History of Plympton Massachusetts

By Wm. Perkins, Esq.

Before the incorporation of the town of Plympton, it was called the Western Precinct of Plymouth. The Indian name was Wenatuxet, and the principal stream, which runs through the town, is still called by that name. The territory was incorporated as a precinct, November 26th, 1695, “for the setting up of the worship of God, and the support of a learned and orthodox ministry” and the Rev. Isaac Cushman began to preach to the inhabitants of the Precinct, the same year. He was ordained in 1698, and continued his ministry here 37 years. His house stood a little southerly from where Thomas E. Loring lives. He was the son of Elder Thomas Cushman, of Plymouth, and grandson of Mr. Robert Cushman. He died in Plympton, October 21, 1732, in the 84th year of his age. Before the Precinct was incorporated, the first settlers attended meeting at Plymouth, and men and women generally walked thither. Settlements were made here as early as 1680, and probably some years earlier. The following are the names of the first settlers, within the present limits of Plympton. John Bryant, who came from Scituate and settled near where the late Thomas B. Harrub lived; John Bryant, son of John Bryant of Plymouth, who lived where Zenas Bryant lives, and died in 1736; Stephen Bryant, who settled where Winslow Wright lives. Isaac King, who settled where James M. Harrub lives, and died in 1728; William Bonney, who lived where Daniel Churchill lives, and afterward near where Harvey Fuller lives; William Churchill, son of Joseph Churchill, of Plymouth, who settled where the late Seth Churchill lived, and died in 1722, aged 66 years, he was the largest landholder in the town; Thomas, Elkanah, and Eleazer Cushman, brothers of the Rev. Isaac Cushman. Thomas lived where James S. Bonney lives, and died in 1726, aged 88 years. Elkanah, lived where George E. Wright does, and died in 1727. Benjamin Soule, son of John Soule, of Duxbury, who settled where the late Daniel McLean lived, and died in 1729. Joseph King, who settled near where Harvey Fuller lives. Nathaniel Harlow, who came from Plymouth and settled where George B. Fuller lives, and died in 1721, aged 57 years.

Samuel Fuller, son of Rev. Samuel Fuller, the first minister of Middleboro, who settled on the farm of the late Philemon Fuller, and died in 1728, aged 69 years. John, Samuel, Josiah, and Henry Rickard, sons of Giles Rickard of Plymouth. Henry settled where the late Henry L. Thomas lived, and died in 1726, and the other three brothers, settled in the section of the town called Annasnappet. Adam Wright, son of Richard Wright of Plymouth, who lived for a time near the site of Parker’s Shovel Works, and afterward, where Daniel D. Wright lives, and died in 1724, aged 78 years. John, son of Adam Wright, was born here in 1680. Edmund Weston, who came from Duxbury and settled where the late Noah Weston lived, and died in 1727. Isaac and George Sampson, who came from Duxbury. They first settled where the late William M. Bisbee lived, and the latter, near the site of the Woolen Factory.

Daniel Pratt, who settled near Pratt’s brook, on the road to Middleboro, and Mr. Dunham, who lived on Dunham’s neck, near the residence of the late Ephraim Fuller. He lived in a cave, with a wooden roof, which took fire in the night and he was burned to death.

Plympton was incorporated as a town, June 4th, 1707. It then included the town of Carver, about three-quarters of Halifax, and a strip of Kingston, which Contained 1806 acres. The territory of the town was afterwards reduced to nearly its present limits by the incorporation of Kingston, in 1726; of Halifax, in 1734; and of Carver, in 1790. It originally contained 55 square miles of territory. The present contents of the town is a little less than 14 square miles. The town contained 924 inhabitants according to the census of 1866.

A few rudely constructed mills, were built by the first settlers. The first grist mill was erected by Adam Wright, soon after he settle there. It was on Wenatuxet River, a little above the site of Parker’s Shovel Works. The water wheel, with an upright shaft turned horizontally, and the mill-stone was attached to the upper end of the shaft and turned no oftener than the water-wheel did. The mill was called a gig-mill, and would grind four or five bushels a day, but as the inhabitants increased, it was found to be insufficient to meet their wants, and the owner built another mill, on a different construction, above the site of the Cotton Factory, near where he then lived. Iron works were erected in Plympton, about the year 1720. Two Forges were built on Wenatuxet River, one on the site of Parker’s Shovel Works, owned by Joseph Mullerson, a merchant of Boston. The other was built on the site of the Cotton Factory, and was partly owned by Joseph Scott of Boston. Scott was a Tory, and during the Revolutionary war, the town took possession of his property here, and this Forge was fitted up and used to make cannon shot. Another Forge stood on the dam now occupied by Captain Martin Hayward’s Saw-mill. A Furnace, also stood a little westerly from this Forge, on the opposite side of the road. This Furnace was built about the year 1721, and stood until the Revolutionary war. Sometime during the war, cannon wore cast in this Furnace, but they nearly all burst in proving, and not long after the Furnace was taken down. After the close of the Revolutionary war, for a period of twenty-five years, the water power of the town was not much employed except in sawing lumber and grinding grain, and manufacturing was confined chiefly to the domestic purposes of the inhabitants. But the war of 1812, by stopping the importation of foreign goods, gave manufacturing an impulse, and in that year the Cotton Factory was built, and during the fifteen years succeeding 1812, a Woolen Factory and Flouring Mill, and three factories for the manufacture of cut nails. The Woolen Factory was burnt in 1845, and the Rolling-mill run down, a few years after it was built. The Shovel Works of Parker & Co., built where the Rolling -mill stood, about the year 1840, together with one box manufactory, and one establishment for the making of tacks, complete the list of the principal manufactories of the town.

Rev. Jonathan Parker, was the second minister of Plympton. He was the son of Judge Daniel Parker of Barnstable, and was ordained as colleague with Rev. Isaac Cushman, in 1731, and preached in Plympton, 44 years. He died April 24th, 1776, in the 71st year of his age.

Rev. Ezra Sampson, was ordained in 1775, as colleague with Rev. Jonathan Parker, and preached in Plympton, nearly 21 years. He was dismissed by his request in the year 1796, and died in New York City in 1823.

Rev. Ebenezer Withington, was ordained in the year 1798, and preached in Plympton, about three years. He died in Boston, in 1831.

Rev. John Briggs, was installed in December, 1801, and preached here nearly seven years. He died in Richmond, N. H., in 1811.

Rev. Elijah Dexter, was ordained January 18th, 1809. After preaching here about 41 years, he died, October 10th, 1851, aged 65 years. He was the son of Elijah Dexter, of Rochester, Mass. Mary the second wife of Rev. Elijah Dexter, was the daughter of Nathaniel Morton, of Freetown, and sister of Governor Morton.

Dr. Caleb Loring, was the first physician who settled in Plympton. He came from Hull, in 1703, and bought Stephen Bryant’s farm in the North part of the town. He was an eminent practitioner and much respected. He died in Plympton, in 1732, in the sixtieth year of his age. Quite a number of his numerous descendants are now living in Plympton.

Col. Seth Gushing, was the son of Seth Gushing of Hingham. He represented the town in the Provincial Congress, which convened at Watertown, in 1775. He was often chosen to represent the town during the Revolutionary war. He died in 1801, in his 78th year.

Elijah Bisbee, Esq., was the son of Elijah Bisbee, and was born September 4th, 1746. He was a Justice of the Peace, and of the quorum, and was much employed in business of a public nature. He was the Town Clerk for many years, and often held other offices in the town. He represented the town in the General Court for seven years in succession. He died April 21st, 1881.

John Avery Parker, was the son of Jonathan Parker, and grandson of the Rev. Jonathan Parker, the second minister of Plympton. He was born in Plympton, September 25th, 1769. He married a daughter of Shadrach Standish, and .for a time followed the occupation of making wrought nails. Afterward he moved to Westport, and went into business there, but was unsuccessful and failed. Ho often told the story of his being warned out of Westport, by the Selectmen, to prevent his becoming a public charge to the town. From “Westport he went to New Bedford, and there laid the foundation of an immense fortune, which at the time of his death amounted to some three millions of dollars. He died in New Bedford, in 1853, aged 84 years.

Jonathan Parker, Esq., brother of John Avery Parker, was born in Plympton, in the year 1774. He was widely known and much respected in Plymouth County. He often represented the town in the General Court, and occupied other positions of trust in the town and County. He died in 1851, in the 78th year of his age.

Dea. Lewis Bradford, was the son of Levi Bradford, of Plympton, born March 20th, 1768. Although a person of peculiar habits, he was a man of eminent piety. He was much devoted to antiquarian research, and was a member of the New England. Historical and Genealogical Society. He was Town Clerk of Plympton, nearly forty years. He was killed by a fall from a carriage, near the Meeting house in Plympton, on Sunday, August 10th, 1851. He was 83 years of age.

The original growth and variety of forest trees here was superior to anything within the ancient limits of Plymouth, this fact, together with the meadows, were the principal attractions the earlier settlers. A noble white oak was cut in this town, some years since, containing seven tons and seven feet of ship-timber and two cords of firewood.

During the Revolutionary war, the cause of independence was constantly and earnestly supported by the town of Plympton. Town meetings were often held to raise men and money. At the one held May 25th, 1776, the town “voted unanimously independence of Great Britain.”

The record of the town during the late war is of a similar character. Twenty-two Plympton men volunteered for three months’ service. They served in company H, 3d Regiment, a Plympton Company, although not wholly composed of Plympton men.

Under the several calls made by the Government, the town was credited with 82 enlistments of three years men, thirteen nine, months’ men, and with four men in the Naval service. A few of these were not residents of Plympton, and some of them re-enlisted, and were credited to the town more than once. Ninety of the town residents volunteered; of this number, fifteen were either killed in battle, or died in service.

Died in Civil War Service From Plympton

John Haley, H, 18th, at Old Point Comfort, of fever, July 5th, 1862.
John G. Wright, B, 7th, of fever, on board Steamer Atlantic, July 6th, 1862.
Frederic S. Churchill, E, 18th, killed in the second battle of Bull Run, August 20th, 1862.
John Jordan, E, 18th, wounded at Bull Run, and died at Alexandria, Va., Sept. 14th, 1862.
Edward Turner, C, 18th, killed at Fredericksburg, December 13th, 1862.
Theodore P. Churchill, A, 32d, at Falmouth, of fever, December 14th, 1862.
Ephraim C. Ripley, Jr., C, 18th, at Falmouth, of fever, December 14th, 1862.
Thomas Haley, G, 38th, at New Orleans, of fever, April 6th, 1863.
Bennet Soule, G, 38th, at Brashear City, of fever, June 6th, 1863.
William P. Eldridge, F, 32nd, mortally wounded at Gettysburg, and died in Hospital, July 4th, 1863.
George E. Harrub, E, 4th, on board steamer “North America,” on the Mississippi, August 8th, 1863.
Jonathan Parker, K, 58th, wounded at Coal Harbor, and died in Washington, July 2nd, 1864.
Ezra B. Churchill, D, 2nd H. A., of sunstroke, at Newbern, July 2nd, 1864.
William P. Phinney, C, 24th, killed at Deep Bottom, August 16th, 1864.
John H. Thomas, 0, 18th, at Baltimore, February 17th, 1S65, of a wound received in battle.
Five of the above were single men; ten left widows, and six left children.

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