Mr. Editor: As you have kindly consented to publish any communication from those interested in the public good and well-being of the community, I think a short review of the past, as well as our hope for the future, may be profitable.
I refer more particularly at this time to the past history of the alewife fishery in Mattakesset Creeks, so called. It is well known to many in this town that such a creek existed for a long time prior to the year 1783, with different degrees of success; still it was profitable to the operators. At the time the State Massachusetts granted an act of incorporation to certain individuals, giving them the use of the waters of Great Pond and adjacent ponds in this town for the purpose of propagating herrings or alewives; also the right to dig and maintain a creek from said pond to tide water in Katama Bay. The creek was dug and operated by the above-named corporation from the year 1784 to the year 1868, a period of 84 years. The record of the value of fish taken prior to the year 1830 is not so clear, but since that time up to the filling up of the creek in the year 1868, by the encroachments of the ocean and other causes. The value of fish taken from the creek has not averaged less than $5,000 per year, net, to the proprietors, and since that time the loss to this town has not been less than $100,000. This is conceded by all. Now it is plain to all candid-minded men that the time has come when something should be done to change this state of affairs.
And now for the remedy. Certain persons, to the number of above 100, believe that with an outlay of a few thousand dollars a new creek can be dug near to the old one, but far enough from the beach to ensure its safety from the wearing of the shore for at least the next 100 years. To show the popularity of this movement, it required but a very short time to dispose of the 192 shares proposed, many asking for more than they were entitled to on the basis of ownership of the old creek; but it was thought advisable to distribute the shares among as large a number as possible. The people of this town naturally turn to the sea for support. Situated as we are manufacturing industries do not as yet seem to flourish, and this proposed revival of taking herring from a new creek to be dug for that purpose, seems but the natural outcome of the needs of this community. The old Mattakesset company being somewhat superanuated it has become necessary to form a new one, but due respect has been shown to the present proprietors of the old creek. A large majority of them have taken shares in the new one now proposed, and an outspoken opposer can hardly be found. In conclusion, let me say: What we ask is that the State of Massachusetts give us the use of the waters of the Great Pond, (and to protect us in the same), so that a creek may be dug to tide water, for the purpose of taking a part of the countless thousands that annually visit Katama Bay for the purpose of finding a place to propagate their kind.
Now we ask that an act of incorporation shall be granted, and we maintain that it can be done without in the least circumscribing the individual rights of any citizen of this town, or shall it be refused to gratify the caprice of not more than five persons. We do not expect to be made rich by this venture, but we do think it wrong to neglect longer an opportunity of benefiting every inhabitant of this town. All our motto should be “The greatest good to the greatest number.”
Edgartown, Mar. 19, 1889.