Mill Pond & Bridge Area Mill Lane Bridge
This is the Mill Lane area, the first settled part of Yarmouth (for the English pilgrim settlers, at least!) which was in 1638. This bridge is the second location, the first being to the south of where you are standing. Looking to the north and east was the location of several wharves and looking toward the water you can imagine the entrance to the bay beyond. The creek that you now see was much wider and deeper, allowing vessels up to the size of brigs easy access to load or discharge their cargo or passengers at the piers. The famous Yarmouth packets made this their home, sailing out of this landing.
Looking south toward the Mill Pond, you see the land area that was first settled in 1638.
Halfway across the present Mill Pond was where the grist mill and bridge were located for over a hundred years. These were on the left side; on the right of the pond was located the town's tannery which was owned and operated by the Gorham family. The smell was wicked bad! Raising your eyes beyond the pond you see several houses and a large building on the hill. This is the land that was the site of the first house in Yarmouth. It was located on the left side, adjacent to the start of the road from Route 6A.
Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower was our first house building settler. He was allowed to come here to take advantage of the enormous areas of salt marsh for the feeding of his cattle, but he was not allowed to settle here permanently because Plymouth Plantation needed all of its families in Plymouth for its survival. He was a fascinating fellow. Having been to this country in 1610 at the colony in Jamestown, Virginia, he was the only pilgrim who was familiar with the Indian ways. He was chosen to settle here, with Miles Standish, who met successfully with the Indian chiefs who controlled the Plymouth area. Hopkins was also the only American ever mentioned in one of William Shakespeare's plays, The Tempest (His representation was "Stephano"), and he was one of the major reasons for the formation of the first democratic document of these United States, the "Mayflower Compact". He left his house to his son Giles, who lived here for a while and traded with Andrew Hallet for some land in Eastham where Giles's sister had moved with her family (the Snows) in 1644. The area is now loaded with Hopkins descendants.
In 1637/8 a minister and his small flock were given permission to settle in Yarmouth and they came here for that purpose. The minister's name was Stephen Bacheler, and he walked here with his group from Lynn, Massachusetts in the middle of the winter in the year 1637/8. He was 76 years old. He was also constantly in trouble with the authorities because of his ardent desire for other people's wives. He was only here for a year, but his daughter married one of the Wing family who have been here forever. At the age of 100 he absconded with a young woman and went back to England where we assume he spent his remaining days in peace. These early settlers were not all angels. All of these old Cape Cod families have ties to such things as Plymouth, the Mayflower, the French and Indian wars, local whaling and international whaling, the rum trade, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, etc. etc.etc. After all, initially they were thrust together into small communities so naturally they intermarried with their neighbors. If you're related to just one family, then you are related to them all!
Looking north & west (your left) you can see the Mill Lane area where Stephen Hopkins built the first house in Yarmouth in 1638. It was behind and to the left of the house on the corner of Rte. 6A and Mill Lane, #56 Hallet Street. On the south side of the street is the famous Christmas Tree Shop, which was once a large village store selling all sorts of household goods and foodstuffs. It had a fresh water spring in the cellar which was very useful in the days before there was town water service to every house.
The house on the hill, now called the Liberty Hill B&B, was built by one of the Hallets who manufactured pianos in Boston. It is said that a "Liberty Pole" was erected on this hill to defy the British rule as the revolution approached. Across the street from Liberty Hill is a large old house set back from the street behind a long stone wall. This house was a Hallet house and was, in the early 1700s, located directly on the edge of the road. Next to it was an identical house, another Hallet house, that belonged to a relative of the Hallets named Chandler Gray. It was in this house that the women and men spent the night before the Yarmouth militia company marched to Boston to join the other patriots in the start of the American Revolution. They made lead bullets for the use of the troops in the coming war. Years later, when the house had fallen into disrepair and was torn down, some of these bullets were found under the floor boards of the room where these people had worked that night. These bullets are now in the 3rd floor museum of the ancient and honorable artillery company in Faneuil Hall, Boston. Recently Vernon Whynot found one of these bullets on this location in the area where the old house stood. It was buried under the ground and was located by the use of his metal detector.
The next house on the right with a very rare "Beverly Jog" on its left hand side, was another Hallet house which was the site of the first Swedenborgian church service on Cape Cod. This entire area was "Hallet" country, as the first Hallet, Andrew, had over 300 acres in this location, including the original 10 acres of the Hopkins family grant from Plymouth colony in 1638. He purchased this Hopkins' land in 1642.
To your left, next to "Liberty Hill Inn" is the home of the Hon. John Reed, a lawyer and politician whose law office was right on the edge of the street. He, his brother, and some of the Hallets were the founders responsible for the services of the church of the Swedenborgians across the street. In 1844 he was elected the Lt. Governor of the state of Massachusetts. He was active in local politics, and a respected business man of the town. John Reed's house is now an inn called the Wedgwood Inn. He was a member of congress for 24 years.
The original home built by Capt. Bangs Hallet is located next door, east of the "Wedgwood Inn". Those interested in seeing many of his possessions will find them at the Historical Society and at the upstairs museum at Hallet's store which is just up the street. Bangs later traded this house to Capt. Knowles for the house that now is owned by and is the headquarters of the Yarmouth Historical Society.
Looking across the street (north) you will see the Village Inn, which is the former home of Capt. John Eldridge, the oldest brother of the famous 3 Eldridge deep water Captains, John, Asa and Oliver. Asa, commanding the ship "Red Jacket", set a sailing record to Liverpool England. The "Pacific" was one of the packets owned by another Cape Cod boy named Collins from up Truro way. The Collins line had three famous packets which were a combination of steam and sail, and were extremely popular with those people traveling back and forth between New York and Liverpool, England. The line was in direct competition with the English "Cunard" line and was more popular with packet travelers. Collins had a series of tragic accidents with two of his vessels, the "Pacific" and the "Atlantic" which caused the U.S. government to cancel the lucrative mail contract with the firm, causing it to go out of business. The third vessel, the "Baltic" was taken over by the North during the Civil War and was used as a troop ship. The commander of this ship was Capt. John Eldridge of Yarmouth Port who built the house now called the "Village Inn" which we mentioned before. Next to this house is the house of the aforementioned Asa.
Next to Asa's house is the home of the Barnstable County Insurance Company which insured most of the houses in Yarmouth as well as some of the ships and stores of the owners of these houses. On your right on the south side of 6A is the first home of the Barnstable County Insurance Co. which was formed March 2, 1833 by the Otis family who lived in the same building.
Amos Otis was Yarmouth's most famous historian and author, with the possible exception of Charles Swift, local newspaper owner and historical author of Cape Cod subjects. The Register Press, where Swift printed his newspaper and historical subjects, still stands on Railroad Ave. which is around the corner to your left about a thousand feet. Otis, along with Edward Thacher and Oliver Hallet were chosen by the town in 1842 to set Elm trees along both sides of Main Street in Yarmouth Port, so long as 30 feet was left for the width of the road. The distance of the planting was over one mile, and when mature, they arched over the road, making a beautiful shady atmosphere in the hot, sunny weather. The trees lasted for over a hundred years, succumbing to a disease, called the "Dutch Elm" disease which was brought to this country from Holland in small knobs for furniture and which spread to our Elms, killing every last one.
Just before the two banks, on your right, are two perfect examples of 1700s captains' houses, one of which has a round, brick, "beehive" oven in one of its kitchens.
Across the street from the two banks is a perfect example of a Cape Cod "Gingerbread" house built in the early 1800s. Now a restaurant called the "Gingerbread House", it was built by Captain Frederick Howes who became a famous clipper-ship captain, the master of the clipper-ship "Climax". He raced Captain Moses Howes, master of the clipper-ship "Competitor", from Boston to San Francisco in 1853, just at the beginning of the decline of the sailing clipper-ship era. Captain Frederick was a master who treated his ship, his cargo, and his crew with consideration. He was popular with shippers because they knew that their shipments would arrive on time, and in good condition. The same was true of the attitude of ship owners and insurers, to say nothing of the crews that manned the ships. Dependable is a word that described him. Captain Moses, on the other hand, was a hard driving master who drove his ships and crews to the absolute limit, carrying full sails during the worst weather, and was a skipper to use when you had to get a cargo to a port in a hurry. Capt. Moses left Boston one day ahead of Capt. Frederick. He was in the clipper "Competitor"; Capt. Frederick sailed the clipper "Climax". Capt. Moses rounded the "Horn" under full sail well ahead of the "Climax". He sailed through a fierce storm with 40 foot waves. The "Competitor" was no match for those conditions. Her sails were blown away, her rigging was in shambles, and the ship was twisted so badly that it had to be chained together to keep it from tearing apart. Capt. Moses had to bring his ship into port for major repairs, consuming a great deal of time. Capt. Frederick in the "Climax" went along at his steady pace, taking the terrible weather of the "Horn" in stride as he rounded the Horn into the Pacific. The upshot of this race was that they arrived in San Francisco in exactly the same order that they left, with the "Competitor" finishing one day ahead of the "Climax". Capt. Frederick was the inventor of a "Double Reef" top sail that made taking in upper sails much easier, and done with fewer men. Soon every ship had his patented system in use. "Iron men and wooden ships!" describes this time with great accuracy.
"Kitty-corner" across the street from the Gingerbread House, on the south side of the street, is a jewel of a classic old fashioned "Drug store" run by the Hallet-Clark family, Mary, the mother and Charlie, her son. They are direct descendants of the original Hallet who settled this area about 350 years ago. This land has never left the family in all of that time, and this store has been the social and health center of Yarmouth Port for over a hundred years. The prescription bottles with the embossed name of T.T. Hallet on them are now prized collectors items and are very scarce. No longer a drug store, it is now serving breakfast and light lunches, as well as being the only "authentic" ice cream parlor on Cape Cod. Upstairs is a museum containing lots of Hallet memorabilia, some of which belonged to their relative Captain Bangs Hallet. Have some ice cream concoction or a "fizz" from equipment that has made them for over a hundred years.
Across the street from Hallet's at #134 Hallet Street, is a ship captain's house with a mansard roof and dormers, which belonged to Captain Winthrop Sears who was born in 1818. He commanded barks, brigs, ships, steamers and steamer packets in this long career. He was in the union navy during the civil war. He quit the sea at the age of 53 and went into the business community as a banker and went into politics as town assessor and selectman. The little red house next door had a variety of businesses, including that of post office, which was run by a Hallet, of course! It was also the village barber shop for a time. The house next door to Hallet's drug store was also owned by T.T. Hallet, the druggist and at one time was used for selectmen's meetings and other town business. He ran his cranberry-bog affairs from here as well as his fish weir business.
Looking to your left, on the south side of the street, you will see two very large 1834 buildings which were at one time joined by a covered door going from one building, which was Crocker's house, to the second building, which was Crocker's store, one of the biggest in the village of Yarmouth Port. Yarmouth Port became an official name when it was given a post office designation in the late 1820s. The business center moved here when several severe storms had filled in the harbor at what is called "The Bass Hole" today. To your immediate left was Harris's store, now "PeachTree Designs". He sold eyeglasses and watches and nautical equipment. Next to that on the east or right side, is a series of small stores which were at one time Pat Hannon's stable and coach service from the train station to other towns or vessels at the wharves. Harris's store was bought by a fellow named Berry, who was not a very pleasant man, in most people's opinion anyway, and he and Pat Hannon, his neighbor were feuding all of the time. Hannon used to repair lawn mower motors, and, on occasion, at six o'clock in the morning Hannon would start up all of the motors he had on hand just to aggravate Mr. Berry, who would rise to the bait immediately! Talk about individuality! Cape people always have had this trait in their character.
On the north side of 6A, #168, set back from the road apiece, is the large white house of Captain James Bacon Crocker who was born in 1804. He was a "green" water skipper engaged in the East Indies and China trade. He retired from the sea at the age of 40, which is an excellent example of how young these sea captains were to attain the peak of their profession.
Looking north and east across the street is a small building which is now the Joly Real Estate office. In the early 1800's this was a coffin manufacturing building run by one of the Thachers. Next door on the right hand or east side, is a house that recent renovation showed to be from the mid to late 1600s. The left hand side is dated thus by the "rose head" nails and laths in the outer walls; the right hand side is from the early 1700s according to its nails, plaster and construction.
On the south side is a group of captains' houses dating from the early 1700s, including Captain Thomas Matthews, who was one of our town's most famous packet captains. Next to him was another Matthews captain, and east of him was the home of Frederic Matthews who chose not to go to sea like his brothers Prince and George, and father Prince senior. Young Prince was lost at sea; his brother George is mentioned in the sheet of the "common" area. Frederic owned salt works, pieces of sailing vessels of various types, houses, farm land, and engaged in insuring vessels and cargoes. He was a vital member of the Swedenborgian church, and was in charge of children's education and binding books of the Swedenborgian writings. Next to Frederic's house is the house of Captain Nathaniel Matthews who was master of several missionary ships that sailed the Pacific Micronesian Islands. He was one of the founders of our present Yarmouth Port library, having given the land and the money to build the original library building.
Across the street is the "Lyceum Hall", where in the early and mid 1800s it was the center of intellectual and recreational activity for the town. Thacher T. Hallet, of drugstore fame, was one of the organizers of plays and forums here, assisted by some of the retired sea captains who relished these activities. An early register at the Old Yarmouth Inn has many interesting entries by theatrical groups, including bicycle riders, and all sorts of interesting groups from off Cape places. Their comments in the journal are very amusing and sometimes touching. The first Lyceum burned to be replaced by the present structure in the late 1800s. The house to the left of the hall is Captain Josiah Gorham's old house. He was born here in 1809. He was given command of one of the clipper ships built by the Shivericks in East Dennis. The name of the ship was the "Kit Carson". Prince Crowell of East Dennis was the owner and the ship was active in the China trade in 1861. There is a small addition in the rear of the house which was once the town hall of Yarmouth. You can see by the small size of the building that there was not too much activity in the selectmen's domain in the 1800s.
Summer Street was at one time THE road to Hyannis. In the early 1600s it was called Hawes Lane after one of the settlers of that name who lived down by the pond now known as "Dennis Pond". At one time there was an academy on the corner which taught young men the fundamentals of a maritime life.
The "horse trough" on the corner was once in front of the large store to your right, now the "Parnassus book store". Looking directly to the north is a square white building sitting just off of the road. This was at one time in the mid 1800s a hotel, the only one in town. To the right, the gray building is the home of the Parnassus book store, one of the best in the country, that was built in 1859, replacing a store that was there in the late 1700s, owned by Thomas Thacher. He moved half of the present day Captain Bangs Hallet Historical Society headquarters from the Yarmouth Port common to this location. This is no longer "Hallet" country. This is now "Thacher" country, with some of the Hawes land mingled in with it. Knowles built the store for groceries, some clothing and household items. On the second floor he provided the Swedenborgian church with a place to worship, moving them from the second floor of Howes's meat market which was in the front yard of the Old Yarmouth Inn across the street. The store had one of the first elevators on the Cape, going to the third floor, perhaps for storage, but who knows? There is no early photograph of the east side of the building so the obvious door on the second floor of this side remains a mystery that Ben Muse, the current owner, would love to solve. On either side of this store were two small stores owned by the Gorham brothers. The one which remains is now in the middle of the parking lot of the Old Yarmouth Inn. This was Gorham's shoe store. Behind Gorham's store there was a shoe factory.
The Old Yarmouth Inn was built in the late 1600s as a stop-over for people who were traveling to Hyannis. The principle inn of the town was "Squire Doane's" tavern which was in Yarmouth proper, next to the meeting house and the common and training ground. The laws of the 1600s demanded that every town that had a meeting house had to have a common victualler, a house of entertainment, or an inn next to it. Only the most prominent men were chosen to be innkeepers and if no one volunteered, then the town must appoint one. He could not refuse this dubious honor, and some who were chosen became very wealthy in spite of themselves. They became Justices of the Peace who had authority to settle minor legal problems, and witnessed deeds and other legal documents. Next to the Parson, they were the most important and influential men in town. The inns were the social and business centers of each town. Slaves were sold here, as well as cargoes of ships, vendues, ships, houses, auctions of many types, insuring cargoes, houses etc. etc. The Yarmouth Inn was the social center of Yarmouth Port when it was in full swing. Some years later it was a private dwelling; some years later still, it wasn't. Most years it had liquor, some years it didn't. Next door to it was the Sears Hotel, the building with the columns. It too has had a checkered career: a private home of a wealthy Cape Codder whose business was in Boston, a hotel and inn, a private home, an "old folks" home, a bed and breakfast and a boarding house in the winter for those who had no heat in their houses and wanted a hot meal without the trouble of cooking at home. This boarding business was very popular, as was the practice of housewives doing washing and providing board (food), as well as making articles of clothing for both men and women. Many families had sheep from which they got their wool and made such items as socks, sweaters, vests, gloves, etc. for men to wear either at sea or on land. In the warmer months these men returned to their own houses.
Up Summer Street is Yarmouth Port's cemetery where you will find most of the local sea captains, seamen, Revolutionary war veterans and just plain residents of the village, resting in peace. If you have time, take a walk through this historic place and read the inscriptions on the gravestones; it is well worth the trip. Who knows? You might find an unknown relative.
Nature Trail Entrance
Looking north, across the street, is a house that was built in 1680 by Colonel Thacher, a direct descendant of one of the founders of the town of Yarmouth. Initially it was half its present size, the second half being added on at a later date. Colonel Thacher was visiting Colonel John Gorham at his house (built in 1678) in Cummaquid, and was holding Gorham's new-born daughter. "I am going to marry her one day!" said Thacher, and by God he did, years later. His son was also interested in marrying her, but the elder Thacher bought his son off with some expensive animals. A couple of hundred years later the land behind this house was a livery stable for a fellow named Arey, who had a large vineyard just down the street to the north, on Thacher Shore Road. The Thacher farm is to the north of this area, called Green Hill Farm, which is run by one of the direct descendants of the man who began this farm over 350 years ago. The family recently gave the town over 40 acres of waterfront land around the farm, keeping a few acres for the production of fruits and vegetables.
The house to the right of the Thacher house is a mid-1700s house that was moved here from Barnstable and is, along with the Thacher house, owned by the Society For The Preservation of New England Antiquities.
To the right of the present post office was a group of small stores that almost reached the Yarmouth Port common. The area is now covered with bushes and pucker-brush, with no sign of the activities that once were here.
Up until about 40 years ago, the land to the north of 6A was all rolling field, going down to the marsh. You could drive along 6A under the overhead Elm arch and see the water all along the way.
The Bangs Hallet house was built by one of the Thachers in the mid-1700s. Thomas Thacher took half of the house and made a store of it where the Parnassus bookstore stands today. The house was added onto in the early 1800s by Captain Knowles, and traded to Captain Bangs Hallet for the house that he built further west on 6A. The house came into the possession of the Thachers again via Guido Perera, and he gave the building to the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth for their headquarters. The Thacher family have generously given over 240 acres of prime land to the town of Yarmouth over the years in the name of their forefather, Anthony Thacher, one of the founders of the town of Yarmouth in 1638.
The town green, in front of the Hallet house, used to be a small pond which was dug out by people removing clay from the lands which they used to make bricks for their fireplaces. On the right, standing in front of the Bangs Hallet house, is one of the homesteads of the Thacher family, the house of Henry Thacher, now occupied by Mr. Guido Perera, a direct descendant. Henry Thacher gave the land that the Swedenborgian church now sits on to the church, (which is also known as the Church of New Jerusalem), moving an old (1727) Hawes house which sat on the site to the rear of the church where it has become a bed and breakfast house called "Lanes End Cottage". The Thachers and most of the wealthy people of this part of the village left the Congregational Church and became practicing Swedenborgians.
The house to your left, on Strawberry Lane, is the house built by Captain Prince Matthews in 1810. He bought the land off of Captain Thomas Thacher. Captain Prince had three sons and one daughter. The daughter married one of the Hallets who was a blacksmith, and who built a house just up the street so that his wife could be near her family. Prince's son George became a ship's captain and finally inherited the house. While he was at sea in the mid 1800s, Prince's wife had the roof raised to its present height, which was not a happy sight to her husband when he returned from the sea. A model of one his ships is in the Bangs Hallet house, along with a few of this things.
Looking to the north is the Swedenborgian church which was built in 1870, the same year that the Congregational Church was erected. There are very few practitioners now (in 1995) and the church has become a token of former prosperous times, with only an occasional religious service, and with no local clergy.
Looking across the common there is a gray, somewhat dilapidated building that was built by Captain Hawes who was lost in a storm at sea shortly thereafter. It is presently owned by author-artist Edward Gorey, and is representative of Mister Gorey's bizarre international appeal. To the right of the Gorey house are a couple more Thacher houses, one of which has the old "Item" newspaper building attached to its rear. The "Item" was published across the street from the present Christmas Tree Shop.
Far to the left, up the hill, can be seen the 1834 Universalist church steeple on Church Street which leads to the original farm of the Thacher family established in 1638. The church was built in 1836 and has one of the oldest organs manufactured in this country. It is under the care of Mr. Herbert Senn, who has refurbished the organ, returning it to its former glory. The back of the organ has a sailing ship carved into the area where some bored, hopeful seaman pumped the organ with his feet to maintain the pressure for the pipes to produce music.
The large white building on the corner of the common and 6A, the Colonial House Inn is the former home of Captain Thomas Thacher. It was passed on to one of his descendants named Azariah Eldridge who was a famous religious figure in Massachusetts. At his death it became an inn and was run by many people in the intervening years, last by Tom and Betsy Embler who are direct relatives of the original Captain Thomas Thacher. It is now run very ably by Malcolm Perna, a prominent member and officer in the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth. Further up the street, to your right, is the library building, given to Yarmouth Port over 130 years ago by some of its citizens.
Number 302 Hallet Street was the home of Captain Seth Taylor who was born in 1835. He went to sea in a square rigger commanded by his uncle, Captain Benjamin Taylor who taught him "the ropes". Later at the age of 21, he became first mate of the "Robin Hood". The captain died at sea and Seth took over the captain's duties bringing the ship safely back to port.
309 Hallet Street was the home of Captain Joseph Henry Bray, a square rigger ship captain who went into schooners and the coastal trade. He sailed several three masters, the "Hattie S. Williams" and later the larger "William Lorman Roberts", of which he had part ownership.
425 Kings Highway (no longer Hallet Street) was the home of Captain Sylvanus Wheldon in 1840. He went to sea at the age of 14 for a Boston firm, William F. Weld & Company, and in his sailing career went to such ports as Hong Kong, Calcutta, Yokohama, and Liverpool. He died in 1886 and is buried in the Summer Street cemetery.
Next door lived Captain Edwin Thacher, who at one time was chief officer of a ship under Captain Bangs Hallet. He sailed for the firm of Howes & Crowell, two Cape Codders, as captain of many of their ships, sailing to such places as China, Japan, Australia, India and Europe. He sailed "around the Horn" 18 times.
434 Kings Highway was the home of Captain Edmund Hamblin. He also sailed for Howes & Crowell. He was master of the bark "Nathaniel Cogswell", named after a Cape Codder, and was in command of the ship "Ringleader" and the ship "Regent". When he retired he went into the cranberry business.
Just down the street at #447 Kings Highway, lived Captain Cyrus Hall who sailed in the China seas in the ships "Pliades", "Kate Hastings", "Nellie Hastings", "Moses Tower" and lastly the "Cyrus Hall".
The Bass hole is named after the fish that was at one time very prominent in these waters. It has also been known as "Hedges neck", "Gorham's neck", "Town dock", Homers Dock Road and who knows what else. This was the maritime center of town, vessels came and went on the tide; packets, coasters, fishermen, traders and lumbermen came and went, tide and wind permitting. There was a ship yard here on the "horseshoe" that was owned and operated by Squire Doane of the tavern. He bought it off of the Bray family who were renowned ship builders and ship carpenters. He paid his workers with food, lodging, rhum and sometimes, cash. The area was a great source of hay, the best being "English" hay which was grown on the high land. Then, as the land got soggier, the hay lost some of its quality, until there was the hay at the very edge of the water, which was the lowest type. There were a great many salt works in this area with their windmills, salt making vats, and storage sheds for the final product. The road from Rte. 6A was blocked by "bars", fences across the road where the land was privately owned. One had to make arrangements for the bars to be lifted for passage to the town dock or the salt and hay works. The town now has that super, long walk out into the marsh which is a favorite place to come to and relax as you watch the sun set over Sandy Neck to the West. There have been several of these walks, one about thirty feet longer than the present one. They were all destroyed by severe storms from the northeast, called "Northeasters". Several of these great storms, which claimed many lives, were responsible for changes in the depth of the water. Ships could no longer get to the dock, and had to unload to a shallow draft vessel or go west to Yarmouth Port where the water was deeper. White's Creek was no longer navigable, and today is disappearing more and more. Catching Bass, which was at one time very profitable, is a rarity; even the lowly bottom fish are vanishing.
Besides the maritime activities in this area there were two large income producing businesses. The earliest, dating back to the 1600s was the marsh, or salt hay gathering. You can see the lines in the present marsh where people staked out their claims, and indeed, had them registered at the court house and town hall. The hay nearest the shore was the best quality, while that closest to the water was the poorest. The town had hay scales which were used to weigh the hay, thereby assuring people that they were getting a proper weight for their money. Later some of the town's people took over the weighing with their own scales, which afforded them a small profit. Quite often the barter system was used for these services.
The most profitable source of income for this area was in the manufacture of salt. Salt mills, which used the wind for power, dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see. These mills, their attending buildings and large wooden containers with moveable covers to keep the rain out, were all covered by deeds which were registered at the court house. The area provided the fishermen with salt which they used to preserve their catch, since they would be gone for long periods of time until they reached their limit in the fishing grounds. Salt was used for barter, and was almost as popular as corn with the Cape people. When large deposits of salt were found underground in other parts of the country, the local mills could not compete with the price of the new salt, and consequently they went out of business. Cape museums and libraries have many of these old deeds in their collections and many a Cape Cod house was built from the timbers of these salt works when they became obsolete. You can tell if a Cape house has this lumber because it won't accept paint because of all of the salt that it absorbed in its lifetime.
Naturally, the Yarmouth people used this area for swimming and it was the departure point for many a picnic trip to Sandy Neck.
The early 1700s home of Captain John Eldridge, father to the three sea captains, John, Asa and Oliver, is on the left-hand or west side of the road just before the end of the road leading to the town wharf. The town poor house was just beyond this on the left and into the woods a tad.