One of the more interesting houses up-Island is 231 State Road in Chilmark. It is an unusual house for Chilmark: a Queen Anne style Victorian, painted yellow, with a turret.

I don’t know of any other such houses in Chilmark, whose charm lies in its serene and lovely rolling hills, hidden houses and beaches. It is a very common type of house elsewhere in the United States, the reflection of the prosperity of the late 19th century. Prosperity that had passed Chilmark by and which it was not to achieve until well past the midpoint of the 20th century.

Its owners and builders were Jared and Jerusha (Lottie) Mayhew. They married in 1875 and were the parents of one daughter, born in 1879 named Ethel Love and known as Lovey for her father’s aunt. They lived in the house all of their married life as did Ethel and her husband, Allen Athearn Flanders, whom she married in 1898 and their two children, Aleta and Leslie.

Jared and Jerusha were pillars of the Chilmark Methodist church, and probably the town’s most prosperous citizens. Jared had well over 100 acres of land and raised sheep. He was also deaf, one of the last to have grown up in a Chilmark family who had more deaf children than hearing ones. His parents, Benjamin and Hannah Smith Mayhew, were both deaf as was his older brother, Benjamin. His aunts and uncles Alfred, Ruby and Lovey were also deaf. Another uncle, also named Jared, was not. All of the deaf aunts and uncles as well as Jared and his brother Ben attended what is now the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn.

In 1991, the folklorist Dillon Bustin composed a series of songs about Vineyard folk called Tidebook, and although they were not named, one of the songs, Lead Kindly Light was about Jared and Lottie Mayhew. It described how Lottie would sign the minister’s sermon for her husband, and then as they grew older and as Lottie’s sight began to fail, how Jared would guide her so she would not fall. They were married for over 50 years.

Lottie outlived Jared by three years. Jared died in 1927 and Lottie in 1930. The depression reduced the value of their home by half, from $5000 to $2500, but their personal property was not reduced nearly as much by the crash. One of the reasons for this was their interest in AT&T, the company begun by Alexander Graham Bell, who came to the Vineyard to investigate the phenomenon of hereditary deafness that Jared and his brother, aunts and uncles, mother and father all shared.

When I drive by, I always look at the house and remember them.