Back in the 1920s, a Portuguese immigrant named Joseph Bettencourt arrived on Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Thomasia, who had been raised on the island and had family here. He found work doing odd jobs and gardening for summer residents down on Water Street in Edgartown. After some years, Joe's employer, Oscar Burke, settled on the ill-regarded idea to set up a turkey farm on Martha's Vineyard. He asked Joe to make it happen.
And did he ever. Twenty years and thousands of turkeys later, Joe and Thomasia managed to buy the operation from Mr. Burke. When they retired, the farm changed hands and eventually closed, but the house and freezer building can still be seen at the site of the Martha's Vineyard Elderly Housing.
Joseph and Thomasia Bettencourt were my grandparents. Our mascot, Oscar, was inspired by them and the Vineyard Turkeys they made famous.
-Susan Ciatto, founder of Tisbury Turkey