From Vineyard Gazette editions of July and August 1888:
Edgartown is now entertaining quite a number of summer visitors at hotels and private residences. Every train brings the stranger and returning Vineyarder, all rejoicing in the prospect of a week’s outing at this charming seaport town. All in all, Edgartown is enjoying a fair share of the Island’s prosperity, and the visitors always depart with a reluctance that speaks well for the hospitality and attractions to which the town has treated them.
Steamer Island Home brought about 75 excursionists to the place Wednesday from Mattapoisett via Falmouth Heights and Cottage City. Many of the excursionists brought lunches with them, and failing to find a better place, partook of the same in our village cemetery, thus teaching to Edgartown the need of a public park or common somewhere in the village, where summer visitors and our own citizens can enjoy a seat in the shade without feeling that they are trespassing on private property.
It would perhaps be more fitting and a nearer approach to the truth if the M.V. Herald, in referring to handsome building provided by Dukes County for the abode of its few criminals, and which is located in the shire town of Edgartown, to term it as it is: the county jail. The Herald’s persistency in calling it the “Edgartown jail” every time a criminal is to be shipped from the paper’s locality — which, by the way and of course is to be expected, furnishes nine out of ten of all who are incarcerated in said institution, — is, of course, of little account, but seems to be on a par with the silly attempts that paper often indulges in of going out of its way to Edgartown.
The California goldhunters of the memorable year 1849 living in New England are to organize a society of “California Pioneers of New England.”
Martha’s Vineyard, in proportion to her population, probably furnished more of these pioneers than any other section of the East, and many readers of the Gazette today can recall their California life of nearly forty years ago. Many of these hardy men of ‘49 have passed away, but scores of them are now living on the Island who remember their voyage “o’er silver seas to lands of gold” in the good ship Walter Scott, Splendid, Sarah, Vesta and others in 1849.
On Monday, the fifth of July, Amos Jeffers Jr., and Jeremiah Weeks of Gay Head proceeded in a Vineyard sailboat on a swordfishing expedition off Noman’s Land. Nothing has been heard of them, and as the boat’s mainsail was picked up on Tuesday, the 6th, on Gay Head, the supposition is the boat that was stoven by the sword of a fish, and sunk from under them. It is barely possible they were picked up by some vessel, but the impression is that they have found a watery grave. Both were men of uncommon promise. Mr. Jeffers lately returned from sea, as first mate of the whaling bark Mary, of New Bedford, and was soon to have sailed from that port in the capacity of master.
U.S.S. RUSH, Ounalaska, July 18, 1888:
Dear Gazette: The steam tender to the Arctic whaling fleet came in yesterday from Port Clarence, where she has been with the coal and stores for the fleet. She reports a very hard winter below the straits, and a very open winter in the Arctic. The fleet has seen plenty of whales, but they were in the ice and could not be got at. The captains thought they would do well later in the season. The tender will leave here today as soon as she discharges 40 tons of coal into this vessel; she will call in at Victoria, and this will be mailed form that place. I send you a list of the catch as brought down: — Balaena 3, Beluga 4, Narwhal 1, Orca 1, Thrasher 1, Belvedere 2, J.A. Hamilton 1, W.A. Baylies 1, Lagoda 1, J.S. Howland 2, Abram Barker 1, Ocean 1 1/2, Young Poenix 1, Rosario 1.
On August 21, in latitude 44, longitude 74.30, a tremendous hurricane was encountered, and for a time the bark Mattapoissett, of Edgartown, Mr. Cleveland, first officer, was at the mercy of the raging elements. Mountainous seas flooded her, and the howling tempest keeled her rail under. A man with axe in hand was lashed to the rigging, to cut the stays and free the masts, and for hours the Mattapoisett labored in the seething flood. When morning dawned the wind abated. The bulwarks were stove, davits gone, two boats smashed into kindling, and everything on deck washed away. Three days later the masts of a schooner and a deck load of lumber were sighted. In the same storm three whalers went to pieces and many other staunch craft foundered. The Mattapoisett is 54 years old, and is 104 tons burden, yet she came out of the scathing ordeal right side up and tight as a bucket. Sixty-four sperm whales were cut up during the cruise.
Compiled by Alison L. Mead