History of Marshfield Massachusetts

By Rev. E. Alden, Jr.

Marshfield indicates the nature of a considerable portion of the soil. Its three rivers, North, South, and Green’s Harbor, popularly termed Cut, are navigable to some extent. Some small vessels were built in those day’s when ship-building was an important business on the South Shore. Its streams furnish considerable water-power. Two Cotton Factories were at one time in operation on the South River. Its water-power is now mostly employed in box-board mills. Agriculture is a leading occupation of its inhabitants. The recent successful inauguration of an Agricultural Fair, under the direction of a Farmer’s Club, represents and promises to stimulate this branch of industry. Boots and shoes are made to some extent in Marshfield, though until recently, mostly for manufacturers out of town. The making of clothing for men and boys, furnishes employment for a large number of females.

The shore of Marshfield has always been a favorite resort for sportsmen and for health and recreation. Brant Hook has been familiar to the people of the back towns for a century, and within a few years, Cut River and the island overlooking Marshfield Beach, have become no less so.

Marshfield was occupied during the summer, twelve years after the lauding at Plymouth. The first church was organized in 1632, which may therefore be regarded as the date of the settlement of the town, which was made in its south-west part, then called Green’s Harbor, and afterwards Rexham. The town was incorporated in 1641, and the Second, or North Parish, was organized in 1739. The Indian name of the place was Missancatueket.

In 1658, occurred a death by lightning, and in 1666, three others from the same cause; which events at the time made a deep impression both in the community and abroad, upon a generation with whom divine providence was a doctrine of lively faith.

Edward Winslow, was the leading man among the first settlers. He called his place Careswell, in memory of the land of his birth. Of polished manners, as well as of thorough Puritan principles. Gov. Winslow, who married for his second wife, Susanna (Fuller) White, mother of Peregrine, after some years in the service of the Colony, both in the Old and New World, while on his way to the West Indies, with a commission from Cromwell, was lost at sea.

For several generations the Winslow’s were a prominent family. A house built about 1693, still standing, is familiar to the public by prints. Josiah Winslow, son of Edward, was the first Gov. of Plymouth Colony, born in the country. His funeral was attended with public honors and military display.

Gen. John Winslow, noted in connection with the removal of the Acadians, commemorated by Longfellow, was of this family.

The ancient Winslow Burying Ground contains tho remains of the first child of the Pilgrims, the first mother, also the first bride, and the first native Governor.

Peregrine White, settled near the confluence of North and South River, and lived to an advanced age. May 22d, 169S, in his 78th year, he made a profession of his faith, which his pastor records as an illustration of Matt. 20: 6, 7. The estate has continued in the family until recently. An ancient house stands upon it, and tho famed apple tree still bears fruit.

John Bourne, who died in 1859, a man of quiet manners and sterling worth, was a soldier of tho Revolution, and lived to see one hundred years.

Gen. John Thomas, who fortified Dorchester Heights, was a native of Marshfield.

The most distinguished name connected with Marshfield, is that of Daniel Webster. He came for recreation to the place, which he afterwards made his home, in 1827, and became a resident of the town about 1832. He purchased the residence erected by Nath. Ray Thomas, the noted royalist, adjoining the Winslow estate. This house he remodeled. The part containing the Library was designed by his daughter, Julia. The grounds he enlarged, the Winslow estate comprising a part of them. By setting out trees, and enriching the soil, he changed the features of the place from a sterile waste of sandy hills, to a charming landscape of fertility and beauty. The tomb was built by himself, in the Winslow Burying Ground, within a lot abutting on his estate. The mouth of the river whence he went out in the Bay, on his favorite fishing excursions, is much changed since his day and is now well known as Cut River.

William Carver, grand nephew of Gov. Carver, died Oct. 7th, 1760, aged nearly 102 years. On one occasion he worked in the field with members of three generations, while another was in the house in the cradle; five generations living at one time.

Col. Fletcher Webster, before his father’s death, had a residence which he called Careswell, but afterwards occupied the Webster mansion.

Though in the Revolutionary war there was an influential Tory element in Marshfield, giving occasion for the stationing of a company of British Regulars, on the farm now associated with Webster, the town was active and outspoken on the patriotic side. In the recent struggle to put down the slaveholders’ rebellion, Marshfield furnished for the Army and Navy, in 1861, for 3 months, 1 man; 1861, for 3 years, 43 men; 1862, 3 years, 26 men; 1862, 9 months, 33 men; 1864, 3 years, 9 men; 1864, 1 year, 19 men; 1864, 100 days, 5 men.

Note – See appendix for list of Marshfield Soldiers.

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