A Look Back In Time

We ran a story last week about the new digital archive of The Falmouth Enterprise from 1895 to 1962 on the library’s website. One can browse through the papers or search using key words. It is a truly fascinating resource, packed with tidbits of Falmouth history. Some stories, of course, are much more than tidbits, rather chronicles of historic events.

Also on the library’s website are Falmouth Town Reports going back to 1873. These volumes are fascinating in their own right. Each provides a slice of town history or a window into Falmouth in any given year.

Browsing through the town report of 1914, we got a peek at the origins of issues we face today.

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The Long Pond pumping station was then 16 years in operation and the water commissioners predicted that the life of the system could be indefinitely prolonged as long as repairs were made as soon as the need arose. And that year a warehouse was built on the road leading to the pumping station. It is still there.

The bridge and channel into Eel Pond in Woods Hole were completed and “we now have a substantial, well built draw bridge which affords in conjunction with the channel (8 feet deep at low water) a safe and convenient means of passage to and from the pond.”

And some problems were very different from what we face today.
The school committee grappled with overflowing classrooms in East Falmouth, despite the newly built Pine Ridge School at Fresh Pond and a new room added to the East Falmouth School, due to the large “foreign population.”

“Your committee believes that these children should be taught more than the mere technique of school work if they are to make good and faithful citizens. This cannot be done under our present system of one and two room buildings that are fall filled with children of all ages, many of whom cannot speak our language and the teachers’ work is so arduous that they have not the time to teach other than the regular school lessons.”

And we saw that life was in some ways simpler.

There were three structure fires in 1914, for a total loss of $460. Alexander Booker of Hatchville lost his barn, but the other two fires were minor. And it became law that year that all farms selling milk be inspected and get a permit from the board of health. Thirty inspections were made.

There is detail in the early town reports that one will never see today.

Births, marriages and deaths were recorded. So were books acquired by the library. New in 1914  was a selection from Florence Nightingale’s addresses to probationers and nurses of the Nightingale school at St. Thomas’s Hospital.

Salaries and payment for work of any kind were reported in detail. Laban Robbins was highest paid for snow removal at $164.38. It is not explained why but others received much smaller amounts. William Dimmick was paid $3; Allen Lovell received a mere $1.

Browse a bit in the old volumes. There is something for everyone, long-time residents and newcomers alike.

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