Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 40 Issue 12 • July 22-28, 2010
now in our 40th season

Monument-al Saturday

The people who brought into being the Women’s Monument at the Founders Burial Ground in December 2010 have continued their good work and designated Saturday, July 24, for a series of dedications of three additional memorial markers across the island.

At 10 a.m. a sign marking the site of the Quaise Asylum Burial Ground will be formally unveiled. This little cemetery is the resting place of people who died at the town’s asylum for the indigent between 1822 and 1854. Ten of the dead were victims of a fire in 1844. The location of the unmarked graves has been nearly lost to memory on more than one occasion.

The Quaise Asylum Burial Ground is located south of Polpis Road and east of Altar Rock Road. There are two small parking lots on Altar Rock Road from which mown pathways lead to the cemetery.

At 1 p.m. a headstone for well-known Nantucket taxi driver and entrepreneur Carlton West will be dedicated in Prospect Hill Cemetery. West was a World War 1 veteran of African-American and Wampanoag heritage. In the waning days of Prohibition he survived a brutal attack by kidnappers in the employ of rumrunners and was left for dead in his taxi in Prospect Hill cemetery. He survived and lived for another four decades. When he died in June 1969, members of the Byron Sylvaro Post of the American Legion took part in his funeral, and Chief Lorenzo Jeffers of the Aquinnah Wampanoags came to Nantucket to take part in his burial. Nonetheless, West’s grave remained unmarked for over four decades until a military marker was obtained through the efforts of Augusto C. Ramos and Town Clerk Catherine Flanagan Stover.
The graves of Carlton West and his wife are located in the far western section of Prospect Hill Cememtery.

At 4 p.m. a monument will be unveiled in Madaket.  It commemorates the contact between Nantucket Wampanoags and the first English settlers, who arrived in the autumn of 1659.  The group was comprised of Thomas Macy and Sarah Hopcott Macy with their children, together with widower Edward Starbuck and twelve-year-old Isaac Coleman. It was the kindness and helpfulness of the Wampanoags that made possible the English settlers’ survival through the winter of 1659-1660.  When more English settlers arrived the following year, the Wampanoags and the settlers cooperated to dig the Madaket Ditch, which has been maintained to the present.  The memorial stone is a boulder from the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s land, inscribed with a quotation from historian Obed Macy about the early cooperation between the two peoples in a design by Mort and Reva Schlesinger.

The monument is on Nantucket Islands Land Bank property at the end of N. Cambridge Street just past Blue Heron Way.  There is a parking lot.

After all the day’s events, the public is invited to a reception at the Chicken Box between 5 and 8 p.m.  Guests of honor will be Robert F. Mooney and Augusto C. Ramos. There will be free food and non-alcoholic punch, entertainment, and a cash bar.

At the reception the final volume in Frances Karttunen’s Places and People series will be on sale for the first time. Nantucket Places and People 4: Underground is a guide to fourteen of Nantucket’s cemeteries and burial places and is dedicated to Mooney and Ramos for their long-time active interest in Nantucket history and especially the last resting places of the island’s residents.


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