Welcome back for a
new semester!

Exploring Nantucket's
notable women
Tune in for the first NHA University virtual lecture with Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

“The Word Every American Should Know Coverture"

TONIGHT
Tuesday, September 15,
at 5:30pm, held via Zoom
This week we start with
early Nantucket women
Wonoma, Wampanoag Healer
and Legendary Hero
Wonoma was the daughter of Wauwinet (and granddaughter of Nickanoose). The story of Wonoma's contribution to the end of the rift between the warring factions on the island was passed down in the local Indian community, and remembered and retold by generations of Nantucketers. In 1876, more than two hundred years after the event, Wonoma's tale was memorialized in a poem written by island poet Charlotte P. Baxter, who chose to replicate in her verse the meter used in Longfellow's Hiawatha, lending a familiar rhythm to the tale of the local Indian. Listen to the poem in this video.

Excerpt from “Sometimes Think of Me:” Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries, with embroidered narratives by island needlework artist Susan Boardman and text by Betsy Tyler, NHA Research Fellow.
Object Highlight:
Mary Coffin Starbuck's Account Book
By Helen Stehling

Mary Coffin Starbuck’s “Account Book with the Indians” is a sheepskin-covered ledger tracking the credits and debits of the two hundred Indians who patron­ized her store. She began keeping the account book in 1683 and the book was completed after her death in 1717 by her son, Nathaniel Starbuck, Jr., in 1766.

Tristram Coffin’s daughter “Great Mary,” or the “Great Woman,” as she is frequently referred to, was an exceptional woman. Born off-island in 1645, she and her husband Nathaniel were the first English couple married on Nantucket and parents of the first white child (a daughter, Mary) born on the island, in 1663. Mary (the mother) was the island’s first storekeeper, and Nathaniel invested in whaling. In later life she had a deep commitment to Quaker ideals and was instrumen­tal in the growth and development of Nantucket’s Religious Society of Friends.
NHA Property: Folger-Franklin
Memorial Boulder & Bench
At the corner of Madaket and Wannacomet roads — in Roger’s Field — you will find a site for the memorial to Peter Folger and his family. A wooden bench carved with the names of Peter and his wife, Mary Morrils, and their eight children commemorates the site of the Folger homestead. A brass plaque on a large boulder elaborates on Peter Folger’s contributions to Nantucket, noting that his youngest child, Abiah Folger Franklin (1667–1752), the only one of his children born on Nantucket, married Josiah Franklin of Boston and was the mother of Benjamin Franklin (1706–90).

Abiah was described as a woman ahead of her times because she agreed with her father who considered the persectuion of Babtists and Quakers as the sin of New England. She had seven children, of whom Benjamin was the youngest. She was said to have taught all of her children to read before they were old enough for school, and to have presented Benjamin with her own highly valued copy of Cotton Mather to encourage his taste for study.
From the Collection:
Mary Gardner Coffin Portrait
Mary Gardner Coffin, ca. 1720
Attributed to the Pollard Limner (active ca. 1690–1730)
Oil on canvas; 29 3/4 x 25 in.
Gift of Eunice Coffin Gardner Brooks. 1924.3.1
 
This portrait of Mary Gardner Coffin (1670–1767) is the earliest known painted portrait of a Nantucketer, but it was not painted on Nantucket. The island during this period was isolated and rural with an economy too small to nourish its own fine arts traditions. Even as the island’s trade expanded internationally from mid-century on, the increasing cultural dominance of Quakerism and its doctrine of simplicity limited the development of a taste for the arts in all their forms, and those citizens of means who sought finer things had to  seek them in mainland cities or in Europe. 
History Topic:
Judith Macy and Her Daybook; or, Crevecoeur and the Wives of Sherborn
By Lisa Norling

Of the more than five hundred account books held in the collections of the Nantucket Historical Association, there are just two predating the nineteenth century that were kept by women. One is the much-examined record, spanning 16621757, kept by the famous Mary and Nathaniel Starbuck. The other, which has not garnered anywhere near the same kind of attention, is Judith Macy’s daybook.

The modest volume, covered in thick, soft, dark-brown leather, records transactions and accounts from 1783 to 1805. Judith Macy’s name is written firmly several times on what serves as a title page and again at the top of the first page of record keeping. In spite of the certainty with which her book is labeled, though, it is not immediately obvious just which Judith Macy this was; there were at least three adult women with that name on Nantucket at the time. A little detective work reveals references within the day­book to “Silvanus Macy,” “Obed Macy,” “Judith” and “Ruth,” which suggest that the keeper might have been the Judith Macy with four children of those names, and comparing the handwrit­ing with signatures on various legal documents confirms it. The volume belonged to Judith Folger Gardner Macy (17291819).

Photo: Portrait of Judith Macy, 1878. Ferdinand W. Macy, Oil on canvas Bequest of Miss Susan Wilson Folger, 1905.28.1.
Meet Kezia Coffin Fanning (1759–1820)
Fanning is notable for the diaries she kept from age 16 until her death. Living during a period of dramatic change for both Nantucket and the American republic, Fanning keenly observed and documented many of the family’s activities, from her mother’s devotion to supplying the island with food during the war for independence, to her sons’ travails during the golden years of the whale-fishery.

Her diaries were noted for their importance almost immediately, and eagerly sought by family and national historians alike. Passing through so many hands – they were an invaluable source for Alexander Starbuck’s History of Nantucket – the diary was eventually lost. But a few original pages remain, narrating the Nantucket bank robbery of 1795.
Support the NHA with a Gift to
the Annual Fund and Guardian Fund
 
Gifts to the Annual Fund support every aspect of the NHA, so we can open the doors to members, visitors, and the community.
 
The Guardian Fund was created in direct response to COVID-19. Donations to the fund will directly support the operations of the NHA during this time to offset losses incurred from closures and the greater economic concerns. With this critical support, the NHA will be better positioned to steer a clear course.
Whaling Museum
Open 8am–6pm, Monday–Saturday
(Closed Sundays, hours change next week to 9am-5pm)
 
Time your visit by purchasing
or reserving your ticket online
Nantucket Historical Association | 508.228.1894 | nha.org