This was then: The fut path

Photos of long-ago Martha’s Vineyard.

Great Rock Road is mentioned in this 1859 deed transferring property from James Gray to Charles Smith. Photo courtesy of Chris Baer

In 1685 Ponit, son of Cheesehahchamuk and sachem of Nobnocket, stated in a court record that the bounds of his sachemship had been defined by his boss, the great sachem Towantaquit, “by a fut path which gose from Weakuttockquayah unto Cuttashimmoo on the other side of the neck.”

This path from Weaquatickquayage (the head of the Lagoon) to Cuttashimmoo (Tashmoo Spring) appears in a number of old deeds and maps, and follows the existing Head of Pond Road and Great Rock Road in Oak Bluffs through a network of ancient ways in Wapatequa Woods Reservation, to Old Holmes Hole Road and State Road in Vineyard Haven. The path probably predates the first European settlers on Martha’s Vineyard, and could conceivably be 1,000 years old or more.

A straightened version of Ponit’s boundary line became the bound between Tisbury and Edgartown, and later the bound between Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. (Note: Some of Ponit’s Fut Path may be on private property today.)

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.