A year ago I wrote about a small hidden graveyard with several unmarked stones on the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road, near the “County Road Oak Bluffs Next Right” sign. One headstone marks the resting place of Sarah Wilbur (April 15, 1792 to March 20, 1875) who I wasn’t certain was actually interred there. I recently lucked into a fascinating discussion on social media where Jessica Burnham shared Mrs. Wilbur’s fascinating story. She was a Norton and she and her husband farmed the land near the small cemetery. Some believe he is buried there, too, just with no stone.
The family moved to Maine where one of their children was lost in the woods. He surfaced many years later as an adult after he had been taken by people who were reported to be “Indians.” He was supposed to have been killed but the wife of the man who found him kept and raised him instead. There is evidence that he spent time here as an adult. Mrs. Wilbur’s husband James died four years after her, at age 92. The son who had been abducted — James, was born in Maine in 1824. The Wilburs had another son who they also named James after the first was taken. Jessica Burnham noted that Marna Waller and some other great ladies helped her piece together the story and that the family name is listed in Dr. Banks’s The History of Martha’s Vineyard. Jessica had stopped by the cemetery and took a picture, sadly noting that the site needed some care. She is thinking of starting a Sarah Wilbur Society to care for the spot. I’d volunteer to help with that — it’s an interesting, historical Oak Bluffs story that should be preserved. Thank you, Ms. Burnham.
On Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is having a Halloween Festival at its Vineyard Haven campus behind the Lagoon with Halloween treats for all and lots of children’s activities. Folks are invited to bring carved pumpkins for display and judging—and to wear costumes. The Island Alpaca Farm is bringing alpaca for families to interact with and the museum plans having historic games for children on the lawn. It somehow hadn’t occurred to me that children had games in days of old, and it will be interesting to see if modern kids are interested. Adult’s and children’s costumes will be judged at 2 p.m. by a celebrity panel including author Susan Klein, Featherstone Center for the Arts executive director Ann Smith and superintendent of schools Dr. Jim Weiss. There is more information on the website at mvmuseum.org.
Contact Nelia Decker or Beth Kramer at 508-693-3366 about Mother Goose on the Loose story time at the Oak Bluffs library. Children from newborn to three years old will continue to be entertained at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 — the last days as story time moves back to West Tisbury when their new library space opens after the first of the year.
Fairy tales have been popular since Ali Baba’s Arabian Nights in 850 and when Tom Thumb was around in 1621, but many Mother Goose stories were contemporaneous with Cottage City in the mid to late 1800s. Knowing nursery rhymes are meant to soothe, one would be hard pressed not to acknowledge that most might scare older children to death. I’m not certain Mother Goose was that trustworthy. Jack, for example, having to break his crown, be nimble, sit in a corner and not eat fat is troubling. Poor Humpty Dumpty, Wednesday’s Child and Peter Pumpkin-Eater must all have wound up in therapy. London Bridge falling down is, well, plain old terrorism and that old lady in the shoe was just mean if not dangerous, EE-i-ee-i-o!
So of course one wonders what kind of historical games children participated in — the murder of Cock Robin? I hope those alpaca will be careful out there at the museum’s Halloween Festival.
Harthaven’s Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates’s new six-part PBS series started this week. The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is on WGBH-TV (channel 2 or 702 in HD on Comcast cable) Tuesdays at 8 p.m. The series begins with Juan Garrido, a free black man who came to Florida with Cortez in 1513 making him the first known African in America. It’s an interesting and colorful series (no pun intended!) and Oak Bluffs’s Charlayne Hunter-Gault has a cameo in a later episode.
Congratulations to Dave and Margaret Oliveira who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary Oct. 21 with a trip on the Acela to Washington to visit their daughter Alicia who’s attending American University. Along with museums and cool eateries in D.C., they enjoyed the ride home and especially Connecticut’s foliage along the waterfront.
This Sunday Dreamland is hosting the Artist Ball from 7 to 10 p.m., produced by Holly Alaimo and Marla Blakey featuring the Frank Wilkins Band. The ball celebrates artists and organizations that make Martha’s Vineyard a great place for an art experience. Costumes are optional but prizes will go to the best mask, makeup and costume. Tickets can be purchased for $20 at the door or by calling Holly at 508-693-5444.
I’m far too young to have a daughter as old as Kharma Isis Finley-Wallace whose birthday it is today. Happy birthday to Jessica Burnham whose was last week.
Coop de Ville closes for the season Sunday. Neither the Island nor Sand Theatres opened at all. Happy Halloween is the non sequitur of the month.
Keep your foot on a rock.