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The Town of Tisbury is a resort community on the north shore of Martha's Vineyard. In 1663, Indians sold West Chop to whites and the first permanent European settlement was made in 1674, although European explorers, traders and fishermen had roamed the area from early in the 16th century. Gosnold, among other explorers, recorded his impressions during a voyage in 1602. The area abounded in shellfish, striped bass, bluefish and swordfish and drew Indians as well as Europeans for offshore fishing as well as to the massive herring runs. Early settlers relied on agriculture, grazing and raising hay for cattle but the town grew very slowly. By 1700 there were only three families in Tisbury with a total of 27 people; in 1775 there were only 45 families with 225 people. In 1787 there were 21 licensed inn holders, again clearly servicing a transient population much larger than the permanent one and certainly foreshadowing the town's modern character. Residents managed the port, fishing boats and salt works and the town built deep water wharves in 1836 as well as two marine railways to facilitate boat handling. The first submarine telegraph line was laid across Vineyard Sound to West Chop in 1856, significantly improving communications for townspeople. Residents fished for whales and operated 125 farms at the end of the 19th century but by the turn of the century, Tisbury had shifted from a maritime to a land economy and were operating a steam corn factory, embossing leather, building harnesses and raising poultry and fruit. By the 1950's, the town had established its modern character, which relies heavily on the servicing of a growing and affluent summer community which continues to build large summer homes on the island. Fishing and farming are still carried on to a lesser degree. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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