Reaping a "Lost" Harvest

Earlier this year, my co-author Jim Coogan and I published our third book together - Cape Cod Harvest (our earlier efforts include Cape Cod Companion in 1999 and Cape Cod Voyage, 2001). At 208 pages, Harvest contains 96 tales from Cape Cod's past, "covering more than three centuries and extending across a wide range of topics" according to back cover verbiage.

Typically, we write more than we need so we have a crop of stories from which to pick and choose. So, whatever didn't make it into Companion probably ended up in Voyage, and whatever didn't make it into Voyage most likely found its way into Harvest. In fact, I was cleaning out my files this weekend and came across the first draft of Harvest, which started out at 115 stories, thus 19 stories ended up on the cutting room floor.

I thought it might be fun over the next few blogs to revisit some of the "lost" essays I contributed to the first draft of Harvest that didn't wind up in the book, mainly due to space considerations, but also due to the story not quite fitting the intended chapter theme or not quite "measuring up" in some way. I've tried to leave these stories untouched from their original draft, although it is always difficult to resist the urge to edit and tinker here and there. In this blog entry I include two short pieces that were originally slated to appear in Chapters 1 and 2. The first is on Pilgrim Joseph Rogers, who eventually settled in Eastham (Nauset); the second looks at foods eaten by the Cape's early settlers:

 

Joseph Rogers' Neighborhood

A third Mayflower Pilgrim is buried at Eastham's Old Cove Cemetery -- Joseph Rogers.

Like Constance and Giles Hopkins, Rogers was also a child at the time of the Mayflower voyage (although he was a few years older than the Hopkins children). Joseph was the son of Thomas Rogers, who did not survive the first winter. Sometime around 1650 William Bradford wrote in his journal: "Thomas Rogers died in the first sickness but his son Joseph is still living and is married and hath six children. The rest of Thomas Rogers' came over and are married and have many children."

Joseph Rogers and his father came over on the "first ship" while the rest of the family arrived on later vessels. As the head of his family, Thomas Rogers was a signer of the Mayflower Compact while the ship was anchored at Provincetown Harbor. During that first harsh winter of 1620/21, the elder Rogers' passing left 18-year old Joseph alone in the fledgling colony. He may have been taken into the Bradford household for a time.

Rogers relocated to Duxbury around 1638, and later moved on to Nauset. It's believed he again relocated, this time to Sandwich, before returning again to Nauset by 1655. He and his wife Hannah made their home at Pochet. The couple had at least eight children according to Freeman's The History of Cape Cod.

For two decades a resident of Nauset, Joseph Rogers passed on exactly 50 winters after that terrible first winter that took the life of his father. His will made mention of land holdings at "Pottammacutt," "Barly necke," and "Paomett." Not a bad neighborhood!

 

On the 17th Century Menu

Early settlers that arrived here in the mid-1600s were faced with securing all the necessities of life -- all at once and all from scratch. One of those necessities was food. Fortunately, Cape Cod was ripe with food items if you knew where to look.

The land offered animals such as deer, rabbit, waterfowl, and wild turkey. The shoreline offered shellfish such as clams and oysters, while just offshore swam a multitude of fish (even though the settlers maintained the traditional "English diet" of venison and meat dishes rather than fish). Also on the menu were corn, beans, peas, carrots, onions, beets, pumpkins, and other squashes cultivated at family farms. Typically, vegetables were boiled together in a large pot with meat, left to simmer all day over an open flame, thus providing an economical method of cooking. Soups and fish chowders were also popular.

Breads, in particular cornbread, were prepared from ground meal combined with water and flour. In the early days before windmills, settlers tediously ground grains by hand. Walnuts, hickory nuts, chestnuts, and even acorns were believed part of the early settlers' diet, as were fruits such as cranberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

But it wasn't all beets and acorns. Dessert might consist of pies and puddings - pies made from fruits that grew locally as well as from squashes, and popular Indian pudding prepared from cornmeal, molasses, and milk. And it was all washed down with a mug of dark beer or a cup of cider brewed from native fruits.

Jack Sheedy

PS: For more on Cape Cod Harvest visit our website: www.harvesthomebooks.com. Or to read my latest article - "A Legendary Place" - check out the October 2007 issue of Cape Cod Life magazine.

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