Middleborough Massachusetts, 1890

Middleborough is an unusually level town of large area lying in the western part of the southern section of Plymouth County. The Cape Cod Division of the Old Colony Railroad runs through the midst of the town, swerving to the west of the centre, where it connects near Four Corners village (Middleborough station) with the Newport line and the Taunton Branch. It is some 35 miles from Boston, 20 from Fall River and New Bedford, 15 from Plymouth and 10 from Taunton.

On the north are Bridge water and Halifax; on the cast, Plympton and Carver; on the south, Wareham and Rochester; and on the west, Taunton and Raynham. The area is about 43,577 acres, of which 38,171 are taxed. There are 19,352 acres of forest, consisting principally of pines. Elms are numerous, especially about the villages. The land is slightly undulating in parts, but mostly low, level and swampy. There are not less than 19 swamps shown in the county map within the limits of the town. Several are of large extent, and one in the southeast part is some five miles long and from one half to one mile wide. Near the centre are Tispaquin and Wood's ponds, the first covering about 260 acres, and the other some 50 acres. Their outlet is Fall Brook, which flows into Assowompset Pond, at the west of the southern section of the town, and, with Pooksha and Great Quittacus ponds, partly within its line. Along the eastern side, forming in part the boundary line, is Weweantitt River, flowing into Buzzard's Bay. The north and northwest are drained by Namasket River and other affluents of the Taunton River. A long tract of land between the marshy stream called Black Branch and Pocksha and Great Quittacus ponds bears the name of Mad Mare's Neck. Middleborough (Four Corners), Rock and South Middleborough are the railroad stations; which, with North Middleborough (Titicut) and Eddysville, are the post-offices; the other villages being Namasket, Puddingshire, Tack Factory, Thomastown, Waterville and the Green (at the centre).

There are in the town 324 farms, whose product in 1885 amounted to the sum of $306,581. The soil is generally sandy and poor, but few towns surpass this in the value of its crops. Apples, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and huckleberries are produced in large quantity. A recent news statement is to the effect that Rocky Meadow cranberry bog, in this town, has a crop of 1,420 barrels of cranberries. The manufactures are numerous. There were in 1885 seven establishments making boots and shoes, employing 344 persons, and having a product valued at $561,455; a straw goods factory employing 150 persons, the product selling for $338,818; while various metallic goods brought $51,409, and wooden goods $79,464. There were 6 saw mills, 4 wooden-box mills, 9 carriage factories, a woollen mill, a broom factory, a stone yard, a brick and tile yard, a tannery, a trunk and valise factory, 3 printing offices, and several other manufactories. The value of the aggregate product was $1,291,129. There is a new co-operative bank; and the savings bank held, at the beginning of this year, deposits to the amount of $613,059. The number of dwelling-houses was 1,185; the population 5,163; and of these, 1,502 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $2,925,453, with a tax-rate of $14 on $1,000.

There is a good town-hall, a public library of about 5,000 volumes, and the Pratt Free School library, containing upwards of 800. There are primary, grammar and high schools, occupying 32 buildings, valued at some $33,000. The Eaton School here also has good buildings. The " News " is a semi-weekly journal, and the "Gazette," a weekly; both having a large number of readers. There are three Baptist, three Congregationalist and two Methodist churches.

The Indian name of this place was Namasket, "a place of fish." The name of a village here Titicut signified the "place of a great river," to the Indians, who were very numerous in the town before the English came, as shown by the crowded condition of their burying places. The waters of this region swarmed with fish, and the game animals were very numerous in the forests. It is said that the place was visited by white men before the Pilgrims came.

The Plymouth Colony Records, under date of June 1, 1669, say :

"Namassakett shall be a township, and to be called by the name of Middleberry." This name was given, it is said, because the place was half-way between Plymouth and Mount Hope, the home of Massasoit. The Indians had two churches here in 1665; but the English did not form one until 1694, when the Rev. Samuel Fuller was ordained pastor. Robert Danson was the only English inhabitant killed during King Philip's War, but the mill and about 20 dwelling-houses of the settlers were burned. Middleborough sent 406 men into the Union army and navy during the late war, of whom 62 were lost.

This town is somewhat remarkable in respect to the longevity and size of some of its people. Col. Ebenezer Sproat (1752-1805), a brave Revolutionary soldier, was called by the Indians the "Big Buckeye." Lavinia, wife of C. G. Stratton (Tom Thumb), and Minnie Warren, well-known dwarfs, were natives of this town . Luke Short , who died here 1746, was 116 years of age. By the census of 1885, it appears there were then 94 persons in the town who were over 80, it who were over 90, and one who was 101 years of age.

pp. 459-461 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890