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3 1833 00084 6904 



Katharine Stanley Hall 

Mary Hannah Sowle 

Illustrations by Albert Cook Church 






Hall, Kathcirino Sl.:iiiley. 

The- vllla^^c or V/.jstporl Point, Massa- 
c hu s e 1 1 s ; L y K a t h a r 1 p. e S t a n 1 c :,' H a ]. 1 a n d 
M ; I r y H a Tin a h S o v: 1 e . II 1 n s t r a t ions b y 
Albert; Cool-: Cliurcii. | kov/ Bedrorci, 

Mass. ,1914] 

■ iiM-'-rCA-.c 

n ni r\c 




Nkw Bbukoj:!), Mass. 

K. Anthony A boNs, Iricorp,, I'uiNTKne 


This little sketch of our village is dedicated 
in honour and affection to 




who have given us freely from their memories of 
nearly one hundred years and who are the noble 
representatives of the brave men and women who 
toiled upon the great waters and founded the homes 
of Westport Point 





The Village of Westport Point 

Ou tlie southern Massachusetts coast, a few 
miles west of where Buzzards Bay opens into 
the Atlantic is situated the quaint old village of 
Westport Point. A noble range of wooded 
sand dunes protects the village from the ocean, 
hiding it from the view of passing boats, and af- 
fording a quiet harbour for tliose who venture in 
the narrow and dangerous channel. The arm of 
the sea that separates the village from the dunes 
divides into two rivers thus forming the Point. 
The East River, or the Noquochoke, extends for 
eight miles into the country to the village known 
as The Head of Westport. The West River, or 
the Acoaxet, is four miles long, the village of 
Adamsville, Rhode Island, being at its head. 

The summer colony of W^estport Harbour is situ- 
ated on the rocky point, across the narrow har- 
bour mouth from tlie dunes. A bridge now con- 
nects the village of the Point wjth the sand hills 
and the magnificent four mile beach of the open 
Atlantic. At the east end of the Horseneck Beach 
is Gooseberry Neck and beyond the neck, out in 
the waters of Buzzards Bay, lie the Elizabeth 


Islands. It was on Cuttyhunk, the nearest of the 
island group, that Bartholomew Gosnold hmded 
in 1602. Cuttyhunk, Martlia's Vineyard and 
Penikese, where there is the state leper colony, 
are distinctly visible from the Point, also on clear 
days the lonely island of No Man's Land, twenty 
miles out at sea. Newport is seventeen miles — 
as the crow flies — due west of the village, and 
the great manufacturing cities of New Bedford 
and Fall River are both sixteen miles away. It 
is interesting to find on consulting the atlas that 
directly south of tlie Point are the Bahamas and 
tlie entrance to the Straits of Magellan ; and that 
if we follow a due eastward course we touch Bar- 
celona, Naples, Constantinople, and the Great 
Wall of China. 

The nearest trolley line is at Lincoln Park, ten 
miles from the Point. In 1840 the stage line l)e- 
tween the Point and New Bedford was started 
by A. Richards, and for sixty-six years a stage was 
run daily. With the installation of the trolley 
line the stage route ended at Lincoln Park. 

The village today consists of one street a mile 
long with about seventy-five houses, three stores, 
the wharves and the JMethodist church. Tl;ere 
are a number of government lights visible from 
the village — the Hen and Chickens lightship, at 
the entraiice of Buzzards Bay; the Sow and Pigs 
lightship, further south, at the entrance of Vine- 

■f. I 


yard Sound; Seaeonnet light, not far from New- 
port; the lights of Cuttyhunk, and Gay Head, on 
Martha's Vineyard, and the eight day red lan- 
tern at the Harbour entrance. 

Those who now visit this secluded village think 
of it only as a quiet, beautiful place far removed 
from the rush of the world and g-uarded by its 
pine crowned dunes from all the vast struggles 
and issues of this age. But these same dunes 
have gladdened tlie eye of many a sea captain, 
and many a whaling vessel has found behind them 
her desired haven, for this sleepy New England 
village has had its day of gold and glory. As 
year after year passes there are fewer who re- 
member the village in its days of prosperity, but 
still there are some who dream not of the dust 
shrouded automobiles, but of the full sails of the 
whaling fleet! 

Many too, are the treasured relics and tlie old 
land marks that speak of the days that are gone 
and tliere are memorials liere also of the time 
long before the whaling fishery was estal)lished, 
when the brave Pilgrim Fathers penetrated the 
rough wilderness of Massacliusetts and met the 
Indians face to face. The Indians of Southern 
Massachusetts were as Gosnold described tliem, 
^^A fair conditioned people," and were for years 
the white man's friends. The territory of Dnrt- 
mouth, in which Westport Point was then in- 


cludedjwas purchased in 1652 from the Indians: 
"Know all men by these presents that I Wesame- 
quen and Wamsutta, my son, have sold unto Mr. 
William Bradford, Captain Standish, Thomas 
Southworth, John Winslow, John Cook, and other 
associates, the purchasers or old-comers, all the 
tract or tracts of land lying three miles eastward 
from a village called Cushenagg to a certain har- 
bour called Acoaksett to a flat rock on the west- 
ward side of the said harbour. . . . And in 
consideration hereof we the above mentioned are 
to pay to the said Wesamequen and Wamsutta as 
followeth, thirty yards of cloth, eight moose skins, 
fifteen axes, fifteen hoes, fifteen pairs of breeches, 
eight blankets, two kettles, one cloth, £22 in 
wampum, eight pairs stockings, eight pairs of 
shoes, one iron pot and ten shillings in another 
commoditie. ' ' 

Here and there in this district interesting traces 
of the Indians can be found. Even after these 
many years the plow often turns up an arrow head. 
On the point of land west of the village, known 
as Cape Bial (named after Abiel Macomber), 
there is a pile of shells which tradition says are 
the relics of Indian clambakes, and all along the 
lower or Drift Road are traces of the Indian set- 
tlement. In the village cemetery there are no 
Indian graves, but there is an Indian burial 
ground not far up the Drift Road. It is a pity 


that more of tlie Indian words have not been pre- 
served. The West and East Rivers are really the 
Noqiiochoke and the Acoaxet. The original name 
of Westport Point was Paquacliock, and the beach 
known as Horseneck Beach is evidently a corrup- 
tion of the Indian word "Hassanegk." Hassa- 
negk means "a house made of stone," In a field 
near the Let, (the Let is an abbreviation for Inlet, 
because it is there that the sea very long ago had 
its entrance), there is an old stone cellar, prob- 
ably an excavation made in the hill side, lined 
with field stone and roofed over. There seems 
little doubt that the old cellar, the Hassanegk, has 
given the beach its name. For two generations 
the similarity of the beach to a horse's neck was 
thought to be the reason for the name, but when 
this Indian name was discovered the other theory 
was abandoned. In the story of King Philip's 
"War the Seaconnet tribe of Indians is frequently 
mentioned, and it was probably the tribe of this 
district, too. 

The territory embraced within the bounds of 
the present town of Westport formed a portion 
of the old town of Dartmoutli until 1787, when it 
was incorporated as a separate town under its 
present name. The old deeds tell the story of 
those bygone days. Particularly interesting are 
the deeds connected with Liniken Island. The 
island lies directly north of the sand dunes, it 


comprises twelve acres, six of upland aud six of ! 
salt marsh. ''On Dec. 31st, 1712, in the eleventh \ 
year of Her Majestic 's Reign, Anne, Queen of \ 
Great Britain, etc., etc., for the sum of £21 Philip \ 
Taber sold the island to George Browuell." "On j 
March 8th, 175-4, and in the twenty-seventh year •, 
of His Majestic 's Reign, John Shrefe sold the 
island to Jonathan Brownell for £70." "On ' 
June, 1784, the island was divided between Paul ; 
Brownell and Mary Taber, also the said Mary 
Taber is to have one-half part of the salt meadow 
or Sedge Flat Down in the River and also the one- 
half of that part of the island which was John 
Taber 's, the said island is called Ram Island." 
"On Dec. 21st, 1793, for £96, William Macomber 
Joiner sold to Capt. Isaac Cory all of Liniken 
Island excepting" a piece of marsli or Sedge Flat 
that Tliomas Brightman bouglit of Pardon Brow- 
nell and has had in Iiis possession the year past." 
This record of a year's farming of the island is 
most interesting : 

Expenoe iu Plowing & raising a oro}) of Corn on L. Isieaud — 
3 aores. 
April 30 E.xpcnce iu Carting Menure to Scow & Carting 

out in lieaps includiug Horse & Ct 5.01 

May 3 :! pr. Oxin & 1 Horse, 2 Plows, 4 men & 4 
Hoys, plowing, Spreading Dung & Seaweed & 
Diging .Stones after the Plow 8.75 

" 4 1 pr. Oxin & Horse, 2 men & 3 Bovs & 1 plow 5.17 
Monday 6 2 Men & 1 pr. Oxin & 1 Horse, Cart & large 
Harrow, Carting of 11 loads Stoue & Har- 
rowing 4.00 


8 1 pr. Oxjn & Horse & Harrow, 1 Man & Boy 

] day 
8 1 Man & Boy, Horse & Plow, 1 day furrowiug 
Friday 9 Expeiise in lielpiiij,' 

Scow G times or days say 

30 (Chs Sowle, G. Tripp, Eliy Allin,) Saml Gd., 
— I'liilip 8d & Jos. Cory 1 day) (G. S. & 
James Macomber) % day Planting 
% B. Sead Corn 

llowiiiy twice 









(Stalks & Pumpkins pays for Ilarvising) 

93 B. Good Corn & Ruffviso & sufficient to make 

it worth lUO Bushel 

10 Bushels sold for ]0. 

90 B. say worth 4 /G (;7.50 


Profits $27.35 

Tliere is a tradition tliat Capt. Kidd buried 
treasure ou tlie island and that boys from the 
village dug for it. The following is another of 
the old dpeds: "Lot on Paquachock Pt. from 
Henry and Sarah Sowle to Henry Sowle: Wit- 
nesses Hillyard Mayhew, Prince Howland. This 
house and lot is on Paquachock Pt. and is bounded 
as foloeth, westerly on ye highway,, southerly on 
Benjamin Davis' land and easterly on River or 
Cove and northerly on Hillyard Mayhew's land. 
Mareli 12th, 1781." In 1809 the land for the 
Westport Point district school was secured. 



Know all Men by these Presents that I Christo- 
pher Gifford of Westport in the County of Bristol 
and Commonwealth of Massachusetts yeoman in 
consideration of Twenty Dollars paid by Isaac 
Cory, Israel Wood, Perry Gilford, AVarren Gif- 
ford, Christopher Cornell, Abuer Gifford, Micah 
Dean, Ebenezer V. Sowle, Asa Bly, Humphrey 
Hammond, Joseph Tripp, Pardon Allen, Jetliro 
Howland, Benjamin Hicks and Elick Carr, all of 
them of the Town, County and Commonwealth 
aforesaid; the Receipt whereof I do Hereby ack- 
noledg, Do hereby give, grant, sell and convey 
unto the Said Isaac Cory, Israel Wood, Perry 
Gifford, Warren Gifford, Christopher Cornell, 
Abner Gifford, IMicah Dean, Ebenezer V. Sowle, 
Asa Bly, Humphrey Hammond, Joseph Tripp, 
Pardon Allen, Jethro Howland, Benjamin Hicks 
and Elick Carr, to them, their heirs and assigns 
for Ever a certain Lot of Land situate in West- 
port aforesd. ; Discribed and Bounded as follow- 
eth: Begining at Stone Sett in the Ground on 
the East Side of the Highway, thence Easterly 
thirty-four feet to a Stone Set in the Ground ; 
from thence northerly thirty-three feet to another 
vStone Set in the Ground, thence westerly thirty- 
four feet to another Stone by the Said Highway, 


thence Southerly in the Line Said Highway 
thirty-three feet to where it first begun this Lot 
bound west on the Highway that Leads to the 
Point and all other ways on the Said Christopher 
Gifford's own land and the Sd Isaac Cory, Israel 
Wood, Perry Gifford and the other owners are to 
make and maintain all the fence against this Lot 
and Christopher Gilford as Long as he shall have 
one against this Lot. 

To have and to hold the Said granted premises 
thereto belonging to them the said Isaac Cory, 
Israel Wood, Perry Gifford, Warren Gifford, 
Christopher Cornell, Abner Gilford, Micah Dean, 
Ebenezer V. Sowle, Asa Bly, Humphrey Ham- 
mand, Joseph Trijip, Pardon Allen, Jethro How- 
land, Benjamin Hicks and Elick Carr and I Do 
Covenant with said Isaac Cory, Israel Wood and 
the Rest that I am Lawfully seized in Fee of the 
Premises and have good right to Sell the Same 
in manner aforesaid and that I will warrant and 
Defend the Same to them, Isaac Cory, Israel 
Wood and the Rest to them and their Heirs and 
assigns for ever against the LawfuU Claims of 
all Persons. 

In Witness whereof I have hereunto Sett my 
hand and Seal this 19th Day of June in the year 
of Lord 1809. 

Signed, Sealed and Delivered 

Christopher Gifford 


In Presents of 
Abner Sowle 
Seleg Sowle 

Bristol ss Westport, December 19, 1809. The 
above named Christopher Gillord acknowledged 
the above Instrument to be his free act and Deed 

Before me 

Abner Brownell, Justice of the Peace. 

This lot was just north of the hotel. After the 
war of 1812 tlie United States government re- 
turned the sur})lus money when all debts had 
been paid, to the different states. The state of 
Massachusetts turned hers into a school fund 
and public schools were started. For some years 
before the building of the first jmblic school- 
house Ruthy Cadman had a private school where 
she took in the little boys and girls to keep them 
out of the way. Their parents paid a little and 
bought the books used by the children. An old 
man, who was one of Rutliy Cadman 's little 
scholars, says that ''when the children grew tired 
she put them to bed." *'The old maid's school," 
as it was called, was held in different houses 
different years. Here is an interesting record of 
a summer school Ruthy Cadman had in 1823 : 



Thomas Watkins 
Harcolas Manchester 
Warren Gifford 
Sam] Brightman 
Jeremh. Brightman 
JetJiro Howland 
Jonathan Mayhew 
Jolm Potter 
Joseph Tripp 
John Underwood 
Pardon Case 
Dehorah Bly 
Nicliolas Davis 
Jolm II. Sowle 
Joseph Davis 
Charles Macomber 
Pardon Macomber 
Isaac Cory, Jr. 
Ruth Gifford (widow) 
Nancy Brown 
Benj. Hicks 
Reuben Tripp 
Humphrey Macomber 
Chris. Davis 
Ruth Cadman 


















J 91 





































Shortly after the erection of tlie first school- 
house, another was built in the lot just south of 
Hammond's store. The building consisted of one 
story for some time, then a second floor was 
added. At one time in the busy days, there were 
sixty scholars in the lower school-house and fifty 
in the upper. This entry for 1824 is interesting : 

"This may certify that George C. Bailey 
taught the school in our district the two last 
winters past and that lie conducted said school 
to the entire satisfaction of those who were inter- 
ested in it." 

In the present Lil)rary is an old case bearing 
this inscription: "This case and the books origi- 
nally formed a part of a school library estab- 
lished in the village probably in the year 1840 
or IS-ll by Dr. George F. White, school teacher 
at that time. The case was donated to the West- 
port Point Library in the year 1904 by Miss 
Drusilla Cory and the books to the number of 
eighty-five collected from a number of houses in 
the village." Many of the books are most inter- 
esting. The series called The Boys' and Girls' 
Library contains much that is deliglitful. Caro- 
line Wester, or The Young Traveller From Ohio, 
containing the letters of a young lady of seven- 
teen to her sister; Indian Traits, by B. B. 
Thatcher; Uncle Philip's Conversations witJi 
Young Persons; Sketches of tlie Lives of Dis- 

«P*S' ■' 'I 

'-■■■■'^>W^.^\ 'T?,' 

. \ 



tingiiished Females, written for girls with a view 
to their mental and moral improvement by an 
American Lady. In the ScJwol Library Series, 
Rambles About the Country, by Mrs. E. F. Ellet, 
is very fascinating. In the Common School Lib- 
rary Series, all should read Rural Tales and Do- 
mestic Tales, by Hannah More, especially the 
beautiful story of TJie Shepherd of Salisbury 

Among the old papers treasured in the village 
attics none are more interesting than tliose about 
the control of wharves, etc. Perhaps this from 
''the Town Reckard" of 1805 is as early as any 
that can be found. The wharves originally were 
across the river on the dunes just west of the 
present bridge. Some of the old posts can still 
be seen half buried in the sand. "The Town 
Landing" was on the Point side of the river. 


The Committee appointed by the Town at 
Their meeting on the first day of April last past, 
to view the Town Landing at the point, upon 
the Petition of Peter Macomber and others. In- 
habitants of the Town of Westport made a re- 
porte in writing — that they had viewed the 
premises at the Point — and report as follows — 
That it is expedient in our opinion that the said 


petitioners have liberty to build a wharf oppo- 
site the Town's landing" in said AVestport, begin- 
ning at the Southwest corner of the most Soiith- 
ermost part of the old wharf on said lauding; 
from thence Soutli about seven degrees East to 
a flat rock by tlie edge of the Channel. Said 
wharf to be built twenty-six feet in width on the 
East side of said line and liberty to build a pier 
on the East side of said wharf, adjoining the 
same to make said wharf fifty-five feet upon the 
Channel upon the following conditions — That 
said Petitioners or owners of said wharf shall 
at all times move or cause to be moved all vessels 
or incumbrances of any kind, to or about said 
wharf That scows and other crafts shall have 
suitable and convenient passages or pass ways 
to and from said Town landing in every direction. 

Signed the 13th day of May A. D. 1805. 

Humphrey ]\Iacomber ] 

Barney Hicks }• Committee. 

Robert Earl j ' 

Voted — to accept the Report and that the 
same be recorded. 

At a meeting of the Inhabitants of the Town 
of Westport held on the Tenth day of May A. D. 


Voted — To grant the Owners of tlie East 
wharf at the Point (so called) the priviledge of 
extending the same so as to make it more con- 
venient for vessels and more advantageous to 
tlie Pnblick. 

Attest Frederick Brownell T. Clk 

In 1807 Isaac Cory, Jr., received his commis- 
sion as "Surveyor for the port of Westport and 
likewise Inspector of said Port." In 1830 the 
connnission for the Collector of Customs reads 
thus: "Know ye that reposing special trust and 
confidence in the integrity, diligence and discre- 
tion of Isaac Cory, Jr., of Westport in the state 
of Massachusetts, I have appointed and by and 
witli the approbation of the Secretary of the 
Treasury of the United Slates, do ai)point him 
Inspector of the Customs for tlie Port of West- 

As early as 1818 there are records of presiding 
elders holding services in the village houses. In 
tlie earliest days there was a little meeting house 
where the Tripp Brothers' home is, their house 
is, in fact, the old meeting house enlarged. In 
1830 the church was formed and the first build- 
ing was erected in 1832. It was located about 
one mile north of the present site on what is 
known as Prospect Hill. The land was |)ur- 


chased by Capt. Barney Hicks for twenty dollars. 
The i3ews were sold to meet expenses. In 1840 
it was moved to its present locality and was en- 
larged and new pews were put in. Probably in 
1846 the Westport Point church was separated 
from Little Compton. In 1883 the present church 
was built. One of the ministers is buried in the 
village cemetery, and the inscription on his tomb 
tells his interesting story. 

"Sacred to the Memory of 

who was born in Plympton, Oct. 6th, 1793, called 
to preach the gospel in 1817, and after being in- 
strumental in gathering a church of forty souls 
in Westport and labouring with great acceptance 
and success in AVareham, Nantucket, and other 
places, departed this life Sept. 25th, 1819, deeply 
lamented by many friends and churches." 

If only the old houses of the village could 
speak they would tell tales more fascinating than 
any novel. In the earliest days the village was 
located on the Dunes and near the town landing. 
What is known to many as Thanksgiving Lane 
marked about the end of the village proper. 
North of that there were scattered farms. The 
peojjle surely must have been "stowed in pretty 


thick!" Gradually the houses were built and the 
village lengthened out. A few of the houses were 
brought over in scows from the Dunes. The little 
house directly north of the fjresent schoolhouse 
was the first to be moved, probably about ninety 
years ago. The north end of the old store on the 
west wharf at the foot of the street was brought 
from the original wharves. It is interesting to 
note that formerly a dock extended up to wliere 
tlie big stone post now stands. At one time it was 
used as a dry dock for "the Polly and Eliza." 

One of the houses, the little grey one at the foot 
of Thanksgiving Lane was built by William Wat- 
kins who came over from England at the time of 
tlie Revolutionary War. Another was a tavern 
in the war days. One can imagine how the men 
gathered there to talk of the English war ship 
that lay just outside the Dunes and of the Red- 
coats who called the harbour ''the devil's pocket 
hole." Probably the tavern's grog often cheered 
on the village guardsmen who patrolled the Horse- 
neck near the harbour entrance. 

In the prosperous days there were cooper and 
blacksmith shops and several mills. The lot op- 
posite the hotel is still known as the mill lot and 
a mill used to stand too where tlie cemetery is to- 
day. This one was rigged like a schooner with a 
great sail and eight jibs. There was a long mast, 
at one end of which there was fastened a cart 


wheel. There are many who can remember the 
picturesque saw mill in the lumber yard. 

The first store was owned by Giff ord and May- 
hew — it stood near the town landing. It is inter- 
esting to learn that before the establislmient of 
delivery carts, meats, sugar and all stai)le supplies 
were brought around each fall by boat from New 
York to the Point. New York, too, was the port 
to which nearly all the oil from here was taken, it 
was then shipped over to Europe. 

Each family guarded itself from starvation by 
keeping a pig — it was about the first thing the 
bride and groom procured! In those days the 
household had to be its own department store; 
the women sewed and weaved rugs, braided mats, 
made tallow and bayberry candles, had quilting 
bees, dried and canned their vegetables and 
fruits and found still s])are time enough to knit 
and crochet fancy things that are today the 
pride of their children's children. 

Some women for a little pin money picked 
over cotton that was brought down from the 
cotton mills. Often little children helped in the 
task. When the seeds had been removed the 
cotton was taken back to the factory and a new 
sui)])ly brouglit liome. Surely one of tlie most 
interesting of the duties usually allotted to the 
women was the collecting and using of tlie native 
herbs. This science for such it really is, is fast 


passing away in the Point but it is only a few 
years since two sisters died who were skilled 
herbalists. They had as their authority a quaint 
old book now in the possession of their descend- 
ants, The English Physicimi Enlarged, it con- 
tains "directions for making syrups, conserves, 
oils, ointments, plasters, etc., (369 medicines in 
all) of herbs, roots, flowers, whereby you may 
have them ready for use all the year long." In 
each case 'Hhe Planet that governeth everyone" 
is given. We quote one of the quaint descrip- 
tions : 

''Golden-rod — This ariseth up with brownish 
small round stalks two foot high and sometimes 
more, having tliereon many narrow and long dark 
green leaves, very seldom with any dents about 
the edges or any stalks or white spots thereon; 
yet they are sometimes found divided at the 
top into many small branches with divers small 
yellow flowers on every one of them, all wliicli 
are turned one way and being ripe do turn down 
and are carried away by the wind. The root 
consists of many small fibres which grow not 
deep in the ground, but abidetli all the winter 
thereon shooting forth new branches every year, 
the old ones lying down to the ground. It 
groweth in the open places of woods and copses 
both moist and dry grounds in many places of 
this land. It flowereth about the month of July. 


Venus claims the herb and therefore it respects 
beauty lost." It would be hardly edifying- to 
give the uses ! 

The author of this interesting book was 
Nicholas Culpeper (161G-1G54), it was publislied 
by someone named Bullard in London in 1770 
and also by Bums in 1799. 

About the beginning of this century, in answer 
to a request sent out by the government, it was 
found that tliirty-two lierbs were used medicinally 
in this neighborhood. This is a rich place for 
its flora. A list wliich is probably not quite 
complete and which does not include gTasses, 
sedges, and sea-weeds, numbers 400. Twenty 
varieties of ferns have been found. The wild 
fruits, too, find this an advantageous place, there 
are delicious -wild grapes, elderberries, black- 
berries, blueberries, beachplums, huckleberries, 
and wild cherries. Cranberries were raised in 
great quantities in bogs on the Sand Dunes, but 
now the pitch pines are driving away the vines 
for very little is done to keep the bogs in good 

No better place could be afforded than this in 
which to study land and sea birds. The follow- 
ing fish are caught in these waters: Cod, mack- 
erel, bass, bluefish, squeteague, tautog, flounders, 
scup, swordfish. The shell fish are lobsters, 
crabs, quahogs, scallops, clams and oysters up the 


H '^ 


East River. Our woods shelter fox, deer, wood- 
chucks, skunks, rabbits, weasels, racoons, otter 
(rare) and squirrel. It is interesting to note 
that the evergreen trees which stand in front of 
so many of the houses were brought by one of 
the sea captains from Maine when he was on a 
lobster cruise. On Eldridge Heights there used 
to be a fine hickory forest. 

Wonderful it is to think that the same flowers 
and animals we see today knew this place when 
the stroke of the anvil and the creaking of the 
hawsers of the schooners answered tlie roar of 
the sea. Imagine how the deer and the fox 
sought shelter in the heart of the dunes, when 
on every Christmas and New Year's there were 
thrilling shooting matches on the old wharves. 
The targets were cheeses and turkeys and the 
fortunate marksman claimed his prize! 

The whaling industry started in the vicinity 
of New Bedford in 1760, and soon after the 
settlers of "Westport Point turned from cod 
catching on the Nantucket and Newfoundland 
shoals to the pursuit of larger game in much 
more distant parts of the sea. As early as 1806 
there are records of whaling voyages, while the 
period between 1835 and 1857 chronicles the 
golden age of the whaling business. Today the 
trade is dead economically, but there is still an 
interest enwrapping the lives of those who em- 


barked on long, lonely voyages, and who defied 
storm and perils, wliich has lasted through the 

The oldest of a prosperous fleet of sloops was 
the Union, Thomas Case, Master, wliich sailed 
from the Point in 1775. The time came about 
1831 when the sloops and schooners, such as the 
schooner Yankee, of Tripp's Wharf, gave up fish- 
ing and went, more particularly, into the carrying 
trade, bringing supplies of every description to 
fit out the whalers leaving this port. This change 
from fishing to freighting was gradual,^ and the 
oldest inhabitant of the town, now ninety-seven 
years old, remembers when large quantities of cod 
were to be seen drying on the flakes, or platforms 
of hurdles, in llie h-)ts bordering the main higli- 
way. Salt works, on the east shore of tlie vil- 
lage, furnished tlie necessary material for curing. 

As whaling grew tlie business life of the town 
came to be centered at tlie wharf. Tlie building 
now used by George A. Gifford and others, was 
owned in 1829 by Isaac Palmer, who, besides sell- 
ing sup])lies, dispensed that ])everage so favored 
by sailors, — namely, grog. One floor of Palmer's 
store was a sail loft under the partial manage- 
ment of Durfee, and Palmer also kept a tavern 
in the house now owned by Clementine F. Sowle. 
Another store of this same ]ieriod which was 
doing active business in 1831 was that of Mav- 


liew and Macomber (later). On the lower floor 
in a store owned by Davis, clothing and groceries 
were sold. Upstairs the tailoring work was car- 
ried on, and sewing intended for sailors' outfits 
was called slop- work. Opposite this establish- 
ment a large building was erected by Alexander 
H. Cory in 1841 on the site of his grandfather's 
store. This was for many years the chief out- 
fitting store and postofhce. Nooning's sail loft 
was on the top floor, and here sails for whaling 
vessels were made. 

Three cooper shops, owned by the Howland 
brotliers, supi)lied oil casks which the captains, 
at the start, filled with provisions for the voyage. 
One of these shops, lately removed, stood north 
of Cory's store, and the lot which is now William 
Rowland's garden, was a storage place for casks 
of oil. 

Three brigs, the Industry, Almy, and Mexico, 
known as the father vessels, fostered the growth 
of the stores, and to these belongs the credit that 
Westport Point became a famous whaling town. 

In the shipyard east of the town landing, the 
schooner Kate Corj', for A. H. Cory, was built 
by Frank Sisson and Eli Allen. She was later 
made into a brig and was burned otf the coast 
of Africa by the Confederate Alabama. 

The Mermaid was another whaler built in this 
yard for Andrew Hicks of Westport. The small 


boats carried b}^ the whalers were made by John 
Sowle. The tackle for catchiug whales, the har- 
poons, lances, and blubber hooks, were all forged 
out in the blacksmith shop near the yard, managed 
at one time by Simeon ^lacomber and later by 
Darius Davis. 

One of the old vessels from this port was the 
A)iii/ and Paul, which, after a cod fishing career, 
was made into a whaling brig, sailing about 1825 
with Owen Wilbur, master; Seabury, mate; Gif- 
ford, second mate; and Cliarles Ball, nine years 
old, steward. 

The following extracts from old papers give 
an insight into the life of those busy days. As 
the first extract shows, the captain and crew 
signed to go awhaling in return for a ''lay," or 
share of the "cargo, varying from one-fifteenth for 
the captain, to one-one hundredth for a "green 
hand." If the voyage was to be short and con- 
fined to the Atlantic, the brig was called a "plum 
puddinger," because better food might be ex- 
pected than if the trip extended "Round the 

Coppy of Portrage Bill, B. Hero, Saml Tobey, Master, 
for the Cape of Good Hope, a whaling vovage — June 
1806, viz.:— 

Saml Tobey, master 1 / 15 

Paul Wanier 1 / 22 



Joseph Anher •. 1 / 36 

John Martin 1 / 45 

Isaac Hart 1/38 

Cornelius Taber 1 / 60 

John Sowle 1 / 65 

"William Head 1 / 75 

Lemuel Butts 1 / 78 

Asa Davis 1 / 75 

Thomas Almy 1 / GS 

Joseph Hart 1 / 68 

John C. Moody, cook 1 / 70 

Elkany Freeman, boy 1 / 100 


Filed as Shiping Paper — 

Brig Hero, Saml Tobey 
Cape of Good Hope — 
Sailed June 16, 1806 

- 1808. 

Know all men by these presence that I IMoses Sau- 
cornish of Westport in the County of Bristol and State 
of IMassacliusetts, for the consideration of forty-five 
Dollars to me in hand paid by Isaac Cory of the Town, 
County and State aforesaid have bargained and sold 
unto him the said Isaac Cory, the one-fourth part of 
my share of oil and all other property that may be 
obtained on Board the Bark Hero, Latham Paddock, 
Master, now bound on a whaleing voyage to the Cape 
of Good Hope and elsewhere, which voyage I promise 
to perform. 

Westport, Oct. 27th, 1808. 





Westport, Feb. 1, 1816. 
Capt. Wm. Clark. 

Sir — You having commaud of tlie Brig Industry, 
hound on a whaling voyage and now ready to sail, you 
will imbrace the first favorable opportunity to go to 
sea and make the best of your way for the Windward 
"West Indie Islands and tliere cruse untill the tenth of 
April next and if you have at tliat time obtained three 
hundred barrels of oil you will make out your voyage 
short of the Capedevard. Otherways you will from the 
same 10th of April proceed for the Capedevards by 
the way of the AVestern Islands, with liberty to go on 
the coast of Afraca and provided you do go to the 
Capedevards, etc., you will not return to Westport 
without a full cargo of oil untill your provisions are 

^lust recommend your keeping good order and regu- 
lations on board- and to be perticular in indevering to 
preserve tlie helth of the crew. Wishing you an agi'ee- 
able and prosperous voyage, are yours, etc., 


I hereby certify that the above is a true coppy of 


1816. • 

In bill, to 2 whale boats, at $53.00 $110.00 

J. Howland's bill, agt. Brig Industry: 
Feb., 1816— Outfits for whaling, first 

voyage, charged by Isaac Cory £6 — 18s. — 3d. 

Equal to $23.04 


Vessel valued at $5,053. Insurance was taken 
out in the Peace Insurance Company in Provi- 
dence, February 26tli, 1816. Amount of premium 
$270. "For four thousand dollars on the Brig- 
Industry and appurtenances for a whaling voyage 
to the Windward West India Island, the Cape de 
Verd Islands and the coast of Africa for and dur- 
ing the term of nine calendar months, commencing 
on the second day of February, instant, at six 
o'clock A. M., and to terminate on the second 
day of November next at the same hour of the 
day unless said vessel should tlien be on her pas- 
sage to the United States, in whicli case the resque 
is to continue until lier arrival at and after the 
same rate of premium." 

• 1816. 
Copy of shipping paper, Brig Industry, for a 
whaling voyage for the West Indies and else- 
where, Jan. 31, 1816. Sailed Friday, Feb. 2nd. 
Arrived Nov. 12th, 1816, 1st voyage. $5,552.82 
net proceeds. 

March 26th, 1816— Disberments of tho Brig Industry, 
Wm. Clark, jNIaster: 
At Beaiiua to Harbour Master fees and tilling 

worter 5.00 

To ten gallons of Blaek oyl change for molasses V 
April ]0 — At jMartinico, when bound for Cape de 

Verde, to twenty-five gallons change for sugar, 

plantains, and other stores and cash five dollars V 


August 20 — At Iselaud Sal, to three fowls for a 

fresh meal , one dollar 1.00 

September 15 — At St. Antouia, for Beernets, plan- 
tains, fish, meat and bananoes 7.00 

At St. Vincent, when bound home, one sheep 3.00 

To two goats 4.00 

To two fowls "IS 

To pumkins and other such things 2.00 

&c., &c., &c. 

Westport, JMarch 31, 1817— Received of Isaac Cory, 
eighty-three dollars towards my share of oil obtained 
in Brig Industry. 


Among the stories of the whaling life is an in- 
teresting account connected with one of the 
voyages of the *'Janette." Slie started on a trip 
around Cape Horn, and after six months out had 
300 barrels of oil on board. On her return after 
three years, she had not much more oil, but 
brought a wild story of adventure. The captain 
and three sailors, when out in a small boat had 
been swamped. The captain was drowned and 
the otiiers went ashore on a desolate islaiul ; 
finally, reduced to tlio point of starvation, they 
chose one num by lot, whom they killed and ate. 
Tlie t^vo survivors were later carried to Australia 
by tlie vessel ''Leonidas," which called at the 
island for guano. 

The following story is valuable on account of 
its familiar setting': 

;SC:HXK (U^ THI: old h^lllI'VAIM'S. 


In May, 183G, two ships which had fiuished load- 
ing at Westport Harbor, discovered wliales, a 
cow and a calf of the hump-backed species, just 
outside the breakers near the Horseneck. Alfred 
Davis notified the people on the Point. Captains 
Thomas Mayhew and Edward Sowle, with others, 
went out in three boats and towed the whales in 
to the Point wharf, where the oil was tried out. 
While they were killing- them the calf whale 
stove one boat and the crew were nearly 
drowned. This event drew a great crowd of peo- 
ple from the neighboring towns, who came in all 
kinds of vehicles to view the prizes. The oil was 
sold in shares. One woman bought a sailor's 
share for thirty dollars, and the remainder was 
sold in Baltimore. Two sections of backbone 
from these whales may be seen today just north 
of Joseph Cory's home. 

The price of sperm wliale oil at one time was 
$2.60 to $2.70 per gallon. When kerosene came 
into use the price fell to $1.28 per gallon. On 
January 1st, 1860, there were 1,100 barrels of 
sperm oil and 250 barrels of whale oil stored at 
Westport Point. The average ])rice in 1859 for 
sperm oil was $1,061/4, and whale oil sold for 
481/2 cents. 

One account tells how George L. Manchester, 
captain of the Bark MattajDoisett, brought John 
Stevens, a colored man, from Anibon Island, 


which is located off the west coast of Africa. 
Stevens had been cliosen governor of tlie ish^.nd, 
but a party against him sought his life, and lie 
swam out to Captain Manchester's vessel, the 
Mattapoisett, which was getting supplies there, 
and begged Captain Manchester to take him away. 
He agreed, and Stevens came to AVestport Point, 
where he was highly respected. 

On every voyage a log was kept with daily 
entries, and many of these record books are most 
thrilling and fascinating reading. As one turns 
the old yellow pages with the faint odor of brine 
still clinging to them, (aw can picture the clean 
sailed brig bound for a tussle witli the sea, and, 
in imagination, can hear the creaking of ropes iu 
pulleys and the yarns of the fo-castle. 

The following extracts are taken at random 
from the log of the Bark ''George and Mary," 
which was built at South Dartmouth in 1850, and 
received her name from her first captain and his 
wife, both of whom lived at Westport Point. 
After many cruises she was burned in New Bed- 
ford at a Fourtli of July celebration. 

Fridcni, October 20, 1855. 

*' These 24 hours commences with strong breezes 

from the W. N. W. and clear pleasant weathei-. 

At 7 A. M. weighed anchor in Westport harbor 

and stood out to sea and hove to under whole top- 


IiIPRi;>-10Xs FRU.M U\A) LOt.ill'Olv MAMJ'. 


sails, jib and spank, waiting for the captain and 
officers. So ends these 24 hours. 

Monday, April nii, 1856. 
These 24 hours begins with fine breezes and 
pleasant weather steering for tlie island. At three 
P. M. came to anchor in the roads of Anna Boana, 
and the niggers was thicker on board than crows 
on carrion; furled the sails and got supper; the 
middle and latter part much the same ; I went on 
shore trading, all hands employed in getting wood 
and water. So ends these 24 hours. 

Monday, July lAtli, 1856. 
These 24 hours begins with light breezes from 
E. S. E. and overcast weather, steering W. S. W. 
under all sail. The middle part strong breezes 
and pleasant weather. At daylight called all 
hands and commenced stowing down the oil. At 
eight P. M. saw the island of St. Helena, bearing 
W. by S., distant GO miles. All hands employed 
in stowing down the oil. So ends these 24 hours. 

Wednesday, September 10, 1856. 
These 24 hours begins with light breezes from 
the southward and overcast weather, steering E. 
N. E. under all sail. At sunset took in sail and 
wore ship heading west. At half past 11 P. M. 
kept off N. N. W. At daylight steared N. W. 


under all sail, the latter part much the same. At 
half past 9 A. M. battered down the hatchways 
to smook for rats ; saw a number of humpbacks. 
So ends these 24 hours. 

Fridcuj, October 3rd, 1850. 
These 24 hours begins with light breezes from 
the W. S. W., the ship heading south by the wind. 
The middle part fine breezes from the AV. N. W. 
and overcast weather, the latter part light airs 
from the S. S. AV. and pleasant weather. At 8 
A. M. lowered the boats for a Inmipback, struck 
and killed one to the larboard boat. At 10 A. M. 
took him long side, got up the cutting gear. So 
ends these 24 hours. 

Wednesday, January 7tli, 1857. 
These 24 hours begins with strong breezes from 
W. S. AV. and pleasant weather, steering to tlie 
eastward under short sail. At sundown spoak 
the Kanawah. All hands employed in clearing 
away lieads and cutting up blubber. Tlie middle 
and latter part much tlie same. Saw a dead wliale, 
lowered the larboard boat and took him along side 
and cut him iu." 

With the decline of whaling, AA'estport Point 
ceased to be a thriving, busy town. Many of the 
oldest houses still stand, however, as testimonials 
of the industry, having been derived, in the words 





\VlIALl\(i HAIi'K AM>l;i:\\' UIOKS, 
Ki.ilr at Westi.crr. 


of a whaleman, either directly or indirectly from 
"under a sperm whale's flukes." In the houses 
are to be found old souvenirs in the shape of 
carved cocoanut dippers, whale's teeth, ivory 
stilletos, ebony canes, and embroidered Cliina 
shawls which have been brought from sea. 

Probably a fleet of twenty or thirty whalers 
was the largest of which Westport Point could 
boast at one time. The following lists contain 
the best known sloops and sliips which lay, at 
various times, in what is now the muddock, with 
their bowsprits projecting over the town landing. 
These played their part in making this country 
famous for her wluile fisheries. 

Early Sloops a)i(I Whalers of Westport Point. 
1775 — Sloop Union, Thomas Case, master. 
1807 — Bark Hero, L. Paddock, master. 
1816 — Sloop Aurora. 
1816— Sloop Traveller. 
1816 — Sloop Adventure. 
1816 — Brig Industry. 
1820 — Bank Schooner Polly and Eliza, later 

coaster; capsized; crew saved! 
1824 — Sloop AVestport, Capt. Anthony Cory. 
1830— Brig Mexico. 
1830— Brig Almv. 


1830— Brig Thomas Winslow (lost). 
1837— Brig Elizabeth, Capt. Gideon Sowle. 
1839 — Ship Hydaspe, Capt. Hathaway (possibly 

of New Bedford). 
1849— Bark Theophilus Chace (lost finally). 
1849— Bark Barclay. 



^ £s3q o^aaa 



Gideon Dav 
Allin Tripp 
Isaac Sowle 
Isaac Sowle 
Allin Tripp 
Jonathan i\I 
Chris. Giffo] 
Jonathan M 
Jeremh. Bri 
Allin Tripp 
I. Sowle 
Jonathan M 
Isaac Sowle 
Jeremh. Br: 
Jeremh. Br: 
P. Kirby 
Jeremh. Br: 

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Gideon Davis, ^ 
Silas Kirby 
Peleg W. Peck 
Pardon Gifford 
Isaac Sowle 
Allin Tripp 
Peleg W. Peckl 
Pi^leg W. Peckl 
Chris. Gifford 
E. Robinson 
Humphrey Gifll 
E. Robinson 
P. Pcckham 
Thos. W. Mayl 
Thos. W. Mavl 
Peleg W. Peck 

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