Tisbury Massachusetts, 1890

Tisbury occupies the middle of Martha's Vineyard, Dukes County, seventy-seven miles south of Boston, extending across the island. The capacious harbor called Vineyard Haven, and a connected body of salt water called " Lagoon Pond," separate it from Cottage City on the east; while the portion south of this is bounded on the same side by Edgartown. On the west is Chilmark, the southern halves of the two towns separated by Great Tisbury Pond (salt), from which several long coves extend into Tisbury.

West Tisbury village is situated at the northern extremity of this pond, on the largest stream on the island; which is formed near the village of Middletown from rivulets flowing from the northwest of the town. In this part is Indian Hill, the highest elevation in the town; just south of it is the village of Christiantown; and northeast of it is Lombard's Cove, having North Tisbury village about its shores. Northwest of the hill is Cedar Tree Neck, with Paul's Point between it and the cove. Half-way between this place and West Chop is salt Chappaquonsett, or Tashmoo, Pond, extending two or three miles inland, and having Chappaquonsett village on its western side.

The principal village is Vineyard Haven, extended along the rising ground at the southwest side of the harbor. It contains a U. S. marine hospital, on the shore of the Lagoon; a sailor's free reading-room, with a well-stocked library and museum, on Union Bluff; a primitive Methodist, and a Baptist and an Episcopal church of modern styles. An old landmark is the windmill on the bluffs of Lagoon Pond. These bluffs and the heights succeeding them are well clothed with oak and pine, interspersed with hotels and cottages. Many elms, willows and other trees some ancient and others of more recent growth adorn the village streets. A good road from this village runs across low and marshy ground, and across a drawbridge over the narrow strait connecting the pond and harbor, to Cottage City; which, with Edgartown, may also be reached by a longer road southward around the pond. In the other direction, a fine road leads to the headland of West Chop, forming the northeast extremity of the town, and bearing a lighthouse. The vicinity is quite numerously covered with pines, through which run long avenues and winding lanes, along which are scattered cottages, odd, elegant and ample. Away in the woods back of the village is the long-known Tashmoo Spring; whence, by means of a pumping station and standpipe, the village and the whole northeastern section is supplied with pure water. The harbor of Vineyard Haven is a convenient refuge for the numerous vessels of the North Atlantic coast. More than 250 have been counted in it at one time, and the number making use of it in the course of a year is estimated at above 10,000.

Nearly one third of the assessed area (12,942 acres) is more or less densely covered with forests, consisting chiefly of oak and pine. The soil is sandy. Cranberries, apples, huckleberries, and strawberries are a source of considerable profit, and other crops do fairly. The town stock of sheep in June, 1885, was nearly 2,000, with about 600 lambs. The value of the aggregate product of the 145 farms (according to the late census) was $77,369. A harness factory here employs from 30 to 50 persons. Other manufactures are boats and small vessels, carriages, metallic articles, furniture, woollen yarn and knit goods, boots and shoes, lumber, meal and flour and other food preparations. The value of the entire manufactured product was $111,068. The fisheries, consisting of a large variety of fish, but chiefly cod, squeteague, flounders, perch, eels, and alewives, yielded $15,230. In this business were employed a schooner, a sloop, 9 sailboats, 25 dories and 4 seine-boats. Six schooners, aggregating 276 tons, were engaged in freighting. The population was 4,541; of whom 466 were legal voters. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $787,254, with a tax of $16.20 on $1,000. There were 428 taxed dwelling-houses. The seven public school-houses were valued at nearly $10,000. Dukes County Academy, incorporated in 1833, has a building valued at $6,000. The West Tisbury library contains nearly 3,000 volumes, and the Ladies' Library League has a small number of books. Besides the churches mentioned, there is a Baptist and a Methodist church at North Tisbury, and a Congregationalist church at West Tisbury. Villages not previously mentioned are Davistown, Holmes Hole, and Oklahoma. Vineyard Haven, West and North Tisbury are the post-offices.

The Indian name of this town was Chappaquonsett, and it subsequently bore the name of " Middletown." It was incorporated July 8, 1671, while under the government of New York; and for this act it was to pay two barrels of good merchantable codfish yearly. The first minister was the Rev. John Mayhew, who commenced preaching here in 1763. Rufus Paine Spaulding, an able lawyer, and M. C. 1863-1869, was born at West Tisbury, May 3, 1798.

pp. 639-640 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Dukes county, Gazetteer 1890