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A List of the Commanders in Chief of Massachusetts, whether
MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN OF MIDDLEBOROUGH, IN THE COUNTY OF PLYMOUTH. WITH REMARKS.
IDDLEBOROUGH is bounded S. by Rochester and Freetown, Middleborough from Raynham and Bridgwater, and by Halifax, E. by Plympton, Carver and Wareham.
This place, before the said town was incorporated, went by the name of Namaskett, which was an ancient Indian name, and was formerly plentifully inhabited by the Indian natives, who were governed by the noted sachem Tispacan. But when the town was incorporated, and began to be settled by the English, the natives began to scatter and decrease; but there is now a settlement of them which descended from the ancients of Namaskett, which inhabit a part of said town, known by the name of Betty's-neck (which place took its name from an ancient Indian woman by the name of Betty Sasemore, who owned that neck) where there is now eight Indian houses and eight families. The general number of the Indians, old and young, that live there, is between thirty and forty. Their houses are poor, they own some land, they live imprudent are very fond of liquor. They till their land, which produces good crops of corn and rye, which they trade off for spirituous liquors, with any retailer that is so destitute of principles as to trade with them, so that by the middle of the winter, their corn and grain is generally gone. Then, by their baskets and brooms (which they make) they purchase it to supply immediate necessity. They are very subject to hectical complaints, for more than half that are born are carried off young with consumptions.
In this town is one whole Congregational precinct, where the Rev. Joseph Barker is settled as minister. One precinct, containing part of VOL. III.
Middleborough and part of Taunton, where the Rev. Caleb Turner is their settled minister. One precinct, containing part of Middleborough and part of Bridgwater, where the Rev. Mr. Gurney is settled. One other precinct incorporated in March last, containing part of Middleborough, part of Rochester, and part of Freetown. There are also three Baptist societies in said town; one of them destitute of a settled teacher; one under the charge of the Rev. Isaac Backus, the other under the charge of the Rev. Ebenezer Hinds.
This town is now very attentive to schools to educate their youth. This town is remarkable for a large range of ponds, that lie mostly therein. It is remarked that the pond lying in the southerly part of Rochester, known by the name of Snipatuct pond, being about four miles in circumference, has two streams issuing therefrom, the one running southward, and empties itself into the sea, at Rochester, at a place called Mattapoisett harbour; the other stream, by running about three quarters of a mile, empties into the east Quitiquos pond, which mostly lies in said Middleborough, which unites with the other ponds, from whence Namaskett river ariseth: So that the alewife-fish come into Snipatuct pond from both streams.
This town is natural to corn and rye, which it produces well: Not poor for grass. A number of good mills, and iron works have been erected. The ponds produce large quantities of iron ore, which is used to great advantage, together with several sorts of fish.
There is on the easterly shore of Assawampsitt pond, on the shore of Betty's-neck, two rocks which have curious marks thereon (supposed to be done by the Indians) which appear like the steppings of a person with naked feet, which settled into the rocks; likewise the prints of a hand on several places, with a number of other marks; also, there is a rock on a high hill, a little to the eastward of the old stone fishing wear, where there is the print of a person's hand in said rock.
LONGEVITY.] Mrs. Hope Nelson, was born in May, in the year 1677, in the town of Barnstable, or some other town near thereto, on the Cape; she died the 7th of December, 1782, being one hundred and five years and seven months of age, and was the widow of Thomas Nelson, of said Middleborough. She was a member of a Baptist church, in said Middleborough, and partook of the sacrament with the members of said church, after she was an hundred years of age. She was rational, and possessed of memory and faculties, after she was an hundred, equal to what is common at sixty. Eight years before her death, her living children, or persons which descended from her, amounted to two hundred and fifty-seven, and by the best accounts that have been yet obtained, at her death, her living descendants amounted to about three hundred and thirty-seven.
EMPLOYMENTS.] The most common and general employment of the inhabitants of said town is agriculture, which seems to be increasing; though there are a number of mechanicks. Nailing, or the business of making nails, is carried on largely in the winters, by the farmers and young men, who have but little other business at that season of the year.
SPIRITUOUS LIQUORS.] The use of spirituous liquors does not prevail in this town, to that degree it does in many other towns, although there are several persons who have ruined their characters, their families, and property, by the excessive use of spirituous liquors, which have served to destroy their own constitution. The effect that spirits seem to have on the bodies of those sots, seems to deprive them of their natural activity, throws them into a kind of stupor, relaxes their nerves, and sets them into a continual tremor—those are the certain consequences of excessive use of high spirits.
There are three or four neighbourhood libraries, which contain fifty or sixty volumes in each.
There is a society formed by a covenant, for the purpose of gaining in knowledge; their meetings are stated quarterly. They commonly have at each meeting a publick dispute, by two or three members on each side, which are chosen at a meeting before, when the subject of dispute is agreed upon. There are a great number of questions given out by one member, to another, at an early period, to be answered at a future meeting; by which proceedings, the members of said society make considerable proficiency in husbandry, mathematicks, philosophy, astronomy, &c. The foregoing is presented to the Historical Society, by their humble servant,
Middleborough, June 14th, 1793. REV. DR. Belknap.
This account was accompanied with an excellent draft, which could receive no improvement, but from a delineation of the roads.
IN the year 1763, Mr. Shubael Thompson found a land turtle in the north-east part of Middleborough, which by some misfortune had lost one of its feet, and found the following marks on its shell, viz. I. W. 1747-He marked it S. T. 1763, and let it go. It was found again in the year 1773, by Elijah Clap, who marked it E. C. 1773, and let it go. It was found again in the year 1775, by Captain William Shaw, in the month of May, who marked it W. S. 1775. It was found again by said Shaw the same year, in September, about one hundred rods distance from the place where he let it go.
It was found again in the year 1784, by Jonathan Soule, who marked it J. S. 1784, and let it go. It was found again in the year 1790, by Joseph Soule, who marked it J. S. 1790, and let it go. It was found again in the year 1791, by Zenas Smith, who marked it Z. S. 1791, and let it go; it being the last time it was found; 44 years from the time the first marks were put on.
Presented to the Philological Society, by
The above is obtained and presented to the Rev. Dr. Belknap, Corresponding Secretary to the Historical Society by their humble servant, NEHEMIAH BENNET.