History of South Scituate Massachusetts

By Samuel Tolman, Jr.

The town of South Scituate was incorporated in 1849. It was originally a part of the town of Scituate, so that really a history of Scituate must be, to a great extent, a history of South Scituate. Settlements were made on the coast, earlier than in that part of the town now within the limits of South Scituate. Cornet Robert Stetson, was probably the first person who permanently settled in South Scituate. He selected a beautiful plain near the river, and received a grant of a large tract of land, as early as 1634.

His house, as nearly as can be ascertained, occupied the site of that now owned by Mr. Clark Sampson; an unfailing spring of the purest water, gushes forth a few rods from the house, as it did more than two hundred years ago, having been, no doubt, one of the strong attractions which induced the early settler to make this spot his home. History speaks of him as possessed of considerable wealth, an enterprising and valuable man in the plantation, a deputy to court, a cornet of the first light horse corps raised in the Colony, a member of the Council of war, a Colony Commissioner for settling the patent line, in short, he lived long and left a good name at last. In 1656, he, with others erected a saw-mill on the third Herring Brook. Remains of the dam, may now be seen near the residence of Samuel Tolman, jr. This mill was burned by the Indians, May 20th, 1676, who came into Scituate from Hingham, where the day before they had made depredations, and killed one man. They then passed on, and burnt a house situated nearly on the spot where now stands that of Lemuel C. Waterman, Esq. When preparing a site for a new mill, a few rods below the old dam, in 1838, the workmen discovered pieces of the old mill, completely charred, and in a perfect state of preservation, which are now in the possession of Col. Samuel Tolman.

South Scituate affords remarkable instances of longevity, in the highly respectable name of Copeland. Joseph Copeland came into Scituate in 1730, and left twelve children, whose average age was eighty-six years. One of the daughters, Rhoda, the wife of Michael Ford, died at the age of ninety-three, from injuries occasioned by a fall. Five of her children are now living, the youngest of whom k more than eighty-two years of age. South Scituate is separated from the town of Marshfield by the North River, which has been noted for ship-building; indeed, it may well be called the nursery of ship-builders. North River ships were deemed the first-class, both as to beauty, and durability, being constructed entirely of the tough oaks of this vicinity. Many of the whale ships of Nantucket and New Bedford have been built here, rating from 300 to 400 tons. Mr. William Delano built a merchantman in 1812, of 500 tons, which was at that time one of the largest. Scarce a ship-yard or Navy yard can be visited on our coast, where many workmen may not be found whose ancestors were employed at the North River. Especially may they be found in Medford, Chelsea, and East Boston, Curtis, Foster, Stetson, Taylor, James, Tilden, Delano, and many others, were here, all familiar names. Edward Delano, late Naval Constructor, at Charlestown, and Benjamin Delano, now Naval Constructor, at Brooklyn, N. Y., are soils of Mr. William Delano above named, and, were born in South Scituate. This business, once so flourishing, is now al-most entirely discontinued, partly because material is scarce, and larger ships are demanded, but chiefly on account of the increasing obstructions at the mouth of the river. An unsuccessful attempt was made a few years since to compel the waters to pass to the sea by an artificial channel.

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South Scituate has been prompt in answering the calls of the government for men, during the late terrible but glorious war. The recruiting officers report from the records of the Provost Marshall, “Quotas all full, and a surplus for the ” next call”:

She furnished under the call of April 16th, 1861, 9; May 3d, 1861, 15; June 17th, 1861, 22; May 28th, 1862, 22; July 4th, 1862, 22; August 4th, 1862, 34; July 1st, 1863, 21; October 17th, 1863, 21; February 1st, 1864, 15; March 15th, 1864, 14; July 19th, 1864, 26;.December, 1864, 18; making 239 in all.

Died in Revolutionary Service From South Scituate

The following are the names of those who fell in battle, or died of wounds, or disease, contracted in the service:

Wm. T. Sylvester
Edward Dover
Joseph Simmons
Clifton H. Vose
Henry H. Gardner
David W. Robinson
Sidney Gardner
Geo. Merritt
Henry Harlow
Josiah Stoddard, jr.
Nathaniel W. Winslow
Samuel Freeman
Gustavus Jacobs
Beza W. Drake
Joshua S. Damon
Walter Foster, 2d
Abiel Farrar
Herbert Graves
Wilham Whitcomb
Henry Currell
Reuben H. Payne.

It would give us much pleasure, would the limits of the present work allow us to present the names of those who have been disabled by wounds, or are suffering from disease contracted in the service. Let us see to it, that our care for them, and the widows and orphans of the fallen, and our measure of gratitude for the services of our soldiers, equal, if possible, the magnitude of the blessings their sufferings have brought; remembering while we review the history of our towns and of our country, that whatever of prosperity the future historian may record, is based upon that universal liberty, which their sacrifices have established.


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