The Babson Boulders Of Dogtown

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The old community of Dogtown in Cape Ann in Massachusetts, was once home to respectable citizens. It was settled in the mid-17th century by several well-to-do families of farmers, merchants and sailors, who moved away from the coast to avoid attack from pirates. At that time the community was called the Commons Settlement, and since it was directly connected by road to all of Cape Ann’s seashore communities, the settlement became a thriving and successful hub of agriculture, timbering, and transportation. At its peak, about a hundred families were living here.

After the defeat of the British in the War of 1812, threats from the sea diminished, and many successful families returned back to the coast. The prosperous were replaced by vagabonds and widows of sailors and soldiers. For protection and companionship these women kept dogs, which gave rise to the nickname "Dogtown." During Dogtown's twilight years the hamlet attracted some eccentric inhabitants, many of whom were suspected of practicing witchcraft.


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio

Millionaire Roger Babson, best known for founding Babson College in Massachusetts, became interested in Dogtown because it was where his ancestors lived. Aside from being a well-known entrepreneur and business theorist, Babson was also a naturalist and a historian. Proud of his heritage, Babson began documenting Dogtown’s cellar holes. It was period of depression and Babson thought that by inscribing boulders with inspiring messages, he could lift the spirits of the people. So Babson hired several unemployed stonecutters and commissioned them to carve around three dozen Dogtown boulders. They carried sound advices such as “Help mother”, “ If work stops, value decays”, “ Be on time”, “Get a job”, “ Keep out of debt”, “Prosperity follows service”, “Use your head” as well as single-word inspiration such as “Courage”, “Loyalty”, “Integrity”, “Power” and so on.

Initially his family didn’t support his endeavor, but Babson didn’t care.

RogerBabson-1“My family says that I am defacing the boulders and disgracing the family with these inscriptions,” wrote Roger Babson in his autobiography, Actions and Reactions. “But the work gives me a lot of satisfaction, fresh air, exercise and sunshine,” he said, adding that all he was trying to do was to write a book with words carved in stone instead of printed paper. “Besides, when on Dogtown common, I revert to a boyhood which I once enjoyed when driving cows there many years ago," he wrote.

Incidentally, Babson wrote nearly 50 books on diverse subjects covering business, education, health, industry, politics, religion, social conditions, and travel.

The Babson Boulder Trail is a well-known hiking and mountain-biking trail today. The inscriptions he carved on boulders are clearly visible.


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio


Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio

Sources: / / / Wikipedia

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