Ceremonies at Shearer Cottage Dedicate Historic Site on African American Trail
Shearer Cottage in Oak Bluffs was the first inn on Martha’s Vineyard, and among the first in the nation, to be owned by and cater to black people. It now has been dedicated to the man for who founded the inn, and is a key stop on the Vineyard’s Heritage Trail.
Named for Charles Shearer, the cottage is the culmination of this man’s journey to prosperity.
Charles Shearer was born into slavery in Virginia. During the Civil War he assisted Union soldiers as a hunter, and in turn received his freedom.
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Heritage Trail: Island Project Shows Story of Black History
In the Waterview Farm area of Oak Bluffs is a boulder as tall as a man. Back in the 1790s, the Rev. John Saunders de­livered his sermons here, from atop “Pulpit Rock.” Mr. Saunders, who was African-American, was one of the first people to preach Methodism on Martha’s Vineyard.
But for anyone who doesn’t know the story, this is just a rock in an Oak Bluffs subdiyision.
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Heritage Trail Honors for Emma Maitland

A group of residents and visitors gathered on Dukes County Avenue Sunday to commemorate the life and legacy of Emma Chambers Maitland, a woman of many talents, by marking her home as the 26th site on the African American Heritage Trail.

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New Principal Joins Students for Walk Through Island History
The African American Heritage Trail field trip is a staple of the high school's history curriculum. This year, the high school's new principal joined teacher Elaine Weintraub and her freshman students for the tour of Island history.
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Freshmen Projects Bring African American History to Life
Ninth grade history classes at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School produced more than 100 projects as part of the annual African American Heritage Trail history project. The students traveled the trail, interviewed members of the community and created a wide array of work.
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Students Pay Homage by Walking African American Heritage Trail
The freshman history classes recently traveled the Island’s African American Heritage Trail from Chappaquiddick to Aquinnah as part of their study of the history of Martha’s Vineyard. They visited the home of the Island’s only whaling captain, walked to his grave, paid their respects at the site dedicated to the life of Rebecca, the Woman from Africa and stood at West Basin visualizing the escape of Randall Burton, the man who had decided he would rather die than return to enslavement.
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Boxing Her Way to Equality and Justice
The African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard began as part of a promise to a little boy, and in 1998 the Shearer Cottage was dedicated as the first site on the Trail. The ambition was to reach a total of eight sites. That there were many stories was obvious, but the depth and range of the experiences that make up the tapestry of the African American experience on Martha’s Vineyard was amazing. From fugitive preachers to nationally known politicians, all the struggles and triumphs of people of color were part of the story of this Island.
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Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk, That's How History Comes Alive
Elaine Weintraub says “history” a lot. The word rolls off her tongue briskly in three sharp syllables: hih-store-ee.

“Welcome to the 16th annual tour of the African American Heritage Trail,” she said last Thursday at the start of this year’s sophomore class field trip. “Here’s your chance of learning some real hih-store-ee.”

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Students Enliven Island History, Earning Heritage Trail Awards

Winners for the annual Heritage Trail project were announced at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School this week. The project involves sophomore history students who go out and trek the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard, and then do a research project which is judged. Projects fall into categories: writing, art, physical projects and electronic projects.

The winners this year are as follows:

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Heritage Trail History Project Restructures Board of Directors

The African American Heritage Trail History Project is pleased to introduce their newly restructured board of directors. The board is currently led by co-founder of the project, Dr. Elaine Cawley Weintraub, history department chairman at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, a twice awarded Cuffe fellow íin recognition of her contribution to íoriginal scholarship in the field of minority contributions to the maritime history of New England. íMs.

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