Yarmouth Massachusetts, 1890

Yarmouth forms a section of the southern part of Cape Cod, in Barnstable County, 75 miles southeast of Boston by the Old Colony Railroad, which passes through the midst of the town; its Hyannis Branch skirts the western border.

The township extends from Barnstable Bay (forming the northern portion of Cape Cod Bay) on the north to the ocean on the south. Dennis bounds it on northeast and east, and Barnstable on the west. A peninsula of peculiar form, called Point Gammon, projects far into the sea from the southern shore, marking very nearly the middle of the south side of Cape Cod, and enclosing Lewis Bay, which lies westward. This body of water and a mill stream at the north mark the western boundary of the town; while Chase-garden River flows between it and Dennis on the north, having, at its confluence with the bay, a small harbor called Bass Hole. A series of connected ponds called Bass River lie along nearly the entire eastern side, flowing southward, affording a very good harbor at its junction with the sea. Yarmouthport, at the northwest, also has a small harbor. The names of the principal ponds are Dennis in the northwest; Mill and Follins ponds and Kelly's Bay in the east; and Long, Swan, Flashes, Louis, Flax, Horn and Halfway ponds in the southern part. The surface of the land is diversified to a small extent by hill and valley, while the north shore along the bay is marshy. The highest point of land is German's Hill, 138 feet in height, near the centre of the town; its summit affording a fine view of the sea on either hand. The soil, though sandy, is very good; and where not cultivated is generally covered with a growth of oak and pine upon the upland, and of cedar in the swamps. On the borders of the ponds and streams are seen the azalea, or swamp honeysuckle, the wild rose, grape, and the elder with its panicle of white flowers in summer and its black berries in autumn.

Cranberries are cultivated to an unusual extent. This crop in 1885 reached 5,000 barrels, valued at $25,000. The entire crop of the 14 farms (only four of which exceeded 100 acres) was but $39,953. The manufactures are small, but numerous. There is now one establishment making salt; which, at the beautiful village of South Yarmouth, was formerly the leading industry, when many acres were covered with the works, and a small army of windmills fought the air with their arms, while they pumped the salt-water into the vats. Other manufactures are boots and shoes, carriage-wheels, clothing, furniture, leather, wrought stone, metallic goods; chemicals, food preparations, and small vessels. The value of this entire product was $64,038. The fisheries,consisting chiefly of eels, bluefish, herring and perch, yielded $7,048. The commercial marine consisted of two barques, three schooners and four ships; aggregating 9,613 tons. The First National bank of Yarmouth has a capital of $350,000. The population of the town in 1885 was 1,856; of which 540 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,363,874, with a tax-rate of $10 on $1,000. There were 549 taxed dwelling-houses.

There is a town library of nearly 4,000 volumes; and there are association libraries at South Yarmouth and West Yarmouth. The newspapers are the "Cape Cod Item," the "Yarmouth Register," and the 'Mayflower," -- all weeklies with a good circulation; that of the last being exceptionally large for a country publication. The school system consists of the grades of primary, intermediate and high. There are four school buildings, valued at $10,150. The churches are two Congregationalist, two Methodist, a Baptist, a. Universalist, a Friends, a Roman Catholic, and a church of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian). The post-offices are Yarmouth, South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth, East Yarmouth and Yarmouthport. The latter is one of the most beautiful villages of the county. The handsomely shaded main street, with its rows of modern and antique residences, solid and comfortable in aspect, has a very pleasing appearance.

This town, called by the Indians Mattacheese, was incorporated September 3, 1639, and named from a seaport at the mouth of the Yar, in Norfolk County, England. The early records of the town are lost. The Rev. John Millar was probably the first minister. There was once an Indian town and meeting-house near Swan's Pond and the Indian burial place is still visible. One of these Indians was the first man of the provincial army to enter the grand battery at Louisburg in 1745. "He crawled in at the embrasure," says Dr. Alden, "and opened the gate, which Vaughan immediately entered, the enemy having withdrawn from this battery; though, at the time, this circumstance was not known." Yarmouth has furnished many brave and accomplished seamen to the country, and has material for an interesting town-history. It furnished about 250 men for the service of the country during the late war.

Eminent men: Samuel West, D.D. (1730-1807), an able clergy-man and writer; George Thacher (1754-1824), a distinguished lawyer and judge, and an M.C. from 1789 to 1801; Timothy Alden, D.D. (1771-1839), author of "A Collection of Epitaphs," in five volumes, published in 1814; Oliver Alden Taylor (1801-1851), a clergyman and miscellaneous writer.

 pp. 722-724 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Barnstable county 1890, Gazetteer 1890