CapeCodHistory.us home page, 19th Century Mass. literature, genealogy, Deyo introposted August 2004
History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts
edited by Simeon L. Deyo.
1890. New York: H. W. Blake & Co
Natural Features. — First Settlers of Nobscusset. — Incorporation. — Development. — Industries. — Churches. — Cemeteries. — Schools. — Civil History.— The Villages, their Industries and Institutions: North Dennis, East Dennis, South Dennis, West Dennis, Dennis Port — Biographical Sketches.
THE town received its name in memory of Rev. Josiah Dennis who previously had been the faithful pastor of its principal church for thirty-seven consecutive years. The town extends across the Cape, having Cape Cod bay for its northern boundary and the Vineyard sound for its southern. Harwich and Brewster constitute its eastern boundary, and Yarmouth its western. Like the towns on the Cape west, it would seem to have two parts—north and south— separated by a large tract of oak and pine woods, through which the old road runs near the head of Follen's pond. At the north is the range of hills that extends through Yarmouth, Barnstable and Sandwich. In Dennis the hills are only about a mile from the bay and their summits command fine views of it. The surface of the town north of the hills is very uneven, and at the south is a vast undulating plain sloping toward the sound. The town has five divisions or communities, the most of which are considerable villages of the New England type, and are noticed under their respective names. The first settlement of the town was in the northern part, but the southern now exceeds in population. Bass river is a considerable stream, extending along the boundary between Dennis and Yarmouth—the line being the center—flowing from Follen's pond southerly into the sound, affording harbor for small craft. It is the largest stretch of inland water in the county. Chase Garden river forms part of the western boundary, emptying into the bay at the north, where many fishing schooners formerly found safe refuge for the winter months. The largest marsh of the town is at the mouth of this river. This marsh is really a continuation of the great marshes around Barnstable bay.
The most valuable lands are on the north side, especially about Sesuet and Quivet. The soil is light and sandy on the undulations, but fertile in the valleys and around the ponds. It is estimated that
the ponds of Dennis cover an area of over 450 acres. The Grand cove, near South Dennis, is salt, and is closely connected with Bass river. Others worthy of mention are: Swan pond, of 179 acres, south of the railroad, with an outlet to the sound; Scargo lake, with the Sesuet river as an outlet to the bay, has an area of 60 acres; Flax pond, no outlet, 20 acres: Run pond, 20 acres; Simons ponds, 22 and 11; Grassy, 22: one on Harwich line, 23: one southwest of this of 20 acres, one of 10 acres northwest of Swan pond; Cedar, 29; one near West Dennis of 25 acres; and Baker's pond of 30 acres, east of Grassy
Agriculture has received much attention, but the avocations and adventures upon the sea have received more. The town was and is preeminent in the latter pursuit, and has furnished, and now has, as retired men, some of the best on the Cape. The gradual development of the north part of the town was accomplished prior to that of the south. In the north part, as will be seen by the church history, was the first meeting house in the East precinct of Yarmouth, and in 1686 from Satucket the first road was laid out, forty feet wide, westward across Dennis to the county road at Barnstable. This old road, from West Barnstable to Barnstable, was called the Satucket road—through the woods south of the hill range of Dennis and through Yarmouth.
First Settlers of Nobscusset. —The first comers to the Indian village of Nobscusset, in 1639, were John Crow, Thomas Howes and William Lumpkin. There was then no settlement of white men below them on Cape Cod. William Eldred came a year or two later and took his farm adjoining Thomas Howes, by the brook which has ever since been called Eldred's brook. The name of Lumpkin has long since died out in Dennis. The Eldridge name has only become extinct in the present generation. They were never numerous in North Dennis, and during the movement to Ashfield and other towns in Franklin county three of the Eldridge men—Eli, Levi and Samuel— packed up their household goods and joined the caravan of emigrants. For several years this emigration continued from Dennis. It peopled the new town of Ashfield with Cape stock—Howes, Halls, Vincents, Eldridges, Taylors, Sears and Bassetts. One street was named Cape street, in honor of Cape Cod. But though so many left, a remnant remained to keep alive the old names, some of them at least.
The Crowell family in North Dennis is descended from John Crow, who came, it is said, from Wales in 1635, to Charlestown, where he and his wife, Elishua, joined the church. It is probable that they sojourned there until 1639, when Mr. Crow came with Anthony Thacher and Thomas Howes to Yarmouth, with a grant from the court, having previously taken the oath of allegiance. All the first settlers
*By Capt. Thomas Prince Howes.
selected spots for their homes adjacent to good springs of water. The brook that flows through the village of North Dennis had numerous fine flowing springs to supply the need of the first comers. John Crow built his home north of the center of the present village, near the spot where the late Philip Vincent lived. His land, much of which is still owned by his descendants, was east of Indian Fields, and extended from the shore to the top of the hills back of the settlement. John Crow was a man of character and influence in the infant town of Yarmouth, filling many important offices. He died in 1673. His sons were: John, Samuel and Thomas. John married Mehitable. daughter of Rev. John Miller of Yarmouth. A grandson of John Crow, sr., whose name was John, was the first person buried in the North Dennis cemetery. He died in 1727. The name about that time had developed into Crowell. The offspring of John Crow are now to be found in all parts of the country, occupying important positions, with honor and credit to the name. Those who have remained upon the hereditary acres have produced in every generation men of ability and distinction. The late Hon. Seth Crowell and his cousin, Capt. Prince S. Crowell, and Mr. William Crowell, the well-known cranberry grower and seller, are illustrations of the character of the Crowells in the seventh generation. The family has never been large in North Dennis. Two pews in the old church sufficed to accommodate their needs for sitting room. Many of the family, before the old meeting house was torn down in 1838, had become desciples of John Wesley and left the church of their fathers.
Mr. Jeremiah Crowell, a descendant in the fourth generation from the grantee, John Crow, was for two generations a village celebrity. He lived in what was called "Crow Town," just outside the western limits of Indian Field. The public highway went no farther east than his house in his day. The county road went through the woods south of Scargo hill. Mr. Crowell constructed a globe with the four quarters of the earth marked upon it. This was received by the Nobscusset children with open-eyed wonder. It was to be seen only, however, upon payment of one cent per head. He had besides a mammoth kite with a string a mile long, with a tail of wondrous length. He kept a daily journal of passing events, such as the capture of a whale, the arrival home of the Cod fishermen, the state of the weather, and the direction of the wind. But his great effort was the building of a pair of wings and attempting to fly. This was an achievement beyond his power to accomplish. The flying he regarded as practical and easy, but the alighting was difficult. He died at an advanced age, about the close of the last century.
The Howes family trace their descent from Thomas Howes, the associate and friend of Anthony Thacher and John Crow. He came
from England, and doubtless from Great Yarmouth, or some part of Norfolk county, to Salem, in 1635. In 1639 he was in Yarmouth, and in that part then called Nobscusset he took up his abode. He built his house beside New Boston brook, in the field now the property of Mr. Harvey Howes, his lineal descendant in the seventh generation. Thomas Howes and his wife, whose name was Mary, had three sons: Joseph, Thomas and Jeremiah. The last named was born in 1637, and consequently was an American. Thomas Howes, senior, died in 1665, after twenty-six years residence in his new home. He had good reason to be satisfied with his change from Old England to the New. He left his sons with large farms and holding positions of honor and trust in the infant colony, and his children's children growing up around him. He was buried on his farm, and three hundred or more of his posterity lie sleeping around him.
From the sons of Thomas Howes have sprung a strong and numerous race, whose representatives may be found in nearly every state, from Maine to California. It has always been prominent in the affairs of the towns of Yarmouth and Dennis. It required eight pews in the old East Precinct meeting house to seat those of the name who went to meeting. It was noticed that in the great gale of October, 1841, when four North Dennis fishing vessels were lost and twenty men belonging to the neighborhood perished, twelve of them bore the name of Howes. The name is a very familiar one in the town of Ashfield and in Putnam and Columbia counties, New York; and, in fact, common in many towns in this Commonwealth. Those of the name coming from Chatham are descended from Thomas, the youngest son of Joseph. This branch is numerous, comprising many enterprising seafaring men and merchants. Among the descendants of Jeremiah are those of Moody Howes, who left Nobscusset in 1750. Some of his grandsons have made successful business ventures. Seth B. Howes, the well-known retired showman, is a grandson of Moody Howes, who removed to Putnam county, New York.
John Hall, the founder of the Hall family of Yarmouth, was among the early settlers. The exact date of his arrival is not known. He was for a time in Barnstable. Probably he came about 1657. It is claimed that he came from Coventry, England. He was twice married; his first wife being Bethia. and his second Elizabeth. His family consisted of twelve children, nine of them sons, namely: Samuel, John, Joseph, William, Benjamin, Elisha, Nathaniel, Gershom and one other. With this patriarchal family, Mr. Hall cast in his lot with the builders of Yarmouth. He took his farm in the central part of the village of Nobscusset, at the head of the stream which runs westerly and southerly through North Dennis. He was a worthy citizen and a valuable addition to the growing town. He was buried at a
good old age, on his own land, in 1696. His gravestone is the oldest in North Dennis. His sons rendered much service to the town: some going on military expeditions against the Indians and others filling important civic stations.
From the Hall family have gone out numerous emigrants to people distant towns. Some went to Oblong, now a part of Putnam county, New York, others to Ashfield, and various places. Rev. David B. Hall, of Duanesburg, has published a genealogical and biographical history of the Halls of New England. The Halls, who are all descended from John, of Yarmouth, number 235 families. Moral and intellectual traits are hereditary and become characteristics of certain families. The Halls have been much swayed by religious emotions, and interested in things of the mind; hence the number of ministers, deacons and teachers among them. In Yarmouth, including North Dennis, we find the following persons filling the deacon's seat: John, Joseph, Joseph, Daniel, Nathan and Barnabas Hall. The family required eight pews in the East Precinct meeting house to accommodate its worshippers. The descendants of the Yarmouth Halls are well represented in the teachers' vocation in this generation. Stanley Hall, now president of a University; Joseph Hall, principal of the Hartford high school, both Ashfield men; Isaac F. Hall, superintendent of Leominster schools, and Luther Hall, superintendent of schools in Dennis, illustrate this hereditary tendency in the descendants of the pious John Hall.
About the time that the last mentioned person left Barnstable to settle in Yarmouth, John Vincent removed to Yarmouth from Sandwich, where he had lived a few years. The exact locality of his house is not known, but it was somewhere south of the stream on which all the first settlers made their homes. The Vincents for several generations owned land on both sides of the brook adjoining the Hall farm. John Vincent had one son. Henry, whose name occurs frequently in the records. From him sprang a sturdy race, mostly farmers, some of whom served as soldiers in the revolutionary war. At the close of that struggle, the Vincents, most of them, removed to Ashfield, leaving only one family behind in Dennis, and that has since died out. Those of the name in Ashfield and Hawley are good specimens of the Cape stock—honest, hardy, independent farmers.
The Tobey family, of Dennis, is descended from Thomas Tobey, of Sandwich, one of the early settlers of that town. His grandson, whose name was Thomas, removed from Sandwich to Yarmouth early in the eighteenth century. The mother of this Thomas is said to have been Mehitable, a daughter of John Crowell. He settled in the south part of the present village of North Dennis. His home farm consisted of a tract of land on both sides of the highway, stretching far back into
the woods on one side and running into the meadows, down to the main creek on the other. A large piece of pasture land and swamp, containing fifty acres or more, was a part of his estate. The swamps are now productive cranberry grounds, and the black birds that once made their nests and reared their young ones within the leafy coverts have been compelled to seek other homes. Mr. Thomas Tobey was three years precinct treasurer, and ten years town treasurer. He died in 1757, leaving two sons: Thomas and Seth. Thomas was the father of Stephen and Knowles, neither of whom have any living descendants.
Seth Tobey, born in 1716, married Zipporah Young Hall, widow of Edmund Hall, whose house was the one now the residence of Mrs. Hope Howes. That ancient dwelling deserves mention from having been the birthplace of Hon. Nathaniel Freeman, a revolutionary patriot, and father of Rev. Frederick Freeman, the learned historian of Cape Cod. Seth Tobey, who was frequently in public service, was one of the committee of 1774, chosen to look after the movements of the tories, in conjunction with similar committees in other towns. He was town treasurer three years and selectman ten. He died in 1801, leaving one son, Seth, who inherited his estate and who married Ruth, daughter of Captain Jonathan Howes, a descendant of the second Thomas Howes. He built, in 1802, the present Tobey house, which is shown in the accompanying illustration. Mr. Tobey was a worthy citizen, attending mainly to his own private affairs. He was inclined to favor the doctrines of the then unpopular Universalists. His house was open to the preachers of that denomination—at that period almost everywhere spoken against. He died in January, 1829 at the age of fifty-eight, leaving one son, Jonathan Howes Tobey, who married Rachel, daughter of Samuel Bassett of Barnstable.
Jonathan inherited, like his father, the family estate, and like him followed the occupation of his ancestors—the cultivation of the soil. He was of a social, kindly disposition, and his house the seat of a modest, genial hospitality. Although much interested in town and school affairs, he was not a seeker of office, and was contented with a private station. He died in 1872, leaving three sons: Seth, born 1824; Charles, born 1831; and Francis Bassett, born 1833. Of these, Seth studied law with Hon. Robert Rantoul, was admitted to the bar, and was for a number of years clerk of the municipal court of Boston. He died in Dennis, at the old family homestead, in 1883. Charles, the founder of the Tobey Furniture Company in Chicago, now one of the largest establishments of its kind in the country, was at his death in 1888, the owner of the Nobscussett House and the Tobey farm. He was a man of great energy and business aptitude.
F. B. Tobey, the sole survivor of the family name in Dennis,
carries on the business of the Furniture Company in Chicago, and is the present owner of the Tobey property in North Dennis, including the Nobscussett House, shown in the illustration at page 155. The Tobey family has always occupied a high social position and an honorable station among the foremost citizens of Barnstable county.
Among those who came early in the last century from Sandwich to settle in Yarmouth was Elisha Bassett. His wife was Ruhamah Jennings, daughter of Samuel Jennings of Sandwich, long the schoolmaster and town clerk of that town. The Bassetts trace their pedigree to William Bassett, who came to Plymouth in the Fortune, in 1621. Elisha Bassett lived at Nobscusset, in a house that stood on the spot where Charles Hall now resides. He held a commission as captain under the provincial government. This, however, did not hinder him from being an ardent patriot when the struggle commenced between the colonies and the crown. He was three times sent to represent the town in the congress at Cambridge, and served four years as town treasurer. He was a man of great moral worth and superior intelligence. He died in 1794, leaving four sons—Elisha, Samuel, William and Lot—and three daughters—Lydia, Abigail and Deborah. Two of his sons, Elisha and Lot, removed to Ashfield about the close of the revolutionary war. Samuel removed to Barnstable and William died in Dennis, leaving one son, Francis, who graduated from Harvard College, studied law, and was for many years clerk of the United States circuit and district courts. He returned to Dennis in after life and built a house on the spot where his grandfather had lived. The posterity of Elisha and Lot are principally in the towns of Franklin county, where they live appreciating the blessings of its rural life and the pleasures of intellectual enjoyment. Elisha Bassett, for over fifty years a clerk in the district court at Boston, is a grandson of Lot, who removed from Dennis. A fine, intelligent, clearheaded, right-minded race of men are descended from Elisha Bassett of Sandwich.
Incorporation and Development.—What Captain Howes has said above of the original families at North Dennis is more than now can be learned concerning the settlers of the other sections of the town. The records of the old town of Yarmouth were burned in 1677, and this fact assures a meagre account, not only of Yarmouth, but of Dennis, for the first forty years—years of the most importance in their early history. That its settlement was contemporaneous with that of Sandwich and Barnstable there is no doubt. The old town was in part that Mattacheese to which the Puritans came in 1638-9, and only a few years elapsed before the entire territory—part of which is now included in Dennis—was settled, although perhaps but sparsely. Like Sandwich the division commenced in the church—by establishing an-
other parish. In 1721, as will be seen by the church history, the East parish of Yarmouth was organized, and this was the initiative to the organization of the new town of Dennis on the 19th of June, 1793, being the eleventh town in the country, in date. The act of incorporation authorized Atherton Hall, Esq., to issue his warrant and call a town meeting, which he did in January of that year, and the meeting was held March 3d, at 1 o'clock, p.m. Lieutenant Jeremiah Howes was chosen moderator, and officers for the government of the town were elected. On the 11th of March Captain Isaiah Hall and Elisha Bassett were appointed to settle all details with the mother town.
On the 11th of May, Thomas Thacher, Isaac Matthews, Edmund Bray and Joseph Howes, on the part of Yarmouth, and Jeremiah Howes, Jonathan Bangs and Joseph Sears, on the part of Dennis, met and settled the boundary between the towns to be that marvelously crooked line which was already the precinct boundary, which remains substantially the same. The language of that day for the division line was: "Beginning at the south of the county road leading from Yarmouth to Dennis, at three white-oak trees marked and standing at the S. W. corner of Edward Howes' upper field, between Lothrop Taylor's and David Hall's; sets thence S. 53° E. 248 rods as trees are marked, till it comes to a stake and stone standing on the S. side of the county road to the falling away of a hill to the westward of John Whelden's, late of Dennis, deceased, then by the county and Bass River road southeasterly 146 rods to a stake and stone standing at the N. E. corner of Capt. Samuel Gray's land and N. W. corner of Wid. Abigail Whelden's land: sets thence S. 40° W., 44 rods into Follen's pond, thence Southeasterly through the middle of said pond and southerly through the main channel of Bass river into the South Sea. Then beginning at the first mentioned three white-oak trees, and sets thence northeasterly by the county road that leads from Yarmouth to Dennis 68 rods to a stake and stone at the S. W. corner of Edward Howe's field and S. E. corner of David Hall's field and on the northwesterly side of the way; and thence northwesterly 42 rods in Edward Howe's and David Hall's range to a brook in said range, and as said brook runs into the main creek, and as said creek and as Bass Hole runs into the North Sea." It was further agreed that the privilege of fishing, together with the Indian land at Bass river, and the whaling land at Black Earth, should remain for the benefit of both towns.
June 16th, the selectmen of Dennis and Harwich renewed and settled the bounds between their respective towns, which also remains the same. Beginning at a rock thirty-seven feet to the south of Bound brook bridge and fourteen feet east of said brook, thence across the Setucket road, and the Chatham road in a straight line about 5° east of south, to the sea.
The growth of the town was rapid. In 1802 there were one hundred dwellings south of the county road, and so new and hastily constructed were they, that ninety-eight of them were only one story high. They were along Bass river and formed the nucleus of the present pretty villages of that part of the town. Quivet neck had thirty-six dwellings at this time, and the old settlement along the county road had been considerably increased. Among the families, and those most prominent, who had settled mostly in the north part of the town prior to the division, were those of Hall, Ryder, Burge, Howes, Paddock, Nickerson, Lumpkin, Crosby, Hallett, Crow, or Crowell, Worden, Eldridge, Tobey, Baker, Whelden, Chapman. Falland or Follen, Bassett, Bangs, Kelley. Newcomb and Seabury. Richard Sears settled between the Sesuet and Quivet creeks.
With such families occupying portions of the territory and who had already developed its fertility long prior to its erection into the new town of Dennis, its rapid development in industry and wealth naturally followed. John Sears had commenced the manufacture of salt as early as 1776. It is said that Dennis was the first town of the county to make salt. In 1803 the number of works was twenty-four, aggregating 19,500 running feet of vats. These were in the north part of the town adjoining the bay. In 1804 other salt works were laid out at Black Earth. The south part of the town, along the sound and on the east side of Bass river, was well covered with salt works, which declined before those in the north part, as indeed there is still a trace remaining of the actual manufacturing of salt at Quivet neck.
Ship-building, now extinct, was another important industry of the town, and was commenced early. Many large class vessels were built on the bay, and the Shivericks were noted builders. It was here that Asa Shiverick built vessels early in this century; and later his sons—David and Paul, now deceased, and Asa, of Woods Holl—built vessels for twenty-four years. Considerable building was carried on along Bass river, but of light tonnage vessels. The names of the vessels are given in the history of the locality where they were built. The timbers and lumber were brought from Maine, and from the South, and the smaller craft were rigged here.
Fishing had become a leading industry in 1795. At that date three wharves were built on the east side of Bass river, additions were rapidly made to the tonnage, which, soon after 1800, reached nearly eleven hundred tons in the mackerel and cod-fishery, employing 247 men. This continued the principal industry of the town for three quarters of a century. In 1889 the fishing and coasting vessels registered from Dennis had a total tonnage of 6,955. The fertile Atlantic and other waters have furnished broad maritime fields of labor in which Dennis has increased its wealth and import-
ance more than in agriculture, but during the past twenty years the bogs of the town have been redeemed for the cultivation of cranberries, and the town now has a high position in this branch of industry. The town still had in 1889 over sixty vessels of various tonnage, including nine three-masters, engaged in the coast and fishing trade.
Wind mills were early erected. The earliest record given is that William Howes, in 1759, had been appointed as the proper miller for the grist mill in the East parish. The town house erected in 1837 stands near Follen's pond. It would seem by the records that a house on that site was in use prior to that date, for in 1829 it was "voted that the selectmen sell the town house and have same moved from the town land." Major Obed Baxter, Abijah Howes, and Thacher Clark, January 4, 1837, were made a committee to complete a town house by September of that year, which was accomplished. No regular poor house was erected until 1837, when the present town asylum was voted at the March town meeting.
The census of 1800 showed the population of the town to be 1,408, which had rapidly increased during the preceding seven years of its existence. In 1810 it contained 1,739; in 1820, 1,907; in 1830, 2,317; 1840, 2,942; 1850, 3,257; 1860, 3,662; this year was the highest within its life as a town. The fishing in its many branches not proving as lucrative as formerly, the young men sought employment elsewhere, and in 1870 the population was 3,269; in 1880, 3,288; and in 1885 it had decreased to 2,923. In the decline of population, the fact is evident that other sections, and even the busy marts of the world, have been receiving the fine sons of Dennis among their prominent business men.
So rapid was the growth of the town during the first half of the present century, and so conspicuous in every industry and in wealth had the south part become, that in 1860 an attempt was made to divide the town and form a new one of the southern part. But perhaps this was only a temporary diversion of interests, as at this writing a more harmonious people do not exist on the Cape. The south side people are more generally engaged in fishery and coasting, while at the north, where the land is better, they are more devoted to agriculture.
In 1888 a lock-up was erected at South Dennis for the town's use; it was not costly and prison-like, but was adequate for the temporary confinement of mild offenders. At the town meeting of February 11, 1889, the sum of thirty-nine hundred dollars was voted for the poor; three thousand dollars for roads, fifty-four hundred dollars for schools; and five hundred dollars for public buildings. The assessed valuation of the town is now one and a half millions.
Churches.—In 1721 the East precinct or parish of Yarmouth was constituted. The last day of February, 1721-2, at the house of
Nathaniel Howes, twenty-six freeholders assembled, and the new parish arrangements were perfected, and a week later they provided for the erection of a meeting house, Judah Paddock acting as precinct clerk. April ninth, the book of parish records was opened. Rev. Daniel Greenleaf was called March 22, 1723. Mr. Barnabes Taylor officiated in 1724, and Rev. Josiah Dennis was called June 24, 1725. He was not settled as pastor until June 22, 1727, at which time the church was organized, Rev. Samuel Wigglesworth, of Ipswich, preaching the ordination sermon.
The pastor elect and the following persons signed the church covenant: Dea. Joseph Hall, Joseph Burge, Joseph Hall, jr., Joseph Howes, sr., Judah Hall, Joseph Burge, jr., Daniel Hall, John Paddock and John Nickerson (spelled Nichelson on the record). On the sixth of August the following females, having been dismissed from, the parent church, also were received into full covenant: Mary, Mehitable and Rebecca Hall; Mary and Mehitable Hall, jr.; Deborah, Elizabeth. Mary and Rebecca Paddock; Mehitable Crosby; Susanna, Lydia, Sarah, Dorcas and Sarah Howes, jr.; Thomasin, Sarah and Elizabeth Burge; Mercy, Priscilla, Sarah and Hannah Sears; Keziah Eldred; Elizabeth Nicholson; Priscilla Gorham; and Elizabeth Whelden. On the 29th of December, 1727, a committee was appointed to consider ways and means to obtain from the parent society their part of the church vessels. The Rev. Josiah Dennis died August 31, 1763, and Rev. Nathan Stone was ordained October 17, 1764. He was the pastor for forty years. He died in 1804. In 1795. when the South church was organized, the name of the old church was changed from East precinct to North parish of Dennis.
Rev. Caleb Holmes came November 5, 1804, and was ordained in January of the following year. He died in 1813, and the church voted to pay his widow his salary as long as the neighboring ministers should supply the pulpit, which they did until July 27, 1814, when Rev. Joseph Haven was settled. In 1826 Rev. Daniel M. Stearns was called for a year, and was retained through 1828. The parish acting in this ministerial bargain without the concurrence of the church, and the seeds of Unitarianism being already sown, it led to the organization of another and separate church in the same community, known as the Trinitarian North Church. Rev. Stearns closed his labors with the Unitarian society April 16, 1838, but this society was on the wane. Rev. Robert F. Walcut, afterward a prominent abolitionist; Rev. John B. Wight, Mr. Maynard, and Mr. Chandler, each served the ancient parish; but it had no settled minister after Rev. Stearns.
The meeting house of this old parish was enlarged in 1761, and again repaired in 1804; and in 1838, after the division in the society,
it was demolished and a new church erected on the site. This building of 1838 is the one now a livery stable.
The Trinitarian North Church was supplied for several years and Rev. Daniel Kendrick was settled September 1, 1839. But the organization was of short duration, the Methodists in their services occupied the edifice, the members of the Trinitarian Society uniting with them. This arrangement continued until 1866, when for the purpose of uniting the religious elements of the community, the Union Church of Christ was organized, of which Rev. F. Hebard became the pastor and served during 1867. The pulpit was filled by J. W. Tarlton in 1868; by Mr. Barrows in 1869, 1870; Mr. Price in 1871; Ogden Hall in 1872, and J. H. Allen the balance of the year; Mr. Swinerton came in 1876; Mr. Spooner in 1878; Annie H. Shaw, 1879; C. L. Adams, 1885; C. W. Harshman, 1886; J. L. Hillman, 1888 and Mr. Lough in 1889.
On the first of December, 1888, the young people of this society organized the Y. P. Society of Christian Endeavor, with thirty-six members.
The Second Congregational Church was established at South Dennis in 1795, and a meeting house built which was supplied for a time by pastors from the North Church. In 1815 a committee was appointed to make a dividing line between the parishes, which was "to begin on the Chatham road on the Yarmouth line, then easterly by said road to the house of Seth Bangs, then still easterly to the Brewster and Harwich line near the north side of White pond." On the 16th of June, 1815, this church was organized as the Second Church, and Rev. John Sanford was called to preach. He was ordained December 30, 1818. The church had twenty-nine members, and Mr. Sanford was to officiate one-fourth of the time at Harwich; but before his dismissal in 1837 the society became of sufficient strength to obviate the necessity of this dual labor. Mr. Sanford was succeeded, February 13, 1839, by Rev. Thacher Thayer for two years, then by J. Jennings as a supply, until 1843, when Rev. John H. Pettingill was ordained. In 1849 Rev. Richard Tollman was ordained and was succeeded in December, 1852, by Isaiah C. Thacher. December 10, 1856, Rev. William H. Sturtevant was installed and dismissed in 1860. Supplies—Rev. McLean, Stone, and others—filled the pulpit for a few years. In 1870-74 William C. Reed filled the pulpit, and after supplies for two years C. M. Brainard was called. He was succeeded in 1879 by A. Dodge, and he in turn by other supplies. In 1889 Mr. Atwood supplied the pulpit.
South Dennis had a small society of Universalists about 1850, their meeting house being just north of L. M. Gage's present residence. After a few years the society discontinued their services, converting
the house into a hall, which was subsequently purchased by Doctor Ginn, who removed it to Dennis Port, and converted it into a store.
In 1795 there was a small meeting house on the east side of Follen's pond, at which five families of Friends belonging to Dennis, with others from Harwich and Yarmouth, worshipped. This long ago disappeared and the worshipppers, if any, belong to the present Yarmouth preparative meeting.
At Dennis Port the religious community have organized various sects in the past. In 1842 an edifice was built, ostensibly for the Methodists; but another name was assumed soon after, which in turn was discontinued. The church building is now the residence of Augustus Howland. Some of the members of the former organizations are, perhaps, now in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which organization there are fifty members. They built a church edifice in 1877 south of Main street.
The present active religious denomination at Dennis Port is the Free Independent Church of Holiness, established January 16, 1885, in its present form, and numbers forty-eight members. They had a suitable place of worship that was burned during a revival in February, 1884; and in 1885 it was replaced by an academy building from Harwich. The pulpit is filled by pastors from the neighboring Methodist Episcopal churches.
At West Dennis in 1836 the Methodists erected an edifice, which for years was the place of worship for the Reformed Methodist Society. Rev. Mr. Swift, Isaac Dunham, and, for several years, Mr. Upham, were pastors. The society then was changed to the Wesleyan Methodist and the pulpit was supplied by Methodist and Congregational ministers until 1871, when the Methodist Episcopal conference supplied it for two years. On the 22nd of May, 1873, after much discussion, the society adopted the regular Methodist Episcopal faith and since then the conference has supplied them with pastors. The pastor sent in 1873 was Rev. Edwin Edson; in 1875, Almon E. Hall; 1879, R. W. C. Farnsworth and Samuel M. Beale; 1882, A. N. Bodfish; 1883, Merrick Ransom; 1884, George N. Grant; 1887, Charles S. Morse; and on April 1, 1889, W. H. McAllister. The church edifice was repaired in 1858, and a steeple, bell and clock added, forming a fine church property.
The Wesleyan Methodist Society, East Dennis, organized as the Reformed Methodist Society of Dennis and Brewster in 1814, and erected in 1821 a meeting-house over the line in Brewster, where the society worshipped until 1845, when the present name was adopted. Rev. Elijah Bailey preached to the old society eleven years, and was succeeded by Elkanah Nickerson, Thomas Thompson, Asa Whitney, Pliny Brett, Alden Handy, Lorenzo D. Johnson and Joshua Davis.
In April, 1847, Edmund Sears, David Crowell, Christopher Hall and Anthony Smalley, as a committee, contracted with Thomas Crocker to build the present Methodist church in East Dennis. This is now in use by the Wesleyan Society of East Dennis, formed in 1845. The pastors of the last organization have been: Palmer Brown, John Tate, William R. Tisdale, Solomon P. Snow, Benjamin Eastwood, Shadrack Leader, A. P. Burgess, William Leonard, Ernest Leasman. A. D. Knapp, George Wright, Warren Applebee, Annie H. Shaw. William A. Brewster, A. H. Briggs, Henry E. Wolfe in 1887, and J. N. West from 1888 to 1890.
Cemeteries.—In a town as old in its settlement as the territory of Dennis, these resting places for the dead are necessarily numerous. In the north part are the Worden, Sears, Howes, Hall and Paddock burying places, being private family grounds; also a general burial ground at East Dennis, and another at Dennis. At South Dennis we find one old one, and one at the Congregational church; at Dennis Port, one; and another at West Dennis. Two ancient grounds exist— the Indian, on the shore of Scargo lake, and that of the Friends at Follen's pond. Most of these are kept in proper condition by the town. The Howes, the Sears and the Paddock families have erected substantial stone fences around their grounds. The Indian cemetery has been enclosed with a stone and iron fence, at a cost of $160, and within the enclosure some of the skeletons recently found have been carefully buried. No Indian bodies have been buried there for a century, and in it no whites have ever found a resting place.
Schools.—In accordance with the custom of the Puritans, a school was established as soon after the erection of the meeting house as circumstances would permit. The first record of any steps taken by the old town was in 1693. That year Joseph Howes, John Howes [Hawes], John Miller and John Hallett were appointed in open town meeting as a committee to agree with some fit person to teach school. This school was to be "kept in five squadrons." Three of these were in Dennis; the Nobscusset division was to have school from January fourth to April tenth, 1694; from Widow Boardman's to Satucket mill or river the school was to be kept in a central place, from April 11th to June 19th, the same year; and another division, including the south part of Dennis, from Thomas Follen's along the east side of Bass river, was to have the teacher from June 20th to July 17th—the latter less than a month for a year's schooling.
Thus were the public schools of Dennis commenced. In 1699 there was no school, and the proper committee were instructed to "look out for a schoolmaster." How business-like the primative fathers were; for at the same meeting that provided for the schoolmaster, the bounty on wolf-scalps was arranged. In 1700 John Clark taught the school by
521divisions, the only improvement in conditions being that he was to have his horse kept, and the rooms were hired, to keep the several schools in, instead of being such as could gratuitously be obtained.
In 1707 the school was kept at Nobscusset half the year. In 1711 Mr. Jaquesh was hired "to keep an English school to teach children to read, write and cypher." In 1712 the same gentleman received twenty-four pounds for a yearly salary with five shillings per week for board. The salary was twenty-six pounds in 1716, and he went about the town as before. This salary was for the entire old town. In 1730, after a period of neglect, the school affairs had become better settled, improvements were made, and two teachers were employed—still traveling from division to division. In 1770 school houses had been erected at Nobscusset and Quivet Neck, and the town of Dennis, when erected, had as many districts or divisions as the entire territory of both towns the century before. The original East Dennis school house was built in 1769 near the present site of Worden Hall. It was warmed by the old fire place, and not until its successor was erected in 1826 was that wholesome luxury exchanged for the first school house stove.
November 6, 1794, Dennis appointed a committee to apportion two hundred dollars among the districts, and in 1797 the sum of $333 was apportioned. In 1810 the public schools were in a flourishing condition, and in 1829 four hundred dollars was appropriated to the several districts. These sums were but a small part of the actual school expenses—the balance coming from private tax. During these years the demand for more advanced schools induced teachers to open several select schools through the town which continued until the better grade public schools met the full demand. In 1836 the town paid $850 for schools, and good houses were erected as the first ones became unsuitable.
The progress of the schools need not be given so closely in detail, during the memory of the middle-aged citizen, and the advancement of fifty years will be evident by the present status. In 1887 the town supported five grammar schools, two intermediate, and six primary. Each of the five villages had a good school building, of sufficient size to accommodate the several departments. The books and supplies were being furnished by the town, and uniformity of books and rigid classification had worked wonders. Every department had been kept in session 8 ˝ or nine months of the year, with an average attendance of over ninety per cent. of those registered. In 1888 the number of schools was thirteen: at Dennis, one grammar and one primary; East Dennis, one grammar and one primary; South Dennis, one grammar and one primary; West Dennis, one grammar and one intermediate and one primary; Dennis Port, one grammar, one intermediate and
two primary departments. In the year 1888 the amount paid out for school purposes was $6,298.25 In the same year 572 pupils attended these schools. At the town meeting held February 11, 1889, the committee recommended the appropriation of fifty-four hundred dollars for the schools, books and supplies. The annual town meeting of 1890 ordered sixty-six hundred dollars for the schools, and provided for the equipment of a high school to be located at South Dennis.
Civil History.—Nearly all the remaining common lands were laid out and apportioned to the proprietors in 1797, and the site for the burying ground near the North church was at this time given. The committee to lay it out consisted of Peter Sears, Daniel Howes, Judah Paddock, Daniel Eldridge and Jeremiah Howes.
In 1805 the town refused a permit to build a bridge across Bass river, but in after years bridges were placed. In 1814 Daniel Howes and others were permitted to build a stone and timber pier, six hundred feet long, on the east side of Nobscusset point. From this was incorporated the Nobscusset Pier Company, and from here the North Dennis fishing business was carried on.
The civil arm of the body politic was raised against intemperance in 1818, and that year, in town meeting, steps for controlling the taverns in the sale of intoxicating liquors, were first taken. The town, during the war of 1812, had fully complied with all the requirements of the government, and in 1814 the town took precautionary steps to repel threatened invasions. The salt fields and apparent thrift of the Dennis people were the envy of British privateers; but promptness and determination went far in warding off the enemy. Among other actions of the people in a public way, was, in 1825, to take steps for opening a canal from Flax pond north to the bay; a committee was appointed and strong measures taken, but without success.
The following list shows the years of first election and number of years of service for each of the town's representatives who served more than one year: 1794, Micajah Sears, 3 years; 1800, Joseph Sears; 1802, Judah Paddock, 9; 1812, Zenas Howes; 1813, Samuel Chase, 3; 1814, John Paddock; 1816, Daniel Howes, 2; 1821, Oren Howes, 11; 1829, Zoheth Howes; 1832, John Baker; 1833, Thacher Clark and Joshua Wixon, jr., each 2; 1835, Seth Crowell, 4, and John Nickerson; 1836, Stephen Homer, and Jonathan Nickerson, 2; 1837, Daniel Hedge and William Hinckley; 1838, Seth T. Whelden, 2; 1840, Samuel Rogers, 2; 1842, Alexander Howes, 2; 1844, Nehemiah Baker; 1845, Joseph K. Baker, 2; 1847, William Howes, 2; 1849, Obed Baker, 2d, 2; 1851, Thomas Hall, 2; 1853, M. S. Underwood, 2; 1855, Joshua C. Howes, 2; and in 1857 Luther Studley.
The first selectmen for 1794 were Jeremiah Howes and Joseph Sears for 11 years each, and Jonathan Bangs for 14; in 1805 Enoch Hall
was elected and served 12 years, and Daniel Howes 10; in 1806, Daniel Eldridge; 1808, Samuel Chase, 8; 1809, Nathan Crowell, 7; 1816, Perez Howes, 2; Lothrop Howes, 2; and Jonathan Nickerson, 19; 1818, Prince Howes, 3; and David Crowell; 1819, Thacher Clark, 12; 1821; Oren Howes, 14: 1834, Eleazer Nickerson; 1835, Abijah Howes, 3; 1836, Obed Baxter, 2; and Seth Crowell, 4: 1838, Nehemiah Crowell, 8; and Alexander Howes, 3; 1839, Edmund Sears, 5; 1841, Uriah Howes, 3; 1844, Charles Howes; 1845, Thomas Hall, 10; 1846, Benjamin Thacher, 3; 1848, Stephen Homer; 1849, Obed Baker, 2d, 9; and Joshua Wixon, jr., 5; 1851, David Howes; 1852, Atherton H. Baker, 3; 1855, Joseph K. Baker, 4; and James S. Howes, 5; 1858, Shubael B. Howes, 3; 1860, Joshua C. Howes, 9; 1861, Elijah Baxter, 4; and Alvan Small, 10; 1865, Nehemiah Crowell, 2; 1866, Thomas Hall; 1867, Doane Kelley, 2d; and Luther Fisk, 3; 1869, Isaiah B. Hall, 11; and Warren Snow, 10; 1875, David Fisk, 4; 1877, Joshua Crowell, jr., 7; 1878, Sylvester Baker, 11; 1881, Hiram Loring; 1883, Henry H. Fisk, 4; 1887, Edwin Baxter, 4; and Henry H. Sears, 4; 1890, Ebenezer B. Joy. The chairman for the board of 1890 is H. H. Sears.
The town treasurers and clerks, each serving until his successor is elected, have been: Elisha Bassett, elected in 1794; Nathan Stone, jr., in 1798; Nehemiah Baker, 1831; Isaac Howes, 1836; Alvah Nickerson, 1837; Watson Baker, 1843; Marshall S. Underwood, 1855; Isaiah Nickerson, jr., 1858; Jonathan Bangs, 1865; Obed Baker, 2d, 1870; Charles G. Baker; 1883; and Watson F. Baker, elected in 1887.
Villages.—Dennis, or, as it is sometimes called, North Dennis, comprises the northwest part of the town, and was the ancient Indian settlement of Nobscusset, of which Mashantampaigne was the sachem. Here was located the ancient East parish meeting house of Yarmouth; and here, on the east, is the noted Scargo hill, whose sight is so welcome to the mariner. This village was early settled by Thomas Howes and others, whose residences were around an old fort, built for protection against the Indians. The village has the beautiful Scargo lake, and the dwellings of the present day indicate wealth and thrift. In 1800 it contained fifty two dwellings, twenty-three clusters of salt works, and eight vessels engaged in fishing and coasting. It contains many more dwellings now, and the salt works were long ago abandoned. The two old wind mills have also succumbed to the march of improvement. When these mills were erected is not definitely known, but it was long before the dawn of the present century. The north one, which was built about 1754, and owned by Lot Howes, stood near John M. Stone's residence, and was subsequently owned many years by Abner and Oren Howes, who sold it to Edmund Matthews in 1869. He removed it to the shore of Scargo lake, where the Bleak House observatory now stands, the same year, and again
started grinding in 1870. After five years he took the mill down, and all that is tangible at this date are the mill stones, which are doing service at either door of Mr. Matthews' residence, near the post office. The south mill stood just west of the burying ground, and was taken down in 1874 by Rufus and Edmund Howes—the last owners. Aaron Crowell, a gentleman of four-score years, and an old resident here, remembers that in his boyhood these old mills looked as weather-beaten as when taken down.
This part of the town also was engaged in ship-building. The Sally and Betsey was built at Corporation wharf, in 1811, by Aaron Crowell, sr., who also built the Five Sisters. The sloop Sally was built near Bass hole by the Brays in 1817. Jeremiah and Aaron Crowell built the Star in 1839, and the Bridge, built by the Shivericks at East Dennis, was owned and manned by the people of the north village.
In the terrible gale of 1841 four Dennis vessels were lost, and of their crews, including twenty-one Dennis men, not one was saved. Of this number, eight out of a crew of nine of the schooner Bride, whose bodies were recovered, found Christian burial upon land, the coffins of six of them being placed side by side in the village church at one time, and the members of seven families gathered in one common service of mourning for the loss each of one from the household. The wreck of the Bride was brought from Provincetown back to Shiverick's shipyard and again made ready for the sea by the same firm which built her. The Hopewell, a fishing vessel of thirty tons, was built about the middle of the present century, near where Rev. Dennis once lived, in the road that leads to Nobscusset harbor. It was built by Joshua Baker, and after much trouble was moved to the water.
The present county road forms the principal street of this village, and along it the early ordinaries were found. Where Mrs. Moses Howes now lives was an old-fashioned two story tavern, kept by Joseph Hall before 1784. About the same time there was a tavern kept by Obed Howes, where Harvey Howes now lives. Obed Howes' father, called "Great Sam," had kept it prior to Obed. Henry Hall's tavern, with its sign of a black horse, was opened just prior to 1800, and stood where Howes Chapman now lives. In 1871 James Humphrey built up the Cape Cod Bay House, which was the Minot House removed to Nobscusset. It was used as a hotel for several years in that condition ; the present Nobscusset House here is noticed fully at page 155.
The observatory built by subscription a few years ago on the summit of Scargo hill, is one of the places of interest. It stands where a former observatory was prostrated by a tempest.
The mail for this part of Dennis was delivered from the Yarmouth
post office until 1797. Nathaniel Stone, jr., who kept the office at his house for many years, was the first postmaster, being appointed May 4, 1798. He was succeeded, September 1, 1836, by Nehemiah Y. Hall, at his house, who in turn was succeeded, July 16, 1853, by Howes Chapman, who built and opened a store on his premises, where he also placed the office. In 1857 Obed Howes was appointed and moved the office to the store of Prince Howes. Howes Chapman was reappointed in 1861, and again kept the office at his store. Luther Hall was appointed in 1873, keeping the office at the store of his father-in-law, Howes Chapman, until August, 1886, when E. C. Matthews was appointed, who removed the Chapman store and the post office to its present site.
Places of business that could be called stores were carried on here a century ago; but of the first little is known. Oliver Crowell and more than one of the Howes family had very early stores. That kept by Samuel Howes was within the recollection of old residents. Isaac Hall and later Frederick Hall had an early store on the shore. Prince Howes, Freeman Hall, Zebina Howes and Oren Howes were merchants here. Howes Chapman erected a store on his premises in 1845, and here he and Joshua C. Howes then commenced business as Chapman & Howes. In 1847 this firm, with William Crowell and Jeremiah Hall, opened a fishing business at Corporation wharf, as Howes & Crowell.
Ten years prior to this, James Howes, an enterprising citizen, had established the first fishing business at this point, and remained in active management of a business there for twenty years or more. In 1852 the firm of Chapman & Howes dissolved, Mr. Chapman remaining at the old place and Mr. Howes removing to the wharf. In 1856 the firm of Howes & Crowell dissolved, and Joshua C. Howes purchased the entire fishing and store business at the wharf. Six years later he removed the store to his residence, continuing at the wharf, until 1864, the sale of coal and lumber. In 1886 E. C. Matthews purchased the business of Luther Hall, who had succeeded Howes Chapman, and removed the building across the street to the present post office site. In 1887 James H. Davidson also started a store and tin shop west of the burying ground.
The public hall here, now known as Carlton Hall, was originally built in 1820 by the Methodist Society, and was occupied by them as a place of worship until 1847, when the Methodists and Trinitarian North church united in the purchase and use of the present Union church building. At that time the Methodist building was converted into a hall and used in part for school purposes. The private school which was kept in it led to the use of the name Academy Hall, which it bore until 1865, when a company of citizens purchased and trans-
formed it into its present proportions. Since that time it has been known as Carlton Hall. The committee in control for 1890 consisted of Luther Hall, Edmund C. Matthews and Howes Chapman, with Luther Hall secretary and treasurer.
In 1873 the Dennis Library Association, now having 735 volumes, was organized, electing the officers in March, annually. Moses Howes was president of the association until 1886, when Laban Howes was chosen. The trustees are: Thomas P. Howes, Howes Chapman and Joshua C. Howes. Miss Flora Howes has acted as librarian and secretary for the last fourteen years.
This is the oldest and most historic village of the town, but is less important in its business relations than younger villages on the south side of the town. The remains of the old Corporation wharf, east of the Nobscusset House, the old burying ground, and the historical fact of its being set off into the East parish in 1721, are the reminders of former importance. It is the type of a beautiful, rural village nestled between the high ridge of land and the bay.
East Dennis embraces the continuous settlements grouped on Sesuet and Quivet necks, and extends east of Scargo hill. The village is beautifully scattered along the main road leading to Satucket in Brewster, and includes some more sparsely settled neighborhoods. Both necks of land are pleasantly situated, and they excel in fertility. It was here that John Sears, in 1799, after many improvements, obtained a patent, and rendered much assistance to persons engaged in solar evaporation. The manufacture commenced here as early as 1776. The entire surface of Quivet neck adjoining the bay, and the greater part of Sesuet, were covered with vats. Of the Sears and Crowell families, the first on the neck, nearly all the heads engaged in this work. Edmund Sears started his works in 1795 and his son, Edmund, in 1818. In 1803 John Sears, William Crowell, John Crowell and the elder Edmund Sears started an improved set of evaporators and covers on the eastern part of Quivet neck; and one day when they were discussing a proper name for the works, William Crowell suggested the name "John Sears' Folly," which was adopted. In 1804 Jacob Sears built works. Daniel Sears in 1821, and Nathan F. Sears in 1823. Others who were interested were Joshua, Ezra, Thomas and Elkanah Sears, sr. and jr.; also Joseph, Edward and Major John Sears. Of the Crowells we find David, Daniel and Isaac were early manufacturers. Later, others of the Sears family—Elisha and Constant, and Joseph Sears of Brewster, had works on Quivet neck. Ten thousand feet in East Dennis were owned by Kenelm, Isaac, Abraham and Nathaniel Winslow, and Isaac, Abraham and John Chapman owned and run other works here. Still later and further west we find Lothrop Howes, Judah Paddock and his son,
and Enoch and Daniel Hall engaged in the manufacture of salt. On Sesuet neck David, William and Eli Howes, Nathan Crowell, and later Asa Shiverick, had works.
It is easy to conjecture the dotted appearance of three miles of shore when the reader has read the list of enterprising men who successfully operated these plants, which, with their owners, have passed away. One, built by John Sears in 1821, and purchased of B. H. Sears in 1857, is yet to be seen, just east of Quivet harbor. William Sears, an intelligent old gentleman of eighty years, purchased them and during the summer of 1889 made salt. Barnabas H. Sears also has another works on the extreme east end of the neck. Formerly this industry was a profitable one, for the salt was easily transported by vessels to Boston markets.
Ship-building was also a prominent industry. The pioneer in this was Asa Shiverick, who early learned the art from Jeremiah Crowell in the west part of the town. In 1815 Mr. Shiverick built a schooner, and in 1816 he built the Polly for David and Isaiah Crowell and Joseph and Ezra Sears. In 1820 he built his first residence on Sesuet neck and engaged in ship-building near by on his own land. The next vessel of importance was the top-sail schooner Atlas, in 1829. This was in part built from the vessel Atlantic that, loaded with flour, had been cast ashore on Sesuet neck and abandoned. In 1835 and 1838 he launched five vessels. One was the schooner Hope Howes, and another the brig Giraffe. In 1821 he assisted in building a packet for Edmund, Jacob and Judah Sears, which they used between East Dennis and Boston, and which was sold in 1832. His sons, David, Asa and Paul Shiverick, were with him in the business, building the schooners Bride, Grafton, Watchman, John B., West Wind, Walter C. Hall, Joseph K. Baker, Watson Baker, Searsville and others.
They afterward, between 1850 and 1862, built eight ships, which were successively named Revenue, Hippogriffe, Belle of the West. Kit Carson, Wild Hunter, Webfoot, Christopher Hall and Ellen Sears. The first of these was sailed to Boston to be rigged, using only a temporary square sail to give the ship headway: and the others were towed there by steamers for the same purpose. These vessels were built on the meadow just east of the present residence of David Shiverick. They were commanded and manned by men from Dennis.
The old windmill, dismantled and without wings, standing on the hill south of the village, is a monument of the past. It was built in Yarmouth by Gideon Gray and Thomas Sears in 1766. In 1775 it was brought to its present site by John Chapman, William Crowell. Peter Sears and Edmund Sears, who had purchased it. Afterward John Chapman and Isaac Crowell owned it. Abraham Chapman then bought a controlling interest and it was run by him and his children
till 1869, when lightning injured the machinery and it—the last grist mill here—was abandoned.
The places of trade that naturally were open here soon after 1800 could be called stores, for they supplied the wants of the people. Thacher Clark had one during the war of 1812 and many years afterward. James S. Howes followed him in 1842 by a store in that part of the village, commencing in a building on the southwest corner of the premises owned by Mrs. Lydia H. Hall, and in 1854 built his present store, which has since been the post office. The lean-to of the house now occupied by Henry Dillingham was built for a store in 1820 and was kept by Zachary Sears, and later by his wife, Olive, for many years. In 1849 Stillman Kelley came from Harwich and started here in a store and in the fishing trade. In 1850 Seth Sears went into partnership with him, enlarging the business by the purchase of six new vessels for fishing and coast trade. A general store was opened at the wharf by this firm, and about the same time Eben Howes built and opened a store, which H. H. Sears & Co. now occupy. In 1852 Nathan Sears became a partner with Kelley & Sears, and the business was further increased, they having at one time thirteen vessels in mackerel and cod fishing and the coasting trade. Seth Sears died in 1857, and the remaining partners soon after purchased the store of Eben Howes and transferred their stock to it from the store at the wharf. In 1875 they sold to H. H. and Paul F. Sears, who continue to deal in coal, lumber, grain, flour and general merchandise, as long ago established, the heavy articles being kept at the wharf and the lighter at the store. Mr. Kelley brought the first coal by vessel in 1851, and the coal yard of the present firm is an important factor of their trade. The same may be consistently said of the lumber yard established in 1852. The present firm of H. H. Sears & Co. run a fine vessel in their own coasting trade. In 1849 Barnabas Sears kept store for Paul Sears for a short time. Three stores were supplying the people in 1889, kept by H. H. Sears & Co., James S. Howes, and David H. Sears, jr.
This scattered village received its mail from Dennis prior to 1800, and still earlier from Yarmouth, but on January 2, 1828, Thacher Clark was appointed postmaster and for many years kept the office in a store at his house. He resigned, and Judah Paddock was appointed March 6, 1888. After a little, Mr. Paddock built an office on the corner of the street just west of the present office, where he kept it until June 19, 1849, when Lothrop Howes, jr.. was appointed, moving it to the store of his brother, James S. Howes. He died in 1888, and was succeeded September fifth, by James F. Howes.
Worden Hall, so named from the original owner of the site, was erected in 1866, by stockholders, and in 1867 the association was
perfected. F. D. Homer was clerk and treasurer until 1884, and C. Walter Hall, since. About the time this hall was built William F. Howes originated and perfected the plan of a library association, which met at private houses for a short time; but in 1870 Nathaniel Myrick donated to the association the sum of five hundred dollars, which furnished a broader basis of operation. The association was re-formed that year and the library moved to the new hall. Captain Prince S. Crowell by will left five hundred dollars more to the association. The library now numbers twelve hundred volumes and suitable additions are annually made. The name given is the East Dennis Association Library. Officers for 1889: Joshua Crowell, president: David Sheverick, secretary; Nellie L. Crowell, librarian and treasurer: Mrs. M. J. Howes, Samuel Chapman, and George P. Howes, trustees.
East Dennis has many places of interest, sought by the summer visitors. One old house built in 1711, by one of the ancestors of the Sears family, is a memento of the past. Abraham Chapman lives in another house, built in 1740.
Those olden days were days of labor and cheerfulness. With the decline of maritime enterprises came the cultivation of cranberries, in which Dennis as a town has become prominent, as more fully appears at page 147. How changed the habits of latter generations from those of the fathers, who, not content with chasing the monsters of the deep in Arctic seas, had a whale house erected just west of Sesuet harbor, and there watched for the whales in the bay: and when one was espied, how the boats swarmed out to capture him !
South Dennis is the middle village of the three south of the railroad, and extends from the road along Bass river to West Dennis. It was the term formerly applied to the entire south part of the town, but two other brisk villages have usurped the greater portion of the territory. South Dennis is the railway village of the town, and consequently will occupy an enviable position, although of less importance in business. It is a model of rural loveliness, and its long, crooked street is a charming drive. The settlement of the present village very soon succeeded that of the north villages, and the consequent rivalry in church was manifested. The town clerk's office is here, and near by is the town house and the poor house. The pleasant residences give ample evidence of thrift and enjoyment. Bass river upper bridge here gives traveling facilities to the westward.
The building of vessels of small tonnage and the manufacture of salt were quite extensively engaged in early in the present century, but the evidences were long ago extinct. The Baker family were prominent, and fifty years ago were doing so much of the business that the settlement was called "Bakertown." Joshua Baker had a store; Peter and John Baker also kept stores, and Peter kept a tavern.
The old wind mill, the three stores, the tavern, and the fishing vessels of the Bakers made it a lively center. The wind mill near Grand cove was the scene of many important telegraphic communications. It stood on the knoll northwest of L. M. Gage's present residence, and its upper port holes, or windows, commanded a view of the highland in the north part of the town, on which a flag was hoisted when a Boston packet was entering Nobscusset harbor. As soon as the lookout in the wind mill saw the flag, he went to a pole erected on the triangular piece of land between the highways, near Mr. Gage's, and hoisted a flag, which communicated the news to West Harwich, South Yarmouth and the remaining portion of Dennis, that the "packet was in." They told of the departure of the packet by hoisting the day before it sailed a ball or barrel. These messages, delivered many miles so rapidly and effectively, are yet remembered by the more aged, who, in those days of no railroads, went to North Dennis for their goods at the first mentioned signal, and at the second carried to the packet produce and articles of exchange for the Boston market.
Peter Baker had a tavern here early in the history at the village, and Elkanah S. Baker started another in 1868 in the premises opposite L. M. Gage's. This was discontinued at his death in 1884. Mrs. L. B. Nickerson still keeps the Nickerson House—a tavern started in 1875 by her husband, who died in 1883.
The later stores have been generally kept by the Bakers. In 1862 Reuben and Jethro Baker opened a store, which was sold to Watson F. Baker, in October, 1874, and it is yet a principal store of South Dennis. Marshall S. Underwood kept a store where the post office is until his death, in 1873, and Charles M., his son, continues it. Charles G. Baker has a general store by the depot.
The mail was delivered to the citizens of the south part at North Dennis until January 9, 1822, when Miller Whelden was made the first postmaster at South Dennis. Eleazer Nickerson was appointed December 15, 1828, postmaster for South Dennis, and received the mail at Miller Whelden's house, where Charles Baker now resides. Whelden was his assistant in carrying the mail and waiting upon the people. Watson Baker was postmaster from January 21, 1847, and had the office a short time in the present Liberty Hall, and May 29, 1869, Marshall S. Underwood was appointed, moved it to the present site, and in 1873 was succeeded by Charles M. Underwood.
Liberty Hall was once a store occupied by Baker & Downs. In 1844 it was moved to its present site by Watson Baker and Isaac Downs; then it was sold to Collins C. Baker, for Joseph C. Baker, who sold it twenty years ago to a stock company, which transformed the upper floor into a convenient hall. The Good Templars meet in the hall, and although only organized February 7, 1889, with twenty-two members, they had increased to sixty-six in the third quarter.
West Dennis is a thriving village in the extreme southwestern part of the town, and is separated from and connected with South Yarmouth village by the lower Bass River bridge. Much of the business is done, and many of the business men of West Dennis are interested, at South Yarmouth. In fact the villages of South Yarmouth, West Dennis, South Dennis, Dennis Port and West Harwich together form a continuous, beautiful New England village. The oldest settlers well remember the first ferry across the river just below, and which was superseded by the present bridge. The bridge was first the property of certain stockholders in West Dennis and South Yarmouth, and toll was taken for crossing; but about 1870 it was made free to the public, Dennis purchasing four-elevenths, Yarmouth four, Harwich one, and the county two-elevenths. The Bass river at this point is wide, and the bridge is a long and important structure, having a drawbridge for the passage of vessels. On the Dennis side of Bass river, salt works were once numerous, and John and Barney Baker were the principal owners. Small vessels were built in the vicinity, and this village has for many years sustained a large share in the business of coasting and fishing. About 1854 Elisha Crowell and Luther Studley built here the schooner West Dennis, the brig John Freeman, and another schooner, probably the Sylvanus Allen.
From the conflicting statements of those who can date from memory only, it is impossible to chronologically arrange the names of merchants of the past century. This part of Dennis was first served by stores at what is now South Dennis. In 1871 Hiram D. Loring opened a dry goods and grocery store in West Dennis, and in 1885 added boots and shoes to his stock. In 1889 he purchased the dry goods and clothing stock formerly belonging to John L. Crowell, 2nd, and now is proprietor of both stores. The store now occupied by T. T. Baxter was formerly owned by Uriah H. Crowell and occupied by him as a general store. February 10, 1872, the business and building were purchased by Baker & Baxter, who added furniture, carpets and harness-making to the other business. After two years Thacher T. Baxter became sole proprietor. The store building was enlarged by Baker & Baxter, and since T. T. Baxter owned it an important addition has been made almost every year, until it now is a large block with many departments and classes of goods. George L. Davis opened a hardware store here, which he continued until his death in 1876. The same year S. A. Chase opened another hardware store just east of Baxter's Block, and in 1883 he purchased Thacher's Hall and moved it to the site he now occupies. In 1888 he added to the building, making it a commodious and central place for his business. The first regular jewelry store in the town was opened in 1879 by John Baxter, on the corner where Thomas Baxter formerly sold boots
and shoes. Fancy goods have been added to the stock of watches and jewelry. In 1864 Luther Fisk and Andrew Baker built the present grocery store of Calvin F. Baker, where the business began. Fisk sold to Joseph Eldridge and the business was conducted by Eldridge & Baker, then by Z. T. Gage. William Kelley succeeded him, and he in turn was succeeded by Mary E. Gage, who in 1883 sold to Calvin F. Baker. Joseph F. Thacher in 1864 built and opened a shop for the wheelwright trade, and in 1870 added, with a stock of painters' supplies, the business of undertaking. Alter his death, in 1880, C. N. Thacher, his son, continued the business.
On the knoll adjoining Grand cove Judah Baker built a wind grist mill in 1803. This was of great importance at that day, and it served the public many years under the control of the builder, who was succeeded by his son, Peter, until just before the civil war, when it was removed to South Yarmouth by its purchaser, Freeman Crowell. In 1884 Thacher T. Baxter built the steam grist mill now doing efficient service in West Dennis. The power being sufficient, in 1886 Sears Crowell placed in the second story of the mill, six tack machines, and in 1887 four more. He and Mr. Baxter did business as the West Dennis Tack Company, until the fall of 1889, when the machines were sold and removed.
The Casey Brothers' shoe factory was incorporated in 1887 as a stock company. A building, forty by one hundred feet, and three stories high, was erected. The stock is in 240 shares held by forty-eight persons. The building and machinery are complete for its business, and one hundred hands find employment, manufacturing ten thousand cases of foot wear annually for the western trade. Edwin Baxter is president of the company and William B. Bowne treasurer. John A. and James E. Casey are the efficient managers. The machinery is operated, the building heated, and ample fire pumps run by steam power.
The citizens here went across to South Yarmouth for their mail until February 22, 1833, when Luther Child was appointed postmaster and kept the office at his house. Salmon Crowell, jr., in June, 1853, was appointed, and also kept the office at his residence. In 1861, Zadoc Crowell was made postmaster, keeping it in his store by his dwelling, until Salmon Crowell was re-appointed in 1872. He removed the office to the building that was burned in 1884. In 1881 Hiram D. Loring was made postmaster and kept the office at his store until 1886, when in May he was succeeded by Allen S. Crowell. The office then was moved to the harness shop of S. F. Baker. Mr. Crowell was postmaster three years, being succeeded in May, 1889, by James H. Jenks, jr. Mail is received twice daily, from the South Dennis railroad station.
In the spring of 1888 a lodge of Royal Good Fellows was organized
with sixty members. The society meets monthly in Chase's Hall, and now numbers seventy-five members. Sylvester F. Baker was the chief officer for 1889, and Harvey Jenks, secretary. A lodge of Good Templars was organized October 16, 1888, with twenty-five members, which increased within one year, to ninety-four. These, with the usual W. C. T. U., and society of Christian Endeavor in connection with the church, constitute the present social organizations. In 1854 a lodge of Masons was organized here, called the Benjamin Franklin. Meetings were held for several years in the second story of what is now John Freeman's dwelling, but so many members were sea-faring men that the lodge thought best to surrender its charter and affiliated with Mount Horeb Lodge of Dennis and Harwich.
Doric Hall was in 1872 called Union Hall. A stock company purchased it in 1879, moved it to its present site, refitted it, and gave it the present name.
Bass river is navigable to West Dennis by coasters, which greatly aids in the transportation of coal, flour, grain, lumber and heavy merchandise. Hiram Loring for many years kept a packet running to and from New York, in his own business, and James Crowell now keeps and runs a packet to supply his coal yard at West Dennis. Others there are similarly engaged.
Dennis Port is easterly from South Dennis, and includes the southeast portion of the town. It once was designated as Crocker's Neck, but has been known as Dennis Port, for about thirty years, since it was so named, by Thomas Howes, the first postmaster of the village. The citizens had received their mail at West Harwich, but when this became disadvantageous they petitioned for an office, which was granted. The village is adjacent to West Harwich, the main street of both forming one continuous village. Two streets pass southerly to the sound and along these are business places. At the shore, from these streets are two substantial piers for the coasting, fishing and mercantile business.
This village was properly called Dennis Port, for it has the best maritime advantages of any of the villages of Dennis; and in the fishing and coasting business it now excels. The oldest of the wharves, the westerly one, was built in 1849 by the grandfather and father of Samuel S. Baker, the present owner. The other wharf was built in 1888 and belongs to the Dennis Port Fishing Company, of which J. P. Edwards is the representative. The company started in 1885 with four new schooners, built at Essex, and from this wharf and the fitting store kept by Mr. Edwards, three of the vessels make trips in mackerel fishing and to the Banks for cod. In 1879 Nehemiah Wixon built and opened a grocery store on the street leading to the sound.