Wareham Massachusetts, 1890

Wareham is a large town in the southerly part of Plymouth County, at the head of Buzzard's Bay, and 50 miles southeast of Boston. The Cape Cod Division of the Old Colony Railroad enters the town at the northwest, sends the Fairhaven Branch from Tremont (West Wareham post-office) southward, then swerves to the southeast; the other stations being South Wareham, Wareham (centre and chief village), East Wareham, Onset and Buzzard's Bay. These — excepting the last — are post offices. The other villages are Agawam, Onset Bay and Tihonet.

The boundaries are Carver and Plymouth on the north, the latter, with Bourne (separated by Buttermilk Bay), on the east, Buzzard's Bay on the south, and Marion and Rochester on the west, with Middleborough at the northwest corner. Several harbors, coves, creeks and inlets run far up into the town from the bay, forming many points and peninsulas, and giving a remarkably circuitous shore line. The assessed area is 18,550 acres. There are 4,307 acres of forest, mostly of pitch-pine; in which some red deer, foxes, hares, coon, grouse, quail, ducks and other game are still found. Bourne's Hill, on the northwestern part of Great Neck, and Tempest Knob, are the most noted elevations. North of the first hill is Wankinco Neck; southwestward is Cohasset Neck; and Bourne's Neck forms the southeast extremity of the town. On the east side of this are Cohasset Narrows, and westward, near the centre of the town, are Wareham Narrows, both favorite resorts of sportsmen in pursuit of sea-fowl or fish. In the east are numerous small ponds, and in the west are many expansions of the Weweantitt River, flowing southward from Carver to the bay. The Wankinco River flows from the north to Wareham village, near the centre of the town; whence it becomes Wareham River, having 12 feet of water, and forming the principal harbor. In the eastern part is Agawam River, flowing from Halfway Pond in Plymouth; and the eastern line with the latter town is marked by Red Brook,—so called from its color. The land is sandy and level, with a few low hills.

The number of farms — according to the recent census — was 55; and the value of their product in 1885 was $40,490. The principal business is iron manufacture, for which there were 8 establishments; employing in June, 1885, 349 men; the largest single item being nails. The largest establishments are the Franconia Iron and Steel Works and the Tremont Nail Works. A saw mill employed 22 men; and there were 2 carriage factories, 2 making leather goods, 2 clothing, and 4 various food preparations. The value of the aggregate manufactures was $747,162. About 40 of the inhabitants were engaged in the fisheries, whose principal products were bluefish and oysters; amounting to the sum of $48,176. This business engaged 60 dories and 61 boats. The commercial marine consisted of 5 barks and 3 ships— aggregating 11,400 tons — engaged in ocean freighting; and 3 schooners — aggregating 904 tons — in coastwise freighting. The national bank of Wareham has a capital stock of $100,000; and the savings bank, at the close of last year, carried deposits to the amount of $581,006. By the last State census, the population was 3,254; of whom 735 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,576,440, with a tax-rate of $13 on $1,000. There were 938 taxed dwelling-houses.

There are several good halls in the various villages. The entire number of school buildings is 12, valued at some $10,000. The Howard school-house is regarded as one of the best. The town supports two weekly newspapers,— the "News , " and the "Onset Bay Times." There is one church each of the Congregationalists, Methodists, Episcopalians and the Roman Catholics.

Among the original purchasers of the eastern part of the town were John Chubbuck, Samuel Bates, and John Fearing. A church was formed December 25, 1739; and the Rev. Rowland Thacher was ordained in 1740. The first public school was established in 1741, and the first nail-factory in 1822. The last native Indian died in or about 1830. The Indian name of this place was Agawam. The date of incorporation of the town is July 10, 1739. It was named from Wareham in England.

Wareham took an active part in the old French wars; and in the war of the Revolution 186 of her citizens did service in the army. In the war of 1812, Joseph Saunders was killed at the battle of New Orleans; and thirteen sloops were captured at various times by the enemy. On the 13th of June, 1814, six barges from the British brig-of-war "Nimrod" came up to the lower wharf with 220 marines under a flag of truce; seized as prisoners, and hostages for their security, a number of the inhabitants; fired the Falmouth shipping harbored there; wantonly set fire to the cotton-mill by a rocket; took the powder and ball which the Rev. Noble Everett had brought to the house of Capt. Jeremiah Bumpus; burned a brig on the stocks, and attempted to destroy a ship and brig and five sloops at the wharf; but the fires were soon extinguished. Taking twelve men as hostages, they returned to the barges, and, dropping down the harbor, landed the hostages at Cromeset Point, fired a swivel from each boat, and reached "The Nimrod" in safety. The hostages alone prevented Capt. Israel Fearing from ordering his men to fire upon the barges as they passed the Narrows. The damage done by this expedition was $25,000. Thirty-two men from this town lost their lives in the service during the war of the Slave-holders' Rebellion.

Capt. John Kendrick, one of the early explorers of the north-western coast, and under whose command the Columbia River was discovered and the American flag first carried around the world resided in this place, where his old homestead still stands. Zephaniah Swift, LL.D., an able jurist, and member of the Hartford Convention, was born here in 1759; and died at Warren, 0., in 1823. John Milton Mackie, an able writer, was born here in 1813. Joshua B. Tobey, one of the foremost manufacturers and capitalists of Plymouth County, was born in this town, and died here on Christmas morning, A.D. 1870.

pp. 659-661 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890