From the Sept. 23, 1938 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Swept by a hurricane the velocity of which has been estimated at a hundred miles an hour at brief periods, and which surpassed anything of the sort that has every struck the Island from a southerly point, Martha’s Vineyard presented a scene of disaster on Wednesday night. There was one death. Several persons were injured and the storm caused a loss of property that may easily total half a million dollars.

Apropos the generally accepted statement that such a storm has never before occurred in the history of the Vineyard, William C. Allen of Chilmark related a story told by his father, Joseph Chase Allen. The elder Allen said that in his boyhood a storm occurred wherein the sea on the South Side broke at the foot of Abel’s Hill. In this latest storm the condition was virtually duplicated, as the camps swept from the beach now lie at the foot of the hill half a mile from their former sites.

One of the most conspicuous features of the scene at Menemsha is the house of William H. Hand, now posed on the sand strip well off from the land and apparently fastened to nothing in particular.

The council of the Dukes County Historical Society was in session on Wednesday afternoon at the society’s house in Edgartown. The historical discussions went on without regard to the storm outside until, to the surprise of the gathering, the front door blew in, carrying with it the latch from the door jamb, screws and all.

At the Fish Hook shore the beach was transformed beyond recognition. G. A. Hough’s boathouse was whirled completely around and swept into the woods.

Bathhouses at Seven Gates were overturned and carried inland.

Alfred Hall reached home from a mainland trip yesterday. He said that after viewing the destruction en route from Boston he felt the Vineyard had gotten off comparatively lightly. He drove for two hours in the height of the storm, getting only as far as Ponkapoag where he decided to call it a day.

Woods Hole was hard hit, he reported, but the steamboat wharf was not so badly damaged as reported. Capt. Ted Morgan, whom he saw at Woods Hole, told of saving one lad who drifted by in a small boat and seeing two other boys drowned while he was powerless to save them. Ted had three anchors out, holding the Kelpie.

At Mohu, Mrs. William M. Butler’s Lambert’s Cove estate, the wharf, 125 feet long, went out. It had stood for more than twenty years. The boathouse is also gone.

About thirty feet of the dike at the head of Lagoon Pond was swept away when the tidal wave surged up into the head of the lake, battering down the walls and destroying the road.

In the height of the storm Lake avenue, Oak Bluffs, was not an avenue nor a road, but was lost under the harbor waters which extended half way up the bank in front of the Wesley House. The high tide reached the junction of lower Commonwealth Square, Siloam avenue, Lake avenue and New York avenue. Many trees were down, including a big oak near Grace Chapel and others in Ocean avenue and Ocean Park and the Tabernacle grounds.

The Chappaquiddick ferry house went afloat from the foot of Dagget street and came to rest against a pier at the foot of the Weston property. It lay on one side, with the sign “Chappaquiddick Ferry” plainly legible.

Capt. Phil Norton saved the Josephine from certain damage by pulling her ashore with a Ford car. The boat lay alongside the end of the Norton pier when the storm reached its height. The pier was under water and the tide rising in the boathouse. Seeing that the Josephine would be punctured by wharf spiles in a few minutes, Capt. Norton cut the warps which tied her, hitched a line to the Ford and pulled her out of harm’s way. She rested comfortably on the sand this morning and was easily floated.

At about 6 o’clock the smaller Vose boathouse launched itself from the foot of Tower Hill and started across the harbor. It rode the tide, roof out of water, and soon rounded the end of the Reading Room pier. Then it rode straight through a small fleet of catboats and finally came to rest near the F. Vernon Foster property, held by a pier.

In the boathouse the whole while was Leroy W. Vose’s speedboat. This was not damaged. It was removed on Thursday morning when the roof of the house was cut away, and found to have suffered no harm.

Someone said to Leroy Vose yesterday, “You’ve got a boathouse down there interefering with navigation.”

“No, I haven’t,” replied Mr. Vose.

“You haven’t?”


“Whose is it, then?”

“Ed Vincent’s,” said Mr. Vose.

“How long has he owned it?”

“About an hour.”

Mr. Vincent will move the boathouse back to dry land and restore it to use.

Compiled by Hilary Wall