Three-hundred and twenty five years ago the town of Chilmark established itself as the first to separate from the two original Martha’s Vineyard towns of Tisbury and Edgartown. Of the handful of houses and dirt roads that existed in that era, none remain. The only remnants of history are the stone walls that continue to mark town boundaries and the proud memory of the people who live in the town today.

The spirit of remembrance was in the air at the Chilmark Community Center on Saturday night, where Chilmark residents gathered to celebrate.

“There are new people here, summer people who have stayed after Labor Day and people that have lived here their whole lives,” said Chilmark selectman Jim Malkin. “It’s autumn, and today is a day to put all politics aside and celebrate the town.”

And celebrate they did.

Many bought instruments to jam. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Throughout the evening, residents of the town feasted on a potluck spread of dishes. Some wore hats commemorating the 50th anniversary of Larsen’s fish market, some wore Allen Farm sweaters and others wore Chilmark Gallery T-shirts—all pieces on the mantle of the most recent era in the town’s long history.

When the sun set, many members of the community unpacked their instruments and began to play. Led by Chilmark selectmen chairman Warren Doty, people continued to join the ad-hoc community band. Some brought out their steel-string guitars, standup basses or harmonicas, while those with no instruments chimed in with their voices.

The opening song was written by longtime Chilmark resident Jane Slater. The song was about the old swordfishing vessel, Aphrodite, a nod to the importance of maritime history that has remained a vital part of the community.

“The song is about an era in Chilmark when swordfishing was the thing to do,” Ms. Slater said.

But the boat itself had a checkered history. It was originally a luxury yacht in the early 20th century before it was lost in a poker game and won by a new owner. Somewhere along its journey through New England waters it was then purchased by a local fishermen named Nelson Blount who used it for commercial swordfishing. The boat met its demise in the Menemsha Harbor, where it sunk during a hurricane in 1954.

A potluck for the ages. — Mark Alan Lovewell

As the weight of the town’s long history rested on the shoulders of all gathered, some took a moment to reflect on their own personal history with the town. Sitting in the back of the crowd was former police chief Tim Rich.

“Back then you could see the water from every part of the town. It was all cleared for sheep pasture,” Mr. Rich said. “But my family, up to my great-grandmother, lived on Noman’s, which many people forget is a part of Chilmark.”

Noman’s Land, the island off the southwestern shore of Chilmark, has a history as long and as interesting as the town itself. Once a small fishing village like Menemsha with a school and a town hall, it was evacuated during World War II when it was used by the Navy as a practice bombing range, Mr. Rich said. It also has a history of crime. It was a major liquor smuggling port during prohibition and the location of the only homicide ever to take place in Chilmark, he added.

“If you go out to the west coast, those towns are only celebrating their 100th anniversaries or so,” Mr. Rich said. “I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this town, with all of its history.”

The next milestone for the town of Chilmark is the celebration of its 350th birthday. Ms. Slater said that the community is already taking measures to make sure the town maintains its dedication to its own history.

“Three-hundred and twenty five years ago all we had was a church and a town hall,” Ms. Slater said, glancing out at the crowd of Chilmark residents swaying to a folk-tune. “A lot of the people here have roots right back to the beginning.”

“Twenty-five years from now it will be an entirely new crowd,” she added. “But hopefully not much will change.”