Raynham Massachusetts, 1890

Raynham in the easterly part of Bristol County, and long associated with the cruder manufactures of iron, is 30 miles from Boston on the Taunton Branch of the Old Colony Railroad. The post-offices are Raynham (centre) and North Raynham; and the other villages, Prattville, East Raynham and South Raynham. Easton bounds it on the north; Bridgewater and Middleborough on the east; and Taunton on the south and west.

The township is of irregular form, longest north and south, and broadest in the middle section. The assessed area is 10,815 acres. Smooch Hill in the east and Steep Hill in the west are the chief elevations. Two-mile River, flowing through the midst of the town, and Taunton River, forming a part of the southern line, afford valuable mill sites. Gushee Pond, in the cast, is the largest of the several ponds. Fowling Pond in the western part has for the most part become a swamp, covered in common with the 4, 512 acres of wood-land in the town with pine, oak and cedar. On the banks of this pond King Philip had his summer residence. Near by James and Henry Leonard in 1652 established an iron furnace and forge. These works continued in the hands of the Leonard family for more than one hundred years. With this family the warrior of Mount Hope maintained a friendly intercourse, obtaining from their works implements for both peace and war. When hostilities commenced in 1675 the chieftain gave orders to his followers that the family should not be molested. The house, however, was garrisoned; yet two young women were killed there. The head of Philip was kept for some time in the cellar of this house. Three men and two boys were also killed by ambushed Indians at Squawbetty, in the southern part of the town.

The largest manufacture of this town at the present is boots and shoes; for which there were, in 1885, 5 factories employing about 150 persons, and making goods to the value of $189,649. There were also made, shovels, nails, iron castings, wooden boxes, beverages and other food preparations. The aggregate value of the manufactures was $224,303. The 118 farms yielded to the amount of $116,533. The town is prolific in fruits and berries, The fisheries, consisting of alewives, herring and shad, yielded $4,609. The population was 1,535, including 419 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $829,168; and the tax-rate $11.80 on $1,000. The taxed dwelling-houses were 375 in number.

This township bore the Indian names of Cohanit and of Hockamock. It was in that part of Taunton known as the " Tetequet Purchase; " and was taken from that town and incorporated April 2, 1731. Rainham, England, furnished the name. The Rev. John Wales, ordained October 20, 1731, was the first minister. He was succeeded in 1776 by the Rev. Perez Fobes, D.D., LL.D., president of Brown University in 1786. Benjamin Church, M.D., came to Raynham about 1768, where he built an elegant mansion and lived an extravagant and locally disreputable life; but being an ardent Whig, his eminent abilities won him a place in the Provincial Congress, and the office of physician-general to the patriot army. Subsequently he was discovered in treasonable practices, and was expelled from Congress and imprisoned; but escaping to England he died there in 1788. Otherwise the town patriotically sustained the cause of liberty. On the first demand for soldiers, George King, a sergeant, rode through the town with good effect, calling out at every house, "Rally ! the British are shooting our Massachusetts men ! " In the war for the Union, the town raised $25,000, and lost 12 of its young men.

pp. 559-560 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer