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No. 78. 


Cape Cod 


Delivered By 


AUGUST 1, 1912 
on the Occasion of the 


of the 


Confined Chiefly to the Period 
Before 1860. 


C. W. SWIFT, Publisher and Printer, 

The "Register" Press, 



Delivered By 


AUGUST 1, 1912 
on the Occasion of the 


of the 


Confined Chiefly to the Period 
Before 1860. 


C. W. SWIFT, Publisher and Printer, 

The "Register" Press, 



ECI.A328045 ^_ 


In May, 1602, the English bark "Concord," under command of Barthol- 
omew Gosnold, rounded Monomoy Point and anchored in the bay, but 
the first Europeans to land here were a party of Frenchmen, including 
the famous explorer Samuel de Champlain, who spent about three 
weeks in Stage Harbor in October, 1606, on board their little craft of 
eighteen tons. They made considerable explorations, and their account 
with a map of the locality has come down to us. Their relations with 
the natives were at first friendly, but hostilities arose, which resulted 
in the death of four white men and no doubt of many Indians. On 
account of their misfortunes, the Frenchmen, by a contradiction in 
account of their misfortunes, the Frenchmen called the harbor Port Un- 

The next important event is the visit on a trading expedition late 
in 1622 of Gov. Bradford of Plymouth with a party of Englishmen, who 
obtained here eight hogsheads of corn and beans. Gov. Bradford had 
with him as interpreter and guide the Indian Tisquantum or Squanto, 
who had entered the Plymouth settlement in March, 1621, and had been 
an almost indispensable aid to the Pilgrims in their relations with the 
natives, and in teaching them how to plant corn and where to fish. 
While here this faithful friend died and doubtless was buried. 

This town was incorporated under the name of Chatham by an act 
of the General Court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay passed June 
11, 1712, in the reign of Queen Anne. It was named for Chatham in 
England, but just why that name was chosen rather than the name of 
some other English town is not known. It had been previously known 
by its Indian name, which the English generally wrote Mannamoiett, 
but pronounced Monomoit, and which still remains in Monomoy, the des- 
ignation of the beach that stretches southerly from the town. Nearly 
fifty years before its incorporation, in 1664, in the reign of Charles II, it 
had been settled by William Nickerson, who came down from Yar- 
mouth (having previously lived for a time in Boston), accompanied, or 
soon followed, by Robert, Samuel, John, William and Joseph, five of his 
six sons, and by his three daughters, Elizabeth, Anne and Sarah, with 
their husbands, Robert Eldred, Trustrum Hedges, and Nathaniel Covel. 
William Nickerson was a weaver of Norwich, England. He was born 
about 1604, and came to this country in 1637 with his wife Anne (daugh- 
ter of Nicholas Busby) and four children, five children being born to 
him after his arrival. He was a religious man, a man of some educa- 

Especial credit must be given to William C. Smith, author of the 

"History of Chatham," without whose judicious investigations carried 

on through many years this account of Chatham could not have been 

tion, of much natural intelligence, of force and energy, and of a will 
strong to the point of obstinacy. He did not easily submit to the con- 
trol of the governing powers of the Colony. He was the ancestor of all 
the great tribe of Nickersons that draw their origin from the Cape, and 
there are not many descendants of the other ancient families of this 
vicinity that do not, through the marriages of his female descendants, 
carry his blood in their veins. He died in 1689 or 1690, aged at least 
85 years. His wife, born about 1609, had probably died a year or 
two before. They were probably buried on the hill near their home, 
where some graves are still visible. Descendants of Robert Eldred 
dwell in this town today, though not all the Eldredges here are of 
his line. Trustrum Hedges, so far as we know,, left no son. Nathaniel 
Covel left several sons. One of his sons, Nathaniel, and a grandson, 
James Covel, held prominent public office here, but the name has long 
been extinct in the town. 

William Nickerson built his house west of, and near the head of Ry- 
der's Cove. His son, Samuel Nickerson, and his son-in-law, Nathaniel 
Covel, located on the Eldredge Neck, between Crow's Pond and Ryder's 
Cove. John Nickerson built a house between the White Pond on the 
south and Emery's Pond on the north. Robert Eldred's house was 
near that now occupied by John K. Kendrick. Trustrum Hedges lived 
on the neck in West Chatham between the Oyster Pond river and 
Buck's Creek, then known as Ragged Neck, and later as Harding's Neck. 
William Nickerson, Jr., after 1689, built a house at Old Harbor, but 
moved about 1700 to the Stephen Smith neighborhood. Joseph Nicker- 
son resided on Pleasant Bay west of Crow's Pond. Nicholas Eldred, 
son of Robert, before his death in 1702 lived south of the White Pond. 
Between this date and 1720, among the inhabitants of the town were 
William Nickerson, son of John, who lived in the vicinity of the pres- 
ent Davis residence; Joseph Eldredge, son of Robert, who lived on 
Stage Neck not far away; Jehosaphat Eldred from Yarmouth, west of 
Crow's Pond; John Ryder, on Ryder's Cove; John Taylor, near Taylor's 
Pond in South Chatham; Nathan Bassett, near the East Harwich meet- 
ing house; Richard Sears, in the Village; Daniel Sears, his brother, 
who soon after 1710 built the Sears house that stood until 1863 on the 
site above the Soldiers' Monument; Isaac Hawes, in the Samuel D. Clif- 
ford neighborhood; Thomas Howes, who owned land on both sides of 
tbe road, near where the late Joshua Howes resided, and who probably 
resided on the spot where William C. Smith now lives; Thomas Doane, 
who owned much land between the White Pond and Oyster Pond river 
and elsewhere in West Chatham. The oldest house now standing in 
the town is the one on the Stage Harbor road, formerly occupied by 
John Atwood. It was built by his grandfather, Joseph Atwood, probably 
before 1750. The region north and west of the ©Id burying ground 

became the chief center of the town and so remained till about 1830. 
The land a little west of the burying ground is high and commands a 
fine view, while from the Great Hill not far away a marine view sel- 
dom excelled may be obtained. 

The early settlers of Chatham came chiefly from Yarmouth on the 
west and Eastham on the north. They were mostly grandchildren, but 
in some instances, children of the immigrant settlers of those towns. 
From Yarmouth, besides William Nickerson and his family, came the 
Bassett, Crowell, Hawes, Howes, Ryder, Sears, Taylor and other fam- 
ilies. From Eastham came the Atkins, Atwood, Doane, Godfrey, 
Harding, Smith and other families. As early as 1656 William Nicker- 
son had bargained for land here with Mattaquason, Sachem of Monomoit, 
but as he had done so without the consent of the Colonial authorities, 
he became involved in a long controversy with them, which was 
settled in 1672 by his paying 90 pounds to certain grantees of the 
colony, and obtaining from them and from Mattaquason and John Quason, 
his son, deeds that covered all the central portion of the town, and 
also Stage Neck, with certain rights of pasturage. In 1679 he bought 
from John Quason for 20 pounds the land west of that tract to the Har- 
wich bounds. He had thus purchased not less than 4,000 acres, com- 
prising all but the eastern portion of the town where now North Chat- 
ham and the village lie. To this he added certain meadow land 
bought of John Quason in 1682. His son William Nickerson purchased 
the North Chatham region in 1689, and Samuel Smith of Eastham 
bought in 1691 the tract east of the Mill Pond known as Tom's Neck. 
The land in the west and southwest part of the town was reserved as 
common land, to which the owners of other tracts had certain rights. 
These lands were divided in 1712. 

The Indians in Monomoit were chiefly in the eastern portion, which 
had not been purchased by Nickerson. Champlain on his visit reported 
the number as 500 or 600, but in this estimate were probably included 
a good many from the neighborhood whom curiosity to see the white 
men had led here. The pestilence of 1616 seems to have reduced the 
population, for Gov. Bradford in 1622 says the Indians were few. They 
with others on the Cape were at first under the care of Mr. Richard 
Bourne of Mashpee, who reported 71 praying Indians here in' 1614, and 
afterwards of the Rev. Samuel Treat of Eastham. In 1685 the number 
of praying Indians in Monomoit was reported by Gov. Hinckley as 115, 
and according to his estimate the Indian population would have been 
400 or 500. Probably some of these lived outside the bounds of Chat- 
ham. In 1698 there were 14 Indian houses at Monomoit, and an Indian 
population of probably between 50 and 70. For the use of the Indians 
in the vicinity, a meeting house was early erected near the East Har- 
wich Methodist Church within the present limits of Chatham. Within 


100 years of the settlement of William Nickerson the Indian population 
had become extinct, the Provincial census of 1765 reporting no Indians 
in Chatham, although there were four in Eastham and 91 in Harwich. 
Indeed in 1759, guardians were appointed for the Indians of Harwich, 
Yarmouth and Eastham, but none for Chatham, indicating there were 
few, if any, there then. 

In 1665 Monomoit was placed under the jurisdiction of Yarmouth, but 
this relation being found inconvenient because of the remoteness of 
Yarmouth and for other reasons, in 1688 the settlement was placed 
under the jurisdiction of Eastham, which then included Orleans and ad- 
joined Monomoit. In 1679 the village was made a constablewick, with 
power to choose a constable and a grand juryman. In 1680 it was re- 
quired to raise two pounds towards 160 pounds levied to meet the 
Colony expenses. In 1690 the assessed valuation of the county was 
11,687 pounds. Monomoit's share was but 505 pounds, only Succonessett 
(later Falmouth) being assessed at a smaller sum. In 1691 the village 
was empowered to send a deputy to the General Court at Plymouth, 
and it thenceforth exercised the functions of a town, though not incor- 
porated as such. The existing town records begin in 1693. In 1692 the 
Plymouth colony and the Colony of Massachusetts Bay were united in 
the province of Massachusetts Bay, which later became the Common- 
wealth of Massachusetts. 

In 1674 William Nickerson began to sell tracts of his land to other 
settlers, and about 1690 individuals began to make purchases from the 
Indians of the lands not bought by Nickerson. Some cf the early 
settlers soon left, but others took their places. At the time of the 
union cf the colonies, Monomoit contained about 150 inhabitants. This 
number increased to 300 or more, when it was reduced to about 200 the 
year before incorporation by removals due to the lack cf a settled 
minister, to high taxes, and to fear cf impressment. The population of 
the entire province in 1712 was between 70,000 and 80,000. 

The infant settlement bore its share in King Philip's war in 1675 and 
1676, contributing not only in taxes, but also sending five men, William 
Nickerson, Jr., John, Joseph and Benjamin Downing, and John Nesfield, 
the last named being killed in battle. John Taylor of Yarmouth, who 
afterwards settled here, also served in that war. England for many 
years was engaged in wars with France, which involved the colonies 
of the two countries. These wars fall into three periods, 1690 to 1697, 
1702 to 1713, and with an interval 1744 to 1763, when the French col- 
onies were ceded to England. This town from its position was peculiar- 
ly exposed to attack from the ocean. It had to keep ready to repel 
any such attack, and was also obliged to furnish its quota of men for 
distant expeditions. In 1712 Governor Dudley, upon petition cf the in- 
habitants, directed, because of their weakness and the danger of French 


privateers, that without his special order, "no men of the foot company 
of the place be taken by impress for any service other than in their 
own village". The petition refers to their exposed position in these 
terms: "We are the most exposed to the invasion and spoil of the 
French privateers of any town on the Cape, we having a good harbor 
for a vessel of fifty tons to run into and to ride at anchor within mus- 
ket shot of several of our houses fronting on Oyster Cove and near our 
Stage Neck." At later dates however, the press gangs were active, 
and from a petition for compensation presented to the General Court 
in 1760, it appears that the following, most of whom were Chatham 
men, were impressed July 10th and returned home December 24, 1759, 
having billeted themselves for three weeks of their service: 
George Bearse, Daniel Howes, Jr., 

Abner Eldredge, Caleb Nickerson, 

Jonathan Godfrey, Henry Wilson. 

Thomas Harding, Archelaus Smith and 

Jethro Higgins, Henry Wilson. 

They received 14 shillings each for billeting and 1 pound, 11 shillings 
and 8 pence for wages, except in the case of Abner Eldredge, who re- 
ceived 18 shillings and 10 pence for wages. 

In early times all the male inhabitants of military age were organized 
as a militia, and exercised in arms. Those cf each town formed a 
company, with a captain and in some cases an ensign or lieutenant. 
As early as 1681, the inhabitants of Monomoit were ordered to choose 
a fit man to exercise them and to provide them with fixed arms and 
ammunition. Each year there was a general training, and this prac- 
tice was kept up till about 1830, the training ground being northwest 
of the old cemetery near the residence occupied for a time by John 
Topping and later by Samuel D. Clifford. 


Before the close of the French war, the Colonies began to be stirred 
by the action of England. In 1761 an act was passed by Parliament 
which permitted general search warrants authorizing the customs of- 
ficers to enter stores and dwellings to look for merchandise which it 
was claimed had not paid duty. When the officers were resisted and 
applied to the courts for writs of assistance, James Otis, a native of 
Barnstable, appeared against the application and argued that such writs 
were illegal and unconstitutional. The people of Massachusetts were 
greatly aroused. In 1765 the Stamp Act still farther aggravated the 
feeling against the mother country. This act authorized the sending 
of troops to the Colonies, for which the Colonists were to find quarters 
and necessaries. Although this act was repealed in 1766, it was fol- 
lowed by another, the next year, which imposed other taxes equally in 
violation of the right of no taxation without representation maintained 


by the Colonies. There followed, before the actual outbreak of hostil- 
ities, much controversy between the Colonists and the royal officers in 
the province. 

In pursuance of the proceedings of a town meeting in Boston, held 
on the 12th and 13th of September, 1768, the' selectmen of that town 
addressed a letter to the other towns advising the sending of delegates 
to a convention to meet in Boston on the 22d of that month. Upon 
receipt of this letter a town meeting was called in Chatham, which met 
September 26th and approved the call for a convention, but, owing to 
the low, declining circumstances of the town, "as being a very small 
and poor town which had of late been exposed to several distressing 
reductions," they declined to send a delegate. The selectmen, Joseph 
Doane, James Covel and John Hawes, were appointed a committee to 
draw up a communication to the convention in answer to the Boston 
letter. This committee on the 2Sth presented a report, in effect acqui- 
escing in the views of the Boston meeting, which was unanimously 
adopted. The convention met in Boston September 22, 1768, and was 
in session six days. Its action was a protest against taxation by the 
British Parliament and against a standing army and other usurpations 
of British power. 

In November, 1772, the citizens of Boston in town meeting, on motion 
of Samuel Adams, appointed a committee of correspondence, "to state 
the rights of the colonists, and of this province in particular, as men 
and Christians, and as subjects; and to communicate and publish the 
same to the several towns, and to the world, as the sense of this town, 
with the infringements and violations thereof that have been or from 
time to time may be made." 

A letter having been received in Chatham from the Boston committee, 
a town meeting was held December 17, 1772, when a committee of nine, 
consisting of James Covel, Paul Sears, Seth Smith, John Hawes, 
Barnabas Eldredge, Samuel Collins, Joseph Atwood, Thomas Hamilton, 
and Richard Sears, was appointed to consider the grievances laid be- 
fore them by the town of Boston and to report at an adjourned meet- 
ing. While by law legal voters had to have certain property qualifi- 
cations, it was agreed that at this meeting all male inhabitants over 21 
years of age should have a vote. On the 29th of December, the com- 
mittee, styling itself the "committee of correspondence," reported the 
form of a letter to the selectmen of Boston, which, after careful consid- 
eration, was approved. The letter thanked the people of Boston for 
their action, agreed with their statement of rights and grievances, 
expressed the hope that such measures would be taken in a constitution- 
al way as should redress the grievances already suffered and prevent 
those that were threatening, and indicated alarm at the governor's be- 
ing made independent of provincial grants, and at the report that the 


judges and other officers were to be made so independent, as having a 
direct tendency to compass their slavery. The Chatham committee felt 
themselves at loss what measures to advise, but expressed their con- 
fidence in the wisdom of the men of Boston, who inhabited the metrop- 
olis and had superior means of information. The letter expressed the 
great concern the people of the town had for their charter rights and 
privileges, looking upon their civil and religious privileges as the sweet- 
est and essential part of their lives, and, if these were torn from them, 
considering the remainder as scarce worth preserving. Barry in his 
History of Massachusetts refers to this letter from Chatham, a small 
and exposed town, in a complimentary tone. 

October 24, 1774, the town \oted to send a committee of three, con- 
sisting of Joseph Doane, Nathan Bassett and Thomas Hamilton, to a 
County Congress; appointed Joseph Doane and Richard Sears a commit- 
tee to receive contributions, and confirmed the Committee of Corres- 
pondence. The County Congress was held at Barnstable November 16th, 
and Captain Joseph Doane from this town took an active part. 

The legislature having been called by Gov. Gage to meet at Salem 
on October 5, 1774, and the call having been countermanded by him, 
the members met on the 7th and resolved themselves into a Provincial 

"to take into consideration the dangerous and alarming situation of 
public affairs in this province, and to consult and determine on such 
measures as they shall judge will tend to promote the true interest 
of his majesty, and the peace, wellfare and prosperity of the prov- 

Chatham was represented in this Congress by Capt. Joseph Doane. It 
recommended, among other things, if I may use a modern term, a boy- 
cott on tea. A third congress met May 31st, 1775, and Chatham was 
again represented by Joseph Doane, then styled "Colonel". 

At a town meeting December 27, 1774, a considerable number of 
persons signed the association recommended by the Provincial Con- 
gress not to drink or use any tea after March 1st following. 

On January IS, 1775, the military company was reorganized. Lieut. 
Benjamin Godfrey was made captain; Mr. Richard Sears lieutenant; 
Mr. Joseph Crowell ensign, and Mr. John Emery military clerk. The 
town clerk remarks that all this was very pleasing to the citizens. 
Capt. Godfrey commanded a company at the battle of Bunker Hill. 

August 13, 1776, the town raised 32 pounds for bounty for soldiers 
who enlisted in the Northern Department, and 16 pounds, four shillings 
for powder bought for the town's use. 

December 14, 1776, the selectmen reported that they had procured 
nine men to go to Rhode Island for three months, at a bounty of nine 
pounds and fourteen shillings each. May 19, 1777. additional bounty was 


voted. The town also agreed to take care of the families of soldiers. 

In January, 1776, under a call for troops, a regiment had been raised 
in Plymouth and Barnstable counties. Thomas Hamilton, of Chatham, 
was adjutant. About the same time the Cape was divided into two 
regiments, Chatham falling into the second, of which Joseph Doane be- 
came colonel. Another call for troops was made the same year, Chat- 
ham's quota being 26. In April, 1778, five men were called for from 
the town. In 1779 there was a further call and in December, 1780, a 
call for nine men. In the meantime there had been calls on the town 
for clothing and provisions for the army. 

February 22, 1778, the selectmen and James Ryder, lieutenant of the 
militia company, reported that there had been raised in the town in 
1777 ten men for three years and 20 men for eight months. Of these, 
Sergeant Hyatt Young and Benjamin Bassett served during the war. 
Joseph Young, son of Hyatt, was among the eight months' men. Hyatt 
Young had served in the previous French war. A monument to him 
and his son Joseph stands in the Universalist Cemetery. John Young, 
who served in 1776, and enlisted for three years in 1777, was reported 
drowned in 1778. 

In September, 1778, Capt. Benjamin Godfrey's company and Capt. 
Nathan Bassett's company of Chatham men, on an alarm to Falmouth 
and New Bedford, served for a few days. Chatham men were also 
on short term service in Rhode Island and at the throwing up of in- 
trenchments at Dorchester Heights in the spring of 1776, when Gen. 
Washington drove the British from Boston. 

The Cape men were largely in service on the Coast Guard, Capt. 
Thomas Hamilton's company, which consisted mostly of Chatham men, 
served on the coast from July to December, 1775. Cape Cod men were 
largely drawn upon to man the numerous privateers that preyed upon 
the British commerce. Among others the sloop "Wolf," of which Capt. 
Nathaniel Freeman of Harwich (now Brewster) was commissioned mas- 
ter September 13, 1776, Joseph Doane of Chatham being lieutenant, 
had Chatham men in her crew. She had a brief career, being soon after 
sailing captured by a British 74 gun ship disguised as a merchantman. 
The crew were carried to Brooklyn, N. Y., and placed in the prison 
ships, but were exchanged at Newport, R. I., February 11, 1777. 

No doubt many local incidents occurred during the Revolutionary war 
of which there is no record. One has been preserved. June 20, 1782, 
a British privateer sent some men into the harbor under cover of dark- 
ness and took possession of a brigantine. They hoisted the British flag 
on her and attempted to take her and a sloop out of the harbor under 
protection of the guns of the privateer. But the local military company, 
under Col. Benjamin Godfrey and Capt. Joseph Doane, assembled on 


the shore and by a well-directed fire compelled the British to abandon 
the vessels, and they were recaptured. 

WAR OF 1812. 

The embargo laid at the end of 1807, which prohibited foreign com- 
merce and placed restrictions on the coasting trade, was much felt here, 
and in 1809 a town meeting was held, which adopted a petition to 
Congress against it. In 1812 there was a majority against the war 
with Great Britain, and the town meeting expressed abhorrence of any 
alliance with France. During this war many of the young men, being 
driven from the sea, went to Rhode Island and other inland places, to 
work on farms. It is not likely that many men from the town took part 
in the war. Zenas Young, whom some of us remember, was on the 
Constitution, in 1815, in the fight when she captured the Cyane and the 
Levant. In one of his fights he received a pike wound in boarding. 
Levi Eldredge, a native of the town, but then resident in Maine, was 
wounded in the battle of Lundy's Lane, July 25, 1814, and died of his 
wounds in Buffalo, N. Y. David Godfrey was an officer on the privateer 
Reindeer, of which Joseph Doane was lieutenant. 


After the firing on Fort Sumter, public meetings were held in sup- 
port of the Union, at which money was pledged and volunteers were 
obtained. The first official action of the town was taken in town 
meeting, July 22, 1862, when a bounty of $200 was voted to each vol- 
unteer, and $4 a month was pledged to each member of the families of 
enlisted men, but not to exceed $18 a month to any one family. The 
Adjutant General of the Commonwealth reports that: 

'"The quota for Chatham during the Civil war was 232 men, under 

various calls. The town actually furnished 264 men. In addition 

to that, six men served in the navy from Chatham and twenty-two 

were assigned' and credited thereto, making a total of 292. No 

doubt a number of Chatham men enlisted in other communities and 

perhaps other states." 

Not all the men referred to were residents of the town. Among the 
residents were the following in Massachusetts volunteer infantry reg- 
18th regiment, 3 years, Company H: 

Charles H. Lyman, enlisted Aug. 24, 1861; discharged for disability 
Jan 28, 1863. 
26th regiment, 3 years, Company I: 

Augustus H. Eldredge, who enlisted at New Orleans May 11, 1863, 
and died there September 3d following. 
39th regiment, 3 years, August 1862 to 1865. 

Rev. Edward B. French, Chaplain. 



Alvah Ryder, corporal; discharged for disability November 26, 1862. 

Benjamin Batchelder, wagoner; transferred September 7, 1862, to the 
Veteran Reserve Corps. 

James Blauvelt, transferred July 9, 1863, to the Veteran Reserve Corps. 

Joseph N. Bloomer; discharged for disability March 2, 1863. 

Prince Eldridge, Jr., transferred to the navy April 21, 1864. 

Daniel W. Ellis. 

William A. Gould. 

Nathaniel Smith, discharged for disability June 12, 1863. 

Eric M. Snow, discharged for disability May 26, 1863. 

43d regiment of 9 months' men, from September 20, 1862, to July 30, 


Charles M. Upman, at first sergeant, and then 2d lieutenant; re-en- 
listed in the 58th regiment, becoming captain; killed at Cold Harbor 
June 3, 1864. 

William H. Harley, sergeant; re-enlisted in the 58th regiment, becom- 
ing captain; killed at Spotsylvania, Va., May 12, 1864. 

John W. Atwood, sergeant. 

Charles E. Atwood, corporal. 

Francis Brown. 

Benjamin S. Cahoon. 

John W. Crowell. 

Ephraim Eldredge. 

Cyrus Emery. 

Franklin D. Hammond, re-enlisted in the 58th regiment, becoming 2d 
lieutenant; killed before Petersburg, Va., June 23, 1864. 

James S. Hamilton. 

James T. Hamilton. 

Josiah J. Hamilton. 

David Harding. 

Samuel H. Howes, re-enlisted July 29, 1863, in Company B, 2d Heavy 
Artillery; 1st sergeant; discharged August 23, 1865. 

Charles Johnson, re-enlisted in Company A, 58th regiment. 

Horatio F. Lewis. 

Storrs L. Lyman. 

Andrew S. Mayo. \ 

Benjamin Rogers. 

Francis B. Rogers. 

Joshua N. Rogers. 

George A. Taylor. 


58th regiment, 3 years, enlisted January, 1864; discharged July, 1865, 
on close of the war. Names already referred to not repeated. 


Nathaniel B. Smith, 1st sergeant; killed at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. 

Francis Armstrong, sergeant; died same day of wounds received at 
Cold Harbor, June 10, 1864. 

Pliny Freeman, sergeant. 

George W. Hamilton, sergeant. 

Samuel Hawes, Jr., sergeant; discharged for disability, June 19, 1865. 

Aaron W. Snow, sergeant. 

Benjamin F. Bassett,* died at Washington on June 24, 1864, of wounds 
received June 3, 1864, presumably at Cold Harbor. 

Charles B. Bearse. 

John Bolton, killed at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. 

Joshua H. Chase, discharged for disability, January 27, 1865. 

Zabina Dill, died in Andersonville (Ga.) prison, August 28, 1864. 

Nathan Eldridge, killed at Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864. 

Washington A. Eldridge. 

Stephen Ellis. 

Harrison F. Gould. 

Josiah F. Hardy. 

Samuel Harding. 

Seth T. Howes, killed in battle of the Wilderness, Va., May 6, 1864. 

Henry W. Mallows. 

Charles Mullett. 

Edwin S. Nickerson, prisoner at close of war. 

Benjamin F. Pease, discharged for disability, July 1, 1865. 

Bridgeman T. Small. 

Albert E. Snow, transferred to Veteran Reserve Corps. 

Zenas M. Snow. 

David G. Young, died in service at Fredericksburg, Va., May 12, 1864. 


Francis S. Cahoon. 

Our venerable fellow citizen, David H. Crowell, served in the navy 
as Acting Captain on the Tuscarora on special service from Novem- 
ber 22, 1861, till his resignation, May 16, 1863. 


The town like the state had supported the Whig party, but on the 
formation of the Republican party, its allegiance was transferred to the 
latter. Fremont in 1856 and Lincoln in 1860 had a majority in the 
town, and in 1861, after the commencement of the war, John A. 
Andrew, Republican, received the entire vote cast for governor. 

In the Constitutional Convention of 1820 the town was represented by 

*In official report erroneously credited to Harwich. 


Capt. Joseph Young and Capt. Salathiel Nickerson. As delegate to the 
constitutional convention of 1853, S. B. Phinney of Barnstable was 
chosen by a vote of 103 against 97 for Freeman Nickerson of Chatham. 
Why an out-of-town man was chosen does not appear, but it is worthy 
of note that Barnstable sent no delegate. 

The question of religious worship could not fail to be in the mind of 
the early settlers. They were not sufficiently numerous to support a 
minister. The nearest church was that of Eastham, its meeting house 
being within the present limits of Orleans. Later a church was or- 
ganized in Harwich, the meeting house being within the present limits 
of Brewster. During his life William Nickerson gave religious instruc- 
tion to the inhabitants. The first resident preacher was Jonathan Vick- 
ery, who came from Hull in 1697. He was not an ordained minister, 
but a lay preacher. His pay was probably about 20 pounds a year 
besides a supply of hay and wood. The first meeting house was built 
in 1700, though not then entirely finished, and the men of the village 
were to take turns in procuring timber and helping to frame the build- 
ing, or pay in the next rate those who did the work. The building was 
a small one, plain and rough, without a steeple, and without means of 
heating. In the winter, foot-stoves and hot bricks were carried by the 
worshippers. There were no pews, but benches on each side of the 
center aisle faced the pulpit, those on one side being occupied by the 
men and those on the other side of the aisle by the women. The 
meeting house stood in the south section of the old cemetery. Mr. 
Vickery was drowned in 1702. Various persons preached for short 
periods until 1711. The longest service was that of the Rev. John 
Latimer, a graduate of Harvard College in the Class of 1703, who was 
the first educated minister in the place. He remained from 1706 to 
1708. In 1711 the Rev. Hugh Adams, a graduate of Harvard College in 
the Class of 1697, was employed, and remained until he was dismissed 
in 1715. He had previously been settled for a time near Charleston, 
S. C. His salary was 52 pounds a year and a settlement of 100 pounds, 
payable in two years was given him. He was also given a farm south 
of and near the meeting house, and a house was built for him at the 
cost of 75 pounds. He soon, however, became involved in controversy 
with some of his hearers and particularly with Ebenezer Hawes, who 
came from Yarmouth about 1705 and remained until about 1720, when 
he returned to Yarmouth. Hawes was a leading man of the place 
during his residence. He kept the tavern and had perhaps been crit- 
icised by Adams. However that may be, he uttered some language 
respecting Mr. Adams, which the latter regarded as slanderous, and he 
accordingly brought suit for damages in the Common Pleas Court in 
L715. The case was tried at Barnstable early in 1716, when the verdict 


was against Adams. He appealed to the Superior Court of Judicature. 

The appeal was heard at Plymouth before the celebrated Judge Samuel 

Sewall, when Adams prevailed and obtained 10 shillings damages. The 

papers in this suit are on file with the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial 

Court in Boston. Among them is a paper in behalf of Hawes, signed 

by 28 men of the town, whose names are the following: 

Jonathan Godfrey. William Eldredge, Jr. 

Daniel Sears. Morris Farris. 

William Eldredge. John Eldredge. 

Isaac Hawes (brother of Ebenezer). John Stuard. 

Samuel Tucker. John Collins. 

John Taylor. William Mitchel. 

John Taylor, Jr. Daniel Hamilton. 

John Atkins. Ebenezer Stuard. 

John Smith. John Ryder. 

Thomas Howes. Joseph Stuard. 

Joseph Eldredge. James Eldredge. 

Robert Paddock. Samuel Taylor. 

Samuel Atkins. Samuel Stuard. 

Richard Sears. David Smith. 

Among them, as appears, are names still current in the town, and 
others that have disappeared from among us. The name of Morris 
Farris is perpetuated in Morris Island, on which he resided. 

Up to this time there was no church organization in the town. 
There were but seven church members and these belonged to the East- 
ham Church, or, in one instance at least, to the Harwich Church. Be- 
fore the emigration of 1711 there had been eleven church members. 

In 1719, the Rev. Joseph Lord, a graduate of Harvard College in the 
Class of 1691, was employed. He was a learned man, active in all the 
religious controversies of the time. His writings were numerous and 
many of them are preserved. The town agreed to give him a salary 
of 80 pounds a year and the use of a house and land. It also agreed 
that he should have a settlement of 100 pounds to be paid in four 
years. It is a coincidence that he, as well as Mr. Adams, had been 
settled for a time in South Carolina. Mr. Lord's location was Dor- 
chester, not very far from Charleston. He came in 1720, established the 
first church organization and served the town till his death in J 748. 
He was buried in the south section of the old burying ground. In 1729 
a new meeting house was built, which, with additions, served the pur- 
poses of the congregation for about a century. It faced the south near- 
ly opposite the road that leads from the old burying ground to West 
Chatham, and after the additions consisted of a central portion and two 
wings. At its back was the north section of the old burying ground. It 
had no steeple and at first no pews, except one for the minister's wife. 


Ten years later, in 1739, an order was made in town meeting for space 
to be laid out for a certain number of pews, and that they should 
be sold for an aggregate of 100 pounds. In 1742, they were sold to 
the following persons: 

Thomas Doane. John Nickerson. 

John Collins. Joshua Atkins. 

Ensign William Nickerson. William Nickerson, 4th. 

John Covel. Maziah Harding, and 

Jonathan Godfrey. 

In 1748, after the death of Mr. Lord, the Rev. Stephen Emery, a 
graduate of Harvard College in the Class of 1730, was employed. The 
town voted him an annual salary of 480 pounds old tenor, reckoning 
silver at 52 shillings per ounce, or 400 pounds with wood. He was 
also to receive a settlement of 800 pounds to be paid in two years. 
Mr. Emery served the town until his death in 1782. His descendants 
are in the town to this day. He was buried in the north section of 
the old burying ground, where an inscription to his memory may still be 

In 1773, it was voted "to repair tha meeting house and enlarge it, 
the men's and women's seats to front the pulpit after enlarging, and to 
take up some hindermost seats and substitute pews." In 1774 the sum 
of 40 pounds was raised for that purpose. 

The Rev. Mr. Thomas Roby, a graduate of Harvard College in the 
Class of 1779, succeeded Mr. Emery in 1783, and preached until his 
resignation in 1795. The Rev. Ephraim Briggs, also a graduate of 
Harvard College, Class of 1791, followed in 1796, and served until his 
death in 1816. His salary was fixed at 85 pounds a year besides wood 
and hay and the use of the parsonage. He also had a settlement of 
230 pounds. In 1812 the town voted to repair the meeting house and 
increase the number of pews. 

The next incumbent (and the last one while the church remained a 
town affair) and the last who preached in the old building, was the 
Rev. Stetson Raymond, a graduate of Brown University in the Class 
of 1814. He served from 1817 to 1829, when he was dismissed. His 
salary was $650 yer year, with the use of the parsonage. The Society 
at a meeting May 27, 1830, voted to build a new meeting house. The 
old structure was sold and in 1831 was taken down. The new one was 
built in the lot now occupied by the Congregational cemetery and stood 
on rising ground some distance back of the main road. The parsonage 
was built west of the church in a lot fenced off from the cemetery. It 
was destroyed by fire with the church records in 1861. The new 
church was removed to its present site in 1866. 

During the early history of the town the inhabitants were nearly all 
adherents of the Congregational church. The church was a town af- 


fair, and it was supported by taxes raised in town meeting. Very- 
early, however, there were some Quakers in the town who objected to 
being taxed for the support of the church, and in 1732 Paul Crowell was 
sent to Barnstable to see if Quakers were free of ministerial taxes, with 
what result does not appear. Somewhat later a sect arose called "Sep- 
aratists," which had an organization in Harwich under the leadership of 
Joshua Nickerson and some adherents in Chatham. This sect, for the 
most part, became merged in the Baptists. The question of taxing 
these people was raised in town meeting in 1755, and the vote was that 
they should not be excused from church taxes. It was, however, soon 
decided that persons belonging to other church organizations and con- 
tributing to their support, should not be compelled to pay ministerial 
taxes. In 1758 there was recorded in "the town book a certificate that 
Nathaniel Bassett was a Baptist. Beginning a little before 1800 and 
continuing for some years after, the town records contain many certif- 
icates that various persons had become members of the Methodist, 
Baptist or Universalist societies and contributed to their support. At 
first the Methodists and Baptists belonged to societies in Harwich, but 
later Chatham societies were formed. The Methodist society was 
formed in 1816, the Universalist in 1822, and the Baptist in 1824. A 
Methodist church and parsonage were built near the Methodist cem- 
etery about 1812 and the present ones about 1850. In 1823 a Univer- 
salist church was erected near the cemetery of that denomination. In 
1850 a second one was built on the site of the Academy. This was 
burned in 1875 and in 1879 the present one was erected. A Baptist 
church was built in 1827 near the Baptist cemetery, which was later 
removed to the Old Harbor read. When the Baptist society ceased to 
exist the church was sold to the Masonic Lodge. 

In 1820 the town raised $680 to pay Mr. Raymond's salary for the 
year. In the report of the town meeting held August 9, 1824, is the 
following entry: 

"The town voted not to raise $500 for Mr. Stetson Raymond. 
Then the hearers of Mr. Raymond voted to raise $500 for his sup- 
port this year." 

This ended the connection of the town as such with the Congrega- 
tional church. 

About 1850 a religious movement was started in Chatham, similar to 
the Separatist movement of a century before, which to some extent 
affected the adjoining towns. Its central idea was that the churches 
had become too formal and worldly and had drifted away from the 
simplicity of the gospel. The followers of this movement did not be- 
lieve in a specially set-apart ministry, laid down no creed, and em- 
phasized the relations of the individual with the deity. Their worship 
consisted of exhortation, singing and prayer, in which all the members, 


including the women, were encouraged to join. Because most of the 
members had come out from the churches, they were commonly called 
"Comeouters." Seth Nickerson was the best-known leader. With Elisha 
Eldridge, David Harding, Doane Kendrick and others, he headed a 
division which (for a number of years) like the Quakers, practiced 
avoidance of colors and extreme simplicity in dress, house-furnishings, 
etc. Another division, more liberal in dress and outward forms, of 
which Whitman Bassett, Jabez Crowell (of East Harwich) and James 
Hawes were leading members, worshipped for a number of years in a 
small meeting house in West Chatham, erected on the south side of 
the main road, a little east of the point where the road to East Har- 
wich branches off. Not long after 1860, with the death of the principal 
members, the movement died out in Chatham, 

Town meetings were held in the old meeting house until it was taken 
down, the last meeting there being held in November, 1831. In Feb- 
ruary, 1832, the meeting was held in the Methodist meeting house. Af- 
ter tbat they were held successively in the Baptist and Universalist 
meeting houses until 1838. November 11, 3 838, they met in Academy 
Hall. In January, 1851, the town meeting was held in the "New 
Academy Hall," by which must have been meant Granville Seminary. 
February 3, 1851, the people voted to build a town house by the following 
November. It was erected on the site of the old Methodist church 
near the Methodist cemetery. The first town meeting held in it met 
November 10, 1851. In 1877 the present town hall was erected. 

The early settlers were not uninterested in the education of their 
children, especially the boys, but their circumstances forbade the estab- 
lishment of schools. Parents gave instruction to their children, and, 
no doubt, in the case of illiterate parents, neighbors capable cf doing 
so took their children with their own. It is remarkable that the chil- 
dren and grandchildren of the immigrants received as much education 
as they did. As soon as it was able to do so, the town took measures 
for the more systematic instruction of its youth. It is quite likely 
that before 1720 a schoolmistress had been employed, which was 
not in accordance with the Provincial requirement, for in 1722 an 
agent was appointed to petition the General Court "to consider the 
low estate of the town and exempt it from fine for keeping only a 

In 1721, however, Samuel Stewart had been appointed schoolmaster, and 
for his services received ten pounds. For several years thereafter 
Daniel Legg was schoolmaster. In 1723 the year was divided into six 
parts, school to be held at houses in various sections of the town, the 
master boarding around. Various teachers at different times followed 


Mr. Legg. In 1768 the town was divided into four sections; Capt. 
Joseph Doane and Seth Smith to get a teacher for the N. E. section; 
George Godfrey and Joseph Atwood for the S. E.; John Hawes and 
Samuel Taylor for the S. W., and Paul Crowell and Barnabas Eldredge 
for the N. W. section. Schoolhouses were not built till after 1790. In 
1800 the town was divided into five districts, with a schoolhouse in 
each. Later there were 13 districts and schoolhouses. Under the dis- 
trict system, the districts had agents chosen in district meetings, 
loward the expenses, the town contributed a certain sum, and the rest 
was raised by district tax proportioned among the heads of families 
according to the number of children in each attending school. The 
schools were wholly ungraded, and in the winter term were attended 
by pupils of various ages from the child learning the alphabet to the 
young man of 20, home from - sea, struggling with Bowditch's Navigator. 
There were also private navigation schools kept by individuals for young 
men aspiring to command on the sea. 

In 1820 there were seven district schools and the town raised $40 
for each district. In 1824 the sum of $400 was raised for schools, and 
in 1851, $1400. 

After a long struggle by a few enlightened citizens, the town adopted 
a graded system and erected the high school in 1858, the opening of 
which inaugurated a new era in the educational history of the town. 
The question of a grammar school, that is, a school where Latin 
should be taught, was quite early raised, the Provincial law requiring 
towns of 100 families to employ a master capable of teaching "the 

In 1776 the town voted not to hire a grammar school teacher for the 
present. In 1779 an agent was appointe_d "to get a schoolmaster of the 
Gramer Tongue to keep a school in our town.'' But it does not appear 
that one was employed. Private enterprise about 1830 provided an 
academy witb a building on the high ground near the residence of the 
late Seth Taylor. Joseph W. Cross, a graduate of Harvard College in 
the Class of 1828, was the first teacher. He became a minister and 
died in 1906 at the age of 98, then the oldest living graduate of 
Harvard. It was his son, Joseph W. Cross, Jr., of whom some of us 
have a grateful recollection as the first principal of the high school. 
This academy failed for want of patronage and the building was re- 
moved about 1850. After it closed and about 1850, Joshua G. Nicker- 
son opened an institution on the Old Harbor road, called the "Granville 
Seminary,' which did not long continue its educational work. 

Prior to 1860, books were few except bibles and religious works. In 
1875 The Free Pilgrim Library was established in South Chatham, which 
now has between 900 and 1000 volumes. A library association was 
formed in the village in 1887, which in 1889 presented its 640 volumes to 


the town. The public need was not adequately met, however, until the 
founding of the Eldridge Library by the Hon. Marcellus Eldridge, which 
was opened in 1896. 

It should be remarked that the early backwardness of the town in 
higher education and the comparatively small number of college grad- 
uates it has had are to be explained by the seafaring habits of the 
people, which kept its young men from home and from surroundings that 
would naturally lead their thoughts towards letters and study. 

Joseph Lord, son of the. Rev. Joseph Lord, graduated at Harvard Col- 
lege in 1726, after his father settled in Chatham. 

The first native of the town to receive a college education, so far 
as I can learn, was Samuel Emery, son of the Rev. Stephen Emery, 
born 1751. He graduated at Harvard in 1774 and received the degree 
of A. M. from Yale College in 1781. He married Mary, daughter of 
Nathaniel Appleton of Boston, and died in 1838. I know of no other 
native of the town who went to college until after the lapse of about 
ninety years. In 1865 another descendant of the Rev. Stephen Emery, 
John A. Emery, son of John, graduated at Amherst College. He was 
not a pupil of the High school, but was a student in the Bridgewater 
State Normal School in 1854. He settled as a lawyer at Pittsburgh, 
Pa., and practised his profession with credit to himself and his native 
town until his death in 1900. Nathaniel B. Smith in 18G1 went from 
the High School to Amherst College. He was not able to continue his 
studies, entered mercantile life in Boston, but soon enlisted in the 
war and fell lamented in 1864 in the battle of Cold Harbor. Galen 
B. Danforth is referred to below. Besides those mentioned elsewhere, 
Joshua G. Nickerson in 1845 and Freeman Nickerson in 1846 were stu- 
dents of the Bridgewater Normal School. They were teachers for a 
number of years. 


In the earliest years of the town there was no resident physician. In 
sickness the people depended upon the matrons of the village with their 
herb gardens. Later the minister generally had some knowledge of 
medicine and dentistry. The first physician of the town was Dr. Sam- 
uel Lord. After him the nearest physician was Dr. Joseph Seabury cf 
Orleans (then Eastham), who died ia 1800. His son, Dr. John Seabury, 
settled in this town about 1815 and practised here for fifteen years, 
when he moved away. He resided in the large house just west of the 
parsonage. His nephew, Dr. Benjamin F. Seabury, who practised in 
Orleans from 1837 to 1890, was much resorted to by Chatham patients, as 
was also Dr. Samuel H. Gould, who practised in Brewster from 1844 to 
1882. Dr. Greenleaf J. Pratt, who practised in Harwich from about 
1815 till 1858, and Dr. Franklin Dodge, who practised there from 1838 
till 1872, also had many Chatham patients. Dr. Daniel P. Clifford 


settled in Chatham about 1810, married Betsey Emery, granddaughter 
of Rev Stephen Emery, and practised his profession until his death in 
1863. He lived on the north road a little east of the East Harwich 
meeting house. Dr Elijah W. Carpenter graduated at the Harvard 
Medical School in 1837 and immediately came here. He married Mary 
H., daughter of Joshua Nickerson, and successfully practised here till a 
few years before his death in 1881. His eldest daughter married Ed- 
ward F. Knowlton, a wealthy straw goods manufacturer who resided in 
Brooklyn, N. Y. Their daughter Mary married Count Johannes von 
Francken Sierstorpff, of Germany. They entertained the German Em- 
peror on Thanksgiving Day, 1911, at their Castle Zyrowa, Silesia. So 
a descendant of the Norwich weaver who founded this town was hostess 
of a monarch, in some respects the most powerful of the present 
time. She had evidently not forgotten her origin, for she set before 
him the traditional New England dishes of the day. Dr. Nathaniel B. 
Danforth came soon after 1840, married here in 1845, Elouisa S. Martin, 
and died in 1864. He continued to practise until his death. His son, Galen 
B. Danforth, was a pupil of the High School under Mr. Cross, and 
went from there to Amherst College, where he graduated in 1867. He 
then studied medicine in Germany and Edinburgh, and went as a medical 
missionary to Tripoli, Syria, where he died in 1875 at the early age of 
28 years. Dr. N. P. Brownell was another physician settled here be- 
fore 1860. The second native of the town to become a physician was 
Erastus Emery, son of John Emery. He was a pupil of the High School, 
a graduate of the Harvard Medical School in 1869, practised in Truro 
and died at an early age in 1878. The first dentist in town was the 
late Dr. Joseph Atwood. He was followed by Dr Sylvanus H. Taylor. 

There were no resident members of the bar here until . very recent 
years. The drawing cf deeds and wills and the probate business were 
done by laymen. Joseph Doane, Squire Sears and Deacon John Hawes 
were among those in earlier years. During my boyhood and later, 
Warren Rogers was the most active in this way. The early ministers 
were frequently called in for this service; the Rev. Joseph Lord drew 
many legal papers in his time. Simeon M. Small, a native of this town, 
became a member of the bar and practised law in Yarmouth before 1860, 
when he went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he practised until his 
death in 1875. Before he left the Cape he had been Judge of the 
Court of Insolvency. 

Some Chatham men who have had honorable careers in other places 
[*It has been my purpose not to mention living persons in any part 
of this address except in a few instances that will be regarded as 


may be named. David Sears, born in 1752, was the son of Daniel 
Sears. After his father's death his mother in 1763 married Samuel 
Ballard of Boston and took David with her there. He became a mer- 
chant and died in 1816 the richest man in Boston. He is the ancestor 
of the wealthy and prominent Sears family in Boston. His son David 
about 1848 erected the Sears monument standing in the old burying 
ground here. Mention may be made here of David's elder brother, Rich- 
ard, who continued to reside in this town and was long known as Squire 
Sears. He resided and kept a store in the old Sears House, was Jus- 
tice of the Peace and the town's representative in the General Court 
for many years. In 1804 he was a member of the State Senate. He 
died in 1839 at the age of 90. His wife, a native of Framingham, died 
in 1852 at the age of 94. 

Alpheus Hardy was born in 1815, the son of Isaac Hardy. He studied 
for a time at Phillips Andover Academy, but ill health compelled him 
to desist. Before his majority he entered business for himself in Bos- 
ton and became one of the most prominent men in the shipping and 
importing business. He was president of a Boston Bank and of a Mich- 
igan Railroad Company. Upcn the death of Joshua Sears, a native of 
Yarmouth, Mr. Hardy became the managing trustee of his estate, then 
the largest in Boston, and guardian of his son, Joshua Montgomery 
Sears. He was a member of the State Senate in 1861, and a strong 
supporter of the Union during the war. His business cares did not 
prevent him from being a leader in religious and charitable work. He 
was for many years a trustee of Amherst College and of the Andover 
Theological Seminary. He was a bountiful giver. He died in 1887. His 
brother, Isaac Hardy, in copartnership with George Ryder (a former 
sea captain), son of Stephen Ryder of this town, was long a prominent 
ship chandler in Boston. 

The successful career of Heman and Joshua Eldridge, former sea cap- 
tains, in Portsmouth, N. H., is well known. 

David Godfrey, father of George Godfrey so well known in this town, 
after having been a sea captain and officer on a privateer in the war of 
1812, promoted a line of packets between Boston and New York, and 
settled in the latter city about 1830, continuing in successful business 
until his death in 1845. Mulford Howes, who had also been a sea cap- 
tain and who spent his declining years in his native town, was associ- 
ated with him. Later Isaac. B. Atwood was an active business man in 
New York, and James A. Stetson represented the town well in New 
York and Gloucester in the fish business. 

John W. Atwood, son of John Atwood, was born in this town in 1822 
and in 1846 was a student in the Bridgewater Normal School. 
He was a member of the state senate in 1857 and 1859. In 1858 he 
was a member of the House of Representatives. He served for nine 


months as sergeant in the 43rd Mass. Volunteers in 1862 and 1863. 
Afterwards he engaged in the coal business in Jersey City, N. J., but 
later became the successful and valued principal of one of the public 
schools there, continuing until ill health compelled him to retire. He 
died in 1883 and is buried in the Congregational Cemetery in this town. 

Benjamin F. Hawes, son of Thomas Hawes, at the time of his early 
death had established a large business in New York in the manufacture 
and sale of hats. 

Simeon Ryder, a son of Stephen and brother of the Stephen Ryder 
who lived and kept a mill on the North road west of the old burying 
ground, was at first a sea captain. He afterwards engaged in success- 
ful business in New York and later in Alton, 111., where he died in 
1877, aged 82. He projected the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad, was 
the leader in its construction and became its first president. 

Benjamin Godfrey, a native of this town, was also first a sea captain. 
He afterwards engaged in business in Matamoros, Mexico, and in New 
Orleans, where he amassed a considerable fortune. From New Orleans 
he went to Alton, 111., where he established the wholesale house of 
Godfrey & Gilman. He projected and built the Alton and Sangamon 
Railroad, of which he was the president. He built and presented a 
church to the society with which he worshipped, and he founded the 
Monticello Female Seminary at Godfrey, a town named for him adjoin- 
ing Alton. When on November 7, 1837, Elijah T. Lovejoy, the early 
abolitionist and brother of Owen Lovejoy, was killed by a mob who 
had attacked the establishment where he printed his paper, the "Ob- 
server," it was in the storehouse of Godfrey & Gilman that Lovejoy 's 
press was placed for safe-keeping. Mr. Godfrey died in 1862. 

Samuel M. Nickerson carried the Chatham energy and business judg- 
ment to Chicago, where he was for twenty years president cf the 
First National Bank. 

David Smith, a former sea captain, son of Stephen, established the 
business of ice manufacture in Honolulu, and in Washington, D. C. 

If the record of Chatham men who have moved away could be traced, 
the influence that they and their descendants have had on widely dis- 
tant communities would be found to be much greater than is imagined. 
To illustrate this, I will give two instances that have come within my 
knowledge. Isaac Hawes went from this town before the Revolution and 
finally settled in Kent, in western Connecticut. Two of his grandsons, 
Rev. Josiah Hawes and Rev. Prince Hawes, were graduates of Williams 
College, in 1800 and 1805 respectively, and were influential preachers. 
A third grandson, Lowman Hawes, graduated at Yale College in 1814, 
and became a prominent lawyer in Maysville, Ky. Two sons of Levi 
Eldredge, already spoken of as a soldier in the war of 1812, Rev. In- 


crease and Rev. Levi Eldredge, were ministers of the Christian denomina- 
tion and preached in several states for many years. 


The town has not been free from tragic events. In the fall of 1765 
an epidemic of smallpox broke out in this town, and between Novem- 
ber 23, 1765, and May, 1766, thirty-seven persons died, and twenty-four 
had the disease and recovered, so that over sixty per cent, of those 
attacked died. The cases numbered nine per cent, of the population. 
Among the deaths was that of Dr. Samuel Lord, already referred to as 
the first physician settled in the town. He fell a martyr to his pro- 
fessional duty, as so many physicians had before and have since. This 
disease, which modern science has robbed of its terrors, was rendered 
so fatal by lack of medical assistance and the ignorance of its proper 
treatment then prevalent in the profession. In addition to this visita- 
tion, many of the inhabitants during the same period were visited with 
a grievous fever, whereof divers adult persons died and several fam- 
ilies lay sick a long time. 

In November, 1772, Captain Joseph Doane found back of the Cape, a 
schooner having aboard dead, Captain Thomas Nickerson, Elisha New- 
comb and William Kent, Jr. The decks were bloody and the chests open 
and plundered. One man was found aboard alive. He stated that the 
day before they had been attacked by a pirate, the men killed and a 
boy carried off. The survivor had concealed himself. Search was 
made for the pirate ship, but none was found. The survivor was tried 
in the Admiralty Court at Boston and after two trials acquitted. The 
mystery has never been solved. 

In 1786 occurred one of the many tragedies of the sea that have 
brought sorrow to the town. A schooner belonging to New Haven 
bound for the Banks, was lost with her crew of Chatham men. A chest 
and some other articles belonging to her were found and brought home 
by fishermen. The event has been transmitted to us through some 
verses written about the time by Isaiah Young. The men lost were 
Captain Sylvanus Nickerson, Mr. Nathaniel Young, Mr. Christopher Ta.v- 
lor, Seth Eldridge, Adam Wing, Joseph Buck, Nehemiah Nickerson, 
Stephen Eldridge, Barzillai Nickerson and Seth Dunbar. 


All through the history of the town there have, of course, been re- 
movals of individual citizens to other localities, and since 1860 they 
have been particularly numerous, but there have been four movements 
that may properly be termed "emigrations." The first one occurred 
in 1711, when thirteen men with their families went to Duck Creek in 
Delaware, and eleven men with their families went to other towns. 
The second emigration was to a region known as the "Oblong," which 
was a strip of land in eastern New York, along the Connecticut border, 


now mostly included in Putnam County, N. Y. This took place about 
1740. A third emigration, about 1760, took place to Nova Scotia, and 
a fourth, about 1800, to a region now in the State, of Maine, known 
as the "Kennebec Country." These emigrations were shared in by other 
town, the population has been as follows: 

According to the various censuses that have been taken of the 
the population has been as follows: 

Year. Population. Year. Population. 

1765 678 1860 2,710 

1776 929 1865 2,624 

1790 1,140 1870 2,411 

1800 1,351 1875 2,274 

1810 1,334 1880 2,250 

1820 1,630 1885 2,028 

1830 2,130 1890 1,954 

1840 2,334 1895 1,809 

1850 2,439 1900 1,749 

1855 2,560 1905 1,634 

1910 1,564 

In 1765 there were 105 houses and 127 families; in 1801 the number 
of dwellings was 158, of which four only were of two stories. Two 
of these four were probably those on the North road west of the old 
burying ground, the easternmost of which was the parsonage and the 
other a little later the dwelling of Dr. John Seabury. The other two 
were perhaps that of Josiah Ryder north of the main road in West 
Chatham, later owned by David Nye Nickerson, and that of Richard 
Sears, Jr., on the site of the Eldredge Library, occupied in his lifetime 
by Dr. Carpenter. Capt. Joseph Atwood, father of Dr. Atwood, built 
the similar house now standing, in 1812. The three last mentioned were 
the most expensive houses in the town at that time and much admired. 
The population increased steadily from 1765 to 1860, except between 
1800 and 1810 when there was a slight falling off, and, since 1860, it 
has steadily decreased, being in 1910 less than it was in 1820. 

This decrease in the population has been due in part to causes that 
have produced here the falling off in maritime enterprises, and in part 
to those general causes that have produced, throughout the western 
world in the last fifty years, a general tendency of population from the 
rural districts to the cities. But, while the population of the town has 
decreased, its wealth has increased. The valuation returned by the 
assessors in 1850 was $513,000; in 1860, $957,430; and in 1912, $1,335,560. 
It is undoubtedly true that not only the necessities and comforts of 
life are as well ministered to as ever, but that all those things that 
tend toward intellectual development, toward the broadening of the in- 


dividual and the raising him above the level of a mere animal 
existence, were never so generally distributed. 

More than a hundred years ago the merits of the Cape as a health 
resort were known. It has, however, only been in comparatively recent 
years that increasing numbers of summer guests have visited Chatham 
and found health and pleasure in its salt air and cool breezes and in 
its wonderful facilities for boating and fishing. The benefits have not 
all been on one side. The town has profited in its turn and much of 
its present prosperity is due to these welcome visitors. 

The first occupation of the inhabitants was agriculture. They raised 
good crops of corn and rye, and also produced 'some wheat, 
flax and tobacco. Kay from the salt marshes was abundant. 
A petition to the General Court drawn by the Rev. Hugh Adams, in 
1711, states of the place, that it is fertile for all sorts of provisions 
and for good wheat especially, it being generally the best land of any 
town on the whole cape, and "it has the most pleasant situation and 
incomparable conveniency for most sorts of fishery." The cattle ran 
at large on the common lands; cattle marks were recorded in the 
town records. Sheep raising was an important industry, the wool being- 
required for home use. Not long after 1860 the flocks had disappeared. 
Perhaps the last ones were kept by Samuel Hawes, grand- 
father of Sergeant Hawes, and by Rufus Smith and Samuel D. Clif- 
ford. Subsistence was not hard to obtain. The waters were full of fish. 
The shores abounded in clams, quahaugs and oysters. Scallops were 
not esteemed. Lobsters were abundant. Deer and other game roamed 
the woods, and birds and sea fowl were plentiful. Beachplums, wild 
grapes and cranberries and other berries abounded. The question of 
the right of non-residents to take clams, which has agitated the people 
in modern times, was early presented. In 1768 the town voted against 
allowing strangers to take clams and again in 1771 measures were taken 
against non-residents, on the ground that the destruction of the bivalve 
was threatened. The chief use then was as bait when salted. Upon 
the settlement of the town the region was covered with pine forests, 
not without some oak, and in the swamps there was a considerable 
supply of cedar. The forests, no doubt, supplied the timber for the 
first houses, and considerable tar was made in the early years. These 
uses, the demand for fuel and the clearings for agriculture and res- 
idence rapidly depleted the forests. In 1802, not over 65 acres of 
woodland were left, near the Harwich border. About 50 or 60 years ago 
the planting of trees was commenced and much old land has been 
restored to forest. One effect of cutting off the wood was the blowing 
away of the light soil in places by the high winds from the sea. The 
southerly and easterly slopes of the Great Hill suffered especially. In 


1821 the sum of $200 was raised by the town in an attempt to stop 
the sand from blowing off this hill, and a committee headed by Capt. 
Joseph Young was appointed to oversee the work. Beach grass was 
transplanted to the locality to hold the sand, and when this was rooted, 
pines were planted. A few years before 1800 a beginning was made of 
the digging of peat from the swamps and its preparation for fuel. In 
the years before 1860 a considerable business was done, mostly in 
West Chatham, in the preparation and sale of this article. But about 
this time coal became more common, and cranberry culture invaded the 
town and took possession of the swamps. 

Whaling was carried on during the early history of the town. The 
whales used then to come in near the shore, whale-boats were kept, and 
a lookout employed to give the alarm. As early as 1690 William Nick- 
erson, son of the founder, was appointed inspector of whales. In 1775, at 
the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the whale-boats were ordered 
to be concealed. In the earliest years dead whales not unfrequently 
came ashore. Cod and mackerel fishing and the mercantile marine be- 
came the chief industries of the town. In 1711 a sloop belonging to 
the village was chased by the French. As early as 1720 Chatham 
captains were engaged in foreign voyages. The town .records show 
that in 1723 Samuel Stewart, the schoolmaster, was at sea, probably on 
a fishing voyage. By 1740 seafaring had become the prevalent occupa- 
tion of the men of the town. In 1774, Chatham had 27 vessels of 
about 30 tons each engaged in the cod fishery, employing 240 men, and 
having an average annual catch of 12,000 quintals. The Revolutionary 
War nearly destroyed the business, and in 1783 there were only four or 
five vessels afloat. In 1802 about 25 vessels belonging to the town were 
so employed. A writer in 1791 speaks of 40 vessels, but this number 
must have included these from other towns which cured their fish here. 
In 1837, 22 vessels of the town were employed in the cod and mackerel 
fishery, the catch being 15,500 quintals of cod worth $46,500, and 1200 
barrels of mackerel worth $9,600. In 1865 the catch of cod was 25,361 
quintals, being the largest catch of any town on the Cape except Prov- 
incetown. The last mentioned figure no doubt included the shore fish- 
ery. The business of curing or "making" the fish, as the term was, 
was important in the closing years of the 18th and the first half of 
the 19th century. Numerous flakes lined the shores of the bays. In 
1840, 240 barrels of mackerel were inspected in the town; in 1854, 
3,000; in 1864, 6,746; and in 1874, 10,765. In the later years the catch 
was largely in the weirs that had been established near Monomoy 
Point and in Chatham Bay. 


No complete list of the fishing captains can be given. Among those 
whose service was about 1850 or earlier were: 

Nathan Buck, David Harding, 

Hezekiah Doane, Samuel Ryder, 

Kimball Eldridge, Elijah Smith and 

James Taylor. 
The following were later in service: 
David T. Bassett, David W. Hammond, 

Henry Bassett, Elisha Hammond, 

Whitman Bassett, Isaac L. Hammond, 

Alonzo Bearse, Zebedee Hammond, 

John Burchell, Nathaniel T. Hawes, 

John G. Doane, Thomas Hawes, 

Amos K. Eldridge, Stephen H. Howes, 

Barzillai B. Eldridge, John Ireland, 

Cyrenus Eldridge, Doane Kendrick, 

Elisha Eldridge, Reuben C. Kenny, 

Oren Eldridge, Isaiah Long, 

Samuel W. Eldridge, Hira Nickerson, 

Stephen T. Eldridge, Mulford Rogers and 

Benjamin F. Freeman, Charles E. Smalley. 

Chatham men, as has been stated, had been employed in commercial 
voyages before 1800, but after the war of 1812 the mercantile marine 
of the country increased rapidly until 1860, and among the captains 
who carried our flag into every port from Archangel on the northern 
ocean to Sydney on the southern sea, Chatham men were conspicuous. 
They were especially employed in the lines that ran between Boston, 
Charleston and Savannah and in the trade between Boston and Mediter- 
ranean ports. The vessels were largely owned here and sailed by the 
captains on shares, although some were employed on wages. Co-opera- 
tion was in vogue. A young man who felt himself competent to com- 
mand a vessel would arrange for a vessel to be built for him. He 
would take a share, his friends at home would subscribe for part in 
16ths, 32nds or 64ths, and the remainder would be taken by the East 
Boston shipbuilder. In connection with this business two local insur- 
ance companies were in existence before 1860. 

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, this great interest rapidly de- 
clined. The Alabama and other Confederate cruisers captured many Chat- 
ham vessels or drove them to come under the British flag, and the in- 
crease of the use of steam over sail, carrying with it, as it did in many 
cases, the transfer of the home port from Boston to New York, aided the 
decline. When sailing vessels were employed and the home port was 
Boston, opportunity was afforded for considerable visits at not too 


long intervals by the crews to their families here. Vessels on their 
way between Boston and the south would often anchor in Chatham Bay 
("under the Neck" it was termed) and the crews would thus have an 
opportunity of visiting their homes. But steam craft gave too short 
shore leave for that purpose, especially if the home port were more 
remote than Boston. The result was the removal of families from the 
town to the vicinity of Boston or New York. During the period of 
marine activity small vessels were run from the town to New York, 
New London and New Bedford. 

The captains in the merchant service were numerous. It would be 
impossible to give a full list. Among the earlier ones were: 

Joshua Atkins, 
Joseph Atwood, 
James Crowell, 
Samuel Davis, 
Thomas Dodge, 
Abner Eldridge, 
Zephaniah Eldridge, 
Joseph Emery, 
Samuel Emery, 
Edmund Flinn, 
John Flinn, 
William Flinn, 
James Harding, 
Prince Harding, 
Seth Harding, 
Sparrow Harding, 
James Hawes, 
Samuel Hawes, 
William Howes, 

Collins Kendrick, 
Nathaniel Kendrick, 
Paul Mayo, 
Alexander Nickerson, 
Joshua Nickerson, 
Moses Nickerson, 
Seth Nickerson, 
Zenas Nickerson, 
Elisha Ryder, 
George Ryder, 
Joseph Ryder, 
Josiah Ryder, 
Richard Ryder, 
Seth Ryder, 
Richard Sears, Jr., 
Reuben C. Smith, 
Christopher Taylor, 
John Taylor, 
Joshua Taylor, 

Seth Taylor. 
Among those whose service was chiefly between 1850 and 1870 were: 

Joshua Atkins, Jr., George W. Howes, 

Ira Buck, Solomon Howes, 

Luther Buck, Gershom Jones, 

Benjamin Clifford, Elijah Loveland, 

William Clifford, Winslow Loveland, 

Elijah Crosby, David E. Mayo, 

Isaac Crosby, Hezekiah Mayo, 

David H. Crowell, Lorenzo Mayo, 

John Crowell, Alexander Nickerson, Jr., 

A. Judson Doane, David N. Nickerson, 

Samuel H. Doane, George Nickerson, 

Alfred Eldridge, Kingsbury Nickerson, 


Gideon Eldridge, 

Henry Eldridge, 

Luther Eldridge, 

David Gould, 

Charles Hamilton, 

David Hamilton, 

Sylvester Hamilton, 

Archelaus Harding, 

David J. Harding, 

Elisha Harding, 

Hiram Harding, Sr. and Jr. 

Joseph Harding, 

Joshua Harding, 

Nathan A. Harding, 

Oren Harding, 

Josiah Hardy, 

Reuben C. Hawes, 

Alfred Howes, 

Daniel H. Howes, 

Franklin Howes, 

Solomon Nickerson, 
Starks W. Nickerson, 
Zenas Nickerson, Jr., 
John Paine, 
Christopher Smith, 
Ephraim Smith, 
Levi D. Smith, 
Reuben C. Smith, Jr., 
Richard Smith, 
Thomas Sparrow, 
Hiram Taylor, 
James Taylor, 
John Taylor, Jr., 
Joshua Taylor, Jr., 
Levi Taylor, 
Moses Taylor, 
Reuben C. Taylor, 
Richard Taylor, 
Simeon Taylor, 
Charles White. 

To these should be added Charles Rockwell, who became an admiral 
in the Navy. 


Prior to 1860 and particularly early in the 19th century, shipbuilding 
was carried on to some extent, small vessels being turned out of the 
works. In 1845 six vessels were built and in 1855 fifteen. The business 
of making salt by the evaporation of sea water was early established 
here Extensive shallow vats were built along the shores of the bays, 
equipped with movable roofs so that they could be covered on the ap- 
proach of rain. The water was pumped into them by windmills. The 
last works that were operated were those of Jesse Nickerson on the 
neck where the hotel Chatham stood. These were closed about 1886. 
In 1802 there were six salt works in the town; in 1837, 80, producing 
annually 27,400 bushels, worth $8,220; in 1845, 54, producing 18,000 bush- 
els; 'and in 1855, 14, producing 3,300 bushels. The industry ceased 
to pay and began to decline when duties on salt were lowered, when 
the State bounty was removed, when salt springs in New York and 
elsewhere in the country came to be developed, and when the price of 
pine lumber necessary in the construction of the works rose to a high 
level. General manufacturing was never carried on here to any extent. 
About 1800, however, there was a rope walk in the northern part of 
the town and a tannery at the Old Harbor, which was closed about 
1830. About 1840 there was a carding machine in the neighborhood of 
the late Reuben Young. Windmills until comparatively recent years 


were used for the grinding of grain. About 1800 there were six of these 
in the town. Between 1850 and 1860 there were nine, two in South 
Chatham, one kept by Eben Bearse and one by Seth Bearse, one on 
the North road west of the old burying ground, at one time owned by 
Joshua Crowell and later kept by Stephen Ryder, one in West Chat- 
ham kept by Ezekiel Young, one near the Oyster Pond, one on the 
Stage Harbor road kept by Christopher Taylor and later by Oliver El- 
dredge and Zenas Nickerson (the last one operated in the town), one 
near the Lights, one at the Old Harbor and one at Chathamport. 


Among the early stores, mostly for the sale of general merchandise, 
were those of Ezra Crowell, known as "Squire Crow," John Topping 
and Isaiah Nye, near the old meeting house; Zoeth Nickerson, on the 
North road east of the East Harwich meeting house; Christopher Ryder 
and Enos Kent in Chathamport; Thacher Ryder, Zenas Atkins and Cap- 
tain Benjamin F. Freeman in North Chatham; Stephen G. Davis, who 
about 1830 established himself in West Chatham on the Oyster Pond 
river near where it turns to the south; Daniel Howes, who succeeded 
Davis and afterwards moved the store to the main road; Nabby C. 
Taylor, widow of Reuben C. Taylor, also in West Chatham; Levi and 
Hiram T. Eldridge in South Chatham. In the village the first stores 
were probably those of Elisha Hopkins on Stage Neck and Richard 
Sears near the Soldiers' Monument. Others that followed were those 
of Josiah Hardy at his wharf near the Lights, Charlotte W. Hallett and 
her son, Solomon E. Hallett, Ziba Nickerson, Sullivan Rogers (tin, sheet 
iron and other hardware), Edward Howard (tailor), Samuel M. Atwood 
(market), Washington Taylor; Levi Atwood (long town clerk, clerk of 
the Congregational Church and familiar with the history of the town), 
south of the head of the Oyster Pond, and in the same locality the 
lumber yard of John Emery; while north of the head of the Oyster Pond 
was the crowded store of David Howes, where everything seemed ill- 
arranged and in disorder, but from which no customer ever went away 
empty-handed, no matter how out of date or unusual the article he de- 
sired. Some of the earlier stores sold liquor and in that respect 
served the purpose of taverns. In the vicinity of the old meeting 
house, the Widow Knowles long kept a tavern, which was resorted to 
at times of general training and on other public occasions. 


In the early history of the town there was much that dif- 
fered from present conditions. Reaping was done with the 
sickle. The clothing and the coverings for the beds were of 
wool or flax and chiefly made at home. The large and small spinning 
wheel, the hatchel, cards and the loom were a necessary part of the 


household furniture. The beds were filled with straw or feathers. The 
women made their own soap, and the tallow candles, which, with whale 
oil, supplied the light, were of domestic manufacture. There were no 
friction matches. The tinder, flint and steel sufficed to kindle the fire. 
There were no clocks at first. Hour glasses were used, as well as sun- 
dials. The houses were built fronting the south so that the shadow 
of the chimney would indicate noon. There were no stoves. The 
houses had large chimneys with enormous fireplaces where the family 
in winter nights could sit on either side of the fire of green wood 
which burned between huge fore and back logs. The crane and pot 
hooks, the spit, the andirons and bellows were necessary apparatus. If 
the back of the dweller when facing the fire was cold he could warm it 
by turning it to the blaze. A feature of each house was the brick oven 
built into the chimney, heated by building a fire in it. In it, when 
the fire was drawn, the pies and cakes the puddings and pots of beans, 
and the loaves of brown bread were placed on Saturdays, to be cooked 
by the slowly diminishing heat, which lasted through the night. The 
earlier inhabitants did not seek the main roads as sites for their houses. 
They preferably built near ponds where good water was at hand or on 
the shores of the bays convenient for fishing. Markets did not exist. 
Fresh meat was obtainable in the fall when a hog or a beef animal 
was killed for winter use. At other times a fowl, a calf or a sheep of 
the domestic stock might be used, or the "beef cart" patronized, which 
once or twice a week came to the door. While efforts were earlier 
made to check the excessive use of intoxicating liquors, the idea of 
total abstinence did not take root until about 1830 or later. Before that 
a supply of Medford rum was a necessary part of the winter's stock and 
on days of general training or other public occasions liquors were sup- 
plied on the spot or at the tavern. Sunday was strictly observed. 
Churchgoing was obligatory and could be enforced by law. The Puritan 
Sabbath resembled that of the Jews from whom it was borrowed. It 
began at sunset Saturday night and ended at sunset Sunday night. A 
bride was expected to carry to her new home an outfit for housekeep- 
ing largely made with her own hands. The men wore knee-breeches, 
and their hair was braided in queues. The tailoring was done by 
women. The boots and shoes were made by the cobbler of the neigh- 
borhood. The chairs were of domestic manufacture, bottomed with flags. 
The travel, when not on foot, was on horseback, the man in front on 
the saddle and the woman behind on the pillion. Sometimes oxcarts 
were used. Carriages for pleasure or comfort were late in coming. 
At first they were two-wheeled chaises. I have been told by my elders 
that, the first chaise in town (probably about 1800), and long the only 
one, was owned by Squire Sears. In the early years there was little 
money. Taxes were collected in kind and transactions were carried on 


by exchange. Some English silver was in circulation and Spanish sil- 
ver also appeared. The first bills of credit of the province, which ap- 
peared before 1700, became soon depreciated, and were known as the 
"old tenor." Other issues, known as "middle" and "new tenor," fol- 
lowed. In 1749 the value of the old tenor was fixed by law at a 
little over one-eighth of its face value in silver, and the middle and 
new tenor at about one-half. During the Revolution the Continental 
paper was also rapidly depreciated, until in 1780 it was worth only one- 
thirtieth of its face in silver, and it ultimately became worthless. Prices 
became very high, and they attempted to regulate them by law, as 
has so often been attempted before and since, and no doubt with a like 
result. The town voted August 16, 1779, to appoint a committee to 
fix prices and wages. This committee reported on the 6th of Septem- 
ber. The meeting approved the schedule presented and voted that 
anyone violating it should be deemed an enemy of the country and 
treated as such. 

There were few safe means of investment, and those who had money 
hoarded it. Luxuries were not entirely wanting. Some families had 
silver spoons and other articles brought from Boston or abroad, and 
gold beads for the ladies were not wholly absent. A writer in 1802 
says: "The inhabitantts are very industrious. The women are en- 
gaged in the domestic employments and manufactures usual in other 
parts of Massachusetts, and a number of them in curing fish at the 
flake yards." If we substitute "cranberry bogs" for "flake yards," 
this description would not be far astray today. 

The conditions of the ancient life had their beneficial effects. Not 
only the spirit of self help was called out, but mutual helpfulness was 
a necessity and must have softened the harder side of humanity which 
the stern struggle for a somewhat isolated existence would tend to 
foster. The care of the sick appealed to all, and while there were 
no trained nurses, the neighborhood produced men and women experi- 
enced in watching and caring for the sick according to the light of 
the times. House raisings, sheep shearings and huskings brought the 
people together in social meetings with amusement and jollity, as the 
church services did in a more serious mood. The poor were always 
present. At first when help at home did not suffice they were 
farmed out to those citizens who would take them for the least sum 
per week or year, having the benefit of their services. Later the town 
bought for an almshouse and poor farm the house and farm of James 
Taylor in West Chatham that had belonged to his father, Samuel Tay- 
lor. This house and its successor built by the town were managed by 
keepers and the town's poor cared for there until 1878, when the house 
and farm were sold and a new almshouse established next to the Baptist 



In early times letters could be transmitted only by private messenger 
or by the casual traveler. The first postoffice in the town was opened 
January 1, 1798, with James Hedge as postmaster. He served until 
1801, when he was succeeded by Ezra Crowell, who held the place 
until 1819, when he was succeeded by Theophilus Crowell, who served 
till 1821. He was succeeded by Josiah Mayo June 8, 1822, who held the 
place until 1861, being also from 1847 to 1873 town clerk and treas- 
urer. In 1861 Ziba Nickerson succeeded Mayo and was postmaster for 
20 years. Until after the appointment of Mr. Mayo the postoffice was 
located in the northern part of the town near the old burying ground, 
which, as we have stated, had been the chief center of the town, but, 
after 1820, the locality now known as the "village" began to forge 
ahead and later became the most populous part of the town. A demand 
for the removal of the postoffice sprang up. At a town meeting held 
March 6, 1826, the question was raised whether the postoffice should 
be moved to another part of the town or steps should be taken to 
have an additional postoffice. Both propositions were negatived. But 
in 1828 a postoffice was established at North Chatham, with Isaiah 
Nye as the first postmaster, and at this time the old postoffice had 
no doubt been removed down town. The West Chatham postoffice was 
established in 1856 with Daniel Howes as first postmaster. The Chat- 
hamport and South Chatham postoffices were both established in 1862 
with Enos Kent and Levi Eldridge, Jr., as the incumbents respectively. 
At first the mail was received weekly, by 1815 twice a week and after 
1820 three times, a week. In 1827, the late Samuel D. Clifford, then 
a boy of 14, carried the mail on horseback, starting from and return- 
ing to Yarmouth the same day. Daily mails were established in 1848. 
The telegraph reached the town in 1855, and the office was placed in 
charge of our veneralbe fellow citizen Ziba Nickerson. The telephone 
first appeared in 1883. News was not obtained so promptly as now. 
In the years preceding 1860 Boston semi-weeklies were taken chiefly 
for their shipping news and often one paper served for two or more 
families. Local news was chiefly obtained through the Barnstable 
Patriot, established in 1830, and the Yarmouth Register, established in 
1836. The Chatham Monitor first appeared in 1871. 


Communication with Boston was at first a matter of considerable 
time and discomfort. The journey could be made on horseback, or ad- 
vantage could be taken of the casual vessels that made the voyage 
from Chatham to that port. The fishing vessels in the fall frequently 
took the dried fish there for sale and returned with provisions and 
goods to supply the winter needs of the inhabitants. About 1830 
packets were run from Brewster and Chatham to Boston. Some of us 


can remember the Chatham packets at the wharf of Josiah Hardy near 
the Lights and the ball and flag on the former doctor's house on the 
north road that indicated the sailing and arrival of the Brewster pack- 
et. Much use of this was made by the Chatham people to avoid the 
trip around the Cape. The railroad was completed to Sandwich in 

1848. It was extended to Yarmouth and Hyannis in 1854. Lines of 
stages were then run from Chatham to Yarmouth and at one time 
there was a line also to Hyannis. In 1865 Harwich was reached by 
the railroad and from that time on a short carriage ride was required 
until the Chatham railroad was opened in 1887. 


The inhabitants of Chatham were early called upon to give relief 
to seamen wrecked upon its shores. In 1711 it is stated the village 
"has often heretofore been a place of relief to many shipwracked ves- 
sels and Englishmen cast ashore in storms." No public action was 
taken looking to the succor of men cast ashore until the Humane So- 
ciety with headquarters in Boston placed houses of refuge along the 
coast. In 1802 one of these huts was located half way between Nauset 
and Chatham harbors. "The meeting house of Chatham is situated 
from it southwest. This meeting house is also without a steeple and 
is concealed by the Great Hill, a noted landmark. The hill appears 
with two summits which are a quarter of a mile apart." There was 
another hut a mile north of the mouth of Chatham harbor, east of the 
meeting house and opposite the town. Still another was on Monomoy 

The Chatham Lights, on James Head, were established in October 
1808, and after one of them was washec* away, they were rebuilt 255 
feet west of the original position, in 1877". Monomoy light station was 
established in 1823, and the house was moved 212 feet southerly in 

1849. The Stage Harbor (or Harding's beach) light station was estab- 
lished in 1880. Lifesaving stations were first established on this coast 
in 1872, when the Monomoy station, rebuilt in 1905, was constructed. 
The Chatham station was established in 1873 and reconstructed in 1893. 
Monomoy Point station was built in 1874 and rebuilt in 1900. The Old 
Harbor station was established in 1898. 


It "may be interesting to know what was written about us a century 

A writer, in 1791, says: 

"Southeast from Harwich is Chatham, situated in the outer elbow of 
the Cape, having the sea on the east and on the south; Harwich on the 
west and Eastham on the north. The land is level and cleared of wood, 
and in many places commands a fine view of the sea. The soil in gen- 
eral is thin, the average produce of Indian corn being 12 bushels, and of 


rye 6 bushels, to the acre. There is not a stream of running water in 
the town. Their mills are turned by wind, as on other parts of the 
Cape. No town is more conveniently located with respect to water con- 
veyance, having two harbors and many coves and inlets making up into 
every part of the town. They are well situated for carrying on the 
cod fishery, and employ about forty vessels in that business; some of 
them fish upon the banks of Newfoundland and others upon the shoals. 
As the harbors of this town are in the elbow or turn of the Cape, 
they afford a shelter for vessels of a moderate size, when passing and 
re-passing. But the harbors being barred, renders the ingress some- 
what difficult to those who are not well acquainted with them. The 
depth of water is sufficient for vessels of two or three hundred tons 
burthen. Besides the fishery carried on in vessels at sea, they have 
plenty of cod at the mouths of their harbors, which are taken in small 
boats. They take plenty of bass in the season for them. Their coves 
abound with eels; they have plenty of oysters and other shell fish for 
their own consumption." "The scarcity of wood obliges the inhabitants 
to use it with great frugality, five cords of wood being a year's stock 
for a small family. Pine wood is two dollars and an half, and oak 
three dollars and an half per cord." 

The same writer, speaking of Cape Cod, says: 

"The winds in every direction come from the sea, and invalids by 
visiting the Cape sometimes experience the same benefit as from go- 
ing to sea." 

Another writer, in 1802, says: 

"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 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 25 to 70 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 200 men and boys, most of them are inhabitants 
of Chatham; and they catch one year with another 700 or 800 quintals 
to a vessel. Besides these fishing vessels, there are belonging to the 
town five coasters, which sail to Carolina and the West Indies." "Few 
town's in the county are so well provided with harbors as Chatham. 
The first and most important is on the eastern side of the town and is 
called Old Harbor. 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 harbor of Chatham is supposed to reach 


not farther 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 harbor 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. - - - There are no rocks either within or near the harbor; but its 
mouth is obstructed by bars, which extend east and southeast 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 harbor within the outer 
bars. These bars are continually shifting." "At low water there are 
seven feet on the outer bar, common tides rising about six feet. - - - 
There is good holding ground in the harbor. - - - The depth at low 
water is about 20 feet. Not only do the bars alter, but the mouth of 
the harbor also is perpetually varying. At present it is gradually mov- 
ing southward by the addition of sand to the point of the beach. The 
beach has thus extended about a mile within the course of the past 
forty years." "The principal business of the town is done near Old 
Harbor." "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." "Not more than half enough Indian corn for the con- 
sumption 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 
excellent oysters in the Oyster Pond; but they are scarce and dear, 
selling for a dollar a bushel." 

Stage Harbor is also described by this writer. 

In 1839 a writer states that forty years before large ships used to 
come into the harbor, but then it was so injured by a sand bar that had 
been forming that only small craft could enter. The same writer says 
that while Chatham is in extent one of the smallest towns on the Cape 
it was said to be one of the wealthiest. A large amount of shipping 
was owned by the inhabitants in other places. 

In 1846 it is said: 

"The Harbor of Chatham which was formerly a good one is now near- 
ly destroyed by the shifting of the sand bars near its mouth Where 
the entrance to it formerly was there is a beach 25 feet high, covered 
with beach grass, and a mile in length." "There is considerable wealth 
in this place. A large amount of tonnage is owned here which sail 
from other places. The value of fish cured at Chatham is very con- 
siderable, and large quantities of salt are made." 


How different is the world of today from the world of 1712? What 
changes have taken place? France was under the rule of the Bourbons. 
The French Revolution and Napoleon were nearly a century in the 
future. Italy, now unite.d and progressive, was under the heel of 
foreign princes or consisted of fragmentary and hostile communities. 
Germany, now a mighty, consolidated empire, was a loose confederacy 
of small principalities under the leadership of Austria. St. Petersburg 
had just been founded, and Peter the Great was still at his task of 
converting Russia from Asiatic backwardness and isolation into a 
modern European power. On this side of the ocean a feeble fringe of 
English colonies stretched along the coast from the Savannah River to 
Maine. Georgia was not yet settled. North of Maine all was French. 
West of the Alleghanies the territory was claimed by the French. From 
Texas to the Isthmus of Panama and over substantially the entire con- 
tinent of South America the Spaniards held sway, except in Brazil, 
which had been colonized by Portugal. Through the entire field of in- 
dustry the means were essentially those of the ancient world. All the 
great changes that have been wrought by steam and electricity, guided 
by inventive genius, were yet to come. Through these two centuries, 
through all these mighty developments, this little community has moved 
steadily on its way, not driven from its moorings, nor on the other hand 
producing events that will find their place in general history, but the 
scene of the honest lives of brave, industrious and energetic men and 
women. Without such as these the republic would not exist. 

In closing this address, I must not fail to say a word for those 
who like myself have long lived away from the old home. Those who 
have remained here can scarcely understand our feelings as we visit 
this scene of our childhood and youth. There rush upon us the memo- 
ries of former days. The companions with whom we played live 
again, though too many have gone before. The little schoolhouse is 
peopled again. Here are the graves where rest the bones of our an- 
cestors, and here the old house calls up the tender and hallowed mem- 
ories of father and mother, of brother and sister. Can we ever forget? 
How can I better answer than by quoting the lines of Burns in his 
lament upon the death of his benefactor, Lord Glencairn? — 

"The bridegroom may forget the bride 

Was made his wedded wife yestreen; 
The monarch may forget the crown 

That on his head an hour has been; 
The mother may forget the child 

That smiles sae sweetly on her knee; 
But I'll remember thee, Glencairn, 

And a' thou hast done for me!" j 


rr 23 \m 


No. 105. Barnstable Town Records, 60 pp., $1.50 

No. 104. Sandwich and Bourne, Colony and Town Records, 

36 pp., 1.00 

No. 103. Crowell Families of Yarmouth, 16 pp., 2.00 

Genealogies by James W. Hawes: 

No. 102. William Nickerson, 17 pp., .50 

No. 101. Eldred, Eldredge, 29 pp., 1.00 

No. 100. Nicholas Busby, 8 pp., .25 

No. 99. Atkins, .75 

No. 98. Ryder, .75 
No. 97. John Munroe and Old Barnstable, by Elizabeth 

Munroe, 135 pp., 2.00 

No. 91. Children of William Nickerson, 16 pp., .50 

No. 90. Covel, 9 pp., .50 

No. 89. Hedges, .25 

No. 96. Ancient Houses, T. P. Howes, 6 pp., .50 

No. 95. Dillingham Familv, 4 pp., .25 
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Fitzgerald, 2 pp., .25 
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Brewster Shipmasters, Sears. 2d edition, cloth, 2.00 
"Cape Cod," by Charles F. Swift, 5.00 
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mouth, Mass., 1.00 
Yarmouth Families of — 
No. 88. White, .50 
No. 87. Gorham, .75 
No. 86. Brav, 1.00 
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No. *',. Crosby, .50 
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No. 81. Matthews, .75 
No. 80. Berry, .50 
No. 79. Baxter, .50 
No. 78. 200th Anniversary Address, Town of Chatham. 

Hawes, .50 

No. 77. The Hinckleys of Truro, Shebnah Rich, .50 

No. 76. The Lombards of Truro, Shebnah Rich, .50 
All publications sent postpaid on receipt of price. 

C. W. SWIFT, Publisher, 

Yarmouthport, Mass. 




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