Marshfield Massachusetts, 1890


Marshfield
is a beautiful seaboard town in the northeastern part of Plymouth County, about 30 miles southeast of Boston on the South Shore line of the Old Colony Railroad. Norwell lies on the northwest and north, Scituate on the north, the ocean on the east, Duxbury on the south and southwest, with Pembroke west of the middle section. The assessed area is 15,908 acres, of which 3,616 acres are woodland.

North River forms the divisional line from Norwell on the west, and by a right-angled turn on the north also, and from Scituate; with a turn at the northeast corner of the town as sharply southward, where a long narrow peninsula of Scituate separates it from the sea as far as the middle point of Marshfield on the east side. At this point comes in South River, flowing across the town from North Duxbury, the two rivers entering the sea together. In the southern part of the town is Cut River, coming from the centre of Duxbury, then making its way between two hills in Marshfield, and finding the sea through Green Harbor, a broad creek trending southeast. About the latter is an extensive salt marsh; another lying upon South River, and a third marshy area extending along the northeast side of the town. The eastern section of the town is largely occupied by wooded hills; Gorham and Cherry hills being notable for the fine views they afford of the ocean. On the latter, Daniel Webster made his last public address, July 24, 1852. The three streams mentioned are navigable to some extent, and they also furnish power for manufacturing purposes. On the south of Green Harbor is the village of that name, while on the north is Marshfield Beach, with Brant (or Brandt) Rock off shore.

[home of Daniel Webster]

The soil of this town is not generally very productive; yet there are fertile tracts, especially one called "The Two Miles," on the westerly border, and smaller ones in other quarters. In 1885, there were 124 farms, whose product was valued at $125,254; the wood and poultry products being in unusual proportion. There were three boot and shoe factories reported in the census, producing goods to the amount of $8,730; five saw mills, three ship-yards, one factory making musical instruments, and establishments making iron and other metallic goods; the value of the latter product being $20,994. Other manufactures were carriages, leather, food preparations, etc. The aggregate value of goods made was $67,549. Much sea-moss is gathered along these shores. The fisheries yielded, in the last State census year, $11,141; the catch being chiefly cod, mackerel, perch and lobsters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,075,935; with a tax-rate of $13 on $1,000. There were 672 dwelling-houses and 1,649 inhabitants, of whom 526 were legal voters.

The post-offices are Marshfield, Centre Marshfield, North Marshfield, East Marshfield, Brant Rock, Sea View, Green Harbor and Marshfield Plain. New Abington is a village near the beach. The railroad stations are the 1st, 2d, 4th and 6th of these, and "Webster Place," the latter being near the south line of the town, also near the Daniel Webster farm. The primary and grammar schools are provided for in eight buildings, valued at some $12,000. There is a public library at East Marshfield, and here and in other villages four well-filled Sunday-school libraries. "The Mail" is the weekly newspaper of the town. There is a Baptist church at Marshfield village, a Congregationalist at North Marshfield and at East Marshfield. The Unitarians also have two churches in the town, the Methodists one, and the Friends one.

Marshfield was incorporated March 2, 1640; and was probably named with reference to the character of the surface where the first settlement was made. This place still bears the name, Green Harbor, then given, though at one early period it was called Rexham. The Indian name for the place was Missaucatucket. Among the original settlers were Edward Winslow (whose place was named "Careswell," in memory of his home in England). John and James Adams, Thomas Bourne, Robert Waterman (who settled Marshfield Neck), Anthony Snow (who gave the land now used as Cedar-grove Cemetery), John Branch (proprietor of Branch Island), John Rouse, Robert Carver, William Thomas (of Wales) and Arthur Howland. The Winslow burial-place holds the remains of the first native Pilgrim, Peregrine White; the first mother, Susanna Winslow; the first bride; and also of the first native governor, Josiah, son of Edward Winslow. The Winslow house, built in 1696, and the famous apple-tree on the Peregrine White estate, were standing at a recent date. The first church in the town was organized at Green Harbor about 1640; and the first minister was the Rev. Edward Bulkley. Marshfield furnished 210 men for the Union forces in the late war, and lost 25.

Attracted by the abundance of trout in the cold streams, and the sea-fowl which visit the shore and marshes, the eloquent Daniel Webster came to Marshfield for recreation as early as 1827; and some five years later he became a resident. He purchased the homestead of the noted royalist, N. Ray Thomas, where a company of British soldiers were stationed during the Revolution. He enlarged the grounds, and " by setting out trees, and enriching the soil, he changed the features of the place from a sterile waste of sandy hills to a charming landscape of fertility and beauty. The fine old mansion, with its broad and beautiful lawn, surrounded by a belt of ornamental trees, is shown in the accompanying cut. On the summit of the hill near by is the old Winslow burial-place, wherein repose the remains of the immortal statesman. His tomb is simple and majestic, decorated only by the wild-flower and the evergreen. It bears the inscription, "Daniel Webster, born January 18, 1782; died October 24, 1852." Upon the stone is also inscribed the following extract from one of his later epistles : --

" Philosophical argument, especially that drawn from the vastness of the universe in comparison with the apparent insignificance of this globe, has sometimes shaken my reason for the faith that is in me; but my heart has always assured and reassured me that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be a divine reality. The sermon on the Mount cannot be a mere human production. This belief enters into the very depth of my conscience. The whole history of man proves it."

Near this tomb is that of Grace Fletcher, wife of Daniel Webster, born January 16, 1781; died January 21, 1828. There also rest several of their children and grandchildren.

pp. 443-446 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer