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Monday, November 21, 2011

Sandwich Thanksgiving 1750 & 2011

Plimoth Plantation
   As Thanksgiving Day fast approaches, Jan is scrambling with the preparations for a traditional dinner with friends at our Cape Cod bed and breakfast. I was wondering what the first Thanksgiving in our house in 1750 must have been like. Jonathon Bassett built our house in Sandwich only about twenty miles from where the Pilgrims and Indians celebrated that first Thanksgiving. Today, at the Plimoth Plantation they commemorate the occasion with a full re-enactment of the event. A visit to this re-creation of the 17th century English Village built by the Pilgrims shortly after landing here in 1620 is always fun but especially meaningful on Thanksgiving.   

By November of 1750, Jonathon Bassett and his family would have been settling into their new house in the bustling Sandwich Village. The new family house was located across from the Mill River, on Franklin Street (now Tupper Road), just a short distance down stream from the Grist Mill. The Grist Mill was the center of industry then and now, fully restored, is again grinding corn daily during the summer season. On that Thanksgiving Day, the Mill would have been closed and since the future Town Hall (1834) was not built yet, the entire square would have been very quiet.

Hoxie House
The Bassetts may have invited neighbors to dine with them. Although Sandwich was still sparsely settled, I am sure they knew some of the Pope family. John Pope had the next house a little to the north (now 110 Tupper), and Seth Pope lived a little south on Grove Street (10 Grove). The original Bassett house was a classic saltbox and much more rustic than our home today, which was expanded into our current Federal style home in 1830. In 1750, our house would have looked more like the Hoxie House on Water Street, which is also now a museum and like the Grist Mill open to the public during the summer season. Our current dinning room was the original kitchen and would have been the center of activity and entertainment. 

Newcomb Tavern
If the Bassett family had not prepared a meal at home, they most likely would have gone to a local tavern to dine. Maybe Mr. Bassett just escaped the after dinner clean up and went to join his friends for a toddy, no televised football games in those days, but still a good time for male bonding. He was in luck, since in 1750 two of Sandwich’s taverns were very near by. The Newcomb Tavern at 8 Grove Street would have been the closest, but maybe too close to home. The Fressenden Tavern on Main Street was only a short walk up River Street. Even though the Revolutionary war was still more that 25 years away (1776), the talk may have been about taxes and politics….some things never change. Mr. Bassett’s political disposition could have dictated his Tavern choice; the Fressenden Tavern became the patriots’ headquarters and Newcomb Tavern the Tories’ headquarters. The Newcomb Tavern still stands on Grove Street and is now a private residence and The Dan’l Webster Inn is on the site of the original Fressenden Tavern.   

The Bassetts may have served corn bread made from meal from the Grist Mill, just as Jan makes muffins from the meal for our guest. Mr. Bassett may have secured his wild turkey main course from the vast open forests surrounding the Village. Today, some of that sense of the wild and a potential source of turkeys remain just up the road in the Shawme Crowell Forest. A few weeks ago at breakfast, my American and British guest raced for their cameras as a flock of 30 plus wild turkeys pecked their way across our front lawn. A flock of turkeys may be a rare sight for most, but here in Sandwich we are accustomed to seeing the turkeys wonder down main street (Route 130) from the Forest, through the Village to the Marsh, and back.

As the holidays approach and the price of fresh turkey increases, you would think the birds would be more cautious. They should be thankful every time they make it home in one piece. I am thankful that I live in Sandwich and can experience the turkeys and all the history just as the Bassett family did in 1750. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are very special times in our little village. We would be glad to have you join us at our historic Sandwich Inn to share this unique experience.

Happy Thanksgiving

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

1 comment:

  1. Jan and Charlie,
    There is no better place on earth for Thanksgiving than the 1750 Inn at Sandwich! Thank you for the exceptional memories!
    - From your friends in NY


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