Did You Know (Bearskin Neck)

photo collage of bearskin neck
Photos by E.J. Lefavour

That Bearskin Neck was named by fishermen who saw the bearskin Ebenezer Babson had left to dry on the rocks?

Roger W. Babson in his Story of Bear Skin Neck puts it as follows: “…Ebenezer Babson, who then resided at the Farms, saw the bear attack the boy [his nephew, Henry Witham]. He immediately attacked the bear to get his attention away from the child, but having no gun he permitted the bear to follow him into the water. There, after a terrific struggle, Ebenezer killed the bear with a fish knife.”  (As depicted in the sign over the front door of The Pewter Shop.) 

The story is continued by George Jay Babson: “He then brought the bear onto the shore, skinned him, and spread the skin on the rocks to dry. Ebenezer died shortly afterwards, presumably at sea, but his nephew Henry Witham, whose life he saved, lived to a ripe old age. Naturally, he often told the story of his rescue, and when people asked how Ebenezer killed the bear, he would reply: ‘With his knife, I do declare.'” 

And hence the little ditty: “Babson, Babson, killed a bear, With his knife, I do declare.”

From John J. Babson, History of the Town of Gloucester Cape Ann Including the Town of Rockport (Massachusetts: Proctor Brothers, 1860) and The Witham Family History

E.J. Lefavour


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