History of Pembroke Massachusetts

By V. Collamore, M. D.

Not much is known concerning what is now Pembroke, prior to its incorporation. Previous to 1712, all the territory that the limits of Pembroke now embrace was Duxbury, except a small portion below Robinson’s Creek. The western part of what is now Pembroke, was called Namattakeeset.

In March, 1641, the bounds of Duxbury were fixed at a court.

Ordered, That the bounds of Duxburrow Township shall begin where Plymouth bounds do end, namely at a brook falling into Blackwater, and 80 along the Massachusetts path to the North River. This path was the regular line for travel between the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies.

Tradition says it crossed the Indian Head River near where Curtis’s Iron Works now stand. It was at this place that James Ludden, an early settler of Weymouth, acting as guide to Gov. Winthrop and Rev. Mr. Wilson, while on their journey to Plymouth, in 1632, had the honor of taking their honors over the river, pussback. From this fact, the Gov named it Ludden’s Pond. This name is now Lowden. That portion of Pembroke below Robinson’s Creek, was included in the Two Mile purchase made by Mr. Hatherly and his associates of Scituate, of the Indian chief Josiah Wampatuck. In 1661, a grant was made to the towns of Duxbury and Marshfield, of a tract of land between Jones River and Indian Head River. This was known as Marshfield upper lands. The “Major’s purchase,” an earlier grant to the town, included the Great Cedar Swamp, in the limits of Hanson now. Both these grants were included in the limits of Pembroke, at one time.

The tradition of the Barker family, is that in 1628 or 30, Francis Barker, and his brother, who were among the Plymouth adventurers, took a boat and coasted along the shore till they came to the North River, which they ascended as far as it was navigable, that they landed on a rook near the site of the present Herring weir and went in pursuit of a good place to locate. They built a house of brick, containing one room, and one story high. This, with the additions that have since been made, is the old garrison house, said to be the oldest house in the United States. In 1679, this dwelling-house was converted into a garrison and was a place of refuge for those who feared their savage neighbors.

Pembroke, at its incorporation, was bounded on the North by Scituate and Abington; on the East by Robinson’s Creek, (separating it from Scituate), by Marshfield and Duxbury ; on the South by Duxbury and Plymouth, and on the West by Bridgewater. It contained fifty-four families.

There were two places of public worship, one on the site of the present Unitarian Church, and the peaked meeting-house erected by’ the Friends.

The first Congregational meeting-house was erected in 1703, the Friends’ meeting-house in 1706.

Pembroke was incorporated in 1711. The prayer of the petition was that the new town should be called Brookfield. Why it was called Pembroke does not appear. It was probably named for Pembroke in England.

The Indians that lived in this vicinity belonged to the Massachusetts, at one time a powerful tribe, numbering 3000 warriors and occupying the whole country from Neponset to Duxbury, and extending back from the shore to Bridgewater and Middleboro.

A large portion of this tribe were converted to Christianity and were known as praying Indians, At the breaking out of Philip’s war, many of them were Conveyed by Government to Clark’s Island, where they might be secured from their hostile brothers. Chicatabut was their sachem. His father, Josiah Wampatuck, sold Scituate to Mr. Hatherly and his associates, for £14.

In 1684, there were about forty at Namattakeeset. The particular sub-division of this tribe that lived near the Indian ponds was called Mattakeeset, and from these are descended Joseph Hyatt, Martin Prince, and William Joel.

David Fuller was descended from the Tumpum tribe. This was probably a family or patriarchal name.

It seems that Pembroke was not always considered out of the world. Indeed it was thought to be the very hub of Plymouth County, for in the year 1726, and for a number of subsequent years, endeavors were made to effect the removal of the county buildings here, and constitute it the shire town. If the Puritans had landed at Seabury Point instead of Plymouth Rock, it might have been.

It is a matter of history, that Pembroke was the first town in the Colonies, that publicly rebelled against the British Crown.

In 1740, the town protested against the efforts of the Prince to sup-press the emission of bills of public credit, which had become depreciated on account of the large export of silver. The following is a very brief extract from the protest: “Which instructions from the Crown are we presume a manifest infraction of our charter rights and privileges as well as that of our invaluable national constitution, so long enjoyed as well as so dearly obtained, whereby the people have a right of thinking and judging for themselves, as well as the Prince. And the representative shall be directed at all times strictly to adhere to the charter, rights, and privileges, which we are under, as also that of our English rights, liberties and constitutions, any royal instruction from his Majesty to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Pembroke was noted for its patriotism. There was scarce a Tory in the town. The town records are full of patriotic resolves passed by the town all along through the “times that tried men’s souls.”

In 1772, Dec. 28th, the following among other resolves, was passed. Resolved, “That this Province, and this town as part of it, hath a right whenever they think it necessary, to give their sense of public measures, and if judged to be unconstitutional and oppressive, to declare it freely and to remonstrate or petition as they may deem best.”

Conspicuous among the leading spirits of those times were Josiah Keen, Esq., Dr. Jeremiah Hall, John Turner, Eleazer Hamlen, Seth Hatch, Josiah Smith, Capt. Freedom Chamberlain, Abel Stetson, Aaron Soule, Israel Turner, Capt. Ichabod Thomas, Asaph Tracy, Consider Cole, Asa Keen, and Nathaniel Stetson. Of these, Dr. Hall, Capt. Seth Hatch, Asa Keen, and Nathaniel Stetson had served in the French war. Dr. Hall was a Surgeon in the French war. Capt. Seth Hatch, commanded a supply ship, and at one time run the blockade of the St. Lawrence and furnished supplies to Gen. Wolf, and his army. For this he was publicly thanked by the General, and after the .battle of Quebec, lie was presented with some articles of the General’s tent furniture.

John Turner, Dr. Hall, and Capt. Edward Thomas were members of the Provincial Congress. While attending this Congress, Dr. Hall was chosen on many important committees of that body. He was quite intimate with Dr. Joseph Warren, and thus described to a friend his last parting with him. “Being both members of the Provincial Congress, we left Concord at the dawn of day, June 17, 1775, and rode in company till our paths diverged, (Dr. Hall was going to the head-quarters of the American army at Cambridge). Dr. Warren, at this interview, informed him that he had a Major General’s commission in his pocket, but that he should not use it.” Dr. Hall was afterwards Colonel of a Rhode Island regiment. He was a noted Surgeon. He held many public offices in the Colony. He had a son Jeremiah, who died while a soldier at Cambridge, according to the inscription placed on his tombstone by his patriot sire, “in the service of his country, opposing British tyranny and Britain’s tyrants.” Eleazer Hamlin, mentioned above, was grandfather to the Hon. Hannibal Hamlin.

Pembroke furnished one hundred and sixty-seven men for the war of the Rebellion, twenty-nine more than all its quotas. Of these the names of those who were killed or died in the service, are as follows:

Ansel F; Bonney, Co. E, 18th Reg’t, wounded in the battles before Richmond, June 3d, and died July 14th, 1864, at Washington, D. C
Jacob Curtis, Co. E, 18th Reg’t, wounded at Laurel Hill, and died ar Washington, D. C, May 26th, 1864
Alfred G. Howe, Co. H, 18th Reg’t, killed in the battle of the Wilderness, May 1864
Abel O. Stetson Co. D, 38th Reg’t, at Port Hudson, La., 1863
Hiram F. Stevens, Co. D, 38th Reg’t, at Hampton Hospital, Va., Jan. 2d, 1863, of phthisis
Ansel W. Brown, Co. B, 40th Reg’t, at Folly Island, S. C, Nov. 18th, 1863, of Diphtheria
James T. Cummings, Co. B, 40th Reg’t, wounded at Coal Harbor, Va., and died at Washington, D. C. June 21st, 1864.
George M. Witherell, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, at Baton Rouge, La., March 28th, 1863, of fever
John Bones, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, June 11th, 1863, at Brashear City, La
James B. Curtis, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, April 29th, 1863, at New Orleans, La
Alden Howard, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, July 15th, 1863, at New Orleans, La.
Edwin Bosworth, Co. I, 4th Reg, Aug. 3d, 1863, at New Orleans, La., of chronic diarrhea
Robert Henry Cornell, Co. I, 4th Reg, April 21at, 1863, at Carrollton, La.
Marcus M. Reed, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, at Brashear City, La., June 8th, 1863, of chronic diarrhea
Charles C. Clark, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, at New Orleans, La., July 16th, 1863
George H. Ford, Co. I, 4th Reg’t, at New Orleans, La., July 17th, 1863
Henry T. Stevens, Co. F, 28th Reg’t, at Andersonville, Ga., Sept. 6th, 1864
Calvin S. Magoun, Co. A, 23d Reg’t, died June 19th, 1862, on the cars between New York and Boston, of typhoid pneumonia
Marshall M. Chandler, Co. 29th Reg’t, died at Philadelphia, Penn., July 6th, 1862, of typhoid fever
Nathaniel B. Bishop was killed June 2d, 1864, at Coal Harbor, Va., Co. B, 40th Reg’t.


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