M.B. SAFFORD 1892 GROUP OF TWO  ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT LETTERS HANDWRITTEN BY A DEDICATED, DESCRIPTIVE SURVEYOR OF THE US COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY TEAM IN MARTHA'S VINEYARD TO FAMILY BACK HOME
WEST TISBURY MARTHAS VINEYARD WOODS HOLE NANTUCKET 1892 Good
On offer is a very interesting group of two  original circa 1892 manuscript letters dated U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Camp (Katama), West Tisbury (Martha's Vineyard), Massachusetts, from team member M. B. Safford to his mother, and his brother, Ed. The content, in part, reads: 1. [West Tisbury, no date, presumably 1892, to his mother; 4 pp.] "This week we moved camp 12 miles & set it up again and got in two days' field work. We are in a new sort of country. High bluffs along the shore and higher hills back inland, strewn with enormous boulders, as well as smaller ones, all of which were left by the glaciers. On a hill about a mile to the north of us, we can look over all the island and sound to north and ocean to south. We can see New Bedford, Woods Hole, the Elizabeth Islands and Newport and Block Island on the west, Gay Head and Noman's Land look just at the foot of the hills. Nantucket lies at the southeast and with a glass can make out the houses of the town. Between us and the beach is part of Chilmark Pond. It is full of wild ducks just breeding now. Our Cape Cod men have five half grown young ones which they are raising. They intend to take them home with them. It is quite a fad on the 'Cape.' They make prettier ducks in some respects than the tame ones. They are not hard to tame to a certain extent, but retain certain of their wild characteristics for several generations at least. Half breeds are very handsome they say. We have a brook running through our camp and also two springs nearby. The camp is much farther from the ocean that usual, because one of the 'kids' caught cold and had a cough in the old camp ... For my part I would prefer nearer the ocean for the kid's health as well as my own comfort ... However, with good weather it will not be long before we fold our tents again. I have no use for a hilly inland country anyway... [there follows a splendid hand drawn map of the Island and Noman's Land, with the various towns, Gay Head Light, major ponds and detailing the location of their present camp, and one previously utilized] ... (signed) M. B. Safford." 2. [West Tisbury, Sept 4 1892, on Coast & Geodetic Survey printed stationery, to his brother, Ed; 2 pp.] "John Wentworth exaggerated my fatness. I weigh only 149 [pounds], but I am brown enough as far as that goes and suppose I will increase in weight now it is cooler. I feel very well ..." In one paragraph explains to Ed how to operate his typewriter properly. "Our shore work is now about 5 miles from camp and we have a space to take my levelling party out to work. The last day I levelled by the place where the [ship] GALENA went ashore and in a day or two I will reach Gay Head Light. Our sounding covers the place where the GALENA struck and also the CITY OF COLUMBUS. The latter north of the light and the former south. Gay Head is cliffs about 120 ft. high; a sort of clay with various colored strata visible, so they appear striped -- not regularly through. Red predominates, but there is also green, yellow, brown, slate color, white and various tints. It cuts like cheese. The natives make curios from it, also paint. When baked through all colors turn to red. Gay Head light is painted with the red clay mixed with oil. I do not know what causes these different colors. Mr. M. is going to take some pictures about it and tint them. I might get hold of some [none present with lot] ... [signed] M. B. Safford." HISTORICAL NOTES: SS CITY OF COLUMBUS was wrecked off Gay Head in Jan 1884. The mate had fallen asleep at the wheel. Of the some hundred passengers aboard at the time of the terrible incident, most were drowned. USS GALENA was under tow to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, New Hampshire. On Mar 13 1891, her captain, calculating, incorrectly, that he was ten miles offshore, but then the tug USS NINA towing her struck ground and GALENA ploughed right into her. Amidst howling winds and heavy seas the two ships were driven ever near the shore, where the Gay Head Native American residents helped the survivors ashore. GALENA was a hopeless wreck, but NINA survived and was salvaged and continued in service for many years afterward. VG.