Orleans Street Names

Every street name has its story!

Who remembers the original name of Tonset Road Extension? It was Stone Crusher Road because the machine used to crush stones for road construction had been located there.


Beriah Doane of East Orleans had a spring where people would often go to get fresh water; it was commonly known as “Beriah’s spring.” That’s how Briar Spring Road got its name! This information was imparted to me by the late realtor Tod Rattle.


Uncle Harvey’s Way honors Harvey Sparrow, who served in the War of 1812. He and his wife, Betsey, are interred in the Orleans Cemetery. 

A street scene in Orleans on Cape Cod. Photo by John Phelan


Captain Linnell Road was named for Captain Ebenezer Harding Linnell, who built and lived in the mansion formerly occupied by the Captain Linnell House restaurant near Skaket Beach. There is a monument to Captain Linnell in the cemetery, but his body was claimed by the sea on an ill-fated voyage. 


Aunt Polly’s Way commemorates Mary White Talbot, fondly known as Aunt Polly. She was the sister of Sara White Johnstone, who operated the outdoor Greenwood Theatre with her husband, William Bard Johnstone. The Johnstones and Whites were instrumental in founding the Church of the Holy Spirit on Monument Road, not far from where they lived.


Winslow Drive recalls the Winslow family, who owned a large amount of property in South Orleans. They were the owners of United Shoe Machinery in Boston.


In the Weeset section of Tonset is Sage’s Way, which honors Albert Snow, a local historian who was nicknamed the Sage of Weeset.


Eldredge Park Way reflects the name of the adjacent ball field. When the Orleans town nurse had her office in the elementary school, the first listing under “Town of Orleans” in the phone book was “Nurse Eldredge Park Way.”

Mail addressed to the Town at “Nurse Eldredge Park Way” would occasionally arrive at Town Hall! I suppose the writers must have wondered who the heroic Nurse Eldredge had been!


Every street name has its story!

Read more stories about Cape Cod in Mary McDermott’s book Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town from Sea Crow Press.

Mary E. McDermott is a 13th-generation Cape Codder living in Orleans. She worked for 17 years in the Orleans Assessor’s Office and 23 years as a commercial insurance broker at Pike Insurance Agency. She has been a justice of the peace to solemnize marriages since 1976 and has previously published two books of poetry, Tapestry and Handle with Care. Her poems have appeared in several publications including the Christian Science Monitor.

What Was School Like on Old Cape Cod?

The Education of an Orleans Girl.

Sea Crow Press author Mary E. McDermott reminisces about student life in her beloved home town Orleans. Her new book, Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town, preserves stories of local life in simpler times.


The lives of Orleans baby boomers were influenced by a succession of teachers, all of whom had distinct personalities and who played various roles in shaping our education.

Our first-grade teacher, Mrs Eldredge, had high standards and an often-sharp tongue, but impeccable taste in literature. She introduced the class to Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Peter Rabbit and Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, an introduction for which I am still grateful.

Third grade’s Mrs Wilcox (later Mrs Wright), had a wonderful sense of fun and humor, as well as empathy. On one hot day, someone from another grade brought her a bottle of Pepsi, which she would not drink in our thirsty presence. A nature enthusiast who lived near the school, she once walked the entire class over to her house at lunchtime to watch the birds at her feeders. 
On winter afternoons, an upperclassman would come by with a report as to which ponds were safe to skate on. Ice House Pond off Brick Hill Road in East Orleans—better known as “the pond behind Charlie Moore’s” —was usually among them.

Orleans High School back in the day.

The town’s first Catholic priest, Father James Lynch, had long dreamed of opening a parochial school, and his dream came true. The school building, which held grades from kindergarten through eighth, is now home to the St Joan of Arc thrift shop. A group of the Sisters of Divine Providence from Pennsylvania came to teach. Some, like Sister Georgette and Sister Marianne, were gentle souls who truly loved children. Others, who shall remain nameless, ruled by the ruler across the knuckles and soul-searing insults. But they all taught us to study hard; every afternoon, our book bags were heavy with homework. 

When I entered high school in 1960, the district had regionalized to include Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Brewster students could choose to attend Nauset or Dennis-Yarmouth, and those from Truro could come to Nauset or go to Provincetown, which today is part of the Nauset region. A few of the Wellfleet boys were jokers, and their jokes were not always funny. A few years ago, I asked one of them why they had picked on people, and he replied, “Because it was our first time on someone else’s turf, and we were scared.” That was a revelation.

The faculty included some first-rate teachers with knowledge and wit. English teacher Miss Elisabeth Hooker founded the Archy Club, named for the cockroach in Archy and Mehitabel; members could come in early for help with spelling and punctuation. Dr Stewart Brooks, who taught Latin and ancient history, invented the holiday Egredior Day, which fell on March fourth, because egredior in Latin means march forth. Mrs Betty Murphy made the French language a lot of fun and also participated as a cheerleader at the annual student-faculty basketball game. Mrs Frances Mayfarth knew that her juniors would not be able to focus on English the day before Christmas vacation, so she had us put our desks in a circle and take turns relating how we learned that there was no Santa Claus.

We may have come from a small-town setting, but we were sent into the world with as fine a background as could be found anywhere!

Mary E. McDermott is a 13th-generation Cape Codder living in Orleans. She worked for 17 years in the Orleans Assessor’s Office and 23 years as a commercial insurance broker at Pike Insurance Agency. She has been a justice of the peace to solemnize marriages since 1976 and has previously published two books of poetry, Tapestry and Handle with Care. Her poems have appeared in several publications including the Christian Science Monitor.

Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town, is available now wherever good books are sold, especially your local book store.