Donation funds Heritage Trail plaque replacement

A Chilmark resident has donated $1,000 to replace a plaque honoring an enslaved Islander.

This plaque for Rebecca Amos has disappeared. —Elaine Weintraub

Plans are in motion to replace a plaque reported stolen from the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Heritage Trail earlier this month, thanks to an anonymous Chilmark resident who covered the $1,000 cost.

The missing plaque at Great Rock Bight Preserve honored Rebecca Amos, a formerly enslaved woman who died there on land that she owned.

The Chilmark donor preferred to remain anonymous, but said that they are concerned about the importance of recognizing African-American history and its impact on Martha’s Vineyard.

Elaine Weintraub, executive director of the Heritage Trail, says they have received many messages expressing shock over the plaque’s disappearance as well as an outpouring of support. And she’s thankful for the support from the anonymous donor.

“Sometimes it seems that the way the community has rallied around us to make sure that we not only get our plaque back — but we also get our statue for Rebecca — has been such an honor to Rebecca,” she said.

The Heritage Trail expects to receive the new plaque in six weeks and before holding a ceremony sometime in June. Aside from a black background behind the new plaque’s text, it will be just the same as the one before.

Weintraub says they also plan to honor Amos with a statue by sculptor Barney Zeitz, to be unveiled at Native Earth Teaching Farm in Chilmark by the end of the year. Plans for this statue were in the works before the plaque disappeared.

This statue’s GoFundMe page, with its goal of $12,000, currently stands at $2,335 donated. Weintraub says that this funding, along with a $3,500 pledge from the Martha’s Vineyard cultural council and the multiple private donations, would total about $9,500.

She said that the heritage trail received 26 donations toward replacing the plaque after it was reported stolen. With the latest anonymous donation funding the plaque, Weintraub plans to confirm whether the others would like their donations to support the statue instead.

Weintraub also hopes to enlist students from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School for landscaping around the plaque. “It needs something growing around it,” she says.

And they are looking into insuring all of their sites going forward, an idea that she first considered following the plaque’s disappearance. Weintraub adds that a heritage trail board member suggested putting solar-powered lights near the site to deter any future vandals.


  1. Is there any way they could put the memorial back where it was on the trail? I thought it was so sweet and it looked terrible in the parking lot. Why did they move her?

    • The moving of our site was a Land Bank decision. I don’t know all the reasons but I am hoping to work on making the new site beautiful by landscaping and attempting to recreate the spiritual beauty of the original site.

  2. I agree , it was a pilgrimage spot down the trail , with gifts piled around it .. we allways stopped there for a moment to take a breath and think about her with our kids on the way to the beach .. much more appropriate than by the parked cars ..

  3. I too must agree that I liked the plaque in its original spot…having the privilege of seeing it was something you had to make a concerted effort to behold. Our walking group has traversed GRB countless times…and we have always paused at the tribute to Rebecca and shared her story with newbies…it was always part of the ritual…and walking to it was earned! The first time we happened upon the plaque was during Covid…it was adorned with beads, feathers and hand painted rocks…we had no idea what it was and upon reading the plaque, it literally took our collective breath away! Hope the powers that be will reconsider placing it back to where it was as it was very special there! 🫶🏾

  4. I appreciate all the comments and concern. I too mourn losing the former placement but we will move forward in honoring and remembering Rebecca as we have fir the past 20 years The actual spot the Land Bank has given to us is not on the parking lot though it is near to it. It can definitely use some beautification and I hope we can do that in the sensitive and respectful way appropriate to Rebecca’s story. All of your input will be welcomed.

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