Ferdinand Cartwright Ewer (1826 - 1883) was born on May 22nd of 1926 in town of Nantucket on the Massachusetts island of the same name. Ewer's father, a prominent Nantucket businessman, moved his family to Providence Rhode Island when Ferdinand was three and then, further afield, to New York City. It was not until his 13th year that Ewer returned to Nantucket where he would remain until 1844 when was matriculated at Harvard. There he grew intellectually and strayed from his religiously ideological upbringing, embracing atheism. Shortly following his graduation in 1848, Ewer, like many others, was drawn westward by the lure of the California Gold Rush. "I have no gold fever," he says pathetically in his diary, "I only desire not to starve." In San Francisco he worked as a clerk in the claims office and later as newspaper reporter with The Alta Californian. In a tale typical of the Wild West, a bar room conversation in a mining town inspired Ewer to change his life, abandon his atheism, and became a Reverend of the Episcopal Church. As Reverend, Ewer generated a popular following in San Francisco. Nonetheless, in time he decided to move back to the east coast and, eventually, became the rector of New York City's Christ's Church. A highly educated man, Ferdinand devoted much of his intellectual energy in reconciling the positions of science with religion. To the chagrin of his Episcopalian superiors, Ewer believed that the premises of Darwinism, astronomy, and medicine were in fact compatible his faith. Eventually, Ewer's scientific leanings drove him from the Christ Church, at which point he established the New York church of St. Ignatius of Antioch, where he remained to his death in 1883. It was sometime during his tenure in New York that Ewer composed his famous map of Nantucket.

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