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Chapter 2: Barnstable County.

The county of Barnstable includes the whole of Cape Cod which, extending east and north into the Atlantic Ocean, was discovered by Gosnold in 1602. It is bounded north-west by Plymouth County, and west by Buzzard's Bay. Cape Cod lies in the form of an arm, half open: the elbow is at Chatham, twenty miles east of the town of Barnstable, which is the county seat. The whole length of the Cape is sixty-five miles, and the average breadth about five miles. Below the town of Barnstable the soil is composed mostly of sand; and the people in considerable degree depend upon Boston, and other large places, for their meats and breadstuffs. It possesses, however, unrivalled privileges for the cod, mackerel, and other fisheries. The county has comparatively little wood, but has many valuable peat meadows, in which, of late years, the cranberry has been successfully cultivated. The county is supplied with an abundance of pure soft water. Formerly large quantities of salt were manufactured on the Cape, which was used in the curing of fish. Of late years this branch of industry has diminished; so that in 1865 the value of salt manufactured in the county was only $52,719.00, while the aggregate value of other articles produced during the same year was six million ninety thousand and twenty-two dollars ($6,090,022), of which nearly two millions and a quarter were derived from the cod and mackerel fisheries,—with which and the coasting-trade almost every family is more or less identified and interested. Barnstable County is noted for its good sailors and men of superior nautical talents, while its women are equally celebrated ‘for their fair complexions and good housewifery.’

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