Photos of long-ago Martha’s Vineyard.
The Neptune Club of Norwalk, Conn., poses on the steps of their hotel in Oak Bluffs. This yachting club, made up of wealthy businessmen from New York City and Connecticut, made an annual excursion by schooner to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket every summer throughout the 1860s, ’70s, and ’80s — usually 40 or 50 members strong. After each cruise they published a “log book” of their adventures, mostly consisting of touring, fishing and fine dining at fancy beachside resorts up the coast from Norwalk to Nantucket. Cottage City was a primary destination, where the club would stay a week or more each season. In 1875, they boasted of cruising from Norwalk to Oak Bluffs in a mere 23 hours.
“Commodore” Charles H. Tompkins, possibly the bearded gentleman in the lower right corner, was “commanding officer” of the Neptune Club for decades. A prominent national pricing expert in the wholesale drug trade; Tompkins oversaw the import, manufacture, and distribution of everything from aspirin and lettuce-extract powder to medicinal liquor, cannabis, opium, and heroin. His last firm, Schieffelin & Co., later dropped medicine altogether to become a major liquor distributor after Prohibition.