Paradise Calling, I Have Your Treasures…

by Amy Curry, Executive Director
July 12, 2022

MCHS regularly receives ‘out of left field’ phone calls, but in May 2015, we received an unforgettable one from Pacific National Bank on Nantucket Island (top photo). Aware that Mary Crane Hone moved to the island after donating Acorn Hall to MCHS in 1971, we were instantly intrigued. We had no way of assessing, however, the full magnitude or lasting impact of the impending adventure that was in store.

Try not to look like you’re carrying bags of 19th-century silver….

As a small community, some banks on Nantucket stored residents’ valuables, particularly for seasonal residents. Unbeknownst to anyone, Mary, who passed away in 1990, left significant Crane and Hone family items in storage at her bank. Sadly, as was the case with Mary, owners sometimes never made it back to collect their valuables, so there they stayed. Pacific National’s new branch manager was charged with addressing abandoned property in their possession, but while Google searches of “Mary Crane Hone” brought MCHS and Acorn Hall front-and-center, we were not legally entitled to the items. Once Mary’s estate executors were located and contacted, they graciously granted permission for us to collect the items, knowing they’d be most appreciated among all the other Crane and Hone family treasures at the Hall. So, home to Cape Cod I traveled, full of curiosity, excitement, and empty bags to board a ferry to Nantucket with my mom.

Three Hone silver boxes held by Pacific National Bank, Nantucket Island

When Mary donated Acorn Hall, she left significant family heirlooms of all kinds. Now, we were on our way to collect the items she’d felt so strongly about that they left with her. These were possibly the items she valued most – and there were more of them than expected. Tightly packing them into a large canvas bag and internal frame backpack, with still more to carry by hand, we were loaded down with three complete chests of silver and two manila envelopes of documents, letters, and jewelry, all marked “Hone” in curling masking tape and smelling of musty basement. As I strapped my 69-year-old mom into the backpack, we realized we were carrying buried treasure. Heavily laden, we made our way to the benches by the ferry dock, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.

After a promised visit to one of Mary’s executors, the prized items came back to Acorn Hall nearly five decades after they left. In addition to providing us years’ worth of exciting research and richly interpreted exhibits of the Crane-Hone family, they also sparked a closer connection with Hone family descendants. Most significantly, though, these treasures provided us a deeper appreciation of Mary Crane Hone and the place her bold and fearless life took her after she left NJ. As for my mom and me, it was an adventure we’ll never forget.

1903 wedding silver from Mary Crane Hone’s parents. Her great-grandparents c.1848 set was also among the items at the bank.