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* Commander in Chief, upon the resignation of Gov. Hancock.

† Commander in Chief upon the death of Gov. Hancock.

A TOPOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION OF TRURO, IN THE COUNTY OF BARNSTABLE, 1794.

TR

RURO is situated east south east from Boston; between 41° 57', and 42° 4′ N. latitude; and between 70° 4′, and 70° 13′, W. longitude from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. The length of the township, as the road runs, is about fourteen miles; but, in a straight line, about eleven miles. The breadth, in the widest part, is three miles; and, in the narrowest part, not more than half a mile. It is bounded on the north west by Province town; and on the south, by Wellfleet: the Atlantick ocean washes it on the north east and east ; and Barnstable bay and Cape Cod harbour, on the west. The distance of the meeting house from Boston, is fifty seven miles, in a straight line; but as the road runs, the distance is one hundred and twelve miles, and forty miles from the court house in Barnstable. As both the eastern and western shores are curved, and approach each other toward the northwest, the form of the township is very nearly a spherical triangle.

In the north part of the township, there is a small harbour, called East harbour, which is shoal and of little use. East of it is situated a body of salt marsh, which is continually diminished by the blowing in of the sand. A village not far from it, containing fourteen houses, is known by the same name.

Another village, called the Pond, consisting of forty houses, is situated about a mile south. It receives its name from a small pond which lies near it. The high and steep banks on the bay are here intersected by a valley, which runs directly from the shore, and soon divides itself into two branches. In this valley the houses stand, and are defended from the winds, whilst the entrance of it affords a convenient landing place. The bending of the land which forms Cape harbour, shelters this landing from some winds, but when the wind blows directly on shore, it comes across a bay near eight leagues wide. It has

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been supposed by some, that a small harbour might easily be made here, by driving three rows of piles in the water parallel with the shore, and weaving branches between them, which would soon collect a pier or bank of sand. Others are of opinion, that a wharf of timber and stone, placed on the outer bar, would most effectually answer the purpose. It is conceived, that one six or seven feet in height, and about four hundred yards in length, would form a convenient harbour. At low ebbs there are three feet of water within the bar. There was an attempt many years ago to make a harbour here, and it has frequently been contemplated since; but though the work would contribute very much to the prosperity of this village, yet partly from a want of enterprise in the people, and partly from a deficiency of rich men, has never been seriously engaged in, or prosecuted with success.

A mile south of this village, the bank on the bay is intersected by another valley, called the Great Hollow. This valley and another near it, towards the south east, contain twenty eight houses.

This village is separated from the Pond by a high hill, which commands an extensive prospect of the ocean, Cape harbour, and the opposite shore, as far as Monument and the high lands of Marshfield. Upon this hill stands the meeting house, which is seen a great distance

at sea.

Beyond the Great Hollow, a river or creek is forced into the land from the bay, and approaches within a few rods of the ocean. At the mouth of this river is a tide harbour. The river divides itself into three branches, on which are three bodies of salt marsh, viz. the Great Meadow, Hopkins's Meadow, and Eagle's Neck Meadow. These branches give a water communication to a great number of the inhabi tants with boats, scows, &c. The situation of this harbour is such as justly claims attention; and if repaired, would be of publick utility. It lies nearly south-east from Cape Cod harbour, above three leagues distant, and a little to the northward of what is called the Shoal Ground, without Billingsgate Point: So that in heavy gales of wind at the north west, it would be a safe retreat for vessels, either driving from their anchors in Cape harbour, or drifting into Barnstable bay; and would prevent their running on Truro shore, which has been the fate of many who have endeavoured to avoid falling on the above mentioned shoal ground; and it might thus be the means of saving much property, and perhaps some lives. Pamet harbour is about a hundred yards wide at the mouth, but wider within. A wharf sixty yards in length, fourteen feet wide on the ground, and sharp on the top, and ten feet in height, would make a safe and good harbour, and by estimation, would cost, built with timber and filled up with stones, about eighteen hundred and fifty dollars. Though the top of the wharf would be covered with high water, yet it would break the sea in twelve or thirteen feet of water. There are several houses scattered near the river. The houses at the extremity of the marsh are known by the name of the Head of Pamet.

The part of the township south of Pamet river, adjoining the bay, is called Hog's Back. The houses, thirty-five in number, are built in valleys between the hills; but there is no collection of them which is entitled to the name of a village. Between Hog's Back and Wellfleet, there is another body of meadow or salt marsh, which is made by the water that at spring tides, flows between Bound Brook island and the main.

Except the bodies of salt marsh, which have been mentioned, the soil of the township is sandy, barren, and free from rocks and stones. No part of it produces English grass fit for mowing; and it can scarcely be said to be clad with verdure at any season of the year. The inhabitants entirely depend upon their salt marshes for winter fodder for their cattle, which in summer pick up a scanty subsistence from the fields and swamps. The soil however produces Indian corn and rye, about half sufficient, and turnips, potatoes, and pumpkins, sufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants. Other vegetables are not raised in plenty. The people make their summer butter; but their winter butter, their beef, flour, cheese, and beans, of which they make considerable use, are procured from the markets at Boston.

As the soil is a deep sand, the roads are universally bad. The township is composed of hills and narrow valleys between them, running principally at right angles with the shore. The tops of some of the hills spread into a plain. From those in the north part of the township, nothing can be discerned, except the meeting house, a few windmills, and here and there a wood. The hill upon which the meeting house stands, branches from the high land at Cape Cod, well known to seamen. This high land commences at the Clay Pounds, or clay banks, adjoining the ocean, about a mile due east from the Pond, and extends to the south as far as the Table Land in Eastham. The inhabitants consider the Clay Pounds as an object worthy the attention of strangers. The high banks are here excavated in a semicircular form. In the midst of this hollow, the sides of which are perpendicular, a cone of blue clay rises from a broad base. Not far from this there is another semicircular excavation, and a hill of clay not so regularly formed. The land near these clay banks is superiour to any other part of the township. There is a collection of six houses. The eastern shore of Truro is very dangerous for seamen. More vessels are cast away here than in any other part of the county of Barnstable. A light house near the Clay Pounds, should Congress think proper to erect one, would prevent many of these fatal accidents.

Both the eastern and western shores are a light sand, which is moveable by the winds. Northwest of East harbour, the beach may be said to extend quite across the township, though there are still a few trees and bushes. This part of Truro has no houses, and the land exactly resembles Province town, a description of which the reader may find in the Massachusetts Magazine for 1791. Near this place, at the head of Stout's creek, on the north eastern shore,the Humane Society have built a hut for the relief of shipwrecked seamen. The inner shore is here.

encroaching upon the bay and salt marsh, whilst the outward shore is probably losing as much from the ocean. There are proofs, that the Stout's former has gained nearly half a mile in less than sixty years. creek, once several hundred yards wide, and where a number of tons of salt hay were annually cut, now scarcely exists, being almost entirely choked up with sand blown in from the beach. On other parts of the western shore of Truro, the water appears to be gradually gaining upon the land. There is no probability however, that the township will be soon overwhelmed by the ocean, as some apprehend, the land being so high, that it must during many ages resist the force of the

waves.

In

The soil in every part of the township is continually depreciating, little pains being taken to manure it. Not much attention is paid to agriculture, as the young men are sent to sea very early in life. general they go at the age of twelve or fourteen, and follow the sea until they are forty-five or fifty years of age. The husbandry of the inhabitants is simple. The method of tilling the land is this: After ploughing, it is planted with Indian corn in the spring, and in July is sowed with rye. The hillocks formed by the hoe are left unbroken, and the land lies uncultivated six or seven years; at the end of which it goes through the same course of cultivation. Formerly fifty bushels of Indian corn were raised on an acre; but the average produce at present is not more than fifteen or twenty. The soil was once good for wheat, the mean produce of which was fifteen or twenty bushels an acre. The soil But wheat has not been raised during the last forty years. is not only injured by inattention and bad husbandry, but also by the light sand which is blown in from the beach. It likewise suffers very much from another cause. The snow, which would be of essential service to it, provided it lay level and covered the ground, is blown into drifts and into the sea. Large tracts of land have now become unfit for cultivation. There are however no such appearances of desolation, as are exhibited on the plains of Eastham, where an extensive, and what was once a fertile spot, has become a prey to the winds, and lies buried under a heap of barren sand.

There remains as much woodland in this township, as in any other below Harwich. The natural growth is, pitch pine, and white, black, and red oak; the former, chiefly on the southern ; and the latter, on the northern side of Pamet river. Apple trees are not plenty. There are however several small orchards, and all of them in valleys, where Few trees are now planted; so they are defended from the winds. that the orchards as well as the forests, are continually lessening, and probably in a few years will disappear.

Beside the pond already mentioned, there are five other small ponds; one of them near the head of Pamet; the other four, in the southern part of the township. There are several swamps, none of which are Jarge; but not a single brook, and very few springs which appear. The water in the wells, which is very little above the level of the ocean, is in general soft and excellent. Wells dug near the shore, are dry at

low water, or rather at what is called young flood, but are replenished with the flowing of the tide.

A traveller from the interiour part of the country, where the soil is fertile, upon observing the barrenness of Truro, would wonder what could induce any person to remain in such a place. But his wonder would cease, when he was informed, that the subsistence of the inhabitants is derived principally from the sea. The shores and marshes afford large and small clams, quahaugs, razor shells, periwinkles, muscles, and cockles. The bay and ocean abound with excellent fish and with crabs and lobsters. The sturgeon, eel, haddock, cod, frost fish, pollock, cusk, flounder, halibut bass, mackerel, herring, and alewife,† are most of them caught in great plenty, and constitute a principal part of the food of the inhabitants. Beside these fish for the table, there is a great variety of other fish: among which are the whale, killer or thrasher, humpback, finback, skrag, grampus, black fish, porpoise, (grey, bass, and streaked) snuffer, shark, (black, man-eating, and shovelnosed) skate, dog fish, sun fish, goose fish, cat fish, and sculpion; to which may be added the horseshoe and squid.-The cramp fish has sometimes been seen on the beach. This fish, which resembles a stingray in size and form, possesses the properties of the torpedo, being capable of giving a smart electrical shock. The fishermen suppose, but whether with reason or not the writer will not undertake to determine, that the oil extracted from the liver of this fish is a cure for the rheumatism.

Sea fowl are plenty on the shores and in the bay; particularly the gannet, curlew, brant, black duck, sea duck, old wife, dipper, sheldrake, penguin, gull, plover, coot, widgeon, and peep.

Formerly whales of different species were common on the coasts, and yielded a great profit to the inhabitants, who pursued them in boats from the shore. But they are now rare, and the people, who are some of the most dexterous whalemen in the world, are obliged to follow them into remote parts of the ocean. Two inhabitants of Truro, Captain David Smith and Captain Gamaliel Collings, were the first who adventured to the Falkland islands in pursuit of whales. This voyage was undertaken in the year 1774, by the advice of Admiral Montague of the British navy, and was crowned with success. Since that period the whalemen of Truro have chiefly visited the coasts of Guinea and Brazil. A want of a good market for their oil has however of late compelled them to turn their attention to the codfishery. In this they are employed on board of vessels belonging to other places. Other inhabitants of Truro are mariners in the merchants' service. Being in general industrious and faithful, they soon rise to the command of a vessel. Many of the masters employed from Boston and other ports, are natives of Truro.

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+ Formerly the blue fish was common, but some years ago it deserted the coast. See page 159.

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