the people across the street
Normally, this blog is the articles written for the OHS column in the Cape Chronicle. But as October approaches, we have decided to preserve some work here as well. Last year we celebrated October with a series of Facebook posts telling the stories in a short way about some of the Orleans people buried across the street in Orleans Cemetery. Cutting and pasting from there, here are the stories we covered last year.
Austin Smith Maxim
Austin Smith Maxim isn't here under his stone on a hill in Orleans. Nor is he buried under the stone with his name on it in the Philippines. He served with the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. His ship, the Quincy, was sunk during the Battle of Savo Island during the Guadacanal Campaign. Austin lost his life when he went back below decks to ensure all his men had evacuated and thus, lies on the bottom of the Pacific.
Lots of you might know the name of Orin Tovrov as one of the founders of the Orleans Conservation Trust- his children donated Mill Pond in his memory. But did you know about his other life (cue dramatic music). He was a writer and producer on soap operas- beginning on the radio where he was the writer on serials such as The Brighter Day or Ma Perkins and eventually moving onto television where he was the creator of The Doctors which ran on NBC from 1963-1982. So whether you're a fan of peaceful nature walks or very dramatic television, you have plenty to thank him for!
Bruce and Ann Hammatt
Camp Quanset Sailing Camp for Girls was founded by Mary Hammatt in 1905 and run by the family until it closed in 1978. Bruce and Ann were its final directors. Ann was also the postmistress at the South Orleans station for a number of years. The love of their campers can still be seen by the clam shells placed on their gravestone that sports the camp logo.
Today's entry doesn't have extra photos. Or much of a story (his brother's family was very involved in the Conservation Trust but can't find anything on him). But the inscription is such a refreshing sentiment, thought it was a good share for a Monday. Imagine if he had lived just a little longer to see man on the moon!
Alex Newcomb was the son of a Wellfleet sea captain. Thinking the sea was not a good future for his son, his father built a 2 1/2 story building directly across Cable Road from the family home to settle Alex in the hardware business in competition with Main Street’s Capt Aaron Snow and Son, Wm. Howard Snow (the forbears of present-day Snow's). It was a successful business that burned down in the 1970s and was rebuilt as the present day True Value Hardware Store.
AT Newcomb died in an automobile accident, driving his model T Ford to attend a Harwich Bank (now Cape Cod 5) meeting- he served as the bank's Orleans representative. His home became a hotel run by his two foster's daughters and eventually became Southward Inn.
The Wilcox Brothers
The Wilcox brothers were members of the postwar championship Orleans baseball teams- their family also owned the movie theater in town. Stanley, Alan (Buzzy), and Barry all stayed with the town team for much of the pre-NCAA period, with breaks for military service. In 2006, Buzzy was inducted into the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame- although they spelled his real name wrong, but since everyone knew him as Buzzy, it didn't matter. He even got Buzzy on his tombstone!
Alfred Nickerson was the tallest man in town- he was 6’7”. “Link” worked for Nickerson Lumber as a salesman but also played baseball. He had a tryout with the Yankees as a pitcher. He died young at 41, but has left a lasting legacy in town. With his friend Willis Gould, he owned the Goose Hummock hunting camp. Sound familiar? It inspired the shop we all know.
Konrad Heiden was a journalist in Weimar Germany. After attending a Nazi Party rally in 1921 (although often credited with inventing the word Nazi, he was just the first journalist to use the common slang word for the party in writing), he became a vocal critic of the party and its agenda. Eventually driven out of Germany and then France, he settled in the US in 1940, where he published his biography on Hitler and continued writing against the party. After the war he remained in the US, writing. He used the proceeds from the biography to buy a house in Orleans where he resided with Margaret Van Weert but why he chose Orleans or what he did here, we don't know.
Allen W. Gill
When the German U-boat attacked a group of barges off Nauset Beach on July 21, 1918, local boy Allen W. Gill was among the surfmen from the US Life Saving Station No, 40, located on Nauset Beach near Ponchet Island, who launched in a surfboat under heavy enemy shellfire to rescue the thirty-two sailors trapped aboard the tug and barges. His father, Allen T., had been in the service before him, and Winnie served on and off with the service for 20 years. He also worked on Mayo's Duck Farm before and after his service and live in the Mary Crosby house on Main Street.
This is Fred Higgin's gravestone (1885-1959)- trust us. Fred was better known around town as One-Armed Fred. He lost his arm as a teen-ager in a hunting accident but it didn't slow him down. He could build boats, carpenter, scull a boat as fast as anyone could row, etc. But it was as a hunter he found his fame- he was known as the best duck hunter in Orleans and his Black Duck Camp at the end of Barley Neck Rd was highly in demand when hunters came out in the fall. He died as he lived- while leading a fishing party, he fell through the ice and succumbed to hypothermia.
Walter H. Mayo
Walter H. Mayo started a poultry farm in 1895- this grew to be Mayo’s Duck Farm, the biggest poultry farm in the northeast. The farm was run by the family for three generations- annually raising close to 100,000 ducks for market, 11,000 capons, 15,000 breeding hens, and 35,000 growing chicks with buildings to house the many operations of a poultry farm complete with its own water and power supply and eventually a store where you could buy lunch on your way to Nauset Beach. It provided many jobs to Orleans- both summer and year round, all jobs remembers fondly (John Fuller caught snakes on the farm as a summer job!) The farm sat on a hill overlooking the Atlantic until it was sold in 1968 and became the Grandview and Countryside developments in East Orleans.Those ducks had the best view in town!
The Snows of Snows Store
One family not on Bonnie's tour is the one she married into. The Snow family business was begun at what is now the Orleans Inn by Aaron Snow. The property had a wharf with a warehouse out into the Cove.
To take advantage of the railroad’s proximity,, Aaron’s son, William H. moved the business to his new home in the center of town in 188- the store was in the front room. The railroad could deliver coal and supplies right to the coal trestle and store. After 1930, William’s son Harry Howard managed the store with his mother Anne Laurie. In 1967, Harry shared his business philosophy “Anything people needed, and no one else was doing… we did.” The store had grown and even with more expansions of the site (and the family moving out), they needed more room and opened a new building behind the original site—this is the store we know as Snow’s, still run by Harry’s sons and grandchildren. There's a saying around town "if you can't find it at Snow's, you don't need it!" - exactly what Harry was aiming for!
1n 1891, the French cable company installed a station in Orleans, moving the original yet remote station in Eastham closer to civilization. To staff it, they brought men who had worked on the station in St. Pierre-Miquelon, a small French-owned island complex south of Newfoundland. Some worked for awhile and returned home, others, like the telegraph operator Gaston P. Norgeot, settled in Orleans with their families, becoming a part of the town’s history.
Winthrop Crosby, Gravestone Carver
In the early days of the Cape, people were normally buried without headstones. In addition to no carvers, the area didn't have the right stones for gravestones. As prosperity increased, people would import carved stones from Boston. Then in the 19th century, stonecarvers arrived in Orleans, importing stones from elsewhere to carve.
Winthrop M. Crosby is the son and grandson of the Joshua Crosbys who were famed Orleans sea captains, but after going on several voyages as a teen, Winthrop decided sea life wasn’t for him. He decided to apprentice with Thomas Hopkins who started operating a marble works near his home at 106 Main St before 1860. In 1862, Winthrop bought the business. For 30 years, he created the tombstones of many of Orleans citizens, eventually passing the business to his son. His brother Henry started a similar business in Harwich which still exists. Winthrop also carved the base of the Civil War monument on Monument Road and other such projects around town. Look closely- you might find his name where you least expect it.
Today is All Souls Day, Day of the Dead, Samhain, Feast of All Saints, and all other names for celebrations of the dead. After a month of telling some of the stories of the town's history through the stories told from their gravestones, we want to take a moment to remember those who will not be remembered this way because their stones have broken, weathered away, or in some other way no longer reveal their names. Along with the Orleans Historical Commission, we want to encourage everyone to start pushing for more attention and preservation work be done at the Orleans Cemetery. This is a vital part of the past that we can't lose.