Wrentham Massachusetts, 1890

Wrentham is a good old farming town lying in the southwest comer of Norfolk County, about 27 miles southwest of Boston. It has six pleasant villages,óWrentham (centre), South Wrentham, West Wrentham, Plainville, Sheldonville (which are post-offices), and Shepardville. The Old Colony Railroad stations in the adjoining towns, north, south, east and west, are some four or five miles from the central village.

The town is bounded on the north by Franklin and Norfolk, east by Foxborough, south by North Attleborough, and on the west by Franklin, Bellingham and Cumberland, in Rhode Island. Its assessed area is 19,052 acres; of which 8,170 are woodland. The northeasterly section of the town is undulating. The scenery of the central part is diversified by Knickup Hill and Bald Hill, and two beautiful sheets of deep and clear water known as "Archer's Pond" and "Whiting's Pond;" while Red-brush Hill, rising to the altitude of 456 feet, and Joe's Rock, to 486 feet above the sea, are prominent features of the southwest corner. Mill River, a tributary of Charles River; Furnace Brook, of Neponset River; and Abbott's Run and Bungay Brook, affluents of Blackstone River, furnish considerable motive power, which has been. improved to some extent. About a mile south, of the centre there is a notable curiosity called "Wampum's Rock." It consists of a cave about nine feet square and eight feet high, surrounded by a ledge of broken rocks. It was long the residence of an Indian family named "Wampum," but is now merely a shelter for the cattle in storms.

There were within the town, in 1885, 288 farms (including 6 detached lots); of which 65 contained above 80 acres, and 12 over 150. The value of their aggregate product in that year was $193,787. The principal manufactures are straw goods and jewelry, for which there are several small establishments each. There are also two mills for crude woollen goods, and four or five saw and grist mills. Some boots and shoes, leather, furniture, boats, carriages, wrought stone, beverages and food preparations are made. The value of the manufactures was $429,025. The National Bank of Wrentham has capital stock to the amount of $52,500. The population in 1885 was 2,710; of whom 661 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $1,346,468, with a tax-rate of $13.50 on $1,000. There were 575 taxed, dwelling-houses. The schools are graded, and include a high school. They occupy 9 buildings, valued. at $30,300. Two association libraries and the high-school library aggregate about 700 volumes.

The other literary institution of the town is the "Review," a weekly journal. The churches are one each of the Baptists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Universalists, Roman Catholics, and the Latter Day Saints.

The first English inhabitant of this town was Samuel Shears. Several French families (of whom were Madame Arnaud and Bartholdy) resided in this town during a later period. The Indian name of the place was Wolomapauge. It was incorporated as a town October 15, 1673, and named, for Wrentham, in England, whence some of the settlers came. The first church was organized April 13, 1692, when the Rev. Samuel Mann was ordained pastor. During King Philip's War, in 1676, the Indians burned every house in the place except two in which were persons sick with the small-pox, which the savages greatly feared. The town sent 336 men into the Union service during the late war, ten of whom were commissioned officers.

James Mann (1759-1832), an eminent surgeon; Benjamin CowelI) (1782-1860), a distinguished lawyer and writer; and Enoch Pond, D.D. (b. 1791), an eminent divine, author of many theological works, and for many years president of Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary, were natives of Wrentham.

pp. 721-722 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890