Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Chris Baer

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This Was Then: Dr. Leach’s Marine Hospital and Poor Farm

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In late 1857, a new doctor arrived on the Island. His name was Dr. Leach, and he would set the course of hospital care...

This Was Then: Frog Alley Hospital

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On July 19, 1855, Ferdinand Weinreicke, a 19-year-old Newburyport resident and Prussian native, was working as a crewman aboard the schooner Chas. H. Rogers....

This Was Then: The Jetties

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Until a major storm reconstructed our coastline around 1725, Cape Poge and the whole northern tip of Chappaquiddick — the landmasses we sometimes refer to...

This Was Then: Tallman’s octagon

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Henry Beetle Hough, in his 1936 book “Martha’s Vineyard, Summer Resort,” listed the Island’s five most colorful, outward-facing characters of the late 19th century:...

This Was Then: Mephitis mephitis

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Updated 1-5-2024 Skunks have lived on Martha’s Vineyard for at least four or five hundred years. (Except, that is, for about 50 of them. We’ll...

This Was Then: Dave Curney

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At 3:45 am on Friday, Jan. 18, 1884, the 275-foot steamer City of Columbus, bound for Savannah from Boston, struck Devil’s Bridge off Gay...

This Was Then: Here and there

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The English settled Martha’s Vineyard from the outside in; early colonial settlements clustered around natural harbors and mill-powering streams, mostly near the periphery of...

This Was Then: The Tisbury School

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Welcome to the new Tisbury School! It’s 1930. Students, staff, and teachers have moved into the new school on West William Street, to pomp and...

This Was Then: Francis Lewis

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Deborah Lewis was born about 1730 in Yarmouth, the daughter of John and Thankful Lewis. She came to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard with...

This Was Then: KaBLAM!

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It’s Labor Day, 1929, at the New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket Steamboat company wharf in Oak Bluffs. The last steamer has departed for...

This Was Then: Jane Wamsley

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In 1859, two writers for Harper’s Magazine visited Gay Head on a day trip “to see something of the Indians.” One of them was...

This Was Then: Rollo Wigglesworth

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The Island has had its share of colorful names. There was Major Pain, the Chilmark lawyer who fought unsuccessfully to move our county seat...

This Was Then: The joys of Oak Bluffs

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The area we know today as downtown Oak Bluffs was known as “Squash Meadow” for longer than it has been called “Oak Bluffs.” The...

This Was Then: Charlie Bell

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He was known by everyone as “Charlie Bell” (and in his Vineyard property deeds as “Charles A. Bell”), but that, it turns out, was...

This Was Then: Laura Johnson

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She dressed in men’s clothing. She was openly gay. And she ran this town during the 1930s and ’40s. “Laura Johnson the real, real...

The New Vineyard

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My son and I took a trip up to New Vineyard, Maine, a few weeks ago. New Vineyard is exactly what its name suggests:...

This Was Then: Attendance required

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In October 1837, teachers and officials from around the Island gathered in Edgartown for the first-ever “Dukes County Common School Convention” — a public...

This Was Then: Hiram and Tom

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Hiram Dunham was 3 years old, and his older brother Tom was 15, when their father’s seizures began. Ralph Dunham, a 41-year-old Edgartown native, had...

This Was Then: The Scarecrow and the Confectioner (Part Two)

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The North Atlantic Ocean, 250 miles west of Bermuda, October 1841. The whaling brig William and Joseph of Holmes Hole is heading back to...

This Was Then: The confectioner and the scarecrow

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London, England, January 1830. A tall, very slender, and considerably deaf 40-year-old man was badgering the acclaimed English author Mary Russell Mitford, bringing her...