CAPE COD ASSOCIATION

History

cape-cod-association

Historical Highlights

The Cape Cod Association was formed in May 1851. The objective of the Association was to “encourage and promote among all the native born and descended of Cape Cod, temperance, industry, sincerity, good humor, charity, the social affections and generous sentiments.” All natives of Cape Cod and their descendents living in the Boston vicinity were welcome and encouraged to join. The Association held several meetings throughout the year as well as social engagements.

Over the years they continued to collect yearly fees, lifetime membership fees and gifts – some in the form of stocks. The General fund began to grow and in 1876 a special meeting was held to discuss the use of income from the General Fund for educational purposes. Article XV of the Cape Cod Association constitution was passed in January 1877 and thus began the Cape Cod Association’s scholarship program. What began as an association for social activity and exchange evolved into an organization that was more businesslike in its exchanges, where investments and scholarship awards were the primary focus.

On November 1, 1877 George Kittredge was awarded $350 for his first year at Harvard College, thus becoming the first recipient of the Cape Cod Association scholarship award. In 1893, Sadie E. Butler and A. Lizzie Crowell were the first women to receive awards from the Association. Each received $100 to attend Bridgewater Normal School.

In 1913 the Cape Cod Association changed from a voluntary association to a Massachusetts Corporation, under the same name. They adopted new bylaws and formally changed the purpose of the Cape Cod Association to that of aiding youths of Cape Cod or of Cape Cod origin in obtaining an education.

Corinne (Weber) Hurst of Hyannis was a scholarship recipient from 1916-1920. In 1927 Ms. Hurst was voted the first woman member of the Association.

Over the years the number of applicants and the award amounts changed with the times. In 1900 there were 4 awards given for a total of $400. In 1920 $1,025 was dispersed among 7 students. The Association members of 1940 gave out 6 awards for a total of $675. In 1961 $200 was given to 7 students for a total of $1,400. In 1980, again 7 students received awards but this time it was $800 per student, totaling $5,600. There were times, in the 1980’s, when the Association actually had no applicants, to the great regret of the Association Board members at that time. Mr. Rufus Walker, who had been a member of the Association since he was in college and then served as President and Treasurer, said, in fact, “Our main drive is to make known our desire to offer scholarships to Cape Cod students. We’re having trouble giving money away, and it’s a crime.” Soon the Board members began facing a different challenge: they received more applications from deserving, worthy students than they could award scholarships. The process became increasingly more competitive each year. The numbers continued to grow through the 1990’s. In 1999, 17 students received awards of $3,000 each, for a total of $51,000.

In 2000, Association board member William Hacker passed away leaving $10 million to the Cape Cod Association. Mr. Hacker had the vision to realize that this substantial bequest would have a significant impact on current and future Cape Cod generations by helping many Cape Cod students attain a college education. With this significant new influx of funds, the Board of Directors initiated a search for an organization able to provide a dedicated marketing and administrative staff located on the Cape.

At the end of 2001, the Cape Cod Association entered into a partnership with The Cape Cod Foundation. Now the Association is affiliated with the Foundation under special provisions of Section 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code and is known as a “supporting organization.” As a supporting organization of the Foundation, the Association receives tax status as a public charity while retaining control of its scholarships, investment management and core philosophic mission. The Cape Cod Association is guided by its own governing board and receives support from the Foundation staff.

While remaining dedicated to their roots, Association board members proudly opened their scholarship to all students who were born on and still resided on Cape Cod, lifting previous requirements that lineage be directly linked back several generations. Additionally, the past requirement of attending a New England College was dropped as more and more applicants traveled further for their academic advancement. They meticulously reworked past criteria, rating candidates on a four-pronged process, academic merit, extracurricular activities, financial need, and Cape heritage. Today, in an effort to pay tribute to the rich history of generations of Cape Codders before them and to honor those of the present, the Association makes awards totaling approximately $450,000 to nearly 300 students each year across the Cape & Islands.


Introduction

The students who go away to college in September may or may not come back. It was ever thus. Generation after generation of the Cape’s young people have had to leave home – first for higher education – then for work. Some find a way to come back – a means of livelihood – a plan for sustaining themselves – a work to do. Today it’s fairly easy to accomplish that.

Yesterday it wasn’t. Cape Cod offered the land, the ocean and a sea of cranberries. But for young men who wanted to take up a profession, leaving home was almost pre-ordained.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the center of life for those uprooted “sons of Cape Cod,” the bankers, merchants, clergymen and lawyers, was Boston. And, in the mid-nineteenth century, that was not a commute!

This Cape Cod group was apparently, a rather aristocratic collection of gentlemen believing themselves to have special, slightly blue and altogether salty blood running through their veins. Who better to socialize with, to philosophize with, to do business with than each other?

This, then, is the story of The Cape Cod Association. It will be of interest to those who have a taste for earlier times – who enjoy the language and expression of another day – who take pleasure in the way things used to be and who appreciate a sense of continuity in the life of Cape Cod and its people.

This story is as complete as it can be – and not as complete as we wish it were. It tells us just enough to make us long for more. It’s based entirely on the minutes of Association meetings, and those minutes are alternately interesting and thorough or repetitious and dull, depending on the personality and enthusiasm of whomever happened to be Recording Secretary at the time.

The shift in style of the minutes is both subtle and dramatic – depending on what the reader is looking for. While the subject matter changes little over the year, the manner of expression, extravagance of language and certainly the penmanship change almost completely and – it might be suggested – not for the better.

What began as an association of tremendous importance to those involved in a time when social exchange and activity was limited and when entertainment of any sort was infrequent, evolved over the years into a purely businesslike meeting, during which investments were discussed and scholarships awarded.

The graceful, well-thought out, well-learned and flowing pen and ink recording of events was replaced, first by rushed scrawl, then by typewritten minutes, efficient, far more readable, yet without personality.

Gone is the day when the Cape Cod Association provided companionship and social nourishment unavailable anywhere else. Now there are too many other places to find each of those. People look for an excuse not to go out, but to stay home. And young people who choose to leave the Cape may well scatter to the four winds.

There is a great temptation to say, “Those were the good old days. ” At the same time it’s possible that one hundred years from now some reader will find charm and a sense of history in the Association’s minutes of 1988.

But the point here is to look back-to what may not have been better, but was, at the very least, simpler.


The Early Years (1851-1875)

It began in 1851.

On February 10 of that year-a Monday evening-the following gentlemen met at the American House in Boston: Pliny Nickerson, Adolphus Davis, Israel Lombard, William Thacher, William Lincoln, Henry Crocker, Henry C. Brooks, H.S. Scudder, Joshua Sears, Thomas Thacher, Francis Bacon, B. Thacher, Elijah Cobb, Isaac Thacher, Henry Atkins and B.F. Hallett.

This was, in fact, the “Primary Meeting” of what would become The Cape Cod Association, and on a motion by Isaac Thacher, a Preamble and Resolution were passed by unanimous vote: “Whereas the natives and descendants of Cape Cod now residents of this City and vicinity have expressed a wish to form an Association, and have to the number of two hundred, signed a book now presented to this meeting expressive of such purpose, therefore, resolved, that a committee of five be appointed for the purpose of calling a general meeting…and to submit to that meeting a Constitution for the government of that Association….”

(The minutes of the Cape Cod Association show that the group was adept at creating committees to carry out various tasks. It appears to have done so at the drop of a hat, in fact, during that first meeting, a committee of three was appointed for the purpose of appointing a committee of five.)

Isaac Thacher, Israel Lombard, and Francis Bacon were selected to select the committee of five. They chose Messrs. Hallett, Sears, Lombard, Cobb and William Sturgis.

The 16 in attendance then appointed a committee composed of one man from each town on the Cape. That group was given the task of obtaining the names of all natives and descendants from said towns, now residents of Boston and vicinity.

(Several of the men named to the committee were not present at the Primary Meeting, which goes to prove that then as now those who did not attend meeting may find they’ve been given a job to do.)

Committee members were William Lincoln, Watson Freeman, Adolphus Davis, William Thacher, Frederic Nickerson, Isaac Taylor, Joshua Mayo, Oliver Smith, David Hamblin, H.C. Brooks, Ebenezer Davis and Edward Nickerson.
The meeting was adjourned. Committee members set out to complete their assignments.

And on May 12 – just three months after the idea was set in motion – a second meeting was held, this one at Cochituate Hall in Boston. About one hundred “subscribers” were present.

A constitution had been drafted.

Francis Bassett, Esq. of Boston was chosen as chairman of the session, and Charles Mayo, also of Boston, served as secretary.

Briefly stated were “the objects and benefits expected to be derived from such an Association, the general desire and inclination of the natives and descendants of Cape Cod for friendly and social intercourse in whatever clime they may be found, and other peculiarities which largely contribute to fit them for their full and ample enjoyment of an Association of this character.”

The Constitution, itself, was simple and to the point. It stated the object of the Association, requirements for membership, a system of dues, list of officers and schedule of meetings.
There was not one word about college scholarships. That idea was still 25 years in the future. The Cape Cod Association was to be a social union, and did not pretend to be anything else.

Its object, according to the Constitution was:

“To encourage and promote among all the native-born and descendants of Cape Cod, temperance, industry, sincerity, good humor, charity, the social affections and generous sentiments.”

Article I:
“All natives of Cape Cod and their descendants who are residents of Boston and its vicinity may become members on signing this Constitution and conforming to the By-Laws. Each member shall pay three dollars on admission, for the first year, and thereafter three dollars annually, so long as he shall continue a member.

“Anyone paying $50 shall become a life member and may direct to what object of the Association his subscription shall be appropriated.

“Whenever $500 shall be raised by life subscriptions of donations, it shall be set aside as a fund – to be appropriated as the association may direct.”

That was the sum and total of references to fees – with one notable, kind-hearted exception.

Article XIII stated that anyone who had paid the sum of fifty dollars was entitled, “if in needful circumstances in the opinion of the Executive Committee, to receive that amount from the Association…and the like sum shall be paid in like manner to the widow or children of a deceased member.. if left in needful circumstances.”

Officers were to consist of a President, thirteen Vice Presidents, a Treasurer, Recording Secretary and Corresponding Secretary. (An amendment adopted in 1906 eliminated a dozen Vice Presidents and the Corresponding Secretary.) An Executive Committee of four would be elected each year to manage the Association’s concerns.

The schedule of yearly meetings specified in the Constitution contained an appropriate Cape Cod twist. The Annual Meeting was to be held on the eleventh of November, the anniversary of the adoption of the first written Constitution of Government among men, which was framed on board the Mayflower, in the harbor of Provincetown, 1620.”

Quarterly meetings would be held on the eleventh days of February, May and August, and that summer session might be held at any place on Cape Cod deemed suitable by the Board of Officers.

(Although it was the groups intention to hold August meetings on the Cape, it appears that the plan never really took hold. While the Association minutes and Frederick Freeman’s History of Cape Cod make mention of get-togethers in Provincetown and in Yarmouth – both of them well-attended, extravagant and entirely successful – most of the August sessions seem to have been held in Boston, with trips to the Cape being determined inconvenient.)

So, in May of 1851, The Cape Cod Association was created, its Constitution adopted, its officers appointed:

The Honorable David Sears, of Boston, President. Isaac Thacher, Treasurer. Henry Scudder, Corresponding Secretary, William Thacher, Recording Secretary. Vice Presidents were Lemuel Shaw, Joshua Sears, Benjamin Burgess, Benjamin Hallett, Pnnce Hawes, Thomas Thacher, Francis Bassett, Bejamin Bangs and the Reverend Samuel K. Lothrop, all of Boston, as well as William Sturgis of Woburn, the Honorable John Palfrey of Cambridge, Daniel Bacon of Brookline and Robert Bacon of Medford.

At a meeting held three weeks later, it was voted to buy two books – one in which the Constitution and proceedings of the Association would be entered – the other to contain the names of members “with columns to designate the town which was the origin of their nativity on Cape Cod.”

Although some might consider a repetition of those names to be unimportant and a waste of space here, they are the stuff of which Cape Cod is made. Those names, along with town and date of birth, were written by hand – by men who walked into the room, sat down, probably had a glass of wine and conversed with one another about the day’s business. Too often now the names are reduced to historic markers, to buildings. There is no flesh and blood to them anymore.

But there was a Man named Ezra Baker – not just an elementary school in West Dennis. There was a Man named George Ryder – not just a road in Chatham. And there was a Man named Henry Brooks – not just a library in Harwich.

And all of them – all of them and others – signed a book in Boston more than 150 years ago.

William Sturgis, Barnstable, February 25, 1782
Israel Lombard, Truro, June 6, 1804
Isaac Thacher, Yarmouth, July 7, 1808
Ezra Baker, Dennis, August 17,
Joseph Nickerson, Brewster, March 3, 1804
David Sears, Chatham, September 25, 1801
Isaac Rich, Wellfleet, September 25, 1801
Osborn Howes, Dennis, September 26, 1806
Robert Bacon, Barnstable, February 15, 1778
William Bangs, Brewster, September 30, 1829
Elijah Cobb, Brewster, June 27, 1794
Sylvanus Rich, Wellfleet, April 2l, 1712
Prince Hawes, Yarmouth, May 14, 1790
Owen Bearse, Barnstable, August 27, 1810
Pliny Nickerson, Harwich, March 12, 1816
Barrillai Howes, Dennis, October 26, 1810
Elisha Ryder, Chatham, December 2S, 1809
Nathan Crowell, Dennis, March 22, 1827
Isaiah Bangs, Harwich, March 14, 1786
Isaiah Atkins, Truro, December 22, 1807
Erastus Chase, Harwich, May 29, 1826
Nathaniel Harding, Truro, May 17, 1797
Philander Crowell, Yarmouth, January 15, 1805
Alvan Clark, Harwich, March 8, 1805
George Ryder, Chatham, September 23, 1810
John Doane, Orleans, April 25, 1825
Henry Holbrook, Wellfleet, November 15, 1805
Benjamin Burgess, Sandwich, August 26, 1778
Elisha Winslow, Brewster, April 25, 1807

And there were Elkanah Bangs of Brewster, and James Collins of Eastham, Henry C. Brooks of Harwich, Hawes Atwood of Wellfleet, Simeon Baker of Wellfleet, and Benjamin Hinckley of Truro, B. F. Hallett of Barnstable, Ebenezer Nickerson of Provincetown and Benjamin F. Small of Harwich.

And the book contains the name of Nathaniel Hamlin of Eastham, but with a notation in the righthand column: “has paid no assessment- repudiates his signature.”

The Cape Cod Association was now a reality, and its officers began to meet with both enthusiasm and frequency.

On June 25, the Executive Committee convened at 20 Court Street in Boston, and “after some discussion in relation to the propriety of holding the August Quarterly meeting at Provincetown this year, the meeting adjourned to Friday, the 27th at three o’clock P.M.”

On July 16, meeting at the counting rooms of Messrs. Lombard and Whitman, the committee voted “to accept a scene for the vignette on the certificate of membership,” as well as an appropriate seal for the Association and decided that it would be “inexpedient” to hold the August meeting on Cape Cod.

That quartertly meeting instead took place at Cochituate Hall in Boston, and it was suggested then that the Executive Committee spend time discussing how the November Annual Meeting might be celebrated.

On September 4, the committee voted to invite the Honorable William Sturgis to deliver an oration before the Association on the occasion of its first anniversary and to “procure some person to deliver a poem” at the same event.

Three weeks later, Joseph Otis Williams was asked to deliver that poem. Further, it was decided “that a social meeting, with ladies and invited guests, be held after the address,” and it was thought “a collation should be provided.”

Not surprisingly, a committee was appointed to plan the event.

On October 21, however, “a long discussion in regard to the approaching celebration occupied the time of the meeting, and it was voted that there be no wine furnished on this occasion.”

The first Annual Meeting was held at 9 A.M., November 11, 1851, at the Exchange Coffee House. Officers were nominated and elected, and the meeting was adjourned. So say the minutes. No mention is made of the social meeting, the oration or the poem.

But a week later, the Executive Committee voted to thank everyone who had participated in the “successful celebration.” Although Mr. Sturgis had been invited to deliver the oration, he apparently did not do so, because thanks were extended to H.A. Scudder, Esq. for his “able and eloquent address.” He was asked to furnish a copy of it for the press. In fact, a committee was appointed to make that request of Mr. Scudder!

In February, a pamphlet was prepared, containing an account of the November event.

And a committee was named to distribute it.

Although the Association’s official minutes do not describe the social aspect of that celebration, Frederick Freeman referred briefly to it in his History of Cape Cod, published in 1860.

“After a chaste and happy introductory address by the president, Hon. David Sears, an oration was pronounced by H.A. Scudder, Esq.,” Mr. Freeman wrote, “and the balance of the evening was occupied by appropriate toasts and speeches the first regular toast being “Cape Cod Our Home. The first to honor the Pilgrim ship, the first to receive the Pilgrim’s feet; she is the first and the last, and always the dearest in the memory of her children everywhere!”

This toast was rapturously received, and nine cheers were spontaneously and enthusiastically given, all present starting at once to their feet. The following song, written for the occasion, was then sung by the entire company, the accompaniment being played by the band.

(Tune Home, Sweet Home)
”The home of our sires, where the Pilgrims first trod;
Where they first offered thanks for their safety to God;
That home we will cherish; their memory revered;
Their spirits, it may be, are hovering here.
We ne’er can forget thee, our ocean-bound home.
The home of our childhood! in fancy we see
Its welcoming arm ever stretched to the sea;
Its beacons are blazing, its hearts true and warm,
The sailor’s sure refuge, when loud howls the storm.
Home, home, our childhood’s home,
We ne’er can forget thee, our ocean-bound home.
Wherever our footsteps in manhood may roam,
We will fondly look back to our forefathers’ home,
And cherish the thought of that sheltering bay
Where, rocked by the billows, the Mayflower lay.
Home, home, dearly loved home.
We proudly can say, there is no place like home.”

The minutes of February 1l, 1852, refer briefly to two matters of business. It was voted to consider applying to the Legislature for an Act of Incorporation. (That proposal was later set aside, and nothing came of it- until 1913.)

And, on a motion by Henry Brooks, on behalf of the Honorable B.F. Hallett, the Cape Cod Association elected its first honorary member – a resident of Marshfield.

His name was Daniel Webster.

In May of 1852, the citizens of Provincetown invited the Association to hold its August meeting in that village. The letter of invitation “was read with much applause,” and it was voted to reply “with expressions of our concurrence in their wishes” and to ask that a committee of Provincetown residents “cooperate with the Executive Committee of the Association in the proposed visit to the first landing of the Pilgrims.”

Henry Brooks of Harwich was named chairman of the group “to carry out all necessary plans and make any necessary contracts for the approaching celebration.”

On August 11, Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw presided at the meeting in Provincetown. Nearly all members of the Association were present, “and about fifteen hundred of the people of the Cape, with visitors from Boston, were gathered together under the immense pavilion provided for the occasion.

“It was an eminently social meeting, and the remembrance of it will always be pleasant.”

The minutes contain no details, nor does Mr. Freeman have anything to say about this celebration in his history.

At about that time, the organization seems to have acquired a home of its own in Boston. Meetings were thereafter held “at the rooms of the Association, 11 1/2 Tremont Row.”

And at a session held there on November 1, 1852, the following was written into the minutes; “Whereas, in the Providence of God, Daniel Webster, the first Honorary Member of our association, the Great Man of the Nation, the Pride of our own land and the Admiration of the World, has been removed from amongst us-therefore Resolved, that, while in the death of Daniel Webster, the Constitution has lost its Defender, the ‘Steerage of the State’ its Ablest Helmsman, the departments of Law and Letters their brightest ornament-we, as an Association, and as individuals mourn the loss of a friend whom we venerated and loved-

For talents mount untimely lost,
When best employed and wanted most
Mourn genius high and! love profound,
And wit that loved to play, not wound. And all the reasoning powers divine
To penetrate, resolve, combine
And feelings keen and fancy’s glow.”

Recording Secretary William Thacher was particularly succinct in his notes regarding the August meeting of 1854. He wrote, simply, that it was held in Yarmouth Port, with a large attendance of members and about 3000 people from the community.

Fortunately, Mr. Freeman had a great deal, indeed, to say about the celebration. Both volumes of his history contain reference to it, and his detailed report of what was said suggest that he either was there, himself, or had access to written accounts.

The day was, it seems, long on good will, even longer on rhetoric. Here is but a portion of that.

“The visitors were met at the railroad depot at Yarmouth by numerous inhabitants of that town, and vicinity, and were presented, in an appropriate address by S.N. Small, Esq., in behalf of the citizens, with a cordial greeting. The speaker expressed ‘the gratification of us who remain on the old homestead’ at the organization of a society ‘by those of our brothers who have gone out from amongst us to seek their fortunes elsewhere, and who by their talents, energy and enterprise have won for themselves a high and honorable position in almost every department of human effort….”

Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw responded on behalf of the Association “sir, I present to you that branch of the old family, male and female, who, at various times and upon various prudential considerations, have departed from the family mansion and ancient homestead and taken up their abode, for a time, elsewhere; who the better to cherish their mutual attachment to their dear native land, and the homes of their childhood, have united themselves under the name of the Cape Cod Association.

”…permit me to assure you…that there is not one visitor here…whose heart is not deeply penetrated with the tender and endearing sentiment, at once joyous and sad, which makes up the indescribable charm of home.

“We come to unite once more with you, in expressing our attachment and veneration towards a race of progenitors whose memory we shall ever gratefully cherish.

“We come to pledge to each other the renewal and perpetual continuance of those bonds of friendship which, commencing with our earliest existence, shall terminate only with our latest breath.”

There was a parade through the town, past homes that had been decorated for the occasion, past flags and streamers and banners and wreaths. “Citizens seemed to have vied with each other in tasteful and appropriate emblems at their respective residences.”

At the pavilion, Justice Shaw introduced “the intellectual part of the banquet,” including devotional exercises, speeches and toasts. “A ball, in the evening, concluded the festivities.”

Mr. Freeman included the text of a speech by Governor Washburn, who was not about to take a back seat to Justice Shaw in the art of oratory.

“Mr. President, this spot is to the rest of New England, and wherever a Cape Cod boy is to be found, what the holy city was to God’s people of old, where, on a Passover like this, they could come up and renew their vows of fidelity to their country and her institutions.”

The Governor remarked that he had – a few years earlier-presided over the Court of Common Pleas in Barnstable County, and he reminded those present that all business before the court, both criminal and civil, had to be disposed of during just two sessions a year.

“Well, sir, on the occasion to which I allude, I met with the Grand Jury of the County. They retired for deliberation; and in less than fifteen minutes they returned and reported to the Court that there had been one crime committed in the County, within their cognizance. I went with them to the civil side of the Court, and I could not find…that there stood a single case for trial. And, sir, the whole business of the county, both civil and criminal, with a population of thirty thousand souls, was done up, and the Court adjourned, in less than an hour’s time.

“Sir, it was not poverty, it was not a want of industry and enterprise in the people of this County, that led to this dearth of crime and litigation; it was because it was SUCH a population – so educated, so trained; and ~ do not believe there is a parallel incident to this, in a free community so numerous as this, and embracing, as this does, its maritime and commercial interests, in the history of the world.”

In Volume I of his work, Mr. Freeman recounts some good-natured bragging by both Justice Shaw and the Honorable Josiah Quincy Jr. during the Yarmouth festivities of 1854.

In recognizing the many distinguished guests who were not of Cape Cod origin, the judge said, “We welcome them to our meeting and to our hearts; and, though they may discover in our speech and manner a little family pride, a little self-congratulation in hinting at the nobleness of our birth and the dignity of our descent from Cape Cod ancestors, yet we feel assured that they will rightly appreciate this harmless vanity, and attribute it to a momentary feeling of local exultation…; and we trust they cannot fail to perceive, underlying this sparkling ripple on the surface, there is a deep and abiding love and devotion in our hearts….”

Mr. Quincy, noting that some people there had confessed they were not descended from the fathers of Cape Cod, remarked, “Neither am I; but I am proud to say that I am – what is a great deal better – descended from the MOTHERS of Cape Cod. I have a decision of the Supreme Court – not of Massachusetts, but of the Province of Massachusetts Bay – given a hundred and thirty years ago, which proves my right to be here.

“It so happened that the gentleman who held the office of Chief Justice” was my great-greatgrandfather. Whether he was judge of law, I know not; but he was a judge of ladies. Being Chief Justice he came down to this part of the world, and, I suppose, like His Excellency the Govenor, having no criminal or civil business to do he looked after the ladies. The result was that when he got home to Braintree-Quincy, that now is – he called his son Josiah to him and advised him to go straightway down to Yarmouth, and to inquire for the house of one John Sturgis, and to make himself as agreeable as he could to one Miss Hannah Sturgis, who was there.

“Well, my ancestor was, like his descendants, a very dutiful son, particularly when his father told him to go and see the girls. Whether he succeeded in the object of his mission or not I will not say; but I have the honor of addressing you at this time.”

From that year on, there is no indication that any other summer meetings were held on the Cape. But attendance at the quarterly session on August 11, 1855, was particularly skimpy.

“Great surprise was evinced by those present at the paucity of members present on such a pleasant evening, when a member stated that (according to the Constitution) the quarterly meeting in August may be held at any place on Cape Cod. The meeting was forced to the conclusion that they (missing members) were wandering to and fro, up and down the Cape, searching for said meeting.”

During the early years of the Association, considerable and expressive attention was paid to the passing of members. This was first apparent at the time of Daniel Webster’s death. Expansive, eloquent tributes were written and spread upon the record, a practice which did not continue into the 20th century.

On November 20, 1856, for example, a special meeting was called “for a melancholy purpose.”

President David Sears said, “I am requested officially to inform you of the decease of our late associate, Daniel Bacon, Esq. Mr. Bacon has been one of the Vice Presidents of this Association from its original organization to the day of his death.

“He was born in Barnstable, and of that old Pilgrim Stock, than which there is none better in the Union; and whether standing on its native soil or transplanted elsewhere, it seldom fails to exhibit the characteristics of its race – energy, perseverance and power; integrity, liberality and honorable dealing; and these qualities were fully sustained in the life of our departed brother.

“Mr. Bacon commenced his career, as most of our Cape Cod friends do, on the ocean, and gradually advanced from its smaller appointments to the command of an East Indiaman. Quitting the sea, he became a distinguished merchant of Boston and through every variety of service, and in all his transactions, maintained the character of an upright, intelligent and honorable man.”

Association members expressed their affection and respect for one “whose enterprise and energy and manly spins and kind heart rendered him at once an endeared friend and a fit example whose unobtrusive goodness challenged the respect of all who knew him-whose affections were warm, whose judgment was cool, whose hand was open at the promptings of his heart, whose integrity was immovable, whose fidelity to every trust was exemplary, whose performance of every duty was unfaltering and who lived amongst us as a good citizen, an honorable merchant, a kind friend and a practical Christian.

For some time following, according to the minutes, “no business was transacted,” but as months and years passed, Association members noted with sadness the death of Justice Shaw, of Mr. Lombard, of B.F. Hallett and of William Sturgis.

In May of 1858, it was voted not to call on members for the payment of their annual dues “in a time of such extreme scarcity of money.” In fact it was agreed that the three dollars already received from each member that year be remitted. No fees, or “assessments”, were collected for the next several years.

In November of that year, the annual meeting was held at “three and a half o’clock,” and the Reverend Frederick Freeman spoke about his about-to-be-published History of Cape Cod. “Members applauded its impartiality, interesting research, excellence of diction and beauty of typography and illustration and recommended it to the patronage of descendants of the Cape, especially, and to the public generally.

Mr. Freeman, every bit as eloquent as other gentlemen quoted here, dedicated the first volume of his history to the Association:

“To The Honorable David Sears, President, and to the Vice Presidents and Executive Committee of the Cape Cod Association of Boston, each and all Highly and Deservedly Distinguished and Esteemed;

Together Nobly Representing
The Civilian, Not Covetous of Office, or Fame;
The Jurist, Foremost Among His Peers;
The Able Advocate;
The Merchant, of Large Views and! Proud Integrity;
The Enterprising Ship-Owner;
The Man of Letters;
This First Volume,
Including the History of Cape Cod, is most respectfully inscribed by
The Author”

Similarly, in the second volume, which contained the history of each town on the Cape, Mr. Freeman dedicated the Annals of Harwich to Col. Henry C. Brooks, of Boston;

“Who, though himself were to traverse the seas to the farthest Australasian (sic) isles in those noble ships that, under his direction, so regularly depart and return, would, near or remote, still turn his thoughts, with proud remembrance and lively interest, to CAPE COD and recognize with gratification whatever, derived from the records of the past or existing in the present, contributes to the honor of the county of which, in his position as an enterprising MERCHANT, he is a worthy representative, these Annals of the Town of his nativity are respectfully inscribed by his sincere friend, the Author.”

In 1865 the Association voted to omit the quarterly meetings “for the present,” a decision which appears never to have been reversed.

A few years later, the minutes are different – the penmanship changes with the death of William Thacher. He had been Recording Secretary from the start. And in 1871 the group mourned the death of David Sears, who had served as President of the Association for the 20 years of its existence.

Mr. Sears was remembered for his “perfect uprightness, unblemished purity in his public services and private usefulness, in his patriotism as a citizen, his courtesy and integrity as a man and his faith and piety as a Christian.”

In 1875, during the Annual Meeting held at the China Mutual Insurance Company at 52 State Street, Treasurer Nathan Crowell reported a total balance on hand of $10,064.56.

A year later, the Cape Cod Association decided to do something with its money.


The Launch of the Scholarship Program (1876-1899)

In 1876 a special meeting was held, the purpose of which as Henry Brooks explained was to discuss the use of income from the General Fund for educational purposes.

That fund, containing yearly dues, lifetime membership fees and gifts – some in the form of stocks – had grown and was producing interest. Certain members of the board thought it time to spend that on something other than social functions.
Article XV, offered as an amendment to the Constitution, stipulated that income arising from the fund would be applied to the “collegiate or technological education of youths of Cape Cod origin.”

But when put to a vote at the next Annual Meeting, the article ran into stiff opposition. Some members argued with the “exclusively educational object of the amendment.” After considerable debate, 23 members voted “Yes,” and four voted “No.” The Constitution, however, required 25 votes for the adoption of an amendment.

Philip Sears, Isaac Thacher and Henry Brooks made “stirring remarks;” in support of the article. It was put to another vote, and the result was the same.

But these Yankees were nothing if not persistent. In an interesting maneuver, Article XV was tabled. An amendment to Article IX was then proposed and approved. That move reduced from 25 to 15 the number of votes required to adopt an amendment.

Article XV was then taken from the table, and it passed by a vote of 22-4!

So, on January 25, 1877, the Executive Committee voted to send a copy of the new article to the editors of the “Barnstable Patriot,” “Yarmouth Register” and “Provincetown Advocate,” asking that it receive “publicity and such editorial action as may be deemed proper.”

The Cape Cod Association’s scholarship program was launched, but it didn’t enjoy smooth sailing immediately.

In March of that year, the first award was given to Benjamin Bartley of Sandwich. The sum of $175 – considerable money at that time – would be given annually, “during good behavior,” for the four-year course.

In April the Association received word that Mr. Bartley considered the amount “insufficient” to allow his entering Harvard College, “as his own entire means would be exhausted in preparing himself for the examinations, and he would solicit the committee to increase the appropriation for the first year if they thought it advisable.”

The award was increased to $350, but that first scholarship was to have a hard time being given away. “In consequence of lack of preparation to enter college (caused by loss of funds deposited in the Sandwich Savings Bank intended for use towards such preparation in his studies; and the loss of time devoted to the care of a sick sister) Benjamin BartIey resigned all claim to the appropriation.”

The award was given, eventually, to George Kittredge for his education at Harvard.

At the 1877 Annual Meeting, S.B. Phinney Esq. asked the Association to cooperate in the erection of a monument in Provincetown in commemoration of the first landing of the Pilgrims. That structure would be on “High Pole Hill.”

(Years later in 1892 the association replied to the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial Association and said that it could not contribute to such a project because its funds were legally devoted to educational purposes.)

In 1878, scholarships were given to George Kittredge, Charles Knowles (Harvard) and Samuel Hallett (Amherst).

Henry Brooks, a leading member of the Association since its creation, was elected President in 1883. But in 1886 a special meeting was held, and the minutes stated, “By the death of Col. Henry C. Brooks, the Cape Cod Association was lost its strongest adherent and most enthusiastic supporters. Whatever of good this Association has been able to perform has been largely due to his wise counsels and personal energy…by the death of our late associate, we have parted from a man in whom quick sympathy, practical generosity and hearty geniality were happily and exceptionally blended….”

In 1886 five awards were given: W.F. Buck, $100 (Dartmouth); Ralph Doane, $100 (Dartmouth); Charles Doane, $100 (Dartmouth); George Hamlen, $50 (Weslyan) and Benton Crocker, $50 (Amherst).

In October of 1887, applications were received from Ernest Long of Harwich Port and Henry Megathlin of Harwich. Both asked for aid “to fit them for college.” They required a year or more to prepare for their examinations. It was decided that the rules did not “allow of funds being advanced to prepare young men for college.” Both Ernest and Henry applied later on and received scholarships for Williams College and Middlebury College, respectively.

Another “first” in the life of the Association occurred in 1893. Applications were received from Sadie E. Butler and A. Lizzie Crowell, both of whom were to attend Bridgewater Normal School. Each was awarded $100.

Also that year, Elisha Bangs of Brewster, George Crowell, Charles Crowell and William Crowell, all of Yarmouth, and Caleb Chase of West Harwich were nominated as new members of the Association.

At a special meeting in February of 1894, the Standing Committee read a circular from “Sons of Cape Cod,” urging the establishment of a normal school in Barnstable County. It was voted to name a committee that would go before the Legislative Committee on Education and recommend development of a State Norman School in the county.

(Later minutes contain no further reference to that effort. In fact, from about the turn of the century on, the minutes are fairly cut and dried and unilluminating. They contain reference to the election of officers, treasurer’s report (occasionally), scholarship awards and very little else. Where once there was some faint picture of the world beyond – the Association’s written history has been reduced to bare bones.)

In 1895, the group contributed to the education of nine students: Walter Sears Rich, Eben Phillips and Samuel Thacher Sears (all Harvard); Arthur Small (Boston University); Fred Hurd (Bridgewater) and Katherine Baker (Wellesley).

Two years later, Katherine Baker was at B.U. Law School, as was fellow scholarship recipient Clenric Cahoon, of Harwich.


The Association in the Early 1900’s (1900-1949)

In 1905, $100 awards were given to H. Gardner Blount, Winfield Kendrick, Alton Cook, Ralph Kelley, Bernard Holway and John Howard Paine.

(Here again are other rock-solid Cape names that now appear on street signs, and in 1937, John Paine published his father Josiah Paine’s History of Harwich, 1650-1800.)

Six students were helped by the Association in 1907; Henry Francis of Dennisport, George Foster of Sandwich, Chester Taylor of South Yarmouth, Alton Cook of Hyannis, Alvin Bearse and Clyde Chase, both of South Harwich.

The minutes of November, 1911 note that Cyrus Howes of South Yarmouth had made a gift of $500 to the Association. That amount represented what he had been given by the organization during his years at M.I.T. The gift was acknowledged, and the Association expressed “its gratification at hearing of his success and its appreciation of the high sense of honor which prompted his action.”

(As far as can be determined, this is the only time in the history of the Association when a scholarship recipient has made such a contribution in return for help provided during his or her education.)

In 1913, 62 years after those men gathered to encourage “temperance, sincerity, good humor, the social affections and generous sentiments,” a change took place that would forever alter the basic purpose of the Cape Cod Association.
During that year there was considerable discussion about dissolving the Association and forming a new, charitable corporation to take over the group’s funds and continue its beneficial work. Members thought that the Constitution no longer addressed the current activities of the organization.

Times had changed. The emphasis had changed. And those involved wanted the structure to change – from a voluntary association to a Massachusetts corporation.

And that’s what happened. In November of 1913, a corporation was formed under the same name – “for the purpose of aiding youths of Cape Cod or of Cape Cod origin in obtaining an education.” It also was stipulated that money could be given to colleges or other educational institutions for educational purposes.

Now there would be a board of not less than three or more than five directors- one of them serving as treasurer and secretary.

But although the Association had changed and its purpose redesigned, the names on the corporation documents still had the unmistakable ring of Cape Cod: Freeman Goodnow, Charles Baker, William Sears, Ezra Baker, William Cobb, Henry Hutchings, Francis Sears, Osborn Howes, David Crocker and Charles Crowell.

Three students received scholarships in that first year of the corporation: William Chapman of Brewster, Alexander Chase Jr. of West Barnstable and Henry Walker of Harwich.

In 1914, the minutes noted the death of Francis Bacon Sears. A longtime member, he was the son of the Reverend Edmund Hamilton Sears and Ellen Bacon of Barnstable, whose brother Daniel was a founder of the Association. It was pointed out in an obituary attached to those minutes that Reverend Mr. Sears had written “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear.”

On April 13, 1915, the secretary wrote, “Regarding the question having arisen of helping females, it was voted that if suitable applicants desired help, it was in the province of the Association to render them aid.”

(Odd that such a discussion would have taken place, because the group, according to its own records, already had awarded scholarships to at least three women; Sadie Butler and A. Lizzie Crowell in 1893, and Katherine-Baker, beginning two years later and continuing into her law studies.)

The first woman member of the Association was elected in 1927, and her name appears on a list dated November 14, 1928. She was Corinne Hurt of Hyannis.

In 1932, Harwich’s Henry Walker was named a director, and five students received awards: Ralph Allen of Brewster (Duke University), Barbara Sherman of Yarmouth (“French Scholarship”), Ruth Howes of Hyannis (B.U.), Chester Jordan of Hyannis (Dartmouth) and Oscar J. Cahoon of Harwich (Dartmouth).

At a meeting in 1939, a “new rule” was adopted. “Any applicant for aid from the Cape Cod Association must be a resident of the Cape, having also been registered as born on same.”

But at the Annual Meeting, there was further debate over the phrase, “of Cape Cod origin.” Discussion was “put over” to another meeting, because the Directors felt “that a deeper study should be made of the meaning.”

It was later decided that an applicant’s “origin” (as a requirement for scholarship approval) should be considered on a case-by case basis by the Directors, because time spent in Cape schools “should largely influence their decision.”

In 1940 there were four recipients. David Ryder of West Harwich was going to Tufts, Harry Lee Clark of Falmouth to Harvard, Burgess Brownson (no town listed) to Worcester Polytechnical and Donald B. Sparrow of Eastham, to Harvard. A year later the list included Louise Crocker of Brewster, Frederick William Crowell and Charles Crocker.

Another major decision was made in 1941. It was suggested that a new record book be ordered, “as the old one is now filled up, having been in use since 1851.”

It was so voted.

Four awards were given in 1943; to Christine Milliken, Alice Slavin and to sisters Marguerite and Priscilla Winslow Baldwin of Harwich.

And four new members were elected to, the Association in 1945: Louis Fowler, Frederick Burgess Walker, Rufus Flanders Walker and Roger Earle Scudder.


1950-Present

Into the 1950s and ‘60s, more students from the Cape headed off to school with the good wishes and financial support of the Association: David White of Harwich, Elizabeth Puisifer of Yarmouth Port, William Cobb of Centerville, Helen Eaton of West Dennis, Stephen Howes of Barnstable, Pamela Collins of Orleans, Paul Vincent Doane (serving as State Senator at the time of this writing) of Harwich, Arthur Baker of Falmouth, Erica Higgins and Anthony Hancock of West Harwich, Richard O. Sparrow and Sally Rogers of Orleans. Peter Field. Rachel Cahoon. David Williamson. Edward Cochran. Michael D’Elia.

So it went, and so it continues to this day. Hundreds upon hundreds of scholarships have been given since the practice began 150 years ago.

The Cape Cod Association is a healthy organization with solid investment. For years, most of its stocks were in railroads – railroads from all over the country. People contributed a share or two – or more – in companies they believed would go on forever.

But most of those have long been derailed and defunct, including the old Cape Cod Railroad, itself. Those stocks were replaced, and the Association has made sound investments.

There were times, in the 1980’s, when the Association actually had no applicants, to the great regret of the Association Board members at that time. Mr. Rufus Walker, who had been a member of the Association since he was in college and then served as President and Treasurer, said, in fact, “Our main drive is to make known our desire to offer scholarships to Cape Cod students. We’re having trouble giving money away, and it’s a crime.” A decade later, the Board members began facing a different challenge: they received more applications from deserving, worthy students than they could award scholarships. The process has gotten increasingly more competitive each year, as the Association now receives over 500 applications annually.

In 2000, Association board member William Hacker passed away leaving $10 million to the Cape Cod Association. Mr. Hacker had the vision to realize that this substantial bequest would have a significant impact on current and future Cape Cod generations by helping many Cape Cod students attain a college education. With this significant new influx of funds, the Board of Directors initiated a search for an organization able to provide a dedicated marketing and administrative staff located on the Cape.

At the end of 2001, the Cape Cod Association entered into a partnership with The Cape Cod Foundation. Now the Association is affiliated with the Foundation under special provisions of Section 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code and is known as a “supporting organization.” As a supporting organization of the Foundation, the Association receives tax status as a public charity while retaining control of its scholarships, investment management and core philosophic mission. The Cape Cod Association is guided by its own governing board and receives support from the Foundation staff.

While remaining dedicated to their roots, Association board members proudly opened their scholarship to all students who were born on and still resided on Cape Cod, lifting previous requirements that lineage be directly linked back several generations. Additionally, the past requirement of attending a New England College was dropped as more and more applicants traveled further for their academic advancement. The board members meticulously reworked past criteria, rating candidates on a four-pronged process, academic merit, extracurricular activities, financial need, and Cape heritage.

And thus is the current history of the Cape Cod Association. Meetings aren’t held in Boston anymore. There are no midsummer treks to Cape Cod – no decorated pavilions. The parades are over, the speeches ended. Men named Adolphus and Pliny and Israel don’t sit and talk of merchant sailing ships.

But the words are on paper, the history unchangeable. And today’s members of the Cape Cod Association are – in a different time, a different world – trying to take care of their own, as did the men who once stood to sing,

“Home, home, our childhood’s home, We ne’er can forget thee, our ocean-bound home.”

History through 1988 written by Marcia Monbleau, who was commissioned to complete this task by the Cape Cod Association Board of Directors.