Historical Sketch of Early North Scituate, or Minot
By Daniel P. Sylvester (read at the 1927 annual meeting by R.W. Slater)
In the year 1837 my father, H.H. Sylvester settled in this town. The town in those days differed much as we know North Scituate, or Minot today. Starting at a point where the Whiting Milk Company is now situated, the first of fourteen pairs of bars had to be lowered to come down where we are now living. It was a rare treat to see people in this vicinity in those days. Not over a half a dozen people would be seen all summer. There were no roads - just pasture land and over this, one would have to drive to reach the beach or ocean front.
My father was the first person on this beach to have the first two boarders, and they were a Mr. and Mrs. Cushing. They paid him $10.00 for their board and room. They stayed with him two weeks, so that rate, they paid $2.50 apiece per week. He had a boat, which he rented by the hour, and one never used a boat over two hours at a time, at the rate of 17 cents per hour.
I was born in what is known as the Draper House in 1849. The room today is just the same as it was when I was born. The same doors, latches and furniture still remain intact. I moved into the house I now live in 1873 and there were no other houses on the beach. All of this land was made land and no claims were ever recorded. Squatter claims are only available. I can remember all of the houses being built from North Scituate to the Glades.
What is known as the Glades, was first named Strawberry Head, by a man named Abel Hayden, a Boston pilot, who was becalmed in the bay and came ashore in a dory. He bought a piece of land and built a house on it. He later sold it to John M. Barnard, who later turned it over to Mr. O.A. Taft. Mr. Taft sold to a man named Clark. Mr. Clark was drowned while walking across the ice from Cohasset to Strawberry Head. All the passengers were carried from Cohasset to Strawberry Head by boat. Reed brothers next came in possession and sold it to the Somerset Club of Boston.
It was a common occurrence to see from 100 to 500 vessels of all shapes and sizes in the harbor. After a heavy storm, 5 or 6 would be ashore. Our house was always full of sailors and passengers from these vessels after the storm. The government would award us for saving lives with either a medal or $10.00 in gold. We probably collected over $700 rather than the 70 medals as the money was more appreciated at the time.
There was quarry located on the Glades, operated by a man named Soloman Tory. Fishing was good. Blue fish, mackerel and bass, weighing twenty pounds was not an unusual catch. We had 28 lobster traps. We made two hauls which netted us 225 lobsters. They were sold at 3 1/2 cents apiece. Lobsters with one claw were called culls and sold at 1 cent a piece. Even at that, we would make a good day’s pay. Today, that same catch would net $200 or more. There were but 500 traps from Boston to Plymouth in those times, and today, there are approximately 5000. We lobstered but three months in the year, as they were not supposed to be good after August. Today, they try for them twelve months, against three.
We never bought wood. We could load up a wagon without moving the horse. Today it is hardly possible to gather five loads a year. The Minot House was built by a John Damon, who sold to a Sam Pratt. Mr. Charles Poole was the next owner, and today it is owned by its present occupant, Mr. Blanchard. The Cliff House was built by Mrs. Cushing. She let it, and it was idle for a long time. It was rebuilt by Mr. Summers, and he made it a great benefit to the Town of Scituate.
The storm of November 1898, - I was aroused by the coast guard, that my stable door had blown off. That was at 4 a.m. I got up dressed, and with his assistance, repaired it. It was a terrific gale. The water was running thru past the house two hours before high tide, and the marsh stood three feet under water. The horses in the stable were standing in two feet of water. Eight houses were smashed, or carried away during that time. The town has bought back seventy five feet, twenty five feet each time to preserve and to make new roadways on account of the washing away of the breakwater. A breakwater of plank was first built, jetties were built out into the ocean to check it, but everything failed until the present concrete breakwater was built.
The first schoolhouse was built where what is called Mary Ann's corner. The land was given by John Turner, and the school was built by the town. There were 5 or 6 scholars. The schoolhouse burned, the children were carried to Cohasset. The schoolhouse was not rebuilt, and the land was given back to Mr. Turner. Mossing was the big industry on the beach. $12,000-15,000 was made yearly. Some of the mossers’ huts are still located on the lower part of the beach near the Glades entrance. I am 79 years of age. I have never been away from Minot during the summer months.