Jessica Fletcher’s hometown of Cabot Cove is perhaps best known for its potential as the (fictional) murder capital of the world. But for fans of the show, it’s more than just a setting for murder mysteries. It is a familiar place with its own geography and history.
Since today is Columbus Day in the US and Thanksgiving Day in Canada — and since just a few weeks I had watched an episode featuring Cabot Cove history for my weekly #MondaySheWrote tweet-alongs — I thought it would be fun to compile a list of episodes that delve into the history of Cabot Cove as a New England settlement. Big thanks to everyone who took part in the tweet-along last week, and helped remind me of the relevant episodes!
Hit, Run and Homicide (S1E6)
The first episode to mention Cabot Cove’s history is Season 1’s “Hit, Run and Homicide”, which is otherwise most memorable for featuring a driverless car. However, the episode starts at the Cabot Cove Founders Day Clambake & Picnic. Thanks to a conversation between Jessica and a fellow Cabot Cove citizen, we learn that one of the founders “Captain Joshua Wayne” was a pirate who fought on the side of the British in the Revolutionary War.
Joshua Peabody Died Here… Possibly (S2E2)
Although in Season 1, the name of a major Cabot Cove founding father was given as Captain Joshua Wayne, starting with Season 2 the most frequently referenced Cabot Cove historical figure was Joshua Peabody. In the episode, the remains of a body that everyone believes is that of Joshua Peabody are found.
Notably, many people (including Doctor Seth Hazlitt) are skeptical that Joshua Peabody ever even existed, and officially his existence is still in dispute. However, Sheriff Tupper refers to him as “Cabot Cove’s most famous revolutionary war hero”. Tupper, being well-versed in Joshua Peabody legend, also states that Joshua Peabody died at the Battle of Cabot Cove in 1779, struck down by a Redcoat rifle butt.
Jessica also mentions up until 10-12 years ago, they used to hold annual re-creations of the Battle of Cabot Cove.
Sticks and Stones (S2E10)
Season 2 was a big year for learning about Cabot Cove history. In “Sticks and Stones”, Jessica hosts a writer who plans to pen a series of travel books — one of which is about Cabot Cove. As Jessica leads him through a tour of the town, we learn that it was first settled in 1684, that most of the town was wiped out by the storm of 1836, and that there was a minor skirmish with the British in the Battle of Cabot Cove in 1778.
We also learn about an open area in town that was old coast guard property, which had a wooden lighthouse that burned down the year prior. (The land is slated to be the new home of 400 condominiums.)
Keep the Home Fries Burning (S2E14)
Later on in season 2, Joshua Peabody is referenced again as the main action takes place at the Joshua Peabody Inn — a Revolutionary War-themed restaurant. The conversation between Seth and Amos continues to suggest that the existence of Joshua Peabody is debatable.
Dead Man’s Gold (S3E6)
In Season 3, we only get a few snippets of Cabot Cove history. One of those includes a little-known story about a potential sunken treasure in Cabot Cove harbor that went down on a British merchant ship in 1777.
Indian Giver (S4E10)
The writers return to exploring Cabot Cove history in Season 4 — one of the main episodes being “Indian Giver“, which (just like “Hit, Run and Homicide” in Season 1) begins with the Cabot Cove Founders Day.
In this episode we learn that:
In 1858, an Algonquin chieftain named Manitoka helped the British win a major battle against the French. And in appreciation, the British governor general bestowed upon the chief and his descendants a grant of land which includes all of the area which you now call Cabot Cove.
Benedict Arnold Slipped Here (S4E18)
“Benedict Arnold Slipped Here” is the other major historical episode in Season 4. In this episode, we learn that Benedict Arnold’s mistress used to live in Cabot Cove. Old letters written by the mistress were found in the house, and outline General Benedict Arnolds betrayal of not only his country, but also of his mistress with one of her maids.
Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (S5E13)
After Season 4, the episodes that reference Cabot Cove history became more scarce. The next few that did both referenced the area’s involvement in the witch trials. The first of these was “Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble“, which finds Cabot Cove swarming with journalists and writers after the ghost of Patience Terhune, a woman tried and convicted of witchcraft in, is spotted.
The Witch’s Curse (S8E12)
After several seasons, the topic of witch trials in Cabot Cove was brought up again in “The Witch’s Curse”. This time, the witch in question is Rachel Abbott, and the Cabot Cove dramatic society (led by Seth) is putting on a play about her.
To Kill a Legend (S11E3)
One of the final episodes of Murder, She Wrote that delves into Cabot Cove history also returns to historical figure of Joshua Peabody. However, by this point, the Revolutionary War re-enactments mentioned in Season 2 appear to have been revived.
Additionally, the existence of Joshua Peabody is no longer in dispute. In fact, it appears that he even has some of his descendants living in town. We also learn that, before the American Revolution, Joshua Peabody was known as Maine’s finest clockmaker, who eventually became fascinated with music boxes.
Furthermore, the premise of this episode appears to conflate him somewhat with the story of Benedict Arnold, as evidence emerges that he may have been a traitor — according to a letter purporting to be written by George Washington on September 12, 1780.
Have you noticed any other episodes that mention the history of Cabot Cove’s settlement? If so, please let me know in the comments!