Chilmark: Friendship Day

Kara Taylor speaks to visitors at her Art Gallery, 24 South Road, open Thursdays to Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm through Columbus Day. —Valerie Sonnenthal

It was extremely disturbing to find out after last week’s column was published that Ed Jerome had passed away. Although my children went to Edgartown School, he was no longer there. But our paths did cross, and he was such a giving, warm, and wonderful man. My heart goes out to his family and everyone who has ever been touched by his kindness.

It is not easy to see Beetlebung Farm go on the market. Clearly the property would be ideal for the town, though whatever happens, it would be nice to preserve a small area for farming and let that part of the corner’s history continue.

There were 30 vendors at what turned out to be the last Chilmark Flea of 2018. We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2019, and send healing wishes to Beth McElhiney of, who sadly fell down a flight of stairs and broke her femur in three places, so never made it to the end this season.

Chilmark Chocolates is open through Sunday, Sept. 30, 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, then closed until Oct. 25.

Last week Chilmark library director Ebba Hierta went before the town selectmen to have Friday, Oct. 5 declared Friendship Day between Chilmark, England, and Chilmark, Mass. This is due to a special visit from Mike Scott, deputy editor and treasurer of the Chilmark Village Voice. He and his wife Jo will be guests of honor at a reception on Friday, Oct. 5, at noon at our library. Please come and share stories, bring photos or other historical documents to share, and welcome our Chilmark visitors from across the sea.

Mike Scott sent me an obituary letter he published as editor of the parish newsletter, Chilmark Church & Village, because “it appears that the last actual family link between the two villages ceased on Olive’s death.” I just wanted to share what he sent (with his permission granted):


Olive May Smith, née Macey, 24th June, 1925 – 8th October, 2014

The Last Link Has Gone

I thought it important to put pen to paper in the aftermath of my mother Olive’s death, because in the terms of the history of Chilmark village, it marks the closing of an important chapter. I doubt very much that few of you would have been aware of her existence, as she had been virtually housebound for the past 20 years, but now, in her absence, an era has come to an end.

Some of you may know that the village of Chilmark is on the map for two very important reasons. Firstly because of the existence of a seam of stone in the quarry, which was quarried by the Romans and amongst other things, used to build Salisbury Cathedral; and secondly because families from here were amongst the first Pilgrims to settle in the New World around 1630. With Olive’s death, a present-day link to both quarry and New World has died along with her.

In 1970, an article in the parish newsletter written by the then rector of the village, the Rev. A. Trotman, explored these links upon the death of Mum’s father, Arthur Daniel Macey. The article explained that Mum’s maiden name, Macey, stemmed from the Roman name of Macus, and that she, like several of her uncles and her father, all possessed a distinctive Roman nose that undeniably attested their Roman heritage in the village and exemplified the Julius Caesar profile, and caused them to have nicknames such as “Boxer,” which my great-uncle Charlie was called. All evidencing to our origins here going back to around 600 A.D.

Around 1620 to 1623, the Maceys from the village emigrated to New England, settling in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, living in and around the new Chilmark and West Tisbury over there. During the ’70s and early ’80s I remember how Mum and Dad entertained many Americans who called at our door in Hops Close in search of Macey family roots, ferried here by regular coach tours from the States. The family in Martha’s Vineyard, however never stayed there; they set sail for New York … and went on to found Macy’s department store. As with so many other things in the English language, the Americans dropped the letter E from our name, and sadly sold the store some years ago.

The church register for Chilmark goes back as far as September 1653, and the first entry in it is a Macey. If you were to spend time in the churchyard, you would find many headstones bearing the name, and many unmarked graves are Maceys too. My favourite is the standing stone on the left-hand side just before the whirly gate, which was for a Macey stonemason. Apparently his epitaph reads, “During his lifetime he carved stones for many, but for his own stone he had not time to carve any.“

In 2000, HRH the Duke of Cornwall was present when the village erected the commemorative Millennium Cross located upon the Cross. I was proud to stand in the crowd and know that the village felt it important to ensure that amongst all the surnames of the families living here at that time, the Macey name stood proud and tall upon it. Because then it only still existed here because Mum bore it as her maiden name until her marriage in 1948, and so technically shouldn’t appear there at all. So thank you, Chilmark, very much for that wonderful homage to the Macey name, which will greatly aid the ancestry researchers of tomorrow.

The 8th October 2014 was a very sad day indeed, as it finally brought the Macey thousand-year history with this village to a close, so … “Sic transit gloria mundi.“

But for my mum it was a good day, born in the village some 89 years ago, living in the village ever since, she died with us, comfortably at home in the Chilmark she knew and loved.

Carol Elliott


The Chilmark Library Wednesdays at 5 pm continues on Oct. 3 when Martha’s Vineyard Museum research librarian Bow Van Riper offers a survey of the Vineyard’s most photographed, yet least understood waterfront. Chilmarkers have always gone to seas: first from the beaches of Lobsterville, Squibnocket, and Nomans Land, and later (after the 1902 dredging of a channel and basin) from the fishing port of Menemsha. Its modest size (and, as the ’38 hurricane showed, precarious location) cloak a rich history that reflects Chilmark’s endless ingenuity in making a living from the sea.

Artist Martha Oakes’ new paintings are up through Oct. 5. The Coffee Klatsch Knitting (bring your own supplies and projects) and Chess Meet-Up happen Thursdays from noon to 3 pm. Come enjoy free coffee, just be sure to bring your own mug for a cozy, laid-back, and communal hangout up-island. Stories with Rizwan continue Tuesday and Saturday at 10:30 am. Learn more at or 508-645-3360.

Have a great week.