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2018 Annual Guide: Brewster

Sally Gunning Brewster

Sally Gunning. Photo by Paige Biviano

A day in the life of: Sally Gunning, author and president of the Brewster Historical Society

By Deb Boucher Stetson

For author Sally Cabot Gunning, all roads lead back to Brewster. A full-time resident of the town since 1977, she fell in love with its history in the course of researching, and wound up championing the purchase of a historic home by the Brewster Historical Society, of which she is now president.

Sitting on the porch of the renovated Elijah Cobb House on Lower Road, which is now the Brewster Historical Society Museum, Gunning recalls how her association with the historical society began.

“I was trying to write ‘The Widow’s War,’ which is set in Brewster in the 1700s,” she says, referring to her first historical novel, “and it’s sometimes hard to find things from Brewster from the 1700s, because technically the town was founded in 1803,” she says, noting Brewster was originally part of Harwich. “I went to the Brewster Historical Society to see what they had, and I was hooked.”

Becoming a regular researcher at the historical society led to greater involvement, “and next thing I knew they were asking me to join the board,” which she was happy to do.

In the course of that initial research,  Gunning recalls, “I found this fantastic diary” by one Benjamin Bangs. “He turned out to be an arbiter on all the issues in town,” she says, delighting in the memory of her find. “He was such a gossip, and it was so much fun because I got all the dirt.” In the diary, he wrote about an indentured servant, and that character inspired her next historical novel, “Bound.”

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