Cuffe Wharf

The captioned photo of the Cuffee Farm and Landing is from a 1913 publication of Paul Cuffe’s great-grandson, Horatio P. Howard, entitled A Self-Made Man, Captain Paul Cuffee. There is some question as to whether the site in the photo really was of Paul Cuffe’s wharf, but general agreement that the house in the picture is not on the scale of Paul Cuffe’s homestead residence that he bequeathed to his two children, Rhoda and William.

Paul Cuffe purchased his first property on the west bank of the Acoaxet River on March 19, 1789, from Isaac Sowle for four pounds, 18 shillings and 5 pence. The property, carved out of the southeast corner of Isaac Sowle’s homestead, contained 35 square rods (0.22 acres), and was bounded on the east by the East Branch of the Westport River, on the south by land of Joseph Sowle, a distance of 8 3/4 rods, thence north 4 rods and thence east, in a line parallel to the south boundary, to the river.

The direction of the south boundary was given as west 7 degrees north and the north boundary parallel to it, or east 7 degrees south. The deed also granted Paul Cuffe an access way from his wharf along Isaac Sowle’s south property line to the Drift Way.

Eleven years later Paul Cuffe purchased an adjacent piece of property from Lemuel Sowle, the heir of Joseph Sowle and a first cousin of Isaac Sowle. This new property, carved out of the northeast corner of Lemuel Sowle’s homestead, was approximately half the size of the previous purchase and thus increased the size of Paul Cuffe’s dock and boat works by 50%. The combined properties  had approximately 50 rods (0.44 acres), being 6 rods (100 ft) north to south and 8 and 3/4 rods (145 ft) east to west. Paul Cuffe continued to operate out of these facilities for the rest of his life and ultimately bequeathed the house and the wharf to two of his children – Rhoda and William – in his will.

The parameters of the two properties on which Paul Cuffe’s wharf and his residence were located, have been crucial to identifying the precise location of this previously misidentified property. By tracing back through the successive generations of the Soule family’s land holdings and determining the boundaries of their properties on the basis of the metes and bounds recorded by the surveyors, it has been possible to determine with great confidence where Paul Cuffe’s wharf and residence were actually located.