Thursday, December 25, 2014

"I'll be darned" - Folly Cove, June 15, 1893

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960

After dragging their dories on log rollers up past the high tide line, stowing their gear and checking tomorrow's bait, three Folly Cove fishermen enjoy a fraternal smoke before dinner.*
TW  Theosophilis Woodbury
HP  Howard Poland
HB  Howard Bates
Folly Cove fish houses1
TW  "Both of you fellows being Howards is the most aggravating thing I can think of. Howard Bates and Howard Poland in one small cove next to one big ocean. Now admittedly there's about a dozen of us Woodburys fishing around here but at least we give each other middle names."
HP  "Don't think I ever heard yours, Theosophilis." 

TW  "Don't think I need one. What about you, Howard Bates?"
HB  "Don't think I have one."

Howard Bates, Folly Cove2
 HP  "There's a story in here about that Clam Boil last night. It's the first time I ever saw Lanesville on the front page of the Gloucester Daily Times."

TW  "That's 'cause half of Gloucester was in the Rink for free clams and fixings, and giving speeches about linking Lanesville to the rest of world with the electric railway. Must be an election year."

HB  "Everybody was watching to see whether that new bridge at Bay View would hold up when the train cars went over it on the maiden run with all the civic people on board. Guess it did. And the Plum Cove trestle held up, too."

HP  "They're talking about bringing the railway right through here from Rockport. All the way around the Cape."
Electric street car, Rockport3
TW  "I'll be darned. I don't understand how they get power through wires to operate those things."
HP  "I can't figure it either, but those trolleys scare the hell out of the horses. I rode the trolley once. It knocked the wheel right off a milk wagon over in Riverdale."
HB  "That fellow shouldn't of left his wagon parked on the tracks."  
HP  "That kind of thing didn't happen in the horse-drawn days."
Horse-drawn trolley, Riverdale4
HB  "Sidney Harvey says it's going to be the end of his stage coach line.”
Stage coach 'Annisquam'5
HP  "I don't know. He might make out all right. I hear he's after the contract for a Lanesville lockup. Wants to have it built right into his stables down at Lane's Cove. Look at this here in the paper. It is reported that Lanesville is to have a lockup--and that the project depends on the granting of licenses for the sale of liquor. Lockup and Liquor. The more liquor the more need of a lockup."
TW  "I'll be darned. The next thing you know they'll be wanting to give Officer Walker a telephone."
Lane's Cove, fish shacks and stone boats6
HB  "Maybe he could use a telephone to direct traffic down at the Cove. You have to squeeze around the granite boats and Harvey's coal operations to get in there. And once you do you have to listen to Jacob Gronblad getting his picture taken."
Jacob Gronblad and cod, Lane's Cove7
TW  "Jacob brought that picture up to the sauna last week. It's like that Mark Twain fellow says, pictures of dead fish start to smell after three days."

HP  "Well, sometimes we've got to dodge in to Lane's Cove before the nor'easters make splinters out of us here in Folly. It's crazy not to run down there when the weather comes up." 

TW  "George Woodbury had it right. He went berrying."
Dip net and dories, Folly Cove8
HP  "Paper says Nellie Bly arrived at New York from her trip 'round the world."  

TW  "That was three years ago that she went 'round the world in 80 days. You must be looking at one of the old issues. I bet I've baited trawls enough to go 'round the world." 

HP  "I'm going to name my dory Nellie Bly.

HB  "Here comes Ezra. He says lobsters are bringing eleven cents a pound. They're packing 'em  in barrels and shipping 'em live to Boston."
Ezra Harraden9
TW  "I'll be darned. I don't suppose you're going to be shipping lobsters to town on that railway."

HB  "That's about as likely as flying 'em.”
*  These citizens of Folly Cove did experience these events, although exactly what they thought and said about them I have taken liberty to imagine. The accounts stem from reports of the time, listed below. Special thanks to the Gloucester Archives Committee; Mary Ray and Sarah Dunlap, Gloucester Massachusetts Historical Time-Line 1000-1999;  and Paul Harling for his unpublished monograph on Cape Ann Trolleys.
Minutes of the Board of Aldermen
City Documents, Gloucester, 1893
Cape Ann Advertiser
Cape Ann Evening Breeze
Gloucester Daily Times
1  NOAA, "Historical Ecology Slideshow"
2  Sandy Bay Historical Society
3  Paul Harling
4 , 5, 8  Cape Ann Museum
6, 7, 9  "Old Lanesville,” Lanesville Community Center

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lanesville, July 4, 1888

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960

On the western flank of Halibut Point, Lanesville makes up the northernmost portion of Gloucester. While the national frontier moved west, Lanesville's nineteenth-century frontier moved down into the earth. Granite ledges close to shoreline coves could be exploited for shipping stone products to a growing America.
Moving quarried granite by ox cart1
Large numbers of immigrant workers especially from northern Italy and Scandinavia began flooding into the village in the 1880s. Some of them arrived with skills in stone cutting or carving. Most of the newcomers just came looking for a better life, initially at low wages. It was grueling and dangerous work.

The Statue of Liberty had been dedicated in New York two years earlier but Emma Lazarus's poem of welcome to the world's "huddled masses yearning to be free" would not be affixed to Lady Liberty until 1903.
Woodbury Hill paving cutters
John Hill, Salman Hautamaki, Nestor Niemi,
Matt Ray, John Mylly, Mike Aho
As the great national holiday rolled around in 1888, villagers planned a Fourth of July Parade. Ethnic tensions colored the marchers' themes with biting humor. The Gloucester Daily Times, founded only a month earlier, reported on the parade in delicious detail, as you will see reprinted below.

The Parade originated in Lanesville, marched to Annisquam, back to Folly Cove, then returned to the village. Along the route you would have encountered people and scenes like these.
Annie Farson and Baby Helen Cheves

Granite train crossing Washington Street
Hodgkins Cove, Bay View

William R. Cheves in carriage
Helen and Robert Cheves, with Sprague's dog

Bay View Fire Station steamer

Boys on Norseman Avenue

Butman's Pit, Washington Street
Congregational Church in the distance

Dr. Saunders and family
1103 Washington Street
Photo credits
1 - The Rodgers Collection, in "Pictures from the Past, Volume 1," Lanesville Community Center, 2009.
All other photographs are from Cape Ann Museum collections.
Further reading
Barbara Erkkila, Hammers on Stone, 1980, and Village at Lane's Cove, 1989
Martin Ray, "Immigration in the Growth of Gloucester," 1977 (Sawyer Free Library)
Antiques and Horribles
The Gloucester Daily Times, July 5, 1888  
As usual, the racket attending the celebration of the 4th commenced at midnight. Early in the morning the Antiques and Horribles began to gather in the vicinity of the Catholic church. The procession started at half-past 4 o'clock, marching to Annisquam, countermarching to Folly Cove and returned to Lanesville and disbanded.
        The procession was headed by Chief Marshal N. F. Cook and his aides. Then came the chief of police with a squad of policemen in costume, each one wearing a badge as large as a stove cover. The Mozart Band of Rockport furnished the music. The first team was a wagon with four occupants representing old women, with the motto, "City Appropriation for the 4th in Wards 6 and 7, $000000." Just as the team started the horse balked and the wagon was upset and the old women were thrown out, and the procession moved on. In the procession we noticed the following turnout--
        A large wagon filled with boys tastily dressed with the motto, "The Future Defenders of our Country." A young lady dressed in white represented "The Goddess of Liberty."
        One team with several youngsters, motto "Battery B" and "Dynamite Gun."
        A carpenter and his wife in a two-wheel chaise, motto, "Carpenters wanted. Finns need not apply."
        Four men on a paving team, mottos, "The Height of our Ambition, Cheap Labor, Finns and Napes $1.50 per bbl. A Cordial Welcome is extended to the Heathen Chinese." "Americans and Irishmen Must Go, we have no Use for Them." "You Must Work Smart, we Cannot Afford to Pay You Much." "Plenty of Men, no Work in the Market." "Last Year Dividend very Small." " We Will Take a few Green Paving Cutters."
        A "box" of Finns marked "Cape Ann," motto "Here we are, now for the Granite Quarries." "Wanted 10,000 Foreign Quarrymen, no Yankees need Apply. None but Finlanders are wanted." "Tallow and fish cheap at the stores."
        Two men rode in an open buggy with a banner representing a poorly fed horse, with the motto "Selling off at Cost."
        An old carryall with four men, motto "The Head of our Country."
        A paving team, with an old man with a load of children, motto "Frozen out, we cannot digest tallow and stale fish on 80 cents a day. Rats, Rats."
        An ancient couple in an old carriage covered with mosquito netting, motto "No Flies on Us."
        A large wagon filled with masked young ladies, motto, "Tremont Temple Convention, For President Belva Lockwood of Cal., Vice President Lucy Stone of Mass."
        A tally-ho coach filled with masked young gents, mottos "Blubber Hollow and 'Squam Flats." A box on the rack marked "1-2 gross Finlanders for Peavy's Granite Quarries and Bay State Works."
        A team with a man and blacksmith bellows, motto, "The Fraud Blacksmith." "Bush Hammers."
        An old dilapidated chaise with musician playing the violin, motto, "Bay View is Good Enough for Me to Play in." This get up was awarded the first prize.
        An old wagon with three riders, motto, "This Day has 'cooked' poor Chief Cook."
        A large wagon carried a load of Italians with musical instruments of various kinds, motto, "imported band."
         A chemical engine was represented by several youngsters, and was a good get up, the lettering being "Ward 7 Left," "No Free Show from Gloucester, but we Pay for it all the Same." A nursing bottle filled with milk with the words, "Suggestion to the Committee on Fire Department," "This is the proposed Chemical for Lanesville, Come Down Insurance, Go Up Gloucester Fire Department." "Lanesville," "We like Pork, but dam a Hog," "Ward 7 gets there just the same."
        A large wagon represented a milk farm, an old pump being in use throwing water. There were several mottos, one being, "Condensed milk is not good for Children."
        A large wagon was filled with musicians with brass instruments, the piece representing the bass drum, being lettered "Bay View Brass Band;" a drummer from New York played the kettledrum. The following motto was displayed, "Lanesville for Money, Gloucester for Glory, Annisquam for Thanks."
        A fellow on horseback burlesqued the Chief Marshal, and rode up and down the line offering his orders in a pompous manner. There was also an Indian Chief on horseback.
        A man in fancy costume followed in the rear with a wheelbarrow handsomely decorated with flowers representing a large wreath, and in the center was seated a pretty little girl neatly dressed.
        In the evening there was a large gathering near the Lanesville engine house to hear the concert given by the Bay View Band. The selections were well performed and reflected much credit to the band and their leader Wm. M. Williams.
        The picnics at Mount Locust and at Langsford's grove were well patronized, and the day passed off without any serious accident. There was good order and but very little drunkenness.
            Two Continentals appeared on horseback, and were awarded the second prize. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Avenues, 1878

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960

Pigeon Cove House, 1870s
From a Rogers stereograph, CAM*
"You've enjoyed another successful season, Mrs. Robinson. The Pigeon Cove House seems to have been well patronized as usual." 

"Yes, Mr. Babson, thanks in no small part to your Ocean View improvements. You and Mr. Phillips have made the Avenues so much more pleasant over the last ten years. Our guests enjoy outings along the coast to Andrews Point and beyond. I believe your brochure mentions constructing two miles of new roads in the neighborhood."

"Departures, Pigeon Cove House"
From a Moulton stereograph, CAM
"That's right. The lots are selling quite well. I see you have one of our original maps on the wall."

Ocean View subdivision, c. late 1860s
Archives of Rockport Town Clerk
"We've come a long way since those days. If you look closely at the map you can see where the Pigeon Cove House was located on what was still called Main Street back then. We moved the building around the corner to the shoreline just seven years ago, right on the bend of your Phillips Avenue. Our side street Cathedral Avenue is named for the coastal cliff formations. Did you know that?"

Detail of Ocean View map
"I sure did. Take a look at these new stereographs we're producing. You see this shows the intersection at Babson and Ocean Avenues just three blocks from here. We've made the roads fifty feet wide."

"Intersection of Babson and Ocean Avenues"
Phillips & Babson stereograph, CAM
"Very nice. Have you seen Mr. Moulton's new stereographs? He gave me this lovely print from one of them, entitled 'Cathedral Rocks.'  You can see how popular that spot is. Your nearby wharf and boat landing made it so much more convenient."
"Cathedral Rocks"
From a Moulton stereograph, CAM
"If all goes well we may be able to deepen the channel to allow the approach of large steamers from the city, to bring excursionists directly to the Avenue premises."

"You certainly are forward-thinking."

"It is proprietors such as yourself, Mrs. Robinson, that make our area comfortable and attractive."
"Parlor of the Pigeon Cove House"
From Erkkila Collection stereograph, CAM
"We prosper together, Mr. Babson. Perhaps our greatest debt is to Mr. Phillips."
"Undoubtedly. He witnessed how the coming of the railroads to Swampscott transformed his home town. He foresaw the value of coastal property up here once the railroad was extended to Rockport. When the line reaches Pigeon Cove we'll be able to commute door-to-door to Boston in a bit over an hour."
"I should think you'd have quite an obstacle with the granite companies."
"Mr. Phillips has achieved remarkable things in his day. A man of very few words until he's made up his mind. As you've noticed with his schooner 'Fearless,' he never loses a race."
"Yes, I remember the scuttlebutt after he bested the heavyweight yachtsmen off the Isle of Shoals a few years ago. They couldn't understand whether it was the way he modified his boat, or his seamanship, or both. And he always wins first prize in the Boston regattas."
"Well, he comes from a fishing family. Then he got into business supplying fish oil to tanneries around Lynn, and dealing in medicinal cod livers. Let me tell you an illustrative story. Back about 1850 an elderly lady by the name of Bartlett, from Blue Hill Maine, came into his Boston store with a sample of oil she had skimmed from a kettle while boiling menhaden to make chicken meal. Those menhaden are very oily and abundant all summer around Blue Hill. He offered her $11 a barrel for all she could produce. Her husband and sons made 13 barrels that first summer and 100 the next. Mr. Phillips has since built factories to do the processing. Now he's known internationally as 'The Oil King.'"

"A man of vision."

"Yes. An original thinker. Remember the excursion train he arranged to promote Ocean View? Half-price fare, leave Boston at 8:15, carriages to meet the train and get folks here by 10:00, free chowder collation at the Big Tent at 1:00. We had 300 people come and sold 30 lots on the spot." 

"Yes, some of the inquirers stayed overnight here at the Pigeon Cove House with considerable excitement.  You know, I've been wondering about the Penobscot Indians encamped this summer on the Avenue, trading baskets. Is that one of his promotional ideas?" 

"Let's just say that they're from Old Town, Maine, which is not so far from Blue Hill." 

"What else is he thinking about, if you don't mind my asking?" 

"One of these days you may be seeing a hot air balloon overhead. We need an up-to-date picture of Ocean View. An aerial perspective would really interest people." 
Pigeon Cove, 1886
Ocean View makes up the lower right quadrant.
Halibut Point is the lower right peninsula.
George Walker lithograph


  • * CAM Cape Ann Museum stereographs, Fred and Stephanie Buck, archivists
  • Sandy Bay Historical Society; special thanks to Leslie Bartlett, who pointed the way to Eben Phillips
  • "Pigeon Cove" lithograph from The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library
  • The Town on Sandy Bay, Marshall Swan
  • "Eben Phillips," in History of Essex County, Duane H. Hurd, 1888
  • Swampscott: Historical Sketches of the Town, Waldo Thompson, 1885
  • Gleanings from the Sea: Showing the Pleasure, Pains, and Penalties of Life Afloat with Contingencies, Joseph Warren Smith, 1887
  • "Statement of Eben Phillips, January 21 1874" in Report of the United States Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, 1877
  • Cape Ann Advertiser, May 7, 1869; May 22 and 29, 1874; July 23 and Oct 22, 1878; January 23   and July 15 1879
  • Gloucester Daily Times, September 1, 1891

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Back-of-the-Cape, 1862

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960
Rockport Train Station, 1861
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
"One way to Gloucester, please. Is the next train departing at 6:30?" 
"That's right. Last trip of the day. We're short on coins because of the War. I'll have to give you change in postage stamps or shin-plaster, if you don't mine. They're redeemable at several of our local businesses." 
"Thanks, I'll take it in stamps. You're Addison Gott, I believe." 
"At your service. Founding stationmaster, conductor and baggage handler for the Rockport Railroad." 
" Joshua Gott gave me a ride in from Halibut Point. He had to get a few things in Town. Your cousin, he tells me." 
"Yes. He's keeping the Old Homestead going. It's been in the family since 1702. Not too many of the old farms left out past Pigeon Cove. He and the Babsons seem to be doing alright out there. Let me help you with that case."  
"I'll appreciate that. There's a camera and glass plates in there. I've been out all day photographing. Took the morning stagecoach out from Gloucester to Lanesville, then meandered on foot through The Willows to  Folly Cove. John Heywood's my name."
Lanesville Willows
Washington Street at Langsford Street
John Heywood stereograph
"Photographer! I'd like to hear more about that. I have to lock up the office and ride the train to Gloucester and back. I'll see you on board."

"There you are, Mr. Heywood. I hope you're finding the seat comfortable. We'll be in Gloucester in just a few minutes." 
"Please join me."  
"Thank you. Judging by your accent, you don't come from Massachusetts." 
"Originally from North Carolina. I was making daguerreotypes in California a few years back and eventually wound up with a studio in Boston. Then came the Civil War. It's been awkward." 
"I can imagine." 
"You know, you folks up here sent plenty of salt cod down for the plantation slaves, and you bought plenty of cotton. Personally I wish the Union had stayed together, but the hotheads had their way." 
"Perhaps we'll have a chance to talk about that. What were you photographing today?"
John Heywood stereograph
"Well, you know the coastline from Folly Cove to Pigeon Cove is quite picturesque. As are the fishermen. I met a dory man named Henry Saunders.  A colorful fellow. He's set up a flake yard to cure fish right on the shore near where Mr. Torrey used to cut granite out of the ledges. Now it seems the active quarries work in Rockport are centered between Pigeon Cove and Town. That will be another field trip."  
"What are you going to do with the pictures?" 
"Hervey Friend and I have a studio in Gloucester producing stereographs. They're more versatile than daguerreotypes. We think the market is just beginning."
"Yes, my wife has a stereopticon for viewing them. I've been curious how they work." 
"We take two separate images, slightly offset by the width between your eyes. Then we print and mount them side-by-side. When you look at them through the stereopticon viewer, it gives a three-dimensional effect. Here's a sample from my last trip to Folly Cove. Take it home to your viewer, with my compliments."
"Baiting Trawls”
John Heywood stereograph
"Thank you. I'm very much obliged. My wife will be delighted. Let's see, 'Baiting Trawls,' you call it. A Folly Cove scene, isn't it?" 

"Here's the Gloucester Station. I'm back on duty. Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Heywood." 
"Delighted, Mr. Gott."
-John Heywood stereographs courtesy of The Cape Ann Museum.
-Cape Ann Advertiser, Jun 7, 1861; Jan 3 and 10, 1868; Nov 4, 1879.
-"The Gott Family, from 1628," manuscript from Wellington Pool for Addison Gott, 1872.
-Hammers on Stone, Barbara Erkkila, 1980.
-Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865, Peter E. Palmquist  and Thomas R. Kailbourn

Friday, November 28, 2014

Time, Form, and Energy

It takes some imagination or memory to see scattered leaves as the canopy of a tree, to recall my grandfather with a rake, to hear voices in old letters.  

Transformation specialists often have occupations ending in '-ologist.' When they report back to the rest of us about how things are they inevitably wind up telling us how things change. 

The leaves, the rake, the voices came into being from mass and energy that are on their way to something else. I correspond with you as a Halibut Point-ologist.

States of water
Hydrogen and oxygen, independent gasses, combine to make water. Water composes clouds and plants and ice according to its energy level. It mediates life in the air and within stone, changing state relentlessly, creating and altering substances over time. 

Sunlight provides energy for these compositions and makes them visible to us. When we sense them grandly it is breathtaking. We might invest our own energies into story-making or art to treasure a moment forever, to preserve it in time.
Preserving a moment
People have had a great deal to do with transforming the landscape of Halibut Point. Stone excavated from the quarry makes up the promontory where the artist stands. Beneath her feet processes continue the changes that mark the inexorable nature of time.
Lichen colony around drill hole
Lichens mine granite for substances useful to themselves. If we could be tiny enough to walk within lichen-dom such that they towered over our heads we'd see lichen forests producing carbonic acids that dissolve the rock. By trapping rain water the plants also hold to the rock surface carbonic acid formed in the atmosphere from hydrogen and carbon dioxide, as well as much stronger acids sent aloft through human enterprise.

Decomposing granite
Any mountain exposed to water and sunlight has a short life expectancy. The steady work of forces in the atmosphere and biosphere will flatten it in a few tens of millions of years.  

Weather is a global effort to even out the distribution of the sun's energies as our planet goes through its own rotation and orbital revolution. Weather is the dramatic script enacted by water, air, and light.
Flowing water
The processes of weather never tire, never stop. When they're emphatic enough we're more likely to take notice. They give and take life.

Breaking water, breaking stone
Cumulatively weather makes climate. Significant changes of energy in the system make climate change. When glaciers covered Halibut Point with ice half a mile thick, a few thousand years ago, they scoured the earth. Their weight alone made the land rise and sink, fracturing the rocky crust. They reshaped the continent, even granite, but especially the softer stones.

Glacial scouring
As it happens energies in the core of the Earth intense enough to keep it a molten cauldron, keep shifting the features of the crust we inhabit. The crust gives way into plates, on which the continents ride like rafts in geologic time. * Hundreds of millions of years ago Halibut Point was thousands of miles to the south and far below the surface. The oceans tilt around the globe in response to shifts of the "solid surface."  

Erosion and weathering have leveled all topographic features repeatedly, contributing sediment that is eventually squeezed into metamorphic rock that eventually is consumed back into the core as the plates collide and are subducted. Continents becomes available for igneous recycling.
In time everything is "geo-degradable."
New soil, new life
Biological life, our comfort zone, rides astride the lithosphere in a nimble network of organisms, as easily as breath.

Coreopsis flowers, Halibut Point grout pile

"Of course," I say at times, and, "What a miracle." 


* See Chet and Maureen Raymo. Written in Stone: A Geological History of the Northeastern United States, 2001.