schooner were the only whalers 
known to have been built at Nantucket. 

181 1. Seventeen ships and seven schooners sailed 

from Nantucket. Eleven of these were 
captured by the British in 18 12 and 181 3. 
1 8 14. Fight off Tom Never's Head, Nantucket, on 
October loth, between boats from British 
frigate Endymion and American privateer 
Prhice of Neujchatel. British sailors re- 
pulsed with loss of 121 men in killed and 
prisoners. English merchant ship Douglas 
captured and beached after the fight. There 
was a Nantucket pilot (Kilbum) aboard of 
the Prince oj Neujchatel. 

372 Nantucket 

1815. Social Library started; Josiah Hussey, Presi- 

Twenty-six ships and twenty-four other vessels 

Bell brought from Lisbon, Portugal, and placed 

in tower of Unitarian Church. 

1816. Nantucket Gazette issued; lived on^y one year; 

succeeded in 18 17 by the Weekly Magazine. 

A society for the ' ' Suppression of Intemperance " 

Steamer Eagle (owned by Jacob Barker), placed 
on route between Nantucket and New Bed- 

1818. Captain George W. Gardner, in ship Globe, 

discovered "off-shore grounds," coast of 
Chile; brought home 2090 barrels of sperm. 

18 1 9. Ship Equator, Captain Elisha Folger, sailed and 

was first ship from Nantucket to visit Hawai- 
ian Islands, September 7, 18 19. 
Captain Joseph Allen, in ship Maro, discovered 
"Japan grounds." 

1820. Seventy-two whale ships (aggregate 20,445 

tons) besides smaller vessels, owned at 

Wreck at sea of ship Essex, Captain George 
Pollard; sunk by an angry whale. Crew out 
in boats three months, suffering fearful 
privations. Sailed two thousand miles be- 
fore rescued. Captain Pollard, the first mate, 
and three men out of crew of twenty 

Population 7266. 

Nantucket Inquirer started; Samuel H. Jenks, 

Chronological Data, 1602-1912 373 

1822. Ship Globe, Captain Thomas Worth, sailed. 

During 1823 the crew mutinied, kilhng Cap- 
tain Worth and three officers. Ship returned 
to Nantucket, November 14, 1824. 
Arthur Cooper, a fugitive slave from Virginia, 
with his family, were rescued from pursuers 
and protected by Quaker citizens (first case 
on record). Cooper lived and died here. 

1823. Columbian Library Association formed. 

1827. Two public schools established, and the "Coffin 
School " (founded by Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, 
Bart.) opened. 

1829. Steamer Marco Bozzaris placed on route, E. H. 

Barker, Captain. Followed consecutively by 
the Telegraph (1832), and the Massachusetts, 
Ship Lopez, Captain Obed. Starbuck, sailed. 
After fourteen months and fourteen days 
brought home 2280 barrels of sperm oil, 
valued at $50,000. 

1830. Ship Sarah, Captain Frederick Arthur, arrived. 

Out two years eleven months, and brought 
home 3497 barrels of sperm oil, valued at 
$98,000 — the largest amount of sperm oil 
ever brought in. 

Division in Society of Friends, the "Hicksites" 
1833. Meeting-house built on Main Street for Hicksite 
Friends. Used for several years, then sold. 

Original body of Friends built meeting-house on 
Fair Street, comer of Ray's Court, also a 
Friends' school (John Boadle, master). 

Sloop Fame, Captain Peter Myrick, sailed in 
search of sea-serpents. Returned empty ! 

374 Nantucket 

1834. New North meeting-house erected. Athenseum 

1836. First great fire, Washington Hotel, Main 


1838. High School opened. Great fire, loss, $300,000. 

1839. Trinity Church (Episcopal) erected in Broad 

Street, parish having been organized a short 
time previously by Rev. Moses Marcus, B.D. 

1840. Population 9712. 

1 841. Anti-slavery convention in Athenaeum Hall. 

1842. Whaling culminated; eighty-six ships and four 

smaller vessels owned at Nantucket. 
The Camels (floating dock) launched. 
September 23d, ship Constitution, Captain Obed. 

R. Bunker, taken out by Camels. 
October 13th, ship Peru, Captain Joshua Coffin, 

brought in over Bar by Camels. Great 

enthusiasm in Nantucket. 

1845. Nantucket Weekly Mirror issued, John Moris- 

sey, editor. 

1846. Wreck of ship Earl of Eglinton, Captain Niven, 

off Tom Never' s Head. 
From this date whaling declines. 
July 13th and 14th. Great fire which almost 

devastated the town. 

1847. Pine-groves planted by Josiah Sturgis. 

1849. Nine vessels sailed from Nantucket for San 

Francisco this year, bearing away many 

1850. Population 8779. 

Center Street Friends' meeting-house built. 
Sankaty Lighthouse erected; first lighted 
February 2d. 
1852-3. More pine-groves planted. 

Chronological Data, 1 602-191 2 375 

1854. Gaslight first used on the island. 

Abram Quary, Indian half-breed, died, aged 
eighty-two years and ten months, on Novem- 
ber 25th. 

1855. Steamer Island Home placed on route. Con- 

tinued running until 1895. 

Dorcas Honorable, the last pure-blooded 

Indian, died January 12, 1855. 

1856. Government lighthouse built at Brant Point. 
i860. Six vessels sailed from Nantucket. 

Population 6064. 
1 861-5. Nantucket sent 213 men into the Union Army, 
and 126 into Navy, 56 more than her quota. 
1 86 1 -8. Fourteen vessels sailed from Nantucket. 
1865. Population 4748 ; 809 voters. 

High School Alumni Association organized. 

Reunions held 1865, 1866, 1869. 
Nantucket Inquirer purchased by Hussey and 
Robinson and merged in Mirror under name 
of Inquirer and Mirror. 
December 25th, ship Newton wrecked off Surf- 
Side. All hands perished. 

1868. Barque R. L. Bar stow sailed. She was the last 

whaler owned at Nantucket. 

1869. Historical map of Nantucket surveyed and 

drawn by the Rev. Ferdinand C. Ewer, D.D. 
Three vessels sailed from Nantucket. Barque 
Oak, Captain W. B. Thompson, sailed Novem- 
ber 1 6th, and was sold in Panama in 1872. 

1870. May 30th, arrived barque Amy, Captain Joseph 

Winslow, with 1350 barrels sperm oil, and June 
14th, brig Eunice H. Adams, Captain Zenas M. 
Coleman, last whaler to arrive at Nantucket. 
Population 4123. 

376 Nantucket 

1872. Nantucket begins to be popular as a summer 

resort, as first suggested and advocated by 
Mark Salom, of Boston, in 1865. 

1873. Nantucket Relief Association organized. 

1874. Two steamboats a day during summer, instead 

of one. 

1875. Population 3201; 890 legal voters. 

1876. Steamer runs between Nantucket and Wau- 

1878. Nantucket Journal started; Arthur H. Gardner, 

1880. Population 3727. 

Introduction of water supply by Wannacomet 
Water Co; Moses Joy, Jr., projector and 
first President. 

1 88 1. Reunion of Coffin family. 

Nantucket Railroad constructed to Surf-Side. 

1882. February 5th, steamer Island Home nearly 

wrecked off Tuckernuck. 

1884. Nantucket Railroad extended to 'Sconset. 

1886. Cable communication with Nantucket, by the 
United States Signal Service, satisfactorily 
Consolidation effected between the Nantucket 
& Cape Cod Steamboat Co., and the New 
Bedford, Vineyard & Nantucket Steamboat 
Co., with corporate name "New Bedford, 
Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket Steam- 
boat Co." Steamer Nantucket built by the 
above company, and placed upon the route 
in July. 

(889. Electric lighting introduced. 

1890. Population 3268. 

1 89 1. Steamer Gayhead placed upon the route. 

Chronological Data, 1 602-1 91 2 377 

1894. State road (macadamized) to Siasconset com- 

menced, and two miles completed. 
Nantucket Historical Association organized and 
incorporated. J. Sidney Mitchell, M.D., 
President. Friends' meeting-house purchased 
for headquarters. 

1895. Nantucket Central Railroad Company rebuilt 

road by shorter route to 'Sconset. 
Centennial celebration, anniversary of the 
changing of name from Sherburne to Nan- 
tucket ; also bi-centennial of incorporation of 
county of Nantucket. 

1897. August, old Swain windmill sold at auction; 

purchased for Nantucket Historical Associa- 
tion through the generosity of Miss C. L. W. 
French, of Boston. 

1898. Dr. J. Sidney Mitchell, president of Nantucket 

Historical Association, died. 

1899. W. F. Barnard elected president of Nantucket 

Historical Association. 
William Hosier, last male member of the Society 
of Friends, died. 

1900. Eunice Paddock, last member of the Society of 

Friends, died. Memorial fountain erected 
by Abiah Folger Chapter, D. A. R., to 
the memory of Abiah Folger Franklin, 
mother of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, near 
the site of her birthplace, a short dis- 
tance westward of present town, on Madeket 

Twenty-seven miles of electric wire on the 
island up to August, and nearly 1000 incan- 
descent lights. 

Heavy snowstorm December 26th. 

378 Nantucket 

1 90 1. Nantucket Central Railroad service instituted 

July 4th. 
Wireless telegraphy installed at Siasconset, 
August 3d. 

1902. St. Paul's Episcopal Church consecrated, June 

Last zero temperature on island, l.i below, 
Tuesday, December 9th. 

1903. Coffin School reopened for teaching of manual 

training, October 5th. 
Athletic Association organized, during October. 

1904. Civic League formed, January 14th. 

New Bathing Pavilion erected on the beach. 

1905. Nantucket Athletic Club opened to members 

and friends, April 5th. 
The museum at Nantucket Athenaeum was 
transferred to the Historical Association 
during April. 

1906. Alvin Hull died suddenly. He was a veteran 

of the Civil War, and a whaler. He had been 
a town-crier for over twenty years. 
New Bathing Pavilion opened at Sconset, during 

1907. Nantucket adopted modem telegraph fire-alarm 

system during May. 
Marconi wireless station at Sconset destroyed 
by fire, November 15th 

1908. Cliff beacons discontinued, March ist. 

Maria Mitchell Memorial Observatory dedicated 
July 15th. 

1909. "Billy Clark" died, Tuesday, August 17th. He 

was bom on November 17, 1846, at Nan- 
tucket and had been town-crier for many 
years; he was much esteemed and respected. 

Chronological Data, 1602-1912 379 

Celebration of 250th anniversary of settlement 
of island, W. F. Macy presided. 

1910. The rebuilding of the State road was finished 

to Sconset at a cost of $52,983.83. 

191 1. Nantucket's most successful season and Scon- 

set's also. Ten thousand visitors on the 

191 2. The new auto-chemical arrived.' 

' Revised and extended from list prepared by Mr. H. S. Wyer. (By 


Aborigines, The, 35-57 
Academy built originally, 160 
AcKLEY, Seth Mitchell, Admiral, 
biographical sketch of, 242-244 
Agricultural Society established, 


Akeamong, or Ahkeiman, son of 

Potconet, 39 
Algonquian Confederacy, i 
Alumni meetings of High School 

Associations, 176 
America, North, extension of ice- 
sheet in, 4 
Amerind Local Place-names, 

Amerind proper names mentioned 

in deeds, etc., 48-52 
Amerinds, origin still unsettled, i 
Athenaeum made a free library, 

Athenaeum Museum transferred 

to Historical Association, 192 
Autopscot, one of chief sachems, 

37; family, 38; character of, 43 
Autopscot's territory, 38 

Baker, Rev. Louise S., bio- 
graphical sketch of, 230 
Bank, Nantucket, robbed of 

$20,000, 98 
Banner year of whaling industry, 

Bar, efforts to remove, 154 
Barnard, Thomas, and Robert, 

Bathing beach leased, 199 
Beacon at Monomoy, 169 
Beacons, Cliff, erected, 169 
Bell, Portuguese, placed in Uni- 
tarian Church, 164 


Botany of Nantucket, 245-268 
Brant Point, 279; lighthouse 

erected, 173 
"Bug-lights" temporarily discon- 
tinued, 184; finally abandoned, 
Bureau, Weather, established, 189 
Burial-place of Indians unknown, 
55 ; suggestions as to, 56 

Cable, submarine, unsuccessful 
efforts to lay, 174; to mainland 
completed, 189 
"Cambridge Spring," 206 
Cash House demolished, 181 
Cemetery, new, incorporated, 188 
Central R. R. Co. service insti- 
tuted, 196 
Character, racial, of Nantucket 

Indians, 56 
Chesapeake incident, 155 
Children's Aid Society founded, 

Christianity, efforts to promote, 

among Indians, 46 
Chroxological Data (1602- 

1912), 365-379 
Church, first, 86-88 
Churches on Island, 163-167 
Civic government instituted, 90 
Civic League formed, 199 
Clan Cofiin, reunion of, 184 
"Clark Billy," Town Crier, 165 
Clock, town, first, placed in Uni- 
tarian Church, 164; new town, 
Coal supply, lack of, owing to 

strike, 198 
Coatue, 280 



Coffin, Captain George Wil- 
liam, U. S. N., biographical 
sketch of, 236-237 

Coffin, Admiral, Sir Isaac, 
Bart, biographical sketch of, 

Coffin, Miriam (Keziah), bio- 
graphical sketch of, 227-228 

Coffin, Mark, career of, 161 

Coffin School opened, 373; re- 
opened, 198 

Coffin, Tristram, character and 
residence, 59-60; as Chief 
Magistrate, 60 

Commercial depression, general, 


Correction, House of, 155 

Coskata, 271 

"Cows' Commons," 80 

Criminal Indians, execution of, 45 

Data, Chronological (1602- 
1912), 365-379 

Dead, all original sachems after 
1680, 46 

Deeds, Indian proper names men- 
tioned in, 48-52 

Description of "oldest house," 

Development, Early of Island, 

Discovery of Island, 23-26 

Dongan's Patent issued, 131 

Dorcas Honorable, the last full- 
blooded Indian, 55 

Dredge-net, In the, 340-364 

Dwellings, Early in Nan- 
tucket, 205-221 

Duration of Glacial Period, 3 

Early Development of Island, 

Early Dwellings in Nantucket 

Early public buildings, no record 

of, 89 
Earop, Isaac, father of Dorcas 

Honorable, 55 
Education on Island, 88 
Eleazer Folger, first schoolmaster, 


Electric and Power Co. estab- 
lished, 199 

Electric-light plant first operated, 

Electricity, Sconset wireless sta- 
tion lighted by, 198 

Eminent Nantucketers, 222- 

Epidemic fatal among Indians, 

Ewer, Revd. Ferdinand C, 
D.D., biographical sketch of, 

Execution of Criminal Indians, 45 
Exodus of islanders, 100 

Farming operations, 83 
"Fight, Maddequecham, " 156 
Fire, extensive on Island, 170; 
great, devastating in 1846, 170- 

First trees planted in town, 158 

Fishermen, Indians good, 46 

Fishing-stages, 270 

Fleet had seventy- two vessels and 
eighty coasters in 1820, 158 

Flowers and plants of Island, 253- 

Folger, A b i a h, biographical 
sketch of, 225-226 

Folger, Charles James, bio- 
graphical sketch of, 230-231 

Folger, Peter, 63 

Folger, Walter, Jr., 231-232 

Fountain, Benjamin Franklin, 277 

"French Spoliations," 101-102 

Gardner, Anna, biographical 

sketch of, 229-230 
Gardner, John, biographical 

sketch of, 64 
Geological, epochs, 2-3; structure, 

8; succession of events, 9-12 
Geology of Nantucket, 1-12 
Gibbs, John, Indian preacher, 

sought by King Philip, 86 
Glacial action, 2-6; results of, 6 
Glacial period, characteristics of, 6 
Grant, General, visited Nantucket, 

Great Point (or Nauma), 270; 

lighthouse destroyed by fire, 167 
Greenleaf Stephen, 66 
Grist-mill, first, 84 

Hanaford, Phebe a., biographi- 
cal sketch of, 228-229 
Harbor, outer, 13; inner, 14 
"Haulover, "14, 271 



Hayes, rejoicing on election of, as 
President, 182 

High-School Alumni Association, 
meetings of, 176 

Hills on Island, 13 

Historical Association founded, 

Honorable, Dorcas, the last Nan- 
tucket Indian, 55 

Hotel, Point Breeze, opened, 191 

Hough's papers, 131 

House-lots, 85 

House of Correction built, 155 

"House, Oldest," in Nantucket, 

House, "Old Parliament," 206; 
Swain's, Pol pis, 216; George 
Gardner's, 216; Benjamin To- 
bey's, 218; Caleb Gardner's, 
219; Major Josiah Coffin's, 220; 
Paddock's, 221; Reuben Joy's, 
221; Zaccheus Macy's, 221; 
Maria Mitchell's, 221 

Houses, Old, on Nantucket, 

HussEY, Christopher, 65 

Hygienic ice, manufacture of, 
on Island, 197 

Ice-sheet, glacial, extent of, 4 
Indian, Benjamin Tashama a 
noted, 54-55; last full-blooded, 
on Island, 55; villages, 269 
Indian, Place-Names Local, 26- 


Indians, amicable with settlers, 
44; rum the curse of the, 45; 
land litigation, 45; efforts of, to 
regain land, 45 ; modes of punish- 
ment inflicted on, 45; Christian, 
45-46; execution of, 46; original 
Sachems all dead soon after 
1680, 46; good fishermen, 46; 
number of, before epidemic, 48 ; 
number of, after epidemic, 48; 
disappearing rapidly, 48; proper 
names of mentioned in deeds, 
48-52; a few special, burial 
place of, unknown, 55; sug- 
gestions as to burial places of, 
56; racial character of the, 56; 
fatal epidemic among, 63-64; 
symptoms of degeneracy among, 

In the Dredge-net, 340-364 

Insurance offices established, 155 

Island, purchase of, 58 

Island Plants and Flowers, 

253-268; Steamers, 320-328 
Island Review, first issued, 182 
Islanders, exodus of, 100; hopeful 

and prospering, 158 

Jacob, son of Potconet, 39 
Jail, first, 86 

Journey, first, to Island, 69 
Joy, Moses, established water- 
works, 183 

King Philip visits Nantucket,44, 90 
Korduda's law, 53 

Legends of Nantucket, 17-23 

Life-savers, duties, 304; character 
of, 308 

Life-Saving Stations, 304-308; 
Surf-Side, 306; Great Neck, 
306; Muskeget Island, 306; 
Coskata, 306 

Light, electric-, plant operated, 

Lighthouse, erected on Brant 
Point, 94; erected at Great 
Point, 98; at Great Point de- 
stroyed by fire, 157; present, 
erected at Brant Point, 173 

Light-ship, new, placed in Sound, 

Litigation of Indians to regain 
lands, 45 

Local Indian Place-Names, 

Lovelace's Patent issued, 131 

Macy, career of General George, 

during Civil War, 175 
Macy, Thomas, "first settler," 

Macy, William Hussey, 237-241 
" Maddequecham Fight," 157 
Madeket, 277 
Main Street paved, 169; repaved, 

Maria Mitchell, biographical 

sketch of, 222-225 
Masonic Festival held, 181 
Masquetuck, 281 
Massachusetts Humane Society, 

object of, 305; boathouses of, 




Mayhew, Thomas, purchased 
Island, 68; character of, 68; re- 
served land for own use, 79 

Mayhew's Deed of Sale, 70 

Mill, old, purchased, 195 

Mitchell, Wh^liam and Henry, 
biographical notice of, 232-234 

Monomoy, 280 

Monument, Soldiers', erected, 182; 
to Forefathers, near Maxcy's 
Pond, 182 

Moors, character of, 14-15 

MoTT, LucRETiA, biographical 
notice of, 225 

IMuskeget Island, 278 

Muskeget Life-Saving Station 
destroyed by fire, 190 

Nantucket, Geology of, 1-12; 
Glacial period in, 2-6; duration 
of, 3; a terminal moraine, 7; 
geological structure of, 8; suc- 
cession of geological events in, 
9-12; shape and surface of, 12; 
Physiography, 12-16; Topog- 
raphy, 12-16; outline of coast, 
13; hills on, 13; southern plains, 
13; harbors, 13-14; "Haulover," 
14; moors, character of, 14-15; 
woods on, 15; roads, 15; town, 
15-16; Legends of, 17-23; 
Discovery of, 23; Early 
Voyages to, 23-26; Amerind 
Place-Names in, 26-32; In- 
dian tribes in, 36; Natick In- 
dians, 36; Nipmuck Indians, 
36; number of Indians in 36; 
sachems of, 36; chief sachems, 
36; his family, 36-37; Nicorno- 
ose, son and successor of Wau- 
winet, 37; his territory, 37; 
signed first Indian deed, 40; 
Nanahuma, a petty sachem of, 
41; territory of, 41; character, 
43; King Philip visits, 44; In- 
dians of, amicable with set- 
tlers, 44; Island purchased by 
settlers, 58; royal grant of, to 
Plymouth Co., 68; sold to 
Thomas Mayhew, 68; sold to 
settlers by Thomas Mayhew, 
68; under jurisdiction of New 
York, 68; divided into twenty- 
seven shares, 70; Mayhew's 
deed of sale of, 71-72; sachems' 

deed of sale of, 71-72; first 
Indian deed, 74; early Indian 
deeds, 74-75; Early Develop- 
ment OF, 78-102; area of, 79; 
subdivision of shares, 80 ; organ- 
ization of shareholders, 80; 
first sheep-shearing on, 83; 
mills on, 84; house-lots on, 
85; primitive education on, 
88; early public buildings, no 
record of, 89; civic government 
instituted on, 90; Selectmen 
first appointed, 90; town in- 
corporated, 90; shore-whaling 
commenced, 91; name of town 
changed to Sherburne, 91; 
migration from Wannacomet 
to Wesko, 91; progress on 
Island, 92; whaHng industry 
organized, 92; many new in- 
dustries installed, 93; Brant 
Point lighthouse first built, 94; 
inoculation instituted on, 94; 
Revolutionary War and its 
effect on, 94-98; lighthouse 
erected on Great Point, 98; 
bank robbed of $20,000, 99; 
resumes modern form of abo- 
riginal name, 99; streets first 
named, 102; whale-fishery, 
vide Whaling Industry, 103; 
Quakerism, it 5-129; subject 
to New York Province, 1660- 
1693, 130; Records, 130-153; 
reverted to governance of Mas- 
sachusetts Province 1693, 131; 
XlXth Century, 154-204; 
ships returning, hopes brighten- 
irigj 155; Gazette first issued, 
157; "third commercial town 
in Commonwealth" (1830), 161 ; 
Athenaeum incorporated, 167- 
168; destroyed by fire, 168; 
ofificial report of loss, 168; re- 
built and reopened, 168; 
financial panic, 169; Norwegian 
pines first planted, 171; Select- 
men gave orders as to ringing 
of bell, 171; general decline of, 
set in, 171; reasons for, 171; 
Main Street planted with elms 
and Centre with maples, 172; 
population, in 1850, 8779, a 
falling off of nearly 1000 since 
1840, 173; Cape Cod Railway 



Nantucket — Continued 

extended to Hyannis, 173; 
more practicable service ar- 
ranged between Island and 
Woods Hole, 173; first installa- 
tion of gas works and light 
173; Asylum for Poor, and 
House of Correction removed 
to, 173; steamer Island-Home 
arrived at, 173; Agricultural 
Society established, 173; com- 
mercial depression, general, for 
three years, during Civil War, 
174; by sending 56 men above 
quota became " Banner- town " 
of State, 175; seventy-four 
men from, killed during war, 
175; population of, decreased 
to 4830 after war, 176; reached 
nadir of her misfortunes, 177; 
relative proportions of old 
standard family names, from 
Census 1870, 177; Mark Salom 
advocates development of, as 
health resort, 177; rapidly in- 
creasing number of visitors to, 
177; new steamboat service 
inaugurated, 178; "two boats 
a day" campaign at length 
successful, 178; new era of 
prosperity awakened, 179; 
progress made through opposi- 
tion, 179; new hotels and 
summer cottages built, 180; 
women of, as usual, do most of 
work, 180; a new progressive 
spirit manifested on, 181; 
Soldiers' jNIonument erected, 
182; Forefathers' monument 
erected, 182; Island Revieiv 
first issued, 1874, 182; ceased 
publication, 1878, 182; Journal 
first issued, 1878, 182; water- 
works established, 183; Rail- 
way Co. chartered by Legisla- 
ture, 184; ground broken for 
railroad extension, 184; appro- 
priation of $50,000 for improve- 
ment of harbor, 184; "Bug- 
lights" temporarily discon- 
tinued, 184; waterworks suc- 
cessfully tested, 184; Clan 
Coffin, great reunion of, 184; 
Improvement and Industrial 
Association instituted, 185; five 

oxen driven over ice from 
steamer to shore, 185; new 
town-clock presented to town 
and accepted, 185; work com- 
menced on new jetty, 185; 
new gravestone placed on 
John Gardner's grave, 185; 
shoals dates of surveys, appro- 
priations, etc., 186; plot of 
land secured for Union Chapel 
at Siasconset, 186; President 
Arthur visited, 186; most severe 
snow-storm, 186; sewerage 
system advocated, 186; Surf- 
Side Hotel opened, 187; first 
wedding solemnized at Tucker- 
nuck, 187; Union Chapel opened 
at Sconset, 187; unusually 
heavy surf at Surf-Side, 187; 
Atlantic Hall taken down to 
become part Hotel Nantucket, 
187; sixtieth anniversary of 
Methodist Episcopal Chapel, 
187; harbor sealed with ice, 
187; new cemetery incorporated, 
188; new bell-buoy placed on 
bar, 188; railway extended to 
Sconset, 188; shock of earth- 
quake felt over, 188; General 
Grant's funeral, memorial ser- 
vices, 188; installation of elec- 
tric telegraph completed, 188; 
Weather Bureau established, 
189; cable to mainland com- 
pleted, 189; property, personal 
and real of, 190; electric light 
plant first operated, 190; I\Ius- 
keget Life-Saving Station de- 
stroyed by fire, 190; Point 
Breeze Hotel opened, 191 ; sewer- 
age system adopted, 191 ; railway 
extension franchise granted, 191 ; 
Association of Sons and Daugh- 
ters of, instituted, 192; de- 
vastating whirlwind on, 192; 
Gibbs's Swamp, great fire on, 
192; Historical Association 
established, 192; road, new 
State, work on, began, 193; 
widely advertised, 193; centen- 
nial celebration observed, 193; 
Central R. R. extension fin- 
ished, 195; Old Mill purchased, 
195; collision between steamers 
Nantucket and Gayhead, 195; 



Nantucket — Continued 

"Portland" storm occurred, 
195; Union Street repaved, 
196; appropriation for River 
and Harbor Bill $70,000, 197; 
regulation of "fares and 
freights" carried in House, 198; 
coal supply, lack of, owing to 
strike, 198; act passed concern- 
ing Sconset water supply, 198; 
zero temperature at, 198; in- 
scription found in tower of 
Unitarian Church, 198; Coffin 
School reopened, 198; Athletic 
Club incorporated, 198; Electric 
and Power Co., 199; Civic 
League formed, 199; Bathing 
Beach leased, 199; New York 
Yacht Club Station at, 200; 
corner-stone of Historical So- 
ciety's new building laid, 200; 
appropriation of $80,000 for 
harbor and channel, 200; recep- 
tion at Historical Association's 
rooms, 200; "Billy Clark" 
had a "Song Recital," 200; 
"Nantucket Hotel" property 
sold, 201; again advertised, 201; 
Alvin Hull, one of town criers, 
died, 201; modern telegraph 
fire-alarm system adopted, 201; 
crowded with visitors, 201; 
Marconi wireless station de- 
stroyed by fire, 201; new 
automobile R. R. mail service 
installed, 201; worst storm for 
twenty years, 201; new light- 
ship placed in position, 201; 
appropriation for band, town 
gymnasium, etc., 202; new 
stand pipe at waterworks to 
be built, 202; estimated cost 
of jetties, 202; "Bug-lights" 
discontinued, 202; automobiles 
to be excluded from, 202; 
Maria Mitchell Observatory 
dedicated, 202; new range- 
lights placed at Brant Point, 
202; appropriations for town 
nearly doubled in sixteen years, 
202; "Billy Clark" died in 
1909, 203; another appropria- 
tion of $50,000 for jetties, 203; 
annual appropriation at town- 
meeting, $71,681.08, 203; 

Sewer Commissioners' report 
showed cost $7,524.00, 203; 
new R. R. rolling-stock very 
satisfactory, 203; 10,000 visi- 
tors on island, 203; annual 
valuation of, shows increase 
of $160,000 over last year, 203; 
new steamboat Sankaty ar- 
rived. May 2, 191 1, 204; 191 1, 
a banner year for visitors, 204 

Nantucket Early Dwellings, 
205-221; "oldest house," 

Nantucket Flora, review of 
and introduction to, 245-253; 
list of, 253-268 

Nantucket Lif e-S a v 1 n g 
Service and Wrecks, 304-319 

Nantucket Newspapers, 320- 


Nantucket Steamers, 320-328 
Nantucket, town of, 278-279 
Nantucketers, Eminent, 222- 

Nantucketers, Quaint, 284; 
complex personality, 284; 
Quakers and sailor-men, 285; 
log-books and ship record, 286; 
Peleg Folger, 286; Pacific Club, 
288; Captains' Room, 289; 
idiosyncrasies a century ago, 
289; Captain Defriez, 289; 
early municipal authorities, 
291; early municipal records, 
291-294; inherent humor, 294; 
anecdotes, nautical, Quakerish, 
and personal, 294; Newbegin 
sisters, 299; Mrs. McCleave, 
299; the town criers, 300; sum- 
mary, 303 

" Old Mill " purchased, 195 

"Oldest house," 207 

Old houses on Nantucket, 205- 

Operations, farming, 83 
Outline of coast, 12 
Oxen driven over ice, 185 

Pacific, first whaling expedition 
to, 98 

Pacific Bank established, 155 

Panic, a second prevailed on is- 
land, 173 

Parker, Frederick, hermit, 272 



Patent, Lovelace's, incorporating 
Nantucket, 131; Dongan's 
granted, 131 

Paul's, St., new church conse- 
crated, 198 

Phenomenal fall of temperature, 

Philip, King, visits Nantucket, 

44, 90 

Physiography of Nantucket, 

Pike, Robert, 66 

Place-Names, Local Amerind, 

Pleistocene period, 2-3 

Pocomo, 283 

Polpis, 282 

Poor Farms, 161-163 

Population of island, in 1820, 158; 
after Revolutionary War, 154 

"Portland" storm occurred, 195 

Potconet, one of original sachems, 
38-40; territory of, 38; family 
of, 39; living when settlers 
arrived, 39; little known of, 
date of death unknown, 39-40 

Pottacohannet, same as Potconet, 

Preeminent Indian sachems, 42 

Privations and losses caused by 
war (1812-1815), 156 

Proper names of Amerinds men- 
tioned in deeds, 48-52 

Proprietors of island, 70; first 
meeting of, 70 

Public buildings, early, no records 
of, 89 

Public schools founded, 159 

Punishments inflicted upon re- 
fractory Indians, 45 

Quady, Abraham Api, same as 

Quary, 55 
"Quaint Nantucketers, " 284- 


Quaise, 281 

Quakerism: in Nantucket, 115- 
129; founding of, 115; principle 
of belief, 115; progress of, 116; 
persecution of, 116; aggregate 
number of, 116; first to visit 
Nantucket, 117; visiting from 
New England and abroad, 
117-118; preachers, three dis- 
tinguished, 118; MaryStarbuck 

converted, 119; her character 
and influence, 119; fully es- 
tablished in Nantucket, 119; 
Mary Starbuck's death, 120; 
serious loss to, 120; first 
meeting-house built, 120; new 
and larger meeting-house built, 
120; removal to Wesko, 120; 
still larger meeting-house built, 
120; fourth meeting-house 
built, 120; climax of, in 1794, 
121; character and principles, 
121; form of church govern- 
ment, 121; some distinguished 
visitors from England, 121-122; 
half of population on island 
professed Quakers, before end 
of eighteenth century, 121-122; 
intrinsic causes of decline, 122; 
Hicks, Elias, reformer, his 
views, 123; gradually decreas- 
ing congregations, 124; Gurney, 
J. J., another reformer, his 
views, 124; Wilbur, John, a 
contender for orthodox, 125; 
bitter contest long waged be- 
tween Gurneyites and Wil- 
burites, 125; Nantucket always 
represented orthodox, 125; 
action in Supreme Court as to 
division of property, 125; re- 
sult of action in favor of Gur- 
neyites, 125; Wilburites strug- 
gled on for eighteen years, 126; 
Gurneyites struggled twenty- 
two years, 125; last meeting 
of Quakers held in 1867, 125; 
meeting-house was sold in 1894, 
126; after flourishing for a 
century, only two Quakers 
resided in Nantucket in 1899, 
and both died in 1900, 126; 
has no living representative 
in Nantucket to-day, 126; Mr. 
H. B. Worth's review of, 126; 
writer's Summary of, 127 

Quary, Abraham Api, last Indian 
half-breed, 55 

Quibby executed for murder of 
H. Gardner, 45 

Quidnet, 272 

Racial character of Indians, 56 
Railway extension by new route 
sanctioned, 191 



Reception at Historical Associa- 
tion rooms, 200 

Records: of Nantucket, 130- 
153 (cover a period of two 
hundred and fifty years con- 
tained in one hundred and 
seventy volumes, at Albany, 
copied by Wm. Hough and pub- 
lished in 1856); titles from 
Hough's book, 132-134; town, 
135; court, 139; county Regis- 
try of Deeds, 142; proprie- 
tors' 147; Indian deeds, 150; 
Probate Court, 151 

Regulation of " fares and freights," 
carried in House, 198 

Roads on island, 15 

"Roll-call last" of Nantucket 
Indians, 52-53 

Sachems of Nantucket, 36 
Sankaty Head, 273; lighthouse, 


Saul's Hills, 274 

School, High, instituted, 160; 
New High, built, 160; Tucker- 
nuck, Madcket, Sconset, and 
Polpis, 160; Coffin, founded, 
160; closed, r6o; reopened, 160 

Schools, public, 159-160 

Sconset (Siasconset), 274-276; 
milestones set, 159; marked 
progress made, 188; wireless 
telegraphy installed in, 196; 
wireless station lighted by elec- 
tricity, 198; Water-supply Act 
passed concerning, 198; Mar- 
coni station established at, 198; 
Marconi station destroyed by 
fire, 201; improvements sug- 
gested for, 203; Carnival held 
at, 204 

Selectmen, first, appointed, 90 

Secacacha, 273; Pond, 273 

Settlement of island by whites, 
58-68; white, 68-77 

Settlers, amicable with Indians, 
44; character of, 58-59; first, 
60-67; first duties of, 79 

Sewerage system adopted, 191 

Shape and surface of island, 12 

Shawkemo, 281 

Sheep-shearing anniversary ob- 
served, 189 

Sherburne Bluffs, 280 

Sherburne Lyceum instituted, 182 
Sherburne selected as name of 

new town, 91 
Shimmo, 281 
Ship-building first instituted on 

island, 158 
Ships built in Nantucket, names 

of, 158 
Shore- whaling commenced, 91 
Shouel, James, "Korduda, " 53 
Smith's Point, 277 
Snowfall unusually heavy, 181, 

Southern plains of Nantucket, 

Special Indians, a few, 54 
Springs, principal, on island, 281 
Squam, 272 

Starbuck, Edward, 62 
Starbuck, Joseph, ship built and 

wrecked at Nantucket, 158 
Starbuck, Mary, biographical 

sketch of, 227 
Steam service restored between 

Nantucket and New Bedford 

after twenty-five years, 183 
Steamers, Island, 320-328 
Storm, terrible, 170; terrific dam- 
ages amounting to $50,000, 182; 

protracted, 183 
Streets of Nantucket first named, 

Submarine cable, unsuccessful 

efforts to lay, 189 
Summerhaves, Lieut.-Col. J. W., 

biographical sketch of, 241-242 
Surf-Side, 277 
Swain's Neck, 282 
Swain, Richard, and John, 67 

Tashama, Benjamin, a noted 

Indian, 54; Sarah, 54 
Telegraph, electric, installation of 

completed on island, 188 
Telegraphic fire-alarm system 

adopted on island, 201 
Telegraphy, wireless, installed at 

Sconset, 196 
Temperature phenomenal fall of 

on island, 157 
Tom Never's Head, 276 
Topography of Nantucket, 12 
Town of Nantucket, 15-16 
Town clock, first, installed, 164; 

new, installed, 164 



Town criers: Billy Clark, 165; 

Alvin Hull, 300; Charles H. 

Chase, 300; W. B. Ray, 300 
Town rebuilt and renovated after 

great fire, 171 
Town-house, first, 86 
Trees first planted in town, 158 
Tuckemuck Island, 278 
"Two boats a day" inaugurated, 


Union Chapel opened at Sconset, 

Union Street repaved, 196 
Unitarian Church, inscription 

found in tower of, 198 

Villages and Districts, 269-283 
Villages, Indian, 269 
Voyagers, early, to Nantucket, 

Wampanoags, 35 

Wanackmanack, chief sachem of 
Island, 37; his territory, 37; his 
family, 37; his character, 43 

War declared against Great 
Britain (1812), 156; Civil, posi- 
tion achieved by Nantucket 
during, 175 

Waterworks established at Wan- 
nacomet, 183 

Wauwinet, chief sachem of island, 
37; his territory'', 37; his family, 
37; his character, 43; village, 

Weather Bureau established, 189 

Webster, Daniel, visited island, 


Wesko, town removed from Wan- 
nacomet to, 205 

West schoolhouse rebuilt after 
fire, 174 

Whale-fishing Industry, 103- 
115: first vessel engaged in 
whaling sailed for Pacific 
Ocean, 98; whale-fishing, its 
achievements and universality, 
104; contrast since decay, 104; 
earliest history obscure, 105; 
unexecuted deed of James 
Lopar 105; original purchasers 

of island went on first expedi- 
tion, 106; first whale kiUed^ a 
"scragg, " 107; Ichabod Pad- 
dock engaged as instructor, 
107; organization of island for 
whaling, 107-108; first sperm 
whale found dead on shore, 
108; Christopher Hussey killed 
first sperm whale, 108; vessels 
fitted out for deep-sea whaling, 
108; six sloops engaged in 
whaling in 171 5, 109; Straight 
Vv'harf built about 1823, 109; in 
1730, the island owned twenty- 
five whaling vessels, 109; shore- 
whaling reached its climax about 
1826, 109; eighty-six whales 
taken in 1826, 109; Davis Strait 
visited by whalers in 1732, 109; 
trade eventually became world- 
wide 109; the fisliing-fleet in 
Revolutionary' times, lio-iii; 
150 vessels in, no; havoc with 
industrj' during "Seven Years' 
War," I lo-i 1 1 ; first map of Gulf 
Stream drawn bj^ Nantucketer, 
no; recovery very slow after 
war, III; " French spoliations " 
entailed a loss to Nantucket of 
8150,000,112 ; effects of war of 
1 8 12, 112; after 181 5 recovery 
was rapid, 112; in 1820 Nan- 
tucket had a fleet of seventy- 
two whale-ships besides brigs, 
schooners, and sloops, 113; 1842 
was the banner year and cul- 
mination of Nantucket whale- 
fishing, when she possessed 
eighty-six ships, 170; from this 
year the industry declined owing 
to unavoidable causes, 170; in 
1869 the last whaling ship the 
Oak sailed from Nantucket, 
never to return, 176 

Whipping-post used, 100 

White, Timothy, schoolmaster 
and minister, 159 

Wireless station, Sconset, lighted 
b}^ electricit}-, 198 

Woods on island, 100 

Wrecks and Life-Saving Ser- 
vice, 308-316 


Wannacomer should be W^nnacomet. 
Maddequet, Site of the First Town, shoiihl be 
Wannacomet, Site of the First Town. 

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of the worthies who built and lived in them 
when the history of our country was in making. 

New York G. P. Putnam's Sons London 

American glistcrric "goxmxs 

Historic Towns of New England 

Edited by Lyman P. Powell. With introduction by 
George P. Morris. With i6i illustrations. Large 

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istory of their respective towns with much elaborateness." — N. Y. Tribune, 

e. p. PLJTNAM'5 SONS, New York and London 

gtttxjericaxi U^istoric "gowns 

Historic Towns of the Southern States 

Edited by Lyman P. Powell. With introduction by 
W. P. Trent. With about 175 illustrations. Large 
8°, gilt top 'u't $^ 00 

Contents : Baltimore, By St. George L. Sioussat ; Annapolrs 
and Frederick, by Sara Andrew Shafer ; Washington, by F. A. 
Vanderlip ; Richmond, by William Wirt Henry ; Williamsburg, 
by Lyon G. Tyler ; Wilmington, N. C, by J. B. Cheshire ; 
Charlestown, by Yates Snovvden ; Savannah, by Pleasant A. 
Stoval ; St= Augustine, by G. R. Fairbanks ; Mobile, by Peter 
J. Hamilton ; Montgomery, by George Petrie ; New Orleans, 
by Grace King ; Vicksburg, by H, F. Simrall ; Knoxville, by 
Joshua W. Caldwell ; Nashville, by Gates P. Thruston ; Louis- 
ville, by Lucien V. Rule ; Little Rock, by George B. Rose. 

" This very charming volume is so exquisitely gotten up, the scheme is so 
perfect, the seventeen writers have done their work with such historical accuracy 
and with such literary skill, the illustrations are so abundant and so artistic, that 
all must rejoice that Mr. Powell ever attempted to make the historical pilgrim- 
ages." — your}ial of Education. 

Historic Towns of the Western States 

Edited by Lyman P. Powelu With introduction by 
R. G. Thwaites. With 218 illustrations. Large 8°, 
gilt top. (By mail $3.25) . . .net %2i 00 

Contents -. Detroit, by Silas Farmer ; Chicago, by Hon. Lyman 
1". Gage; St. Louis, by F. M. Crunden ; Monterey, by Harold 
Bake; San Francisco, by Edwin Markham; Portland, by Rev. 
Thomas L. Cole ; Madison, by Prof. R. G. Thwaites ; Kansas 
City, by Charles S. Gleed ; Cleveland, by President Charles F. 
Thwing ; Cincinnati, by Hon. M. E. Ailes ; Marietta, by Muriel 
C. Dyar ; Des Moines, by Dr. F. I. Herriot ; Indianapolis, by 
Hon. Perry S. Heath • Denver, by J. C. Dana ; Omaha, by Dr. 
Victor Rosewater ; Los Angeles, by Florence E. Winslow ; Salt 
Lake City, by Prof. James E. Talmage ; Minneapolis and St. 
Paul, by Hon. Charles B. Elliott; Santa F6, by Dr. F. W, 
Hodge ; Vincennes, by W. H, Smith. 

1 P. PUTNAM'S SONS, New York and London 


St. Lawrence River 

Historical — Le^endar>' — Picturesque 

By George Waldo Browne 

Author of " Japan — the Place and the People," " Paradise 
of the Pacific," etc. 

8vo. 385 pages, with 100 Illustrations and a 
Map. $3.50 net 

In the American Waterways Series 

While the St. Lawrence River has been the 
scene of many important events connected with 
the discovery and development of a large port'on 
of North America, no attempt has heretofore been 
made to collect and embody in one volume a com- 
plete and comprehensive narrative of this great 
waterway. This is not denying that considerable 
has been written relating to it, but the various 
offerings have been scattered through many vol- 
umes, and most of these have become inaccessible 
to the general reader. 

This work presents in a consecutive narrative 
the most important historic incidents connected 
with the river, combined with descriptions of some 
of its most picturesque scenery and delightful ex- 
cursions into its legendary lore. In selecting the 
hundred illustrations care has been taken to give 
as wide a scope as possible to the views belonging 
to the river. 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York London 

:^ I '- n --) I.