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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 mariners, 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.
DESCRIPTION OF HOLLISTON.
OLLISTON is situated in the most southern part of the county of Middlesex, twenty-seven miles from the State-house in Boston ; 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 Historical 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. "December 31st, seven lay unburied. January 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
lay unburied; and that, notwithstanding help was procured, and charitable assistance afforded, by many in neighbouring towns.
"We are a small town, consisting of about eighty families, and not more than four hundred souls." Considering the number of inhabitants then in the town, this was, perhaps, the most distressing mortality which has visited any plantation, since the first settlement of the country. Except the time of this sickness, the people have enjoyed an equal degree of health, with those in other places; from that time, to 1791, they have increased to eight hundred and seventy-five, according to the census: Besides a large proportion of the inhabitants, who have emigrated to New-Hampshire and Vermont.
As an instance of longevity, Mrs. Winchester died in the town, a few years since, aged one hundred and four.
A Bill of Mortality, in Holliston, for three years, beginning January 1,
EXTRACT FROM A MANUSCRIPT JOURNAL OF A GENTLEMAN BELONGING TO THE ARMY, WHILE UNDER THE COMMAND OF MAJOR-GENERAL ST. CLAIR.
UNE 29, 1791, left Bedford, in company with Colonel Gibson of the levies. Having dined, we departed and took the Glade road over the Alleghany mountains. The lands lying between the Alleghany and Strasburgh, are but indifferent; the wood being chiefly pine. The Alleghanies run an extensive course through North-America, and are the promontories thereof: From circumstances and appearances, it has been suggested by some, that this continent was once joined to the western, but by some dreadful convulsions of nature, separated and dismembered. Whether this has been really the case, or only conjectural, I leave to those who are more deeply skilled in researches of this nature, to determine.
The ascent of the Alleghany is very great for several miles; having therefore with much difficulty reached the summit of one eminence, another still higher, presents itself to be explored; keeping the traveller continually climbing, until he reaches the top of the mountain.
Having reached the summit, and rode several miles, we were much gratified at the sight of many beautiful and extensive fields and meadows, which nothing in nature could exceed, in elegance and fertility, often continuing to extend to the utmost limits of the sight. This scene was truly picturesque; from the rugged appearance of the mountain in the ascent, I had not formed an idea of beholding so sudden, and so pleas