I have to question some of the statements in the recent Gazette article of Jan. 16 on the Hancock-Mitchell House, now being restored at Quansoo.

To begin with, I do not believe the house was moved, as claimed, for a number of reasons.

You cannot move a clay wall without destroying it, and the wattle and daub in the front room is in perfect shape. The discovery of this earliest type of wall construction in the Colonies should not be minimized. This technique was used in the first cottages at Plymouth built in the 1620s, as Governor Bradford has described. Before it was discovered in the Vincent house, and now the Quansoo house, there were only four surviving examples in this country. Later, all 18th-century Vineyard houses were using better and simpler techniques of wall construction.

The house sits only a few inches off the ground on a 17th century rough stone foundation with an ancient cellar beneath the southwest room. That is why there is so much rot in the sills. By the 18th century, Vineyard builders had learned for obvious reasons that it was best to build higher foundations. By mid century, substantial foundation walls were being faced, as you can see in the William Tilton, Asa Smith and Mayhew-Sands houses in Chilmark.

Like the Vincent house, Brian Cooper has found framing for several casement windows, which commonly were imported from England in the 17th century when glass was scarce. Sash windows universally replaced casements in the 18th century. By this time, casements were no longer available or being used. The house could not have been built in 1750 or 1770, as claimed.

Nathaniel was the first of the Hancock family to settle on the Island, and his house, built in the 1730s, is still there off Old County Road and Scotchman’s Bridge Lane. With the beginnings of Georgian detailing, fine proportions, sash windows, etc., it is similar to other Island houses of the mid 18th century. This is no surprise. But it is just not believable that his grandson James (or another), would have built 40 or 50 years later a house using archaic wattle and daub and casement windows.

Myron Stachiw’s picture of rustic, out-of-touch, conservative farmers building with outmoded construction techniques is colorful. But who really is he talking about? If it is the Hancocks, just the opposite is true. Nathaniel was educated at Harvard before he came to the Island to become Congregational minister in West Tisbury. Russell, his son, was a wealthy landowner and farmer. Capt. Samuel Hancock, Russell’s son, was a master mariner in the then dangerous Transatlantic trade with an English wife. His maps and charts have been found in the Quansoo house.

But the Hancocks did not build the house. It was already the “old homestead” on its original site in Quansoo when Russell and Deborah Hancock came here to live in the mid 18th century. Records from the historical society (Martha’s Vineyard Museum) confirm this when they say of Russell Hancock: “He was a farmer and owned several tracts of land . . . including the old homestead ‘Quansoo’ near the Atlantic Ocean, about two and one-half miles from West Tisbury, in the town of Chilmark, where his children were born.”

We believe it was through his marriage with Deborah that Russell came to own the Quansoo property. Her maiden name was Deborah Mayhew Norton. She was the great-granddaughter of John Mayhew, the original settler in this region. The house may have been passed down to her.

Deeds clearly show John Mayhew here as early as 1673. Other deeds of the 1670s and 1680s speak of his house near the Atlantic and purchases of land in Quansoo. He probably arrived here as a pioneer shortly after his marriage to the young 17-year-old Elizabeth Hillyard in 1672. Banks says this of John Mayhew: “With his young bride, he set up a home for himself at Quansoo, where he ever after lived, and raised a large family of eight children.”

Most architectural historians would be comfortable dating the Vincent house to about 1672. Brian Cooper, who is now restoring “the old homestead,” has written me that he is convinced the Quansoo house is even older!

Dating a house from the till is a very uncertain business because you cannot be sure of what you have not found. If Brian Cooper is correct, and I believe he is, his dating dovetails with John and Elizabeth’s presence in Quansoo at this time. I am certain this is a genuine 17th century house.

Jonathan Scott is a professor of architectural history in Castleton, Vt., who also lives Chilmark.