A metal plaque honoring an enslaved woman in Chilmark was recently stolen from the Great Rock Bight Preserve, according to Martha’s Vineyard African-American Heritage Trail co-founder Elaine Cawley Weintraub. 

The plaque, which told the story of Rebecca Amos, a woman born in West Africa and held as property by Chilmark resident Cornelius Bassett, has stood at the Land Bank property for 20 years, but was moved to a more prominent location in December. 

“The story of Rebecca has been embraced for the last 20 years,” Ms. Weintraub said, noting the common practice of hikers leaving stones and shells at her memorial. 

“I feel really that it’s a loss to all of us, to the whole community,” she said. 

Ms. Weintraub has reported the theft to the Chilmark police department. Each of the trail’s metal landmark plaques, she said, cost about $1,000. 

Ms. Weintraub said land bank officials believe it to have been stolen sometime within the last two weeks. To remove the plaque from the rock, she said, would have required significant effort. 

“It’s been suggested that it was kids… if that was the case, I would be happy to work with those kids then help them see the value of what it is,” she said. “If it isn’t kids, that kind of makes my blood run a little cold.”

Though Ms. Amos came to live much of her life enslaved on Martha’s Vineyard, she may have been granted freedom before her death. She was at one time married to a Wampanoag man named Elisha Amos, and likely saw many of her children sold as slaves during her lifetime, according to the Heritage Trail website. 

Among her descendants were prominent Edgartown figure Nancy Michael and whaling captain William A. Martin.

Chilmark police Sgt. Garrison Vieira Wednesday confirmed that police were investigating the incident, but declined to comment futher.