Brewster, Massachusetts, 1890

Brewster lies in the inner side of the bend in the elbow of Cape Cod, 89 miles southeast of Boston by the Old Colony Railroad. The railway stations are Brewster and East Brewster; the post-offices and villages, these, South Brewster and West Brewster, formerly known, also, as Setucket. Cape Cod Bay bounds it on the north, Orleans on the east, Harwich on the south, and Dennis on the west. The harbor, at the middle of the shore line of the town, is formed by a breakwater; and in it small vessels may lie secure at any season of the year.

The area of the town is 8,600 acres, ponds and highways in addition. The surface is uneven to a small degree; and there are about 1,323 acres of woodland, chiefly of well-grown oak and pine. The lowlands are beautified by the azalea, wild rose, lily and other flowers. About 300 acres are devoted to the growth of cranberries. Peat of a good quality is dug at many points in the lowlands, and is used for fuel. There is a line of eminences through the middle of the town nearly east and west. One at the northwest was a station in the Trigonometrical Survey of the State, and on its summit stands a packet-signal, visible at sea for a long distance. The view from here of the curving line of the shore, from Duxbury to Provincetown, is a rare and pleasing scene.

Many beautiful sheets of fresh water, as Cliff, Sheep, Bangs, Long and Mill ponds, diversify the scenery, and afford game for the sports man. From the pond last mentioned, which contains about 365 acres, a stream called "Herring River" runs northerly into Cape Cod Bay, and furnishes considerable motive power. Along the southern line of the town lies Long Pond, a splendid sheet covering 778 acres, which has, for outlet, another "Herring River," running southerly, and entering the sea below West Harwich, on the south side of the Cape.

This town has, in the north part, a very good soil. The farms are not numerous, the last census reporting but ten, of which seven contained less than 60, and only one over 90 acres. Their aggregate yield for market was $19,921; and to this the cranberry bogs contributed $15,070. There were 11 manufacturing establishments such as are usual in agricultural towns; the product of these being $7,137. One hundred and fourteen persons were reported as engaged in fishing; the catch being, in order of value, alewives, bluefish, herring, mackerel and others, to the amount of $15,411. The last valuation of the town (1888) was $478,874; and the tax-rate was $12 on $1,000. The population is 934, with 257 dwelling-houses.

There are primary, grammar and mixed schools, held in seven school-houses; which are valued at about $6,000. There is a Ladies' Association Library, owning a building valued at $3,000, and containing about 9,000 volumes. The Baptists, Universalists and Unitarians have churches here. The latter is the "First Parish" of the town, having been formed in 1700; when, also, Rev. Nathaniel Stone was ordained pastor.

The Indian name of the place was Sawkattuckett. It was set off from Harwich and incorporated in 1803, being named for the famous Elder William Brewster, of the Pilgrim Colony. Another portion of Harwich was annexed in 1811; but in 1848 a portion of Brewster was annexed to Harwich.

The town sent 72 men into the late war, of whom seven were lost.

pp. 197-198 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Barnstable county 1890, Gazetteer 1890