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CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS HISTORY  
 
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HISTORY OF CAPE COD 
AND it's GEOLOGY

Geologic Origins of Stellwagen Bank



CLICK ON COUPLE TO LEARN 
ABOUT CAPE GEOLOGIC HISTORY
THIS IS A PICTURE THAT TAKEN FROM THE AREA 
OF THE CAPE INN- BEACH . 
NOTICE THE WHITE FIGURE ABOVE THE 
MONUMENT, IT SHOWS UP IN 
OTHER PICTURES I'VE SEEN, AND TAKEN.

Historical Timeline

Provincetown, Massachusetts History

YearEventNotes
17,000 to 15,000 BCE(approx.)Formation of Cape CodRetreat of the last Ice Age glaciation (known to geologists as the "Wisconsin") left behind a cape (and islands) composed of rock rubble moraine as far as High Head in Truro. Subsequent action of currents, tides and winds built up the sand extension that now underlies North Truro and Provincetown. (Schneider 54-57).
   
3,000 to 2,000 BCE. (approx.)Arrival of Native Americans - The Cape's First SettlersDescendants of those migrating peoples who first crossed the Ice Age land bridge from Siberia to North America settled along these shores as hunter-gatherers and eventually (600 to 1,000 years before the Pilgrims) as agriculturists and fishermen. The principal peoples were the Wampanoags and their allies, the Nausets. (Schneider 26, 66).
   
1003 - 1004 CEVikings Visit Provincetown?

Legend has it, and some evidence may suggest, that Leif Ericsson, son of Eric the Red, may have visited these shores in 1003, and that in the following year his brother Thorwald hauled his long boat on the beach here to repair the keel, naming the spot "kjalarness" or "Cape of the Keel." (Shay 2). Narrative of the Visiting Vikings. The legend is appealing, but the evidence is weak.

Pre-1492Possible European Fishing Activities

Evidence exists convincing some historians that intrepid fishermen from the Basque region between Spain and France, and also possibly from Portugal and Britany, being excluded from European fishing grounds, sailed west, discovered the abundant cod fishing grounds of the Grand Banks and possibly these waters, returned to Europe with their valuable catches, and kept their secrets to themselves. (See Kurlanski, Mark, Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Penguin Books, 1997)

Post -1492Fishery Thrives

There is ample evidence that very soon after Columbus "discovered" America, if not before, European fishing fleets exploited these waters, and there is "anecdotal evidence" of temporary fishing camps at what is now Provincetown in the decades before the arrival of the Mayflower. (Schneider 10)

1524Verrazzano's Exploration

The Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing in the service of King Francis I of France, rounded what he described as an "eminente promontorio," which must have been Cape Cod and which he named Cap Pallavisino in honor of his friend, one of the King's Italian mercenary generals. (Morison 308).

1525Portugal's Gomes Explores

The Portuguese explorer, Estevan Gomes, (veteran of a portion of Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe in 1520 - actually Gomes mutinied and turned back before entering the Straits of Magellan), sailing for King Charles V of Spain, mapped the coast of Maine and as far south as Cape Cod, which he named Cap de las Arenas (Cape of the Sand Dunes). (Morison 331).

   
1526 - 1601

English Explorers Strangely Absent

 

 

The Legends Begin to Grow

Prior to 1602, the English seem to have neglected the exploration of this coast. Conjecture is that they were fully occupied searching for a "Northwest Passage" to the Indies (John and Sebastian Cabot between 1497 and 1509) or else merrily plundering Spanish treasure in the Caribbean (e.g. Sir Francis Drake between 1572 and 1595). The English did try to establish a colony at Roanoke in Virginia (1585) under Sir Walter Raleigh's auspices, and actually succeeded in establishing one at Jamestown in 1607.

"Landlords of Fisherman's Taverns anywhere along the Coast of Brittany or the Bay of Biscay had heard all about Provincetown, from the picturesque villains who dropped in to drink brandy and sour wine on an evening between one fishing season and the next..."miscellaneous smugglers, 'Portege' whalemen, French privateers, and colonial fishermen who camped for the summer, all plied their trades with as much freedom as if Provincetown had been a remote island of the Spanish Main."

From this period on through the time of Prohibition in the early 20th century, Provincetowners have been slandered for many things, including being "mooncussers." On parts of England's rugged coasts this meant folk who went along the beach in foul weather swinging lanterns to lure ships ashore to be wrecked. There is no evidence of such detestable activity here, and much evidence of heroic exploits to rescue the victims of shipwrecks. This is not to say that wrecks were not picked clean of their cargoes and anything else worth salvaging before authorities could ever think of intervening.

  
1602Gosnold's Exploration

seafarerEnglish seafarer Bartholomew Gosnold explored and mapped the Cape and Islands in his ship, the Concord, accompanied by would-be colonists searching for a place to settle and by James Brereton, who chronicled the expedition and their contacts with the Wampanoags. No settlement was made, but Gosnold returned to England with a precious cargo of sassafras, quickening English interest in this region. Gosnold was the first to name this Cape Cod.

   
1603Martin Pring Visits

Martin Pring, an adventurer from Bristol, England, visited the Cape and Islands in search of sassafras, highly valued for its supposed pharmaceutical properties, and reported finding no native people at the tip of Cape Cod.

   
1605 - 1606Champlain's Explorations

Frenchman Samuel de Champlain, founder of the first French settlement in Canada (located on the St. Croix River), sailed south to explore for a better place to relocate. Rounding the Cape, he named it Cape Mallabare, on account of the perilous shoals on the outer shore, a name also used by Dutch mariners in these waters. (Bradford 95)

   
1614Captain John Smith's VisitCaptain John Smith, capping a long and adventurous career (fighting the Turks in Transylvania, upholding the English colony at Jamestown and famously encountering the Indian Princess Pocahontas), explored, collected fish and furs and created the charts that were used by the captain of the Mayflower in 1620. The charts show Cape Cod as Cape James, after King James I of England, Cape Cod Harbor (Provincetown Harbor) as Milford Haven, after a pleasant harbor in Wales, and Cape Cod Bay as Stuart's Bay, after England's ruling dynasty.
   
1619Native American Population Found to be DevastatedEnglish explorer Thomas Dermer found places previously populous now almost desolate and the remaining inhabitants either sick or but scarcely recovered. (Freeman 40). This was part of the all too familiar story of Native American populations, lacking immunity, contracting diseases from their European visitors.
1620Arrival of the Mayflower and First Landing of the "Pilgrims"

The Pilgrims (as they have been referred to only since the mid-19th century) were Separatists who had seceded altogether from the Church of England and then had lived unhappily as exiles in Holland since 1607.

Wanting a place of their own to live and worship in their own way, they obtained financial backing from London and a royal patent to establish a plantation, intended to be near the mouth of the Hudson River, where they intended to farm, fish and trade.

Delayed by business complications until late September, they embarked in the ship Mayflower and endured an extremely rough voyage of more than two months. Of the 101 passengers, half were members of their religious community, referring to themselves as "Saints", and half were their indentured servants and others recruited for the venture, whom they referred to, charmingly, as "Strangers", and there was a ship's crew of 25.

An accompanying ship, the Speedwell, which carried the fishermen and their gear intended to be part of the enterprise, sustained storm damage and turned back to England, with near disastrous consequences for the struggling colony in its first year.

During the voyage, one of the company, young William Button, died, and one child, fittingly christened "Oceanus" Hopkins, was born.

At last, land was sighted - Cape Cod as the Mayflower's captain knew it to be from his copy of John Smith's 1614 map. Howling adverse winter winds and the terrifying shoals of the outer Cape caused the Mayflower to abandon the attempt to proceed southward, and on November 11 (old style), or November 22 (new style), she rounded Long Point and came to anchor in the shelter of our harbor.

 Digression Upon the Subject of Historical DatingIn 1752, England, nearly two centuries after most European countries, adopted the more accurate Gregorian Calendar to replace the Julian Calendar, which over the centuries had come to lag behind true celestial time by eleven days. Thus, the date of the Pilgrims' First Landing is recorded in history both as November 11, 1620, O.S. ("old style") and as November 22, 1620, N.S. ("new style"). Many people in England at the time of the calendar change, when by an Act of Parliament (introduced by Lord Chesterfield) the dates September 3 to 13 were omitted, accused the government of robbing their lives of those ten days!
1620

Signing of the "Mayflower Compact"

 

Some among the "Strangers" aboard the Mayflower, observing that they were about to go ashore on territory not covered by the patent granted to the Pilgrims, threatened to go their own way once they were on the beach - a whiff of mutiny! Before anyone was allowed ashore, the leaders of the expedition drew up what we know as the "Mayflower Compact" by which they formed a "civil body politic" empowered to enact "just and equal laws," to which the signers promised "all due submission and obedience." Nearly all the adult males, "Saints" and "Strangers" alike, affixed their signatures, and thereby the principles of self-government and the rule of law were established in the new land, here in Provincetown Harbor.
 Pilgrims Come AshoreThe Compact having been signed, the Pilgrims and their fellow adventurers rowed, and then waded the rest of the way, to the beach at the far west end of what is now Provincetown. In the words of their chronicler and soon-to-be Governor, William Bradford: "Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet upon the firm and stable earth, their proper element."
 Pilgrims' Five Week Sojourn Here

The men set about to explore their new surroundings, and the women to wash the foul clothing and bedding they brought ashore after all those weeks cooped up together in the tiny Mayflower upon the storm tossed sea. It being Monday, legend has it that this is the origin of Monday being "washday" in America.

In their explorations, the men made their way down Cape, found fresh water (Pilgrim Spring) in what is now North Truro - Provincetown's water is brackish to this day; they found a stash of the Indian's corn (at "Corn Hill"), which they appropriated, and reaching Eastham, they had their first encounter with the Indians (at "First Encounter Beach"), a relatively harmless skirmish in which arrows and blunderbuss shots were exchanged without serious effect.

   
 Plymouth BeckonsMuch of the exploration was conducted in a "shallop," a goodly sized boat carried aboard the Mayflower, and in this the explorers visited a site on the mainland, directly across Cape Cod Bay, which earlier explorers has already named Plymouth. It had been the location of a considerable Indian settlement and agricultural development, now abandoned due to the plagues ravaging their population, and it offered good water and a fine harbor.
 Sad lossesWilliam Bradford's wife, Dorothy May Bradford, fell overboard from the Mayflower during the night of December 10 and drowned. The cause of the event is unknown. There were three other deaths during the Pilgrim's stay in Provincetown Harbor; James Chilton, Jasper Moore, and Edward Thompson. All four are commemorated by a tablet erected in the Old Winslow Street Cemetery.
   
 Peregrine White, First Birth in the New ColonyThe first birth in the new colony occurred on board the Mayflower, December 16, while it was anchored in Provincetown Harbor. He was named Peregrine White, lived to be eighty-four years old, and (Paine Smith 28) died in Marshfield on July 20, 1704.
   
1620 - 1621

The Transfer to Plymouth

 

At last, in late December, the Mayflower and her company departed this harbor and sailed over to Plymouth, where they may or may not have noticed a certain inconsequential geological object known ever after as "Plymouth Rock." (See Seelye, John, Memory's Nation:The Place of Plymouth Rock, the University of North Carolina Press, 1998, PP 6-8) Half of them died of hunger and disease before that first winter finally gave way to spring.

 

1621Second Group of SettlersA second group of would-be settlers arrive in this harbor aboard the "Fortune" and are overwhelmed by "this naked and barren place." Seeing it deserted, , they at first believe the "Mayflower" Pilgrims must have all perished. (Philbrick 76-77) However, the Indians assure them otherwise and send runners to Plymouth to report the new arrivals. (Payne Smith 245)

 

Beginning in 1623

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wampanog Confederation Formed

 

 

 

The Native Americans first encountered by the "Mayflower" Pilgrims on the Cape were the Pamets. (Philbrick 49) Those encountered at Plymouth, Pokanokets, led by their sachem, Massasoit, who beginning in 1623, established dominance over the neighboring tribes and created a confederation that came to be known as the Wampanogs. (Philbrick 155)

 

Post 1621Plymouth Colony ExpandsPilgrim sons and daughters strike out on their own and begin settlements around Southeastern Massachusetts and out along the length of Cape Cod. By 1644 there are four permanent settlements on the Cape: at Sandwich, Yarmouth, Barnstable and Eastham. (Kitteridege 39)
 But not as far as Cape's Tip

Meanwhile, at the Tip of the Cape there were neither families, nor school, nor a hint of civilization. It belonged to roving Indians, fisherman and sea dogs. Plymouth Colony's faint attempt to collect revenues from bass fisherman to help support its emerging schools is skillfully thwarted. These renegade fisherman also traded in contraband with European smugglers.

"This community of rogue fisherman banded together not only with the European smugglers but also with the Indian braves who, during hunting and fishing season, set up a nearby camp of circular bent-sapling-and-straw houses. The fisherman traded glass buttons and rum for Indian venison, tobacco, and corn.

"It was indeed an outlaw society. All flotsam and jetsam that washed upon the shore was fair game, be it drift whale, wrecked cargo, or bejeweled corpse."

"Life was much freer for those Colonial bachelors in the bacchanalian fishing station than in the theocratic confines of the Pilgrim community."

"Race Run was the site of Provincetown's bachelor fishing station. It is an inlet outside Provincetown Harbor, at the roiling junction of Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. To this day it is a rich fishing ground because of the abundant nutrients in the sea. This locale is no doubt the source of the modern-day legend of "Helltown," a rendezvous for those with unlicensed appetites. Provincetown has never shed the notoriety of this fishing camp. Historians invariably equated all of Provincetown with this legendary station." (Egan 38-40, citing Rich, Dow and Freeman.)

 

1630Puritans Settle BostonAnother, and much larger and more prosperous group of religious dissenters, the Puritans, arrives at Boston, settles and spreads to form the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

How they differ from the PilgrimsThe Puritans differ from the Pilgrims in that they would still be willing to work within the Anglican Church to purify it by eliminating reference to custom and tradition, such as bishops or deans, most sacraments, the set prayer book and High Church ritual. The Pilgrims, by contrast, are more impatient, unable to wait for Church reform, and they had set out to be able to organize and manage their own religious affairs in their own way. (Morison 7-8)

Looking Ahead

The Massachusetts Bay Colony would grow and prosper, becoming very much the big brother of the Plymouth Colony. The demarcation line would run from Cohasset on the coast, southwest in a straight line to approximately the northeast corner of The Providence Plantations (present day Rhode Island). (Morison map printed on endpapers.)

By Royal decree, the old Plymouth Colony will be annexed to a newly constituted Province of the Massachusetts Bay in 1691. Thus will enter the appellation "Province Lands" to describe all of the public lands reserved at the Tip of the Cape and eventually (1727) the names Provincetown and Provincetown Harbor. (Generally previously known as Cape Cod Harbor.)


Discriminatory TaxationIn 1671 it will be enacted that "our people must pay...sixpence per barrel for mackerel caught at Cape Codd and foreigners must pay one shilling and sixpence." (Smythe 11)
1654Cape Tip lands acquired by The Plymouth ColonyGovernor Thomas Prince of the Plymouth Colony purchases the lands at the Tip of the Cape, afterward known as the Province Lands, from the Chief of the Nausets, and they are made part of the Constablewick of Eastham. (Dunnell 22)
1661Cape Tip Lands made Public Preserve

By enactment of the Plymouth Colony's General Court regarding the Cape Lands acquired in 1654 it is provided that: "noe Stranger or forraigner shall Improue our lands or woods att the Cape for making of fish without liberty from the Gourment, and that all such as shail have libertie shall attend such further orders as shalbe givien them conserning the same--and that they shall pay six pensce a kentell for all such fish as shal be made as aforesaid, to the collonies use." (Smythe 11) (A "kentell", or a quintal, was a weight of 100 Lbs.)

Perhaps they rely on the honor system for collection!

 Nausets' Chief Sells Province Lands to GovernorChief of the Nausets sold the Province Lands to Governor Thomas Prince, as representative of the Plymouth Colony. The selling price was 2 brass kettles, six coats, twelve hoes, 12 axes, 12 knives and a box.(Dunnell 22) The purchase included lands from Eastern Harbor to Long Point. It was bought for the use of the Plymouth Plantation Colony and made a part of the constablewick of Eastham.(Shay 4).
   
1661The Cost of Fish on the CapeThe price to be paid by strangers for fish caught and cured at the Cape was fixed at six pence per quintal (Dego 960)
   
1670Fishing Preserve EstablishedProvince Lands were one of the first areas in America to be set aside exclusively as a fishing preserve by the General Court of the Old Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Theriault 1) This year "our people" were taxed six pence per quintal of fish caught and cured at the Cape and strangers were taxed one shilling and six pence per barrel for mackerel. (Dego 960)
   
1672Fishing RestrictionsAn enactment was made that fish carried on board vessels and not accounted for to the water bailiff should be forfeited to the Colony. (Dego 960)
   
1673Revenue From Fisheries Benefits Schools.The revenue derived from the Cape fisheries was first set aside for the support of schools. A vote of the Colony in that year directed that the income from the fisheries should be employed in the maintenance of a free school in some town within this Colony. A more specific enactment of the same year directed that "the charge for this free school, which is 33 pounds a year, shall be defrayed by the treasurer out of the profits arising by the fishing of the Cape." The income from the Cape fisheries was also at times applied to other purposes. (Dego 960)
1675-1676King Philip's WarLaunched by the son of Massasoit and fiercely fought on the frontiers of the Plymouth Colony, this is the most devastating Indian War in New England History (Philbrick chapters 13-16), although it does not directly affect the Outer Cape.
 1675-1703Settlement of the Cape Tip lands

The historical record is surprisingly muddled about this. Kittredge (92) says that a group of Eastham men began negotiating with the Pamet Indians for purchase of the land that will become Truro, yet it appears that the Cape Lands were acquired by the Plymouth Colony in 1654.

Hatch (21) tells us that while there seems to be no reliable record, 1675-1680 are the best guess dates for the earliest permanent settlement of what we now know as Provincetown.

Admiral Morison (234) avers that "Wellfleet and Truro were not settled during the life of Plymouth Colony (i.e. before 1692); and, at the site where the Pilgrims first landed, no houses were built before the following century. He adds, interestingly (142): "Most of the first settlers on Cape Cod cam there directly from England or from Massachusetts Bay; and the Cape Codders have always felt different from- even superior to- the people of Plymouth County."

 

1680Provincetown's Bad Boy ImageProvincetown's bad boy image probably began with the first settlement of fishermen's shacks on the beach. It was known as a wild place inhabited by a cosmopolitan group of fishermen, smugglers, outlaws, escaped indentured servants, heavy drinkers and the "Mooncussers," who were said to have lured ships to their doom by placing lighted lanterns on the beach at night, thus forcing ships to wreck on sandbars offshore and then salvaging the cargo. (Theriault 1)
   
1690Who Legally Owns Cape Cod Land? Massachusetts Bay Colony or...?This year the court voted to enter into an agreement to pay Major William Bradford, who claimed to own the "Cape Head", 55 pounds for a release of all his claims of title to lands at the Cape purchased by him of the Indians. Mr. Bradford accepted the offer. The Colony, from the beginning, had treated Cape fishing as the property of the Colony. As early as 1661, it had voted no stranger or foreigner should improve the lands or woods at the Cape without liberty from the Government. Thus, in 1690, the Colony reasserted its dominion, and by the purchase of Mr. Bradford's claims,"for the sake of harmony," as the records quaintly say, it became the undisputed owner of all the land and fisheries at Cape Cod. And, so, the question still remains... (Dego 961)
 1691-1692Plymouth Colony absorbed into the New Province of Massachusetts Bay

Political upheavals in England have had their reverberations in the colonies. In 1685, King Charles II had revoked the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His brother, the openly Catholic King James II. , who came to the throne later in that year, was even more intent on suppressing representative government, not least among his more ardently Protestant subjects. Thus, all of New England was to be governed as a single "Dominion" under direct Royal control.

Turnabout came in 1688 with the "Glorious Revolution." James II was forced to flee to France, and the staunchly Protestant King William III and Queen Mary II, his wife became joint sovereigns. (Morison 285-287)

In 1691, after great political haggling in London, a new Royal Charter was granted incorporating the Plymouth Colony, as well as Maine, into the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

The new charter arrived in Boston in May of 1692, and, submitting, the General Court of the Plymouth Colony dissolved itself and declared a day of "sollemne fasting and humiliation." (Willison 407-408)

 

1692How Matters standNow the Cape Lands, including all territory that will become Truro and Provincetown, are officially "Provincelands", the property of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and as before, set aside as a fishing preserve.

Property OwnershipThe corollary is, as it had been, that people may use and build upon land, may even purport to buy and sell it, but they do not in fact own the land and are, in effect, "squatters." This anomaly will not be sorted out until 1893 when an act of the Massachusetts General Court will grant title rights to the land where the Town of Provincetown is built and inhabited, reserving the dunes and forests to continue as publicly owned Province Lands. These will eventually be incorporated into the Cape Cod National Seashore.
1692Plymouth Colony Merged w/ Massachusetts Bay ColonyThe new Province received the rights to "Cape Cod" and it was during this incorporation that "Cape Cod" became known as the Province Lands. (Dunnell 25)
   
1693Minister Estimates Outer Cape Native American PopulationEastham minister estimates that 500 Native American adults live in that town and that 200 Pamets live in the Truro/Province Lands area. (Dunnell 6)
1696 and 1698First BirthsEphriam Doan is said to be the first recorded birth in what will become Provincetown in 1696, (Paine Smith 247) and a son, Ezekial, is born the the Reverend Jeremiah Cushing (a Harvard graduate) and his wife. (Hatch 21)
1698One of the Earliest Births from Earliest Clergy FamilyThe first minister of the town was Rev. Jeremiah Cushing, whose son, Ezekiel Cushing, was born on this date (Paine Smith 119)
1703-1713French PrivateersDuring Queen Anne's War between France and Britain, French Privateers make occasional raids to loot the undefended fishing villages. (Kitteredge 104)
1714Precinct of Cape Cod EstablishedThe General Court established the Precinct of Cape Cod. (Theriault 2)
1714Truro given jurisdiction over Cape's Tip (Chapter 7 of the Acts)An act of the General Court of the Massachusetts Colony makes the Provincetown settlement a "Precinct of Cape Cod" and puts it under the jurisdiction of the Town of Truro, which had been incorporated in 1709.  
1714Which Truro does not welcomeTruro promptly petitions the General Court "that Cape Cod (i.e. the Tip of the Cape) be declared either a part of Truro or not a part of Truro, that the Town may know how to act in regard to some persons." Truro also demands to know why the settlement here "does not entertain a learned orthodox minister of the Gospel to dispense the word of God to them as required by law." (Kitteredge 94)
1715Church and State InteractA petition to the General Court to declare the Precinct of Cape Cod a part of Truro caused the Court to ask why there wasn't an orthodox minister of the Gospel dispensing the word of God to them as required by law. Two years later events unfolded to fulfill that edict. (Paine Smith 118)
1717First Meeting HouseThe General Court grants 150 pounds to build a meeting house, which is erected on "Meeting House Plain", southwest of the old cemetery on Winthrop Street. (Paine Smith 118)
1717Raising and Resurrecting a Meeting House With the Commonwealth's Blessing and Monetary HelpTwo years prior, when the General Court questioned why there was no church representation in town, it helped answer those concerns, granting 150 pounds to build a meeting house, which went up on "Meeting House Plain" southwest of the Old Cemetery on Winthrop Street. (Paine Smith 118)
1717King's Highway Terminates hereThe King's Highway, connecting to Truro, Wellfleet and Eastham is completed here. (Paine Smith 45-46)
1717King's Highway Terminates as Main StreetMain Street through town is the "Terminal of the King's Highway" which connects to and through Province Lands from Eastham, Wellfleet and Truro. Other streets become established.(Paine Smith 45-46)
1719First Sea Monster reportedThe appearance of a sea monster in Provinctown Harbor is reported by B. Franklin (an uncle of the celebrated Benjamin) who described it as having "a head like a Lyon's with very large Teeth, Ears hanging down, a large Beard...with curling hair on his head." (Kitteredge 169) There will be others.

Origins of the Whaling Industry and Preview of the Future

By this time the taking of oil from whales washed ashore was a profitable venture, and the pursuit of whales just offshore was soon to be a growing industry.

Eventually whaling ships from Provincetown as well as from Nantucket, New Bedford and other New England ports, would venture further and further in pursuit of the "lucrative leviathans", even rounding Cape Horn into the Pacific and north to Arctic waters.

The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and the War of 1812 (1812-1815) would shut down Provincetown's Harbor and whaling activities, and in the Civil War (1861-1865) Confederate raiders would burn whaling ships from all northern ports. Each time the industry would rebound more strongly until the discovery and increasing use of petroleum would spell a steady decline. The last of the great whale ships, the "Provincetown", owned and registered to Charles W. Morgan, would clear this harbor on its final voyage in 1921. She is preserved at the Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut.

If some people fail to associate Provincetown with the great days of whaling, perhaps it is because Herman Melville in "Moby Dick" neglected to mention this town alongside Nantucket and New Bedford.

1724Land Boundaries OutlinedPrior to this time, Provincetown was part of Truro, the boundary line of which crossed the Cape from shore to shore, a few feet to the westward of what is now the eastern schoolhouse (Howland Street). All to the westward of said line was land that belonged to the Plymouth Colony at first and afterwards to the State. This land was reserved for fishing and resident squatter fishermen. (Jennings 19)
   
1727Cape Cod Precinct Becomes Incorporated as ProvincetownRecently being the Precinct of Cape Cod, Provincetown became incorporated as a town on June 14, 1727. The original name chosen was Town of Herrington but was discarded by the General Court. Details regarding incorporation of Provincetown.
 1727Provincetown Incorporated (Chapter 11 of the Acts)Provincetown petitions the General Court to be set off from Truro (as Truro had long wished) and incorporated as a separate Town. The petition is granted on June 14, 1727. The name "Herringtown" had been proposed, but mercifully rejected in favor of "Provincetown", which signifies that title to the land was retained by the Province of Massachusetts Bay, as had always been the case, due to the vital importance of this harbor to the fishing industry. (Smythe 13) The key words of the act are: "saving, always the right and title of this province to the said lands, which is to be in no wise prejudiced."
1741The Province Lands and Ownership ThereofFrom the early days of the colony the extreme end of Cape Cod was refered to as the Province Lands. The land bought, sold and built upon was land people did not own. In 1893 the State surrendered its title to the strip of land upon which the town was built -- but the dunes and woods remained under state jurisdiction as the Province Lands. (Smith and Shay 29) In 1741, Provincetown was set off as a precinct of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, thus it's name, but title to lands in the name of the Colony remained as such, instead of being allowed to be transferred by title to individuals (Edwards 160)
   
1746Oldest House In Provincetown BuiltThe Seth Nickerson house, 72 Commercial Street, was constructed around this time period and is considered to be the oldest house in the Town of Provincetown.
   
1748Population DwindlesBy this year there was scarcely a family left in town. (Jennings 21)
   
1748Frigate Somerset Launched in English WatersA third rate English frigate, The Somerset, built in Chatham, England dockyards, was launched, carrying 64 guns: 32,18, and 12 pounders. (Jennings 70)
   
1749Population Sprawl Lags BehindEven though ownership to land was not transferable to individuals because it was claimed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, dwellings sprung up to house families, but on a small scale. The town consisted of only two or three settled families, two or three cows and about six sheep. Those who erected dwelling-houses, fish-houses, and wharves within the limits of the former precinct, occupied the position of mere squatters or tenants on sufferance, an anomalous condition which continued until 1893 (Edwards 160-161)
   
1755Provincetown "Village" Look Takes HoldThe town was not developing well in the early to mid 1700's, but by 1755 it began looking more like a snug little village, and has steadily increased to the present day (Jennings 21)
   
1763First Meeting House Constructed in ProvincetownThe government built the first place of worship on "Meeting House" plain near extreme northwest end of what is now known as the "Old Cemetery". The creed established by state was Orthodox. Mr. Spear was the authorized minister.(Jennings 21)
   
1764The Lost CensusFrom it's humble beginnings, the Town slowly ebbed and flowed in population, but by this date the town was so insignificant the census forgot it altogether.(Edwards 161)
   
1767A Second Meeting House Replaced the Old One.A second meeting house was built on the same spot as the first one, which was erected on "Meeting House Plain" southwest of the Old Cemetery on Winthrop Street. (Paine Smith 119)
   
1773A New Church "Old White Oak" was ConstructedThe 1763 church was torn down and rebuilt near the present St. Peter's location. This church was referred to as the "Old White Oak" from the fact that the frame was of wood and cut in Barnstable. It was dedicated in 1774. At a legal Town Meeting, Rev. Samuel Parker was voted to take charge. Rev. Parker held the post until he died on April 11, 1811. (Jennings 21)
   
1774Frigate Somerset leaves England for our shoresSomerset left England for North American Station, returning to London in 1776. (Jennings 70)
   
1778British Man-of-war, the Somerset, wrecked off Peaked Hill BarsThe British frigate - Somerset, mounting 64 guns, was grounded on Peaked Hill Bars and was pushed ashore by the pounding surf. (Jennings 70)
   
1779Town Warrant Calls Vote for Federal RepresentationProvincetown Constable required to warn male inhabitants of age, having a freehold estate within the Commonwealth, of an annual income of 3 pounds or any estate to the value of 60 pounds, to meet on January 17th to vote for Federal Representation in the Congress of the US. (Jennings 28)
   
1792Supporting Fishing IndustryBy this year the whale fishery and West Indies trade had been reestablished in Provincetown and everyone who was not going to sea was employed making something for those who were: salt, rope, sails, harpoons and boats (Theriault 3)
   
1793Birth of Methodism in TownMr. Humbard, a Methodist preacher, was on board a vessel lying in the harbor en route elsewhere, but he came ashore and preached a Methodist sermon in the house of Samuel Rider, then standing on what is now the corner of Gosnold and Commercial streets. The site now is occupied by Adams's drug store and residence. This was the first introduction of Methodism, and from that sermon several drew off from the established Orthodox creed. Morereligious activity prevailed. (Jennings 23)
   
1794First Provincetown Methodist Church ConstructedConstructed on the corner of Bradford & Ryder Street, the building lasted until 1818 when a larger church was built where St. Peters Hall is now located, although it lasted until 1837.(Jennings 25)
   
1795Provincetown Masonic Charter Signed by Paul RevereKing Hiram Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons is one of the oldest organizations in the town. Its charter was signed by Paul Revere. The first record we find is dated December 12, 1795, John Young, W.M. A code of by-laws was drawn up and adopted March 21, 1796. It was voted to build a lodge house March 23, 1797. It was also voted to build the building not only for a lodge house but also for a school house. This building was put up by the brothers at the foot of High Pole Hill. The brotherhood did their work until the persecution, known as "the Morgan time," drove them out. (Jennings 164)
   
1796

 

Paul Revere Associates with Local Provincetown Masons

Paul Revere was Grand Master of Masons Grand Lodge of MA from 1795-97 and a goldsmith by trade. Provincetown's King Hiram's Lodge commissioned a set of 12 silver jewels (uniform pins) from him, which, along with the Charter, are still in the Lodge's collection. Revere engraved Masonic certificates given to 3rd degree masons, two of which were issued to Richard Parry, a Provincetown Selectman in 1798 and Rueben Young, captain of the schooner, Rienzi, in 1799. (Theriault 5)
   
1797First Lighthouse Sheds LightThe first lighthouse, that at the Highland, was built. (Paine Smith 92) Others followed, with Race Point in 1816, Long Point in 1826 and Wood End in 1873. With each year, after building these lighthouses and improving charts, fog-bells, horns, rescue appliances, and regular drills for men, fewer disasters occurred.
   
1798From an Olde Tavern emerges a New Tavern, the A-HousePease's Tavern was built this year next to the Customs House operated by Abner Dunham. It is now known as the Atlantic House on Masonic Place. (Theriault 6)
   
1801First Postmaster AssignedDaniel Pease, the first postmaster, was appointed. (Dego 973).
   
1801Small Pox Outbreak Confines ActivitiesDuring the fall, smallpox was prevalent and precautions were voted for at a special town meeting: "any person who is the head of any family who shall permit the number of 6 persons to meet together at his house for frolicking or any unnecessary purposes, shall pay to the use of the town a sum not exceeding $50 dollars." Also, the dogs, cats and sheep were not allowed to run at large.(Jennings 29)
   
1802Three East India Ships Were Wrecked

The name of the ships were VolusiaUlysses, and Brutus. All the crew of Brutus reached shore but froze to death. (Edwards 168)

   
1802The History of Monument HillHigh Pole Hill is the hill on which the monument stands today. A mill is said to have stood on the hill in early days. The mill was demolished and forgotten but the desire for a tower remained, which eventually (see 1853) gave rise to what resides there today. (Paine Smith 148)
   
1806Town Building Use Not Needed Until After 1800The union of parish and town made unnecessary the erection of public buildings for use of the town until long after 1800, because several church edifices afforded the necessary accommodations for the town meetings and the town officers. In 1806, the records first allude to a building for town purposes. During an epidemic of small pox in 1801, a private dwelling surrounded by a high board fence had been set apart for a hospital. In 1806, the building thus erected was by vote of the town converted into a poorhouse and continued to be used for that purpose until the erection of an almshouse on Alden Street in 1833, at an expense of $867.(Dego 974)
   
1807Remodel of Meeting HouseThe Meeting House was remodeled and four new pews added at considerable expense to the town. At that time the highest bidder was Solomon Cook who paid $342 for pew No. 39. (Paine Smith 120)
   
1807Black Slaves Take Safe Harbor in Provincetown Prior to Heading NorthCaptain Stephen Nickerson, said to be one of the wealthiest men in Provincetown when vessel property was good property, owned the 188- ton bark Spartan. During the Civil War, his home at 54 Commercial Street was one of four houses in Provincetown functioning as part of the Underground Railway System. Black slaves escaping north to Canada found food and shelter at these stations during the day. At night they were boarded onto fishing schooners leaving Provincetown for the Grand Banks and the Maritime Provinces. (Theriault 33)
   
1808Embargo on Fishing During Wartime Stressed Provincetown

The town petitioned the President of the United States representing that, "they have suffered severely from the operation of the laws laying and enforcing an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, not only in common with their fellow citizens throughout the Union but particularly from their local and peculiar situation, their interest being almost totally in fishing vessels. The perishable nature of the fish and the sale of it depending solely on a foreign market, together with the barrenness of the soil not admitting of cultivation leave them no resource but the fisheries," and concluding their petition with a request that "the embargo be suspended in whole or in part."

(Dego 968)

   
1809Wartime Depressed Provincetown and Welfare Assistance SoughtThe war of 1812, preceded by the embargo of 1808, was also a time of disaster and great depression in the fisheries. The embargo necessarily occasioned the destruction of the commercial industries of the maritime towns. Provincetown suffered with the others, and in 1800 appointed Barnabas Holway " an agent of the town to go to Sandwich to receive any gift that any person or persons may feel willing to bestow on the distressed of this town." (Dego 968)
   
1810Methodists Threaten to Preach to CongregationalistsThe town voted to have a Methodist minister in the pulpit of the Congregational church unless the regular minister, Mr. Parker, was able to officiate. (200th)
   
1811British Men-of-war Anchor Harbor and Pay High Prices for Goods.

After the declaration of war with Britain on this date, British Men-of-war surrounded Cape Cod with H.M.S. Majestic, making her base at anchor between Provincetown and Truro. Selectmen of Provincetown, Wellfleet and Truro were forced to enter into agreement to provide stores at the market price to British frigates. Stores had to be rafted out by schooners in Provincetown Harbor due to the 12-14 foot rise in tide. The market price the British paid for beef in 1814 was $7.00 per pound and it is said that several fortunes in Provincetown had their beginnings in British gold. (Theriault 8)

   
1812Fishing Industry Blossoms After the War of 1812After the War of 1812, Captain John Smith realized the value of fishing industry in Provincetown and made a $7500 profit from sending a cargo of dried fish to Spain. In concert with that, men from Truro, Eastham and Barnstable came to Provincetown to fish and then built substantial houses close to the water and brought their families.. (Smith-Shay 97)
   
1813Town Boundary Between Provincetown & Truro ChangesThe General Court enacted, and the Governor approved, an act to set off Silas Atkins and others from the town of Truro and annex them to the town of Provincetown.(Acts of 1813 Chapter 24)
   
1814British Enemy Barricade Thwarted By CitizensAfter being frustrated at not being able to capture Johnathan Cook's schooner Polly, suspected of carrying government stores out of Provincetown during the British blockade, Lt. Commander Henry E. Napier of H.H.S. Nymph wrote: "My hope is that he will be hung before his next birthday." Adding to his grief, Thomas Smalley's schooner, Golden Hind, ran the blockade. Sinking his boat in the eastern harbor where British ships could only enter at high tide, he'd refloat her during the night and sail out to avoid capture. (Theriault 10)
   
1816Lighthouse on Race Point Becomes a Beacon for MarinersRace Point lighthouse was built to assist in diminishing maritime disasters. (Paine Smith 92)
   
1818Buildings on Long Point Begin To AppearFirst appearance of buildings on Long Point start to dot the horizon. Long Point became home to many for as long as 40 years, after which they placed homes on scows and rafted them across the harbor to live on what is currently known as the West End of Provincetown. (Paine Smith 32) The Red Inn Annex was once the bakeshop on Long Point. (Smith-Shay 97)
   
1818First Buildings Constructed on Long PointThe first house was built on Long Point by John Atwood. Prince Freeman built the second house and Eldridge Smith the third. The Long Point community grew to a population of 38 families and close to 200 adults. The population was engaged in fishing and the manufacture of salt. (Jennings 76) . There was no fresh water so plank cisterns were laid to collect rain water.
   
1819A One-Eyed Horse Steers Without a Rudder.During the War of 1812 there was great depression and in 1819 we hear that there was only one horse in Provincetown and that was an old white one with one eye. (Edwards 161) A Provincetown minister, Mr. Stone, wrote to a friend, "Would you believe there is a town in the United States with 1800 inhabitants and only one horse, with one eye? Well, that town is Provincetown, and I am the only man in it that owns a horse and he is an old white one with only one eye." Knowing only boats as a mode of transportation, a Provincetown boy, seeing a carriage driven along by the horse wondered how she could steer so straight without any rudder! (Paine Smith 42)
   
1822Long Point's First BornPrince Freeman, Jr. was the first child born on the Point (Freeman 76)
   
1826Long Point Lighthouse BuiltA lighthouse was constructed on Long Point this year (Dunnell 72)
   
1827Connecticut Yankee Makes Good in Provincetown and Donates Steeple Clock to Town Hall

Joseph Prosper Johnson, born in Essex, CT, came to town in 1827 and enhanced Provincetown's business ventures. (Theriault 18)

   
1828School Districts Promote Establishment of New SchoolsSix school districts were created giving reason to build six district schoolhouses. Each district elected its own supervisor. One school was near West Vine Street, the Enos Nickerson schoolhouse was near Atlantic Avenue, and one is still standing not far from the present Eastern schoolhouse. (Paine Smith 138)
   
1829Universalist Church Built and DedicatedA church was built on the plot of ground now the site of the house occupied by Captain Abner B. Rich on Commercial Street at the head of Central Wharf. It was called the Christian Union Church and cost $3,105 to complete. Jonathan Farr preached the first sermon, April 19, 1829. Dedication of the church took place November 2, 1830. (Jennings 161)
   
1829John Murray's Water Logged Book Washed Ashore at Long Point Unfolds New IdeologyJohn Murray out-preaches his friend, John Wesley and is utterly cast out by the Universalists. (Paine Smith 129-133)
   
1830Long Point's First SchoolThe first school that was kept on Long Point was kept in the lighthouse. There were only three children who were taught by Miss Hannah Sanborn, who afterwards married Deacon John Dyer, a mover of buildings who eventually moved about all the buildings from the Point over to the town. (Jennings 78)(see 1850)
   
1830Theology is TestedReverend Samuel Parker replaced Jeremiah Cushing, the first minister, and was eventually replaced himself by Reverend Nathaniel Stone who vigorously attacked the problems that took control of Rev. Parker's pulpit. (Paine Smith 120-123)
   
1831Union Wharf is Built and ProspersUnion Wharf was built in 1831 and extended in 1855. It was a self contained community with stores that outfitted vessels for fishing and whaling voyages, a blacksmith shop, and stores providing fruits, confections and tobaccos. (Theriault 111)
   
1835First Real Road Established Followed by Plankwalk Never Used by SomeCounty Commissioners laid out the 'Town Rode" at a cost of $1,273.04 which was for land damages when they took land for it. Following that, and during Andrew Jackson's administration when there was a surplus after government debt was paid, Provincetown's share of the surplus of $6000 was used to build wood plank sidewalks for this new road. People thought it was a preposterous extravagance. (Paine Smith 43)
   
1836Provincetown's First Fire Engine was PurchasedTown voted to buy it's first fire engine. On November 14, a vote was passed "to buy one hand fire engine and thirty secondhand buckets, one hundred feet of leading hose and all other necessary fixtures." The fire engine was called "Old Washington." (Jennings 46)This engine is now in the collection of the Provincetown Monument Museum.
   
1837Profitable Salt Making Business Evolves and Then DissolvesProvincetown had 78 salt-works producing 48,960 bushels of salt at the price of $1 a bushel. The brine left in the bitter water room, evaporating slowly during the winter, yielded a little pin-money in the form of Epsom or Glauber's salts. Reduction of the duty on salt, the repeal of the bounty, and especially the discovery of salt deposits in New York State, ruined the salt making here. (Paine Smith 51)
   
1839Another Wharf is Built Into the HarborThe Central Wharf was built. (Dego 969)
   
1840Long Point Settlement Contained 38 HousesIn the 1840's there were 200 people living in 38 houses on Long Point. (Dunnell 72) Description of Life on Long Point
   
1843Replacement of Old White OakThe "Old White Oak" church was taken down, and the present church built of the material with the addition of new lumber. The white oak framing was all utilized in the building. (Jennings 22).
   
1843Provincetown Schooner Catches Largest Whale Ever KnownThe largest whale ever captured on this coast was taken in South Channel, southeast of Chatham, by the little Pink-stern Schooner, Cordelia, of Provincetown, with Capt. Ebenezer Cook and a crew of Provincetown men. This whale was of the right whale species and was estimated it would have made nearly 300 barrels of oil and about 1.5 tons of bone. The little craft, not having the facilities for handling the monster, saved only about 125 barrels of the oil and 300 pounds of the bone which was over 14 feet in length. The value of the fish was over $12,000. (Jennings 194)
   
1844Graded Schools EstablishedThe ungraded district schools of 1828 served until 1844 when the town built the Western, the Center, the Eastern schoolhouses, each for three grades: the Primary, the Intermediate and the Grammar. Five years later the High School was established. (Paine Smith 138)
   
1845Jail House Rocks.The town voted to petition the legislature to authorize the county commissioners to erect a jail at Provincetown. The jail was accordingly built upon Central Street near Bradford and continued in use as the town "lockup" until 1886.(Dego 975)
   
1846School House on Long Point PlannedThe town voted to build a schoolhouse where some 40 families resided on Long Point. This building was one of the last to eventually be removed and now stands on Commercial Street near the Post Office. (Jennings 42). There were sixty scholars who attended and the inhabitants numbered over 200 with the adult population engaged in fishing and manufacture of salt. (Jennings 76). (Picture of building in Jennings 141)
   
1846Methodist Congregation Splits ApartMethodists increased, making it advisable to split into two separate churches, one in the western end of town. At that time, Universalists offered their building for sale for $1,400, so it was bought, overhauled and remodeled, cupola taken off, steeple put on, new facade reworked and bell placed in belfry. Church was then formed by Methodist residents at western end and dedicated under the name of Wesley Chapel. With increased membership it became advisable to build present structure in 1865. (Jennings 157)
   
1847New Universalist Church BuiltFrom 1844 until the present church was built in 1847, there were several candidate preachers. The clock now in the church was presented by Mr. Joseph Atkins, who is mentioned in church records. When he had reached the advanced age of 87, the name of the society was changed to the Universalist Society, and Rev. Emmons Patridge was the first to preach in the new church. (Jennings 162)
   
1848Marine Railway Constructed at Central WharfShipping required accommodations. Freeman Atkins, Eben S. Smith, William A. Atkins and others were incorporated as the Provincetown Marine Railway, with power to construct a railway easterly of Central Wharf. (Dego 969)
   
1849State Law Requires Establishment of High School

Voted at town meeting to establish a High School, school doors opened on April 26th in the vestry of the old Methodist church under the Hill. All grade schools were furnished with blackboards, maps, globes and all the latest appliances for education in that day. Freeman Nickerson, principal, was paid $400, with Miss C.A. Rogers as assistant. The school committee consisted of Godfrey Ryder, Esq., Dr. S.A. Paine and Rev. Osborn Myrick. (Paine Smith 140)

1850Buiildings Moved From Long PointBeginning in 1850, families began to move off of Long Point. Deacon John Dryer specialized in moving buildings and moved most of the houses across Provincetown Harbor. By the time of the Civil War only two houses remained on Long Point (Jennings 78).
1850Provincetown's 2nd Fire Engine was PurchasedAnother fire engine was bought and called the Franklin which is today under the name of Tiger #5 (Jennings 46)
1850'sLargest Catch of Cod Fish Brought to ShoreCod fishing in the 1850's was at it's height in Provincetown. "Member Captain Angus McKay brought in the largest catch of codfish ever recorded into port aboard the schooner, Willie A. McKay," (Theriault pg. 28) They weighed 4,062 quintals (a metric unit of mass equal to 100 kilograms) and sold for a little over $22,000.
   

  
   
1851Storm Destroys a Beacon LightThe ocean broke through East Harbor during the storm of 1851 which destroyed Minot's Ledge Light. (Paine Smith 100)
   
1852Railway is Built on Union Wharf

 

Charles A. Hannum, Stephen Nickerson, Alfred Nickerson and others were incorporated as the Union Marine Railway, with power to build a railway at Union Wharf. (Dego 969)

   
1852Seamen's Bank InstitutedSeamen's Savings Bank began business this date. It was incorporated April 14, 1851.(Dego 980)
   
1852First Italian Priest Sets Many a Precedent for Catholics in TownDetails.
   
1853High Pole Hill Purchased for $350

Town of Provincetown purchased High Pole Hill for $350 from Godfrey Ryder; Jonathan Cook; Asa S. Bowley; Philip Cook Seth Nickerson, 2nd; Joseph Atkins; & Samuel Chapman. Deed was recorded June 9, 1853 (Jennings 106). The original Provincetown Town Hall was to be constructed on top of High Pole Hill at the location where the Pilgrim Monument stands today. The facility would cost $15,000 to build. In addition to being the Town Hall, Provincetown's high school students would hold classes on the top floor of this structure. (Jennings 106)

 

   
1853Hook and Ladder's First UseThe Hook and Ladder fire truck was put into service. (Dego 973)
   
1854First Bridge Across East Harbor ConstructedAn act of the legislature authorized the commissioners of Barnstable County to construct a bridge over East Harbor at Beach Point. A bridge costing $9,000, of which the county contributed $2,000, was constructed. The bridge, however, was destroyed by ice in 1856 and was rebuilt in 1857. Twenty years afterwards, the bridge was discontinued and a solid roadbed was constructed across the channel. (Dego 970)
   
1854Windmills Dominate Provincetown's SkylineOne hundred 90-ton cod-fishing schooners, catching nearly double the total of all the rest of the Cape, required a lot of salt. Windmills and ships' masts dominated Provincetown's waterfront as sea-salt makers kept the windmills pumping the sea into drying pans to supply the fishing industry. With 700 ships: whalers, Grand-Bankers, Georges-Bankers, mackerel-catchers, and line fishermen all crowding the harbor, the town had to keep busy to supply their needs. (FNBP 1) Fish were dried and salted for shipment.
   
1854Provincetown Fishing BoomProvincetown fishermen landed 79,000 quintals - 27,416,340 pounds of fish. With it's whalers, Grand-Bankers, Georges-Bankers, mackerel-catchers and line fishermen, Provincetown Harbor was nearer crowded than ever before or since. (FNBP 7)
   
1854Salt Industry CeasesThe manufacture of salt began in Provincetown in 1800 and continued for many years, a profitable industry. Salt mills and salt works extended along the shore from one end of the town to another giving a picturesque appearance to the town. It was still at its height in 1835 but the reduction of the bounty and the high price of lumber soon after caused a diminution in the annual product, so that in 1854 the business had ceased. (Dego 978)
   
1854Ground Breaking Commences for first Town Hall on High Pole Hill

A Town House, with a high tower that could be seen half way to Boston Light, was erected on High Pole Hill. The Town Hall/School was destroyed by fire on February 16, 1877

   
1854First State Bank in TownThe bank was incorporated first as a State Bank. (In 1865 named First National Bank.) The first meeting of the stockholders was held at the Town House, May 8, 1854; Daniel Small as Chairman, Elijah Smith as Secretary. The first Board of Directors was chosen at that time. The first meeting of the Directors was held at the house of Eben S. Smith and choice was made of Nathan Freeman as President. June 14, 1854 saw Elijah Smith as Cashier. (Jennings 115)
   
1856Telegraph Companies Come to Cape 
   
1857Long Point ResidencesResidences of Long Point dated 1857 (Paine Smith 35-37)
   
1858Commercial Street Fire Destroys Six BuildingsAt the Bowen fire, six buildings on Commercial Street, between the land of Josiah F. Small and the land belonging to the estate of Jesse Cook, were totally destroyed. (Dego 973)
   
1859Board of Fire Engineers FormedBoard formed with the late E.G. Loring as Chief, followed by Eben S. Smith, succeeded by Mr. John. D. Hilliard, who became a member of the board in 1866. The board held monthly meetings in their rooms in the Town Hall. (Jennings 46)
   
1860Methodists Built Taller English Baroque ChurchThe Center Methodists built a new church at the corner of Center and Ryder Streets It was built in English Baroque style with a huge bronze bell in the belfry. The sanctuary was on the second floor with a tracker organ. The church cost $22,000 and had a spire 162 feet high which was later removed due to storm damage. (200th)
   
1861War Volunteers Receive RemunerationThe first town meeting to take in consideration affairs relating to the war of 1812 voted to pay to every volunteer from Provincetown in the army or navy $20, together with "ten dollars a month for single men and men having wives only, and fifteen dollars a month to men having families while in the service." Fortunately, the town was spared the suffering that invasions of the enemy had caused in previous wars, and but for the loss of life and the loss of several vessels by the, Sumter,, and other Confederate cruisers, experienced an uninterrupted business prosperity during the years of strife.(Dego 968)
   
1861Rebellion of 1861-1865Provincetown boys, as they were referred to, never shrank from their duty while defending their country's flag. Commodore Farragut singled out one when he mentioned that in the battle at the mouth of the James River off Newport News, between the Rebel ram, Merrimac and the Union fleet, when the Comberland sank, Josiah C. Freeman, a Provincetown boy, went down with her fighting with his gun manfully to the last. In his memory Post G.A.R was named. (Jennings 52)
   
1861President Lincoln Uses Provincetown Harbor as Place to Release HostagesIn order to prevent trade alliance between Confederate states, Great Britain and France, the Union Naval ship, San Jacinto, intercepted and boarded the British mail steamer, Trent, en route to London. John M. Mason and James Slidell, former US senators and leading secessionists, were arrested and imprisoned at Fort Warren on George's Island, Boston Harbor. Britain's Parliament was outraged, accusing US of breaking International Law. President Abraham Lincoln decided to accede to British demand and ordered Mason and Slidell released, so they were transported to Provincetown Harbor aboard British naval ship, Rinaldo. The storm that arose the night the Rinaldoleft anchor became known as Mason and Slidell Gale. (Theriault 30)
   
1863English, Caledonia, Ship Wrecked off Race PointCaledonia, an English ship with cargo of broadcloth, linen, cotton cloth, and thread, was found the morning after, awash in the tide. (Paine Smith 93) As a story goes, a workmen brought home a bolt of Irish linen toweling from the wreck. It being somewhat stained by salt water, his wife washed it, and knowing if hung out to dry, a passersby would notice it, and knew where it came from, she thought it a good idea to hang it on a neighbor's clothes line as they were adjoined. When dry, the owner of the clothes line went and took it in, reasoning that if she was going to have the name of having some of Caledonia's stuff, she might as well have the article. The first party never called the other for the toweling...they were not on speaking terms thereafter, (Jennings 181)
   
1863Library Movement Commences,,,,donated to the town a sum of money amounting to nearly $300 and deposited it in the Seamen's Saving Bank.The first movement towards a public library commenced when the Mayflower division of the Sons of Temperance donated to the town a sum of money amounting to nearly $300 and deposited it in the Seaman's Savings Bank. This was to form a nucleus for the purpose of raising a sum of money to establish a public library. (Jennings 112)
   
1864Long Point Acquired by U.S.The United States acquired jurisdiction over all that portion of Long Point extending from the extremity to a line drawn true west through the northern point of House Point Island, subject, however, to the civil and criminal processes of the judicial tribunals of the Commonwealth. (Dego 969)
   
1864Another Marine Railway Comes to Another WharfEphphras K. Cook, Ephraim Cook, Ebenezer Cook and others, were incorporated as the Eastern Marine Railway to construct a railway from the wharf of E. and E. K. Cook. The Eastern Marine Railway was discontinued in the winter of 1874-75.(Dego 696)
   
1864Civil War Batteries at Long PointCivil War batteries were constructed at Long Point under the charge of John Rosenthal for 12 years. (Jennings 61) Earthen forts later known by the Townspeople as "Fort Useless" and "Fort Ridiculous."
   
1865State Bank in Town Becomes First National Bank

The State Bank established by an act of incorporation on March 28, 1854 was organized as the First National Bank, with an increased capital to $200,000. Elijah Smith, the first cashier of the bank, continued in that capacity until his death in January, 1867, at which point, Mr. Moses N. Gifford was chosen cashier. Mr. Nathan Freeman, President from the first organization as a State Bank, filled that position when it became National and held it until his demise in 1876.(Freeman 115).

   
1865Centenary Church is Born Out of Methodist SplitNinety-one Center Methodist members formed Wesley Chapel in 1848, and this year they built a larger church for $40,000 and called it Centenary Church, with seating for 1000. Wesley Chapel was sold to Reuben Adams, who remodeled it, whereupon it became Adams Hall. In 1875 it burned in a New England snow storm.(200th)
   
1867Attempts To Update Fire Apparatus SquelchedThe first attempt to get a steam fire engine was made at the Annual Town Meeting in February,1867, when the town voted $11,000 to buy one and its appurtenances. This vote was rescinded at a special meeting,and nothing further was done until the Annual Town Meeting in 1889, when it was voted almost unanimously to buy a Steamer and Chemical. (Jennings 46)
   
1867Last Resident of Long Point One of Provincetown's Model CitizensHon. Nathaniel Atwood's home was the last to leave Long Point. He received a commendation from the Consul General of the U.S. to Great Britain for his part in rescuing the crew of the British brig, Lone Star, in 1867 during a storm on the Grand Banks while he was in command of the whaling schooner, Cetacean. He was also presented an inscribed spy glass by Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, for valiant conduct, which is currently in the collection of the Town. He was also a member of Massachusetts House of Reps for 2 years, Massachusetts Senate in 1869 to 1871, and one of the founders of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Connected with the U.S. Fisheries Commission, he, along with Prof. Louis Agasiz and Hon. Reuben Chapman, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was appointed by Governor Gardener in 1856 on a commission to investigate artificial propagation of fish. He made many discoveries of fish which were previously unknown to science at that time. (Theriault 29-30)
   
1868More Fire Engines Arrive in ProvincetownTwo secondhand fire engines, built by Hunneman & Bros. in 1850, were added to the fire department and are designated respectively as the Mazeppa No. 3 and Excelsior No. 4 (Dego 973)
   
1869Provincetown Advocate Newspaper Established 
   
1869

Construction of East Harbor Dike

 

 

Town meeting on Jan 31, 1877 voted that the town comply with the order of the County Commissioners to construct a causeway across East Harbor in place of the present wooden Bridge and ... the County Road as laid down in said order.

A 1400 foot dike that created Pilgrim Lake was constructed to replace the former bridge over East Harbor. (Smith & Shay 50)

   
1870Ice Business Becomes Solid BusinessBennett's Ice Plant began business by cutting and storing 40 tons, building himself an icehouse and stable. The most money he took in for a day's work, for self and team was $1.42. Ice went to families. On 3rd year, a little vessel trade began, and that fall a building capable of holding 1000 tons was put up on what was called Bennett's Pond. When weirs (fishnet fences or dams) were erected and fresh fishing became an industry here, the demand for ice increased. In 1884 Webber's Pond was bought, and a building eventually holding 1000 tons was put up due to demand. When harvesting, he employed from 110 to 120 men and nine horses. Family and hotel trade amounted to 900 tons, balance going to fish business. (Jennings 137)
   
1870Formation of U.S.Lifesaving Service Recruits Provincetown Men.The Massachusetts Humane Society, founded by Rev. James Freeman, had maintained shelters along the coast in an effort to assist shipwrecked sailors, but that organization was replaced by the formation of the U.S. Lifesaving Service. The shelters were to be manned by the most expert surf men and boat handlers to be found. Patrol of the coast at night and during thick weather by day was inaugurated. (Theriault 36) These huts were a mere eight foot by eight foot outfitted with hay, matches, and perhaps a blanket.(Gamble 5). Provincetown men were actively recruited for their demonstrated ability in boat handling. (Theriault 36) Also see 1872
   
1871Railroad Comes to Provincetown

To bring the railroad to town, it was necessary for the town to subscribe for stock in the extension from Wellfleet in the amount of 5% of valuation. As Town Moderator, Joseph P. Johnson, appointed a committee of nine on February 13, 1871 to meet with railroad officials and arrange the terms of the subscription...and it was done.(FNBP9)

Another reference states the town contributed largely to the attainment of the railway by subscribing $98,300 toward the stock issued for the extension, and received in return 727 shares of the capital stock of the Old Colony Railroad Company, which were sold from time to time for $72,696.25. The railroad was opened for traffic on this date. (Dego 971)

   
1872Prospects of a Library Interests TownFor the purpose of establishing a public library, the first movement made by the town was at an annual meeting when it was voted to appropriate the sum of $25, plus the dog tax refunded to the town by the county for the three preceding years, amounting to the sum of $191.45. At the annual meeting in 1873, $58.58 from the dog tax for 1872 was added to the fund. (Jennings 112)
   
1872Lifesaving Stations BuiltAn appalling number of fatalities from maritime disasters that occurred along the Atlantic coast during the winter of 1870-71 resulted in the formation of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, which replaced the MA Humane Society, founded by the Rev. James Freeman. Afterwards, nine lifesaving stations were built on Cape Cod in 1872, with stations manned by Provincetown men at Race Point and Peaked Hills Bars. (Theriault 36)also see 1870
   
1872

Confederate Cruiser, Alabama, Given Award for Lost Revenue

 

During the Civil war, Confederate cruisers, among them the Alabama, fitted out in English ports, made prizes of Provincetown whalers. In 1872, a joint commission chosen to settle the claims of the U.S. against England made an award of $15 million to those who had suffered loss. The value of vessel and fittings, her cargo, and the voyage she would have made had she not been captured, the wages of officers and crew, and compound interest on all these items for ten years was given .(Paine Smith 75-76)

   
1873Bradford Street DesignedBradford street was laid out this year. (Paine Smith 45) It was completed and opened to public travel, a great public improvement rendered necessary by the continued growth of the town, its execution hastened by the opening of the railroad. The town had taken steps toward the survey early in 1869, and expended nearly $29,000 before 1873 for land damages and for the construction of the road bed. (Dego 971)
   
1873Firemen of Old Get Insurance CoverageConnected with the fire engine companies was a Mutual Insurance Company, which was established this date to which all firemen were eligible. Upon the death of a member, an assessment of $.50 was levied and kept on deposit 'till another death. The policy holders received the amount within 24 hours of the death of a member. (Jennings 50)
   
1873Train Comes to Provincetown

Train locomotive #25, the Extension, pulled into Provincetown from Boston. A second train, with a red funnel andMount Hope painted on the sides, pulled 13 bright yellow coaches that included among its passengers three governors, one candidate for governor, Cape Cod political and business figures, and railroad officials.(Theriault 48)The great day came when flags flew, bells rang, and a great crowd came down to meet the train. At about 1PM on this date, the engine chugged around a curve and into the depot at Parallel and Center Streets, "crowded almost to suffocation" with townsmen who had ridden in from Wellfleet. Among the passengers was, reputedly, President Ulysses S. Grant.(FNBP 9)

 

   
1873Stage Coach Routes Give Way to Train RoutesBy this year the stage coach routes were withdrawn to give way to the train tracks. The coaches began meeting trains at the Provincetown Station to take passengers and their baggage to hotels like the Atlantic House and New Central House. (Theriault 49)
   
1873Library Building EstablishedFreeman Street building was erected by Mr. Nathan Freeman and donated by the same to the town, to be used as a Public Library Building on the lower floor, the second story for a YMCA room, the upper part of the building to be used for a photograph business, the income of which was to be applied to keeping the building and grounds in order. Dedication was held on Dec. 11, 1873. (Jennings 110)
   
1873Overhaul of "Old White Oak"This church was thoroughly overhauled, a brick basement placed under it making one large vestry and two smaller ones, which is the church of today. It was rededicated Feb. 20, 1874, 100 years after the building and dedication of the old original "White Oak".(Jennings 23)
   
1873Wood End Lighthouse Rises Toward the SkyIn 1797, 1816, 1826 and this year, various lighthouses were constructed. (Paine Smith 92) These helped maritime ships to maneuver the treacherous waterways.
   
1874First Library Trustees Assigned and Doors Flung OpenSeven Trustees where chosen and the rest is history.(Jennings 112)
   
1874Provincetown Locked in By Ice FloesIt was in the winter of 1874-75 that Provincetown was hermetically sealed by a glittering ice-field from Wood End to Manomet, a distance of 22 miles. A fleet of fishing vessels was caught in the floe and stood there; their hulls, rigging, and tapering spars encrusted with ice, like fairy vessels of glass. It was one immense crystalline desert with signals of distress fluttering from the immobile craft, a scene of perilous beauty and wicked enchantment. (Edwards 166)
1874First Catholic Church Adds to Town's SkylineCatholics bought the land known as "Parker's Plain" to build their first church. It was formerly the site of the First Congregational Church. On October 14 of this year, the Catholic Church was officially dedicated. (Vantine 18)
1874Social Organization Highlights Town Catholic PortugueseSt. Peter's Aid Society, a mutual benefit society, connected with, but not governed by the Catholic church, was organized from mostly Portuguese population who were recruited here from the Azores Islands. In March, 1875, society formed with 60 members. It paid out sick and death benefits to members and every year held a parade with full ranks in attendance. (Jennings 147)
   
1875Firemen Contain Spread of Another FireAdams Hall, a large building at the corner of Winthrop and Commercial Streets was burned, the fire breaking out during the evening of March 4, at a time when the streets were almost impassable from snow and threatening the destruction of the neighboring buildings, which were saved only after long continued efforts on the part of the firemen. (Dego 973)
   
1875Italian Ship Relinquishes Goods and Men to the Sea off Race PointThe Italian bark (sailing ship with from 3-5 masts, all square rigged except aft mast which is fore-and-aft rigged),Giovanni from Palermo, Sicily, came ashore about 2.5 miles eastward of Peaked Hill Life Saving Station. Details. (Jennings 184)
   
1876A Visionary Seizes Opportunity to Enhance Provincetown as a Tourist ResortStephen Cook succeeded Nathan Freeman II as president of the First National Bank of Provincetown and it was he, a ship-owner, who knew that Provincetown's method of fishing could not compete with the "take-all" of draggers. The draggers destroyed the fish habitat by dragging their nets. He looked about for a new "industry" and turned the bank's attention to developing Provincetown as a summer resort. Town and bank worked together and cottages as well as restaurants were built. The summer visitors came and filled them and the boarding houses as well. And some filled shacks along the 'Back Side'. FNBP19)
   
1877Town Meeting Vote to Construct Causeway at East Harbor

Voted that the town comply with the order of the County Commissioners to construct a causeway across East Harbor in place of the present wooden Bridge and ... the County Road is laid down in said order.

Voted that a committee of three persons be appointed by the Moderator of this meeting to make all necessary contracts for furnishing material and performing the labor for constructing said Causeway and road, and to superintend the same and to attend to all other business specially connected with the subject matter of said order. Nathan D. Freeman, James Gifford, B.F. Hutchinson appointed. (Volume 6 p. 294)

   
1877Town Hall on High Pole Hill Burned DownAt 8:25 p.m. the Provincetown Town Hall on High Pole Hill burned to the ground. Cause of the fire is unknown. (Jennings 106) Lost was the marble tablet over the entrance which read: In Commemoration of the Arrival of the Mayflower in Cape Cod Harbor and of the First Landing of the Pilgrims in America at This Place, Nov. 11, 1620 O.S. This Tablet is Presented by the Cape Cod Association, Nov. 8, 1853. (Paine Smith 149) Town Meetings were then held in the Masonic Hall until 1886.(Theriault 56)
   
1880Latest High School EvolvesAfter the fire destroyed the Town Hall which housed the High School, the school was kept in the vestry of the Congregational Church until the present high and grammar school building was erected in 1880. The town appropriated $8,000 for the purchase of land and the erection of the building. The higher branches are taught there in connection with several foreign languages. (Jennings 42-43)
   
   
1882Birth and Death of Seamen's Aid SocietySeamen's Aid Society, for the care of shipwrecked sailors, was organized with a dollar a year membership and an annual public meeting. The Commonwealth made provision "that the town shall furnish money to shipwrecked persons and be reimbursed by the State." Thus, treasury of the Seamen's Aid Society has been given to the Helping Hand and the former group disbanded. (Paine Smith 94)
   
1885Fishing Industry Capital Is Gone$964,573 had been invested in the fishing industry in the form of wharves, vessels, outfitter's firms, sail-lofts, block-makers, shops, rigger's lofts, ironworkers places, marine railways, etc., Now, scarcely a vestige of all this is left. (Paine Smith 55)
   
1885Population ProfileOf a total population of 4,480 there were: native born, 3,332; foreign born, 1,148; both parents native, 1,813; both parents foreign, 2,136; one parent foreign, 431 sic. Of the population of foreign births: 698 were of Portuguese nativity, 251 of Nova Scotia or Provincial birth, and 199 were born in other foreign countries. (Dego 979)
   
1886Dedication for the New Provincetown Town HallThe building was commenced Sept. 10, 1885 and dedicated in 1886. Rev. William Henry Ryder donated the land for the new Town Hall, but town officials deemed it not large enough and took two adjoining estates. Dr. Ryder paid for all the land taken. The cost of the building was $50,400. The Town Hall clock was donated by Joseph P. Johnson. The bell was a donation from John F. Nickerson.(Jennings 108)
   
1886A Six-Eyed, Slithering Sea Monster Seen by Provincetown ResidentProfessor Ready alleged that he saw a monster and furnished a reporter with the facts. (Jennings 172)
   
1886Business in Town BurnsThe Puritan shirt factory, owned by E.A.Buffinton of Leominster, was totally destroyed by fire. (Dego 973)
   
1886Whale Oil Works EstablishedNickerson's Whale and Menhaden Oil Works establishment was situated in the Herring Cove near the Race Point Lighthouse. It was built, as well as a steamer, to be used for rendering whales. The total cost of steamer, factory buildings and machinery, was $12,302. In 1887, a bone mill, crusher and engine were added at a cost of $1,440. In 1888 further improvements were made: steam hoister, seine boats and seines(fishing nets) to be used by the steamer for taking menhaden (an inedible fish used as a source of fish oil, meal, fertilizer and bait) were added at a cost of $1,077. In 1889, a wharf was extended from shore 400 feet. During the season, steamer and factory employed from 25-30 hands and circulated in the town about $10,000.(Jennings 135-136)
   
1889West Harbor Dike SanctionedCommissioners appointed by the Governor, and Messrs. James B. Francis, James Gifford, and George Marston of New Bedford, recommended the construction at some future time of a dike across the western end of the Provincetown Harbor, from Wood End to Steven's Point, and in 1889 the legislature passed a resolve requesting the United States to construct a solid dike across the western end of the harbor (Dego 967).
   
1889Schooner Willie A. McKay Defies Scarce Fish Year with Huge Haul.Capt. McKay of the Schooner Willie A. McKay has always made successful voyages and in this year which is known as the scarce year, brought in nearly a full fare of fish, the only one in the place. (Jennings 194)
   
1889Town Library FlourishesThe acts of the legislature of 1888 were accepted at the annual meeting directing the choice of library trustees for terms of 3 years; fixing the number of trustees at 9. The provisions of the acts permitted the trustees to hold property of any kind in trust for the purposes of the library and vest the trustees with exclusive custody of the library funds from whatever source derived. Benjamin Small conveyed to the trustee $5,000, the annual income which should be expended in the purchase of books for the library. In December, a card catalogue was prepared and library furnished with ash book cases.(Dego 982)
   
1889Steam Fire Engine Comes to TownTown voted almost unanimously to buy a Steamer and Chemical fire engine. In a prior debate in 1869, one strong headed old fellow opposed to the purchase clinched his argument with the remark that he believed "cold water would put out a fire as wall as boiling water, and there would be no danger of scalding the people around the fire." (Kennings 48)
   
1889Town Allowed to Provide Water to Residents 
   
1891Charles Hawthorn Visits Town 
   
1892Mayflower Pilgrim Association OrganizedThe Mayflower Pilgrim Association of Provincetown was organized by Moses N. Gifford & Howard F. Hopkins (editor of the Advocate), both directors of the First National Bank of Provincetown; Joseph H. Dyer, Cashier of the Bank; James H. Hopkins; James Gifford; and Artemus P. Hannum. (FNBP 18)
   
1892Refrigeration Comes of AgeMr. D.F. Small built a "freezer" to keep bait fresh. Since building one, five others came to be at the average cost of $100,000, designed with a circulation of ammonia and brine which reduced the temperature to zero and kept it there day and night for months. (Paine Smith 91)
   
1893First Time the Commonwealth Allowed a Transfer of Property by DeedNot until 1893 was it possible to give a deed of land to inhabitants, except a quitclaim deed. At that time, the Commonwealth set up granite bound-stones, ceding to the people the land on which the town is built, but reserving to itself most of the territory. The bounds can be followed along the hills just back of the town. (Paine Smith 20)
   
1896A-Dollar-A-Week Teachers780 children attended classes in seven Provincetown schools. Teachers received $1.00 a week, the Superintendent of Schools, $34.12 a month. But prices weren't high either. D.A. Matheson's advertised men's suits and overcoats from $3.95, boys' suits and overcoats from $.95 (FNBP 15)
   
1897Enchantment of Provincetown Enraptures Artists

When William M. Chase came to Provincetown to paint he fell in love with the town, and that enthusiasm caught his pupil, Charles W. Hawthorne, who in the summer of this year began his Cape Cod School of Painting. It was to bring renown to him and to Provincetown. Here, people found exhilaration in the beautiful brooding, wind-tossed dunes, enchantment in the wharves and sailing ships, a bit of the Old World in the Portuguese and their customs, and scenes to paint in the quality of light found nowhere else. FNBP17)

   
1898Portland Gale: Nature's Fury Wrestles With the Ship, PortlandSnow, wind, and tide wrecked half the wharves in town the night the steamer, Portland went down. (Paine Smith 116)
   
1902Moneys Collected to Build Pilgrim Monument and Site Deeded for That Purpose.A petition was drawn and presented to obtain an appropriation of public moneys in the MA General Court for purpose of collecting funds for the building of a monument. At the same time, by vote of the people of Provincetown, the site known as Town Hill or High Pole Hill, in the center of town, was deeded to the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association, as a site for the monument .(Theriault 72)
   
1906The Pen That Teddy Roosevelt Used to Sign the Bill to Help Finance Building the Pilgrim Monument, Rests With the Town of ProvincetownA bill was passed by Congress, and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, to provide $40,000 from the Treasury of the U.S. for the building of the Pilgrim Monument. The pen, which was used in signing that bill, is now in the hands of the Town of Provincetown. (Theriault 72)
   
   
   
   
   
1907Rose Dorothea wins the Lipton Cup Trophy

A trophy, won in the Fishermen's race, is displayed in Town Hall, with the inscription:

"Won by Sch. Rose Dorothea/ Capt, Marion Perry/Aug.1, 1907/ Presented by Sir Thomas Lipton, K.C.V.O/ Boston Old Home Week/ 1907" (Paine Smith 81)

   
1907Monument Corner Stone Set in PlaceThe corner stone of the Monument was laid by the Grand Lodge of Masons in MA, in the presence of Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States. Funding and details abound. (Paine Smith 150-151) When President Roosevelt arrived, he was escorted by 7 battleships, and when he touched his trowel to the cornerstone of the monument, the battleships fired a salute. The Advocate reported a considerable breakage of glass: windows broken by the concussion of the salute. FNBP18)
   
1908Wesley Chapel's Centenary Church DestroyedCentenary Church was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. Centenary Chapel was built next year at corner of Winthrop and Commercial Streets (200th)
   
1909Episcopalians Ministered ToBishop Lawrence was requested to send a clergyman to minister to the needs of a group of Episcopalians who were meeting on Sundays at one anothers houses. (St. Mary )
   
1910Dedication of MonumentThe Monument was dedicated. The dedication address was given by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, President-Emeritus of Harvard University. William H. Taft, President of the United States, was present and made an address. (Paine Smith 150) The Atlantic Fleet, eight ships under the supervision of Rear Admiral Seaton Schroeder, arrived the previous day in Provincetown Harbor with the President's and Governor's yachts arriving early that morning. (Theriault 80)
   
1911Breakwater ConstructedWest End breakwater is constructed by the Federal Government. (Paine Smith 100) It helped to protect Provincetown Harbor from sand build up, etc.
   
1914Provincetown Art Association: Art Circle DevelopsMrs. John Herring gave an address before the Nautilus Club and suggested the organization of an Art Circle which began as a small group of women. The by-laws of the Provincetown Art Association promote and cultivate the fine arts, establish and maintain a permanent collection, hold exhibitions, and promote the advancement of art by social exchange between artists and others interested in art. (Paine Smith 145)
   
1914An Old Fish House Welcomes Eugene O'Neill and MoreMary Heaton Vorse's old fish-house housed the first Provincetown Players Theater. It welcomed the likes of artists, writers, sculptors, and more, who painted and wrote, acted and talked in every media on every subject. Eugene O'Neill brought a play to the Provincetown Players and sat in the next room while Frederick Burt read, Bound East for Cardiff which launched the new American Theater here. (FNBP 20)
   
1914Bohemian Lifestyle Takes Root in ProvincetownA great wave of change swept through Provincetown long before the U.S. entered the war conflict in Europe in 1917. When war was declared abroad during the summer of 1914, the newly transplanted residents were confident of their isolation. Danger of travel abroad to Americans resulted in Provincetown becoming a mecca for artists, writers and those who embraced the Bohemian lifestyle. They drew up resolutions protesting the war. The Beachcombers Club was formed along with the women artists equivalent, the Sail Loft Club. The only war Provincetown concerned itself with was between modernist and traditionalist in the fine art schools within town. (Theriault 91).
   
1917Out with Sperm Oil, in With Petroleum ProductsDuring the Civil War, the price of sperm oil had been as high as $2.50 a gallon. Now that petroleum can be refined for every purpose, whaling is not profitable. However, in 1917, the brig Viola, owned by Captain John Atkins Cook, brought in 1250 barrels of sperm oil, and 121 pounds of ambergris ( a valuable secretion found in the intestines of a whale, dark chocolate in color...best known as a base on which to fix perfumes... largely used in France (Jennings 84))), all valued at $75,000. (Paine Smith 71)
   
1917Provincetown Librarian Becomes Fodder for Eugene O'Neill's PlayWhen Eugene O'Neill lived in the East End of town he and the local Provincetown librarian, Abbie Putnam, were at odds. His vision of her, outlined in a never completed play called, The Trumpet, was sympathetic. In June of that year, he staged Beyond the Horizon and was awarded his first Pulitzer Prize. She still refused to acknowledge him. O'Neill exercised his literary license in taking revenge. In 1923 he was writing Desire Under the Elms in Provincetown, & the mild mannered, eccentric spinster of The Trumpet became a character actually called Abbie Putnam, a woman who committed adultery and murdered her own child. (Theriault 60)
   
1917Another Eugene O'Neill Account of a Tragic Face in ProvincetownEugene O'Neill wrote Ile, a one act play about Viola (Fish) Cook, wife of Captain John A. Cook of Provincetown. John Cook's voyage into Arctic waters aboard the, Bowhead, dealt with tragedy when ice moved in, crew mutinied, and Viola went insane. Cook punished the mutineers, isolated his wife, and still did not leave. Because his cruelty was so extraordinary, the mutineers were not imprisoned but were, instead, awarded restitution for being held beyond their contractual time. (Theriault 89)
   
1917Eugene O'Neill Arrested in Provincetown's Atlantic House Hotel as a SpyA Masonic Lodge member, Reuben Kelly, arrested two "spies" at gun point in the dining room of then Frank Potter Smith's, Atlantic House Hotel. Evidence against the suspects seemed conclusive, for rumor had it that two men had carried a black box, no doubt containing apparatus for signaling the Kaiser's men, out to the dunes near the U.S. radio station in Truro. Upon examination it was found the box contained an old Corona typewriter. The alleged spies were Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill and his friend, author, Harold dePolo (Theriault 91)
   
1917Provincetown Gives up Over 300 of it's Men When U.S. Enters the 1st World WarWhen the U.S. officially entered the war in 1917, Provincetown's quota through conscription was 38 men. Over 300 enlisted. The town was further kept on edge by rumors of spies and German submarines lurking offshore.(Theriault 90)
   
1918Major Flu Epidemic Overtakes Provincetown's ResidentsThe flu epidemic that spread throughout the battlefields of Europe over to the U.S. in 1918 also found its way to Provincetown. So many in town were stricken that a hospital was improvised in the Universalist Church. Movies and schools were closed and people in town went about with their faces masked with an antiseptic cloth. Twenty-five persons died and about 829 were sick with the flu. (Theriault 94)
   
1921Protecting Sandy DunesSince 1892, the boundary between the Town and the Province Lands has been distinctly marked by the State and the work of staying the hills prioritized; beach grass was transplanted. In this year, the Commonwealth planted 65,000 pines, transplanted seven acres of bayberries, and "brushed" forty acres of sand hills. (Paine Smith 108)
   
1922Fishing Takes Residents to the Grand BanksProvincetown fishermen fished the Grand Banks, which were east of Provincetown up to Nova Scotia. During those days, while the families stayed behind, the fishermen made three trips a year to the Banks expecting a return each trip of 30% on the money invested. (Paine Smith 56) .
   
1922Episcopalians Buy Property for Chapel and Parish HallA building fund for Episcopalians had grown to $2,500 which was enough to purchase a three story building which had been a salt house on the waterfront. A wooden sea wall was erected and the building became a chapel and parish hall. "Billowcrest," a building next door, was purchased and in the next ten years became what is the present parish house, occupied in 1938 by Rev. Perry. (St Mary)
   
1923Knights of Columbus Presence is Seen in Provincetown and has Confrontation with KKKThe Knights of Columbus is organized in Provincetown this year. After the Ku Klux Klan burned a fiery cross in front of the Catholic Church, the Portuguese Catholics retaliated by organizing strongly in the Knights of Columbus and, to show their strength, staged a 3 day Fourth of July celebration with a fair and fine fireworks.(Vantine 31)
   
1927Submarine S-4 Rammed by Coast Guard Destroyer, Paulding, and all dieSubmarine, S-4, sinks off of Race Point. Details (Theriault 95)
   
1928Portuguese Dominate Fishing IndustryBy this year, 90% of the fishermen were Portuguese as far as 15-20 miles off shore. They used trawl lines, with a buoy at the end, extending for 3 miles. Attached to this are a series of smaller lines with hooks. They work year round and fish for cod, haddock, mackerel and herring. Trap boats work at the weirs and sword fishing was carried on with boats going out for a week in the waters off No Man's Land in June. (Shay 9-10)
   
1929Stock Market Crash Doesn't Affect ProvincetownProvincetown was in better shape than most towns during the "Crash" as Tourism kept some money coming into Town. There were no apple sellers on the corners and no one committed suicide. By 1932, more than 5,100 banks, with deposits in excess of three billion dollars, had failed in the U.S. Within the next year, 21 states passed bank moratoria acts to delay massive failures of bank solvency. Countrywide there were long lines to withdraw money while people here made deposits. First National Bank of Provincetown had made a decision to get into a liquid condition as soon as possible and it paid off. President Roosevelt mandated banks close in a Bank Holiday as of March 5, 1933, and on March 15th, the solvent ones were allowed to reopen, but unlike other parts of the county where lines formed to withdraw money, people here lined up to deposit more.(FNBP 25)
   
1933Brilliant Provincetown Photographer Succumbs but Leaves a Legacy Behind of What Provincetown Looked LikeIrving Leopold Rosenthal was a brilliant photographer who was partners with William Nickerson in the building next to the Post Office. His turn-of-the-century portraits and street scenes of Provincetown are contained in nearly every book published on the history of Provincetown and Cape Cod. The Heritage Museum of Provincetown has a collection of 500 glass plate negatives of his photographs, some of which have never been seen publicly. (Theriault 113)
   
1933Episcopalian Vicar arrives and refurbishes a new church

First full time vicar was a minister called Rev. Robert Wood Nicholson. Lumber beams from a building known as the Sandbar Club, which was a meeting place for fishermen, were numbered, moved and reassembled to become the present chapel. Gifts embellished it, such as The Madonna of the Harbor by Waugh; crèche figures carved by Waugh and dressed carefully by church needle women; The Triumphal Entry, by Wm. Miller; a crucifix by Anton Land of Oberammergau; statues by Arnold Geisbuhler and William Boogar. Dedication was in 1936. (St Mary)

 

   
1935Hoffman Opens Art School"Hans Hoffman opened his Summer School of Art. Famed as a teacher of abstract modernism, Hoffman taught and painted here for thirty years while also maintaining his New York school in the winter. His classes grew large in the postwar years with the influx of students enrolled under the GI Bill, and artists of all styles crowded into his Friday critiques." (Ahrens)
1937St. Mary's Episcopalian Parish recognizedSt. Mary's Parish was admitted to union in the Episcopal Diocese. (St Mary)
   
1938Great 1938 HurricaneTidal wave and hurricane sweep disaster on the East Coast of the U.S. The hurricane impacted an area between Little Compton, Rhode Island and Provincetown, MA. Eighty-eight persons lost their lives as a result of this storm (Hurricane, Cape Cod Standard Times, Hyannis, MA).
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
1939Whaling Fleet Flees the Harbor SceneSchooners would sail out of Provincetown for years but eventually it would be motor ships that dominated the fleet. The last of the schooners, the Mary P. Goulart, sailed out one day this year and returned the following year under an assumed name as a dragger, as though she could not bear to be recognized as such. Other ships that perished when Confederate raiders decimated the whaling fleets were the Annie Perry, the Rose Dorothea and the Jessie Costa. (FNBP 22)
   
1943Congregations MergeCentenary Church and the Center Methodist Church merged into one body. (200th)
   
1944Hurricane Devastated SE Massachusetts

Southeastern Mass. was devastated by a 100-mph hurricane, the second destructive gale to sweep this area in less than six years. (Hurricane, Cape Cod Standard Times, Hyannis).

   
1948Catholic Priest Instrumental in Establishing the Blessing of the Fleet for Fishermen in ProvincetownFather Silvia, of St. Peter's Catholic Church, was instrumental in the establishment of the "Blessing of the Fleet," along with Arthur Bargg Silva. Bishop James. E. Cassidy resided at the first "Blessing of the Fleet." (Vantine34)
   
1958Methodists Move to New ChurchCosts were too high at the large Methodist Church so a new church was built on Shank Painter Road (200th)
   
1958Birth of Heritage MuseumCenter Methodist Church was sold to Walter Chrysler as an art museum for his collection. Later purchased by the Town, it presently houses the Provincetown Heritage Museum.
   
   
   
   
1967

 

Peter Hunt, Artist, Dies at 71


Mr. Hunt was born in New York, and in 1919 settled in Provincetown. He was influential in the growth of Provincetown as a summer center for the arts. Working as a painter, painting "folk designs" on old furniture, he became known nationally, selling his pieces both in his two shops and in New York department stores. (1967 NYT)

   
1968Fine Arts Work Center EstablishedThe Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) was established in 1968 and operated from a building on Standish Street. In 1972, Joe Oliver sold his property (originally "The Days Lumberyard") at 24 Pearl Street to the FAWC.(Ahearn 12)Click here for additional information.
   
   
   
   
1974

Lady of the Dunes
Murder Victim Found

On July 26, 1974, the body of an unidentified white female was found in the dunes, approximately one mile east of Race Point Beach. The Provincetown Police Department is seeking assistance in solving this longtime murder.
   
   
1977Bicycle's Allowed By Law To Go Against Traffic on Commercial St.The Massachusetts General Court approved Chapter 419 of the Acts of 1977 to allow bicycles on Commercial Street to go against the traffic.
   
   
   
   
1990Pilgrim House Destroyed by FireThe 209-year-old Pilgrim House Hotel was destroyed in a midnight fire, burning the oldest hotel in Provincetown completely to the ground. The Pilgrim House was unoccupied because of renovation work to improve the guest rooms. The blaze set off seven separate fires in the surrounding area burning a bakery and a nearby home. 30 residents were evacuated from their homes.(1990 CC)
   
1991Hurricane Bob Hits Provincetown


It took almost a week to regain electricity after Hurricane Bob passed through Provincetown. Grand old trees were torn out by the roots. The large roof of the Surfside Inn on Commercial St. was lifted off by the winds and smashed down a block away. One town resident died, and another broke an ankle during the height of the storm surge. Days after the storm subsided, trees and shrubs burst into springtime bloom, some bearing fruit and flowers simultaneously.

   
1991No-Name Storm, The Perfect StormProvincetown was heavily flooded during this unexpected storm which sent waves crashing along the harbor beaches and into Commercial Street. Click here for additional details.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
1996Linda Silva Mysteriously MurderedOn September 12, at 7:25 p.m., a long time resident of Provincetown, Linda Silva, was murdered with a single shot to the head as she entered her red Saab car in the Alden Street parking lot near Cumberland Farms. Ms. Silva was a DSS counselor in Boston, and State Police investigators checked her client list for potential suspects. A reward of $10,000 is available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for this murder.
   
1996Maushope FireProvincetown Housing Authority - Maushope Elderly Complex Burns. A three-alarm fire killed one resident, Meara Cabral, former CO-owner of the Atlantic House, who died of smoke inhalation exacerbated by heart disease. 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   


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A Cape Cod wedding performed for you the Way you want it to be. Beach 
weddings are  very popular. How about a wedding ceremony on top of a
Dune;the high point of the bicycle trail; a ceremony where you ride to and 
from the wedding  with a pedicab; or onboard a yacht in the Harbor;another 
popular location 300 feet out on the beach during low tide. Many couples are 
married at their lodging, in a rented motel or hotel function room, especially
if you are planning over 60 guests. Whalers Wharf is a great place to have a 
wedding it's right on the Bay beach but right downtown and free. We can again 
provide a quality photographer at very reasonable rate with a one to 3 day 
turnaround on your hundred or more pictures. Dr Cleveland is a fully certified 
and college trained wedding planner and can assist you in  making even 
the smallest wedding a success. With 35 years as a former Justice, and as a 
qualified, by the State of Massachusetts, as a ministerWe are willing to use our 
vows or to read the vows you have created for a combination of both. We are 
willing to meet with you before your wedding for consultation, or in large
weddings a rehearsal. Our website gives you all of the legal information 
that you will want to know for your marriage application. The website has a 
listing, with links for most of the accommodations in Provincetown. We also 
have links to the transportation options to and from Provincetown from anywhere 
in the world. If you look close at the site ,you will find in depth history on
provincetown in print and in video. From a tourist and local view, but also 
the details of it's 170,000 year old geologic history. Eric Williams will show you 
some the inner workings of Provincetown on his Videos which were done 
For the Cape Cod Times News. and finally the last link will take you to our other 
site which goes into instruction on Homeopathic Medicine & how it is used and a 
large listing is on the site to help
those in need of survival information. If you look you will find 2 Military 
survival manuals; many relevant videos ( such as how to deliver a baby when
their are no hospitals or other help available.

A Cape Cod wedding performed for you the Way you want it to be. Beach 
weddings are  very popular. How about a wedding ceremony on top of a
Dune;the high point of the bicycle trail; a ceremony where you ride to and 
from the wedding  with a pedicab; or onboard a yacht in the Harbor;another 
popular location 300 feet out on the beach during low tide. Many couples are 
married at their lodging, in a rented motel or hotel function room, especially
if you are planning over 60 guests. Whalers Wharf is a great place to have a 
wedding it's right on the Bay beach but right downtown and free. We can again 
provide a quality photographer at very reasonable rate with a one to 3 day 
turnaround on your hundred or more pictures. Dr Cleveland is a fully certified 
and college trained wedding planner and can assist you in  making even 
the smallest wedding a success. With 35 years as a former Justice, and as a 
qualified, by the State of Massachusetts, as a ministerWe are willing to use our 
vows or to read the vows you have created for a combination of both. We are 
willing to meet with you before your wedding for consultation, or in large
weddings a rehearsal. Our website gives you all of the legal information 
that you will want to know for your marriage application. The website has a 
listing, with links for most of the accommodations in Provincetown. We also 
have links to the transportation options to and from Provincetown from anywhere 
in the world. If you look close at the site ,you will find in depth history on
provincetown in print and in video. From a tourist and local view, but also 
the details of it's 170,000 year old geologic history. Eric Williams will show you 
some the inner workings of Provincetown on his Videos which were done 
For the Cape Cod Times News. and finally the last link will take you to our other 
site which goes into instruction on Homeopathic Medicine & how it is used and a 
large listing is on the site to help
those in need of survival information. If you look you will find 2 Military 
survival manuals; many relevant videos ( such as how to deliver a baby when
their are no hospitals or other help available.

A Cape Cod wedding performed for you the Way you want it to be. Beach 
weddings are  very popular. How about a wedding ceremony on top of a
Dune;the high point of the bicycle trail; a ceremony where you ride to and 
from the wedding  with a pedicab; or onboard a yacht in the Harbor;another 
popular location 300 feet out on the beach during low tide. Many couples are 
married at their lodging, in a rented motel or hotel function room, especially
if you are planning over 60 guests. Whalers Wharf is a great place to have a 
wedding it's right on the Bay beach but right downtown and free. We can again 
provide a quality photographer at very reasonable rate with a one to 3 day 
turnaround on your hundred or more pictures. Dr Cleveland is a fully certified 
and college trained wedding planner and can assist you in  making even 
the smallest wedding a success. With 35 years as a former Justice, and as a 
qualified, by the State of Massachusetts, as a ministerWe are willing to use our 
vows or to read the vows you have created for a combination of both. We are 
willing to meet with you before your wedding for consultation, or in large
weddings a rehearsal. Our website gives you all of the legal information 
that you will want to know for your marriage application. The website has a 
listing, with links for most of the accommodations in Provincetown. We also 
have links to the transportation options to and from Provincetown from anywhere 
in the world. If you look close at the site ,you will find in depth history on
provincetown in print and in video. From a tourist and local view, but also 
the details of it's 170,000 year old geologic history. Eric Williams will show you 
some the inner workings of Provincetown on his Videos which were done 
For the Cape Cod Times News. and finally the last link will take you to our other 
site which goes into instruction on Homeopathic Medicine & how it is used and a 
large listing is on the site to help
those in need of survival information. If you look you will find 2 Military 
survival manuals; many relevant videos ( such as how to deliver a baby when
their are no hospitals or other help available.