Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stone Wall Stories - #3 Dogtown, Massachusetts

Near Cherry Street in Gloucester, in a large tract of conservation land surrounding the reservoir, you can find the remnants of an early village.   This was the earliest settled place in Gloucester, when the town grew up inland.  After the War of 1812 the people felt safer about living near the harbor, and most left this area to move to the coast.  Only the poorest people stayed behind in what became known as “Dogtown” because of the abandoned dogs who scrounged the cellar holes and shacks.  Widows, vagabonds and the insane were left behind with the dogs.

This Babson boulder marks the spot
of Dogtown Square

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Gloucester resident Roger Babson hired Italian stonemasons to carve inspirational quotations on 22 boulders in Dogtown.  At the time, the land was clear of trees, and there were numbers marking the cellar holes of colonial residents identified in his grandfather John James Babson’s “History of Gloucester”.  Now, the area is heavily wooded, and hikers have to search for the numbers, cellar holes and Babson boulders.

An antique postcard showing what Dogtown looked like
before it was swallowed up with forest

I had several ancestors and their relatives live in Dogtown.  I previously posted a story “Tammy Younger, the Witch of Dogtown” at this link:

Today’s post is part of a series of stories I wrote for this week all about stones and stone walls:

One of Roger Babson's inspirational boulders

Wikipedia story on Dogtown, Massachusetts -,_Massachusetts

This Dogtown website has maps and history, including the location of most of the Babson boulders.


Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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