Lysander Salmon Richards.

History of Marshfield online

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^arbarb CoOege Ittirarp


Ooe half the iacome from this Legscj, which irat re-
ceiTcd in 1880 nader the will of

of Waltham, MasMchiuetts, it to be expended for book*
for the Collie Library. The other half of the income
it deroted to tcholanhiiw in Harvard UniTcnitjr for the
beneflt of descendant* of

who died at Watertown, Mastachosetts, in 1686. In the
absence of inch deteeadantt, other perM>nt are eUfible
to the teholarthiiM. The will requires that this aanoaace-
ment shall be made in erery book added to the Ubrarf
aader its prorislons.

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Author of "Vocophj, Indicating the Calling one is Best Fitted

to Follow," "Breaking Up) or the Birth, Development

and Death of our Planet in Story" and "The

UniTerse, a Description in Brief."


The Memorial Press

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APR 9 J '•-': )

Copyright, 1901.
By Lysander Salmon Richards.

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The author was somewhat surprised (and he thinks the
reader will be also) to find when searching through libraries
and records, for matter for this work, that Marshfield in the
historic growth of the country, was not so much engaged in
the processes of legal enactments, as in being the harbor,
the stronghold and the home of our greatest men, who gave
birth, stability and strength to the powerful government
under which we live. Garrett in his book, "The Pilgrim
Shore," in speaking of Marshfield says : "An old town that
has been truly said, shares with Plymouth the interest that
attaches to the early home of the Pilgrims." And sure
enough, why should we not claim for Marshfield the second
place in the history of the Pilgrims, as the home of the most
prominent officials of that period, and the same may be said
of Duxbury, but not of any other town. Before Marshfield
became fixed as the name of our town, it was given three or
four names, such as Missaucatucket, the name known by the
Indians, "Green's Harbour," "Rexham," and before the
landing of the Pilgrims, when Capt. John Smith sailed along
the New England Coast, it was called "Oxford."

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Some time ago the President of the Massachusetts Agri-
cultural College — ^Mr. Goodell — ^asked me to procure for
him the History of Marshfield for his College. On making a
thorough enquiry, I found there was no published History
of Marshfield. Miss Marcia Thomas published some years
ago a small book giving the genealogy of prominent per-
sonages of Marshfield. Rev. George Leonard published a
pamphlet entitled "Marshfield Sixty Years Ago." Hon.
Wm. T. Davis of Plymouth embodied in a book entitled
"History of Plymouth County," a sketch of Marshfield.

It was with a feeling of regret that I was obliged to in-
form Pres. Goodell of my inability to find a History of
Marshfield for his College library. The thought then oc-
curred to inc, that in view of the prominence of Marshfield
in the history of our country, in the days of the Pilgrims
and of the Revolution, there should be at once such a history
written and a peg driven as far as we have progressed, to
preserve in a general and concise form, the events and occur-
rences in the development of our Colonial town for the use
and enlightenment of future generations. This is my ex-
cuse for undertaking this work.

Not having enjoyed the rare fortune of living in Colonial
days among the Pilgrims, as a founder and promoter of a
great government, I must make use of the accounts of them,
and their doings, making such quotations as in my best judg-
ment will mark the footprints of civilization in its march

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4 History of MarshAeld.

through nearly three centuries of Marshfield's development
For fear of making the volume too voluminous, I have re-
frained from putting in all the petty details of unimportant
events, and rest content with an account of matters in gen-
eral as they transpired. I have made a point of giving in
this history the status of affairs in town as existing to-day,
not so much for the benefit of the reader now living, as for
the benefit of the generations to come, that they may become
conversant with the affairs of the town as they exist at the
beginning of the 20th century.

Marshfield Hills, Massachusetts, U. S. A., 1901.

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Marshiield 9

Peregrine White 13

Old Colonists' Deeds ': 16

Indian Lands and Deeds 19

Beginning of Marshfield Town Records 34

Marriages among the Pilgrims 32

Punishments by the Pilgrims 34

The Founder of Marshfield 38

The Menu of our Forefathers 47

Town Record Selections 49

Preparations for King Phillip's War S3

Selectmen's Powers — The Indians and other Matters 56

Dress of the Colonists — Scolding Women 64

Our Pilgrim Fathers ^

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Incidents of the Colonists 68

Habits and Customs of our Forefathers 71

North River Ferry Boats and other Matters 76

Town Record Selections 80

Indians — Whipping Posts — Wolves and Lands 90

Churches 93

Town Record Selections 98

Stamp Act and other Matters 100

Tory Resolutions passed by the Town 102

Tories again in the Ascendent 105

Preparations for the Revolution t 106

It is now Patriots and Patriotism— Marshfield's Declaration of

Independence 108

Prices of Home Products <luring the Revolution iii

Gov. Josiah Winslow and others 114

British Soldiers quartered here among the Tories 117

Marshfield Fathers of the Revolution 120

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Town Record Selections 125

Ship Building in Marshfield 130

Captains Sailing on North River 131

Ship Yards at Gravelly Beach and North River 134

Brooks & Tilden Ship Yard and other Yards 136

Ferries in Marsfhfield 140

Town Record Selections 143

Public Schools 145

Town Items 159

Fugitive Slave Law 163

Daniel Webster's Death 165

The Civil War 168

Town Record Selections 175

Marshfield Agricultural Society 177

Clif t Rodger's Free Library 181

Formation of the Grand Army Post 183

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Stores—Tea Rock i86

Green Harbor Dike 189

Brant Rock 203

Ventress Memorial Gift 206

Daniel Webster 208

The New Mouth of North River 212

Marshfield Hills 219

Railroad 220

Marshfield in its Corporate Capacity 222

Cemeteries in Town—Streets 224

Occupations— Trees on the Roadside 229

MarshfieM Items— Postoffices 231

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Marshfield we find first mentioned in Colonial History —
{Palfrey's N. E. His.] — ^in 1632, eight years before its set-
tlement as a town. Plymouth was fast becoming an area
too small for the farmer colonists of that town, hence some
of the larger and more progressive landed proprietors began
to look about them for larger fields, and passing through
Duxbury they found in Marshfield not only extensive, but
excellent pastures for their cattle, and this is undoubtedly the
reason why the Standishes, the Aldens and the Brewsters
settled in Duxbury, and the Winslows, the Whites, and the
Thomases took up their abode at an opportune time in
Marshfield. To prevent further scattering, Goodwin says
''several grants of farm lands had been made [1632-3] at
Cut River, which from its verdant shores became Green
River." "It was thought no one would desire to live so far
from Plymouth, and that even the employes would remain
there only in the busy season of agriculture; but this plan led
to another grievous dispersion under no less a leader than
Edward Winslow (afterward Governor). A new church
was necessarily conceded, and in 1640 the place became a
town called Rexhani, soon re-named Marshfield." In some
other authorities we find its early name spelt Marchfeeld,
and again Marshfeeld. The incorporation of Marshfield
occurred in 1640. It was the eighth town incorporated in
Plymouth Colony. Four towns were incorporated only
the year before, in 1639, Duxbury being incorporated in
1637, and Scituate in 1636. Duxbury was the third town
incorporated. It is not known in history why it was given
the name of Marshfield, but probably on account of the ex-

Marshfidd u

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lo History of Marshfield.

tensive marshes occupying 5,cxx) acres or more along its
eastern borders.

Owing to a great plague visiting the Aborigines on our
coast a short time before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth,
the Indian population, which had been quite large, was
greatly reduced by the scourge, so that when our forefathers
landed, there were but few natives to oppose them if they
had so desired, which, notwithstanding the general opinion
that they did, the record of that period fails to prove. In
the early days of the Pilgrims' existence on our coast, the
Indians, for the most part, were hospitable, showing no signs
of hostility, and acting with kindness and gentleness, which
the Pilgrims reciprocated. A few hostile Indians, as with
a few hostile whites of to-day, worried their neighbors.
Our forefathers did not rob the poor Indians of their lands,
as currently reported among our people from time immemo-
rial, but paid for them, not large amounts to be sure, but
satisfactory prices to the Indian nevertheless, in com,
blankets and trinkets. Our forefathers in Marshfield found
the ground already tilled when they settled here. The In-
dians cultivated corn, one of the greatest products of to-day,
the 20th century. Into a hill of corn they put a couple of
alewives, or other fish, and thus gave us of the 20th century
a hint in the growth of this staple article; hence the Indian
was the earliest user of commercial fertilizers. At the time
of John Smith's voyage along our coast, years before the
advent of the Pilgrims, he saw large and thrifty fields of
corn grown by the "poor" Indian. The country in Marsh-
field and thereabouts, except on the marshes, was covered
with a large growth of trees, chestnut, hickory, oak, maple,
pine, also the hazlenut, beechnut, butternut, and shagbark.
It was indeed pleasant for our forefathers to locate in a
region where the strawberry, the raspberry, the blackberry,
the huckleberry and the cranberry grew in abundance, and
then they were delighted to find in their midst the mountain

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History of MarsMeld. 1 1

laurel, the azalia, the rhododendron, the gentian, the asters,
and the water lily. Our North River to the sea furnished
abundant cod, shad, halibut, trout, herring, smelt, haddock,
and pickerel. Again, they were blessed with a large supply
of pigeons, geese, ducks, quail, partridge, woodcock, and
wild turkey. Bears, wolves, and wildcats chiefly consti-
tuted the dangerous animals, but they could hunt the moose,
the deer, and the racoon for meat, and fof fur, the beaver,
^ the otter, the skunk, the sable, and the fox, and Marshfield
at the beginning of the 20th century is yet troubled by foxes
and racoons, who make their meals of chickens,
ducks and geese in the farmer's poultry yard.

Our Pilgrim fathers were not the first visitors to our
shores; the Norsemen Lief and Eric explored the coast of
New England as early as the year 1000, and called it Vine-
land on account of the abundance of grape vines growing
everywhere. Two or three years later Thorwald, a brother
of Lief, visited these shores, and sailing along Cape Cod
Bay, discovered [in the words of Goodwin] "a fine headland,
which drew from Thorwald the exclamation, 'This is a beau-
tiful spot and here I should like to fix my dwelling.' Shortly
after, being mortally wounded by natives, he gave the fol-
lowing directions : 'Let me be buried on the beautiful head-
land where I wished to fix my dwelling, put a cross at my
head and one at my feet, and let the place be hereafter
called "Krossaness." ' " "The Gurnet head, crested and
crowned with two lighthouses, standing on the north side
of the entrance to Plymouth Harbor, a narrow strip of land
running from the mainland at Marshfield, answers well to
the description of Thorwald's burial place, and here it is
believed was the spot where the brave Captain was laid to
rest with Christian rites," three or four centuries before the
discovery of America by Columbus, "and the grave was
marked with the symbol of his faith. In 1007 Thorfin
Karlsefne, with his wife, Gudrig, and one hundred and sixty

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12 History of MarshHeld.

men, came with three vessels to our shores and remained
three years. During this time a son was bom to him, re-
ceiving the name of Snorre; he was the first white child bom
on the American Continent and an ancestor of Thorwald-

Marshfield is bounded easterly by the North River, the
ocean and the town of Duxbury, and southerly by Duxbury
and Pembroke, westerly by Duxbury, Pembroke, and the
North River, and northerly by the North River and the

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Peregrine White.

When Bradford and a few other Pilgrims returned to the
Mayflower, after exploring the country shortly after landing,
the Pilgrim Republic says : "A son had been born to Mr. and
Mrs. Wni. White, and in token of the pilgrimage then in
progress the little stranger was named Peregrine. He was
destined to outlive every member of the company into which
he was born; and after a youth unduly gay for his day and
generation, even in the next century, long after Plymouth
Colony had been merged in Massachusetts, a fine, hearty
looking veteran of Marshfield used to be pointed out with
great respect as Capt. Peregrine White, the first English
child born in New England. It was in 1632 that Peregrine
White went to Marshfield with his stepfather's family. In
1636 he volunteered for the Pequod war. In 1642 he was
ancient bearer (or ensign) of the train band, under Myles
Standish. He was a member of the General Court and also
a member of the Council of War. In 1648 he married
Sarah, daughter of Wm. Bassett^ by whom he had six chil-
dren. She died in 171 1. He was very attentive to his
mother, visiting her daily in his later years. He made these
visits on a black horse and wore a coat with buttons the size
of a silver dollar. He was vigorous and of a comely aspect
to the last. In 1665, .it the request of the King's commis-
sioners, the General Court gave 200 acres of land to him, as
the first white native in New England." His estate was
held in the family through all the generations up to within
two or three decades. It is now held and occupied, at the
beginning of the 20th century, by Alonzo Ewell, who keeps
upon it the largest flocks of poultry, ducks, geese and pigeons


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14 History of MarsMeld.

in Marshfield. Even at this late day, he is troubled with
foxes, and has killed the past winter five of them. There is
still growing, or was a few years ago, a shoot of the apple
tree planted by Peregrine upon this place, and a portion of
the timbers of the house occupied by Peregrine is still in
existence in the dwelling of Mr. Ewell. Notwithstanding
this place is among the earliest settled in Marshfield, the
region thereabouts is perhaps the most sparsely inhabited of
any village in town. It is two and a half miles north of the
Webster place. Mr. White joined the church in his 78th
year, and died in Marshfield in 1704, aged 84. His des-
cendants were many and honorable. Notwithstanding he
served as a soldier in the Indian wars and gained the title
of Captain, he seems to have led a peaceful life, except that
at one time we fit)d in 1649 *^ ^'^^' Hollaway and Peregrine
White were indicted for fighting. We think that Hollaway
must have been the aggressor, for we found elsewhere that
"Hollaway was fined 5s. for abusing and provoking
Sprague." Yet there is no doubt that our beloved towns-
man was a lively, gay youth and kept things moving about
him. The last direct descendant of Peregrine living on the
place was Miss Sybil White, a maiden lady, who removed
from there about a quarter of a century ago, as it was consid-
ered unsafe for her in her old age to live there longer. A
while before her departure from the home place, her brother,
John White, carried on the farm with her, but he became in-
sane and was remt)vcd to the hospital. Tl was after this
event that she felt compelled to leave it and remove to the
village of East Marshfield, now Marshfield Hills, some three
or four miles distant. The author became a neighbor and
was acquainted with this rather eccentric woman up to the
time of her death. She was a good and pious woman. A
short time before her death, she was a little worried because
she knew of no near heir to whom she could leave her prop-
erty, and finally she adopted a novel method of finding one.

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History of Marslifield. i $

She advertised in a Boston daily paper for an heir. A
brother had left home in his early manhood and she had not
the slightest knowledge of him or his children. In answer
to her advertisement she received a number of letters. I
would not dare to say how many, but there were nearly fifty,
and out of this number there was one that impressed her as
genuine, that of Ashton White, of Washington, D. C He
came here at her reciuest, and at an interview the proofs he
offered of his relationship were convincing to her. After
he had returned to his post in Washington, in one of the
departments, she made out her will, and at her decease, not
a long while after, Mr. White (a nephew, as claimed) be-
came the possessor of her well invested property, and al-
though that was nearly 25 years ago, I have never heard
doubted among her distant relatives, living at the Hills,
that he was the rightful and only heir. He or his children
are now living in Washington. She also left in her will
some $800, in trust, to the selectmen of the town, the income
or interest of which was to be spent in providing aid to
worthy and destitute spinsters in Marshfield, and it has for
these years following been so spent. There are many des-
cendants of Peregrine White now living in Marshfield, but
none on the old homestead.

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Old Colonists' Deeds.

From the Plymouth Colony records I will select three or
four copies of deeds in Marshfield, as follows :

"27th September 1642 — Memorand: That Mr. Edward
Winslow came into Public Court and did acknowledge That
he hath absolutely and freely given, granted, enfeoffed and
confirmed unto Peregrine White, his son in law, all & singu-
lar those his lands lying at the Eele River wth all singular
the apprtenences thereunto belonging and all his right title
and interest of & into the same. To have and to liold all
and singular the said land & wth their apprtences unto said
Peregrine White his heirs and assignes for ever to tlie onely
proper use and behoofe of him the said Peregrine White his
heires and Assignes for evr."

The following is a deed given to Robert Carver (a brother
of the first Governor of the Colony, Gov. John Carver, said
Robert Carver being the progenitor or ancestor of many
Carvers now living in Marshfield) of a lot of land in Marsh-
field at Green Harbor, near the Careswell place of Gov. Ed.
Winslow, said Carver becoming an early settler in Marsh-
field with Gov. Winslow and others. It reads:

"The Xth of Septembr 1641. Memorand. That Ed-
mond Hawes of Duxborrow doth acknowledge that for and
in consideration of the sum of two thousand foote of Sawne
boards to be delived and payed him by Robert Carver of the
same Sawyer Hath freely and absolutely bargained and sold
unto the said Robert Carver all those his Ten acres of up-
land lyinge crosse Green's Harbor payth wth all his labors
in & aboute the same wth all and singueler the apprtencs
thereunto belonging and all his Right Title an interest of


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History of Marskfield. 17

and into the said prmisss. To have and to hold the said
Tenn acres of upland & wth all and singuler the apprten-
cnces thereunto belonging unto the said Robte Carver his
heirs and assignes for ever and to the onely per use and
behoofe of him the said Robert Carver his heires and as-
signes forever."

"Bradford Govr
"The seaventeenth day of March 1645.

"Memorand the same day That Mr. Myles Standish and
Mr. John Alden do acknowledged joyntly and sevally That
for and in consideracon of the sum of three score and eleaven
pounde and tenn shillings to them allowed in payment of

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Online LibraryLysander Salmon RichardsHistory of Marshfield → online text (page 1 of 17)