From the Feb. 17, 1921 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

The candidacy of Mrs. Bertha S. Beetle for Town Treasurer of Edgartown is the first entry of women into local politics on the island, except for the office of school committeeman. Mrs. Beetle took out her nomination papers last week. Town meeting will see the new voters involved in a genuine election contest, for Walter Nichols is also in the field for the town treasurership.

The town meeting which loomed on the horizon without the prospect of contest will arrive with all the interesting elements of politics. As a candidate to make the first departure for the island’s women, Mrs. Beetle has all the qualifications of a record of active public interest.

They don’t let the grass grow under their feet up in West Tisbury. Probably you always knew that anyhow, but the fact would have been brought home to you very forcefully town meeting day. Three other towns had held their meetings earlier and consumed the entire day in the process. West Tisbury started at 9 a.m. and brought things to a happy and peaceful conclusion by 11:30. Truly the village is “heavy for speed,” as William J. Rotch expressed it.

The most important article under consideration was that relating to the rebuilding of the Edgartown-West Tisbury road. The vote stood 33 for and 38 against the project, making the score so far 2 to 2, with Edgartown and Gay Head yet to vote.

Mrs. George Hunt Luce won a place on the school board in a close contest with Otis E. Burt, polling 40 votes to Mr. Burt’s 35. She was elected to fill the unexpired term of Anson M. Luce.

Mrs. Luce’s election was specifically interesting in view of woman’s entry into politics. The only other woman to serve on the West Tisbury school committee was Mrs. Obed Daggett some years ago.

With the exception of the school board contest, the election of officers proceeded rapidly and without friction of any kind. Every officer was elected to succeed himself or to fill an office made vacant by resignation or death.

When the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road came up for consideration, John Hoft remarked emphatically that he had been over the road a number of times and that he never saw anyone travelling on it. Furthermore, he said, no one lived along the road, and he felt that Makonikey road should have first choice. Mr. Hoft lives at Lambert’s Cove.

Geirge E. Whitney said that he had driven over the road with very wealthy people, who had expressed their pleasure in the drive across the plains, with the views of the mountains in the distance. There is a wonderful view of the blue hills of Chilmark, from vantage points along the road.

The question was then put to vote and the close vote registered against it.

On the article relating to the sale of certain non-intoxicating liquors, 69 votes were cast, 56 no, and 13 yes. This is interesting in view of the fact that the license vote has frequently been unanimously no in the past.

Sanderson M. Mayhew moved a vote of thanks be passed to Francis A. Foster, Willoughby L. Webb and William M. Butler for their contributions toward the purchase of the tractor. It was passed unanimously.

Toward the close of the meeting, article 2, which had been laid on the table, was resurrected and the few pyrotechnics of the West Tisbury “love fest” were taken in order.

Henry B. Davis explained, “Mr. Luce and I examined the lot and found that the building set well within the place where it had a right to be by title. Mr. Whitney was willing to sell us the frontage on the road. We set a price, but didn’t agree on it right away. Then a friend offered to contribute the sum necessary, $75, I think. Through the school board the conveyance was finally made. We now have a 38 foot front on the road.”

It was explained further that the price of the property was not the stumbling block but that it was a question of title, so that it seemed necessary for the “friend” to come in.

Mr. Whitney suggested that the matter be allowed to drop. “We’re all satisfied, I think,” he said.

Mr. Gifford said that some one had suggested that the town give a vote of thanks to Senator Butler for his good offices, as the “friend” in the case.

“That was supposed to be kept quiet,” said Mr. Whitney, with some feeling.

“I thought like enough you’d like to keep it quiet,” said Mr. Mayhew G. Norton.

There was a keen interest in the discussion of the schoolhouse site, and the give and take was punctuated with applause and laughter, so that at one point Mr. Rotch had to rap for order.

Thirty five women and fifty men voted at the meeting, making a larger percentage of women voters than at any other on the island, so far. The large turn out of women was due in part to the forethought of Mr. Rotch, who arranged with Bart Mayhew to be at the West Tisbury post office with his wonderful six wheel shay in time to bring a dozen fair voters to the hall.

Compiled by Hilary Wall