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Cape Cod Early Colonial Farmers

A good idea of the life of the people who settled along the shores of Buzzards Bay is to be had from the diary of Isreal Fearing. He was the largest landowner in the region.

His diary is inscribed, “Isreal Fearing his Booke bought January the 10 day 1722” when George the First was King. The two hundred plus year old book tells of trades and barters, impressments into the King’s military service, marriages and trials by His Majesty’s justice of the peace. We learn from it how shrewd and honest these people were in their bargaining. They were honest, and industrious, and content with small gains. Everyone in the family, parents, sons, daughters, and indentured servants, rose before sunrise and began their day’s work.

Aside from time out for meals, the labors of the day continued through to an early bedtime. Nothing was wasted, everything that would yield sustenance and reasonable comfort was made to do so. Any surpluses were bartered.

It is of special interest to know that these men and women were real English folk, the descendants of the English who had come to settle Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Colony between the Landing of the Pilgrims (1620) and 1650.

They fertilized the soil with fish and seaweed and made it yield prolific crops of corn, rye, wheat, oats, and flax. They caught fur-bearing animals and traded pelts, as well as fish and timber. From the bogs and ponds they gathered iron ore for their tools. The pines yielded them turpentine. Food was generally plentiful, supplemented with game from the forests, fish from the waters, waterfowl and land birds, and their farm animals provided a liberal quantity of beef, mutton, and pork.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 02/10/06
Categories: History
Keywords: history, colonial farming


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