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Unlock The Orb of Chatham and witness its mystery ...

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Home I Sneak Peek I The Chatham Five I Buy The Book I FAQs I Unlock The Orb Code I About The Author I The Art I Behind The Scenes I Press & Media I Book Signings & Events I Contact I Links I About Chatham I Blog I The Orb Store I About Chatham I Walking Tour I Help

"A strange noir mystery that is truly baffling, yet curiously entertaining."
-- Tim Wood, The Cape Cod Chronicle
'Middle-of-the-night black, moonlight white and cold gray have never been so eerily orchestrated as they are in Staake's superb drawings for his chilling tale, 'The Orb of Chatham'. Your eyes will feast and your skin will crawl."
-- Michael Keegan, The Washington Post
"A taut tale of ghostly suspense -- a clever mystery with a solid mythology."
-- CapeCodToday.com

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About Chatham, Massachusetts

An idyllic village and quintessential New England town, its aura, beauty and nautical location only add to its mysterious appeal .



Chatham, Massachusetts is located at the southeast tip of Cape Cod. If the Cape is viewed as a bent arm, Chatham is at the elbow. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, to the South is Nantucket Sound, to the north is Pleasant Bay. The only adjacent town (located at both the north and west town line boundaries) is Harwich. Major geographical features of the Town are hilly, wooded uplands, extensive barrier beaches and spits, harbors, numerous small estuaries, and salt and freshwater ponds.

Mainland features are the result of glacial action during the last Ice Age and consist of ridges, knobs (hills), outwash plains, and kettles (depressions and ponds). Several ponds formed by melting glacial ice have become salt ponds because of rising sea levels. The Town's coastal dunes and beaches have been formed through thousands of years of erosion of scarps (cliffs) and movement of the material from the north and west.

Strong Island in Pleasant Bay marks the Town's northern boundary. Morris and Stage Islands mark the extent of developed area on the south. The Red River is the boundary on the west and the Muddy Creek (or Monomoy River) on the northwest. The highest point (131 feet) in Chatham is "Great Height", long a landmark for vessels offshore.



In 1606, Samuel de Champlain, the first European known to have explored the area, encountered the Monomoyicks, a Native American tribe of about 500-600 members. The topography he mapped and described is still recognizable, as are the varieties of plants, fish, shellfish, and game birds. The Monomoyicks sustained themselves with well-established farms, hunting and fishing.

The arrival of English colonists began about 1656 when William Nickerson, an English emigrant working as a land surveyor and weaver in Yarmouth on Cape Cod made the first land purchase from Sachem Mattaquason of the Monomoyicks. Nickerson failed to get permission for the purchase (a requirement at that time) from the Plymouth General Court. As a result, the Court confiscated his land except for a 100-acre Homestead. But, after 10-12 years of litigation, he regained ownership. With additional purchases he ultimately owned all of what is now Chatham with the exception of some land east of Old Harbor Road which had been reserved for the Monomoyicks. In 1664 Nickerson settled his family on the west side of Ryder's Cove.

By the 1690's, 17 families lived in Chatham, and that number slowly grew to 50 families in the early 1700's while the native population dwindled to 50-70. Before being established as a Constablewick in 1696 known as "Monamoy", the settlement had belonged to Yarmouth and then Eastham. Chatham was incorporated in 1712 and quickly organized school districts and church leadership.

(In the early 1700s) "...the outlook for the place was not considered bright. It was small in area and the General Court had refused to increase its territory. According to the ideas and mode of life at that time, it could never accommodate many settlers. Moreover, its location was thought to be unfavorable, in those times when England was almost constantly at war with France, as it was considered to be peculiarly exposed on two sides to attacks from French privateers who occasionally hovered around the coast and threw the people into a panic."
-William C. Smith, A History of Chatham, Massachusetts, 1947

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Chatham's early prospects were not promising. The first 100 years of recorded history reveal a struggle to establish an economy and a stable population. Situated at the end of a primitive road from Yarmouth and surrounded by open ocean, Chatham was vulnerable. Farming yielded little beyond the needs of the residents, and fishing, the mainstay of the early economy, was often disrupted by war ships, first the French and later the British. The 1750 natural closing of the entrance to Pleasant Bay forced maritime activities farther south. The French and Indian Wars and the 1760 smallpox epidemic took both men and money. By 1765 the census listed only 678 persons in 105 families.

It wasn't until after the Revolutionary War that Chatham stabilized and grew. Industries such as fish export, ship building and salt production brought life to the economy. Agriculture, fishing, whaling and aH maritime enterprises flourished. In 1830, during the height of salt works production, the population was 2130.

In 1851 a breach of North Beach occurred affecting the stability of the fishing trade, but fishing, ship building and salt-making still occupied most of the Town's population. Some greater diversity of religious and cultural groups appeared in the years prior to the Civil War, and government services including post offices were upgraded. The population peaked in 1860 at 2710, but dropped to only 1300 following the Civil War.

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+ Take A Sneak Peek At 'The Orb Of Chatham' NOW

+ Unlock The Orb Code (To do so, you must hold the book in your hands to solve the clues found in the artwork)

+ Buy The Book

+ Email your friends about 'The Orb Of Chatham' web site! Just Click Here

Change to a Resort Area

In the late 1800s the growing popularity of seaside summers and the development of resorts attractive to a wealthy clientele provided a new basis for economic growth, especially after the railroad was built in 1887. The Life Saving Station, Stage Harbor Light, a local newspaper, telegraph and telephone service were added, and the first auto license was issued during this period. Coastal erosion forced the moving of the Twin Lights at James Head to the site where the Lighthouse Overlook is now located. Two new schools were needed, and the first public library was established in 1875 in South Chatham. In 1896 Marcellus Eldredge, a native son, donated Eldredge Public Library to the townspeople.

The airport was built in 1930, road service was upgraded, and automobile travel soon became common. In 1950 the summer population of 5,000 greatly outnumbered 2,457 year-round residents.

Since World War II, Chatham has experienced rapid growth and has become a popular place for retirement. Housing construction has continued steadily since the war with about 1,000 new houses built per decade. Many are second homes. Currently only about one-half of the Town's 6300 housing units are occupied year-round; the other half are occupied seasonally. The 1990 federal census lists a population of 6,579.


Chatham Today

Despite precarious beginnings, Chatham has developed over the years into a highly desirable place to live in or visit. Today its small-town qualities are well suited for families and retired residents. A spectacular coastline and out-of-the-way location have kept generations of summer residents coming back each year. With its old Cape Cod quaintness relieved by the vast pristine beaches and surrounding ocean, Chatham has great appeal. Visitors in July and August now number 20-25,000 annually.

The Town's development as a high quality mecca for retirees, summer residents and tourists depended on two factors which in the early days of European settlement had been liabilities: its isolation and its exposure to the ocean. Today, Chatham prospers because of these factors and struggles to maintain its character in the face of its economic success.

In 2005, a hauntingly enigmatic book, 'The Orb Of Chatham' by Bob Staake (OrbOfChatham.com), only added to the aura and mysterious appeal of this idyllic New England village on the elbow of Cape Cod.

Written and illustrated by Bob Staake, 'The Orb Of Chatham' is unlike any other of his more than 35 books.

A hauntingly eery tale that meanders through this mysterious New England town, 'The Orb Of Chatham' fascinates and mesmerizes readers both young and old. Take a peek at the book




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The Book Is Only The Beginning Of The Orb Of Chatham Story:

Of the five who reported witnessing 'The Orb Of Chatham' in 1935, why would Margaret Snow be the last to file her report with the authorities, while her husband, Walter, was the first? Additional Information on 'The Chatham Five' can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter Why are so many orb shapes found in Chatham? The mysterious forms are commonly seen decorating gardens, placed in northeast corners of barns, and even used as book ends. Once people have read 'The Orb of Chatham', they report noticing even more Orb shapes within the quaint village. Additional photos of Orbs can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter What explains that orbs are often found near ship wrecks, particularly those occuring on nights with full moons? Unless you look closely at some of these mysterious photographs, you may not even notice the orbs that almost seem to hide from view. Additional shipwreck photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter

Given the relative shallowness of Chatham's waters, why did divers feel it necessary in 1976 to use a titanium diving suit like this to search the ocean floor of Stage Harbor when lobster traps were discovered being mysteriously "crushed" by something? Additional photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter Why would this novelty song about 'The Orb Of Chatham' have been recorded in 1936 -- but banned from being played on the town's only radio station? Additional product photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter Is there a reason why orb sightings in the Chatham skies increase during the winter months -- even though the town's population drops considerably? And why do so many townspeople insist that 'The Orb of Chatham' events of 1935 never took place? Additional Sighting Photos can be found inside the Orb. Click here to unlock the code and enter


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The Orb Of Chatham and OrbOfChatham.com is Copyright 2005 by Bob Staake - All Rights Reserved. The book was originally published by Commonwealth Editions. The text, images and content on this web site cannot be used without the expressed, written consent of the author. For licensing inquiries, please click here. Any similarity to charcacters living or dead is strictly coincidental Flash animation and music sequence by Ryan Staake -- Melonsoft.

























, the reports were made upon daylight, though local authorities dismissed them a hoax.

Still, the witnesses' independent accounts were virtually identical; the orb appeared to be made of blackened metal, perhaps six feet tall, and traveled in absolute silence by rolling (though one witness reported spotting the orb "hovering" in the air above a local church).

Two months later, all five witnesses vanished -- on the same October evening -- never to be seen again.

Whether 'The Orb Of Chatham' is truth or fiction remains a mystery to this day.