Bequest to the Dukes County Historical Society by Miss Ethelinda Mayhew of the historic Squire Cooke house which was her home in Edgartown, became known this week with the filing of Miss Mayhew’s will at the registry of probate. Miss Mayhew’s interest in the house was subject to the will of her brother, the late Horace Mayhew, and there are two other heirs in addition to the historical society, Mrs. Gertrude Kimrod of South Tacoma, Washington, and another niece of Miss Mayhew whose whereabouts are not known.
In addition to her interest in the house, which she wished to become the home of the Island historical society, Miss Mayhew, in a separate clause of the will, left all the household furnishings and furniture to the society as well.
The bequest, evidencing Miss Mayhew’s warm interest in the historical work of the Island and her love for the Island itself, was received with expressions of appreciation and gratitude on every hand. It assures to the Island historical society, which was formed in 1923 and has since that time steadily accumulated valuable material from the earliest times on the Vineyard, an appropriate permanent home for its collections and its activities.

Stressed Twofold Benefit of Gift

Marshal Shepard, president of the society, stressed the twofold benefit accruing from Miss Mayhew’s provision, first, the supplying of badly needed quarters, and, second, the opportunity to preserve one of the Island’s truly historic houses. So far as is known this is the first instance in which preservation and care for a historic Vineyard house have been assured.
The Squire Thomas Cooke house, so called, is at the junction of School and Cooke streets, the latter way being known also as Meeting House Way. The house was built in 1765 or about that time for Squire Cooke who was one of the foremost citizens of the Vineyard. He became the second collector of customs on the Island, and during his incumbency from 1799 to 1809 the upper east room of his home was the customs house. The building is one notable for its simplicity and true Revolutionary character. It embodies inside as well as outside the typical end now rare features of the early Island builders.
The panelling of the fireplace wall in the west room downstairs is one of the finest examples of panelling on the Island. An old brick oven in the present dining room and six fireplaces served by the massive central chimney, are other features of interest.
The Dukes County Historical Society was incorporated in 1923 and has been active from the time of its inception. The society now has some 260 members and an important collection of material, much of it irreplaceable and unique, which has had to be cared for in temporary quarters where it is not accessible. In 1925 the society published the third volume of the Banks history of Martha’s Vineyard, and later it carried to completion the project of a memorial to Colonel George Claghorn of Chilmark, builder of the Constitution, on board that famous frigate, now being reconditioned. The society has issued a number of publications.
Besides Mr. Shepard, the president, the officers are Francis A. Foster, 1st vice president; William J. Rotch, 2nd vice president; Mrs. H. O. Hillman, treasurer; and Miss Laura Pease, temporary secretary.
In addition to the bequest to the historical society, Miss Mayhew’s will leaves her books to Allen M. Mortimer, certain personal effects to Miss Dora L. Peakes, and $1,000 to her niece, Mrs. Gerturde Kimrod. Mrs. Kimrod is also the residuary legatee.
Judge Arthur W. Davis was to have been administrator under the will, but he has become judge of probate since the will was drawn and has resigned the adminstratorship.