VISUAL HISTORY: Past is present on Star Island


  Rye Town Museum photo

Now that Star Island is opened again on the Isles of Shoals, visitors are able to see the Smith Memorial--if  they want to.

The decrepit monument was built to honor Captain John Smith (1580-1631) who drew a map of New England, published in 1616, and was so enamored of the nine islands five miles off the coast of Rye that he called them the "Smyths Iles". Later, according to numerous accounts, fishermen renamed them the Isles of Shoals. Most noted for founding the Virginia colony in 1607, Smith was honored with this memorial dedicated in 1864 and made of granite and marble. Blowing sand and weather in general did a job on the memorial, even grinding down the plaque inscription and causing the memorial to be rebuilt, with the re-dedication on July 29, 1914, 300 years after Smith's arrival.  Even the new memorial, with a bronze plaque bolted to the old base, is suffering from the pelting of weather and seagulls. In addition, those who wander out to take a look are warned to wear long pants, due to poison ivy, and carry a stick to ward off the gulls.  

The new inscription reads as follows:


 Jim Cerny photo, taken in June, 2006

Meanwhile, August is the anniversary of the death of Rev. John Tucke for whom a monument (photo below) was also dedicated as part of the 1914 anniversary celebration.   Published at the time was a 68-page book, "Dedication of a Memorial to Reverend John Tucke 1702-1773," New Hampshire Historical Society, 1914.  

According to the book, the celebration was quite an outing, with 283 people attending.  The minister's kinsman, Edward Tuck, who paid for the memorial and for whom the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth was named, was not present because he was in Europe where he spent much of his time. What follows is a description from the book:

"It was a beautiful day, and a fresh breeze blew all the clouds inland.  The steamer Nassau from Boston, specially chartered for the occasion, left Jones's wharf at ten o'clock, making the trip in an hour.  Arriving at Star Island the company proceeded to the monument, which stands a short distance southeast of the quaint little stone church where candle-light services are still held as in days of yore.  Everyone was impressed by the dignity and beauty of the obelisk, which stands forty-six and one-half feet high, and can be seen from ten miles out at sea.  The shaft tapers in the same proportions as the monument at Bunker Hill."  [p. 9]


  Jim Cerny photo

For more information see the link below as well as numerous other SeacoastNH articles:

August, 2007