Turning Point

This morning, Nisa Counter and Ben Ramsey released this letter to their friends and supporters. That includes the many people who’ve been following their story on this blog. You know I’ve got a few things to say about it all, but I’ll save them till tomorrow.

Ben and I would like to sincerely thank all the people who took time out of their busy lives to get the facts of our land dispute with Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. We unfortunately have come to a point where we both realize that financially and emotionally we can no longer continue this battle with the newspapers/SMF/lawyers and everyone else with a misguided opinion. The truth is we believe in our claim and in our land; however, $1,000–$2,000 a month for the next five years is not something either one of us can see signing up for, or asking anyone else to help support.

Nisa & Ben

We had our second miscarriage and the toll it has taken on me is not worth it—do I really want to live next to neighbors who dislike us and are mean, unkind people? Do I want to subject my children to those attitudes? We believe we gave it our best fight—sadly SMF knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to continue if they just held their ground.

So Martha’s Vineyard will not be our home. We will be leaving in October, and I will plan to come back periodically to run my fitness business. However, we will sadly say goodbye to our dream of a year-round home here. Our legal defense fund has been closed and the funds have been put toward our current legal debts.

I am grateful for the love and support we have felt, and I forgive those of you who turned your backs—gossiped without knowing the facts, trespassed, or decided your social standing was more important then being our friends. I have decided to keep the Youth Lots vs. Tax Breaks page up on Facebook. Sadly, I know this will happen to someone else again. SMF is a big bully: they have a history of this behavior despite their shady past they will never choose to do the right thing.

So long as greed, ego, and selfishness run this Country/Island we all suffer. May God bless us all. Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my heart—I love you  XO

Nisa Counter

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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4 Responses to Turning Point

  1. pat brown says:

    There is nothing easy about taking a piece of land by adverse possession. You have now gained from the land court a legal right to make some use of the property: the fact is no one can stop you from being there, physically. You have simply been enjoined from building a structure, for now. You had a permit to live there in a tent – not a wooden structure, and while I understand entirely what living in a tent in cold weather means, it can be done and people have done it.

    Those young people who have followed this story can learn a lesson from it. If trying to adopt the strategy of using a piece of land with clouded ownership, keep a VERY low profile. The key part is being there, actually living there. SMF would not, and still cannot prevent you living there in a tent. Some years down the road after continuous occupation, the situation in land court could be quite different.


    • How does adverse possession apply to this case? The Hancocks have been using and paying taxes on this parcel for years (at least 30, IIRC). Ben and Nisa went to considerable expense, including a title search and a physical study of the property that located landmarks mentioned in 19th century deeds, to establish that this land was never donated to the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.

      Keeping a low profile sounds like a good strategy, but if you’ve got neighbors like SMF or the Kileys up the road, it may not be possible. As long as the Hancocks kept a low profile, SMF let them pay taxes on the land and didn’t lay claim to it. As soon as Ben and Nisa showed signs of doing something with the land, they raised their heads above the parapet — and SMF let loose with the heavy artillery.


  2. lee m. reay says:

    This is deeply disturbing, and I am very saddened by your loss, but well understand the choice you have made. You have treated by SMF the same way I have been treated by Chase/Citibank as they pursue taking my home and shop from me after promising to help me stay here, and on a predatory mortgage that is somewhat illegal anyway.

    Unfortunately, the Vineyard is no longer a community of neighbors and friends. It has become a business that only caters to the wealthy elite and famous, without conscience or care for those less endowed who tried to make it a permanent home, or would like to do so.

    After 38 years here, there is little left of the sharing and friendship that existed until the late ’80s, when people – regardless of wealth or position – would go out of their way to help one another. The American mainland has come to the Vineyard with a vengeance, bringing with it the same people who have made other places negative and unwholesome for any but the filthy ritch and their servants and slaves.


  3. Sharon Stewart says:

    I am so sad to hear this. I was rooting for you two. I was rooting for justice. I was rooting for truth. I was rooting for humanity.

    I’m sorry you lost some “friends” over this, but you are much better off without them. You are strong, and they are weak. You would have parted ways anyhow.

    The greed of the wealthy knows no bounds. But they will learn sooner or later that the universe doesn’t care a whit about wealth. The universe cares about balance. And they owe big time.

    Sharon in Ottawa


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