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Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Chris Baer

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This Was Then: The artificial creek

Tashmoo is a saltwater estuary today, fed by a small, spring-fed freshwater pond, but prior to the 1938 hurricane, it was a freshwater lake...

This Was Then: The boys who fled

Philip Higgins of Westfield was 13 years old when he was arrested for robbing $40 dollars from a local store in 1879. One of...

This Was Then: The grist mill and the rat fire

The old S.B.S. grain store on Water Street, Vineyard Haven, was a longtime side business of the successful grocery enterprise of Smith, Bodfish, and...

This was then: Going up!

Elevators have long remained off-Island curiosities for the entertainment of Vineyard kids visiting the mainland, as there have been precious few to ride here...

This was then: The Martha’s Vineyard Air Meet of 1928

“Fully 10,000 persons” reportedly thronged the road from Edgartown to Katama over two days in 1928 to witness the Island’s first-ever air meet. More...

This was then: Arvagasugiaqpalauqtut Kinguvaanginnik Qaujinasungniq

Consumer DNA tests have become an important new tool for historians. Companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA (which recently announced its 5 millionth customer) can...

This Was Then: Cap’n Dave

Cap’n Dave Butler of Menemsha Creek (1859-1943) grew up on Nomans Land, the son of artist George Butler, one of the Vineyard’s first photographers. As...

This was then: The Edgartown Cornet Band

The Edgartown Cornet Band, under the direction of band leader Richard G. Shute, played during the summer months in the late 1890s. Chappaquiddick ferryman Charles...

This Was Then: Stella

Stella Abiah Ryan was born in 1885 in the town once known as Gay Head, the daughter of Charles Ryan and Rachel Diamond of...

This was then: The Joggins

It emerged from a heavy fog into Vineyard Haven Harbor just after midnight on August 8, 1888. It was nearly an eighth of a...

This was then: Summer Toboggans, the Casino, and the North Bluff Flying Horses

The Flying Horses, the Casino, and the Summer Toboggan Coast are clustered in the background of this late-1880s view down Kennebec Avenue toward North...

This Was Then: Studley’s store

Clem Studley came to the Island as a toddler with his Yarmouth-born parents, and after a brief period selling tea in Providence with his...

This Was Then: Harding’s clothing store

W.D. Harding’s clothing and shoe store stood on Circuit Avenue roughly where Reliable Market is today. Mr. Harding, a Vineyard Haven native who opened...

This Was Then: Conant’s Studio

Photography arrived in the United States in the early 1840s and spread astonishingly quickly. By the end of the decade there were dozens of...

This Was Then: Warned out

One of the main functions of town government in the 1700s and 1800s on Martha’s Vineyard, or anywhere in the commonwealth, was caring for...

This Was Then: The mailman and the shoemaker’s boy

Forty-three-year-old mail carrier Ansel Dimmick of Falmouth set off one cold January evening in 1816 with mail bound for Holmes Hole. “The sound was...

This Was Then: Air tales

New York City holdup man Lewis “Bum Dogs” Miller was on the run in the spring of 1929 after committing a series of armed...

This Was Then: Baxter’s Saloon

T. Baxter’s Saloon was the front end of Baxter House, a 75-guest hotel on Circuit Avenue next to the Island House — roughly...

This Was Then: Journey to the center of the earth

The word “Chops” — as in East and West — derives its name from the business end of a mouth, the parts one might...

This Was Then: The tinman

For nearly 50 years, Charles Mayhew ran a popular Edgartown hardware business, selling stoves, plumbing supplies, dishes, kettles, keys, cinder shovels, pumps, pipes, wire,...