November 5, 2014


Nita Morse Crawford 1890-1975  Owner and manager of popular Pines Hotel in Cotuit for 48 years 1910-58; founded Historical Society of Santuit and Cotuit 1951, donating Dottridge Homestead for museum and headquarters.

Floss Rapp 1918
Florence “Floss” Rapp 1891-1974 First historian of Cotuit “Looking Back (Bits of History Its Founders and their Homes)” 1974; co-founder of Historical Society 1951.
photo courtesy of Rosemary Rapp

Dorothy Worrell 1892-1983 Cape Cod historian, founded Tales of Cape Cod pioneering recording of oral histories of Cape Codders;  author and journalist.

Dr. Marian Cabot Putnam 1893-1972.  One of first child psychologists in America, grew up summers in Cotuit; founded 1943 Putnam Childrens Center, where Terry Brazelton began work.

Marian “Sally” Sawyer 1894-1996 One of founders of Barnstable Comedy Club;  partner of:
Helen MacLellan 1895-1981 Started first radio station on Cape Cod, WOCB, called “The Voice of Cape Cod”; niece of Richard Winfield, developer of Grand Island, Osterville. She made her home in The Place which she rescued after the death of President Lowell.

The Place

Taussig by  KarshDr. Helen Taussig 1898-1986 Cardiac surgeon who developed procedure to save “blue babies” ; grew up sailing in Cotuit, and summered here all her life.

BARNSTABLE WOMEN PART III: Early Twentieth Century

October 29, 2014

PART III: Early Twentieth Century Women of Barnstable

Ora Adams Hinckley 1857-1943   First full-time librarian Hyannis Public Library 1909 to 1943. Wrote of  50 “Women Who Went to Sea” for Trayser’s Barnstable.


Clara Jane Hallett 1858-1959.  Hyannis historian was still writing her weekly column at age 100. 40 years weekly column in Barnstable Patriot; Born and died in Hyannis; lived on Ocean Street house noted for its rambler roses, with friend Hattie J. Frost; suffragist president League of Women Voters; prolific poet, including song for opening of Idle Hour movie theater: “Hyannis—dear Hy-an-nis//we’ve dreamed of halls like this, where we might spend an “Idle Hour”//learning of the great world’s power” (Patriot 4 Aug. 1912).


Rev. Sarah A. Dixon 1866-1939 born and buried Cummaquid. Methodist minister, Cape Cod poet; friend of Rev. Anna H. Shaw; first pastor of  Hyannis Federated Church 1921, uniting Universalists and Congregationalists; photo Schearer-Gober-Seale.


Amy Beach 1867-1944 Most famous American woman composer and pianist.  Summered Long Pond Main St. Centerville 1897 ff.  Most of her most popular works were composed after she came here.Photo Hampsong Fdn.
Adelaide Crowell Wyer 1867-1919 T 321 seagoing wife of SS Capt. William Wyer Boston-Phila.

Mary Edward Lincoln 1868-1955 “Old Spice” Centerville character whose home is now Centerville Historical Museum.  (Zuniga 92, Herberger 144-5).


Mary Lowell Barton 1868-1957 Cotuit conservationist. Her will protected forest around Eagle Pond from development; Mary Barton Trust saved 108 acres, and added additional land that became part of Barnstable Land Trust 2013.

Fanny Huntington Quincy Howe 1870–1933 Essayist who wrote under pseudonym Wilmer Price. Summered in Cotuit, mother of monologist and author Helen Howe (see below) grandmother of poet Fanny Howe and playwright Tina Howe, and great-grandmother of author Danzy Senna.

Mabel Kimball Baker 1871-1965 Founded Colonial Candle company, “The Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” of Lights 1909, starting in her kitchen on East Main St. in Hyannis, making  bayberry candles for Christmas gifts; 1921 candle factory to 2003.


Amy Lowell 1874-1925  Pulitzer Prize winning poet, guest of  her brother Harvard President  A. L. Lowell in Cotuit. (photo Carl Rollyson).


Mary “May” Lewis Kirkman 1875-1956 Benefactor of cemeteries and libraries who left $1.5 million of her soap inheritance to “town” of Cotuit, which court interpreted as the whole of Barnstable.


Elizabeth Crocker Jenkins 1876-1956 “The Woman Who Saved a Church”, the 1717 Rooster Church in W. Barnstable; also restored Shaw homestead, and co-co-co-founded the Barnstable Historical Society 1939.

Annie Pearlstein 1878-1945 Marstons Mills widow who began successful women’s clothing store in Hyannis, and donated the torah for the first Jewish religious service on Cape Cod, held at her home on Ocean St.
Mary Sampson Crocker 1882-1951 Concert pianist, accompanist to Mary Garden, the famous operatic soprano, who was called “the Sarah Bernhardt of opera”; see obit in Patriot.
Mary Almy 1883-1967 Pioneer woman architect, her first house built in Cotuit on the Narrows. Partner of  women’s architectural firm of Howe, Manning and Almy. Her most notable project was the Charles Almy House, a Georgian Revival style, in Cambridge (Cole & Taylor, 45-52).  She was involved with building the Laughlin House in Hyannis Port (1929), the Morse House in Cotuit (1928), the McGiffert House on Bayberry Point in West Falmouth (1929), faculty housing at Stevens Institute of Technology,  low-cost housing and slum clearance during the Depression (1933).


Harriet I. McCoy “Ma” Grace 1884-1966.  Founder 1909 and Pastor Zion Union Church, Hyannis.
Elnora Pinkney Rose 1886-1963 Black woman, daughter of slaves, who founded popular Roseland Dance Hall in Marstons Mills.
Frieda Landers 1889-1991 German-born entrepreneur who established turkey farm in Little River, Cotuit, supplying the Kennedy family their Thanksgiving turkey.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy 1890-1995 Summered Hyannis Port 70 years 1926 until death there at age 104; mother of the President (photo


BARNSTABLE WOMEN Part II Late Nineteenth Century

October 26, 2014

BARNSTABLE WOMEN PART II: late Nineteenth Century.

Lucretia Crocker 1829-1886 Born in West Barnstable, she was the first woman supervisor of the Boston Public Schools 1876, famous for pioneering the discovery method of teaching mathematics and the natural sciences; professor of mathematics and astronomy Antioch College 1857-9;  long bio in Boston Women’s Heritage.

Maria L. Bearse  1829-1913 T 318 went across US to join husband Allen Bearse’s ship     Radiant for Japan.
Sarah L. Lothrop 1830-89. T 318 At sea on husband Sylvester’s Rambler.
Abbie Lewis Baker 1830-77 T 319 At sea w/ husband Elnathan.
Susan Crowell 1831-1908 T 315 H 79. At sea w/ husband Elkanah III, on near-clipper Air Wind 1300 tons to China; record sail SF-Honolulu; child born at sea..
Ellen Bursley  1831-95 T 315 Hyannis wife of deepwater Capt. Francis A. Bursley—at sea
Mary “Sam” Hallett 1834-1900 T 317 H  122 Hyannis to sea w/ deepwater Capt. Samuel—rounded both capes; Turkish rug.
Arabella Crowell 1835-1903 T 320 went South with steamer Capt. Sidney Crowell, took 2 daughters to school there.


Elizabeth Gilbert Lowell (Jones) c. 1839-1904 daughter of founder of New York Times, married 1877 historian Edward Jackson Lowell.  She raised the three children of his first wife: Alice 9, later wife of Prof. James H. Ropes, the famous architect Guy 7, and impressionist artist Frederick 3. They summered in Cotuit, first at the Andrew Lovell (Dr. Putnam) house, then 1893 in the Ebenezer Crocker (Hooper) house.  In 1906 her heirs  donated to the town of Barnstable the land and building of the Elizabeth Lowell High School.


Lucy Gibbons Morse 1839-1936 daughter of famous Quaker prison reformer Abbie Hopper Gibbons who often visited her daughter in Cotuit; Lucy founded Cotuit Library 1885. Noted for her cutout silhouettes, which decorated the Harvard dorms.


Eleanor Knowles Thacher 1839-1913 T 318 went on 2 clipper trips on Chariot of Fame with father Allen Knowles.
Mary L. Peak 1839-1918 T 319 many trips w/ husband deepwater (to Mediterranean) Capt. Samuel on brig William Robinson.
Josephine Crowell Wilcox 1839-1917 T 322 storm off Texas with father SS Capt. Abner Crowell of Merchants & Miners Line.
Juliet A. Hallett Lewis 1840-1917 T 317 H135 to sea w/ Capt. Wm. Penn Lewis on Hooghly 105  days from Singapore-Boston 1888. 3x Cape/ Hope; Hurricane.
Lydia Goodspeed Landers 1841-1921. Cotuit petticoat sailor, born Little River, whaling wife of  Capt. Landers, master of today’s  oldest wooden ship, Charles W. Morgan. Since the ship’s owners opposed taking women aboard, she traveled 5000 miles on steamships from NY, Panama, Acapulco, San Francisco to join his ship in Honolulu 1865, at an estimated cost of $425.  For her comfort on board her husband made her a gimbel bed to relieve seasickness, and gamming chair to visit women on other ships.  Her son Arthur was born Guam 1865.


Amelia Parker 1841-88 T 322 trip with SS captain Josiah of Merchant & Miners Line.
Mary “Edwin” Baxter 1842-1939 T 320 to sea with father Capt. Edwin Baxter.
Lucie Stone Crocker 1842-1900 H 74. To sea w/ husband Alexander Crocker, to Zanzibar & Madagascar?

Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams 1843 – 1885 Niece of Samuel Hooper at whose home in Cotuit she grew up, and honeymooned there with her husband Henry James; she was a pioneer woman photographer, novelist; remembered in famous statue of grief by the sculptor St. Gaudens.



Josephine Crowell Frost Howe  ?1843-1913?  T 316 honeymoon to China 1876 w/ deepwater Capt. Wallace W.. Not sure of her dates.
Elizabeth Ann Baxter 1844-1923 T 312, H 33.  2 children born en route to Burma on ship John N. Cushing: Annie Malacca Baxter 1873 and Davis Baxter; daughter born Bombay; mutiny. piano; Capt. Ezekiel Baker’s mongoose.
Imogene Peak Crocker 1846-1900 T 314 born Pt. Gammon lighthouse; at sea w/ husband Capt. William Crocker, incl. Surinam.
Caroline “Carrie” Frost 1846-1906 T 316 wife of coasting Capt. George, Hyannisport.
Caroline E. Bassett 1846-1915 T 320 took 3 sons on trip to S. America w/ husband coaster Capt. Ferdinand Bassett.
Anna Howard  Shaw 1847-1919 National leader of women’s suffrage movement; Methodist minister; medical doctor; born in England, raised in Michigan log cabin; came to Cape Cod 1876 as substitute minister; 7 years minister E. Dennis 1878-85, also in Dennis; bought land Wianno Beach in Osterville 1892, built cottage “The Haven” on Seaview Av. where women scandalously bathed in men’s bathing suits; gave the house 1916 to her lifelong partner Lucy Anthony, niece of Susan B.  Died campaigning for League of Nations with Cotuit neighbor Harvard president Lowell and former President Taft.

Photo Iowa State U.
Elizabeth Buffum Chace 1847-1929 Osterville suffragist leader.
Adeline S. Brown 1847-1909. T 319 15 coaster trips with ice from Maine to W. Indies w/ husband Allen H. Brown.
Emma Coleman 1848-1922 T 322 went with Metropolitan Line steamer husband Capt. Albert with 2 daughters, Lizzie Esther 1888-1953..
Ida Pitcher Frost 1849-1921 T 316.  Wife of Capt. John H. Frost, Capt. of Conqueror & clipper Agenor; she  went to SF to sail to China & Japan—not sure what ship; adopted dau. of Dr. Pitcher of Castoria medicine.
Sylvia Baxter Crowell Allyn 1850-1923   T 308-9, H 9  6 trips around the world, ending in wreck of the Titan in hurricane off Yucatan; rescue by rope to Norwegian ship 1894; husband Capt. H. Howard Allyn.
Sallie Crowell Bassett 1851- 1945 T 320 Last of the seahens, to sea with father deepwater Capt. Abner Crowell and husband coaster Capt. Jacob P. H. Bassett.
Mary Elizabeth Donnell Case 1855-1921 T 320 Munching drawer on Independent, husband coaster Capt. Willis L. Case.
Fostina Bassett Baker 1857-1943 T 319.  Next to last  of the seahens: wife of Capt. Eleazer Baker of SS General Whitney and H.F.Dimmock; storm on SS Glaucus.

NEXT: Barnstable Women: Part III Early Twentieth Century

Celebrating Barnstable Women: Part I. The Early Years

October 24, 2014

Although women have been half the population of Barnstable, and often the most influential, historians have almost completely ignored their contributions to 375 years of the town’s history.  For the first time, Cotuit Historical Society’s Historian Jim Gould illustrates the significant role of Barnstable women with photos and stories of their achievements.
To read the history of Barnstable, one would suppose that everything was exclusively done by men. Although women have been half the population of Barnstable, and often the most influential, historians have almost completely ignored them.   With the exception of the famous Mercy Otis Warren, they have been forgotten.  No article or book or scholarly thesis has ever told the story of their contributions to the 375 years of the town’s history.  Here, for the first time,  Cotuit Historical Society’s Historian Jim Gould illustrates the significant role of Barnstable women with photos and stories of their achievements.  He hopes that this presentation will encourage the audience add other women to the lost history of Barnstable women.


Syucy  c. 1710 In the Massachusetts Archives there is a document recording that a native American woman was allocating farming plots on Grand Island, between Cotuit and Osterville.  The  island appears to have been part of the land which the local Wampanoag leader Poppmonuck reserved for Indian use, and protected  from white men’s cattle by a promised fence.  We do not know if she was related to Poppmunuck, but her responsibility indicates a leadership role that we expect from native women. (Photo Daily Life; Wamp. Women).

Lisa Towerhill/Elizabeth Blatchford 1711-90.  Legend has it that Lisa Towerhill was a witch. Ansel Wood of West Barnstable falsely accused her of putting a bridle and saddle on him at night and often riding him to Plum Pudding Pond in Plymouth to join witches in nocturnal orgies. Although Wood was clearly hallucinating such wild stories were widely circulated.  Others claimed she could change into a black cat.  A party to which she was not invited was disgusted when the butter turned rancid, the tea undrinkably bitter and the pie stuffed with sheep’s wool.  A man who could detect witches (a seventh son according to legend) saw her come in and smoke her pipe by the fire; all the others saw only a black cat. Liza, called Towerhill because her husband’s family came from the part of London near the Tower, led a perfectly respectable life according to church records, but she was a strong woman.  As a widow she raised seven children, ran the farm, sold cloth she wove. At age seventy she was out plowing a new field and ran into a stump. Thrown down, she got up and finished the job.  Amos Otis partly accounts the accusations of witchcraft to the isolation of her farm, in the forest that is still remote, beyond the Yarmouth Campground, then wolf-infested and passed by an Indian trail.  (Amos Otis, Genea. Notes 99-102; Patriot 19 March 1860.  photo Salem witch coolinterestingstuff).

Desire Crocker Sampson 1727-1804.  Inherited much of Crocker estate in Cotuit, including grist mill and main house on road to the mill; married Cornelius Sampson of Rochester 1747, bringing in the Sampson family, who inherited it from her.
Mercy Otis Warren 1728-1819 “Muse of the Revolution”. In 1772-5 she picked up the cause of protest against British impositions which her brother had pioneered, Mercy wrote three political plays which criticized the colonial government.  She wrote poetry celebrating the Boston Tea Party and criticized women who supported British rule.  During the Revolution she published patriotic poetry and plays, and wrote a political pamphlet  on the Constitution calling for a bill of rights.  In 1805 she published one of the first histories of the Revolution.  Photo the  federalist papers

Abigail Freeman 1729-1788.   Widow Nabby Freeman paid the price for talking about politics.  She ran a little grocery next to the Court House on the town green in Barnstable village.  In the midst of the Crocker Quarrels of 1776 she made the mistake of talking about loyalty to the king.  She refused to let the “Patriots” burn her store of the hated tea.  So a gang of men took her out of bed and gave her a more humane punishment than the traditional dunking in the pond, which too often drowned the offender.  They poured hot tar over her head, covered her with feathers, and held her on a fence rail carried by two young men until she promised not to talk politics. (Trayser 124, Otis 233-4. photo women tar & feather Jane Longley

Mary Dunn 1778-1850  Gave her name to town’s westernmost road and Mary Dunn Pond, where the endangered flower Plymouth Gentian blooms.  Falsely rumored to be a witch who died with a snake entwined on her neck, she was a fortune teller, an Indian with Negro ancestry, who lived at Tip-top Farm at the north end of today’s Hyannis Airport. (art. By Jack Braginton-Smith and Duncan Oliver.
photo native plants of Cape Cod.

Sophia Lovell Baker 1799-1875  T 310  Honeymooned to Jamaica w/ husband Seth, where they were picked up for palanquin ride to plantation palace of acting Gov. Arojah, after whom they named their first son Edward Arojah Baker.
Martha Coleman 1812-89.  Founded first resort hotel on Cape Cod, popular Santuit Inn 1864. This was expansion of her boarding house at Hooper’s Landing providing accommodation for passengers on Nantucket packet.

Eleanor Baxter 1818-75 T 311 Wife of Rodney 18 month trip with son to Bombay, bought 4 doz. Shirts for grampa.
Bethia Baxter Bearse 1819-95   T313  trip across US and Pacific to join husband Allen in China; first toilet; 2 pianos, one on ship.
Bethia C. Bassett 1819-93. T 320 took 5 children on coasting trips w/ husband Capt. Gerry.
Azubah B. Handy Cash 1820. Named for first wife of Little River shipwright Bethuel Handy’s first wife, the first burial in Mosswood cemetery.  Working for the village tailor, she slipped a note into the suit ordered by a handsome sailor from Nantucket, whom she later married and took their first son to sea.  One of the few whaling women who kept a journal, she recorded the birth of their son at Hilo, Hawaii in 1851 and mutiny aboard ship Columbia.  (Edw. Snow, Women of the Sea Ch. 8).

Rozilla C. Nickerson 1821-86.  Cotuit woman who went on long whaling voyage with husband Capt. Seth Nickerson.  Daughter Ella born Lahaina, Maui 1849 died off coast of Chile, embalmed in cask of rum, taken to San Francisco Gold Rush, long whaling trip in Pacific before she was buried in Mosswood cemetery Cotuit.


Teresa Eldridge Crowell 1821-1901  T 315, H86.  wife of clipper Capt. Zenas.  Built Hyannis house around mosaic table she bought in Liverpool.
Lydia B. Hallett 1823-1871 T 317 to sea with deepwater Capt. Allen S. Hallett d. 1881.
Sally Ann Hallett 1824-1916 T 321 to sea with steamer Capt. George H. NY-Baltimore.
Julia A. Crowell Hallett 1827-1882 T 316 wife of deepwater Capt. Robert died 1867—many voyages with him.


August 2, 2014

COTUIT – LOST AND FOUND by David Churbuck,  April 2014
Changes have been subtle in the village over the last 25 years, an old barn torn down one year, a new house on the same lot the next, little things that are part of progress and the cycle of change that any place can expect.
The old families are dwindling, or hiding. Names that were a part of Cotuit for centuries like Bearse, Coleman, Crocker, Hamblin, Handy , Hodges, Lovell, and Nickerson are becoming rarer as the village makes the transition from a two-season community to a year-round home for retirees, Boston commuters, and summer kids who have become year-rounders.
Who remembers the park when it was like a commune filled with hippies?  Now we have great public events like the Craft Fair, and the Brush-Off auctioning off freshly painted scenes of the village.
The volunteer spirit of the Fire District – back when the fire department was an all- volunteer affair – has given way to a professional and a bit more contentious structure. The Fire Department’s whistle blew every day at noon. Any other time the number of blasts told which part of the village the fire was located, so volunteers could rush directly to the fire.  Now we have a motor boat to rescue stranded sailers.
The harbor once had 50 boats in it at the height of the summer. You set and pulled your own mooring. Now two thirds of the harbor is paved with boats, the launch is doing a booming business, mooring permits are precious, and our waterways are under immense pressure. The harbor is essentially dead. Once the bay was alive with eel grass and scallops and schools of scup. Popponesset Bay developed great algal blooms, signs of the sewage we continue to pour into our sandy soil.
In contrast, Cotuit made great progress in land preservation.  Mary Barton Trust saved 108 acres around Eagle Pond, and added more at the Almy Cedar Swamp, Bell Farm and Cordwood Road, now managed by Barnstable Land Trust.  A golf course at Santuit Pond was stopped, and pristine woodland and bogs preserved.  Cotuit Solar has been a local leader in alternative power sources.
The Fourth of July Parade is one of the most popular in town, featuring the squirting clam of EPAC Grotto of Masons, which escalated into a now forbidden water fight. Santa’s arrival at the Town Dock is an annual celebration.
The return of the ospreys celebrates the publicity that Dr. Stanley Cobb gave to the poisoning by killing mosquitoes with DDT.
The Cotuit Kettleers won the Cape championships in 1984, 1985, 2005, and 2013.  Lowell Park has been renovated, with new bleachers, a two story building honoring the founder Arnold Mycock, a new snack bar and toilets.
The Cotuit Elementary School closed, but has been replaced by an active Waldorf School. The new Kettle-Ho carries on. The village grocery, the Coop, survived the invasion of a large supermarket. It gave birth to the Cotuit Center for the Arts, featuring plays and paintings by local artists.  After a fire, it moved to a fine new gallery and theater on Route 28.  The Cahoon Museum of American Art was established, to become one of the Cape’s most distinguished museums.
The 100th anniversary of the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club was celebrated in 2006 by a race of more than 60 skiffs, the oldest wooden racing fleet in America
The Cotuit Oyster Company came under new management which now provides the famous Cotuit Oyster to some of the best restaurants in the US and Canada. The efforts of the shellfishing community have made clams important. A major effort to reopen Rushy Marsh to the sea was overcome by sea King Canute.
So, in the last quarter century Cotuit has lost so much, but has changed for the better.


July 27, 2013

    This handsome colonial building was built during the American Revolution.  Some people thought it was early as 1775, but Harriet Ropes Cabot, former head of the Bostonian Society, and local historian, concluded that it was built in 1782, the last year of the war of Independence.  So that is the date shown on the plaque outside  .
    The popular Georgian style house of two stories presents a formal façade to the passing travelers: a centered front entryway between two windows on each side, matched by windows on the second story.  The side-gabled roof is crowned by a large brick chimney.
    This is the fourth  oldest house in the village of Cotuit, preceded only by the place next door (1739), the Rev. Gideon Hawley House (1758), and Alvan Friday Crocker’s home across the street (1769).
    This house was built in anticipation of the wedding of Zenas Crocker the First (1761-1807) in 1790 to his neighbor Hannah Bourne, of the distinguished and wealthy family that had established the first Indian church in Mashpee.  Zenas’s namesakes  still live nearby: Zenas VII recently died, leaving his home on Grand Island to his son Zenas VIII.  But the first Zenas was the only one with the middle name Friday, named like his eight siblings after the day of the week they were born.
    Zenas’s occupation was yeoman, that is, a farmer of his own land.  In addition to this house he owned the ¾ acre orchard across the street, 50 acres of woodland by the Cotuit River, land next to Fuller’s Pond, the north end of Rushy Marsh cedar swamp that became the first Nickerson “Oregen”al settlement, a third of the Rye Field, woodland and meadow on Little Neck including the salt marshes that supported profitable raising cattle for beef .
    An indication of Zenas’s prosperity and education is his hosting of the first meeting to establish a library, the Second Social Library of Barnstable in 1796 .
    Four years later the famous President of Yale University, Rev. Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) visited here.  In his Travels in New England he tells of calling on an old family friend in Mashpee, Rev. Gideon Hawley, missionary to the Indians.  “The inn at which we dined was kept by a respectable family, who entertained us with great civility and kindness.” . Historian Cabot supposed that this may have been the Zenas Crocker place, which became a popular inn 20 years later.  President Dwight then tells of going to Rev. Hawley’s house, which we know to be a few hundred yards away.
    After Zenas’s death in 1806 it was the home of his nephew  Ezra Crocker (1775-1843), who carried on the farming as a gentleman farmer, but also worked as a blacksmith, numerouswe do not know where, though there was an active blacksmithy on the river nearby.  He also was a carpenter, who headed the town committee to build the first town hall, at the corner of Race Lane and Oak Streets, where it still stands as the Veritas School  .
    In 1821 Ezra opened a wayside inn, on this well-traveled highway halfway between Falmouth and the shire town of Barnstable.  Tradition has it that Daniel Webster, the famous statesman and Secretary of State stayed here on his visit while fishing in Mashpee.  Evidence of the popularity of the inn can be seen in the hooks on the attic rafters which held leather partitions to separate the beds of overnight guests.
    On Ezra’s death in 1843 we do not know if the tavern continued, but the house was inherited by his son Captain David Crocker (1802-75), who was probably at sea.  His obituary gives a praiseful  tribute to his character: “to his friends, he was a man loved, trusted and honored as few aare, or deserve tobe.  His ever ready response to the poor and needy was so prudently practiced that none but the eye of God, ‘who notices the sparrow’s fall,’ can over know of the many acts of benevolence he has performed.   From his lips and daily life have been many enduring examples of truth and morality.”    David had no sons, but three daughters: Julia who died young, Ellen who was left a widow with two young children after the death of her seafaring husband Capt. William Gage in San Francisco.  The surviving sister, Susan Crocker lived until 1933.  “Susie”, as she was called, owned much of the idle farmland and woodland of Cotuit, and sold off small portions to the Portuguese immigrants from the Azores who turned the land into rich market gardens  after 1897.
    Susie had retired to city life in Somerville, and in 1922 sold the old farmhouse to Frank L. Handy, a descendant of the old Cotuit family that had built ships at Little River since 1800.  Frank’s daughter Florence Handy open a tearoom in the west parlor of this house, serving drinks, cake and cookies to the passing tourists of the new automobile age when thirsty travelers stopped for refreshment on the state  highway between Hyannis and Falmouth.  Florence was an accomplished musician who taught piano lessons after teaching fourth and fifth grades in the Cotuit School.
    In the 1920s the Handys removed the ell on the west side, and moved it to the west side of Main Street near the Santuit Post Office as a home for a widow Lovell and her numerous children.  This house was later demolished.
    After the Second World War Florence Handy and her father had died, and  widow Alice Handy sold the old house to the artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon.  Martha described its condition: “For heat, Mrs. Handy burned coal in a kitchen range and a round tin parlor stove.  The bathroom and bedroom over the living room also had registers which took the chill off the rooms. Kitchen pipes would freeze in zero weather. When the wind was strong it blew up through the cracks in the floorboards and actually blew a bulge in the carpet!”. .
    The artist Ralph E. Cahoon (1910-82) was native Cape Codder, born in Chatham, descendant  of Scottish immigrants whose name we recognize as Calhoun.  He was married in 1932 to Martha Farham (1905-99), daughter of a Swedish immigrant furniture painter, who came to the Cape in 1910.  After Ralph and Martha’s wedding, in 1933 she bought the old Bennett House on west Main Street in Osterville, where they painted and showed their furniture (Barnstable deed 493/559).  The move to the Crocker House in Cotuit gave them an outlet on the new highway 28.
    The Cahoons’ first  show on Long Island in 1953 launched a successful career, which featured Ralph’s mermaids, and Martha’s scenes of rural life as it was in Cotuit in the days of Crocker’s Tavern.
    After Ralph’s death Rosemary Rapp, wife of the Cotuit physician, bought the house in 1982, with Martha continuing to live and paint in the east wing until her death, at 89.  Mrs. Rapp opened the Cahoon Museum of American Art on 19 Sept. 1984, featuring the work of the Cahoons.  In 1984 the house was placed on the register of National Historic Places.
      National Hist. Register CTA 3.
  .  Barnstable Deeds, town book 5/144-5, 3 June 1800.
    minutes in Sturgis Library.
    1 Oct. 1800, p. 68, 1969 edition; original vol. III, letter XI, pub. 1822
     Barnstable Patriot 29 Feb. 1837.
    Barnstable Patriot 1 June 1875.
    Cindy Nickerson, “History of the Building and Museum”, c. 2006.


January 12, 2013

At the corner of Sea View Avenue and West Street in Osterville is the original Wianno Club Golf House. This historic building has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its role as a meeting place of the elite of the community, and the site of golf tournaments, which attracted nationally known players. In addition, it is notable as a nearly century-old example of unusual design by a prominent Boston architect.
The 14-room house is a Colonial Revival building of two stories, with a broad hip roof, with wings set at 35-degree angles at each end. It was constructed in the winter of 1916-1917, by the leading Osterville builders Daniel Brothers, Charles and Robert Daniels.
The architect was probably Horace S. Frazer, who redesigned the old Cotocheset hotel into the current clubhouse at this time. Mr. Frazer (1862-1931), was a prominent Boston architect with the firm Chapman & Frazer. He had a summer home on Wianno Avenue.
The original golf clubhouse, or headhouse, was a one story shingled building with wings on either side of the building, a plan that survives today. In front, a long rustic porch was supported by rough-hewn red cedar posts and topped with a cross-hatched railing (see photo attached).
The construction was the result of the decision of the Wianno Yacht Club in March 1916 to expand its activities to include tennis, croquet, golf and dancing. On April 1, 1916 the Wianno Yacht Club changed its name to Wianno Club, and purchased the Cotocheset House hotel on the waterfront, with its extensive acreage across the avenue.
Nine holes of a projected 18-hole golf course were laid out by Leonard (Len) Biles, the English-born golf professional who had come to the United States in 1912 to the Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Tarrytown, New York. Among his innovations at Wianno was his introduction of the spiny yellow gorse plant that abounds naturally on Scottish golf courses. Fortunately, it did not take hold on
Cape Cod.
The course opened in July 1916 on what are today’s holes 13 thru 18. Nine holes were added in 1920, designed by Donald Ross, who also redesigned Biles’s course. Mr. Biles went on to The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, the Holston Hills Club in Knoxville, and the course in Williamsburg, Virginia.
After the First World War the Wianno Club decided to build a new golf clubhouse where it is today, at 389 Parker Rd. Henry B. Day, founding treasurer of the club, who had the summer house across the avenue, facing Nantucket Sound, bought the original headhouse for $4500.
As agreed in the Mr. Day’s deed, the house was moved southwards on the lot, stripped of the plumbing for the new clubhouse, and rebuilt.
In 1926 Day sold it to Minnie Birk Jaeger of Chicago, a wealthy heiress to the fortune of Jacob Birk who owned one of the largest breweries in the windy city. It was probably at this time that the second floor was added and modified into popular Colonial Revival style.
The Jaeger family summered here for 36 years. In 1962 it was inherited by Margaret “Margot” Williamson Litt. Her architect husband Nathaniel Litt later became a clown with Ringling Brothers Circus, shown on the cover of Time Magazine February 20, 1970. The house has continued in the ownership of the Ellwood Fisher, Keith Merrick, Jean O’Brien and Carroll Swan families.

Published in the final number of The Barnstable Enterprise, Friday Januarry 11, 2013.

2012 in review

December 31, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 1, 2012
The Fuller family 1892

The Fuller family 1892


December 1, 2012

Barnstable Land Trust celebrated its conservation of over 1000 acres of land this year with the purchase of the historic Fuller Farm in Marstons Mills.
The farm, one of the last working farms on Cape Cod is located on the road to West Barnstable Road (Route 149), on the west shore of Middle Pond, also known as Run Pond. Its fertile alluvial soils were probably worked by Indians before the first white settlers came to the region in the mid-1600s. The pioneers on the land were the Hamblin family, who gave their name to Hamblins Plains and Hamblins Pond.
Near the present farmhouse, to the northwest overlooking Turtle Cove, lay the homestead of Lewis Hamblin (1768-1838) and his wife–and cousin–Abigail. It must have been a big house, for they had 15 children. In later years, two of those children ended up dividing the house, the west half going to Stephen Hamblin, and the east side, including the brick oven, going to Calvin Hamblin.
The last resident of the present house, Barbara Fuller, now 91, said that about 1790 or 1800 a new house was built on the site of the present one. It became the residence of yeoman farmer Ansel B. Fuller (1808-92), a descendant of the town’s first physician, Dr. Matthew Fuller, the hot-headed surgeon general of the colonial troops in King Philip’s War, whose parents came to this country on the Mayflower. The house may have been inherited from the Hamblins by Ansel B. Fuller’s son Ansel E. Fuller (1841-1924) whose wife Olive was the daughter of Calvin Hamblin.
The Fullers converted the neighboring swamp into a productive cranberry bog, producing 90 barrels of fruit in 1903. At the peak of cranberry harvest in 1887 the old house burned down. “Ma” Olive Fuller had left her ironing hanging by the fire to check how the harvest was going, and a fresh breeze blew sparks onto the clothes. By the time she got back the fire was beyond control, and all but a few boards were burned. Today one can see scorched boards in the pantry. Lost in the cellar were 50 bushels of recently harvested potatoes. The only thing saved was Ansel’s pension papers, which he put behind the clock on the mantle.
Neighbors–the Hamblins, Joneses and Cammetts–all joined in to rebuild the house. It was redone in the popular French Empire Mansard style, with sloping roofs on the second story. This style had been introduced by the China trade heir Augustus Thorndyke Perkins’s mansion “Sandanwood” in Cotuit. According to Mrs. Fuller, “While the house was being built, the women slept in the downstairs bedrooms and the men climbed a ladder in the kitchen to go through a hatch to the upstairs to sleep in the attic until the second floor was finished and the stairs built.”
Ansel and Olive’s daughter “Carrie” Caroline Fuller Coleman (1875-1937) was only two at the time of the fire. She married John A. Coleman and served as longtime village librarian for a quarter of a century, from 1908 to 1936. Her initial salary was 50 cents a week for opening the building for one afternoon and one evening a week, including lighting a fire.
Carrie and her brothers, Calvin and Austin Fuller, inherited the house and 142 acres of pasture, cranberry bogs and woodland, and carried on farming, especially producing milk. When Calvin married in 1892 the brothers added the south wing, and shared the house in family tradition. Calvin’s daughter Ada married Loring Jones Sr. and the couple ran the Marstons Mills Market for many years. Their son “Junior Jones” took over the grocery in 1943.
Austin had three children. The oldest, Lizzie (Elizabeth Fuller) married Lorenzo Gifford Jr., son of neighbor farmer and postmistress Nora Gifford. The middle child, Orrin, became an electrician in Hyannis, and the youngest, Alfred, took over the house and farm. His collection of farm machinery next to the house attracted many offers, which were always refused. Al and his wife Barbara were active in the Cotuit Grange, and ran the farm until his death in 2002.
In 1939 Alfred sold the waterfront area along Middle Pond on the Fuller farm property to Lillian and Mark Budd. They opened Camp Alpine summer camp for Jewish children in 1939, one of the first co-ed camps in New England. Musical performances of shows such as “Oklahoma” and “Oliver” were produced by talented drama counselors, and the children were accompanied by Lillian Budd, a former concert pianist.
Even the yard of the Fuller farm is full of history. The old dairy barn and its silo fell down a few years ago, but there’s a cluster of farm buildings nearby. A neighbor thought one might be the ancient Fish House which stood by the herring run on Route 28, but local historian Barbara Hill saw a similar building that was the Barnstable County Fair ticket booth being moved to the farm, so she thinks it was that building rather than the Fish House.
In 2012 Barnstable Land Trust raised funds to place the historic farm in conservation. The state and town each contributed half a million dollars, added to an equal amount from private individuals.
Jaci Barton, the founding director of the Trust, says that the handsome Mansard roofed Fuller homestead might make a fine headquarters for the organization. If the 125 year old frame, built by loving care of Marstons Mills villagers after the fire, is sound, Barnstable Land Trust will have its first permanent home on 23 acres of rolling meadows overlooking Middle Pond.
And we might even see sheep grazing as we drive by on Route 149.

Published in the Barnstable Enterprise 30 Nov. 2012