Yarmouth Port History
The town now known as Yarmouth Port, located on the north side of Cape
Cod, was originally known simply as Yarmouth. Called Mattacheese by the
Indians, Yarmouth saw its first European settler arrive in 1638 when the
Plymouth Colony gave permission to Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins
to erect a house and winter his cattle.
The following year, ten more settlers arrived and were allowed to "take
up freedom at Yarmouth". Several of the families built houses around the
present Mill Pond area, while others established homesteads farther
east, near the first meeting house.
In ensuing generations, farmers turned to the sea for sustenance and
trade. In the late 18th century, the hub of maritime activity centered
around Bass Hole and the village boasted a ropewalk, tavern, two
windmills, stores, saltworks, and small-scale shipbuilding.
By the 1830s, however, the harbor area had begun to silt in due to
storms and shifting sands. Maritime enterprises and packet services were
moved further west, to the "port" area of Yarmouth. This brought with it
the building of shops, businesses, and many new homes. From 1800 to
1850, at the height of maritime activity, many sea captains built their
stately homes along what is now Route 6A, nestled among the more modest
Cape farmhouses of previous generations.
Thanks to zoning and preservation efforts, a drive down scenic Route 6A
today evokes a strong feeling of the past. If you close your eyes, you
can almost hear the pounding of the blacksmith's anvil, and the clop-clop of horses' hooves.
History Courtesy of the Yarmouth Port Historical Society
17th Century Yarmouth-Barnstable
Boundary Marker at Five Trees