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Chris Baer

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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...

This Was Then: Mr. Meara and Mr. Davis

On the southwest corner of Main and Spring streets in Vineyard Haven stands the old Meara building. It has tales to tell.Sherman Meara, an...

This Was Then: Cash and counterfeit

The Coinage Act of 1792 established the U.S. dollar as our country’s official currency, based upon the Spanish milled dollar. But the old system...

This Was Then: The linden tree

The Great Fire of 1883 burned down all of downtown Vineyard Haven — both sides of Main Street and part of Beech Street, more...

This Was Then: Dr. Orland Mayhew

If you were born in Vineyard Haven before about 1935, the chances are excellent that you were brought into this world in the company...

This Was Then: Monsters

What foul creature peers up from the depths of the basin of our beloved Civil War statue in Oak Bluffs in this late 19th-century...

This Was Then: Bad beef

Dairy farmers Jim Adams of Chilmark and Silas Merry of West Tisbury were both worried about the health of their herds in early 1909....

This Was Then: Dr. Bullitt

On Oct. 21, 1925, Dr. John C. Bullitt of Vineyard Haven died at the age of 52 at the U.S. Marine Hospital of myocarditis,...

This Was Then: Donkey rides

Of donkeys, Equus africanus asinus, there are few early records on the Vineyard. It’s not until the late 1800s that references can be found....

This Was Then: Donkey rides

Of donkeys, Equus africanus asinus, there are few early records on the Vineyard. It’s not until the late 1800s that references can be found....

This Was Then: Goat carts and patriarchs

While not native to the Island, goats have been here for an awfully long time. They are first mentioned in island records in the...

This Was Then: Bumpus

Lester “Jack” Bumpus never knew his parents. His father, a harnessmaker at the factory in Vineyard Haven, died of pneumonia at the age of...

This Was Then: Whaleboat races

Whaling declined precipitously in the second half of the 19th century, leaving our Island with a lot of men with specific, well-honed, but obsolete...

This Was Then: Straw rides

Straw rides, popular on the Vineyard in the late 1800s, were not the hayrides we are familiar with today, carting small children slowly around...