A Distant Cousin visits Vinalhaven

When our Luce ancestors converted to Mormonism, they were living in Vinalhaven, Maine. Nowadays Vinalhaven means South Fox Island, but in those days it was both the north and south islands. The Luces came from North Fox Island, then part of Vinalhaven, now called North Haven.

A few days ago I came across a brief post at the Island Institute from 2015 about one of our Luce cousins, Kathy Luke, visiting North Haven. I’m betting she’s one of the Lukes from Heber City, Utah, descended from Ephraim Luce (1799-1880), whose daughter Harriet Ellen Luce (1835-1919) married Henry Luke.

The post gives the short version of Wilford Woodruff’s mission to the Fox Islands. Woodruff conceived the idea of taking the restored gospel to “the islands of the sea“, and that led to him to choose the Fox islands. These islands are off the coast of Maine, in Penobscot Bay near Rockland. There were about 800 people and a Baptist church on the north island; about 1000 people and a Methodist church on the south island. Woodruff wrote, “The inhabitants were intelligent and industrious, and hospitable to strangers. They got most of their living and wealth by fishing. The town fitted out over one hundred licensed fishing vessels, besides smaller craft.

In 1837 and 1838 Woodruff and his companion Jonathan Hale, and another missionary Joseph Ball, baptized about 100 people. Woodruff ultimately led 53 them from North Haven for Nauvoo, including the families of Ephraim Luce and Nathaniel Thomas. The Malatiah Luce and Stephen Luce families also went to Nauvoo, but a bit later.

An 1838 note in the Record of Baptist Church Vinalhaven says: “At church meeting excluded Nathaniel Thomas and his wife and Ruth Luce [wife of Malatiah] having joined the Mormons.”

Kathy Luke visited what’s known as the Mormon Cemetery, properly called the Annis Cemetery, “which was on land owned by the Luce family, as well as their former residence.”

I wonder which Luce family. More research is needed there.

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