Somerset Massachusetts, 1890

Somerset, near the centre of Bristol County, lies on the west bank of the Taunton River, opposite the city of Fall River. Dighton lies on the north, and Swansey on the west, also on the north of a southwestern projection; and on the south is Mount Hope Bay. The form is long, narrow, and curved southwestward. The assessed area is 4,705 acres. The Fall River and Newport line of the Old Colony Railroad has a station at Somerset (village), in the northeast, 45 miles from Boston; and the Fall River, Warren and Providence Branch of the same road terminates at the southeast extremity of the town. The first road, and a carriage bridge three fourths of a mile long, connect it with Fall River. A ferry, also, and many boats, convey passengers and freight

The surface of the town is undulating, and the gently sloping eminences afford very beautiful views of the city, river and bay. There are many tracts of oak and maple; and the latter and elms shade many streets. The geological structure is carboniferous, and there is much conglomerate rock. Some rocks and ledges have quite a striking appearance. The soil consists of gravel and loam. There are many market gardens, and strawberries are largely cultivated. The crop of these in 1885 was reported in the recent census as 234,384 quarts, worth $26,042. The aggregate product of the 128 farms was $139,441. The chief manufacturing establishments are the Mount Hope Iron Works, the Somerset Co-operative Stove Foundery, and the Somerset Potter's Works, -- the last making fire-brick, tiles, retorts, etc. In 1885, 313 nailmakers found employment here. Other manufactures were vessels and boats, boots and shoes, and food preparations. The value of all goods made was $649,795. The fisheries consisting almost entirely of oysters yielded $4,169. Seven schooners, having a total tonnage of 1,398, and owned here, were engaged in the carrying trade. The population was 2,475 of whom 617 were legal voters. Many of the people have their daily business in Fall River. The valuation in 1888 was $1,021,479, with a tax of $14 on $1,000. There were 411 taxed dwelling-houses.

The schools have the grades of primary, grammar and high. They occupy 8 school buildings valued at nearly $15,000. There is a private circulating library of some 300 volumes. Two weekly papers the "News" and the "Times " are published here. The Baptists, Methodists, Christians, Friends and Roman Catholics have each a church here. The post-offices are Somerset (village) and Potterville. The other villages are Egypt and South Somerset.

This town, which the Indians called Shewamet, was detached from Swansey, and incorporated, February 20, 1790. Col. Jerathmal Bowers, who laid the foundation of a large fortune by transporting live stock to the West Indies; Benjamin Weaver, who possessed a large tract of land in that part of Somerset known as "Egypt;" and Elisha Slade, who served the town in the several capacities of minister, major, schoolmaster, and postmaster, were among the notable men of Somerset in the olden time.

pp. 597-598 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890