A Rich Source Of Mashpee History

Falmouth Public Library, with a grant from the Community Preservation Act, has put The Falmouth Enterprise online in a searchable database. The newspapers, 1895 through 1962, were scanned from microfilm and are now accessible from the library’s website.

It provides very interesting reading and there is a good deal there to interest Mashpee residents. The Falmouth Enterprise published news from Mashpee as the two towns were connected in many ways. A simple search for “Mashpee” brings 5,305 returns.

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Typical of community journalism of the day, there are stories of great significance and many items of a folksy nature such as visitors to the town and neighborhood clambakes.

In June 1946 it was reported that a hailstorm passed through the area. Edmund B. Amos said the hail around his home was as big as green peas.

But there is plenty of news of a more serious nature and important historical events.

The Enterprise reported in 1929 the sale of Popponesset to The Nantucket Sound Associates. The group bought the 1,800-acre tract for an estimated $300,000.

“It has only a handful of houses scattered near the east and west corners at Popponessett and Succannessett Bays and is traversed by a labyrinth of narrow wood roads. It has been used in the past as a base for landing and concealment of smuggling rum,” the Enterprise reported.

In 1932 a state commission recommended that Mashpee be annexed by Falmouth. Falmouth residents were opposed to the idea.

A decade later the newspaper reported the taking by the federal government of 1,400 acres between the Mashpee-Sandwich town lines and Ashumet Pond. It would become, of course, part of Camp Edwards.

In 1962 Mashpee Town Meeting voted to create the office of chief of police with a salary of $4,400. The same Town Meeting also voted to approve expenditure of $179,000 to build four additional classrooms onto the Samuel G. Davis Elementary School.

And the editor of the Enterprise came to Mashpee’s defense in 1961 when residents of Woods Hole said the Steamship Authority terminal should be moved to the “waste lands of Mashpee.”

“Mashpee has open spaces,” the editorial read. “Open spaces are not waste lands.” It went on to say that open space is synonymous with money waiting in the bank at compound interest for a fortuitous moment of use.

The editor was, surely unwittingly, forecasting turbulent years ahead and rapid growth.

There is much to learn from the pages of the Enterprise and it is now readily accessible to Mashpee residents.

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