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The Boston Tea Party wasn't the first act of rebellion against British taxation in America. In 1765, colonists in Massachusetts burned effigies of British tax collectors and destroyed their homes and property in what came to be known as the "Stamp Act Riots."
Dukes County is located in the state of Massachusetts, encompassing the islands of Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. The history of Dukes County dates back centuries, with its earliest known inhabitants being the Wampanoag Native American tribe. These indigenous people lived on the islands, which they called Noepe, for thousands of years before the arrival of European colonizers.

In the early 1600s, English explorers and colonists, led by Bartholomew Gosnold, began to settle in Dukes County. They established the first European settlement on Martha's Vineyard, known as "Old Town," in 1642. Over time, more English settlers arrived, creating several other towns on the island, including Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Dukes County thrived as a center of maritime trade and agriculture. Whaling became a significant industry for the islanders, and many wealthy whaling captains and merchants called Martha's Vineyard home. The population grew, and new industries such as fishing and farming also flourished.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Dukes County saw waves of tourism and development. Wealthy individuals from Boston and other cities began building summer homes on Martha's Vineyard, contributing to the growth of the island's economy and infrastructure. The county also became a popular vacation destination for artists, writers, and intellectuals, creating a vibrant cultural scene that continues to this day.

Overall, the history of Dukes County encompasses the early presence of Native Americans, European colonization, the rise of maritime trade and whaling, and the development of a thriving tourism industry. These diverse historical influences have shaped the culture and economy of Dukes County, making it the unique and beautiful place it is today.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Dukes County, Massachusetts.

  • 1602: Bartholomew Gosnold becomes the first Englishman to set foot on Martha's Vineyard, located in present-day Dukes County.
  • 1641: Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands officially become a part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • 1683: Dukes County is established and named after the Duke of York, who later became King James II of England.
  • 1695: The county seat is established in Edgartown.
  • 1763: Tisbury is incorporated as a town in Dukes County.
  • 1847: The first steam ferry service between Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole, connecting Dukes County to the mainland, is established.
  • 1855: Oak Bluffs is officially incorporated as a town.
  • 1871: Dukes County Hospital is established in Oak Bluffs.
  • 1938: The Great New England Hurricane causes significant damage to many towns in Dukes County.
  • 1997: Gay Head Lighthouse, located in Aquinnah, is moved back from the eroding cliffs.