I was doing some research at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum this summer, assisted by librarian A. Bowdoin Van Riper, who also edits the Dukes County Intelligencer, when an African American couple stopped in on a quest to find out why, of all places, Oak Bluffs, the bastion of black resorts, would have had the temerity to host a Confederate soldier’s statue. Where was the outrage, they wondered. Most know that it is actually a Union soldier and that it was a gift from Charles Strahan, who had been a lieutenant of the Confederacy during the war. Mr. Strahan, for years the publisher of the Martha’s Vineyard Herald, had come to the Vineyard for his health. His purpose in gifting the statue in 1891 was ostensibly a sop to salute the brave who had served and died in the Civil War.

The people of Oak Bluffs have long been able to lay claim to tolerance, beginning in 1787 when John Saunders, a former slave, brought Methodism to the Island. Hebron Vincent and Jeremiah Pease, founders of the Camp Ground in 1835 were both sympathetic to black people, Mr. Pease with his preaching and personal actions and Mr. Vincent with his powerful writing. A leading Island abolitionist, Hebron Vincent wrote the treatise, A Vindication of the African Race, long before the Civil War. Robert Morris Copeland, who designed the Cottage City Historic District in 1866, was an avid supporter of women’s rights and abolition. In fact, his attempt to develop a training site for a black regiment during the Civil War caused his dismissal from the service. The Civil War statue was located at the center of Farland Square from 1891 to 1930 — and the years and lack of maintenance took its toll. Thanks to the efforts of many it was restored and rededicated with an appropriate amount of pomp and circumstance in 2001. The Vineyard Gazette reported that the Rev. John P. Streit from Boston said “This monument was proposed not as an attempt to justify or rationalize the cause many in the South fought for. We should be clear from the beginning that this monument is not about excusing or explaining the grotesque and inhuman system of slavery. This monument was conceived and built as an icon of healing — as a testament to our nation’s need to come together again in spite of all the killing, all the casualties, all the destruction that both sides endured.”

Bo Van Riper pointed out to the couple that the prominent U.S. on the belt buckle proved it a Union soldier — and that the hat was commonplace for both armies. They left the museum library pleased. I was glad they hadn’t been around when the statue was painted grey from 1980 until 1999 when historian Dave Wilson noted the mistake.

Farm Pond’s cute couple, Jon and Miesha Lowery Suber did a brisk business at Tivoli Day with their Legendary clothing line. Miesha was just named to the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce’s 40 under 40 (ish) list. Elite trainer Kehinde Howell sold his I’m Bluffin’ casual ware and he and my nephew Ilao Jackson are also the guys behind So Focused Photography. Ilao had a spectacular exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s National Airport earlier this year. Charlayne Hunter-Gault was on hand selling and autographing copies of her books, To the Mountaintop—My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement and In My Place. Kevin Parham sold and signed copies of his book, The Vineyard We Knew — A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard. Tivoli Day marked the last day for Cousen Rose Gallery and Giordano’s Restaurant. From now on we’ll see the sad notice of closings of businesses we can’t get enough of — but can look forward to after the threatened snow and the snow birds’ return, both human and fowl.

It’s not a huge secret that the Martha’s Vineyard Museum has big plans, rapidly moving forward. In the fall preparations begin for next season’s events and activities. Be a part of these exciting times and volunteer for the special events committee. They meet Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. every other week and every week in May and June. Contact Katy Fuller at 508-627-4441, ext. 123 and sign up today.

Congratulations to the Oak Bluffs Fire Department for winning the 2015 Martha’s Vineyard Fire Department Bowling Competition on Thursday, Sept. 17. That’s how they roll.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to Skip@mvgazette.com.