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Chap. ..B-7-4 




















With Illustrations by Catherine M. Follansbee 

GLOUCESTER, :mass. : 



Vyj' >A/' V-A/' 



These Dogtown Sketches were written ahiiost 
wholly as the result of an effort to satisfy the curiosity 
of the author as to the history, biography and tra- 
ditions of the deserted village, their continuation and 
publication being encouraged by the general atten- 
tion they commanded. It is not claimed that they 
are complete, but it is believed they contain far more 
information than has yet been published concerning 
their subject. The writer desires to express his deep 
sense of obligation to those who, before the publica- 
tion of the matter originally prepared, and since, 
have assisted by furnishing facts and reminiscences. 


They have made it possible to get together a mass of 
authentic history, where at tirst it seemed that at best, 
only a few traditions were to be rescued from obliv- 
ion. Of course nearly all the material is in the 
memories of Cape Ann's aged people, and it has been 
a source of unalloyed pleasure to sit by them and 
listen to their discourses upon the days of long ago. 
Among the precious memories of this year will be 
those of many an hour spent in ancient kitchens, 
while sweet-faced old ladies, often with sweeter voi- 
ces, or men with whitened locks and time-furrowed 
cheeks, recalled the stories told them by the fireside 
by other dear old women and noble old men of a past 
century. Xo wonder Gloucester has developed into 
such an admirable and lovable a communitv, when 
there still lingers among her people so many of their 
honored progenitors. 



Ever since Goldsmith wrote his "Deserted Vil- 
lage" there has been a weird, poetic and sentimental 
charm about abandoned settlements, that has so ex- 
erted itself over some minds that it has become a 
pleasure to make the investigations incident to a cor- 
rect understanding of what manner of men found it 
convenient or necessary to build habitations which it 
afterwards became advisable to desert. Arch^ologists 
have given lifetimes, almost, to the investigation of 
the modes of life of the cliff dwellers of Arizona and 

6 The Story of Doo-fozvn. 

New Mexico. Tliere are comparatively few ruined 
cities in America ; and even more rare are the in- 
stances of deserted villages wliich were once inhabited 
hv wliite men. the progenitors of people who are liv- 
ing to-dav. It has been the pleasm^e of the writer 
during the past few months to acquaint manv people 
with their ancestors, in a figurative sense, for in the 
heart of Cape Ann mav be found a \illage which 
was once inhabited by the grandparents or more dis- 
tant progenitors of many who are to-day active in the 
affairs of (jloucestcr and Rockport. 

To-day the onl\- inhabitants of ' ' Do2."town " are 
lowing kine, an occasional decrepit horse turned out 
to pasture as a pensioner, or woodchucks, crows and 
migrating birds. Its grass-grown streets are there, 
its foot-worn door-stones may be used for a resting- 
place by the occasional summer tourist on a tramp 
across the cape, a curiosity seeking Appalachian, or by 
the more numerous berry pickers. The cleared land 
in the midst of such a waste of rocks, as is the rule in 
Dogtown Commons, always leads to speculation ; 
eyen more suggesti\e are the walled yards and the 
many cellars, both of houses and farm Iniildings. 

Concerning these old cellars novelists have woven 
their romances, and poets have sung. Nearly a half- 
century ago they excited the interest of Richard 

The Story of Dogtozuii. 7 

Henry Dana and Thomas Starr King and the circle 
of rare minds they drew to Cape Ann with them. 
Long afterwards, Col. Thomas VVentworth Hig- 
ginson, in one of those delightful bits of reminiscence 
scattered through " Oldport Days," described a walk 
to Dogtown Commons from Pigeon Cove : 

"What can Hawthorne mean by saying in his 
English diary that 'an iVmerican would never under- 
stand the passage in Bunyan about Christian and 
Hopeful going astray along by a by-path into the 
grounds of Giant Despair, from there being no stiles 
and by-paths in our country' ? So much of the charm 
of American pedestrianism lies in the by-paths : For 
instance, the whole interior of Cape Ann, beyond 
Gloucester, is a continuous woodland, with granite 
ledges everywhere cropping out, around which the 
high-road winds, following the curving and indented 
line of the sea, and dotted here and there with fishing 
hamlets. This whole interior is traversed by a net- 
work of foot-paths, rarely passable for a wagon, 
and not always for a horse, but enabling the pe- 
destrian to go from anv one of the villages to any 
other, in a line almost direct, and always under an 
agreeable shade. By the longest of these hidden 
ways, one may go from Pigeon Cove to Gloucester, 
ten miles, without seeing a public road. In the little 

8 T^hc Story of Dogtoivu. 

inn at tlie former villao-e there used to hansf an old 
map of tliis wliole forest region,^ giving a cliart of 
some of these paths, which were said to date back to 
the first settlement of the country. One of them, for 
instance, was called on the map 'Old road from 
Sandy Bay to 'Squam Meeting-House through the 
Woods'; but the road is now scarcely eyen a l>ridle- 
path, and the most faithful worshipper coultl not seek 
'Squam meeting-house in the family chaise. These 
woods haye been lately devastated ; but when I first 
knew the region, it was as good as any German 
forest. Often we stepped from tlie edge of the sea 
into some gap in tlic woods; there seemed hardly 
more than a rabbit-track, yet presently we met some 
wayfarer who had crossed the Cape by it. 

"A piney dell gave some vista of the broad sea we 
were leaving, and an opening in the woods displayed 
another blue sea-line before ; the encountering breezes 
interchanged odors of berry bushes and scent of brine ; 
penetrating further among oaks and walnuts we came 
upon some little cottage, quaint and sheltered as any 
Spenser drew ; it was not built on the high-road, and 
turned its vine-clad gable away from even the foot- 
path. Then the ground rose and other breezes came ; 

1 This is a reference to the " Mason" map of Cape Ann. A copy of it 
hangs at the present time in tlie office of the citv clerk. 

TJie Story of Dogtown. 9 

perhaps we climbed trees to look for landmarks, and 
found only an unseen quarry. Three miles inland, as 
I remember, we found the hearthstones of a vanished 
settlement ; then we passed a swamp with cardinal 
flowers; then a cathedral of noble pines, topped with 
crows' nests. If we had not gone astray, by this time 
we would have presently emerged on Dogtown Com- 
mon, an elevated tableland, overspread with great 
boulders as with houses, and encircled with a girdle 
of green woods and another girdle of blue sea. I 
know of nothing like that gray, waste of boulders; it 
is a natural Salisbury Plain, of which icebergs and 
ocean currents were the Druidic builders ; in that 
multitude of couchant monsters there seems a sense 
of suspended life ; you feel as if they must speak and 
answer to each other in the silent nights, but by day 
only the wandering sea-birds seek them, on their way 
across the Cape, and the sweet-bay and green fern 
imbed them in a softer and deeper setting as the years 
goby. This is the 'height of ground' of that wild 
foot-path ; but as you recede farther from the outer 
ocean and approach Gloucester, you come among still 
wilder ledges, unsafe without a guide, and you find in 
one place a cluster of deserted houses, too difficult 
of access to remove even their materials, so that they 
are left to moulder alone. I used to wander in those 

lo 77/(" Story of Dogtoivii. 

woods, summer after summer, till I had made mvown 
chart of their devious tracks, and now when I close 
my eyes in this Oldport midsummer, the soft Italian 
air takes on something of a vScandinavian vigor ; for 
the incessant roll of carriages I hear the tinkle of the 
quarrvman's hammer and the veerv's song ; and I long 
for those perfumed and breezv pastures, and for those 
promontories of granite where the fresh water is nec- 
tar and the salt sea has a res^al blue." 

Col. Higginson hints in the above passage at manv 
of the topographical and geographical features of the 
Heart of Cape Ann. The old road from Sandy Bay 
to 'Squam is what is now known as Revere street. 
He draws the line between Dosftown villasfe and 
Dogtown Commons with as much care as the most 
particular old-timer could wish. He also mentions 
Lamb or Raccoon ledge, it is difKcult to say which. 

Dogtown is a pathetic, fascinating place. Whv did 
more than one hundred families exile themselves from 
the life of the villages so near them, and dwell in lone- 
liness and often in poverty, in this barren and secluded 
spot? The name "Dogtown," it is well understood, 
came from the canines kept bv the so-called " widows " 
of the place, when the evil davs came that saw their 
natural protectors either in their graves or buried 
beneath the ocean. 

The Story of Dogtoivn. 1 1 

There are many approaches to Dogtown. I have 
quoted Col. Higghison's description o£ the route from 
Pigeon Cove, by way of the old road from Sandy Bay 
to the 'Squam church, which is still passable. Com- 
ing from 'Squam, one may leave the church, walk 
a mile through the same road, past the Cape Ann 
Granite Co.'s quarries, the road passing through the 
upper end of one, to the house of David Dennison, 
an ancient ^ambrel-roofed lean-to, built by Mr. Den- 
nison's first ancestor on Cape Ann, and a fine sample 
of the better class of the Dogtown homes. From 
here h^ can branch off to the right, by the Whale's 
Jaw, and thence go to the deserted village. The road 
by Goose Cove, near Riverdale, leads to the same 
point, the Whale's Jaw, a great boulder split by light- 
ning, or more probably by frost, to resemble the open 
jaws of a whale. Gee avenue and Stanwood street, 
in Riverdale, lead past the cellar of Judith Ryon 
(or Rhines), to that of Abraham Wharf, and thence 
to the main street of the village. 

Persons coming from East Gloucester may, if they 
are strong on their feet, go up Webster street and 
enter the pastures by crossing Lamb Ledge — no small 
^task, for it is one of the most wonderful terminal mo- 
raines in New England, the boulders being piled one 
upon another in the most orderly confusion until they 

The Story of Dogtoxvu. 13 

reach tlie level of the Commons from the deep valley 
into which some glacier swept them ages ago. It is 
a good hour's stint to cross the ledge, and then one 
passes by Railcut Hill, the highest point on the outer 
Cape, to the old Rockport road, another picturesque 
and grass-grown highway of olden times, and enters 
the Pigeon Cove path which continues by the Whale's 
Jaw at the clearing once occupied by James Witham, 
son of Thomas and grandson of Henry, the first of the 
line in this countrv. 

Witham was born in 1693, and built this house at 
what is known as Stacy's Pines, the location bearing 
the suggestive title of the "parting path." Pie en- 
gaged in tending flocks for the Low family, for $300 
annually, his son Thomas succeeding him in his work. 
Only the cellar of the house remains. It was in later 
years a great resort for young people for mirth and 
jollity until its demolition. The path continues across 
the valley in which the Gloucester Branch of the Bos- 
ton & Maine railroad runs, which bears the marks 
of the tides on its sentinel ledges, showing that once 
they flowed through here from Good Harbor or Long 
Beach to the 'Squam river, and thence to the big rock, 
."Peter's Pulpit," which in the distance looks like 
a pitch-roofed house, which stands directly on the 
Dogtown road, markins: the end of the main settle- 


The Story of Dogioivn. 

nicnt. The following diagram may give a clearer 
idea of the foreo-oing : 

A c 

The straight lines in the triangle represent the 
general direction of three very crooked roads. A is 
the point on Dogtown road, beyond the intersection 
of Reynard and Cherry streets, where the road from 
B meets it. From A the Dogtown road continues up 
what old residents of Riverdale call "gravel hill,'' 
past the Vivian barn, and on to the rock variously 
called "Peter's Pulpit," -Pulpit Rock," and "Uncle 
iVndrew's Rock," at C. Tt then winds on to the 
Whale's Jaw. Opposite A is the site of the Nathaniel 
Day house. B is the point where Gee avenue and 
Stanwood street meet. The grass-grown road from 
B to C is the "Dogtown Common road," that is, it is 
the road over the Common to Dogtown. That from 
A to C is the "Dogtown road," and that from A to B 
is paradoxically called the " back road," though it is 
nearer civilization than either of the others. Were 
a prize of $50 to be offered a person who woidd start 

The Story of Dog-tozvn. 


from A, go to B, thence to C and back to A without 
getthig off the road, he probably never would receive 
it. I have been over it many times, and never failed 
to get lost for a few moments at least. Perhaps the 
spirit of Peg Wesson, who did not live in Dogtown, 
of Luce George, or of Judy Rhines, if Judy really 
was a witch, has bewitched me for the contemplated 
sacrilege of writing them up. 

Practically all the old people agree in calling the 
roads by the names I have given. The Commons 
road is also sometimes called the " walled-in " road, as 
the walls occasionally cross it. Old j^eople do not call 
the cellars on the latter road — of Morgan Stanwood, 
Judy Rhines, Moll Jacobs and others in "Dogtown," 
they are on the "Commons." The reader will prob- 
ably be incapable of drawing so fine a distinction. 
There were obvious reasons why people who lived on 
the Commons road should have chosen to do so. 




The most natural, because the most interesting^ 
approach to the village, is by its outpost, the cellar 
of "Tammy" Younger, the "queen of the witches," 
at Fox Hill. She was more often seen bv the pred- 
ecessors of this generation on Cape Ann, was better 
known, and far more respected and feared than any 
of her confreres. Perhaps the reader will be better 
able to judge whether the title for two or three gener- 
ations bestowed on Tammy was deserved, after a care- 
ful perusal of this chapter. It is possible that after 
reading it he may be disposed to transfer the title to 
her aunt, the redoubtable "Luce George." 

The Story of Dogtozvn. 17 

Coming from the Harbor village of Gloucester, 
through Maplcvvood avenue, one reaches Poplar street, 
and after turning to the left, soon reaches the bridge 
at Alewife brook. Beneath a solitary poplar, on a lit- 
tle rise of ground, is the cellar of Tammy Younger. 
An apple orchard stands near. The cellar has been 
cleared recently of a growth of sumacs which nearly 
obscured it. Thomazine Younger was born July 28, 
1753, and was the daughter of William Younger, 
sojourner, and Lucy Foster, who were married on 
March 6, 1750, by Rev. John White, pastor of the 
First Church. 

A recent writer claims that this liouse Was in later 
years the resort of buccaneers and lawless men. For- 
tune telling, card playing and other amusements 
whiled away their time. Money was found in the 
cellar after Tammy's death. These assertions are 
denied bv members of her family who still remain, 
and apparently with good reason. 

A friend of the writer was, a few years since, 
chasino; a woodchuck, which went into the cellar. 
In dio-o-ingr for the animal lie unearthed a handsomelv 
ornamented snuff box, the cover bearing a represen- 
tation of a full rigged ship. It was probably Tam- 
my's, as she is said to have been a snuff taker as well 
as smoker, but it has been credited to a possible myth- 

..uv.- ,j\Y:cg;;T'A 

The Story of Dog'tozv)i. 19 

ical British sea captain who was wont to visit the 

Mr. John Low Babson, one of Gloucester's oldest 
residents, recalls that in the early twilight of an autum- 
nal evening he was going from Fresh Water Cove to 
his home, still standing, near the Green in the "up 
in town" village, and had to pass through the bury- 
\\\si srround near the brids^e. A man was disfofino; 
a grave. "Who is that for?" he asked. "Tammy 
Younger," the sexton replied. "Is she dead .^" was 
young Babson's surprised query. "We don't very 
often dig graves for folks that aint dead," was the 
test}^ response. Mr. Babson gives a good illustration 
of the prevalent impressions concerning Tammy, In 
a reminiscence of his boyhood. He was driving home 
the cows, past her dwelling, when she came to the 
door and accosted him, begging him, with strong 
expleti\'es, if he lo\ed her life, to get her a pail 
of water. He got it, of course, from the brook 
behind the cabin. No one ever refused Tammy. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Day, of Wheeler's Point, says that 
Tammy died Feb. 4, 1S39. vShe was therefore 76 
years old. Mrs. Day's father, John Hodgkins, was 
a cabinet maker, who lived in the house just above 
the railroad track, on Washington street. Elizabeth 
was a child of ten years. For two or three years 

20 The Stoi'v of Dogtoivn. 

Tammy, who often saw her, had taken a fancy to her, 
and would often ask her to come and live with her at 
Fox Hill, as she was lonely. Tammy used to make 
l:)utter and carry it to the Harbor to sell, and when- 
ever she passed along other members of the family 
would say, "Here comes Aunt Tam to take you up 
to her house with her." The little girl's heart was 
thus constantly terrorized with the thought that Tam- 
my would some time capture her, and her feelings may 
well be imagined wlien on that stormy winter dav 
word came that Tammvwas dead and that Mr. Hodg- 
kins must make her a coffin. 

Old Mrs. Pulcifer, whose daughter recently died 
at a great age, had attended her in her last sickness, 
and Oliver, Tammv's nephew, who was brought up 
by her, liad deferred to Mrs. Pulcifer's advice as to 
the funeral arrangements. He said he wanted to do 
everything that could be done to have things nice, so 
when advised to have as good a coffin as could be 
made, with a pure silver plate, he at once ordered it. 
It was of course thougfht the thing: ii^ those davs to 
liave "spirit" on funeral occasions, and in deference 
to Mrs. Pulcifer's opinion, he ordered no rum, or 
other cheap liquors, but cordials, wines, and other 
of the better class of bevxrages. Mrs. Pulcifer is 
remembered to have said afterward tiiat her onlv 

The Story of Dogtozvn. 21 

reoret was that she had not ordered the church bells 
tolled for Tammy, as she was sure it would have 
been done. 

But to return to Mr. Hodgkins and Tammy's cof- 
lin. All that rainy day he toiled upon it, and toward 
night it was ready for polishing. He had a large 
kitchen, and it was his custom when polishing coffins 
to bring them into that room, where he had a better 
chance to work. The children were therefore used to 
such sights. But on this particular night the storm 
was so severe that he did not care to risk spoiling his 
work by taking it back to the shop, so after rubbing 
it down with beeswax he stood it up in the corner, 
blew out his candle and said nothing. 

Soon bedtime came. The children, sitting by the 
comfortable open fire in the adjoining room, were 
warned by their mother to retire: "Come John, it's 
time for you and Elizabeth to go to bed." John took 
a candle, and started. It was necessary to go through 
the kitchen in order to reach the chambers above. 
As he opened the door, the light of his candle fell on 
the shinv coffin in the corner. Other people might 
not believe Tammy was a witch ; on that night John 
was sure she was both a witch and a ghost. He be- 
gan to whimper, " I won't go to bed with Aunt Tam 
Younger's coffin in the house," said he. As he drew 


The Storv of Dogtown. 

back, Elizabeth l^ravely stepped into the breach, Ijut 
one sight of the coffin was enoiigli, and she too, \mi- 
came panicky, and dechiied that there was no sleep for 
her if that coffin was to remain. Mother impatiently 
got np, and boldly threw the door wide open. She 
was never known to be afraid of anvthing-, but a look 
unnerved her also, and she joined with the children 
and said she would never ^o to bed with that thins" 
there. In vain the father said the rain would spoil 
it; it was three against one. ''Spoil it or not," said 
the good housewife, "I won't stav in the house with 
it." So "pa" gave in, got a quilt, wrapped it up, 
and bore it through the storm to the shop. 

Tammy had a square window in the rear of her 
house, with a wooden door. This was kept shut, 
there being a long string attached to it, bv which 
Tammy could open it at will. The sound of a team 
crossing the bridge over the brook was usuallv a 
signal for Tammy to swing open the shutter and 
boldly communicate with the driver. A footstep on 
the bridge would also serve to open the window. If 

The Story of Dogtozvii. 23 

Tammy asked for a mackerel or any other thing she 
saw in the hand or the team of a passer-by, she 
nsuallv got it, or the nnhick\' tra\ eller got a piece of 
Irer mind. On one autumn day a hickless youth pass- 
ing noticed a liig pile of pumpkins sunning against 
the rear of the house. Crossing the lot to avoid the 
steep hill, as many do to-day, he thoughtlessly pulled 
out one, low down in the pile. The effect was unex- 
pected, for at once the whole collection coasted down 
the hill into the brook. Tammy's window Hew open. 
A torrent of vocal pyrotechnics accompanied the 
hours of labor that followed, as that unhappy boy 
fished out the pumpkins, and toiled back and forth up 
the hill until they were piled up again. 

As is well known, a good deal of the land on Dog- 
town Commons is in the hands of the Younger 
family. I have said that Oliver Younger was brought 
up by his aunt, and it seems that he was unaware of 
the fact that the. land belonged to his father and not 
to her. Many years after his father's death, he was 
remarking to one of the i\llens, a neighbor, what a 
care his aunt's land was to him, and Allen responded, 
''Well, it's all yours, anyway. Your father willed it 
to you, for I signed the will as one of the wdtnesses." 
This was news to Oliver, but acting on the hint given 
he waited an opportunity when Tammy was away, 


The Story of DogtovjJi. 

and then ransacked the house. In the secret drawer 
of a small table, he found the will. Under ordinar\- 
circumstances it would have been outlawed, but as 
this was the first knowledge anyone had of its exist- 
ence, it was admitted to probate. 

While Tammv Voiuiger won for herself a reputa- 
tion as a woman with a very choice vocabulary, es- 
pecially in the line of invective, she evidently was 
"not as bad as she has been painted," as Mr. Benja- 
min P. Kidder of Rockport savs, and his testimony is 
confirmed by aged Betsey Elwell of Maiden, who 
remembers her well, as well as bv Mrs. Almira 
Riggs, but recentlv deceased. The truth seems to be 
that Tammv had an aunt, known bv the name of 
"Luce (Lucv) George." She it was who originallv 
lived in the Fox Hill House, and who used to stand 
at the door of her cabin and bewitch the oxen so that 

The Story of Dogtown. 25 

they would stand with their tongues run out, but 
could not come up the hill until some of the corn they 
drew was contributed to her. She, like Peg Wesson, 
is said to have had the art of so bewitching a load of 
wood that it would not stay on the ox team until a 
portion had been unloaded at her door. It is said 
she would go to the wltarves; when the fishing vessels 
came in, and exact her tribute of fish. Of course 
these are traditions, but I give them for what they are 
worth to susceptible minds. Tammy Younger lived 
with her aunt. Hence the confusion of the two. 
Tammy was not tall and raw-boned, as some have 
alleged, but short and inclined to plumpness. 

At one time in her life, she decided to part with 
two rather long teeth that decorated each side of her 
upper jaw. They were not as long as Black Nell's, 
which one old lady insists were fully an inch in 
length, nor as long as -Judy Rhines'," but they were 
troublesome, so she sent for "Granther Stannard" 
to act in the capacity of dentist. This must have 
been before the old gentleman became convinced that 
his legs were made of glass, and refused to use them, 
for he went over from his house on the ''walled-in 
way." Tammy seated herself in a chair, and Capt. 
Stanwood took a firm hold with his nippers and soon 
a tooth gave way. Being a joker, he only drew it 


The Story of Dogtoiv7t. 

partly down, where it rested in plain sight, against 
her under lip. He then drew down the other to 
exactly the same length, and immediately afterwards 
announced, that owdng to the obstinacy of the teeth, 
he could do no more for her. The pen refuses to 
record the torrent of picturesque language which 
history alleges was poured upon "Johnny Morgan's" 
luckless head. After worrying her awhile, the teeth 
were taken out. 





Nothwithstanding the various theories which have 
])een brought forward to explain the original peopling 
of Dogtown, and its mysterious decline, the writer 
believes it may all be traced to a circumstance which 
is in no sense mysterious, but on the contrary, just 
what might have been expected. This circumstance 
was the building of the bridge at Riverdale and the 
Goose Cove Dam, each making it possible to con- 
struct the road on the easterly side of the mill pond, 
and making what had been the road to Annisquam to 
the harbor a ''back road." 

The reader can easily imagine the condition 
of affairs when the road from the Green northerly led 

38 The Story of Dogtoivn. 

only to Wheeler's Point. Then he must start from 
the Green through what is now Poplar street, turn up 
over Fox Hill, and wind down to Gravel Hill and 
across the moor to the vicinity of the Castle, and 
thence make his way over the hill by the Riggs house 
and around Goose Cove. 

It will thus be seen that the central village of Dog- 
town was but a verv short distance from the main 
road, while what is now Riverdale village is quite 
a distance from it. As old people tell us, it was then 
"•going up into thecitv" to go to Dogtown. There 
was nothing: sinofular at all that under those condi- 
tions Dooftown should have thriven, and that when 
the building of the bridge and dam occurred, and the 
whole tide of travel left this road and went around 
the other way, Dogtown languished and died. It 
was something like a boom city in the West, which 
perishes when the raihoad goes elsewhere. 

It was the facts that have been stated that gave the 
home of Luce George and Tamm\ Younger such 
importance, for almost everybody had to pass it. 

Just beyond the cellar of Tammy Younger, after 
the turn in the road which brings one in sight of Riv- 
erdale, is the cellar of the first blacksmith in town, 
lying beside the travelled road, but still in the road- 
way. Here stood the shop of Joseph Allen, who 

The Story of Dogtown. 29 

came to Gloucester In 1674, being encouraged to set- 
tle by grants of land and a common right. He had 
two wives and seventeen children. One of the chil- 
dren, also named Joseph, became very wealthy, his 
home being on Poplar street, near the house occupied 
by Mr. Joseph A. Procter. 

I think the blacksmith shop must have stood by 
the cellar, and the cellar have been that of the house, 
built perhaps by Allen, but known within the memory 
of persons now living as the -Noble" house, the No- 
bles being ancestors of numerous Riverdale people. 

The white cottage facing up the road immediately 
beyond is on the site of another old mansion which 
was standing before the back road became disused, 
Aunt Pamelia Allen being its occupant. Where the 
Tracy greenhouses are now located, opposite, was 
the home of John Wharf. When he died it became 
the property of his daughter "Poll," or Polly Boyn- 
ton. Her son sold it to the elder Tracy, who tore it 
down. Mrs. Boynton later married Oliver Younger. 
She was thus the ancestor of many of the Boyntons 
and Youngers of to-day. 

Immediately adjoining the Wharf house was the 
Tristram Coffin house, remembered by many old 
people. Becky Rich lived where the piggery, at the 
foot of gravel hill, is now located. She, like many 

30 TJic Story of Dogtoivn. 

others, of the fraternity of Dogtovvn, told fortunes b\- 
means of coffee s^rounds. After Mrs. Day was mar- 
ried, she recalls i^'oing over to Aunt Rich's and having 
her tell of her beau "clear across the water." She 
says Aunt Becky was a nice old woman, hut that little 
reliance was placed in her forecasts. 

Opposite Becky Rich was the house of Nathaniel 
Day. He was the son of Anthony Day, and married 
Mary Davis. He became the father of seventeen 
children, among them three pairs of twins. His son 
Isaac was a gunner on the frigate Constitution, now 
laid up at Portsmouth. A man named Liscomb at 
one time lived in one side of this old Day house. 
Eben Day, of Revnard street, as well as his brother, 
was born in this house, and all played about the streets 
of Dogtown in their boyhood. It stood just bevond 
the barn, which is now there. The cellar has long 
been filled up. 

At Brown's Plain, half way over the back road 
toward the Castle, lived Molly Miller. Later she 
lived at the Harbor on Back street, where Mr. Dav 
recalls seeing her after she had become insane, fas- 
tened in her room with a clothes-stick. Next on the 
left was the house of a man named Emmons. 

At one time in her life Aunt Rachel Smith, daugh- 
ter of Beckv Rich, lived in the Castle. Later she 

The Story of Dogtoum. 3^ 

lived in the liouse a little further on the back road 
from Molly Miller's. It was up on the hill, and the 
cellar remains. Then with her mother she went to 
Dogtown street, and lived in the Easter Carter house. 
After that she returned to the house on the hill. Here 
her son. Jack Bishop Smith, killed himself, and Aunt 
Rachel's^sorrow over her loss is still vividly recalled. 
"Aunt Smith" used to make a "dire drink," 
brewed from foxberry leaves, spruce tops, and other 
botanical specimens, which she was wont to peddle in 
the village, saying as she entered a house, "Now, 
ducky, I've come down to bring a dire drink, for 
I know you feel springish." 

There were never many houses along this portion 
of the back road. Between the point where it met 
the Dogtown Commons road and the Castle stood the 
house of old Uncle Daniel Tucker, whose daughter 
Dorcas-" Dark Tucker," as she was called-nursed 
Judith Ryon in her last sickness. 

It has always seemed to me that this back road 
more closely resembles the Scottish moors, as we read 
of them, than any portion of the Commons. About 
half way across to the Dogtown road formerly stood 
three houses in a row, while another stood on the 
opposite side. These houses were located where the 
bovs now plav ball, "Brown's Plain," as it is called. 



It is quite a little walk from the house of Becky 
Rich, ou the back road, up o^ra\el hill, to the Vivian 
barn. This barn is a landmark. When one reaches 
this point he is quite ready to enjoy the historic spots 
that lie before him. A few rods beyond the barn the 
road makes an al)rupt turn and almost winds back 
upon itself. Just at this turn, on the right, is a split 
ledge, making a break in the stone wall that outlines 
the road. Into this crack in the ledge, a few years 
since, a misguided cow wandered. No human inge- 
nuity was capalile of getting her out alive. Directlv 

The Story of Dogtown. 33 

opposite is the site of the home of a man named Clark. 
The cellar on the left, beyond the barn, which looks 
so much like a pile of rocks in a hollow, is that 
of Henry Davis. It is directly in the road, the yard 
not being walled. 

The road, which has descended from the Vivian 
barn to this place, here begins to rise, and when it 
reaches a point a few rods further, where a fine view 
of Ipswich Bay, the Newburyport shore, and the West 
Gloucester hills is obtainable, the most celebrated 
cellar of Dogtown is seen. This is the reputed home 
of John Morgan Stanwood, who was many years ago 
made immortal by the muse of Hiram Rich in the 
pages of the Atlantic. It may be well for one to seat 
himself on the moss-covered door-stone and recall the 
lines : 

" Morgan Stanwood, patriot : 
Little more is known ; 
Nothing of his home is left 
But the door-step stone. 

"Morgan Stanwood, to our thought 
You return once more : 
Once again the meadows lift 
Daisies to your door. 

" Once again the morn is sweet. 
Half the hay is down : — 
Hark! what means that sudden clang 
From the distant town t 

34 'J^^ic Story of Dogtoxvji. 

" Larum bell and rolling drum 
Answer sea-borne guns : 
La I'll ni lie 11 and rolling drum 
Summon Freedom's sons I 

"And the mower thinks to him 

Crv both bell and drum, 
' Morgan Stanwood. where art thou? 
Here th' in\aders come." 

" Morgan Stanwood needs no more 
Bell and drum beat call ; 
He is one who. hearing once, 
Answers once for all. 

" Xe'er the mower murmured then. 
Half my grass is mown, 
Homespun isn't soldier wear. 
Each may sa\e his own.' 

'' Fallen scythe and aftermath 
Lie forgotten now : 
Winter needs may come and tind 
But a barren mow. 

'• Down the musket comes. • Good wife 
Wife, a quicker flint I " 
And the face that questions face 
1 lath no color in 't. 

" 'Wife, if I am late to-night. 
Milk the heifer first : 
Ruth, if Fm not home at all. 
Worst has come to worst I 

'■ Morgan Stanwood sped along. 
Not the common road : 
Over wall and hill-top straight. 
Straight for death, he strode: 

The Story of Dogtoxvu. 


Leaving her to hear at night 

Tread of burdened men, 
Bv the gate and through the gate, 

At the door, and then — 

Ever after that to hear, 

When the grass is sweet, 
Through the gate and through the night. 

Slowly coming feet. 

Morgan Stanwood's roof is gone ; 
Here the door-step lies ; 

One may stand and think and think, — 
For the thought will rise, 

" Were we where the meadow was, 
Mowing grass alone. 
Would we go the way he went, 
From this vejw stone? 

"Were we on the door-step here. 
Parting for a day, 
Would we utter words as though 
Parting were for aye? 

"Would we? Heart, the hearth is dear. 
Meadow-math is sweet ; 
Parting be as parting may, 
After all, we meet. 

3^ Tlic Sfojy of Dogtozvn. 

John Morgan Stanwood was the son of Nehcniiah 
and Ruth (Morgan) Stanwood. The parish records 
show that he was baptized August 7, 1774. The 
poem evidently (Hd not refer to a Revohitionarv expe- 
rience. He died October 30, 1852, aged ']'$). These 
dates so perplexed me, notwithstanding the tradition 
that vStanwood came back from the war a cripple, and 
the further fact that tlie children of Mrs. Dade, once 
a resident of the village, had handed down her stories 
of the exploits of "Morgan Stannard," that I asked 
Mr. Rich his authorit}- for the poem. He candidly 
confessed that although he wrote the lines with the 
full belief that ^Morgan Stanwood was the hero of 
■Rowe's Bank, Mr. Babson, the historian, later con- 
vinced him that Peter Lurvev, of Dogtown Commons, 
and not vStanwood, was the man who should ha\e 
been immortalized. 

It is quite evident, also, that Stanwood did not 
live in the house with the "door-step stone," for this 
is the cellar of John Clark, who resided there within 
the memorv of men now living. This house, like 
most of those remaining in the earlv part of the 
century, was a small structure, perhaps 1^x35, ^^t'^iid- 
ing side to the road, with a door in the middle, and 
with an ordinarv pitched roof. The cellars, which 
are generally 15 feet square, were under only one end 

The Story of Dogtoxvu. 37 

of the houses. The Clark house became so decrepit 
that it was torn down in 1820. Chirk must have died 
a short time before this date. His wife and children 
removed to the Harbor. 

The next cellar on the left of the road is that 
of Philip Priestly, who is remembered as a hearty old 
man of 70, climbing a locust tree to view the festiv- 
ities of the Harrison hard cider campaign in 1S40. 
Nathaniel Babson, who helped tear down the Clark 
house, was formerly engaged in the freighting busi- 
ness from Gloucester to Boston, and Priestly was one 
of his crew. vSeveral persons who were born in this 
house, I am told, are still living. Priestly died Nov. 
27, 1845, i)i consumption, at the age of 75. 

Philip Priestly was the father of quite a family 
of children. One of these was Philip Priestly, well 
remembered in Gloucester, another was Mrs. Hannah 
Curtis; Eliza, who married Joseph Greenleaf ; Ann, 
who married a Smith ; and Jane. Philip's wife was 
Naomi Clark. 

Opposite John Clark's house, already mentioned, 
was the home of William Pulcifer. Between Clark's 
and Philip Priestly's are two cellars, which some 
have incorrectly assumed were of farm buildings. 
If the house with the doorstone is not Clark's — some 
deny it — one of these is his. The other is that 
of Arthur Wharf, son of Abraham, the suicide. 

38 The Story of Dogtoivu. 

A large yard, enclosed by a stone wall, marks the 
site of the next house. Here lived Joseph Stevens, 
one of the most enterprising of the farmers of the 
village. I judge him to be the son of another Joseph, 
from the record of his baptism, Aug. 17, 1763. There 
is a large collection of foundation stones at this point, 
showing the location of the barn, with a passage 
leading to it from the house, the big shed for wagons, 
and the sheep pen. He kept more stock than any 
other man in the settlement. He laid claim to more 
land than any of his neighbors, and kept a good team, 
which was often in demand. His character is not 
highly spoken of, however, bv those who recall him. 

I am told by old residents of Riverdale that thev 
well remember when the children of Joseph Stevens 
used to go to school in tlie old schoolhouse bv the 

Directly opposite Stevens' house, on a knoll, stootl 
the house of perhaps the most celebrated character in 
the village, Esther (or as she was commonly called, 
"Easter") Carter. No cellar marks the spot, for 
there was none under it. It was the only two-story 
house standing in Dogtown, within the memory of 
any person now living. It was clapboarded, and the 
boards were fastened on with wooden pegs. A man 
who helped pull down the structure tells me he kept 

The Story of Dogtoivn. 39 

a nuniber of the pegs as souvenirs for quite a while. 
Easter Carter was living in 1833. She was very 
poor, and it was a common custom for the young 
people of Riverdale and Annisquam to make excur- 
sions to her house, taking their lunches, and getting 
her to boil cabbage for them. The " cabbage dinner " 
partaken in picnic style, is still one of the popular 
institutions of Cape Ann. Easter Carter would tell 
the fortunes of the young people, doubtless linking 
their lives together in their forecasts in a way accept- 
able to the romantic. The walk home in the moon- 
light would be something to remember, as those 
Appalachians who have crossed the w^eird Dogtown 
pastures by moonlight in later years can testify. One 
staid old citizen recently informed me he had "often 
been up there with a parcel of girls." 

Easter Carter was poor, but quite respectable, and 
undeserving of the distinction which classes her with 
other Dogtown dames of doubtful reputation. She 
was a single woman, and though pinched by poverty, 
very aristocratic. She did not like to have people 
think she, like some of her neighbors, subsisted on 
berries in the summer time. "I eats no trash," she 
remarked to a suggestion at one time. One bright 
Sunday afternoon the parents of David Dennison, 
with their small boy, went on a walk to the pastures, 

40 The Story of Dogto-^vn. 

tuniino: in by Easter Carter's house. He remembers 
that as they passed, she, divining that they were to 
pkick berries as refreshment, remarked, •' The berries 
seem to hide this year." 

Easter Carter was noted as a nurse. It is thought 
by the venerable Eli Morgan of Lanesville that Easter 
and her brother William came here from England, 
which accounts for the silence of the town and parish 
records concerning them. He says Joseph, a son 
of William and Annie, lived a long time in Lanesville. 

I have said that Easter Carter was perfectly respect- 
able, as well as aristocratic, and this character may 
to some have seemed incompatible with other state- 
ments. I have been somewhat mvstified about it 
myself. The truth seems to be that when Easter 
Carter was dead, and the house of Becky Rich on the 
back road had become too dilapidated for occupancy, 
she was taken up, bag and baggage, and installed in 
Easter's house. Becky had a daughter, Rachel, widow 
of Thomas Smith, who went with her. It appears 
that the woman who told fortunes, boiled cabbage, 
baked Johnny cake, and made life merry for all the 
youth who visited her, was not Easter Carter, nor 
Becky Rich, but Rachel Smith. I am very positive 
that there are old men living now who as youths used 
to go up to Granny Rich's, but who have confused 

The Sto)'y of Dogtown. 


her name with that of Easter Carter because of the 
house. While it is admitted that many of the scenes 
of festivity connected with it occurred when Becky 
Rich lived there, it Is insisted by people who must 
know because they were there, that Easter, too, was 
wont to entertain the young people in it. At one time 
a party of yoiing people collected a lot of wall paper 
— each bringing any pieces they had on hand — and 
went up and papered Easter's premises, the harlequin 
effect being quite pleasing to her, apparently. 

Dogtown people had, as a rule, little use for but 
one story of a dwelling, and perhaps that was the 
reason that the upper floor of Easter's house was occu- 
pied by one of the most singular characters of the 
villap-e. This was "Old Ruth." She was a mulatto, 
and doubtless was one of the manumitted slaves that 
abounded in Gloucester early in the century. 




The old EUery House, at the Green, formerlv the 
parsonage of the first parish church, which stood 
hehind it on the Green, and one of the finest samples 
of provincial or colonial architectiu'e in existence in 
New England, at one time had, if it does not have 
to-day, a slave pen luider its roof. In the fine old 
grambrel-roofed mansion owned bv Gustavus Babson. 
across the highway from the EUerv house, there is 
another. To whom "Old Ruth" belonsfed I cannot 

The Story of Dogtoxvu. 43 

find out. vShe went by the name of "Tie," and also 
was known as "John Woodman." 

The masculine cognomen fitted her better than the 
gentle name of Ruth, for until the closing days of her 
life she was never known to dress in feminine apparel. 
Perhaps she was the original "new woman." She 
was accustomed to doing a man's work, and dressed 
in men's clothing. Building stone walls and such 
heavy toil were her chief employments. She used to 
say that she worked out of doors when she was young 
because she had to do it, and that she wore men's 
clothing for the same reason, until she came to prefer 
it. When she was taken to the poor-house, she was 
obliged to conform to the customs of civilization and 
put on skirts. A ledge beyond Easter Carter's still 
bears the name, " Ruth's Ledge," in her honor. 

In a small hut in the same enclosure with Easter 
Carter's house lived Molly Stevens, old "Joe Stevens' " 
sister. No one keeps her memory green. She must 
have made life very unhappy for the gentle Easter, 
unless history is at fault. 

Directly beyond this site, a pair of bars opening 
into the yard, and a big bowlder standing as a sentinel 
in front, is the cellar of Annie Carter, wife of Wil- 
liam, Easter Carter's brother, a record of whose bap- 
tism I find in the Fourth Parish, April r, 1776. This 

44 The Story of Dogtown. 

was the last house taken down in the \illaue. For 
some reason the phice was always known as Annie's. 
After her death, William, with the children, moved 
away. Annie was known as " Granny Carter," and 
is said to have been a ''little small woman." 

One or two other cellars which I have not identi- 
fied with former occupants, lie across the road from 
Annie Carter's, and two, together with a potato hole 
that may deceive the uninitiated, lie between it and 
the cellar, on a rise of ground, formerly under the 
house, it is alleged, of Moll Jacobs. I am somewhat 
disposed to think that this cellar is that of the house 
of good Deacon Winslow, who lived either here or 
very near it. Nobody can remember where Molly 
lived before taking up her abode in the Lurvev house, 
of which we shall speak later. 

In an enclosure at this point are a number of small 
bowlders, marked, " First Attack," etc., that are likely 
to mystify the visitor. One is marked, "James Merrv 
died, Sept. lo, 1S92." Mr. Merry was gored to death 
by a bull, his dead body being found by the rock 
bearing the second inscription. William A. Hodg- 
kins of Riverdale once gave the writer and a party 
of friends a very graphic description of this tragedy, 
as they stood at the spot. The marks were placed by 
Raymond P. Tarr and D. K. Goodwin, about a week 
after the death of Mr. Merry. 

The Story of Dogtown, 45 

The Fifth Parish records say that "Moley Jakups, 
daughter of Isack and Molly, was baptized Jan. 31, 
1763." Molly and Judy Rhines, with others, seem 
to have done a great deal to give to Dogtown a repu- 
tation which also was undeservedly conferred on 
Gloucester as a whole, so that the favored residents 
of Rockport were led for a generation to look down 
on a native of the larger place. No traditions, except 
those of a rather unsavory reputation, remain of Molly. 

Almost opposite the Jacobs cellar, on the left of 
the road, is a well marked cellar, said to be all that 
remains of the home of Dorcas Foster. She was 
eight years old at the conuiiencement of the Revolu- 
tionary w\ar, having been born at the Harbor village. 
Her father left his family in this house for safety from 
the British, whom he feared might come and sack the 
town, and went to the war. George Wonson, who 
lived with his grandmother when a boy, recalls many 
of her stories of life in those troublous times. 

Abram Wharf she always referred to as "Neigh- 
bor Wharf," and called his wife "Aunt Wharf." 
The children used to be sent to the harbor village for 
supplies, and were accustomed to pay one dollar for 
a pound of tea, and for other necessary things in pro- 
portion. Little Dorcas naturally feared the British, 
sharine: the terror which led to the growth of Dog- 

46 The Sto7'y of Dogtoivn. 

town, and one day when she saw seven soldiers, she 
started to rnn, without considering whether they were 
British or Continentals. She was reassined by one 
of them, who told her not to be frightened, as they 
would not hurt her. Her experience well illustrates 
the hardships of those and even later davs, suffered 
by the brave residents of Cape Ann. 

Ezekiel VV. Chard tells me that in the embargo 
times the women of 'Squam would walk as far as 
Ipswich, going across the beach, to get a half bushel 
of meal, the distance being twelve miles. In those 
days it was verv rare to get either bread or cake, he 

Dorcas Foster was three times married, her first 
husband being an Oakes, the second a Stevens, and 
the last Capt. Joseph Smith, who commanded a pri- 
vateer in the war of 181 2. George Wonson is a son 
of Louisa Smith, their daughter. She has many 
descendants in Gloucester. Most of her life was 
spent in the ancient house which until lately stood on 
the rock at the corner of Prospect and Warner streets, 
where the home of M. H. Perkins is now located. 

Not far bevond the Foster cellar, on the same side 
of the road, is one which has been recently filled with 
rocks. It would be unwise to disturb them, for tlie 
cellar is the tomb of several horses, which have l)een 

The Story of Dogtozvn. 47 

shot as a matter of mercy, after having been turned 
out in the pastures to die. This is all that remains 
of the home of Capt. Isaac Dade. He, too, has 
descendants both in Gloucester and Rockport. 

Mrs. H. G. Wetherbee, his granddaughter, fur- 
nishes me the following particulars of the life of Isaac 
Dade : 

"Isaac Dade, while a school boy in or near Lon- 
don, England, was impressed on board an English 
man-of-war. During the Revolution his vessel was 
anchored off Gloucester, and it became his duty to 
row one of the officers ashore. While doing so he 
noticed a fishing vessel ready to sail. As soon as 
the officer was landed he lost no time getting aboard 
the vessel. She was bound to Virginia with a cargo 
of fish. When he reached there he joined the Conti- 
nental army, and was later in three memorable engage- 
ments. He was at Yorktown when Lord Cornwallis 
surrendered. He was wounded in battle, receiving 
a sabre cut across the back of his neck, which crip- 
pled him for life. 

"After the w^ar he married a Southern lady by the 
name of Fanny Brundle. Her father's plantation 
adjoined that of the mother of Washington. She was 
on intimate terms with the Washingtons. Two chil- 
dren were born to them in Virginia. His health 

48 The Story of Dogtoirn. 

began to fail, and he remembered Gloucester, and 
went there hoping that the change of life would be 
beneficial — intending to return to Virginia the follow- 
ing autumn. He did not, however, but spent the rest 
of his life there. He kept a fish market in Glouces- 
ter under great disadvantages, as the women preferred 
to get the fish from the boats as they came in. Dur- 
ing his life he received no pension, but after his death 
it was paid to his widow." 

This story points to. the visit of the Falcon, later 
mentioned in connection with Peter Lurvev's bravery, 
as the probable time when Isaac Dade decided to 
make America his home. I have already indicated 
the probable site of his Dogtown domicile. The the- 
ory that he came in the Falcon is strengfthened l>v the 
fact that in 1775 — the same year of Capt. Lindsay's 
attack — two vessels were dispatched from Gloucester 
to Virginia for supplies, owing to the poverty of the 
people on Cape Ann. 

It must have been a o-reat deal of a chansre to this 
high-spirited maiden to begin her married life in 
a region so barren, so lonely, as Dogtown ; but love 
for her husband must have sweetened the bitterness, 
for she was never heard to complain. 

Directly beyond this cellar on the left is a swamp, 
which has for many decades been a slough of despond 

The Story of Dogtown. 


for cattle and horses. It is always the repository 
of one or more unfortunates, which have got in but 
could never get out. This is "Granny Day's swamp." 
Her cellar is covered by water at the corner of it. 
She was a school teacher, and one of her pupils was 
Nathaniel Day, the patriarch. Near here is Whet- 
stone Rock, a natural curiosity, so hollowed out that it 
served the purpose indicated. Some curiosity seeker 
split it off and carried it away a few years since. 




The only resident of Dog^town mentioned in Bab- 
son's History of Gloucester, was Abraham Wharf, 
who lived in a large gambrel-roofed house near the 
junction of the two roads of the village, not over 
a mile from the "Whale's Jaw," and who according 
to the historian, lonely and weary, crawled under 
a rock near by and committed suicide, in 1814. At 
that time there w^ere at least six other houses in Dog- 
town occupied. The last inhabitant of the village 
was a colored man called "Neil" — his name was 
Cornelius Finson — who lived on the road leading 
from Gee avenue in Riverdale to Dogtown, in the 
house of Judith Ryon, called by all old-timers, "Judy 
Rhines." He was a man of intelligence, evidently, 

The Sfoty of Dogtozv7t. 51 

for Ezekiel W. Chard remembers him as a clerk for 
the boat fishers of 'Squam. Others recall him as 
principally engaged in the more prosaic calling of an 
executioner of hogs. 

He was closely acquainted both with Judy Rhines 
and Molly Jacobs. He was firmly persuaded that 
when Molly Jacobs died she left buried treasure in 
her cellar, and it was with difiiculty he could be kept 
away from the quite uninhabitable hole. Long after 
Judy Rhines was dead he lingered around her house, 
until its walls fell in, when he sought refuge in the 
cellar. From this, cold, dirty, half-starved, and shak- 
ing with the combined infirmity of old age and fright, 
he was taken on a bitter day in winter, 1S30, by 
Constable William Tucker of Riverdale — the people 
of that village having complained of the case to the 
Overseers of the Poor — and carried off to the alms- 
house. As they passed the store of John Low Bab- 
son, near the Poles on Washington street, they stopped 
and Neil was taken in for a half hour to get warm. 
Mr. Babson gave him some tobacco. After Neil had 
gone, Mark Allen, sitting in the store, said, "There, 
I'll bet he'll be so comfortable at the poor-house that 
iie won't live a week." He was right. Within seven 
days Neil was dead. 

If the reader will now start at either Gee avenue 

52 The Story of Dogtown. 

or Stanwood street past the old Langsford house and 
tlie " Castle," over the Commons road to the Morgan 
brook, just beyond the " Castle," and thence follow 
the road along until, if It is the wet season, he comes 
to another brook crossing the road on higher ground, 
he will soon notice at the left what is known as 
" Beech Pasture." A high hill is in the pasture, from 
tiie top of which is obtained a fine view of Annisquam 
and Ipswich Bay. On this hill, quite a distance from 
the road, is a cellar. Near it is a lilac bush and also, 
as in the case of many cellars, a gooseberry bush. 
This is the site of what, taken all together, is the most 
famous of the houses. First of all it was the home 
of Peter Lurvey. I have already said that he was the 
hero of the episode commemorated by Hiram Rich 
in "Morgan Stanwood." Babson says his father, 
Peter Lurvey, removed from Ipswich to Gloucester 
in 1707. In 17 10 he married Rachel Elwell, and our 
Peter was one of eight sons, the elder Peter being 
ancestor of all the Lurveys in Gloucester. 

Peter Lurvey, the Revolutionary patriot, married 
a sister of Abraham Wharf, who lived in the next 
house beyond. On August 8, i775? the British sloop- 
of-war Falcon, which had assisted in the capture 
of Bunker Hill, chased a Salem schooner into Glouc- 
ester harbor, where she grounded on the flats between 

The Story of Dogtown. 53 

Pearce's wharf and Five Pound Island. Capt. Lind- 
say of the Falcon attempted to board her with several 
barge loads of marines. The people of Gloucester, 
an alarm having been given, hauled two swivel guns 
to a point opposite Vincent's Cove, and with the aid 
of muskets prevented a capture. Then Lindsay, full 
of wrath, cannonaded the town (one shot hitting the 
First Parish Church, where it is now suspended in 
the vestry) and landed men at Fort Point to fire the 
village. The firing party were made prisoners, and 
the boarding party were also captured by the intrepid 
villagers. In the engagement Benjamin Rowe was 
instantly killed and Peter Lurvey mortally wounded. 
The above is the story substantially as told by 
Babson and Pringle. It is one side of the picture. 
I will now give the other, as handed dow^n by his wife 
and daughter, and related to me by his descendants. 
On that fatal morning Lurvey, his w^ife and little 
Mary Millett— afterwards Mary Riggs— were over on 
Pearce's Island huckleberrying. Hearing the alarm, 
Peter Lurvey bade his wife good-by, hurriedly rowed 
across to the other shore, ran up to the house, and got 
his o-un, thence across the fields and pastures to the 
Harbor Village, where he met his death. For some 
quite unexplainable reason his face was never seen 
ao-ain by his wife and children. It was never known 

54 The Story of Dogtown. 

what became of his body. Our progenitors were 
pecLiHar about such things. My great-grandmother 
used to tell of her grandfather, killed at the battle 
of Menotomv, as the British were returninof from 
Lexington on April 19, 1775. His body was imme- 
diately buried, in a grave with Jason Russell and ten 
others — now in the Arlington cemetery — and all his 
children ever saw^ again was his old farmer's hat, 
reserved for identification. 

Mrs. Lurvev lived to be 104 vears old, and is 
remembered by people yet living. I have referred to 
her as a sister to Abraham Wharf. Whether she 
was the sister who was with him at the time he com- 
mitted suicide no person can now tell. It was in 
1S14. Wharf sat by the fire sharpening his razor. 
" Sister," said he, do vou think people who commit 
suicide go to heaven?" "•! don't know; i)ut I hope 
you will never do such a thing, brother," was her 
answer. "God forbid," was his solemn response. 
Soon he slipped the razor into his shoe, unobserved, 
and went out. A little later he was found with his 
throat cut, dead. 

The explanation of Mr. Rich's confusing Lurvey 
and Morgan Stanvvood is that John Morgan Stanwood 
married Lurvey's daughter. Until the time that Mrs. 
Lurvev died thev seemed to have lived with her in this 

The Story of Dogtown. 55 

house. Later they moved to the house by the Morgan 
brook, where I think Ruth Morgan, his mother, and 
probably Morgan Stanwood himself, were born. But 
more of this later. After the Stanwoods left the 
house, which was by this time getting old and weather- 
beaten, Molly Jacobs, with her friends Sarah Phipps 
— more often than not called Sally Jacobs — and Mrs. 
Stanley left the house they had been living in — per- 
haps that already indicated on the Dogtown road — 
and came here, by the invitation of "Grandther Stan- 
nard." The latter women's grandson, "Sammy Stan- 
ley," liv^ed with them and took care of them. Mrs. 
Almira Riggs of Riverdale, a granddaughter of Mor- 
gan Stanwood, told me before her death that she of ten 
as a child used to go up to this Lurvey house in winter 
with food for the old people, and would find them in 
bed, the coverlet white with snow where the wind 
had sifted through in the night. After a time the trio 
of old ladies were taken off to the poor house, where 
they died. Molly Jacobs was smarter than Sarah 
Phipps. Sarah would get mad at Molly, and say : 
"I shan't tell you where I hid the keerds. I hid them 
behind the old chest, but I shan't tell you." 

"Sammy Stanley's" real name was Sam Maskey. 
He was always brought up by his grandmother to do 
housework. He went about with a handkerchief tied 

5 6 The Story of Dogtozvn. 

over his head and did woman's work in preference to 
any other. In fact, though he wore men's clothes he 
had been brought up a girl. After his aged relative 
was taken off his hands, he moved to Rockport, where 
he went out washing for a livelihood, and laid up 
money, so that when he died he was c^uite a stock- 
holder in the cotton mills. 

The history of the Lurvey house is nearly finishetl. 
Just before MoUie Jacobs went to the almshouse, 
"Black Neil" Finson, coming from some other house 
he had inhabited, moved here. The onlv place he 
could well stay in was the cellar, which he made 
water tight by boarding over the first floor. I have 
already said he thought there was money there. In 
the course of time, his friend Tudv Rhines livins: in 
the next house toward the Castle on the same side the 
Common road, took pity on him. and in\ ited him to 
occupy the empty part of her dwelling. 

To return for a moment to Lurvey. As one walks 
or rides through Washington street in Riverdale, 
coming from the harbor, just after he crosses the 
bridge, he notices on the right, the second house from 
Reynard street, a two-story structure with pitched 
roof, still in excellent repair, and looking like anv- 
thing but a historic mansion. Yet this house, recon- 
structed to be sure, was successively the home of Peter 

The Stojy of Dogtown. 57 

Lurvey and his family, Morgan Stanwood, Molly 
Jacobs and her two inifortunate companions, who 
lived in it in company with Black Neil and Sammy 
Stanley, as already related. In some way or other it* 
became the property of a man named Whipple living 
in the vicinity, who sold it when it was but a skeleton, 
to Isaac and Reuben Day. They had it taken down, 
and it was found that the oak frame was perfectly in- 

The Day brothers therefore had the material taken 
to the present site, and the house was rebuilt, the old 
frame being used in its entirety. There it stands, a 
monument to the hero and martyr of the Falcon fight, 
and there it seems likely to remain another centurv at 
least, for it is perfectly sound. I have these facts on 
the authority of several of Isaac Day's descendants, as 
well as of James Thurston of Ri\erdale, who helped 
take it down, and was one of the mechanics who re- 
l)uilt it. Mr. Eben Day of Reynard street spent 
several days cleaning bricks from its chimneys when 
it was demolished, he tells me. 

It seems rather mysterious that Black Neil, who 
lived in it when Molly and Sarah and Mrs. Stanley 
were taken to the almshouse, was not taken too, for 
at that time the roof had caved in and was in a 
wretched condition. Old people in Riverdale have 


The Story of Dogtoivji. 

had it pointed out to them for nearly two generations 
as the liouse where Black Neil once lived, but even 
those who furnished me the information as to its 
identity were surprised to know that it wastheLurvey 



The Judy Rhines house, too, was caved in as to 
its roof, it seems, when Black Neil removed thither 
from his former dwelling. And this circumstance 
probably explains why "Liz" Tucker, its owner and 
former occupant, left the society of her niece Judy, 
and sought a home near the harbor where she died. 
The house where she died stood exactly where the 
entrance to Oak Grove cemetery is now located. 
Judy's house was a double one. It will be noticed by 
the visitor to the spot that there are two cellars. It 
seems that Lizzie (or "Liz") Tucker, was Judith 
Ryon's aunt, and therefore must have been a sister to 

6o The Story of Dogtoxvn. 

either her father Patrick Ryon, an Irishman, or to her 
mother, a dauo^hter of William Rioters, Liz Tucker 
lived in one part of the house, but was dead, doul^tless, 
at the time Judy extended the hospitalities of the place 
to Neil Finson. 

How long the two were tenants of the place I am 
unable to say. The house was one of the favorite 
haunts of young- people on holidays, and was so at the 
time l)oth li\ed there. Judy was a tall, rawl:)oned 
woman, who had great courage. If she told a person 
approaching her house to stand still, they would not 
move anv nearer. She had manv friends. One of 
the places she visited, according to Benjamin Rowe 
Kidder of Rockport, was " Uncle Miah" Knowlton's, 
for whom he worked. Aunt Knowlton used to load 
her up with fish and tea. The voung people of that 
day refuse to admit that she was in any sense a witch, 
or so considered. After Judy died, as before related, 
Neil lived in the house until the only place he could 
stay was in the cellar. He was a big powerful negro, 
with very prominent protruding teeth. At the time he 
was taken from the cellar to the poor house, it was 
fidl of ice, and his toes were some of them frozen. 

"Judy Rhines," as she is called, was baptized 
Dec. 30, 1771? 'it the Sandy Bay parish church. She 
was living in 1S30, nine years before the death of her 

The Story of Dogtown. 6i 

colored frleiul '^Neil" Finson. She gained a preca- 
rious living, like her friends Mollie Jacobs, Easter 
Carter and Tammy Younger, by picking berries, 
telling fortunes, and in other ways. One day she 
went into Mr. Babson's store at the Poles, and bought 
some groceries. vShe tendered in payment a $5 bill, 
a note on the old United States bank. It was the 
only one Mr. Babson had ever seen. " I don't think 
I want this," he said. "It is just as good as any," 
she replied; "I took it for pasture rent from Mr. 
Whipple." He finally took it, and on presentation 
at the Gloucester Bank found she was right. It 
was on a branch of the bank for the state of Georgia. 

Years ago, in the Gloucester Telegraphy some 
antiquarian told a story of what might have been his 
own experience. He said two boys who considered 
the poultry and chattels of a "witch" public prop- 
erty, stole from Judith Ryon a couple of geese. They 
were safely away, as they thought, when they heard 
Judy coming brandishing a hoe, and screeching. 

62 TJic Story of Dogtoivn. 

"Now, ye hell birds, I've got ye I" The response 
was a goose, plump in her face, and the asseveration, 
"No you haint." Prostrated by the foul assault, 
Judy lay senseless, while the boys again securing 
their prey, vanished. 

As we seem to have turned back toward the 
Castle, we may as well continue, and more partic- 
ularly examine the territory around Morgan's brook, 
or the "Slough," as it is more often called. In the 
early days of this century, some sixteen or twenty 
men used to go over this road to general training, 
their homes being between the Castle and Dogtown. 

Over these pastures, on either side, many sheep 
were wont to graze a century ago. Abraham Wharf, 
in his palmy days, kept lots of them. On the oppo- 
site side of the road from Judy Rhines', just by the 
brook, is the cellar of the dwelling of "Jim" White. 
I can find little about him. Morgan's brook is a dis- 
couraging place to cross. If one confines himself to 
the stepping stones on the left, going toward Ri\-er- 
dale, or on the right, proceeding the other way, it 
can be crossed without wetting one's feet. The 
stranger is likely to attempt the other side, and come 
to grief. 

After crossing the brook, on the same side as 
Judy Rhines' cellar, one sees a big bowlder, beside 

The Sto)'y of Dogtown. 63 

the road. Right against it, on one side, are the 
foundations of a small building, while in the yard 
with this, enclosed by a wall, are the remains of a 
laro-er structure. The building by the rock was the 
hut in which John Morgan Stanwood spent his last 
days. Mr. Rich, in his poem, dropped the John, 
while the custom of his contemporaries was to drop 
the Stanwood. It is a painful but well-authenticated 
fact, that he was known to some, as long as he lived, 
as "Johnny Morgan." Of course he was not that 
Johnny who played the organ, nor the estimable 
gentleman who caters to the finer taste of the present 
generation of Gloucester people. 

I misspent many precious hours trying, first to 
find if John Morgan Stanwood was the man I was 
hunting after, and second, seeking to find out who 
the Morgan was who lived by the brook. That this 
was not strange may be understood, when I say that 
a lady still living told me that for years she went to 
school, and was intimate with " Nabby Morgan," 
his daughter, before the person told her that her 
name was really Abigail Morgan Stanwood. 

Morgan Stanwood never went to the wars, so those 
who knew him as Capt. Morgan Stanwood made a 
mistake if they thought the title a military one. Dur- 
ino- the Revolutionary war, or a little later, he 

64 The Story of Dogtozvn, 

went on foreign voyages. He married Mary Lurvey, 
and had many children. "Granther Stannard," or 
"Johnny Morgan,'-' as you will, seems thoroughly to 
have enjoved life on Dogtown Common. He spent 
his later years cobbling shoes. This work he did at 
first in a little addition to his house, which was then 
and has ever since borne the name of '"The Boo." 

After his wife died, and his children grew up, the 
confusion of so many in the house, and the fact that 
they had so many callers among their young acquaint- 
ances, so disturbed his mind, that he sought relief by 
building the hut under the rock. Many living recall 
this cosy corner, where he peacefully cobbled shoes 
for the remainder of his days. On a shelf in the 
corner he kept a book in which he made a record of 
the interesting matters that came to his notice. I 
should like to get hold of that book. For a year I 
chased after such a journal of life in Dogtown, that 
I finally found never existed ; but I have no doubt of 
the existence of this, though it probably has long 
since gone to decay. Stanwood has several grand- 
children livinsr. 

Lest I forget it, let me say here that Morgan Stan- 
wood's old "boo" — it was a booth, built of slabs and 
covered with turf, Mrs. Rachel Day says — was stand- 
ing when the war of the Rebellion begun, but old 


66 The Story of Dogtozvn. 

soldiers who left it when they marched, found it gone 
on their return. 

The '"Castle" is now owned bv^ Mrs. Marv A. 
Riggs, a sprightly old lady of So, who lives on the 
main road in Riverdale. Some of the Lufkin familv 
seem to have lived in it during; its earlv history. It 
came to Mrs. Riggs through her lather, Capt. Sam. 
Riggs, of whom it used to be said that he could walk 
from the old Riggs house in Riverdale to Rockport 
without getting off from his own land. The Riggs 
house is quite near the Castle, though on another 
road near Goose Cove. It is supposed tliat that part 
of it which is constructed of square logs was built ]:»\- 
Thos. Riggs, the first school master and town clerk, 
in 1 66 1. His grandson, George Riggs, built the 
gambrel roof portion. It is undoubtedlv the oldest 
house on the Cape. Thomas was the progenitor of 
all the Ri2!"2"s familv of Gloucester. Mrs. RiofSfs, 
mentioned above, used to go to school to Judy Millett. 

The "old castle" is a restored gambrel roof, and 
seems likely to remain for another century as a good 
sample of the better class of Dogtown dwellings. 

It seems probable that Hetty Balch lived in this 
\icinity, but of this I would like further proof. Pos- 
sibly she lived in the village. It is but five minutes 
walk from "Johnny Morgan's Boo," and the Castle 
to the electrics in Riverdale. 



If it hap2)ens that one has not turned off from the 
main Dogtown road, at Granny Day's swamp, he 
will keep on over a slight elevation, past the crossing 
of the Pigeon Cove path, which really is for some 
distance in the road, until he reaches the Whale's 

Soon after passing Whale's Jaw, the road, almost 
obliterated by time and changes of ownership in the 
pastures, reaches Revere street, the old Sandy Bay 
road already referred to. On the Pigeon Cove path, 
a little distance beyond the Whale's Jaw, are the 
graves of old Mr. Blance and wife, marked by rude 
head and foot stones picked out from the rocks which 
bestrew the Commons. Their cellar is near Pigeon 
Hill, on the path from Pigeon Cove to the Whale's 
Jaw. It was known as "Blance's" to two genera- 

6S 77/6' Story of Dogtowii. 

tions. The cleared land made a fine place for the 
l)oy.s of fifty years since to go from Lanes ville and 
Pigeon Cove on Fast Day to plav ball. 

In Dogtovvn, almost or rather near it, over the 
ridge toward Alewife brook, is the cellar of the house 
in which Col. William Pearce, one of the wealthiest 
men of old Gloucester, sous"ht refu""e from maraud- 
ing expeditions in war times. He kept great num- 
bers of sheep. Mr. Chard, almost a centenarian, 
picturesquely describes a scene of his boyhood, dur- 
ing the war of 1S12. He woke one morning and was 
summoned into the garden of the house on the banks 
of Lobster Cove, in which he was born, and still 
lives. Secured to a rock directly across the co\e, 
still to be seen, were several British barges, belong- 
ing to a war vessel anchored bv the bar in the harbor 
of Annisquam. Coming down the hill towards the 
boats was a negro, bearing on his back his booty in 
the shape of one of Col. Pearce's black sheep. 

I have speculated somewhat concerning the reason 
for Babson's reticence in his history concerning Dog- 
town and its people. His historv was published forty 
years ago. The village degenerated as it grew old, and 
the Dosftown familiar to him in his youn^'er days was 
not a place to inspire great enthusiasm. At the time he 
wrote less than twenty years had passed since "Black 

The Story of Dogtown. 69 

Nell," Molly Jacobs, Annie Carter and others had 
died. Many of their connections were still living, 
and to speak as freely as one can to-day of the village 
would have caused more or less strife. Had my 
friend Pringle had more time, he might have in- 
cluded the story of Dogtown in his interesting centen- 
nial history, but the omission was quite excusable 
wlien the mao:nitude of the task he set himself is con- 

I find that I have omitted the story of Peg Wesson 
from this narrative, though her name has been men- 
tioned. She lived in the "Garrison House" on 
Prospect street, opposite Dale avenue. It now stands 
on Maplewood avenue. She is the only reputed witch 
of Cape Ann of whom it can be alleged, with history 
to endorse the allegation, that she rode on a broom- 
stick. Shortly before departing for the siege of 
Louisburg, Babson says, several of Capt. Byles' com- 
pany visited Peg, and so exasperated her that she 
threatened to visit them in wrath at Cape Breton. 
While camping before Louisburg, the attention of 
the Gloucester men was attracted by the peculiar 
performances of a crow which circled just al:>ove 
-them. Several unsuccessful efforts were made to 
shoot the bird of ill omen. Finally a soldier suggested 
that it must be Peg supernaturally transformed into a 

70 The Story of Dogtown. 

crow. If it was the witch, nothing but a bullet cast 
from silver or gold would be sufficiently potent to 
puncture her. \ silver sleeve button was rammed 
into a gun, and fired, the bird falling with a hurt leg. 
On their return to Gloucester, the soldiers were inter- 
ested to learn that at the precise time the crow was 
wounded. Peg fell (of course from her broomstick), 
with a fracture of her leg, and the doctor, on dressing 
the wound, extracted the identical silver button there- 
from. jMany of the inhabitants of Gloucester of those 
days believed this tale. 

Much more of a descriptive nature might be writ- 
ten concerning the old, deserted village. If there is 
more extant of an historical nature, the writer has 
been unable, by persistent searching, to find it. 

The best authorities claim that there are at present 
41 cellars which can be found in Dogtown. Of these 
the writer has identified many more than he believed 
was possible wdien he began the work. He is more 
gratified than he can express at the general interest 
that has been awakened by the first publication of 
these notes. As aged Mr. Thurston quaintly remarks, 
"In old times if a person sawed a barrel in two and 
made two tubs, they called him a witch." This seems 
to be as much foundation as there is in many of the 
witches of Dogtown. Gloucester should cherish this 

The Sto)'y of Dogtown. 


ancient spot for what it has been. It is practically 
the only ruined city in America. I cannot close these 
sketches better than by following the example of 
Babson, and quoting Goldsmith : 

" Here, as I take \x\\ solitary rounds. 

Amidst thy tangled walks and ruined grounds, 

And, many a year elapsed, return to view 

Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorne grew. 

Remembrance wakes, with all her busv train, 

Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain. 

But now the sounds of population fail, 
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale, 
No bus3' steps the grass-grown footwav tread, 
F'or all the blooming flush of life is fled." 

[Copyright 1S96 by Procter Brothers, Gloucester, Mass.] 

^^ t