William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

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meadows. The name Mulberry Brook was given to that portion
of it only which is south of the junction of the two streams,
which junction is formed just below Belcher's works. It empties
into Winneconnet Pond.

The larger of the two branches that unite to form it is Poqiian-
ticut Brook, or River, the branch at the west. This stream rises


in Sharon, about two miles north of Abijah Tisdale's, flows
through Wilbur's Pond, crosses Rockland Street at the Archip-
pus Buck place, receives a tributary where it crosses Massapoag
Avenue, flows southeasterly and supplies the reservoir built by
General Sheperd Leach west of the Easton furnace.

Wilbur's Pond is, however, only partly made by the water from
this stream. Another brook of about the same dimensions flows
into this pond on the east. This brook rises in Sharon and
Stoughton, in swampy, springy land near the Bay road about a
mile above Easton. It had a sufflcient water-supply once to
have several mills upon it. Briggs's cotton-twine factory was
one, and there was a cotton-batting factory lower down, near
the road by the Tisdale cemetery ; and still lower down, where it
enters Easton, was a saw-mill, probably owned one hundred and
forty years ago by Jedediah Willis, who lived five or six rods
from it, — his house being within the Easton line, and the mill in
Sharon. These two streams both flowed into the Poquanticut
Cedar-Swamp, where Wilbur's Pond now is. They united in the
swamp, the main outlet for the swamp being the same as the
outlet for the pond, — namely, Poquanticut Brook.

Reference was made above to a tributary of the last-named
brook which united with it near Massapoag Avenue. This small
stream had its source in the swamp spoken of, before Wilbur's
Pond was made. It was considerably larger once than now, be-
cause it helped drain the swamp ; but the dam checked the flow
of vi^ater into it, and cut off its main supply. It still contrives
to live, however, drawing from the swampy land through which
it wends its sluggish way enough water to make a stream. It
flows southerly, crossing Rockland Street between the Tarteus
Buck and the Mrs. Horace Buck places.

The other stream which unites with Poquanticut Brook below
Belcher's works to form Mulberry Brook was known one hundred
and fifty years ago as Little Brook, and is now called Beaver
Brook. Higher up, near Rockland Street, it was early known as
Cooper s Brook, so named from Timothy Cooper, who owned land
near it there. It has its source in a pond-hole near the old Gil-
bert and afterward Ansel Alger place, not far from the Bay road,
and not very far from the Sharon line. It crosses Britton Street,
and also Rockland Street near the Stimpson Williams place.


At the latter spot, about 1770, Lieut. Samuel Coney built a saw-
mill, which was owned about fifteen years later by Capt. James
Perry. The stream from thence flows southerly, and near Beaver
Street, which it crosses, it receives a small tributary which rises
east of the Bay road above Ebenezer Randall's. It used to
furnish water-power for the Hayward carriage factory, which is
now removed, and it makes the pond just below for the Drake
foundry, the dam for this pond having been constructed in 1751,
as will be elsewhere narrated.

Spring Brook is a small tributary of Mulberry Brook, flow-
ing into it near Walter Henshaw's, and comes down from some
distance northwest of this place.

Black Brook rises in the swampy lands south c^ Lincoln Street
and considerably east of the Bay road, flows southerly until it
crosses the road just west of Edmund Lothrop's, thence goes
southeast and runs through Cranberry Meadow, crossing the
road near the old Dean saw-mill, and so on in a southeasterly
direction into West Bridgewater, where it flows into the Town
River. The name Black Brook was in use before 1763, and is
now applied to the whole stream ; but for a long time the name
of Cranberry-Meadoiv Brook was given to that portion of it
below its entrance into Cranberry Meadow.

Cranberry-Meadow Neck is a ridge of land about one hundred
rods west of the mill-site, running north and south and nearly
cutting the meadows into two parts. A small brook flowed past
the northerly end of this neck and ran, or rather sluggishly
crept, downward through the meadow, emptying into the larger

Gallozvs Brook is a little brook just west of the Finley place.
It rises, not in Cranberry Meadow, but in a small swamp about
west of the Finley place, flows northerly, and then curves and
flows east by south into Cranberry-Meadow Brook. It was so
small that in 1750 it had no bridge over it, and one could step
across it. But on this little stream Joshua Howard once built a
dam, meaning to get a supply of water by cutting a ditch to
Black Brook in Cranberry Meadow. This he actually did ; and
it led to trouble with James Dean, whose saw-mill privilege was
threatened with serious loss by this diversion of water from its
water-supply. After these parties had successively opened and


closed the ditch several times, Mr. Howard gave up the contest
and abandoned his project of building an oil mill. We shall,
however, see that the contest was renewed. The traditionary
origin of the name Gallows Brook is this : An unfortunate ox
was once browsing by the roadside near the brook, at a place
where there was a tangle of stout grapevines. He either slipped
or sank into the mire, getting his neck fastened among the vines
in such a way as to be strangled. If the tradition is true, we
may conclude that either the ox was very weak, or the grapevine
very strong.


Although there is much swampy land in Easton, there were
very few natural ponds, and these were very small. At some
time there was a pond at Cranberry Meadow, but it was one
made by the beavers. There were several small beaver ponds
at various times. Wilbur s Pond m. the northwest part of the
town was made by General Sheperd Leach about the year 1825.
It is the site of what was once known as Poquanticut Cedar-
Swamp. The origin of the other artificial ponds in Easton will
be spoken of in connection with the history of industrial enter-
prises here, they having been made by dams to furnish water-
power. There was a natural pond of small extent, in a basin
and without an outlet, in North Easton, which was known as
early as the incorporation of the town as Horse-Grass Pond. It
is so called in the North Purchase records, and was situated just
east of the railroad track, some rods south of the bridge over
Main Street. It has now almost disappeared. Another very
small pond of the same character, but which must once have
been quite deep judging by the accumulation of peat or muck
in it, was in the hollow about a mile south of the North Easton
Railroad station. It was called Lily Pond prior to 1750. The
depth of the peat accumulation has not yet been sounded. The
railroad track passes over it, and has often settled so that many
times the road-bed has had to be raised at this point. The peat
deposit was formed from the vegetation that grew in it, and from
the leaves and branches that fell into it from the overhanging
and neighboring trees. Lily Pond is referred to under that
name in 1759. While the farm on which this muck deposit is



located was the property of the Messrs. DeWitt, a large quantity
of the deposit was dug up and carted away for sale. The supply
is one that will last for many years. There is also a small pond
west of Edward D. Williams's and on the west side of Mulberry
Brook, known as Round Pond. In very dry seasons it is nearly
or quite empty. There was another, once called Ragged-Plain
Pond, west of the four corners beyond Mr. Selee's and north of
the road.

There were several places known in early descriptions as
Beaver Dam. One was just west of Stone-House Hill ; another
was in the extreme northwest part of the town. Numerous small
streams and swampy places made the town a congenial home for
the beaver. Remains of a beaver dam were seen by Alonzo
Marshall near the stream northeast of his former home, and
beavers were known to have made their dams at Cranberry
Meadow, and west of the old Nathaniel Perry place near the
Mansfield line. The dam the remains of which were found
by Mr. Marshall is referred to in the North Purchase records
as early as 1709. There was also a Beaver Pond, so-called,
as late as 1752, on Whitman's Brook, near the old Joseph
Drake place.


No locality, with the single exception of Great Cedar-Swamp,
is oftener referred to in the old records than Cranberry Meadoiv.
All the meadows were valuable in the early time because there
were few clearings, and the grass, though inferior to what is now
raised upon grass lands, was much needed. Cranberry Meadow
extends quite a distance westward from the railroad crossing at
the old Dean saw-mill on Prospect Street. Lots from it were in
great demand when the land was first divided. Much of it was
overflowed in the winter. It was originally a beaver pond. In
the action of Dean vs. Brett, elsewhere noticed, the following
statements were offered in the evidence : " It appears that said
Meadow was formerly flowed by the beavers, or natives, or ante-
diluvians, and in that condition was found by [Timothy] Cooper."
Reference is made to " the time the natives had it for a fishing
pond, after they had destroyed the beavers which made the dams
below. ... It was a natural pond or bog when Cooper found it


in 1706." In fact, however, it was known and valued over ten
years before this date, and before Cooper settled here. But he
was the first to see its value for business purposes ; and in 1706
he was shrewd enough to have twenty-six acres of land laid out
at the east end of it, crossing the present mill-site.

Hockomock Meadow is in the southeast quarter of the town.
It does not appear under this name in the Taunton North-
Purchase records. It was in earlier times a swamp, and was
called the Great Swamp.

Evin's Meadow is frequently named in the early records. It
is the low land west of the old Nathaniel Perry place, near
the Mansfield line. It became the property of Lieut. James
Leonard, then of his daughter Mehitable, who married John
Willis, and on his death married Captain Nathaniel Perry.
Cold-Spring Meadoiv is next below ; and still below this, and
west of the D welly Coward place, is Granny Meadow. Nicholas
or Nicies Meadoiv was the name given to the meadow west and
southwest of Edmund Lothrop's. Little-Ci'anberry Meadoiv was
north of Stone's Pond, perhaps including the upper part of what
is now the pond. There were several little cranberry meadows
in town. LatJirofs Plaiti was the large plain south of Lincoln
Street, about half a mile from the North Easton Post-office,
where a notable muster was held some years ago. Rocky Plain
was the level land through which Centre Street now runs, the
plain being mainly on the west of it. CrookJiorn Plain was a
name in common use as early as 1700, and may have been given
to it from the real or supposed shape of the plain. It is the
level land through which the Bay road runs, between Furnace
village and the Sheperd place, though it was most of it upon the
west side of the road. High Plain is in the southwest corner
of the town, and the plain in the extreme southwest and close
to Norton line was, in 1730 and earlier, known as Meeting
Plain. Ragged Plain is west of the Selee place, near Mans-
field. Badcock's Plain, is at the extreme eastern border of
Easton, east of South-Easton village. It was known later as
Stone House Plain. Chestnut Orchard needs no special de-
scription, as it still goes by this name. It extended farther
south in the early days than now, taking in the Nathan Willis




As to the flora and fauna of Easton, they do not differ from
that of this section generally, and do not call for special notice.
The bears, wildcats, deer, etc., have all disappeared. The smaller
animals still found here live a precarious life, there being several
hunters and dogs for every fox, partridge, rabbit, or squirrel.
Rewards were at first offered for killing wildcats, and we have a
record of Benjamin Drake being paid five shillings for such ser-
vice in 1724. Deer were plentiful, but they were such tempting
game that there was great danger of their speedy extinction. In
1698, therefore, a law was passed forbidding any one, on penalty
of two pounds for the first offence and more for a repetition of
it, from killing any deer between January i and August i. A
more rigid act was enacted about 1739, and in December of that
year a town-meeting was held " to chuse two good and lawful
men to take good care that ye late act is not broken conserneing
ye killing of Dear within their precincts ; and we maid choise of
John Dailey, Sen., and Geoi^ge Keyzer to searve in yt affeare."
From that date a deer constable, or " Informer of deer," was
regularly chosen in town-meetings, until 1789. The honor of
this office for many years fell upon Benjamin Harvey. Harvey
lived on the old Allen road, now Britton Street, and the location
of the house may still be seen, just east of the old house now in-
habited by the "Twenty Leonards." One pleasant day in 1747
Mrs. Harvey was sweeping, and she put her little baby Sarah
in the warm sunshine just outside the door. Presently the child
began to cry, and the mother went out and brought her in.
She had no sooner done so than a bear, that had been attracted
by the cry, emerged from the woods near by and came close to
the spot where but a moment before the baby had been lying.
This was the only child the Harveys ever had, and we may well
believe that this circumstance enforced greater caution upon
the mother in the future.

There are, unfortunately, very few authentic bear-stories that
have come to the writer's notice. Many years ago, old Mr.
Britton used to tell Tisdale Harlow, when a little child, the
story of the last bear killed in Poquanticut. The exact date
cannot be given, but it was more than a century ago. It had



the rest of it. Then it was asked how much it was and how it lay : said
Gentlemen answered it was all the land between Taunton bounds and
Rehoboth bounds, and between Taunton bounds and the bay line
home to Bridgewater Bounds, excepting two parcells that was granted
unto others before. So we made a bargain accordingly with said agents
or committee, and ten of us became bound for the payment of what we
gave for said lands, & a deed was then written and left with said Wil-
liam Harvey ; but we then not knowing all who would be proprietors
in said lands," etc.^

Forty-three other persons joined with the ten alluded to in
this statement ; and this company of fifty-three Taunton men
paid to the Plymouth Court the sum of £ioo for the tract of
land already specified. The following is a copy of the original
deed of sale : —

"Whereas the Generall Court of New Plymouth have impowered
Mr. Thomas Prence, Major Josias Winslow, Capt. Thomas Southworth,
and Mr. Constant Southworth to take notice of some purchases of land
lately made by Capt. Thomas Willett, and to settle and dispose the
said lands for the Collonies' use : Know therefore all whom it may
anyway concern, that the above named Mr. Thomas Prence, Capt.
Thomas Southworth, Mr. Constant Southworth, and Major Josias
Winslow, by vertue of power by and from the said Court derived unto
them, have and by these presents doe bargaine, sell, grant, allien, al-
lott, confer, and make over unto Richard Williams, Walter Deane,
George Macey, James Walker, Joseph Wilbore, William Harvey,
Thomas Leonard, John Turner, Henery Andrews, John Cobb, Gorge
Hall, John Hall, Samuel Hall, James Leonard, Sen"'., Nathaniel Wil-
liams, Thomas Williams, Nicholas White, Sen'., Nicholas White, Jun'.,
Hezekiah Hoar, AUice Dean, Israel Deane, Robert Grossman, Shad-
rach Wilbore, Thomas Caswell, John Macomber, John Smith, Edward
Rue, John Parker, Samuel Paule, Thomas Linkon, Sen'., Thomas
Harvey the Elder, Nathaniel Thayer, Thomas Linkon, Jun'., Peter
Pitts, Jonah Austine, Sen'., John Richmond, Samuell Williams, Chris-
topher Thrasher, Mistress Jane Gilbert, Gorge Watson, Samuell Smith,
James Burt, Richard Burt, John Tisdall, Sen'., John Tisdall, Jun'.,
James Phillips, Edward Bobbitt, John Hatheway, Jonathan Briggs,
Encrease Robinson, John Bryant, Thomas Harvey, Jun'., Proprietars

1 The above is from a document in the handwriting of Thomas Leonard, and is
one of the numerous and interesting historical papers preserved by the late Rev.
George Leonard, of Marshfield, but now the property of the city of Taunton.



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Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 3 of 78)