Cape Cod History-Dillingham House, Brewster

John Dillingham’s fine old salt box home still stands on Main Street (Route 6A) in Brewster. His son John inherited his father’s land and it stayed in the family for generations. He lived in an area that was first considered part of Yarmouth and then Harwich, but is present day Brewster.
 Dillingham House Brewster0001
John Dillingham house in Brewster
Jeremiah Diggs wrote that John Dillingham gave the Indians a grand hornswoggling for his land, but the exact year in which his house was built cannot be determined. Later owners have put the year of 1660 on it but Dillingham didn’t come to Brewster until about 1668. On June 24 of that year, he bought the lot for this house from Thomas Prence. John came down from Sandwich after his neighbor John Wing had gone there and sent back word saying, in effect, “There is a chance to make a killing here if you get in on the ground floor, John. With these Indians, it’s like taking candy from a kid.” John came, bought up everything in sight, and died at 85, the richest man in town.
John died at Harwich (now Brewster) on 21 May 1715. “Mr John Diligham died in May the 21 day 1715.” He is buried at the Old Burying Ground, aka Dillingham Cemetery, in Brewster.
The house was renovated while retaining its historical value and is now for sale!
Dillingham House
Thanks to Chris at for this information and photo.

Cape Cod Shipwrecks

So many ships have piled up on the hidden sand bars off the coast between Chatham and Provincetown that those fifty miles of sea have been called an “ocean graveyard.” Indeed, between Truro and Wellfleet alone, there have been more than 1,000 wrecks.

When a storm struck the Cape in the early days, no one was surprised to hear the alarm: “Ship ashore! All hands perishing!” The townspeople would turn out on the beach, but usually the surf was too high for them to attempt a rescue. And by the time the storm was over, there was usually no one to rescue.

The first recorded wreck was the Sparrowhawk which ran aground at Orleans in 1626. The people aboard were able to get ashore safely, and the ship was repaired. But, before it could set sail, the ship was sunk by another storm and wasn’t seen for over two hundred years. In 1863, after storms had shifted the sands again, the skeleton of the Sparrowhawk reappeared briefly. So the ocean takes and gives back and takes again. (The ribs of the ship are now on display in Plymouth at Pilgrim Hall.)

From the Head of the Meadow Beach at North Truro, the wreck of the Frances, which was sunk in a December gale in 1872, may still be seen at low tide.

In the early 1800s, there was an average of two wrecks every month during the winter. The loss of life seemed especially sad when a sailor managed to get ashore on a winter night only to freeze to death after he got there. In 1797, the Massachusetts Humane Society started putting up huts along the most dangerous sections of the Massachusetts coast in the hope that stranded sailors would find them and take shelter. It was not, however, until 1872, that a really efficient lifesaving service was put into operation by the United States government.

Excerpts from

Cape Cod History Tidbits

A 1605 map showing Nauset Harbor lined with the wigwams of the Nauset tribe.

A 1605 map showing Nauset Harbor lined with the wigwams of the Nauset tribe.

People have lived on the outer part of the hook of land that forms Cape Cod for thousands of years.  Ancient artifacts, such as Paleoindian projectile points found at several locations on Cape Cod indicate that humans have occupied this land, or at least traversed it for the last 10,000 years.  

The archaeology of Cape Cod has been of interest to inhabitants and visitors for hundreds of years. In his travel narrative about the region, Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau observed that Cape Cod was once “thickly settled” by Indians and that traces of their occupation, in the form of “arrow-heads,” and piles of shell, ashes, and deer bones, could be seen around the marsh edges and inlets throughout the Cape. More systematic and concerted archaeological studies on the outer Cape by National Park Service archaeologists in the 1980s showed concentrations of ancient villages and activities around Nauset Harbor and Wellfleet Harbor, as well as in the High Head area. Other researchers have found concentrations of sites in Truro near the mouth of the Pamet River and in many locations in the western portion of the Cape.

By 5000 years ago, the human presence on Cape Cod was quite extensive. Artifacts, projectile points in particular, dating from this period are found throughout the Cape; however, sites are rare. During this early period of settlement, human groups may have moved seasonally from one part of the Cape to another without establishing permanent settlements. It may also be that the remains of such settlements are buried deeply and are rarely found and investigated by archaeologists. By 3000 years ago, people left dense deposits of ancient trash, including discarded stone tools, stone flakes used as tools or from tool sharpening, shell from intensive gathering of shellfish for food, fish and animal bone, and ash and stone from fires for cooking and heat. These are found at sites in the Nauset area and probably exist in other areas where settlement was concentrated. Permanent settlement was probably the norm by this time, with parties of men and women traveling out from the villages to hunt or gather food and raw material for making tools, clothing, and shelter.

Francis P. McManamon, National Park Service at

Romantic Cape Cod Inn Celebrates Valentine’s Day

A man named Valentinus was martyred on February 14 late in the third century A.D.—this much we know. But when it comes to details about the life of St. Valentine, legend often supersedes fact. As you celebrate this Valentine’s Day, find out the truth about the man for whom the day is named, as well as some other intriguing facts about history’s most romantic holiday.  (More)

St. Valentine

While the story of St. Valentine may be more legend than fact, one fact is absolutely true!  The Sea Meadow Inn is a great place to celebrate this romantic holiday.  Our Cape Cod historic inn is ready to host you and your loved one on Valentine’s weekend or any other time of your choosing.  If you can’t make it on Valentine’s weekend, why not consider a Sea Meadow Inn gift certificate to show how much you care?  You can purchase that gift certificate right on our website.

Winter: 10 degrees

by Barbara Novackwinter_seasons_209838

Glistening ice sugar coats
brown winter leaves
in the January sun



pale yellow
weak tea in this world
that craves warmth
bundled in wool
hats, coats, scarves
gloves and mittens,
feet crunching in
fleece-lined boots.

Icicles shimmer
from roof edges
where gutters glimmer
as cotton candy snow
in wind-whipped swirls.

This is the season
for photographs
on warm sand beaches, bikini-clad,
for gem-toned umbrella-shaded drinks.
This is the season
for gazing out
breathing longing hazes
on frosted panes.


The History of New Year’s Celebrations

The Romans dedicated New Year’s Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year (January) is also named. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st January 42 BC in honor of his life and his institution of the new rationalized calendar. The month originally owes its name to the deity Janus, who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. This suggests that New Year’s celebrations are founded on pagan traditions. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter.  Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year. This was a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, “(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom].” The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year’s Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. In England, until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the first day of the new year was the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, also called “Lady Day“. The March 25 date was known as Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was known as Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, considered to be the eighth day of Christ’s life, counting from December 25 when his birth is celebrated. This day was christened as the beginning of the New Year by Pope Gregory as he designed the Liturgical Calendar.



Cape Cod History


Cape Cod is a sandy peninsula created during the ice age that reaches out into the Atlantic Ocean like a crooked arm. Geologists are interested in Cape Cod because it was formed very recently in terms of geologic time and because of the ever-changing shore as the Cape adjusts to the rising sea. Because of its exposed location, many early explorers visited Cape Cod. The Wampanoag people lived here for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, and were the Cape’s first true settlers.

America’s history began along New England’s rugged shores. The Pilgrims first landed in America on the tip of lower Cape Cod. Here they found potable water and food and had their first fight with the natives. The Pilgrims, however, decided that this land was too sandy to support them, and they sailed across Cape Cod Bay to establish Plymouth.

Over the next 20 years settlers spread north and south from Plymouth. The first parts of Cape Cod to be settled were the bay-side sections of Sandwich, Barnstable, and Yarmouth (all incorporated in 1639), along an old Indian trail that is now Route 6A. Most of the newcomers hunted, farmed, and fished; salt hay from the marshes was used to feed cattle and roof houses.

The fortunes of Cape Cod have always been linked to the sea. For centuries fishermen in search of a livelihood, explorers in search of new worlds, and pilgrims of one sort or another in search of a new life – down to the beach-bound tourists of today – all have turned to the waters around Cape Cod. The first homes built by the English settlers on Cape Cod were wigwams built of twigs, bark, hides, cornstalks, and grasses, which they copied from those of the local Wampanoag people.

Eventually, the settlers stripped the land of its forests to make farmland, graze sheep, and build more European-style homes, although with a New World look all their own. The steep-roof saltbox and the Cape Cod cottage – still the most popular style of house on the Cape and copied all over the country – were designed to accommodate growing families.

The Wampanoag taught the settlers what they knew of the land and how to live off it. Early on they showed them how to strip and process blubber from the whales that became stranded on the beaches. By the mid-18th century, the supply of near-shore whales thinned out, the decline in whaling hit the economy hard, and the Cape began cultivating tourism in the 19th century. At that time the people traveled from Boston to and along the Cape only by stagecoach or packet boat.

Then in 1848 the first train service from Boston began, reaching to Sandwich; by 1873 it had been extended little by little all the way to Provincetown. The idea of a Cape Cod Canal, linking the bay to the sound, was studied as early as the 17th century, but it was not until 1914 that a privately built canal merged the waters of the two bays. The canal was quite narrow and winding, allowed only one-way traffic, and created dangerous currents. The federal government bought the canal in 1928 and had the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rebuild it. In the 1930s three bridges – two traffic and one railroad – went up, and the rest is the latter-day history of tourism on Cape Cod.

Excerpted from

Train to Christmas Town

Janice_bumblebeeThis holiday season, fall in love with the heartwarming tale of Janice, a little girl who looks forward to riding the Train to Christmas Town every year with her brother and Grandmother. This year is a little different though, as readers of the story already know. Accompanied by a bag full of surprises, woodland friends and jolly elves, Janice relives happy memories as she rides the train to Christmas Town once again.

The conductor will welcome you aboard and punch your ticket as you find your seat in warm, decorated cars. Meet Bumblebee the Polar Bear, Wabash the Squirrel, even Zephyr the depot cat and laugh along with Elves while they’re busy serving cookies and cocoa, and leading guests in singing Christmas carols. Upon arrival at Christmas Town, Santa climbs on board and walks through the cars greeting each child with holiday cheer and his signature “Ho, Ho, Ho”!

To buy tickets for this holiday event, click here.

5 Thanksgiving Pumpkin Desserts Besides Pumpkin Pie

We love Baking Bites by Nicole for all the great ideas and food she blogs.  A recent article might help if your pumpkin pie crust flops or you are looking for a new dish to try.

Pumpkin pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables, but it isn’t the only pumpkin dessert option out there. There are times when you might want to serve something besides the traditional pie – or times when you don’t want to risk bringing the same pie to a party that three other people are delivering. Fortunately, there are many sweet and spicy pumpkin dessert options that are delicious ways to finish a holiday meal besides pie.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream – This homemade ice cream is full of pumpkin pie flavor, but it is cold, creamy and a lot more refreshing than a piece of pie. It’s rich, but it is also easier to have a very small scoop of ice cream after a big meal than to cut a tiny sliver of pie. The ice cream can be served alongside a slice of cake or by itself.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding – This dish also has a lot of the same flavors that you’l find in pumpkin pie, like ginger, cinnamon and cloves. It’s even easier to put together than a traditional pie and it is perfect for serving a big crowd, where you might normally need two pies to serve everyone.

Easy Pumpkin Tiramisu – Here you’ll find flavors that you won’t find in every other pumpkin dessert, namely a strong coffee flavor. The combination of coffee and pumpkin spice is a good one – just look at the popularity of the Pumpkin Spice Latte! – and this variation on a classic tiramisu is a great choice for a holiday meal.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Brandy Buttercream – This is another great dessert option when it comes to serving a crowd. The moist, tender sheet cake is full of those classic pumpkin spices and is finished off with a very addictive buttercream frosting that is spiked with cinnamon and just a hint of brandy. You can omit the brandy if you are serving kids, but there is only a small amount and it really adds a lot of flavor to the frosting.

Pumpkin Flan – Believe it or not, this pumpkin flan might even be easier to make than a traditional pumpkin pie – and no crust is required. The flan has a rich layer of dark caramel on it that gives it an intense caramel flavor and sets it apart from a lot of other pumpkin desserts. It can be prepared well in advance and chilled, so you won’t have to do much prep the day you are serving until you are ready to plate it.