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The publick buildings in this town, exclusive of school houses, are three meeting houses, two Congregational and one Baptist, a court house, and a gaol. The private houses are in general rather neat and convenient than large or elegant ; but it may be said that the appearance and accommodations, within, will rather exceed' than disappoint the expectations formed from their outward appearance. There are three good wharves on the north side of the town, and one at Lewis's bay.
There is no account to be found of the first settlement made in this town. Probably there was none made much before its incorporation, which was September 3d, 1639; but two persons are named in the original grant. The Indian name of Barnstable appears to have been Mattacheese, Matacheest, or Mattacheeset. Probably they are all the same name, which was given by the Indians to a tract of land which included Yarmouth, or at least a part of it ; for in the grant of Yarmouth that place is said to have been called Mattacheeset. This name is out of use, and generally unknown in both tħese towns. There are no accounts of the inhabitants having ever suffered by Indian hostili. ties, and there is reason to think that no part of the town was settled without purchase or consent of the natives ; for though no record remains of any considerable tract on the north side being purchased of the Indians, yet
it appears by several votes and agreements of the town, extracted from the first town book and preserved in the second, that all the south side of the town was amicably purchased of Wianno and several other sachems, about the year 1650.
There are the remains of a stone house in the east precinct, which is said to have answered the purpose of a fort to the early settlers ; and another house of a similar construction, and built with the same design, is now entire and inhabited in the west precinct. Although there are now no Indian families in this town, yet they were probably numerous in former times. Traces of their settlements are frequently to be met with :
And some of their burying grounds are yet to be seen. Their tools and weapons are sometimes found, especially their arrows, near a hundred of which were lately ploughed up that appeared to have been laid in a heap. The Indian names of places with in this town still retained, are Hyanis, probably a corruption of Wianno's [tract or territory.] Cheekwakut, the south-west corner of the east precinct; Skunkanuk, a place adjoining a brook of that name ; Coatuit, the neighbourhood of the boundary brook before mentioned ; and Scanton or Scorton hill, adjoining Sandwich line on the north side of the town.
In the same year in which this town was granted by the old Colony government, viz. October 11th, 1639, the Rev. Mr. Lothrop* remov
* This Mr. Lothrop was probably the same that is mentioned by Mr. Prince, in his Chronology, as having before settled in Virginia. There is a tradition among his descendants here, that he was a great sulierer in England on account of his religious principles, before his coming to America.
ed here with his church from Scituate. No account of his death is to be found : But his successor,* the Rev. Thomas Wailey was ordained A. D. 1663, and continued in the ministry till March 28th, 1678. The next minister, the Rev. Jonathan Russell
, was ordained Sept. 19th, 1683, and died February 21st, 174, ætat. 56. The Rev. Jonathan Russell (son of the above) was ordained October 29th, 1712, and died September 10th, 1759, ætat. 70. When the town was divided into two precincts, which division took place in the year 1719, the Rev. Mr. Russell, then minister, being left to his choice, chose the west precinct, commonly called Great Marshes, where he continued till his death. May 12th, 1725, the church in the east precinct was gathered, and the Rev. Joseph Greene was ordained.
The Rev. Oakes Shaw, the present pastor of the west church, was crdained October 1st, 1760. The Rev. Mr. Greene died October 4th, 1770, in the seventieth year of his age. April 10th, 1771, the Rev. Timothy Hilliard was ordained pastor of the east church. April 30th, 1783, at his request on account of his ill health, he was dismissed by the church and precinct ; and, November 12th, the same year, the Rev. John Mellen, jun. was ordained his successor in the ministry.
There is a small society of Baptists on the south side of the town ; the Rev. Enoch Eldridge was ordained their minister, December 4th, 1788.
The former ministers of this town, those, at least, who lived within the memory
any of the present inhabitants, are spoken of with much respect; and appear to have been held in high veneration by their people.
Whether either the Mr. Russells or their predecessors, published sermons or any of their works, is not ascertained. A manuscript sermon of the first Mr. Russell, preached at Plymouth, June 1st, 1686, at the last election which was held in the old Colony, has been presented by Mr. Isaiah Lewis Green, a descendant of his family, and the writer is at liberty to deposit it in the Collection of the Historical Society. The Rev. Mr. Green published a sermon, preached at the ordination of his son at Marshfield. A fast sermon of Mr. Hilliard's, preached in the time of the late political troubles, was published ; as were several occasional sermons of his, after his settlement at Cambridge.
The last governour of the old Colony of Plymouth, Thomas Hinckley, Esq. was a native and inhabitant of this town ; and it has given birth to several persons of eminence in the literary and civil line, who have resided elsewhere. It has, in times past, furnished a considerable number of sons for the university ; but the advantages for school edụcation are not so great as might be wished, though there is reason to hope that attention to this subject is increasing. There is a small social library in the east precinct, lately begun, consisting, at present, of between seventy and eighty volumès.
* The writer of this account has been informed, that there was a Mr. Smith settled here in the ministry, for a short time, in the early days of the town, who was afterwards many years a minister at Sandwich. If so, he was most probably the immediate successor of Mr. Lothrop : But of this no record is found.
The greater part of the inhabitants of this town are husbandmen and mechanicks ; though numbers of the farmers are occasionally seamen. It has afforded and continues to furnish many masters of vessels, and other maripers, who sail from other parts. A hundred men or upwards, are employed in the fishery, which is yearly increasing. Seventy or eighty years ago, the whale bay fishery was carried on in boats from the shore, to great advantage : This business employed near two hundred men, for three months of the year, in the fall, and beginning of winter. But few whales now come into the bay, and this kind of fishery has for a long time (by this town at least) been given up.
The principal articles of export from the town at present, in addition to onions, which have been mentioned already, are dried codfish, and flaxseed ; corn is also sometimes carried out to the northward, but at the same time, is imported from the southward, in nearly the same quantities.
The idea of cutting a canal through this town, which in some degree attracted the publick attention not long since, seems to be given up, on account of the height of the land on the north side : Yet it is thought, that with a comparatively small expense, a communication might be opened, which would serve very valuable purposes, between the eastern part of Lewis's bay, on the south, and Yarmouth harbour on the north : The land is low from one side to the other, and the distance not more than five miles ; and with greater ease and less expense still, a canal might be cut, from the same harbour, on the north side, into Bass-river, which would admit the smaller kind of vessels and be very advantageous at least to the inhabitants, who carry on the fishery with great success in that river, by facilitating their communication with Boston, and the northern ports ; even, though the bar at the mouth of the river should prevent its being of very extensive usefulness. The distance from the head of the waters communicating with Bass-river, to the marsh on the north side, is little more, if any, than half a mile ; and the intervening
; land, very little elevated in any part of it. A Bill of Mortality, for the East Precinct in Barnstable, from the year
1784, to the year 1785. Died in
1 80 to
to to to
DESCRIPTION OF HOLLISTON.
OLLISTON is situated in the most southern part of the county of
bounded S. by Medway and Bellingham ; W. by Milford and Hopkinton; N. by Framingham ; and E. by Sherburne and Medway.
The form of the town is very irregular, * extending ten miles ' nearly from N.to S. wide towards each end, and not more than one mile and an half in the middle. This was formerly a tract of land included in the bounds of Sherburne. The soil is of a good quality; and in general, well 'cultivated. The farms are mostly fenced with stone-wall; the houses and other buildings are formed for convenience, and they are generally kept in decent repair. Rye, Indian corn, barley, oats, flax, English hay, and orcharding, are cultivated to advantage.
Butter and cheese, however, may be called the staple of the place, and with these veal and pork are ever connected. The general practice of the farmers, is to turn their calves into veal, stock their pastures with cows; and in the fall of the year, purchase young cattle out of droves from the country.
There is no considerable stream in Holliston, but upon the brooks which either rise in, or pass through the town, there is one forge, one saw-mill, and one grist-mill.
There is a pond, lying partly in Holliston and partly in Medway, which is called Winthrop's-pond : It covers about one hundred and sixty acres ; its waters are clear and plentifully stored with pickerel, perch, ruffs, pouts, and eels. Near the outlet of this pond are the ruins of an old beaver-dam; the place at one end of the dam, whence they dug their gravel is still to be seen. Not far from this, is a curious spring which remains as it was stoned up by the natives, in a quadrangular form. In this vicinity and in many other places in the town, relicks of the Indians have been found ; such as the places of their wigwams, the spikes of their arrows, stone hoes, stone kettles, &c.
In the hill near the meeting-house, there is a bed of lime-stone : A few kilns of it have been burnt, but as it is so near to Smithfield in Rhode-Island, and Boston in Massachusetts ; and as its quality is inferiour to the lime-stone in either of those places, there is little prospect of working it at present
Within a few years a considerable improvement has taken place, in the method of repairing high ways; the stones, which for years had been thrown out of the way against the walls, are thrown back, each side of the way is ploughed, the stones are covered with the dirt, and the middle of the road is left the highest.
* See the plan of Holliston, with the towns adjacent, in the library of the His, torical Society.
Money, for the support of schools, is raised by the town, then divided to the districts, which engage and pay their own masters : It is the intent, that the schools be furnished with masters in the winter and mistresses in the summer. The good education of youth is more generally considered to be a matter of great importance.
There have been six only from this town who have received the honours of college.
History.] The first settlements were made about the year 1710. In the year 1724, the people had increased to thirty-four families, and finding it inconvenient, on account of the distance, to attend meeting and to do duty in Sherburne, they petitioned the town to set them off, which was amicably voted. The same year, December 3d, 1724, they were incorporated by the general court; and as a mark of respect for Thomas Hollis of London, one of the patrons of the university in Cambridge, the place was called Holliston.
October 31st, 1728, a church of Christ was gathered. November 20th, 1728, Mr. James Stone was ordained their first pastor; he continued a zealous and faithful minister until July 28, 1742, when he died of a fever, aged 38. This fever was so mortal, that in a short time, fourteen or fifteen of his people were laid in the dust with him.
May 18, 1743, Mr. Joshua Prentiss was ordained. He was the first candidate employed after Mr. Stone's decease : He continued forty-two years pastor of the church, and died April 24, 1788, aged 70.
Mr. Timothy Dickinson, third minister in Holliston, was ordained February 18th, 1789.
December, 1753, and January, 1754, were remarkable for what is called the great sickness in Holliston.
The patients were violently seized with a piercing pain in the breast or side ; to be seized with a pain in the head was not common : the fever high. The greater part of those who died were rational to the last : They lived three, four, five, and six days after they were taken. In some instances, it appears, they strangled, by not being able to expectorate; some, in this case, who were thought to be in their last moments, were recovered by administering oil.
In about six weeks fifty-three persons died, forty-one of whom died within twenty-two days.
The following is extracted from an account of this sickness, kept by the Rev. Mr. Prentiss, 5 December 31st, seven lay unburied. Janu. ary 4th, ten lay unburied, in which week seventeen died. There were two, three, four, and five buried for many days successively. Of those who died, fifteen were members of this church.
“ We are extremely weakened by the desolation, death has made in many of the most substantial families among us. Four families wholly broken up, losing both their heads. The sickness was so prevalent, that but few families escaped : for more than a month, there was not enough well to tend the sick, and bury the dead, though they spent their whole time in these services; but the sick suffered and the dead