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Rockport’s Historical Buildings–Week 3: Early History

A+map+from+John+Smith%27s+journal
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Rockport’s Historical Buildings–Week 3: Early History

A map from John Smith's journal

A map from John Smith's journal

A map from John Smith's journal

A map from John Smith's journal

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For the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring some of Rockport’s granite history. This week, I’ll be explaining some of Rockport’s early history. The first European explorer who documented the Cape Ann area was French explorer Samuel de Champlain, naming what is now Gloucester Harbor “le beau port”. Often called the “Father of New France”, Champlain explored Southern Canada and came as far south as Cape Cod in 1605 and 1606. After this, European activity around Cape Ann was limited to a few fishermen until 1616, when John Smith, the famous English settler in Jamestown, explored the area. He originally named the area Cape Tragabigzanda, after the Turkish princess by the same name (this is another interesting story worth an internet search), but King Charles of England renamed it Cape Ann, after his mother, Queen Anne. In the 1620s, the waters off of Massachusetts became widely known for their abundance of cod, and settlements began to pop up. Salem was founded in 1629, originally including all of Cape Ann. In 1642, Gloucester was officially incorporated as a separate town, centered around what today is the Grant Circle rotary. Throughout the 17th century and especially the 18th century, Cape Ann’s primary industries were related to the sea. Fishing, of course, was big business, but so was forestry, needed for shipbuilding. However, farming was the main way of life for many of Cape Ann’s early residents, who settled in the safety of the center of the island in what is now known as Dogtown, which will be the topic for next week.

A special thanks to the Sandy Bay Historical Society, the Cape Ann Museum, and Rockport High School teacher Kerry Herrmann, who helped to provide the information for this series.

Do you know of a historic building in Rockport? Let us know and we may feature it! Please contact us at tlt@rpk12.org and use the subject line “Rockport History”

About the Writer
Nathaniel Kirby, Local Events Contributor

Nathaniel Kirby is a junior at Rockport High School and is involved in many of the school's clubs, such as the Green Team and the Math Team. Nathaniel...

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Rockport’s Historical Buildings–Week 3: Early History