Mashpee Massachusetts, 1890

Mashpee is an Indian town having 66 dwelling-houses, 71 legal voters and 311 inhabitants, situated in the southwestern section of Barnstable County, 64 miles from Boston. Its nearest railroad station is East Sandwich, on the Old Colony Railroad. Sandwich lies on the northwest and north, Barnstable on the east, Vineyard Sound on the south, with Falmouth bounding the larger portion of the western side.

The township is some ten miles north and south. The assessed area is 13,186 acres, of which some 325 acres are dense woodland. Some other portions are partly covered with scrub oak or small pines. The elevations of note are two small hills in the western part and Succonesset Headland at the south. The land is mostly level, the rock is chiefly sandstone, and the soil light and sandy, Marshpee and Wakeby ponds, in the north part, respectively 395 and 375 acres, are the source of Mashpee River, flowing into Popponesset Bay; the latter also receiving the Cotuit River, from Suntuit Pond in the eastern part; the bay and the latter river forming a large part of the eastern line of the town. The ponds are dotted with small wooded islands, and very beautiful; and there is an excellent beach. Waquoit Bay, receiving Quastunet River from the interior of the town, lies between it and Falmouth.

The number of farms is 12; and the aggregate product in 1885 was $18,250. Cranberries are the chief crop, the value of which in the same year was $14,375. Four persons are reported as fisher-men and five as whalemen. The entire product of the fisheries, consisting chiefly of oysters and herring, was $1,027. Included in the farm aggregate are the results of the fowling about the ponds and bays, and the deer hunting at the north and in the borders of Sandwich. Baskets and other wooden goods amounted to $250. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $158,190; when the tax-rate was $10.90 on $1,000. The post-office is Mashpee; and the other villages are Aquashenet and Chimquist. There are two school-houses, accomodating the primary and grammar schools, and valued at some $1,100. There is a Baptist church, organized in 1838. Temple Hall is a pretty building erected by the Good Templars of the town, and contains a library and reading-room.

The place was incorporated as the plantation of Marshpee, June 14, 1763 : as the district of Marshpee, March 31, 1864; and as the town of Mashpee, May 28, 1870. Mr. Richard Bourne obtained a deed of the place from Quachitisset and other Indians for the benefit of the tribe now occupying it, who were then called by the white people the "South-sea Indians." The instrument was drawn "so that no part or parcel of them [the lands] could be bought by or sold to any white person or persons without the consent of all the said Indians; not even with the consent of the General Court;" and the deed, with this condition, was ratified by the Plymouth Court. Mr. Bourne, after having obtained the above deed, pursued his evangelical work, and was ordained pastor of an Indian church in the place in 1670, formed of his own converts. He died about 1685, and was succeeded by Simon Popmonet, an Indian preacher, who lived in this character about 40 years, and was then succeeded by Mr. Joseph Bourne, grandson of Richard, who was ordained over them in 1729. He resigned his mission in 1742, and was succeeded by Solomon Bryant, the second Indian pastor. The society appears to have lost its organization many years ago. This is the largest remnant of the tribes of red men in New England west of the Penobscot River. Few are now of pure Indian extraction and about twenty-five of the inhabitants are white.

Mashpee sent nine men to the Union army in the late war; and lost two of them.


pp. 446-447 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Barnstable county 1890, Gazetteer 1890