The history of Martha's Vineyard, Dukes County, Massachusetts

VOLUME I - General History

The following pages represent the net results of twenty years of constant accumulation of material which I have collected to illustrate the history of the Island of Martha's Vineyard and its dependencies, although it need not be said that all of that time was actually employed in this task. Official duties have been a constant obstacle to its rapid fulfillment, and the prosecution of the work has been followed, at times under the most discouraging circumstances. Since it was begun, in 1890, when I first became interested in, and connected with, the Vineyard, I have not had the advantages of a continued residence on the Island, beyond a few weeks at a time, and have served at six different posts elsewhere in the meanwhile. This has entailed the transportation of my manuscript material, arranged in half a hundred volumes, over the entire eastern half of the country from time to time, and it can be said, with truth, that this history has been written in Maine, Canada, New York, Washington, Illinois, Florida, besides in our own Commonwealth, under conditions not favorable for systematic or continuous work. Being thus away from my "base of supplies," much of the time has been consumed in necessary correspondence connected with the records, in verification of data obtained therefrom, and the numerous other incidental processes following this situation, all tending to lengthen the period required for its completion.

These materials have been gathered from National, State and local archives, in England and America. The principal sources in England are the Public Record Office and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, both of which I visited, together with some local depositaries examined by me in search of special information. In our own country the State Archives of New York and Massachusetts have yielded the greatest stores of original material, much of which has never before been published. The county archives at Edgartown have been the foundation of this history as far as persons and estates were involved, while the secular and church records of the several towns afford material for the construction of a narrative of these distinctive communities, as integral parts of the whole. In addition to this there is in the Library of Congress, at Washington, a considerable collection of valuable original papers, of the date of the first quarter of the i8th century, consisting of documents, and drafts of legal instruments prepared by James and Jabez Athearn in their capacities as officials and attorneys. These I have consulted and will refer to as the "Athearn Mss." in my notes. In addition to these public depositaries I have had the benefit of numerous private papers held by families or collectors of ancient documents, particular reference to which must be made in the text.


Table of Contents

CHAPTER I. General and Statistical. 17-30
CHAPTER II. The Aboriginal Inhabitants. 31-57
CHAPTER III. Early Voyages of Discovery. 58-72
CHAPTER IV. What is the Correct Name of the Vineyard? 73-79
CHAPTER V. Purchase of Martha's Vineyard by Mayhew. 80-88
CHAPTER VI. The Legendary Settlement before 1642. 89-103
CHAPTER VII. The English Family of Mayhew. 104-116
CHAPTER VIII. Thomas Mayhew in Massachusetts. 117-126
CHAPTER IX. Thomas Mayhew, Jr. 127-130
CHAPTER X. Independence of the Vineyard, 1642-1665. 131-138
CHAPTER XI. Sale of the Islands to the Duke of York. 139-146
CHAPTER XII. The Conference at Fort James, 1671. 147-153
CHAPTER XIII. The "Dutch" Rebellion, 1673. 154-163
CHAPTER XIV. Restoration of Mayhew's Authority, 1674-1682. 164-171
CHAPTER XV. Administration of Matthew Mayhew, 1682-1692. 172-181
CHAPTER XVI. The Vineyard and the Charter of 1692. 182-194
CHAPTER XVII. The Island Under Puritan Control. 195-204
CHAPTER XVIII. Political History of the Vineyard, 1700-1900. 205-212
CHAPTER XIX. The Missionary Mayhews. 212-257
CHAPTER XX. County of Dukes County. 258-293
CHAPTER XXI. Military History, 1645-1775. 294-320
CHAPTER XXII. The Vineyard in the Revolution, 1774-1778. 321-354
CHAPTER XXIII. The Vineyard Abandoned to Neutrality. 355-366
CHAPTER XXIV. Grey's Raid. 367-383
CHAPTER XXV. Long Campaign to Obtain Redress. 384-403
CHAPTER XXVI. Naval History in the Revolution. 404-415
CHAPTER XXVII. Military History, 1800-1900. 416-429
CHAPTER XXVIII. Whale Fisheries. 430-451
CHAPTER XXIX. Travel and Taverns. 452-467
CHAPTER XXX. Life During Colonial Times. 468-504


Judicial Officers 507
Representations to the General Court 509
Militia Lists, 1757 513
Army 518
Naval Service 524
Indexes 529


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VOLUME II - Town Annals

Having now brought forward the narrative of events from the beginning of time, through the first occupation of the Vineyard by Englishmen for a permanent residence, and presented the story of its progress as a whole to our own day, the sub- sequent annals of the island, under its new tenants in segregated communities, will be considered in detail. Separate histories of each township growing out of the initial settlement, commencing with Edgartown, the eldest, taking each in turn according to its chronological relations to the parent towns, will follow, and the local developments of each one be particularly treated. In order to maintain this plan, however, certain arbitrary limitations will be necessary in its application to simplify the relation, owing to the divisions of Edgartown, to form Cottage City (now Oak Bluffs); of Chilmark to form Gosnold; and of Tisbury, to form West Tisbury. Therefore, for the purposes of definite historical study of these towns, the present boundary limits of each, although at one time a part of another, will be considered as originally belonging to the later incorporated community. For example, all that relates to persons and events in the present territorial limits of Oak-Bluffs, although enacted when a part of Edgartown, will be related as happening in the history of that section now called Oak Bluffs. This topographical plan will prevent duplication of statements and constant explanation of the relation of events and places to each other, and give proper credit to the scenes enacted on each one's particular soil.


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The beginnings of the history of Edgartown took place in Watertown, when, on March 16, 1641-2, the grant of township was made by the two patentees, Mayhew senior and junior, unto five of their townsmen as previously stated, and the first foundations were laid in that year when young Thomas Mayhew set foot on the shores of its "great harbour," with his companions, to consummate the title and take possession.