The Rich History of Osterville: From Native American Roots to Prestigious Seaside Village

The Rich History of Osterville: From Native American Roots to Prestigious Seaside Village

Osterville, a picturesque village along the southern coast of Cape Cod, has a history deeply intertwined with its natural surroundings. The Native American Cotochese tribes originally inhabited the shores of the three sheltered bays off Nantucket Sound, naming them chunkoo, chunkomuck, skunkomug, or skonkonet. These names reflected their abundant oyster beds, which were prized by the Cotochese.

In 1639, the first colonial settlers arrived, quickly appreciating the local oysters. They named the area Oyster Island Village. By 1648, a deed was negotiated by Capt. Miles Standish with the Cotochese, transferring the land to Plymouth Colony. The village's name evolved to Oysterville, and by 1815, it was finally shortened to Osterville.

A hallmark of Osterville's identity is the Crosby Yacht Yard, established in 1850 by C. Worthington and Horace S. Crosby, guided by their father’s spiritual advice. Renowned for crafting superior catboats, Wianno Juniors, and Wianno Seniors, the yard gained international fame, particularly for building President John F. Kennedy’s Wianno Senior.

While boatbuilding was central to the village, many locals pursued careers at sea or in local trades. By the mid-1800s, Osterville’s reputation as a beautiful summer retreat spread, attracting wealthy Boston families who built grand homes and guesthouses. This trend gave rise to three exclusive summer communities: Wianno, Seapuit, and Oyster Harbors.

Today, Osterville is a vibrant village, enriched by diverse histories and cultures. The Osterville Historical Society, founded in 1931, plays a crucial role in preserving the village's heritage. Located in the historic Capt. Jonathan Parker House, the society, supported by the Osterville Garden Club, maintains authentic colonial and herb gardens, ensuring that the legacy of Osterville continues to thrive for future generations.

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