Descendants Of Sandwich's Earliest Settlers Set To March

UPDATE June 13, 2014:

Sandwich March of Descendants and Heritage Day Moved To High School

Due to predictions of rain, Saturday morning’s Heritage Day festivities have been moved inside to Sandwich High School starting at 10 AM. This includes the March of the Descendants. For more information, visit Sandwich 375.com.   

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Three hundred seventy-seven years ago, 10 men and their families left what then was called Saugus (and is now known as Lynn) to settle on land at the northwestern corner of Cape Cod.

They were followed shortly thereafter by Deborah Wing, the widow of the Reverend John Wing, and her four sons.

Two years later, the settlement was incorporated into a town named Sandwich, the first English town on Cape Cod.

On Saturday, June 14, a “March of the Descendants” is scheduled to keynote “Heritage Day,” which celebrates the 375 years of the town’s history and its founding nearly four centuries ago.

At 9:30 AM, the march will step off from the Henry T. Wing School and proceed along Water Street to Sandwich Town Hall.

The New Plimmoth Gard, reenactors of the Plymouth colonial militia of the 1640s, will lead the parade.

They will be followed by reenactors of the “10 Men From Saugus” and of Deborah Wing.

Then will come the descendants of the original settler families, and the descendants of additional settlers of Sandwich.

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The march will be followed by ceremonies at town hall from 10 AM to noon.

In case of rain, according to Cynthia M. Russell, chairman of the 375 Committee, the march will shift to the interior of Sandwich High School, stepping off at noon.

The march is proving to be a big event to people who can trace their ancestry to the early days of Sandwich, some of whom are traveling significant distances to participate in the June 14 march.

William Imes of Easthampton, a descendant of John and Deborah Wing, anticipates that 50 to 60 of their 25,000 lineal descendants may be marching in the June 14 parade.

He anticipates Wing descendants from 25 states and Canada will be in town on June 14, which coincides with the annual reunion of the Wing Family of America.

The Ten Men From Saugus

William Almy
John Carman
Richard Chadwell
Thomas Dexter
Edward Dillingham
Henry Feake
Edmund Freeman
George Knott
Thomas Tupper
William Wood

“Sandwich is important to us because two of Deborah’s sons settled there permanently,” Mr. Imes said. “She and son John moved to Yarmouth and one son returned to England. But Daniel and Stephen [Wing] stayed in Sandwich. 

Mr. Imes said the family association owns the house that Stephen Wing built in Sandwich in the 1640s.

“It is important to us as a focus for all the Wings, as an early house which has stayed in the same family since its erection, and as a place which can be studied both for its archeological and cultural significance: almost four centuries of American life can be traced there,” he said.

Raymond Tobey of Radnor, Pennsylvania, said he anticipates that he and about 20 Tobey family members will come to participate in the parade.

He is a descendant of Thomas Tobey, an early settler. But research has shown him that Thomas Tobey married a daughter of one of the 10 men from Saugus, George Knott, so his tie to the first settlers is secure.

Mr. Tobey, in fact, is scheduled to portray George Knott in the march.

He likes delving back into the stories about his ancestors.

“It’s so interesting, all these little tidbits,” Mr. Tobey said. “We’re proud of our Sandwich heritage.”

Sandwich town archivist Barbara Gill not only knows her Sandwich history, but connects with two of the original 10: Edmund Freeman and George Knott. She plans to participate in the parade.

“I just think it’s fun,” Ms. Gill says of her Sandwich ancestry. “This family has been here for many generations.”

Janice Tupper Williams of Sandwich will be marching in the parade, as will her oldest son, Paul Williams. He will portray one of the 10 men from Saugus, Thomas Tupper.

“I knew that we were connected to the area when we moved here 30 years ago,” Ms. Williams said yesterday. “I happen to like history. I have lived that history where I came from.”

Judy Hendy also plans to be in the parade. Through marriage, she connects to Benjamin Nye, an early settler of the town. The Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum, built by Benjamin Nye about 1678, is on Old County Road.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” said Ms. Hendy, likening her approach to that of a detective.

Doug Dexter, a Sandwich resident who served as a selectman from 2004 to 2007, traces his roots back to Thomas Dexter of Dexter Grist Mill fame, which sits next to town hall and still operates seasonally. Mr. Dexter will portray his forebear in the March of the Descendants.

“It puts a face on history,” Mr. Dexter said of his ancestry. “The grist mill is there. He was a founder of First Church. I’m still a member.”

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