Emma F. Mayhew (b. 17 August 1861 on Martha’s Vineyard) married Charles Abbott Dixon (b. Plymouth) on 10 January 1891 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The couple had two daughters, Clara A. Dixon (b. 1892) and Etta Edwards Dixon (1894 – 1966). Etta, great grandmother, would become the wife of Wilbur Fletcher Lewis.
For eight consecutive generations, our Mayhew ancestors lived and farmed on Martha’s Vineyard. “The name of Mayhew and the Vineyard are almost synonymous,” wrote Dr. Charles E. Banks in The History of Martha’s Vineyard, Volume 1 (1911). The first of the name to come to America was Governor Thomas Mayhew (bapt. 1 April 1593, Tisbury, England). According to Wikipedia, “Governor” Mayhew established the first English settlement of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and adjacent islands in 1642. He is one of the editors of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in British North America, and his assistant Peter Foulger was the grandfather of Benjamin Franklin.
The Missionary Mayhews of Martha’s Vineyard represent what is probably the longest and most persistent missionary endeavor in the annals of all Christendom. The elder Thomas Mayhew, known for his missionary work, was not concerned for Indian souls when he settled on his island; he sought only to improve his social and economic position. His son, Thomas Mayhew the Younger, is credited with the launching an Indian mission, accepting the challenge he found among the three thousand Pokanaukets, a branch of the mainland Narragansetts, who far outnumbered the whites on the island. In the fall of 1657, Thomas Mayhew the Younger sailed for England on a trip combining an appeal for missionary funds with personal business. After leaving Boston Harbor, the ship was never seen again. The elder Thomas made repeated efforts to find a replacement to continue his son’s ministry to the Indians, but no minister who knew the language or was willing to learn could be induced to settle permanently on the island, so at the age of sixty Mayhew, who had started as a merchant, then turned landed proprietor, became a missionary in his son’s place. For the next twenty-five years he traveled on foot as far as twenty miles to preach once a week at the Indian assembly or to visit the native camps.
When the venerable Governor Mayhew became ill one Sunday evening in 1682, he calmly informed his friends and relatives that “his Sickness would now be to Death, and he was well contented therewith, being full of Days, and satisfied with Life”. Rev. John Mayhew, the youngest grandson, continued his missionary work to the Indians.
I have not discovered much about the interceding generations. Simon Mayhew (1687 – 1753) was a farmer and many years a deacon in Chilmark, husband to Ruth, and father to eight. His son Timothy (1711 – 1781) was also a farmer and deacon of the church in Chilmark, served as Indian Guardian in 1756, and married Abiah Tilton, with whom he had at least 10 children. His son of the same name, again a farmer, married a cousin, Ruth Davis Mayhew, fathering 7 children. By 1850, Melatiah Mayhew was 75 years old, and his son Leander was living with his parents, his profession: farmer.
Leander married late, at age 37, to Cynthia Look on November 30, 1859 in Tisbury, and by 1870, the couple had three children: Emma, Leander and Marietta. Though listed as a farmer in both the 1860 and 1870 U.S. Census, in the 1865 Massachusetts Census, Leander was shown to be involved in Mining + Marketing Clay. Apparently there was booming business in bricks in the Boston area, and Martha’s Vineyard was an important source of the clay. Though we don’t know where Leander worked, it could’ve been at the Chilmark Brick and Tile Works (previously named the Boston Fire Brick and Clay Retort Mfg. Co.). In 1869, the brickyard produced some 800,000 bricks a year and employed 75 workers, according to Gazette archives. The bricks were shipped by schooner to Boston, Providence and Fall River.
In the Boston Globe, it was reported that “a dwelling-house owned by Bayes Tilton and occupied by Leander Mayhew, at Chilmark, caught from a chimney and was entirely consumed.” (19 Jan 1874)
Both Leander and Cynthia would die at age 57, he of inflammation of the lining of the chest cavity and she of cancer. It was their eldest daughter, Emma Mayhew, who would eventually leave the island and marry Charlie Dixon of Manomet. Just prior, with both of her parents having now passed away, sixteen-year-old Emma was listed as a “servant” in the 1880 United States Census, on the farm of one Oliver Mayhew.