Two centuries ago travelers on the sandy highway along the South Sea, as we call the Nantucket Sound, between Falmouth and Hyannis, and beyond, might stop for a meal or for the night at Marstons Mills’s Goodspeed Inn.


Still standing proudly on South County Road in the south end of Marstons Mills just over the line in Osterville is this classically composed building in the Federal style, popular after the American Revolution.


This two story inn has a welcoming entrance in the center of the clapboard front, with a fanlight over the six-panelled door. On either side are pairs of windows with black shutters. Inside there are Tuscan columns and Greek fretwork that decorated the homes in the British style called Adamesque, named for the architects that revived the classical décor.


Here important politicians, travelling ministers, and itinerant salesmen might stay. From the back rooms one looked west across the Marstons Mills estuary, which was bordered by wide marshes of salt hay, the most valuable crop of colonial times, which fed the cattle for export abroad. The river widens into Great Bay, which we call North Bay, next to the fertile Oyster River and Great Oyster Island, rich source of shellfish. To the left was the shipyard of Oliver Hinckley, who probably built the innkeeper’s eight schooners and two sloops.


This imposing house was the third built on this site, about 1792, when Allen Goodspeed married Ruth Hamblin of the Plains. Allen was great-great grandson of the village founder, Roger Goodspeed, the first white farmer to settle in Marstons Mills in 1653. The land had been in the family for at least four generations. Allen was principally a yeoman farmer, who pastured his cattle as far away as Dead Neck, but owned a fleet of schooners and oystering sloops.


When Allan died in 1839, his only son Allen Jr. had died, and he left his estate to his grandchild, five years old, named Henry Goodspeed. Henry’s grandmother was to live on for 25 years, while Henry learned to manage the large estate.


After the disastrous Union defeat at the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861, Henry was the first Barnstable man to volunteer for three years of service. Gustavus Hinckley’s Records of the Rebellion, the definitive town record of Civil War vets from Barnstable tells his story.


When Henry was 26 he joined the 40th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry, one of the most battered units in the Union Army. When the 40th assembled in August 1862, he joined Company E as a corporal. The regiment was sent to defend Washington DC., and pursue General Lee after his defeat at Gettysburg in 1863. Making long forced marches, Corporal Goodspeed collapsed in a hard march in the rain at Frederick MD. He was was hospitalized in Washington DC in Harewood and Mt. Pleasant hospitals both of which were visited by President Lincoln and Walt Whitman. The poet wrote his poem “Drum Taps”:
Aroused and angry,
I thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war;
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d, and I resign’d myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead.


After ten months in the hospital, Henry spent the rest of the war in the reserves, discharged as a sergeant. He returned to his farm in poor health, but was elected to serve as state Representative on Beacon Hill in 1870-1. He sold the farm and house in 1872 and moved to Waseca, Minnesota where his sons had moved, and died of TB in 1876, at only 42.


In 1872, the 100 acre Goodspeed farm with buildings was bought for a goodly price of $2200 by a Boston developer of Wianno, who sold it soon to the Osterville developer, storekeeper and postmaster Erastus Scudder, who advertised “a new summer resort”, called Cotocheset Farm. The resort was never built, but Harwich farmer Charles Adams was hired to keep the farm.


In 1883 Scudder sold the property for $1800 to 25 year-old Osterville seaman Alex(ander) Till, the son of the neighbor blacksmith Simeon Leonard’s third wife. Till apparently ran a dairy farm until he leased it in 1897 to a Wianno summer resident Mark Hollingsworth of New York. In 1900 Till advertised his modern “Wayside Farm” next to the Sepuit golf links for sale, but lost it in 1902 to the golf course owner Kellen in a foreclosure.


Until 1928 it was “Adies Farm” owned by the Scottish woolen magnate Andrew Adie who was president of the Barnstable County Agricultural Society which ran the annual fair, where he won many prizes for his horses. His summer home was in Wianno.


About 1930 the developer John Lebel Sr. bought it in a tax taking and briefly raised his family there. In 1936 Edward K. Davis of Aluminium Company of Canada added it to the former Seapuit golf course and other neighboring fields that he owned. Davis’s farmer Vernon Childs ran a small dairy of eight Jersey cows and a breeding bull. Davis also bred Arabian, Morgan and Percheron horses.


For half a century until 1984 the ancient Goodspeed house was the Davis farmhouse, where Davis’s bookkeeper John Gaston lived. The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra had its office in one of the outbuildings.


Today the original site is marked by Farm Valley Road in Marstons Mills. In 1984 Robert Hayden Jr. of Cotuit moved the house about 300 yards south, into Osterville. The old barn was moved two miles north to the junction of Route 28 and Main St. in Marstons Mills by Kevin Barry who hoped to convert it to a home. However, Hurricane Bob of 1991 blew down the fragile frame, and the timbers were abandoned.


Published in Barnstable Enterprise 12 Nov. 2010


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