Braintree Massachusetts, 1890


Braintree
, one of the most respectable and ancient towns of the State, lies in the northeastern part of Norfolk County, 10 miles south of Boston, on the Old Colony Railroad. The stations, villages and post-offices are Braintree, South Braintree, and East Braintree. It is bounded on the northwest and north by Quincy, east by Weymouth, south by Holbrook, and southwest and west by Randolph. The area is 7,956 acres, aside from the highways and water surfaces. There are 1,997 acres of woodland, consisting chiefly of oak and pine. The holly tree (Ilex aquifolium) is indigenous here. Along the highways are numerous elms and maples, some of which have been growing fifty years.

Gooch, or Great, Pond, in the westerly part, contains about 150 acres; Little Pond, near South Braintree village, about 75 acres; and Cranberry Pond, at the south, 25 acres. The surface of the town is agreeably diversified by several eminences, affording fine views, but none of great height, except on the northwest border, where the Blue Hill group is met.

The surface of the town is drained by the Manatiquot, or Monatignot, River, which meets the tide at East Braintree in Weymouth Fore River. Its tributaries, Blue Hill and Cochato rivers, drain respectively the western and southern sections of the town. On these streams are several good mill powers, which have been well utilized. The number of manufacturing establishments in the town is 53. Of these, the most extensive are the boot and shoe factories, of which there are several, with a product in 1885 valued at $218,605; metallic and wood and metal goods, $111,132; hosiery, knit goods, findings and trimmings, $284,150. There are two or three tanneries, a large paper mill, three or four establishments for food preparations ; one each for cement, soap, dye-stuffs, furniture, rubber and elastic goods. The aggregate product in 1885 was valued at $1,468,571. The town has quarries of excellent granite, from which, as early as 1752, Mr. John Hayward furnished the material for King's Chapel, in Boston. The prevailing rock is sienite. The soil is a gravelly loam, which is fairly productive; and the 78 farms, in 1885, furnished a product valued at $100,615. There are upwards of 7,000 fruit trees and several cranberry bogs in the town. The valuation in 1888 was $3,064,125, with a tax of $12 on $1,000. The population is 4,040, and the dwelling-houses number nearly 950.

The schools are graded, and occupy nine buildings, valued, with appurtenances, at $29,166. At South Braintree is Thayer academy, founded in 1877, incorporated in 1879, which already has a large patronage and a high reputation. The edifice is valued at $75,000, and the various appendages would largely add to the estimate of the property. The libraries, accessible to the public, in the aggregate have about 12,000 volumes. The town has a public library, containing nearly 10,000 volumes, in its own building, valued at $25,000. The "Braintree Observer" fills the important office of a local weekly for the town.

The first church edifice of the Union C. T. society, in the pleasant village of East Braintree, on Weymouth Fore River, was dedicated in 1812, and the Rev. Daniel A. Clark ordained pastor. He was succeeded in 1815 by Rev. Jonas Perkins. Rev. Lyman Matthews, ordained in 1830, was the first minister of the Congregational church at South Braintree. The Baptists erected a house of worship in 1844.

The original settlement of this town was in 1625. Some of the earliest settlers came from the town of Braintree, in the county of Essex, England; and when the town was incorporated, May 13, 1640, it was under the name most familiar to them. Previously it had been called Mount Woolaston. The township included what are now Quincy, Randolph and Holbrook. The town purchased the Indian right to their lands, in 1679, of Wampatuck, otherwise Josiah Sagamore, the chief of the Indians hereabout; the price paid being £21 10s. In 1792 parts of Braintree and Dorchester were established as Quincy; in 1793 part of Braintree was established as Randolph, there being a further annexation in 1811; and in 1856 another part of this town was annexed to Quincy. The part of this territory now known as "Braintree" was voted to be a distinct parish in 1708, The Rev. Hugh Adams, ordained in 1707, was the first minister.

This town has given to the world the following: Benjamin Thompson (1642-1714), a learned schoolmaster and poet; Edmund Quincy (1681-1738), an able jurist; John Adams (1735-July 4 1826), an eminent statesman, second President of the United States; Zabdiel Adams (1739-1801), an eloquent divine; Elihu Thayer, D.D. 1747-1812) a noted minister and.scholar; Samuel Hayward, M.D. (1749-1821), an eminent physician; Sarah Wentworth (Apthorp) Morton (1759-1846), a pleasing poetess; John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), the sixth President of the United States; Gen. Sylvanus Thayer, LL.D. (1785-1872), a noted military officer and benefactor; and Richard Salter Storrs, Jun., D.D (1821), an able divine.

pp. 195-197 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer