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Local Insight

Happy Birthday America!
June 28, 2015

Can you hear the fireworks, smell the bonfires, and all you see is red, white, and blue?  It is one of our favorite holidays on the island. If there is one place to celebrate 4th of July it is on the island of Nantucket. It is the quintessential 4th of  July vacation destination, from the cobblestone streets lined with decorations, the annual firetruck water fight on Main Street, to the beach firework show after sunset.

Where better to spend the weekend celebrating the history of our nation than Nantucket, a place so rich in history and tradition. We thought it would be a good time to give our guests a little bit of history of the island itself!

  • First reported sighting by Norsemen in the 11th century.
  • Wampanoag Indians were the original inhabitants of Nantucket Island.
  • 1602 - Captain Bartholomew Gosnold of Falmouth, England sailed past the island on his way to found the Jamestown colony.
  • 1641 - the island was deeded by the English (the authorities in control of the land from the coast of Maine to New York) to Thomas Mayhew and his son, merchants of Watertown and Martha’s Vineyard.
  • 1659 - Thomas Mayhew sold his interest to the "nine original purchasers": Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swayne, Thomas Bernard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swayne, and William Pike. Some of these names are still common on the island.
  • That same year, Thomas Macy and his family, accompanied by two young men, moved from Salisbury, MA to Nantucket. They were the first European settlers to live on Nantucket
  • 1660 - Ten more families moved to Nantucket from Salisbury.
  • 1671 - The English town (then around Capaum Pond) was incorporated.
  • 1673 - The governor of New York imposed the name "Sherburne" on the town.
  • 1673 - Offshore whaling began. By 1715, there were 6 vessels engaged in whaling. By 1719, that number increased to 25, and in 1766, 118 whaling vessels shipped out from Nantucket.
  • 1700 - 1720 - The town was moved to the Great Harbor, it was still Sherburne until after the American Revolution. 
  • In 1795 the town successfully petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts to change the name from Sherburne to Town of Nantucket. That's why there was a big "centenary" celebration in 1895 with a parade of floats, etc.  It was to celebrate a hundred years since the name change.
  • From the mid-1700s to the late 1830s the island was the whaling capital of the world, with as many as 150 ships making port in Nantucket during its peak.
  • 1838 - Petroleum began to replace whale oil as an illuminant, and the sperm whale itself had been harder to find.
  • 1869 - The last whaling ship leaves Nantucket and never returns.
  • When the whaling era ended, commercial shipping gave way to recreational boating. Daily excursions from the mainland on the graceful old steamers brought the first summer visitors.
  • The first generation of "developers" on Nantucket built cottages and summer houses, advertising them in the Boston and New York newspapers. Island housewives took in summer boarders and great hotels were built in town, as well as on the seashore at Brant Point, Surfside, and Siasconset.
  • 1880 - The American tradition of summer vacations was firmly established. Nantucket was discovered as an ideal spot for vacationing. Tourism became the principle source of income for island residents.
  • In the last two decades Nantucket’s tourist season has extended from before Memorial Day to after Columbus Day. Increasingly, visitors are also attracted by the quiet beauty of the off-season.
           Information found at

As you can see Nantucket Island has been a travelers hot spot for centuries, but somehow it has always maintained that historic charm while keeping up with the ever changing times. No matter who visits, every guest seems to call it a home away from home by the time they leave.  We hope all of our guests past, present, and future have an amazing  4th of July filled with fun, family, patriotism, & apple pie! Nantucket is forever ready to be your home away from home.

Happy 4th, The VH Team


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