LONG POND IN WINTER

LONG POND IN WINTER

 

Long Pond is one of about a dozen ponds in Marstons Mills that freeze over in winter, creating a frozen playground.

 

The area around the pond is a great place for a winter walk. Of all the area ponds, it has the most scenic conservation area open to the public, 37 acres of a great variety of habitats, which we can enjoy along two miles of lovely trails. Lots of pines and hollies. Don’t miss the rare oriental Stewartia or Silky Camelia, but please don’t add your initials.

 

Long Pond is nearly a mile long, the farthest west of all of the town’s ponds, tucked into the remote corner where Mashpee and Sandwich meet.

 

Much of the surrounding soils are deep fertile loam, where Indians grew their corn, squash and beans.

 

Early settlers followed as farmers, turning their pigs into the neighboring forests to forage for acorns and beech nuts, and hunting for wild game.

 

At least ten generations of these families have lived here: the descendants of first settlers, the dissident Quaker Ralph Jones, the pious Deacon William Crocker, the industrious Goodman James Hamblin, and Benjamin Nye of East Sandwich.

 

After the American Revolution the area was farmed by yeomen of the old families. In about 1840 Ichabod Backus gave up the family farm on the northwest of the pond, moved to Nantucket and sold it to Stephen Crocker who owned 85 acres for half a century.

 

Benjamin Jones, who lived from 1785 to 1872, had 200 acres at the northeast end of the pond. His old farmhouse still stands at 347 Newtown Road.

 

His eldest son Benjamin Junior went to sea like many of the young men of the area, and became a successful captain, owning shares of 14 vessels.

 

The farm was inherited by his unmarried sister Hannah Jones and her illegitimate daughter Rose, who married her cousin Edmund Hamblin. Rose was a large woman, and on her death in 1904, Edmund could not get her body down the stairs. So, the story goes, he lowered her out the upstairs window. A passerby shouted, “Ned, You can’t do that!” He replied, “I can’t? She’s dead, ain’t she?”

 

Rose and Edmund had three children, including one 16-year-old boy who died while cutting wood on Wakeby Road, where the front of the wagon he was driving detached and hurled him onto a stump, breaking his neck.

 

The farm of Luther Hamblin comprised 25 acres on the southeast side of the pond, where he built in 1835 the Cape Cod house that still stands on Newtown Road.

 

His first son Ezekiel died at sea at age 16, while another son named Ezekiel lived to the ripe old age of 87. He ran a dairy farm and planted one of the first cranberry bogs in Newtown. Another son of Luther was mate of an Osterville schooner, and son Stephen was the skilful engineer of A.D. Makepeace’s most profitable bogs.

 

It was farmer Ezekiel and his wife Helen Lewis who raised the remarkable sons, Charles and Stephen Hamblin. Stephen, as professor of horticulture at Harvard. planted a nationally famous rock garden on the east edge of the pond. Charles, the builder of dozens of Craftsman bungalows from the 1920s to the 1940s, ran for state representative on the Socialist ticket with Norman Thomas, and, in 1943 began the Sandy Terrace nudist colony on the beach at the south end of the pond.

 

At the end of the nineteenth century the north end of the pond attracted wealthy gentlemen farmers. The Stephen Crocker farm was bought in 1891 by Civil War Captain Warren W. Manning of Boston who built elaborate horse stalls, including a birthing stall.

 

In 1913 the Jones/Hamblin farm was bought by the Ohio railway wheel manufacturer Franklin Whitcomb who summered in Cotuit. Here he assembled one of the largest farms on Cape Cod, raising dairy cattle.

 

Portuguese immigrants from the mid-Atlantic isle of St, Michaels in the Azores settled on the west side of the pond after 1900. The skilled woodworking Rogers family took over the old Stephen Crocker/Manning farm in 1906, and their daughters married Hamblins across the pond. Someone asked Charles L. Hamblin why he built his first house when he had no wife. He replied: “If you’ve got the cage, you can get the bird.” In 1916 he married Mary Carm Rogers, and his brother married her sister. The Azorean farmer Manuel Medeiros built a house nearby in 1911.

 

Charles E. Hamblin, 89, a nephew of Stephen and Charles L. Hamblin was raised on Long Pond. He remembers in the early thirties a Model A Ford driving nearly a mile to the south end, creating little waves on the ice.

 

His son, Stephen D. Hamblin, who was also raised on Long Pond, drove a 1965 Jeep out onto the ice of Long Pond. One time he set up his stove on the ice, put on the coffee pot, cut a hole in the ice and caught fish: perch and pickerel.

 

Charles recalled that when the ice got eight inches thick, they would use a long ice saw to cut blocks which they would store in the Hamblin ice house on East Cove. It furnished ice for three families for the whole summer.

 

Ice on the pond can get 15 inches thick, but by spring gets honeycombed. Back in about 1935, Caton Soares, who died in 1997 at the age of 86, built an ice boat on runners, driven by a propeller at the rear. The story goes that someone’s hat blew off, caught in the propeller which chewed it all up.

 

The area around Long Pond remained rural until 1965 when the Whitcomb farm was broken up. Its west part and the Stephen Crocker farm were developed as Long Pond Estates.

 

The town bought the 37.5 acres for the Long Pond Conservation area in 1985 for $950,000, a bargain considering the access for nature walks, community gardening, and fun on the ice.

 

Barnstable Enterprise 31 Dec. 2010

 

 

 

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