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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Chatham in Barnstable County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Chatham Packet Wharf

 
 
Chatham Packet Wharf Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, October 4, 2020
1. Chatham Packet Wharf Marker
Inscription.  

The Old Village, encompassing the land between Chatham Harbor on the east and Mill/Little Mill Pond on the west, became the town center in the 1800’s probably due to the Old Harbor area becoming less navigable. A concentration of small stores on Water and Main Streets reinforced the position of the Old Village as Chatham’s primary commercial center until the late 19th century.

Water Street, aptly named, is probably the only street in Chatham to run from one body of water to another i.e. from the Atlantic shoreline to Mill Pond. Many of the homes that still remain along the portion of Water Street from Main St. to the Mill Pond were built by Sea Captains or former Sea Captains and their names are recognizable in Chatham history; however, the history of the portion of the street running from Main Street to the Shore line is less well known.

Early in the nineteenth century the freight business arrived by packets and vessels and was of great importance to Chatham. Barzilla Harding and Heman Smith ran one of the businesses prior to 1829. The sloop Canton, of forty-six tons, was built in 1826 on the east shore,
Chatham Packet Wharf Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, October 4, 2020
2. Chatham Packet Wharf Marker
north of the lights, and ran thirty years as a packet to Boston. The Canton, captained by Barzilla Harding, was also owned by Collins Howes, Reuben Howes, and Enoch Howes. All of these men were residents of the Old Village.
The 1858 map of Chatham Village shows two extensions into the Harbor area indicating the size of two docks at the end of the street. Documents in the Historical Society archives indicate that packet ships used the docks to allow cargos to be brought ashore along with passengers.

Another source indicates that Capt. Josiah Hardy owned a store and a stage (wharf) at the end of Water Street “from which schooners were outfitted to sail every port in the world.” In 1864, Andrew Harding, then 28 years old and the youngest of the fourteen children of Barzilla and Pattie (Bangs) Harding, and a grandson of Isaiah Harding, opened a store there. In 1865, he purchased a second store formally owned by Isaiah and Simeon Harding and combined the two businesses. In 1871, in connection with his stock of paints and oils, he added a painting business that he ran with H.M. Smith. Later that store was moved to Main St. where it is now a residence. By 1872, the shore had eroded to the point where the stores and the wharves had to be torn down.

The area where this plaque now stands still remains on the town maps as a Town Landing, but due
Marker photo: 1858 Map of Chatham Village image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, October 4, 2020
3. Marker photo: 1858 Map of Chatham Village
This section of a map published in 1858 indicates the site of the two wharves located at the end of Water Street from which packet ships sailed between Chatham and Boston for nearly 30 years.
to the cycle of constant erosion, it has not always been accessible to the water.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 41° 40.407′ N, 69° 56.871′ W. Marker is in Chatham, Massachusetts, in Barnstable County. Marker can be reached from Water Street 0.1 miles east of Main Street. The marker is located the far east end of Water Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Chatham MA 02633, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Battle of Chatham Harbor (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Captain Mayo / Surfman Ellis (about 700 feet away); U.S. Coast Guard Steel 44-Foot Motor Life Boat CG44301 (about 800 feet away); History of Chatham Lighthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Mayflower Story (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Rescue of the Pendleton (approx. 0.2 miles away); Original Prop (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Godfrey Windmill (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chatham.
 
Marker photo: The Old Chatham Packet image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, October 4, 2020
4. Marker photo: The Old Chatham Packet
This pencil sketch of a packet ship drawn by Harrison Gould as a gift to Dr. Minnie Buck is one of several drawings of his among the collection owned by the Chatham Historical Society.
Marker photo: Period painting of area close to the light houses image. Click for full size.
By Brandon D Cross, October 4, 2020
5. Marker photo: Period painting of area close to the light houses
This image of the land and the homes that existed just south of this site and in front of the light houses was drawn from memory by Harrison Gould (1842-1925). The painting, owned by the Historical Society, is one of the few pictorial evidences of a once vibrant residential and business community known as the Old Village.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 2, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 35 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 2, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
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