Bourne History

The beginnings of the Town of Bourne go all the way back to 1627. That was when the Pilgrims set up Aptuxet Trading Post, as a means of paying off their financial backers in England. The agreement setting up the post was drawn up by Governor Bradford, Myles Standish, John Alden, and William Brewster, and was designed to facilitate the commerce that had sprung up between Plymouth Colony, New Amsterdam, and the native Indians in furs, lumber, and sassafras. This agreement was the first commercial contract signed in the New World.

By 1637, some folks were beginning to settle in the area of the present-day Sandwich, and by 1639, they had incorporated the town by that name. The diligent Standish and Alden were sent to establish the boundaries, and they included all of today's Sandwich and Bourne within the bounds of the new township.

The villages of Sagamore, Buzzards Bay, Bourne, Cataumet, Pocasset, and Monument Beach remained part of Sandwich until 1884, when they petitioned the legislature for, and were granted, home rule. Sandwich considered these villages outliers, and put up little if any resistance to the move. But there was to be a measure of irony.

Sandwich had been an agricultural town until 1825, when the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company located in the town, and together with the Keith and Ryder wagon factory in West Sandwich (now Sagamore), brought economic prosperity to rival that of the contemporary whaling towns. But the glass factory closed in 1888, four years after Keith and Ryder, now called the Keith Car Works, had become part of the new town of Bourne. Where's the irony in that? Well, the Keith Car Works was now producing about a thousand railroad cars a year. And it was the railroads, with the cheap transportation they gave to midwestern glass factories, that allowed the market to be penetrated by the glass factory's competitors.

As if to add insult to injury, while Sandwich has the Sandwich Glass Museum, Bourne has, in the Pairpoint Glass Company of Sagamore, an operating glass factory. Here the tradition of quality glassmaking begun in Sandwich continues.

Bourne has always been oriented to summer visitors, going back at least to the presidency of Grover Cleveland, who summered here at an estate he called Gray Gables.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy was founded in Boston in 1891, and moved to Bourne in 1948, after six years in Hyannis. It is the nation's oldest continuously operating maritime academy.

Bourne Cape Cod Contact Information

279 Orleans Road
North Chatham, MA 02650

Phone: (508) 945-6443
Fax: (508) 945-7837

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