27 Sep 2022
There is a wide variety of amazing history and information in Yarmouth, Massachusettes. Covering the middle of Cape Cod, it touches Cape Cod Bay to the north and the Nantucket Sound to the south. Yarmouth is such an amazing place to visit so why not take a moment to learn some amazing facts about this amazing place?
1. First Settlers
Three farmer Englishman founded the first permanent settlement of Mattacheese in 1639. Those settlers were Anthony Thacher, John Crowe, and Thomas Howee. A year later, Mattacheese was renamed Yarmouth. There is no known reason explaining why the settlers chose this name, but it was likely after a port town in England of the same name.
After renaming, 28 families have come and made their home in Yarmouth. They were mainly farmers but as the town grew, the newcomers brought new trades and skills with them. New craftsmen like Blacksmiths, cobblers, wheelwrights, furniture makers, coopers, as well as many others were vital to the development of Yarmouth in its early days.
2. Three towns
From the end of the 18th century to the early 19th century, Yarmouth started to split into two towns with their own identity. Yarmouth and Port Yarmouth. Each area had its own churches and commerce. They stayed distinct entities until the Yarmouth Port Post Office closed in the 1960s and they all combined to become Yarmouth Port.
South of Yarmouth Port became West Yarmouth. This town stayed small and rural in nature with large homes with large anchorage. In the 17th century, the first mill in Yarmouth was established here. This mill is now a historic site owned by the city. This village stayed small and rural until the turn of the 20th century when developers started to come in.
South Yarmouth had a shorter beginning than the rest of Yarmouth. The hardworking Quakers turned this area into a major maritime hub full of business activity. By 1854 the town had expanded so much it had built 3 schoolhouses. By 1890 over 1700 people called this part of Yarmouth home creating a self-supporting, prosperous town.
3. Smugglers Beach
Smugglers Beach got its name during the prohibition era. This beach was the location of many illegal rum-smuggling operations. The Cape Codders used various tactics to help run the alcohol from the rum line to the shoreline. Some of those tactics included sending phony distress calls to lure the coast guard to another area, and creating thick, black smoke so the boat was hard to follow.
One of the more interesting modern facts is that Yarmouth has an artificial fishing reef 2 miles south of the beach. This was created by the Town’s Department of Natural Resources in 1978 to provide desirable habitats for native ocean creatures such as finfish and lobsters. It is Massachusetts’s oldest and largest artificial reef.
4. Sea Captain Homes
Driving down Old King’s Highway, now known as Route 6A, is like stepping back into time. The highway is lined with historic homes, some even built in the 1600s. As you approach Yarmouth you will enter what is known as The Captains’ Mile. This runs by all the historic homes. Each of the homes known to be sea captains' homes has a Schooner Plaque on them for easy identification. These plaques are black ovals with golden ships on them.
The Captain Bangs Hallet House Museum is one of these historic homes that stage how 1600s sea captains kept their homes. More specifically, the house you can walk through is Captain Hallet’s. The house is arranged as if the captain was just returning from one of his many voyages. It features period furnishings, silk, porcelain, and other antique pieces plus an extensive maritime exhibit.
5. The Spirits of Center Street
Center Street is lined in history. It is where the Ancient Cemetery is located. This is where many historical figures have been laid to rest. Center Street lined with the old Sea Captains' houses still stands.
Many of the houses on those streets are still occupied today. The residents of those homes say that the Sea Captains and their family make their presence known within the home today. At one of these houses, the current residents say that there is an unexplained smell of cigar smoke when no one in the house is smoking. They also hear random banging, doors slamming and glass breaking simultaneously every day, but nothing is broken when they look around.
While you aren’t allowed to experience this paranormal activity for yourself, you can go visit the cemetery. Within this cemetery is a gravestone engraved with a curse if you want to experience something spooky.
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