The History of Martha’s Vineyard

This is a guest post.


Martha’s Vineyard is not just an ideal year-round getaway for traveler’s looking for a stunning yet relaxing destination at which to spend their vacation. Aside from the pristine beach, the grand Gray Head cliffs and the decadent Chilmark Chocolates, Martha’s Vineyard is sought after by travellers because of its rich history that dates back through thousands of years.

Original Inhabitants in English and African Settlements

Martha’s Vineyard is an entrancing island situated in the south part of Cape Cod. It is considered to be one of the largest islands in all of the United States and is often referred to as “The Vineyard.” It was also once home to the Wampanoag or the “People of the First Light.” Before its popular name today, the Vineyard was called the “Noepe” by the Wampanoag which means “land amidst the waters.” Back then, there were more than a thousand Wampanoag living in the area.

By 1642, English settlement started on the island prompted by its purchase by Thomas Mayhew, who also bought neighboring islands such as the Elizabeth Islands and Nantucket. Mayhew founded schools to promote Indian literacy and with it came the first Native American Harvard graduates. Under the leadership of Thomas Mayhew’s son, he quickly helped establish respect and fair treatment with the natives. The English settlers and the Indians learnt to live harmoniously together that even during the King Philip War, the relations between two groups have remained peaceful.

Aside being a home to the American Indians and English settlers, the Vineyard also became the shelter for settlers with African descent. Martha’s Vineyard was a nurturing home to many people especially after the slavery was abolished as it has allowed an equal opportunity for people of any descent to own land on the island and build their home in a peaceful community.

The Vineyard in the 19th Century and the Modern Time

In the 19th century, Martha’s Vineyard reached the heights of popularity because of the whaling industry. During this era, ships from all over the globe were sent to the island to hunt whales for their blubber and oil. By 1870, this industry had collapsed due to the discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania. The Civil War also brought down the whaling industry which has led to the financial collapse of the ship owners.

It was the Edgarton Methodists that transformed the farming and whaling community into what is now. As the whaling industry collapsed, the worshippers and preachers of the Edgarton Methodists have held camps within the islands. To this day, the Martha’s Vineyard is still a popular destination for tourists who are keen to experience the rich history and culture that the island has to offer. In fact, it has been a famous getaway for several American presidents. Those who are interested to learn more about its rich history can stay at contemporary style beach rentals like Martha’s Vineyard rentals and join a daylong history tour in its well-known African-American Heritage trail.


Debbie Fletcher is an enthusiastic, experienced writer who has written for a range of difference magazines and news publications. Follow her here: @Debbie_Fletch18


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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  1. I’d love to go there, I’ve always heard that it is such a quaint, quiet community and the picture just shows that it is such a serene environment .
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. We always wanted to visit there, but I never knew about its interesting history before!

  3. I had no idea there was so much culture involved in the history of Martha’s Vineyard. I certainly hope to visit the New England area someday!

  4. How interesting! I’ve always heard about Martha’s Vineyard, but never been there, nor really new anything about it. Maybe some day. 🙂

  5. It has a much more interesting history than I thought! I’d love to go one day.

  6. Wow, I didn’t realize it had so much history, and I LOVE history!

  7. Wasn’t aware of the history of The Vineyard but would love to join the tour to learn more.

  8. I’ve always her of Martha’s Vineyard but I didn’t know that there was that much history behind it.

  9. I’ve only ever read about it in books as a place for the rich to live and visit. I want to visit the East coast some day