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The Names of Cape Cod

EVGTheNamesOfCapeCod Have you ever been to Jeremiah’s Gutter? What about The Devil’s Dumping Ground or Samuel Fessenden’s Pickle? Each of these places is real, and all are described in The Names of Cape Cod: How Cape Cod Places Got Their Names and What They Mean.

I was drawn to this book  because I knew there had to be some interesting explanations behind those names. But what about Sesuit Harbor, the Manomet River and Paw Wah Pond? Algonquin Indian language influences are everywhere on Cape Cod.

When the Pilgrims arrived in the early 1600s on the shores of what now is Cape Cod, they encountered the Algonquins for the first time. According to the book’s authors, “A few of them learned the Indian language, yet none recorded or translated the Algonquin names for places. Instead, places like Cotuit and Succonessett…survived in old deeds and maps and in the everyday speech of settlers and their descendants. They wrote and said what they heard and remembered…”

Because the Pilgrims had come from England, many of the names of Cape Cod’s natural attractions and contemporary roads are based on English people, villages and parishes. “The names of their towns reminded them of the world they had left behind, of the English coast they had exchanged for one in America.”

The book alphabetically lists and describes the names of significant ponds, marshes, roads, beaches, bridges, harbors, points, ponds and islands, as well as each of the 15 towns on the Cape. The authors included entries that have a recoverable history, are part folklore or legend, or identify a characteristic or significant feature of the terrain.

Eastham aficionados will especially enjoy the information about that town and some of its streets and natural attractions: Cable Road, Coast Guard Beach, Cook’s Brook Beach, Doane Rock, Depot Pond, First Encounter Beach, Fort Hill, Governor Prence Road, Great Pond, Ile Nauset, Millennium Grove, Nauset Beach, Plains of Nauset, Red Maple Swamp, Salt Pond, Sunken Meadow Beach and Thumpertown.

At the beginning of the book, a brief history of Cape Cod helps readers get their bearings and paves the way for a better understanding of the information that follows.

If you love Cape Cod, this is a great reference volume for your bookshelf.

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