D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

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Hanover, the thirteenth town to be incorporated
in Plymouth Couuty, is bounded on the north by
South Scituate and Rockland ; on the east by the
Third Herring Brook, dividing it from South Scitu-
ate ; on the south by Pembroke and Hanson; and on
the west by Rockland. It contains fifteen and one-
half square miles.

Boundaries. — The act of incorporation passed June
14, 1727, describes the boundaries of the town as fol-
lows, viz. : " Beginning at the Third Herring Brook, at
David Jacob's saw-mill dam, and from thence running
near west about two hundred and fifty-six rods to the
northeast corner of Isaac Turner's Great Lot ; then
near west with the north side line of said Great Lot,
one mile to the share line, and then continuing the
same course three-quarters of a mile ; then turning
and running near south two miles to the southwest
corner of Nehemiah Cushiug's lot; then south five
degrees and forty minutes west to the southerly bounds
of Abingtou ; and on the south side it is bounded on
the line betwixt Abiugton and Pembrook, and on
Indian Head River ; and southeasterly by the North
River; and easterly by the aforesaid Third Herring
Brook from the said North River to the dam before

In 1878 a survey, made by the selectmen of Han-
over in connection with those of Rockland, demon-
strated that the bound-marks then standing did not
couform to the act of incorporation, and that the line
as it was actually laid out was probably lost. The
Legislature was therefore called upon, and in March
of that year an act was passed, " to define aud estab-
lish the boundary line between the towns of Hanover
aud Rockland." This act defined those bounds to be
as follows : " Beginning at a monument in the north
line of the town of Hanson twelve hundred aud fifty

meters easterly from the monument at the southwest
corner of Rockland, and running thence in a straight
line north eight degrees and twenty-seven minutes
east, thirty-three hundred aud forty meters to the old
stone monument at the southwest corner of the
' Drinkwater Shares,' uear the Otis Ellis place ; thence
running north one degree and fifty minutes west,
thirty-eight hundred and sixty-three meters to a
monument in range with the northerly line between
the towns of Hanover and South Scituate ; thence
running in said range south eighty-eight degrees aud
six minutes east thirteen hundred and twenty-five
meters to the old monument in said line at the corner
of South Scituate and Rockland."

The first map of Hanover was made by order of
the town iu 1727. Another was made in 1791.
Still another map was made by Elbridge Whiting,
Esq., by the order of the town, iu 184i). The sur-
face of the town is generally level or rolling iu char-
acter, Walnut Hill, iu the northeast corner of the
town, and the highlands aloug the North River, in
the southeast portion, being the most noticeable
prominences. Before the advent of the Hanover
Branch Railroad, the fairest gem of natural scenery
was ou the Indian Head River, at " Project Dale," so
called. Here the roadway crept among the trees as a
traveler passed west along the river bank, until, ar-
riving at the residence of Charles Dyer, the rolling
dam created a waterfall which, with its background
of steep wooded declivities on either side, aud the
pond in the centre, formed a picture as lovely as it
was unexpected.

Topography. — There are no natural ponds in town.
Its many small streams are dammed, forming numerous
ponds used for driving grist-mills, saw-mills, forges, aud
tack-works. Most of these are valuable only as winter
privileges, and owing to the irregular water-supply, are
supplemented by steam-power, when constant work
must be dune.

The general course of the streams is uorth and
south uutil we come to the rivers which break through



tlie hills, and running easterly, form the southern
boundary of the town. The granite ledges which
crop out in the northeasterly part of the town, uear
Walnut Street, and also near Washington Street,
just south of Assinippi, can be traced for a mile or
more through Rocky Swamp southwest. The pre-
vailing stone is granite, both in these ledges and in
bowlders. Barry notes a formation of graywacke
near North River, which crops out also in Hanson
and Abiugton.

Clay once used, as the old pits attest, in the manu-
facture of bricks, occurs at Walnut Hill, and also ill
the Bailey pasture, so called, near the late resideuce
of Hiram Gardner, deceased.

On the Third Herring Brook there are five ponds ;
on the Indian Head River and Drinkwater River,
five ponds ; one at West Hanover, near the depot ;
one in the uorthwest part of the town, and one near
Main Street, recently supplemented by a reservoir
pond made by using the old road us a dam.

Soil. — The soil in the central and southerly portions
of the town is of a thin and sandy nature, not so fer-
tile as that in the more northerly portions, where it is
more productive if more stony. The best agricultural
lands, however, occur at and about the Four Corners,
where the graywacke foundation underlies the soil.

Population. — The population of the town, which in
1727 was but three hundred, by the census of 1880
was eighteen hundred and ninety-seven. The centres
of population lie ou the outskirts of the town at
Assinippi, in the northeast ; Hanover Four Corners,
in the southeast ; South Hanover, West Hanover,
and Curtis Street, or North Hanover.

Streets. — The town contains about forty-five miles
of streets. An inspection of the map of 1794 shows
the only public open streets to have been what is now
Washington Street, the street leading from the Cor-
ners to Palmer's Bridge, and what is now Hanover
Street, as far as the church at the centre. Undoubt-
edly the town at that time contained other traveled
road» ; but they were probably closed by gates or
bars, and were not laid out as public highways.

Barry states that among the streets laid out before
the incorporation of the town was the Drinkwater
road, so called. This may have been the road, of
which the marks are clearly discernible, leading from
Webster Street, near the Rocklaud line, in a north-
easterly direction across the small or Drinkwater
shares toward Accord Pond.

Indian Title. — Hanover was formed from portions

of the old town of Scituate and the old town of Abing-

ton. When the Pilgrims landed the whole northern

part of Plymouth County was occupied by the Massa-


ehusetts tribe of Indians, whose sachem was Chicka-
tabut. This Indian claimed to own a large part of
what is now Norfolk County as well. In the Ply-
mouth Colony Records it is recorded that several
Indians therein named in 1650 came into court and
affirmed that " Chickatabut his bounds did extend
from Nisamugogwanet, near Duxbury Mill, unto
Tightacut, uear Taunton, and Nunkatatest, which is
the head of Charles River."

The record proceeds showing the attempt made
to awe the savages into telling the exact truth :
" This they do all solemnly affirm, saying, ' God know-
eth it to be true and knoweth their hearts.'

" Witness, Increase Nowell, John Eliot, John

In 1G33, Chickatabut died of smallpox, aud was
succeeded as sachem by his son, Josias Wampatuck
(spelled also Wanipatucke). In June, 1G53, the
land included in the present towns of Scituate (ex-
cept that belonging originally to the '' Couihasset
partners"), South Scituate, a part of Marshlield two
miles long and one mile wide (to this day called ' : The
Two Miles") aud " that part of Hanover which was
Scituate" was sold by Josias. The deed runs as fol-
lows, viz :

" I, Josias Wampatuck, do acknowledge and confess that I
have sold two tracts of land unto Mr. Timothy Ilathcrly, Mr.
James Cudworth, Mr. Joseph Tilden, Humphrey Turner, Wil-
liam Hatch, John Hoar, and James Torrey, for the proper use aud
hchoof of the Town of Soituatc, to be enjoyed by them accord-
ing to the true intents of the English grants ; the one parcel of
such land is bounded from the mouth of the North Uiver as
that Hiver goeth to the ludian Head River, from thence as that
River goeth unto tho poud at the bead of the Indian Head
Uiver upon a straight line unto tho middlo of Accord l J uud, by
the line set by the Commissioners as the bounds betwixt the
two jurisdictions untill it meet with the linu of the laud soM by
me unto the sharers of Couihasset, and as that line runs be-
tween the Town and the shares untill it comcth mu < the sea;
and su along by the sea unto the mouth of the North River
aforesaid. Tho other purcell of land, lying on the easterly side
of the North Itivcr, begins ut a lot which was sometime tho
land of John Ford, and so to run two miles southerly as the
River runs, and a mile in breadth towards the east, for which
pareell of laud I do acknowledge to have received of the men
whose names arc before mentioned, fourteen pounds in lull
satisfaction in behalf of the inhabitants of the town of Scituate
as aforesaid ; and I do horeby promise and engage to give such
further evidence before the Governor as the Town of Scituate
shall think meet, when I am thereunto required; in witness
whereof I have hereunto set my hand in presence of
"Nathaniel Morton. "J his

"Edward Ilawos. /■ Josias X Wampatuck.
" Samuol Nash. J mark."

At the same time when Josias made acknowledg-
ment as above mentioned, there was a deed brought
iuto court which " he owued to be the deed which he
gave to them, whose names are above specified for



the said lands, and that he had not given theui another
which deed was burnt in presence of the euurt."
Signed by " Nathaniel Morton, Secretary."

The line here mentioned as running straight from
" the poud at the head of Indian Head River" to Ac-
cord Pond was the western boundary of the old town
of Scituate (in old deeds frequently called the'' share
line"). It ran from Accord Pond southerly across
North Street in Hauover, near the junction of that
street with Webster Street, and near " Loudon bridge,"
so called ; thence across Cedar, Hanover, and Circuit
Streets, following somewhat the course of Winter
Street, to the poud at the head of Indian Head River.
This pond, now lying in Hanson, bears the name of
Indian Head Pood, and was originally the southwest
bound of the old town of Seituate.

All that part of Hanover now lyiug west of this
so-called share line was originally a part of Abiugton.
So much of it as extended from the south side of
Accord Pond three miles toward the south, running
ou the share line, was included in the graut by the
Colony Court to Timothy Hatherly, one of the orig-
inal " proprietors," a man of wealth, great business
probity and energy, aud of great generosity of nature
and breadth of conviction. The deed from Wampa
tucke to him has never been found, but in lOu'S,
Josias came " into court and owned that the three
miles square, which was granted to Mr. Hatherly, that
he had sold it to Mr. Hatherly, and was by him fully
satisfied with it."

The laud contained within the limits of Hanover
west of the share line, and south of this three-mile
graut, was acquired of the Iudians earlier. April 13,
HJGS, " Josias Chickatabut" {i.e., Wampatucke, called
by his father's name) " of Nomassakeset, in the gov-
ernment of New Plymouth, conveyed to Coruet
Robert Stetsou, a certain tract or parcel of laud, by
the Indians commonly called Nanumackcwit, bounded
ou the north by the lauds formerly granted to Mr.
Hatherly, and is to run by his Hue two miles west into
the woods ; aud ou the east is bounded by the line of
the town of Scituate, aud is to ruu three miles south-
erly from Mr. Hatherly's said graut upon the town's
line; and so again westerly upon Mr. Hatherly's line
upon the other side, and three miles again northerly
to meet with the first line."

Thus the Indians parted with their title to the
Hanover lands. Our ancestors boast that they pur-
chased the title from the aborigines, aud did not ac-
quire it by conquest. Just what this Indian title was
is not a matter of certainty. It seems to have been
not an absolute ownership, perhaps, so much as a right
to the occupation, — a right to live, fish, hunt, aud

trap in the territory, and a right to the unobstructed
enjoyment of these rights. None of these deeds or
conveyances of the Indians could give a good title to
the lands therein eouveyed. The title was valid
against the Indians, but uot as against the colouy.
Whoever took such a deed took it for the benefit of
and in trust for the colony. This rule was inflexible,
and* its iufraction induced serious results. One
Thomas Joy, of Hinghaui, was committed to jail for
producing " a deed of gift of lauds to him from an
Indian sachem, whereby he had broken a law of the
colouy," and was uot released until he had disclaimed
all title to the lauds aud surrendered his deed to the

Colonial Grants. — The hiatory of the land tenure
in the old Plymouth Colony is an interesting one. The
system of commou ownership prevailed at first tu a
great extent. As time wore ou aud the number of
inhabitants increased, the common lauds were gradually
granted out until nearly all were disposed of; but yet
to-day, after the lapse of two centuries, the relics of
the system remaiu. The towu of Hanover has lost,
probably, all the commou laud within us borders, ex-
cept perhaps some spots Dear the ccutre ; but, as the
successor of the old " proprietors," it still holds their
shares iu certain low, marshy islands called " the
flats, iu North River, within the limits of the town
of Scituate. Every year the right to harvest the
crop of salt sedge-grass, or as it is called by the
farmers, " flatstuff," growing ou these islands, is sold
to the highest bidder at the March town-meeting, a
relic of the old meetiugs of the " proprietors," which
cau be seen in hardly auother towu in the county. It
was this very questiou of the proper aud equitable
division of these commou lauds which gave occasion
to the supplementary act of incorporation of the
towu of Hanover, passed May 2j, 1737. This act
recites iu the preamble that iu the act for erecting a
new town withiu the county of Plymouth by the
name of Hanover, there is a saving to the towns uf
Scituate aud Hanover of their interests iu the com-
mon aud undivided lands withiu the said towns ; aud
the said town of Hauover was taken partly out of the
town of Scituate and partly out of the town of Abiug-
ton, and the inhabitants of that part of Hanover only
which was before part of the towu of Scituate, have
an interest in the said common land with the towu
of Scituate, and there is some difficulty about the im-
provement and management of the common and un-
divided land which lies iu the said town of Scituate,
aud which they have not agreed to make a division
of, whose interest therein is not known, viz., the mow-
ing ground, flats, hummock, aud beach.



Tbe grants spoken of above were in the first in-
stance wade by the Colony Court. This was at first
a meeting of all tiie freemen of tbe colony. A gov-
ernment of representatives or deputies was of later
growth. Very soon, however, the freemen chose
"assistants," as they were called, whose duty it wad
to assist the Governor in his duties. In this " court
of assistants," as it was sometimes called, or " court
of the Governor and assistants," lay all legislative, ju-
dicial, and proprietary functions. Their records show
them to have made tbe laws which they afterward
executed as a court iu the modem meaning of the
term, and also tu have granted out to various indi-
viduals known as proprietors, or, as iu one case, to a
whole town, the lauds which bad been occupied by
the Indians.

Scituate was at one time a town of more inhabi-
tants, of greater wealth, and of larger influence, than
Plymouth. Even iu those early days the question of
moving the seat of government from Plymouth was
agitated, and the Colony Court passed a law perpetu-
ally tying the Governor to Plymouth. Perhaps to
allay the risiug trouble, the court grauted to Scituate
the right and power of making grants of the lands
within its limits, a favor never shown to any other
town in the colony. The grants thus made by the
towu cover a large portion of the territory of Hanover
east of the share line. The extreme northwest of
the towu was divided into lota whose greatest lenirth
was east and west, called the great lots. These lots
begau on the south side of Accord Pond, and ran
southerly with the share line beyond the present Ce-
dar Street. The angle in the westerly line of the
town is at their southwest corner. They were one
mile in length, and of widths varying from twenty-
five to thirty-three and a third rods. Through the
centre there was left a space "five rodes brode be-
tweeue the two halfe miles for a passedge-way
through all the lotes to the common." These lots,
called the great lots, were grauted out before 1700.
They passed, as did all common lands by the custom
of the colony, not to those persons who were by the
English common law the heirs-at-law of the original
proprietors, but to tbe " successors" of these proprie-
tors. By " successors" was meant those persons who
at the death of the " proprietor ' owned and occupied
his homestead.

Hanover's remaining territory, east of the share
liue, was granted out iu large or small lots to other
proprietors, perhaps to make even division among all.
The body of proprietors decided to how many acres of
swamp and of upland each proprietor was entitled, and
then the old method of lot was used to decide who

should have his first pitch. In the order of the lot
each proprietor took a surveyor and picked out the
number of acres granted him. This was called
" making his pitch." These " pitches," could they
now be picked out from the confusion of the old
records, would cover the map of the town with an
irregular system of patches, in many instances over-
lapping each other. The cedar swamps bein^ the
most valuable wood lands were exempt from these
" pitches," aud were usually laid out in regular par-
allel lots across the swamp, and divided out separately.

West of the share line, all the land uow comprised
within Hanover bounds was in 1654 spoken of in tbe
Colony Records as being " out of the bounds of any
township," and was that year grauted by the Colony
Court to Mr. Timothy Hatherly " to satisfy the part-
ners at Couihasset," "sundry contentions and entan-
glements between Mr. Timothy Hatherly and some
of the Inhabitants of Scituate" having arisen.

In 1656 the grant was given more definite bounds,
as follows : " A tract of land to begin at Accord Pond
on the southerly side, and to run three miles south-
erly towards Indiau Head River Pond, and to be laid
out three miles square on the west line of Scituate."
Later, in 1671, to avoid running the north line across
the colony line, the court ordered it to be run from
the south side of the pond so far south of west as to
avoid the patent line, as the line dividing the two
colonies was then and is now called. This tract was
divided into forty parts, twenty-seven of which were
assigned to the " Conihasset Partners." In 1663, Mr.
Hatherly repurchased ten shares, and then sold
twenty-three shares for sixty-nine pounds to John
Jacob, Edward Wilder, John Thaxter, and Matthew
Cushing, of Hingham, and John Otis, of Scituate,
who already owned seveu aud one-half shares. The
remainiug shares belonged to Thomas Andrews and
others. A division was made in 1672 by these par-
ties among themselves. The entire grant was divided
into eastern, western, and middle shares by lines
drawn parallel to the share line.

The eastern lot was two hundred and forty rods
wide, and was assigned to Jacob & Co. Iu I6i)i) it
was divided by east and west parallel lines into lots to
hold in severalty. The southerly end was thus di-
vided iuto five lots, each sixty-four rods wide, and the
northerly end into five lots, each one hundred and
twenty-eight rods wide. These divisions were called
the " Drinkwater shares," before spoken of, probably
from the stream running through them, which at its
junction with the Indian Head is now sometimes
called tbe Drinkwater River.

The middle division was divided by north and south



liues, as Hobart supposes, to give each owner a por-
tion of cedar swamp. These lots were called the small
shares. The present limits of Hanover included all
the Driukwater shares aod also a part of the small

Immediately south of this grant to Hatherly two
hundred acres of land west of the share line was
granted, in 1665, to Cornet Robert Stetson, of Scitu-
ate. In 1667 it was laid out and bounded "on the
east by the line of the Town of Scituate until it
crosses a deep, still brook, and so again from the
town's line, as Mr. Hatherly's land runs, westerly,
until it crosses the said brook there again, with all
the spots and holes of meadow that are within said
bouuds." Just south of this grant, in 1671, the Col-
ony Court confirmed a sale made by their agents, Jo-
siah Wiuslow and Constant Southworth, to Joseph
Barstow and Joseph Sylvester. This grant is de-
scribed as " a parcel of upland, be it more or less,
lying and being ou the westward side of Scituate
bouuds, and is bounded on the north with the bound-
tree of Cornet Stetson, which is marked II. S., and
the rocks by the brook that bounds the Cornet's land,
and so ranging southerly until it meeta with three
black-oak trees and one stump marked J. B. J. S.,
and from thence west to the utmost extent of the land
purchased by Cornet Stetson, and from the three trees
southeast to the brook, only there is excepted out of
the aforesaid sale fifty acres contained within the
aforesaid bouuds granted by the Court to William
Barstow, deceased, for services done for the country."

Lying to the south of this latter tract was the land
sold in 1671 to Joseph Barstow aud Moses and Aaron
Simmons, of Scituate, for the sum of eight pounds,
" a parcel of upland, more or less, lying and being ou
the westward side of Scituate tow n bouuds, aud bou nded
north with the lands of Joseph Silvester and Joseph
Barstow, extending itself southerly to the utmost ex-
tent of the purchase made by Cornet Robert Stetson
for the use of the Colony, aud westerly to the utmost
extent of said purchase." In another place this is
described as running south from Barstow's other land
on the west line of Scituate one mile and a half. The
southeast corner of this grant is supposed to have stood
near the lower tack-factory on Indian Head River, in

Incorporation. — The earliest settlements made in
Scituate were made near the shore and in the vicinity
of the harbor. Later the attractions of the good
lands near North River drew settlers up its course.
The power furnished by the waters of the Indian
Head and Driukwater Rivers lured settlers farther
aud farther into the forest. Probably the earliest

settlements in Hanover were therefore made at the
" Corners." In 1704 to 1710 we find forges erected
on the Indian Head. Gradually the population spread
northwest, following at first the course of the Third
Herring Brook, also a valuable stream for the power
it gave, and then spreading backward into the interior.
In 1727, the year of the incorporation, we find within
the Hanover limits about three hundred souls.

At this time the colony law provided for a regular
tax upon each and every tax-payer for the support of
the ministry and the church. This tax was levied
upon all, whether attendants upon church, or, as they
would have said, " mcetiug-goers," or not. The burden
of traveling so far to reach the meeting, fur the sup-
port of which they paid their taxes, was so great that
i this probably as much as any other thing brought
j the settlers of this town to petition the General Court
! to establish a new town.

Scituate, from whose territory the greater portion
of the town was carved, made uo oppositiou, but
Abingtou strove valiantly against losing the little strip
of territory which before that time had belonged to
her. They feared they would miss the taxes which
the new town would now coutribute to the support of
a minister aud church of their own. Their fears
were well-grounded, for in the act of incorporation it

Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 83 of 118)