Archive for October, 2014

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.