Dogtown, Massachusetts

Dogtown, Massachusetts
The entrance to Dogtown Common, on Cherry Street

Dogtown (also Dogtown Commons or Dogtown Common or Dogtown Village) is an abandoned inland settlement on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Once known as the Common Settlement and populated by respectable citizens, the area later known as Dogtown is divided between the city of Gloucester and the town of Rockport. It is in an area not particularly suited to agriculture, due to poor and very rocky soil. Nevertheless it was settled, beginning in 1693, because its inland location afforded protection from pirates and from enemy natives. Another attraction was the fact that the area lay on what was originally the only direct land route between Sandy Bay (Rockport's original name) and Gloucester. The peak of population, from about 1750 to the turn of the nineteenth century, has been estimated at around one hundred families.

After new coastal roads were opened, and especially after the conclusion of the War of 1812 and its attendant risk of coastal bombardment, most farmers moved away from Dogtown. Their abandoned houses were for a few decades occupied by itinerants and vagabonds, giving the area its bad reputation. Many of the widows of sea-goers and soldiers who never returned kept dogs for protection and company. As these last inhabitants died their pets became feral, roaming the moors and howling, possibly giving rise to the nickname "Dogtown." An equally likely reason for the area's name is that residents of surrounding villages considered the inhabitants of the decrepit area to live like dogs.

Some of the last occupants were suspected of practicing witchcraft, including Thomazine "Tammy" Younger, whom some knew as the "Queen of the Witches." Tammy lived on Fox Hill, by Alewife Brook, and would reputedly place a curse on teams of oxen carrying fish from the harbor as they crossed the bridge there, unless their driver paid her a "toll". A reputed witch often associated with Dogtown was Peg Wesson, but she lived in Gloucester. The last resident of Dogtown, a freedman named Cornelius "Black Neil" Finson, was found half-dead living in a cellar-hole in the winter, and was removed to the poorhouse in Gloucester in 1830; he died shortly afterward.

One of the 36 "Babson Boulders" in Dogtown

Most of the area of Dogtown is now a dense woodland, criss-crossed and bisected by trails and old roads. An ecological guide to some trails can be found at Dogtown Road off of Cherry Street in the western section (the Gloucester side) is even lined with the remains of the cellar holes of the settlers, many of which are numbered in correspondence with names from John J. Babson's book of the history of Gloucester. Babson's grandson, Roger Babson, is known for, among other things, his commissioning of unemployed stonecutters to carve inspirational inscriptions on approximately three dozen boulders in Dogtown during the Great Depression. Babson also mapped and numbered the cellar holes left from the homes of Dogtown's former residents.

Most of the land is held in trust by Gloucester and Rockport and is therefore protected in perpetuity. The current state of Dogtown affords rich recreation opportunities to hikers and bikers, dog-walkers, nature lovers, cross-country skiers, geologists and historians. The area is peppered with house-sized boulders, including one named "The Whale's Jaw," which it formerly resembled before collapsing after a picnic campfire got out of control in 1989.


  • In the Heart of Cape Ann, or The Story of Dogtown by Charles E. Mann (Proctor Brothers, Publishers; Gloucester, Mass.), 1897

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 42°38′11″N 70°39′40″W / 42.636492°N 70.661023°W / 42.636492; -70.661023

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dogtown (Massachusetts) — 42° 38′ 11″ N 70° 39′ 40″ W / 42.63649, 70.66102 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dogtown — may refer to Contents 1 Places 2 Films, music and television 3 See also …   Wikipedia

  • Gloucester, Massachusetts — For other uses, see Gloucester (disambiguation). Gloucester, Massachusetts   City   …   Wikipedia

  • Rockport, Massachusetts — Infobox Settlement official name = Rockport, Massachusetts nickname = motto = imagesize = image caption = image mapsize = 250px map caption = Location in Essex County in Massachusetts mapsize1 = map caption1 = subdivision type = Country… …   Wikipedia

  • Roger Babson — Roger Ward Babson (July 6, 1875 – March 5, 1967), remembered today largely for founding Babson College in Massachusetts, was an entrepreneur and business theorist in the first half of the 20th century. He also founded Webber College, now Webber… …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Olson — (27 December 1910 – 10 January 1970), was a second generation American modernist poet who was a link between earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, which includes the New York School, the Black… …   Wikipedia

  • List of films based on actual events — This is a list of feature films that are based on actual events. Contents 1 1920s 2 1930s 3 1940s 4 1950s 5 1960s …   Wikipedia

  • List of Irish-American communities — This is a list of Irish American communities in the United States: Major Irish American communities *Massachusetts **Boston: ***West Roxbury ***Brighton ***South Boston ***Allston ***Charlestown ***Dorchester **Medford **Milton **Quincy… …   Wikipedia

  • List of named ethnic enclaves in North American cities — This is a list of ethnic enclaves in North American cities. An ethnic enclave in this context denotes an area primarily populated by a population with similar ethnic or racial background. It does not include LGBT communities. This list also… …   Wikipedia

  • Santa Monica, California — Santa Monica redirects here. For other uses, see Santa Monica (disambiguation). Santa Monica   City   Downtown Santa Monica as seen from the …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”