Town Beach at West Island           

  Fairhaven, MA

      Captain Besse's Log   

The History of West Island

 A Community Service provided by

     Because of its prominent location in Buzzards Bay, West Island (535 acres) is thought to have been visited by ancient explorers such as the Norsemen even before Columbus landed in America in 1492.

     It's recorded history began on November 29, 1652, when Wampanoag Indian Chief Massasoit and his son Wamsutta sold the territory of Dartmouth with all the rivers, creeks, meadows, necks and islands to a band of Pilgrims which included John Cooke.

CLICK HERE for more on the history of West Island Fairhaven Estates

      John Cooke the last survivor of the Mayflower settled in Fairhaven were his daughter Mercy Cooke married Steven West the individual for whom West Island is named.  

     The West family settled on Sconticut Neck and owned West Island for many years. Originally called West's Island, and recorded as such on early maps, the island's name was modified by popular usage to West Island because it was much easier to pronounce.

     The island was used mainly for  the grazing of cattle.  At low tide the cows  would be herded over from farms on Sconticut Neck to graze. On May 14, 1775 the first naval battle of the revolution was fought off it's shores. It was also reported that British warships landed parties at West Island. They were supposedly interested  in the sheep and cattle grazing on the island.

      The last member of the West family to own West Island was Nehemiah West, a whaling captain who later sold the island in 1880 to Anthony De Costa who was a farmer in the area.  He later sold it to Horace S. Crowell of Marlboro. Crowell retained Captain John T. Besse as care taker of the island. Captain Besse's house, the oldest on the island located at 42 Causeway Road, is still maintained as a private residence. 

      Legend has it that the old clay chimneys at the Besse House have bullet holes from hunters from well over a hundred years ago. they are still visible today and have never been repaired.

Enter for More History and  vintage newspaper articles on West Island

    Recent Articles about West Island

Cigarette boat runs into sandbar on West Island

Return of lost fire helmet rekindles family memories

Focus is on preparedness with forecast of busy hurricane season 5/20/11

West Island Causeway Dredging Planned 3/21/11

West Island "Red Hat" Lady: Isobel Crotch - 91

West Island home damaged in fire  3/14/2011

Spring Arrives Sunday and that rings the dinner bell for hungry deer ticks

Wallace Bither, 99, captain of a subchaser in WWII, recalls an eventful life

Chatting with SkyWarn weather spotter M.L.Baron

Deeds hold painful reminder of racism 7/25/2010

The shore must go on 07-11-03

Fear of hunters on West Island is unfounded


Lamenting loss on West Island 5-07-03

Times are changing in this little patch of paradise 05-29-04

Selectman seeks to right permit misunderstanding 3/18/05

Wastewater wells up on West Island 3/25/05

Head-on crash kills motorcyclist on West Island 3/27/05

Town seeks emergency work for leaching wells 05/12/05

Biologists fight to save errant dolphins 5/13/05

Errant dolphins believed to be back in open water 5/14/05

Dolphins return to sea after mother delivers stillborn calf 05/19/05

New wells in store for West Island 5/20/05

Town looks to clean up causeway 6/10/05

West Island sewage plant cost grows 8/05/05

Resident urges cleanup of boat landing 8/12/05

Town still needs funds for dredging 9/16/05

Money sought for Fairhaven sewage treatment plant well 9/27/05

Future of Hoppy's Landing 01-27-06

West Island wells show success 02-17-06

West Island wastewater facility turns into fiscal 'black hole' 02-13-06

Wind plan stirs debate 05-24-06

LETTER: Turbines will change beach forever 07-26-06

YOUR VIEW: Mourning the loss of a quiet island life 07-31-06

West Island wells yield early results 08-11-06

West Island residents get hurricane advice from

officials 09-01-06

Town still needs funds for dredging 09-16-05

Wastewater wells online 09-22-06

New home badly damaged in fire 12-17-06