Barnstable County, MA: history, population, rivers, lakes, mountains, resorts, hotels, motels, inns, and landmarks.
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Barnstable County, Massachusetts

Barnstable is the chief town.—This county was incorporated, 1685. Population, 1820, 24,046—1830, 28,525—and in 1837, 31,109; area, about 330 square miles. This county includes the whole of Cape Cod, extending E. and N. into the Atlantic ocean, and which Gosnold discovered in 1602. It is bounded N.W. by Plymouth county and W. by Buzzard's bay. Cape Cod lies in the form of an arm, half open; the elbow is at Chatham, 20 miles E. of Barnstable; the hand, the wrist inclining inward, is at Race Point, 33 miles N. by W. of Chatham. The whole length of the Cape is 65 miles, and the average breadth about 5. The county is principally diluvium. Below the town of Barnstable the county is quite sandy, so much so that the people are generally dependant on Boston and other towns for a large proportion of their meats and breadstuffs. This deficit is amply compensated by the unrivalled privileges enjoyed, and well improved by them, in the cod, mackerel and other fisheries. This county has but little wood, but it is well stored with peat. About two millions of dollars are invested in the manufacture of salt. There were manufactured in this county in the year ending April 1, 1837, 669,064 bushels of salt, valued at $219,870. The manufactures of cotton and woollen goods, boots, shoes, iron castings, glass, cabinet and tin wares, cordage, &c., amounted to $496,602. There are in this county 370 vessels employed in the whale, cod and mackerel fishery. The tonnage, 24,378 tons. The value of the fishery, in one year previous to April, 1837, was $557,737. Tonnage of the District, 1836, 30,278 tons. The annual amount of tonnage of vessels built is about 1,000 tons; value, $63,318. Total annual value of fisheries and manufactures, $1,337,527. The number of sheep in the county in 1837, was 7,332.

Barnstable county is noted for its fine sailors and men of superior nautical talents. The ladies are celebrated for their fair complexions and good housewifery; but are peculiarly subject to the vicissitudes pertaining to a maritime situation. By a statement recently made, it appears that there were in this county nearly a thousand widows living, who had lost their husbands by the dangers of the sea. In two towns, (Harwich and Wellfleet,) there were 223 widows who had thus lost their companions. This county has 13 towns; and 91 inhabitants to a square mile.


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