From the Jan. 9, 1948 edition of the Gazette:

A pioneering project is being undertaken beneath the waters of Tisbury Great Pond which might mean the creation of a new Island industry. The Quansoo Oyster Farm, the brainstorm of Wilfred Huntington, Everett D. Whiting and John W. M. Mayhew, points the way to oyster cultivation in the large lagoons of the eastern seaboard, ponds which are separated from the ocean by a narrow barrier beach. Because of the great potential value of oyster farming in such spots, the Quansoo project is being aided in its work by technical advice from Columbus O. Iselin of the Oceanographic Institution at Woods Hole and by biologist from colleges along the Atlantic coast.

Early development of the farm was done by Wilfred Huntington who warmed to the idea of oyster cultivation back in 1944 when he was a draftsman for the oceanographic Institution. By 1945 he had laid down some scallop shells on which he hoped the oyster spat would begin to grow. Since that time the farm has met with a mingled success. So much about the conditions in the pond as well as the possibilities of oyster farming in an enclosed body of water is still to be learned that the lack of a great harvest of shellfish has not discouraged its pioneers.

The oyster farmers of Quansoo, John, Everett, and Willy, have resorted to an ancient Island custom to achieve the desired salinity of the water. Long ago, the barrier beach was broken to lower the level of the water in Tisbury Pond and uncover farm land along its shores. When the beach was cut through with picks and shovels, the waters of the pond, which were higher than the ocean, began to trickle out into the sea. Soon the erosive power of the stream had cut a deep trench in the sand, and perch and herring were attracted by the flow. They would swim through the narrow opening in great numbers and make possible the seining of sea fish in a fresh water pond.

Now the breaching of the barrier is regulated by the riparian owners of Tisbury Great Pond, whose organization dates back as far as the days of Josiah Torrey Hancock, a celebrated pond fisherman. With the approval of the owners, who have chosen Everett as president of their group, the oyster farmers intend to use a pump on a war surplus “duck” to dredge an opening in the barrier beach and in this way control the oyster beds.

The trick of regulating the degree of salt is only one of the problems confronting the trail-breaking efforts of the oyster farmers. In solving this one they have to contend with such varying factors as the amount of fresh water draining into the pond from Tiasquam River and Mill Brook as well as the quantity of rainfall, and the rapidity of the ocean in closing the breach in the barrier after the “duck” has pumped an opening through the sand.

At present the farmers are engaged in clearing the old oyster beds from the eighteen-acre tract which they have acquired for their cultivation. Fifty years ago an attempt was made to farm oysters in the pond, but the venture failed.

The descendants of those original oysters are still to be found in the pond. They grow sporadically, some years better than others, and are consolidated in great clumps on the bottom, gnarled and knotted as an oak. Johnny Mayhew dredges for them in a catboat known to the farmers as the Queen of Quansoo, now a rather sainted craft since an accident last Easter when she sank on Good Friday and was raised again on Easter morn.

Because the farm at the moment can support the full time activities of only one man, John Mayhew is the sole owner who devotes all his day to the oyster farm. On Monday of this week, however, all three were hard at work clearing the beds and shucking the oysters for the market. John and Paul Kidder were out on the pond scooping up the oysters, then piling them high on a metal-topped bench in the clean shed where Willy and Everett tackled them with sharp knives, prying open the tough shells.

At current prices a gallon of shucked oysters will bring in five dollars and twenty cents, while a bushel of whole oysters commands six dollars. Since it takes roughly three bushels of oysters to make two gallons of meat, a considerable saving of time and money will result if the oysters are presentable enough to be sold unshucked. In the trim shed of the farm, which is divided into two rooms with concrete floors for shucking and washing, the oyster farmers expect to be able to handle forty-five bushels of their harvest a day, and to produce two gallons an hour.

If their venture proves successful it will open up hundreds of thousands of similarly situated waters to possible oyster cultivation. That such an enterprise is now being undertaken by the young farmers of Quansoo is a tribute to their vision and ingenuity and shows that they have inherited the pioneering spirit of their Vineyard ancestors.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox