Annals of Oak Bluffs by Dr. Charles E. Banks


The following pages are from pp. 3 - 13 of
The History of Martha's Vineyard Volume II
by Dr. Charles E. Banks (originally published 1911.)


The Algonquian name for this tract, above described, was Ogkeshkuppe (Agescape, 1660, Aukeshkeppe, Ogkeshkupbeh, etc.), the definition of which is "the wet or damp thicket, or woods," probably referring to the swampy grounds bordering on Squash meadow and Farm ponds, in the eastern part of the town. The equivalent name is found in the Massachusetts dialect, Ogqush-kuppi (Eliot), Agkess-cuppi (Cotton). [The town clerk of Edgartown, in his copy of the old records, about 1720, made one of his usual blunders, and wrote it Ogisket (Records, I, I3I).] It was later called Sanchacantacket neck, but this appellation was evidently given to it by the English settlers, from the pond on the southern border.

The meaning of Sanchakantacket is believed to be "at the bursting forth of the tidal stream," having reference to the opening of this pond at the bridge, where the tides are so strong. In the Abnaki, a dialectal form of the Algonquian tongue, the form Sanghe dentegge is found, meaning l'embouchere, sortie (of a river), which is probably parallel to our Sanchakantacket. The word first occurs in the records as relating to the region about the pond (Edg. Rec., p. I), and by the settlers was applied to the land adjacent as well as to the pond itself. In 1663 Sanchacantacket pond is first mentioned (ibid., I), and in a deed dated 1660, "Wabamuck alias Samuel, son of Autumsquum, sachem of Sanchacantacket, alias Akeshkeppe neck," shows its use as applied to the region bordering upon the pond (Deeds, I, 289). Other deeds refer to the "place" called Sanchacantacket, and farm or Sanchacantacket neck (ibid., I, 89; III, III; IV, 94).

Another name, Quasquannes, was once used, in 1660, to designate this region (Deeds, II, 253), but it probably referred to Squash meadow only, or the territory which comprised the "farm" purchased by John Daggett.


The earliest English name for this territory was given in 1646 by Thomas Mayhew, when he called it the "Eastermost Chop of Homses Hole," as distinguished from its fellow Chop on the west side. The word is a variation of chap, the jaw of a vise or clamp. In the plural, it signifies the mouth or entrance of a channel, as the chops of the English Channel. It was called "Farm Neck" for the first time in the records, February 2, 1703-4, and this name has clung to it with a tenacity which time and a newer and more fancy name cannot sever. [Edgartown Records, I, 88.] This name was derived from the first grant of five hundred acres, made in 1642 to John Daggett "for a farm," which covers the present settlement of Oak Bluffs.


The division lines of this town are those set off to it Feb. 17, 1880, when it was incorporated as Cottage City, and they are as follows:

Beginning at the middle of the bridge over Sengekontacket, opening and running by the centre of Sengekontacket pond and Major's cove to Miobers bridge, so called; thence due west to the Four Town bound; thence to the Stepping Stones at the head of the Lagoon; thence through the middle of the Lagoon and middle of the Lagoon bridge; thence by the harbor of Vineyard Haven and the Vineyard Sound to the first mentioned bound.
[Acts and Resolves of Mass., 1880 and 1907.]


There are no records of enumeration for a census of this region prior to 1880, but a few scattering data will enable us to estimate the population. The map of Des Barres (1781)shows thirty-two houses, probably containing thirty-five families, or about 180 souls, at that date. The majority of these were located in Eastville. In 1850 a map shows twenty six houses, or thirty families (estimated), with a probable total of 180 souls, most of whom were still located in Eastville. The first census (U. S., 1880) showed a population of 672, at which time Cottage City was then the largest settlement. In 1890 it was 1,080; in 1900 it was 1,100 and the state census of 1905 showed 1,138 souls resident in the town. Probably ninety per cent. resided in Cottage City.



It is easier to designate the first land holders than the first settlers, because the territory was owned by men who also had lots of land in the village at Great Harbor at the same time, and it cannot be said with surety in which place some of them actually resided. The first record relating to Ogkeshkuppe occurs under date of May 16, 1653, when it was ordered that " Mr. Mayhew is to Purchase part of Ogisske (ppe) neck of the Indians for the town." [Edgartown Records, I, 131.] This was in line with Mayhew's policy of satisfying the native owners of the soil whenever the whites enlarged their sphere of improvement beyond former acquisitions, and it is presumed that Mayhew carried out the town directions. It is not known what "part" of the neck was secured in this way.

On Dec. 1, 1642, probably after their first visit to their island domain, Thomas Mayhew, Senior, Thomas Mayhew, Junior, and John Smith, granted to John Daggett, a neighbor of theirs in Watertown, the following lands on the Vineyard:

.... twenty acres of land upon the point beginning at the great stone next to my lot, and twenty acres of meadow: and also five hundred acres of land for a farm: he have liberty to take up wherever he the said John Doggett wishes, only provided he take not up his farm within three miles of the spring that is by the harbor in my lot aforesaid, before I that is Thomas Mayhew the elder have made choice of twenty acres of meadow and a farm of five hundred acres for myself, the which choice not being made within one year insueing the date hereof, then the said John Doggett have liberty to chuse for himself.
[Dukes Deeds, I, 189.]

This was a grant both liberal in terms and in the amount alienated by them.


When John Daggett came to the Vineyard cannot be accurately stated, but the first time his name appears of record is in 1651, though it is to be supposed that he had been here for some time previous. [Edgartown Records, I, 122.] He had a home lot in the village of Great Harbour, and there is nothing to indicate that he did not reside there, as the most desirable place for residential purposes at that time. With his early grant, just referred to, he followed the custom of the patentee, and after locating to his satisfaction, the tract of five hundred acres, three miles from a spring near Mayhew's house, he proceeded, in 1660, to buy the sachem's "rights" to the soil. On March 3rd of that year Wampamag, the chief of the Sanchacantacket tribe, sold to Daggett, "a certain tract of land which was granted by Mr Thomas Mayhew Sen, and Mr Thomas Mayhew Jr, for a farm, I say a tract of land lying upon the east side of the eastermost Chap of Homes Hole, called by the English Quasquannes, butting down to the sea on the east, being bounded on the east side by the sea, and on the north side with marked trees, running into the woods three hundred and twenty rods, and on the north side from the sea three hundred and twenty rods and on the west side three hundred and twenty rods." [Dukes Deeds, II, 253. Quasquannes is probably an Indian personal name.]


For reasons not now known, Governor Mayhew refused to fulfill his early grant, and Daggett thereupon purchased the "rights" of the Indian sachem to the soil on the date above mentioned. Acting under the influence of Mayhew the town voted, Oct. 3, 1660, "that John Daggett, the elder, bath broken the order of ten pounds upon every acer In purchasing a farm at Sanchacontackett at the hands of the Indians without the towns consent." [Edgartown Records, I, 133. A town order dated Jan. 4, 1652.] On December 17, following, the townsmen proceeded to collect the fine by the passage of the order here quoted:

To William Weekes, Constable:

These are to warne you by the authority of this town to levie upon the estate of John Doggett, the elder, upon Martins Vineyard the sum of five thousand (pounds) upon the breach of order in purchasing lands.

[Ibid., 130.]

A penalty of five thousand pounds was a little too much for John Daggett to pay for obtaining a title to a farm which had been granted to him in due and legal form, and he resisted this absurd levy. It was not only confiscation, but it meant banishment, the favorite method of Mayhew in dealing with his enemies. As the case could not be adjudicated in the local court, because of the interest of Mayhew in the result, the parties agreed to refer it to the Plymouth Colony court for arbitration. The records of the town state "the names of those that Doth try for the farme with John Daggett:"

Thomas Mayhew for My self and all Relations in the town that is eight lofts; Mr. Butler 2 lots; William Vinson his lot & his mothers; Thomas Trapp 1 lot; Robert Codman, 1; Nicholas Norton & 2 sons; Thomas Bayes 2 lots; Thomas Burchard; Nicholas Butler; William Weeks; Goodman Jones; James Covet one half lot.
[Edgartown Records, I, 145.]

This list comprises most of the resident land owners, though the names of Arey, Bland, John Burchard, Eddy, Folger, Lay and some others are not included. Of course his son, Thomas Daggett, could not be identified with the case, on either side. The town appointed Nicholas Norton and John Pease to conduct the case in its behalf, and on Oct. 2, 1662, the trial was held in Plymouth. The following is the record in the archives of that colony:

Att the Court John Doged of the Iland called Martins Vineyard complained against the towne of the said Vineyard in an action of the case for the title of a certaine prcll of land graunted unto the said John by Mr. Thomas Mayhew &c, which the said inhabitants doe unjustly and illegally disturbe him in his quiets injoyment of the same, which said case is by joynt consent of both prtyes refered to the determination of this Court.
[Plymouth Colony Records, VII, 104.]

It is not known whether John Daggett had any legal counsel to assist him, but his cause was so clear that it did not require any, and the verdict was as follows:

The jury find for the plaintiffs the full title graunted to him by Mr. Thomas Mayhew Senr.
[Ibid. The Mayhews never became reconciled to this defeat. When John Daggett's will was offered for probate in 1673 it was accepted, "with this proviso only: that the farm is to contain 500 akers of upland and go akers of meadoe and no more." It was Mayhew's last thrust at Daggett.]

Comments? Questions? Corrections? Suggestions? Write the compiler.
Back to Dukes County History