Home in the Wilderness

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"A Slow Spin"

Antony and Elizabeth Thacher remained at Marblehead for a few years, no doubt mourning their terrible loss. But as for us all, life moves ever forward, and there they began a new family. My great x7 grandfather, John Thacher was born during their stay in Marblehead.

 Ultimately, Antony's resilience and ambition led him onward to embark on another adventure which would inexorably lead the Thacher family through the centuries, bringing them to the very town where I reside to this day. (apparently Antony's wanderlust did not pass on to subsequent generations!)
In January of 1639, Antony, along with two other men, was granted a charter from King Charles I to settle the area on the Cape Cod peninsula
known as "Mattacheese" by the local Indians.

Antony Thacher, John Crow, and Thomas Howes (both also my gr-grandfathers), headed south with their families along the Massachusetts coast to Cape Cod. They would build a settlement and begin a new life. They would have had to transport all their belongings along narrow wooded footpaths, worn by the Indians, as there were no roadways. The new township was to be called "Yarmouth" after Yarmouth, England. (It seems as though the early settlers were not possessed of much creative imagination when it came to naming their towns, as nearly all the towns in Plymouth colony have a corresponding city or town in England.)

The settlers in Yarmouth found marshy inlets along the coastline such as Sesuit creek above.

And beautiful beaches...........

And endless woodlands needing to be cleared for homestead and farming......

Gradually the landscape changed. Land was cleared for cultivation and the building of homes. One of the challenging aspects of clearing the land was removing the larger rocks and stones from the soil.

Stone walls began to line emerging roadways. They fenced in animals and marked land boundaries.  These beautiful walls can still be found all over New England, including Cape Cod.

And of course, the settlers needed to provide for the burying of their dead. Before churchyards were established, most families kept a plot on their property. There are several of these which may still be visited in Cape towns.

  Here is an example of a Dennis family plot, the Sears family cemetery; a most peaceful location, fascinating to visit and read the stones which often tell sad stories of those lost at sea or carried away by epidemics and childhood illnesses. When visiting such a family cemetery, you are struck with how precarious life really was in centuries past.

Typical old headstone

Shipping became the main industry of Cape Cod during the 18th and 19th centuries, and many a sea captain made his fortune sailing the oceans of the world.

Clipper Ship
Sea Captains sailed from Yarmouth and Dennis Ports to destinations as far-flung as Asia.

The area of present-day Yarmouth where Antony and his family settled is now known as the Old King's Highway (also Main Street or Route 6A), on the north side of the Cape. It is one of the prettiest areas of the mid-cape. A leisurely drive along this winding byway is a step back in time, with it's many stately homes dating from the late 17th to the latter part of the 19th century, during which time many Yarmouth/Dennis families flourished due to the maritime industry.

Click to View!

Sermons in Stone: The Stone Walls of New England and New York

Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History in New England's Stone Walls

Two Beautiful Books About Stone Walls in New England

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This is the type of house that Antony and his family would have lived in when they first arrived in New England. Note the thatched roof .......Antony's surname derives from the name of the craftsmen who made their living creating these.      
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Typical 17th Century English House
in Plymouth Colony

The Thachers prospered in the new land, and before long would build a substantial homestead, much like the one above, belonging to Winslow Crocker. This lovely colonial was built in 1780 next door to the Thacher house and is now owned by a Thacher descendant.

What was the clothing like that Antony and his wife wore? Here are a few examples of the clothing worn by early colonists (though these are more dressy than would be worn on a normal working day)

What did they eat? Antony and his family would have eaten a fairly bland, monotonous diet, especially during their early years in Yarmouth. Ale was their primary drink, though they drank water also, which was fresh and clean in Yarmouth, something that had not been the case in England.

"Pottage" was eaten daily, being a stew of grain, usually corn or barley, with anything thrown into it that could be had, such as a few leftover vegetables or some meat.

They would have had fish and meats; rabbit, wild turkey and other fowl, and venison.

Garden vegetables were eaten, such as squashes, potatoes and onions, and fresh greens and fruits could be had in season.

The settlers had learned to use corn as a staple from the Indians, and corn bread was a frequent offering.

Cheese was made from goat or cow's milk, though the milk itself was not normally consumed.

Cool link with different words and saying of the earliest settlers to New England.

The Native Wampanoags

"People of the first light"

The Settlers of Yarmouth lived and worked alongside the native Wampanoag Indians who were, for the most part, friendly with the newcomers. Having daily needs in common, there were many tasks that the two peoples shared and others unique to the native Americans.

Building Homes

Chopping Wood

Crafting Bowls

Wampanoag home called a "wigwam" or "weetu"

Depiction of Wampanoags with the settlers

One of my Cape Cod ancestors married a Wampanoag woman named "Little Dove". She is my one claim to having "native" blood!
(Recently I had dna testing done, and a small percentage of my ethnicity came back as South Asian. Since Native Americans are genetically Asians, I accept this as proof that I have at least this one Native American ancestor!)

Click on titles  to View!

Wampanoag Morning: Stories from the Land of the People of the First Light Before the English Invasion

Cape Cod Wampanoag Cookbook: Traditional New England & Indian Recipes, Images & Lore

Two books from the Wampanoag Tribe


Wonderful Book about Route 6a, the area where Antony Thacher and his family settled in 1639

Beautiful book for those who love to explore old cemeteries!

Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism