DIVISION OF LAND BY THE EARLY SETTLERS

     Soon after the coming of the Mayhews we find the early settlers dividing the land .  First came the original “Home Lots,” 1646;  next the division of the “Town Lands,” 1646-1652.  The allotted portions were from ten to forty acres, and were situated in the extreme southerly part of the town, bordering on the Great Pond and Katama Bay.  In 1653 there was a division of the “Common Land” or “Planting Field,” among twenty Proprietors.  This was in the northern part of town.  In 1654 there were twenty-five Proprietors.  The land bordered on the harbor from Pease’s Point to Katama.

     To become a Proprietor one was obliged to live on the land four years.  On November 11, 1652 William Case was granted land.  “This land he is to build upon and live on for four years at the end of which time it is his proper inheritance.”  This was done so that there would not be a large number of non-resident landholders who would have Proprietors’ rights.  In 1676 there was another division of the “Plain Lots.”  This time is was divided into forty lots.

HERE IS A LIST OF THE EARLY PROPRIETORS

One of the first houses built in what is now Oak Bluffs was built at Farm Neck by Jeseph Norton before 1670.  It stood near the half-way watering place on the highway that leads from Edgartown to Vineyard Haven.  A description of this house will apply to nearly all the houses built at that time.  With two or three exceptions they were of one story; large on the base and low in the post.  They were always located near springs of fresh water, or where water could be had by digging shallow wells at which old-fashioined sweeps could be used.  Another interesting fact is that near the site of these ancient dwellings can be seen old pear and cherry trees, which tradition says were planted soon after these houses were built.  The frames of these houses were of oak and pine which grew near.  There was a saw pit in the neighborhood, to which these great trees, many of which were three feet in diameter, were hauled by oxen and sawed into convenient dimensions by hand, one man in the pit and another above.