From the August 1927 editions of the Vineyard Gazette:

The discovery of huge reptilian tracks in the sand of Methodist Cross Road and the peculiar action of sheep pastured around Chilmark Pond has revived the belief that an alligator has somehow found its way to the Island and taken refuge in the pond. Tracks have been reported by various persons who described them as being the “largest loggerhead tracks ever seen,” but it was not until an excited party in a car bearing Florida license plates spoke of “a big ‘gator,” that interest was aroused.

Following closely upon the report of the tracks being seen, John D. Bassett, South Road farmer, declares that last Sunday morning he witnesses the unparalleled spectacle of a sheep swimming the Chilmark Pond opening-way. Not only is it almost impossible to force a sheep into water, but the swift current gives a warning of danger which every animal recognizes. It is known, however, that a sheep, pressed by dogs or other pursuers, will, as a last resort, take to water and swim.

At the time Mr. Bassett saw this sheep there were no dogs in the vicinity and the happening is only accountable by the theory that the sheep was frightened into a panic by something which it encountered upon the point of beach and which cut off its return to safety by way of the narrow neck of dry sand.

It is recalled that a year ago or so two perch fishermen hooked some very large creature in the pond which they were able to raise partway from the bottom. It was described as being between seven and nine feet long, but its nature could not be determined.

Alligators have landed on the shore of the Vineyard at different times, one having been found at West Chop a few years ago by Capt. Isaac Norton. The creature was very lively and fought fiercely to avoid capture.

It was believed at the time that the alligator might have escaped from some vessel, and it is now suggested that there may have been more than one and that the others found the opening into one of the fresh ponds or brook mouths, travelling until Chilmark Pond was reached, where the mud is of sufficient depth to allow the reptiles to hibernate and thus survive the winters.

Alligators are extremely voracious, attacking almost anything that moves, whether it is larger or smaller than themselves. They are said to be particularly fond of such animals as dogs, pigs and sheep, which they will pursue on land for considerable distances, if conditions are favorable.

A visitor to the Island who gave his name as Alonzo D. Quinlan of Detroit, Michigan, declared that on Tuesday afternoon at about 3:30 he saw the head and foreparts of an alligator at the edge of Chilmark Pond through field glasses from the top of Abel’s Hill.

The creature, he said, was on the west side of the point of marsh which juts out into the pond from the north side, and remained in sight for several minutes. Mr. Quinlan stated that he had noticed the article in last week’s Gazette relative to the suspected presence of an alligator in the pond and having seen the creatures in their native state while visiting gulf states, journeyed to Chilmark Pond on a trip of investigation.

Alighting from his car at the top of Abel’s Hill, he swept the shore with his field glasses in order to locate the most likely spots for an alligator to haul out. It was in this manner that he caught sight of the creature.

Mr. Quinlan went down to the marsh in order to measure the tracks which he knew would show, but was unable to walk out far enough to reach them owing to the water and soft mud. He did not know at the time that there were boats farther up the pond.

Being told of the seven-foot monster caught last year on a perch line, Mr. Quinlan expressed the opinion that the he saw was much smaller than that,

It is recalled that a three foot alligator was caught in a lake near Springfield this year after having spent two winters there, so that the theory of one living in Chilmark Pond is not considered as wild as it first appeared.

Editor of the Vineyard Gazette:

In regard to the terrible ‘gator, seen by Mr. Quinlan in Chilmark Pond, allow me to state that having lived on a plantation in Florida, where ‘gators flourished in large numbers, I am, like himself, well up on the subject.

I think if Mr. Quinlan had been a little nearer, and had continued to “sweep the shore with his field glasses” with a trifle more sweep he would have possibly seen a good large turtle taking his daily exercise.

I am on the pond almost daily, in my boat, and bathe in it. My boy also takes his swim in the pond, and while I know there are many very large turtles who make their home there (one of which I captured), I have never seen the awful ‘gator, and in spite of the swimming sheep, and sweeping glass of Abel’s Hill, I do not believe the dog-sheep-man-eating alligator exists in Chilmark Pond, any more than the defunct dinosaur is ye roaming its quiet shores. Nuf ced.

H. J. Brookes, Chilmark

Compiled by Hilary Wall