The Sandwich Wolves

Barnstable Patriot, August 23, 1837

It seems Mr. George Brayley, a teamster in the Boston & Sandwich GlassCompany came face to face with a wolf in the Sandwich woods. He quickly leveled his gun and shot him dead on the spot.  He was paid $100 by the town – “a very pretty present in these scarce times”.

It was such a cause for celebration that the wolf was put on display in Barnstable, Yarmouthport and Hyannis.This may indeed have been the last wolf seen or killed on Cape Cod.

 

* A Sandwich Album is a most wonderful 1987 publication by East Sandwich natives, Rosanna Cullity & her son John Cullity.  It is filled with 300 photographs illustrating  Sandwich, MA from 1880 to 1920.  It can be purchased on the website www.nyemsueum.org.

Wolves in Sandwich?  Really?

                          - By Joan Russell Osgood

 

Well there might be some disagreement by folks that we have wolves in Sandwich in 2020 – but there was no doubt in the minds of people back in the 1600-1800’s that wolves were living among them.

Printed extracts from the town records of May 24, 1633 state: “the wolves are very destructive to us in devouring our creatures”.  In fact the problem was so bad that a bounty was offered for anyone bringing in the head of a wolf as follows: “for an old wolf 15s, and for a young wolf 5s, in silver coin.”

And 40 years later in 1673 we see the problem still existed as Town Meeting voted to pay Daniel and Obediah Butler forty shillings for six young wolves. 

What to do?  Build a fence!  Extracts from town records continue to show the townspeople trying to deal with the wolves’ destruction of their cattle and sheep herds. It presented such a dilemma that in 1717 a Town Meeting proposal was raised to construct a fence running from Plymouth to Sandwich to keep the wolves out of the county. Sandwich “would make a good board fence of more than six feet high”. The fence however, did not get built.

Over the years the bounty on wolves must have been successful.  In fact in 1829 Joseph Hoxie, of Old County Road, East Sandwich, shot a wolf roaming the upper Cape area.  *In A Sandwich Album compiled by Rosanna & John Cullity, it was noted that residents at the time had estimated that 2,000 sheep had been killed by that wolf over a two year period.

But we find in 1837 that Sandwich and neighboring towns were still plagued with the ravaging of their herds and flocks. In August of that year an article in the Yarmouth Register headlined with:  The Wolf is Dead.

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