By Taylor Smith | Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Located approximately 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket is a compact island popular with generations of vacationers. The island was first sighted by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold of Falmouth, England, on his way to Virginia in 1602. In October 1641, William, Earl of Sterling, deeded the island to Thomas Mayhew of Watertown, Massachusetts Bay. Shares of the island were eventually sold to nine other purchasers. These 10 original owners were eager to attract tradesmen to the island, and the total number of stakeholders gradually expanded to 27 shares among 31 owners. Names like Coffin, Folger, Gardner, Macy, Starbuck, Hussey, and Swain still have a large presence on the island today.
When the Englishmen arrived, the island was already home to an estimated 1,600 Wampanoag Indians. The influence of European disease, alcohol, debt, and servitude took a toll on the native population, and it is chronicled that the last Wampanoag (Abram Quary) on the island died in 1885.
The settlers innately understood the value of the cold waters at their doorstep, and sought the guidance of established New England whaling captains to learn how to hunt whales from a boat. At the time, whale oil was used to light lamps. more