Nantucket; a History
New York. G.P. Putman's Sons, Knickerbocker Press
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
The galaxy of intelligence representing the offspring of the little island of Nantucket has not been surpassed 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 department which is not either directly or indirectly represented by some of those claiming Nantucket as their fostering birthplace. Science, literature, art, theology, invention, commerce, rhetoric, philanthropy, diplomacy, statesmanship, navigation, and the learned professions, 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 progesss, 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!
On the roll of Nantucket's illustrious women none stands higher than Maria Mitchell, the accomplished astronomer. The third child of William and Lydia (Coleman) Mitchell, she was born at Nantucket on August 1, 1818, the family being birthright 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 mathematician, by such aid as she could give him in his scientific 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 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 Governor Brigg'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 1861, she was appointed Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Observatory at Vassar College, received her first degree of L.L.D. from Hanover in 1853, and her last from Colunbia in 1887. She resigned her apppointment 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, and passed away peacefully at Lynn (here 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 1 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 addition 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 subsctiption, 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 appropriate machinery, can be opened at any angle for astromoical purposes. The interior contains a convenient gallery. Miss Mitchell's library, and the telescope which was presented to her, in 1860, by Miss Peabody on behalf of the women of America.
A genial and curteous Curator and Librarian of the Memorial Association, Mrs. 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, and her star still gleams brightly in the firmament of science.
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 virtues, 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 female 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, where, at the age of eighteen, she married 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 beneficient influences of such a life? Can time or death destroy them? A thousand times No! For they are linked with divineness and immortality.
was the only child of Peter Folger born at Nantucket, as "his two sons and other six daughters were born at Martha's Vineyard 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 philosopher, 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 if Mrs. Franklin's life have been handed down; but she is known to have had exceptional force of character, and tohave 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, pervasuve 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 if 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."
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 Stevens - 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 administrative ability, and second to none in soudness 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 celebrated 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 extraordinary 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 mercantile 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 extensive shipowner, with her slips on every sea.
She was the herione of Colonel Hart's historical novel entitled 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 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, 1723.
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, 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 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 hr auctorial capacity that she reveals her real power, as is well exemplified 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 reveal a circulation of 20,000 copies.
It is in her beautiful home, however, that she reigns as "The Angel of 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.
was born in Nantucket, January 25, 1816. She was the daughter of Oliver and Hannah Macy Gardner, became a great abolitionist and organized a remarkable anti-slavery meeting in Nantucket when she was twenty-five years of age. At this convention Frederick Douglass made his first oration as an abolitionist speaker.
After the Civil War, Miss Gardner journeyed through several of the Southern States, lecturing to the freed skaves, 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, 1891.
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 examples 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 distinguished subject of this sketch was born at Nantucket in 1818, 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 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 candidate for Governor of New York by Grover Cleveland, and this defeat ended his political career, although he held his appointment as U.S. Treasurer until 1884, when he died.
It has been 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 mathematician, was also a Nantucketer, born on the island June 12, 1765. Although generally recognized as an illustrious and versatile genius, he was, nevertheless, almost entirely self-taught. Restricted by no school or college routine, but always observant, ever studious, his Protean natural gifts enablee him to excel in many directions. He became an expert mechanic, a profound mathematician, as well as an accomplished scientist.
As a lawyer, a jurist, and a statesman he also won unequivocal distinction. Of his many other attainments 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 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, exceptionally upright and honorable amid all the circumstances 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 her.
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 entring Harvard, as he had intended. He was, however, a well-read man, with a cultivated scientific 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 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 remarkably 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 remained, with great credit to himself, in the latter position 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' Council. He had also served as Chairman of the Observatory Committee at Harvard, and was for a number of years an overseer of Harvard University. He was, moreover, frequently in correspondence, on questions and observations connected with astronomy, with the savants of Europe and America, including the Astronomer Royal of England and Sir John Herschel. All who knew him loved and respected him.
His last years were spent in quietude and comfort with his beloved daughter at Vassar College, where he died peacfully in April, 1869. The following expressions from a Poughkeepsie paper voice the grief that was felt at Vassar, for his loss:
To the younger members of our little community Mr. Mitchell was like an affectionate grandfather, to the older ones a much loved fatherl 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 born 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 numerous 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 newspaper 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 St. Ignatius' Church, New York, - a position which he occupied for a number of years with much success.
He was an effective preacher and a good administrator, and every aspect of his character was distinguished by force, individuality, and pervasive geniality. He was, indeed, a man of exceptional culture and varied attainments, and was ranked as a competent geoligist as well as an accomplished civil engineer. He made a special study of the geology and topography of Nantucket, and his map of the island is remarkable for exactitude of detail and artistic delineation. Much esteemed and lamented when 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 born 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 born in Boston, Mass., May 16, 1759. He entered the English Navy in 1773; was commissioned Lieutenant in 1778, Captain in 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.
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 Duke 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. [transcriber's note: then why did he join the British Navy instead of the American Navy?! What allegiance did he use during the War of 1812, for instance?] 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 Coffin School at Nantucket cost the Admiral an earldom, and came near sacrificing his baronetcy.
CAPTAIN GEORGE WILLIAM COFFIN, U.S.N.
was a distinguished Nantucketer who was born on the island December 22, 1845. He joined the U.S. Navy on December 20, 1860, 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 S. Cartwright, of Nantucket. She died in 1893, one daughter, the wife of Dr. Anderson, surviving.
Captain 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 Capt 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, working 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 generations 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 whaling 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 advanatages.
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 captian 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 is 1859 he was again at sea, this time as mate of a brig on the sea-elephant oil voyage to Hurd's Island on the edge of the Antartctic. 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 received 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 was located at Philadelphia and Boston, working at coopering or whatever came to hand.
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 performed the duties of his office to the satisfaction of all.
In 1874, his eyesight began to fail, the trouble being an antrophy 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 complications, 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 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 constribution 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 advetures, 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 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 "blind writer," and with this he turned out thousands of pages of fairly legible manuscript, continuing to delight a host of readers for many years thereafter.
His best known work, There She Blows; or, The Log of the "Arethua," published at Boston by Lee Shepard about 1878, has been called a classic in the annals of whaling, and it remains today 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 in 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 true of many of his fugitive verses, mostly of a humorous nature, some of them gems of spontaneous wit and satire.
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. SUMMERHAYES
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 of 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 Lieutenant-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 anyting 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 experiences 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 was his companion and helpmeet amid all his perilous services.
He passed away at Nantucket, on March 8, 1911, and his body is interred in Arlington Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
SETH MITCHELL ACKLEY
late Rear Admiral, U.S.N., was born 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 retured for physical disability. He was reinstated, according to the Act of Congress, in April, 1904, and promoted to Captain on the active list.
He was promoted to Rear Admiral February, 1907, and died in Washington, February 7, 1908.
Born on the island of Nantucket of seafaring ancestors, and bred in that home of hardy and adventurous seamen (his father was a sea-captain, with whom as a boy he had made a voyage to California), he was singularly 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 professional 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 Midshipman to Rear-Admiral, at all times and places, as classmate, messmate, shipmate, friend, or acquaintance, he was faithful, upright and just. The keynote of Seth Mitchell Ackley's life was a single-hearted devotion of his duty, as an officer and a gentleman; his reward was the affection and esteem of all who knew him.
It is not generally known, nor is it recorded in the files of the Navy Department, that Admiral Ackley, when a lieutenant, nobly rished his life, in 1873, in trying to save a seaman who had fallen overboard from his ship, the Omaha. The Lieutenant, divesting himself of 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 injured 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 recognition, 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 on 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 Brayton, and many others who have shed life and lustre over the island.
The limitations of space prevent the inclusion here of any biographical details.