Yarmouth History

It can be argued that Yarmouth dates back to 1000 A.D., Many archeologists and historians are convinced that the Vikings, led by Leif Ericson, came here and explored Bass River and Follins Pond. This makes for great conversation. But Yarmouth, as we now know it, began in the winter of 1637-38, as so many Cape towns began, when a group of parishioners, unhappy with lives elsewhere, would set out for a new place to settle and worship the way they wanted to. Unfortunately, the group from Lynn who followed the Reverend Stephen Bachiler lasted only one year before moving on again. But they were followed by another group in 1639 which included Anthony Thacher who was used to overcoming adversity. Thacher lost his first wife and five of his nine children in England before coming to the new land in 1635 with his second wife and remaining children.

He and his new wife then lost these children and all their worldly possessions in a shipwreck on route to Marblehead from Ipswich. After their son John was born they moved to Yarmouth in 1639 and became one of its true founding families. Son John fathered twenty-one children and the history of this on-going family is showcased at the ancestral homestead, the Colonel John Thacher House, open to the public in Yarmouthport.

Yarmouth, when founded, was bigger than it is today. Once again, the founding of new churches was the reason. An East Parish was begun in 1721 and eventually the fathers of this new parish incorporated in 1793 as new town called Dennis.

Quakers arrived in Yarmouth in the early 1800s and their Meeting House still holds services on North Main Street, South Yarmouth in the area once known as Friends Village.

Yarmouth was the home of the second temperance society in the United States. Perhaps hard to believe today, with all the restaurants and lounges that have proliferated in Yarmouth, but in 1817 the town laws allowed only one pub "for the accommodation of travelers." Yarmouthport, as its name implies, was once a bustling seaport with packets sailing for Boston and other ports. Nothing of this activity survives except for the remains of the old wharf on Wharf Lane. Times changed as the railroad arrived in the 1870s. And times changed again when the railroad abandoned passenger service beyond Hyannis, ushering in the era of the automobile which leads us to wonder, as we sometimes wait in long lines for a Route 28 light to turn green, just how much of a blessing the era of the automobile is.

However, Yarmouth has many true blessings for us. Wonderful beaches on both the north side (Cape Cod Bay) and the south side (Nantucket Sound). Two fine public golf courses. Free tennis courts. Playgrounds. Conservation areas and walking trails. Biking trails. Fishing and cruising. And, for a scenic drive, one of the handsomest streets in the U.S. - Route 6A, the Old King's Highway.

Yarmouth Cape Cod Contact Information

279 Orleans Road
North Chatham, MA 02650

Phone: (508) 945-6443
Fax: (508) 945-7837

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