Reviving Sign Language on Martha's Vineyard Is Personal and Historical Mission
Alison L. Mead
Lynn Thorp is the energy behind MV Signs: Then and Now, an endeavor to revive Martha’s Vineyard sign language used from the 17th to 19th century.
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Alexander Graham Bell At Edgartown
Vineyard Gazette
The death of Alexander Graham Bell arouses renewed interest in the great inventor’s connection with Martha’s Vineyard. Bell’s concern with the island and its people was much more than a thing of the moment. His visits and at least one prolonged stay on the island were the result of his desire to investigate the so-called “deaf-mute” town in Chilmark about which a fictitious tradition had sprung up.
 
It is also true that while Bell was living in Capt. Abram Osborn’s house in Edgartown, the telephone was taking form and Bell put in much work on the invention.
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Interesting Vineyarders: Saphronia E. Hillman
Vineyard Gazette
Just a few issues back, this column carried the biographical sketch of Joseph West of Chilmark, who is a deaf mute. This present article contains a similar sketch of his sister, Mrs. Sophronia E. Hillman, whose faculties are normal. Reared in the same family, it is interesting to correspond the two stories relating to Chilmark of nearly three-quarters of a century ago, as seen by two different pairs of eyes, directed by natural inclinations that had little in common.
 
Mrs.
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Interesting Vineyarders: Joseph E. T. West
Vineyard Gazette
This is the story of one who has lived always in the eternal silence, nearly three-quarters of a century without ever hearing the sound of human voice or the song of a bird, and who has never been able to voice a greeting to a friend, for Joseph E. T. West of Chilmark is a deaf mute, the last man of that town to be so afflicted.
 
Born deaf, he could not learn to speak, having no idea of the sound of words, and thus he has lived in silence.
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Expert Traces Vineyard Story of Deaf and Their Community
David Corr
Chilmark fishermen Christopher Murphy approached medical anthropologist Nora Groce after her delivery of the last Nathan Mayhew Seminars lecture of the summer Thursday night, and recalled a remnant of sign language use by old-timers he used to work for.
 
The news came as pleasant confirmation to Miss Groce, who has spent the better part of the last six years tracing the origins of a community of deaf people who lived pretty much like - and in harmony with - the hearing populace of the Vineyard from its earliest settlement through the 19th century.
 
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Deaf Mutes on the Vineyard
Vineyard Gazette
In an interview with Mr. Frank Z. Maguire, of Washington, who has been on the Vineyard the past week looking up deaf-mute statistics, that gentleman expresses himself as follows with reference to the matter in its local application, and on the general subject:
 
“I have been very much pleased with my visit to Martha’s Vineyard, and especially to Edgartown; it presents opportunities for study and observation seldom seen. For instance, you have on the island a few family names which form, I believe, near a majority of its inhabitants.
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As I Remember the Island 60 Years Ago
Joseph Chase Allen
There were several deaf-and-dumb persons, as deaf-mutes were called, living in the Island towns. Although all of them were considered educated and could read and write, none of them depended upon this method of communicating with one another or with their more fortunate neighbors, but used the sign language.
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A Visit to the Vineyard
Vineyard Gazette
Mr. Editor: - Your readers are frequently interested and edified by communications from Western and Southern cities, and occasionally from a native of our own city who for some time resided in the south-eastern part of this Island; But I do not remember of their ever being favored by one from that pleasant, social portion of this “Sea girt Isle,” incorporated “Tisbury,” but more familiarly known to the seafaring class of community as “Holmes’ Hole.”
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Intermarriage of Blood Relations
Vineyard Gazette
It was the Rev. Charles Brooks, of Boston, who said at the late Scientific Association, in Providence, that there was hardly a living descendant of Martha’s Vineyard who could write consecutively a page of good sense! Mr. Brooks, it would seem by the papers, made himself quite merry over the supposed misfortunes of our people. He stated that but few strangers could be persuaded to settle here! And the following is given as one of his periods, when trying to prove us of the Vineyard of lilliputian intellect: -
 
“At Martha’s Vineyard they have a particularly bad time.
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Listening to the Heartbeat of an Old Chilmark House
Mary Jane Carpenter

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.

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