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
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