Chilmark Massachusetts, 1890

Chilmark occupies the southeastern part of Dukes County, on Martha's Vineyard. It is about ten miles long, and from two to five wide; the area in acres being 15,389, of which but 9,650 are taxed. There are 2,884 acres of woodland, almost entirely oak; and 10,725 acres are included in the farms. These number 125; and there are 129 dwellings to shelter the population of 412 persons.

The town is bounded on the northeast by Tisbury (from which it is in part separated by Great Tisbury Pond), on the south by the ocean, and on the northwest by Gay Head and by Vineyard Sound. The geological formation is miocene tertiary. Bowlders of gray granite in the form of cones, houses and sugar-bowls, abound upon the surface; and iron ore and blue and yellow clay are obtained in several localities for exportation. The cliffs of colored clays and sand along the southern shore most strikingly exhibit the action of the ocean, rains and frost in wearing away the land. The most prominent elevations in Chilmark are Peaked Hill near the centre, and Prospect Hill in the northwest. The Tiasquam River drains the eastern section of the town; and several other small streams flow from the central part, both north and south, into the sea. Chilmark Pond is a large irregular sheet of salt water in the south; and Squibnocket, Nashaquitsa, and Menemsha Ponds are similar bodies of water in the southwest.

The soil, especially in the valleys, is loamy and productive. The usual farm crops are cultivated with the usual success; their aggregate value for the census year of 1885 was $46,522. The principal business besides farming is whaling, trap-fishing and brick-making. The proceeds of the two former in 1885 were $11,080. The valuation of the town, in 1888, was $212,935; and the rate of taxation was $12.70 on $1,000. The chief public works consist of a stone bridge 75 feet in length, a town-hall and three school-houses. The last were valued at about $1,500. There is a private circulating library in the town, and a Sunday-school library. A Congregational church was founded here in 1700, but the Methodists are now occupying the field.

The Indian name of the place was Nashnakemmuck; and, while under the government of New York, it was called the "Manor of Tisbury." It received its present name from Chilmark, in Wiltshire County, England, as early as 1698; and was incorporated Oct. 30, 1714. The Hon. Timothy Fuller, an eminent lawyer and politician, and father of the celebrated Sarah Margaret Fuller, Countess Ossoli, was born here July 11, 1778; and died at Groton, October 1, 1835.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 239-240

Dukes county, Gazetteer 1890