1884Mason Walton, known as the Hermit of Gloucester, came to Cape Ann.People and Communities, Notable People

“Hermit of Gloucester”, Mason Walton, 1912. Courtesy of Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Photo 14371
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Timeline Cape Ann - The Hermit of Ravenswood

Mason Walton was born in 1838 in Old Towne, Maine. As a child who traversed the trails near the Penobscot River and later, as a student of ornithology and botany, he was enthralled by the natural world. When the Civil War began, he was unable to serve due to a leg injury. He lost two brothers and a childhood best friend in the war, and later, he lost his wife and newborn daughter to complications from birth. He endured all this loss by secluding himself at his farm. When he emerged into society, he worked for a company that transferred him to Boston, where he developed several debilitating ailments.

When a doctor suggested he would benefit from sea air, Mason moved to Gloucester. He first camped in a tent on Bond’s Hill overlooking Stage Fort Park. After regaining his strength, Mason built a cabin on Old Salem Road. There he devoted his life to studying the natural world. He published a popular article and, in 1903, his book A Hermit’s Wild Friends. When local philanthropist Samuel E. Sawyer died, he designated 600 acres for a nature preserve now called Ravenswood Park. Walton was allowed to stay on in the park after trails were completed. A hermit in his way of life, Mason Walton was extremely popular and open to visitors, receiving over 50,000 to his cabin over time.

Timeline: Cape Ann — The Hermit of Ravenswood Park. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOoancNlxPk.
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