Scituate Massachusetts, 1890

Scituate lies in the northeast part of Plymouth County and is bounded on the north by Cohasset; the east by the ocean, on the south by Marshfield and Norwell, and on the west by the latter. By the South Shore Railroad it is 25 miles southeast of Boston.

The town extends some eight miles along the seacoast, having at near the middle line a harbor of about ten feet depth of water, formed by Cedar Point (where there is a lighthouse) on the northeast, and Crow Point on the southeast. The North River, a deep, circuitous, and narrow stream, on which there used to be a number of ship-yards, separates this town from Marshfield on the south, and, approaching near the sea, turns suddenly to the south, and then, running nearly three miles parallel with the coast, unites with the ocean in Marshfield. The town has a fine beach covered with smooth and rounded pebbles, between the river and the sea. There is in the northern part a ridge of land running westerly from the shore, called "Coleman Heights," on the summit of which is a plateau of 150 acres, at a height of 150 feet above the ocean. The scenery of this town combines ocean, river, forest and village views of remarkable beauty. From the Glades, in the northeastern part of the town, some granite has been quarried.

Though the soil of Scituate is not remarkably good, the town has valuable salt marshes and some excellent pasture lands. The number of its farms is 170; and their aggregate product in 1885 was valued at $120,705. The nine boot and shoe factories, employing in June, 1885, 89 persons, produced in that year goods to the amount of $77,818. Other manufactures were "ready-made" clothing, carriages, leather, polishes and dressing, lumber, food preparations and metallic articles. The total value of goods made was $113,305. Seventy-two persons were occupied in gathering Irish moss (carrageen) along the margin of the sea, and 33 were employed in the fisheries. One schooner, 80 dories and 52 boats were engaged in the latter business; and the catch consisted of cod, mackerel, herring and halibut, and was valued at $43,378. The population was 2,350, of whom 628 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,837,275, with a tax-rate of $10.20 on $1,000. There were 702 assessed dwelling-houses. The public schools have the grades of primary, grammar and high, and occupy 12 buildings whose value is about $12,000. The three village libraries contain some 3,000 volumes. The town has a newspaper called "The South-Shore Herald." The churches are a Baptist, Congregationalist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and Universalist. The post-offices are Scituate, Egypt, North Scituate, Greenbush, and Scituate Centre; and these are also railroad stations. The other villages are Gannett's Corner, Jericho, Scituate Harbor, Sodom and Webster Village. On the shore is a U.S. life-saving station.

Scituate was settled as early as 1628 by several men who came from the county of Kent, England. They called the principal street of the village, which they laid out in August, 1623, "Kent Street." The first lot was assigned to Edward Foster, and is the same place which Seth Webb, Esq., recently occupied. Scituate was incorporated October 5, 1636; forming its name from Satuit, an Indian word meaning "Cold Brook," which was applied to a small stream of pure cold water running into the harbor. The deed which extinguished the Indian title to this town is dated June, 1653, signed by Josias Wampatuck and given to Mr. Timothy Hatherly. Three years later (1656), Mr. Hatherly, Robert Stetson and Joseph Tilden built a saw-mill on the Third Herring Brook; and it is supposed by some to have been the first one in the colony. This place suffered severely during Philip's War. In their attack on the town, May 20, 1676, the Indians first burnt the saw mill on Herring Brook; then Captain Joseph Sylvester's house, which stood north of the Episcopal church hill; then the house of William Blackmore; who was killed the same day. In their attack upon the garrison house they were bravely repulsed;but proceeding in their work, they mortally wounded John James, and, during the day, reduced as many as nineteen houses and barns to ashes. They were repulsed, however, in an encounter at the close of the day, and driven from the town..

[THE "OLD OAKEN BUCKET", SCITUATE.]

Scituate has produced several men of distinction, as Gen. James Cudworth (d. 1682), an able soldier and noble-minded man; Rev. Thomas Clap (1703-1767), president of Yale College; William Cushing, LL.D. (1732-1810; H.U. 1785), associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; Rev. Charles Turner Torrey, eminent as an advocate of human freedom; and Samuel Woodworth (1785-1842), author of "The Old Oaken Bucket," and other poems.

The scene so vividly described in Mr. Woodworth's charming lyric is a little valley through which Herring Brook pursues its devious course to meet the tidal water of North River. The view of it from Coleman Heights, with its neat cottages, its maple groves and apple orchards, is remarkably beautiful.

pp. 585-587 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer