Charles E. Banks
The third volume of the History of Martha’s Vineyard by Dr. Charles Edward Banks gives lovers of the Island access to a store of valuable information and reminds them again how fortunate the Island is in its historian. Volume Three, long anticipated and at last auspiciously published under the seal of the Dukes County Historical Society, is devoted to family genealogies. From Adams and Allen down to Worth and Young, the names of the Island fathers are recorded in their proper relationships; the families are traced up to the opening of the nineteenth century - no further pursuit being possible within the scope of a single volume. But the genealogies have been brought within reach of everyone, and it will be easy with reference to town records for anyone to complete the record of later generations.
This volume completes a labor of many years on the part of Dr. Banks. The Island will not fail to remember that it has been a labor of love, crowned at last with completion and the reward of a record written for all time; but a labor involving research, investigation, travel, and doubtless creative toil of such proportions that the perseverance and devotion of Dr. Banks to his self-appointed task can never be justly appreciated. It must be a satisfaction to Dr. Banks as it is to every lover of the Island to turn the pages of the three volumes; in the increasing regard for the history in years to come - which the Island and its lovers will surely evidence in many ways - the historian may draw the sort of recompense which he is most interested in.
This third volume is uniform with the first two, save for the seal of the Dukes County Historical Society, that symbol of a united Island interest which promises much. It has the same attractive binding, the same clear, dignified type and excellent paper.
In a work consisting of genealogies, as this one does, it may be odd to speak of the charm of the author’s style. Yet much of the value of the third volume of this history, as of the first two, lies in the historian’s clear and interesting account, the sympathy of his observation, and the truth of his interpretation. Thus we have in a few words characterizations of the Island’s fathers, phrases which mirror their achievements, and, all in all, an unfailing bond between the listed names and the living history of the Island itself.
One unacquainted with the Island could not fail to find this volume of interest for this very reason. The genealogy tells a story of master mariners and husbandmen which abounds in allusions of a romantic or dramatic sort.
However, the great value of the work undoubtedly lies in its sheer merit as history; it is a record complete and authoritative, ably brought together. For future generations this will be much learned upon; it is a crystallization of the Island’s past which, neglected now, could never have been accomplished later. The Island will always be in the debt of Dr. Banks.
Lovers of the Vineyard who wish to obtain this new volume, or the first two, are urged to communicate with the Dukes County Historical Society.