Lobster liver or pine tree, the mystery of the origins of the name Loblolly Cove is perhaps solved. Thank you to GMG reader “escape pod” for steering us in the direction of the blog Vintage Rockport and to Lois for her suggestion to read about pines during the Eemian interglacial period.
It would be challenging to learn whether the early colonists knew about Loblolly Pine trees in 1700 when the cove was first named by Welshman Peter Emmons. The word loblolly is a combination of lob referring to thick bubbling soup and lolly is from an old British dialect word for broth or soup. In the southeastern United States loblolly means mudhole or mire, in a sense relating to thick soup. Loblolly Pines generally (but not always) grow in the swampy lowlands of the southeast.
More plausible to the mystery of the naming of Loblolly Cove is the following account written by Frederic Sharon in 1939 and found on the Vintage Rockport blog. The article is fascinating, as is the website. The excerpt is pertinent to our mystery, and do read the full account. I loved learning that there was a little fish shack called Haskell’s Camp there at one time on Loblolly Cove. Recently I learned too that lobsters were so plentiful in the days of the early colonist and could be found in such great abundance on the beach amongst the seaweed that one needed only reach out their hand to take one home for dinner; no lobster traps needed!
From Vintage Rockport: A 1939 News Article About Haskell’s Camp and the Origin of the Name ‘Loblolly’
“…The fame of these clambakes was spread by these men and soon summer visitors heard about them. They used to come up from the resorts in tally-ho’s and barges (that was before the automobile) and then they began demanding shore dinners for smaller parties and individuals. So began the business that made Loblolly Cove famous.
“Why Loblolly Cove?” I asked. “What does Loblolly mean?”
“The Camp” at Loblolly Cove, Rockport, where those wonderful
“That’s what I wanted to know, and I was a long time finding out. I found in the dictionary that ‘loblolly’ meant thick oatmeal gruel; another definition said it was a kind of tree. This didn’t suit me; I found that Peter Emmons, a Welshman, received a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts about the year 1700 of this region. He named it Loblolly Cove. Now why. I wondered.
“Some years ago a Welshman had one of my shore dinners and after finishing his lobster remarked that that was as good a loblolly as he had ever eaten. I pounced on him at once. What did he mean by loblolly?”
“Why,” he replied in surprise, “don’t you know what loblolly is?”
“No,” I said eagerly. “What is it?”
Loblolly on Bread!
“Well, in my boyhood in Wales,” he replied, “we used to catch lobsters and cook them and the piece-de-resistance was the loblolly, the liver or fat of the lobster, you know that sort of greenish thing you see in a broiled lobster. Well that is the loblolly and we used to spread it on bread because we didn’t have much butter. So there you are. The loblolly is a lobster liver.”
“And then to clinch it, one day a lovely old lady from Salem was having a shore dinner and as she finished she said: ‘That was a lovely loblolly.’”
“So I tackled her and here is what she said: ‘Loblolly, why all my life I’ve known the liver or fat of the lobster as the loblolly.’
“‘But, why?’ I asked determined to find out further about this elusive word. ‘Why,’ she said, ‘when I was a girl we used to go to Nahant for our lobsters because there was a Welshman there who caught such wonderful ones, noted because of their delicious loblollies.’
“So that settled it. Peter Emmons was a Welshman, the lobsters he found in his cove had superior ‘loblollies,’ so he named his cove ‘Loblolly Cove’ and the lobsters to this day have kept alive the tradition.
“Well,” continued Haskell, “I was young and wanted to see the world, so I went to New York and entered business. After two companies I was with folded up I decided to come back here, especially as this business had grown and father needed me, so here I’ve been ever since.”
Read more (and learn how they cooked the lobsters) here:
A 1939 News Article About Haskell’s Camp and the Origin of the Name ‘Loblolly’
Mystery at Loblolly Cove
Haskell’s Camp Loblolly Cove from Vintage Rockport