Honey Pot Swamp
by Meg Costello
Once upon a time, everyone in Falmouth knew about the Honey Pot Swamp. If you didn’t know, people thought you were crazy—or from out of town, which maybe boiled down to the same thing.
Clarence Anderson found out early about the swamp. He came to Falmouth as a one-year-old in 1912, with his parents, who were of Swedish descent. They all moved into an old Hatch family farmhouse on Elm Road. Growing up, Clarence befriended the oldsters in his neighborhood, especially one Susan Handy. He could never get enough of his elders’ stories about things that had happened fifty, one hundred, or two hundred years ago. When he himself was old and gray, Clarence wrote volumes of memoirs and sat for many recorded interviews, hoping to preserve all the knowledge that he’d accumulated.
Regarding the Honey Pot Swamp, he wrote
I remember the honey pot very well. It was on the left side of the railroad track as you are going to Woods Hole. It was a part of the N.H. Emmons estate which [was later] . . . sold to the Pierce family in the late 1930s.
When I was very small we were always told, “Keep out of the honey pot.” But as years went on we would go in there . . . We always carried a .22 caliber rifle by the time we were 9 Years old . . . so we would go into the swamp (the honey pot) and shoot bull frogs and snakes, also crows. It was near impossible to go through the honey pot because of the tangled mess of vines and mud below, but in the winter when it froze up we could get in there somewhat. We would then be looking for muskrats, which we would catch and sell them to Eph Davis for 25 to 50 cents, and he would skin them.
. . . in later years Mrs. Dr. Simmons, who built the house where now  lives Arnold Burroughs, kept honey bees, and always said [the bees] got the honey from the honeysuckle that grew in great profusion in the honey pot. She was one of the daughters of N.H. Emmons . . .
But it was called the honey pot long before she started that. It was often mentioned by many people. . . . When a horse or a cow would get loose and run away they always used to say, “I hope it doesn’t get into the honey pot.” It was about an acre in area.[i]
Clarence wasn’t the first to set down his memories about the Honey Pot. Around 1919, Sophie Jones Fisher wrote in a private memoir
[In 1854] my father (John G. Jones) moved from Foxboro to Falmouth, having bought a farm on “Honey Pot Lane” of Miss Sally Butler. A few weeks later Mr. Bartlett Holmes moved from Plymouth and bought the second farm from us. Mr. Edward Butler lived on the farm between. Capt. Tilton lived in the house with him, having bought the farm from Mr. B. a few years before. Mr. B. reserving a garden plot for himself. . . .
The sweet-sounding name “Honey Pot Lane” was given to it by Braddock Dimmick, who had a pasture between Holmes and Butler’s. Morning and night he was seen driving his little black horse and following his cows to their daily eats. He was quite musical and you often heard his voice in song. Twas said he owned the finest sounding string of sleigh bells in town, he having bought each bell to suit his ear. Blackberries grew in great quantities in the pastures that run to the beach, and furnished a plenty to everyone in town for the picking.[ii]
Minnie Lawrence chipped in with a sentimental story about one of the residents.
Mr. Edward Butler and his mother lived up to the Honey Pot. He loved Evelina Greene, but his mother was not willing he should marry while she lived, so he kept his feelings to himself. Evelina married.
By and bye his mother died, and [Evelina’s] husband died, and after a proper time he declared himself, and they were married.
On his wedding day he made an entry in his journal, which he later showed to a neighbor and [it] was “I’ve got her! I’ve got her!” He was the happiest man when David came and then Hattie.[iii]
Falmouth vital records back up Minnie’s story—to a point. The records show that Edward Butler’s mother, Harriet, died in 1858, aged 77. Edward, 48, married Evelina Greene, 33, in February 1859. Their son David was born in 1860 and daughter Harriet (named after her interfering grandmother!) followed in 1862. However, Minnie made a mistake about Evelina’s supposed first husband. The records don’t confirm any previous marriage for Evelina, whose name was still “Greene” when she finally married Edward. This fact makes the Honey Pot Romance all the sweeter . . . and yet somehow sadder, too, at the same time.
Abutting the Honey Pot Swamp was the Fay Farm, at the bottom of Elm Street. When the farm was sold in 1925, to be developed as the Moors, Clarence Anderson witnessed
the one and only western cattle drive in Falmouth. John Wray moved his cattle by walking them down Elm Road to Locust Street to Lakeview Avenue, to Gifford Street which was then only a dirt road, and walked them all the way to Coonamessett Ranch. It was an all day affair. We as kids, me and many others, were riding our bicycles. We’d go back and forth to see what progress was being made on moving the cattle down the trail to Coonamessett. And we would catch up here and there along the way down Sandwich Road and all the way into Hatchville. By the time we got clear down to Hatchville, being late in the day, it was too far for us kids to be riding around on bicycles. We beat it for home.[iv]
Thankfully, not one of the cattle went astray and got lost in the Honey Pot Swamp.
[i] Papers of Clarence Anderson, letter to Arnold Dyer, January 26, 1994. Unpublished typescript at the Museums.
[ii] Sophie Jones Fisher, “Falmouth as I Knew It 65 Years Ago,” c.1919. Unpublished manuscript at the Museums.
[iii] Minnie Lawrence, undated and unpublished manuscript, at the Museums.
[iv] Papers of Clarence Anderson, interview with Philip Choate, April 14, 2000. Unpublished transcript at the Museums.