A hundred years ago the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meet­ing Association, having decided that the time had come to assure a settled state, acquired by purchase its extensive acre­age at what is now Oak Bluffs. “The cost of the grove, rights of way etc.,” Hebron Vincent recorded, “was thirteen hundred dollars.”
This transaction surely belongs in the succession of his­toric purchases that includes the passing of title to Manhattan Island from the Indians for $24, and the acquisition of Nan­tucket by Thomas Macy and his associates for 30 pounds and two beaver hats. Although the Camp Meeting Association got a bargain, the greater benefit through all the years was to go to Martha’s Vineyard; anyone walking through the tree-shaded paths and around the great circle where the tabernacle stands, must be impressed with the peace, beauty and tranquility of what Hebron Vincent and the others so rightly called a blessed spot.
Newcomers are often perplexed by the name “camp ground”, and no wonder; the last of the tents vanished long ago. Yet the name is part of a heritage and a long tradition.
Following the camp meeting of 1865, Hebron Vincent wrote: “A large fleet of yachts, said to have been from New York, had been spending some time in this vicinity. On Sab­bath evening, while they were lying in the harbor near by, there was fired from them a succession of heavy guns, occupy­ing a considerable portion of the time of preaching, greatly annoying the worshipers...The yachtsmen were probably of the more wealthy, as usual, and doubtless claim to be gentle­men. But, in the judgment of candor, the act, uncalled for as it was, was as ungentlemanly as it was unchristian.”
One wonders how Hebron Vincent would have felt about sonic booms. In any case, the camp ground has stood against adversities and temptations and, after a hundred years, is still a cherished place of greenery and peace.