Posted by: coastlinesproject | May 24, 2015

The Ladies of Plum Island.

Chapter 11

The Ladies of Grape Island

1680’s

 

 

Elizabeth Perkins had always been too outspoken for the good people of Ipswich. As a young girl she used to talk back to her parents, but it was only when she accused the minister of her church of immoral acts that she came to the attention of the town fathers.

 

They found her guilty of being a “virulent, reproachful, and wicked-tongued woman,” sentencing her to sit in the meeting house during services with a sign pinned to her bodice proclaiming in capital letters that she had reproached, “ministers, parents and relations.” She was further ordered to be, “severely whipped on her naked body,” but the elders were to be disappointed. She was able to come up with the three pounds to pay off the fine instead.

 

It was only when her husband also ran afoul of the law that Elizabeth decided:

 

“Luke, we have to get out of this town. I can’t stand these people!”

 

“Where are we to go? I have no decent prospects.”

 

“But you have a strong back, Luke. You have always loved haying. We can rent Wainwrights’ farm on Plum Island.”

 

“How do you know he will rent to us?”

 

“I spoke to him yesterday on the town green. He likes you and has also had enough of the town fathers.”

 

“Do you really think we could make a living out there all year long?”

 

“We wont know unless we try now will we?’

 

“Tis better than living beside these fools. How much is he asking?”

 

“Five pounds for the year.”

 

“Let’s take it. No questions asked!”

 

“You can scythe hay all summer and I shall plant a garden.”

 

“Good man Wainwright would probably even ferry his cows over so we could care for them on Grape Island.”

 

“Yes that the spot. The deep creeks will keep the cows fenced in and those damn free ranging Newbury cattle out so they wont trample your turnips.”

 

“And all the clams we can dig and all the fish we can catch for the rest of the year.”

 

The hard working young couple were soon accepted by the Pulsifers, Treadwells and Wainwrights who had farms on the island. Luke helped with their extra farm work and Elizabeth cared for their houses during the winter months.

 

 

 

But Miss Jewett was a little frightened when she arrived on Grape Island in 1881.

 

“Thank you for the ride over Mr. Pulsifer.”

 

“Not at all young lady, not at all.”

 

“Do you know where Mr. Wainwright’s house is? I’m to stay there all summer to teach the island children.”

 

“Of course you are, and you will do a fine job too.”

 

“Oh I’m not too sure of that. I don’t know how I’ll keep them concentrating on their books when this beautiful island beckons outside.”

 

“Well I’ll give you a hint. When the children start to get restive, just say you have to go to the outhouse and act astonished when you return and find the hands of the clock have been advanced by one of the taller students.”

 

“Oh yes I’ll just say, ‘Oh my, doesn’t time fly by fast on this island,’ and let them out five minutes early!”

 

“They will love you.”

 

“Perhaps you could take us out on your boat every August. It would be a small compensation to the children for having keep their minds on their books all month while the mainland kids are enjoying their vacations.”

 

“That is a splendid idea. I’ll see if Good Man Appleton will give us some fresh milk and I will bring my wife’s ice cream maker. The children can churn it up on the way to the beach.”

 

“Oh I think I will love teaching on this island, Mr. Pulsifer.

 

“Of course you will.”

 

And she did. Miss Jewett taught in the old one-room schoolhouse on Grape Island until she retired 35 years later.

 

Read more in; Islands in the Storm, Storm Surge; A Coastal Village Battles the Atlantic, Beach Wars; 10,000 Years on a Barrier Beach. Available in local bookstores, and Amazon, Also See Strawberry Hill, UPNE, and Schiffer book tabs at the top of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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