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A daily almanac of Massachusetts history courtesy of Mass. Moments
First Missionaries Leave for Hawaii: October 23, 1819

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articles & blogs: history

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  • How Can You Recognize an Original Cape Cod Style House?
    How can you recognize an original Cape Cod style house? There are three types, which are very distinct, but they all follow the common Cape Cod pattern, a low, broad frame building, generally a story…
  • Pride of Provincetown
    The people of Provincetown are genuinely proud of the historic fact that it was at Provincetown that the memorable voyage of the Mayflower came to an end. It was there that her anchor, last wet…
  • Pilgrim Bill of Fare
    The Pilgrims had a tough time to survive their first winter. Food was the biggest problem. Hungry people cannot fight weakness or discouragement half so well as when they are filled and their appetites…
  • Brrrrrrrr!
    With the weather here in the single digits the last few nights, I thought it would be appropriate to dig this post out of the archives.…
  • Lightning at Provincetown
    Only one fatal accident occured during the construction of the Pilgrim Monument at Provincetown. A severe thunderstorm accompanied by lightning rent the skies of Provincetown on August 5, 1908.
  • Cape Cod Railroad
    The first railroad to serve the Cape was started in 1847, and ran as far as Sandwich. Ten years later it was extended to Barnstable and Yarmouth. It was originally called the Cape Cod Branch of the…
  • Taking On A Pilot
    When coming to a harbor, marine law required a sailing vessel or steamer to have aboard it a well experienced and licensed harbor pilot. It was his duty to take, over the handling and safe management…
  • Walk The Streets of Barnstable Village-History/Haunted
    If Barnstable Village is an interest to you and you have a desire to learn the history as well as some past residents who still reside, read on.
  • Samuel de Champlain Was Here
    The Boston Globe has an interesting piece about Champlain’s voyages to New England and the Cape Cod shore at least fifteen years earlier than the Pilgrims. As Quebec gets ready to celebrate the…
  • Traces of the Indians
    The original name of Hyannis is of Indian derivation as are many of the Cape towns. This original Indian name was Iyannough, in honor of the young sachem who first received and welcomed the colonists.…
  • Captain Kidd Was Here
    No seacoast with miles of beaches, little hideaways along the shore and wild stretches of seacoast would have a complete story without a legend of pirates and
  • Cape Cod Cemeteries Map
    Looking for a gravestone or graveyard on Cape Cod? As part of our GPS Waypoints section we have over 90 cemeteries listed with maps and driving directions to each one.
  • Cape Cod Scenic Tours
    Welcome to Cape Cod Scenic Tours! Cape Cod Scenic Tours, based in the mid Cape, specializing in sightseeing tours throughout Cape Cod. Our sightseeing tours are fun filled and leave each visitor…
  • Neither Traveling Nor Amusement on Sundays
    Sundays were the “Sabbath”, on which the colonial laws decreed that there should be neither traveling nor amusement, and certainly no labor, but “a solemn and decorous observance of…
  • Sick At Sea
    Volumes could be written encompassing the hundreds of numerous and tragic adventures of the sea captains and sailors of Cape Cod in the heyday of China runs and whaling.
  • Early Days of the Cape Cod Career Girl
    What was life like for a “female” worker in the glass factories of Sandwich following…
  • Compulsory Military Training 1771
    In the Colonial towns of New England, military service was compulsory for men between the ages of sixteen and sixty. Each town had its militia company and members of the country horse troop.
  • Peat Moss Diapers
    Cape Cod Indians were as ingenious as the Cape Codders who followed them to settle on the narrow land. And even peat moss, or bog moss, as it is often called, had its purpose. This tight springy and…
  • A Woman Named For A Ship
    The masters of Cape Cod schooners, especially those who sailed the “Injies Trade” (the West Indies runs) were prouder of their ships than modern males, young or old, are of their new cars.…
  • The Centerboard Coffin
    Folks down on the Cape call a spade a spade. Therefore when Aunt Sarah, who had been confined to her rocker for years, at last grew too feeble to get out of bed, her family knew the end was near and…
  • False Teeth: Colonial Cosmetic Dentistry
    False teeth, in 1768, were only made to talk with and display and certainly not made for help in eating. As a clue to the way in which people were outfitted with missing teeth, note this advertisement…
  • Take Route 6A To See Old Cape Cod
    On June 15th 1950, the State of Massachusetts opened the first section of highway known as the Mid-Cape Highway running from the Sagamore Bridge to approximately 3 miles west of Hyannis. Today Route…
  • Capturing A Whale
    When the spout of a whale was sighted, there was heard the famous cry of the lookout man: “Thar’ she blows!” Sails were trimmed according to distance, and the ship made to head as…
  • Shipmasters of Dennis
    Not even in the seaports of Boston or New York do the great long bowsprits and jib booms of squareriggers rise these days out and over the wharves bordering harbor streets. For the square rigger with…
  • The Meaning of Puritan
    The title Puritan bears several meanings, including one that distinguished two groups of dissatisfied members of the church of England.
  • Brewster, The Sea Town
    Brewster was once the town of ship masters and sea captains. All Brewster mates, worth their salt, went to sea. Brewster men became captains
  • U.S. Life Saving Stations (historical sites)
    In the early days of maritime travel, Cape Cod was known as “The Graveyard of Ships”. There…
  • Test Your Own Work
    No matter how comical or absurd the early Puritan laws may seem, it must be remembered that the motive was to make the people better and more equal. To produce a moral and a pure Christian life was…
  • The Salt Industry
    At one time there were several hundred salt manufactories on the Cape. It all started when Capt. John “Sleepy” Sears constructed
  • The Winter of 1875
    The winter of 1874-‘75 was one long to be remembered on Cape Cod. The cold was extreme and locked tight every harbor along the shore.
  • The Mashpee Indians
    The Cape Cod Indians were made up of several tribes. Of these the Mashpee were the most important. Richard Bourne, the first minister in charge of an Indian Church at Mashpee labored faithfully and…
  • Strange Discovery
    When they first arrived at Provincetown, the Pilgrims did a fair amount of exploring the Cape. One day some of the Pilgrims wandering on Cape Cod noticed a heap of sand. Curiosity led their steps to…
  • The Red Jacket
    One event of Yarmouth that is of interest to the lovers of the sea is the voyage of the Red Jacket. Captain Asa Eldridge was her skipper who made a record voyage across the Atlantic in thirteen…
  • Give And Take, Early Colonial Trade
    The fishing trade caught hold in the Massachusetts Colony from the very first (1630-1650). The colony, in September, 1630 petitioned King James I of England “for the preventing of disorderly trade,…
  • The Ruling Hand
    Cape Cod once held the ruling power that rightfully belongs in Boston.
  • Orders is Orders
    Just before Christmas, in 1915, an old salt who was skippering his own schooner, the George Smith, sailed into New Bedford harbor en route to New York with a load of lumber. He had had an experience…
  • And Nothing Can Be Done About It
    The old Cape skippers weren’t much for the sentimental side of life. They lived a hard and dangerous life and had to accustom themselves to the unpleasantries of such a mode of living.
  • Case Against the Mooncussers
    The stories about Cape Cod salvagers, or wreckers, especially those of Chatham, have been many, some good and others not so savory, as evidence those connected with the notorious “
  • Farmer Indians
    The Indians whom the Pilgrims found at Plymouth when they first arrived were not a scrappy lot. They were, in fact, all that remained of probably several hundred thousands of Indians who earlier lived…
  • Setting Out For Greener Pastures
    Three hundred fifty plus years ago land on Cape Cod could be had simply for the moving in on it. This is what started up new villages.
  • Without Spirit
    For a long time the raising of rooftrees on Cape Cod was a merry occasion, and then for long it was a sober, businesslike time, as witnessed by this dispatch from Wellfleet, August 30, 1829:
  • Flag of the Free
    Some persons have the idea that when the Mayflower set sail from Old Plymouth, she flew from one of her mastheads a flag or a pennant with the inscription, “Freedom of Worship for All.”…
  • Bananas Came First To Cape
    Once upon a time every man and boy in Wellfleet was a whaler. Boys as young as ten began going to sea on the old whaling vessels with their fathers. Both whales and oysters made Wellfleet prosper.
  • The Forest Primeval
    When the explorer Champlain, and later John Smith, explored the coast of Cape Cod, and when Captain Myles Standish first landed at Provincetown in November of the year 1620, much of the land was covered…
  • The Great Plague
    The reason the Pilgrims met no Indians aside from Samoset during the early days of their settlement was that in 1617, three years before the Pilgrims arrived, a terrible plague had spread from a Maine…
  • Banking up Cape Cellars
    In past times Cape Cod houses had no cellar beneath their main body. That left part of the house exposed below to the open air. When cold weather was seen coming, when leaves began turning and apples…
  • Cape Shipwrecks & Wrecking
    The Cape has been the scene of many shipwrecks. Oftimes, a ship would run aground on the constantly shifting sand bars found off the Cape. Sometimes the ships were lured into coming near shore by the…
  • Blueberry Paint
    The strangely beautiful silver look to the shingles of an old Cape Cod house may sometimes be used as a measurement of its comparative age.
  • The Wreck of the Franklin
    On the first day of March, 1849, the full-rigged ship Franklin struck and foundered near Newcomb’s Hollow, on the ocean side of Wellfleet. The Franklin was en route from Deal, England,…
  • All But One
    Thomas William Nye of New Bedford, our famed whaling city, was the only person out of 223 aboard the ship John Rutledge who survived when she hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank.
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