A quantity of customs house records, all that can be found of the invaluable files of the former Edgartown customs house, have been acquired by the Dukes County Historical Society, Marshall Shepard, the society’s president, announced at the quarterly meeting held at the West Tisbury library Wednesday afternoon. The documents, which Mr. Shepard described as a pile three or four feet high, are a remnant of eighteen large packing cases in which the papers of the customs house were packed and shipped to Boston when the office was discontinued in 1912. Stored in the basement of the customs house at Boston, the records were soaked with water during the war years and later were sold by the government for waste paper. Those which were still legible passed into the hands of a second hand bookdealer from whom Mr. Shepard purchased them for the society.
The purchase was made possible by the generosity of Wilson G. Crosby and Elmer J. Bliss who, together, contributed $500 to save the surviving records for the Island

No Duplicates Exist

Members of the society at the meeting were appalled at the action of the government in permitting the ruin of irreplaceable documents and allowing those remaining to be sold for waste paper. Mr. Shepard said that he had made inquiries and it seemed well established that no duplicates of the documents exist. Votes of thanks to Mr. Bliss and Mr. Crosby were passed unanimously by the society.
A gift of $100 from Mrs. Edward D. Thayer of Worcester and Edgartown, and gifts of $25 each from Herbert N. Hinckley and H. K. Fowler toward the fund to purchase outstanding shares of the Squire Cooke house were made known by Mr. Shepard. The society voted its thanks for these gifts and for those already announced.
Purchase of the house is being completed rapidly as possible, Mr. Shepard said, describing the progress of negotiations with the heirs of the two-thirds interest being purchased by the society. By action of the council, following the vote of the society taken at the August meeting, a loan was arranged and the money obtained to proceed. There is, therefore, no remaining obstacle to the purchase, but the greater part of the purchase price is still to be obtained by the contributions of member and those interested in the history of the county.
An appeal for funds is to be sent out at once, Mr. Shepard presenting to the meeting a folder with pictures of the interior and exterior of the house which is to be mailed widely. The folder contains complete information about the undertaking. Application blanks have also been printed and are available for prospective members.
An impending addition of a fund of about $800 to the society’s treasury was brought to the attention of the society by Mrs. Sydna Eldridge, who spoke both as a member of the society and as a trustee of the fund in question. Mrs. Eldridge said that due to the wish of the late Mrs. H. W. Coye, the fund had been established for a memorial hall in which to keep the war relics owned by Henry Clay Wade Relief Corps and the G. A. R. Mrs. Eldridge and the other trustees, Mrs. Susan Chase and Mrs. Walter Besse, have, she said, considered favorably transferring the fund to the historical society in consideration of having a room in the Cooke house set aside for war relics.
A committee to confer with the trustees to work out a plan for this project was appointed, consisting of Mrs. Evelyn Adams S. C. Luce Jr. and Mrs. Henry B. Hough. The committee will report at the quarterly meeting of the society in January.

Valuable Collection Presented

Another important gift to the society was announced, in the form of a valuable collection of baskets accumulated over a period of many years by the late Mrs. P. L. Smith of Vineyard Haven. These baskets represent a great variety of workmanship and many of them are of historic importance. The collection was exhibited at the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in New Bedford some years ago and attracted a great deal of attention and admiration. It was Mrs. Smith’s wish that the baskets should go to the Island’s historical collection. A vote of thanks for the gift was passed unanimously. Mr. Shepard explained that the society has already come into the possession of other valuable baskets.
Mrs. Edward S, Burgess presented to the society a box of pressed flowers which her husband, Professor Burgess, collected on the Vineyard, and in making known this gift, also, Mr. Shepard commented upon its value, and a vote of thanks followed.
The matter of the election of officers of the society was postponed after some discussion, in view of the fact that no July meeting was held. The by-laws state that a nominating committee shall be named at the July meeting for the preparation of a slate to be acted on at the annual meeting in October. The same officers will continue for another year.
Mrs. Emma Mayhew Whiting gave an interesting talk on the Winthrop fleet with emphasis upon the links with Vineyard history, her sparkling manner and sure knowledge of the phase of history of which she spoke making many members regret that the late hour led to a curtailment of the talk.