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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.

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Photo credit: Bickernicks/Panoramio

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