Gosnold Massachusetts, 1890

Gosnold in Dukes County, consists of what are known as the Elizabeth Islands (thirteen in number on the maps), extending from Woods Holl in Falmouth, southwesterly, and giving form to Buzzard's Bay and Vineyard Sound. These islands constitute, as it were, a beautiful chain, divided into sections by narrow spaces, and terminating in a point at Cuttyhunk. It is easy to imagine that they were once united in a long peninsula.

    Commencing at the northeast, they succeed each other somewhat in the following order,— Nonamesset, which is about a mile and a quarter long and crowned by an eminence called "Mount Sod" in the southwest; Uncatena, which forms with it Hadley Harbor, in the north; Ram Islands and Wepecket Islands; Naushon, the largest of the whole group, seven and a half miles long, and a mile and a quarter broad, having Tarpaulin Cove in its southeast, and Kettle Cove in its northwest centre; Pasque Island, separated from Naushon by Robinson's Hole; Nashawena, three miles and a quarter long and a mile and a quarter wide; Gull Island; Penakese (also called formerly Pune Island), comprising about 100 acres; and Cuttyhunk, which is two and a half miles long and somewhat less than one mile wide. As an aid to the memory, these names have been put into rhyme, as follows: —

          "Cuttyhunk and Penakese,
          Nashawena, Pasquenese,
          Great Naushon, Nonamesset,
          Uncatena and Wepecket."

    There are said to be really sixteen islands; but others are too small to be generally known. The soil of these islands is very good, and well adapted to sheep husbandry. The climate is mild and the air salubrious. Seen at a distance, their picturesque outlines and green hills, rising above the sea, appear very charming; and the view of the Vineyard Sound, alive with vessels, from the headlands of Naushon, has hardly a parallel on our coast. There is a peculiar softness and richness in the scenery of these islands, arising perhaps from the geological formation (miocene tertiary), which cannot be described, but which a landscape-painter can appreciate, and which imparts a kind of silent joy to the breast of the visitor, although unconscious of the cause. There is a beautiful sheet of water, called "Mary's Lake," in the northerly part of Naushon; and another sheet of fresh water, of 55 acres, in the southwesterly part. There is also a large body of fresh water, called "Gosnold's Pond," in the southwesterly angle of Cuttyhunk.

    The assessed area of this town is 8,488 acres, which includes 3,448 acres of woodland. These islands contain but here and there a human habitation, except at Tarpaulin Cove, on the south side, on Naushon, where there is a lighthouse, and one other point, —Cuttyhunk, where there is a lighthouse and a Methodist church. The whole number of dwellings is 39. The entire population is but 122,— a gain of seven, however, since 1870. There were only five farms reported in the last census (1885). The number of neat cattle was 76; of horses 8; and of sheep 3,770. The aggregate farm product was $8,488. A large proportion of the inhabitants were engaged in the fisheries; the investments in this business being $7,938, and the value of the product, $15,822. The porgy catch amounted to $10,843; flounders (92,910 lbs.), $1,189; squeteague, $1,704. The valuation of the town in 1880 was $202,429; the tax-rate being $4.64 on $1,000. The post office is Cuttyhunk; but Woods Holl is also used; this being the railroad and steamboat station most convenient to the town.

    The island of Penakese was given by its owner, Mr. John Anderson, a wealthy tobacconist of New York, to Professor Louis Agassiz a few years before his decease, as a site for a school of natural history. To this the munificent donor added $50,000 for an endowment of the institution. Professor Agassiz took formal possession of the island in July, 1873, and opened his institution, which he called "The Anderson School of Natural History."

    At Cuttyhunk was commenced the first white plantation in New England. Bartholomew Gosnold, with about 20 colonists, built a storehouse on the rocky islet in what is now called "Gosnold's Pond," in Cuttyhunk, in the spring of 1602; but discontent arising, the settlement was soon abandoned. Gosnold called the enclosing island "Elizabeth," in honor of the reigning queen; which name has been extended to the whole group. These islands were long a part of the town of Chilmark, but were incorporated as the town of Gosnold, March 17, 1864.

Nason and Varney's Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 334-336

Dukes county, Gazetteer 1890