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Cape Cod A Black Eye for Blackbirds

Since the men of the Cape who did not follow the sea did farm the land, it was important to them that the corn they planted should have a chance to grow and not be eaten and destroyed by birds.

The Cape Cod farmer raised his own corn and rye, ground them into meal, and thus provided bread for his family. But his best efforts were frustrated by blackbirds and crows. They destroyed his corn.

In 1711, the people voted:

That whereas crows and blackbirds do much damage by pulling up and destroying the young corn, every housekeeper shall bring, or cause to be brought between the middle of March and the last day of June to the Selectmen, 8 blackbirds’ heads, 2 crows’ heads, or proportionately thereto, or forfeit 3s 8d, to the use of the poor, and that for additional heads a bunty be paid, ld for black-birds, and 4d for crows.

Eastham folk took the matter even more seriously, and passed an order that:

...every single man (i.e., every unmarried man) in the township shall kill six blackbirds or three crows, and shall not be married until they comply with this requisition.

Thus, before a young man could pop the question to his beloved, he had to pop his gun successfully at six blackbirds or three crows, or otherwise make sure of his compliance with this strange order.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 05/24/06
Categories: EasthamHistoryInterestingNature
Keywords: eastham, history, interesting, nature


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