From columns published in the Vineyard Gazette editions of March 1909:
Well, we have distracted your attention long enough to get across the creek, and here we are right in front of what is known today as the Franklin Tilton house. This, I understand, was the first house where now stands the cluster known as Menemsha and was built either by Capt. West or his son.
This was the George West who carried the two pirates across to the main land. What I did not know before was that they actually attacked him with knives, intending no doubt to throw him and his small son overboard and appropriate the boat of their own use, but the captain was a remarkably vigorous and active man and laid about him with such keen zest that the pirates were soon glad to retreat to the bow while the captain contented himself with merely admonishing them with a heavy oak tiller whenever they cast sheep’s eyes at him.
Captain West while very excitable was never known to shrink from any situation. In early days the usual boat of the locality was an open, clinker-built double ender, very able and sea worthy. In these the inhabitants cruised as far as New York and thus brought all their supplies to the island.
Returning from such a cruise, during the War of 1812, West with one of two others had sighted several British cruisers, but themselves escaped notice until they were about to enter the Sound, when they were chased and fired on, but were fortunate enough to escape without being hit. The small boat could, of course, keep close in shore where the Englishman, with a proper dread of unknown rocks, dared not venture.
The enemy continued to fire, but from such a safe distance that the shots fell short and the captain’s excitement continued to grow until it knew no bounds. Finally unable to contain himself longer, the skipper jumped up on the stern seat and with the tiller between his legs, his hat off and long hair streaming in the wind, he shook his brawny fist at the impotent efforts of the gunners to reach him and shouted “slush your muzzles and fire again, slush your muzzles and fire again.”
The saying has become a local by-word, when any one fails to accomplish his purpose he is promptly advised to slush his muzzle and fire again.
About where the direct road to West Tisbury leaves the State road one can see in the northwest distance a clearing where a few farm buildings show against the hill side.
Here once lived a Justice of the Peace, Eliakim Norton, who having no great confidence in his own judgment is said to have depended largely on the opinion of a smart sister who lived with him. The usual mode of procedure when the court sat was for the sister to sit in the adjoining dining room and when she heard a bit of testimony that was convincing she would signal her approval by a sharp snap of the tongs, and as she snapped so the good Justice would decide.
On one occasion a young fellow was up for assault, the tongs snapped his doom and the court pronounced him guilty and fined him $5. “But Squire,” says the culprit, “I ain’t got no $5.” “Well then” responded the good natured Justice, “I fine you $3.”, but he had not even so much. “Well how much have you?” wanted to know the court, when the chap explained he only had $1.50. “Well then young man I fine you one dollar and fifty cents, but let me warn you never to come before this court again under similar circumstances.”
The British at one time had a convalescent camp on Tashmoo farm, where during an epidemic the men died like sheep and were buried in the hollow on the other (south) side of the State road which continues from Tashmoo Pond. Aunt Rhody Luce once told Dr. Moses Brown that when she was a girl the graves could still be seen.
We have now reached Vineyard Haven in our travels and I find that my material here is a miscellaneous collection of disconnected incidents and stories that it is impossible to string together, but I will do what little can be done to save jar as we jump from one to another.
It is claimed that the Story of Martha’s Vineyard got mixed on Daggetts. That the William Daggett, who lived in the “Tory house” down the Neck, was a pilot and a patriot. He was once captured by a British frigate and compelled to pilot over the shoals. The Englishmen thought so well of his handling of the vessel that they concluded to make him a fixture and refused to let him go after he performed the duties for which they originally wanted him. But while she lay at anchor in Boston Harbor, Mr. Daggett jumped over board and escaped by swimming two miles to the shore. After that, whenever the enemy came this way, he was compelled to take to the woods so long as they were in the vicinity.
Compiled by Hilary Wall