Westport Historical Society Programs
Tour the exhibition “A Wedding Dress Retrospective” with curator Blair Walker
Remembering Herb Hadfield: Russ Hart, Claude Ledoux, Penny Hadfield, Greg Stone and others remember Herb Hadfield.
Lydia Macomber’s Letters
A collection of letters written by Westport resident, Lydia Macomber, who was born deaf, opens an invaluable window into the lives of Deaf people in the maritime world of antebellum New England. She and her sister Olive Macomber attended the American School for the Deaf from 1832 to 1836. She regularly visited members of the Quaker community on Nantucket including astronomer Maria Mitchell. Her letters also record her involvement in producing silk by raising silkworms. Rebecca A.R. Edwards, Professor of History at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York will introduce Deaf history, as seen in these letters, and to Lydia and her friends. Professor Edwards’ current research focuses on recovering the historical experiences of ordinary deaf people. Her research into American Deaf history has led to two books, Words Made Flesh: Nineteenth-Century Deaf Education and the Growth of Deaf Culture (2012) and Deaf Players in Major League Baseball: A History, 1883 to the Present (2020).
Climate scientist Dr. Caroline Ummenhofer and Professor Tim Walker discuss how whaling logbooks are providing weather data to document climate change and predict future changes.
Captains and first mates of whaling ships kept a daily log of events including detailed records of wind speed and direction, sea conditions, and temperature. Moreover, whaling voyages covered vast areas of the ocean and provide data for remote locations. Ummenhofer and Walker have embarked upon a project to convert weather data into digital format, forming a team of oceanographers, climatologists, and historians to gain a better understanding of climate variability. This program is supported by a grant from the Westport Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.
A History of Lees Market presented by Al Lees III
A Westport Farmer Goes Whaling Westport farmer Frederick Allen (1809-1874) shipped out on the brig “Mexico” from Westport Point on April 21, 1837 sailing to the Bahamas, the Azores, the Canaries, and to the Caribbean. The voyage lasted one year and 11 days. His journal chronicles the voyage in detail and provides us with a fascinating insight into his experience. This conversation includes whaling historian Judy Lund, antiquarian Richard Donnelly, maritime historian Michael Dyer, and local historian Maury May. Frederick Allen’s journal is available at https://wpthistory.org/explore-2/journal-of-frederick-allen
Gooseberry: From Wild to Wild
Presented by Greg Stone
Interview with Russ Hart
A Conversation about the Wainer Family
Wainer and Cuffe descendant George Wortham and historian Mary Beth Start present a geographically wide-ranging conversation about the Wainer family and their connections to New York State and Upper Canada. The Wainer family became closely intertwined with Paul Cuffe and his family through marriage, business partnerships and property ownership. The Wainers helped Paul Cuffe build his connections with the Native American community. The Wainer farm is located on Drift Road, Westport. This conversation will focus on Wainer family members who, in the early 1800s, moved to New York State and further afield to Ontario, Canada.
The History of Westport’s Stone Walls presented by Sean Leach, April 2021
The Early History of North Westport
Dartmouth Friends Archives
A History of the Kirby Farm and Westport Woods
An Audience with Susanna White Winslow
Happy Birthday Paul Cuffe
PAUL CUFFE, HIS PURPOSE, PARTNERS AND PROPERTIES
Historic Cemeteries of Westport, Massachusetts Presented by Betty Slade, December 12, 2020
Home movie made by Leonard Remington (Father of Anne Larkin). Footage of Cadmans Neck during summer, including: aftermath of Hurricane of 1938, Cuddledune Cottage
Destruction of Hix Bridge after 1938 hurricane, Old St John’s church Central Village
Quahogging. Cookout at Cadmans Neck, Hurricane of 1938 in Franklin Massachusetts
Sailing on Westport River, Areas of Cadmans Neck washed away by hurricane.
WESTPORT’S MAYFLOWER CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN PRESENTED BY RICHARD GIFFORD
2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage. Local historian and genealogist Richard Gifford discusses the many descendants of Mayflower passengers who settled in Old Dartmouth including the grandchildren of the Mayflower passengers George Soule, John Cooke, Francis Cooke, Richard Warren, William White, John Alden, William Mullins, Thomas Rogers and William Bradford.
While John Cooke was the only Mayflower passenger to live in Old Dartmouth (in the part that became Fairhaven), there were four children and dozens of grandchildren of Mayflower passengers who settled in Westport. Cooke’s daughter Mary married Philip Taber, who built a grist and saw mill on the site that is now Gray’s Grist Mill. His daughter Elizabeth married Daniel Wilcox, who spent much of his early life living among the local Wampanoags.
Inside Apollo 11: A Westporter’s Story
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Westport resident and retired mechanical engineer, John E. Miller, played a vital role in this historic moment, leading the team that developed a full-scale simulation of the Apollo spacecraft guidance computer and navigation system for testing the on-board computer’s flight software. Miller will provide a personal perspective into the creativity and technological advances that put a man on the moon. John Miller joined the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in 1959. He is the retired president and CEO of Intermetrics Inc. and is a resident of Westport Point.
The Giffords of Westport presented by Richard Gifford
The Giffords were among the earliest settlers in Westport and, even today, the name “Gifford” remains a common surname among local residents. Local historian and genealogist Richard Gifford discusses the English origins of the Giffords, their early Quaker experiences in Sandwich and traces their first settlements and houses in Westport.
This program will highlight the importance of colonial land surveying and the historical significance of original stone walls, using the Ellis Brightman Farm, 533 Division Road, as a case study. Professional land surveyor Sean Leach will explore how land surveyors utilize the survey of original parcels of land and how they construct the deeds and ownership. This program will also explore the evolution of stone walls and highlight their important role as endangered historical land marks.
A Walk Down Old Horseneck Beach presented by David Jones
Postcard collector David Jones presents a visual walk down old Horseneck Beach, featuring a newly discovered collection of historic photographs by Clarence Williston, music teacher, photographer and East Beach summer resident. David Jones has conducted extensive research to reconstruct the pre-hurricane beach using old photos, postcards and maps. This program will provide an opportunity to view rarely seen images of East Beach and to rediscover the history of a community that was wiped out by the hurricane of 1938.
Sea Stories with Richie Earle and Jonathan Paull
Retired harbormaster Richie Earle shares memories of his career as Westport’s harbormaster. For over 25 years Richie responded to unpredictable challenges such as medical emergencies, lifesaving rescues and beached boats. In conversation with assistant harbormaster Jonathan Paull, they share photos and stories as well as a historical perspective on earlier harbormasters such as Bob Sykes and Harry Tripp and Ab Palmer. Presented August 16, 2018.
Westport History 101
Part 1 Westport’s geological formation, the early Native American inhabitants, first European contact, Plymouth Colony and King Philip’s War. We then discuss the early settlement of Old Dartmouth and end with the American Revolution. Hand-out and slides available HERE
Further reading available HERE
Wampanoag Families of Westport
Westport’s Founding Families
The Black Ships Rum Running in Westport
Treasures from Elvira’s Attic
Guest curator Blair Walker provides a tour of the exhibition of clothing from the Elvira Smith collection.This exhibition can be viewed at the Handy House, 202 Hix Bridge Road, Westport June – October 2016.
Some Architectural Descendants of William White
This is a video of a program exploring the many houses in Westport, Little Compton, and Tiverton that were built by descendants of William White and Elizabeth Cadman White. Presented by Richard Gifford as part of the Westport Winter History Forum, November 2015.
The End of the Old Point Bridge and the Construction of Route 88
A discussion led by noted author Dawn Tripp with panel of guests including Richie Earle, Tony Connors, Howie Gifford, and Carmen Maiocco.
What was the defining moment in the 20th century for Westport? For many, it was the day that the old Westport Point Bridge was torn down. Shortly after Hurricane Carol struck in 1954, the state of Massachusetts took Horseneck Beach by eminent domain, and made plans to build an 11 mile highway straight down through the center of Westport. Route 88 was laid and a new bridge was constructed over the Westport River to replace the old pile and timber structure built in the 19th century to connect Westport Point to Horseneck. How did the demise of the Old Point Bridge reflect the coming of the modern era to a rural fishing and farming community in the post war years? How has the construction of Route 88 impacted the geography and character of our town?
The Adventures of a Westport Farmer
How Westport Became a Town
This program was presented by Tony Connors, President of the Westport Historical Society, on May 18 2015.
Historic Film Footage
Foot Prints in the Sand
This movie created in 1991 is a history of the changes that took place at East Beach and Horseneck Beach during the 20th century, a well as an account of the history of Plante’s Pavillion. Unfortunately the quality of the image is poor as the original was transferred from an old VHS tape. However, it remains a “classic” visual history of Westport.