History of Scituate Massachusetts

By Hon. Caleb W. Prouty

Scituate, like most of the towns in Plymouth Colony, had been k3 nearly depopulated of natives by the small-pox, a few years before the English made a permanent settlement on this coast.

They were the Matakeesetts and controlled by the chief or sachem of the Massachusetts.

Several places in the town still retain the ancient aboriginal names, viz: Musquashcut pond and Conihassett. The name of the town is the aboriginal name, derived from the brook that falls into the harbor. It was called by the Indians, Satuit, and the name of the town in the earliest records in 1633, was Satuit; shortly after it was written Seteat, then Cittewat, and about 1640, the present name Scituate was settled., The settlers at Scituate, extinguished the Indian title by purchase as per deed, dated June, 1653, from the chief of the Matakeesets, signed by Josias Wampatuck, and given to Mr. Timothy Hatherly, Mr. James Cudworth, Mr. Joseph Tilden, Humphrey Turner, William Hatch, John Hoar and James Torrey, for the proper use and behoof of the inhabitants of the town of Scituate. Prior to 1640, there was a deed given, which was subsequently destroyed. In the year 1727, a part of Scituate on the southerly side of the third herring brook, was incorporated by the name of Hanover.

In 1849, the southerly part of the town of Scituate, was incorporated by the name of South Scituate.

Scituate extends about eight miles on the sea shore, including the beach on the east, and the glades on the west. Nearly in the centre of this line is Scituate Harbor.

It affords about ten feet of water in ordinary tides. Here are several wharves, and the principal village of the town. The two points which form the harbor are Crow point ou the south-east, and Cedar point on the north-west. On this latter, a Lighthouse was erected in 1811. At the harbor the principal business carried on is fishing, mossing, lumber, grain and flour. Two regular packets run between Boston and Scituate.

Products of the sea, for the town of Scituate, for the year 1865 465,980 lbs. Moss, value §22,558; 3,53 bbls. Herring, value $19,338; 123,000 Lobsters, value 4,753; 441 quintals of Cod Fish, value $2,956; 40 bbls. Mackerel, value $600, Mechanical Products, $164,878.

The earliest notice of a settlement at Scituate, was, in 1628, by William Gillson, Anthony Annable, Thomas Bird, Nathaniel Tilden, Edward Poster, Henry Rowley, called “men of Kent,” having come from that county in England.

A village was laid out Aug- 2nd, 1633. The principal street was called “Kent street;” it led from the bridge as it now lies, at the harbor, easterly to the third cliff. The first lot was at the corner, formed by Kent Street, and the road now called Central Street, which runs parallel with Satuit brook. This lot was assigned to Edward Poster, and his house stood on the premises, and is the same place occupied at the present time by Seth Webb, Esq., the house having been rebuilt.

Noted men. John Gushing, jr., born April 28th, 1662, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Plymouth, from 1702 to 1710; Councilor of Mass., 1710, to 1728; Judge of the Sup. Court, from 1728 to 1737. John Gushing, 3d, Judge of Probate, from 1738 to 1746; Judge of the Sup. Court, from 1747 to 1771; also Councilor of the Province, from 1746 to 1763.

William Cushing, L. L. D, son of John 3d, graduated at Harvard University, 1751, commenced practice at Pownalboro, Me., 1755; Judge of Probate for County of Lincoln, 1768; appointed Judge of Sup. Court of Mass., (under the crown,) 1772, in which office he was the only member of the bench that adhered to the American cause. At the reorganization of the Court, 1777, he was appointed Chief Justice of that Court. At the organization of the U. S. Gov. in.1789, he was selected by Washington, for one of the Justices of the Court of U. S. In 1796, Judge Gushing was nominated to the. Chief Justice office, and unanimously confirmed by the U. S. Senate. He died 1810.

Caleb Gushing, son of Jno. 1st, born 1772, graduated at Harvard College, 1602, ordained at Salisbury, 1697, married daughter of Rev. Jno. Cotton, widow of Rev. James Ailing, of Salisbury. Hon. Caleb Gushing, of Newburyport, is his descendant, son of Judge Caleb Cushing.

Thomas Clapp, born 1703, graduate of Harvard College, 1722, was one of the most distinguished men of his time. Ho was ordained at Windham, Conn., 1726, chosen President of Tale College, 1740, continued in the chair until 1764, died at Scituate, 1766.

Charles Chauncy, (not born in Scituate), was a minister of the first Church of Scituate, for l3 years, from 1641 to 1654, when he was chosen President of Harvard College.

Henry Dunster, was also a minister of the first church and President of Harvard College, Aug. 27th, 1640; resigned 1654.

Samuel Woodworth, the late well known Editor and Poet, author of “The Old Oaken Bucket,” was born in this town.

“How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
“When fond recollection presents them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it;
The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell;
The cot of my father, the dairy-house by it,
And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket.
The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.”

The “orchard,” the “meadow,” the “deep-tangled wild wood,” “wide spreading pond,” the “mill,” the “bridge,” and the “rock where the cataract fell,” all maybe seen, as in the poet’s ” childhood,” situated about two miles from Scituate harbor. “The cot of my father, the dairy-house by it, has been replaced by a modem-built house, by Mr. Joseph Northey, half brother of the Poet.

Ecclesiastical History. The first church, Unitarian, in Scituate, was regularly gathered, January, 1634, 0. S. This society have erected five churches, including the present one, which stands in the center of the town, on a high eminence, and is a noted land-mark, to the mariner in coming into Massachusetts Bay, and by the sailors, is called the “Old Sloop.” The following are the ministers of the church, in the order as herein named:

Giles Saxton, from 1631 to 1634, previous to the gathering of the church;
Rev. John Lathrop, ordained 1634
Rev. Charles Chauncy, 1641
Rev. Henry Dunster, 1659
Rev. Nicholas Baker, 1660
Jeremiah Cushing, 1691
Rev. Nathaniel Pitcher, 1707
Shearjashub Bourn,. 1724
Rev. Ebenezer Grosvenor, 1763
Ebenezer Dawes, jr., 1787
Nehemiah Thomas, 1792
Edmund Q. Sewall, 1832
Ephraim Nute, jr., 1848
Rev. Fisk Barrett, 1852
Rev. G. Babcock, 1860
Rev. Wm. S. Heywood, 1866, present pastor.

The Baptist Society was formed in 1825, church built same year and dedicated Aug. 17. Clergymen, Le Favor, Niles, Seagraves, Judson, Conant, Carpenter, and others. The Rev. Mr. Holmes is present pastor.

The First Trinitarian formed 1825, church built in 1826, dedicated Nov. 16. Clergymen, Jowett, Wright, and others; the present pastor is tho Rev. A. J. Sessions.

The Methodist E. Church, formed in 1825, church built near the Harbor, 1826. Clergymen, Avery, Barker, Keith, Holway, and others, the present pastor is the Rev. C. Nason. The church was burnt, July 4, 1865, and they are about erecting another on Central St.

Population of Scituate, May 1, 1865, 2,209; 1860, 2,227.

Died in Revolutionary Service From Scituate

Names of soldiers who died in service during the late Rebellion:

John Briggs Newcomb, Co. K, 7th Reg’t, died of wounds May 7th, 1863.
Nathan Andrew Rogers, Co. B, 12th Reg’t, died of wounds Nov. 18th, 1862.
Geo. Davis Brown, Co. C, 29th Reg’t, killed June 1.5th, 1862.
Charles Henry Clapp, Co. F, 32d Reg’t, died Feb. 21st, 1863.
Horace Lincoln Studley, Co. E, 32d Reg’t, died April 1st, 1863,
James S. J. Andrews, Co. A, 35th Reg’t, died Feb. 4th, 1863.
James Lufkins Brown, Co. G, 38th Reg’t, died Aug. 4th, 1863.
David Otis Totman,, Co. G, 38th Reg’t, died April 18th, 1864.
Seth Kent Bailey, Co. G, 38th Reg’t, died June, 1803.
Warren Studley Litchfield, Co. G, 38th Reg’t, died Sept. 14th, 1863.
Andrew M. Hyland, Co. G, 88th Reg’t, died Nov. 9th, 1863.
Warren Litchfield, jr., Co. F, 43d Reg’t, died June 25th, 1863.
Albert Hutchinson, U. S. Eng., last heard from, July 1862.
Edwin White Damon, U. S. Eng., last heard from, July 1862.

No. of Drafted men that entered the army, 3; Drafted men paid commutation, 14; Volunteers for three years, 52; Volunteers for one year, 42; Substitutes, 2; Re-enlisted men for three years, 7; Seamen for three years, 7; Seamen at large, for three years, 15; Contrabands for three years, 4; Nine months’ men, 47; Three months’ men, 18.

Torrey’s History of Scituate, says: “Scituate, indebted to the substantial character of some of its founders, many of whom it is evident, came chiefly from Kent, in England, soon became a respectable town, early taking the lead in rates and levies of men, which superiority it maintained to the latest annals of the Colony. Are you a Kentish man, or a man of Kent? has its historical value, as it respects origin.”

“Dean” gives this account of the Indian attack on Scituate:

“They came into Scituate by the ‘Indian path,’ so called, which led from Scituate to the Matakeeset settlements at Indian head ponds, by ‘the Cornet’s mill,’ on the third Herring brook, near the residence of the late Major Winslow. This saw-mill they burnt; and tradition tells that they wounded and burnt a man in it; but this is doubtful. They then proceeded to Capt. Joseph Sylvester’s, and burnt his house. It stood north of the Episcopal Church hill, (now known as such,) and nearly on the same spot where stands the mansion of Mr. Samuel Waterman. There was a garrison of twelve men at Joseph Barstow’s, three-fourths of a mile south of Capt. Sylvester’s, which they probably avoided, and proceeded down towards the town, burning as they went. But, unfortunately, we are able only to mention a few of the houses so destroyed, which we find incidentally mentioned in our town records. The next house which they burnt (of which we have certain record) was William Blackmore’s. It stood where stands the house of the late Capt. Elijah Curtis, forty rods west of the head of the lane that leads to Union bridge, and on the north side of the street. William Black-more was killed that day, but whether in attempting to defend his house or not, and what was the fate of his family, we have not learned, probably, however, they had escaped to the ‘block-house’ on the bank of the river, but fifty rods distant. The block-house was attacked, but not carried; John James, however, whose house was near the block-house, received a mortal wound, lingering about six weeks, and died. The Indians then hastened forward to attack the principal garrison at Charles Stockbridge’s. Their path may be traced directly onward towards this garrison. The house of Nicholas (the Sweede) was the next burnt, which stood on a small hill thirty rods north-east of Parker lane. We observe that the town voted the next year to allow him three pounds towards rebuilding his house. In their further progress they doubtless burnt other houses, as Wm. Parker’s, Robert Stetson, Jr.’s, Standlake’s, Suthiffe’s, Holmes, John Buck’s and others were nigh their path, but unfortunately the committee’s report to Gov. Winslow is not extant, at least in full. They passed over Walnut Tree hill, on the northward of the late Judge William Cushing’s, and entered Ewell’s house, which stood at the ‘turn of the road,’ which spot may be known in modern times by saying it was nearly midway between Judge Cushing’s mansion and farm-house. Ewell’s wife was alone, save an infant grandchild, John Northey, sleeping in the cradle; the house being situated beneath a high hill, she had no notice of the approach of the savages until they were rushing down the hill towards the house. In the moment of alarm she fled towards the garrison, which was not more than sixty rods distant, and either through a momentary forgetfulness, or despair, or with the hope of alarming the garrison in season, she forgot the child. She reached the garrison in safety. The savages entered her house, and stopping only to take the bread from the oven which she was in the act of putting in, when she was alarmed, then rushed forward to assault the garrison. After they had become closely engaged, Ewell’s wife returned by a circuitous path, to learn the fate of the babe, and, to her happy surprise, found it quietly sleeping in the cradle as she had left it, and carried it safely to the garrison. In a few hours the house was burnt. There was a considerable village around this place, and the houses of Northey, Palmer, Russell, Thomas King, Jr., and some others were doubtless burnt, through we are not able to quote record for it. That Ewell’s house was Burnt, we learn from his will, in which it was incidentally mentioned. The garrison-house of Stockbridge was palisaded on three sides, the fourth being defended by the mill-pond. Besides this there was a small outwork near the mill, on a little island between the mill-stream and the waste-way, where a blacksmith’s shop has for several years stood. It was thought to be a point of importance to the settlement to defend these mills. Here the Indians fought several hours, made many efforts to fire the buildings, and sustained heavy losses, from the well-directed shot from the garrison. They chiefly occupied the ground at the south end of the mill-dam. They were not repulsed until night close, when nearly the whole force of the town that was left at home was collected for the purpose. Lieut. Buck had mustered all the men below, and the veteran Cornet Stetson, had descended the river, with what people could be raised in the south part of the town. Unfortunately, Capt, John Williams, with thirty Scituate men, was absent, ‘ranging the woods’ about Namasket, (Middleborough).”

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