Oak Bluffs’ secession from Edgartown, defeated in 1873 and 1878, and finally completed on Feb. 17, 1880 when it was incorporated as Cottage City, was heralded in the Feb. 26, 1880 Cottage City Star. Editor and publisher Howes Norris took a unique approach to townsmen, admonishing them to be at their best in victory.
“Our triumph in the successful incorporation of the town of Cottage City brings with it its duties and responsibilities, which have to be met by the people in a manful manner. Important trusts are imposed on the resident voters, and the eyes of thousands of our friends abroad are upon us at this time, whole scores of people in the old town, and not a few in our midst, are anxiously watching for our blunders, in order that they may cry ‘I told you so!’ In order that we may fulfill the predictions of those who have fought the good fight, that a new town will result in better local government, greater essential improvements, and an increase in the value of all our real estate, we adjure the voters to select men of wise discretion and careful foresight; the men best fitted by education and instinct to be the rulers of the new town.”
Editor Norris went on to pre-critique those who would seek election for their own selfish reasons, and to reassure readers that the paper whose motto was “Independent and just in everything” would indeed castigate the mean or incompetent in matters related to town government. Stephen Flanders of Chilmark was elected and cast the vote favoring secession and the Jan. 15, 1880 Cottage City Star reported that Mr. Beriah T. Hillman — the loser — had filed to contest the election. Mr. Norris’ editorial said, “We have but one regret to express, and that is unqualifiedly for Mr. Hillman. His defeat and consequential disappointment has doubtless blinded him, both to the equities of the case and to the certainty of failure attending any efforts that he may make to deprive Mr. Flanders of his seat. The equities are entirely with the last named gentleman.”
Indefatigable in his support of secession Mr. Norris wrote, “Remember, we know better what is wanted in this section than people who live miles away, and come here very infrequently, and do not intermingle with the property owners.” He poetically properly predicted; “The town of Cottage City is to be, and that right speedily”.
Remember that Monday — St. Patrick’s Day — is also Daffodil Day brought to you by the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group. Daffodils are on sale at Cronig’s, the Edgartown Stop & Shop and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for $10. The all-volunteer group utilizes Daffodil Day to raise funds for Island cancer patients and families. Call Diane Ballay-Foley at 508-693-7115 or AnneMarie Donahue at 508-627-7058 for more information if you’d like to help.
Finishing touches remain on the new fishing pier. On one hand, I’m disappointed that the railings match the industrial look of the SSA more than the Victorian look of Ocean Park, but on the other hand, I guess it’s all neatly done.
Attention should be paid by our relevant committees as funds are released to restore the rest of the railings along our gorgeous northwest coastline. Log onto the Friends of Oak Bluffs website at www.friendsofoakbluffs.org/donate.php to see the sample railing you might like.
The backpedaling by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission on Mr. Dunn’s and our new bowling alley is interesting as former foes revisit how what they once opposed, they have now unanimously approved — after the overwhelming wishes of the populace became known. Perhaps the tenuous omniscience of the organization will harken the wisdom of Howes Norris, “We know better what is wanted in this section than people who live miles away . . .” — and we the voters, daily reminded by the NStar poles lining Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, should remember that when the time to vote is at hand.
Something more to add to the uniqueness of Oak Bluffs; a triceratops — brilliant!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day: May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.
Keep your foot on a rock.