Barnstable Massachusetts, 1890

BARNSTABLE extends across the western portion of Cape Cod from shore to shore. It has Yarmouth on the east and Mashpee and Sandwich on the west, and contains about a dozen villages. It is 73 miles from Boston on the Old Colony Railroad, which has stations at West Barnstable, Barnstable and Hyannis. These are also post-offices, together with Hyannisport, Centreville, Marston's Mills, Cotuit, Osterville, Craigville and Wianno; other villages are East Barnstable, Newtown and Old Cotuit. The harbors are Barnstable, Hyannis Harbor, New Harbor and Cotuit Harbor.

A narrow peninsula called Sandy Neck extends from the northwest corner of the town several miles easterly, forming Barnstable Harbor, which admits vessels drawing seven or eight feet of water. Bordering on this harbor are great salt marshes, from which many tons of hay are annually cut. Hyannis Harbor; on the southern side of the cape, is protected by a breakwater, and admits the largest coasting vessels. Cotuit Harbor is formed by Oyster Island and a peninsula projecting from the southwest corner of the town.

Hyannis Hill, though but 81 feet high, is a marked feature for a long distance. A range of low hills, or knolls, somewhat rocky, extends from Sandwich, parallel with or near the coast, as far as Yarmouth, affording beautiful views from sea to sea. South of this line of hills the land is level, and covered to a great extent with a growth of oak and yellow pine. The scenery is, however, varied with a large number of fresh-water ponds, of which Great Pond, near the centre of the town, and containing 750 acres, is the most noted. Further west are a group of ponds whose outlets, uniting, flow southward and furnish a considerable power at Marston's Mills. In one of these ponds the pink water-lily is found. The area of the town is upwards of 27,650 acres; and of this there are 4,233 acres of woodland. This town and Falmouth have, probably, a better soil than any others on the Cape. The number of farms is 217; and their aggregate product, in 1885, was $177,262. To this the dairies contributed $36,312; fruits and cranberries, $52,075; vegetables, $11,797. There were 2,899 neat cattle (of all ages), and 5,012 fruit trees. Neither is the manufacturing product a small item; for the last census gives 63 establishments, and an aggregate product of $103,305. The manufactures consisted of brick, drain pipe, building materials, carriages wagons, clothing, fertilizers, food preparations, leather, wooden and others. The town has also a large income from its fisheries; in which numerous vessels and a large number of its citizens are engaged. The product from food fish, in 1885, reached the value of $27,893; from shell-fish, $9,246; which, with the various fish products, gives an aggregate of $38,289. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $2,927,345; with the low tax-rate of $9 on $1,000.

[Cotocheeset House, Osterville.]

Barnstable is the shire town of the county of Barnstable, and has a handsome court-house and jail at the village, together with a town-hall. The schools are graded, and occupy 26 buildings; which with other school property are valued at upwards of $30,000. The inhabitants are well supplied with libraries, having fifteen of these, containing nearly 20,000 volumes. The town public library has about 10,000 books; another public library about 1,200; and the Sunday schools add largely to the literary supply. The churches number thirteen. The Congregational church at West Barnstable was organized by the colonists while in England; re-established in Scituate in 1634; at Barnstable village, in 1639; and in West Barnstable in 1716. The Congregational church at Centreville was organized in 1840; that at Hyannis in 1854. The Baptist was organized in Hyannis in 1771, in Osterville in 1835, and in Barnstable village in 1842. The Unitarian society at Hyannis was originally gathered in 1639 in England, by Rev. John Lothrop. The Universalist society at Hyannis was organized in 1880. The Methodists also have churches at Barnstable village, Centreville, Marston's Mills and Osterville. The Roman Catholics have a church at Hyannis.

The "Barnstable County Journal" is a well-established and valuable publication; and another weekly, "The Cape Cod Bee," is a characteristic and flourishing sheet.

[Osterville Library]

The Indian names of Barnstable (which anciently embraced Sandwich) are Chequocket, Coatuit, Mattacheese and Cummaquid. The Pilgrims landed here November 11, 1620, and had an interview with the Indians. The first white settlers were the Rev. John Lothrop and a part of his church, who came here from Scituate, October 11, 1639. They worshipped at a great rock about two miles west of Barnstable courthouse. (See J. G. Palfrey's "Address at the Second Centennial Anniversary of the Settlement of Cape Cod," September 3, 1839). It is said that this West Barnstable church, organized in England in 1616, is the "first independent Congregational church of that name in the world." The southern part of the territory of the town was purchased from the sachem Iyanough, or Wianno, in 1650, the year of the incorporation. In 1652 the bounds between this town and Sandwich were established; and in 1658 an agreement was made with Yarmouth in regard to bounds. In 1662, new lands were granted to Barnstable, and the line with Sandwich revised.

Hyannis, a variation of the name of the sachem just mentioned, has become a fashionable summering place for the dwellers in great cities; and houses, fine or fantastic, are numerous and striking. Osterville, also, is undergoing a similar rehabitation; and its natural pleasantness is constantly being increased. In May, 1885, the town had 80 residents who had passed the 80th year of their age.

Barnstable sent 233 men into the late war, and lost 32 of them. A monument has been erected in Centreville to their memory. Barnstable has produced many eminent men, some of whose names follow:

John Walley (1644-1712), judge of the Supreme Court; Col. James Otis, a statesman; James Otis (1725-1783), a distinguished orator and patriot; Mrs. Mercy (Otis) Warren (1728-1814), a sister of the last, and an esteemed author; Samuel Alleyne Otis (1740-1814), a member of Congress; James Thacher, M.D. (1754-1844), author of a noted military journal; Daniel Davis (1762-1835), an able lawyer; John Allyn, D.D. (1762-1833), an eloquent divine; John Percival (1779-1862), a captain in the United States navy, and called by the sailors "Mad Jack;" Samuel Shaw, LL.D. (1781-1861), an eminent jurist and writer; Benj. F. Hallett (1797-1862), a distinguished politician; Otho M. Coleman (1817), the inventor of the æolian attachment of the piano; Timothy Alden (1819-1858), inventor of a type-setting machine.

pp. 131-134 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Barnstable county 1890, Gazetteer 1890