Edgartown Massachusetts, 1890

Edgartown, the seat of justice in Dukes County, occupies the southeastern section of Martha's Vineyard. It lies 85 miles southeast of Boston, and is bounded on the north by Cottage City, on the east and south by the ocean and on the west by Tisbury. The assessed area is 10,988 acres, of which 1,667 acres are woodland, containing oak and pine.

The harbor, formed by Chappaquiddick Island on the east and the mainland on the west, is about five fathoms deep, broad and well protected. It is esteemed one of the best on the coast; and several thousand vessels find anchorage here in bad weather during the course of the year. The lighthouse on the pier in the harbor is in latitude 41° 25' north, and longitude 70° 26' west. At the northeast extremity of Chappaquiddick Island is Cape Poge, on Great Neck, where is a lighthouse. Between the southwestern and the southern arm of Great Neck is Cape Poge Pond, of which a narrow portion extends southward along the entire eastern side of the island, enclosed by the narrow strip of sandy land nearly five miles long which connects with the island at Washqua Bluff, the southeast extremity. Near the middle of this strip of land, on the eastern side, is one of the national life-saving stations. On the southwest of this island is Katayma Bay, with Katayma Point on its west side. In the mainland south of this point is Mattakeset Bay. A similar sandy strip of land extends westward along the south side of the town, entirely enclosing large bodies of salt water known as Herring, Job's Neck, Paqua, and Oyster ponds. The first extends quite to the centre of the town.

Chappaquiddick Island, five miles long and two in width, has a varied surface, the highest point of which is Sampson's Hill; and a street passing across the island north of this contains dwellings enough to constitute a village bearing the name of the island. The other villages of the town are Katama, near the southeast point of the mainland, and Edgartown village at the north, on the southwest side of its harbor. The town in general is rather level, yet at two or three points it rises to an elevation of 70 to 120 feet above the sea. On the eminence near the line of Tisbury is a pond 20 rods in length by 10 in breadth, which is not only curious but very useful, since it is the only body of water within about four miles' distance. There being no streams nor water-power in the town, the only mill is turned by wind. The geological structure is drift and alluvium. The climate is mild and salubrious, and the people are strong and hardy.

The farms number 71; and their aggregate product in 1885 was $50,305. The crops and live stock are of the usual kinds and proportion, except the flocks, which are large, aggregating 1,424. The usual rural and shore manufactures are carried on to a small extent, amounting in value to $34,063. The product of the fisheries in the year mentioned had the value of $67,529. The catch of blue-fish was much larger than any other, amounting to $7,216; the catch of cod being $1,907. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $712,014, with a tax of $14.20 on $1,000. The population was 1,165, and the voters 373; and these were sheltered in 319 dwelling-houses.

On a level plain along the shore of its harbor is the ancient village of Edgarton. Many of the dwellings are of imposing size, for many retired shipmasters reside here. At the outskirts are narrower streets, grass-grown, lined with trees, and bordered with low-roofed dwellings. The whole place has an old-fashioned appearance, for which it is all the more attractive and none the worse. Here are the court-house, county offices, the custom-house, a national bank, a Congregational, a Methodist, and a Baptist church, all large wooden edifices. The town-hall, too, is here, looking like a superannuated church. The village is six miles south from Cottage City landing, which is reached either by the narrow-gauge railroad or by the beach drive. This railroad also connects with Katama and the south shore, three miles in the other direction. At both villages are good hotels.

The public schools of this town are completely graded, occupying four buildings, which are valued, with appurtenances, at nearly $5,000. There are a public-school library of some 150 volumes and three Sunday-school libraries. The "Vineyard Gazette " is the local newspaper of the county, and has a good office outfit.

Edgartown, whose Indian name was Chappaquiddick, was settled anterior to 1645 by several English families bearing the names of Norton, Pease, Trapp, Vincent, and others, the descendants of whom still remain, A church was organized in July, 1641, under the care of Rev. Thomas Mayhew, governor of Martha's Vineyard. He, and also his father, the proprieter of the island, were very successful in their religious labors among the Indians; and these remained faithful to the English through King Philip's War. An Indian burial place is still visible, The town was incorporated July 8, 1671. Four soldiers of the town's quota in the war for the Union were lost.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, Pp. 289-291

Dukes county, Gazetteer 1890