If I was unsure if a death met any one of these conditions, I tended to err toward inclusion. Deaths occurring before Jan. 1, 1850 have been previously published as Tisbury Vital Records to 1850.
This compilation is divided into three parts:
Section I is a transcription of all of the town's death records for this period, accompanied by information obtained from other sources. As my goals reflect those of the town (with the notable exception of burials, as well as an unclear set of rules for out-of-town deaths), most of the deaths in this compilation are in Section I. Deaths in Section I are numbered 1 - 885, and are roughly chronological.
Section II lists deaths that are not recorded in the Tisbury town books, but appear to meet one of the three criteria outlined above. Many of them may appear in the town records of Chilmark or Edgartown. Section II includes non-residents who were buried in Tisbury, Tisbury soldiers who died in the Civil War, unrecorded sailors lost at sea, unidentified bodies that washed ashore, and simple omissions by the town. It is possible that some of these references may actually be to people whose deaths were recorded by the town, however I lack enough evidence to attach it to any of the deaths in the first section. Possible connections have been noted, as well as any uncertainty.
The deaths in Section II are in rough chronological order, which the exception of the last few, which were obtained from Gazette probate notices. Deaths in section II are numbered II-1 through II-199.
Section "F") This section consists of Gazette death notices of former Tisbury residents who died and were buried out-of-town. These deaths fall outside the scope of this compilation and are included only as an addendum. Deaths in this section are numbered F-1 through F-55.
The maiden name is my best guess. Question it!
These transcriptions are only approximations of the original town records. Some of the handwriting is not fully legible, and aspects such as the placement of words on the page are altered in transcription, and might be interpreted differently by another transcriber. I have also standardized the capitalization of words and altered abbreviations in places. If you are in doubt about any entry, go to the Town Hall and check the original.
The town records are the most complete source of death information, however they are also (arguably) the least accurate. It appears that information was not directly entered into the books individually at the time of the death, but sporadically copied into the book from an unknown source, and there are more apparent errors than are found in Gazette notices or gravestone inscriptions. However it does contain valuable records of African- and Native Americans (as well as transient mariners) that do not appear elsewhere.
The first book of vital records (1844-1855) has the following format:
The second book (1855-1889) has the following additions and changes:
I have usually quoted the notices in their entirety, or included a photocopy. I sometimes omitted unimportant segments (usually religious in nature) from longer passages, in which case I note the omissions with ellipses "..." . When several people died on the same day, a single date was often given for all of the notices. These are also indicated with ellipses between the date and the notice. There are also a few cases (mostly in the "F" section) in which I have only an abstract of the notice. I have appended these with the remark "See Gazette for complete notice."
All dates have been replaced with the mm/dd/yy format. Bracketed [ ] comments are notes of the compiler and do not appear in the original.
The only other alterations I have made in reproducing the notices is the use of the following abbreviations:
dau. = daughter, a. = age, y = years, m = months, d = days.
The Gazette also used some of their own abbreviations, including "ult." which indicates a date from the previous month, and "inst." (or "instant") which indicates a date from the current month.
Gazette death notices can be divided into two types:
Probate notices (PN) are legal notices. They can appear as long as ten years after a person's death, and are often repeated for weeks. These occasionally yield useful information, so I have sited the issues in which they appear, as well as the administrators of the estate, (which was often a family member) or other principal family members involved in the estate settlement. The administrators appear in parentheses after the issue date, where I occasionally include other information as well. Issues listed without an administrators can be assumed to have the same administrators as the previous issues.
I did not give a high priority to finding these notices, so while I have sited the large majority of them, I have probably omitted a fair number.
Probate notices are probably a good indicator that probate records exist at the Court House in Edgartown.
The issues from which this collection was compiled were from the microfilm series found at the town libraries. It is almost complete, but there are some missing and damaged copies from which I could extract no information.
A small number of stones in the three cemeteries visited by Harriet Marshall Pease have apparently been replaced since 1899, as the content of the inscriptions today seems very different. I have noted HMP's inscription in brackets when this occurs. There are also a number of stones which I was unable to locate in 1992; I have indicated these with the remark "as recorded by HMP; not found in 1992."
Note that no transcription of Oak Grove Cemetery has previously been provided to the Dukes County Historical Society. Because of this, errors in transcription of Oak Grove graves in this compilation are probably more likely to occur than for transcriptions from other cemeteries.
I have divided each cemetery into a number of "areas" and "sections":
I have further divided these areas into the section (north, southeast, etc.) in which the grave is located.
"West" is anything west of an imaginary line running from the small gate near Center St. in the north, through the stones of Sally Manchester and Charles Manchester, to the west wall of the large fenced family plot in the south.
The grave inscriptions quoted in this work are highly abbreviated. I didn't transcribe the exact wording on the stone, just the information contained on it. (For instance, "In memory of John Smith who departed from earth Jan 9, 1871..." would be transcribed as "John Smith, d. 1/9/1871") I eliminated most unessential wording, and used the following abbreviations:
d. = died, b. = born, a. = age, y = years, m = months, d = days
The mm/dd/yy format is used for all dates. The existence of an epitaph (or other additional wording on the stone) is indicated with the abbreviation [ep.] Commas are usually my own addition to the inscription, and do not appear on the stone.
The use of angled brackets <> indicate information that can be inferred by reading other parts of the stone, or neighboring stones. For instance, if the stones of John and Mary Smith are connected with the inscriptions "Father" and "Mother", I note this with the remark " < husband of Mary >" in John's death, and " < wife of John > " in Mary's.
A few graves are badly weathered, and are very difficult to read. Bracketed question marks [?] indicate uncertainty in the transcription.
"Neighboring graves" list up to two gravestones that are found in the immediate vicinity of the transcribed grave. These can be used to physically locate a grave, or to identify possible family members (based on grave proximity). I list only the name and years of birth and death, or the age at death if a birth year is not given. In choosing the neighboring graves, I gave preference to spouses, parents, and other apparent family members, and listed other graves only if there were no apparent family members in the immediate area. If no neighboring graves are listed, the stone is isolated.
I have also listed the information contained in the town birth records (as well as a few marriage records) that correspond with the person in the death record, when the birth (or marriage) took place after Jan. 1, 1850. These are listed under the heading "Unpublished Vital Records." Births 1844-1867 and marriages 1844-1853 are found in the same town book as deaths 1844- 1855. Marriages 1853-1954 are found in the same book as deaths 1855-1889. Births 1868-1950 are found in a separate book.
I have included as many birth records as I could identify, although it is very possible that I may have I missed some (particularly if the death information is incomplete.) The marriage records in this compilation are very incomplete; I have included only a few. The association of a birth or marriage to the person in the death record is not always obvious, and I have noted any uncertainties.
Unless otherwise noted, all numbers refer to the numbers assigned by Banks to each member of a family, and if no family name is stated, the family is assumed to be the same as the individual's surname. A single pair of parentheses () indicates that the person in the death records is the child of the person referred to in Banks. Double parentheses (()) indicate the person is the grandchild, etc.
Many of these relationships are very tentative. A single question mark ? indicates that I have a fairly strong suspicion that this relationship holds, but I do not have enough evidence to be certain. Double question marks ?? indicate that there is very little evidence to go on, but that this relationship is a fair possibility.
When I could find no relationship in Banks, or when my guess is very uncertain (i.e. two question marks), I have included references in Vital Records to 1850 to this person (or other named family members in the record).
I use the following abbreviations:
TVR = Tisbury Vital Records to 1850,
EVR = Edgartown Vital Records to 1850,
CVR = Chilmark Vital Records to 1850. Numbers refer to the page, and first names indicate which reference. If no name is listed, it is assumed to be a direct reference to the person. I use the same question mark system as for the Banks references.
Special thanks to Kay Mayhew, for proofreading the town death record transcriptions, and to Heather Fauteux, for her help identifying the old diseases.