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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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  • Wild Animals on Cape Cod
    In 1713, the town of Eastham, much vexed by the depredations of wolves, foxes, and deer, voted that “Three pounds bounty be paid in addition to what is allowed by the Province Law for every head…
  • Schooling on Old Cape Cod
    Every town of the Cape, like those of the rest of Massachusetts, was required by law of the Commonwealth in 1825, to maintain one school master or school mistress if it had fifty families.
  • Yarmouth Was Choosey
    Just anybody couldn’t become a citizen of Yarmouth. Those who founded the town were choosey about admitting newcomers. Only the sturdiest families were allowed to come in.
  • French Cable Comes to Eastham
    It is only a little less than one hundred twenty-six years since one of the great events of the nineteenth century occurred on Cape Cod. This was the bringing in of the shore end of the new French cable…
  • Rejoicing in Hyannis
    When the whaling business came to Hyannis, in 1854, the townspeople were thrilled at the prospect of prosperity’s being “just round the corner.” The ship Enterprise, owned by…
  • The Beach was Main Street
    “In the early days of Provincetown,” says J. D. B., in the Provincetown Advocate, “the beach between high and low water was the main thoroughfare of the town.” Anyone…
  • The Red Headed Mermaid
    “Any man who would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for pastime.” This was what one Yarmouth skipper had to say about the “romantic” sea. But it couldn’t have been…
  • Prodigal Town
    So cosmopolitan that is seems completely un-New England, is the town on the tip of the Cape. Given over to the jurisdiction of Truro in 1714, Provincetown’s free and merry way of living caused…
  • Standish Was A Man of Property
    Myles Standish left certain property in England to his heir, as well as the Duxbury homestead. Myles Standish’s descendants have, from time to time, claimed this English land.
  • Paid Minister in Cord Wood
    The inhabitants of Truro, in September 1786, joined with the Town authorities in “calling and settling” the Rev. Jude Damon “in the work of the Gospel Ministry” there.
  • Barnstable County Registry of Deeds Online Search
    The Barnstable Registry of Deeds records can now be searched online. Once completed, the database will extend back to 1703, although that date is a bit misleading due to an event that occurred nearly…
  • Fogs, Storms, and Tossing Billows
    Were the frequent experiences of one of Cape Cod’s deep-sea skippers. Captain Manuel Enos was one of the Cape’s able mariners or deep-sea sailormen, a group that has vanished into history.
  • A Quaker Shrewd and True
    In the 1600’s, Sandwich counted in its population one Daniel Wing. Daniel was a Quaker, and Quakers, while tolerated, were not admired on the Cape in those days. And no wonder. Daniel’s…
  • The Pilgrims had Shortcomings
    Old records show that the Pilgrims were no better or no worse than other people. At nearly every court session, fines were imposed for drunkenness and idleness. (Yes, it was a sin to be idle in those…
  • Truro’s Captain Stevens
    Captain Levi Stevens was a shining example of the kind of young men reared on Cape Cod a century or two ago and his life illustrates the opportunities that were then at hand for such men, ready and…
  • The Fleet’s In
    One hundred twenty-five years ago, the last Grand Bank fishing vessel of a fleet of forty-two craft arrived at Provincetown. The total catch was 58,500 quintals (100 pounds to the quintal) of codfish.…
  • Runaway Horse Leads to Rich Find
    A little over one hundred-fifty summers ago, a resident of Wellfleet, Captain Daniel Rich, had an unusual experience. One of his horses ran away, and in pursuing the animal in its pasture, Capt. Rich…
  • Ship Afire In Snowstorm
    On the morning of December 28, 1803, a small schooner cast off from a wharf in Boston and, under command of Capt. J. P. Schott, Jr., got underway for the West Indies. By afternoon, having arrived at…
  • Cape Cod Houses Faced the South
    Cape Codders years ago made common use of the architectural idea, common today, that the living room of the house should face the south.
  • Lost in the Snow, The Portland Gale
    When the steamship Portland was lost in a great blizzard five miles off Cape Cod’s Point on November 27, 1898, there was another vessel that came to grief at the same time and place—the…
  • Cape Cranberries Led the Way
    Cape Cod cranberries were one of the first of the so-called “convenience foods” which now represent such a large portion of the nation’s ready-to-serve food supplies.
  • Who Was the First White Native Cape Codder?
    For every fact about Cape Cod there seem to be a dozen fancies — stories and legends of happenings which may have occurred, or not, and which no one under the sun can possible prove or disprove.…
  • Wolves, Fifteen Shillings Each
    Wolves were a problem in the early days of Cape Cod. Several of the towns paid a bounty for each wolf killed. In 1658 the Town of Sandwich voted that the Indians were to be paid 15 shillings for every…
  • Annie’s Crannies Dennis, MA
    Cranberry cultivation had its beginning on Cape Cod when in 1816, Henry Hall, a resident of Dennis village, discovered that wild cranberry plants covered by winter’s wind blown sand produced bigger…
  • Nantucket Whaling Museum
    The Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum is a must see for anyone going to Nantucket. The museum features the restored 1847 candle factory, an 1849 Fresnel Lens used in Sankaty Head…
  • The Wreck of the Evgenia
    Shortly before five-thirty in the wild morning of the 6th of September, 1953, the 3,500-ton Panamanian steamer Evgenia was driven ashore off Peaked Hill on the Outer Shore of Provincetown. The…
  • Windmills as Far as You Could See
    At one time, there were seventy-eight salt works in Provincetown alone. These were composed of broad, shallow, wooden boxes or vats, into which salt water from the sea was pumped by a windmill.
  • They Used Big Anchors
    The pictures one sees which show the bow of some old sailing ship with her anchor catted (“hung up” on the out-side of her bow) invariably fail to give a true impression of the tremendous…
  • Pirate Gold For The Digging
    Somewhere on Cape Cod on a lonely stretch of beach there, are hoards of pirate treasure. The Cape was a hideout for pirates. The story is told of one man of odd and frightful look who visited the Cape…
  • Right and Wrong Kind of Whales
    In the early shore-whaling days only the “right” whale was taken, other species being dismissed as, “wrong” for the purpose of
  • Six Pairs of Pants Bought Yarmouth
    Six coats, six pairs of small breeches, two hatchets, and a like number of hoes, besides two brass kettles in good working order, was the price paid for most of what is now the town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts.…
  • Striped Bass Fishing Began Over 300 Years Ago
    The early inhabitants of Cape Cod fished for stripers as enthusiastically as the beach anglers of modern times. In William Wood’s “New England Prospect,” which came out in 1634,…
  • More On Sandwich Glass
    There are a number of popular misconceptions about Sandwich glass. Sandwich glass was not, as some imagine, a rare or expensive product. On the contrary, it was mostly cheap, pressed glass, manufactured…
  • That Fabulous Sandwich Glass
    Unbelievably beautiful were the creations which the Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory turned out in the nineteenth century. The opulence of the period was reflected in the intricate, shining shapes…
  • How the Cape Cod Towns Ranked in Whale Fishing 1854
    The records of 1854 show that as a whaling port, Provincetown topped other Cape ports. Receipts of the whale fishery during the year were: Falmouth, 513 barrels whale oil, 1828 barrels sperm; Provincetown,…
  • Heavy Maritime Travel Cape Pogue Lighthouse
    In the single year 1854, the keeper of the Cape Pogue Lighthouse (located on Chappaquiddick Island, Martha’s Vineyard) reported that 20,156 vessels passed Cape Cod (no doubt some of these were…
  • The Big Freeze of 1875
    From February 3, 1875, until March 6 of the same year, Cape Cod Bay was almost completely frozen over. One of the coldest winters on record, Cape Codders long remembered the humorous sidelights connected…
  • The Lost & Found Dory Fishermen of The Schooner Joseph E. Johnson
    The Grand Bankers left home in the early Spring and disappeared into oblivion for from 3 to 5 months. Fog and icebergs were constant perils off the Grand Banks. During these days the fishing vessels…
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