To get an idea of how intense the feuding between the British loyalists and the Colonial rebels was in 1774 in New England, you could spend a few hours scouring the history books at the library. Or you could go down to Cape Cod and get lunch and a beer in Sandwich, Mass., at the Dan’l Webster Inn, once the site of the Fessenden Tavern. From there, you could walk the less-than-a-quarter-mile to the old Newcomb Tavern. READ MORE…
by Don Bayley The Sandwich Boardwalk (sometimes called the “Plank Walk” or the “Mill Creek Foot Bridge”) is about 1300 feet in length and crosses Mill Creek and the marsh, leading to the Town Beach on Cape Cod Bay. Originally constructed in 1875 by Gustavus Howland (1822 – 1905), son of Ellis Howland who built Town Hall, it has been rebuilt carefully following the original design several times. It is listed in the Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System (MACRIS) under Inventory Number SDW.905. Read the full report HERE.
Naturalist Thornton W. Burgess and historian Russel Lovell have written about the historic and iconic Boardwalk. Click HERE to read.
A few fish shacks remained on the marsh near the Boardwalk until about 1950. In a personal interview in 1979 Lombard Jones recalled that one shack was owned by Eugene Haines; another by relative Isaiah (Ike) T. Jones. The Jones shack was originally a beach rescue shack and was moved from its location near the mouth of the Old Harbor. Jones used it to hold dories. Jack Mahoney, who lived in a boat cabin on the beach near the Boardwalk, died of carbon monoxide poisoning about 1920.
In 1941 Allan S. Beale was the owner of record of the Jones boathouse “on the edge of Dock Creek, adjacent to the Boardwalk.” Beale was the resident engineer for the construction of the Sagamore and Bourne bridges.
There are a few references in the Town Archives to an earlier boardwalk (or “footbridge”) constructed in 1835 over Mill Creek from Acorn Wharf (built by the Glass Factory) to the beach. “Townspeople would wade out during low tide in search of lobsters.” B. Haines sketched a picture of it. In 1862 William Denson fell through a hole in this foot bridge and drowned. On Dec. 21, 1874 a heavy northerly gale caused the sea to break through “near the foot bridge, a little west of the entrance to the harbor.”
Town Meeting Records (vol. 7 p. 161) Saturday, June 12, 1875 refer to “the laying out of a Foot Way to the Beach…on petition of George P. Drew and eleven others.”
From “Lapse of Years:” “July 3, 1875: The new road to the beach was opened to the public on this date, also the footpath across the marsh.” The new Boardwalk was built by Gustavus Howland for $500.
In a personal interview on Dec. 2, 1982 Bert French (who stayed at a shack owned by Frank Reddys) recalled: “there was a plank bridge from State Street over to the Neck, wide enough for a narrow wagon and one horse. This was the way bricks were brought to the glass factory. There was a 2-story bathhouse with veranda all around it at left of the Boardwalk on the dunes. Destroyed in 1898 storm.”
Sandwich Observer, May 2, 1899: “Mr. John Percival has the contract to build the new footbridge to the Beach. There is a rumor that the town is to erect an iron bridge in place of the wooden one that washed away in the November gale. A very good idea…as it is a long distance to travel on foot around Town Neck road.”
The iron bridge was never built but the wooden walkway was rebuilt many times over the years and in 1991 was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Bob. Supporters rebuilt the Boardwalk by selling over 1700 planks to local businesses and residents personalized with engraved messages. Work was completed in June, 1992.
The Boardwalk was again partially destroyed by a blizzard in February of 2013.
The current parking lot was constructed on land known as “Tobey Island” and is slightly higher than the surrounding marsh. The Boardwalk remains one of Sandwich’s unique treasures, offering scenic views from the Cape Cod Canal to Scorton Creek. It was recently chosen by National Geographic as one of the Top 10 boardwalks in the United States.
Edmond Freeman, one of the Ten Men from Saugus and the founder of Sandwich is buried here with his wife Elizabeth.
He sailed with his 2nd wife Elizabeth, 4 children from his first marriage on the “Abigail” which left Plymouth, Devon, England on 4 June 1635. There was an outbreak of smallpox on this ship during the crossing. The family arrived in Boston Harbor on 8 Oct 1635. They first settled in Saugus which is now called Lynn, MA. Admitted freeman at Plymouth, MA on 23 January 1637. He was the assistant to Gov. Bradford 1640-1647 and the principle founder of the town of Sandwich, Barnstable, MA in 1637.
Freeman settled on his homestead about a mile and a quarter east of the present Town Hall on the sloping land leading from what is now Tupper Road down to the Cape Cod Canal. (Most of the former Freeman land is now occupied by the NRG power plant.) They lived out their lives here and when Elizabeth passed away on February 14, 1676, Edmond buried her on a hill on their farm. He marked her grave with a large stone likening to a pillion (a British term for the seat behind the saddle on a horse). With foresight, Edmond also positioned a large stone that resembled a saddle to be used as a monument for his own grave. Family tradition tells us that the headstones reminded Edmond of the early years in Sandwich when he and Elizabeth traveled by horseback over the fields of their farm. Edmond Freeman died in 1682 and was buried beside Elizabeth, the longer stone, “the saddle,” was placed over his grave.
The burial place became known as the Saddle and Pillion Cemetery and is the oldest burying ground in Sandwich. Bronze plaques were added to these stones in 1910 by their descendants. The cemetery is located a short distance north of the end of Wilson Avenue and a marker has been placed on the south side of Tupper Road just before it intersects with Rt. 6A. VIEW MAP
At one time these graves were encircled by a stone fence, remnants of which were still visible in the late 1800’s. The beautiful bronze tablets which are presently on these stone monuments were placed there on August 22, 1910 by members of the Freeman family, descendants of Edmond.
Timothy Ruggles of Sandwich was a prominent leader in the Massachusetts colony during the time immediately preceding the American Revolution in 1775. Had he not been a Loyalist, he might have been one of the founding fathers of the new nation.
He was born in Rochester, Massachusetts in 1711, the son of Reverend Timothy
(Harvard College 1707) and Mary Ruggles and was the fifth generation of his
family born in America. His father wanted him to be a learned man and sent him
to Harvard. However, he did not follow his father into the ministry because he did
not have the reserved temperament of a clergyman. Instead, he was more
inclined towards the adversarial disposition of a lawyer. Consequently, he
studied law and graduated in 1732. Upon graduation, he opened up a practice in
his home town of Rochester where he was also elected as a Representative of the
General Court, or Assembly, at the age of 25. From the beginning, he was
ambitious and driven towards success. Being over six feet tall, he projected a
commanding presence over his much shorter associates.
His practice took him to County Courts in Plymouth and Barnstable. When
traveling to Cape Cod, he usually stayed at the Newcomb Tavern in Sandwich. It
was the first inn to open in Sandwich and the building still stands as a private
home on Grove Street. The tavern was being run by Bathsheba Bourne
Newcomb, a beautiful, dark skinned and wealthy widow with 7 children. There
must have been an instant spark of passion between these two fiery personalities
because they were married within five months of Bathsheba’s burying her first
husband. Neither cared about the opinions of others. Timothy (age 25) and
Bathsheba (age 32) were wed in1736 by her father, Judge Melitiah Bourne, the
wealthiest man in Sandwich. The fact that she was beautiful, independently
wealthy and from a prominent family; must have played a role in his decision to
become the instant head of a large family. He was no stranger to a house full of
children because he was the eldest of 12.
They resided at the inn in Sandwich and immediately began a family of their own.
However, Timothy initially kept his official residence in Rochester because of his
re-election to the General Court from that town. The unexpected death of lawyer
Nathaniel Otis created a need for an attorney in Sandwich and Ruggles filled the
void and officially became a Sandwich resident in 1739.
Ruggles hung his lawyer’s shingle outside the inn and maintained the dual role of
attorney and inn keeper. In 1821, a family descendent wrote, “He was social,
witty, profane, wise about human nature, and quick to drop ceremony and
convention when they ceased to be of social value.” Hard manual work was not
beneath him and he personally attended both the stable and the bar. Oddly
enough, he was a virtual teetotaler who only drank an occasional small beer.
All the while, he continued to expand his law practice and was recognized as one
of the leading lawyers in the province of Massachusetts. He served as a
representative of the Crown for a fixed fee which often brought him into opposition
with James Otis Sr., a Cape Cod neighbor from Barnstable who was representing
individuals who had charges brought against them by the authorities. Later in his
career, Ruggles would find himself vying against James Otis Jr., a strong advocate for the cause of independence, but that would happen many years later.
In the meantime, Ruggles political career continued to move forward and among
the many posts he held was that of Excise Collector for Barnstable County. He
remained popular among his new townspeople and was elected to 6 terms as
Sandwich’s Representative to the Assembly in Boston during the 17 years he
lived there. During his time in Sandwich, he not only built up his practice, but also
his family. He had seven children with Bathsheba, 4 girls and 3 boys.
In 1753, at age 42, he was seeking a grander life style and he moved his wife and
their 7 children to Hardwick, a new town outside of Worcester, Massachusetts.
The relocation had been in the planning stage for some time and Ruggles acted in
concert with 6 other Ruggles families who moved to the area where they had
acquired a very large tract of land. Timothy was by far the richest and most well
known person in the new town. Bathsheba’s children from her first marriage were
now older and some were married and they did not make the move to Hardwick.
William Newcomb Ruggles now ran the Sandwich tavern.
Ruggles began a life style commensurate with his wealth and that of English
country gentlemen. He entertained his guests in a lavish style and conducted
hunts on the property and hosted many grand dinners. Surprisingly, it was around
this time that he stopped eating meat and became a vegetarian. Russell Lovell’s
book about Sandwich gives us a good description of the Ruggles 400 acre farm.
“Timothy and Bathsheba established no ordinary farm in Hardwick.
He laid out a deer park and stocked it. He bought imported and local horses of
excellent breeds and developed splendid hunting and riding horses. He bought
prize bulls and developed a dairy herd. He laid out a large orchard with many fruit
varieties. In all these activities, especially the selection of stock, the breeding
patterns of his animals and the grafting and propagation of his trees, he displayed
the greatest interest and observation in advanced scientific practices. He was able
to entertain in baronial style, and his home became a magnet for travelers from all
over the state.”
Ruggles continued to be active in politics and like he had done in his other
communities, he was elected as Hardwick’s Representative to the General Court
in 1754; a position he would hold for the next 17 years. He was also appointed a
judge in Worcester.
The French and Indian War against the British and its American colonies broke out
shortly after his move to Hardwick. His leadership skills and loyalty to the cause
were quickly evident when he raised a regiment of colonial volunteers from
Worcester County and he assumed their command as Colonel. It was not long
before he participated in a joint Colonial-British regulars attack on Crown Point in
the Lakes region of New York. It failed and Ruggles was vocal in rebuking the
British tactics of marching columns of troops against entrenched enemy positions.
The English, under the command of Sir William Johnson, did not appreciate
criticism from a colonial volunteer.
The next year, 1756, the all Provincial American forces won a significant victory at
Lake George and this time Ruggles was second in command. He continued to
fight in the campaigns of 1756, 1757 and 1758 and was subsequently named
Brigadier General in charge of Provincial forces from Massachusetts and Rhode
Island. In 1759, as second in command to Lord Amherst, the joint British and
Provincial forces attacked Fort Ticonderoga and wrested it from the French. Fort
Ticonderoga would later play an ironic role in his life. He participated in
campaigns in each season through 1762 when the battles largely ended in
America. Ruggles had achieved wide spread recognition as a fine officer who
demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and whose troops would willingly serve
After the war, he triumphantly returned to Hardwick and was amply rewarded by
the Crown for his efforts. He was named Survey-General of the King’s Forests
receiving 300 pounds per year and was also granted 1500 acres in nearby
Princeton. His political career blossomed and he was named Chief Justice of the
Worcester Superior Court. Not only did he continue to represent Hardwick in
Boston, but he was named Speaker of the House in 1762/1763. Around this time,
young John Adams wrote in his journal, “Ruggles grandeur consists in the
quickness of his apprehension, steadiness of attention, the boldness and strength
of his thoughts and expressions, his strict honor, conscious superiority, and
contempt of meanness. People approach him with dread and terror.”
Up until this time, the colonists considered themselves as staunch Englishmen as
they had done for the last 150 years. Circumstances were about to change and so
would the attitudes of some and later many of the colonists.
The French and Indian War had cost a huge sum of money and England insisted
that the American colonies help pay the debt of 147 million pounds accrued during
the war. England also had a 10,000-man army still stationed on the western
borders of the colonies to protect against Indian attacks and possible French
encroachments. The Crown wanted the colonies to help bear the costs.
Consequently, Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765 that taxed legal
documents, newspapers and playing cards. The stamp was evidence that the tax
had been paid. Stamps were familiar in England adorning all kinds of documents
and they generated 300,000 pounds per year for the Crown. However, this was
the first time Parliament had placed an external tax on the American colonies.
Ruggles, who fought in the war, appreciated the price that England had paid in
lives and pounds. He was a Tory and loyal to the King and thought it was a
reasonable approach and cautioned for moderation. He was in the minority.
Many in the colony openly rebelled against the tax. People in New York, Virginia and Philadelphia took to the streets in protest. Mobs in Rhode Island hanged the tax officials in effigy. New Englanders called for a boycott of British goods. In
Boston, the Sons of Liberty destroyed the home of Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson. James Otis Jr., a Ruggles opponent and the son of his old adversary
on Cape Cod, called it a violation of the colonists’ constitutional rights. When the younger Otis was elected as a member of the Assembly, Ruggles confided to a dinner guest, “Out of this election will arise a damned faction which will shake this
province to its foundation”.
The Massachusetts Assembly called for a meeting of all of the colonies to discuss
and act upon the Stamp Act. In June, 1765, representatives of 9 of the 13
colonies met in New York. It was the first national convention of the colonies and
it was convened without the approval of the Crown. Massachusetts sent 3
representatives with the two more important being Timothy Ruggles and James
Otis Jr. The Royal Governor of Massachusetts awaited instructions from London,
but knew that the colonial congress would be completed by the time he received
direction. Therefore, he attempted to mitigate the situation by using his leverage
to have Loyalist Ruggles made President of the Congress. The fact that his peers
voted him President indicates that loyalty to the Crown was still a moderate and
popular position to most Americans in 1765. Ruggles had reached the apex of his
The Congress sent a deferential petition to the King and Parliament stating the
“Essential Rights and Liberties of the Colonists.” Among many items, they listed
2 privileges essential to freedom; 1) – that they are free of all taxes unless
consented to by their representatives and 2) – that they are entitled to a trial by their
peers (and not by the Admiralty Court). It was a moderate document in that it did
not either reject or acknowledge Parliament’s authority. Nevertheless, Ruggles
was 1 of 2 representatives who refused to lend his signature to the proceedings.
This was the beginning of his down fall from popularity along with all other Tories
and he would eventually face virulent attacks. One of the earliest denunciations
came in the form of a censure from the Massachusetts Assembly, led by James
Otis Jr., for the Brigadier’s refusal to approve the actions of the Stamp Act
Congress despite his being President of the group.
Within a year Parliament repealed the Stamp Act due to the protests in the
colonies and the political pressures brought by the English merchant class who
were experiencing large losses due to the colonial boycotts. However, the strains
and tensions between the colonies and England would continue to grow in the
ensuing years. The inhabitants of Massachusetts would move from a quiet
accommodation with the British imperial system to massive rebellion against it.
Despite Ruggles censure, the Brigadier would continue to be elected as the
Representative from conservative Hardwick and was re-elected to the General
Court as late as 1770.
England was still in a quandary as to how to pay for the war debts and the new
Chancellor of the Exchequer levied the Townsend Act upon the American
Colonies which taxed common goods imported into the colonies. Once again it
was vehemently opposed by the Americans who boycotted English goods and
smuggled in other products to avoid the tax and threatened violence against the
custom officials. “Taxation without representation is tyranny”, a phrase credited to
Otis, was on the lips of many colonists. Like its predecessor, the Stamp Act, it too
was quickly repealed – except for a symbolic, small tax on tea. In December 1773
the Sons of Liberty, furious about even a small tax, conducted the Boston Tea
Party and dumped 40 tons of British tea into the harbor. It would be the prelude to
The British responded rapidly and harshly to the deteriorating situation in Boston.
In 1774, England closed the port of Boston, the busiest port in America, as the
Crown tried to isolate the rebellious locals. General Gage arrived in the city,
declared martial law and was made Governor General of the colony. He ended
the native democracy of the colony by refusing to convene the Assembly.
Furthermore, he changed the nature of the Governor’s Council. Instead of its
members being nominated by the Assembly, Gage personally appointed 36 Tories
to the Governor’s Council. Many of the appointees declined the position because
the practice was fiercely opposed by the populace and because they faced
violence from the Sons of Liberty.
Ruggles was one of the appointed councilors and stubbornly decided he would
accept the position. When his Hardwick townsmen found this out, they ordered
him to immediately leave town. The next morning, just after daybreak, he rode out
of town alone fleeing to the safety of the British encampment in Boston. He was
met at a bridge by his brother, Benjamin who had taken the Patriot side. It was
reported that the Brigadier said, “I shall come back at the head of 500 soldiers if
necessary” to which his brother replied, “If you cross this bridge today, you will
never cross it again alive.” It was August 1774 and he never returned.
Timothy Ruggles was now a vilified figure. The appointment of the 36 councilors by General Gage prompted Mercy Otis Warren, sister of James Otis Jr., to write her satirical play, The Group in late 1774. One of the lead characters is Brigadier
Hateall, a ferocious warmonger who is married to a lowly tavern woman, “nut-brown Kate, the buxom dowager.” The veiled similarities to Mr. and Mrs.
Ruggles could not be missed. Hateall says he would not abandon his position in the Governor’s Council even to save his wife, family and friends. He boasts of beating his wife and recommends the same course be taken to other wives if they object to quartering British soldiers in their homes. Mercy’s friend, John Adams, had the play published anonymously and the Patriots read it with delight. She reveled in savaging her former Cape Cod neighbor, a Tory and lifetime opponent of her brother and father.
In April 1775, the battles at Lexington and Concord were waged and the war had
begun. In June, the British forces decided to attack the colonialists atop Bunker
Hill. General Gage let it be known that he thought the rebels would run at the
sight of British cannon. Ruggles believed he was wrong and that the Americans
would fight bravely. When the battle ended in disaster for the British, Ruggles
was reported to have told him, “My God sir, your folly has ruined your cause.” The
Revolution was fully underway and Boston, under control of the British, became
the only safe place for the 1500 Tories who fled to it. Among them was Ruggles
who organized 200 Loyalist men called the Loyal American Volunteers. There is
no evidence that Ruggles ever fought against the American Forces.
The British and Loyalists continued to be hemmed in Boston by General
Washington’s forces and the stalemate continued until a young Colonel Knox
pulled, pushed and dragged cannon from the recently seized Fort Ticonderoga to
Boston. When the British realized their fleet was in jeopardy, they had no choice
but to evacuate Boston. On March 17, 1776, the British and Loyalists sailed away
having been driven out by the cannon from the fort that Timothy Ruggles had
helped capture 20 years earlier during the French and Indian War.
Ruggles evacuated to the English strong hold in New York and stayed on Staten
Island and later Long Island. While in New York he began a series of
unsuccessful efforts to gain British support for a Loyalist company. But the British
saw them as “colonists” and not their equals as “Englishmen”. His habit of
informing the British officers of their stupidity did not help his cause. A fellow
Loyalist, Edward Winslow, wrote at the time: “There was such a mixture of virtue
even with his obstinacy that while we depreciated it as unfortunate to ourselves,
we dared not oppose it.”
At the end of the war, Timothy Ruggles was among the 30,000 to 40,000 Loyalists
who were relocated to Canada by the British. The Crown rewarded him for his
service by granting him 1,000 acres in Wilmot, Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy
where at age 70 he built a new estate. He resided there until his death at age 83
Tories, for the most part, were people with entrenched power and wealth. They
were the office holders, large land owners, clergymen of the established church,
and judges. An inordinate number of Massachusetts Tories also were Harvard
graduates. They were conservatives who were reluctant to accept change and
were certainly opposed to a revolution that rejected the King and Parliament.
They thought of themselves as Englishmen who wanted stability in the colonies
and harmony with their mother country. They were proud of the British Empire and
they considered themselves as Englishmen and part of the most powerful and
The Brigadier was descended from a long line of Ruggles who were ministers,
lawyers, and representatives in the legislature. He was an integral part of the
power structure. As the clashes between London and the colonies increased, he
was resolute in his defense of the Crown. He was unbending in his loyalty to
Britain and he could not bring himself to cross over to the other side. As far as he
was concerned, the movement for independence was being driven by an unruly
mob and he rejected their violent efforts for separation from England. While his
opponents saw him as obstinate and inflexible, he saw himself as a man of
uncompromising principles. It was not in his nature to change sides.
Had he done so, his leadership skills, military expertise, and judicial ability would
have put him in a position to play a prominent role in the development of a new
When Massachusetts in 1778 published a list of the top 300 Tories, Timothy
Ruggles was 3rd on the list (behind Governor Hutchinson and Tax Collector
Oliver). They were officially exiled from Massachusetts, their property seized and
they were forbidden to return on pain of death.
The Revolution split the Ruggles family. When he fled to Boston, Bathsheba did
not go with him and she never joined her husband in exile. Over the years their
relationship had withered and any bond between them was now gone. Perhaps his
nearly 7-year war time absence drained the relationship and added further to
Bathsheba’s independent spirit. Their 400-acre farm was confiscated by the
authorities and she went to live with her son Timothy III until her death. On the
other hand, the Brigadier had the loyalty of his 3 sons. John and Richard would join
Ruggles in Boston, New York and ultimately in Nova Scotia. Timothy Ruggles also
brought five slaves with him on his journey to Nova Scotia including two children.
Timothy III also moved to Nova Scotia after the death of his mother. The
Brigadier’s four daughters were married and stayed in Massachusetts.
His favorite daughter, Bathsheba, met a tragic fate. On July 2, 1778, she along
with her 3 accomplices were hanged for murdering her husband. The incredible
spectacle of the quadruple hanging took place in Worcester, very close to the court
house where her father had been the Chief Justice.
Originally written in 2008 and updated to include new information in 2021.
Baldwin, Charles C. The Worcester Magazine and Historical Journal. 1826.
Brown, Richard. Revolutionary Politics in Massachusetts, the Boston Committee of
Correspondence and the Towns 1772 – 1774. Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
Brunnell, Paul. Thunder Over New England, Benjamin Bonnell, the Loyalist. Norwell
Mass: Christopher Publishing House, 1988.
Crane, Stephen. Great Battles of the World. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1900.
List of Graduates of Harvard College Who Were Tories in the American Revolution
Residing in Massachusetts. William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 7, No 2, Oct. 1898.
Lovell, R. A. Jr. Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town. Sandwich Mass.: Archives and
Historical Center, 1984.
Lovell, Russell A. Jr. Annals of the Revolution – Timothy Ruggles Parts 1-3. The Acorn
(Sandwich Historical Society): 1 (Nov. 1974); 2 (Feb. 1975); 3 (May 1975).
Morgan, Edmond S. The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution. UNC Press, 1995.
Murphy, Brenda. The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Navas, Debrah. Murdered By His Wife. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press,
Stark, James H. The Other Side of the American Revolution. Salem: Salem Press Co.,
Stuart, Nancy Ruben. The Muse of the Revolution, The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis
Warren and the Founding of a Nation. Boston: Beacon Press, 2008.
Also, Jim N. Ruggles of Canada has provided rich information about his ancestor,
Timothy Ruggles. He stated that the Book of Negroes listed all the Loyalists who returned
to Nova Scotia, Canada and it includes free blacks and slaves. The book shows that
Timothy Ruggles left Long Island with 5 slaves, including two children when he left for
Canada with the other Loyalists.
There is a little-known gravesite of a black civil War soldier, Joseph Wilson, who is buried in Sandwich in a wooded area off of Quaker Meeting House Road near the Stop & Shop. In 2012, Eagle Scout Alex Moore of Sandwich, took on the project of restoring the neglected burial site. He cleared away years of invasive trees, unwanted growth and rotting leaves; created a new path to the burial area and replaced the decrepit fence surrounding the grave and replaced it with new fencing. He also cleared path to what must have been the small house and barn of Joseph Wilson.
This short paper is an attempt to correct the Sandwich archival records and bring clarity to the situation. Several newspaper articles have been written about him over the years and they too contained some erroneous information.
Joseph Wilson’s military records show that he was “mustered in” on September 27, 1862 when he enlisted in New Orleans as a private in Company I of the 1st Louisiana Regiment as an infantryman. His 1862 enlistment papers record him as age 19; therefore, his birth year was 1843. The unit was also referred to as the Native Guards, Free Colored*. Curiously, the 1st Louisiana Native Guard was originally formed in 1861 by the secessionist Governor as a militia for the Confederate States of America. It was comprised of free persons of color. It was disbanded within a year after New Orleans fell to Admiral Farragut and the city was occupied by General Butler.
* the muster in document contains the asterisk note, “subsequently became Company I, 73rd Regiment US Colored Infantry.”
The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was one of the first all-black regiments to fight in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was based in New Orleans and played a prominent role in the siege of Port Hudson, LA. Its members were comprised of a minority of free men of color from New Orleans but, most were African-American former slaves who escaped to join the Union cause and gain freedom.
In May, 1863 the name of the unit was changed to Company I, 1st Regiment, Corp d’ Afrique. The new name made use of Louisiana’s French origins and clearly references it as a unit with black roots. By May, 1864 it was renamed again with its final designation, Company I, 73rd Louisiana Regiment, US Colored Infantry.
Nothing is known as to how, when and why Joseph came to Sandwich. We do know the following from the Sandwich Vital Records, p.1033:
October 22, 1874 – Joseph Wilson, 28, [according to his enlistment papers he should be age 31] of Sandwich, laborer,1st marriage, born Maryland, son of Joseph and Mary married Caroline Phillips of Mashpee, 35, born Nova Scotia, 2nd marriage. Marriage performed by Rev. S A Blake.
The next record on file comes six years later from the Sandwich 1880 Census. Once again there is confusion and contradictions about the ages of both Joseph and Caroline as well as where Joseph was born. It records Joseph as age 40[correct age was probably 37] and lists him as “farm laborer”, born Virginia [ his marriage papers stated he was born in Maryland]. Carrie is recorded as age 50 [the correct age was probably 41 based on her marriage record] born Nova Scotia. She is listed as “keeping house” and they are recorded as blacks in South Sandwich.
The final record refers to Joseph Wilson’s death. Joseph died of consumption (tuberculosis)in Sandwich on May 3, 1886 which would have made him 43 according to his enlistment papers. However, the document of his death puts his age at 62! This age seems completely inaccurate because only 6 years earlier the 1880 Census records him as age 40 (probably was age 37 according to his enlistment papers).
Around the time of his death, Sandwich pauper records record a payment of $5 made to Alexander Booker for care rendered to Joseph. The town also paid $2.50 to F.A. Fisher for opening the grave of Joseph Wilson. His grave has a traditional Civil War headstone issued by the government and it is inscribed with his service in Company I, 73rd Regiment. There is no record as to how it was obtained; perhaps it was done by the local GAR. Carrie died in September 1891 which would have made her age 52 according to her marriage papers.
Local news articles in the archive file have understandably confused this Joseph Wilson with another Joseph Wilson shown in the book, “Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War”. They are two different people and the Massachusetts Wilson served in the famous 54th Regiment. He became prominent after the war and I have provided documented evidence of his history in the file to show that there two Joseph Wilsons.
In summary, more than likely that Joseph Wilson was a former slave. That would account for his confusion as to whether he was born in the slave holding state of Maryland or Virginia; as a young slave it would not have held much relevance to him. It may also account for the confusion of his age. Perhaps he was later sold by a slave trader to a plantation owner in Louisiana. Otherwise, there is no logical explanation as to why a free black man would make his way through the slave states of the South around the time of the Civil War in order to arrive in the slave holding state of Louisiana. Moreover, he enlisted in colored 73rd Louisiana Regiment which was primarily made up of freed slaves. All of this makes it very likely that he was born into slavery and only escaped it when the Union forces invaded and captured New Orleans.
In Sandwich, he lived in a small farm in South Sandwich near what is now called Quaker Meeting House Road. He is buried on what was his farm site. As a farmer, he must have cleared the land but, after 130 years the property is completely wooded and it is now owned by the town of Sandwich.
He must have been very poor and it is likely that he practiced subsistence farming to live. The pauper records prove that he had little or no cash on hand. His early death at age 43 is further proof of the hardships of his life.
Joseph Wilson is the only know black Civil War veteran buried in Sandwich.
Sandwich Historical Commission
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Sandwich 375 Committee, congratulations and great thanks the 1600s BASH Team under the brilliant leadership of Bill Daley for a remarkable 1600 BASH, on May 18th!
Over a year of planning went into this event and with everything well planned, set and ready to go, everything had to be changed six days before the scheduled date due to the inclement weather forecasted for Saturday. But they made it happen with teamwork!
Our first BASH was amazing -lots of happy faces enjoying the 1600 BASH events and the beautiful weather that went with it! From what I heard, the team more than achieved their goals of educating, and entertaining while having fun doing it.
A number of the committee members deserve special thanks for the jobs that they performed. Don Bayley, Jim Coogan and Bill Collins set up and took down tables, chairs and tents. They even loaded and unloaded the 600 pound Wampanoag boat! Cecily Denson coordinated volunteers at the Hoxie house and had the New Plimmoth Gard set up at her home. Desiree Mobed led a very entertaining Kids’ Zone.
Our wonderful re-enactors: Wendy King as Ruth Chipman Sargent, Doug Dexter as Tom Dexter, Tom Vincent as Constable Vincent, and Barbara Brann-Weir as Deborah Wing.
Jeff Duffany and Mike Welsh for bringing their 8th graders as volunteers and for helping out all day. The 8th grade students, Boy Scouts and Key Club members who helped in the Kids’ Zone.
Sue Vibberts for organizing the Sandwich Police Academy members, who assisted with the parking and for giving up their time to benefit others.
Lastly, a special nod to John Cullity who adjusted his schedule to give his talk about the Society of Friends at the fascinating Quaker Meeting House.
We wish to also thank the good folks who demonstrated crafts, impersonated characters and supplied us with support; as well as to the town department heads and their staff who provided services and access to the Hoxie and Grist Mill.
Great team effort by all and much appreciated! Cindy Russell, Chair Sandwich 375 Committee
The Village was turned back in time to the 1600s.
9:30AM – 4PM First Church of Christ. Pilgrim Worship Service where participants will wear period clothing. Pastor Anne Cubbage and members of the Church have been coordinating with Paul Jehle, historic services coordinator at Aptuxet Trading Post, to replicate a Pilgrim Worship Service including an edited version of 17th Century sermon and period music. Following the Service, period foods will be offered during fellowship time. The historic church will be open for visitors until 4 PM with historical displays, including the 1675 Bell, and costumed docents.
10AM – 4PM Hoxie House – Open: Meet Rev. Smith at his home in 1675 while the New Plimmoth Gard militia demonstrates a pike and militia drill. They will have muskets, swords, drummers and a flag bearer. They will set up a camp site and display their military skills replicating the 1620-1640 period. Nearby, children learn games that were most likely played by Rev. Smith’s 13 children. Miles Standish will arrive from Plymouth to inspect the conditions of the roads and to converse with Rev. Smith about attendance at the Meeting House.
10AM – 4PM Dexter Grist Mill– Open House: Thomas Dexter (portrayed by descendant Doug Dexter) will be at his mill, the Dexter Grist Mill, assisted by mill worker volunteers
10AM – 4PM: Matriarch Deborah Wing, a widow who arrived in 1637, will meet and greet visitors throughout the village and tell tales about her family.
10AM – 4PM Wampanoag Summer Camp at Town Hall Square Park: demonstrations of pottery making 2 – 4 pm, corn husk doll making 1 – 2 pm, “mishoon” boat burning 10:30 am – 3:30 pm, basketry or weaving 10 am – noon, wampum making 1 – 3:30 pm, interactive games 10 am – 1 pm and 2 – 4 pm, and authentic Wampanoag food provided by Sherry Pocknett of Sly Fox Den.
Noon – 4PM Quaker Meeting House – Open: Located at 6 Quaker Road Quaker and Spring Hill Roads, off Route 6A, East Sandwich. At 1PM John Cullity will talk about the Society of Friends and immediately following will be a tour of the Quaker burial ground.
1PM – 3PM: Stocks and Pillory in front of the Dan’l Webster:Constable Vincent (portrayed by descendent Tom Vincent) will be giving punishment to rowdy townsfolk.
10AM – 12PM and 2PM – 4PM: Ruth Chipman, widow of Richard Bourne and a very respected nurse in the 1600s, will be walking around the village
10AM – 4PM on the library lawn: demonstrations of 1600s crafts including basket making, spinning, weaving and wood turning.
(Photo Credits: Don Bayley, Bill Diedering, Linell Grundman, Samantha Hendy)
A recap of the Sandwich 375th Anniversary Celebration
–by Don Bayley
Teams with themes such as the Dewey Decimators, Downton Abbey and Sweet Tarts started it off with a bang. It was the Spring of 2013 and “Team Trivia Night” was one of several successful “FUNdraisers” in which the Sandwich community got together to prepare for the largest anniversary celebration ever in the history of Cape Cod’s oldest town.
Sandwich, founded in 1637, officially became a town in 1639, sending representatives to the General Court of Plymouth Colony. Three years ago, the Sandwich 375 Committee was formed to plan, fund, and host a variety of gatherings, concerts, speakers programs, festivals, artistic and educational endeavors, and museum exhibits throughout 2014, in celebration of our 375th anniversary. The celebratory events were designed for all Sandwich residents and their visitors to thoroughly enjoy and understand what makes Sandwich, Sandwich!
Other “FUNdraisers” included a world-class Golf Tournament featuring a Hole-In-One contest where the prize was a brand new Toyota. The winning foursome were awarded gorgeous, one of a kind, hand blown glass trophies by Sandwich master glassblower Michael Magyar. There was a one-woman show at Café Chew, two Historical Home Tours featuring private residences and another Trivia Night in the Fall where dozens of local merchants contributed prizes and packages for Trivia winners and a Silent Auction.
Fundraisers continued throughout 2014. We published our very popular book Sandwich 375 Years: Photos, Facts and Fables of Cape Cod’s Oldest Town by Don Bayley; Kathryn Kleekamp graciously donated her print of “Sandwich Village” for the sale of 375 signed and numbered posters of it. Betsy Lehrer and Photofabrication Engineering Inc. donated 200 beautiful metal ornaments of our logo. Melinda S. Gallant brilliantly directed Our Town by Thornton Wilder featuring Sandwich actors. Many logo hats and tee shirts were sold as well. Many sponsors stepped forward including: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Cape Cod Healthcare, the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department, the Enterprise Newspapers, Stop & Shop, Cape Cod Broadcasting, Kiwanis Club of Sandwich, Inc., Marshland Restaurants & Bakeries, NRG Energy, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital – Cape Cod, Eastern Bank, Sea Tow, Cape Cod Five, Coca Cola Bottling Company of Cape Cod, Wicked Local and Atlantic Subaru.
On New Years Eve of 2013, the Sandwich 375th celebration began with a real bang: the boom of a canon shot over Shawme Pond and the lighting of the 375 Giant set up alongside Town Hall. As the festivities of “First Night Sandwich” were coming to a close, the year-long celebratory events of Sandwich’s 375th Anniversary were now about to begin! And thanks to all the Sponsors and FUNdraising most were free to be enjoyed by everyone.
Winter events included concerts by the All-Schools Band and “Sandwich Soul!” During YOUTH ART MONTH students wrote poems and created pictures in different art mediums that portrayed what Sandwich meant to them. The whole Town was turned into an Art Gallery: art was displayed in restaurants, stores, businesses, the library, Town Hall and even the Police Station.
MARCH FOR THE ARTS hosted five consecutive Sundays of artistic events. First – a concert at Town Hall highlighted a new generation of ukulele players. Second – drums, marimba, vibraphone, cymbals, gongs…even flower pots…were featured in a solo concert by renowned percussionist Amy Lynn Barber. Third – live theater: “If This Stage Could Talk” and “Our Town: Sandwich.” Fourth – “Arts in Action” featured 20 artisans creating their masterpieces. Fifth – the Cape Cod Chorale presented “Handel Spectacular.”
Also in the winter, the year-long TALK OF THE TOWN Speakers Series got underway with “Cape Cod and the War of 1812.” The Sandwich Glass Museum generously provided a venue for the series at their Hirschmann Theater. Other presentations in the series included the “History of the Cape Cod Canal,” “Cape Architecture,” “Colonial Herb Gardens,” “Sandwich During the Civil War,” “Petticoats at Sea,” “Daring Sea Rescues,” “A Visit from Thornton Burgess,” “American Folk Art” and “Traditions of the Christmas Season.” All lectures were free to attend and were fully attended.
In April, with thousands of daffodils blooming all over Sandwich, a grand DAFFODIL FESTIVAL was held at Oak Crest Park. It was a fun, family way to celebrate Spring. There were food trucks, gardening tips, plant sales, music, local artists and a Kids Zone.
The next day, the internationally famed “Irish Tenor” RONAN TYNAN filled the Sandwich High School auditorium with his amazing voice to everyone’s astonishment and joy.
In May, Miles Standish arrived from Plimouth as part of the “1600s BASH” (Bringing Alive Sandwich History). The First Church of Christ held a Pilgrim Worship Service where participants wore period clothing. There was a Wampanoag Summer Camp across from Town Hall and the Quakers held an open house at Spring Hill. The famous Grist Mill was open and operated by its original owner Thomas Dexter (portrayed by descendant Doug Dexter). Rev. Smith was at The Hoxie House (his home in 1675) where the New Plimmoth Gard demonstrated a pike and militia drill and kids played 1600 period games on the lawn.
HERITAGE DAY was in June with a March of over 200 Descendants of the original families, a special Twinning Proclamation with Sandwich U.K., student songs and poems and a visit from the Ten Men of Saugus–the founders of our town. In the afternoon at the High School there was a cupcake competition judged by celebrities including Sandwich residents Connie Chung and Maury Povich. There was music, entertainment, Wally the Green Monster and a baseball game with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League!
The June “BASH” day turned the town back into the 1700s with the British Red Coats coming to town and Sandwich Patriots erecting a Liberty Pole across from Town Hall. Minutemen camped out; there was cannon & gun firing; an historical “Geo-cache” scavenger hunt and, at Town Hall, Tories and Patriots fought it out in the play “The Body of the People.”
During the July 1800s BASH Civil War soldiers set up “Camp Chipman” at the Wing School and at Town Hall there was a moving re-enactment of the Commissioning of the Sandwich Guards with singing by the Cape Cod Chorale. A fabulous quilt show, wandering fiddlers, contra dancing, visits from Glass Factory founder Deming Jarves, Hannah Burgess (famous widow of a sea captain) and others completed the celebration.
At July’s SEAFEST there was something for everyone: the Coast Guard Cutter Tiger Shark, the high-tech Sandwich Fire Rescue boat, Shallop Elizabeth Tilley, the heroic Coast Guard Life Boat CG36500 and the pirate ship Formidable were open for tours at the Marina. There was an incredible art show hosted by the Artisans’ Guild of Cape Cod; a “Treasure Chest” of crafts, food and music; a kid’s tent; tour of the Coast Guard Station; a NAMA Seafood Throwdown and visits from sea captains of yesteryear. At night, an old-fashioned Clambake with dancing to the Moonlighters was held at Town Neck Beach.
WATER STREET WING FLING started off August with games, music, and shows; Lego land and inflatables entertained the kids. There were even Hot Air Balloons to ride! At night First Church was transformed into a magical Sandwich journey via PAINTSCAPING, the first ever 3D projection mapping on Cape Cod!
The Budweiser Clydesdales came to town in August, kicking off the 1900s BASH featuring a Cavalcade of Cars, tributes to local artist Dodge MacKnight and Sandwich’s own Dr. Beale. Judith Black performed “The Home Front,” capturing what it was like for a woman whose husband was away fighting in WWII. The day ended with a 1940s Block Party featuring the Cape Symphony Swing Band and the Snugtones.
The anniversary celebrations culminated with a GRAND PARADE the likes of which Sandwich has never seen before! There were 10 bands, classic cars, clowns, equestrian units and numerous floats and marching groups. One thousand marchers and 10,000 viewers!
At “First Night Sandwich” on New Years Eve of 2014, the year ended again with a bang, the boom of a canon over Shawme Pond. The lights on the Sandwich 375th Giant were extinguished and the 375th year of the Cape’s oldest town was history. But the biggest bang of all was the huge turnout of sponsors and over 500 volunteers who made this all possible. Thank You Sandwich!
The Sandwich 375 Committee thanks our volunteers, our sponsors and all the participating public for their support. We also thank Sandwich Community Television for recording our events so they can be enjoyed by all in the months and years to come.