Louis Cataldo, Cape Cod Historian, Dies at 95

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Barnstable Superior Courthouse

Louis Cataldo was behind the project to commission statutes of James Otis and Mercy Otis Warren for the Barnstable Superior Courthouse lawn.

BARNSTABLE – A longtime Barnstable resident with a passion for Cape Cod’s history died on Friday.

Louis Cataldo was 95 years old.

A World War II veteran, Cataldo was raised in East Boston and Winthrop, but he had lived on Cape Cod for 66 years.

He was married to Lora Gardner Cataldo for 65 years. She died in 2012.

He spent his career on Cape Cod in law enforcement, serving as the director of the Barnstable County Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He pioneered advancements in fingerprint technology, resulting in a letter from FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover recommending him to the FBI National Academy.

He was appointed chief of police in Dennis in 1974 and later formed his own detective agency.

But it was his work uncovering the Cape’s history that he was perhaps most known for.

He founded Tales of Cape Cod in 1949 and served as historian and archivist for Barnstable County.

He was chairman of the Barnstable Historical Commission, coordinator of the Bicentennial Commission for Barnstable County, chairman of the Mayflower II Committee and leader of the Barnstable County Tercentenary Historical Commission.

He was instrumental in the town of Barnstable acquiring the old Custom House, which was long used as the Trayer Museum and he served as president of the board of new use for the property, the US Coast Guard Museum. He was also instrumental in saving the 1690 jail that is also on the Custom House property and is considered America’s oldest wooden jailhouse.

He created the Barnstable County Cataldo Archives for his collection of thousands of pieces of history, including recordings, photographs, documents and artifacts.

He was also helped with the acquisition of the 7.5 acres of the Wampanoag Chief Iyannough burial site in Cummaquid and was made an honorary member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

He was behind the commission of commemorative statutes of James Otis and Mercy Otis Warren on the Barnstable Superior Courthouse lawn; Chief Iyanough at the Hyannis Village Green; and John F. Kennedy at the JFK Hyannis Museum.

He is survived by his sons and their wives, Steven and Melanie Cataldo of Barnstable; Michael and Anne Cataldo of Plum Island and Louis and Nancy Cataldo of Mashpee; and four grandchildren.

Visiting hours are 4 to 8 p.m. at John-Lawrence Funeral Home on Route 28 in Marstons Mills.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, October 6, at 10 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis. Burial will follow at Mosswood Cemetery in Cotuit.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to help preserve his archives at Barnstable County Cataldo Archives, 3195 Main Street, Barnstable, MA 02630.

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