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 The earliest concrete historical reference to the existence of the stone can be found in a 1907 Atlas.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|
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|
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.