This, the north-west town in Plymouth County, is located, 20 miles south from Boston, and 25 miles from Plymouth. It is 2 l-2 miles in length and 5 in width, and contains 1,3,000 acres, with a total length of 67 miles of highway.
The villages in town are the “Centre,” a thriving, energetic and attractive business locality; “Campello,” signifying a small plain, noted for its manufactories of musical instruments, cabinet ware and boots and shoes; “Sprague’s Village,” where is situated the last factory and beautiful residence of Chandler Sprague, Esq., and “West Shares.”
The facts connected with the old town of Bridgewater, before its division, are given elsewhere. The first settlers in the North Parish came from the West Parish about 1700. Separate church organization was secured in 1738, and the town incorporation in 1821.
The first minister was John Porter, ordained in 1740. In 1800, Asa Meech was settled, as his colleague. Mr. Porter, died in 1802, and Mr. Meech was dismissed in 1811. The successors were Daniel Huntington, 1812-18.33; Wm. Thompson, 1833-1834; Paul Couch, 1835-1859; Nathaniel B. Blanchard, 1861-1862; Edward L. Clark, 1S63-1866; and Rev. J. W. Ward.
The Second Congregational Society was organized in 1825. John Goldsbury first minister.
The New Jerusalem Society, was formed in 1827, with ten members. Ministers, Eleazer Smith, 1827-1834; Haskell M. Carll; and Warren Goddard, settled in 1839. Their present Church Temple is 79 by 56 feet, Italian style, with a plain square tower. The seats are semi-circular, with pulpit and tabernacle of black walnut.
The South Congregational Church, Campello, was organized in 1837. John Dwight was settled in the same year, dismissed 1839. Daniel Huntington, settled from 1839 to 1853. In the great fire of that year, the church edifice and other buildings to the value of $50,000 were destroyed. A new edifice in the Romanesque style, with spire 135 feet high, was built at a cost of $16,000. D. Temple Packard, was settled two years, and in 1858, he was succeeded by Charles W. Wood, a native of Middleboro.
In 1830, 111 persons formed the First Episcopal Methodist Society, at West Shares. This is the only house that retains the elevated seats for colored people in each corner of the choir gallery.
The First Baptist Church was constituted Jan. 10th, 1850.
The Porter Evangelical Church, was composed of members who withdrew from the First Church, in 1850. The settlements have been John F. Norton, 1850-1851; Charles L. Mills, 1852-1862; Samuel H. Lee, 1862-1866; and J. V. Hilton.
The Catholics, previous to 1856, held meetings in private houses. Under the ministry of Thomas B. McNulty, a lot was bought for $5,225, and a splendid church edifice of the Romanesque style, 110 by 60 feet, was erected of brick, with tower and steeple 180 feet high. The chancel windows of stained glass have emblematic panes representing Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Upon the walls are 14 Italian pictures of great value. The edifice cost $25,000.
The First Universalist Church was organized in 1857. W. A. Start was the first pastor, succeeded by Rev. S. L. Roripaugh.
The Second M. E. Church, was formed in 1842, and in 1853, the present attractive edifice was erected. It will thus be seen that “the town may justly claim preeminence for the number as well as the beauty of its houses of worship.
In 1756, the precinct voted that “the rume on the wemens side of the gallery should be for the wemen,” showing that then, the men and women were seated in separate pews. In 1772, a number of persons “larned” in the rules of “musick,” were assigned seats in the gallery, which produced dissatisfaction. In 1789, it was voted to build pews in the porch and belfry for the Negroes, and sell their present pews, which created ill feelings on the part of the colored population. In 1800, complaint was made that blacks occupied seats with white people, and they were instructed to sit in the porch gallery. In 1818, the subject of warming the church with stoves, was brought up, but was voted down as a sinful luxury. In 1833, the Parish voted that they would not accept a stove as a gift. In 1835, however, it was voted to warm the house. In 1827, while a new house was being built, precious meetings were held in the sheds on the green.
The Adelphian Academy, North Bridgewater Academy, and Mrs. Nathan Jones’ School, were well known institutions in their day. Thirty-four natives of the town have been College graduates.
In 1845-6, the railroad from South Braintree to Bridgewater was built, and was known as the Randolph and Bridgewater Co. Previous to this, the Fall River Branch had been built from Myrick’s to Fall River. Another road was chartered from Bridgewater to Myrick’s. These three lines were united as the Fall River road, and in 1854, this was united with the Old Colony road, and in 1864, the name was changed to the “Old Colony and Newport Railway.”
The “Bridgewater Patriot and Old Colony Gazette,” was commenced in 1835, by Geo. H. Brown. It was removed afterwards to East Bridgewater. The “Old Colony Reporter,” was commenced in 1848, by Bartlett & Stetson. This continued till 1851. In the latter year, the “North Bridgewater Gazette” was commenced by George Phinney, now of the “Waltham Sentinel,” who sold out to Augustus T. Jones, in 1853.
In 1690, there were but six tunes known in the Province, “Oxford,” “Litchfield,” “York,” “Windsor,” “St. David’s” and “Martyr’s,” and no new tunes could be introduced without, vote of the church. At present, the church music of North Bridgewater is of a high order.
At one time there were three Brass Bands in town. The Band of the 12th Regiment, was the favorite organization with Gen. Sherman.
The North Bridgewater Bank is one of the institutions of the past. The Saving Bank is in flourishing condition.
The first fire-engine was purchased by subscription, in 1827. The town bought the “Protector” and “Enterprise,” in 1847. There has always been a laudable feeling of rivalry between the different Companies, and many trials of machines have been made.
The first burial-ground was located between the Center and Campello; The “Melrose” and “Oak Grove” and “St. Patrick’s” cemeteries, are the more modern ones.
Until 1823, the town’s poor were put out at auction to the one who would support them the cheapest. In 1831, a poor-house farm was purchased. North Bridgewater has no Town House.
The Gas Light Company was organized in 1859.
In 1749, hay had to be brought from England on account of the severe drought. May 19th, 1780, a “dark day,” when people were obliged to eat their dinners by the light of candles.
Archibald Thompson made the first spinning wheel in the country. The manufacture of lasts by Chandler Sprague revolutionized that branch of business. E. D. & O. B. Reynolds are the inventors of a very ingenious and valuable Seed Sower. D. Whittemore, and C. L. Hauthaway & Son, are extensively engaged in the manufacture of blacking, and ink.
The Boot and Shoe Manufactories, Merchants, Musical Instruments, Photograph Saloons, Confectionary establishment and Marble Workers, of North Bridgewater, are favorably known in all the County.
The shoe trade of Massachusetts may be said to have commenced about 1818, when the first cargo was shipped to New York. These were of the sewed kind. About this time, the uppers were riveted to the bottoms, using a steel plate for the purpose. Wooden pegs were first used by Joseph Walker, of Hopkinton. Micah Faxon was the first manufacturer in town, coming from Randolph, in 1811. No one in town then could bind the vamps. He carried his first lot, of one hundred pairs, to Boston, on horseback. In 1865, with the aid of steam engines, sewing, pegging, cutting and scouring machines, 1,112, 766 pairs of boots and shoes were manufactured, valued at $1,466,900, and employing 1,267 persons.
Jesse Reed, born here in 1778, invented a new kind of trip hammer, at the age of nine. At twelve, he constructed a wooden clock. Since then, he has invented nail machines, pumps, cotton gins, boot and shoe machines, &c. He has made and lost several fortunes in his day.
Of the origin of some of the old families, we mention those of Ames, Alden, Bryant, Brett, Gary, Edson, Hayward, Howard, Packard, Pratt, Snow, Southworth, and Thayer, English; Dike and Keith, Scotch; Wilson, Welsh; Henry, Irish.
Fifty-five inhabitants of North Bridgewater served in the French and Indian wars. The record in the Revolutionary war was patriotic. In many instances the women of the town had to till the soil to obtain the necessities of life. In 1773, Bridgewater had 9 militia Co’s.
At the conclusion of the Revolutionary war, the country was flooded with foreign goods, draining us of specie, and ruining our manufacturers. Our people, burdened under the great weight of taxation, and great numbers out of employment, became disheartened and were easily lead into the support of any scheme that would seem to relive these burdens.
The result of a public meeting at Hatfield, Mass., August, 1786, so inflamed the people that a mob of fifteen hundred, gathered at Northampton, to prevent the sitting of the Courts. Daniel Shay, of Pelham, was one of the prime movers in the scheme, hence the name of “Shay’s Rebellion.” A gathering similar to the one at Northampton was held at the Court House, Taunton, in September, but the insurgents were overawed by Lieut. Col. Orr’s, and Capt. John Thompson’s Companies, of the 3d Plymouth County Regiment. 54 of these soldiers were from North Bridgewater.
Died in Revolutionary Service From North Bridgewater
In the Rebellion war, the town shows a brilliant record. Co. F, 12th Mass. Reg’t., Co, I, 1st Cavalry, Co, C, 60th Mass. Reg’t., were mainly recruited here.
The list of deaths while in service, is as follows:
Capt. John S. Stoddard killed at Spottsylvania, May 10th, 1864
Serg’t. Francis P. Holmes, killed
Serg’t James S. Tannett, of fever, at Manassas, July 13th, 1862
Serg’t. Galen Edson, at Culpepper Court House, Feb. 20th, 1864
Geo. W. Childs, killed at Fredericksburg, Dec. 18th, 1862
Malcomb P. Dhalberg, from wounds at Antietam, Dec. 17th, 1862
Aaron B. Frost, battle of Bull Run, Aug. 30th, 1862
Andrew J. Frost, at Fairfax Court House, Aug. 28th, 1862
Linus P. Howard, killed at Bull Run, Aug. 30th, 1862
John S. Hamilton, of small pox, near Washington, Dec, 1862
Serg’t Thaddeus Keith, killed at the Wilderness, May 6th, 1864
Francis N. Maroni, killed at Bull Run, Aug. 30th, 1862
Serg’t Frank M. Stoddard, killed at Spottsylvania, May 10th, 1864
Francis A. Sanford, killed at Bull Run, Aug. 30th, 1862
Geo. B. Walker, died from wounds, Washington, Sept. 24th, 1862
Jerome R. Hodge killed at Fredericksburg, Dec. 13th, 1862
Lyman Allen, killed near Spottsylvania, May l0th, 1864
Henry L. Winter, killed at Wilderness, May 5tli, 1864
John W. Burns, at Libby Prison, Feb. 24th, 1864
Richard Packard killed at Fredericksburg, Dec. 13th, 1862.
First Massachusetts Cavalry
Joseph T, Stevens, died at Hilton Head, Mar. 31st, 1862
A. W. Bartlett, from wounds, at Beaufort, Feb. 10th, 1864
Joseph P. Bisbee died July 14th, 1862
Frederic M. Wortman, at Port Royal Harbor, Feb. 6th, 1864
John Sylvester, at Andersonville, Dec, 1864
Roscoe Tucker at Florence, Jan. 29th, 1865
Horace F. Poole, while on his way home, from effects of starvation at Florence, Mar. 9th, 1865
Joel D. Dudley, killed at High Bridge, Va., April 6th, 1865
Ellis V. Lyon died Sept. 24th, 1864.
Herbert O. Blood, C, 60th, at Indianapolis
Lieut. Geo. W. Pope, 29th, of wounds, at Georgetown Hospital, Aug. 5th, 1864
Quar. Sergt. John B. Cobb, 2d, H. A., of yellow fever, at Mansfield, N. C, Oct. 24th, 1864
Geo. E, Holmes, F, 58th, from rebel imprisonment, at Annapolis, May 28th, 1865
Harrison A. Hunt, at Danville prison, Nov. 22d, 1864
Samuel T. Packard, G, 56th, of wounds, Oct. 10th, 1864
Prank E. Drake, I, 1st H. A., at Andersonville, Nov. 18, 1864
Daniel W. Willis, D, 58th, killed in battle
John E. Mills, D, 68th, killed in battle
Walter D. Allen, 3d Cavalry, from wounds, at Philadelphia, Oct. 29th, 1864
John D. Sanford, K, 40th, at Andersonville, July 16, 1864
George M. Nash, 32d, wounded at Spottsylvania, died in an ambulance on the way to Fredericksburg
Charles W. Reynolds, D, 58th, fell at Petersburg
Dr. Charles H. Mason, Surgeon on gunboat Virginia, of yellow fever, near New Orleans, Oct. 13, 1864
Daniel P. Sherman, B, 1st Cavalry, killed at battle of Aldie, June 17, 1863
Capt. Enos W. Thayer, 26th, of wounds at Winchester, Oct. 10, 1862
George H. Thompson, F, 58th, at Andersonville, June 7, 1864
Ambrose Henry Hayward, D, 28th Pa., at Chattanooga, Tenn., June 15, 1864, of wounds received at Pine Knob
Austin Packard, 9th Battery, of wounds at Gettysburg, Sep. 21, 1864
Samuel Kimball, E, 18th, killed at Bull Run, Aug. 30, 1862
Wm. Flannegan, killed at Bull Run, Aug. 30, 1861
Ferdinand Robinson, killed at Bull Run
Joseph Beals, of wounds at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863
Edward F. Drohan, C, 29th, died Jan. 12, 1862
Charles P. Swanstrom, 33d, died Dec. 23, 1862
Henry Fenn, 9th Battery, killed at Gettysburg
Andrew P. Olson, C, 42d, died at New York.
Note. Nearly all of the above facts are taken from the very valuable History of North Bridgewater, published in a large book of 700 pages, profusely illustrated, in 1866, by Bradford Kingman, Esq., member of the “New England Historic Genealogical Society;” Corresponding member of the “Wisconsin Historical Society,” and author of “Kingman Memorial.”