Chatham Massachusetts, 1890
Chatham occupies the extreme southeastern angle alike of Cape Cod and of Barnstable County; and, being indented by numerous coves, harbors, creeks and inlets, is, topographically, one of the most irregular towns in the Commonwealth. It has Pleasant Bay, separating it from Orleans, on the north; the ocean on the east and south; and Harwich on the west. The assessed area is 4,476 acres, in which there are but 275 acres of wood-land. It has 512 dwelling-houses, with 2,028 inhabitants, who are hardy and industrious people; more than half the number of voters (601) being engaged in maritime pursuits.
The surface of the town is varied by a succession of sand-hills (often changing), villages, creeks and fresh-water ponds. Of the last there are more than thirty; and several of them during the summer are covered with the beautiful white lily. Goose Pond, containing 66 acres, is the largest. Nauset Beach is a long, sandy strip of land, that extends for many miles between the mainland and the sea at the east; the enclosed waters constituting Chatham Harbor. The sea has made the southern half of this strip into an island by a breach through it. Monomoy is a long and narrow island, running about 10 miles southward, slightly turned to the west and appears to have been once a continuation of Nauset Beach. Harding's Beach Point is another long sand-spit running southeasterly from the middle of the southern side of the town, forming Oyster Harbor. From the head of this harbor a narrow frith runs northeast into the land, and connects with Oyster Pond.
There is a powerful light at Monomoy Point, and two light vessels off Chatham Shore; while Chatham Harbor Light includes two round towers 43 feet high, set 100 feet apart, with the white dwelling of the keeper between. There is also a life-saving station of the United States system at the most exposed section. Great Hill, near the centre of the town, is the highest point of land, and from it Nantucket can sometimes be seen. This hill has been made much use of in the scientific surveys.
South Chatham, the first station in the town, is 88 miles from Boston by the Old Colony Railroad. The other stations in the town are West Chatham, and Chatham, on the harbor. The post-offices are these, with Chatham Port and North Chatham Along the streets are numerous silver poplars and willows. The forest growth is oak and pine.
The farms number 21; and there are 300 acres devoted to the culture of cranberries. The aggregate farm product in 1885 was $18,136. The town contains 24 manufacturing establishments, consisting of boot and shoe shops, a wind grain-mill, a ship-yard, a brickyard, a carriage factory and some others. Their aggregate product in the year mentioned was $27,576. Sixteen vessels belonging in Chatham ports were engaged in the fisheries. The largest item in this industry was mackerel; cod, pollock and shad, also, being caught in large numbers. The aggregate value of the fisheries in the same year was $95,322. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $638,103; and the rate of taxation was $17 on $1,000.
Chatham has graded schools, with seven school-houses, estimated; with appurtenances, at about $12,000. There are two association libraries, and four Sunday-school libraries, aggregating about 3,000 volumes. The "Chatham Monitor" is an excellent local paper. There are here churches of the Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Universalists. The town furnished 256 men to our army and navy during the late war of whom 13 were lost; and to the memory of these a handsome monument has been raised.
The Indian name of this town is Monomoy, which now attaches only to its southern island. Governor William Bradford visited the place in the Plymouth shallop to purchase corn, in the first voyage o£ the Pilgrims around the Cape. The land was bought of the sachem by William Nickerson in 1665, and a settlement soon commenced Among the early settlers were the purchaser, Thomas Hinckley, John Freeman and Nathaniel Bacon. The descendants of these men are very numerous. The village or district of "Manamoit" was incorporated as a town, June 11, 1712; being named, perhaps, in honor of the Earl of Chatham
A church was organized June 15, 1720, and the Rev. Joseph Lord was ordained pastor. There was preaching in town anterior to this, as may be seen from the following quaint extract from the early and almost illegible records:
"At a town meeting held at Monamoyit the 4 day of January in the year of our Lord, 1703, and then ye inhabitants ded agree with Gasham Hall to come to us & to dispense the word of God amonkes ous on Sabbath dayes and the inhebitanse did agree to pay him the said Gasham hall twenty pound yearly so long as he continew in that work.
"Recorded by me, William Nickerson, Clorke of Monamoy."
This town has furnished many brave and skilful seamen to the country, and is noted for the number of its sea-captains.
pp. 228-230 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890,
Barnstable county 1890, Gazetteer 1890