From the Jan. 11, 1929 edition of the Gazette:

One of the best known of Island beauty spots and one of the oldest, is the Whiting farm in West Tisbury, best known to older inhabitants as the Parsonage farm from the fact that the house was once the Congregational parsonage. For generations passersby have stopped to look at the quaint, low house sheltered by a colonnade of stately pines which alas, were laid low by a recent gale, and to gaze first with interest at the great barns, the horses, sheep and fowl always to be seen about the place, passing on to pause once more in delight at the sight of the mirror-like sheet of water, the Parsonage Pond, that lies silvery-smooth in a rolling dimple of land, almost in the house yard.

This was the home of Josiah Standish, the son of Miles Standish, the captain of Plymouth, and the centuries-old oaken beams and whip-sawed boards, the oyster-shell plaster and hand-split laths once sheltered that first homesteader and his family.

With the passage of time and the removal of the Standish family from West Tisbury, the farm became reduced in acreage until only the house lot was left and it was then that it became the parsonage as before-mentioned. It was while the property was small that it was purchased by the late Professor Henry L. Whiting, who made it his home and added considerably to the holdings until the present broad fields were restored to the Standish place and it became once more a farm.

Here, within the historic walls of the old house, was born his son, Johnson Whiting, christened with his mother’s family name, and here he has lived ever since, save for comparatively brief periods when he was attending school or engaged in work on the mainland. And so well has he pursued the duties if a husbandman and stock raiser that his farm is one of the very few on the Island that is entirely up-to-date in equipment and a paying proposition. Yet, contrary to general opinion, he has not been obliged to develop it into a dairy farm, but has followed a general plan in which horses have figured more importantly than upon any other Vineyard property. From his childhood, Mr. Whiting had a great love for the outdoors and all bird and animal life, wild and domesticated. Like all West Tisbury boys, he spent much of his time around the ponds and marshes, learning to hunt and fish and acquiring the knowledge of the proper handling of lowlands, so important to the early Vineyard farmers.

Almost as soon as his education was completed, Mr. Whiting began his career as a farmer, tilling the lowlands at Quenames at first, on the broad, level estate which he still owns and cultivates. Besides his farming, he raised stock, horses, sheep and cattle and upon moving to the Parsonage farm, his success with stock soon began to attract attention. For years he had the largest flock of sheep on the Island, and this is true today. Moreover he was responsible for the introduction of new breeds to improve the Island stock when sheep-raising was a far more important industry than at present.

In horse-raising he carried on the business far more extensively than any man of his time and because he soon became known as the best horse-man and trainer on the Island he was sought out by many summer people who wished to find a winter boarding place for their animals. For thirty years he has boarded horses and thus it is that there are almost as many horses on the Parsonage farm today as there are on all the rest of the Island put together.

He can tell of his surveying days, of the years when he served on the state board of agriculture, the amusing incidents relating to handling the pond when the farmers and fishermen were always at swordspoints regarding the proper time to open the beach. He can speak with authority of the horse racing in West Tisbury and other Island towns, for besides raising some of the racers he drove them, and more than a little racing history was made in those days of the high-wheeled sulkies.

As to hunting, he has followed the pond shores with some of the most famous men of the state. Sydney Barlett, said to have been the greatest of Massachusetts lawyers; Benjamin Curtis, once judge of the United States Supreme Court, and attorney for the defense in the impeachment of President Johnson; Ensign Kellogg, once speaker of the House of Representatives, and others, are among them.

But neither birth and breeding, nor association with the great and near-great, has affected the quiet simplicity of his nature. Probably as nearly content as is possible for a human being to be, he owns his world, for his broad acres contain all things that he loves.

There is nothing egotistical in this, it is simply the effect of being able to realize the heart’s desire, and to find, upon securing it, that the brilliancy of the promise before achievement, was no illusion or exaggeration.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox