From the January 19, 1877 edition of the Vineyard Gazette by Rev. Henry Baylies:

Not a very high tide today, but enough to float my light craft, and now for a short or a long trip, I can’t say which, among the shoals and islands and around the headlands of my boyhood memories. I venture a guess that this is my last trip, and purpose to clear up decks and get into good shape to go into port and “tie up,” as they say on western waters, till I get to be an older boy than this new year of 1877 finds me.

I observe in the Gazette a call for a Lyceum in Edgartown. Well, that reminds me that such an institution was organized when I was a boy, and I was solicited to become a member. As I remember, the Lyceum first held its meetings in the “Congregational Academy,” and later in Mr. Davis’ school room. We had quite a respectable library of useful reading. What became of that library, I never knew. Weighty questions were discussed in our Lyceum, by men and boys, who then thought they knew more than they now think.

In those long-ago days of the Lyceum, or before, there existed in Edgartown a Musical Society which, too, is among the things that were. F.P. Fellows and Cyrus W. Pease played fiddles; S. L. Pease played the biggest bass fiddle, and Abram Marchant I think, the big bass fiddle. Freeman Pease blew into a trombone, or some other brazen thing, while R. L. Pease and Henry Baylies, blew the flutes, and somebody else did something else, but who or what I can’t say. Had the society kept up its organization till 1869, it would, doubtless, have been a chief feature in Gilmore’s great musical fandango.

It is somewhat to be marveled at that I have not mentioned the doctors of my boyhood days. Dr. Samuel Whelden ushered most of my generation into this world of various experiences. I can now see the old pilgrim in his reddish wig, stooping over his medicine chest, fixing up a dose of herbs and roots for some of us mortals to take. How many mortals he shoved off into immortality, I can not accurately enumerate. I guess he was a good doctor and a good man, and he was highly respected, but he used to direct my progenitors to does me with such nasty compounds, that I can’t quite yet forgive him.

Doctor Daniel Fisher opened his pill dispensary at an early day, nearly opposite Dr. Pierce’s drug store. He was considered a skillful physician of the old school, but I can’t forget that first tooth he pulled out of my head. I thought it would be a grand thing to go to the doctor’s and have my tooth pulled, so I teazed my father for a quarter and ran over to enjoy the fun. Dr. Fisher sat me in a chair and proceeded to investigate the inside of my head. Discovering the decayed tooth, he drew out of his pocket a formidable iron instrument, big enough for the turnkey of a states prison to bar and bold a thousand convicts, wound his bandanna handkerchief around the handle, and proceeded to fit his tooth-puller to my molar. I suspected no danger at the time, but when he got a good hold, he gave such a twist as took me off my chair and almost off my feet, and I thought, took my head out by the roots. Well, he earned his quarter and I got my money’s worth. It has never been any fun since to have a tooth pulled.

I was about to say a word or two about the lawyers of those days, but, I rather think the less we have to do with lawyers the better. I am inclined to think that law business was never very brisk in my day in Edgartown. Daniel Fellows, Esq., and Theo. G. Mayhew, Esq., were the honored names in this profession, whose signs hung out to attract silly litigants. Stephen Skiff, Esq., from up-Island, was always seen on “court week,” perambulating the streets of Edgartown with his well smoked clay-pipe.

The first steamboat that ever entered Edgartown harbor was the steamer Benjamin Franklin. She was a side-wheeler, built in ship form and full-rigged as a ship, with spars and sails. She came in on Sunday, some 47 years ago, and lay for several hours at the end of Mayhew’s or Fisher’s wharf. I shall say Fisher’s, but I can not clearly locate that wharf so long ago; if it was in existence then it has been greatly altered since.

Among the other first things I remember, was the last thing of its kind that ever was, or probably ever will be, in Edgartown, a real Indian wigwam, which had been occupied as a place of residence. This was at “Deep Bottom.”

Most of the houses in Edgartown have been built or remodeled within the period covered by my memories. The generation that are now coming in to the activities of mature manhood and womanhood, do not know me, nor do I know them. I find I am fast becoming a stranger in my native place.

Much I have said, and much I have left unsaid; and “once more,” “finally” and “in conclusion,” let me exhort the playmates of my boyhood, girls as well as boys, to try their hand and their memories, and, which they can easily do — and do better than a Vineyard Boy.

Compiled by Hilary Wall