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Profiles

  • Tristram Coffin (1762 - 1852)
    DAR Ancestor # A023854 Private for Massachusetts in the American Revolutionary War. From Babson: Tristram, the third son of Hon. Peter Coffin, spent his life in Gloucester in various employments, o...
  • Robert Tucker, of Milton (1604 - 1682)
    Robert Tucker, the first of that name in America, was born in Weymouth, England, and came to the new World with the Rev. Dr. Hull, locating first at Weymouth and later at Gloucester, where he was Town ...
  • Mary Day (1745 - 1818)
    Nathaniel Day (#1 Back Road) brought some seventeen children into the world, including three sets of twins. His wife, Mary Davis, was proud to call the Commons Settlement home. One of their sons, Isaac...
  • Nathaniel Day (1740 - 1828)
    Nathaniel Day (#1 Back Road) brought some seventeen children into the world, including three sets of twins. His wife, Mary Davis, was proud to call the Commons Settlement home. One of their sons, Isaac...
  • Isaac Day (1782 - 1857)
    Isaac Day was a gunner who fought on the USS Constitution. (1) Sources V.R. Gloucester,Essex,MA. to 1850. "DAY,Isaac, and Sarah Riggs Elwell, Dec. 21, 1830. PR274" "DAY, Is...

The famous American artist and poet Marsden Hartley described Dogtown as a cross between Stonehenge and Easter Island. There are 45 numbered "cellar holes" that mark the one time homes of this ghost town. Treasure hunters, nature lovers, writers, artists, historians, photographers, and even business persons are inspired by the landscape.

Bring your Dogtown associated profiles on over.

Dogtown (also Dogtown Commons or Dogtown Common or Dogtown Village) is an abandoned inland settlement on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Once known as the Common Settlement and populated by respectable citizens, the area later known as Dogtown is divided between the city of Gloucester and the town of Rockport. It is in an area not particularly suited to agriculture, due to poor and very rocky soil. Nevertheless it was settled, beginning in 1693, because its inland location afforded protection from pirates and from enemy natives. Another attraction was the fact that the area lay on what was originally the only direct land route between Sandy Bay (Rockport's original name) and Gloucester. The peak of population, from about 1750 to the turn of the nineteenth century, has been estimated at around one hundred families.

After new coastal roads were opened, and especially after the conclusion of the War of 1812 and its attendant risk of coastal bombardment, most farmers moved away from Dogtown. Their abandoned houses were for a few decades occupied by itinerants and vagabonds, giving the area its bad reputation. Many of the widows of sea-goers and soldiers who never returned kept dogs for protection and company. As these last inhabitants died their pets became feral, roaming the moors and howling, possibly giving rise to the nickname "Dogtown."

In 1814, 6 of the original 80 houses remained in Dogtown. The last resident left in 1830.

Today, since Dogtown is a ghost town, visitors can touch the lives of those who once lived there by finding numbered boulders marking cellar holes and recalling Dogtown stories. In this fashion, all residents of the Commons Settlement and Dogtown whose cellar holes are marked have become legendary.

notables

  1. Naturalist, historian, economist and philanthropist Roger Babson (1875-1967) mapped and numbered Dogtown’s cellar holes and inscribed boulders to help locate them, thus creating a natural “theme park”.
  2. Isaac Dade (cellar hole 18) escaped impressment on a British ship to fight in three battles and be badly wounded at the Battle of Yorktown.
  3. The last resident of Dogtown, a freedman named Cornelius "Black Neil" Finson, was found half-dead living in a cellar-hole in the winter, and was removed to the poorhouse in Gloucester in 1830; he died shortly afterward.
  4. Peter Lurvey (cellar hole 25) became Gloucester’s most celebrated Minuteman in August 1775, when the British ship “Falcon” sailed into Gloucester harbor. Lurvey quit working in his field and ran to the harbor recruiting comrades along the way. The “Falcon” was driven out to sea, but Lurvey was killed in the action. Over a century later, his heroism was the subject of a poem by Gloucester’s banker-poet Hiram Rich.
  5. Col. William Pearce (cellar hole 23) earned Patriotic Service in the American Revolutionary War for building and operating the brig called "Friendship.". His large sheep flock attracted the attention of British raiders during the War of 1812.
  6. John Morgan Stanwood was Peter Lurvey's son-in-law, and tradition was thus led astray as to the name of the patriot, as this was the home of both. "Granther Stannard " believed that his legs were of glass and feared to use them because of their fragility."
  7. A reputed witch often associated with Dogtown was Peg Wesson, but she lived in Gloucester.
  8. James Witham was a successful shepard, earning as much as estimated at $300 a year. His house was located on Dogtown Road.
  9. Thomazine "Tammy" Younger', whom some knew as the "Queen of the Witches." Tammy lived on Fox Hill, by Alewife Brook, and would reputedly place a curse on teams of oxen carrying fish from the harbor as they crossed the bridge there, unless their driver paid her a "toll".

Families

  1. Cellar holes - full registry - linked profiles
  2. Map of Dogtown houses & cellars

Links

Further reading

  1. In the Heart of Cape Ann, or The Story of Dogtown by Charles E. Mann (Proctor Brothers, Publishers; Gloucester, Mass.), 1897
  2. Dogtown Days by Eileen Day McGrath (2009), JLH Publishing. A novel set in Dogtown.
  3. "The Last Days of Dogtown: A Novel" by Anita Diamant (2005), Scribner. A novel set in Dogtown
  4. East, Elyssa (2009). Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town. New York, New York: Free Press. p. 291. ISBN 9781416587057.
  5. Carlotto, Mark (2012). The Island Woods: Abandoned Settlement, Granite Quarries, and Enigmatic Boulders of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. CreateSpace. p. 82. ISBN 9781466492875.
  6. Gage, Mary (2012). The Stones of Dogtown & Beyond: Dogtown to Poole Hill. Amesbury, MA: Powwow River Books. p. 48. ISBN 9780981614151.