Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Mystery of Cape Cod's Boundary Stones

I was very busy this spring preparing an article for the June 2013 Summerscape, which is published by the Barnstable Patriot. My article article is now available online. I very much enjoyed participating in Summerscape this year and thank the editors for allowing me to do so. The subject of my research concerned the creation of the original town boundaries on Cape Cod, or at least one of the theories that tries to explain the boundaries. The research was absolutely fascinating and took me to places and sources I had never seen before. Through these sources it became clear to me that there are still so many things we do not know about the history of the Cape, how our town earned their borders is just one of them.

One of the biggest mysteries uncovered in my research has been the lack of information surrounding the various boundary stones one can find sitting on Cape town lines. Although a couple of these markers are registered as important landmarks by the National Register of Historic Places, there is still very little information explaining where they even came from, when they were placed at their current locations, and who placed them there.

In my article for Summerscape, I focused primarily on the stone uncovered by Michael Faber’s Cornerstone Project. This large flat boulder is located just off Rt. 6a, between Barnstable and Yarmouth. It very clearly has the letters "YxB" chiseled into its surface, signifying the boundary between the towns. However, as to who did the chiseling and when it was done . . . no one seems to know. The earliest concrete historical reference to the existence of the stone can be found in a 1907 Atlas. Although its existence in 1907 makes the stone historical at this point in time, there are some who believe it was created as part of the originally boundary between Yarmouth and Barnstable. This would date the inscription to around 1641.

The YxB Stone - Spring 2013
As the Summerscape article focuses heavily on the history of the “YxB” stone and the theories of the Cornerstone Project, I won’t restate huge portions of it here. If you’d like to know more about the stone, do check out the Summerscape link. Instead, I wanted to expand upon some of the other sources I didn’t use previously.

The other set of markers I researched, but did not devote as much space to in the article, were the boundary stones between the towns of Sandwich and Barnstable. One of these, a marker along Race Lane in Sandwich, has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places since about 1987. This marker is a simple stone post a little over 2 feet tall. The letters "B/S" have been carved on its surface, showing the boundary between Barnstable and Sandwich.
Marker on Race Ln - you can just see the B/S at the bottom
According to their information, this marker was erected in 1639 when Myles Standish and John Alden were sent by the Plymouth Court to settle the boundaries of Sandwich. Of course, no one can prove this to be true. Even the records of the Plymouth Court are unclear about when the boundary between these two towns was officially established.

Plymouth Court records indicate that Standish and Alden were tasked as early as 1638 with the establishment of the Sandwich boundaries. However, the same records show that boundary disputes between Sandwich and Barnstable needed reconciling in both 1651 and 1652. However, it was not until June of 1670 that bounds were actually set in writing by the court. Though the Plymouth records make no mention of the creation of a stone marker, this particular boundary stone was referenced in a 1901 report on bounds of Sandwich, which is now housed in the Sandwich archives. Again, no mention of who created it or when it was put there.

Although some may argue that just because no one knows the exact origins of these boundary stones and their carvings, it doesn’t make them really mysterious. Cape Codders pass by them every day and they are as common as spring weeds on the side of our roads. Our forefathers just did not think to record exactly when they were placed, which is a shame because history geeks like me would like to know.

Still, the marker stones are part of a greater Cape Cod unknown. Truthfully, we only have bits and pieces of sources that explain the creation of the boundaries between the modern Cape towns. As I explain in the article, the Cornerstone Project has been trying to prove one theory; that these boundaries were surveyed and marked from a ship in Cape Cod Bay. While it is an interesting theory, I am still left without any rock solid historic facts as proof. Until then, as with other posts on this blog, the mystery persists.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Connecticut - First In Flight?

Whitehead (2nd left) in front of No. 21 "The Condor"
Most students learn in school, as I did, that Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first to successfully make a sustained, controlled, powered, heavier-than-air human flight in an aircraft they built. Most also know this flight took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. The string of adjectives is important because they were not the first to invent human flight, nor the first to even create controlled human flight. Still, the Wrights are so well known that the North Carolina license plate announces "First in Flight" to anyone taking a look. However, according to the state of Connecticut, this statement is no longer true.

Earlier this month the Connecticut State Senate passed House Bill No. 6671. Essentially, this bill paves the way for an annual holiday celebrating the Connecticut aviation industry. The bill is also designed to celebrate the achievements of a German immigrant named Gustave Whitehead, who some now claim was the true originator of the powered fixed wing aircraft and truly the first in flight. 

Although supporters of Whitehead have claimed for decades that his flight preceded that of the Wright brothers, recently the argument has been rekindled by the evidence and website of an Australian researcher named John Brown. According to Brown, Gustave Whitehead first successfully flew an aircraft, design No. 21, which he called the Condor near Bridgeport, Connecticut in the early morning of August 1901. If correct, he beat the Wright’s Kitty Hawk flight by more than two years.

Brown presents several pieces of evidence to support the case for Whitehead. First, he claims to have uncovered at least 110 newspaper articles between 1901 and 1902 which reported Whitehead’s flying success. One of the most well known of these articles was published in the Bridgeport Sunday Herald. The author, Richard Howell, describes witnessing Whitehead’s first manned flight on the Condor. Further, he lists at least three other witnesses to the event, Andrew Cellie, James Dickie, and a local milkman.

The Herald article did include a photo of Whitehead and a drawing of the Condor in flight, which was supposed to have been based on a photograph taken at the scene. Of this original picture, Brown says it has been lost. Still, he claims to have now uncovered a copy of this visual evidence by examining the background of a separate panorama photo taken in 1906 at the first exhibition of the Aero Club of America. This photo shows a glider hanging from the ceiling in front of a wall containing photographs of what appear to be other aircraft. Several of these photos, according to Brown and other researchers, show aircraft built by Whitehead. One of them, Brown insists, shows the Condor in flight.

Drawing from the Bridgeport Sunday Herald
Though most of these background photos are unrecognizably blurred, Brown sites two articles, one published in a 1906 edition of Scientific American as evidence that he has found the correct picture. The articles describe the same wall of photos shown in the picture. According to the author, one of the wall photos showed “A single blurred photograph of a large birdlike machine propelled by compressed air . .constructed by Whitehead in 1901.” The author also goes on to say that this was the only photo of an airplane in flight.

Panorama of the Aero Club Exhibition - Whitehead section enlarged
On his website, Brown compares several of these photos with pictures of aircraft known to have been built by Whitehead. Indeed, he seems to prove that the majority of the pictures are not those referenced in the Scientific American article. However, Brown next examines one of the most blurred images to the drawing created for the Bridgeport Herald in 1901. Ultimately, Brown concluded that there were remarkable similarities between the two images. Enough similarities, in fact, to conclude the blurred image in the panorama photo is the long lost photo taken in Connecticut in 1901.

John Brown's comparison - Do these images show the same event?
Though the image Brown compares to the Bridgeport drawing is very unclear, Brown points out that it does seem to be situated with other Whitehead pictures, it does seems to show an aircraft above the ground, looks vaguely similar to other picture of the Condor, and is located pretty much in the same place as the mystery photo described in Scientific American. Therefore, he deduces that this blurred image must be the picture described in the article. Based on the evidence given, he surmises that Whitehead did fly before the Wright brothers.

Additionally, Brown goes on to explain that Whitehead next built an aircraft he called No. 22, with which he performed even longer flights. Brown sites the affidavits and statements from at least 17 witnesses to support the flights of No. 22. Replicas of this plane have been flown in both Germany and the US in more recent times.

Though there seems to be substantial evidence that Whitehead actually flew in 1901, others disagree. Tom Crouch, at the Smithsonian Magazine site critiques the Whitehead case. According to Crouch, who is the director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, there is not enough evidence to support that the 1901 flight actually took place.

First, Crouch examined the written account published in the Bridgeport Herald. In the article, the author listed at least three witnesses to Whitehead’s flight. However, in 1936 a researcher from Harvard University named John Crane returned to Bridgeport in order to investigate the 1901 event. Crane could only find a single person who claimed to remember Whitehead’s sustained flight as reported in the Herald.

Furthermore, no relation, neighbor, or friend of Whitehead could remember to have even heard of the prolonged flight Whitehead claimed to have made in August of 1901. The one witness who claimed to have seen this flight was deemed less than credible by Crane due to the profit the witness was set to receive upon the publication of a book about Whitehead.

According to Crouch, the 1936 investigators even attempted to interview the witnesses referenced in the Bridgeport Herald. One witness could not be found, nor did anyone remember him. The other witness denied having ever seen Whitehead fly in August of 1901. He even went as far as to suggest that the Herald invented the story.

Crane did seem to attempt investigate the Whitehead’s case fairly. He did find several witnesses in the village who claimed to have seen Whitehead actually fly. What they could not agree upon was the duration and height of the flights they saw. Therefore, Crane concluded that Gustave Whitehead might have actually made several short, un-sustained, manned flights. Based on eye witness accounts these flights ranged from as low as 4 feet to as high as 25 feet and lasted anywhere from several yards to over 60 yards. However, they were not the sustained, controlled, powered flight as described in the original article.

At this point, despite the bill the Connecticut legislature has passed, whether or not Gustave Whitehead flew before the Wright brothers is pretty unclear. There are conflicting witness reports, no real conclusive photographic evidence, and other pieces of historic evidence don’t lend credence to the August 1901 event. For instance, though Whitehead went on to become a designer of airplane engines, no other aircraft designed by Whitehead ever actually flew until recently.

Still others point to the conduct of Orville and Wilbur Wright as evidence of a conspiracy. The brothers were secretive and were embattled in lawsuits against competitors. Critics point out that the Smithsonian currently holds a contract with the estate of Orville Wright. The contract dictates that the Smithsonian would lose custody of the aircraft of the Wright brother’s should they ever declare that another was actually first to fly. I must agree, on the surface that does not give me confidence in the unbiased historic opinion of the Smithsonian Institution on this matter.

However, I personally love this controversy. It demonstrates how history is constructed, de-constructed, and re-constructed. The very essence of this conflict stems from differing interpretations of the same sources, the sense of which I try to impart to my students all the time. Aspects of the arguments used on both sides of the issue are fascinating and at least sound enough to convince the law makers in Connecticut to legislate the recognition of Gustave Whitehead as the father of aviation. Perhaps the missing original photograph taken by the Bridgeport Sunday Herald, key to the entire argument, will eventually turn up. Until then, I am not convinced New England was first in flight. That honor remains with the Wright brothers and with the state of North Carolina.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happier Than Paul Revere With a Cell Phone

I love this commercial. But I'm guessing it wasn't that easy to warn "every Middlesex village and farm." Still, even the wife thinks this one is funny.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wampanoag Language Reclamation

Douglas Pocknett - from Boston Globe
It is now graduation season throughout our country. Thousands of our nation’s youth are completing one part of their lives and moving toward the next with pomp and circumstance. For most, graduation is a simple secular ceremony signifying the beginning of adulthood in our culture. It is repeated with minor variation year after year. However, on the Cape, the 2013 graduation at Mashpee High School has made history.

Earlier this month, a Mashpee Wompanoag student named Douglas Pocknett graduated from Mashpee High School wearing the ceremonial dress of the Wampanoag. Although Douglas is only the second Mashpee student to have done this, he is the first to have delivered a traditional Wampanoag prayer to the assembly in his own native language called Wôpanàak.

According to the documentary We Still Live Here, no one can say for sure when the last native speaker of Wôpanàak died. However, certainly the language was near extinction by the mid 1800's. Although Wôpanàak is an Algonquian language, it is distinct and separate from similar languages like Abenaki or Narragansett.

Remnants of the language exists in colonial documents and in Bibles written for Praying Indians. In 1993, the Wôpanàak Language Reclamation Project began under the direction of a linguist named Jesse "little doe" Baird. Baird began earning a Masters Degree in Algonquian linguistics at MIT. Through the cooperation of the various Wampanoag groups of the Cape and Islands, the project reconstructed a nearly lost language and began teaching the language to tribe members. It’s amazing to think that Cape Cod missionaries like Richard Bourne, who helped to translate Christian payers into the Wampanoag language, have now helped reconstruct that language.

Jesse "little doe" Baird
What is even more amazing is that Douglas Pocknett is a student of Jesse Baird. Pocknett was also the first Mashpee student to earn foreign language credits by studying his ancestral language, which is a practice I hope the Mashpee school system continues to expand.

I have been following the Wôpanàak Language Reclamation Project for a few years now. I totally respect the work of Jesse Baird and the Wampanoag groups that took part in the continuing reclamation of the Wampanoag language. I consistently remind any of my Wampanoag students of the project. Like any young student, I find they have varying levels of interest in their own ancestry. I did have one student this year who was interested in attending one of the language immersion summer camps though and another who was totally fascinated when I shared the news about the Mashpee graduation and Douglas Pocknett.

I must admit, I am also totally jealous. There hasn’t been a native speaker of Irish Gaelic in my family in at least three generations. Also, my maternal grandmother and her parents spoke French asa first language, which has now completely died out in my generation. Like I said, jealous. The difference, however, is that those languages continue to exist and are still used in large parts of the world. Certainly, I wish the Wmpanoag luck in the re-establishment of their native language in their native land. One day I would love to walk the lands of Cape Cod and hear the same language our Yankee ancestors did.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jamestown Rediscovery Project - Cannibalism Evidence

Here is a short video clip created by the Jamestown Rediscovery Project, detailing the evidence of Cannibalism discovered at the site of the colony. The video shows the area where the remains were discovered, more pictures of the skull, as well as the evidence of cannibalism. It is a good watch!

Cannibalism at Jamestown

Possible reconstruction of "Jane" - Cannibalized victim
If you know anything about the Jamestown colony, this title probably doesn’t surprise you. In fact, when I initially read this article by the Washington Post, detailing the first physical evidence of cannibalism at the first permanent English colony in the new World, I thought it had long since been a matter of common knowledge. I call it the first physical evidence, because strong written evidence of the consumption of human flesh at Jamestown has existed almost since the colony’s infamous "starving time" of 1609 – 1610. Still, the newly discovered archeological finds at the site of the former colony are compelling and fascinating.

According to the Washington Post, the remains of a butchered 14 year old girl were discovered in an excavated cellar in the former English fort by the ongoing Jamestown Rediscovery Archeological Project. The girl, who has been nicknamed Jane, showed evidence of having been carved by an axe or cleaver and a knife. In fact, the skull, lower jaw, and the leg seemingly show the sloppy technique of the killer. Some guess that this demonstrates hesitation on the part of the one that butcher.

Although the identity of Jane is not yet known, researchers assume she was one of 300 new colonists who set sail from England in 1609 to resupply the struggling colony. Since its establishment in 1607, the Jamestown colony had consistently come into conflict with the local Powhatan Tribe. In addition, the settlement had struggled to provide food for its colonists from its initiation. With the arrival of the new settlers, things only became worse.

Though the new ships were meant to resupply the colony with both provisions and a healthy labor force, the 300 new people were more of a burden than a boon. According to the article, the crew of the ships horded supplies and the existing summer crop was woefully inadequate. Furthermore, the famous Captain John Smith, the military leader who had largely been responsible for organizing the colonists during their first years, was severely injured in a gunpowder explosion. Smith returned to England in October along with the departing ships.
Captain John Smith
What followed was a winter of famine and suffering known as the "starving time" in Jamestown history. One of the most detailed accounts of this winter comes from George Percy, one of the original Jamestown settlers and president of the colony after the departure of Captain Smith. First, Percy describes the desperation of the Jamestown settlers, saying:
"Then haveinge fedd uponn horses and other beastes as long as they Lasted we weare gladd to make shifte wth vermine as doggs Catts Ratts and myce All was fishe thatt came to Nett to satisfye Crewell hunger as to eate Bootes shoes or any other leather some colde Come by And those being Spente and devoured some weare inforced to searche the woodes and to feede upon Serpents and snakes and to digge the earthe for wylde and unknowne Rootes where many of our men weare Cutt off of and slayne by the Salvages."
Hence, well before the colonists resorted to eating human flesh, they had fallen to eating animals like horses, dogs, and cats. Percy also described how those who looked for food outside of the fort walls disappeared, for which he blamed the local natives. However, things quickly become much worse at Jamestown. At this point Percy described what was really history’s first evidence of the cannibalism at Jamestown. According to Percy:
"And now famin begineinge to Looke gastely and pale in every face thatt notheinge was spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe those things wch seame incredible As to digge up dead corpses outt of graves and to eate them and some have Licked upp the Bloode wch hathe fallen from their weake fellowes And amongste the reste this was moste Lamentable Thatt one of our Colline murdered his wyfe Ripped the childe outt of her woambe and threw itt into the River and after chopped the Mother in pieces and salted her for his food."
Yikes, that’s pretty bad. Not only does it seem the desecration and consumption of a previously deceased human body occurred, but also the double murder, salting of, and cannibalization of one of the victims. Or course it is somewhat more shocking to see the crime was committed by a husband against his own wife and child. In addition, though I am thankful, I find it odd that apparently the murderer felt cannibalizing his own offspring was going too far. Instead, he disposed of the poor child in a river.

George Percy
Percy goes on to describe how the killer was caught and punished for his crimes. After being hung by his thumbs to prompt a confession, the murderer was then executed. However, Percy also explains that the situation had become so bad that many Englishmen abandoned the fort in an attempt to join native villages. In fact, by the time help arrived at the colony only 60 men of the 500 colonists who began the winter of 1609 remained alive. Sadly, it is guessed that Jane was not among them.

Finally, in the spring of 1610, the new Governor arrived in Virginia, after having been shipwrecked on Bermuda for some time. He and his men found the colony in such a bad state that they decided to abandon the whole project and head back home. However, as the ships began sailing down the James River they were intercepted by vessels arriving from England , carrying the new governor Lord Thomas West, the Baron De La Warr. Of course, the State, a river, and an entire nation of natives would be named Delaware after him. It as with the arrival of De La Warr that the modern story of Jane picks up.

Thomas West - the Baron De La Warr
According to the Washington Post, the 14 year old girl’s bones were found in a heap of trash that also contained the bones of dogs, a horse, and squirrels. This, again, supports the evidence presented by Percy. It is thought this garbage pile was made during the cleanup process after the winter and the arrival of Lord De La Warr. Maybe someone was attempting to conceal a crime from the new governor. Though no one really knows Jane’s true identity, it seems there are many who are already brainstorming how it could be discovered. The use of both traditional historical evidence and newly developed DNA technology has been discussed.

Though this new discovery did not come as a surprise to me, I still found it super interesting. Although gruesome by our standards, resorting to cannibalism in the face of a desperate situation is not without historical precedent. Even in New England, we are still haunted and by and fascinated with the story of the whale ship the Essex. The story of the Donner Party is so infamous in the history of western expansion that even those who have limited historical knowledge have heard of it. Yes, historic accounts of cannibalism are both plentiful and compelling. However, what makes this story unique is the physical evidence that now supports the centuries old accounts of the witnesses of the "starving time." Of course, the Jamestown Project is a continuing effort, one which has already shown interesting results. I find it particularly fascinating considering no one even knew where the Jamestown colony was when I was growing up. I certainly look forward to seeing what else can be uncovered from the site of the first permanent English colony in the New World. Gruesome or not, I'll be waiting.

Monday, May 6, 2013

English Towns Clash Over Mayflower History

Mayflower II - Replica of the original ship
According to the UK newspaper the Telegraph, as the 400 year anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from England to Massachusetts approaches in 2020, two English towns are clashing over exactly which can claim to be the place from where the famous ship originated. Although the city of Plymouth has generally been more associated with the Mayflower and its 1620 voyage to New England, the town of Harwich in Essex also asserts to have significant historical ties to the ship and voyage.

In fact, supporters of the Harwich claim to the Mayflower state that their town was the ship’s original home port, the place where she was constructed, and the home town of her captain. However, Plymouth’s connection to the ship came when the Speedwell, the second ship hired to make the trans-Atlantic trip, sprung a leek. The Mayflower and the Speedwell then needed to backtrack to Plymouth to transfer the passengers onto the Mayflower. From there the vessel set sail in September of 1620 to ultimately etablish one of the seminal American colonies. Hence, some claim that Plymouth’s only historical connection to the ship and the voyage came about due to an unlucky accident.

Furthermore, a charity called the Harwich Mayflower Project has set the multi-million dollar goal of building a replica of the ship which would sail from Essex to New England in time for the 400 year anniversary. Funders of this project have made the claim that their efforts have been hindered by the unfortunate fact that most people only associate the city of Plymouth with the Mayflower.

The whole conflict has motivated funders of the Harwich Mayflower claim to attempt to assert legal ownership of the first voyage of any new Mayflower replica. This would hinder the ability of the city of Plymouth to cash in on what is expected to be a high exposure anniversary event. The Harwich project is declaring their right to both the name and any merchandise associated with the upcoming celebration.

I found the article and the conflict highly entertaining. I suppose Plymouth really gets connected to the Mayflower because the settlers named their colony after the city they left from. Most people probably just assume that’s the whole story. I guess I would not find the fight as entertaining if I were from either Plymouth or Harwich. Although the 2020 anniversary of the Mayflower and Plymouth colony may not be on everyone’s minds quite yet, I will certainly be looking forward to it and any other further developments in this battle to claim a piece of New England history.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sandwich Glass Museum

In my post on the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company I could not really focus on the history and process of glass making itself. The amount of information was staggering. Did you know ruby glass contains gold? Did you know canary yellow glass is actually radioactive? In researching, I really did learn a lot about the tradition of making glass. I learned enough to know that I don’t know much at all.

Canary Yellow glass contains uranium. Really!!

Ruby glass contains gold
The Sandwich Glass Museum is a great place to start learning about the glass making industry on Cape Cod. Again, n my post I did not spend nearly enough space discussing the great time I had at the museum itself. The Sandwich Glass Museum is located on 129 Main Street, Sandwich, Ma. Currently, the museum is running on its winter hours. It s open Wed – Sun 9:30am to 4:00pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $1.25 for children 6 – 14, and free for children under 5.

On top of the thousands of examples of Sandwich glass, it also offers hourly glass blowing demonstrations and a 20 or so minute movie about the first 200 years of Sandwich history. The following is a video showing the glass blowing demonstration available every day at the museum.

It is definitely worth stopping by this well run museum to experience a major part of Cape Cod and American history.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company

Boston & Sandwich Glass Company
Although I have lived on Cape Cod nearly all my life, there is still a lot of history I don’t know, a lot of sites I’ve never seen, and many museums I have yet to visit. Just recently I had time to look into one of these areas of ignorance by visiting the Sandwich Glass Museum. Although its one of the most well known historic stops on the Cape, I had actually never been to the Glass Museum. Nor had I ever really looked into the part Cape Cod played in the Industrial Revolution. During my visit I learned more than I ever knew about glass and the contributions the town of Sandwich made to the development of glass making technology in the United States and around the world.

Of course, one cannot look into the development of glass making in Sandwich without first attempting to understand its founder, Deming Jarves. According to Harriet Buxton Barbour in Sandwich: The Town That Glass Built, Deming Jarves was born to English parents in Boston in December of 1790. Jarves grew up in Boston surrounded by the developing post-Revolution industry of New England. He became involved in the very competitive world of glass making when he took a job as a clerk for the Boston Porcelain and Glass Company soon after his marriage in 1815.
Deming Jarves
The company continually suffered from management problems and changed hands several times until it was ready to go under. According to Barbour, in 1817 Boston Porcelain and Glass was willing to dispose of all its property. Luckily for Jarves, he was in a position to profit. With several of his relatives, he was able to purchase and become the active manager of the New England Glass Company of East Cambridge, which rose from the ashes of the old Boston Porcelain and Glass.

For a time Jarves threw himself into his new passion. He studied the ancients like Strabo, Vergil, and Pliny. He learned everything he could concerning the ancient art of glass making in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Then he began to pair this knowledge with the miraculous inventions of the newly developing industrial world. Between 1821 and 1833, Jarves registered for two patents, each creating new and easier methods to produce glass.

However, in 1823 Deming’s father died, leaving him a $25,000 inheritance. Barbour explains that Jarves began to question his role at New England Glass. He did not want to spend the best years of his life developing his business and passion for partners who were only interested in profit. What Jarves wanted was a legacy for himself and his growing family. With his new inheritance, he had his chance.

According to Frank W. Chipman, in The Romance of Old Sandwich Glass, Jarves had previously spent time hunting in the marshes of the Cape. During one hunting trip he began to conceive of a new idea. He believed that the location of and resources in the Sandwich area showed an abundance of untapped raw industrial potential. According to most resources, he even believed he could use the many acres of marsh grass around the town for packing material.

In April of 1825, the buildings that would become the glass factory were erected. Chipman describes several tenement buildings for the workers, a butcher shop, a general store, and a barn. In addition, he states that the original factory was only one small furnace. This area was eventually nicknamed Jarvesville, after Deming himself. On July 4, 1825, the first pot of glass was made using sand from the near the factory.

However, according to many resources, including Chipman, Barbour, and information provided by the Sandwich Glass Museum, Jarves did not choose Sandwich for its miles and miles of Cape Cod sand. In order to make crystal clear glass, one needs pure quartz silica. As was demonstrated to me in the museum, Cape sand is rather impure, as it contains traces of iron and other elements. When blown into glass, it has a yellowish tinge to it. Kinda interesting looking, but not what most people wanted.
The yellowish rod on the right was made using Cape Sand
Instead, it was the town’s position near a navigable creek and harbor, its inexpensive land, and its abundance of trees for fuel that convinced Jarves that Sandwich could be a profitable place to grow a business. Knowing that the Cape sand would not do for creating fine quality glass, Jarves shipped in sand from New Jersey and New York. Eventually he purchased land in the Berkshires from which he imported nearly 100% pure quartz silica.

In the early days of the factory Jarves hired glass blowers from England and Ireland. He even tempted many away from his former company in Cambridge. In time locals became apprenticed to these original masters and were able to advance from journeyman to master for themselves. This system provided a steady stream of native employable talent, which soon began to develop a purely American style of fine glass products distinguished from its worldwide competitors.

However, at the onset of his enterprise Jarves found that he needed additional funding to support his vision. Reluctantly, he agreed to form a corporation with other businessmen, including his wife’s wealthy cousin. These men then funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into improving and enlarging the Sandwich facilities. The new corporation did provide Jarves with the funds he needed. However, in the process he was also giving up sole control of his new company. In hindsight, this seems like it was something he was not totally willing to do. Either way, with the creation of the new corporation, the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company was born.

With the improvements created through his new funding, the new Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory grew to acquire world wide fame as a quality manufacturer. According to Lenore Wheeler Williams in Sandwich Glass, by 1853 the factory had a yearly production of $600,000 in glass plates, cups, lamps, and salt cellars. In addition, Williams states the business grew from employing 70 to employing 500 workers during the same time period.

Furthermore, the town of Sandwich became a center of commerce. Even business unrelated to the glass company prospered due to the consistent wages earned by the glassworkers and their families. By 1840, according to Chipman, Sandwich glass had become so popular that orders came from Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, and even the White House. Soon millions of dollars in orders were being fill from around the world.

Although many pieces of Sandwich glass are classically blown glass, during the mid 1820’s, the factory began to experiment with and became famous for glass pressing. This method required a lever operated machine to press hot glass into a specific mold through the use of a plunger. Although sources agree that Jarves did not invent the pressing process, his work at the Sandwich factory improved the process.

In Sandwich Glass: The History of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, Ruth Web Lee describes how Jarves was inspired to experiment with pressing in 1827 when a Sandwich blacksmith asked him to produce a glass tumbler. Jarves first believed this could not be created from glass, because of the restrictions inherent to the art of blown glass. The blacksmith wondered why glass could not be pressed into a mold to create any shape desired.

By 1827, according to Lee and Barbour, glass pressing technology had already been developed in Europe. However, these methods were in their infancy and not available in the United States. Shaping glass using a mold was common practice by this time, but required the labor of a glass blower and mold cracker. Still, Jarves began to believe it was possible to create the design requested by the blacksmith through glass pressing.

He spent weeks building and experimenting in the carpentry shop of the factory. His employees were curious about his designs, but doubted he would succeed. However, he finally emerged, ready to test his machine. Jarves watched as a glass gatherer brought a molten gob of hot glass and dropped it into his new mold. He pressed the plunger down and created the glass factory’s first pressed glass tumbler. Though the item was by no means perfect, it was passable enough to agitate his glass blowers, who now feared for their jobs. In a letter reproduced by Ruthe Lee in Sandwich Glass, Jarves writes:
"The glass blowers on discovery that I had succeeded in pressing a piece of glass, were so enraged for fear their business would be ruined by the new discovery, that my life was threatened, and I was compelled to hide from them for six weeks before I dared venture in the street or in the glass house, and for more than six months there was danger of personal violence should I venture in the street after nightfall."
With one experiment, Jarves had revolutionized the production of glass in the United States, and had upset many people in doing so. By December of 1828, Jarves had patented his new pressing method. It would take roughly ten years before a manufacturer in England could also create a pressed glass product that was more than a shallow dish.
Early Glass Press

Jarves' Original Tumbler
Although the fears of the Sandwich glass blowers were understandable, the creation of the glass press was not as threatening as they imagined. The simple press machine could not mix the glass or create new recipes for color. In addition, the machine opened a niche for mold-makers. These artists were responsible for creating the designs that eventually helped Sandwich Glass stand out from its rivals.

For a businessman, Jarves also seemed to be a true humanitarian. Because of this, the factory became a real part of the Sandwich community during its existence. In Sandwich Glass, Lee relates several examples of Jarves’ considerate welfare toward his employees. During the economic crisis of 1840, his tenants in Jarvesville lived free of rent. When the furnace was undergoing repairs and his men could not work, he continued their pay regardless, though at a quarter of their regular rate. The care he took with his child labor force was unusual for the time. He insisted the children attend the village school and encouraged them to apprentice in their spare time. He even gave the children a half dollar every Fourth of July to buy fireworks.

In addition, Chipman relates several stories as evidence that the factory was not simply a business that employed locals. He states that every Christmas, Jarves donated a barrel of flour to the widows of his former employees. The factory allowed local children to use their worn out parts to create box cars. In addition, Jarves encouraged local children afflicted with whooping cough to come to factory to spend an hour a day inhaling the fumes in their tar room. Of course, this was probably more detrimental then helpful, yet the spirit was there I suppose.
Map of Sandwich 1884 - Showing Jarvesville and Factory
Of course, along with the influx of new comers to Sandwich, came conflicts between locals and residents of the factory areas known as Jarvesville. Knowing how some modern Cape Codders can be very selective of the company they keep, I can only imagine how magnified this was in the mid 1800’s. According to Barbour, in 1830, three employees from Jarvesville were arrested and found guilty of intentionally and rather horrifically killing the cow of a local farmer. Barbour also relates several assaults and thefts attributed to the residents of Jarvesville. The factory village was earning a reputation for rowdiness and alcohol abuse that many residents felt had begun to taint their own town.

Furthermore, the arrival of so many Irish employees to Jarvesville brought the feared religion of Catholicism to Sandwich. To the mostly protestant Cape Codders, Catholicism must have seemed very foreign, with its ancient traditions, and reverence of the Pope. According to church records from Corpus Christi Parish in Sandwich, the first Catholic Church was erected on Jarves Street in 1830 and dedicated to St. Peter. Although there were only 70 parishioners at the time, the factory quickly attracted many more.

Over time, the residents of Jarvesville began to leave the factory village as they married the daughters of Sandwich residents. According to Barbour, the only residents that tended to remain in the tenant buildings were those who could not afford to move and the Catholics who wished to remain near their church. Many of these building remain in the area of Sandwich near the Boardwalk.
The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company continued to be a profitable venture for Jarves, his board of directors, and his stockholders. However, within records provided in Sandwich Glass, one can see a growing tension between Jarves and those he was accountable to. Both Jarves and his board of directors were begging to contend for control of the company.

All resources agree that Deming Jarves ran the company until 1858, and that he resigned due to a dispute with the company’s board of directors. What many sources do not explain is that he had submitted several letters of resignation going all the way back to the 1830’s. In addition what caused his final parting with the company was more multi-layered than a simple dispute.

Deming had several children he wished to include in his enterprise. One of his sons, George Jarves, operated a store in Boston associated with his father’s glassworks. One of the board of directors wished to sever any connection George Jarves had with the Sandwich company. He claimed that since 1854, the association with George’s store had cost Boston and Sandwich Glass upwards of $50,000 a year. This accusation caused stress between both the Jarves men and the board of directors.

Furthermore, according to Ruth Web Lee, labor issues and lack of profits seemed to be eroding the confidence the board had in the abilities of Jarves. In June of 1856, the board unanimously voted to reduce the pay of several employees, including Jarves, by ten percent until the stockholders begin to see profits. It seems as though Jarves was actually part of this meeting and decision, but it is unclear how much power and authority he had at this point. His pay was cut once again in November of 1857.

If one examines the meeting notes provided by Lee in Sadnwich Glass, it seems apparent that over the course of the final years in which Jarves was employed at Boston and Sandwich Glass, the board of directors was continually voting to remove more and more decision making power from him. Jarves once again submitted a letter of resignation, and in June of 1858, the board of directors voted this time to accept it.

The accepted resignation of Deming Jarves and soon afterward, the severing of George Jarves from association with the company, culminated in the complete exile of any member of the Jarves family from Boston and Sandwich Glass. Although the factory continued on without him, according to Lee:
"The most interesting glass produced at the factory was made for the most part, while Deming Jarves was the guiding genius. The most revolutionary changes in the art of glass making occurred while his hand was at the helm."
After leaving the company, Jarves opened a rival business nearby, which he called Cape Cod Glass Works. The new factory was moderately successful, well run, and up to date. Several employees followed him from Boston and Sandwich Glass because he offered them better pay. Deming began the new business hoping to leave a legacy to his son John. Unfortunately John Jarves died in May of 1863, leaving Deming with the business. Jarves continued to run the Cape Cod Glass Works, but showed very little passion for the business after his son’s death.

According to Barbour, in 1865 Jarves updated his older pamphlet, Reminiscences of Glass-Making. In examining his writing, it is apparent, as noted by Lee and Barbour, that Jarves still held a grudge following his separation from Boston and Sandwich Glass. He devoted very little of the book to his former business and even goes as far as to praise its rivals in Pennsylvania and Boston, even in the area of pressed glass, which Jarves had revolutionized. Sadly, I found if one is looking for history on the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, the writing of Deming Jarves is not the place to seek it.

Jarves remained sole owner of Cape Cod Glass Works, attempting to avoid the mistakes he had made at his previous two businesses. Hearing that Deming Jarves was ill and that his family did not wish to continue running the company, the superintendant at the Cape Cod Works was asked to extinguish the fires. According to Lee and Barbour, in April of 1869, the same day the fires were extinguished, Deming Jarves passed away at his home in Boston.

The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company continued to have labor difficulties. By 1866, according to Lee, the workers were seeking an increase in pay, or threatening a work stoppage. Unfortunately, this was a poor time for the company to increase the pay of its employees. Warehouse fires had destroyed valuable stock and The Panic of 1873 caused an economic crisis in the US and abroad. Rather than an increase in salary, the factory workers saw a decrease in pay by 1877.

In addition, new glass companies were being created in the Midwest. These companies had easier access to coal and dominated markets in the south through an ease in transpiration provided by major river systems To compound all these troubles, the workmen at Sandwich held a short strike and stopped working. With this development, the board of directors began to entertain cutting their losses and getting out.

Once again, the factory in Sandwich was caught up in large national events. On top of labor issues, the powerful movement toward unionization, workmen’s organizations like the Knights of Labor, and events like the Haymaket Affair all began to affect the little town of Sandwich.

With the very visible management style of Deming Jarves now long gone, the employees at Sandwich began to feel disconnected from those running the glass works. Many workers in Sandwich had joined the American Flint Glass Workers’ Union of North America. Still, many refused to unionize. According to Chipman and Barbour, the management in Sandwich made it clear that they would continue to hire both union and non-union workers.

According to Barbour, in December of 1887, in the face of shrinking profits and increased competition, the management at Sandwich gave the factory workers a take-it-or-leave-it choice. The workers were ordered to produce more products per shift, in a work speed-up. The employees would recieve the same pay, but needed to produce more. No management attempted to explain the company’s situation to its workers. The workmen, who knew that millions of dollars in orders were still being filled by the factory, probably did not understand that the company was losing an ever increasing amount of money.

In reality, I suppose the workers were given a choice. Either speed up production or strike and let the furnace be extinguished for good. However, many employees thought this was a bluff by management. In all fairness, it seems pay rates at Sandwich were about standard in comparison with other glass workers in the East. The workers in Sandwich, however, had also seen the successes of glassworker strikes in other companies. In the face of what they thought was true and right, the Sandwich workers called a strike in January of 1888. In response, management simply let the furnace burn out as promised. Thus ended the grand tradition of the glass industry in Sandwich, not with a bang, but with the dying fizzle of an untended furnace.

Although others attempted to re-open the factory doors soon after, their enterprise was short lived. Eventually, the talented glass workers moved to other more profitable locations and the factory fell into disrepair. Chipman mentions the eye-sore that was the rotting body of the factory. On that spot today, nothing remains but cement blocks and a plaque commemorating past greatness.
What remained of the factory mid 1900's

What remains of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company March 2013
 I fully enjoyed visiting the Sandwich Glass Museum, researching the history of this industry, and visiting the now nearly empty sites of Boston and Sandwich Glass and Cape Cod Glass. The museum is located on 129 Main Street. Though not the original site of the factory, it offers daily glass blowing and pressing demonstrations, and displays hundreds of pieces of Sandwich glass products. The wife and I even purchased our own replica of an original Sandwich glass design made at the museum.
Our own new piece of Cape Cod history
As I have said before, I really wish this local history was taught at the high school level. When learning about the Industrial Revolution, one generally teaches about the mills in Lowell, though not the factories and revolutionary advancements made in Sandwich. In addition to learning about Robber Barons like Carnegie, perhaps the more humanitarian approach of Jarves could also be instructive. When learning about labor organizations like the Knights of Labor and events like the Haymarket Affair, one does not generally focus on its local effects, as in the strike at the Sandwich factory. This is truly a shame, as I think it would demonstrate to our local students that their towns were deeply affected by, but also major players in, our nation’s great history.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jane Toppan Preview

I have been researching the life and murders committed by New England’s own serial killer, Jane Toppan. Of course she has an interesting Cape Cod connection as well. Although the research has been interesting and very creepy, it has taken me a bit longer to put my post together. It should be ready for early next month. Until then check out this short preview about Jolly Jane. It is a little dramatic, but summarizes her life pretty well.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Native Americans and the Ancient Chinese - A DNA Connection

Researchers in Tianyuan Cave
Even though I generally research and write about New England history, I am always on the lookout for new information about Native Americans. Tribal groups like the Wampanoag and the Narragansett (to name just a couple) play such a huge part in the development of Yankee history, I have to jump at the chance to learn more about their development. Although there are literally hundreds of ideas, perhaps the most accepted Native American origin theory indicates that these tribal groups began to cross the Bering land bridge from Asia to North America around 40,000 years ago. Recently, this theory gained another key piece of DNA evidence.

According to and article posted on Past Horizons, a team of researchers from Leipzig, Germany has sequenced the DNA of a fossilized bone of an early human found in Tianyuan Cave near Beijing. The results of the sequence show that this human, who lived roughly 40,000 years ago, shares a DNA connection with Native Americans.

A researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany suggested that the bones found in Tianyuan Cave come from a transitional time period when early modern humans were beginning to replace our more ancient relatives like Neanderthals and Denisovans. Of course, some Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA was also found in the Tianyuan remains, but levels were no more than would be found in modern Asian populations.

The findings were significant, not only because it showed a connection to the DNA of Native Americans, but it also showed no connection to modern European DNA. This indicates that the 40,000 year old remains had already diverged from the ancestors of modern Europeans. The information helps to piece together how and when modern humans spread across Eurasia.

When I teach about Native American groups, I present the Bering land bridge theory as the most plausible, though I do explain a couple more theories as well. Right now DNA evidence has been hugely influential in the field of human population research. Most DNA evidence is supporting the theory that modern Native Americans are related to Asian populations. However, a precise understanding of the development of unique geographic populations like the Wampanoag and the Narragansett is still a little ways off. How and when these ancient migrants from Asia moved through North and South America and how they developed into the hundreds of diverse tribal groups spread from coast to coast is more than a little unclear. That is something I’d like to see explained.