Another of Farm Neck’s notable Norton’s was Ichabod Norton Luce (1814 – 1894), born to Silas Luce and Hannah Norton Luce, both of whose families traced their lineage to the England of the late 1600s. As a boy, Mr. Luce went to sea in the coasting trade, the merchant marine business of delivering materials by boat to nearby ports. The young man went whaling from 1831 to 1838, shipping out from New Bedford and Mattapoisett, after which he married Abigail Osborn Fisher of Edgartown.

Their son Benjamin was born in Mattapoisett where Ichabod worked as a boat builder and met and befriended Frederick Douglass. The relationship led to Mr. Luce becoming a supporter of the abolitionist movement. He became captain of a whaler in 1842 and returned to boatbuilding afterwards. In 1848 he joined a company that bought the Walter Scott, an old whaler he took to San Francisco during the gold rush and, indeed, returned in July of 1850 with $3,000 worth of gold, after having sent $5,000 home earlier.

Today that gold would be worth over a quarter million dollars. Mr. Luce opened a grocery store in Vineyard Haven and joined the Edgartown Lyceum, a public lecture hall, where he honed his speaking skills. In 1853 he was elected president of the Lyceum and in 1858 elected Massachusetts State Senator representing Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod. He became Keeper of the Gay Head Light during the Civil War which was one of the more important aids to navigation of the time with upwards of 90,000 boats making passage annually.

In 1869 he built “The Big House,” the large white house at the bend of New York avenue overlooking Vineyard Sound and Vineyard Haven Harbor that the family still owns.

Ichabod Norton Luce and his cousin Cad Luce joined the founders of the Dukes County Savings Bank in 1872. Cousin Cad wound up bankrupt following a badly timed decision to develop Bellevue Heights on East Chop. Ichabod, a practical man, was the one who balked at Edgartown’s 1874 investment into the dubious plan for the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad that, built in a mere 66 days, was but a memory in 1878, a year after its financial collapse.

Ichabod led the effort to secede from Edgartown, and once we became Cottage City in 1880 he was moderator of our first town meeting.

Ichabod Norton Luce is buried in the Norton Cemetery at Farm Neck, near Pulpit Rock. The Vineyard Gazette’s Henry Beetle Hough wrote of the multi-accomplished Norton: “Abolitionist, boat builder, mariner, forty-niner, senator, keeper of the Gay Head Light, denouncer of speculative enterprises, divider of a town.”

Ichabod Norton Luce was someone who was proud to be from OB. Thanks to Christopher Rowan, Christine’s (also a Luce-Norton) husband for this story from his family history project, Tales from the Big House. Chris hails from England.

Holly Alaimo’s season ending labor of love, the annual Wind & Kite Festival, is next Saturday, Sept. 10 at Ocean Park. The colorful all-day event begins with free kite making for children at 10:30 a.m. and the rain date is Sunday.

It’s hard to recall when books were banned, but the Oak Bluffs Library anoints September as Banned Books Month to challenge teens to read the most disputed ones. I’m wondering if Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is on the list now that we know how tame it is after Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Yard and the OB Library co-sponsor an all ages dance party on Friday, Sept. 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. with Naomi Goldberg Haas. The thoughtful workshop is for all ages and skill levels (with a focus on seniors) and accessible for folks with wheelchairs, walkers or other supports. The class includes a variety of movement activities for exercising brains and bodies.

On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the library hosts Hal Garneau’s slide show presentation and historical commentary of over 100 vintage 3D photos of Oak Bluffs collected over 35 years. 3D glasses will be provided for the antique stereo views of Martha’s Vineyard and there is no charge to attend.

The Oak Bluffs Library has events for kindergarteners during their upcoming half days of school. Games are featured Thursday, Sept. 8 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and a movie, The Good Dinosaur, the following Thursday, Sept. 15 at the same time. By the way, check out the new electric vehicle chargers at the library. Right on y’all!

For more about whaling, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s exhibition In the Giant’s Shadow: Whaling and Martha’s Vineyard.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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