A plaque honoring an enslaved woman in Chilmark has been reinstalled at the Great Rock Bight Preserve after the original plate, which had been on the trail for 20 years, was reportedly stolen in April.

Donations from the community, big and small, helped with the reinstallation process for the plaque, which commemorates Rebecca Amos, a woman born in West Africa and held as property by Chilmark resident Cornelius Bassett, said Elaine Weintraub, the co-founder of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail. The new plaque was installed on May 27. 

One resident from Chilmark donated a large sum of money that covered the cost of the plaque restoration, as well as a statue of Ms. Amos, Ms. Weintraub said.

“As much as we possibly can, we’re bringing her back to where she should be and showing that she mattered,” she said.

Though much of her life was a mystery, Ms. Amos was a woman born in Guinea, West Africa. She may have been granted freedom but there is no record of her emancipation, according to the Heritage Trail website. Ms. Amos may have seen her children be sold to slavery. She also married Elisha Amos, a Wampanoag man, in her lifetime. She died in 1801.

Her notable descendants include historical Edgartown figure Nancy Michael and whaling captain William Martin.  

“It was very important for me to give Rebecca the respect that she probably didn’t get in her lifetime,” Ms. Weintraub said. “She did inherit property under Massachusetts law, but we know that she didn’t get the recognition she deserved. So I think it’s incredibly important we tell her story.” 

A dedication ceremony at the plaque site will be held June 5 at 11 a.m. There has been no further leads on who may have stolen the plaque, according to Ms. Weintraub. 

While it’s easy to be discouraged by the stolen plaque, Ms. Weintraub preferred to focus on the positive.  

“Not only did people give what they could, but the words of kindness and encouragement were wonderful,” she said. “It’s the kindness and support and people saying they want [the plaque] back there. That’s where I would prefer to focus.”