Harwich Massachusetts, 1890

Harwich, one of the most characteristic and pleasant of the Cape Cod towns, lies on its south side, about midway of Barnstable County, southeast from Boston, and about 85 miles distant by the Old Colony Railroad. This road has three stations in the town, North Harwich at the northwest, Harwich (centre) and Pleasant Lake, on the north side. The other villages are West Harwich, Harwich Port and South Harwich, on the south side, and East Harwich on Pleasant Bay, which has Orleans on its north side and Chatham on its south. The last-mentioned town is the boundary on the east, Brewster lies on the north, Dennis on the west; while the south side, scarcely deviating from the straight line of the 41º 40' parallel of latitude, is washed by the waters of the Atlantic. The assessed area of this town is 8,670 acres; of which 2,414 acres are occupied by a growth of oak and pine trees.

There are several fresh-water ponds, the largest being Long Pond on the Brewster line; and another is Pleasant Lake, giving a name to the railroad station near it. From the latter sheet of water issues Herring River, the most considerable stream of the town, flowing southward to the sea at West Harwich. From it many shad and alewives are annually taken. The town abounds in romantic dells and shady retreats, admirably adapted to the use of holiday parties and recreation. There are small elevations near the centre, one on the western side and one on the northeast.

The farms are 113 in number. Nearly 500 acres are devoted to cranberry culture; and this Crop, in 1885, was 12,180 barrels, worth $72,995. There is a fair number of fruit trees, which yield well. The soil is sandy, but with a little fertilizing produces good crops of rye, maize, and the common vegetables. The value of the aggregate crop in 1885 was $83,431. There are two shipyards, two or three cooperages, one or more stone quarries, two or three carriage factories, a tannery, a machine shop, a printing office, food establishments, and the usual small industries of a farming and sea-shore town. The aggregate product of manufactures in the last census year was $83,431. There are some 350 mariners and 50 or more fishermen having residence in the town. Five schooners, aggregating 1,519 tons, were engaged in transportation; and 9 schooners, 7 sloops, 15 sail-boats, 45 dories and 14 seine boats were engaged in the fisheries. The catch of mackerel in 1885 was valued at $41,727; of cod, $9,473. The whale product was $467; and clams, $235. These and other fish aggregated in the value of $55,691. Harwich has a national bank with a capital of $300,000; and a savings bank, having, at the close of last year, $418,478 in deposits.

The valuation of the town in 1888 was $1,001,535, with a tax-rate of $16 on $1,000. There are 785 dwelling-houses, 2,783 inhabitants, and 845 legal voters. The schools are graded, and occupy nine buildings valued at nearly $15,000. In the villages are ten libraries in a degree accessible to the public. The "Harwich Independent" is an old institution, but ever fresh in its weekly contents. The churches are Baptist, two Congregational, Methodist and Roman Catholic. The Baptist church (at West Harwich) is said to be the oldest on the Cape.

The Indian name of this place was Satucket, extending across the Cape. It was incorporated as the town of Harwich September 14, 1694, taking its name from a town in England. The territory of Brewster was set off from it in 1803; The first church was organized, with the Rev. Edward Pell for its minister, November 6, 1747. The records are well preserved and curious. The land here was bought of Matty Quason, or his heirs. The Satucket Indians, numbering as many as 500 in 1694, lived in the northwest part of the town; and traces of them still remain.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 360-361

Barnstable county 1890, Gazetteer 1890