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The Glacier's Gift



With Fourteen Illustrations



BY

EVA C. G. FOLGER



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Thk Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company

New Haven, Conn.

1911



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COPYRIGHT, IQH



Eva C. G. Folger



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©CI.A292951



IV



DEDICATION

To the friends whose sympathy and confidence inspired
my efforts ; to the people of Nantucket, who gave so
graciously and unsparingly of their store of knowledge ;
and to James Walter Folger, artist and woodcarver, through
whose untiring zeal so much heretofore unpublished data
was secured, this book is lovingly dedicated.

The illustrations in this work are copyrighted by J. W.
Folger, and used with his permission.

E. C. G. F.



INTRODUCTION

It has not been my aim to write a history of an island
and its people of which much has already been told, but
rather a collection of facts, many of which have never
before been given to the public, giving in brief some idea of
the formation of the island itself, and touching lightly on
the genealogy of those few sturdy men who braved the
dangers of the sea and contact with savage tribes that they
might enjoy civil and religious liberty.

It is also my desire to give to the public a knowledge of
a few of the really great men and women who claimed this
isolated spot as their home, some of whom went far beyond
the confines of their birthplace and made themselves a
power for good in the great and busy world.

I have sought to give credit to whom credit is due in
the matter of quotations and am guiltless of intention to
plagiarize, although someone has said that all English
writers are plagiarists of necessity, simply because there is
but one correct manner of expression ; but laying all argu-
ments aside, my chief desire is that the book may prove
readable and entertaining, and above all, authentic in so
far as possible.

E. C. G. F.



CONTENTS



Page

As it Was in the Beginning; i

The Earth Receives Her King: 8

The Rise and Fall of Utopia 17

The Ag:e of the " Inner Light " • 29

The Hand that Rules the World 39

Gentlemen of the Old School 54

The Dark Tenant of the Wild 65

In the Olden, Golden Time 89

The Lights Far Out at Sea no

Here a Little and There a Little 123



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Facing
Page

Ship Citizen Frontispiece

Landing- of White People 8

Early Tide Mills at Polpis i6

Cloth Weaving- Two Centuries Ag^o 36

Hon. Walter Folger 54

Astronomical Clock 58

The Roundtop Grist Mill 64

Siasconsett in 1791 86

The (4) Original Grist Mills 90

Interior of Fulling: Mill 96

Rope Walks, Candle House and Ship Yards 102

Brant Point and Entrance to Harbor at Nantucket. . no

Sheep Shearing 128

Sesacacha Pond and Village of Quidnet, 1850 138



I




CHAPTER I

As it W^as in the Beginning

N Indian legend runs as follows : 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.

So much for the legend. Fact ever remains stranger than
fiction, and the question arises — What inspired the Indians
to tell their story in such a manner that in its symbolism it
should compare so nearly with the scientific discoveries con-
cerning the formation of this land, which from the begin-
ning of time was destined to become so great a factor in
the general economy of nature? Was it a memory carried
over from some previous incarnation, or was it simply one
of those peculiar coincidences that gives to the author the
reputation of soothsayer and seer? This question may be
answered by the individual, according to the construction he
may see fit to place upon it. But outrivaling the most
glowing imagery, and standing parallel with the sacred
tradition of the creation, is the story of the Glacier's Gift.

"And darkness was upon the face of the deep." So
sayeth the Holy Writ. From zone to zone stretched one
vast sheet of water. Over this great sea for ages hung a
pall of fog and clouds, through which not the tiniest ray
of sunlight had ever pierced, till one day Divine Purpose
decreed that this ball, which had from the beginning been
without form and void, must now take its place among the



2 The Glacier's Gift

planets to which it belonged. Changes in nature cannot
come suddenly without destruction; no cataclysmic shifting
of the scenes is possible without utter annihilation, for thus
sayeth the Scriptures, "One day is with the Lord as a thou-
sand years."

So gradually from the waters arose the fronds of ferns
and palms. The age of the conifers was at hand. A tropic
heat pervaded the globe from Arctic Circle to the Equator.
With the advent of this age of verdure came the divine
idea of life.

The plants inhaled the elements of the air, and combining
them with the chemical processes employed in the creation
of plant life, in turn exhaled this amalgam, absorbing the
dampness and moisture, throwing off into the atmosphere
a rarefied product. As a result, the clouds that for ages
had hung like a pall over the sea, now slowly rolled away
and for the first time since this atom known as the earth
began turning on its individual axis, the king of day smiled
down upon a forest of unrivaled beauty.

Now the "waters were gathered together in one place,"
and dry land appeared. In time grass grew, fruit trees
put forth their branches, while from the grave of the
fronded forest arose a hardier vegetation, establishing from
that time forth the law of the "survival of the fittest."

Living creatures now came to disport themselves on this
land, where all was good and beautiful. The mastodon
roved in freedom from the Equator to the Arctic Circle ;
birds of the air, perching in the trees, chanted forth their
carols with a joy unalloyed. From zone to zone one vast
garden existed, filled with every living thing, over which
man was created to rule and hold dominion.

Stagnation means death; and as this world was not
created in vain, but for the fulfillment of a divine decree,
changes were constantly manifesting themselves. Each age
or period was to experience a phenomenon distinctly its



As it Was in the Beginning 3

own, the causes of which will remain a mystery till the
scroll that separates mortals from the All-Wise shall roll
up and reveal the secrets of the ages.

Another period is now at hand. The seaons came in turn
and the sun, which had cast its beams on all things with
the same degree of heat, by a slight tilting of the earth
from its regular orbit could only send its vertical rays and
heat toward the direct center. Spring, summer, autumn
and winter were now parts of the physical phenomena of the
earth. Severe and more severe became the winter season ;
ice and snow accumulated which the rays of the summer
sun could not melt. The time had come for the advent of
the giant Ice-king. For untold ages the ceaseless tides
of old ocean's gray and melancholy waste had washed the
Atlantic's rock-ribbed shore, lashing it in fury as the winter
winds swept unresistingly inland, and wooing with gentle
caresses when the balmy breezes of summer played lovingly
on the crests of the waves.

One day the Power who holds the waters in the hollow
of His hand, looked upon His creation and saw that it was
not good; another element was needed to complete the
structure of the mighty universe. The winds blew cold and
chill across the now frozen northland ; the Arctic night
settled down with a pall of ice and snow. The giant had
come into his own. Day followed day and night succeeded
night, with no cessation of the biting cold ; the snowwhite
hares, the hairless buffaloes that had been wont to rove
over the summer plains, the white owls and other birds of
the now frigid zone, driven and buffeted by the relentless
blasts, were overtaken and severely castigated by the cohorts
of the mighty giant, who with seemingly implacable wrath
sought to destroy all living things.

At last, weary and hungered, completely spent in the
unequal battle, animals and birds huddling together for
warmth and protection, slowly sank into the dreamless sleep



4 The Glacier's Gift

of death ; the trumpet of Arctic playing their requiem, their
tombs of crystal outrivaling in magnificence the glittering
walls of the Taj Mahal.

And now the giant reigns supreme in this land of death
and desolation. How he gloats over his triumph ! For
countless ages he retains undisputed sway in this, his chosen
realm. He shrieks with demoniac glee as at his bidding
there arise mountain upon mountain, rampart upon ram-
part and castle upon castle of dazzHng white.

But what is this change that is coming? It is a sinister
influence that is at work in this frozen domain of the
giant-king. In terror he discovers that some power mightier
than he is theatening to destroy the kingdom of which he
is so proud. A warm wind from the southland touches
but lightly the icy ramparts, yet 'tis enough ! — the castle
walls tremble, while angered and terrified the giant cries
aloud, entreating and commanding his cohorts to preserve
his habitation. Tis too late, for slowly the realm of ice
begins to move and, grinding, trembling to its very founda-
tion, starts out on its course, carrying everything before it.
Day after day, year after year, and age after age the
monster moves onward, impelled ever by the breath of its
archenemy, the south-wind. At last, at the bidding of the
guiding Power, the giant is halted in his onward march, and
resting in the embrace of the Gulf Stream, is overcome and
sinks slowly down into a watery grave.

Centuries now pass, but one day the "Spirit of God
moves upon the face of the waters." Out of the depths
emerges dry land, a fitting monument to that doughty
monarch who resisted so valiantly the efforts to deprive
him of his cherished kingdom.

God looked upon this late creation and found that still
it was not good; other elements were needed to perfect
and make it ready for its predestined purpose. Tidal waves
carried their freight of marine life, depositing it upon the



As it JJ'as iti the Begmning 5

land, building- layer upon layer of a foundation to a struc-
ture which, when accepted by the Master Builder, should
prove a sanctuary to an exiled humanity.

But the time was not yet. Ages were still to pass, while
Nature added her quota to the soil. Wintry winds hurled
the crested waves in angry war against the foundation, as
though seeking to destroy it, thus avenging the death of
the monarch who had been forced to abdicate his throne.
But the Power which had guided the atom to this safe
haven tempered the shock of the onslaught, bringing in its
turn the soothing touch of summer breezes.

Another change now comes over the face of nature.
The giant-king of the icy realms arises and, in his reincar-
nation, finds himself once more on his frozen throne,
wielding his scepter in Boreas' domain. At his command
the mighty blasts hurl themselves through the mist-laden
air and the Frost-king dominates the frozen zone.

Ages pass, history repeats itself, and once more that
subtle enemy of the snow- and ice-fields, the warm breeze
from the south, breathes once more on the crystal palace,
urging it from its foundation, directing it once again toward
the open sea. Straining, creaking bergs move out, gather-
ing through countless years rich material which is to find
anchor upon that spot, chosen by the Maker of land
and sea. On, on they move in majestic dignity, until once
again in the embrace of the Gulf Stream his appointed
task finished, the giant expires, to return to life no more.
Before the Creator's eyes lies the beginning of the Utopia
that is to be.

In preparation for man, who is to find refuge here, the
waves of the sea are mighty factors, casting up seeds
carried, perhaps, untold distances, to take root in this new
land, as yet destitute of verdure.

Feathery seeds, borne on ocean breezes from other
lands, descend here to find both sepulcher and rebirth. Pine



6 The Glacier's Gift

cones and acorns, floatinj^ in on the tide, burrow into the
sand and lie dormant until, under the caressing rays of the
summer sun, they send out shoots which in time to come
will furnish both shelter and fuel to the generations of
mankind that shall follow after.

Seedtime and harvest succeed each other in turn — the
planter, the ocean breezes ; the reaper, frosts of autumn and
snows of winter. Sea-fowls, driven before the trumpeting
blasts of icy winds, find refuge and surcease from an
unequal struggle. Gulls, feasting on the victims of restless
waves, fill the dreary waste with their raucous cries, thus
giving thanks for so stable a resting-place ; birds of passage,
wearying in their long flight across the waters, alight and
leave their contribution in payment for the kindly hospi-
tality proffered by this seagirt atom. Fertility, further
aided by the decay of rock and debris cast up from the sea,
at last transforms this once desolate island into a veritable
garden. Trees, grass, flowers spring up and the "desert
blossoms as the rose."

In this retreat no human foot has trod, no voice has
yet been lifted up in prayer or praise ; the only music, the
songs of birds, or the mighty symphony of old ocean, as
its moaning surf is flung against the shore. No beacon
light has shed its rays across the waters, to warn venture-
some mariners of the treacherous shoals that lie a menace
in the sea. And thus it was that the island of Nantucket
came into existence.

This book is not by any means a geological treatise, but
the discoveries concerning the formation of this land must
be lightly touched upon. It is an undisputed fact that Nan-
tucket Island is one of the most perfect examples of a
terminal moraine in existence and at the present time marks
the terminus of the ice-sheet in North America, although it
is possible that the ice extended farther out to sea. It
it now believed that the portion of ice that formed the island



As it IV as in the Beginning 7

came from Newfoundland, and while it is distinguished by
the name of lobe, is thought to have assumed proportions
sufficient to have almost formed a distinct ice-sheet. As
the moraine seems to rest upon older land, it may be
assumed that this foundation vvas produced by an earlier
descent of ice occupying the same territory. From examin-
ation of the oldest beds in the formation of the island, it
is thought that they date back no further than the Cretacic,
to which age some of the underlying clays are thought to
belong. Of this, however, there is no positive proof, but
laying aside all argument as to the age to which it belongs,
scientists are agreed in the verdict that Nantucket is truly
the result of the continental ice-sheets. No other spot in
North America offers so great an inducement to geologists
as this land lying in the sea. There is not a square inch of
its undulating moorland but affords most striking examples
of glacial deposit, erosion and drift. The topography of
the island is diversified by kame-hills, with their accompany-
ing kettle-holes which now go to the formation of most
attractive fresh-water ponds ; the contact slope of Tom
Never's Head and the apron plain of Miacomet, each in
itself presenting an aspect dear to the heart of every enthu-
siastic scientist.



CHAPTER II

The Earth Receives Her King



OW many ages passed before this late creation
was discovered by man tradition sayeth not,
but in all probability it was seen many times
by adventurous mariners before any record
was made.

Going back to Norse history, we find that
during the reign of Earl Haakon, Erik the Red,
having killed a man, was forced to leave Nor-
way, going to Iceland, where he committed another murder.
For this he was banished, and having by some means heard
of the great country to the westward which had been dis-
covered by a sailor driven thence by a storm, he hastily got
a crew together and started on a voyage of discovery,
coming to the land in 984. This was afterward named
Greenland.

Erik returned to Iceland, secured a party of colonists and
making the second voyage, established a number of settle-
ments to which his son, Leif Erikson, in 999, with a com-
pany of priests and teachers, journeyed and preached
Christianity to the people and by these means established
monasteries, schools and churches, which were maintained
by prosperous colonists until late in the fourteenth century.
Again the stormy seas were active agents in the discovery
of new lands. One Biarne Heriulfson, sailing westward
from Iceland, encountered rough weather. Losing his
bearings, he touched upon strange shores which he knew^
could not be Greenland, but without investigating further
he turned from his course and came at last to Greenland.
He was soundly ridiculed upon his return for not having
explored these new lands.



The Earth Receives Her King 9

Venturesome Leit Erikson obtained possession of Biarne's
ship and in the year 1000 set sail with a crew of thirty-five
men, to see what he could find of these much-talked-of
lands. This voyage resulted in the discovery of Newfound-
land and Nova Scotia.

Leaving these new discoveries. Leif and his crew set
sail again and in two days' time landed on an island on the
north side of the mainland. Here the party found a very
pleasant country, and loading their vessel with timber and
grapes, which they found in abundance, they sailed back
to Greenland, after having named this country \ inland.

Again, in 1002, Leif Erikson's brother, Thorvald. sailed
toward the south with a band of thirty men. They came to
Vinland and remained there during the winter, putting in
their time fishing. When spring came the party was sent
out in a long boat to a country at the south, which they
found to be heavily wooded and beautiful in the extreme.
There were many islands and shallow water just of¥ this land.
The party returned to Vinland, where they again spent the
winter, but in the spring Thorvald sailed to the eastward
and cruised northward along the land. A storm arising,
the vessel was driven to the shore of the Cape, where the
keel being broken, they were forced to make an extended
stay in order to put the vessel into commission again. "We
will stick up the keel here upon the ness, and call the place
Keel-ness," said Thorvald. This country is assumed to
have been the Cape Cod of to-day.

In 1005, Thorstein, another brother of Leif Erikson,
made explorations on the coast, and lastly, in 1007, a dis-
tinguished navigator, Thorfin Karlsefne, with a crew of one
hundred and fifty men, explored the New England coast,
going as far south as Virginia. As late as 1347 Norwegian
sailors are said to have visited Labrador and other parts
of the New England coast. While historians of Iceland
give accounts of explorations of their hardy countrymen,



lo The Glacier's Gift

and as told, at the mention of America the school children
of Iceland will speak with much enthusiasm, saying that
"Leif Erikson discovered that country in looi," still noth-
ing definite is known of their real discoveries. A manu-
script, known as the Flate-yar Bok, was written in the
fourteenth century, recording accounts of the Vinland
explorations. This book is said to be written on parchment,
and is considered the most beautiful piece of penmanship of
that age and was the work of two priests.

It is known that Columbus visited Iceland in 1497, for
the purpose of obtaining information concerning nautical
matters, and it seems strange, indeed, that he should not
have learned something of the discoveries entered in this
Flate-yar Bok. While in all probability Nantucket is one
of the islands mentioned in these records, yet of this there
is no proof ; and although these hardy and venturesome
mariners were much given to sailing unknown seas and
exploring new lands, the world is little, if any, better off
for their undertakings.

The first record we have of English explorers is that of
the Cabots. In May, 1496, Giovanni Caboto, or as he is
better known, John Cabot, a Venetian mariner, was com-
missioned by King Henry to make explorations in the
Atlantic Ocean and to carry the English flag to whatever
lands he might thus discover. With five well-fitted ships he
left Bristol in April, 1497, and on June 24 Labrador was
reached. Ridpath avers that "this was the real discovery
of the American continent." Cabot found no inhabitants,
but planted the English flag, thus claiming the land as an
English possession.

In 1498, Sebastian, a son of John Cabot, who had accom-
panied his father on the first voyage, now took the oppor-
tunity offered and with his father's fleet set forth on a
personally conducted voyage of discovery, the much sought-
for northwest passage to the Indies being the objective



The Earth Receives Her King ii

point. Touching near the former discoveries, the fleet
cruised down the Atlantic seaboard, sighting the New
England coast for the first time since the Norse explora-
tions. It is probable that Nantucket was one of the islands
seen, but still the time had not come for this particular spot
to attract special notice.

In 1524, John Verrazani, a Florentine navigator, set out
with a view to discovering a northwest passage to Asia.
He first sighted land near Wilmington, North Carolina ;
turning north he touched Cape Fear, and continuing on his
way, he explored the coast of New England with great
care. Why he did not make the acquaintance of our island
and get the credit for its discovery is one of the mysteries
which will never be made clear.

In 1602 the English flag was brought to the American
shores. This time the honor is due Bartholomew Gosnold.
The only known route from Europe to the New World was
a roundabout way. Ships often headed for the eastern
coast of America first sailed to the Canary Islands, thence
to the West Indies, at last turning north to gain their
destination. Gosnold conceived the idea that this course
was unnecessary and fitting out a single vessel, the Dolphin,
proceeded directly across the ocean, reaching the coast of
Maine in seven weeks, making a gain of at least 2,000
miles. He explored to the southward, landing at Cape Cod,
thus making the first landing of the English in New Eng-
land. Passing around Cape Malabar, the vessel left Nan-
tucket on the right and turned into Buzzards Bay, selecting
the most westerly of the Elizabeth Islands, on which the
first English settlement was established.

The reader may consider the foregoing a digression and
possibly irrelevant to the subject in hand, but the early
explorations and discoveries should never fail to interest
the student of American history. It is not my purpose,
however, to repeat these already well-known facts, only



12 The Glacier's Gift

insomuch as is necessary to call the reader's attention to
the numberless times the island of Nantucket might have
been discovered and colonized, thereby gaining the honor
of having been the first settlement in North America.

But the Guiding Hand which saw fit to place this land
in such a location that it might be the guardian at the
gateway of New England coast traffic, foreordained that its
discovery should be left to the Anglo-Saxon, that indom-
itable race which can never be superseded and through
whose virility and progressiveness all things are possible.
The real history of the island begins in 1659, when it was
settled by the ancestors and founders of many prominent
families, whose representatives are to be found throughout
the entire world at the present time.

History tells of the transaction between the Plymouth
Company and William. Earl of Sterling, whereby "Pema-
quid, and its dependencies on the coast of Maine," also
Long Island and adjoining islands, became the property of
said Earl of Sterling in the year 1635. Two years later,
James Forrett became the agent of the earl and was com-
missioned to sell or settle all islands between the Cape and
the Hudson River. Accordingly, in 1641, Thomas Mayhew
and his son Thomas purchased the island of Nantucket from
James Forrett for "such annual acknowledgment as shall
be thought fit by John Winthrop, the elder esquire, or any
two magistrates of Massachusetts Bay" ; and as Sir Fer-


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