From the August 22, 1944 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Stories of pirates and their treasure are inevitably associated with the Vineyard, and though many of the tales are twice-told, this report by Martin S. Meigs throws new light on the famous Blue Rock of Chappaquiddick:

The following story of the pirate treasure supposed to have been buried near the Blue Rock on Wasque Point, Chappaquiddick, was told to me by Mr. Ben Pease the summer before he died.

We bought our milk from the Pease farm, and it was my custom to stop for it each day on my way home from shopping in Edgartown, and, as at that time Ben was for the most part confined to the house, I would often stay for a while gossiping with him.

On this particular day we had been discussing certain landmarks, and in some way the conversation drifted around to the well known Blue Rock, of treasure fame.

Ben said that there had been a number of stories written about the pirate treasure, all of which were fiction, pure and simple, “but now,” said Ben, “let me tell you a true story about that treasure,” and he related the following tale. When I got home I jotted down notes on it, using as far as I could remember his own language, and these notes have been lying around my desk ever since.

The generally accepted story is that some pirate ship put a member of its crew ashore on Wasque Point, together with his share of the treasure, and that said pirate buried all, or part, of this treasure somewhere on the point, and then joined the community then living on the Vineyard, founding one of the well-known Vineyard families, the name of which Ben said he would not disclose, for obvious reasons.

This much of the story is quite well known, but the rest of it I had never heard before, nor have I even met anyone who had heard it. I have told it to very few people, probably not over a dozen, not wishing the place to be overrun by curious sightseers, but I now realize that it is too good a story to become entirely lost, and one that in time might well become one of the classics of the Vineyard. The rest of the story, as told by Ben, is concerned more with the removal of the treasure.

According to Ben, at one time when he was a small boy, he was doing some chores for an old farmer named Jones, who lived somewhere on that part of Chappy later belonging to Mr. Gridley, or Mr. Jeremiah. The farmer told Ben that one day two men approached him asking for the loan of his “square-ended boat.”

He let them take the boat and they started up the bay in the direction of Wasque. That was the last he ever saw of them, but a few days later the boat was found on the beach at Squash Meadow, now known as Cottage City, or Oak Bluffs, and in the stern, evidently left in payment for the use of the boat, were 14 milled Spanish silver dollars (pieces of eight).

It appears that even at that time there was some story of treasure buried in the neighborhood of the Blue Rock, for the old farmer went down there and, after looking around for a while, found a hole from which something had evidently been recently removed.

It was not, however, at the Blue Rock where some digging had been done in the past, but beside a low, inconspicuous rock, only the top of which shows some seven or eight inches above the ground and bearing a right-angled cross with arms equal length cut deeply across the top. Ben said that there still remained a slight hollow marking where the hole had been, but hard to see unless you knew where to look for it. Ben also said that cut into the side of the Blue Rock, below the surface of the ground, but no longer legible, was the short inscription N. 2 deg. E. -17. He later admitted that there was no such mark on the rock, but said that he had to account for his knowledge of it in some way.

The farmer gave Ben one of the Spanish dollars, which Ben kept for some years, and then sold it to a man who was at the time captain of one of the Vineyard boats and this man’s daughter later married Judge Davis. (I quote Ben.)

It is needless to say that I went down to the Blue Rock at my earliest opportunity and, with the aid of a small compass, using the rock as the starting point, I laid out the course north, two degrees east and measured off 17 long paces, which brought me to a rock, as described by Ben, bearing, rather to my surprise, a right angled cross cut into the top. The work was old, and roughly done, but still showed marks of the chisel.

Ben was always fond of a good story and had many of them and while, of course all of the above facts as told by him can be easily explained or accounted for, it makes a good story, even if not true, and his use of names is unusual.

So far I have spoken to no one who had any knowledge of this rock with the cross cut into the top and have never heard that the treasure was buried anywhere but beside the Blue Rock, which, according to Ben’s version, is only the base from which to lay out the true course.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox