Formation and Description. -Pioneers. -Early Town Action. -The Revolution. -War of 1812. -The Fisheries. -Population.
-King's Highway. -The Eastham Line. - Town House. -Shipbuilding. -Town Records. -Life Saving Station and Lighthouse.
-Early Business Interests. -Wind Mills. -Civil History. -Schools. -Churches -Cemeteries. -Wellfleet Village. -South
Wellfleet. -Biographical Sketches.
* The manuscript to page 812 was revised by Simeon Atwood.-Ed.
.......THE territory comprising
this town was formerly included in Eastham, and until the period of its separation their political history is inseparably
interwoven; but so far as possible the historical facts pertaining to the territory of the present town, from its
first settlement, will find a place in this chapter. Prior to 1644 the territory of Wellfleet had been purchased
of George, sachem, successor to Aspinet, and was known as Pononakanet. Here, when the purchase of lands
to and including Herring brook, with its meadows, had been made, the committee of whites asked the Indians whose
lands were those down the Cape, to which the answer was, "Nobody's." "Then they are ours,"
was the reply, and Wellfleet was the last territory paid for at this end of the county.
.......Billingsgate was an
early name given to the present territory of Wellfleet, which unexplained cognomen still clings to some of its
surroundings. At Billingsgate point, where the first lighthouse was subsequently erected, Captain Standish and
the men from the Mayflower landed on their way to the main land, and in many ways this territory has been made
historic in the annals of the county.
.......The rapid settlement
of this part of the ancient town induced its inhabitants to apply to the court in 1722 to be erected into a separate
church parish, which was granted the following year. The importance of this parish, and the distance from
the center where the town meetings were held, induced the inhabitants of the new parish to attempt the formation
of a separate town. At the first meeting held for this purpose, March 9, 1761, they appointed Captain Elisha Doane
agent "to get this precinct set off as a district." He, with Daniel Cole, Richard Atwood, Joseph Atkins,
James Atwood, Jonathan Hiller, Eleazer Atwood, Zoeth Smith, Jeremiah Mayo and Samuel Smith, [p. 788] sent a petition
to the proper officers of Eastham, who, after properly obtaining the wishes of the people, consented that "the
precinct be set off as a district as far as Blackfish creek." This condition not being satisfactory
to the petitioners, on the first of November, 1762, another meeting was held in this precinct, at which another
committee of seven men-in part the same as at first-was appointed to assist Captain Doane, the agent, in
petitioning the general court for an act of incorporation. Order of notice was served on the town of Eastham, and
the matter was brought before the May session of the court, which resulted in an act, passed May 25,1763, which
formed the north precinct of Eastham, according to its known bounds, into a district, with all the privileges,
powers and immunities of a town, except that its people must join for a time with Eastham in the election
of a representative. The same act of incorporation designated August 4, 1763, for the election of its first officers.
The warrant for the calling of this meeting was issued by John Freeman, of the old town, to Elisha Doane,
of the new. Among other transactions of the meeting, Major Doane, Ephriam Covel and Samuel Smith, jr., were appointed
a committee to settle all affairs between the two towns. Wellfleet was joined with Eastham in the election of a
representative the few years that elapsed before the legal removal of this restriction. The dividing line of the
former parish bounds, as enacted in the incorporation, is substantially the same now between the towns.
.......The north line, separating
the new town from Truro, was "From a heap of stones on Bound brook island, which heap is called the westernmost
bound; and from thence easterly by old marked trees, and some newly marked, in the old range, to the sea on the
back side," which also remains, relatively, the same bounds.
.......Having the town of Wellfleet
encompassed within its present limits, it may receive a more minute description. It is about eight miles in length
from north and south, with an average of three in width, bounded south by Eastham and Wellfleet bay, east by the
Atlantic ocean, north by Truro and west by Cape Cod bay; and it is ninety-five miles from Boston by land, sixty-five
by water, with a distance of thirty-one miles from the court house of the county. The ocean coast is a high bluff,
presenting no indentations for harbors; but there are three on the bay side, each presenting facilities for the
commerce of the town. River harbor is in the north part of Wellfleet bay, Duck Creek harbor opens into the last
named bay near the center of the town, and Blackfish creek, also a harbor is in the south part-all connected with
the bay, which itself furnishes a secure anchorage for vessels of larger tonnage. The creeks are small, the largest
being Herring brook in the north part. This, with another creek, forms two islands-Bound Brook island in the northwestern
part, surrounded [p. 789] by the creek bearing its name, and Griffin's, surrounded by Herring brook. Two other
islands of importance are Lieutenants, at the mouth of Blackfish creek, and Great island between Cape Cod and Wellfleet
bays. Of the nine ponds within the limits of the town, six aggregate 225 acres: Herring pond, of 19; Higgins, of
25; Gull, 95; Long, 34; Great, 42; and Hopkins, 10 acres-all in the northeastern part of the town. The two first
named only have outlets. The surface of the town is not only indented by ponds, but from Eastham a range of broken
hills extends through into Truro, which show a Titanic war of the elements in ages past. The soil, once more fertile
than now, is light and sandy and still susceptible of profitable cultivation. The oak and pine, which, generations
ago, were of heavy growth, have been cut off, leaving the soil to the ravages of wind and water. The eastern portion
of the town is now fringed with a small growth of pines and a few oaks. Large bodies of salt marsh are found along
the western side of the town, around the harbors and coves. The town has two villages, which with their wharves
and business places, will form a considerable portion of its later history.
.......As has been stated,
Wellfleet in 1763, commenced its career as a corporate body, but to give the names of all the original settlers
of its territory, is an impossibility, for the proprietors' records of old Eastham made no distinctive separations
that are now recognizable in the divisions of lands, nor in their civil affairs. Among those here when the town
was incorporated we find Sylvanus Snow, who was living in the south part and continued to pay rates in Eastham;
we also find here: John Witherel, William Dyer, George Ward, Moses Hatch, Thomas Newcomb, George Crisp, John Rich,
John Yates and John Doane. Prior to 1800 we find here: Ebenezer Freeman, Joseph Ward, Jonathan Young, Thomas Doane,
Moses Wiley, Thomas Gross, John Atwood, John Treat, Elisha Eldridge, Samuel Brown, Benjamin Hamblen, James Cahoon,
Benjamin Young, Daniel Mayo, Eleazer Hamblen, David Cole, Captain Winslow Lewis, Thomas Holbrook, Elisha Cobb,
Timothy Nye, Dr. Samuel Nutting, Samuel Waterman, Jonathan Higgins, Major Elisha Doane, Samuel Smith, Jeremiah
Mayo, Zoeth Smith, Jonathan Hiller, Eleazer Atwood, Joseph Atkins, Richard Atwood, Daniel Cole, Hezekiah Doane,
Elisha Holbrook, Reuben Rich, Ephraim Covel, Eben Atwood, John Swett, James Atwood, Thomas Young, Joseph
Pierce, Joseph Higgins, Naaman Holbrook, William Chipman, Ezekiel Holbrook, William Knowles, Thomas Paine, Barnabas
Freeman, Reuben Arey, Lemuel Newcomb, Jeremiah Bickford and others. Many of these last mentioned pioneers had,
prior to the erection of the town, placed primitive headstones to the graves of their fathers, as the oldest two
burial places of the town will attest.
.......At the first meeting
the people voted to lay out another road through the town, and for the building of the bridge over Duck creek.
Samuel Smith and Major Elisha Doane gave one-half the timber from wood on their lots, Rev. Mr. Lewis giving the
other half. This road, now the main street of the village, began at the King's highway, a little to the eastward
of the northeast arm of Duck creek; and in 1764 was extended northward of the old meeting house hill to Samuel
Hatch's dwelling, and to high-water mark at a landing place. In 1765 an article was added to the town meeting warrant,
asking for the suppression of the sale of strong drink; but the proposition was negatived, as the existing
laws were considered sufficient. In 1770 rigid penalties were enforced to suppress the sale, especially when the
Indians were the purchasers. The fishing privileges received attention, and petitions were sent to court,
asking for the protection of oysters during the summer months. The alewives of Herring brook were protected by
the action of the people, and their votes were approved by the court of sessions.
.......The stirring times of
the revolution effected the young town, perhaps, more than sister towns, for the fisheries had become more
important; but it is recorded that these patriotic citizens sustained the action of the continental congress,
and resolved not to purchase or use imported articles. John Greenough, the schoolmaster of the town, had procured
two damaged chests of tea at Provincetown, one of which he claimed was for Colonel Willard Knowles, of Eastham,
and, notwithstanding the schoolmaster's avowals of unintentional wrong, he was compelled to make a written
confession of his error, and for several years was under censure for political malfeasance. The town in 1776
was blockaded, its fisheries crippled by the British privateers, its vessels idle, the town destitute of bread
and other necessaries; still, when Rev. Isaiah Lewis read to his congregation, on the 25th of August, at
the close of his sermon, the declaration of independence, there was not one dissenting opinion expressed. In 1783,
after the treaty of peace, the Wellfleet people engaged again in their chosen avocations on the waters, and
became prosperous and wealthy.
.......The affairs of the town
were promptly administered during the few subsequent years; a new bridge was built over Duck creek, the bounds
were more definitely defined between this town and Truro, and school and church received substantial support. During
the war of 1812 the town joined with others of the lower part of the Cape in asking to be excused from military
duty, except at home in evading the attacks of cruisers. Improvement in town affairs attested the energy
of the people as soon as this war cloud was dispelled. The old roads, eighteen in number, were properly surveyed,
and their bounds placed on record; in 1828 a bridge was built across Blackfish creek; [p. 791] in 1831 permission
was given to B. Y. Atwood to build a wharf at Black rock, and to Isaiah R. Baker to build a bridge from Griffins
island to the main land. At this time, total abstinence from intoxicating drinks was the desire of the town,
and the wholesome rule was observed by closing every place for their sale.
.......The main industry of
the town from the earliest period had been fishing in its various branches. Whaling was largely carried on until
its decline. In 1802 the town had only five vessels in the whaling business, which carried salt, so that if they
failed in loading with whale, they could turn to cod fishing. These vessels were as large as one hundred tons,
and many smaller ones engaged in mackerel and other fisheries. Mackerel fishing has been an important industry-
the town for years past being the leading town in the business, which has declined to one-tenth its former magnitude
in the catch and in the number of vessels engaged. The Wellfleet oyster was important in the market during the
latter part of last century, when they were native to the bay; but soon after the revolutionary war a rapid decline
in the quantity commenced, and after a term of years the industry ceased. The only approximation to the Wellfleet
oyster for many years past, is obtained by planting from other localities the seed, which is permitted to grow
and fatten for market. Thirty years ago forty vessels were engaged in supplying the Boston market with this bivalve
from Wellfleet. In the year 1889 the cultivated oyster grounds covered about thirty acres,-the seed planted being
forty-five thousand bushels.
.......The blackfish-a species
of whale-often visits Wellfleet bay, Rev. Levi Whitman has left the record that in 1793 he saw four hundred
of these fish lying upon the shore of the bay at one time, and the full-grown ones would weigh five tons. A barrel
of oil could be averaged from every fish. We have no further record of these schools of fish until within the memory
of the present residents; but they often appear in large numbers, the last being in 1885. That year a school of
1,500-old and young-entered Wellfleet bay and were driven into Blackfish creek, where they were killed. Hundreds
of men in boats surrounded the school, and frightened them into the narrow and shallow waters of the creek, where
they were left on the beach by the receding tide. They were sold for fourteen thousand dollars and the money was
divided among those who assisted in the capture and killing.
.......The fishing business
in its every branch that was so remunerative years ago, has steadily declined to its minimum during the very few
last years, and from the former one hundred vessels owned here only about twenty, chiefly of the smaller class;
at present belong to the town.
.......In population the town
from 1730 to the last census shows an increase prior to 1850 and then a gradual decline. In 1730 its population
was 600; in 1764, 928; in 1775, 1,235; in 1800 it had decreased 28; increased to 1,386 in the census of 1806; was
1,402 in 1810; 1,472 in 1820; 2,046 in 1830; 2,377 in 1840; 2,411 in 1850; 2,322 in 1860; 2,135 in 1870; 1,875
in 1,880; and 1,687 in 1885. This decline is accounted for in more than one way, but the Rev. Mr. Whitman's statement
of 1793 is applicable in showing the trend of prosperity. He then wrote: "There have been within the memory
of those now living, born in this town, small as it is, 32 pairs of twins and 2 triplets." Up to that time
the proportion of births to deaths had been three to one, while the present records show almost the reverse. The
summary of 1888 gives thirty-six deaths for the year, and only fifteen births.
.......The King's highway was
the appellation given by the old citizens to the principal road through the town, and it is so designated by the
present residents. It runs northerly into Truro, but is not as much used at the present day as the county road,
laid out to Truro from the village of Wellfleet. The old road was used as the stage route from Eastham to Provincetown,
and was the continuation of the county road of two centuries ago, as laid along the Cape in the early settlement
of the town.
.......The perambulation of
the lines of the town is the work of the selectmen every few years. The only serious difference in these lines
that appears on the records of the town was in the line between this and Eastham in 1885. In going over the line
that year it was found that the boundary assumed by the Eastham authorities was over five hundred feet to the north-they
taking Indian creek mouth instead of the monumental stone of 1828, and from which point the line extending
westward would include the Billingsgate lighthouse within Eastham. The controversy arose from placing a fish weir
within the disputed territory. Proper surveys were made and the boundary was established from the monument, which
not only left a strip of the beach five hundred feet wide to this town, but also placed the light clearly within
the limits of Wellfleet. The old line was established by act of the legislature and approved by the governor in
May, 1887. Billingsgate lighthouse was on an island to the southward, where it was undermined by the waves in 1856,
and was re-erected in 1857 on its present site.
.......The first and only town
house was a plain building forty by fifty feet, erected soon after 1830 on the site of the present school house
at the head of Duck creek. It was sold in 1869 to James Swett and by him to Simeon Atwood, who removed it to Mayo's
beach, where it did service as a fish storage house, and may still be seen as an adjunct of the group of buildings
now belonging to the Commercial Wharf [p. 793] Company. Near where the town house was erected, a poor house was
built about the same time. This has since been modernized and a woman is given the use of it as a dwelling for
her care of the premises, the town having no other use for it at present.
.......The building of vessels
has not been a permanent industry at any time in the history of the town, but in the revival of the fishing interest
about forty years ago a few were built by a master builder named Rogers. They were built at the Duck Creek harbor,
on the north side, and were named: Simeon Baker, built in 1848; Benjamin Baker and Jesse Y. Baker, in 1849; George
Shattuck, in 1850; Isaiah H. Horton and Richard R. Freeman, in 1851; Varnum H. Hill, in 1852; and the John S. Higgins,
in 1853. These were vessels of from sixty to one hundred tons burden, the material for their construction being
imported. In 1863 a schooner was beached on Great island, and from the wreck Giles Hopkins built the Louie
A. Swett. The Clara D. Swett was subsequently built by Theodore Brown and Nathaniel Snow.
.......The town has ever been
careful of its records, which are models of neatness and are kept safe from fire. In 1860 the vote was made to
copy in proper books the old records of births, deaths and marriages; in 1869 voted to take a large amount
in railroad stocks; in 1856 to build a new foot bridge across Duck creek; and every year were votes to gravel and
grade the roads. Another proof of the desire to build up the town was in the vote of 1887 to give four hundred
dollars annually for five years to a shoe manufactory, besides exemption from taxation. One was started in
a building erected by enterprising citizens, near the present depot, and was continued a few months. Cummings &
Howes, of Orleans, carried on the manufacture of clothing there six months, when a Boston firm in the fall of 1889
commenced a pants manufactory.
.......The description given
of the east coast of the town would imply that it is a dread to navigators. About midway of the stretch of
coast is a government life saving station effectually equipped and manned-the Cahoon Hollow station, under the
care of Captain Daniel Cole. The government also, about 1839, erected a lighthouse at the head of Wellfleet bay,
known as Mayo's Beach light. A few years ago the present separate tower was erected a few rods northward of the
first, which was a portion of the residence. William N. Atwood, a maimed soldier, was the keeper for a number
of years prior to his death, and his widow still holds the position.
.......The present wharf business
will appear in the village history, but the apparent security of the harbor at the mouth of Herring river led to
the early establishment of the fishing business there, which was long ago discontinued. Prior to 1840 the River
Wharf Company erected a wharf, packing houses and a fitting-out store, which in 1845 [p 794] was purchased by George
Baker, Thomas Hopkins, David Baker, Nehemiah Baker, Naphtali Rich, Elisha P. Atwood, N. Rich, jr., James Moore,
Hawes Atwood and Solomon Harding, as a company, who continued over ten years in the business. The partners commenced
selling their shares, and after a few years the business was discontinued. A store, on Bound Brook island, established
in 1835 by Joel Atwood, was subsequently purchased by the River Wharf Company, when they engaged in business and
was kept by them several years as a branch store. These, with a store established last century, constitute the
old stores of the west part of the town before the present village of Wellfleet had assumed to be its principal
business center. The store referred to was started by Mary Mayo, in the present residence of Laura A. Taylor,
some time in the last half of the last century. The house was built in 1766, was enlarged in 1800 while the lady
was in trade, and she continued until her death, about 1839. This house, erected by the Mayo's, is a model of the
honesty and industry of the ancestors of the present generation, for the bricks of the chimney and the plastering,
made from materials on the premises, are as good as they were 124 years ago.
.......In the eastern and central
portion of the town were early stores. Soon after 1800 Aunt Druzilla Laha had one in the woods, northwest of Pierce's
hollow, near the site of the old wind mill. Benjamin Wetherell ran one on the stage road east of Duck creek, very
early in the century. As to the store that was said to have been kept on Great island nearly one hundred years
ago, we can hardly credit the tradition; but the dry goods of that day may have been a necessary contingent with
the whalers and fishers of that part.
.......The old tavern and store
called the Pierce stand, still standing in Pierce hollow, is the most ancient. This house was built about 1712
on the King's highway, by Isaac Pierce, and was soon after opened as a house of entertainment. Many of the oldest
residents of the present day remember when Joshua Y. Pierce still continued the old tavern-closing about fifty
years ago. His sign, "Entertainment by J. Y. Pierce," is still one of the relics of the old mansion.
At that time-the latter part of the last century-this hollow along the main highway was the most conspicuous part
of the town. The probate court was often held in the southwest room of the old mansion, and after the meeting house
was erected at Duck creek this hollow was the important center. About 1835 the village of Wellfleet commenced,
and business centered there.
.......The wind mills of the
town, although among things of the past, were important to the people of that day. The one at Pamet point was long
ago demolished. The last miller was Thomas Higgins, subsequent to 1830. Samuel Chipman had another east of the
present [p. 795] village, near the King's highway, and the last of its existence was about 1839, when its ancient
timbers were perverted to other uses. The latest-built mill is now the octagonal tower of the so-called Morning
Glory-a summer residence near the bay, owned by Mrs. Hiller. Samuel Ryder owned the original mill that was erected
on Mill hill in 1765, which, in 1838, was torn down to make room for a better one; and the latter, prior to 1870,
was moved and converted into the residence mentioned.
was not the opportunity for full civil privileges to the people of this part of the old town until its separation,
when its own distinctive officers could be chosen-when it could, by its own franchises, select officers who would
co-operate in the advancement of this particular territory, an evidence of which is shown by the action of the
first town meeting held August 4, 1763. Not only were the roads and schools at once advanced in number and usefulness;
but application was successfully made for the appointment of a justice of the peace, and the Indian affairs were
better managed. The fisheries that had been heretofore carelessly neglected by the old town, were placed under
restrictions that not only would give better results to the people, but prevent the wasteful slaughter of the fish.
.......In 1774, at a town meeting
called in response to the resolves and proceedings of an important revolutionary meeting in Boston, Winslow
Lewis, Hezekiah Doane, Elisha Cobb, Joseph Higgins, Naaman Holbrook, Samuel Smith and Ezekiel Holbrook were chosen
to consider the feelings of the town and report at a future meeting. Bold and patriotic resolves were made,
which were endorsed by the vote of the town and a copy ordered sent to Boston. Another town meeting, December
19th of that year, was called to receive the report of the committee sent to Barnstable to the county congress,
and hearty co-operation in all its resolves was voted by the people. Not every one voted to sustain the continental
congress at the sacrifice of every blessing, but the feeling was nearly unanimous, and the small minority
could not raise an effective opposition to the patriotic impulse of the majority. The town voted that the officers,
holding military commissions under the crown, resign, to which they complied.
.......May 22, 1775, a representative
was chosen, in open town meeting, to meet in the provincial congress to be holden the last Wednesday of that month,
and the attitude he should take upon the questions that might arise in regard to the articles of confederation
was left entirely to the wisdom and prudence of that representative. The plan of government was accepted by the
town in a unanimous vote on the 19th of May, 1778. The town meeting of 1779 negatived a proposition to ask
the court for an abatement of the state tax, and May 22, 1780, the new state constitution was rejected by a large
majority [p. 796] in the town meeting called to consider it. In 1795 the revised constitution was approved
by a unanimous vote. For years subsequently the town was united in the administration of local affairs, the church,
the fisheries and the welfare of the Indians. In 1800 the town by a majority of votes forbid the straying of sheep,
but the division of feeling in this case was of a personal, not political character-the same as was shown in 1807,
when the friends of Rev. Mr. Whitman wished to increase his salary and it was promptly negatived; but the town
voted to give him a good suit of clothes throughout, with underclothing complete, not even forgetting the
extremities to be encased in boots and hat. The action of town in 1814 was harmonious in relation to war matters,
and in 1820 Reuben Arey was sent to convention for the revision of the state constitution, which revision, when
submitted, was approved with the exception of two articles.
.......In 1874 the selectmen,
upon the petition of the people, appointed a committee of twenty-two persons to tender to General Grant a proper
reception when he should arrive in the town. The president, his wife, Secretary Belknap, Postmaster General Jewell
and others stopped here and were introduced by Dr. Thomas N. Stone to the citizens, who gave them a hearty reception.
.......The principal officers
of the town since its incorporation will be found in the following lists, one year being the term of service when
no time is given. The deputies and representatives have been: Willard Knowles, elected 1767, serving 2 years; in
1768 Elisha Doane was elected and served 3 years; in 1769, Thomas Paine, 5; 1772, Barnabas Freeman, 10; 1774, Naaman
Holbrook, 2; 1776, Elisha Cobb; 1777, John Greenough, 2; 1780, Winslow Lewis; 1785, Jeremiah Bickford, 8; 1787,
Hezekiah Doane, 3; 1793, Samuel Waterman, 5; 1797, Reuben Arey, 5; 1801, Lemuel Newcomb, 3; 1803, Reuben Rich,
2; 1809, Josiah Whitman, 6; 1810, Beriah Higgins, 5; 1829, Benjamin R. Witherell, 3; 1831, Joseph Holbrook,
3d, 2; 1833, Freeman Atwood; 1834, Ebenezer Freeman, 2d, 5, and Joseph Higgins; 1835, Amaziah Atwood; 1836,
Richard Libby, 2, and Jonathan Hickman; 1837, John L. Daniels; 1838, Atkins Dyer and Nathan Paine; 1839,
Nathaniel B. Wiley and Solomon R. Hawes, each 2; 1841, Seth H. Baker, 2; 1843, Isaac Paine, 2; 1845, Caleb
B. Lombard, 3; 1846, Robert Y. Paine, 2; 1850, Ebenezer Freeman; 1852, William Cleverly; 1853, Richard Stubbs,
2; 1854, Israel Pierce; 1855, Thomas H. Lewis; and in 1856, John Y. Jacobs. After 1857 two or more towns were joined
in a district, and the representatives' names for the district appear in Chapter V.
.......The names of the selectmen,
dates of election and years of service, from first to last, are given in the following list: 1763, Elisha Doane,
8 years, Reuben Rich, 3, and Samuel Smith, 8; 1765, Zoeth Smith, 9; 1769, Naaman Holbrook, 8; 1770, Jonathan Young,
10; 1771, Eleazer [p. 797] Atwood, 4; 1772, Hezekiah Doane, 5; 1775, Elisha Cobb, 5; 1777, Winslow Lewis
and John Swett; 1779, Joseph Smith, 5, and Barnabas Young; 1780, Thomas Holbrook, 20; 1781, William Cole, 6; 1787,
Lewis Hamblen, 13, and Reuben Arey, 10; 1799, John Witherell, 6; 1800, Thomas Higgins, 3d, 6; 1804, Lemuel Newcomb,
5, Hezekiah Rich and Matthias Ryder, each 3; 1807, David Holbrook and Stephen Atwood, each 2; 1809, Joseph
Holbrook, 12, Beriah Higgins, 5, and Freeman Atwood, 8; 1813, Jeremiah Newcomb, 2; 1814, Elisha Brown, Robert
Kemp, 2, and Edmund Freeman; 1815. Reuben Rich; 1816, Moses Hinckley and Josiah Whitman, each 3; 1817, Samuel Ryder,
2; 1819, Reuben Arey, 8; 1820, William Cole, 3, and Joseph Holbrook, 5; 1823, Freeman Atwood, 4; 1827, Joseph Higgins,
Benjamin R. Witherell, and Thomas Hatch, each 2; 1828, Micah Dyer, 4, and Solomon Arey; 1829, Moses Lewis, Cornelius
Hamblen, and Thomas Higgins, 2; 1830, George Ward, 3, and Samuel Higgins; 1831, Ebenezer Freeman, 2d, 3; 1833,
Reuben Arey, jr.; 1837, Caleb Lombard, 8, and Thomas Higgins, jr.; 1838, Elisha Freeman, 8, Amaziah Atwood,
4, and John Newcomb, 4; 1841, Knowles Dyer, 3; 1844, Bethuel Wiley, 6, and George Ward, 2; 1847, John Newcomb,
3, and Edward Hopkins, 5; 1850, Giles Hopkins; 1851, Bethuel Wiley and Elisha W. Smith, each 3; 1852, Elisha Freeman;
1853, Edward Hopkins, 5; 1854, John Newcomb and John C. Peak; 1855, Elisha W. Smith, and Benjamin Oliver, 6; 1856,
R. Y. Paine, 17; 1858, Isaiah Cole, 2; 1860, Jeremiah Hawes, 4, and Edward Hopkins, 5; 1864, John Chipman; 1865,
Thomas Higgins, 3, and Benjamin Oliver, 2; 1867, John R. Higgins; 1868, Robert H. Libby, 3, and Eleazer H. Atwood,
2; 1870, Barnabas S. Young, 10; 1871, N. C. Nicholson, 11; 1872, William Stone (elected after Paine died), 5; 1877,
Thomas Newcomb, 4; 1880, Warren Newcomb, 10; 1881, Winslow Paine, 7; 1882, Noah Swett, 3; 1885, Barnabas S. Young,
6; 1885, R. H. Libby; 1887, George T. Wyer; 1889, E. P. Cook, 2.
.......The town clerks in succession
have been elected as follows: In 1763, Elisha Doane; in 1766, Richard Smith; 1767, John Greenough; 1774, Hezekiah
Doane; 1778, David S. Greenough; 1781, Jonathan Young; 1783, Samuel Waterman; 1822, William Cole; 1823, Josiah
Whitman; 1833, Ezekiel Hopkins; 1840, Giles Holbrook; 1846, Nathaniel H. Dill; 1848, Dr. Thomas N. Stone;
1850, Nathaniel H. Dill; 1855, John W. Davis; 1859, Noah Swett; 1868, James T. Atwood; 1877, Daniel C. Newcomb;
1885, E. C. Newcomb.
.......The treasurers have
been successively elected as follows: 1763, Elisha Doane; 1768, Ephraim Covel; 1769, Ezekiel Holbrook; 1799, Lewis
Hamblen; 1810, Samuel Waterman; 1822, Jeremiah Newcomb; and since 1823 the clerk has been also the town's treasurer.
.......The treasurers of the
precinct prior to the incorporation of the town were: John Rich, elected in 1723; Samuel Brown, 1727; [p. 798]
Jeremiah Mayo, 1730; Israel Young, 1733; Daniel Mayo, 1742; and Elisha Doane from 1757 to 1762.
.......schools.-Prior to the
organization of the town the territory comprised one district, and school had been kept alternately in different
parts, that all the pupils might have like privileges; hut after the division from the parent town, Wellfleet
at once assumed the prerogative of placing the schools upon a better basis. The share of public money in
the hands of the treasurer of the old town that belonged to this was at once handed over to the treasurer of Wellfleet,
and the best master they could hire was placed over the schools, he to "board round" and teach in divisions.
At this early day no school houses adorned the landscape, and the schools were kept at private houses. In 1763
it was agreed that terms of five weeks each be kept at James Atwood's, Joseph Atkins', Joseph Pierce's and Zoeth
Smith's, and the remainder of the six months at Widow Doane's. Where all of these ancient settlers' residences
were cannot be definitely told at this time, but they were scattered about the territory, and the school was thus
divided to accommodate all the children of the town.
.......In 1768 John Greenough
was employed to teach a grammar school one year, the school "to be attended by such only as learn Greek and
Latin." The school for teaching "reading, writing and cyphering" was located in four different parts
of the town, between 193 families-in the south part were 48 families, in the middle division 48, on Holbrook neck,
the islands and Pamet point 49, and in the northeast part 48 families. The sum appropriated was forty pounds. This
gentleman, Greenough, fell into disfavor, politically, and in 1774 another teacher for the grammar school
was secured. This year the town was divided into eight school districts, and an agent or committeeman appointed
for each. In 1775 Doctor Nutting was employed in the grammar school, four hundred pounds, old tenor, being
appropriated for all schools, and this amount, yearly increased, reached seven hundred pounds, old tenor, in 1780.
The eight districts were: I., the two islands, with the families of Joseph Hatch, Thomas Higgins and Payne
Higgins; II., all the families from the first district westward of the county road and north of Joseph Pierce's;
III., all east of county road and north of Rebecca Thomas'; IV., to include Moses Lewis, Samuel Waterman, and all
west of the road from Simeon Atwood's to Barnabas Young's; V., from the limits of the fourth district to
Seth Hopkins; VI., to include David Holbrook, Samuel Baker, Elisha Bickford, and all southward as far as
the residence of Simon Newcomb, jr.; VII., Joseph Smith and southward, to include James Brown and Samuel
Watts; VIII., all the rest to Blackfish creek.
.......In 1807 a better classification
of the pupils was effected and the districts were reduced to five, with a teacher in each, besides the [p. 799]
central grammar school. In 1827 a new district was formed in the south part of the town, making seven schools in
all, and four hundred dollars was the appropriation for teachers. This amount was increased gradually until
it reached six hundred dollars in 1835, and one thousand dollars in 1840. In 1844 the town supported ten schools,
having school property valued at $131,000. In 1857 the sum raised was twenty-six hundred dollars, and in each of
the two succeeding years twenty-eight hundred dollars, with six hundred pupils in twelve schools.
.......In 1860 the truant act
was enforced with effective results, and in 1861 a prudential committee was elected in each district, which should
furnish a proper teacher and have the supervision of the school. The districts were so numerous and the expenses
of maintaining the required terms of school so great that in 1865 it was voted that all the school property
be purchased by the town. A committee of seven-Thomas Higgins, Dr. Thomas N. Stone, Barnabas S. Young, George
B. Saunders, John W. Davis, Alvin Paine and John Swett-was appointed to perfect a plan for joining the several
districts. They reported at a future meeting, and three competent men were chosen to appraise the school property,
and in 1866 the district system was abolished. The vote was to build a new primary between districts No. 1. and
No. 2; that a grammar school be established in No. 3, and that districts No. 1 and No. 2 have equal rights therein;
that No. 4 have a primary, with equal privileges in the grammar school; that No. 5 and No. 6 have each a primary;
that a new school building be built on the site of the old academy, to contain two schools-one to be equal to a
high school and open to all who earned an entrance by scholarship, the other to be a grammar school for districts
5, 6 and 7; that the Island and Pamet districts be converted into one and a primary built near Elisha Atwood's,
with a foot bridge built across the marsh to accommodate the pupils. Ten thousand dollars was voted to carry
out this change, and Thomas N. Stone, Nathaniel H. Dill, Richard R. Freeman, David Wiley, Jesse Y. Baker,
John Smith, R. Y. Paine, E. H. Atwood and Warren Newcomb were appointed a committee to build the necessary houses
and complete the change.
.......In 1879 the further
combination of the schools was effected. Sylvanus Dill, Winslow Paine, David Wiley and William L. Paine were
appointed a committee to act with the selectmen in choosing a site and erecting a house that should be central
for the south districts; but a disagreement in the opinions of these men led to the formation of a new committee,
who moved one of the old houses to the north side of Blackfish creek to serve the combined schools. The report
of the school committee at this time said: ''We believe that at no time [p. 800] within the service of the oldest
of your committee has there been such an interest taken by the scholars in their school as now." A boys' school
was taught during the winter, the high school was well filled and an assistant was employed. Two grammar and seven
primary schools gave ample instruction to the pupils of the town. The salaries of the teachers aggregated
$3,605.30, with current expenses that swelled the money paid for schools to over four thousand dollars.
.......In 1882 retrenchment
was the cry of the times, and the general school committee was more prudent in the use of funds, greatly lessening
the expenses. In 1883 the books, maps and globes cost $150, and the amount received from the state school fund
exceeded that of any former year. In 1885 a special class was again formed for boys who could attend only during
the winter term, and it was productive of much good. Repairs were made to the buildings, and the expenses aggregated
.......For the year 1888 the
number of schools was considerably reduced, the town still furnishing to the diminished number of scholars the
advantages of past years. The question of removing the high school building to the village was aggitated in 1888
and 1889, the measure was finally adopted and the building located on Main street in 1889. For 1889 one of the
primaries was discontinued, the two at South Wellfleet were united, and the two grammar schools consolidated.
The two primaries in the west part of the town were continued and the entire outlay for teachers, during
a school year of thirty-four weeks in the primaries and forty weeks in the higher branches, was about thirty-five
hundred dollars, reducing the number of regular teachers from ten in 1888 to seven for the past year.
.......Since the incorporation
of the town the efforts of its inhabitants have been to sustain the best of schools, and most liberally have the
people yearly given for their support.
house sufficed in Old Eastham for three-quarters of a century, but when in 1718 a new meeting house was to be erected
at the old center this part of the old town asked to be established as a separate parish. A precinct was formed
in 1722 and a meeting house erected at Chequesset neck, which site is marked by the old town grave yard, just west
of the present village of Wellfleet. The house was small-twenty feet square-but sufficed for the time.
.......Rev. Josiah Oakes, who
had preached since the precinct was formed, was requested to continue his ministry longer, and in 1727, on account
of some differences, was dismissed. John Sumner labored one year, and the pulpit was then supplied by David Hall,
Ezra Whitmarsh and others. In 1730 Rev. Isaiah Lewis was settled, filling the pastorship until his death
.......In 1735 a new meeting
house was begun and was finished in 1740, [p. 801] near the head of Duck creek where the next old burying place
was laid out, and still remains to mark the spot. In 1765 an addition of eighteen feet was made, and a porch was
built in front, with a steeple and vane. In 1767 the parsonage lands near the first meeting house were sold and
the proceeds invested as a ministerial fund, and the church on Duck creek was again repaired in 1792.
.......Rev. Levi Whitman succeeded
Mr. Lewis until 1808, when he was dismissed. The next pastor was Rev. Timothy Davis who served until April, 1830.
The subsequent pastoral service has been rendered by Stephen Bailey for eight years; by supplies until 1840: by
Revs. John Todd, 1843; Charles C. Beaman, 1846: George Denham, 1853; Samuel Hopley, 1857; Asa Mann, 1860; George
F. Walker, 1863; Samuel Fairley, 1868; Emory G. Chaddock, 1874; Jeremiah K. Aldrich, 1879; Cassius M. Westbrook,
1885; Daniel W. Clark, 1888.
.......The meeting house was
enlarged in 1806, and the additional pews sold for more than the expense: but in 1829 a better and larger house
was erected there, and a tower and bell added. In 1850 another move was made to erect a new church, and the contract
was let. The present house of worship in the village was built that year, the material of the old building being
used as far as practicable. In the year 1873 this fourth and last church of the society was remodeled and repaired
outside and in, a place for an organ added in the rear, all painted, and vestries added. The carpeting, repairing
and additions cost over ten thousand dollars, which was paid by subscription.
.......In December, 1879, the
steeple and town clock of the meeting house were blown into the street, and were replaced in a more substantial
.......This society of 168
years standing is the most ancient of the town. The church has a membership of 180 and maintains a nourishing Sunday
school. In the old days it was the practice for the minister in charge to perform the duties of church clerk. Giles
Hopkins was elected to this office and kept the records until 1878, when Simeon Atwood, the present clerk, was
chosen. Mr. Atwood's connection with the church music of this society is somewhat phenomenal from the number of
years it covers. When a lad of seven he was alto singer in the church, and for full forty years has been leader
of the choir and organist.
.......The Second Congregational
Society was organized December 4, 1833, in the south part of the town, forty-two members withdrawing from the First
church for that purpose. A commodious meeting house had been erected, which, with the repairs since made, still
remains, and is the only one in South Wellfleet. Supplies filled the desk for three years, succeeded by Enoch Pratt
in 1836, Isaac Jones in 1837, Solomon Hardy in 1838, and Wooster Willey in 1842. Isaac A. Bassett [p. 802] was
settled in 1842, remaining one year; and after a few supplies Henry Van Houten was ordained in 1844, succeeded
in 1849 by Stephen Bailey. In 1852 Ezekiel Dow was settled, remaining two years, when in 1854 Enoch Sanford was
called. After three years Joseph H. Patrick was settled, and preached until 1862, when William E. Caldwell was
called. In the spring of 1865 he was succeeded by H. M. Rogers, who remained two years. The ministers from that
time have been: 1.867, William Brigham; 1869, J. W. C. Pike; 1872, William Leonard; 1877, supplies; 1878, B. F.
Grant; 1880, J.P. Watson; 1885, Joshua L. Gay, who remains at this date. In 1861 a new pulpit and other internal
improvements were added to the meeting house.
.......The Methodist Episcopal
Society of Wellfleet, was organized in 1802. Rev. Robert Yallaley Provincetown, visited the town in 1797 and preached
several times. Reverends Rickhow, Weeks, Broadhead, Snelling, Willard and others followed, and in 1807 this was
made part of the Harwich circuit. Rev. Joel Steele was the first minister to travel the circuit; he was succeeded
by Rev. E. Otis; he by Rev. Joseph A. Merrill up to 1810. In 1811 this church was made a circuit with Truro, which
continued to 1827, when it was made a station by itself. The society was organized with three members-Abigail Gross,
Thankful Rich and Lurana Higgins. Ephraim Higgins was the first-class leader. Accession to the membership
followed, and in 1816 a church edifice was erected on the hill north of the village, which was the first
house of this denomination in the town. From 1817 to 1824 the society grew, and in 1829 their house was enlarged
to thirty-eight by sixty feet, with seventy pews on the floor, and galleries on both sides. In 1842-3 great revivals
occurred and all the churches received large additions of members. The old house being too small for the worshippers,
a new one was erected and dedicated December 5, 1843. This was the most elaborate church edifice on the Cape
at that time, the site being changed from near the burying ground to the present one in the village. Rev.
Paul Townsend preached the dedicatory sermon.
.......The following list indicates
what pastors have served the society, and the year they came: In 1812, Robert Arnold; 1813, Elias Marble; 1814,
B. Otheman: 1815, Thomas C. Pierce; 1816, Orin Roberts; 1817, Benjamin Keith; 1818, Ephraim Wiley; 1820, Edward
Hyde; 1822, L. Bennett; 1824, J. G. Atkins; 1825, Lewis Bates; 1827, Joel Steele; 1829, B. F. Lombard; 1831, N.
S. Spaulding; 1832, Squire B. Haskell; 1833, H. Brownson; 1834, W. Emerson; 1836, B.F. Lombard; 1837, H. Perry;
1839, J. M. Bidwell; 1840, Paul Townsend; 1842, J. Cady; 1844, G. W. Steams; 1846, John Lovejoy; 1848, Cyrus C.
Munger; 1849, Samuel Fox; 1851, John Howson; 1853, J. E. Gifford; 1854, Erastus Benton; 1856, E. K. Colby; 1858,
E. H. Hatfield; 1860, James Mather; 1862, [p. 803] John Howson; 1863, A. N. Bodfish; 1865, William V. Morrison;
1867, Charles Nason; 1869, Walter Ela; 1870, A. J. Church; 1873, C. S. Macreading; 1875, A. P. Palmer; 1878, Edward
Edson; 1881, Samuel M. Beal; 1883, Samuel McBurney; 1884, George A. Moss; 1886, Angelo Canoll; 1888, Charles S.
.......In 1819 a Methodist
camp meeting was held in South Wellfleet, and from 1823 to 1825 it was held on Bound Brook island, then was removed
to Truro. These meetings rapidly increased the early membership.
.......The First Universalist
Society, Wellfleet, was organized January 7, 1840, by electing Justin Taylor moderator, and subsequently, at the
same meeting, he was elected treasurer of the society, with Martin Dill clerk. Subsequent meetings were held at
Lyceum Hall, the rules and by-laws were adopted, and preaching was provided. In 1844 the old Masonic Hall was purchased
of Peter Snow, who had previously purchased the same of Adams Lodge, and it was remodeled into a suitable place
for worship above, with a school room on the first floor. Here the society held services until 1863, when the Sons
of Temperance Hall was purchased, which was named Union Hall in 1866, and has been known as such since.
.......The supplies for the
pulpit, prior to the removal in 1866, had been: In 1839, Reverends E. Vose, J. B. Dodds, N. Gunnison and others;
J. Grammer and James Gifford in 1840; Mr. Foster and others in 1841; Stillman Barden, Sylvanus Cobb and B. H. Clark
up to 1845, and S. Pratt occupied the desk the greater portion of the time during the years 1856 and 1857. Rev.
J. P. Atkinson followed in 1857. Occasional meetings were held, and when the society had purchased the present
Union Hall, as has been stated, Rev. A. W. Bruce and William Hooper occupied the desk first, the latter organizing
a prosperous Sunday school. The society had supplies until the settlement of H. A. Hanaford in 1874. who remained
until 1876, when W. C. Stiles preached for a year. Occasional supplies were obtained until Rev, Donald Fraser,
of Orleans, became a regular minister in 1887, concluding his labors in the autumn of 1889.
.......A ladies' aid society
was established soon after the inception of the church, and to that the prosperity of this religious organization
is largely due.
ground for burial was the one on Chequesset neck, where the first meeting house was erected. At present but few
stones stand to mark the graves of the early settlers, and these bear dates of burials in the year 1716. When the
meeting house was rebuilt at the head of Duck creek, another ground was laid out, which is now seldom used except
to reunite the ashes of members of an old family. The burial place for the south part of the town was laid out
[p. 804] adjacent to the Second Congregational church, and is still used. The fourth, now in use, is the Pleasant
Hill Cemetery-the Methodist burying place-just out of the village, near where their first meeting house stood.
Near this, in 1858, May 24th, was instituted the Oak Dale Cemetery, of several acres. Under the instigation of
Dr. Thomas N. Stone, a stock company was formed by the enterprising citizens, and has resulted in a creditable
improvement on former grounds. The association having the management is governed by a constitution and by-laws,
with competent officers, chosen annually. Benjamin Oliver was the first president, succeeded by John Chipman in
1862. Stephen Young was elected in 1874, and continued president until 1885. The present officers Isaiah C. Young,
pres.; John Swett, vice-pres.; Simeon Atwood, sec. and treas.
the present century had far advanced did the present commercial center-Wellfleet village-indicate its importance.
Hitherto the small business of the town was scattered, but the drifting sands having effectually closed Duck and
Herring creek harbors, the business naturally clustered around Duck creek and the head of Wellfleet bay.
The early important center was west of the present village, in the vicinity of the first church. Wellfleet village
is picturesque in its winding streets, substantially built dwellings, towering churches, and its beautiful
appearance from the bay beneath. It aspires to street lamps on streets that bear high-sounding names, and has business-like
airs, with its two-score sails moored at its several wharves. Its importance will be seen as the reader proceeds.
As early as 1800 the manufacture of salt by solar evaporation was commenced around Duck creek and the bay shore
of the village. East, in the cove, was the plant of Samuel Smith, and near Mr. Kemp's was that of Isaac Baker,
afterward sold to David Atwood, who also owned others. Benjamin Witherell had works on the shore southwest, and
Amaziah Atwood's were where Timothy Daniels now resides. Deacon Whitman ran a plant in the neighborhood of Wells
E. Kemp's, and Moses Dill's was opposite where Jeremiah Hawes resides. East of the last, where Warren Pierce
resides, were the works of Freeman Bacon, which, after falling into the hands of Wells E. Kemp, were discontinued,
and destroyed soon after. On the island south of Dill's plant was that of Stephen Bailey, and on the point adjoining
the residence of E. I. Nye was Joseph Holbrook's. The long row of vats east of Jeremiah Hawes' residence once belonged
to Henry Baker. On the bay Cornelius Hamblen also built and operated works.
.......Of the extinct wharves
in Duck creek the spiles of one erected about 1830, by John Harding, are still visible; and of the one built by
[p. 805] Samuel Higgins near the railroad crossing of the creek, time has left no evidence. On these the business
of fishing and repairing small craft was successfully carried on for years. Passing westward to the bay the busy
wharf of Theodore Brown attracts attention, and here since 1864 he annually repaired over one hundred vessels;
but the decline in fishing has lessened this branch, and latterly he has built large scows and small craft
for weir fishing. In 1865 he built at this wharf the Clara D. Swett, a schooner of thirty-three tons-the largest
built by him since he completed his trade with Giles Hopkins.
.......The next west is Commercial
Wharf, the oldest of the village, built in 1835 by Paine G. Atwood and Elisha G. Perry, who did business there
until 1853, when the Commercial Wharf Company, composed of twenty men, purchased it. R. R. Freeman was the first
president of the company, John Swett the second, and from 1880 Michael C. Burrows has presided. Noah Swett
was agent under the company until 1880, when Isaiah C. Young was appointed, who was succeeded by Freeman A. Snow
in 1889. The present directors are Charles A. Gorham, Parker E. Hickman and Jesse F. Snow.
.......The Central Wharf was
built and incorporated in 1863 by a stock company of sixty shares, which have changed hands, leaving only about
one half of the shares in original hands. Stephen Young was the agent prior to Robert B. Jenkins, who assumed the
duties of the office in 1883. The first president, Parker Wiley, was succeeded in 1868 by Warren Newcomb, who still
fills the office. Three directors are elected annually, the last being Charles A. Gorham, George Baker and Samuel
W. Kemp, with James Mott clerk. This wharf is three hundred feet long, is kept in good order and has been a very
.......On the opposite side
of Duck creek Enterprise Wharf, the first one at Wellfleet, was erected prior to 1837, where a successful fishing
trade was conducted by Benjamin Rich and Stephen Young. This wharf was abandoned about 1862.
.......The Mercantile Wharf,
erected in 1870, is the last along the north shore of the bay. Sixty shares comprised the stock for its erection.
The store is controlled by the company. The first president was Richard R. Freeman, succeeded in 1886 by J. H.
Freeman, who in turn was succeeded in 1887 by R. R. Freeman, jr., the present incumbent. J. H. Freeman acted
as agent and clerk until 1885, when Samuel W7. Kemp was appointed to succeed him. The acting president is
a director, and with him R. R. Higgins, David Y. Pierce and Charles W. Swett were last elected. The mackerel trade
has been very successfully and largely carried on at this wharf, which was enlarged in 1883 to accommodate
its large business. The business of these wharves is greatly affected by the dullness of the trade occasioned
by the decline in fishing.
.......Next to the lighthouse
are the oil works of E. P. Cook, Newel Rich, S. B. Rich and William Newcomb, which were established in 1873. The
blubber of the blackfish and other species of whale was tried out by the old process the first year, and steam
works were then added, by which better results were obtained. Among other important processes, they have
smaller machinery for manufacturing watch oil from certain parts of blackfish, combined with parts of other fish.
A small wharf is connected with the works.
.......Another industry in
connection with the wharves has been important; but like them, is having a season of depression. In 1875
Nehemiah H. Paine engaged in seine-making near Central wharf, with James A. Young as a partner during the first
six years. More repairing than manufacturing has been done for the past few years.
.......Of the stores pertaining
to the territory of the present village, those of the present century are the most important. Those prior to 1800
were principally on the King's highway or in the western part of the town. As early as 1832 the late Simeon Atwood
built the corner building below the bank, on Commercial street. Here, with Mr. Dyer, under the firm name of Knowles
Dyer & Co., a prosperous grocery trade was carried on. In 1850 the present Simeon Atwood, his son,
built the hardware store adjoining, and in 1851 the interests of these three men in both stores were united,
the film name remaining the same. These three gentlemen also carried on a branch store at what is now Commercial
.......The present store at
the Commercial wharf is carried on by the Central Trading Company, with Charles Young, agent. Samuel Higgins
kept a store early in the century near the present depot, subsequently adding a lumber yard. From the depot
along Commercial street we find Charles A. Gorham in a grocery trade. The building was erected in 1863 for John
R. Higgins, who continued trade until 1865. In 1869 James H. Gorham, father of the present merchant, filled the
store with goods, and continued in business until his death in 1888. Northerly, on the east side of the same street,
F. A. Wiley, after a business of four years in Truro, established, in 1852, the present store and painting
business, continued by Daniel F. Wiley, his son. In 1857 Nathaniel, a brother, became partner with F. A. Wiley,
and the business was increased by the addition of other branches. This partner sold to Daniel F. Wiley in 1885,
who, at the death of his father in 1888, succeeded to the entire business. On the same side of the street is the
old store of Nehemiah M. Baker, a building moved from Eastham about 1865, now occupied by Oliver H. Linnell as
a factory and salesroom for marble work. He started this industry in 1873, in the shop on the Joshua Atwood
place, and in 1879 moved to Reuben C. Sparrow's place of business, combining undertaking [p. 807] with the marble
trade. In 1885 he purchased his present place, where he continues. The undertaking portion of Mr. Linnell's business
was early started by John Harding, who sold to Reuben C. Sparrow in 1858. On the same side of Commercial street
is the wholesale plant of George Baker, who started in the coal trade in 1873 near by, and in 1875 purchased the
present place of business, which was formerly the office of the stage line to Provincetown, and which had been
moved from Yarmouth to Orleans, thence to this village by Samuel Knowles, the last mail contractor. On this site
in 1875 Mr. Baker added nails, lime, cement, plaster and other articles to his trade, which he continues.
Everett I. Nye has a large factory for iron work on this side of the street, which, with the carriage manufactory
of A. H. Rogers opposite, adds variety to the importance of this street. On the west side H. P. Higgins has
a boot and shoe store, and Allen Higgins a clothing store that he moved a few years ago from near the residence
of Timothy Daniels. On the same side Simeon Atwood built and opened in 1850 a hardware store, in which in 1864
he took his brother, A. T. Atwood, as a partner, under the firm name of S. Atwood & Co.
.......On Main street the principal
place of business is that of P. W. Higgins, whose store is west of the churches, adjoining the residence
formerly occupied by Rev. Timothy Davis. Mr. Higgins commenced in 1854, remodeled the old office of Doctor Mitchel
into more store room and continues in the dry and fancy goods line. Between the churches, south side, Giles Holbrook
began trade in 1847, which he continued until his death in 1850. The estate continued until 1868, when G.W. Holbrook
purchased, built on, and added other lines of goods. Opposite this store Reuben Higgins commenced trade before
the civil war and discontinued after a few years. In 1881, after the building had been used for other purposes,
the firm of Newcomb & Gordon opened a grocery store, which is continued. On the opposite corner, in October,
1884, D. A. Matheson of Provincetown, opened a branch clothing store, with P. D. Chisholm, manager. On the corner
of Main street and Holbrook avenue a store building was erected about 1866 for Albert W. Holbrook, who established
a store which was subsequently changed in 1883 to a grocery by George C. Williams & Co., as now. Henry S. Cook
succeeded Holbrook in the store business and removed it to Main street, as now. John Swett started, in 1876, a
custom clothing store, where he not only manufactured but kept clothing and furnishing goods until
1885, since which date he continues the custom department. The Doctor Stone drug store and jewelry store of Albert
Rice, and the confectionery store and news stand of A. C. Mott-both near the post office-complete the principal
places of business of Main street.
.......The post office is the
most frequented place. The office has been [p. 808] moved about from the King's highway, from dwelling to store,
but has been for years kept in a central place by itself. The office was established January 1, 1798, and the first
postmaster was Lewis Hamblen. Reuben Arey was appointed October 1, 1810; Josiah Whitman, December 28, 1815;
Jesse Holbrook, March 22, 1839; Richard Libby, April 22, 1840; Giles Holbrook, August 2, 1841; Enoch Higgins,
August 16, 1845; John W. Davis, September 4, 1850. Allen Higgins succeeded Davis and was in charge in 1854; and
prior to 1860 A. B. Fish and Dr. H. J. Huff had been appointed. In 1861 George T. Wyer was appointed, who held
until 1876, when George F. Manter succeeded. In 1886 James Chandler was appointed.
.......This village has a very
pretty depot, the business of which has been in charge of James A. Swett since 1872. He was preceded by Richard
N. Atwood for nearly two years.
.......The Masonic fraternity
established Adams Lodge here 1796, which surrendered its charter, and after an interim of half a century was revived
into the present flourishing Lodge of the same name. After the institution of the first, in 1798, the Masonic brotherhood
opened a stock company of forty shares for the erection of a hall. Those who took the stock were: Thomas Holbrook,
Lewis Hamblen, Solomon Harding, Lemuel Newcomb, Warren A. Kenrick, Hezekiah Doane, James Bickford, Joseph
Pierce, jr., Thomas Gross, Philip Higgins, Richard Higgins, Stephen Atwood, Jeremiah Newcomb, Samuel Waterman,
Matthias Ryder, jr., Thomas Higgins, 3d, Matthias Ryder, Barnabas Young, jr., Samuel Ryder, Eleazer Higgins, John
Young and Beriah Higgins. The hall stood on the site of the high school building, near the present Union Hall,
and was the Masonic Hall before referred to.
.......The names of the first
two masters of the old lodge are not known. The succeeding presiding officers were: Samuel Waterman, 1798; Lewis
Hamblen, 1799-1800; Lemuel Newcomb, 1801-2; Joseph Pierce, 1803-4; Thomas Higgins, 1805-1807; Lemuel Newcomb, 1808,
then 1811-12; Lewis Hamblen, 1809; Samuel Waterman, 1810; and in 1813 the charter was surrendered. In 1823, January
28th, nine surviving members divided the proceeds of the treasury. The hall was subsequently sold to the
Universalist society and long ago razed to the ground.
.......In January, 1866, another
Lodge of the same name was instituted, which received a charter in 1867. The fraternity assembled in the school
house on the corner of the Truro road, adopted their by-laws, and hired Union Hall, which they occupied until the
present fine Masonic Hall was erected in 1877, except during the last year, when they occupied Bank Hall. The Masonic
Hall was built by a stock company of three hundred small shares, which were taken mostly by the [p. 809] fraternity,
and it cost about three thousand dollars. It contains a beautiful room above for the sessions, with refreshment
and necessary rooms below. The masters have been: Napthali Rich, 1866-67; George T. Wyer, 1868-69; Warren Newcomb,
1870-1872; Eben T. Atwood, 1873-1874; John M. Crillis, 1875-1877; Daniel Williamson, 1878-1879; William N. Stone,
1880-1881; N. Franklin Lane, 1882-1883; Theodore Brown, 1884-1885; John M. Freeman, 1886; 0. H. Linnell, 1887-1888;
H. H. Newton, 1889. The officers elected for 1890 are: Everett I. Nye, M.; Charles A. Clark, S. W.; Isaiah C. Doane,
J. W.; William H. Tubman, S. D.; Stephen King, J. D.; Theodore Brown, treasurer; Warren Newcomb, secretary; Robert
B. Jenkins, chaplain; and Melville W. Grant, tyler.
....... Wellfleet Council,
No. 946, Royal Arcanum, was instituted January 28, 1886, with twenty-four members. A. H. Rogers was the first past-regent,
succeeded by the following regents: H. P. Harriman in 1886, H. H. Newton in 1887, 0. H. Linnell in 1888, and C.
L. Rodman in 1889. The officers elected for 1890 were: W. H. Tubman, R.; W. J. Powers, V. R.; D. F. Wiley, 0.;
C. L. Rodman, sec.; A. H. Rogers, col.; M. D. Holbrook, treas.; F. W. Snow, chap.; Jesse S. Snow, G.; Nelson E.
Dyer, W.; and George H. Young, S. The present membership is thirty-two. The Council meets in Odd Fellows'
.......The Wellfleet Marine
Benevolent Society was instituted January 28, 1836, by banding together and paying dues yearly, for the relief
of distressed mariners, their widows and orphans, and any others who may join. At the time of its organization
many shipwrecked sailors needed temporary assistance and the benefits now extend not only to that class, but to
others whether belonging to the society or not. Between 1840 and 1890 the society had disbursed $10,190 to those
in need, and this does not include the proceeds of annual entertainments given to the outside needy. The members
each pay one dollar a year for sixteen years, for a life-membership, or twelve dollars at the time of joining.
The amount held by the society in its treasury is $1,872. The first officers were: Richard Arey, pres.; Collins
S. Cole, sec., and Nathan Paine, treas. It has a committee, elected annually, to manage its affairs. The
first who served will show some of the original members-Levi Young, John Newcomb, Isaac Paine, Giles Holbrook,
William Stone, Bethuel Wiley, Hezekiah Doane and Samuel Smith.
.......The Odd Fellows Lodge
is the continuation of an old one of Truro, where it was instituted in 1849 as Fraternal Lodge, No. 132. In 1872
the following persons petitioned the Grand Lodge for one at this place: Elijah W. Atwood, George Baker, Newell
B. Rich, John M. Freeman, John M. Crillis, N. Frank Lane, Nathaniel Snow, jr., Joseph Rodolph, John G. Higgins,
Mulford Rich, jr.; and these were the [p. 810] charter members of the re-instituted lodge of Wellfleet on the 14th
of October. It's presiding officers have successively been: Mulford Rich, jr., George Baker, Nathaniel Snow, jr.,
John M. Freeman, Samuel R. Higgins, Philip Higgins, jr., Robert H. Libby, James M. Mott, Hezekiah D. Baker,
Harlem P. Higgins, Arthur H. Rogers, Newell B. Rich, A. H. Rogers, Zenas H. Jones, jr., Everett 1. Nye, Charles
S. Young, J. W. Freeman, George F. Manter, George Baker, and for 1889, Everett I. Nye. The elective officers for
1890 are: Harlem P. Higgins, N. G.; John W. Freeman, V. G.; B. S. Young, sec.; and Charles S. Young, treasurer.
The Lodge numbers seventy-five.
.......The village is not without
substantial financial institutions, the most important being the Wellfleet Savings Bank, instituted March 3, 1863,
and which accommodates the business of the town. Richard R. Freeman was the first president and continued until
his death in 1886, when he was succeeded by Simeon Atwood, the present president, who was its treasurer until
1871 when Thomas Kemp, the present incumbent, was appointed. Its board of twelve trustees has remained nearly the
same, the only change having been caused by death or disability. They are: Simeon Atwood, Isaiah C. Young, James
Swett, John Swett, H. P. Harriman, Jesse H. Freeman, Robert H. Libby, Alvin F. Paine, Warren Newcomb, Samuel W.
Kemp, Giles W. Holbrook, and W. H. Tubman.
.......Another important corporation
is the Wellfleet Marine Insurance Company, which was established in 1864 under the existing laws of the state.
The first officers were: James Swett, president (who was really the prime mover in its organization); Noah Swett,
secretary; and directors-R. R. Freeman, Knowles Dyer, George B. Saunders, N. Rich, jr., Jesse Y. Baker and John
R. Higgins. It was organized with a capital of sixty thousand dollars, and conducted a successful business. In
1885, by the laws then enacted, the company, in order to do business, was compelled to incorporate, which was done
under the same name, and by a special act placing the capital at one hundred thousand dollars. James Swett
continued the president until 1886, and was succeeded by Thomas Kemp. Noah Swett filled the office of secretary
until 1872, from which period until 1886 Thomas Kemp was secretary. After Mr. Kemp was elected president, Charles
W. Swett was the secretary until 1888, when the present incumbent, Charles A. Collins, was elected. Ten directors,
who meet quarterly, have the direction of the business, which, during a quarter of a century, has been very
successful and satisfactory. Their office is in the rear of the bank.
.......The early importance
of the shipping interests induced the appointment of deputy collectors for this po[r]t, who successively
have been: Reuben Arey, Josiah Whitman, Collins S. Cole, Richard Libby, [p. 811] Thomas Newcomb, T. L. Hickman,
Simeon Atwood for twenty-seven years until 1887; Solomon R. Higgins until 1889, and again Simeon Atwood.
.......The old taverns have
been given as scattered in the town, and not until the present village was marked as the center did a tavern assist
in the growth. Over sixty years ago Colonel Joseph Holbrook erected a house where the present Holbrook Hotel stands,
which, about 1830, was purchased by Martin Dill. He opened it as a house of entertainment, adding to it at
times until it was enlarged to its present form. Mr. Dill continued until his death about forty years ago, when
Henry A. Holbrook became owner and proprietor. After his death in 1874 his widow and son, Martin D., continued
until 1885, when Lorenzo N. Godfrey purchased it, and in 1889 he resold it to Martin D. Holbrook. It is the only
hotel ever kept in the village, except one which was kept at an early day for a short period just beyond the school
house by Thomas Holbrook. Thomas Holbrook, 2d, some fifty years ago, after doing an oyster business under the Franklin
House in Boston, returned to his native place here and for a short time his sign, "Franklin House,"
swung from the building now the residence of Mrs. Charles F. Higgins.
.......South Wellfleet, a post
hamlet and railroad station of the south. part of the town, adjoins the south bank of Blackfish creek, and has
within its limits a landscape of gentle undulations and fertile soil. It is distant three miles from the main village,
with which it is connected by a good carriage road. The territory was early but sparsely settled, and through
it the King's highway made, in early times, an important rural settlement, with its old-fashioned houses of refreshment
for the weary fisherman and long absent whaler. Traditions of the finding of the ill-gotten gains of pirates
in the sands at the mouth of Fresh brook still linger in the minds of the residents, giving a silvery sheen
to the prosperity of the village. Aunt Lydia Taylor's store or tavern, or both, is remembered by the elder people,
although the house long ago succumbed to the march of improvement. Then the weekly horseback mail carrier plodded
along the sandy road, and the people must gather as often at Aunt Lydia's to enquire the news; and in early stage
time the dusty traveler found an unstinted measure of relief under her roof. Reuben Arey had still another
of these stores about 1820 at his house, where he kept the post office. Daniel Higgins, not wishing Aunt Lydia
to do all the mercantile business, started another just after the war of 1812; and about 1815 Hezekiah Rich engaged
in the same line of tea and cracker business just north of the others, at what was called Dogtown by the old residents.
His store was necessary, for here the town used to do military duty, with an [p. 812] occasional adjournment to
Aunt Lydia's, near where the church now stands. The last to be mentioned was that of Deacon Newcomb. in his house
over by the brook, where the weary fisherman sought comfort.
.......The residents mingle
with the other villages in their secret orders, and none are established here. The ladies have a Social Union,
owning the hall which was built for a school house and bought in 1888. The society was organized in 1881 and is
a nourishing social and benevolent institution. For 1889 the president was Mrs. W. L. Paine; vice-president,
Mrs. H. H. Paine; the secretary and treasurer, Miss Nettie S. Paine.
.......The only store in the
hamlet now is that recently owned by Alvin F. Paine, deceased, where his son Isaac keeps a general stock of goods.
The building was erected about 1844 by Collins S. Cole, who carried on a mercantile business until his death in
1870, and it was continued two years longer by his family. In 1872 the South Wharf Company rented it in connection
with their store at the wharf, and purchased it in 1876. In 1880 the plant was purchased by Alvin F. Paine.
.......Battelle & Little
(Boston men) built a wharf on the south side of Blackfish creek, for which, with the fitting-out store connected
with it, Richard Arey was agent several years. About 1845 Collins S. Cole took the store and Nathan Paine the wharf,
both of which, after a few years, were taken by Smith, Newcomb & Saunders. Smith sold to Isaac Paine and the
firm was Paine, Newcomb & Saunders. Still later, Newcomb sold to Alvin F. Paine, and the firm of Saunders &
Paine continued until 1866. That year the Southern Wharf Company, of forty shares, was formed, and the stock was
taken up to the amount of $5,000. They continued in the fishing and mercantile business until 1880, when A. F.
Paine became owner. This wharf extended about one hundred feet along the creek. A few piles mark the spot of this
once important place of traffic.
.......A post office was established
here early in the present century, with Reuben Arey, jr., postmaster, appointed January 29, 1829. He was succeeded
by Alexander T. Cross, appointed June 1, 1836; Daniel W. Davis, January 14, 1837; Isaiah G. Ward, May 14, 1840;
Reuben Arey, November 11, 1841. Stephen A. Hatch, appointed October 14, 1846, kept the office at his house until
Jonathan Doane was appointed, June 1, 1857. In 1861, after the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency,
Stephen A. Hatch was re-appointed and was succeeded by William Ward in 1873, who kept the office at the depot.
In 1887 the present incumbent, Arthur G. Newcomb, was appointed. Mr. Newcomb is also the station agent and
performs all the duties, as did Mr. Ward, his predecessor.
.......The village and surroundings
have attracted the notice of pleasure seekers, and it is fast becoming a favorite spot for summer resorts.