massoyster.org
History of Oysters in theHistory of Oysters in the
Estuaries of Boston HarborEstuaries of Boston Harbor
His...
massoyster.org
OverviewOverview
The Massachusetts Oyster Project isThe Massachusetts Oyster Project is
seeking to restore ...
massoyster.org
The 1881 Ingersoll Report on theThe 1881 Ingersoll Report on the
Oyster IndustryOyster Industry
 Provides ...
massoyster.org
The Ingersoll Report quotesThe Ingersoll Report quotes
William Wood’s New EnglandWilliam Wood’s New England...
massoyster.org
Streets of Early Boston WereStreets of Early Boston Were
Paved with Oyster ShellsPaved with Oyster Shells
...
massoyster.org
Oyster Shells on the StreetsOyster Shells on the Streets
 This photo was takenThis photo was taken
during ...
massoyster.org
The Boston Massacre Trial transcriptsThe Boston Massacre Trial transcripts
also contain evidence of a stron...
massoyster.org
Oysters in Mortar in the OldOysters in Mortar in the Old
StatehouseStatehouse
 Oyster shell mixed inOyster...
massoyster.org
We do know that the large volume of oysterWe do know that the large volume of oyster
shell was becoming an ...
massoyster.org
Oysters for the Union (Atwood ) Oyster HouseOysters for the Union (Atwood ) Oyster House
came from the Atwo...
massoyster.org
Charles River Oysters-Charles River Oysters-
CambridgeCambridge
 Anthropologists* review of colonial docum...
massoyster.org
Map MentioningOyster BankMap MentioningOyster Bank
in Cambridgein Cambridge
 The map at right isThe map at...
massoyster.org
Map Mentioning Oyster BankMap Mentioning Oyster Bank
in Cambridgein Cambridge
Another map on the marker men...
massoyster.org
Charles River Oysters-Charles River Oysters-
CambridgeCambridge
 In 1816 the cellar of theIn 1816 the cell...
massoyster.org
Probable Charles OysterProbable Charles Oyster
LocationsLocations
massoyster.org
Charles River Oysters- BostonCharles River Oysters- Boston
There must have been numerous shellThere must ha...
massoyster.org
Oyster DemiseOyster Demise
 Loss of habitat- through fillLoss of habitat- through fill
 Misuse- oyster sh...
massoyster.org
Oyster DemiseOyster Demise
1901 State Publication associated with1901 State Publication associated with
con...
massoyster.org
Oyster DemiseOyster Demise
1901 State Publication associated with1901 State Publication associated with
con...
massoyster.org
Other ObservationsOther Observations
 We have heard other references to oysters throughoutWe have heard ot...
massoyster.org
Thank youThank you
As the Massachusetts Oyster Project seeksAs the Massachusetts Oyster Project seeks
to re...
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History of Oysters in Boston Harbor

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The Presentation presents sourced information regarding the presence of oysters in Boston Harbor and its estuaries as well as infomration on their demise.

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History of Oysters in Boston Harbor

  1. 1. massoyster.org History of Oysters in theHistory of Oysters in the Estuaries of Boston HarborEstuaries of Boston Harbor Historic Overview and DataHistoric Overview and Data October 2013October 2013 The Massachusetts OysterThe Massachusetts Oyster ProjectProject
  2. 2. massoyster.org OverviewOverview The Massachusetts Oyster Project isThe Massachusetts Oyster Project is seeking to restore oysters to Bostonseeking to restore oysters to Boston Harbor.Harbor. The historical record demonstrates thatThe historical record demonstrates that oysters were ubiquitous in Colonial timesoysters were ubiquitous in Colonial times and possibly a significant economic forceand possibly a significant economic force earlier in Boston’s history.earlier in Boston’s history.
  3. 3. massoyster.org The 1881 Ingersoll Report on theThe 1881 Ingersoll Report on the Oyster IndustryOyster Industry  Provides an excellentProvides an excellent overview on theoverview on the industry includingindustry including Massachusetts.Massachusetts.  Provides strongProvides strong references for oystersreferences for oysters being present in bothbeing present in both the Charles andthe Charles and Mystic Rivers.Mystic Rivers.
  4. 4. massoyster.org The Ingersoll Report quotesThe Ingersoll Report quotes William Wood’s New EnglandWilliam Wood’s New England Prospect of 1634.Prospect of 1634. 1634 Oysters a foot long Reefs that could block ships Present in Both the Charles and Mystic Rivers
  5. 5. massoyster.org Streets of Early Boston WereStreets of Early Boston Were Paved with Oyster ShellsPaved with Oyster Shells  Historian RichardHistorian Richard ArcherArcher  Confirms that oysterConfirms that oyster shells were thrown atshells were thrown at Boston MassacreBoston Massacre  Mentions that streetsMentions that streets of Colonial Bostonof Colonial Boston were paved withwere paved with oyster shells. Pageoyster shells. Page 185.185.
  6. 6. massoyster.org Oyster Shells on the StreetsOyster Shells on the Streets  This photo was takenThis photo was taken during theduring the replacement of thereplacement of the sidewalk aroundsidewalk around Bunker Hill MonumentBunker Hill Monument in 2013.in 2013.  The underlayer ofThe underlayer of oyster shell is stilloyster shell is still present. We do notpresent. We do not know how old thisknow how old this shell is.shell is.
  7. 7. massoyster.org The Boston Massacre Trial transcriptsThe Boston Massacre Trial transcripts also contain evidence of a strong oysteralso contain evidence of a strong oyster business.business. “This witness swears he saw snow-balls thrown close before the party, and he took them to be thrown on purpose, he saw oyster-shells likewise thrown.” Summation by John Adams representing British Soldiers. ‘he met an oyster man, who said to the deponent, " Damn it, this is what I got by going up," and showed the deponent a large cut he had received from one of the soldiers with a cutlass, over his right shoulder “ Testimony of Henry Bass “I immediately came down again, and went on board an oyster boat; staid there about a quarter of an hour, and heard the guns off.” “Did you see any collection of people there?” “Yes, I asked what was the matter; I was told a soldier had hurt an oyster man” Testimony of John Short The presence of oystermen and oyster boats in a day of limited transport indicates oysters were close by.
  8. 8. massoyster.org Oysters in Mortar in the OldOysters in Mortar in the Old StatehouseStatehouse  Oyster shell mixed inOyster shell mixed in the mortar of the oldthe mortar of the old statehouse is stillstatehouse is still visible in a few placesvisible in a few places where the olderwhere the older mortar remains.mortar remains.
  9. 9. massoyster.org We do know that the large volume of oysterWe do know that the large volume of oyster shell was becoming an issue by 1818 as itsshell was becoming an issue by 1818 as its disposal became the subject of regulation.disposal became the subject of regulation.
  10. 10. massoyster.org Oysters for the Union (Atwood ) Oyster HouseOysters for the Union (Atwood ) Oyster House came from the Atwood Oyster Farm in Everettcame from the Atwood Oyster Farm in Everett on the Mystic River.on the Mystic River.
  11. 11. massoyster.org Charles River Oysters-Charles River Oysters- CambridgeCambridge  Anthropologists* review of colonial documentsAnthropologists* review of colonial documents revealedrevealed  Large oyster reef and clam flats extending fromLarge oyster reef and clam flats extending from Massachusetts Avenue through Cambridgeport downMassachusetts Avenue through Cambridgeport down to the Miller’s River near Charlestown.to the Miller’s River near Charlestown.  Area has been subject of extensive fill.Area has been subject of extensive fill.  Original rivers edge on Mass Ave is at the present fire stationOriginal rivers edge on Mass Ave is at the present fire station  MIT built on fillMIT built on fill  Shellfish middens were found on the site of the ThirdShellfish middens were found on the site of the Third Street courthouse and Cambridge Cemetery.Street courthouse and Cambridge Cemetery.  They were associated with Native Americans.They were associated with Native Americans. *Dena Dincause – Writings of English Settlers in Harvard University Library
  12. 12. massoyster.org Map MentioningOyster BankMap MentioningOyster Bank in Cambridgein Cambridge  The map at right isThe map at right is posted on anposted on an educational plaque ineducational plaque in Wintrhop SquareWintrhop Square outside the Peet’soutside the Peet’s Coffee. This is theCoffee. This is the site of the initialsite of the initial settlement ofsettlement of Cambridge –Cambridge – Newtowne.Newtowne.
  13. 13. massoyster.org Map Mentioning Oyster BankMap Mentioning Oyster Bank in Cambridgein Cambridge Another map on the marker mentions the “highway to the oyster bank.” It clearly was an important route.
  14. 14. massoyster.org Charles River Oysters-Charles River Oysters- CambridgeCambridge  In 1816 the cellar of theIn 1816 the cellar of the Cambridge Townhouse wasCambridge Townhouse was rented to Zenas C. Atwoodrented to Zenas C. Atwood for storing oysters.for storing oysters.  In the 1853 edition of theIn the 1853 edition of the Massachusetts RegisterMassachusetts Register there are 8 Cambridge basedthere are 8 Cambridge based purveyors of oysters and 5 inpurveyors of oysters and 5 in neighboring Charlestown.neighboring Charlestown. *Dena Dincause – Writings of English Settlers in Harvard University Library
  15. 15. massoyster.org Probable Charles OysterProbable Charles Oyster LocationsLocations
  16. 16. massoyster.org Charles River Oysters- BostonCharles River Oysters- Boston There must have been numerous shellThere must have been numerous shell heaps in early colonial times in the vicinityheaps in early colonial times in the vicinity of old Boston, for there were extensiveof old Boston, for there were extensive oyster-beds in the Back Bay and the loweroyster-beds in the Back Bay and the lower Charles River. The only ones that I findCharles River. The only ones that I find recorded were in Back Bay, Cambridgerecorded were in Back Bay, Cambridge and Cambridgeport. Most, if not all of themand Cambridgeport. Most, if not all of them have been obliterated.have been obliterated. Charles Willoughby. Antiquities of the New England Indians 1935Charles Willoughby. Antiquities of the New England Indians 1935 The piles of shells left by Native American feasts have been removed.
  17. 17. massoyster.org Oyster DemiseOyster Demise  Loss of habitat- through fillLoss of habitat- through fill  Misuse- oyster shells andMisuse- oyster shells and sometimes whole oysterssometimes whole oysters were spread on fields towere spread on fields to reduce soil acidityreduce soil acidity  River subjugation-River subjugation- protective dams convertprotective dams convert significant areas of Backsignificant areas of Back Bay and Mystic Rivers toBay and Mystic Rivers to fresh water.fresh water.  Pollution- sewage flows,Pollution- sewage flows, river silt, chemicalsriver silt, chemicals  Over-harvesting- feedingOver-harvesting- feeding humanshumans
  18. 18. massoyster.org Oyster DemiseOyster Demise 1901 State Publication associated with1901 State Publication associated with construction of first Charles River Damconstruction of first Charles River Dam Probably became extinct within twenty five years
  19. 19. massoyster.org Oyster DemiseOyster Demise 1901 State Publication associated with1901 State Publication associated with construction of first Charles River Damconstruction of first Charles River Dam
  20. 20. massoyster.org Other ObservationsOther Observations  We have heard other references to oysters throughoutWe have heard other references to oysters throughout Boston Harbor.Boston Harbor.  One older woman (when she was young) heard from anOne older woman (when she was young) heard from an older woman that the Cambridge Oyster Bank madeolder woman that the Cambridge Oyster Bank made sure that nobody ever starved in the olden days.sure that nobody ever starved in the olden days.  We have heard of people harvesting barrels of oysters inWe have heard of people harvesting barrels of oysters in Chelsea Creek.Chelsea Creek.  The exhibit area in the Spectacle Island visitor centerThe exhibit area in the Spectacle Island visitor center includes oystes in the display and references oysters onincludes oystes in the display and references oysters on the island.the island.  We have limited this presentation to written traceableWe have limited this presentation to written traceable evidence.evidence.  If you have additional information, please emailIf you have additional information, please email massoyster@gmail.commassoyster@gmail.com. We would welcome the. We would welcome the opportunity to improve and update this presentation.opportunity to improve and update this presentation.
  21. 21. massoyster.org Thank youThank you As the Massachusetts Oyster Project seeksAs the Massachusetts Oyster Project seeks to restore oysters to the Boston Harborto restore oysters to the Boston Harbor estuary, it is grateful to the interns whoestuary, it is grateful to the interns who conducted the research for this document.conducted the research for this document. Shira BleicherShira Bleicher Laura OlivierLaura Olivier By understanding the past, we can build a better future.

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