Holbrook Massachusetts, 1890
Holbrook is a new and delightfully situated town in the southeastern part of Norfolk County, 14 miles south of Boston, with which it has ready communication by the Old Colony Railroad, passing along its whole western border. The villages and post-offices are Holbrook and Brookville. Its boundaries are Braintree on the north, South Weymouth on the east, Abington and Brockton on the south, and Avon and Randolph on the west. The assessed area is 4,249 acres, of which 1,134 are forests of oak, pine and maple. The principal rock is sienite. The land is elevated and uneven. It forms the water-shed between Massachusetts and Mount Hope Bay; the waters in the northerly part of the town flowing into Cochato River, which empties into Boston Bay, while those of the southerly part flow into Beaver River, running in the opposite direction, There is a beautiful sheet of water near the Holbrook station, convenient for skating in winter and boating and
[the Holbrook Mansion.]
fishing in summer. The elevated position of Holbrook renders it remarkably healthful, while affording commanding views of charming local scenery. From some of the more prominent points, the ocean, dotted with canvas, may be seen. The principal street — Franklin — is one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the county. It runs southerly from Braintree toward Brockton, nearly three miles, on elevated land, and is lined on either side with ornamental trees and handsome dwelling-houses. The residence of the late Elisha N. Holbrook, near the principal village, is remarkable for its architectural beauty and tasteful grounds. The Old Lincoln House, the town-hall and the Winthrop church, are the most notable public buildings. The principal industry is shoemaking, for which in 1885 there were 17 establishments, employing about 1,300 persons; and whose product in that year was valued at $1,506,205. There are also manufactures of leather, clothing, carriages, and wooden goods; the value of all goods made in the town being $1,548,038; while the product of the 47 farms was $34,807. The valuation in 1888 was $1,066,270, with a tax-rate of $19.50 on $1,000. The number of dwelling-houses was 481; the population 2,334 and the legal voters numbered 649. The schools are graded, and occupy six buildings valued at about $30,000. The public library, as well as the town-hall in which it is contained, was a gift to the town by the late E. N. Holbrook. "The Standard" is the local weekly news-paper for this town. The churches are the Congregationalist, Methodist and Baptist; the latter being at Brookville.
[Winthrop Church, Holbrook.]
Holbrook was originally a part of Braintree, and was embraced in Randolph when that town was incorporated in 1793. It was called "East Randolph" until its incorporation as a separate town, February 29, 1872. It was named in honor of Elisha N. Holbrook, a wealthy shoe manufacturer and prominent citizen, and benefactor of the town. During the first year of the town's corporate existence there were registered 13 marriages, 48 births, and 27 deaths; and at the second annual town-meeting it appropriated $5,300 for the support of schools, $1,800 for highways, and $6,000 towards the payment of the town's debt, which was then about $14,300.
A church was organized in this place (then East Randolph Parish), December 15, 1818; and the Rev. David Brigham was chosen pastor on the 29th of December, 1821.
Among the early settlers of Holbrook was Captain Elihu Adams, a younger brother of President John Adams. His house, almost the only ancient building in the town, is on Franklin Street, about half a mile east of the principal village. At the northwest corner of this old weather-beaten building stands a magnificent elm, whose furrowed trunk and gnarled and intertwisted branches are the tokens of many a battle with the elements. This tree was set out by Mr. Jesse Reed, inventor of a machine for cutting nails, who, when a boy, lived in the Adams family. In 1872 it measured, one foot above the ground, exactly 22½ feet in circumference. With its high, widely spreading branches, it forms a very prominent object in the landscape. This place was often visited by the "old man eloquent."
pp. 374-377 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890