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You might not have thought that in 1864, when this work was first published that there was not too much to talk about on local history, of a state hardly founded. But the author knew that this discipline would be central to the spread of English settlers and their ancestors across the continent. A hint was given by the mention of French Huguenot families arriving in Falmouth fleeing persecution in France. The diaspora began with just four men. The adversity that they had to cross is evident in the town's very tentative hold on the sheer rock faces of the eastern seaboard, in its many swampy inlets, where dangers lurked. Wild animals were jut one of the hazards, but the Red Indians and French confederacies posed very real opponents for the earliest attempts to extend the jurisdiction of the General Court of Massachussetts. Frequently they would send armies of company of 100 men north to quell the attempted arson of forts newly-built in the dense wilderness.
The literature is littered with unknowns: dates, names, origins, and rationales are just a few of the great gaps in the research. Yet historical societies were unknown outside America. Such local societies existed to study archaeology and natural history in England, but not to make that exact physical connection with European histories, Thus the production of this long list of footnotes attempts yet more mini-biopics as inserts in the main script. This is an antiquated style, little used today except in magnum opus. But in American every sizeable town already had its own history written and published in the Ante-bellum period. The vast scale of the distance between towns is rarely encapsulated; the scale is fundamental, yet goes unremarked. What emerges is an intensely personal relation of how the development of the town swung on a few highly critical events: and in these were a few key characters whose leadership and courage went above and beyond the call of duty. Key families emerge from the gloaming and with it the imagery of a history unfinished.
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