BOURNE – Walking into a replica of one of the first trading posts established in the New World in the early 1600s, one is transported back in time.
The original fireplace, fitted out for cooking, has bricks where you can feel the impressions of the hands that molded them. In the adjoining room, the walls are lined with artefacts from Native Americans who have taken up residence for centuries.
“We’re close to the story – of course we are. We are all over New England, ”said Judith Riordan, vice-chair of the Bourne Historical Commission, as she stood outside the Aptucxet trading post. “Because we are not surrounded by skyscrapers, you can feel it here.”
Riordan tells the children that she takes site tours to “listen, you can hear the Wampanoag coming down to the source,” she said. “You can feel it. It’s a tangible story. It’s a living story.
After nearly 10 years of planning, fundraising and hard work, the historic quarter of the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Parks Service of the Ministry of the Interior. at the beginning of the month.
Funding for the project was secured in 2017 through Community Preservation Act funds, which enabled the group to hire the Public Archaeological Laboratory in Pawtucket, RI, to conduct the necessary research on demand.
A draft proposal was submitted in 2018 to the Massachusetts Historical Commission and reviewed two years later. The commission voted to include the site in the national registry and sent the request to the federal office.
“It’s exciting because a lot of work has been done in this building,” said Blanche Cody, member of the Bourne Historical Commission. “It really puts us on the map. … This justifies our importance, and it’s a big boost.
The Aptucxet Trading Post was established in 1627 on the banks of the Manomet River – now the Cape Cod Canal – by pilgrims from Plimoth Plantation to trade in threes between the pilgrims, the Dutch from New Amsterdam (or what is now New York) and Native Americans.
What happened on this site is recognized as the basis of the free trade system in the United States and around the world. It was the first known private commercial contract, which resulted in the first free enterprise. The small trading company led to the need for wampum, the region’s first monetary system.
The original one-room structure built in 1627 was destroyed by a hurricane in 1635. Percival Hall Lombard, who published “The Aptucxet Trading Post: The First Trading Post of the Plymouth Colony” in 1941, believed the Pilgrims were rebuilding the same year and added the second largest room on the west side as they needed more storage.
Overlooking the Cape Cod Canal today, with large boats passing by, it’s hard to imagine the trading post once overlooked a river.
“There are some paths taken by Native Americans, and many of them are still available,” said Gioia Dimock, site manager for the Bourne Historical Society. “Many of them have been turned into highways.”
The first time the pilgrims visited the site on the south bank of the Manomet River was in their second year in the New World, the fall or winter of 1622 to 1623. The pilgrims set out on foot from Plimoth Plantation in search of of food. Their season’s harvest produced less than they needed to get through another winter.
Pilgrims walked 20 miles before they found a village of Wampanoag near Herring Pond, around where the Herring Run now stands on the north side of the canal.
There they bought so much corn that they couldn’t bring it all back. One of the natives, the sachem Cawnacome, offered to store it. When they returned they could not find him in the village and had to walk another three miles to Aptucxet where he was camping at the time.
Cawnacome was probably fishing, as Aptucxet means “little trap in the river”. The pilgrims discovered the area and established the trading post.
The site of the post was partially excavated in 1852, with a full excavation in 1926 by the Société historique de Bourne. The Company undertook the construction of a replica on the original site, consecrated in 1930, and has maintained the land since.
Three archaeological digs at the site have yielded artefacts dating as far back as 5,000 BCE and indigenous people. The colonial period began in 1627 when the first English arrived in the area.
The Bourne Historical Commission is a city-appointed committee responsible for listing properties on the National Register, conducting historical surveys of the entire city, and overseeing demolition hearings for historic homes.
The Bourne Historical Society, which is in its 100th year, was established specifically to take care of the Aptucxet Trading Post property, Dimock said.
The Aptucxet Grounds are the site of other historic buildings from more recent times, including the Grover Cleveland Personal Railroad Station, the Joseph Jefferson Windmill, and the Company’s Gift Shop, located in the former Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce information booth in Sagamore.
Also on the grounds are a gatehouse, a pavilion, a replica of how salt was once harvested and gardens.
For years, the two historic groups have worked to make this happen.
“We never dreamed that it would give us a historic site,” Riordan said.
Contact Beth Treffeisen at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @BTreffeisenCCT.