Down a dirt road in the woods of West Tisbury lies Christiantown.
Christiantown was established in 1659 by Wampanoag sachem Takemmy as a home for Native American converts to Christianity.
A plaque on the above boulder commemorates “the services of Governor Thomas Mayhew and his descended missionaries who here labored among the native Indians.”
By 1600 there were two or three congregations of Native Americans on the Island.
The Christiantown Meeting House, or chapel was built in 1829. There is a tiny altar and six pews inside… nearby is an old graveyard.
The Wampanoag tribe now owns the memorial, the chapel and the burial ground containing graves of early converts.
Christiantown is off the beaten track but worth the effort to find.
June 22, 2008 at 6:48 am
My friend: This was one of my most favorite places on the island. We would go down the little dirt road to get there (back in the ancient days in the 1950’s when I lived there) and there were two rewards of going there as well as the Indian graveyard and church at the end of the road. 1. There was Mrs. White’s clay pits, from which we would get “good china” clay — and Daddy had made us a potter’s wheel in the cellar. In winter, he and I would throw pots and make stuff from clay. 2. There was (back then) the Chilmark Dump which was a treasure trove in disguise, sometimes smelly disguise. Most generally when we went, it was with some apples to eat while at Christiantown mulling over how it must have been in the olden times when the Indians attended services there and walking the Indian graveyard; next to the dump, and the clay pits. I am glad you took these pictures and added them to the blog as many people who visit the island never even know about it being there PLUS I was also glad to see it was STILL there. I always had a feeling while there not so much that it was haunted; rather, it was a sacred place, and that the little rocks that represented gravestones were stories untold of enduring people that lived very hard lives in difficult, difficult times – times we could not possibly understand. Yes, Christiantown is a very special place on our special, special island.
June 22, 2008 at 7:31 am
Chistiantown is great place to learn more about our early history, especially relations between the early colonists and the Native Americans. The Wampanoag were initially very open and friendly to the colonists – it was not until later that various clashes developed over land and resources. These facts are made more real when one visits Chistiantown and other early sites.
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