In 1869 Lucy P. Vincent Smith and her whaling captain husband found housing for their son and were able to take a short vacation in a room in the building that housed the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company at the head of the new wharf. Lucy wrote, “Lots were being sold, cottages were being built, everything booming. Stores, hotels being planned for. A lot for chapel had a few trees cut down and a sign marked ‘Chapel Hill’ placed on it.”

Her account of Oak Bluffs being built is the only first-person description I’ve read, and while it’s on the original map, I never put it together that Chapel Hill is where Union Chapel is. She and her husband Captain George A. Smith sailed from New Bedford on the Nautilus to the Pacific on October 6, 1869 and returned May 27, 1874. The trip resulted in 154 barrels of sperm oil, 2,761 barrels of whale oil and 14,050 pounds of whale bone.

They wanted a lot with a water view, but found they had all been bought or were too expensive. They finally chose lot #178 that had a deed with a restriction that a house must be built within two years. A carpenter friend from New Bedford built the home while they were on the whaling trip. When they returned after the four year and eight month voyage they found, “...what a change! A city of cottages had sprung up. Hotels, stores, concrete streets where only sand had been.” Lucy was surprised that the small clearing in the woods where services were held at the Sacred Tree the last Sunday of Camp meetings had become Hartford park between Pequot and Massasoit avenues. The grand Sea View Hotel had been built, along with a skating rink near the old rooming house they had stayed in, which had been taken down and rebuilt as the Island House Hotel.

“Circuit avenue was filled with stores, hotels and a few drinking houses, past Pennacook avenue...”

And of course Union Chapel had been built atop Chapel Hill. As the years wore on Lucy described “...murmerings (sic) of dissatisfaction were heard saying that heavy taxes were being paid to Edgartown and little returns received in improvements, that more money was being used in Edgartown, than here.”

She goes on to retell the story of events that led to the secession, about Edgartown’s Oak Bluffs neighborhood becoming the new independent town of Cottage City. The letter is a first-person account of the times by a witness of the building of the fabulous town we enjoy today. She wrote that “it has come and gone, lasting only 27 years from 1880 — 1907 when it became Oak Bluffs.”

Her letter ends “May peace and prosperity abide, within its borders. May the coming 49 years be as prosperous as the past 49 have been.”

Today lot #178 is Good Dog Goods located at the foot of Pennacook avenue.

Congratulations to Hart Haven’s Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates who won a prestigious Peabody Award for his PBS series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

Michele Norris, from up-Island, also won a Peabody for NPR’s The Race Card Project. One of the judges for the Peabody Award, the oldest broadcast journalism award, is Charlayne Hunter Gault of Oak Bluffs. Charlayne herself was just given the Outstanding Alumni Association Award from the University of Georgia where Charlayne was one of the first two black students admitted.

Sylvia Rhone of East Chop is the newly appointed president of Epic Records. Epic Records will release the late Michael Jackson’s album Xscape on May 13.

Oak Bluffs’ Dockside Inn was honored with the Technology Innovation of the Year Award by the Massachusetts Lodging Association for its Loomis virtual concierge, a system that provides answers to tourists’ questions. Several large hoteliers are adopting the technology. Looking good Dockside Inn, proud to be in O.B.

I hope I am not the first to let you know Ann Margetson passed away quietly at home last Sunday. I will miss her.

Keep your foot on a rock.