For more than a century, only one dwelling house stood in what is now the settlement of Eastville, on the eastern shore of Vineyard Haven harbor. The laying out of streets there did not begin until after 1834 - and the growth from then on was partly due to the influence of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting at what is now Oak Bluffs, in 1835. The camp meeting landing was at Eastville.
The original house was presumably built by Elijak Hillman and later sold to the Linton family. It has long since been moved to Edgartown where it stands looking out over the Eel Pond, a summer residence.
But the absence of dwellings did not make Eastville a quiet spot. The shore was easily accessible to the seamen of hundreds of ships that anchored in Vineyard Haven harbor, and they did not omit to come ashore and relax about the fire of an early tavern. Ship chandlers found this a favorable location for business, and the air was redolent of cordage and tar.
Law and order were not always observed, especially among visiting seafaring men at night, and Eastville gained the ironic and sometimes awesome name of the Barbary Coast.

Historic Adventures

It was give to Thomas Chase, a resident of the Oak Bluffs region, to have, in 1773, an adventure that actually made history. He was on the harbor shore, presumably at Eastville, when a black, rakish ship came in and lowered a boat.
Chase met this boat as it neared shore and saw that the oarsmen were Spanish and Portuguese of piratical appearance. And the boat, as he soon discovered, carried the body of a dead man for whom decent burial was desired. Chase himself built a coffin and helped the visitors carry out their mission. He also talked at some length with the officer in charge.
To quote from Gerald Johnsons’ book, The First Captain: “The ship went on her way and years passed. The revolution came and Chase, as seaman now, was captured on an American privateer and thrown into a naval prison where he languished until the famous - or notorious, but certainly tremendous - Capt. John Paul Jones had captured so many thousands of British that an exchange was to be arranged. Chase was sent to France where he was offered an opportunity to serve with Jones on a new ship he was fitting out, called the Bon Homme Richard.”
Chase accepted, and when he joined the Bon Homme Richard he recognized the officer of the burial party at Eastville on Martha’s Vineyard, - John Paul Jones.