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Onset Massachusetts Early Vampires Native Americans & Sandy Beaches

Updated on June 21, 2011

Jabez Wicket's Private Island


Onset is a small seaside town that is part of Wareham,Massachusetts. The town is located on the west end of theCape Cod Canal. The clean sandy beaches and the lovely restored Victorian home provide a relief from the busy city life. You get everything without the headaches and the traffic you occur when going over the bridges into Cape Cod. But Onset is still recovering from the Vampires.

Originally known as Pine Point, Onset bought its’ independence on March 31, 1877 when the Onset Bay Grove Association purchased the land from the Massachusetts Legislature. The name Onset is from the Wampanoag’s form of “OnKowam” which means, ‘The Sandy Landing Place.’

Sitting in the middle on Onset bay is Wicket’s island. In 1795, the five acre island was owned by Wampanoag tribal member, Jabez Wicket. The Wampanoag Tribe spent many summer on the island. In later years it was known for rum running. Many Native American artifacts and empty bottles have been found along its’ shores. Today the island is well overgrown with weeds, but you can purchase it and make it your own for a few million.


Communicating with the dead

Onset was a summer destination for residents of Boston,Taunton and points north. In the 1880’s a summer camp was set up for the Spiritualists. People would gather to hear mediums and to communicate with the dead. The Spiritual community grew and Onset was the place to be until the vampires moved in.

The Vampires of Onset was a book published by the New England News Co. of Boston. The book included a series of articles written by several newspaper reporters. The stories told of fakery in the spiritualist world. None of the stories written ever took place in Onset, but the damage was done. The book had a negative effect on the town and the people of Onset. Tourism slowed and the town was virtually dead.

On-I-Set Wigwam

The Onset Bay Grove Camp Meeting Company Workers wanted to counteract the book and bring back the Indian heritage Spirit guides. They build an On-I-Set Wigwam in 1894 to honor their Indian heritage and to promote the image of one with the good spirits. This did help and Onset started to regain some of its’ lost ambience. The image changed and people once again vacationed in the town.

The Onset Wigwam today is hidden among the many summer cottages. You have to look real hard to find the building. It is surrounding by a protective chain linked fence. The plague above the front door is wore, but still readable: “Erected to the Memory of the Redman-1894- Liberty Throughout the World and Freedom to all Races.” This On-i-set wigwam is the only building of its kind in the world. It is one of the oldest National Spiritualist Summer Camps in the country.


Avoid traffic and Bridges--Visit Onset

The Onset Bay Grove Association Administration Building sits in front of the town band shell. The hexagonal, peaked roofed building was built in 1877. During World War II it was a U.S.O. building. Today it houses a donut shop and still is home to the association.

Onset is a beautiful place to visit. The quaint village still has the atmosphere of summer vacation living. The beaches are clean and the water salty and refreshing. Onset has the distinction has being the home of the world’s largest thermometer collection. Richard Porter is listed in Ripley’s and other books as the owner of over 4,100 thermometers. He keeps this collection in his basement. Viewing is free and by appointment only. Call to see if he is home and he will gladly show his amazing hobby

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