Dighton Massachusetts, 1890

Dighton lies in the central part of Bristol County, 40 miles south of Boston by the Old Colony Railroad, which runs along the Taunton River (forming the divisional line on the east) through the entire length of the town. Taunton bounds it on the north, Berkeley on the east, Somerset and Swansey on the south, and Rehoboth on the west . The assessed area is 13,023, which includes 3,797 acres of woodland. The post-offices are Dighton, North and West Dighton, and Segreganset.

Though generally level, the town has several delightful elevations, as Richmond Hill and Hunter's Hill, in the southeast. An irregular line of elevations extends from these to the centre, where is another group; and still another extends along the northern half of the western line. From the summit of one of the hills named, it is said, more than forty churches can be seen.

Three-mile River forms the line separating Dighton from Taunton at the northeast corner, where it furnishes power for the manufactories of North Dighton village. The Sweganset River, an affluent of the Taunton River, rises in the western part of the town, flows southeasterly, and affords valuable water-power. From the Taunton River, shad, salmon and alewives are annually taken to the value of several thousand dollars. The farms number 189; and their aggregate product, in the census year of 1885, was $179,182. The largest item in this amount was that of fruit and berries, the town having 13,383 fruit trees, while a large area is devoted to the cultivation of strawberries. The manufactures consist chiefly of stoves and the associated articles, paper, paints and colors, carriages, building material, food preparations, brooms, etc., in all, twelve establishments. The aggregate value of the manufactures was $173,080. The valuation in 1888 was $745,670, with a tax-rate of $13.50 on $1,000. The population was 1,782, sheltered in 412 dwelling-houses; and there were 452 voters.

Dighton has primary and grammar schools, occupying ten buildings valued at about $10,000. The Smith Memorial Hall is a fine edifice, and was a gift to the Unitarians by the heirs of Alfred Smith, of Newport, R. I. There are a small association library and five Sunday-school libraries, having collectively upwards of 2,500 volumes. The town journal is "Dighton Rock," with a weekly issue and a small circulation. There are here a Baptist church, a Pedobaptist Congregational church (Unitarian), a Trinitarian Congregational, a Methodist Episcopal, and a Roman Catholic.

Dighton was originally a part of Taunton, and was incorporated May 30, 1812. "It was named," says William H. Whitmore, in his able essay on "The Origin of the Names of Towns in Massachusetts," "most probably in honor of Frances Dighton, wife of Richard Williams, one of the first settlers, and sister of the second wife of Governor Thomas Dudley." There is said to be no other town in the State that derives its name from a lady. The first church was organized in 1710, and reorganized in 1826. Assonet Neck, on which is situated the famous "Dighton Rock," whose inscriptions have puzzled the antiquaries of Europe and America, lies on the eastern bank of the Taunton River, in the town of Berkley, under which head a further account of the rock is given.

William Baylies, M.D., born in Uxbridge, Mass., December 5, 1743, came early to Dighton, and was a successful practitioner here. A man of rare mental endowments, he was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a founder of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He was a member of Congress from 1805 to 1809; and died in Dighton, June 17, 1826.

Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 273-274