Encyclopedia Vineyardia: Y

Yale, Dr. Leroy Milton: Holmes Hole (Vineyard Haven) physician during the 1830s and ’40s. Yale, who came to the Island shortly after graduating from Harvard Medical School, kept a journal that is now in the collection of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in which he wove personal entries, gory medical details, and local gossip. On the 1833 death of James Foster he wrote: “Some years ago he was in the habit of using ardent spirit to a great excess + continued it so long that it apparently undermined his constitution. [He] has been attacked with a chronic diarrhea...which eventually exhausted the powers of nature.” That same year, Solomon Weeks, an eighty-seven-year-old Wampanoag man, died “from gangrene of one foot which originated from scratching it with a shell while wading in the water.”

Yale died of “ship fever” in 1847 at the age of forty-seven. His son recalled that he caught a “famine fever” while treating a plague-wracked ship “loaded with Irish immigrants and bound for Boston, [which] had somehow gotten far enough south to make our harbor.”

Yankee Rarebit: Recipe prepared by Mrs. Esther (Luce) Mayhew of Vineyard Haven for the 1924 Island Cook Book: one pound Young America Cheese, one small can pimento, one tablespoon butter, one egg, one teaspoon mustard, one quarter teaspoon red pepper, melted and blended in a chafing dish, and served on toasted crackers or toast. “Young America” was a mellow cheese, soft enough to be eaten with a spoon, named after the Young America political movement of the mid-1800s.

Yellow House: Ancient home on the corner of South Summer and Main Streets in downtown Edgartown that has been the object of a prolonged legal battle between the town and its previous owners over its dilapidated condition, a battle that resulted in the town taking the property by eminent domain in 2017. The origins of the home are murky, as contradictory modern records claim construction years ranging from 1775 to 1850. It’s evident, however, that the house was cobbled together from several older buildings and is undoubtedly one of the oldest on Main Street. Some call it the Captain Charles Pease House, although it’s unclear who Charles was. Most call it the Captain Chase Pease House, after the county jailer of that name who moved the house – or some part of it – from the modern site of the Edgartown Golf Club. Others call it the 1850 House, although it’s often considered considerably older than that. By any name, it should not be confused with Edgartown’s other Yellow House, which was built in 1838 and associated with Captain Rufus Pease, nor the other yellow homes around town. Yellow, it turns out, has not historically been an uncommon color in Edgartownian homes. Despite the present infatuation with white paint, in 1838 Samuel Adams Devens spent a month on the Island and said of the houses of Edgartown that “A taste for a variety of colors prevails. It is not uncommon to see the body of a house of one color with the border or trimmings of another.”  




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