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19th Century documents
posted August, 2004
Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume VIII, 1802 (first series). Boston MA: printed by Munroe and Francis
Sources are a microfilm and original book at the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester Massachusetts, and the volume reprinted by Johnson Reprint Corp. in 1968.
The original text uses the "long s" character ſ, that looks like an f, and my OCR program does a poor job with that. I've spent many hours proofreading for that and other errors, but there are likely to be typos still. I'll fix any that get reported to me, webmaster[at]capecodhistory.us
Except as noted at the top of the articles, these were written by Rev. James Freeman (1759-1835), recording secretary for the Mass. Historical Society.
- A Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable from Cape Cod, or Race Point, to Cape Malebarre, or Sandy Point of Chatham. Pointing out the spots, on which the Trustees of the Humane Society have erected huts, and other places where shipwrecked seamen may look for shelter. Pages 110-119
- Description of Sandwich. 119-126
- Note on Falmouth. 128-129
- Description of Dennis. 129-141
- Note on the South Parts of Yarmouth and Barnstable. 141
- Note on the South Precinct of Harwich. 141-142
- Description of Chatham. 142-154
- Description and History of Eastham. 154-186
- Description of Orleans. 186-195
- Note on Wellfleet. 196
- Description of Provincetown. 196-202
- A calculation of the state of the cod and whale fisheries in 1763. 202-203
110 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
A Description of the Coast of the County of Barnstable from Cape Cod, or Race Point, in latitude 42º. 5'. to Cape Malebarre, or Sandy Point of Chatham, in latitude 41º. 33'. Pointing out the spots, on which the Trustees of the Humane Society have erected huts, and other places where shipwrecked seamen may look for shelter. October, l802.
THE curvature of the shore, on the west side of Provincetown, and south of Race Point, is called Herring Cove ; which is three miles in length. There is good anchoring ground here ; and vessels may ride safely in four or five fathoms of water, when the wind is from north-east to south-east.
On Race Point stand about a dozen fishing huts, containing fire places and other conveniences. The distance from these huts to Provincetown, which lies on Cape Cod harbour, is three miles. The passage is over a sandy beach, without grass or any other vegetable growing on it, to the woods, through which is a winding road to the town. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for a stranger to find his way thither in the dark ; and the woods are so full of ponds and entangling swamps, that if the road was missed, destruction would probably be the consequence of attempting to penetrate them in the night.
Not far from Race Point commences a ridge, which extends to the head of Stout's Creek. With the face to the east, on the left hand of the ridge is the sandy shore ; on the right is a narrow, sandy valley ; beyond which is naked sand, reaching to the hills and woods of Provincetown. This ridge is well covered with beach grass ; and appears to owe its existence to that vegetable. Beach grass, during the spring and summer, grows about two feet and a half. If surrounded by naked beach, the storms of autumn and winter heap up the sand on all sides, and cause it to rise nearly to the top of the plant. In the ensuing spring the grass sprouts anew ; is again covered with sand in the winter ; and thus a hill or ridge continues to ascend, as long as there is a sufficient base to support it, or till the
111 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
circumscribing sand, being also covered with beach grass, will no longer yield to the force of the winds.
On this ridge, half way between Race Point and the head of Stout's Creek, the Trustees of the Humane Society have erected a hut. It stands a mile from Peaked Hill, a land-mark well known to seamen ; and is about two miles and a half from Race Point. Seamen, cast away on this part of the coast, will find a shelter here ; and in north-east storms, should they strike to the leeward of it, and be unable to turn their faces to the windward, by passing on to Race Point, they will soon come to the fishing huts before mentioned.
At the head of Stout's Creek the Trustees have built a second hut. Stout's Creek is a small branch of East Harbour in Truro. Many years ago there was a body of salt marsh on it ; and it then deserved the name of a creek ; But the marsh was long since destroyed ; and the creek now scarcely exists, appearing only like a small depression in the land, and being entirely dry at half tide. The creek runs from north-west to south-east, and is nearly parallel with the shore on the ocean, from which it is at no great distance. Not far from it the hills of Provincetown terminate ; and should not the hut be found, by walking round the head of the creek, with the face to the west, the hills on the right hand, and keeping close to the shore on the harbour, in less than an hour the shipwrecked seamen would come to Provincetown.
The Humane Society, several years ago, erected a hut at the head of Stout's Creek. But it was built in an improper manner, having a chimney in it ; and was placed on a spot where no beach grass grew. The strong winds blew the sand from its foundation, and the weight of the chimney brought it to the ground ; so that in January of the present year it was entirely demolished. This event took place about six weeks before the Brutus was cast away. If it had remained, it is probable that the whole of the unfortunate crew of that ship would have been saved, as they gained the shore a few rods only from the spot where the hut had stood.
The hut now erected stands on a place covered with beach grass. To prevent any accident from happening to
112 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
it, or to the other hut near Peaked Hill, the Trustees have secured the attention of several gentlemen in the neighbourhood. Dr. Thaddeus Brown and Capt. Thomas Smalley of Provincetown have engaged to inspect both huts, to see that they are supplied with straw or hay in the autumn, that the doors and windows are kept shut, and that repairs are made, when necessary. The Rev. Mr. Damon of Truro has also promised to visit the hut at Stout's Creek twice or thrice in a year ; and the Rev. Mr. Whitman of Wellfleet, distinguished through the county for his activity and benevolence, has undertaken, though remote from the place, the same charge.
From the head of Stout's Creek to the termination of the salt marsh, which lies on both sides and at the head of East Harbour river, the distance is about three miles and a half. A narrow beach separates this river from the ocean. It is not so regular a ridge as that before described, as there are on it one or two hills, which the neighbouring inhabitants call islands. It may without much difficulty be crossed every where, except over these elevations. By these hills, even during the night, the beach may be distinguished from those hereafter to be mentioned. It lies from north-east to south-east ; and is in most parts covered with beach grass. The hills have a few shrubs on the declivities next the river. At the end of the marsh the beach subsides a little ; and there is an easy passage into a valley, in which are situated two or three dwelling houses. The first on the left hand, or south, is a few rods only from the ocean.
The shore, which extends from this valley to Race Point, is unquestionably the part of the coast the most exposed to shipwrecks. A north-east storm, the most violent, and fatal to seamen, as it is frequently accompanied with snow, blows directly on the land : a strong current sets along the shore : add to which that ships, during the operation of such a storm, endeavour to work to the northward, that they may get into the bay. Should they be unable to weather Race Point, the wind drives them on the shore, and a shipwreck is inevitable. Accordingly, the strand is every where covered with the fragments of vessels. Huts therefore, placed within a mile of each other, have been
113 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable
thought necessary by many judicious persons. To this opinion the Trustees are disposed to pay due respect ; and hereafter, if the funds of the Society increase, new huts will be built here for the relief of the unfortunate.
From the valley above mentioned the land rises, and less than a mile from it the High Land commences. On the first elevated spot, the Clay Pounds, stands the Light House. The shore here turns to the South ; and the High Land extends to the Table Land of Eastham. This High Land approaches the ocean with steep and lofty banks, which it is extremely difficult to climb, especially in a storm. In violent tempests, during very high tides, the sea breaks against the foot of them, rendering it then unsafe to walk on the strand, which lies between them and the ocean. Should the seaman succeed in his attempt to ascend them, he must forbear to penetrate into the country, as houses are generally so remote, that they would escape his research during the night : he must pass on to the vallies, by which the banks are intersected. These vallies, which the inhabitants call Hollows, run at right angles with the shore ; and in the middle, or lowest part of them a road leads from the dwelling houses to the sea.
The first of these vallies is Dyer's Hollow, a mile and a half south of the Light House. This opening is about two hundred yards broad from summit to summit. In it stands a dwelling house, a quarter of a mile from the beach.
A mile and a half south of Dyer's Hollow, is a second valley, called Harding's Hollow. At the entrance of this valley, the sand has gathered ; so that at present a little climbing is necessary. Passing over several fences, and taking heed not to enter the wood on the right hand, at the distance of three quarters of a mile, a house is to be found. This house stands on the south side of the road ; and not far from it, on the south, is Pamet river, which runs from east to west through a body of salt marsh.
The third valley, a half of a mile south of Harding's Hollow, is Head of Pamet Hollow. It may with ease be distinguished from the other hollows mentioned, as it is a wide opening, and leads immediately over a beach to
114 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
the salt marsh at the head of Pamet river. In the midst of the hollow the sand has been raised by a brush fence, carried across it from north to south. This must be passed ; and the shipwrecked mariner will soon come to a fence, which separates what is called the road from the marsh. If he turn to the left hand, or south, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, he will discover a house. If he turn to the right hand, at the distance of half a mile, he will find the same house, which is mentioned in the foregoing paragraph.
The fourth opening, three quarters of a mile south of Head of Pamet, is Brush Valley. This hollow is narrow, and climbing is necessary. Entering it, and inclining to the right, three quarters of a mile will bring seamen to the house, which is situated at the Head of Pamet. By proceeding straight forward, and passing over rising ground, another house may be discovered, but with more difficulty.
These three hollows, lying near together, serve to designate each other. Either of them may be used ; but Head of Pamet Hollow is the safest.
South of Brush Valley, at the distance of three miles, there is a fifth opening, called Newcomb's Hollow, east of the head of Herring river in Wellfleet. This valley is a quarter of a mile wide. On the north side of it, near the shore, stands a fishing hut.
Between the two last vallies the bank is very high and steep. From the edge of it, west, there is a strip of sand, a hundred yards in breadth. Then succeeds low brush-wood, a quarter of a mile wide, and almost impassable. After which comes a thick, perplexing forest, in which not a house is to be discovered. Seamen therefore, though the distance between these two vallies is great, must not attempt to enter the wood, as in a snow storm they must undoubtedly perish. This place, so formidable in description, will lose somewhat of its terrour, when it is observed, that no instance of a shipwreck on this part of the coast is recollected by the oldest inhabitants of Wellfleet.
Half of a mile South of Newcomb's Hollow, is the sixth valley, called Pearce's Hollow. It is a small valley. A
115 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
house stands at the distance of a little more than a quarter of a mile from the beach, west by south.
The seventh valley is Cohoon's Hollow, a half of a mile south of Pearce's Hollow. It is not very wide. West from the entrance, several houses may be found at the distance of a mile. This hollow lies east by north from Wellfleet meeting house.
Two miles south of Cohoon's Hollow, the eighth valley is Snow's Hollow. It is smaller than the last. West from the shore, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, is the county road, which goes round the head of Blackfish Creek. Passing through this valley to the fence, which separates the road from the upland and marsh at the head of the creek, a house will immediately be found by turning to the right hand, or north. There are houses also on the left, but more remote.
The High Land gradually subsides here, and a mile and a half south terminates at the ninth valley, called Fresh Brook Hollow, in which a house is to be found a mile from the shore, west.
The tenth, two miles and a half south from Fresh Brook Hollow, is Plum Valley, about three hundred yards wide. West is a house, three quarters of a mile distant. Between these two vallies is the Table Land. After this there is no hollow of importance to Cape Malebarre.
From Fresh Brook Hollow to the commencement of Nauset beach, the bank next the ocean is about fifty feet high. There are houses scattered over the plain, open country : but none of them are nearer than a mile to the shore. In a storm of wind and rain they might be discerned by day light; but in a snow storm, which rages here with excessive fury, it would be almost impossible to discover them either by night or by day.
Not far from this shore, south, the Trustees have erected a third hut, on Nauset beach. Nauset beach begins in latitude 41°. 51'. and extends south to latitude 41°. 41'. It is divided into two parts by a breach, which the ocean has made through it. This breach is the mouth of Nauset or Stage harbour ; and from the opening the beach extends north two miles and a quarter, till it joins the main
116 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
land. It is about a furlong wide and forms Nauset harbour ; which is of little value, its entrance being obstructed by a bar. This northern part of the beach may be distinguished from the southern part by its being of a less regular form : storms have made frequent irruptions through the ridge, on which beach grass grows. On an elevated part of the beach, stands the hut, about a mile and a half north of the mouth of Nauset harbour. Eastham meeting house lies from it west south west, distant a mile and three quarters. The meeting house is without a steeple ; but it may be distinguished from the dwelling houses near it by its situation, which is between two small groves of locusts, one on the south, and one on the north, that on the south being three times as long as the other. About a mile and a quarter from the hut, west by north, appear the top and arms of a windmill. The Rev. Mr. Shaw and Elijah Mayo, Esq. of Eastham have engaged to inspect this building.
The southern part of Nauset beach, most commonly called Chatham beach, and by a few persons Potanumaquut beach, begins at the mouth of Nauset harbour, and extends eight or nine miles south to the mouth of Chatham harbour. It is about fifty rods wide. A regular, well formed ridge, which in the most elevated part of it is forty feet high, runs the whole length of it ; and, with the exception of a few spots, is covered with beach grass. This beach forms the barrier of Chatham harbour, which from Strong island north receives the name of Pleasant bay. A mile south of the entrance of Nauset harbour, it joins the main land of Orleans, except in very high tides, when the sea flows from the north-eastern arm of Pleasant bay into the harbour of Nauset, completely insulating the beach. By those who are acquainted with the shallow, it may be safely forded at any time ; but strangers must not venture to pass it, when covered with water, as below, the channel is seven feet deep. On this beach, about half way between the entrances of Nauset and Chatham harbours, the Trustees have erected a fourth hut. The spot selected is a narrow part of the beach. On the west, the water adjoining it is called Bass Hole. Salt marsh is north and south of it next the beach, but is here interrupted.
117 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
Orleans meeting house lies from it north-west. The meeting house is without a steeple, and is not seen ; but it is very near a windmill placed on an elevated ground, a conspicuous object to seamen coming on the coast. It may be necessary to add that there are three windmills in Orleans forming a semicircle, that the mill referred to is on the right hand, or north-east point, and that the mill in the middle point of the semicircle stands on still higher ground. The meeting house of Chatham is situated from it south west. This meeting house is also without a steeple, and is concealed by Great Hill, a noted land mark. The hill appears with two summits, which are a quarter of a mile apart. The hut lies east from Sampson's island in Pleasant bay. Timothy Bascom, Esq. of Orleans has undertaken to inspect this hut.
Lest seaman should miss this hut, by striking to the leeward of it, the Trustees have erected another on the same beach. It stands a mile north of the mouth of Chatham harbour, east of the meeting house, and opposite the town.
Another spot on the same beach would be a proper situation for a hut. It is north of the fourth hut, and east of the middle of Pochet island. The highest part of the ridge is near its south. A break in the ridge, over which the sea appears sometimes to have flowed, divides this high part from the northern portion of the beach.
On the beach of Cape Malebarre, or the Sandy Point of Chatham, the Trustees have built a sixth hut. This beach stretches from Chatham, ten miles into the sea, towards Nantucket; and is from a quarter to three quarters of a mile in breadth. It is continually gaining south : above three miles have been added to it during the past fifty years. On the east side of the beach is a curve in the shore, called Stewart's Bend, where vessels may anchor with safety, in three or four fathoms of water, when the wind blows from north to south-west. North of the Bend there are several bars and shoals. A little below the middle of the beach, on the west side, is Wreck Cove, which is navigable for boats only. The hut stands two hundred yards from the ocean, south-east from the entrance of Wreck Cove, a half of a mile. Between the mouth of the
118 Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable.
Cove and hut, is Stewart's Knoll, an elevated part of the beach. The distance of the hut from the commencement of the beach is six miles, and from its termination four. Great Hill in Chatham bears north by west, distant six miles ; and the South end of Morris's island, which is on the west side of the beach, north by east, distant four miles. Richard Sears, Esq. of Chatham has engaged to visit the two last mentioned huts.
Two miles below the sixth hut is a fishing house, built of thatch, in the form of a wigwam. It stands on the west side of the beach, a quarter of a mile from the ocean. Annually in September it is renewed ; and generally remains in tolerable preservation during the winter.
Another spot, a few rods from the sea, four miles south from the commencement of the beach, and a half of a mile north of the bead of Wreck Cove, would be a proper situation for a hut. A little south of this spot, in storms and very high tides, the sea breaks over from the ocean into Wreck Cove.
Cape Malebarre beach may be distinguished from the two beaches before described, not only by its greater breadth, but also by its being of a less regular form. It is not so well covered with grass as Chatham beach. From Stewart's Knoll, south, to the extremity, it is lowest in the middle. In this valley, and in other low places, fresh water may be obtained by digging two feet into the sand. The same thing is true of Nauset and Chatham beaches.
The six huts, the situation of which has thus been pointed out, are all of one size and shape. Each hut stands on piles, is eight feet long, eight feet wide, and seven feet high ; a sliding door is on the south, a sliding shutter on the west, and a pole, rising fifteen feet above the top of the building, on the east. Within, it is supplied either with straw or hay ; and is farther accommodated with a bench.
The whole of the coast, from Cape Cod to Cape Malebarre, is sandy, and free from rocks. Along the shore, at the distance of a half of a mile, is a bar ; which is called the Outer Bar, because there are smaller bars within it, perpetually varying. This outer bar is separated into many parts by guzzles, or small channels. It extends to Chatham ; and as it proceeds southward, gradually approaches
119 Description of Sandwich.
the shore and grows more shallow. Its general depth at high water is two fathoms, and three fathoms over the guzzles ; and its least distance from the shore is about a furlong. Off the mouth of Chatham harbour there are bars which reach three quarters of a mile ; and off the entrance of Nauset harbour the bars extend a half of a mile. Large, heavy ships strike on the outer bar, even at high water ; and their fragments only reach the shore. But smaller vessels pass over it at full sea ; and when they touch at low water, they beat over it, as the tide rises, and soon come to the land. If a vessel be cast away at low water, it ought to be left with as much expedition as possible ; because the fury of the waves is then checked, in some measure, by the bar ; and because the vessel is generally broken to pieces with the rising flood. But seamen, ship-wrecked at full sea, ought to remain on board till near low water ; for the vessel does not then break to pieces ; and by attempting to reach the land before the tide ebbs away, they are in great danger of being drowned. On this subject there is one opinion only among judicious mariners. It may be necessary however to remind them of a truth, of which they have full conviction, but which, amidst the agitation and terrour of a storm, they too frequently forget.
Description of Sandwich, in the County of Barnstable. 1802. By Wendell Davis, Esquire.
SANDWICH is a post town, situated on the westerly part of Cape Cod. The original grant of the township was from the Old Colony of Plymouth, in the year 1639.
The court of assistants having assembled at Plymouth in the year 1685, and it being then represented to said court, that Mr. William Bradford and his associates had previously granted liberty to Mr. Edmund Freeman, Henry Feak, Thomas Dexter, and others, to establish a plantation, since called Sandwich, in this government, the same grant was then confirmed, under the signature of Governour Hinckley, to the above-named grantees, their heirs and assigns forever.
120 Description of Sandwich.
The boundaries of the township are described in that instrument in the following manner : "Beginning, westerly, by the dividing line between the town of Plymouth and the said town of Sandwich, and on the east by the line which divides the town last mentioned from the town of Barnstable, which runs north-east to the sea ; and south-west into the woods ; and is bounded northerly by the sea ; southerly partly by the dividing line between them and Suckanussett and partly by the Indians' land, according to the known and accustomed boundaries." It appears that the persons, employed in running these lines, were Capt. Miles Standish and Mr. John Alden, characters well known in the early history of this country,
The quality of the soil in the extreme parts of this township is generally light and unproductive; yielding however a large quantity of pine wood, interspersed with oak, which of late years have assumed considerable value from the growing scarcity of that article in other towns distant, where it frequently is vended. One of the first natural advantages of this township consists in the extensive tracts of wood land, which are found within its limits.
The traveller on the publick road from Plymouth to Sandwich would probably be often induced, from the sandy condition of the roads, and the unsettled state of the country, to anticipate with some solicitude the close of his pilgrimage. To those, however, who love to cherish the remembrance of "the days of old," the view of the sacrifice rocks in his way, which the untutored Indian, in compliance with a religious usage, has covered with pine knots and broken pieces of wood, may afford some relief to beguile the solitude of his ride. Clam-Pudding Pond, another object of attention to the antiquarian traveller, will also present itself to his view, where our ancestors, in travelling from the Cape to Plymouth, used to sit and regale themselves with clams and pudding, the staple dishes of those primitive times. After riding through a body of wood, twelve miles in extent, interspersed with but few houses, the settlement of Sandwich appears with a more agreeable effect to the eye of the traveller.
The first group of houses, after leaving the woods, is called after the Indian name of Scussett; and the brook
121 Description of Sandwich.
through which the traveller must pafs,in going through Scussett, is in the course of the long contemplated canal across the isthmus of Cape Cod. The quality of the soil upon the east side of the road, extending to Barnstable line, is good, well cultivated, and productive. On the west side, it is far less so.
About three miles from Scussett is the village of Sandwich. It is embellished with a large and beautiful pond of water in its centre, and a fall of water, on which are situated a grist-mill and fulling-mill that are supplied from an inexhaustible fountain. This stream shapes its course to the sea, fertilizing the lands and meadows through which it passes. Round this pond stand the principal houses of the village, together with a number of shops for the different mechanick arts. The meeting house of the first precinct and a handsome academy occupy two neighbouring eminences. There are two publick inns in this village, which are excelled by few, if any, in the State.
Proceeding further eastward, the next group of houses is at a place called Spring Hill. Here is situated the meeting house house of the Friends, who constitute a considerably numerous and respectable class of the inhabitants.
The employment of the people on this shore is both maritime and agricultural. The town in its general character is more agricultural, however, than otherwise, and more so than any other in the county. The inhabitants in general are substantial livers. From their vicinity to the sea, they are enabled to draw a considerable portion of their subsistence from its bosom. They generally occupy small farms, and till them to the best advantage, and with far less labour than a Stubborn soil would require. All forts of grain are raised with facility, and on spots of ground apparently the most unpromising to the eye of the husbandman ; resulting perhaps from the contiguity of the soil to the humid atmosphere of the sea. The great extent and excellence of the meadows and marshes in this place is a great Source of wealth and improving husbandry. By means of them, they are enabled to keep large Stocks of cattle in the winter, and food for their subsistence through the remainder of the year, if necessary. It is computed that about one hundred loads of salt hay are
122 Description of Sandwich.
annually fold, to supply the wants of neighbouring towns to the westward of Sandwich. The township is excellent for the raising of sheep of the best kind, which run at large in the forests and plains. They average in the month of October, when they are fold to the drovers from the northward and westward, about one dollar and upwards per head. The meat is greatly preferred by connoisseurs.
The township abounds in ponds and brooks. At the places called Snake Pond, and Hog Pond, in the south-westerly part of the town, better known by the popular name of the Woods, are several small settlements of houses, and a few valuable farms.
Pocassett is an Indian name for the second parish in Sandwich. This precinct is situated on Buzzard's bay, and contains a meeting house for publick worship, with a small number of families. They have had but one settled minister, since their establishment as a precinct. It is now vacant. Here, the oyster beds are found in such excellence and plenty. Wild deer are often taken in the woods of Pocassett and in different parts of the town. Of late, they have much increased, and a recent law of the Commonwealth, forbidding the killing of them but within a certain period of the year, and in a regulated manner, will tend greatly to augment their number.
A little to the northward and eastward of Pocassett is a place called Monumet after the Indian appellation. These aboriginal names probably derived their origin from the circumstance, that the several places which they represent were once favourite resorts of the sachems and natives of this country. Monumet, the last mentioned place, contains a small collection of houses and a publick meeting house. The clergyman of the first precinct officiates therein one sixth part of the time, as it forms a part of his precinct. In Buzzard's and Buttermilk bays and also in Monumet river are found fish of various kinds : such as bass, sheep's head, tau taug, &c.
The projected canal, if it ever should be accomplished, will open almost a new creation to this part of the town. Where now are seen a few scattered dwellings, hundreds would then appear. Employment to large numbers of the
123 Description of Sandwich.
inhabitants would be rapidly furnished. Real property situated on its borders would be greatly enhanced in value. Constant markets and an easy transportation of wood, which is the staple article of business, would be obtained. Ware houses would probably soon be erected on its banks ; and a trade between the southern and northern States facilitated, calculated to confer immense advantages on the vicinity of such a channel of communication. If, from this partial and local consideration of the subject, we extend our thoughts to the aggregate of national blessings, which would attend its execution, both as it. respects the preservation of life and property, our ideas of its importance and utility would become infinitely enhanced. There have been repeated surveys of the ground through which the proposed canal would probably pass, under the immediate eye of publick committees for that purpose. The documents accompanying their reports will be far more correct data, on which to found an enlightened opinion relative to the practicability of this enterprise, than any information within the knowledge of the writer of this paper. A more recent survey however, which was prompted by the reward of private benefaction, has been made under the direction of Mr. Bachellor, a man of reputed knowledge and experience in works of this nature, which impressed the mind of the undertaker with a favourable idea of its practicability and success. At the time the last survey was taken, the proprietors of land generally came forward and expressed their dispositions to give them to the publick towards accomplishing so important an object. There are several inlets in the town, which form safe, and in some instances, commodious harbours, viz. at Pocassett, Monumet, Scussett, Spring Hill, and the Town Harbour, so called. The Town Harbour is about a mile and a half below the meeting house of the first precinct. It is a small and irregular inlet, capable of receiving only vessels of small tonnage. These vessels are principally employed in the coasting business to Boston and the eastern shore. Wood is the principal article of transportation. The fisheries have been repeatedly attempted, but never with general success. This line of business has always been prosecuted with more advantage in the eastern than in the
124 Description of Sandwich.
western part of the county. About thirty sail of vessels constitute the whole navigation of the place.
Some of the enterprising inhabitants have of late turned their attention to the manufacture of salt by the rays of the sun on the lands near the sea shore. It has been estimated that a capital of above a hundred and thirty thousand dollars is already vested in this kind of property in the several towns within the county of Barnstable. Several patents for improved modes of building the works have been obtained by ingenious individuals on the Cape. The net profits upon this manufacture of salt is by general estimation twenty-five per cent upon the capital employed. When the success, with the security and permanency of this species of property is considered, together with the handsome income it will always probably yield from the extensive demand of this important article, we may reasonably expect that this branch of business will become an increasing source of opulence to this portion of the Commonwealth. The salt is remarkably pure and white, and the Glauber salts are recommended as of the best quality.
It is much to be lamented that the landholders in the county have not bestowed more attention to the cultivation of trees. Beside the beauty and worth they confer on any country, they would be of singular advantage to this Cape, by defending the soil from the inroads of driving wind and sands. More trees are however to be found in Sandwich than in other parts of the county. Some orchards succeed here extremely well. One cider press in Sandwich is the only one known to the writer on this Cape. From the peculiarity of our local situation, the fruit trees are always exposed in the spring to rude and severe blasts. By giving the orchards a more northern or eastern aspect, and retarding the early blossoming of the trees, the preservation of fruit from these untimely blasts would probably be greatly prevented.
By the late census, the enumeration of the inhabitants stood at two thousand and twenty-four souls ; houses, at two hundred and ninety-six. The town may be considered as favourable to longevity.—The table of mortality annexed to this description will confirm this observation.
125-126 Description of Sandwich.
The ecclesiastical history of this place cannot be fully given for want of church memoranda. The records of the First Congregational Church, previous to the ordination of the Rev. Roland Cotton, are lost. He was ordained November 28, 1694, and died March 18, 1721-2, O. S. The Rev. Benjamin Fessenden was ordained September 12, 1722, and died in the ministry August 8, 1746. Rev. Abraham Williams was ordained June 14, 1749, and died in the ministry August, 1784. Rev. Jonathan Burr, the present pastor, was ordained April 18, 1787.
The inhabitants of Sandwich generally manifest a fond and steady adherence to the manners, employments, and modes of living, which characterized their fathers ; a resemblance, which at this day, will constitute no impeachment of either their virtue or taste.
Bill of mortality for the First Congregational Society in Sandwich, from January 1, 1790, to January 1, 1800.
- - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - 19
- - - - - - - - 12
- - - - - - - - 22
- - - - - - - - 20
- - - - - - - - 19
- - - - - - - - 39
- - - - - - - - 13
- - - - - - - - 6
- - - - - - - - 10
Total number of deaths in 10 years, 184
The average number of deaths in a year, is 18, 4/10.
Supposing the number of souls to be 1500, the proportion of deaths is as 1 to 81 1/2.Of the above number, 31 died before the end of the first year.
between 1 and 5 years. 9
5 and 10 15
10 and 20 24
20 and 30 13
30 and 40 16
40 and 50 12
50 and 60 16
60 and 70 14
70 and 80 10
80 and 90 6
90 and 100 184
From the above, it appears that the proportion of those who live
90 years and upwards is nearly as 1 to 30
1 to 11 70
1 to 6 60
precisely 1 to 4 50
1 to 3 40
1 to 2 7/8 30
1 to 2 30/77 20
1 to 2 1/11
Considerably more than one half of the above one hundred and eighty-four lived between 10 and 20 years.
The following table exhibits the number of inhabitants in Sandwich at four different periods.
In 1764 1449 inhabitants (including 73 Indians)
127 Note on Falmouth.
Note on Falmouth, in the County of Barnstable. September, 1802.
FALMOUTH is situated in latitude 41o. 33'. N. and longitude 70o. 35'. W. from Greenwich. It is bounded on the north, by Sandwich ; on the east, by Mashpee, from which it is separated in part by Waquoit bay ; on the South, by Vineyard Sound ; and on the west, by Buzzard's bay. The length, north and south, is ten miles ; and the breadth, east and west, six. The distance of the principal meeting house from Boston is seventy-eight miles.
A chain of hills, which is continued from Sandwich, runs on the west side of the township, at no great distance from Buzzard's bay, and terminates at Woods' hole. The rest of the land is remarkably level. The soil is thin, but superiour in quality to the light lands in the eastern part of the county. It produces Indian corn, rye, oats, and a small quantity of wheat and barley. More English hay is cut here than in any other township of the county. The salt marshes, when compared with those of Barnstable and Sandwich are not extensive. They yield, however, about five hundred tons of hay.
A forest, consisting of pitch pines and a few oaks, is situated between the villages of Falmouth and Sandwich, One of the best roads in New England, it being hard, level, and free from stones, passes through it. A second road branches from this, and leads through Mashpee to Barnstable. A third road turns off from the second, and goes to Waquoit bay. These roads, though not as good as the first, are better than the Cape roads in general. A fourth road which is rough and stony passes from Falmouth to Sandwich, by Pokesset meeting house, and on the west of the first. The road from the town to Woods' hole, which is at the distance of four miles, is also bad.
There are not less than forty ponds in the township. Several of them are situated near the village and add variety and beauty to its prospects.
Falmouth contains between two and three hundred dwelling houses, eight mills, one of which is a fulling mill,
and a number of shops and other buildings. The greatest part of the houses lie in one street along the Sound, are two stories* in height, large and well built, and constitute a pleasant village, which commands a sine view of the water, and Martha's Vineyard beyond it. The Congregational meeting house, a new and neat edifice, stands in a handsome Square ; and near it is a mason's hall, with an apartment under it for an academy. Another Congregational meeting house has lately been erected at the distance of five miles from the town, for the accommodation of the inhabitants who live near it. There is, however, one church only, and one minister, who preaches in the latter house two Sundays in five. The Quakers also have a meeting house, which stands on the Pokesset road, not far from Chapoquit or Hog island harbour.
The mouth of Waquoit bay is very narrow, and is choaked with sand ; so that a small coaster, loaded, cannot enter it. West of this bay the shore on the Sound is intersected by several small rivers and salt water ponds ; but none of them afford a harbour. Woods' hole, which is situated at the south-western extremity of the township, is an excellent harbour, containing from three to six fathoms of water. It is not large, but is well sheltered by points of land and Nonnymesset island. On the west side of the township are several small inlets, communicating with Buzzard's bay.
As Woods' hole is remote from the village, the inhabitants complain of the want of a good harbour near them. It is in their power, with no great expense and labour, to obtain what they wish : for at the distance of not more than two or three hundred rods, west South west from the meeting house, is a pond, a third of a mile in length, and sixty fathoms deep : the nearest part of this pond is about a quarter of a mile from the Sound ; and if a communication was opened, it would form an excellent harbour.
Falmouth is a flourishing place. The inhabitants own about sixty vessels, containing, on a medium, fifty-five tons
* By two stories, in New England, are meant apartments on a ground floor, and apartments above them. A house of this description is, in some parts of the world, if the writer mistakes not, styled a building of one story only.
129 Description of Dennis.
each. Six are fishing vessels ; of which two go to the Straits of Belle Isle ; and four catch fish on the Shoals. The rest are coasters : upwards of thirty of them follow the business of carrying lumber ; and sail to the Southern States and the West-Indies.
The following Table exhibits the state of population in Falmouth at four different periods.
In 1764 1225 inhabitants (including 62 Indians.)
A Description of Dennis, in the County of Barnstable, September, 1802.
DENNIS is situated in latitude 41°. 45'. N. and longitude 70°. 08'. W. from Greenwich. It extends across the county, having Barnstable bay on the north, and Vineyard sound on the south. It is bounded on the east by Harwich, from which it is separated by Quivet creek, and by a line running from the creek south, six degrees and a half east, nine hundred and thirty-six chains (fifty links to a chain) to the Sound. On the west it is bounded by Yarmouth, from which it is separated by Bass river, Kelley's pond, and Follen's pond, communicating with the river, and by various lines beginning at Follen's pond, and terminating in a creek, called Chase Garden river, which runs through a salt marsh into Barnstable bay. The length of the township, from north to south, is eleven hundred chains : the breadth on the north shore, from east to west, a thousand chains ; on the south shore, near six hundred ; and in the narrowest part, two hundred and fifty. The distance of the old meeting house from Boston is eighty miles, and from Barnstable court house eight.
The township is naturally divided into two parts by a large tract of wood, which is chiefly in the centre. This wood consists of a little white oak, of some red and black oak, but principally of pitch pine. The upper road to Harwich, which is called the County road, pastes through the wood, near the head of Follen's pond, where it
130 Description of Dennis.
commands a pleasant prospect of part of Bass river, and the new meeting house and flourishing village near it. Not far from this pond, east, a road branches off to Chatham, leading through the south precinct of Harwich. These two roads, as far as they extend through Dennis, are sandy and heavy ; but they are not so bad as that which goes through the north part of the township.
The wood is bounded on the north by a range of hills, a part of the chain, which extends from Sandwich to Pleasant bay. In Dennis, these hills are a mile from the north shore ; and on their summits there is a prospect of the shore on Barnstable bay, from Cape Cod to Monument Point in Plymouth, a compass of seventy or eighty miles. The view has not much of the beautiful in it ; but it communicates a strong emotion of the sublime. North of the hills the land is uneven ; but south it is in general a plain.
A half of a mile east of the old meeting house, the rough hill of Scargo extends from the chain. This is the highest land in the county, and is the first which is made by sea-men approaching the south shore.
The mouth of Chase Garden river is called Bass Hole, It is shallow ; but it affords a small harbour, in which fishing vessels can conveniently be laid up in the winter. The largest body of salt marsh in the township is about this creek.
A mile north-east of the old meeting house, a bend in the shore forms a cove, which is denominated the Bite, On the west of it runs a point of rocks, which is dry at low water, but the greatest part of which is covered at high water. This point extends a quarter of a mile into the bay, north ; and affords a shelter against north-west winds. A pier carried out to the east of the Bite would form a convenient harbour. As however the banks are continually warning away, they ought to be secured by a sea-wall.
Not far to the eastward of this place, nature has afforded to the inhabitants an opportunity of obtaining a still better harbour. Crow's or Flax pond lies a quarter of a mile from the bay. It covers sixty acres, and in the deepest part is not less than eleven fathoms. It is supposed by
131 Description of Dennis.
many that a canal of communication might easily be cut from this pond to the sea. The canal would run near a quarter of a mile to the east of the Bite. The digging would be principally through a swamp and low grounds ; and a point of rocks, which lies off Suet Neck, and which is called Suet Neck Point, would in a great measure guard the entrance of the canal against the violence of north-east storms.
Suet Neck lies between the bay and Suet creek, the course of which is east and north-east to its mouth. Around it is a body of marsh. The sandy flats, which lie in front of Harwich, Orleans, Eastham, and part of Wellfleet, begin at Suet.
Not far east of this neck is that of Quivet, which is formed by the bay and Quivet creek. The course of the creek is north-east to its entrance. About it is a body of salt marsh larger than that on Suet.
As the high land comes so near the north shore, it is evident that these two creeks cannot run a great distance. The mouths of both are obstructed by bars, on which are about eight feet at high water, common tides. They afford however small harbours for fishermen.
Beside these creeks there are two brooks on the north shore. One empties into Hockanom creek in Yarmouth ; the other falls into Quivet creek.
The most important inlet is on the south shore. This is Bass river, already mentioned as the boundary between Dennis and Yarmouth. The length of this river, from Follen's pond to the sea, is four miles. Its mouth is formed by two beaches, terminating in points ; one on the east, extending from the entrance of Swan pond creek a mile and a half; another, on the west, extending, from the entrance of Parker's river in Yarmouth, a mile. From point to point the distance is about thirty-five rods.— Within, the river is somewhat wider for two miles, where it gradually grows narrow. At its entrance is a bar, on which are five feet only, at high water, common tides. Vessels therefore must be lightened, before they can come into the harbour. Within, the river is ten or eleven feet deep at high water, for a short distance. On the inside of the first mentioned beach, within the limits of Dennis, is a
132 Description of Dennis.
body of salt marsh. Much of the water, which flows from the sea, passes through the cuts which are in it; and thus the channel of the river is rendered less deep.
Beside Follen's and Kelley's ponds, which have already been mentioned, there are other salt water ponds communicating with Bass river on its eastern side, covering in the whole seventy acres. South of the new meeting house, on the same side of the river, is Grand cove, the extent of which is also seventy acres. These ponds and coves are of more value to the inhabitants than the same quantity of land, as they are filled with fish, and their shores abound with clams. A small brook, the only one in the south part of Dennis, issues from a swamp, and empties itself into Bass river on its eastern side.
On the western side, Wear-mill brook rises in Yarmouth, runs east, and discharges itself into Follen's pond. This brook, the whole of which is in Yarmouth, is properly the head of Bass river. From it, it is supposed, a canal might easily be cut into Yarmouth harbour, the intervening land being low, and the distance not great.*
A mile, east south east from the mouth of Bass river, begins a bar, called Dog-fish bar, which extends six miles west to Point Gammon in Yarmouth. It affords to vessels which lie within it a harbour, called Deep hole. From the end of this bar, on which is a buoy, the course into the river is west north west. Half way between the river's mouth and the end of the bar stands a pier, thirty-seven feet long, and thirty-one broad, on which is a store. There is good anchorage two cables' length east of it, in twelve feet at low water. Common tides rise here four feet.
Such is Bass river : The harbour, which it affords might be improved by art. Mr. Sylvanus Crowell, who lives on the Yarmouth side, and who also built the pier, has endeavoured to confine the water of the river within the main channel, and to prevent it from flowing through the marsh on the eastern side ; but his laudable attempts have hitherto failed of success. Persevering labour may perhaps in time effect the wished for object.
* See Vol. 3, p. 17. of Coll. Hist. Soc.
133 Description of Dennis.
The only creek, which remains to be spoken of, is Swan pond creek, the head of which is Swan pond, covering a a hundred and twenty acres. On this creek is a body of salt marsh. Between it and the Sound is Crocker's neck, in the south-eastern part of the township. The creek is not deep ; and being near Bass river, will probably never become of much value.
The whole of the ponds in Dennis, including others, which are not of sufficient importance to be particularly mentioned, cover four hundred and fifty-five acres.
Beside these ponds there is a number of swamps, five or six of which have cedar in them. Several of these swamps are capable of being converted into good land.
The best land in Dennis lies on the bay, in and near Quivet and Suet necks, and in Nobscusset, north-west of the old meeting house. With the exception of these and a few other small spots, the soil of the township is light and sandy.
The light land produces not less than eight, and with manure, frequently as much as twenty bushels of Indian corn on an acre ; and, on an average, eight or ten bushels of rye. The good land in the north part of the township yields, with manure, about thirty bushels of Indian corn, but rye not in a greater quantity than the light land. At present very little wheat is raised.
Thirty tons only of English hay are cut ; but the marshes afford sufficient salt hay for the use of the inhabitants.
Sufficient butter is made for summer ; also vegetables enough for the same season are raised ; but both butter for winter and many vegetables are imported. More onions however, grow than are consumed by the inhabitants, a quantity being every year sent to market.
There are several small orchards of apples, most of which have lately been planted. The trees do not attain much height ; and in bleak situations are liable to decay in a few years.
A tract of ground not larger than Dennis, with a soil so unproductive, would in an inland situation, be capable of supporting few inhabitants. But, when the census was taken in 1800, there were found on it fourteen hundred
134 Description of Dennis.
souls. A great number of these persons derive their subsistence from the sea ; and by the advantages which they enjoy, and their industry in improving them, are enabled to supply themselves with all the necessaries, and many of the pleasures of life.
These inhabitants occupy a hundred and eighty-eight dwelling houses ; the greatest part of which are neat and in good repair. On the north of the county road are eighty-eight of the houses, thirty of which are two stories in height. They are divided into two villages by Scargo hill.
The village in the north-west quarter of the township, situated between the hill and Yarmouth, is called Nobscusset.* It consists of fifty-two dwelling houses and the old meeting house, a neat and convenient building without a steeple. Sumner's Lodge of free masons, instituted the last year, have just erected near the meeting house a handsome edifice, forty feet by twenty, the upper apartment of which is a well finished hall, and the lower apartment a school room. Masonry in this, and in the other towns of the county where lodges exist, is in good repute, the brethren, being in general respectable both for their property and moral characters. There are also two wind-mills near the meeting house ; five more mills being in other quarters of the township. Belonging to this village are five sail of fishermen and three coasters, from thirty to forty tons. The lower road from Yarmouth to Harwich passes through Nobscusset. It is deep and heavy ; and there is little on the sides of it to please the eye, the land appearing barren, and the wind having made great ravages on the hills which border the village.
The village of Suet+ is situated between Scargo hill and Harwich. It contains thirty-six dwelling houses, which stand on Suet and Quivet necks and the land adjacent ; and belonging to it are five sail of fishermen. When compared with Nobscusset, it may be denominated a pleasant village ; but in comparison with the village of Sandwich, there is little or no beauty in it. It is a flourishing place ;
* Or Nobsquassit. See Vol. 1. p. 197. Coll. Hist. Soc.
+ Or Sesuet. See Vol. 1. p. 232, Coll. Hist. Soc.
135 Description of Dennis.
and what contributes principally to its prosperity is its numerous and valuable salt works.
Within the course of the past thirty years frequent attempts have been made to manufacture marine salt from sea water. During the late war with Great Britain, when this necessary article was scarce and dear, it was sometimes produced, particularly in the county of Barnstable, by boiling the salt water. But the salt obtained was impure ; and as the operation was expensive, it was discontinued at the peace. Several years ago, General Palmer, a worthy and enterprising gentleman, undertook to make salt by the sun alone in the marshes on Boston neck, where the vestiges of his works are still to be seen. But as they were not covered from the rain, the attempt proved abortive. The only person who has been completely successful in obtaining pure marine salt, by the rays of the sun alone, without the aid of artificial heat, is Capt. John Sears of Suet.
In the year 1776, this ingenious seaman constructed a vat a hundred feet long and ten feet wide. Rafters were fixed over it ; and shutters were contrived to move up and down, that the vat might be covered, when it rained, and exposed to the heat of the un in fair weather. By this simple invention the rain was excluded, the water in the vat was gradually exhaled ; and at length, to his inexpressible joy, Capt. Sears perceived the salt beginning to crystallize. His works however were leaky ; and he had such bad success in his operations the first year, that he was able to obtain no more than eight bushels of salt. He was exposed besides to the ridicule of his neighbours, who scoffed at his invention, styling it Sears's Folly.
Capt. Sears persevered. The second year the works were made tight ; and thirty bushels of salt were obtained. In this and the third year the salt water was poured into the vat from buckets; a tedious and painful operation.
In the fourth year a pump was introduced: it was worked by hand, which was still great labour. This method of conveying the salt water into the vat continued to be practised till the year 1785, when at the suggestion of Major Nathaniel Freeman of Harwich, who had seen at a distance a similar construction, Capt. Sears contrived
136 Description of Dennis.
a pump to be worked by the wind. By this lucky invention the labour was greatly abridged.
Covers to move on shives, that is, rollers or small wheels, such as are contained in the blocks of ships, were invented by Mr. Reuben Sears, a carpenter of Harwich, in 1793. These covers are shaped like the roof of a barn, or what is commonly styled a gable roof. The shive, which is placed under the cover, rolls over a narrow piece of plank fixed across the vat ; and the motion is farther facilitated by shives moving on each side of the same slip of plank horizontally, the first mentioned shive moving perpendicularly. When the cover is drawn off, which can be done without a great exertion of strength, it rests on a frame placed by the side of the vat.
In 1798, Mr. Hattil Kelley of Dennis contrived another mode of constructing the vats and moving the covers. By Mr. Sears they are placed in a firing, or direct line ; but by Mr. Kelley they are placed like the squares of a chess-board. Two black squares will represent the first and second vats. At the point where their angles touch is fixed a crane, consisting of a perpendicular beam, supporting a horizontal beam. From each half of the last beam is suspended a cover, shaped like a hipped roof, that is, a roof composed of four triangles, rising from each of the four sides, and meeting in a point at the top. The third vat will be represented by the white square, which is in a line with the second black square of the chefs-board : and the fourth vat, by the white square, the angle of which touches it. At this point is fixed a second crane ; and so the vats and cranes are continued to any extent the proprietor chooses. By these cranes the covers are moved with great ease. It is a subject of dispute, which is the best invention, Sears's or Kelley's : experience only can decide the point.
Capt. Sears was greatly assisted in the invention and improvement of the works by Capt. William Crowell, Capt. Christopher Crowell, and Capt. Edward Sears of Dennis., These persons resigning to him their right and title to the Invention, he applied to the national government for a patent, which he obtained in 1799.
Such is the account which Capt. Sears himself gives. It Is now alleged by several persons, that he has not made a
137 Description of Dennis.
new discovery ; and consequently has no right to a patent. But whatever may be thought of Capt. Sears's merit as an inventor, there can be no dispute that he is entitled to applause for first introducing an important manufacture, by which he has contributed greatly to the prosperity of the village in which he resides, and to that of the county at large ; and which will probably in the event be productive of lasting advantages to Massachusetts, and to the United States in general.
The salt works in their present state may be briefly described as follows. The bottom of the vats is constructed of boards ; and the sides of plank ; and they rest on frames, which are supported by small piles. These vats are divided into three or four rooms, the second falling three or four inches below the first, and the third as much below the second, and so on. A pipe, which runs under ground, and which communicates with the sea, conveys the salt water into a well about four feet deep. In this well is fixed a pump, which is connected, by means of a spout, with the first vat, called the water room. In this vat, which is longer than any of the others, much filth is deposited. After a proper time the water is drawn off into the second vat, called the pickle room, in which calcareous matter, or lime, is deposited. If there are four vats, the third is named the lime room. In this vat, or in the second, when there are no more than three, a pellicle of salt begins to gather on the surface of the water, lime is plentifully deposited, and the pickle is drawn off into the last vat, called the salt room, in which only the crystals are permitted to be formed.* The vats are nine or ten inches deep. In dry weather, during the summer, with a north wind, the evaporation is a third of an inch in a day. The salt produced resembles Lisbon salt, but is purer, is strong, and free from lime. The mean weight of a bushel of it is eighty pounds.
* It was the writer's intention to have given a more minute description of the salt works ; but discovering that Dr. James Thatcher of Plymouth had anticipated him, in a paper presented to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he with pleasure foregoes the task, referring the reader, who wilshes to obtain complete information, to the valuable memoir of that gentleman.
138 Description of Dennis.
During the winter the Glauber salt, said to be of an excellent quality, crystallizes. No great quantity of Epsom salt and magnesia has yet been produced. The Rev. Mr. Briggs of Chatham, an industrious and ingenious chemist, has however succeeded in obtaining both ; and though his magnesia is not perfectly white, his Epsom salt appears to be incapable of improvement.
As the vat first constructed by Capt. Sears was ten feet wide, in estimating the dimensions of salt works, it has become customary to adopt the language which was then introduced. A foot therefore intends ten square feet. Three hundred such feet are calculated to produce a hundred bushels of marine salt, and four hundred and fifty pounds of Glauber salt, in a year. The cost of a foot, three years ago, was a dollar ; but it will amount at present to as much as a hundred and twenty, or even a hundred and fifty cents. The marine salt is worth seventy-five cents a bushel, and the Glauber salt one sixteenth of a dollar a pound. The value of the Epsom salt and magnesia is not estimated, as the quantity which may be obtained is unknown. From these data and the following table, the great importance of this new manufacture to the county of Barnstable will appear.
No. of works. No. of feet.
In Suet are 24 containing 19,500
Nobscusset 23 14,300
Yarmouth 4 16,630
Barnstable 14 11,717
Sandwich 4 2,702
Falmouth 4 1,900
Harwich 21 18,600
Chatham 6 11,500
Orleans 11 3,080
Eastham 12 9,100
Wellfleet 2 180
Truro 1 700
Provincetown 10 11,404
Total 136 121,313
139 Description of Dennis.
Calculated to manufacture in a year forty thousand, four hundred, and thirty-eight bushels of marine salt ; and one hundred and eighty-one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-nine pounds of Glauber salt ; worth, in the whole, forty-one thousand, seven hundred dollars.
In the ensuing year, will be erected, in the county of Barnstable, twenty thousand, five hundred and seventy-eight feet of additional works. These are all intended ; and for many of them contracts are actually made. What additions there will be in future years, it is impossible to foresee ; but they will undoubtedly be great. Without the limits of the county of Barnstable, the manufacture is already established in Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Plymouth, Kingston, Rochester, Hingham, Dorchester, and probably in other places, from which the author has not heard. Few of these works have existed more than two or three years.
But it is time to conclude the description of Dennis. On the south side of the county road are a hundred dwelling houses ; two of which only are two stories in height. The greatest part of these houses are situated near Bass river, and constitute a well-built village, the inhabitants of which are increasing in wealth and population. In the year 1795, they erected an elegant meeting house, with a steeple ; but they continue their connexion with the parish, the minister of which preaches here one sunday in three. There is besides a small Quaker meeting house, situated on the east side of Follen's pond. Five families only in Dennis belong to it; but it is attended by a few Friends from Yarmouth and Harwich. There are also thirteen families of Baptists in this village. The rest of the inhabitants, in every part of the township, are Congregationalists, who are warmly attached to their pastor, and not disposed to change.
There are no salt works yet in Bass river village; but it is expected that several will soon be erected. The inhabitants own nineteen sail of fishermen of about forty tons burthen each, and four coasters. Three small wharves have been built on this eastern side of the river.
Dennis enjoys the advantage of a great variety and plenty of fish in common with the other towns in the
140 Description of Dennis.
county. There are sea perch in Bass river. Bass enter this river in November, and remain there, and in Follen's pond through the winter. Eels may be caught in all the creeks ; but they are found in the greatest abundance in Follen's pond and Bass river. In the same pond and in Wear-mill brook, about a hundred barrels of alewives are taken in a year. Clams are plenty, particularly on the Couth shore, where quahaugs also are found, and a few good oysters. Sufficient clam bait for the fishing vessels is collected in the river ; and about fifty barrels are annually sold.
On the north shore there are wild fowls, but they are not as plenty as in Chatham,
The climate is healthful. Bilious and nervous disorders, rheumatism, and pulmonary consumption are the most common diseases.
A bill of mortality has not been obtained ; but the following table exhibits the number of marriages from March 1794 to March 1802.
141 Notes on Yarmouth and Harwich.
The history of Dennis is short. In the year 1721, the east part of Yarmouth was set off as a precinct* ; and June 19, 1793, it was incorporated into a town.
The church was gathered, and the first pastor, Rev. Josiah Dennis, was ordained, June 22d, 1727. Mr. Dennis died August 31st. 1763, in the sixty-ninth year of Ms age. The inhabitants have manifested their respect to Ms memory by naming their town after him.
The present pastor, Rev. Nathan Stone, was ordained October 17th. 1764. Vir humilis, mitis, blandus, advenarum hospes; suis commodis in terra non studens, reconditis thesauris in coelo.
* Vol. 5. p. 54. Coll. Hist. Soc.
Note on the South Parts of Yarmouth and Barnstable. September, 1802.
ON the Yarmouth side of Bass river there are six wharves, three near the mouth of the river, and three a mile north of it. There are here twenty-one vessels. One brig sails immediately to the West-Indies. Ten coasters, from thirty to forty tons burden, sail to Boston, Connecticut, or the Southern States, and thence to the West-Indies. The other ten vessels are fishermen. One is of a hundred tons : the rest are from forty to seventy tons. The fishing vessels go to the straits of Belle-Isle, the shoals of Nova Scotia, or Nantucket shoals. On a medium, a fishing vessel uses seven hundred bushels of salt in a year. One or two vessels are annually built on Bass river, chiefly on the western side.
In Lewis's bay in Yarmouth, there are four coasters, of about forty-five tons each, and ten sail of fishermen, from forty-five to fifty tons : They catch fish on the coast, from Nantucket shoals to Nova Scotia.
On the Barnstable side of Lewis's bay there are nine sail of fishermen, of about forty tons each, which also fish on the same coast ; likewise four coasters, of about forty-five tons each.
At Oyster Island there is one fishing vessel of forty tons, and eight coasters of about forty-five tons each.
These facts, in addition to those which have been already, and which will hereafter be, mentioned in this volume, show the present flourishing state of the south shore of the county of Barnstable, a part of Massachusetts not often visited, and little known.
Note on the South Precinct of Harwich, in the County of Barnstable. September, 1802.
THE south precinct of Harwich, which is situated between Dennis and Chatham, is naturally separated from the north precinct by woods and ponds. The land is level and sandy. On this part of the coast there is nei-
142 Description of Chatham.
ther a harbour nor a creek, into which vessels can enter. The only shelter that they have, is a bar, which lies the length of the precinct, two thirds of a mile from the shore. On this bar are from seven to nine feet of water, in common tides. North of it the depth is nine feet at full sea ; but there are many holes, in which the water is a little deeper. Fifteen or twenty vessels, containing on an average forty tons each, and about half of them owned in the precinct, are employed in the shoal fishery on the coast. Four vessels of a hundred tons each, which go to the banks of Newfoundland and the Straits of Belle Isle, sail also from this place, and obtain their men here. The whole number of men and boys engaged in the cod-fishery is about two hundred ; but several of them sail from Chatham, Bass river, and the north precinct. Two miles and a half, west of the Chatham line, there is a salt water pond, twenty feet deep, and a hundred and eighty rods in circumference. It is not more than two hundred yards from the shore, in which part there is one of the deep holes. About half the year the sea flows into the pond ; and a small boat can then enter it. At an inconsiderable expense, perhaps ten thousand dollars, this pond might be converted into a safe and convenient harbour.
It is remarkable, that not long after marine salt began to be made in Dennis, by the sun alone, Mr. Amiel Weeks of this precinct, without the knowledge of Capt. Sears's invention, constructed a vat, about eight feet long, and six wide, from twelve to fourteen inches deep, and with a cover to exclude the rain. In this vat he manufactured salt for his own consumption ; and continued the practice a number of years. The water was brought a mile, the salt was very impure, and no improvement was made in the first essay.
A Description of Chatham, in the County of Barnstable. September, 1802.
CHATHAM lies in latitude 41°. 42'. N. and longitude 69°. 56'. W. from Greenwich. The length of the township, east and west, exclusive of the harbour, is four miles; and the breadth, north and south, from two miles to
143 Description of Chatham.
four. It is bounded east by the ocean ; south, by Vineyard Sound ; west and north-west, by Harwich ; and north by Pleasant bay, which separates it from Orleans. The distance of the meeting house from Boston is ninety-three miles; from Barnstable court house, twenty miles ; and from the meeting house in the north parish of Harwich, eight miles.
The township consists of hills and ridges, with narrow vallies, small depressions, ponds, and swamps between them. As the hills are nearly of the same height, and the vallies at a short distance are not perceived, the land appears like an elevated plain. Great Hill which is a third of a mile east of the meeting house, towers above the reft of the township. This is the first land made by seamen coming on this part of the coast. From its two summits there is an extensive prospect ; and even Nantucket is visible, when the land looms. The tops of the ridges and smaller hills also command a fine view of the sea.
There are two principal roads in Chatham ; the first, leading through the south precinct of Harwich, to Barnstable ; the other, to the north precinct of Harwich. From this second road branches a third, which passes through Orleans to Cape Cod. These roads are sandy ; but they are better than those of Wellfleet or Truro.
Few towns in the county are so well provided with harbours as Chatham. The first and most important is on the eastern side of the town, and is called Old harbour. It is formed by a narrow beach, which completely guards it against the ocean. The haven on the western side of this beach is extensive ; but the harbour of Chatham is supposed to reach not farther north than Strong island, a distance of about four miles. Above that the water, which is within the limits of Harwich and Orleans, is known by other names. The breadth of the harbour is about three quarters of a mile. Its entrance, a quarter of a mile wide, is formed by the point of the beach, and James' head east of it on the main land. On the inside of the beach are flats and salt marsh. There is also a piece of marsh on the southern part of Strong island. These marshes are covered during every tide.
There are no rocks either within or near the harbour ; but its mouth is obstructed by bars, which extend east and
144 Description of Chatham.
south-east of the point of the beach three quarters of a mile. On each side of this mouth is a breaker ; one called the North ; and the other, the South breaker. There are also several bars in the harbour within the outer bars. These bars are continually shifting : the causes of which are storms, and a strong current, which lets in and out of the harbour. At low water there are seven feet on the outer bars, common tides rising about six feet. North of them the shore is bolder. There is good holding ground in the harbour. At the entrance the bottom is sandy. Farther in there is a muddy bottom. The depth at low water is about twenty feet.
Not only do the bars alter, but the mouth of the harbour also is perpetually varying. At present it is gradually moving southward by the addition of sand to the point of the beach. The beach has thus been extended, above a mile, within the course of the past forty years.
In the year 1626, there was an entrance into Monamoyick harbour, opposite Potanumaquut, six miles north of the present mouth. The ship mentioned by Prince* came in here, and was stranded on the beach, where its ruins were to be seen about twenty years ago. This part of the beach frill bears the name of the Old ship. The entrance has been closed for many years. Several passages into the harbour have been opened and shut since that time. At a late period, there were two openings into the haven ; one of which, that which now exists, was styled the Old harbour ; and the other, the New harbour.+ Though the mouth of the New harbour is entirely choked up with sand, yet the name, Old harbour, is still retained.
It is not easy to give directions for sailing into so inconstant a port. None but a pilot, who is well acquainted with its yearly variations, can guide in a vessel with safety. On a signal's being made, however, boats are ready to put off from the shore, to yield assistance. In a north-east storm, in which a pilot cannot leave the land, a vessel, by getting to the south of the South breaker, may at present ride with safety. But how long this will be true, it is impossible to say.
* Annals, p. 163. See also Morton's Memorial, p. 89. A. D. 1627.
+ See Des Barres' accurate chart of the coast.
145-146 Description of Chatham.
The principal business of the town is done near Old harbour. To this it is well suited, not only by its proximity to the ocean, its superiour extent, but also by the convenient coves and creeks, with which its western shore is indented, bringing a harbour within a short distance of every man's door. The names of the principal, or of the points which form them, follow. South of Harwich line is Monamesset neck, which is bounded on the north by Pleasant bay : the east end of it is opposite Strong island. South of this neck is Eldridge point. Between the point and neck is situated Crowell bay. South of Eldridge point is Eldridge cove. South-east of this cove is Covel's river, a salt water creek, at the head of which is a small body of marsh. East of Covel's river is Muscle point ; south-east of Muscle point is Nickerson's point ; and south of Nickerson's point is Morris's cove, which is separated from the harbour by Little beach.
Not far south from James' head commences a long beach, the extremity of which at present is called Sandy point ; but in ancient maps, Cape Malebarre. As there is also a Sandy point in Nantucket, to prevent confusion, the old name ought to be revived. This beach is described in another part of the volume.* The following particulars are added here. Stewart's Knoll is so denominated from a person of that name, who forty or fifty years since kept a tavern on it, for the accommodation of seamen making a harbour on the western side of the beach. The house stood at no great distance from the point, though at present the knoll is at least four miles from it. In the valley which is south of it, and which has been gained from the sea, there is a doubtful appearance of a soil's beginning to be formed. It is styled doubtful, because it would not be observed by every eye, and perhaps not acknowledged by many. Beach grass, the beach pea+, beach ivy, and the several other vegetables, which obtain nourishment amidst the minute fragments of stone which constitute sand, grow here luxuriantly. The roots of plants, which have grown here in past years, seem to have rotted by the frequent rains that have fallen on them ; and a solitary pine, which is not yet two feet high, has already found its way hither. Perhaps the whole beach, if untrodden by the feet of man and beast, would at the end of a few centuries be covered with wood, and in time with vegetable mould. On the western side of this beach there are pieces of salt marsh, the greatest part of which are around Morris's island and west of it. As the wind is perpetually driving the sand over them, they are diminishing every year.— Whilst the marsh is wasting in one place, it is true that spots are gradually forming in others. But, on the whole, it loses more than it gains : formerly it was so extensive, that a hundred and fifty tons of hay were annually cut on it ; but at present it does not yield more than sixty tons.
Morris's island was once surrounded by water ; and the passage between it and. the beach was a quarter of a mile wide, in the year 1752. The strait was gradually filled up, and has been entirely closed above thirty years. Whilst this junction has been making, the beach has wasted on its eastern side ; so that now the island, as it is still denominated, is nearer to the ocean, than it was formerly to the eastern side of the strait. At the same period there was,
* See Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable, p. 117.
+ A young gentleman, a native of Truro, has communicated to the author the following note on the beach pea.
"Pisum maritimum. (Lin. 870.) With. p. 629 V. 3. Petioles flattish above : stem angular : stipules arrow shaped : fruit stalks many flowered. Whole plant, excepting the upper surface of the leaves slightly downy : root creeping striking deep in the earth. Leaves numerous alternate : Flowers towards the end of the fruit stalks, crowded, on short pedicles. Blossoms pale red and purple.
Sea pea. Sea shores. Flowers in August.
(Found by Mr. Stackhouse on the sharp ridge running from Portland Island to Bridport, amongst loose pebbles, about fifteen or twenty feet above high water mark, &c.) (With. p. 630. V. 3.)
"In 1555, during a time of great scarcity, the people about Orford in Sussex were preserved from perishing by eating the feeds of this plant, which grew there in great abundance upon the sea coast. Cows, horses, sheep, and goats eat it.
"Dr. Cutler describes this as a plant of New England (in Memoirs Am. Acad. Vol. 1. p. 472.) So that I think there is no doubt of its being the same that grows on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod."
That the seeds of the beach pea are edible, is the opinion of several persons in the county of Barnstable ; but the author cannot learn that any of them have ever made the experiment.
147 Description of Chatham.
from Old harbour into Stage harbour, a passage, through which vessels might sail, the beach being then an island, but for above thirty years it has joined the main land.
Another change has taken place in this voluble mass of sand. In the year 1770, during a violent storm, the sea rushed through the beach. But by degrees the breach then made was filled up with sand, and in two years was completely closed.*
On the west side of Cape Malebarre, in the south part of Chatham, is another harbour, called Stage harbour ; which is about a mile long, and a half of a mile wide. The entrance into it, which is about a quarter of a mile in breadth, is between Morris's island and Harding's beach or neck, which runs from the west. It is barred, there being not more than eight feet in the mouth at high water, common tides rising here four feet ; but within there are twenty feet at low water. The anchorage is good, on a muddy bottom. This, as well as Old harbour, is completely land locked.
Oyster pond, about three quarters of a mile long, and a half of a mile broad, communicates with Stage harbour by Oyster pond river. There are six feet of water in this river at high tides ; and vessels which draw five feet only can go into the pond.
North-east of Stage harbour, and communicating with it by Mitchel's river, is Mill cove. Connected with the cove is Mill pond, on which is a piece of salt marsh. East of Mill cove is Tom's neck.
There is good anchorage for large vessels on the outside of Stage harbour, south of Harding's beach, close to the shore, opposite a bunch of pines.
* The following remarkable fact of the same kind is related by a respectable writer.
"When the English first settled upon the Cape, there was an island off Chatham, at three leagues distance, called Webb's island, containing twenty acres, covered with red cedar or savin. The inhabitants of Nantucket used to carry wood from it. This island has been wholly worn away for almost a century. A large rock, that was upon the island, and which settled as the earth washed away, now marks the place : it rises as much above the bottom of the sea, as it used to rise above the surface of the ground. The water is six fathoms deep on this spot."
Mass. Mag. Vol. 3, p. 151.
148 Description of Chatham.
A mile and a half west of Stage harbour is Cockle cove river ; navigable for flat boats only, and communicating with a salt pond north of it. On it is a small body of salt marsh.
West is Tumblen's cove, which also communicates with a salt pond, named by the Indians Matchapoxet. This cove is very shoal,
Proceeding still west is Red river, a small stream, navigable by boats only, forming the boundary between Chatham and Harwich. On both sides of it is salt marsh. These inlets are not far asunder, Red river being not more than a mile from Cockle cove.
Beside the salt water ponds which have been mentioned, there are not less than thirty ponds of fresh water. Fish are plenty in them ; but not being as highly esteemed as those which are caught in the sea, they are not much used. Their bottoms in general are sandy ; and they supply those, who live near them, with good water. There are also many springs of excellent water, though there are no brooks. Soft water is obtained from the wells, few of which are more than twelve feet deep.
There is a number of small swamps, several of which have been cleared, and converted into pastures and meadows. From these swamps, within the past five years, considerable quantities of peat have been dug.
Not a fruit tree grows in Chatham ; and not more than sixty-five acres of woodland are left. It is foliated near the line of Harwich, and consists principally of pitch pine. The greatest part of the fuel, which is consumed, is brought from the district of Maine ; and costs at present about seven dollars a cord. Five cords of wood are considered as a sufficient yearly stock for a family.
The soil of the township is in general sandy and free from stones. There is good land, however, near Oyster pond and the coves. Very little English hay is cut ; but the marshes yield salt hay enough for the life of the inhabitants. Butter is made in summer ; but butter for winter and cheese are procured from Connecticut, Rhode-Island, and Boston. Beef and provisions of all kinds for the fishermen are brought from the last mentioned place. Not more than half enough Indian corn for the consumption
149 Description of Chatham.
of the inhabitants is raised : the average produce to an acre is twelve bushels. Rye, the average produce of which is six bushels, is raised in the same proportion. Thirty years ago a small quantity of wheat was grown ; but at present it is wholly neglected. There are many good gardens, in which a sufficient quantity of roots and herbs are produced. The mode of husbandry is in general similar to that which is practised in Truro.* Materials for manure might be procured in plenty by those, who live near the shore. Attention of late begins to be paid to this article. As the land, particularly in the centre and south part of the township, is every year growing worse, by the drifting of the sand, there is little to encourage agricultural industry. The inhabitants, having to pursue other objects, which they deem more important, do not avail themselves of all the advantages that they possess for the improvement of their grounds. Beside sea weed and the king crab on their shores, there are also spots which contain clay,+ a well known fertilizer of a sandy soil. But husbandry is pursued with little spirit, the people in general passing the flower of their lives at sea, which they do not quit till they are fifty years of age, leaving at home none but the old men and small boys to cultivate the ground.
A few of the young and middle aged men are engaged in mercantile voyages, and sail from Boston ; but the great body of them are fishermen. Twenty-five schooners, from twenty-five to seventy tons, are employed in the cod-fishery. They are partly owned in Boston and other places, but principally in Chatham. About one half of them fish on the banks of Newfoundland ; the rest on Nantucket shoals, the shores of Nova Scotia, and in the straits of Belle-Isle. On board these schooners are about two hundred men and boys, most of whom are inhabitants of Chatham ; and they catch one year with another seven or eight hundred quintals to a vessel. Beside these fishing vessels, there are belonging to the town five coasters, which sail to Carolina and the west Indies.
* See Vol. 3. p. 198. Coll. Hist. Soc.
+ Bricks are seldom made in Chatham.
150 Description of Chatham.
Fish are plenty on the coast. In addition to those, which are enumerated in the description of Truro, are the sheep's head, drummer, shad, and tautaug.
Shell fish are found in great abundance on the shores, particularly quahaugs and clams. Great quantities of bait are dug for the use of the fishermen. There are excellent oysters in Oyster pond ; but they are scarce and dear, selling for a dollar a bushel.
In no part of the county can wild fowls be obtained in such plenty and variety.
Food can so easily be procured, either on the shores or in the sea, that with the profit which arises from their voyages, in which it must be confessed they labour very hard, the people are enabled to cover their tables well with provisions. A breakfast among the inhabitants, and even among those who are called the poorest, for there are none who are really poor, consists of tea or coffee, brown bread, generally with butter, sometimes without, and salt or fresh fish, fried or broiled. A dinner affords one or more of the following dishes : roots and herbs ; salted beef or pork boiled ; fresh butcher's meat not more than twelve times a year ; wild fowl frequently in the autumn and winter ; fresh fish boiled or fried with pork ; shell fish ; salt fish boiled ; indian pudding, pork baked with beans. Tea or coffee also frequently constitutes a part of the dinner. A supper consists of tea or coffee and fish as at breakfast, cheese, cakes made of flour, gingerbread, and pies of several sorts. This bill of fare will serve with little variation for all the fishing towns in the county. In many families there is no difference between the breakfast and supper ; cheese, cakes, and pies being as common at the one as at the other.
Chatham contains more inhabitants in proportion to its extent, than any other township in the county : by the census of 1800, there were thirteen hundred and fifty-one souls ; and they have increased a little since that time. The number of dwelling houses, as returned in the valuation of the last year, is an hundred and fifty-eight. They are small, four only being two stories in height. The meeting house, near the centre of the township, is in good repair. There are five schools, in which reading, writing,
and arithmetick are taught to children of both sexes : education is encouraged. The other buildings are a rope-walk, a tan-house, a number of barns, and six windmills.
The inhabitants are very industrious. The women are engaged in the domestick employments and manufactures usual in other parts of Massachusetts, and a number of them in curing fish at the flake yards.
Fogs are more frequent in Chatham than in any other part of the county ; and they serve in summer, instead of trees, to shelter the houses against the heat of the fun. To those who delight in extensive vision, they are unpleasant ; but they are not found to be unhealthful. The air of the township is justly regarded as very salubrious : one proof of which is, that there is not sufficient employment for a physician. Epidemick distempers, it is true, have sometimes visited the place ; but not more frequently than other towns in the county. In the year 1764 the small-pox carried off a great number of persons.
Monamoy*, as the settlement was during many years denominated, is one of the original plantations of the county, not being formed out of other towns. April 10th. 1665, William Nickerson bought of John Quason, alias Towsowet, sachem of Monamoy, a tract of land near Potanumaquut ; bounded east by the Great harbour ; south by a line, which extends west by south into the woods, from Wequaset to a pine tree+ marked upon four sides ; and north by a line extending to the farther head of a pond, to a place called Porchcommock. June 19th. 1672, Mattaquason and John Quason, sachems of Monnamoiet, for the confederation of one shallop, ten coats of trucking cloth, six kettles, twelve axes, twelve hoes, twelve knives, forty shillings in wampum, a hat, and twelve shillings in money,—sold to the same William Nickerson a tract of land and meadows at Monnamoiet, at the west side of Muddy cove, and extending southerly to Matchapoxet pond, and thence by a creek to the sea ; and extending
* So is the name pronounced at present ; but in ancient books and records it is written Monnamoiet, or Monamoyick.
+ Near the cart way, which goes from Chatham to Saukatucket mill in Harwich.
152 Description of Chatham.
easterly to Oyster pond.* Again, March 29th. 1678,+ August 16th. 1682, and at divers other times, he purchased lands and meadows of the Indians.
In the year 1665, Thomas Hinkley, John Freeman, Nathaniel Bacon, and their partners, obtained from the colony court of Plymouth the grant of a right to purchase, of the natives, land at Monnamoiet and places adjacent. This interfered with the property of Nickerson, who had made several of his purchases without previously procuring such a grant, which was necessary to render his title valid. But on the 3d. of July, 1672, Hinkley and his associates, for a valuable consideration, conveyed to Nickerson their grant, and all the lands which they had bought in consequence of it. This made his title good ; and it was afterwards confirmed to his heirs by the legislature.++
After the settlement of the village or district of Monamoy, which appears to have been not long after the purchases were made, it was considered as one of the towns in the colony ; for in June, 1686, it was ordered to choose a grand-juryman § ; and on the 11th. of February, 1691, liberty was granted to its inhabitants to elect and send a deputy to the general court.|| In the ensuing March the bounds of the village were enlarged. This was the last act of the colony court of Plymouth respecting it. ¶
It was incorporated into a township, by the legislature of Massachusetts, and its name altered to that of Chatham, June 11th. 1712.Eight years after the incorporation, the inhabitants had become
* Plymouth Records, Lib. 12. Fol. 251.
+ Plym. Rec. Lib. 16. Fol. 463.
++ The family of Nickerson is one of the most numerous in the county; and a number of the name remain in Chatham.
§ At a colony court held at Plymouth in June, 1686, Plymouth was ordered by said court to choose three grand-jurymen ; Duxborough two ; Scituate four ; Marshfield three ; Bridgewater two ; Middleborough one ; Barnstable three ; Yarmouth three ; Sandwich three ; Eastham three ; Monnamoiet one ; Succonesset one ; Sippecan one ; Bristol three ; Taunton three ; Rehoboth three ; Dartmouth two ; Swanzey two ; Little Compton one : Freetown one. Plym. Rec. Lib. N. Fol. 1.
|| Plym. Rec. Lib. N. Fol. 52.
¶ Plym. Rec. Lib. N. Fol. 56.
become so numerous as to be able to support a settled minister of the gospel. No particular account, however, of their numbers can be obtained till the year 1764. From the census which was then taken, it appears that there were a hundred and five dwelling houses, a hundred and twenty-seven families, and six hundred and seventy-seven souls ; but it is remarkable, that though above five hundred Indians remained in the county, yet not one was left in Chatham.* From comparing the census of 1764 with that of 1800, it appears that the number of the inhabitants has doubled in thirty-eight years. That it has not increased more is owing to the frequent emigrations which have been made during this period.
In the year 1774, Chatham had become so flourishing a. town, that it employed twenty-seven vessels in the cod-fishery.
Another census was taken in 1776, when there were found in Chatham a hundred and sixty-five families, and nine hundred and thirty souls.
The town suffered greatly by the revolutionary war. Many of the men were captivated by the enemy, and died in prison ships. In the year 1783, four or five vessels only were left in the harbours ; but the town was filled with widows, mourning the loss of their husband's and sons. With the return of peace, the fishery revived, the tears of the wretched were wiped away ; and since that period the inhabitants have been increasing in wealth and population.+
The names and succession of the pastors will conclude the description of Chatham. June 15th. 1720, the church
* There is not an Indian now in Chatham.
+ A traveller who visited Chatham in the year 1790, and who observed every object with an accurate eye, informs the publick, that forty vessels were then employed in the cod-fishery. It would appear therefore, at first view, that the number of vessels, as it is not more than twenty-five at present, has diminished during the past twelve years. The truth is, that the inhabitants of Chatham did not, in 1790, own forty fishermen ; but at that period, a number of vessels, which with their crews wholly belonged to other places, came into the harbour or Chatham, and the fish which they brought was cured on its shores. See Mass. Mag. Vol. 3. p. 74.
154 Description of Eastham.
was first gathered, and Rev. Joseph Lord ordained. He died June 6th. 1748. Rev. Stephen Emery was installed May 17th. 1749, and died May 24th. 1782. Rev. Thomas Roby was ordained October 22d. 1783, and dismissed at his request October 22d. 1795. The present pastor, Rev. Ephraim Briggs, was ordained July 20th. 1796. Seip, sepoese, sepoemese, wechekum.
A Description and History of Eastham, in the County of Barnstable. September. 1802.
EASTHAM is situated in latitude 41°. 51'. N. and longitude 69°. 56'. W. from Greenwich. Its distance from Boston, following the road, is ninety-four miles ; from Plymouth, the capital of the Old Colony, fifty-two ; and from Barnstable, the shire town, twenty-two. The distance from Boston, in a straight line, is sixty-eight miles. It is bounded on the east by the Atlantick ocean ; on the north by Wellfleet ; on the west by Barnstable bay ; and on the south and south-east by Orleans ; from which it is separated by a line beginning at Rock harbour river, and running by various courses to Boat meadow river ; thence running up the middle of the river to its head ; thence running southerly, through the centre of the meadow, to a swamp ; thence through the swamp, and along Jeremiah's gutter, into the middle of Town cove ; thence running down the centre of the cove to Stone island ; and thence running an east-south-east course into the Atlantick ocean. The length. of the township is six miles ; and the breadth, from two miles to two and a half.
In sailing from Race point south, the first opening into the beach, on the eastern side of the county of Barnstable, is found in Eastham. There is here a small harbour, called Nauset, or Stage harbour, the entrance of which it narrow and obstructed by a bar, on which are not more than eight feet of water at full sea. It is divided into two arms, one of which extends north, and the other south-west. The northern arm is shallow. A body of salt marsh, containing two hundred acres, lies in it, and
155 Description of Eastham.
is protected from the ocean by a narrow beach. The south-western arm, which is denominated Town coves has fourteen feet in the deepest part, at high water, common tides. As it is completely secured against every wind, if a passage could be opened from it into the ocean, it would afford an excellent harbour ; but this, it is conceived, is impossible, because if the channel was deepened by art, it would soon be choked up again with sand, driven into it by storms.
A sandy flat, a mile wide, extends along the western shore, from Suet to the bounds of Wellfleet. It is left dry about three hours, and may easily be crossed by horses and carriages. Of consequence there can be no good harbour on this side of the township. There are however several creeks, which at high water admit small vessels into them.
The first is Great meadow river, the mouth of which is situated south-west from the meeting house. East of it is a body of salt marsh.
About a half of a mile south of Great meadow river is Boat meadow river, which runs from the south-east. Its entrance lies south-south-west from the meeting house, and is eight feet deep at high water. A body of salt marsh extends from the mouth of this river to within four rods of Town cove, leaving a narrow ridge for a road. The marsh is not more than fifteen rods from the swamp, which is the head of Jeremiah's gutter ; and as the land is low between them, in very high tides, the sea flows across from the bay to the ocean, completely insulating the northern part of the county.
About a half of a mile south of Boat meadow river is Rock harbour river ; which will again be mentioned in the Description of Orleans.
Beside these creeks there are three brooks which empty themselves into the bay.
The first is Indian brook, which forms the boundary between Eastham and Wellfleet, and runs into the harbour of Silver springs.
Three quarters of a mile south of Indian brook is Cook's brook, which is dry half the year.
156 Description of Eastham.
A mile south of Cook's brook is Snow's brook, which runs the greatest part of the year, but is very small.
Grape swamp, a mile south of Snow's brook, sometimes discharges water into the bay.
On the eastern side of the township, in the fertile tract, the road passes over a small stream, which contains fresh water at low tide.
Jeremiah's gutter may also be called a brook, though it is very narrow, and not more than fourteen rods in length. As there is little room for these brooks to run, they are necessarily formed on a minute scale.
Fresh ponds are not numerous in Eastham, there being eight only. The most remarkable are Great pond and Long pond. Great pond is a quarter of a mile from the western shore. A communication was opened between it and the bay, for the purpose of suffering alewives to pass into it : it soon closed. A narrow neck, about forty feet wide, separates it from Long pond ; the distance of which from Mill pond, connected with the northern arm of Nauset harbour, is not more than a furlong. Here those who think it as easy to dig through the land, as to mark a line on a map, will be disposed to cut a canal from the ocean to the bay. As the ground is generally low, the labour would not be great ; but unfortunately the canal, if made, would not long exist.
The soil of the township is various. A large proportion is sandy and barren.* On the west side, a beach extends from the north line, near a half of a mile wide, till it comes to Great pond, where it stretches across the township almost to Town cove. This barren tract, which does not bow contain a particle of vegetable mould, formerly produced wheat. The soil however was light. The land in some places, lodging against the beach grass,+ has been raised into hills fifty feet high, where twenty-five years ago no hills existed. In others it has filled up small vallies and swamps. Where a strong-rooted bush flood, the appearance is singular: a mass of earth and sand adheres to it, resembling a small tower. In several places rocks, which
* See Mass. Mag. Vol. 3. p. 75.
+ See Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable, p. 110.
157 Description of Eastham.
were formerly covered with soil, are disclosed ; and being lashed by the sand, driven against them by the wind, look as if they were recently dug from a quarry.
On the eastern side of the township, is a tract of about two hundred acres, equal, and by many supposed superiour, to any land in the county. Three cedar swamps on the west of it, three quarters of a mile in length, still guard it in a great measure against the irruptions of the land. This good land will yield, with manure, thirty-five, and sometimes forty-five, bushels of Indian corn to an acre, and from twenty to thirty bushels of rye.
North of the fertile tract on the eastern side of Eastham, the land is light and sandy ; but, except for the distance of a half of a mile from the bounds of Wellfleet, is good for the lower part of the county. In this part of the township the greatest quantities of corn are grown.
As very little of the land is good for grass, the raising of grain is the principal business to which the farmers attend. More corn is produced than the inhabitants consume ; and above a thousand bushels, about half of which are sold in Wellfleet, are annually sent to market. Five and twenty years ago, three times this quantity was exported. The soil being free from stones, a plough passes through it speedily ; and after the corn has come up, a small Cape horse, somewhat larger than a goat, will, with the assistance of two boys, easily hoe three or four acres in a day. Several farmers are accustomed to produce five hundred bushels of grain annually ; and not long since, one of them raised eight hundred bushels, on sixty acres. This, however, was extraordinary, and may never be done again.
In Eastham and in Orleans a little wheat and flax are raised, particularly on the best land. The former is subject to be blasted in both townships. There is sufficient salt hay ; but very little English hay is cut in Eastham.
Except a tract of oaks and pines, adjoining the south line of Wellfleet, and which is about a mile and a half wide, no wood is left in the township. The forests were imprudently cut down many years ago ; and no obstacle being opposed to the fury of the wind, it has already covered with barrenness the large tract above described, and
158 Description of Eastham.
threatens the whole township with destruction. For the present its rage seems in some degree to be checked by enclosures and planting beach grass. These measures, if persevered in, though they may not retrieve the soil already loft, will guard the fertile grounds, which still flourish amidst a desart of sand.
The high land of Cape Cod, which begins at the Clay pounds in Truro, on which, in the year 1798, a light house was erected, terminates a mile north of Eastham. This township is chiefly a plain. There are a few rising grounds and vallies, particularly in the fertile tract. Most of the houses, being protected neither by hills nor woods, stand in bleak and exposed situations.
The county road from Harwich to Wellfleet passes over the barren sands ; and conveys to strangers, who are naturally induced to take this way, a worse opinion of Eastham than it deserves. Soon after entering on this scene of desolation, a road turns to the right, and leads over the good land. These two roads meet on the narrow neck, which lies between Long pond and Mill pond, where again they diverge, the road on the right hand being very good for this part of the county ; but in favour of the other nothing can be said, except that it is the shortest, and that it is not as bad as the roads of Wellfleet.
There are at present in Eastham a hundred and twenty-two families, who inhabit ninety-nine dwelling houses, seven of which only are two stories in height. The other buildings are, beside barns, two windmills, two school houses, and a meeting house, which this year has been enlarged and repaired.
There is no village in the township ; but several quarters of it are distinguished by appropriate appellations. The north-east part retains the ancient Indian name, Nauset.
The north-west part, a little north of the centre of the township, is called Halfponds. It receives its name from two small ponds near it.
The part west of the meeting house, south of Great and Long ponds, and north of Great meadow, is denominated Great Neck ; which terminates in Mulford's cliff.
159 History of Eastham.
Three fishing vessels only are owned by the inhabitants, and three coasters, which in summer bring lumber from the district of Maine, and in winter go to the West-Indies, Not so many of the young men are engaged in the cod-fishery as in other lower towns of the county; but a number are employed in the merchants' service, and sail from Boston.
Fishes are the same as on other parts of the coast. By the act of incorporation, which separated Orleans from Eastham, the benefits of the shell-fishery are to be mutually shared. About a hundred barrels of clams for bait are annually collected in Eastham.
The climate does not differ materially from that of other parts of the county. Hysterick fits are very common in Orleans, Eastham, and the towns below, particularly on sunday, in the time of divine service. When one woman is affected, five or six others generally sympathize with her ; and the congregation is thrown into the utmost confusion. Several old men suppose, unphilosophically and uncharitably perhaps, that the will is partly concerned, and that ridicule and threats would have a tendency to prevent the evil. Nervous disorders and the pulmonary consumption are also frequent in this place.
The territory constituting the old colony of Plymouth, before the arrival of the English, was possessed by a nation of Indians styled the Wamponoags or Pawkunnawkuts.* The Indians in the county of Barnstable were a distinct people ; but they were subject in some respects to the chief sachem of the Wamponoags. Of these petty tribes, the Nauset Indians appear to have been the most important. They dwelt on the land, which the English afterwards settled by the name of Eastham ; and their country extended from Nobscusset to Cape Cod, including Saukatucket, Monamoyick, Potanumaquut, Pononakanit,
* Gookin's Hist. Coll. of the Ind. In N. Eng. chap. II. §. 4. The name of this nation is spelled in many different manners : Packanokik and Puckanokick, by Purchas; Pocanaket, by Morton, and Pockanockett, by his Continuator ; Pacanokik, by Prince ; and Pokanocket by Hutchinson. A similar disorder prevails in the orthography of other Indian names.
160 History of Eastham.
Pamet, and Meshawn.* The principal seats of the Nauset: Indians were at Namskeket, within the limits of Orleans, and about the Cove, which divides this township from Eastham. At the latter place shell fish have always been plenty : food therefore could easily be obtained in abundance.+
Cape Cod being discovered by Gosnold in the year 1602, several English vessels after this period visited the coast. In 1614, Capt. John Smith, the celebrated navigator,++ after touching at several places on the coast of New England, embarked for London, and left his ship under the command of Thomas Hunt, to load it with fish for Spain. After his lading was completed, and he was ready to sail, Hunt, under the pretence of trading with them, enticed into the ship twenty Indians from Patuxet, and seven from Nauset. He seized on these unsuspecting natives, confined them in the hold of the vessel, and carried them to Malaga ; where he sold a number of them for twenty pounds a man ; and would have disposed of the whole in the same way, if the monks of that city had not compassionately interfered, and rescued those who remained out of his hands.|| This atrocious deed kindled in the hearts of the Indians a fire of hatred, which was not extinguished during many years. All farther attempts at commerce with them became in a high degree dangerous ; and on sundry occasions they exercised on the Europeans the deepest revenge.§
In 1617, the country of the Pawkunnawkuts was nearly depopulated by the Great Plague.¶ The Nauset Indians, and other tribes east of Patuxet, appear in a great measure to have escaped the pestilence.
* Hutchinson. Vol. I. p. 459. 1st edit. Gookin. chap. VIII. § 2.
+ The great numbers of broken shells remaining in the neighbourhood of this Cove prove that the territory was formerly well settled by the Indians.
++ For an entertaining narrative of Capt. Smith's romantick adventures, see Belknap's Biography, Vol. I.
|| I. Mather's Relation of Troubles in N. Eng. p. 2. Prince's Annals, p. 40. Mourt. 38.
§ Prince's Ann. p. 41, 45, 68. Belknap's Biog. Vol. II. p. 211. I. Mather's Relation, p. 4.
¶ Prince's Ann. p. 46.
161 History of Eastham.
In the month of November of the year 1620, the little band of adventurers, who settled the colony of Plymouth, arrived in the harbour of Cape Cod. On the 6th. of December they sent out their shallop with ten of their principal men, and eight or ten seamen, to coast round the bay, that they might discover a proper place for a settlement. Passing by Pamet river and Billingsgate point, they reached the bottom of the bay that night, and landed north of Great pond in Eastham.
Having employed the next day in examining the country, early in the morning of the 8th. of December, they were suddenly attacked by the Nauset Indians, instigated without doubt by the remembrance of Hunt's perfidy. Though they were successful in repelling the foe, they thought it necessary immediately to quit the coast ; and sailing along the shore, that night they readied the harbour of Plymouth.*
They heard nothing farther of the Nauset Indians till the ensuing March, when they were informed by Samoset, the first native who visited them, that this tribe consisted of a hundred fighting men. A boy, John Billington, having lost himself in the woods, and being conveyed to Nauset, an opportunity was afforded of making peace with the Indians of this place. Accordingly ten men were sent by Governour Bradford, about the end of July, 1621, to recover the boy. They sailed first to the harbour of Cummaquid, where they were hospitably entertained by Iyanough, the sachem. Thence they proceeded to Nauset, Iyanough and two of his men accompanying them. The design of the embassy being made known to Aspinet, the chief sachem, the boy was restored and a peace concluded.+
Masassoit, the sachem of the Wamponoags, having, in September, acknowledged the king of England to be his master, the sachems of Nauset, Pamet, and Cummaquid, who were in subjection to him, submitted also to the same authority.++
* Prince's Annals, p. 76—78. Morton's Memorial. p. 24-28 Belknap's Biog. Vol. II. Life of Carver.
+ Prince's Annals, p. 107, 108. Mourt, 60.
++ Prince's Ann. p. 112.
162 History of Eastham.
After this a friendly intercourse was maintained, for more than a year, between the English at Plymouth and the Indians of Nauset. Supplies of corn and beans were obtained of these natives by the colonists, who, in the summer of 1622, were reduced almost to a state of famine.* Trade was carried on between the two parties with fairness and honour ; and the persons employed in the business were treated by the Indians with respect and kindness.+
But in the spring of 1623, the colonists received information from Masassoit, who continued faithful to them, that there was a conspiracy among the Indians, in which the sachems of Nauset and Pamet had joined, to extirpate the English. In consequence of this intelligence, Capt. Standish was dispatched to the bay of Massachusetts, where he put to death the principal conspirators. This prompt execution so terrified the rest of the natives, that they abandoned their houses, and concealed themselves in swamps ; where they contracted diseases, by which many of them miserably perished. Among others, who fell victims to their fears, was Aspinet, the sachem of Nauset, and Iyanough, the courteous sachem of Cummaquid.++
By these disasters the Nauset Indians were reduced and humbled. They probably soon returned, however, to an amicable correspondence with the English ; for less than four years after the conspiracy, we find them again kindly assisting the English and selling them corn.||
Though the English had settled eight towns in the colony of Plymouth during the first twenty years ; yet no attempt had been made to begin a plantation in Nauset. In the year 1640, "the purchasers or old comers" of Plymouth colony obtained of the court the grant of a tract of land, from the bounds of Yarmouth three miles to the eastward of Namskeket, and across the neck from sea to
* Prince's Ann. p. 118. Winslow. 16.
+ Prince's Ann. p. 124. Belknap's Biog. Vol. II. p. 228. Winslow. 27.
++ Prince's Ann. p. 129—133. Belknap's Biog. Vol. II. p. 230, 231. Winslow. 49, 59, 66.
|| Prince's Ann. p. 164.
163 History of Eastham.
sea.* But no immediate use was made of it, nor was any township begun.
Three years after this grant, 1643, several members of the church of Plymouth became dissatisfied with their situation. Notwithstanding the favourable opinion which the colonists had first conceived of the place,+ they discovered in a few years, that they had built their town in the neighbourhood of one of the most barren parts of New England. The spots of good land are small, and few in number ; and plains and hills of land surround the harbour, and extend to a distance from it into the country, rendering it improbable that Plymouth could ever be raised into a flourishing and opulent capital. Many persons had already left the town ; and at this time sundry respectable members requesting a dismission, the church began seriously to reflect, whether it was not better to remove in a body to another place, than thus to be weakened and insensibly dissolved.
Many meetings of the church were held on the subject ; and there was a great diversity of sentiments among the members. Some were for still remaining together in Plymouth, alleging that they could live there very well, provided they would be contented with their situation ; and that not the fear of poverty, but the desire of enriching themselves, was the motive of those who wished to depart. Others were determined to remove, declaring that if the whole church would not go, they would go by themselves. The members of the church, notwithstanding this difference of opinion, felt mutually the affection of brethren ; and were unwilling to be deprived of the society and friendship of each other. At length, therefore, those who preferred staying in Plymouth yielded to the sentiment of the others ; and a removal was universally agreed to, on the condition that they could find a place, which would conveniently receive the whole church, with the addition of such persons as might hereafter join them.
This being resolved, several places were proposed, and among others Nauset, which the Governour, Mr. Bradford,
* Hazard's Coll. Vol. I. p. 466. Plym. Col. Records. Lib. III. Fol. 276.
+See Mourt's Relation. 23.
164 History of Eastham.
apprehended would be a commodious situation, he having had occasion once or twice to visit this part of the country, and having found here a tract of fertile land, which had also been commended by others as a rich soil.*
The church acceding to the proportion of the Governour, a committee was chosen and sent to Nauset on discovery. They took, however, a superficial view only of the place ; and hence supposed that it was larger than it afterwards proved to be. After their return to Plymouth, the members of the church, knowing that "the purchasers or old comers" had a grant of lands in this part of the country, thought it necessary to apply to them for their consent ; which being obtained, it was concluded by the church to fend a number of persons to make a more complete discovery and survey of Nauset, and also to purchase the soil of the natives. This was in June, 1644.
Accordingly a committee, consisting of Thomas Prince, John Doane, Nicholas Snow, Josias Cook, Richard Higgins, John Smalley, and Edward Bangs, who were the first settlers of Eastham, with the addition of the Governour and many other members of the church, was chosen, and sent on a second discovery, These persons having proceeded to Nauset, and made an accurate survey of the place, judged that it was not capable of containing more than twenty or twenty-five families ; and consequently that it was not large enough to accommodate the whole church, much less to afford room for future increase. They thought proper, however, to purchase the soil of the natives ; which was done accordingly.
The lands, which were then bought, were as follows : A tract of land called Pochet, with two islands lying before Potanumaquut, with a beach and small island upon it ; also all the land called Namskeket, extending northward to the bounds of the territory belonging to George, the sachem, excepting a small island+ which was purchased afterwards. These tracts were bought of the sachem of Monamoyick, Mattaquason, who laid claim to them. Of George, the sachem, probably the immediate successor of
* See Morton's Mem. p. 34. edit. 1721.
+ Pochet island.
165 History of Eastham.
Aspinet, they bought at the same time all the lands belonging to him ; extending northward from the bounds of the territory claimed by Mattaquason, excepting a small neck of land lying by the harbour on the east side of the tract ; which neck of land the English stipulated to fence ; that the Indians might use it as a cornfield. It was also agreed between the English and Indians, that such of them as were the natural inhabitants of the place should have liberty to get shell fish in the cove ; and likewise that they should have a part of the blubber, which should be driven on shore, the proportion to be determined by the English. At this time it was demanded, who laid claim to Billingsgate, which was understood to be all the land in the bay, north of the territory purchased of George, the sachem. The answer was, There was not any who owned it. Then said the committee, That land is ours. The Indians answered, It was.
The committee, having completed the business, returned to Plymouth, and made report to the church ; who, judging that Nauset was not only too small to receive the whole body, but also too remote from the centre of the colony to be a fit place for the metropolis of the government, determined not to remove. Liberty, however, was given to those, who chose to go, to begin the plantation, they agreeing to pay for the purchase, which at first was made in the name of the whole church.*
In the mean time a grant was obtained of the colony court in the following words ;
1644. " The court doth grant unto the church of New Plymouth, or those that go to dwell at Nauset, all the tract of land lying between sea and sea, from the purchasers bounds at Namskeket, to the Herring brook at Billingsgate, with said Herring brook, and all the meadows on "both sides the said brook, with the great bass pond there, and all meadows and islands lying within the said tract."+
This grant included the present townships of Eastham, Wellfleet, and Orleans. It extended south to Monamoyick
* Plym. Col. Rec. Lib. III. Fol. 276.
+ Plym, Col. Rec. Lib. II. Fol. 112.
166 History of Eastham.
bay, or the Eastern harbour, or Great harbour, as it was then sometimes called. At one end it was bounded by the "lands belonging to the purchasers or old comers," afterwards settled by the name of Harwich* ; and at the other, by lands which were afterwards incorporated by the name of Truro ; being in length about fifteen miles.
Thomas Prince, and the others above named, having obtained possession of the grant and the right of property, removed immediately to Nauset, and began to settle the township.+ These persons are laid to have been among the most respectable inhabitants of Plymouth. The church regretted their departure, viewing herself as a mother grown old and forsakes by her children, though not in their affections, yet in their company and personal assistance.++ But however the emigration might be lamented at that time, it was productive of great good to the colony ; as, whilst it did not essentially injure the church of Plymouth, which soon supplied with other members the loss which it had sustained, it eventually led to the settlement of all the lower part of the county of Barnstable ; in consequence of which the Indians there, full from their numbers a formidable body, were overawed and their good will obtained ; and they were prevented from joining in any hostile attempts against the English in the wars which afterwards ensued.
Of the first planters of Nauset, Thomas Prince was the leader. This gentleman was born, in England, and came to America in the ship Fortune, which arrived at Plymouth, November, 1621,|| being then in the twenty-second year of his age. He was first chosen governour of the colony in the year 1634 ; but Governour Bradford being re-elected the next year, Mr. Prince was appointed an assistant. He continued in this office, except in the year 1638, when he was a second time chosen governour, till the death of Mr. Bradford, in 1657.§ At this period a
* Plym. Col. Rec. A. D. 1654, Mass. Acts and Laws. A. D. 1694. + Morton's Mem. p. 159.
++ Cotton's Account of the Church in Plym. in Coll. of Hist. Soc. Vol. IV. p. 112, 113. Plym. Col. Rec. Lib. III. Fol. 276.
|| Prince Ann. p. 114. § Morton's Mem, p. 123—183.
167 History of Eastham.
disposition prevailed in the colony to discountenance the regular ministers, by setting up the gifts of private brethren in opposition to them. The friends of learning thought that no method would be more effectual in preventing the churches from being overwhelmed with ignorance, than the election of Mr. Prince to the office of governour ; and this point being gained, the adverse party from that time sunk into confusion. On this occasion he left Eastham and returned to Plymouth, where he resided till his death, which took place March 29th. 1673, in the seventy-third year of his age, after he had served his country in the office of governour eighteen years. His death was much lamented, and his body honourably buried at Plymouth, the eighth of April following. He was a man of great worth and piety ; eminently qualified in an infant colony for the office of governour, the duties of which he faithfully and conscientiously discharged ; studious of peace, a well-wisher to all who feared God, and a terrour to the wicked ; rigid however in his religious opinions, and a zealous opposer of those whom he thought hereticks, particularly of the Quakers, who "placed their justification upon their patience and suffering for their opinions, and on their righteous life." Mr. Prince was in particular diftinguished for his integrity. As a magistrate he so scrupulously rejected every thing which had even the appearance of a bribe, that if any person, who had a cause at court, sent a present to his family during his absence, on hearing of it, he immediately returned the value of it in money. His natural abilities were good, but they were not much improved by education ; the want of which he duly felt, and this led to encourage learning to the utmost of his power. It was he, who, in opposition to the clamours of the ignorant and selfish, procured revenues for the support of grammar schools in the colony.* Mr. Prince was twice married.+ One of his descendants was the learned and accurate author of the Annals of New England, which have preserved many valuable materials of the early
* Plym. Col. Rec. A. D. 1673. Morton's Mem. p. 183, 190, 191, 197, 198, 244. Mather's Magnal. Book II. chap. II. § 2.
+ Prince's Ana. p. 150. MS. in possession of the writer of this article.
168 History of Eastham.
history of the colonies, which but for the labours of their industrious author would have been irretrievably lost. Posterity, to whom the principles, feelings, habits, and sufferings of the planters of New England will be interesting objects of contemplation, will lament that the neglect of the contemporaries of this gentleman prevented him from bringing his work to a conclusion.
Next in rank to Mr. Prince, among the planters of Nauset, was John Doane. This gentleman came early to New England, and was chosen affiant in the year 1633.* Before his removal he was a deacon of the church of Plymouth.+ His posterity have principally remained within the ancient limits of Eastham ; and several of them have been men of respectable characters both in former and later times.+
Of the other planters of Nauset little is now known. Edward Bangs and Nicholas Snow++ came to New England in the ship Anne, which arrived at Plymouth July, 1623.§ The descendants of the former are chiefly to be found in Harwich ; the numerous posterity of the latter in Harwich, Truro, and within the ancient limits of Eastham,, Richard Higgins also came to Plymouth not many years after that town began, as his name appears on the list of freemen in the year 1633.¶ There are more families of this name in the county of Barnstable than of any other, except that of Smith ; and nearly the whole of them live in Eastham, Orleans, and Wellfleet. Descendants of Cook and Smalley remain in the county ; but they are not numerous. At what time these two persons came to New-England is unknown. Francis, John, and Jacob Cook were among the early settlers of the colony** ; Josias Cook might be the son of one of them.
These persons having seated themselves in Nauset, from
* Plym. Col. Rec. 1633. In Morton's Mem. p. 120, by an errour of the press, the name is Dove.
+ Cotton's Acc. of the Ch. in Plym.
++ Rec. of Mass. A. D. 1693, 1759, 1770, &c.
|| Plym. Col. Rec.
§ Prince's Ann. p. 139.
¶ Plym. Col. Records.
** Plym. Col. Rec. A.D. 1633.
169 History of Eastham.
time to time admitted others to join them. In the year 1646, they had gained such an accession of numbers, that they thought proper to apply to the colony court for an act of incorporation. This was obtained, and is in the following words.
1646. June 2d. "Nauset is granted to be a township, and to have all the privileges of a township, as other towns within the government have."
The inhabitants of Eastham soon experienced the inconvenience of having the natives at both ends of their township. They accordingly came to a composition with the Indians, who had been the subjects of George, the sachem, he being now dead, respecting the neck of land lying at the mouth of the harbour. For this tract they paid a valuable consideration, and allowed the Indians besides a piece of land at Gesquoquaset,* which they were to enclose themselves.
Not long after this they purchased the fertile island of Pochet, which in the first sale had been reserved by Mattaquason to the Indians. They held the lands in Billingsgate many years, without paying any thing for them. But about the year 1666, appeared an Indian, who styled himself Lieutenant Anthony, and laid claim to them. Of him therefore they bought the tract, extending from the northern limits of Nauset, to a little brook named by the Indians Sapokonisk, and by the English Bound brook, Anthony reserving to himself a small neck, called Tuttomnest.+
Twelve years before the claims of the Indians were fully satisfied, the line between Eastham and the lands belonging to "the purchasers or old comers" was settled. It was then determined by the colony court, that the line should begin at the river of Namskeket, and extend to the Eastern harbour.*
The planters of Eastham having obtained possession of the township, both by act of the legislature and by
* The writer has not been able to ascertain the situation of this land.
+ Plym. Col. Rec. Lib. III. Fol. 276. Indian Deed to Thomas Prince, &c. 9th. of Nov. 1666, in Plym. Col. Rec. A. D. 1673.
* Plym. Col. Rec. A. D. 1654.
170 History of Eastham.
purchase from the natives, proceeded to cultivate their lands.
A church was gathered soon after their arrival + ; but the inhabitants were not sufficiently numerous to support a minister of religion till the year 1672, when the Reverend Samuel Treat was ordained. ++ This gentleman is entitled to a distinguished rank among the evangelists of New England ; and by his zeal and labours, he not only converted many of the Indians to the faith which he embraced, but he was also the happy instrument of reducing them to a state of order and civilization.
The excellent Mr. Eliot was, however, the first mover in this benevolent work ; and to him the highest praise is justly due. After converting the Indians in his neighbourhood, he travelled into the colony of Plymouth, and preached to the natives there. Not satisfied with this exertion, he wrote letters to several persons of learning and piety, urging them to accomplish themselves for the undertaking.. His example and exhortations made such an impression on the mind of Mr. Richard Bourne of Sandwich, that he entered on the service with activity and ardour. Having first obtained a competent knowledge of their language, he turned his attention to the Indians, who lived southward and eastward of him. His labours were crowned with success ; and many of them were converted to the faith, and several of them were taught to read and write.* There is extant a letter written by him to Mr. Gookin in the year 1674 ; and it appears from it, that there were then, in the several villages below Sandwich, above three hundred Indians, who met together on the Lord's day to worship God. In this letter the name of Mr. Treat, and of the other settled ministers in the county, is not mentioned. Probably none of them had yet begun to imitate the laudable example of Mr. Bourne.
Mr. Treat, however, soon after engaged with earnestness in the business, and prosecuted it with zeal during a
+ Mather's Magnal. B. II. chap. II.. § 2. Cotton's Acc. of Ch. in Plym.
++ Inscription on the grave stone of Mr. Treat.
* Coll. of Hist. Soc. Vol. III. p. 189. Gookin's Hist. Coll. chap. V. § 5. and chap. VIII. § 1, 2.
171 History of Eastham.
great number of years.* In 1685, when an account of the praying Indians in the colony of Plymouth was transmitted to England by Governour Hinkley, it was found that they amounted to five hundred men and women, within the limits of Mr. Treat's parish, beside boys and girls, who were supposed to be more than three times that number.+
Eight years after this period, at the request of Dr. I. Mather, he wrote a letter, which, as it contains valuable information, it may be proper to give entire.
"Reverend and worthy Sir,
"I being advertised, that it would not be unseasonable or unserviceable at this juncture to give yourself a true and impartial account, both of the number, as also of the present state of our Indians, and acceptation and entertainment of the gospel among them, and their professed subjection thereunto : wherefore, Sir, you may be assured as followeth.
"That there are five hundred and five adult persons of Indians within the limits of our township, unto whom, these many years past, I have, from time to time, imparted the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in their own language, and I truly hope not without success ; and yet I continue in the same service, earnestly imploring, and not without hopes expecting and waiting for, a more plentiful down pouring of the spirit from on high among them. And I verily do not know of, nor can I learn, that there is so much as one of these five hundred Indians, that does obstinately absent from, but do jointly frequent and attend on the preaching of the word, and countenance the same; not only frequenting and attending seasons of worship of a divine sanction, but also other occasional opportunities, when the gospel is dispensed to them ; and when our congregations solemnize publick days of prayer, with failing, or of praises, I usually giving them advertisement thereof,
* Inscription on Mr. Treat's grave stone. See also his letter to Dr. I. Mather.
+ Hutch. Hist. Vol. I. p. 349.
++ Mr. T. probably wrote 500, and the printer mistook the second cypher for a 5.
they readily comply therewith in their respective assemblies.
"They have four distinct assemblies, in four villages, belonging to our township ; in which four assemblies they have four teachers, of their own choice, of the more sober, well affected, and understanding persons among them ; who do duly preach to them, when I am not with them. These Indian teachers repair to my house once a week, to be further instructed, pro modulo meo, in the concernments proper for their service and station.
"There are in the four abovesaid villages four school-masters, of the best accomplished for that service, who teach their youth to read and write their own language.
"There are also six justices of the peace, or magistrates, in the four abovesaid villages, who regulate their civil affairs, and punish criminals and transgressors of the civil law. They have their stated courts, and other inferiour officers, in a subserviency to their civil eupolituesthai.
"There are among them many of a serious, sober, civilized conversation and deportment, who are making essays towards a further progressive step of obedience and conformity to the rules of the gospel, viz. an ecclesiastical combination, having a great desire to be baptized.
"They are very serviceable, by their labour, to the English vicinity ; and have, all along, since our wars with their nation, been very friendly to the English, and forward to serve them in that quarrel : Their deportment, and converse, and garb, being more manly and laudable than any other Indians, that I have observed in the province.
"But, Sir, I would not be tedious : only craving your interest at the throne of grace for us, that we may be serviceable to the name and kingdom of our Lord Jesus : so I subscribe,
Sir, yours willingly,
Eastham, Aug. 23d. 1693.
Rev. Increase Mather, Pres. of the College."
* Matthew Mayhew's Narrative. 1694. p. 47
173 History of Eastham.
It is remarkable that Mr. Treat in this letter estimates the adult praying Indians under his pastoral care at about five hundred ; which number agreeing with the enumeration of Governour Hinkley, it is probable that he had not taken the trouble to make a new census, supposing that no material alteration had happened in eight years. But that the number of his Indians had diminished, either before or not long after the year 1693, appears from the Report of Grindal Rawson and Samuel Danforth.+ These gentlemen, being directed by the commissioners for the propagation of the gospel in New England to examine the state of the praying Indians in Massachusetts, in the summer of 1698, visited all their plantations in the province. Though they were informed at Eastham by Mr. Treat, that the number of Indians under his care was still five hundred ; yet their own observation did not confirm this account.
At Potanumaquut, the first village, they found twenty-two families and two schoolmasters, one of whom, Thomas Coshaumag, was the preacher. The rulers or magistrates were William Stockman, alias Quequaquonchet, and Lawrence Jeoffryes.
At Eastharbour and Billingsgate, that is Meshawn and Punonakanit,* were about twenty houses, in some of which were two families. Daniel Munshe was the preacher, and Daniel Samuel the ruler.
At Monamoyick were fourteen houses ; John Cosens the preacher and schoolmaster, and the rulers John Quason and Menekish.
At Saukatucket were fourteen families, to whom Manasseh was the preacher and Joshua Shauntam the ruler.
In this Report there are four Indian villages, four preachers, and six magistrates, as Mr. Treat represents in his letter, but not more than ninety families, making the most liberal estimate for the two villages in which the number of the houses only is given. Supposing therefore that there were six persons to a family, a large allowance for Indian population, the number of men, women, and
+ Appendix to Noyes's Election Sermon, 1698, p. 96
* See Gookin's Hist. Coll. chap. VIII. § 2.
174 History of Eastham.
children could not have been more than five hundred and forty. Of this number less than four hundred must have been adults. Mr. Treat, as may be concluded from the well known integrity of his mind, without doubt honestly intended to give a true account ; but he had not yet learned that an enumeration of Indians made in past years is not to be depended on, as their numbers are continually lessening.
Mr. Treat, as he informs Dr. Mather, preached to the Indians in their own language. He had made himself so perfectly acquainted with their barbarous dialect, that he was able to speak, and to write it with great facility. Once in a month he preached in the several villages. At other times the Indian teachers read to their congregations the sermons, which he had written for them, they not being permitted to deliver compositions of their own. In addition to these weekly talks, he was at the pains to translate the Confession of Faith into the Nauset language, for the edification of his converts. The book was printed, and many years ago was in the possession of one of his grand-daughters.* As he conceived that it would not be in his power to make much impression on the minds of the Indians, unless he gained their good will, he exerted himself to secure their affections. Beside treating them on all occasions with affability and kindness, he frequently visited them at their wigwams, and with cheerfulness joined in their festivals. The consequence was, that the Indians, won by his engaging manners, venerated him as a pastor, and loved him as a father. Attentive to his comfort or necessities, they performed for him a great deal of labour, for which they would not accept any compensation ; and on sundry occasions they made him valuable presents, as testimonies of their homage and regard.
But neither his prayers, nor his zeal in reforming and civilizing them, nor the benevolent exertions of his worthy coadjutors, could save them from destruction. A blasting wind appeared to have smitten the Indians, as soon as the English took possession of their country : they withered and died. Several years before the ministry of Mr. Treat was closed, a fatal disease, supposed to
* Miss Eunice Paine.
175 History of Eastham.
have been a fever, swept away a great number of his converts. In the year 1745, as the author has been informed by an aged person, who then visited Eastham, few Indians were left within the township. By the census of 1764, there were found remaining in Eastham four Indians, in Wellfleet eleven, and in Harwich ninety-one. The greatest part of the latter number dwelt at Potanumaquut, where a missionary continued to preach several years after this period. But the Potanumaquut tribe having wasted away, the preacher was dismissed many years since. At present there are three Indians at Potanumaquut, and one in Eastham.
Such is the history of the decline of the Nauset tribes. In other parts of New England, the Indians have confumed with equal or still greater rapidity. At this time a traveller may pass through the country, and he will as seldom meet with an Indian as with a rattlesnake. Before another century is completed, the red man will probably become as rare as the beaver : which is known to have been common in New England by the vestiges of its labours.* But posterity will speak of him, as we now talk of the mammoth, as an animal which has long been extinct, but which certainly once existed ; for as the bones of the mammoth remain, so the language of the Indian will be preserved in the vocabulary of Williams,+ and the translations of Eliot.++
To return to the history of Eastham : It was the only township, during many years, in this part of the county of Barnstable. But in 1694, the tract of land, granted to "the purchasers or old comers of Plymouth colony," being filled with a competent number of inhabitants, many of whom were derived from this place, it was incorporated by the name of Harwich. In 1700, the settlement of Truro commenced by emigrants from Eastham. Before
* See Belknap's Hist. of N. Hampsh. Vol. III. p. 154.
+ See Coll. of Hist. Soc. Vol. III. p. 203. and Vol. V. p. 80.
++ Mr. Eliot translated into the Indian language, the bible, the Practice of Piety, Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, and several other books, all of which were printed. Gookin's Hist. Coll. chap. V. § 5.
176 History of Eastham.
churches were established in these two townships, Mr. Treat performed parochial duties in both : and he appears, by his letter to Dr. Mather, but not with accuracy, to consider the whole of the county east of Yarmouth as within the limits of Eastham. In the north precinct of the township, Billingsgate, a small meeting house was built not long after the incorporation of Truro, and probably before the decease of Mr. Treat. Mr. Oakes, the first minister, preached in it a number of years.*
Mr. Treat, having passed near half a century in the most active+ ministerial labours, which he was enabled to support by a firm and vigorous constitution, had a shock of the palsy a few years before his death. A second attack put an end to his life, March 18th. 1716-17, when he was in the sixty-ninth year of his age, and after he had been minister of Eastham forty-live years.++
He died soon after the remarkable storm, distinguished In the annals of New England by the name of the Great Snow. The wind blew with violence ; and whilst the grounds around his house were left entirely bare, the snow was heaped up in the road to an uncommon height. It was in vain to attempt making a path. His body therefore was kept several days, till an arch could be dug, through which he was borne to the grave, the Indians, at their earnest request, being permitted in turn to carry the corpse, and thus to pay the last tribute of respect to the remains of their beloved pastor.
Samuel Treat was the oldest son of the governour of Connecticut, Robert Treat,|| who was the father of twenty-one children. He was educated at Harvard College, and was graduated in the year 1669. By his first wife, Elizabeth Mayo, he had eleven children ; and by his second, Abigail, daughter of Rev. Samuel Willard, pastor of the South church in Boston, he had two children, one of
* For the names of the other ministers in this parish see Description of Wellfleet in Coll. of Hist. Soc. Vol. III. p. 118.
+ Mather's Magnal. B. III. p. 200.
++ Inscription on Mr. Treat's grave stone.
|| For the character and exploits of this distinguished hero and patriot, see Trumbull's Hist. of Conn. Vol. I. p. 103—455.
177 History of Eastham.
whom, Eunice, was the mother of Judge Paine and of Mrs, Greenleaf, wife of Joseph Greenleaf, Esquire.*
Mr. Treat, as may be supposed from the period in which he lived, was a Calvinist : but his Calvinism was of the strictest kind ; not that moderate Calvinism, which is so common at the present time, and which, by giving up, or explaining away the peculiar doctrines of the party, like a porcupine disarmed of its quills, is unable to refill the feeblest attack ; but consistent Calvinism, with all its hard and sharp points, by which it can courageously defend itself ; in fine, such Calvinism, as the adamantine author of this system would himself have avowed.
The fact is established beyond all dispute by a volume of his sermons in manuscript, now in possession of his grandson, These sermons are connected in their subjects, are correctly transcribed, and appear to have been designed for publication. They display learning ; and the doctrines of his sect are defended with ability and ingenuity. The present age would not bear them, as many of the words which he uses have grown obsolete, and his images too frequently are coarse, and to a fastidious modern ear would approach even to the ludicrous. These sermons are distinguished by their tremendous applications, in which he has caught the spirit of Baxter and Alleine. The following extract from the application of a discourse on Luke xvi. 23. is given as a specimen of his manner.
"Let this truth be an awful and solemn word of awakening to thee, that art yet in thy sins, and hast not truly repented of them. I have pressed thee to seriousness from the consideration of death, and that is solemn ; but it may be that seems a little thing to thee, and thou countest it no such great matter to die ; and were
* From the information of this gentleman and lady, particularly the latter, have been derived many of the facts in the life and character of Mr. Treat. Mrs. Greenleaf is now in the seventy-eighth year of her age. Her grandmother, Mrs. Treat, who made the character of her deceased husband a frequent subject of conversation, died December 27th. 1746.----It maybe proper to add here, that the knowledge of several single facts, for which authorities are not quoted, in the History of Eastham, has been obtained from other sources, such as the report of aged persons, and uniform tradition.
178 History of Eastham.
the Epicurean principle a truth, that man dies in all points like the beasts that perish, it were of little concernment. Well then, if thou canst see nothing in the grave to make thee serious, I beseech thee to look a little further, and see if thou canst find nothing in hell to startle and amaze thee. Remember thou art not only going to the grave, which it may be thou mayst look upon as an easer of many of the sorrows of this life, and so mayst have some abatement of the terrours of it ; but thou art going to hell, the beginner of worse, unspeakably worse sorrows.
"Thou must ere long go to the bottomless pit. Hell hath enlarged herself, and is ready to receive thee. There is room enough for thy entertainment : and dost thou know what it is for a condemned sinner to go to hell ? I have told thee in the explication ; but let me apply it to thee now.
"Consider thou art going to a place, prepared by God on purpose to exalt his justice in ; a place made for no other employment but torments. Hell is God's house of correction ; and remember God doth all things like himself : When God would show his justice, and what is the weight of his wrath, he makes a hell, where it shall indeed appear to purpose. Consider but what a spark of his wrath hath done in this world, and by that, sate the utmost of his fury. Let Sodom, Pharaoh, Korah, and multitudes of the like monuments witness to thee. Remember that mercy and justice are the two great attributes, which God intends the exaltation of by the creature. Then will that be verified. Who knows the power of thine anger ? Wo to thy soul, when thou shalt be set up as a butt for the arrows of the Almighty ; be made a brier that must burn in the fire of his jealousy forever, and not be consumed.
"Consider, God himself shall be the principal agent in thy misery. He is that consuming fire : his breath is the bellows, which blows up the flame of hell forever : he is the devouring fire, the everlasting burning : and if he punish thee, if he meet thee in his fury, he will not meet thee as a man ; he will give thee an omnipotent blow. Little dost thou know what it is to enter the lists of contention with the Almighty. If his wrath kindle
179 History of Eastham.
but a little while, we wither before it. Now thou art afraid of the wrath of man : what wilt thou do, when God takes thee in hand ?
"Consider, God will take delight to execute vengeance on thee. God delights in justice, and in executing his own decrees. Now it was his eternal decree to destroy sinners forever. He purposed to show his power, and make his wrath known, upon the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. But wo to that soul, whom God shall delight to punish. Now thou laughest at the reproofs which God gives thee by his ministers and people : God will laugh at thee shortly. And how wilt thou bear, when he shall torment thee, and thou shalt roar under thy torments ? Thou shalt cry for mercy, and he shall mock thee. Thou now rejoicest in sinning : he will ere long rejoice in thy calamity.
"Consider the company thou must go to : Thou goest to a place prepared for the devil and his angels. These were thy tempters here ; they shall be thy companions there. Here thou chosest communion with them rather than with God and Christ ; thou must have enough of their company ere long. And thy fellows in sin, with whom thou wentest hand in hand here in the world, and delightedst thyself in their sinful society,—some of them have gone before thee to the place of woes, and others will come after thee ; and there shall you meet together, and there shall they curse thee for thy wicked counsels and persuasions, in drawing them to that place of misery.
"Consider what must be thy employment there.
"1. Sin. Some think sinning ends with this life ; but it is a mistake. The creature is held under an everlasting law : the damned increase in sin in hell. Possibly the mention of this may please thee. But remember there shall be no pleasant sins there ; no eating, drinking, singing, dancing, wanton dalliance, and drinking stolen waters ; but damned sins, bitter hellish sins, sins exasperated by torments, cursing God, spite, rage, and blasphemy.
"2. Thou shalt be delivered up into the hands of the tormentors : then Satan will pay thee thy wages for thy servile slavery to him, and thou shalt know what a cruel master thou hast here served. What cruelty hath Satan
180 History of Eastham.
sometime exercised to some here in this world, that have been possessed by him, and to others that have sold themselves to him ! what amazing stories doth the world afford of such things ! What dost thou think he will do, when he hath an unlimited commission and full possession ? How wilt thou endure, when thou shalt have a thousand devils rending, and tearing, and macerating thee ; when all the rage of hell shall fall upon thee without restraint ?
"3. The never-dying worm shall gnaw and eat out all the heart of thy comfort. Thou shalt become thy own executioner : thy conscience shall pursue thee in hell, always crying out against thee, and bringing bitter things to thy mind, making thee to wring thy hands, and howl out sad lamentations. Thou canst hardly sit under one of these lectures now coming from the mouth of a poor minister ; but let me tell thee, conscience in hell will read it after another manner than can now be conceived ; every thought and consideration whereof will be a sharp dagger at thy heart, that will let out all joy and comfort out of thy soul.
"Remember how universal all this torment shall be. Here usually our pain is but in one part of the body ; and yet what a misery it is to all the rest by sympathy ? But then, soul and body shall be filled brimful : the guilt of all thy sins shall be laid upon thy soul ; and be made so many heaps of fuel ; when that tender and delicate body shall have all its beauty blasted and pride consumed ; when the flames shall have no respect to its comeliness ; when every member's pain shall be intolerable, and that insupportable misery shall spread itself through the whole man ; when eyes, ears, hands, feet, heart, and all, shall be tormented in that flame.
"Consider how near the time hastens, when all this must come to pass upon thee. Time is almost gone with thee, and thou standest at the gate of eternity ; and death is waiting upon thee, to transport thee away to the place of all thy miseries. Shortly thou must die, and it will be but a moment from thence to hell. When thou hast sinned away a few more days, watched and slept out a few more nights, away thou goest irrecoverably. It may be thou dreamest of many days to come ; but, thou fool,
181 History of Eastham.
how knowest thou but thy soul may be called for this very night ; and the day of judgment is not far off.
"Sinner, I beseech thee, realize the truth of these things. Do not go about to dream that this is derogatory to God's mercy, and nothing but a vain fable to scare children out of their wits withal. God can be merciful, though he make thee miserable. He shall have monuments enough of that precious attribute, shining like stars in the place of glory, and singing eternal hallelujahs to the praise of him that redeemed them ; though to exalt the power of his justice, he damn sinners heaps upon heaps."
The conclusions of the other sermons are in general equally alarming. Indeed the author of them appears to have thought it his duty, constantly to persuade men by the terrours of the Lord : and though in his first discourse he professes to "preach comfort and joy to the penitent, as well as hell and damnation to the impenitent" ; yet few words of comfort are to be found, whilst there are denunciations of wrath in almost every page. The effect of his preaching was, that his hearers were, several times in the course of his ministry, awakened and alarmed.— That they were a holy and godly people, he himself testified ; and he doubtless rejoiced in the persuasion, that he had been the happy instrument of their conversion. His best friends, however, allowed that he dwelt too much on the anger of God ; and an instance is related of an innocent young man, who was so frightened with one of his dreadful pictures of the infernal regions, as nearly to be deprived of his senses. Mr. Treat, who really possessed great kindness of heart, became seriously concerned at his situation, and with assiduity and tenderness exerted himself to console him.
But with the advantage of proclaiming the doctrine of terrour, which is naturally productive of a sublime and impressive style of eloquence,* he could not attain the character of a popular preacher. His voice was so loud, that when speaking, it could be heard at a great distance from the meeting house, even amidst the shrieks
* "Triumphat ventoso gloriae curru orator, qui pectus angit, irritat, et implet terroribus." Vid. Burnet. de Stat. Mort. p. 309.
182 History of Eastham.
of hysterical women, and the winds that howled over the plains of Nauset ; but there was no more musick in it, than in the discordant sounds with which it was mingled. An anecdote, which shows how much the excellence of his matter was injured by the badness of his manner, has been preserved.
After his marriage with the daughter of Mr. Willard, he was sometimes invited by that gentelman to preach in his pulpit. Mr. Willard possessed a graceful delivery, a masculine and harmonious voice ; and though he did not gain much reputation by his Body of Divinity, which is frequently sneered at, particularly by those who have not read it ; yet in his sermons are strength of thought and energy of language. The natural consequence was, that he was generally admired. Mr. Treat, having preached one of his best discourses, to the congregation of his father-in-law, in his usual unhappy manner, excited universal disgust ; and several nice judges waited on Mr Willard, and begged that Mr. Treat, who was a worthy, pious man, it was true, but a wretched preacher, might never be invited into his pulpit again.—, To this request, Mr. Willard made no reply : but he desired his son-in-law to lend him the discourse ; which, being left with him, he delivered it, without alteration, to his people, a few weeks after. The hearers were charmed : They flew to Mr. Willard, and requested a copy for the press. See the difference, they cried, between yourself and your son-in-law : you have preached a sermon on the same text as Mr. Treat's ; but whilst his was contemptible, yours is excellent.*
Mr. Treat was a man of piety. He addressed his Maker with humble devotion, and his prayers were copious and fervent. His natural temper was mild ; and his conduct in domestick life, as a husband, a parent, and a master, was kind and indulgent. His manners were cheerful ; his conversation pleasant, and sometimes facetious, but always decent. He was fond of a stroke of humour and
* Mr. Willard, after producing the sermon in the hand writing of Mr. Treat, might have addressed these sage criticks in the words of Phaedrus;
"En hic declarat, quales sitis judices." Lib. V. Fab. 5.
183 History of Eastham.
a practical joke, and manifested his relish for them by long and loud fits of laughter. The Society for the propagation of the gospel is supposed to have made him a small compensation for his services among the Indians : he received also a small salary from his parishioners : but not satisfied with the emoluments which he derived from these sources, in the latter part of his life, he engaged in trade ; and by this means, with the addition of an inheritance which descended from his father, he was able to transmit a good estate to his family.
Rev. Samuel Osborn, who was born in Ireland, and educated in the university of Dublin, was the second minister of Eastham : He was ordained September 18th. 1718.* The next year, the church being divided into two, Mr. Osborn removed into the south part of the township.
Rev. Benjamin Webb was ordained pastor of the church that remained. The most remarkable event, which took place after his settlement in Eastham, was the declaration of the ministers in the county of Barnstable against itinerant preaching. This was particularly aimed at Mr. Whitfield. The character of this celebrated preacher, who was viewed in various lights by his contemporaries, is not yet determined. Those who now read his sermons, and who are disgusted with the enthusiasm and egotism, which are displayed in his journals, written in his youth, will be difposed to judge unfavourably of his talents : whilst those, who have witnessed his astonishing oratorical powers,—and there are still alive many persons who have heard him preach, —will class him with the great men of the age. That he possessed acuteness of mind is proved by his controversial writings, in which it must be allowed, even by those who do not approve his opinions, that he was an ingenious disputant. The qualities of his heart have been as much the subject of dispute as those of his head. That he was vain, rash, and censorious, particularly in his youth, cannot be denied : but at the same time it cannot be denied, that he was devout, ardent, zealous, and active ; a loyal subject of the government, under which he lived ; charitable to the poor ; and candid in acknowledging his faults, a rare virtue,
* Orleans Church Records.
184 History of Eastham.
tue, and therefore the more to be prized.* His sincerity has been questioned ; but such open, unguarded, and fervent men are not often insincere. Whether his preaching was productive of good or evil, is not agreed : it probably effected both. The declaration of the ministers in the county of Barnstable state; only the mischiefs, which, they say, flow from it ; and they are these : That it tends to destroy the usefulness of ministers among their people, in places where the gospel is settled, and faithfully preached in its purity : And that it promotes strife and contention, a censorious and uncharitable spirit, and those numerous schisms and separations, which have already destroyed the peace and unity, and at this time threaten the subversion of many churches.+ To this declaration Mr. Webb subscribed his name, with nine other ministers of the county : and it was one of the last acts of his life ; for he died August 21st. 1746, in the fifty-first year of his age, and the twenty-seventh of his ministry. ++
Though Mr. Whitfield's admirers may censure him for his conduct, yet it is the only fault which they can allege against Mr. Webb. That he was a pious, learned, laborious and faithful minister, and that he was holy and unblameable in all the walks of life, is the universal voice of tradition, confirmed by the report of the surviving friends, who were acquainted with his worth. Mr. Crocker, the pastor of the south church of Eastham, a man of virtue himself, and a good judge of moral merit, pronounced him the best man, and the best minister, whom he ever knew. As he spent his days in the uniform discharge of his duty, and there were no shades to give relief to his character, not much can be said of him. His heart was as pure as the new fallen snow, which completely covers every dark spot, in a field ; his mind was as serene as the sky in a mild evening of June, when the full moon shines without a cloud. Name any virtue, and that virtue he practised ; name any vice, and that vice he shunned. But
* See Whitfield's Remarks on the Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared. Boston. 1749. p. 13, 23, 24.
+ Declaration, &c. Feb. 20th. 1745. Boston: Printed 1745.
++ Inscription on the grave stone of Mr. Webb.
if peculiar qualities marked his character, they were his humility, his gentleness, and his love of God. The people had long been taught by a son of thunder : in him they were instructed by a son of consolation, who sweetly allured them to virtue by soft persuasion and by exhibiting the mercy of the Supreme Being: for his thoughts were so much in heaven, that they seldom descended to the dismal regions below : and though of the same religious sentiments as Mr. Treat, yet his attention was turned to those glad tidings of great joy, which a Saviour came to publish. His visits were as beneficial to his flock as his sermons ; for he had the happy talent of giving conversation a practical turn, and of enforcing the precepts which he had taught in the pulpit.
In 1751, Rev. Edward Cheever was installed pastor of the church. Twelve years after his settlement, Eastham, in number of inhabitants, was the first township in the county ; but Wellfleet being separated from it at that period, four townships immediately rose above it. When the census was taken in 1764, there were found in Eastham thirteen hundred and thirty-one souls, and nine hundred and twenty-eight in Wellfleet. These townships continued to flourish, till the revolutionary war stopped their further progress. In 1776, Eastham contained eighteen hundred and ninety-nine inhabitants, and Wellfleet twelve hundred and thirty-five. After this period both townships, and particularly Wellfleet, suffered greatly.* With the peace, prosperity returned. But, in 1790, the ancient township of Eastham had not attained its former population ; for it had then only two thousand nine hundred and fifty-one inhabitants, of whom eleven hundred and seventeen were in Wellfleet. Mr. Cheever, after serving the church of Eastham near forty-three years, died August 17th. 1794, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.
The church did not long remain vacant ; for September 23d. 1795, Rev. Philander Shaw was ordained. Eighteen months after this event, the south precinct was
* See Coll. Hist. Soc. Vol. III. p. 18.
186 Description of Orleans.
separated from Eastham, and incorporated into a township. Before this division took place, the two religious societies constituted one parish ; the ministers being paid an equal sum out of the treasury of the town. The portion of land, which retains the ancient name, is now a place of small importance. It contains fewer inhabitants than any other township in the county ; and as nature has not bestowed on it a good harbour, and it is impossible to form one by art, the fishing towns in the vicinity will probably long maintain above it that superiority, which they have acquired. Since, however, the census of 1800, when its inhabitants were enumerated at six hundred and fifty-nine, it has increased in population, The people are industrious and enterprising, and still retain the other good habits, which did honour to their fathers ; and they are happily united in the same mode of religious worship ; there being, in Eastham, not an individual, who does not belong to the Congregational Society.
A description of Orleans, in the County of Barnstable. September, 1802.
THE south part of Eastham was incorporated into a township, by the name of Orleans , March 3d, 1797. Its distance from Boston is ninety-one miles : and it is bounded, on the east, by the ocean ; on the south, by Pleasant bay ; on the west, by Harwich ; and on the north-west, by Barnstable bay. The county, which stretches east from Buzzard's bay to this place, here turns to the north, and extends that course to Truro. The length of the township is five miles ; and the breadth, from one to four miles.
The face of the land is uneven ; but the hills are not very high. The county road runs through a corner of the township, and is here tedious and heavy. The road from Cape Cod to Chatham passes on its western side, and is of the same quality. On the necks, where the best land lies, the roads are tolerable ; but these are out of the way of the traveller.
187 Description of Orleans.
Orleans is of a very irregular form, the lines which separate it from the adjoining townships being crooked, its shores being indented by coves and creeks.
Town Cove has already been described, The neck on the south-east side of it is called Toneset : the land is pretty good.
A river, without a name, runs into Pleasant bay. The head of it is called Zeb's cove, where it is narrow ; but it is a half of a mile wide at its mouth. Vessels, which draw seven feet of water, can come a half of a mile below this cove ; the distance of the northern part of which from the mouth of the river is two miles and a half. The land east of this river is named Barley neck. The soil is somewhat better than that of Toneset. On the east side of Barley neck are coves, which communicate with Pleasant bay, and which separate it from Chatham beach.
The land, which is situated between Barley and Toneset necks, and which terminates in Wood's neck, is named Pochet, pronounced at present Pochee. There is also here a little good soil, but a larger proportion which is light and sandy.
North-east of Pochet, near the ocean, is a small neck, named Weeset. It is separated from Toneset by a cove.
These several necks constitute a peninsula, the whole of which is denominated Pochet. The isthmus is not more than a half of a mile wide ; and is situated between Town cove on the north, and Zeb's cove on the south.
Chatham beach forms the barrier of the waters, which wash the eastern and southern shores of Orleans. A mile south of the mouth of Stage or Nauset harbour, it joins the main land, with the exception mentioned in another part of this volume,* Below the junction, the water is at first shallow ; but it deepens by degrees, and at length communicates with Pleasant bay and Chatham harbour. South of this place was, many years ago, the mouth of Nauset harbour ; which being filled up gradually, a new opening, above a mile north of it, was suddenly made in the beach. Salt marsh, with a few interruptions, lines the inside of this beach, and extends almost to the mouth of Chatham harbour.
* See p. 116.
There are several islands in Pleasant bay, within the limits of Orleans. The largest is Pochet island, which is situated east of Barley neck, and is the best land in the township. On its north-east side is a small body of salt marsh.
South-west of Pochet island is Sampson's island, containing about twenty acres of tolerable land. East of it, and near it, is a larger body of salt marsh. On the south, Hog island, of the dimension of ten acres, joins it at low water.
Southerly of Hog island is Sipson's island, of the extent of twenty acres.
These islands add beauty to the haven, and give it a just title to the name which it has received, that of Pleasant bay.
Opposite to Orleans, or Eastham, in the ocean, it is said, is the point, where the tides from Narraganset and Massachusetts bays meet, and whence they separate, the flow of the sea above this point being toward the north, and below it toward the south.*
Leaving the peninsula of Pochet, and travelling round Orleans river, on the west side of it is Naumkoyick neck ; which is formed by Higgins' river on the north of it, and Naumkoyick creek on the south.
The fourth quarter of the township is called Potanumaquut. The territory, which retains this ancient Indian name, is partly in Harwich. The land here is light and sandy ; the greatest part cleared ; a part covered with brush wood ; and a small part with oaks and pines.
In the north-west quarter of the township, on Barnstable bay, is Namskeket creek, which is three quarters of a mile long and which, as far as it runs, is the dividing line between Orleans and Harwich. It is very narrow ; and its mouth is not quite so deep as Rock harbour. The territory near it, as well as the creek itself, is at present called Skaket. The land is light and sandy.
Little Skaket creek, which is a mile north-east of it, is still smaller.
* MS. Lett. from Rev. Levi Whitman. Mr. W. does not consider this as a fact established beyond dispute ; but requests farther information from judicious seamen.
189 Description of Orleans.
Rock harbour creek, a mile north-east of Little Skaket, runs a mile and a half, and affords the best harbour at its mouth. It is however nearly dry at low water ; and at high tide is not more than seven feet deep.
On all three creeks there are bodies of salt marsh.
Though the township is not supplied with brooks, yet there are not less than sixteen ponds, which serve for the watering of cattle and other purposes.
From the description already given, it appears that there is a portion of good land in this township ; but the soil in the greatest part of it is light and sandy ; and in some places absolutely barren.
Pochet island, where a small quantity of wheat is grown, will produce twenty bushels of Indian corn to an acre, without manure. Barley and Teneset necks will yield fifteen bushels without, and thirty with, manure. Three crops in succession are frequently taken from the good land : the first year, Indian corn; the second, hill rye; the third, stubble rye. The rye is sown in August.
The light lands of Orleans and Eastham, which do not differ from each other essentially. produce from five to eight bushels of rye, and ten bushels of Indian corn, to an acre, without manure ; and with manure, fifteen or twenty. A quarter, and sometimes a third, of the land, fit for cultivation, in both these townships, is annually in grain.
The horse-foot, or king crab, was formerly much used for manuring land, set with Indian corn and potatoes ; and it is still employed in Orleans, in the south part of Dennis, and in other parts of the county. It is chopped into small pieces, and not more than one, and sometimes not more than a quarter, put into a hill. As it contains an abundance of oil, it affords a strong manure ; and with it the light lands may be made to yield twenty bushels of corn to an acre, it is however too hot a manure, and causes the land to exert itself so much, that it cannot easily recover its strength. Attention of late is paid to the collection of sea weed from the shore. When corn is to be raised, it is spread on the land ; and it is put into the holes for potatoes. It is a preservative against worms ; five sorts of which, in this place, and in other parts of the county, are very destructive to Indian corn.
190 Description of Orleans.
The first is the web worm ; a small, taper worm, of a gray colour, about a half of an inch in length. As soon as the corn comes up, it forms about the root a web, which cannot be seen without opening the earth. It ascends in the night, and devours the blade. About the 20th. of June, it ceases eating.
The second is the gray worm ; about an inch in length, and thicker than the web worm. It forms no web, descends into the ground in the day, rises in the night, and devours the blade ; continues eating much longer than the web worm, and is very destructive.
The third is the half-hill worm ; an inch long, bluish, and red-headed ; first appears the 20th. of June ; draws the blade under ground, and there devours it ; ceases eating the 1st. of July. The fourth is the root worm : small at first, but an inch and a half long, when fully grown; white, with a tawny head ; six claws ; begins to eat in the middle of June, and ceases eating the 1st. of August : frequently destroys entire fields. Dung and ashes are the best antidote against it.
The fifth is the ear worm ; which, after the ear is formed, eats the grains and between them ; about an inch long ; taper; striped with brown and white ; begins to eat about the middle of August, and continues eating two or three weeks ; the grains, which it does not devour, are rendered mouldy.
In Eastham and Orleans, Indian corn is set four and a half or five feet apart. Four seeds are dropped into a hole. But the four first mentioned worms destroy so many of the stalks, that seldom more than two or three remain. Provided they should all escape, the best farmers pull up one. In Dennis, two only are suffered to be in a hill. In this county, corn is at present hilled very little, experience having shown, that the former practice of heaping up the earth about it is not necessary either to its growth or stability. Horse-hoeing is performed in several places with a small harrow, instead of a plough. The same mode has been adopted by a few persons in other parts of the state. And sometimes, first the plough, and then the harrow, are used, without raising any hill at all. The
corn in the county of Barnstable is large and solid : a bushel of it weighs sixty pounds. Four or five hundred bushels of corn are annually sent from Orleans to Boston market. The fishermen, however, frequently purchase this article in the capital for the use of their families. Other vegetables are raised, sufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants. Butter is made for summer use, and a little cheese. Some cattle are fattened, and several sold in the townships below. Not more than ten tons of English hay are cut ; but between six hundred and a thousand tons of salt hay. The salt marshes are of two kinds : one, covered every tide; the other, at spring tides only. There are small orchards, several of which have lately been planted ; but no cider is made. The greening, which is a low tree, succeeds better than any other. Fruit trees cannot be made to grow within a mile of the ocean. Even those, which are placed at a greater distance, are injured by the east winds ; and after violent storms in the spring, a saltish taste is perceptible on their bark. Very little wood is left in the township ; but the inhabitants are obliged, either to purchase their fuel, or to have recourse to peat and turf. Happily there are several swamps and meadows, which contain this necessary substitute. The people were ignorant that they possessed this article, till, many years ago, Mr. Osborn, their minister, who had learned the use of it in Ireland, first pointed it out, and taught them the art of drying and preparing it.
The shores of Orleans are more fertile than the land. Sea fowls may be obtained by those who will seek for them, though not in such abundance as at Chatham. Fishes are the same as in other towns of the county. A few tautaug are caught in Town cove. Bass enter the waters within the beach the 1st. of June, and are caught with hooks. In the ocean, a few rods from the beach, they are taken with seines, during the summer. Eels are so plenty, that in the winter, when the coves are covered with ice, a hundred bushels are sometimes, by a company of twenty or thirty persons, collected in a day.
Though no oysters are to be found on the shores, yet quahaugs and clams are in greater profusion than in any other part of the county.
The quahaug (venus mercenaria) called by R. Williams the poquau and the hen,* is a round, thick shell fish, or, to speak more properly, worm. It does not bury itself but a little way in the sand ; is generally found lying on it, in deep water ; and is gathered up with iron rakes made for the purpose. After the tide ebbs away. a few are picked up on the shore below high water mark. The quahaug is not much inferiour in relish to the oyster, but is less digestible. It is not eaten raw ; but is cooked in various modes, being roasted in the shell, or opened and boiled, fried, or made into soups or pies. About half of an inch of the inside of the shell, is of a purple colour. This the Indians broke off, and converted into beads, named by them suckauhock, or black money ; which was of twice the value of their wampom, or white money, made of the mateauhock, or periwinkle.
The razor shell (solen) is son named from its resemblance in size and shape to the haft of a razor. It is said to force it self, not only upwards and downwards, but diagonally. This motion is effected by means or a round, fleshy protuberance, as long as the little finger of a man's hand, and composed of rings. There is more irritability in this worm than in the clam. Several days after the razor shell has been caught, if the protuberance is held between the fingers, and is touched with the point of a knife, the worm draws itself up to it with force. This worm is not common in the bay of Massachusetts, though it has sometimes been obtained there. The open shells, however, are to be found on Chelsea beach, a few miles from Boston. The shells, with the living worms in them, can without much difficulty be procured at Orleans and other parts of the county of Barnstable ; but as they are not taken, except a few at a time, they are not often eaten.
The sea clam, which is at present called the hen, the quahaug having lost that appellation, is bivalve (as are also the quahaug and razor shell) and oval. It is generally found in deep water, and is gathered with rakes, not being buried far in the sand. As it has frequently been known to injure the stomach, it is not often eaten. Before the Indians
* Coll. Hist. Soc. Vol. III. p. 224. Poquauhock, corrupted into quahaug, or quauhog, is the word with a plural termination..
Indians learned of the English the use of a more convenient instrument, they hilled their corn with hoes made of these shells, to which purpose they are well adapted by their size. If a handle could be easily fixed to them, they might be employed as ladles and spoons,
The clam (mya arenaria) is of the same shape, but much smaller. This worm is buried in the sand, from four to eighteen inches deep. A small perforation, through which, after the tide has ebbed away, it ejects water perpendicularly, marks the spot where it lies. The worm has the power of thrusting upwards its black head, or snout, and of drawing it down again. This snout is frequently bitten off by flounders and other fishes. Whether the shell moves or not, the writer is unable to determine, as he has received contradictory accounts, The Indians were very fond of clams, which they called sickishuog.*
Being unacquainted with salt, they made use of them and of their natural liquor, to season their nasaump and boiled maize. Many of the descendants of the English consider clams as excellent food. But they require strong stomachs to digest them, unless the whole of the snout is rejected. They would be more valued, if they were less common. But as long as a peck of clams, which are sufficient to afford a small family a dinner, can be procured with little more labour than a peck of sand, they will not be much prized, The clam continues alive several days after it is taken from its hole. This is well known to fishermen ; and is proved by the following singular fact.
A gentleman, not far from Boston, ordered a number of clams to be dug, and to be put into his cellar, intending to make use of them as bait. They remained there several days, when the shells, as is usual, beginning to open, a rat thrust his paw into one of them, attempting to pull out the worm. The two shells closed together with force, and held him fast. As the clam was too big to be dragged through
* This is a word with a plural termination. See Coll. Hist. Soc. Vol. III. p. 224. If the author might be allowed to revive an old term, he would denominate the common, or small clam, the sicki, a word of easy pronunciation, and which would distinguish it from the fresh water clam and the three other testaceous worms above mentioned.
through his hole, the rat was unable to make his escape ; and at length his cries excited the attention of the family, who came and saw him in the situation described.
Clams are found on many parts of the shores of New England ; but no where in greater abundance than at Orleans. Formerly five hundred barrels were annually dug here for bait ; but the present year a thousand barrels have been collected. Between a hundred and two hundred of the poorest of the inhabitants are employed in this business ; and they receive from their employers three dollars a barrel, for digging the clams, opening, salting them, and filling the casks. From twelve to eighteen bushels of clams in the shell must be dug, to fill, when opened, a barrel. A man by this labour can earn seventy-five cents a day ; and women and children are also engaged in it. A barrel of clams is worth six dollars : the employers therefore, after deducting the expense of the salt and the casks, which they supply, still obtain a handsome profit.
A thousand barrels of clams are equal in value to six or eight thousand bushels of Indian corn ; and are procured with not more labour and expense. When therefore the fishes, with which the coves of Orleans abound, are also taken into consideration, they may justly be regarded as more beneficial to the inhabitants, than if the space which they occupy was covered with, the most fertile soil. The riches which they yield are inexhaustible, provided they are not too wantonly lavished. For after a portion of the shore has been dug over, and almost all the clams taken up, at the end of two years, it is said, they are as plenty there as ever. It is even affirmed by many persons, that it is as necessary to stir the clam ground frequently, as it is to hoe a field of potatoes ; because if this labour is omitted, the clams will be crowded too closely together, and will be prevented from increasing in size.
The land of Orleans being cultivated by none but the old men and small boys, the flower of the people, between the ages of twelve and forty-five, are engaged in the cod-fishery. As, however, not a fishing vessel is owned by the inhabitants, they sail from Duxbury, Plymouth, Chatham.
Provincetown, and other places. The only vessels belonging to Orleans are three coasters, which bring fire wood and lumber from the district of Maine, and one packet, which sails to Boston from Rock harbour.
When the census was taken in 1800, the number of inhabitants was a thousand and ninety-five. There are at present a hundred and seventy-four families, who occupy a hundred and forty-one dwelling houses. These houses are in general neat, convenient buildings ; but five of them only are two stories in height. The houses in no part of the township are collected into a village, though in the neighbourhood of the meeting house they are nearer together than in any other place. There are three school houses. The meeting house, which has lately been repaired, stands on the isthmus of Pochet.
The inhabitants are Congregationalists. Their first minister, Mr. Osborn, was a man of wisdom and virtue. Beside teaching his people the use of peat, he contributed much to their prosperity, by introducing new improvements in agriculture, and by setting them the example of economy and industry. But his good qualities and services did not avail him : for embracing the religion of Arminius, his parishioners, who still retained the faith of Calvin, thought proper to dismiss him about the year 1737. From Eastham he removed to Boston, where he kept a private grammar school eight or ten years. He died about thirty years ago, aged between ninety and a hundred.
He was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Crocker, who was ordained September 12th. 1739.* Mr. Crocker was a strict: Calvinist, a man of prudence, faithful as a minister, but destitute of popular talents as a speaker, a hard student in theology, but without much information on other subjects, mild in his temper and affectionate in his manners, greatly beloved by his people, and exemplarily pious. He died March 2d. 1772.
Rev. Jonathan Bascom, the present pastor, was ordained October 14th. 1772. * Senex emunctæ naris writ, doctus, et auctor elegantium verborum ; facetus, et dulcis festique sermonis.
* Orleans Chh. Rec.
Note on Wellfleet, in the County of Barnstable, extracted from a letter from Rev. Levi Whitman, dated October 8th, 1802.
THE number of vessels owned in Wellfleet is twenty-five. Five are engaged in the whale fishery this year at the Straits of Belle Isle and Newfoundland. They carry salt ; and what they want in loading with oil, they make up in cod fish. Of these, one is of a hundred tons, three of seventy-five, and one of fifty-seven. There are four vessels, that are engaged in the cod and mackerel fishery chiefly ; which are one of fifty-four tons, the other three of about forty tons each. Four vessels are employed in carrying oysters to Boston, Salem, Newbury-port, and Portland, containing about thirty tons each. The other twelve are small vessels, containing from sixteen to twenty-five tons each, and are engaged in fishing round the Cape. They take mackerel, cod, and haddock ; and when they load quick with halibut, they run into Boston, and like-wise with mackerel.
A Description of Provincetown, in the County of Barnstable. September, 1802.
IN the third volume of the Massachusetts Magazine is an entertaining description of Provincetown. To that interesting paper, which was written in 1790, the following is intended as a supplement.
Provincetown is situated in latitude 42°. 03'. N. and longitude 70°. 09'. W. from Greenwich. It is bounded on the south-east by Truro. The length of the township, from these limits to Wood-end, is three miles and a half. The mean breadth is two miles and a half. Its distance from Boston, by land, is a hundred and twenty miles.
The township consists of beaches and hills of sand, eight shallow ponds, and a great number of swamps, The most remarkable of the latter is named the Shank-painter ; beginning near the meeting house, and extending a mile in length. The little wood, which remains, is principally
pitch pines, small trees of maple, beech, and aspen are in the swamps. The bushes are whortleberries, four species, (perhaps two of the four varieties only) bay-berries, and box-berries : there are also a few beach plums.
Great attention is now paid to the transplanting of beach grass, on the sides of the hills and other naked spots near the town. The roots are set three or four feet apart in the spring ; and the grass, being propagated both by the roots and the seed, forms a close body in three or four years. There are several other plants, which grow on the beaches, beside those mentioned in the Description of Chatham. Among these is the rupture-wort (herniaria glabra). This is a small, low plant; which, when broken, exudes a kind of milky substance. A decoction of it is said, but probably without reason, to be good in consumptive cases.
The township is in the form of a hook : the ocean is on the north ; Barnstable bay on the west ; and Cape Cod harbour on the south, within the curve. The southern extremity of Herring cove, which is described in another part of the volume,* is Wood end. A shoal extends from it, a half of a mile, west south west, called Wood-end Bar. Wood end is half way between Race point and the end of Long point ; and ought not to be confounded with the latter, as it sometimes erroneously is by strangers. The shore at Race point, and on the outside of Long point, is very bold. The distance between these two points is six miles.
Long point is a low, sandy beach, which can with difficulty be discerned in the night ; but which is dry at high water. Unfortunately, Des Barres, who, with a few exceptions, is entitled to the highest applause for his great accuracy in delineating the coast, has laid down this point as a shoal; which has led all other map makers, who have followed him, into a mistake. It ought to have been marked with a line on both sides, and dotted, like the beach of Chatham. The chart of Captain John Foster Williams will convey a good idea of it. This point is from a hundred to five hundred yards in breadth. A shoal extends from its end, south south east, a quarter of a mile.
* See p. 110.
Cape Cod harbour is formed by the bending of the land, from Pamet river to Long point, nearly round every point of the compass : it is completely land-locked. The distance from Long point to the shore of Truro is four miles ; and from the same point to the town, two miles. The depth of water in the anchoring ground is from three to fourteen fathoms : the best holding ground is in four fathoms and a half. Vessels anchor about three quarters of a mile from the town. The head of the harbour is toward Wood end. There are here flats extending three quarters of a mile from the more. Flats lie all along the shore ; but do not reach so far, except at East harbour, where they also extend three quarters of a mile.
In sailing from Race point, at the distance of a half of a mile from it, into the harbour, the course is south-south east, till the light house bears east by north. Keep this course the distance of two miles. Then run north-east, till the light-house bears east by south. After which steer north-west into the harbour.*
A creek, called the Mill creek, because there was formerly a mill on it, runs into the western part of the harbour. It is about a mile in length, and is nearly dry at low water.
Common tides in the harbour rise twelve feet. This harbour and the waters near it afford a great variety and abundance of excellent and profitable fishes. Herrings are caught, principally in the harbour, from the first of October to the first of December. Last year, between five and six thousand barrels were taken : worth about four dollars a barrel. Bass are caught in the harbour, and sometimes on the outside of Wood end, from the first of May till the last of November; about three hundred quintals annually, beside what are daily eaten by the inhabitants : worth four dollars a quintal. The first mackerel, which are carried to Boston market in the spring, are taken in the harbour ; and yield a handsome profit, though the Boston marketmen purchase them of the inhabitants of Provincetown at about a quarter of what
* For directions for sailing from Boston light house to Cape Cod, the distance between which is fifteen leagues, see Capt. J. F. Williams's Chart.
what they are sold for in the capital. Three hundred barrels are every year pickled and sent to Boston. The mackerel, bass, and herring are caught with seines, of which there are about fifty in the town, and which cost a hundred dollars each. Another seine, worth six dollars, is made use of for catching mackerel in the spring, and herring for bait. Of this kind there are about two hundred. Beside the boats belonging to the fishing vessels, there are a dozen whaleboats, and about a hundred more of the same form, but shorter. The latter catch, annually, about thirty quintals of cod-fish each, chiefly off Wood end. Two or three whales, producing about a hundred barrels of oil, are every year caught in the harbour. Black fish are now seldom obtained. About two hundred sharks are annually caught at Race point, and yield, one with another, four gallons of oil. There is a large shark in the harbour, named the bone-shark, and similar in shape to the man-eating shark, but harmless : five or six are taken in a year. The other fishes in the harbour, and on the coast, are the sturgeon, eels of a superiour quality, and in great abundance, haddock, tom-cod, pollock, flounder, halibut, drummer, manhadon, horse-mackerel, dog-fish, and several more, enumerated in the Description of Truro.* No cusk, blue-fish, sheep's-head, tautaug, sea-perch, are found in the harbour.
There are muscles, sea-clams, and quahaugs ; but neither oysters nor small clams. The greatest part of the clam bait is brought from Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet.
Lobsters, of an excellent quality, are obtained in great abundance on both sides of Long point. Five vessels are constantly employed in catching them, and carrying them to the market of New York. Two smacks go with them to the Boston market. Several barrels are pickled, and sent to the former place.
In 1790, the inhabitants "employed about twenty vessels in the cod-fishery." They now possess thirty-three vessels, one of which is a brig, one a sloop, and the rest schooners : their number of tons is seventeen hundred and twenty-two. Two or three of these vessels are occasionally engaged in the merchants' service.
* Coll. Hist. Soc. Vol.. III. p. 199.
Beside which, four other vessels, containing about three hundred tons, partly owned in Provincetown and partly in Boston, are also employed in the cod-fishery, and fit out, and obtain their crews from this place. The fishing vessels go to the banks of Newfoundland, the coast of Labrador, and the bay of Chaleur ; and they bring home annually about thirty-three thousand quintals of fish, which are worth, a quintal, about three dollars and a third. This business employs three hundred men and boys ; a quarter of whom belong to other places. Five or six of the vessels are engaged partly in the cod-fishery, and partly in the whale-fishery : the whale-fishery, however, is small, and yields little profit. About half of the fish caught from the vessels are cured at Provincetown. All the provisions and stores for the vessels and men are procured in Boston ; and the greatest part of the fish sold in the same place. Eight thousand hogsheads of salt are used in the fisheries.
Sea fowls were formerly plenty on the shores ; but they have been so frequently molested, that their numbers are much reduced.
The town is a mile and a half long. More than two thirds of the dwelling houses are built close to the harbour : a few stand back in vallies ; but none of them far from the shore. The number of dwelling houses is a hundred and forty-four,* eight of which are within the limits of Truro. Two of the houses only are two stories in height. Most of these houses are new, neat, painted, and well finished. When the census was taken in 1800, there were eight hundred and twelve souls. At present, there are a hundred and ninety-eight families. If there be the same proportion between the families and fouls as there was in 1790,+ the number of the inhabitants now must be nine hundred and forty-six.*
There are ninety stores, in which fish is deposited, five houses for the smoking of herring, four or five shops, twenty barns, and two windmills. One of the windmills goes with fliers in the inside, and appears like a large and*The number of dwelling houses and families in Dennis, Orleans, Eastham, and Provincetown, as given in this volume, is from actual enumeration.
+ See. U. S. Census for 1790, p. 29.
lofty tower. As it stands on a high hill, it is seen at a great distance ; and to seamen entering the harbour is a conspicuous object.
The number of salt works is given in the Description of Dennis. Provincetown is remarkably well situated for carrying on this useful manufacture. The works are erected close to the dwelling houses, directly under the eye of the owners, and can be covered and uncovered with little expense of time : They stand under the sand hills, which face the south, and reflect on them a strong heat : add to which, that no fresh streams run into the harbour, the water of which must be as salt as that of the ocean. The effect of these causes is, that the same number of superficial feet yield more salt, the water evaporating faster, than in any other part of the county.
The township is the property of the state, and titles are first obtained by possession and improvement. So many houses and works have been erected, and the town is in so flourishing a situation, that building spots now sell at a high price : they are transferred by quit-claim deeds.
The other buildings are, a house erected by King Hiram's lodge of free masons, in 1795, the upper apartment of which is a well finished hall, and the lower story of which is divided into two rooms, appropriated to school houses : two other school houses : a decent Congregational meeting house, erected in 1793 : and a small Methodist meeting house. The Methodists, who appeared to flourish awhile, are reduced to twelve families.
The climate and diseases of Provincetown do not differ materially from those of other parts of the county. The air, though naturally pure, is rendered unpleasant by the fish flakes which surround the houses. In the year 1794, a fever proved very mortal. It is supposed to have been occasioned by a number of sharks, which were left to putrefy on the shore near the town. At present, the inhabitants appear to be attentive in removing such disgusting objects out of the way.
Cape Cod was originally a part of Truro. In 1714, it was made a district or precinct, and put under the constablerick of that town. It was incorporated into a township, by the name of Provincetown, June 14th,
1727, and invested with peculiar privileges, the inhabitants being exempted from taxation. At that time, and for ten or twelve years after, it was a flourishing place, containing a number of dwelling houses, and several shops and stores. Not long after this period, the inhabitants began to forsake the town ; and before the year 1748, it was reduced to two or three families. In 1755, it contained about ten dwelling houses. No notice is taken of it in the census of 1764. In 1776, there were in it thirty-six families, two hundred and five souls, and about twenty dwelling houses. It remained in a state of depression during the revolutionary war ; in the former period of which it was in a great measure in the power of the enemy, who, whenever they pleased, entered the harbour, and exacted those supplies, which the inhabitants were able to furnish. When the blessings of peace at length returned, it began to lift up its head ; and without meeting with any remarkable misfortune to check its progress, it has gradually risen to its present state of prosperity.
During the former flourishing period of Provincetown Mr. Spear was the minister. His flock having forsaken him, he was compelled at last to remove. The church remained without a pastor a long time ; but was occasionally supplied with preachers, the province paying twenty pounds a year for the support of the gospel. January 20th. 1774, Rev. Samuel Parker was ordained ; and for twelve years, received, annually, forty-five pounds from the government. Since that period the pastor has been supported entirely by the inhabitants.
A Calculation of the State of the Cod and Whale Fisheries, belonging to Massachusetts in 1763 : copied from a paper published in 1764.
300 vessels in the cod-fishery caught 102,265
quintals of merchantable fish, at 12s.
£. 61,359 00
and 137,794 quintals of West-India fish, at 9s.
90 mackerel-vessels, at 200 barrels each,
are 18,000 barrels, at 18s.
Shad, alewives, and other pickled fish,
10,000 barrels, at 10s.
12 barrels of oil to each cod-fishing vessel are
3,600, at 30s.
15,000 hogsheads for packing the West-India fish,
West-India fish from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland,
in return for provisions, rum, sugar, and molasses
180 sail of whale-fishing vessels, the exportations
to Great Britain amounting, in oil and bone, to
To the West-Indies and the Continent in do.
£. 242,966 06
203 Nov. 1620. Journal of a Plantation , &c.
A Relation or Journal of a Plantation settled at Plymouth in New England, and Proceedings thereof : first printed in 1622, and abbreviated in Purchas's Pilgrims, Book x. Chap. iv. London. 1625. (1)
1. "WEDNESDAY, the sixth of September, the wind coming east-north-east, a fine small gale, we loosed from Plymouth, having been kindly entertained and courteously used by divers friends there dwelling ; and after many difficulties in boisterous storms, at length, by …
(1) Purchas's Pilgrims has become a very scarce work. The fifth volume in particular, called the fourth part in the title page, and beginning with the sixth book and ending with the tenth, is so rare, that the Historical Society has not yet been able to obtain it. This is the more to be regretted, as this volume is the most interesting to the inhabitants of the United States, relating to the discovery and plantation of Virginia and New England. In the tenth book are two valuable papers, which give an account of the settlement of Plymouth and its history to September, 1623. These it has been thought proper to …