What You Need to Know About The Villages of Cape Cod

KA_high res_Jetty_Jetties_sandwich_sunset_cape cod canal_march_030816_025Cape Cod is made up of fifteen diverse and unique towns.  Each one has its own personality and qualities that make it special.  However as one digs a little deeper they will notice some other places located amongst these towns.  They are the villages of Cape Cod.  These are some hidden gems along busy routes or beautiful escapes located far off the main drags.  They are the heart and soul of the Cape and here is a little bit about each of them.

Some villages such as Bass River have a very simple story.  This village in Yarmouth gets its name from the river it borders which is named for the fish which abundantly swam in it when it was first discovered.  On the border of Yarmouth and Barnstable, along Rt. 6A is the small village of Cummaquid.  In the 19th century it was known as ‘East Barnstable,’ Native settlements in the village back in the 1600’s were called ‘Iyanough’s Town’ named for the Wampanoag ‘sachem’ or ‘chief’ whose name inspired ‘Hyannis’ “Wianno’ and ‘Iyanough Road.’  The first European settlement in this village in 1637-38 was given the name ‘Old Town’ from those who came later on.

Barnstable has several unique villages.  Centerville, which is home to the fabulous Craigville Beach, got its name because it was the midpoint between Hyannis and Osterville.  The name was taken from the post office building opened in 1834, before then it was known by the Wampanoag name ‘Wequaquet’ meaning ‘end of the land.’

Osterville got its name from Oyster Island located in the village.  It is better known these days as Oyster Harbors. Before getting its current name the village was known as Oyster Island Village and Oysterville.  In Feb 1815 local schoolchildren gave their support for the name of Osterville to local schoolmaster Benjamin Hallet who was also district attorney in Franklin Pierce’s administration.  Wampanoag name was ‘Cotocheset’ meaning ‘at the turning place.’

Cotuit which is west of Osterville has a bit more of a complex history.  The original village was along the Santuit River in the southwest section of Barnstable, it was changed to Santuit in 1875 to correspond with a newly built post office.  The current Cotuit, which sits along the Main Street heading down to Loop Beach was known as Cotuit Port when the original Cotuit still existed in the 19th century.  It was also known as Little Harvard in the early 20th century due to the village attracting many faculty members from the university.

The village of Marstons Mills got its name for a man named Benjamin Marston who came to the Cape from Salem and yes ran a mill.  It was a woolen mill which was built in 1653 by Thomas Macy and actually stood until 1930 when a large storm knocked it down.  The mill is said to have been the first on the Cape and possibly one of the first in America.

KA_Eastham_Nauset Light Stair Damage_Below_Beach Level_Sun_Coast Guard Beach_021916_004The town of Falmouth also has several unique villages such as Waquoit.  This village got its name from the Wampanoag words ‘ukquae’ meaning ‘head’ and ‘ut’ meaning ‘at’ ‘at the head of the bay.’  It is known for the spectacular Waquoit Bay which empties into Vineyard Sound and is bordered on the east by South Cape Beach State Park.

Teaticket, located west of Waquoit, which has a ‘highway’ and elementary school named for it did not get its name from tea or selling tickets.  It actually was named by the Natick Tribe of Native Americans, the words ‘keht’ meaning ‘great’ ‘tuk’ meaning ‘river’ and ‘ut’ meaning ‘at’ forming ‘at the great river’ possibly for Great Pond which borders it to the east.

Hatchville is named for Jonathan Hatch who fled Barnstable in 1660 due to differences with the church.  In the 18th century before gaining its name it was known as East End due to the proximity of the East End Meeting House in East Falmouth.

As one heads north from Falmouth into Bourne they encounter several small villages which dot the Buzzards Bay coast.  They include Cataumet which comes from two Wampanoag words ‘kehte’ meaning ‘great’ and ‘amaug’ meaning ‘fishing place’ this is due to the plentiful fish located along the shores of Buzzards Bay.  It is home to Red Brook Harbor.

Just north of Cataumet is Pocasset.  This village’s name is a Wampanoag word meaning ‘the narrows open out.’ This has to do with the several waterways which open into Pocasset Harbor.  It is home to Wings Neck Lighthouse, Monks Park, and Barlows Landing Beach.

Also part of Bourne is Monument Beach which got its name from the Wampanoag word ‘manomet’ which means ‘at the lookout place.’ There is a village named Manomet over the bridge as part of Plymouth as well.  Monument Beach became a popular destination once a railroad station was built there in 1881 for the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad.

These are some of the smaller places which unite all of the towns of the Cape.  Some have simple histories; others are deeper and more diverse.  They are much more than simply words on signs.  When driving through Barnstable, Falmouth, Bourne, or other Cape locales make sure to take a moment to stop into one of these villages to get a taste of the heart and soul of Cape Cod.

By Christopher Setterlund


  1. And the seven villages of Harwich???

  2. mitch Abel says

    what about Hyannis how can you forget to speak about this village

  3. What about the lower and outer Cape?

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