ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 1833 00084 6904
THE VILLAGE OF
Katharine Stanley Hall
Mary Hannah Sowle
Illustrations by Albert Cook Church
THE VILLAGE OF
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,
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
"WILLIAM POTTER HOWLAND
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
6 THE VILLAGE OP
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-
WESTPORT POINT 7
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
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-
8 THE VILLAGE OF
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
WESTPORT POINT 9
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
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
10 THE VILLAGE OP |
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 —
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-
WE8TP0RT POINT 11
8 1 pr. Oxjn & Horse & Harrow, 1 Man & Boy
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
(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
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.
12 THE VILLAGE OP
DEED FROM CHRISTOPHER GIFPORD TO
THE PROPRIETORS OF SCHOOL HOUSE
IN DISTRICT NO. 4.
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,
WESTPORT POINT 13
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
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
14 THE VILLAGE OF
In Presents of
Bristol ss Westport, December 19, 1809. The
above named Christopher Gillord acknowledged
the above Instrument to be his free act and Deed
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 :
WESTPORT POINT 15
Jolm II. Sowle
Isaac Cory, Jr.
Ruth Gifford (widow)
16 THE VILLAGE OF
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
WESTPORT POINT 17
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
18 THE VILLAGE OF
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.
WESTPORT POINT 19
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
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-
20 THE VILLAGE OF
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
WESTPORT POINT 21
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
22 THE VILLAGE OP
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
WESTPORT POINT 2\^
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-
''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.
24 THE VILLAGE OF
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
WESTPORT POINT 25
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-
26 THE VILLAGE OP
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-
WESTPORT POINT 27
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
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
28 TIIE VILLAGE OP
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
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
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
Saml Tobey, master 1 / 15
Paul Wanier 1 / 22
WESTPORT POINT 29
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
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
Westport, Oct. 27th, 1808.
ISAAC CORY, JR.
80 TTIE VILLAGE OF
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.,
ISAAC CORY & SON.
I hereby certify that the above is a true coppy of
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
WESTPORT POINT 31
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."
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
March 26th, 1816— Disberments of tho Brig Industry,
Wm. Clark, jNIaster:
At Beaiiua to Harbour Master fees and tilling
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
32 THE VILLAGE OF
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.
WILLIAM CLARK (Master).
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.
WESTPOKT POINT 33
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
One account tells how George L. Manchester,
captain of the Bark MattajDoisett, brought John
Stevens, a colored man, from Anibon Island,
34 THE VILLAGE OF
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'.
WESTPORT POINT 35
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.
36 THE VILLAGE OF
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.
WESTPORT POINT 37
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.
38 THE VILLAGE OF
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.
WESTPORT POINT 39
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Peleg W. Peckl
Pi^leg W. Peckl
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Thos. W. Mavl
Peleg W. Peck
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40 THE VILLAGE OF
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WESTPOKT POINT 41
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42 THE VILLAGE OF
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WESTPORT POINT 43
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