Topics: Local History

1838 Church Bell Gives Up Its Perch

By: Alan Pollock

HARWICH — Clearing the way for repairs to the leaky belfry, crews carefully removed the church bell from the First Congregational Church Monday afternoon to applause from a small group of spectators below. Having cut away one of the columns to create a sufficiently wide opening, crews gingerly removed the 182-year-old bell from the belfry of the Fir...

HARWICH — There are a lot of connections between Harwich, Mass., and Harwich, Essex, England, including bonding as sister towns with attendant celebrations on both sides of the pond. But the one major connection that remains a mystery is how Cape Cod's Harwich got its name. But the 400 th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage is the perfect opportunity to remember the role that Harwich, England played in that...

Top Stories Of The Last Two Decades

By: Tim Wood

As we start a new decade, we look back this week at the first 20 years of the 21 st century. Below is our list of the top 20 stories, culled from suggestions by staff and readers. It is in no way comprehensive and certainly not conclusive, but it highlights, we believe, the most significant issues and events of those years.   1. Sharks Sharks have been present, and documented, along Cape shores since ...

Pollock Rip Shoals Turned Mayflower Around, Changing History CHATHAM – In his “Of Plymouth Plantation,” William Bradford devoted just a few lines to the events of Nov. 9, 1620. That was the day those aboard the Mayflower sighted land—the highlands of Cape Cod, the Nauset-Eastham area—and headed south toward their intended destination of the Hudson Valley, then part of the Virginia colony. “But after they ha...

Historic Arrowhead Found On Habitat Construction Site

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — With the clearing of land for the six-home Habitat for Humanity project to be located on land behind 93 and 97 Route 28 in West Harwich, an ancient arrowhead was recently discovered. The projectile appears to be a Brewerton type which dates back between 4,500 and 6,000 years. The find is not anticipated to stall the Habitat project, but the site is expected to be registered as an archaeological site ...

First of two parts CHATHAM – Two years ago, the Little Beach area experienced the worst flooding it had seen in 30 years, maybe longer. Sandbag walls were breached, houses were inundated, and boats plied the submerged streets rescuing residents. With warnings that climate change and sea level rise will only make conditions worse, property owners are already throwing up sandbags to stanch the flooding that...

HARWICH – It is quiet this afternoon in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Harwich Port. At the edge of the cemetery, wind stirs the oak trees and the pines. Birds call out; a car passes nearby on Forest Street. A Rose of Sharon drops petals on the ground next to the polished granite bench that stands as a memorial to Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., 47th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987. O’N...

HARWICH — What do Squanto, Henry David Thoreau, Teddy Roosevelt and General Motors have in common? They’ve all dealt with the movers and shakers who came from the one-mile stretch from the Herring River to the Dennis town line. known as Captains’ Row. The old Indian or cow path that drew some of the first settlers of the town in the mid-17th century soon became the home to mercantile giants, ship builders and ...

CHATHAM – Isak Dinesen once said, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” Salt water, specifically from the shores of Cape Cod, is also what Paul Shibles uses to create his popular jars of 1830 Sea Salt, which he makes in Chatham the old-fashioned way. In the mid-1800s, a major industry on Cape Cod was salt harvesting. Back then, seawater was evaporated on large beds covered with point...

Harwich Church Exhibits Its Abolitionist Roots

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — It has been 175 years since the Man with the Branded Hand became a central character in the abolitionist movement on Cape Cod. Harwich resident Captain Jonathan Walker suffered the pain of a branding iron bearing the letters “SS” after been imprisoned under Territory of Florida law as a “slave stealer.” The abolitionist movement had momentum locally in those days, as was well documented with the foun...

ORLEANS — There's at least one moment in the town's history that the historical commission would prefer not to preserve. On May 14, 1996, town meeting considered amending the town bylaws to create the East Orleans Main Street Historic District for “the preservation and protection of the distinctive characteristics of buildings and places significant in the history of the town of Orleans and the Commonwealth ...

ORLEANS — Given what the Orleans Historical Society has been up to recently, it's no surprise that the current exhibit at the 1834 Meetinghouse is titled “Models of Maritime Courage and Adventure.” The OHS board has been a model of courage and adventure itself, setting out to raise $3 million to update the Meetinghouse and Hurd Chapel and purchase the Captain Linnell House while creating a new umbrella ident...

CHATHAMPORT — Before Lucky Lindy, Amelia Earhart or Howard Hughes took their places in aviation history, there was the crew of the NC-4, whose all-but-forgotten adventure began a century ago in Chatham. “Without an exaggeration, it changed the world,” retired Coast Guard Capt. Greg Ketchen said. “To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, it was a giant leap forward for mankind.” On Tuesday, Ketchen led a small assembly ...

CHATHAM – Saturday is “Free Locals Day” at two museums. As long as one person in a party has a driver's license with a Cape Cod address, the entire group gets free admission to the Atwood House and Museum and the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11. “It's our way of making the museums accessible to local families across the Cape that might not be able to come otherwise,” said Dani...

HARWICH — They might seem like a repository of dry information, but annual town reports can shed light on a community’s values, its problems and its strengths. Now, thanks to a program of the Boston Public Library, many of Harwich’s old town reports are now just a click away. Through a portal known as Digital Commonwealth, and at no expense to the town, the reports back to 1866 have been scanned and can be v...