Foxborough Massachusetts, 1890

Foxborough is a busy and prosperous town in the southwestern part of Norfolk County, about 20 miles southwest of Boston. The Providence Branch and the Northern Division of the Old Colony Railroad pass through it, having stations at Foxborough (centre), Foxvale, and East and North Foxborough. The other villages are West and South Foxborough, Foxvale, Foxborough Furnace, and Donkeyville. Walpole bounds it on the north and northwest, Sharon on the northeast, Mansfield on the southeast and south, and Wrentham and Norfolk on the west. The assessed area is 12,085 acres; and of this 3,387 acres are forest, consisting of oak, pine, chestnut and maple. It occupies the crest of the ridge between Narragansett and Dorchester bays. In the west, northwest and southeast it is quite hilly; but the most conspicuous elevation is Foolish Hill, a little southeast of the centre. Neponset River and Cocasset Brook have their sources in the central and western part, the former flowing northward to Boston Harbor, and the latter southward to Taunton River. Billing's Brook, in the eastern part, is also a tributary of this river. On these are numerous lovely ponds; the largest being Cocasset Pond, covering about 40 acres, at the west of the central village; and Neponset Reservoir in the northern section, of nearly 100 acres. The land is somewhat rocky, and the soil a gravelly loam, porous and healthful, but not very productive. Iron pyrites and a poor quality of anthracite coal are found in several localities. Several quarries furnish granite for building purposes. The farms are 90 in number The greenhouse and hothouse products are proportionately large their value in 1885 having been $4,711. The entire farm product was $88,197. For many years this was the leading town in the straw goods business in America; and at one period it sent out more hats and bonnets of straw than did all the rest of the country together. The manufacture was begun here by Elias Nason as early as 1812. Daniels Carpenter, at a later period, developed the business to such a degree as to be properly regarded as the founder of the business. The product, in 1865, reached the large value of $1,500,000. Machinery has been introduced, making better goods at a cheaper rate; and the town has now several rivals. The value of its product in 1885 was $578,647. Four firms and about 1,000 persons are employed in this industry. The furnace works founded here by Otis Gary add much to the town's business and wealth. There are two factories making ladies' fine shoes, giving employment to some 125 persons. Other manufactures are boxes, soap, sewing machines, leather, food preparations, etc. The aggregate value of the manufactures in the last census year was $723,826. There is a local savings hank having deposits to the amount of $147,615; and a flourishing co-operative bank was recently established. The valuation in 1888 was $1,402,121, with a tax of $15.90 on $1,000. The population was 2,814, 703 being voters; and the dwelling-houses numbered 593. Most of the people own their dwellings, and the general neatness is quite noticeable in the town. Well-grown trees of elm and maple arc very numerous along the streets. On the public square or park in the central village are several handsome public and private buildings. The Memorial Hall, a Gothic structure of various-colored Foxborough granite surmounted by the statue of a soldier, contains the Boyden Public Library, of upwards of 3,000 volumes. Rockhill Cemetery is a charming grove of oak and chestnut, and slopes westward to a valley in which three lakelets of clear water reflect the floating clouds and the blue dome of the sky.

[Memorial Hall, Foxborough.]

The "Foxborough Reporter" enjoys a good patronage, and the "Times" is quite widely known; both papers being issued weekly.

The public schools are graded and occupy seven buildings, valued at nearly $38,000. There are two chapels in the outlying villages; and at the centre the Congregationalists, Baptists, Universalists and Roman Catholics each have a church.

[first house built in Foxborough.]

Foxborough was taken from parts of Wrentham, Waltham, Stoughton, and Stoughtonham (Sharon), and was incorporated June 10, 1778. It was named for Charles James Fox, the great defender of the American Colonies in the British Parliament. The Rev. Thomas Kendall was ordained as the first minister in 1779, and remained in the pastorate here until 1800. the town is somewhat noted for longevity, based as well on the general average as on special cases. Mr. John Shepherd was born here in 1700. He lived more than a century in one spot; and it was said of him that he lived in two counties and four different towns without moving from the place where he was born. He died in Attleborough in 1809, aged 109 years. Mr. Seth Boyden (1788-1870), an inventor and skilful mechanic, and Professor Henry B. Nason, a skilful chemist and an author, were born here.

pp. 311-314 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890