Wareham, Plymouth County,
In 1838, Silvanus Bourne, Esq., furnished a series of very
interesting articles to one of the County papers, concerning the history of this
town. He says: The east part of the town, known as the "Agawam purchase," lay in
the township of Plymouth, and the west part belonged to Rochester, until in
1739, these two tracts were incorporated as the town of Wareham, the name being
borrowed from an old English town, once of some note. In 1827, Wareham was
enlarged by the addition of a slice of Plymouth and Carver, known as Tihonet.
From 1739, until 1824, the people of the West end, and the
inhabitants of Agawam, were mutually jealous of each others' rights, so much 80
that two constables, and two collectors, were always appointed, and even two
sets of tax bills were always made.
Agawam probably derives its name from one of the
Massachusetts tribes of that name. There are several Agawams in the State, and
it is supposed that some one of these was the abiding place of the tribe, and
that the others were temporary homes of parts of the same tribe. This tract was
leased in 3678, for seven years, and in 1682, was sold by the town of Plymouth,
in order to raise funds for building a new meeting-house in that town. The
purchasers were ten in number, including John Chubbuck, Samuel Bates and John
These early settlers began their colony as though they were a
separate nation, laying out a mill lot, pound and grave yard, and would
undoubtedly have built a pillory and whipping-post, but Plymouth was careful to
reserve in the deed of sale, jurisdiction of the territory. Two lots of land and
one of meadow, were reserved for the ministry, in 1701.
The first highway run nearly East and West, crossing the
streams at the head of tide water. Other ways led to the house of every settler,
some of them open, and some through gates and bars.
The land southerly of Agawam, is indented with many coves,
forming numerous peninsulas, or necks, as they are here called. There are also
numerous islands, among them Wickett's, named for the Indian who owned it;
Ousett, on which the credulous believed money was buried, and where lights were
formerly seen on stormy nights, and even the money chest has been seen by
curious searchers! Little Bird, Tinis, besides the cluster of islands in Little
Harbor. There are two beaches made by the waves of Buzzard's Bay, and the
extensive, flats yield many shell fish. There are several ponds, and numerous
valuable streams of water, in this section, among them Red Brook, colored by the
iron ore bed over which it passes, and the Agawam River, a valuable
manufacturing stream. The wood is mainly pitch-pine.
It is not known at what time the West end of the town was
first settled. The lands were granted by the Virginia mode, called shigling. To
each proprietor was given a warrant stating that he was entitled to a certain
quantity of land. This warrant he could assign or locate it where he pleased, in
one or more lots, or in any shape. Of course, all aimed to secure the best land,
and one surveyor, not al-ways knowing what another had done, some lots were
often more than once covered, which led to litigation and trouble. There were
also left many odd strips called gores.
At the time of the incorporation of Wareham, July, 1739, it
is not known what its population was. At that time, every town containing forty
qualified voters, was entitled to a representative, but for forty years after
incorporation, the town voted that they were not qualified to send, and when
they wished to be heard at General Court, they sent an Agent instead of a
In the French War of 1757-8, Wareham sent nine of her
citizens to assist m the capture of Cape Breton, and Samuel Besse lost his life
there. Five others joined the Northern army, to capture Canada, besides Jo.
Joseph, Sol. Joseph and Jabez Wickett, three Indians of the place, who fought
against the hostile Indians.
Previous to the Revolutionary war, as early as Jan. 18, 1773,
at the request of the town of Boston, a town meeting was held in Wareham to
consider of matters of grievances the Provinces were under. Capt. Josiah Carver
was moderator. In Feb. 1774, strong resolutions were adopted, insisting upon the
rights of British Freedom. In Jan. 1770, they voted to allow every minute man
1s, 4d, per week, and refused to make any tax under the King's authority, but to
pay the Province tax already made to Dr. Andrew. Mackie, with instructions that
he keep it till the town otherwise order. On March 17, they voted to purchase
six guns for the town, and instructed Nathan Bassett to put the other guns in
repair and make bayonets for them.
About the time of the battle of Lexington, it was rumored
that the King's troops were at Marshfield, laying the country waste. Forty
minute men immediately left for Plymouth, under the command of Capt. Israel
Pearing, Lieuts. Ebenezer Chubbuck and Barnabus Bates.
Eight men served two months; eighteen enlisted for six
months, and were stationed along shore. During their term of service, they went
to an alarm at Nashuana, rowing themselves in two whale boats. Nine -were in the
army near Boston, eight months, making thirty-six men sent into service the
first year, from a town without voters enough to send a representative. In 1776,
eighteen men enlisted, and in 1777, fourteen men enlisted for three years or the
war, eight men enlisted for two months, to serve in Rhode Island, and in August,
nearly every man in the militia went on the secret expedition to Newport.
In Sep., 1777, the town voted £33 for 100 lbs. of powder, and
in Nov., £100 to supply the families of Continental soldiers with such articles
as they should need In Sept., 1778, the British burnt the shipping at New
Bedford, and our militia turned out under Maj. Israel Fearing, and all concur in
saying that he conducted the defenses on the east side of the river, with good
judgment and bravery, the fire of his men warding of a night attack. The militia
went twice to Falmouth. Sep. 21st, 1780, voted £86. 17s. hard money, for beef to
send to the army. Jan. 1781, voted to have a lottery to raise $280, hard money,
to raise soldiers with. Eighty-six different individuals did service in the
army, 13 of whom died.
During the Revolutionary war, the operations of our patriotic
citizens were not confined to the land. Capt. Barzilla Besse went out
privateering under a commission from the State, in an armed sloop, and took one
prize. He, together with John Gibbs, and some others of his crew, left his
vessel at Nantucket, and went on board Capt. Dimmick of Falmouth, as volunteers,
in a wood sloop borrowed at that place for the occasion, and running down
towards the enemy's vessel, which was a shaving mill mounting six swivels.
Dimmick was ordered 15 to strike; he showed submission, but in running under her
stern, he put his bowsprit over the enemy's taffrail, and, calling upon his men,
they sprang on board, killed the English captain, and took his vessel in a few
"Also a 10 gun sloop, named the Hancock, owned by John
Carver, Nathan Bassett, and others, was fitted out from this place as a
privateer, commanded by James Southard. The first cruise, they went to the West
Indies and took two prizes. The second cruise, they took 2 Grand Bank fishermen,
both brigs, and brought them into Wareham. "The enemy took from our citizens the
schooner Lion, coming from the West Indies, with a load of salt, the schooner
Desire, going to Brazil, and a sloop which was built for a privateer, and
performed one unsuccessful cruise in that capacity, but was afterwards sent to
Turks Island for salt, and was taken while returning."
In 1781, voted to vendue the colors belonging to the town.
This vote is now much to be regretted.
Previous to the war of 1812, commerce flourished and many
vessels were built at the Narrows. We had but one man in the regular army,
Joseph Saunders, and he was killed at the battle of New Orleans. 13 of our
sloops were captured by the enemy, among them: "The sloop Polly, Capt. Barrows,
was taken on the 9th of June, 1814, off Westport. The Captain ransomed her for
$200, and came home to get the money, leaving Moses Bumpus and James Miller with
the British until his return.
"The same day, the sloop Polly was retaken, by a party fitted
out from Westport; but the two young men, Bumpus and Miller, had been taken on
board the brig-of-war, Nimrod, and by their aid, as was sup-posed, in a few
days, she run up the Bay to West's Island; here they landed, and took Samuel
Besse on board for a pilot, as he says, by force, and compelled him to pilot the
brig up the Bay. On the next day, June 13th, she was-seen by Ebenezer Bourne,
about nine o'clock A. M., off Mattapoisett, standing up the Bay; and at ten,
came to an anchor about four miles southerly of Bird Island Light; and
immediately manned six barges, which formed a line, two abreast. Each barge had
a large lateen sail, and was rowed by six oars, double manned, with a fair wind
and strong flood tide, and steered for Wareham. Bourne left his work, and ran to
his boat, then lying at Crooked River, and sailed across to the lower end of the
neck, where he took land, and in twenty minutes from the time he left home, gave
information to the Selectmen, then assembled on other business, in the lower
house, at the Narrows village. He and they passed quickly through the village,
giving the alarm to the citizens, until they arrived at the house of Benjamin
Fearing, Esq. Here the Selectmen ordered Maj. William Barrows to assemble the
men and prepare their guns as fast as possible, then pass down the Narrows, and
they would forward them ammunition as soon as it could be procured from the town
stores, "which, were kept by Wadsworth Crocker, Esq. Bourne upon, his first
arrival at Fearing's, meeting with a gentleman, upon a smart horse, bound
towards Agawam, requested him to quicken his speed, and stop at the next public
house, then kept by Capt. Israel Fearing, and tell him to call out his men, and
proceed forthwith to the east side of the Narrows, this the stranger promised,
and preformed. Maj. Barrows collected 12 men with arms, which he paraded; and
the minister, Rev. Noble Everett, came from the Selectmen with a keg of powder,
and balls. But while they were loading their guns, Wm. Fearing, Esq., and
Jonathan Reed came to the Major, and told him to put his arms and ammunition out
of sight, for they had made a treaty with the enemy, and had agreed to spare
private property. The guns were hid under Capt. Jeremiah Bumpus' porch, and the
keg of powder left near his house. The British came to the turn of the channel,
here set a white flag, and preceded to the lower wharf, where the marines
landed, being about 200 in number, paraded on the wharf, and set a sentinel upon
the high land back of the village, with orders to let no citizen pass from the
village; and. about this time. Fearing and Reed approached the enemy with a
white handkerchief upon a cane, and made the treaty aforesaid. The enemy then
marched up the street, detaching sentries upon the high land, at convenient
distances, until they arrived at the Cotton Factory. This, they set on fire by
shooting a Congreve rocket into a post in the middle, of the first story, and
re-turned, taking the arms and powder at Capt. Bumpus' house, and threatened to
burn the house, if the town stores were not surrendered, which they thought were
"About this time, four schooners belonging to Falmouth, and
one be-longing to Plymouth, which had put into this port, for Safety, were set
on fire by the men left with the barges; these, arid the Factory, as they
asserted, not being private property. As they passed up, they called at Wm.
Fearing's store, took something to drink, and went into his kitchen, took a
brand of fire, and proceeded to his ship-yard, immediately in front of his
house, and here set fire to a new brig, nearly finished, upon the stocks,
belonging to said Fearing, he remonstrating and reminding them of their treaty,
but they asserting that she was built for a privateer, put her well on fire, so
that she burnt to ashes. They fired also a ship and brig lying at the wharf, and
five sloops, all of which, as well as the Cotton Factory, were put out. Six
vessels were not set on fire. ' They next took twelve men as hostages, to
prevent our citizens from firing upon them and hoisting a white flag, and saying
if a gun was fired the host0,ges would be massacred, embarked, having tarried on
shore about two hours. About this time, Capt. Israel Fearing assembled 12 men on
the opposite side of the Narrows, and showed fight. One of the barges dropped
over that way, and the Narrows citizens begged him not to fire, as a treaty tad
been made and hostages taken to insure its performance, whereupon he fell back,
to watch their further movements, kept his union assembled, but as the hostages
were not given up until they passed below him, he did not fire, and the enemy
departed in peace, landing our citizens on Cromeset Point. The barges formed a
line, fired a Congreve rocket into the air, fired a swivel from the bow of each
barge, gave three cheers, and proceeded leisurely to the brig; landed Besse upon
West's Island, and the young men at North Falmouth. Besse was taken up and
examined before a magistrate, in New Bedford, and acquitted. Miller and Bumpus
were examined and committed to prison for further examination and trial; and
after being imprisoned about three months, were acquitted, and both shipped on
board of a privateer, where Bumpus was killed, and Miller lost a leg by a cannon
ball. The whole damage done by the expedition as estimated at the time was
The first settled minister was Rowland Thatcher, ordained in
1740, died 1773. His successors have been Josiah Cotton, 1774; Noble Everett,
1784-1820; Daniel Hemmenway, 1821-1828; Samuel Nott, ordained 1829; Homer
Barrows, and Rev. T. F. Clary, present pastor. In 1 830, the First Christian
Society was formed, but not now in operation. The building on High Street, was
purchased by the Catholics, about 1865, and is now occupied by them. In 1830,
the M. E. Society was formed, and soon after a church built near the Center.
Services have not been held there regularly, of late; a good part of the
membership being at Agawam, meetings are held there.
In 1780, the town paid their minister $240 per Sabbath in the
depreciated currency of the times. The town and parish records have been entered
in separate books, since 1828, at which time the present church edifice was
The first school was held in 1741, and the first Temperance
Society was formed in Wareham, in 1824.
In 1742, Wareham sent out a colony of more-than 100, which
settled in Sharon, Ct. From 1739 to 1829, deer reeves were annually elected, to
enforce the laws for the protection of these animals.
Wareham has long been celebrated for its iron and nail
manufactories. The first machinery for. making of nails, was introduced by I. &
J. Pratt, & Co., in 1822.
In 1822, B. Murdock & Co., built the Washington Iron Works on
the Weweantit River. In 1828, a second dam was erected, a half a mile above. In
1827, the "Poles Works" were erected; in 1828, the "Tihonet Works," and in 1836,
the "Agawam Works."
Most of these establishments have been burnt out at various
times. The Washington Works, now called Tremont, have lately been re-built in
the best style. They are owned by Joshua B. Tobey. The Poles establishment is
now owned by the Robinson Iron Co.
Besides the manufacture of nails, much attention has been
given to iron casting and iron manufacturing. The "Franconia Works," on the
wharf, below the Narrows, employ a large number of men in mating merchantable
iron. S. T. Tisdale, Esq., is at the head of the Agawam Works. The first blast
furnace was erected in 1805, on the Weweantit River.
About 1820, the manufacture of hollow ware, in blast
furnaces, was the most thriving business in the vicinity, although most of the
furnaces were in Carver and Middleboro, yet the ore was brought from New Jersey,
and landed at Wareham; from thence it was hauled to the different furnaces and
the ware returned to Wareham, for shipping. Whole forests of pitch pine timber
were felled, and converted into coal to melt the moulton masses with which these
various furnaces were continually charged. The introduction of hard coal and pig
iron, completely revolutionized this business, and blast furnaces were
The manufacture of staves and nail casks has long been an
important branch of business. The name of Lewis Kenney, is inseparably connected
with this business, and in 18'29, the first machinery for sawing the staves, was
introduced by him, since which time he has added many valuable m.achine8 for
The first cotton factory here, was built in 1812. In 1816,
Curtis Tobey built another, and in 1823, Benjamin Lincoln, added still another
factory. Nothing is done in this line now.
The first paper mill was on the Weweantit, built in 1824, by
Pardon Tabor. The new paper establishment, near the Tremont depot, was lately
erected by Wheelwright & Co., of Boston. This, in 1865, employed 13 hands.
During the Revolutionary war, when salt was in great demand,
our people embarked largely in its manufacture, by boiling the sea water in
large kettles. From 1806, through the second war with England, great quantities
of salt were made by evaporation.
The last, native Indians died about 1830. When their
ancestors sold the land here, one of the rights reserved was that of cutting
broom-sticks and basket stuff, wherever they chose.
The soil is diluvial, and our people have given much more
attention to manufacturing than farming. Formerly there were many good Orchards.
List of soldiers and sailors who died in the service of their
country, in the late Rebellion:
Geo. H. French, B, 24th, at Beaufort, N. C,
Jan. 22d, 1863.
Joseph W. Tinkham, 3rd Reg.
Patrick Grim, K, 28tb Reg't.
Thomas S. Hatch, C, 18th Reg't.
James F. Leonard, G, 18th Reg't.
Wm. Ashton, G, 18th Reg't.
Samuel Benson, G, 18th Reg't.
Theodore E. Paddock, G, 18th Reg't.
Arch. Stringer, G, 18th Reg't.
Patrick Cox, C, 58th, died Feb. 8th, 1865.
Jas. E. Russie, A, 20th, died in prison.
Stephen S. Russie, A, 24th Reg't.
Marcus Atwood, 18th Reg't.
Jas. Backwell, A, 20th, died at Wareham.
Benj. F. Bumpus, A, 20th Reg't.
Daniel 0. Bumpus, B, 24th Reg't, Sept. 30th, 1864.
John J. Carrol, A, 26th Reg't.
Benj. D. Clifton, 20th Reg't.
John A. Haskins, 6th Battery, died at Washington, D. C. Dec. 6th, 1864.
Joseph Hayden, B, 24th Reg't.
John D. Manter, B, 3d, at Newbern, N. C.
James Maddigan, A, 20th, at Wareham.
John E. Oldham, at Deep Bottom, Va., Aug. 14th, 1864.
John S. Oldham, B, 3d, Reg't, died at Newbern, N. C.
Isaac S. Oldham, B, 24th, died at Beaufort, N. C, Feb. 2nd, 1863.
David A. Perry, B, 24th Reg't.
Daniel Westgate, 1st Battalion, Co. D.
Julian W. Swift, A, 20th, killed at Petersburg.
Horatio G. Harlow, C, 58th, at Libby Prison.
Stephen H. Drew, 58th Reg't.
Geo. W. Besse, H, 58th, July 2d, 1864.
Geo. H. Loring, A, 20th, at Libby Prison.
Notes About Book:
Source: Plymouth County Directory and Historical Register of the Old Colony,
Middleboro, Mass: Published By Stillman B. Pratt & Company, 1867.
Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr'd and heavily
edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as
online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in
the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow
better online presentation.