Welcome. Edgartown News was born from the simple fact that I have ink and Dektol in my veins and I need to write and photograph more than I need air or food, and from my love for this little town where I grew up and raised my family, the town I have left a few times but can't quite shake for good. Here you will find wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town: my home town.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Captain Alexander Weeks

Captain Alexander Weeks
Boylston house, circa 1950

I recently found the Gazette clipping to which I have referred in previous posts regarding the moving of my Main Street house from Ocean Heights, which I share here (from a 1948 edition of The Vineyard Gazette -  printed, I assume, as a centenary item):

May Snowstorm That Took an Unkind Turn

The cold May storm, a proverbial part of the Vineyard spring, took an especially unkind turn about a century ago, on May 26th, the date being recalled because it coincided with moving day for an old house which found a haven on Main Street, Edgartown.

The house, then owned by Capt. Alexander Weeks, once stood at Ocean Heights, but yielding to that irresistible urge which seemed to overtake both houses and their owners in the olden days, it was decreed that it should become a town dweller. Propelled by forty yoke of oxen and a large force of men, the house made its slow and stately way over the sandy roads until it reached its present site, on the corner of Green Lane, where it is now the home Mrs. Herbert M. Boylston.

"The usual barrel of New England liquid refreshments as was the custom in those halcyon days," the Gazette recalled wistfully a quarter of a century ago, "flowed freely and when spirits rose to the point that when the new location was reached it was decided to hold a dance then and there. A fiddler was procured, fair ladies recruited, and the evening passed all too swiftly, the home-going guests finding to their surprise that a heavy snow had fallen while they were celebrating and that many of the weary and hungry oxen had dispersed, leading to a chilly chase on the night of the great snow, before the beasts were stabled their masters housed."

I love this story. I love it that this old home's first day of existence at its present location was celebrated with dancing and fiddle music, and that the fiddling that is now taking place here is creating a succinct and wonderful connection to the house's 200 year history.

More information about Captain Alexander Palmer Weeks, from my mother's file, includes the facts that he was born on May 18, 1804 and died on August 29 or 30, 1856, lost at sea in a hurricane, and that in 1835 Captain Weeks was skipper of the ship Leader whose home port was New Bedford. I have also learned - from the National Maritime Digital Library (link) - that Leader, a whaling bark,  with Captain Weeks listed as its master, departed New Bedford for the Pacific Ocean in May of 1835, and returned in April of 1838, reporting 480 sperm, and 138 whale.  Leader is listed as having been built in 1815 in Fairhaven, and that she broke up in 1851.

I've always assumed that the house was moved from the vicinity of what is now Weeks Lane.

Captain Alexander Weeks
Present-day fiddlers at the former Captain Alexander Weeks house.

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