Freetown Massachusetts, 1890
Freetown, notable for its ledges and its large area of forest, lies in the easterly part of Bristol County, 45 miles south of Boston by the Taunton and New Bedford Branch of the Old Colony Railroad, which passes through the eastern part of the town; while the Middleboro' and Fall River Branch passes through Assonet village, in the northwestern part of the town. The other villages and stations are East Freetown and Braley's.
The towns of Berkley and Lakeville bound it on the north; the latter and Rochester on the east; Acushnet, New Bedford, Dartmouth and Fall River on the south; and on the west is Somerset, separated by Taunton River, and a southern projection of Berkley between which and Freetown is Assonet Bay. The assessed area is 21,275 acres. Two thirds of this are forest, composed mostly of pine, oak and chestnut. The geological structure is granite.
The soil is loamy, and large crops of cranberries and strawberries are raised. Of the last, in 1885, there were 40,908 quarts sent to market. Many bees are kept also; and in some years the sales of honey have amounted to $1,000. The aggregate product of the 60 farms was $88,787. Many persons are engaged in preparing wood and charcoal for market, and in lumbering. There are five saw mills, one of which is devoted to making box-boards. The largest establishment is the Crystal Spring Bleaching and Dyeing Company, which employs about 200 persons. There is one gun factory, employing 25 or more workmen. Other manufactures are mixed textiles, leather, flour and meal, meats, and stone. The aggregate value of manufactures in 1885 was $105,601. The valuation in 1888 was $854,451; and the tax $9.50 on $1,000. The population is 1,457; and there are 396 legal voters.
There are seven public school-houses, valued at $7,000. The Congregationalists and the Friends each have a church here, and the Christian denomination has three.
The Indian name of this town was Assonet. The original settlers called it "Freemen's Land;" and in July, 1683, it was incorporated under its present name. The earliest records of the town are lost. The Rev. William Way, the first minister, was invited here in 1704, "to educate and instinct children in reading and writing, and to dispense the gospel to the town's acceptance."
There is a noted medicinal spring here called "The Pool." Forge Pond is a pretty sheet of water about one mile by one third in area. Long Pond, lying partly in Lakeville, is about seven miles long and two or three wide. There are several beautiful localities in this town; and in times past much care has been taken to adorn the grounds about the better residences and the village streets. These are shaded with numerous elms, which have been growing thriftily for fifty years. The town-hall is the largest of the later edifices.
Freetown lost but one man of those sent into the war for the Union. The most eminent men accredited to this town are Marcus Morton, (1774-1864), a governor of the Commonwealth in 1840-41 and 1843-4; William R. Alger (1822), a distinguished clergyman and author; and Gen. Ebenezer W. Peirce (1822), author and soldier. in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890