History Lessons

WANTED! – a photo of Lanesville resident Harry Lewis Johnson, born October 2, 1894, died February 26, 1982.  Unmarried.  Parents, Lewis and Sverina Johnson, immigrated to Lanesville from Sweden.  At twenty-two years old, Harry Lewis Johnson registered for the World War I draft.  He later worked at United Shoe in Beverly.  His Lanesville address was 10 Viking St.

Harry Lewis Johnson was the last known owner of the recently restored Lane’s Cove Fish Shack.

1823 Map of Lane's Cove
1823 Map of Lane’s Cove

The Lane’s Cove Historical Association is doing research.  The ultimate goal in this chase is to understand who built The Shack and when, but any news about the Fish Shack is welcome.  We know that Harry Johnson owned it last, and we’d love to see what he looked like.

Quarrying in the Lanesville woods, the Pier Company, in the late 1840’s, purchased much of the Lane’s Cove land from private families like the Haradens, the Sargents, and the Youngs.  The Haraden family, one of the oldest in Lanesville, originally came from Annisquam.  (Edward Haraden is registered living in the southern village in the 1600’s.)

According to LCHA president Russell Hobbs, Nathaniel Haraden and his brother Jonathan, in 1844, agreed to sell their land to the Pier Company with the caveat that the company build them

Haraden agreement to sell their land to the Pier Company
Haraden agreement to sell their land to the Pier Company

“the whole string of wall from the Gate to the bars near the Cove.”  (Hobbs has copies of this deed.)  Is that stone wall the one running along the hill above the cove or is it a version of a seawall? – No one knows.

The land in Lane’s Cove, after the mid 1800’s was therefore owned by the Pier Company, but the fishermen of Lane’s Cove – families who had been fishing there since the William Young and John Woodbury left the English Dorchester Company in Gloucester in 1623 and headed north – weren’t letting the Pier Company interfere with what they had been doing for two hundred years; the Lane’s Cove fishermen were the owners and occupants of the fish houses that once densely lined the northern edge of Lane’s Cove.  They owned the shacks and The Pier Company owned the land upon which the shacks stood.  As needs changed into the 20th century, these fishermen sold or moved their shacks to backyards all over Cape Ann.  Many of the shingled wooden sheds you see in Lanesville backyards were once Lane’s Cove fish shacks.

President Russell Hobbs has already spent cumulatively weeks at the Salem Registry of Deeds and the Gloucester Archives.  His copy of Barbara Erkkila’s History of Lane’s Cove is studded with post-its.  His broad dining room table serves as a place holder for acres of old photos, older maps, deeds, and a hefty crate of files.

The oldest photograph of the Fish Shack dates to about 1880, well after the Pier Company was up and running.  The Pier Company records, still to be carefully examined by the LCHA

Undated photo of the Shack thought to be from the late 1880's.
Undated photo of the Shack thought to be from the late 1880’s.

subcommittee, definitely include discussions of multiple Lane’s Cove fish shacks.  Was our Fish Shack part of these discussions?  Was it therefore part of the original 1844 Haraden sale of Lane’s Cove land to the Pier Company?  Is the Shack older than 1844?  Was it ever rebuilt?  (Hobbs believes it was.)

The Lane’s Cove Historical Association – historical sub-committee is on it.  Watch this space for answers!

By Heather Atwood

3 thoughts on “History Lessons

  1. Harry Johnson was my uncle. In the late 1960’s when I was a kid I recall my dad and I going into the fish house and buying a few mackerel for bait. We borrowed someone’s dory and rowed out to the fish trap anchored not far from the cove. There we caught baskets of hake using hand lines. It will take some traveling and some digging but if I can find a picture of Harry I will forward it to you.

    Richard Bergstrom
    Nephew of Carl, Harry and Phillip Johnson
    (Who I am told built two boats, The Cora Jane and The Viking)

    Like

  2. Hi just saw this post from May 2015. Are you still looking for a photo of Harry Johnson? He was my uncle and I have some family photos that I am happy to share.

    Like

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