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Cape Cod Daniel Webster Loved Cape Cod

Barnstable, the county seat of the Cape, was once known as the Great Marshes. The reason for this is quickly seen as one comes Eastward down Route 6A and enters the township of Barnstable. Off to the left (North) one will see immense stretches of salt marsh running out to the sea.

At one time these marshes were of great value for their salt hay. When Timothy Dwight made his Cape trip, he observed more than 2,000 stacks of hay on these lowlands. These salt marshes, their luxurious growth and the need for cattle feed led to Barnstable being settled in 1639.

One of the Cape stories that is recounted about Daniel Webster, who loved the Cape and its hunting and fishing, concerns a day of hunting on the salt marshes. He asked one of the farmers who was cutting salt hay to row him across a creek. The native, who guessed the identity of his passenger, refused payment for his services but had to satisfy his Yankee curiosity.

“You are Daniel Webster, I believe?”
“That is my name,” replied Daniel.
“I am told,” said the farmer, “that you make from $3.00 to $4.00 a day pleadin’ cases up to Boston.”
Mr. Webster said that he was sometimes so fortunate as to receive that amount for his services.
“Well, now,” said the Cape Codder, “it seems to me, I declare, if I could get as much for pleadin’ law cases, I wouldn’t be a-wadin’ over these marshes in hot weather shootin’ little birds.”

The salt hay is no longer harvested on the Great Marshes as in these times. With salt cheap, the economic reasons for the salt hay no longer exists, but the Marshes will continue to lend beauty to the landscape and interest to the Cape Cod visitor.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 04/05/06
Categories: BarnstableHistory
Keywords: barnstable, history


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