History of Carleton Shores
by Jill Jillson
Carleton Shores is located in the section of Sandwich formerly called Scorton Neck. Old deeds refer to it as an area in the northeast corner of Sandwich bordered south and west by Scorton Creek, north by the Bay, east by Sandy Neck and Great Marsh in Barnstable.
Indians had inhabited this area. The last encampment of the Scorton Indians (part of the Wampanoag tribe) was on the dunes at Carleton Shores. Arrowheads have been found from time to time in the area. A Spanish doubloon was also found. There were some who believed the coin to be part of a pirate treasure trove, however no other evidence of this stash was ever found.
Three large farms took up this area. The Nye farm encompassed the current Wingscorton Farm and Sandwich Downs. The Armstrong farm was the present Meadow Springs Farm and the development to the beach. The H. T. Wing farm, which had belonged to the Wing family since the 1670’s, was about 200 acres and is now Carleton Shores. It included the area now known as Long Hill and Beachplum Circle. This farm was bought by Hiram Carleton in 1881 for his son John Fisher Carleton. John Carleton had wanted to be a farmer. His father Hiram Carleton, a minister, promised him that if he went to Harvard, he would buy him a farm when he graduated from college.
The farm was crisscrossed by stonewalls. An early picture shows these walls and a much more open landscape than is now seen. (Of course, this is true of most of the Cape. In 1900, the land had far fewer trees as fields had been cleared and wood cut for heating. With the advent of central heating and the passing of small farming, much of the land has gone back to trees. In spite of development, the Cape has more woodlands now than 100 years ago.) The road (the current Route 6A) was unpaved and ran only as far as the marsh at the edge of Scorton Creek. At that time, one had to go over the bridge on Jones Lane to County Road in order to ride to Sandwich or Barnstable.
In the early 1900’s the road was paved. The state bought up the stonewalls on the nearby farms for $1,000 and crushed the stones with a steam crusher. The state workers also opened the sandpit on the west side of the hill which slopes toward Jillson Way. They took gravel and sand for a road foundation. At that time the bridge over Scorton Creek was built. It was rebuilt in the 1930’s. There are still a few wood pilings left from the temporary bridge which was put up at that time. These can be seen to the left of 6A as one drives toward Sandwich.
There was a large old house on the H. T. Wing farm when it was purchased by Hiram Carleton. It was very close to the present road. There were also several barns on the property. The oldest was built in the early 1700’s. It is now incorporated as a garage into the house at 613 Rte 6A. The house dated from the 1670’s. It burned on February 2, 1900. The fire began in the chimney and burned downwards. Had help been near at hand, the house might have been saved. But the men pulled out as much as the could from the lower floors and had to watch helplessly as the fire burned the house down. The Carleton family, which then consisted of four girls, a boy, and a baby on the way, went to stay with the Armstrong family at Meadow Springs. A new house in the foursquare style was built and ready for the family to move back to the farm in June, just before the last baby of the family was born. This house, with additions in 2000, still stands on the rise above Rte
6A. John’s great-granddaughter Cynthia Jillson Myers and her husband Mike live there now. There was no electricity in the original house, but there was a pump in the kitchen so there was “indoor plumbing”.
John Carleton raised chickens and cows, had a vegetable garden, and tended the fruit trees (apple, pear and cherry) on the property. Several of the pear trees still blossom every spring and produce a few pears. John began to develop cranberry bogs to raise the fruit commercially. Several of his bogs were put in along what is now Caarleton Drive East, just beyond the Bruce and Helen Jillson house. He also began to raise blueberries in the 1920’s. The first fields were developed along Rte 6A and much of the acreage now belongs to the Sandwich Conservation Commission. In 1946, his son John Foxcroft Carleton, know as Jack, put in blueberries in what was known as the “nursery”. This field is now tended by John Carleton’s great-grandson Bruce Jillson. Bruce does the work here and generously shares his crop with neighbors and friends, who eagerly await the ripening of the “blues” and Bruce’s invitation to pick their own.
Parts of the farm were divided off for family members along the way. In the 20’s Sam Foxcroft, John Carleton’s brother-in-law, bought a corner of the farm which was later developed as Beach Plum Circle. Sam and his sister Annie Foxcroft lived there. He worked in his orchard and for his brother-in-law. Sam died in 1962 and the house and land were sold to Joe Birchall, whose heirs sold it to the developers of Beach Plum Circle.
Also in the 20’s a strip on the west side of the property from the highway to the beach was sold to a group of hunters from the city. They built a cabin at the foot of the hill and raised pheasnt and quail. They then sold to John Shaw in the early 30’s. The original cabin burned, and the Shaws rebuilt at the top of the hill. The Shaws then sold this property to John Long who sold it to developers who took down the old house and developed the property now known as Long Hill.
In 1932 the lot where Annie Lloyd’s house now stands was sold to her and her husband Louis. Annie was the daughter of John Carleton. Annie had been a teacher until her marriage and then worked on the family farm. Her husband Louis worked at the Keith Car Works in Sagamore and then for the Cape Cod Mosquito Control. In later years, Annie raised boxwood and holly trees which she sold to local landscaper, shared with friends and family and gave to her church for Christmas Fairs. Her yard was always full of flowers which delighted many.
In the late 30’s, John sold a piece of land at the west end of the blueberry fields to Marise Faucett and Yvonne Rousseau who built their Christmas shop there. They designed and printed their own cards and bought unique Christmas ornaments from various sources. The Christmas shop, now enlarged, still stands in front of the blueberry fields.
In the early 30’s the sandpit where the tennis courts are now located was scraped out of the hill. At first the sand was dug by hand. Jack Jillson remembers that as teenagers, he and his friend could load a flatbed truck with 200 shovelsful apiece. They would then drive the truck down to one of the bogs. As the truck was not a dump truck, they then had to unload the same 200 shovelsful by hand. They did 9 or 10 loads a day. The thrill was getting to drive the truck before they were old enough for licenses.
John Fisher Carleton died in 1940 at the age of 83. His son, John Foxcroft Carleton, known as Jack, then took over the farm operations. Jack was a graduate of U. Mass, then know as Mass Aggie (Agricultural College), and had worked with his father since graduation from college. (He had taken time out to serve in World War I and also had a brief interlude in Florida where he ran a grapefruit farm.)
During that time part of the farm was leased to the government as an adjunct to Camp Edwards Army base (now Otis ANG). The area along the beach was a practice range of the 68th Coast Artillery. The original lease was signed with Isabel Carleton, widow of the late John Fisher Carleton, in June, 1941. In late 1941 the government began work on the property. Following old cart trails, they built a road to the beach. They developed a sandpit at the corners of Carlteon Drive and Oak Ridge Road. At the beach they had a firing range where the beach parking lot now is. They put in a grid of roads to the barracks, mess halls, dispensaries, and latrines as well as a septic system, storm drains, and water pipes from the water tower at the top of the hill.
Parts of those roads can be found under Carleton Drive East and West and on the Gorton property. John and Blanche Gorton’s garage is part of the old mess hall. It had been used as a garage for some farm equipment and family autos after the war until the late 50’s. There was a water tower at one of the high points of the property in the area of Weathervane Lane. It was dismantled in the early 50’s and sold to a company in Mississippi.
The army left in late 1944 as the war began to wind down. In August, 1946, Isabel Foxcroft Carleton made an agreement with Pride Salvage of Medford to dismantle and take away the buildings which the government had left behind. This job was to be completed by January, 1947.
The wooden gates at the foot of Carleton Drive were left behind as were a few other buildings which the family kept for their use. Jack Carleton converted one of the barracks into his family home and another was the home of Jack and Carol Jillson until they built their home at in 1949. Their cottage was then rented out by Jack Carleton in summers.
In 1958 another Rte 6A lot was sold. AnnMarie Healy and Babs Cannon bought the lot on the east side of Carleton Drive on the 6A side of the gateposts. They built a home and attached a gift shop called the Cat and the Fiddle. In the early 60’s the shop and home were sold and became a private home. It is now #2 Carleton Drive.
In 1963, Jack Carleton died and his daughter Joy inherited the farm. With the help of her cousin Jack Jillson (grandson of John Carleton by way of his daughter Augusta), the farm began to be developed. The Jack Carleton home and the cottage were removed from the property. One is now a house on Old County Road, and the other is attached as an addition to a home on Rte 6A.
In 1964 the first beach lots were sold. Carleton Drive was repaved, and Cranberry Circle, Blueberry Circle, Foxcroft Circle, and Lloyd Lane were carved out and paved. Foxcroft Lane is named for John Fisher Carleton’s wife’s family as her maiden name had been Foxcroft. As mentioned earlier, her bachelor brother Sam and unmarried sister Annie Foxcroft, had a home on part of the original farm. Lloyd Lane was named for Annie Carleton Lloyd, a daughter of John Fisher and Isabel Foxcroft Carleton, who had married Louis Lloyd. They had also lived on part of the farm.
In 1963, Peter and Julie Meinl bought another piece of the property on Rte 6A, now the David Leary home. In 1965 the barn built in the early 1700’s was sold to Bill Thompson who built his house there and attached to to the barn which was used as a garage.
Roads were laid out. Weathervane Lane was built in 1967, and Oak Ridge was finished in l971. Joy Circle was also laid out in 1971. Joy Carleton, daughter of John Foxcroft Carleton and granddaughter of John Fisher Carleton, lives on this circle. Lost Meadow and the roads to the east of Carleton Drive were laid out in 1985. Jillson Way was paved in 1995. (Jillson Way was named for Augusta Carleton Jillson, another of the daughters of John Fisher Carleton. Her son Jack and some of his children still live at Carleton Shores, as mentioned earlier.) The old barn on Jillson Way was moved to the Bruce Jillson property that same year.