ancestryink fisherman

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Blessing of Garden Trowels and Fishing Rods

Waquoit is a rural, seaside village located in the eastern portion of Falmouth, Mass.  Sunday morning, I attended the Earth Day church service at the quaint Waquoit Congregational Church.  I had to smile when church members asked me 'how I happened to find them.'  The little church stands serenely overlooking the busy main road in all its simple beauty.  It is hard to miss.

Waquoit Congregational Church

This excerpt from the church website describes the history of the church:

"On March 24, 1847, 10 people met and decided to build a meetinghouse in their neighborhood and so the Second Congregational Church came to be.  It is reported that this church helped the community gain focus and become the true village of Waquoit.  It didn’t become Waquoit Congregational Church until 1863.  The church was marked on harbor charts to help sailors find their way..."

Rev. Nell Fields conducted the service, at one point dodging the tip of someone's fishing rod which had been leaned against the altar for a good blessing. She joked about losing an eye.  Garden trowels and tackle boxes were among the tools of local hobby and trade, placed at the altar.  I regretted not bringing my own tackle box, as my fervent hope this summer is at least a couple of good striped bass caught in the Falmouth Great Pond, next to my home.

The blessing speaks to the historical nature of this community dating back to the early 1800's.  It is both rural and seaside.  The Waquoit Bay Cemetery just a bit further down the road overlooks the ocean.  Saturday,  the church held a Farmer's Market in the church hall. I dropped in before dropping over to the intriguing little cemetery overlooking the ocean.

 Local farmers displayed good early broccoli, delicate salad mixes, herbs, preserves and many other fruits of their labor.  I got a sense of how many farms exist in the area.  Normally, I would not share my dinner with you, but last night's meal of local salad greens adorned with the peppery nasturtium blossoms, and local cod, seemed a fitting end to this day.




Back to the cemetery: a walk through the Waquoit graveyard revealed a number of sea captain's graves, just as I suspected.



One Captain Micajah C. Fisher rested there.  His epitaph:  "He is at rest his voyage of life is ended."

Capt. Micajah C. Fisher d. 1872, aged 58
"Fish" is a common local name around here, but "Fisher," less so.  In fact, "Fisher" is more common on Martha's Vineyard.  I decided to do a little research at home.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum's online records revealed that Micajah C. Fisher was a very successful whaling captain.  He sailed the Atlantic and Hudson Bay areas, sometimes at sea for three  years at a time.  One such trip between 1858-1861 yielded 703 sperm whale, aboard the bark "Orray Taft" built in Providence, RI and sailing out of New Bedford.  A Mary Fisher was one of the first two Quakers to arrive in Plymouth, Mass in 1656, where they were jailed and guarded for a month.

 He married Alice Bourne,  the daughter of Jarvis Bourne, another captain, and for a time, also the superintendent of the town Poor House.  Alice's mother, Phoebe Ewer, was the daughter of Quakers from Sandwich.  Ewers were among persecuted Quakers.  Alice and Micajah had a number of children.  Census records for Micajah's family in Waquoit are easily found for at least 30 years.  However, I have not found proof of his birthplace and parents, but the fact that he married a Quaker daughter indicates his origins may spring from the early persecuted Sandwich Quakers, as well.

Rich maritime, religious, and farming history exists in tiny Waquoit Village.   I look forward to more research...and many more events around the Waquoit Congregational Church.

 

All text and photos copyright AncestryInk 2013.

2 comments:

  1. Your photo reminded me that I met a wonderful woman at NERGC named Donna Walcovy. She did a great talk on Gravestone Symbolism. She also mentioned that she did cemetery tours for the Falmouth Historical Society. I hope you bump into her someday, she was very knowledgeable, and very humorous!

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  2. Heather, yes I've met Donna! Right after I moved here, I was perusing a cemetery, and she stepped up to my car and introduced herself as the cemetery superintendent. She's great and knows everything! She got me up to speed on all the local genealogical orgs. and what they were up to. I"m sorry I missed her talk. I bet it was interesting.

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