From the April 11, 1873 edition of the Gazette:

The annual town meeting came off last Monday, with a good attendance. Joseph T. Pease, Esq., moderated with his usual efficiency, and in spite of the abundance of orators ready to speak on every question, succeeded in keeping the town up to its work. The “morning hour” was devoted to the reading of the auditor’s report, which was quite an elaborate document and was listened to with a commendable degree of attention by the large audience.

Upon the conclusion of the reading, Capt. N. M. Jernegan arose and arraigned the Commissioners for their administration of the Beach Road business. He said that the amount of the bills indicated that the three had charged services for every working day from April to December, when there was no necessity of all of them being engaged at once; that there was a large bill for board of Commissioners, which need not have been; that it was a marvel throughout Massachusetts that so much “humanity” should have been carted to build the Beach Road; and finally that the road had cost altogether too much.

Mr. C. Norton wanted to know if the Commissioners were called upon to plead “guilty or not guilty.” He had put himself on record as against building the road, and he had no occasion to change his views on the subject. Nevertheless the road had not cost as much as he had expected, nor as much as the engineer who went over the route had estimated. He (the engineer) had said it would cost $50,000 to build the beach road proper, from Farm Pond to Manadha Creek, but the road had actually been constructed from Norris’s wharf to Edgartown village. As to the number of days the Commissioners were employed, he went when it was necessary; and as for board, he didn’t agree to sit on the ground and eat fifteen cent dinners, cold; didn’t when working for himself, and shouldn’t when for the town. The road might have cost less by contract, but we have a better road. Moreover the money was distributed among townsmen who needed it.

The report having been accepted, the town then proceeded to the election of officers for the ensuing year.

A motion to elect Assessors elicited an animated discussion, the question being whether to choose Assessors specially, or allow the Selectmen to go on under the statute.

Capt. Daggett moved that three Assessors be elected. He thought the north part of the town ought to be represented on that board, they having no representative on the board of Selectmen.

R. L. Pease thought that the consideration of locality ought not to weigh anything. Moreover, he believed the excessive taxation complained of last year was owing to the influence of the assessor from Eastville.

Capt. Daggett replied that his maladministration was no argument against further representation from that district. They wanted another Assessor, but not him. If desired he would mention a few instances in point, demonstrating the unfairness of taxation. His neighbor Davis was taxed for fourteen acres, including swamp, pond and beach, at the rate of $300 per acre. On another piece of less than two acres he was taxed for $700. Bellevue lots were taxed for $100 each, generally, but there were lots scattered here and there of the same value, which were only taxed for $50. Mr. Assessor Luce had retired from the board when they came to tax his property, and their consciences smote them and they let him off with half tax. The speaker elaborated his views of the situation somewhat at length, and was listened to with marked attention throughout.

Mr. C. B. Marchant wanted to know if Mr. T. C. Luce actually said what Capt. Daggett said he said, or what he understood him to say he said, in relation to retiring from the board when his property was taxed. Capt. D. replied in the affirmative.

Mr. Marchant then stated that Mr. Luce sat with the Assessors, that he brought in his estimates, and helped tax himself; that when they were taxing some of the property referred to as over taxed, they had all “marked,” and all marked alike; Mr. Luce had said that the parties referred to were not half taxed, and that Capt. D. himself was not sufficiently taxed. A slight error had occurred in assessing Mr. Davis, owing to the representations of Mr. Luce.

Mr. Benj. Luce here rose to say, that it was a most remarkable feature that all should mark precisely alike: the most astonishing instance of unanimity ha had ever known! (Laughter.)

Capt. Daggett wanted to call witnesses to corroborate his statements, but was shut off by the chair.

Mr. Osborn wished to add his voice in favor of the motion of Capt. Daggett. The claim was only from Eastville proper. They had always had all they wanted, and he did not think it well to depart from the custom. He wanted justice to prevail. The question of taxation and representation was what our forefathers went to war about, and it kindles a flame of sympathy in our bosoms today. The motion prevailed, and Assessors were elected.

Compiled by Hilary Wall