|"Dumping Fruit into Seperator at L. B. Barker's, Bournedale, Mass. 1938", photograph, 1938|
Middleborough Public Library Cranberry Collection
Pioneers Of The Industry
That Cranberry Room is indeed a place for the quiet reflection which I have just mentioned. It carries the atmosphere of the pioneers of the industry. Some of their pictures hang on the walls. There, for example, is A. D. Makepeace, a name to conjure with in cranberry lore and tradition. An attached card states that he was the first large grower in a "combination whose crop in 1887 totaled 16,000 barrels." Another picture is that of Cyrus Cahoon, typical rugged Cape Codder, looking for all the world like a character out of a Joe Lincoln book. It was he who is associated with the discovery of the Early Black variety in 1847. Other
photographs and other views tell graphically of those pioneer days, such as the one marking the location of one of the bogs where Eli Howes brought to light the Howes berry in 1843.
Such were the men in their respective times who laid the foundation of the cranberry industry. The spirit with which they surmounted their difficulties is typical of Cranberry-land. This same spirit still prevails among cranberry people, and will be a factor in bringing about new and further achievements in cranberry culture and marketing.
In reference to today's meetings, it is well here to record the beginnings of organized activities of growers in the original Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association which are so carefully recorded there in the Library Room. Written in a bold hand in the first record book is a notice of the original call to discuss organization—February 15, 1866. It reads as follows:
All persons interested in the cultivation of cranberries are invited to meet at the Exchange Hall in Harwich on Thursday the 15th day of February first at 1 o'clock to consider the best method of cultivation, and such other matters relating to the subject as may come before the meeting. It is signed by Zebina H. Small, Obed Brooks, Cyrus Cahoon and Nathaniel Robbins.
Those were all men who were prominent in the then infant industry. Zebina Small, an odd Christian name to be sure, is spoken of frequently in the old histories in connection with cranberries and with public affairs. The meeting adjourned on that date to March 1, when the constitution of the Cape Cod Cranberry Association was adopted with 67 signers.
In Our Time
Thinking of the organization as we know it in our time, I thumbed through the records, and as I frequently do, I looked for reports of meetings over ten-year periods, such as 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. The record for the meeting of 1914, for example, lists the president as John C. Makepeace of Wareham. Vice-presidents were Seth Finney of Carver and Dr. F. F. Marsh of Wareham. Treasurer was Z. H. Jenkins of West Barnstable, and Lemuel C. Hall of Wareham served as secretary, as he did for many years.
In later reports, nearer my time, more familiar names came into view, and I was impressed to an increasing extent with these records of these many fine people who put all they had in time, effort and energy in helping bring the cranberry business up to its present prominent position in New England and American agriculture.
This Room in the Library is acquiring a great deal of worthwhile material. It started back more than a decade ago. I noted, for instance, at the 1944 meeting an item of $25 was voted for the Library Committee. The Association has encouraged its development, and the Library has shown a continuing interest.
The atmosphere of the Room is certainly wholly detached from the uncertainties and the tension of the present time. To me it emphasizes the fact that there is a branch of our agriculture which has its high place in the economy of the Commonwealth. It seems to carry a message to present-day cranberry people that they can well take pride in what has been achieved so far, and that they can go forward from here to new destinies.
A New Chapter
The Cranberry Room in the Middleboro Library is, as I have said, a place for quiet reflection and contemplation, with ample opportunity to review the progress of cranberries and cranberry people. And today as the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association gets together at its annual spring meeting in the Town Hall at Wareham, it will be writing a new chapter in the continuing records of the organization — a chapter which will be recorded for those years ahead, maybe for some interested group in 2054 who will search into the recordings of the past for guidance in their day and age.
Cranberries, May, 1954, “Cranberry Room”, p. 20; June, 1957, “Walter E. Piper, Mass. Marketing Specialist, Does Much for Cranberries”, p. 12