Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Exciting Re-Discovery of Cape Town Boundaries

Three members of the Cape Cod Genealogical Society--Bebe Brock, David Martin, and Robert Ward-- spent the morning of Wednesday, December 8, 2010 traipsing through the woods of Dennis and Yarmouth seeking the ancient surveyors marker stones which were laid out to define the boundaries of the Cape Cod towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, and Brewster. They joined a group led by Michael Farber, a retired lawyer and surveyor, who has made it his interest to find these stones which demarcate the bounds of the towns.

The whole process is known as the Cornerstone Project. Farber has followed the work of E. Morse Payne, a member of CCGS, who had discovered earlier that the bounds of the Cape Cod towns were set by Governor William Bradford in 1641 by surveyor-sightings from a ship anchored in Cape Cod Bay.

Bradford and his assistants used a line drawn on a north-south axis from Race Point, Provincetown, to Hyannis Harbor to determine additional lines drawn from this line to set the boundaries of Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Harwich--the original Cape towns.

The day began at a surveyor's stone by the south side of Hallets Mill Pond in Barnstable.  The group then proceeded to Scargo Hill Tower where an excellent view was found of Cape Cod Bay and both Manomet Point in Plymouth and Race Point in Provincetown. They then went to the Sears Cemetery near the Bound Brook Conservation Area where a stone demarcating the boundary between Yarmouth and Harwich (now Brewster) lay and followed the line between the towns over rolling hills finding three marker stones in succession, all along a clear Magnetic North line. Adjoining the nature preserve is a superseded section of the King’s Highway which is now Route 6A. The tour ended at the mouth of Namskaket Creek in Brewster, where additional markers had been laid, marking the boundary between what was then Harwich and Eastham (now Orleans).   

Michael Farber has agreed to attend a meeting of the Cape Cod Genealogical Society to speak on the Cape Cod Cornerstone Project and his discoveries of the surveyors’ stones, as well as the important need for volunteers to assist in transcribing Cape Cod official town land records from the 17th and 18th centuries.                                                                                                                       
--Robert Ward

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