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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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 97 of 118)
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in 1810. Mr. Deane, to whom he was personally
known, thus describes him :

" In person he was of middling stature, erect and
graceful, of form slight, of complexion fair, of blue
and brilliant eyes and aquiline nose. His oratory
was ready and flowing, but not of that overawing
description with which some native orators of more
fiery mould would have transported audiences ; but
its excellence consisted in cool, deliberate judgment
and logical and lucid argumentation, which gave him
eventually an advantage over those of more ardent
temperament. As a judge, he was eminently quali-
fied by his learning, and not less by his unshaken in-
tegrity and deliberate temper. The writer of this
notice first saw him on the bench in 1801, when his
zenith brightness had probably abated, but he still
remembers how forcibly his youthful mind was af-
fected by the order and perspicuity with which he per-
formed the duties of his high office, and the mild
though commanding diguity with which he guided
the bar. In private life he was all that was amiable.
He was a learned theologian, an exemplary Christian,
irreproachable as a public character." The foregoing
description of this distinguished jurist by Rev. Mr.
Deane may be depended upon as reliable. Judge
Cushing was childless. His house was on the south-
erly side of Walnut-Tree Hill, or the northerly side
of the road from South Scituate to Scituate harbor.
It is to be regretted that this venerable mansion
with such associations was destroyed by fire a few
years ago.

David Little was in practice in 1708, but of him,
as a lawyer, we can learn little.

George Little, of Marshfield, was a lawyer in Scit-
uate a hundred years later, from 1807 to 1811.

John Thaxter, of Hingham, a lawyer of brilliant
talents, was in Scituate in 1817, and died there in

Ebenezer T. Fogg, from Braintree, was a lawyer in
Scituate from 1821 to his death, in 1860.

Seth Webb, Jr., of Scituate, was a lawyer of bril-
liant promise and greatly respected. He was in prac-
tice in Boston and in Scituate for many years, aud
yet too few, dying in 1861, a comparatively young

Daniel E. Damon, a native of Scituate, was admit-
ted to the bar in 1858, and removed to Plymouth in
1859, where he was register of probate from 1859 to
1884, a longer period of time than that office was
•held by any other person. He is still in practice of
law in Plymouth.

Hon. George Lunt, Oramel S. Senter, and Edward
O. Cooke are the able and estimable members of the
bar now resident and practicing in the town of Scitu-
ate. Mr. Lunt is eminent in the literary world as
well as in law. Mr. Cooke has also an office in Bos-
ton, where he enjoys an extensive practice. It is
believed that the foregoing list includes all who have
practiced law in Scituate.

Physicians. — It is a little more difficult giving a
sketch of the physicians than of the lawyers.

At the first the clergymen ministered to the bodies
as well as the souls of their parishioners.

Dr. Isaac Otis was the first regular physician that
settled in the town, and so highly did the town ap-
preciate the advantages of having the services of such
a skilled professional man they " voted a settlement
of £100 to encourage him to remain in town." In
these days the doctors need to be offered no such in-
ducements. This vote was in 1719, and indicates
the time when he commenced practice.

Dr. Benjamin Stockbridge commenced practice
about 1730, and was a man of high reputation in his
profession, traveling as consulting physician in diffi-
cult cases as far even as Worcester. Such journeys
in those days were no trifles. A physician could go
to New York for consultation now easier than to
Worcester then.

Dr. James Otis, son of Dr. Isaac Otis, began prac-
tice about 1760.

Dr. Ephraim Otis, after practicing in Taunton,
settled in the west part of Scituate, where he con-
tinued in practice until near the time of his death, in

Dr. Charles Stockbridge, son of Dr. Benjamin
Stockbridge, began practice about 1765. The mautle



of li is father seemed to fall upon shoulders fully
worthy of weariog it.

Dr. Cushing Otis, son of Dr. James Otis, com-
menced practice in 1792, and is well remembered by
many of the Scituate people now living as a famous
doctor. It is a little remarkable that for nearly a
century the families of Otis and Stockbridge enjoyed
the monopoly of physicking the people of Scituate.

Dr. Samuel Barker was in Scituate in 1787, but
subsequently he removed to Pembroke.

Dr. Freeman Foster began the practice of his pro-
fession in 1802, and continued until near the time of
his death, a very long period, adhering to the last to
the old practice of riding on horseback to visit his
patients. He was the last of the saddlebag doctors.

Dr. David Bailey commenced about 1796. This
kindly old doctor is gratefully remembered. i

Dr. Peleg Ford was in practice about seven years,
—1805 to 1812.

Dr. Elisha James commenced in 1808.

Dr. Milton Fuller in 1826.

Dr. Charles Stockbridge, after first practicing in
Boston, came to Scituate for a time.

Dr. T. H. Dearing began practice about 1850, and
is now in practice in Braintree.

Dr. A. E. Stetson began practice about 1848, sub-
sequently removed to Dorchester, where he died.

Dr. H. C. Vose practiced in the west part of the
town somewhat for a few years, about 1860.

Dr. Shurtleff was also at West Scituate a short

Dr. Francis Thomas, who began practice about
1830, was a popular physician in Scituate for many
years, dying there a few years ago.

Dr. Vinal and Dr. Browuell are now in the full
tide of successful practice in Scituate and South Scitu-
ate at the preseut time. Scituate has always been
well served by well-read and skillful physicians.

Character of the People. — An examination of
what remains of the literary efforts and public docu-
ments of the earliest settlers of Scituate furnishes
evidences that they were men of good education, cul-
tivated tastes, and vigorous thought. Deane says of
them, " Many of the fathers of Scituate were men of
good education and easy fortune, who had left homes
altogether enviable, save in the single circumstance of
the abridgment of their religious liberty. In 1G39
this town contained more men of distinguished talents
and fair features than it has contained at any period
siuee. They were ' the men of Kent,' celebrated iu
English history as men of gallantry, loyalty, and
courtly manners. Gilson, Vassall, Hatherly, Cud-
worth, Tilden, Hoar, Foster, Stedman, Saffin, Hiuck-

ley, and others, had been accustomed to the elegancies
of life in England."

The sons had not the advantages of the fathers in
education, but mental culture was by no means neg-
lected. The minister was the schoolmaster. Mr.
Chauncey had been a professor in college in England,
and he taught the youth of Scituate. Mr. Witherell
had been a schoolmaster in Maidstone, in England,
and it duplicated his usefulness to his people here.

That many of these planters were men of some
wealth and much enterprise is shown in what they
undertook. To erect mills aud bring machinery, as
they must, from England for their equipment were
then large enterprises. Within twenty-five years of
the first settlement five mills had been built, — Wil-
liam Gilson's, in 1636 ; Isaac Stedman's, 1040 ; James
Torrey's, 1653; John Stockbridge's, 1650; Robert
Stetson's, 1656.

We have shown what rapid advancement Scituate
made in wealth and population during its first years,
and the question naturally arises why this advance
has not been continued in the later generations. The
obvious answer is, that the enterprise of the town,
its pushing business men, entered upon lines of busi-
ness wherein the elements and old ocean fought
against them, closed the entrance to the harbor and
river, to the virtual exclusion of navigation, and sent
the skill aud enterprise of the towu to more favored
locations for that kind of business. We must record
in this connection also the fact that the fathers, hav-
ing the means to do so, became the owners of slaves.
Also that human slavery left a larger stain upon the
town of Scituate than perhaps upon any other towu
in this region. Nearly all the families of wealth ap-
pear to have owned slaves. At the first these were
Indians captured in war, or for some alleged ill cou-
duct reduced to slavery. They captured these human
chattels. Later, Africans were introduced, and their
freed descendants are numerous in the two towns to-
day. In 1764 there were one hundred and seven
African slaves owned in Scituate, and only thirteen
Indian slaves. But the spirit which led to the
peopling of New England was one that could not
survive in connection with this crime against hu-
manity, and was too strong for humau selfishness even.
It triumphed in the liberation of slaves here, aud now
the whole broad land is free.

Much attention has always been paid to education,
and for moral worth aud intellectual culture it may be
fairly claimed that the people of Scituate need not
fear comparison in any of their generations with the
people of any other cominuuity.

Agriculture. — The early settlers, like all dwellers



in a new land, depended largely upon the products of
the soil for their support. Much of the laud is too
rocky or too wet for cultivation, but the greater part
is excellent farming land. This is especially true of
the land near the harbor, that lying between Col-
nian Hills and the salt marshes, all the land bordering
on the North River, from its sources to its mouth,
the westerly part of the town, the Conihasset tract,
and the cliffs. The Indian planting-fields were
duubtless first utilized. But farming was then car-
ried on very differently from what it is in modern
times. Herds of cattle were small, and forage for
them was mostly gathered on the extensive salt
marshes which lined the back side of the beach, and
stretched away, mile after mile, up the river, and
across from the High Hills to the Marshfield shore.
From the regulations regarding them, it is evident
that swine soon became abundant and cattle multi-
plied. Indian corn was largely cultivated, and rye,
oats, aud beans. It is not probable that much atten-
tion has ever been given to wheat or barley. The
fruits were not neglected. How early the pear,
cherry, quince, currant, and peach began to be culti-
vated we have no means of learning, but it must have
been quite early. Large orchards of apple-trees were
always a feature of farm culture. A peculiarly
sweet aud delicious apple, ripening in the early part
of September or last of August, called the " High-
Top-Swceting," was a fruit of much local celebrity,
and was always raised in Scituate. No native of that
town can ever forget the delicious dishes of baked
apples and milk which these apples enabled him to
enjoy. But the survivors of those " high-top trees"
are growing annually more scarce ; no attention is
being paid to their perpetuation, and this luscious
fruit is in danger of being numbered among the things
that were. Farming has been carried on with a con-
siderable degree of enterprise by the people of Scitu-
ate in all the generations.

From the sea-shore they draw immense supplies of
fertilizers, cast up by the storms, and great attention
in later years has been given to the raising of onions,
cabbages, squashes, and other market-garden vegeta-
bles. Among the most enterprising farmers of the
present day may be mentioned Mr. Charles 0. Elms,
Mr. James W. Sampson, Mr. David S. Jenkins, and
many others, for whose names there is not room, but
■who are entitled to like mention.

Fisheries. — These largely engaged the attention of
the Scituate people. Alewives came up the North
River and up the three herring brooks every spring,
and were taken in immense numbers. It is said
that in early times they ascended the Second Herring

Brook as far as Black Pond for spawning purposes, and
the Third Herring Brook as far as Valley Swamp,
upon the borders of Hingham. But the mill-dams
erected at different points across these streams have
excluded them from their old breeding-haunts, aud the
fisheries in these streams have gradually dwindled to
insignificant proportions.

In the North River it was the habit of this fish, in
its vernal visits, to ascend as far as the Indian Ponds.
They still reach that point, being transported from
below the obstructions on the streams, aud the
herring-fishery on the North River is still an impor-
tant industry.

Mackerel-fishing has been a large business in Scit-
uate. Its first beginnings were probably as early as
1633, when a fishing-station was there set up.
Though cod-fishing was its main purpose, it seems
scarcely possible that the mackerel were altogether
neglected. At any rate, mackerel were so largely
taken within the colony at unseasonable times that in
1670 the government found it necessary to interfere
by statute for their protection. In 1680, Cornet
Robert Stetson, of Scituate, and Nathauiel Thomas,
of Marshfield, leased the privilege of the Cape Cod
fishery. Mackerel-fishing was included in this. This
fish was very abundant in the bay. Probably as
early as 1700 this began to be a considerable business,
and it grew to such proportions that in 1770 thirty
vessels were fitted out for that business from the little
harbor of Scituate. Some large catches were made.
Vessels have been known to pack out a thousaud
barrels in a single season. Deane says that in 1828
more than fifteen thousand barrels were taken by the
Scituate fishermen. In less than thirty years from
that date the business had entirely ceased.

The extinction of this business and of ship-build-
ing greatly affected the growth and prosperity of the
old town. During the first ten years of the present
century as many as ten vessels were annually built
upon North River. With the loss of this business
and of fishing departed the mechanics of the ship-
yards and the sailors of the harbor. A new industry,
the gathering of moss on the shore, has within a few
years grown up along the cliffs and rocks, aud gives
that locality an air of business.

Mills and Brooks. — The first mill in Scituate was
a windmill, erected on the Second Cliff by the enter-
prising William Gilson for grinding corn. As nearly
aH the mills that have ever been in use in the two
towns of Scituate and South Scituate are water-mills,
it will economize space to describe the streams aud
their mills in the same connection.

The First Herring Brook rises in Town Swamp and



Busby Hill Swamp, in the central part of the town,
and falls into North River. On this stream, in 1646,
a saw-mill was erected by Isaac Stedman, and is sup-
posed to be the first saw-mill in the county. In 165G,
Mr. Stedman sold this mill-privilege and saw-mill to
John Stockbridge and George Russell, who built a
grist-mill on the same dam. Mr. Stockbridge after-
wards became the sole owner, and the mills were long
known as Stockbridge Mills. A half-mile above,
James Torrey built a "clothing mill" in 1653, and
subsequently Samuel Clapp had a grist-mill and fulling-
mill at the same point.

The Second Herring Brook rises in Black Pond,
and drains also Dead Swamp and another swamp be-
tween Black Pond and Dead Swamp, and empties into
North River a short distance above Union bridge and
near the old James mansion, and where the block-
house stood. About half a mile from the river on
this brook John Bryant built a saw-mill in 1690, and
afterwards a grist-mill. Long afterwards, some dis-
tance up the stream, another grist-mill was built. A
saw-mill was also erected there at a still later day.
This mill until very recently was owned and operated
by the late David Torrey in connection with his steam-
mill on River Street.

The Third Herring Brook rises in Valley Swamp
near Hingham, and runs about five miles, emptying
into North River about three miles above the Second
Herring Brook. From Jacobs' mill-pond to the river
it forms the boundary line between Hanover and
South Scituate. Robert Stetson erected a saw-mill
on this brook near where Samuel Tolmau, Esq., now
resides, in 1656. This mill was burned by the In-
dians in 1676, and was not rebuilt. The large tract
of land flowed by it is now fresh meadow, and is
known as " Old Pond" meadow. Benjamin Curtis
built a saw-mill up the same stream above " Old
Pond," and afterwards a grist-mill was added. Mills
were needed for little else than grinding grain and
sawing timber. This mill has been in the Curtis and
Clapp families ever since.

The Jacobs family erected mills — saw-mill and
grist-mill — in the westerly part of the town, at a place
called Assinippi. The highway passes over the dam
which forms the road-bed. These are still " Jacobs'
mills," and are still owned by the Jacobs family.

Charles Stockbridge erected a grist-mill on the
Third Herring Brook, about one-half mile below the
" Cornet's old dam," 1674, — in consideration fordoing
which he was granted thirty acres of land. Jonah
Stetson afterwards owned this mill, in consequence of
which it acquired the name of " Jouah's mills." This
mill had several owners, becomiug at length the prop-

erty of Samuel Salmond,who carried on the business
of making tacks there extensively. It is now the
mill of Edmund Q. Sylvester, who has recently intro-
duced steam-power, and is doing a large business. A
little farther up the stream was once a saw-mill, but
it has beeu burned, and the place abaudoued as a mill-
site. Farther up, and but just below the " Cornet's
old dam," is the tack-mill and shingle-mill of Samuel
Tolman, and where several generations of Tolmans
have done business.

Bound Brook is so named because for a part of its
course it marked the boundary between the Plymouth
and Massachusetts Colonies. Merritt's Brook and
Groundsel Brook flow into it. On this brook, or at
the " Gulph," which forms a part of it, a mill was
probably erected about 1787, and another about 1792.

Mushquashcut Brook flows from the pond of the
same name to Bound Brook into the " Gulph," so

Satuit Brook, from which the town takes its name,
is only about one mile in length, and flows iuto the
harbor, where there is a tide-mill, at which much
business is transacted. This mill was built by Jesse
Dunbar about 1802.

Marget's Brook rises in the swamp between Otis
Hill and Simon's Hill, and runs into Wildcat Brook,
and that brook flows into the Third Herring Brook,
near where the old Indian trail crosses it. About
1795, Elijah Turner built a grist-mill on Marget's
Brook, but since the death of his son, Elijah Bailey
Turner, it has fallen into disuse.

On Groundsel Brook, in the north part of the town,
and which falls into Bound Brook, there are mills
belonging to the Stockbridge family.

A wind-mill was erected near the South Meeting-
House, but by whom has not been learned, and was
in use for many years in grinding corn.

John Jones and his son, John H. Jones, for many
years carried on the business of trunk-making in the
westerly part of the town, on Cushing Hill.

John E. Grose also built a steam-mill in the west
part of the town, and carried on the business of trunk-
making there for many years, and uutil his mill was

David Torrey built a steam-mill on what is now
called River Street, and there carried on the business
of trunk-making with great enterprise until his la-
mented death the present year, — 18S4.

Shoe business is carried on in Scituate by George
W. Merritt and others, in South Scituate by Curtis
Brothers and by Charles Grose at their several fac-

If the Scituates are not advancing greatly in busi-



ness enterprise, they are far from retrograding. Popu-
lation is gradually increasing, and both towns may be
called prosperous. The beauty of the shore scenery
is attracting that class of people who seek a summer
residence away from the haunts of trade, and the land
near the ocean is being built upon.

The Centennial House, at Farm Neck, the South
Shore House, at the harbor, and the Humarock
House, on the beach between Fourth Cliff and the
mouth of North River, are hotels having a large and
deserved patronage in summer. The Humarock
House, with the ocean in front and North River be-
hind it, is indeed beautiful for location, and is con-
ducted iu a way calculated to attract and please those
who are seeking rest and comfort.

Burial-Grounds. — On Meeting-House Lane, near
where the first meeting-house stood, is the oldest burial-
place iu Scituate. Here, iu unmarked graves, lie
buried men who left property enough to have provided
fur the erection of some monument to their memory.
The later generations must always regret that this
first generation paid so little respect to the resting-
places of the fathers. This neglect was not peculiar
to Scituate. Somewhere amid the uudistinguishable
dust of Duxbury lies the dust of the sainted William
Brewster, of the brave military leader Miles Standish,
and of the gallant John Alden. What sacred shrines
these graves would be if known ! To return to the
Burial Hill of Scituate. Here sleep, uo doubt, the
fathers of the town, — William Gilsou, Humphrey
Turner, Nathaniel Tilden, Henry Merritt, John
Stockbridge, Edward Foster, and others, — "Alike
without their monumental stone." But later genera-
tions have not fared much better. Head-stones were
erected in many cases, but they are now weather-
beaten, moss-grown, and illegible, aud a rank growth
of bushes nearly conceals them. Aud so eventually
it will he with the costliest monuments that human
affection or human pride can place above the dead.
A generation will at length come which will care
nothing for them. " Tiiue's effacing fingers" will be
relentlessly busy, until inscription aud uiouuiueut are
"one or have lost all significance.

Near the first meeting-house of the Second Parish
a burying-grouud began to be used about 1U-U, aud
here the first generation of the Cushings, Hatches,
Kings, Robiusous, and Torreys found repose. Here,
too, in an uuknown grave, rest the ashes of Mr.
Witherell, the first pastor of this parish. It is a
place of unkuown graves. Iu 1680 this parish
buried their dead about their new church in Union
Bridge neighborhood. This, too, is a deserted burial-
ground, with its graves overgrown with briers aud

bushes and its stones with moss. Removal of the
church farther west led to the laying out a new
burying-ground, in 1725, on Herring Brook Hill,
which is now a beautiful, well-kept cemetery.

Near the old burial-ground at the harbor, aud west
of it, is a fine cemetery, now used. This parish did
not seem to remove its burial-place with its meeting-

In 1725 ten acres was laid out at what is now
called Church Hill, in the south part of the town, as
a burial-ground and training-field. This is still used.
There is also a cemetery in the north part of the

The cemetery used by the people of West Scituate
is within the limits of Hauover.

It may be of use to transcribe here the list of
landmarks as recorded by Deane.


Asp hill (or Mast hill), in the beach woods near Johnson's

Belle house nock, near Little's bridge, now Cushing neck.

Bound brook, falls into the gulph at Lincoln's mills.

Bound rock, the landmark of the patent line, near Lincoln's

Bound brook neck, northeast of Lincoln's mills.

Black swamp, on Bound brook, above the mills.

Buck's rock, near the gulph meadows.

Booth's hill, near junotion of the roads, one mile south of Lin-
coln's mills.

Brushy hill, three-fourths mile southeast from tho north Meot-

Brigg's harbour, within the glades (or Strawberry covo).

Bumpus's bridge, over north branch of second Herring brook,
above Dead swamp.

Burnt Plain, one mile northwest of lloop-pole hill, and south-
west of Mount Blue.

Bryant's bridge, over the second Herring brook.

Brook hall field, north aide of Belle house neck.

Buck's corner, southeast old Parsonage.

Bareton's hill, on the Plymouth road, at Snappet.

Black pond and bill, one and a half mile west of Town-house.

Block-house, on North river, half-mile above Union bridge.

Barstow's bridge, in 1650 and later, now North river bridge.

Blue bridge and island, between Hoop-pole Hill and burnt plain.

Beaver dams, on Satint brook; on first Honing brook, at the
ancient fulling-mill ; on second Herring brook, at the south

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 97 of 118)