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Chris Baer

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This Was Then: Iron Mines

French-American writer and cartographer Jean de Crèvecœur, in his popular 1782 book, “Letters from an American Farmer,” described the Island of Martha’s Vineyard to...

This Was Then: The Lime Schooners

On Feb. 7, 1895, a partial wreck drifted ashore at Paul’s Point, near Lambert’s Cove. The hull was completely gone – only the schooner’s...

This Was Then: Island brew

“It is stated,” recorded a writer for the New England Farmer in 1858, “that the first barley sewn in this country, was upon the...

This Was Then: Island school history

The public school system in Tisbury has a long and rich history, with records dating back to at least 1669.During the mid-1700s, school came...

This Was Then: Welcome to Glenwood

Martha’s Vineyard has long been known for its beaches and cliffs, its harbors and bluffs, its ocean views and stony shorelines. The Island’s interior,...

This Was Then: Love and Unity

The Island has hosted many foreign visitors over the years, but there are some who have arrived on our shores purely by accident.The Canadian...

This Was Then: Release the hounds

Unlike cats, horses, or alpacas, domesticated dogs have lived on Martha’s Vineyard for many thousands of years — even, quite possibly, since before the...

This Was Then: Razors, shotguns, and brass knuckles

Islanders have long been frighteningly well-armed. General Charles Grey seized 388 guns from Vineyarders in the British raid of the Island in 1778, but...

This Was Then: Missing persons

Body discoveredIt was 1:20 am on a Sunday morning in November 1937. Twenty-eight-year-old Manuel Phillips of Wing Road was walking along the beach, south...

This Was Then: Ole, Frank, and Manny

State Road, that river of wide, smooth pavement stretching more than 18 miles from Vineyard Haven to Gay Head, wasn’t always so. Up until...

This Was Then: Roger Amidon, ‘radiophan’

“Roger Amidon's radio repair shop,” recalled the late John Canha of Vineyard Haven. “Amidon repaired my RCA Victor and GE radios. He was very...

This Was Then: Sleeping in

An old Edgartown record noted something unusual about Mrs. Anna (Pease) Arey (1755-1807) of Chappaquiddick: "She had been confined to her Bed for about...

This Was Then: Cold case

In late July 1810, a body was discovered buried near South Beach. The newly dead man had a straw hat on, lined with green...

This Was Then: The Cottage City Carnival of 1882

Please enjoy this encore “This Was Then” column. Illumination Night in the late 19th century was very different from the laid-back traditions we enjoy...

This Was Then: Money digging

In 1833, newspapers around the country reprinted a story from the New Bedford Gazette titled “Money Digging”:“A few days since, three young men...

This Was Then: The Tashmoo

Before the great fire of 1883 burned down all of Vineyard Haven, there were two homes on the corner of Main and Church streets...

This Was Then: Names, Wood, and dynamite

It was not uncommon in the 19th century for Vineyard whaling captains to bring home boys from abroad, sometimes informally adopting them, all the...

This Was Then: Shark!

About 1840, a Dr. Gale of Holmes Hole found several oversized shark teeth in a roadside excavation in the north part of Chilmark, on...

This Was Then: Tut Chase

Tristram “Tut” Chase (1854–1928) was the last village blacksmith of North Tisbury. Born in Chilmark, his mother died of typhoid fever when he was...

This Was Then: Electrifying

Gay Head, today known as Aquinnah, was the last town in the commonwealth of Massachusetts to receive electricity. Up until 1951, there had been...