Encyclopedia Vineyardia: K

Kelley House: Historic Edgartown hostelry that is the oldest inn operating relatively continuously on Martha’s Vineyard. Originally built in 1742 and called simply “the Tavern,” the inn has been periodically altered and has had many names over the years, including: Marcy House, Marcy Tavern, Vineyard House, Seaview House, Kelley House, Great Harbour Inn, and again, Kelley House. In the 1950s, the opening of Kelley House in late April – by tradition the first hotel on the Island to open – marked the start of the tourist season.

Kingsbury, Craig Johnstone: Jack-of-all-trades, shoe eschewer, author of  “Hoo Rah for Bill” sign, and headless movie star, 1912–2002. The talents for which he was known were many: “farmer, fisherman, aquatic biologist, ox cart man, butcher, farrier, woodcarver, builder, breeder of exotic poultry, landscaper, longshoreman, able-bodied seaman, teamster, logger, stonemason, husband, father, storyteller, and naturalist,” listed the Vineyard Gazette following his death in 2002. The only person known to be arrested for drunk driving a team of oxen, Kingsbury is remembered today as a certified larger-than-life Island character. In that incident, he was released from custody when the oxen refused to move from Main Street, Vineyard Haven without him. Drunk as he admittedly was, he explained, the oxen were perfectly sober. During the grimmest days of the Monica Lewinski scandal, he painted a large plywood sign that read “Hoo Rah for Bill” in big letters and “–Craig” in smaller letters and nailed it up where all could see it when driving up-Island on State Road. (A smaller version hangs there today.) Kingsbury was also the man hired by the producers of Jaws to teach actor Robert Shaw (Quint) how to portray, in Kingsbury’s words, “a fish pier low life, a filthy wharf rat.” Kingsbury himself played Ben Gardner in the film, during which a facsimile of his head pops out from a broken hull. His film career ended there, though he reportedly turned down the lead in a film of The Old Man and the Sea because he didn’t want anyone to think he was foolish enough to lose a big fish to sharks. Also in the 1970s, the Boston Globe reported several tourists rushed into the Black Dog Tavern to say that a barefooted  “bum” was outside going through the trash claiming to be looking for food for his pigs.  “Oh, that’s alright,” the waitress replied. “That’s Craig Kingsbury; he’s a selectman.”

King’s Land of Tisbury: A triangle of land near the Mill Pond in West Tisbury that was once the location of a courthouse, general store, jail, public stocks, and whipping post. In the 1700s, before Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury split into two towns, and before State Road diverted most traffic along the west side of the Mill Pond, the administrative center of both villages was at the intersection of Old County Road and the Edgartown-West Tisbury road, then called the Takemmy Trail. King’s Land shrank over time to almost nothing and the stocks and whipping post were replaced by a stop sign and a telephone pole.