I have always liked the little house at 342 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, which recently changed ownership. It is a tiny, eccentric house that I pass nearly every day on my way to town. I think it looks like Mr. McGregor’s cottage in Beatrix Potter’s story of Peter Rabbit, and so I have never failed to wonder why such an archetypal storybook house came to be built on Martha’s Vineyard.

It is made of stucco and bricks, and has a curved front door covered by a very English portico. The casement windows are appropriate too, and the grass covered driveway leads back into a green glade, reminiscent of the English West Country. There is a garden shed in the back that matches the house, just like Mr. McGregor’s. I’ll bet there was once a cold frame there too.

I sigh and the house makes me remember the sweet years that our family spent in England, and then I drive on. I have done this for almost 27 years.

For the past few years, the house has been empty. The driveway has become more grass than stones, and the garden has been neglected. But its charm has remained for me, and so I was prompted to try and find out its story.

The house was built in 1935 for a woman named Grace E. Simpson. Everett Fisher, from one of the oldest Island families and a local carpenter, built it with the help of his brother-in-law John Simpson, a plasterer, who lived most of the time in Salem, N.H. John was Grace’s cousin, as was Everett’s wife, Janie.

At the same time they were building Grace’s house they also built the one next door for John, who planned to retire there. John’s nephew, Arthur Railton, a young man who came to Edgartown almost every summer to stay with Everett and Janie, also helped.

Janie had came to the United States by herself in 1909 from Keighley, England, in the West Riding section of Yorkshire. She joined her uncle Thomas Simpson’s household in Lawrence, Mass., and worked as a mender in a woolen mill. Thomas and his family had emigrated in 1875 from the same town.

Thomas was Grace Simpson’s father. Grace had five brothers but no sisters, so it is not surprising that she and her cousin Janie became good friends. Grace lived with her father in Lawrence until his death in 1934. She was employed as a secretary in Lawrence, and then later worked until her retirement for the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company. She moved to the Island permanently in 1960.

In 1932, Grace and John each purchased a parcel of land on the Island from Harry Hamblen. Grace added to her parcel two additional times so eventually she had 150 feet of land along the road. In 1935 the two houses were built. It is interesting that of the two houses, Grace’s house is the more evocative of England, even though she was born in Lawrence.

The family still had relatives in England, and appear to have emigrated at different times. Arthur Railton was born in Regina, Saskatchewan where his father, Albert, was stationed with the Canadian Army. While Albert Railton served in WWI, his wife Annie and her son Arthur went to Lawrence and stayed with Annie’s brother, John Simpson.

These late coming cousins apparently had a great influence on Grace. When she died at the age of 92 in 1988, Grace left her Vineyard house to Arthur Railton’s sister, Ruth Gordon. John died in 1964 and he left his house to his sister Annie.

These family ties were very strong. Arthur and Ruth’s baby sister Dorothy was adopted by Everett and Janie when she was less than a year old. She grew up in Edgartown and took good care of her adoptive father until he died at the age of 95 in 1970. Janie died in 1959.

These washashores, who washed ashore not only to the Vineyard but also to the United States, brought their skills in the woolen industry for which the West Country was famous, as well as their memories of the English countryside and its cottages. They made their way working in the industrial centers of New England, but when they had the chance, they recreated the cottages in a place they all came to love.

And, perhaps Grace, Annie and Janie read the tales of Beatrix Potter to the little ones they cared for.