b'Names on the Landharbor are called East Chop and West Chop. Now associated primarily with the lighthouses that stand on those headlands and the sum-mer enclaves around them, the names are actually reach back to the beginnings of English colonization.The explorers and colonizers who first encountered the Vineyard and imposed English place names on it were not guided by a unified master plan. Marthas Vineyard and Edgar-town were designed to gratify the egos, and secure the patronage, of important individuals in England. Tisbury and Chilmark were the names of towns in Thomas Mayhews native Wiltshire. The headlands at the westernmost end of the Vineyard were dubbed Dover Cliff by gentleman-adventurer Bartholomew Gos-noldanother geographic nod to Englandand later Gay Head for their brightly colored layers of clay. Some names, like Peaked Hill in Chilmark or Pulpit Rock in Oak Bluffs were purely descriptive; others, like Husseltons Hollow in Vineyard Haven were possessive. How a short downhill street in Vineyard Haven came to be known as Stub Toe Lane went unrecorded, but is easy to imagine.It is also easy to imagine that the names East and West Chop have nautical roots, since chop is a sailors term for closely spaced, sharply breaking waves. Choppy seas are diffi-Figure 2 cult to sail through; in a small, open boat they can be dangerous or even deadly. They occur intensified the differences between the islandswell as the north-shore villages of Lambertsfrequently off the mouth of Vineyard Haven towns and among the villages within them. Tis- Cove and Indian Hillit seemed natural toharbor, particularly around the headlands, bury village, surrounded by some of the richestname it North Tisbury. Figure 1, Page 22 when strong winds and strong currents (both farmland on the island, looked to that land forThe separation between the eastern andcommon in the area) collide. The early mariners its livelihood. Holmes Hole, located at the headwestern portions of Tisbury, widening for morewho called the headlands chops doubtless of the islands finest deep-water harbor, lookedthan a century, ended in divorceformal divi- encountered such conditions, but the source of to the sea. The passage of years widened thesion into two independent townsin 1892. Thethe names was more fanciful. The twin head-gulf between the two villages, as more of thename Tisbury remained attached to the smallerlands reminded English sailors of a pair of jaws, land around Tisbury was brought under culti- of the two: the land that made up the old Eastfor which chops (as in licking ones chops in vation and Holmes Hole grew prosperous byParish, including Holmes Hole (renamed Vine- anticipation of a tasty meal) was then a com-catering to the ever-increasing ship traffic inyard Haven in 1871). West Tisbury, an officialmon synonym.Figure 2, above leftVineyard Sound. Tisbury village remained pri- place name at last, was attached to the western marily Congregationalist well into the 1800s,two-thirds of the old town and to the old villageWAIT . . . WHO WAS MARTHA?while Holmes Hole was increasingly Baptistcenter where the school, library, general store,The most famous place name associated and Methodist. Petitions to divide the townshipAgricultural Hall, and Congregational Churchwith the island is, of course, that of the island into two districts were put before the Tisburyclustered at the corner of State Road and Musicitself. In the Wpanak (Wampanoag) language selectmen as early as 1790, and approved byStreet. North Tisbury (the name of the postit is Noepe or sometimes Capowack. but the the Massachusetts legislature in 1796. In thatoffice having become the name of the villageworld today knows it by the name bestowed by year, Holmes Hole and the land around itthrough repetition, eclipsing Middletown)English gentleman-adventurer Bartholomew became the East Parish of Tisbury. was on the west side of the dividing line. ItGosnold in 1602. Gosnold, the first European The term West Parish never came into gen- remained part of West Tisbury, and so woundknown to have set foot on the island, did so on eral use for the western, agricultural part of theup south of Tisbury. a voyage of reconnaissance, searching for valu-township. Both the township and its principalable natural resources. He stayed only briefly village were still officially Tisbury (even ifEAST CHOP, WEST CHOP and never returned, subsequently becoming some locals had, by the 1860s, begun to casu- Marthas Vineyard is roughly triangular inone of the founders of the Jamestown colony ally refer to the village as West Tisbury).shape, and Vineyard Haven Harbor splits thebut dying there a few months after arriving. The When a post office was opened in Middletownpeak of the triangle like a tree cleft by lumber- name Marthas Vineyard is his most lasting leg-in 1869serving residents of that village asjacks axe. The twin headlands that form theacy. But who was Martha?24 This is Hy-Line'