Ebenezer Bourne Keene Gurney, “History of Hanson”, published in D. Hamilton Hurd, ed., History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Part 1 (Philadelphia, Pa.: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1884), 340-355.
The territory of Hanson consists largely of what is known as the “Major’s Purchase”, bought by Josiah Winslow and thirty-four others of the Indian sachem Josias Wampatuck, which was executed July 9, 1662. It was “Bounded by the lands of Plymouth and Duxbury on one side, and of Bridgewater on the other side, and extending North and South from the lands purchased by Capt. Thomas Southworth unto the Great Ponds at Mattakeeset, provided it include not the thousand acres given to my son and George Wampy about these ponds.” It is probable that the thousand acres referred to were never bought of the aborigines, but gradually became occupied by the early settlers as they died or left for other parts of the country. The Bridgewater line mentioned in the deed ran near where the school-house on Beal’s Hill now stands in a direct line to the west part of the “Tilden place”. In April, 1684, “The Proprietors agreed and chose John Thomson (of Middleboro), Nathaniel Thomas (of what is now Hanson), and John Soule (of Duxbury) a committee of said proprietors to settle the bounds of the said tract called the Major’s Purchase.” For this service they had grants of land set off, that of John Thomason being in the eastern part, and one of the bounds, a pitch-pine tree on the “shore of Herring pond” (now called Stetson’s Pond), in Pembroke, is still standing. For about seventy-five years before incorporation Hanson was called the West Precinct of Pembroke, and so established at a meeting of the town, May 19, 1746, by the following vote: “The question was put to know whether the town would vote off the westerly part of the town agreeable to their request and set forth in the warrant, and it passed in the negative, and then the question was put in the following words, viz.: If it be your minds that all of that part of the town to the westward of a straight line run at right angles with a straight line from the meeting-house in Pembroke to the new meeting-house erected in the westerly part of said town, said line to begin eighty rods to the westward of the centre betwixt said meeting-houses, measured by the road, shall be dismissed from this town or Precinct, and be incorporated into a town or Precinct with part of the towns of Hanover, Abington, Bridgewater, and Halifax, excepting those inhabitants which are not willing to be set off, please manifest it, and it passed in the affirmative.” In 1759, Elijah Cushing and Edward Thomas were chosen to join with a committee of the First Precinct to settle the line more definitely, and reported: “We, the subscribers, being chosen a Committee to settle the line betwixt the two Precincts, have accordingly met the committee of the First Precinct, and have considered on the affair as well as we could under out present situation, not having the grant of said Precinct, concluded that if Lemuel Crooker choose to belong to the First Precinct, that we should not contend in the law about his rate at present.” Parish records show that the unsettled line cause various controversies, and in June, 1811, Oliver Whitten was chosen agent for the West Parish, and David Oldham, Jr. and Isaac Hatch East Parish agents, to adjust the bounds, which resulted as follows:
“We, the subscribers, being appointed agents by the two Parishes in Pembroke to renew and settle the division-line between said Parishes, have proceeded as follows, viz. : Beginning four rods and four feet down stream below Salmond’s Forge, so-called; thence south one degree east to a stake and stones standing between the two small pines in Seth Perry’s pasture, thence on the same course to an apple-tree standing six rods and twenty-three links to the eastward of the northeast corner of Jacob Bryant’s dwelling-house; then on the same course to a stake and stones standing in Halifax line.” This proved satisfactory so far as the records show, but the desire to be an incorporated town kept the subject agitated, and so on Mon-
The area of the town comprises about nine thousand seven hundred and thirty acres, and its present bounds are South Abington, Rockland, and Hanover on the north, Pembroke on the east, on the south Halifax, and on the west East Bridgewater and South Abington. The surface is generally level, though there are several hills of considerable elevation, Bonney Hill, in the central part, being one of the highest in Plymouth County. The present number of inhabitants, according to the census of 1880, is thirteen hundred and nine. There are several small rivers and streams running through the town, though none large enough to give any great facilities for manufacturing purposes. Indian Head River, the earliest mentioned stream, is the outlet of Indian Head Pond, and after a circuitous run it empties into North River. It is noticed by this name in the earliest records concerning the
territory now Hanson. The northern boundary of the “Major’s Purchase,” when it was re-established in 1699, “was Marshfield Upper lands to Indian Head River Pond, thence to Indian Head River, and by that river till it comes to a little brook, which comes out of the swamp and empties into Indian Head River.”
It is also mentioned as the western boundary of Scituate. Deane’s History has the following: “March 7, 1642, we find this court order: ‘The bounds of Scituate township, on the westerly side of said town shall be up the Indian Head River to the pond which is the head of said river, and from thence to Accord pond.'” By this we learn that the northern part of Hanson was originally a part of Scituate. It was on this stream, near where it crosses the road, soon after leaving the pond, that John Thomson had “four acres of meadow” set off to him for services as surveyor. This shows the value of land that produced hay, as he resided in Middleboro, and it must have cost considerable labor to transport his hay so long a distance. Drinkwater River has its source in Rockland, forms part of the northern boundary of Hanson, and empties into Indian Head River. According to Barry, tradition gives as the derivation of the name Drinkwater, “That an old saw-mill formerly stood near Ellis’ bridge, which was burned by the Indians in 1676, and the erection of a new mill on the spot, at whose raising cold water, instead of spirituous liquors was furnished as a beverage, gave rise to the name Drinkwater.” Poor Meadow River is formed by waters running through the Abingtons from the swamps in Weymouth, and runs south through the westerly part of the town into East Bridgewater, and empties into Robbins Pond, and thence into Taunton River. White Oak Brook takes the waters of the swamps in the southeastern part, and empties into Monponsett Pond. Cedar Swamp Brook, near South Hanson Station, takes its name from its source, and flows north through meadows into Poor Meadow River.
Rocky Run River rises in the swamp in the northeastern part, and runs north into Indian Head River, and is part of the boundary between Hanson and Pembroke. The ponds are Indian Head, Maquan, and a small part of Oldham, all in the eastern part of the town, also a small portion of Monponsett
in the southern part. Indian Head and Maquan Ponds are connected by a small brook, but are unlike in the quality of water, the first named having a muddy bottom, with some tinge of color to the water,
caused by the presence of iron ore, while Maquan has a sandy gravel for its bed, with clear, sparkling water. There are also several mill-ponds formed by constructing dams.
In many localities Indian relics have been found. In some instances their settlements and camping grounds have been determined by the remains of utensils. On the land where William Tubbs had his grant in 1684, has been found near a spring of water a portion of a pot or kettle which was doubtless broken while after water, and left to be cherished by the white man as a relic. Numerous arrow-points, broken hatchets, and various remnants of articles have been found, which show the ingenuity of the Indian to have been equal to his necessity. Many pleasant legends concerning them have been handed down which are fanciful in their conception.
The oldest roads are known to have been the paths of the Indians. The road leading from Duxbury to Bridgewater was anciently called “The Bridgewater path.” The location has been considerably changed in many places. It formerly turned to the west, a short distance north of the Methodist Church in Bryantville, and followed near Indian Head Pond till it came out to where the road now is, a little west of the Baptist Church, thus demonstrating that it was first used by the Indians on their way from the ponds in Pembroke to those in Hanson. There is an Indian way, so called in old deeds, leading southwest from the Dea. Bearse place through the swamp and weeds to the ponds in Bridgewater. One of the oldest records of establishing any roads in Hanson is in 1712, when it was ordered “that a road be made from Josiah Foster’s house to Cotton’s mill,” it being the road leading from the John Fish place, in Pembroke, to the mill at the foot of Almshouse Hill. The instructions were “to run in the most convenient, place,” with no specifications for width or grade. The main road running north to Abington is frequently mentioned as the “Country road.” There must also have been roads or ways at an early date that are now disused, and some entirely obliterated, as the site of houses can be found that are far from any line of travel.
Early Settlers. –
It is not known who first settled in what is now Hanson, nor the time, but as early as 1679 James Bishop owned land on Indian Head River, and was living in 171O. The name was originally spelled Bushop.
In 1684, William Tubbs was granted land “upon condition that he bear his part of the church and town charges.” His land was adjoining that of Abraham Peirce and Nathaniel Thomas. The land of Nathaniel Thomas was in the northwestern part, and was granted to him for services in dividing the “Major’s Purchase” into lots. It is worthy of note that his homestead has never changed hands by deed, but passed from father to son by inheritance. The Congregational Church lot is from this land.
In 1712, Josiah Bourne, great-grandson of Thomas Bourne, one of the first settlers in Marshfield, bought a large tract in the extreme southern part, next to the “Great Cedar Swamp,” “with ye house on it,” and traces of its location can still be seen. It is said of him that he was small in stature, a man of good practical sense, determination, and perseverance, who made the hills and valleys laugh and shine with their abundance. He had three sons and five daughters, whose descendants are scattered over various parts of the country.
Elijah Cushing, born 1697, bought land farther north, and about 1730 built the house now standing, which bears his name, and which has been owned and occupied by his descendants to the present time. It is a large, commodious two-story house, such as were built at that period, and with care might survive many of later date. Mr. Cushing was one of the principal men of the parish and took a prominent part in all its proceedings. He died in 1762, and lies buried in the old town burying-place, where his tombstones attract attention by their immense size.
The Bisbees and Peirces were early located on the Bridgewater road, in the vicinity of South Hanson Station, on the Old Colony Railroad.
Later we find the names of Smith, Torrey, Howland, Robinson, Munroe, Bonney, Beal, Stetson, Soper, Hobart, Phillips, Soule, Hayford, Cole, Gould, Allen, Perry, Hamlin, Barker, Dammon, and others. Eleazer Hamlin, who was prominent in parish matters, was the grandfather of Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine. Many of these names have entirely disappeared from the town. These were men of intelligence and respectability, whose lives were given to activity and usefulness.
Ecclesiastical History. –
When the early church history of any town is written, it necessarily gives much of the civil, as church and parish were so closely allied that to know the one involves the other, and the character of the people is found in all their records.
Mr. Baylies, the historian of Plymouth Colony, has said, “The clergy were the principal instruments in keeping alive the spirit and enterprise of the English
race in the wilds of America, and to them in a great degree the people owe their prosperity.”
Anticipating the duty of supporting the church and its institutions, the West Parish erected a meeting-house early in 1746, new style, mention being made of it in the precinct division. The means of raising money being limited, the finishing and furnishing progressed slowly. At a meeting March, 1747, it was voted “To sell vacant room below in the West meeting-house in said town, suitable for pews, to the highest bidder; and whoever purchases a vacancy for a pew, shall be obliged to get it built in the Same manner and form as the pews are built in the old meeting-house in Pembroke, and to be completely built and finished by the last day of September, 1748, and if any man fails of getting his pew built by that time, his pew shall be forfeited to said precinct.” At intervals, for several years, similar votes were passed, showing the work was a long one.
For two years no one was settled as minister, but candidates preached on probation, a Mr. Frost being the first recorded. Then followed John Brown, Nathaniel Gardner, Cotton Brown, Jonathan Winchester, and probably others, each preaching from one to two or three months. It was early decided not to hear any as candidate who had been ordained elsewhere, thus securing a young man whose pastorate should have a lengthy prospect if no other, but, to their credit, they desired a man of education.
On the 29th day of February, 1747, old style, it was voted “to settle Mr. Gad Hitchcock in the work of the ministry if he can be had,” and a committee chosen to confer with him, who should acquaint him with the salary they would pay and terms of settlement.
His answer, dated March 28, 1748 (the next month), gives evidence of his wisdom and consideration in stating his needs financially and socially. The following is a copy:
“GENTLEMAN, I have for some time had under consideration the late invitation you gave me to settle in the work of the ministry among you, and it being an affair of importance, I have therefore asked that wisdom from above which is profitable to direct in all such cases, and have also desired my friends at College and other gentlemen to assist me by their advice in my determinations with respect to it, and upon the advice which I have received, as well as by seriously weighing the matter in my own mind, I have at length come to the following conclusion, viz.: that the offers which you made me of one hundred pounds new tenor, to enable 100 to settle among you, is not sufficient to do it, nor the annual salary of the same sum and ten’r to give me a convenient support. I am therefore obliged to tell you that though I thank you for your respect, yet I don’t think it proper to accept of your call; but, however, considering the unanimity of your call, and relying upon the continuance of your affections towards me, I am free and willing to settle in said office among you upon the following conditions, viz.: First, that you grant me six hundred pounds old ten’r in bills of this province, to enable me to procure a settlement among you; secondly, that you grant me four hundred pounds old ten’r in bills of the province aforesaid as a salary for the current year, and afterwards add ten pounds old ten’r per annum till it shall have risen to four hundred and fifty pounds of the province and tenor aforesaid, which shall then be my following annual salary ; and, thirdly, that you pretty unanimously vote the fulfillment of the conditions above.
“These things, gentlemen, are what I think reasonable to be granted to me if I settle in the work of the gospel ministry among yon, in order to my proceeding with becoming cheerfulness and alacrity in that arduous work, and therefore I thought proper to lay these before you. I have now nothing further to add, only I would just recommend unto you unity, peace, and charity in the weighty affair of the present meeting and in all the future transactions of life, and subscribe myself a real friend to your best interests and most obedient humble servant,
This answer proved satisfactory, and the ordination was arranged and ordered for “the first Wednesday in October, 1748, and Elijah Cushing, Esq., to have one hundred pounds, old tenor, for providing the entertainment.”
Rev. Gad Hitchcock, son of Ebenezer Hitchcock and Mary Sheldon, was born in Springfield, Feb. 22, 1719, graduated at Harvard College, 1743, and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1787. He was brother of Col. Daniel Hitchcock, who died in the Revolutionary army in 1777. His father’s ancestors were in Springfield and New
Haven, Conn., as early as 1644. On his mother’s side he descended from Governor George Willis of Connecticut, and the Hon. John Pynchon, “the father of Springfield.”
In an article published in 1865 in Harper’s Magazine, the writer says, “Dr. Hitchcock was celebrated for his patriotism and his fearlessness in avowing it, and in doing all that he could for the cause of his country. He sometimes acted as chaplain in the army of the Revolution, and never shunned the dangers to which the soldiers were exposed.”
He was a member of the convention that framed the Constitution of Massachusetts in 1780. He preached the election sermon before the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1765. He preached the election sermon before Governor Gage in 1774, from the text, Prov. xxix. 2: “ When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” In it he says, after commenting in severe terms upon the calamities resulting from the “reign of the wicked,” “We need
not pass the limits of our own nation for sad instances of this. Whether or how far it has been exemplified in any of the American colonies, whose government in general are nearly copies of the happy British original, by the operation of ministerial unconstitutional measures, or the public conduct of some among ourselves, is not for me to determine. It is, however, certain that the people mourn.”
The article referred to above says, “It was prepared with the expectation that the Governor would not be present, and when it was found he would be there to hear it, Dr. Hitchcock was advised by his friends to be cautious in his expressions, but he replied, , “My sermon is written, and it will not be altered.””
This is said to have created quite a disturbance and filled Governor Gage with rage, but it pleased Samuel Adams and others like him so much that a suit of clothes was presented Mr. Hitchcock as a mark of their appreciation.
Mr. Hitchcock married Dorothy Angier, of Cambridge, a descendant of Edmund Angier, who was in Cambridge till 1636. She inherited the blood of Rev. William Ames, D.D., Rev. Urian Oakes, a president of Harvard College, Dr. William Avery, and the Sparhawks, all old Cambridge families.
An aged lady, now living, remembers Dr. Hitchcock as a venerable-looking old man, who wore a wig white as snow, and to whom everyone who met him was attracted. This lady relates from memory an incident which occurred one Sunday when Dr. Hitchcock had exchanged pulpits with Rev. Perez Forbes, and shows the attention that was required to the sermon in those days, though they were long and prosy. The old men, whose seats were directly below the pulpit in front of the body pews, had become sleepy and fallen into slumber, while the younger portion of the congregation were amusing themselves to the disregard of the sermon, when Mr. Forbes suddenly stopped his discourse and said, “Boys, stop that noise, or you will wake up these old men,” and proceeded with his sermon. As will be imagined, the effect was twofold.
Dr. Hitchcock proved himself a man of talent, sociable, friendly, hospitable, though somewhat eccentric, and very witty. “Be merry and wise” was his advice to the young on occasions of joy. In belief he was a high Arian and liberal. His funeral services consisted of only a prayer, by his request. His pastorate extended over a period of fifty-five years. He died Aug. 8, 1803, after an indisposition of four years, when the parish honored his memory by the following vote: “That the parish procure a pair of Tombstones for the Rev. Gad Hitchcock.”
A few months before the death of Mr. Hitchcock a call was given Rev. George Barstow to settle as colleague pastor, which he at first declined, but on a renewal of their wish he accepted in a letter dated Dec. 20, 1802, in which he bespeaks their encouragement in various ways, and particularly their attendance at the Sabbath services, and was ordained January, 1803. An order was passed to provide entertainment for the Council and Mr. Barstow’s near friends, and the expense proved eighty dollars. A committee of six was ordered “to shore up the meeting-house, to keep the body seats and front seats in the gallery clear, and also to keep the green or yard around the meeting-house clear of carts and sellers of liquor on said day.”
Mr. Barstow was son of James Barstow and Rhoda House, born 1775, graduated at Brown University, 1801, and studied for the ministry with Rev. Perez Forbes, of Raynham. He married Sarah, daughter of Gideon Barstow, Nov. 26, 1801. After his settlement with the church he built the house at the junction of the roads near the almshouse, where he lived, and died suddenly Feb. 11, 1826.
Some time during Mr. Barstow’s pastorate the society made quite extensive repairs to their meetinghouse, which cost them about two hundred dollars, and much improved its appearance. Soon after Rev. Dr. Storrs, of Braintree, came to preach on missions, and made a strong appeal for immediately forming a society to raise funds for that object. Some one suggested that it be postponed to some other day, but Dr. Storrs said, “Now or never!” and they set about the work, and to their great satisfaction raised thirty dollars. This was not equal to Dr. Storrs’ anticipation, and feeling that their covetousness should be rebuked, he published an article in the Recorder, of which he was editor, portraying them in a very ungenerous style, – said their meeting-house (which had so recently been repaired) “wasn’t fit to worship God in or for the comfort of man.” It was thought best to vindicate themselves from such an array, and accordingly one of the society wrote an article for Dr. Storrs to publish, which he refused to do, and then it was sent to Thomas Whittemore, editor of the Trumpet, who gladly blew it with a shrill blast.
During the pastorates of Dr. Hitchcock and Mr. Barstow the society belonged to the Conference of Unitarian Churches, but for several years before Mr. Barstow’s death there were some who had embraced orthodox sentiments and freely avowed them, sometimes attending church service out of town. An elderly woman, who was a member of the church, and had expressed great anxiety for its welfare was
heard to pray as she knelt before the fire alone in her home, “Lord, change Parson Barstow’s heart, or take him from the ministry.”
A man threatened his minor son that he would take away his new suit of clothes if he persisted in attending meeting there. This shows the division of sentiment and belief which manifested itself in various ways, and by many the death of Mr. Barstow was deemed providential, not from want of personal respect, but the result of change of faith. When the business of procuring a new minister came before them the church decided to have one of orthodox profession, which resulted in a call to Rev. Freeman P. Howland, who was ordained Sept. 25, 1826. Since then the church has been associated with the Orthodox Congregationalists. Mr. Howland retained his office of pastor little more than seven years, when he resigned on account of feeble health. He was a valuable citizen, and was highly esteemed by the church and community for his kind and courteous character.
The next settled minister was Rev. John Shaw, from November, 1834, to March, 1838, followed by Rev. Abel Patten in June, who remained one year. During Mr. Shaw’s pastorate a new church was built on the site of the old, though there were persistent efforts to change the location. This was dedicated Dec. 14, 1836.
The successor of Mr. Patten was Rev. Samuel L. Rockwood, who twice held the pastorate, the first time from March 11, 1840, to February, 1858, a period of eighteen years; the second from 1871 to 1877. The interim was filled by Rev. Benjamin Southworth, who died in South Abington (1883), where he had taken up his abode.
Mr. Rockwood was interested in the prosperity of the town, and particularly its early history, collecting much that is worthy of publication. He took an active part in all movements for the promotion of the temperance cause, and served the town a number of years as one of the school committee. Mr. Rockwood removed to Weymouth where he died.
Rev. Joshua S. Gay was the next pastor, and remained five years from May, 1878, succeeded, in August, 1883, by Rev. George Benedict, the present minister.
Not much is known in regard to the church music of the earliest years, but records show that “March 12, 1749, Daniel Hayford was chosen deacon, and on the following Thursday chose John Bisbe, Jr., for a deacon.” “Nov. 4, 1753, chose William Phillips and Gideon Bisbe to set the psalms in the absence of Dea. Bisbe. William Phillips declined, and Daniel Crooker was chosen in his place.” In 1760, “Voted by the congregation to sing Tate and Brady’s version, together with Dr. Watts’ Hymns, bound with it for the future, in room of the New England version.” “Sept. 25, 1769, chose Eleazer Hamlin for chorister, and Zebulon Simmons for the same purpose in his absence.”
The earliest mention of instrumental music or anything pertaining is a vote taken March 14, 1812, that Nathaniel Collamore’s bill of four dollars and eighteen cents for repairing the bass-viol be allowed. Doubtless it had been purchased some time before by the parish, and was kept in the church, as there was a chest built in the front gallery for the purpose, as some who are still living remember it. On March 22, 1817, “Voted, Capt. N. Collamore for bass-viol strings, $2.68.”
No other instrument is mentioned in the records until the time of dedication of the new church, but it is remembered that about 1820, Dr. Cartier, who was a physician in town, played a violin, and later, Ezra Phillips, Jr., the clarionet. When the new church was built, Deacon George F. Stetson loaned the society a pipe-organ, which he had built, to remain until he should finish one for them, and he was voted “the sum of ten dollars for his trouble in removing and setting up the organ.” The one built for the church remained until 1867, when a new one, costing one thousand dollars, was purchased by subscription.
The law which imposed taxation upon individuals for church support was considered by a growing number to be unjust, and a feeling of resistance in some way led a few of the parish to propose holding meetings and supporting them by voluntary contributions, and a receipt for such payment answered the demands of the law. Accordingly a society was organized, which held meetings at the houses of some of its members. Prominent among them were Dr. Samuel Barker, Cornelius Cobb, Dr. Calvin Tilden, Charles Josselyn, Jabez Josselyn, Oren Josselyn, Henry Monroe Bridgewater; Capt. Abishai Stetson, East Bridgewater; and Timothy Robbins, Hanover.
Preaching was supplied by Benjamin Whittemore, Joshua Flagg, Rev. Hosea Bal1ou, and others. In 1829 a church was built at the junction of roads, now Willow and Short Streets, and in the same year Elmer Hewitt was installed as preacher, and remained in the office about ten years. After him came John Allen, for two years, followed by Robert L. Killam; H. W. Morse, and William Whiting. Isaac O. Stetson and Willard Poole, both of Pembroke, were the deacons. As the old members died and numbers
decreased, the society ceased to hold meetings. For a time the church was used by the Spiritualists for meetings. In 1866 the building was remodeled for hall purposes, and called Unity Hall, and remained as such until March, 1876, when it was burned.
Baptist Church. –
The following is taken from a sketch published some time ago, which was condensed from the church records:
“In the summer of 1811, Elder Thomas Conant, then a licensed preacher of the Baptist denomination, began holding meetings in certain dwelling-houses in Pembroke, about half-way between the East and West (Congregational) Parishes of the town. The good seed sown was attended by the blessing of God, and in the following winter the neighborhood enjoyed the weekly preaching of the Word, – at first on week-days, afterward a fourth of the time on the Sabbath. Aaron Perkins, then a recent convert from Mansfield, aided Mr. Conant in his missionary labors during the winter. As a result of their labors an interest was awakened, and on the 17th of May, 1812, eleven persons made public profession of their faith in baptism. These, with nineteen others who brought letters from neighboring Baptist Churches, were, on the 21st of the same month, regularly constituted a church by the name of “The First Baptist Church in Pembroke,” and was recognized as such by a council of ministers and laymen assembled for that purpose. The right hand of fellowship was given by Joel Briggs, of Randolph. In the afternoon of the same day, Mr. Conant, having been recommended and introduced by the church to the same council as a candidate for the gospel ministry, was ordained. Sermon by Samuel Glover, charge by Joel Briggs, and right hand of fellowship by Lewis Leonard. These exercises occurred at the house of Luther Howland, afterwards a deacon of the church.”
In the following September the church united with the Warren Baptist Association; of which it formed a part until the formation of the Old Colony Association, to which it now belongs. In the second year of its existence the church built a small meetinghouse in the neighborhood where the interest had commenced, and in this house Mr. Joseph Torrey, the first settled pastor, was ordained, Nov. 9, 1814. This house, afterwards sold, was remodeled into a dwelling, and stands on the original site, nearly opposite the Methodist Church in Bryantville. Nov. 16, 1820, a new and commodious house of worship, the one still occupied by the church, was opened. James Davis, John Butler, Thomas Conant, and Joseph Torrey, the pastor, participated in the dedicatory services.
Mr. Torrey having filled the pastoral office for about eleven years, with a brief intermission in 1824, resigned the charge, and was dismissed in January, 1826. During the next eight years the church had three successive pastors, -Charles L. Cook, J. B. Gibson (who died while pastor, in December, 1830), and Jeremiah Kelley. After the departure of Mr. Kelley, in August, 1834, the church remained for nearly two years without a pastor, but continued to sustain its weekly meetings of conference and public worship. In April, 1835, Joseph Torrey, having been absent a few years, returned, and again connected himself with the church, but the third day after death closed his earthly labors. In September, 1836, Flavel Shurt1eff became pastor, and remained one year. After an interval of about nineteen months, during eight of which John Holbrook was preacher, Mr. Shurtleff was recalled, and continued his labors until April, 1845.
In August, 1844, the church made a clear and decided declaration of anti-slavery sentiments by adopting a series of resolutions, in which they expressed their abhorrence of the system of American slavery, and declared their determination never to admit into their membership or their pulpit any slaveholder or advocate of slavery. Samuel Carr held the ministerial office from June, 1845, to December, 1848; Asa C. Bronson, from July, 1849, to March, 1851 (ordained in December, 1849), and William Leach, from September, 1851, to April, 1855. Under the ministry of Mr. Bronson the meeting-house underwent considerable repairs; a tower was built and a bell hung. Leander P. Gurney was called to the pastorate in June, 1855, ordained in the following December, and closed his labors in September, 1856. Samuel Hill was pastor from October, 1857, to July, 1858. During the summer months of 1861 the pulpit was regularly supplied by Charles K. Colver. In September the church invited Elder Seth Ewer to preach to them, and in October to become their pastor, he remaining till April, 1863. The remainder of the year the supply was by Rev. Mason Ball, when the house undergoing extensive repairs, preaching was suspended until May 23, 1864. The house was then reopened, Rev. Rollin H. Neale, D.D., preaching the sermon on the occasion. On June 1, 1864, Aaron Perkins began preaching, but in little more than a year failing health compelled him to tender his resignation, June 27, 1865. Rev. W. H. Watson followed in December, 1865, remaining until May, 1867.
Rev. H. F. H. Miller assumed the pastoral charge December, 1867, resigning November, 1869, and was succeeded by Rev. J. W. Horton, who closed his
labors March, 1872. In the following June, Rev. Joseph B. Read accepted a call to become pastor, and continued his relations eleven years, the longest pastorate of this society. In May, 1883, Rev. William K. Davey was given a call, and accepted, remaining a few months, when he relinquished his charge for a position in the University for Colored Students, in Nashville, Tenn., his place being supplied on his retirement by Rev. Ephraim Hapgood, April, 1884, who is the present pastor.
The following have served the church as deacons: Micah Foster and Luther Howland, elected June 19, 1812; Paul Clapp, in 1826; Joseph Boylston, in 1831; Levi Thomas, September, 1832; Josiah Barker, in June, 1843; Jonathan R. Gurney, in June, 1854; Charles W. Bourne, March, 1872; and Levi Z. Thomas, in January, 1878. The last two are the only survivors. In the summer of 1875 a large and convenient vestry was erected, adjoining the rear of the church, which serves for society and conference purposes. During the earlier years of the church the music was singing without instruments, but soon after the new church was built the bass-viol was introduced and played by E. B. K. Gurney, and followed after a time by other instruments.
The earliest record relating to schools is Sept. 9, 1754, Edward Thomas, clerk: “Voted that the school should be kept in two places in said precinct, viz., one place near the country road, near Mr. Hitchcock’s, and the other near Faxon’s fence, between him and Bisbe; then the vote was called whether they would build one school-house or more, and it passed in the negative, and then voted the schoolhouse should be built by subscription, and dissolved said meeting.” The one built at the first-named place was probably used more than forty years, as the record, dated 1795, shows that Dr. Hitchcock bought the old school-house. The site of the second house mentioned above is on the Bridgewater road, opposite the grammar school-house, a little to the west.
In 1755 “voted the school should be kept according to last year’s vote” In July, 1761, Elijah Cushing, moderator, voted to raise in the next year’s rate towards defraying the charge of the new “cushin,” then voted to build one school-house in said precinct, and to “set the same upon the road as near the meeting-house as the ground will admit of.” These must have served for some years, as the records are silent in regard to any others. The oldest persons now living (ninety years of age) remember five schoolhouses in the time of their childhood, situated in the following parts: one each in Cox Street, in the Cushing District, Louden District, another in Parson Barstow’s (near the site of the present Primary No.2), and one in Squire Barker’s district. Nothing is found to show who were the earliest teachers. The earliest teachers remembered were Elizabeth Torrey (afterwards Mrs. I. B. Barker), Peddy Howland, Bathsheba Whitman, and Dolly Whitman in summers, and Oliver Whitten, Stephen Crooker, Noah Whitman, Samuel Briggs, and Welcome Young in winters, followed by the sons and daughters of the first-named lady, eight in number, all of whom taught school in town. But few text-books are remembered by the oldest persons, and girls were taught to sew and knit to improve the hours allotted for school. There is no mention made in the earliest records of a school committee or any one to superintend, and it is probable there were none, unless district agents. As the population increased the districts were divided until there were nine. In 1867 the district system was abolished, when a new division was made and two grammar schools were instituted, one each in the north and south parts of the town. The present number of schools is seven, two grammar and five primary.
In 1851 there was a private school in Elijah Damon’s hall, taught by L. E. Shepard, followed by B. F. Willard the two succeeding years. This school was well patronized, and attended with success and profit to those who were pupils. In 1879 a school was held in the same place, taught by William F. Nichols, continuing two years. Though this school was not large in numbers, it well repaid those who had the advantage of the thorough teaching and discipline of Mr. Nichols.
Occupations and Industries.-
Nothing definite can be ascertained of the occupations of the first men who settled here, more than that they were generally tillers of the soil, and sought situations favorable to it. There seems to have been a decided change in opinion as regards the value of land since this town first had white inhabitants, as then nearly all held large tracts, hundreds of acres, as old deeds prove, while now, by the majority, it is considered that to be a large landholder is to be impoverished in equal degree.
John Bisbe, on the Bridgewater road, was a farmer, and his sons settled on his lands to carry on the same business.
Josiah Bourne, of whom mention has been made, cultivated a large area, and one field, which is now covered with wood, has always been known as “the ten-acre lot,” and was planted with corn. This was only a small part of his cultivated land. Some time in the last century there was a blight of some kind to vegetation all the country round, and farmers suffered the loss of their crops. Singular to say, this Bourne
was so fortunate as to have his crops uninjured. During the following season people came from long distances to buy corn, which he sold sparingly to all, and” Going’ to Egypt to buy corn,” came to be a proverb with them. One of his sons, born 1720, was a surveyor, and the compass supposed to have been used by him is in possession of one of the family descendants of the fifth generation.
Quite a number of later residents are known to have made shingles by hand, and were known as shingle-weavers. These would go into the woods and swamps, where they procured their lumber, and remain there, cutting trees and making shingles on the same ground.
In different parts of the town were coopers. Gamaliel Bisbe, Jedediah Beal, and Thomas Macomber worked at the business, making buckets and tubs of various kinds. Ebenezer B. Keene made nails in the last century, near his father’s house. Enos Cox made hammered nails, and quite a number made tacks by hand early in the present century, among them Thomas Gurney, Ephraim and Whitcomb Cox. Three successive generations by the name of Bonney, the last, Noah, born 1781, were carpenters. Several blacksmiths were in town before 1800. Nathaniel Thomas had a shop near the saw-mill at the foot of Almshouse Hill, and another in town, by the name of Stetson, was assured of his future bride when the stroke of his hammer on the anvil rang out, “Rizpah Bisbe! Rizpah Bisbe!” A century ago and later many worked in iron foundries, and found work in East Bridgewater, Easton, Kingston, and other places at greater distances. On the gravestone of Lemuel Bonney, who died in 1803, is inscribed, “One of the greatest iron founders in America.” There was a tannery near where Soper’s Hall now stands, carried on by Gershom Orcutt. John Cook was a hatter near by.
Stores and Taverns. –
The first store of which there is any knowledge was kept by Ebenezer Bonney, at his place near Indian Head River bridge. People came a long distance to buy. An aged lady remembers hearing her grandmother relate her going there with her husband in the fall to buy sufficient for the coming winter. Mr. Bonney also kept tavern. Henry Monroe is named in 1759 as an innholder.
Alexander Soper had a store and kept tavern during the Revolutionary war at the Keene place, at the junction of the Bonney Hill and main roads.
About 1798, Cornelius Cobb came from Plymouth: and commenced trade in a small building, now a dwelling-house, at Cobb’s Corner. At that time Nathaniel Jones had a small store on the opposite corner. A few years afterwards Mr. Cobb built a large store near his house, where he continued trade until his death, in 1833, and was succeeded by his son, Theodore.
In 1823, Samuel Briggs built a store a few rods east of the Baptist Church, in which he traded for two years, then moved it half a mile east on the same road, and continued business until he sold to Martin Bryant in 1830. About the same time Lemuel Hatch had a store in Hobart’s building, near where the town hall now stands, which was afterward burned.
Twenty-five or more years ago the principal occupation was shoemaking by hand. The work was taken from manufactories in neighboring towns, and nearly every house had its shoe-shop; but the business has changed so that work is seldom taken from the place of manufacture, and the shops are closed or appropriated to other uses.
About the time of incorporation the first post-office in town was established and located at the store of Cornelius Cobb, with Capt. Nathaniel Collamore as postmaster, who was succeeded by Mr. Cobb, he having been Mr. Collamore’s deputy. Mails were delivered four times each week, coming by stage to Hanover and East Bridgewater each twice a week. Ephraim Cox was mail-carrier for fourteen years, at a salary of eighty dollars per year. Six years he rode on horseback. This office has been continued ever since, with few changes of postmasters.
On the opening of the Old Colony Railroad, in 1845, another post-office was granted, and located at the South Hanson Station, with Barak Osborne postmaster, and remains at the same place.
It is probable the first mill of any kind in town where water was the motive-power was on Poor Meadow River, and was near North Hanson Station. Though it cannot with certainty be determined, it is to be presumed that Theodosius Moore built the forge early in the last century, as he bought in December, 1704, land of “Jeremiah Momontang and Abigail, his wife, near Poor Meadow Brook, which was Josiah Wampatuck’s, deceased brother to ye said Abigail.” It is certain there was a forge, saw-mill, and grist-mill, and probably a finery, as in a deed dated 1784, conveying a part of the mills and privilege, is included “one-quarter part of the three ponds in Weymouth, with the privilege of getting iron-ore and carrying it for nineteen years, according to a grant before given.” The forge has long since been removed and nothing remains but the saw-mill, which has changed owners at various times. In 1746 this is mentioned as “Capt. More’s mill,” at which time his son, Thomas, was a minor, who afterwards was owner of mills, land, and
house, which he refers to as formerly belonging to his, father, Theodosius Moore.
On Brett’s Brook, a tributary to Poor Meadow River, was a saw-mill very early, probably built by Elijah Cushing soon after he came to Pembroke, about 1728, and the water privilege has remained in the family ever since. In 1834, Nathaniel W. Cushing built a box-mill, also grist-mill, which were destroyed by fire in 1854. He rebuilt in 1864, for the purpose of manufacturing tacks, which is the present business.
There was a mill on Indian Head River, mentioned in 1712 as Cotton’s mill, which in 1722 was spoken of as Isaac Thomas’ saw-mill, and in 1737 as Edward Thomas’ saw-mill, formerly owned by Col. Thomas. Later a grist-mill was built, and for years was under the care of Deacon David Beal. About 1829 Benjamin Hobart, of Abington, bought the mill and put in machinery for cutting tacks. It was burned in 1835 and rebuilt, but for a number of years has been used as a saw-mill.
Further down the river, Elihu Hobart bought of Dr. Samuel Barker in 1827 a right for mill privilege, and erected a factory for manufacturing tacks, and in 1828 employed Hervey Dyer as agent, who remained ten years, when the factory was bought by a company, and later by Luther Howland, who made tacks until it was burned about twenty-five years ago.
On the same stream, where it divides Hanson and Hanover, Barry says “was granted in 1720 to Capt. Josiah and Benjamin Stetson two acres of land between Pine Hill and Rocky Run, for the accommodation of a Forge and finery, subsequently known as Barstow’s forge, and later Sylvester’s.” This is now owned by the firm of E. Phillips & Sons, where is carried on extensive tack manufacture.
At one time there was a mill for turning wooden-ware on Rocky Run, which was owned by one Buck, who proposed making needles but never consummated his plan, and the project was termed “Buck’s last folly.” Another mill was located on Drinkwater River, by whom cannot be learned, but tradition says there was a grist-mill and afterwards a saw-mill. This was bought in 1814 by a company with twenty thousand dollars capital stock, and a cotton-factory erected. It was afterwards converted into a saw-mill and burned in 1847, again rebuilt, and destroyed by fire in 1881.
In 1866 a steam-mill was built by William Keene and Winslow Leavitt, on the Old Colony Railroad, near South Hanson Station, for the purpose of sawing boards and shingles. This was considered an eligible site on account of the proximity of the cedar swamp and tracts of woodland in the vicinity, and railroad facilities so near at hand. It was bought by Barnabas Everson in 1870, who built a new chimney-stack and moved the mill a short distance east from the first location. He sold, in 1880, to John Foster, who made additions of grist- and Excelsior-Mills. In 1883 it passed into the hands of E. Y. Perry & Co., who continued the business till May, 1884, when it was burned.
In the west part of the town is the extensive carriage business of Joseph White, which embraces large buildings for storage, with blacksmith-, wheelwright-, paint-, and various shops pertaining to the business, which cover a large area.
Dr. Gad Hitchcock, the first physician settled in what is now Hanson, was the son and only child of Rev. Gad Hitchcock and Dorothy Angier, born Nov. 2, 1749. He graduated from Harvard College in 1768. He married Sagie, daughter of Col. John Bailey, of Hanover, by whom he had twelve children. He inherited and lived in the house owned by his father, where he died Nov. 29, 1835. Dr. Hitchcock was dignified in character, highly educated, and exerted great influence for the intellectual and moral education of the young. He was one of the first school committee in town, and in an address before the teachers and a large audience, September, 1827, said, “I know of no employment that affords to the contemplative mind more sublime and exquisite enjoyment than to view the young mind unfolding and expanding its latent powers, and ripening for that stage of action which, in the progress of life, it is destined to occupy with advantage and usefulness to society, – to see the growth of those moral principles that are to regulate its conduct, and direct to those pursuits that will be productive of right behavior in life.”
Dr. Calvin Tilden was born in Marshfield, Sept. 29, 1774. He was the son of Deacon Samuel Tilden and Mercy Hatch, and a descendant of Elder Nathaniel Tilden. He graduated from Brown University in 1800, studied medicine with Dr. Gad Hitchcock, and married his daughter, Catharine, in 1804. He then removed to Yarmouth, where he commenced practice as a physician, but after a brief interval, Dr. Hitchcock being in declining years, he returned and took his practice, where he continued until his death, June 28, 1832. He took up his residence in the house of his father-in-law, which is still standing, and is known by his name. Dr. Tilden had eleven children, three of whom died in infancy. He was a valuable citizen, a fact which was recognized by his election at different times to various town offices.
After the death of Dr. Tilden, Dr. Bowdoin came and remained about three years. His name was originally Tower, but he changed it to Bowdoin at
his wife’s request, for the reason that his initial letter was so near the end of the alphabet he could not expect to be favored with success. He afterward resumed the name of Tower to legalize his claim to some property.
Dr. Calvin Pratt, from Bridgewater, succeeded Dr. Bowdoin, but left in a short time. He said he should not have come had he known there was so good a physician as Dr. Bowen Barker.
Dr. Cartier, a Frenchman, from Martinique, somewhat advanced in years, came from Plymouth to Hanover, where he practiced seven years, and then removed to Hanson about 1820. He had but little practice, in manners was somewhat eccentric, fond of music, and played the violin, – carried it with him when visiting his patients, and enlivened more with his music than his medicine. He boarded at Capt. Nathaniel Soper’s, having no family. Barry says he returned to Martinique.
Dr. Samuel Barker was in Hanson, according to parish records, in 1797, when be was “voted the forward pew on the right hand of the broad alley for a hundred and seven dollars” He came from Scituate, was son of Capt. Samuel Barker and Deborah Gorham, and was born in 1762. He was a surgeon in the United States navy during the Revolutionary war. After settling in Hanson he for the most part relinquished his medical profession and became an instructor in navigation and surveying. In his teaching he was thorough, genial in company, and fond of society. He was active in the formation of the Universalist society. In the parish records is the following, dated May, 1822: “Voted to refund to Dr. Samuel Barker 75 cents, which he paid the sexton for tolling the bell at the funeral of his sister, they being members of the Universal society.” Dr. Barker married Hannah Jones, who survived him, living to the advanced age of ninety-eight years and five months.
Dr. Bowen Barker, son of Isaac Bowen, and Elizabeth (Torrey) Barker, was born March 11, 1800. He graduated at the Harvard Medical School in 1824, for which he was prepared in Hanover, and also studied with Dr. Calvin Tilden. He commenced practice in Newton, 1825, but soon after was prostrated with hemorrhage of the lungs, and was obliged to return home. He somewhat recovered, but suffered another attack, from which he continued in feeble health, so as to forbid his return to Newton. In 1829 he began practice in his own town. He was much discouraged in losing his first two cases, but in the third, equally difficult, was successful. This gave him courage, and he continued his profession, and for forty years was the physician of the town and vicinity, having a large practice. His abilities as physician were highly respected, and his professional and personal character were held in confidence. His manner was reserved and somewhat peculiar, yet his words of moderation commanded attention whenever spoken. He always exhibited a devotion to duty and a spirit of self-sacrifice, going to the call of those whom he knew would never make any return as readily as when he expected his fee at the time of his service.
A picture of him is portrayed in the old doctor of Whittier’s “Snow-Bound.” He was much engaged in the temperance cause during the “Washingtonian movement,” and his diary gives his earnest thought and interest during its time of activity and influence. Dr. Barker never married, but lived and died on the paternal estate, though in 1846 he substituted a new house for the old, where he died, Nov. 22, 1874.
Dr. Flavel S. Thomas, son of Isaac and Abby (Shurtleff) Thomas, was born in Hanson, Sept. 7, 1852. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1874, and afterwards from the Montreal Veterinary College. He began practice in Hanson in 1879. The same year he married Caroline M. T., daughter of Joseph Smith, and resides on the Smith estate, the home of the ancestors of his wife.
The first record relating to any burial ground was made March 3, 1804, when it was “Voted that the standing committee agree with Nathaniel Thomas for a piece of land for a Burying-place, and take a security for the same.” This is the old part of Fern Hill Cemetery, located in the centre of the town. It is certain it was used for burials more than fifty years earlier, as one tombstone gives the name of Abraham Howland, consort of Mrs. Anne, who died in 1747, aged seventy-two years. Another, Mrs. Lydia, wife of Eleazer Hamlin, who died 1769, aged thirty-seven years. It is evident that the first burials were on the northeastern part, and gradually embraced the land south, which is the most elevated. The record of the first survey, July 7, 1821, gives the courses and quantity of land, two acres and thirteen rods. Several purchases of land at different times have been added and surveyed into lots, which has extended the original cemetery to the road. March 11,1811 a committee was chosen to procure a hearse and erect a building for the same, for which the sum of eighty dollars was appropriated. April 8, 1822, the following is recorded: “Voted that the Hearsehouse, Hearse and harness and Pall, now the property of the Parish, may become the property of the town of Hanson, the town has a mind to accept of them and keep the property in repair.” In the south part of
the town is the Monroe burying-ground, said to have originated in the burial of the wife of Henry Monroe, Sr., who, with several children, died of smallpox in 1759, and was buried on the land of her husband, who afterwards appropriated a half-acre for the use of the inhabitants of the vicinity. It was used by the Bisbees, of whom there were many in that part of the town, though there is nothing to mark the graves. Several family lots and tombs are to be found in different parts of the town, but in most cases have come into disuse.
Ancient Houses. –
The following houses now standing are known to have been built before 1800: Elijah Cushing’s house (built 1730), Dr. Tilden’s house (built about same time), Benjamin Tubb’s house, Deacon David Beal’s house, Nathaniel Pratt’s house, Ephraim Cox’s house, Henry Perry’s house, Frank Bourne’s house, Elijah Ramsdell’s house, Noah Bonney’s house, Lucius Fuller’s house, David Whitford’s house, Ebenezer Bourne’s house, George Macomber’s house, Ezekiel Bonney’s house (1785), Francis Josselyn’s house, Elijah Damon’s house (1794), John I. Brooks’ house, Nahum Stetson’s house, Thomas Gurney’s house, Charles Monroe’s house, Eleazer Josselyn’s house, Jesse Beal’s house, Isaac Hobart’s house (1788), Isaac Lowden’s house, Joseph Tillson’s house, Nath. W. Cushing’s house (1785), Freeman P. Howland’s house (1784), Luther Keene’s house (1790), Hanson almshouse (built by Josiah Cushing), Thomas Cushing’s house (built 1795). In front of Mr. Stetson’s house are buttonwood-trees that were planted the day of the battle of Bunker Hill, the cannonading being distinctly heard at the time the work was being done. Considering the difficulty in ascertaining the exact date of the building of most houses, it would be well for everyone who builds to inscribe the time on some foundation timber.
Aged Persons. –
Hanson has never been honored with centenarians, but it has produced many aged persons considering the population. The persons now living more than eighty years of age are Mehitable Howland, 91 years; Martha Hitchcock, 90; Betsey Bearce, 89; Ruth Barker, 87; Luther Holmes, 87; Betsey Turner, 86; Samuel Briggs, 84; Joel White, 85; Josiah Mann, -; Celia Bonney, 82; Lucy Luther, 80; Theodore Cobb, 80.
Town Officers. –
The names of those who have served as clerks of the town are:
Joseph Torrey, one year.
Oliver Whitten, thirteen years, whose records are distinguished
for their excellent penmanship and methodical neatness.
Mr. Whitten died while in office.
Jeremiah Soper, twelve years.
Christopher C. Tilden, who died in the fourth year of his office.
Isaiah Bearce, fourteen years, and the unexpired term of Mr. Tilden.
Josephus Bryant, fourteen years.
E. B. K. Gurney, one year.
John Barker, serving his sixth year.
Cushing Otis. Elijah Damon.
Thomas Hobart. Richard Howland.
Joshua Smith. Isaac Foster.
Samuel House. Rev. S. L. Rockwood.
Junius Tilden. Winslow Conant.
Melzar Sprague. George F. Stetson.
Philemon Perkins. Edward Y. Perry.
Jeremiah Soper. Levi Z. Thomas.
Dr. Calvin Tilden was chosen delegate for revising the State Constitution, September, 1820.
Nathaniel Cushing. Welcome White.
Charles Josselyn. Heman Soper.
Thomas Hobart. Ezra Phillips, Jr.
Ezra Phillips. Ebenezer B. K. Gurney.
Nathaniel Collamore. Heman Thomas.
Samuel House, Jr. Theodore Cobb.
Job Luther. Elbridge G. Bates.
Dr. Calvin Tilden. Robert Perry.
Josiah Barker. Isaac F. Thayer.
Joshua Smith. Joseph Smith.
Sylvanus Everson. Calvin L. Howland
Elijah Damon. Joseph B. Howland.
Melzar Sprague. Joseph Holmes.
Elijah Cushing. Cyrus Drew.
Charles Hitchcock. Andrew J. Taft.
Barak Osborn. Elijah Damon, Jr.
William Bourne. Otis L. Bonney.
Junius Tilden. Josiah Bonney.
Luther Holmes. Frank Bourne.
Isaac Cook. Josephus Bryant.
Isaac Hobart. Barnabas Everson.
Benjamin Bowker. Bernard C. Beal.
Isaiah Bearce. George Bonney.
Among the organizations in town is Drinkwater Division, Sons of Temperance, chartered in October, 1872, which maintains a good degree of interest, and not only serves the cause for which it was instituted, but stimulates its members to work in other directions for moral and intellectual advancement.
During the past year the ladies agitated the subject of a public library, resulting in procuring an act of incorporation in June, 1884, under the name of Hanson Library Association, with ladies as officers, whose names are Julia M. Poole, president; Evie W. Drew, vice-president; Abby J. Clark, treasurer; Mary J. Drew, librarian; Francella J. Barker, assistant librarian. Through the benevolence of Mrs. N. W. Cushing and Mr. Elijah Thomas, the association is to be furnished with a library building. Its number of volumes, beginning with twelve, is rapidly increasing.
Farmers’ Club. –
In 1876, February 7th, a few persons met at the house of Isaac Thomas and proceeded to organize a society for the promotion of farming, with the choice of A. J. Taft, president; John I. Brooks, vice-president; and Flavel S. Thomas, secretary. This has steadily increased in numbers and interest, and its membership is now three hundred and twenty-one.
The society holds a yearly fair in the season of fairs, at which the exhibition rivals in many respects that of older and larger societies. The officers of the current year are John Barker, president; William G. Elms, vice-president; Otis L. Bonney, secretary; Mrs. I. McLellan, treasurer.
The spirit awakened by the wars with Great Britain survived long after peace was declared, and military companies were organized and uniformed, whose parades attracted much attention, and the day was passed as a holiday. These soon superseded the parades of the enrolled militia, whose promiscuous dress of black hats and white hats, green jackets and gray, had not the charm of the blue uniform of the volunteer companies, and these received much encouragement. About the time of the incorporation of the town the Hanson Light Infantry was formed, chiefly through the influence of Nathaniel Collamore, who was commissioned captain, with Ebenezer B. Keen, lieutenant, and Nathaniel Wales ensign.
The following were musicians: Thomas Gurney, fifer; Ezekiel Turner, clarionet; Seth Turner, clarionet; Warren Bourne, bass drum; Isaiah Keene, tenor drum; E. B. K. Gurney, Kent bugle.
In the fall of 1836 a second light infantry company was formed in the south part of the town, its members in part belonging to other towns. This had its armory at Martin Bryant’s hall, in Pembroke. This was called the Washington Guards, whose commanding officers were Daniel Collins, William D. Bearce, E.B.K. Gurney, and W.H.H. Bryant. The first parade wail made in May, 1837. The muster-roll of the Guards numbered eighty-two names, of whom fifty are now living. In 1847 it was decided to petition for disbandment, which was granted. Since then there has been no active military organization.
Theodore L. Bonney Post of the Grand Army of the Republic was instituted in January, 1870, and was named in memory of a young soldier who died in hospital in Virginia. It has had the following commanders: Bradley S. Bryant, Otis L. Bonney, Thomas Drew, Charles Atwood, Josiah G. Cook, John Barker, Nathaniel T. Howland.
Military Record. –
Hanson has no military record preceding the Rebellion, only in that of Pembroke,
but the West Precinct shared in the sentiments and participated in the resolves that were passed at different times, and its citizens responded to the call for troops in proportion to their numbers.
Those known to have been in the French and Indian war are:
– Consider Cole. – Samuel Ramsdell, Jr.
– Nathaniel Cox. – Increase Robinson.
– Nathaniel Cushing, Jr. – Zephaniah Hatch.
– Thomas Stetson. – Gideon Bisbe.
– John Record. – John Leavitt.
– Abner Bisbe. – William Pierce.
– Elijah Cushing. – Samuel Bennet.
– Jacob Bonney. – Joseph Stetson.
– Daniel Crocker, Jr. – John Pumpelly.
Revolutionary War. –
Muster-roll of a company that marched from Pembroke, West Parish (now Hanson), to Marshfield, on the alarm of April 19, 1775. Term of service, two days:
– Edward Thomas, 1st lieut. – Henry Monroe, Jr.
– Lemuel Bonney, 2d lieut. – Thomas Osborn.
– Joshua Barker, sergt. – John Bonney.
– Simeon Jones, sergt. – George Osborn, Jr.
– Noah Bonney, sergt. – Levi Wade.
– Snow Baker, sergt. – Abraham Josselyn.
– Jabez Hatch, fifer. – Nehemiah Ramsdell.
– Isaac Hobart, drummer. – Joshua Pratt.
– Henry Perry. – Gain Robinson.
– William Phillips, Jr. – Gain Robinson, Jr.
– Richard Phillips. – Isaiah Bearce.
– Gideon Ramsdell, Jr. – Isaac Thomas.
– Jacob Leavitt. – Jacob Bearce.
– Abel Bourn. – Ichabod Howland.
– Matthew Tilleye. – Matthew Whitten, Jr.
– Samuel Hill. – John Whitten.
– Alexander Soper, Jr. – Joseph Howland.
– Benjamin Ramson, Jr. – James Torrey.
– Seth Bearce. – Thomas Records.
– Francis Josselyn. – Ebenezer Bonney.
– Elisha Records. – Samuel Ramsdell Jr.
– Samuel Bonney. – Josiah Cushing, Jr.
– Edward Hayford. – Lot Dwelley.
– Joseph Hollis. – Richard Buker.
– Adam Perry. – Richard Lowden.
– Gamaliel Bisbee. – Reuben Harden.
– Noah Perry. – George Osborn Sr.
– Howland Beals. – James Tillson.
– Joseph Bonney. – John Jeffrey.
– Nathaniel Cushing. – Theophilus Cushing.
Muster-roll of a company of minute-men that marched from Pembroke, West Parish (now Hanson), to Scituate and Marshfield, on the alarm of April 19, 1775. Term of service, eleven days. Pay of captain, £6 per month; 1st lieutenant, £4, per month; 2d lieutenant, £3 10s. per month; men, £2 4s.:
– Consider Cole, 1st lieut. – Africa Hamblin.
– Eleazer Hamblin, 2d lieut. – William Cox, Jr.
– Thomas Fuller, sergt. – Daniel Child.
– Nathaniel Thomas, sergt. – Benjamin Munroe.
– Seth Phillips, sergt. – Abraham Josselyn, Jr.
– Daniel Crooker, corp. – Seth Cox.
– Samuel Howland, corp. – William Hayford.
– Ephraim Briggs, corp. – Jonathan Bonney.
– Linus Tower, corp. – Charles Jewetts.
– Ezekiel Bonney, fifer. – Daniel Garrick, Jr.
– Isaac Wade, drummer. – Richard Buker, Jr.
– Increase Robinson. – Samuel Harden.
– Isaac Beals. – Abijah Leavitt.
– Isaac Moore. – Samuel Gorham.
– Christopher Phillips. – Seth Perry.
– Isaac Bonney. – Isaac Phillips.
– Elijah Cushing (3d). – Reuben Clark.
– Eleazer Bisbee. – Daniel Beals.
– Leonard Hill. – Lott Phillips.
– Thomas Lincoln. – William Gould.
– Ephraim Lindsay. – Alexander Soper.
– William Bonney. – Hezekiah Pearce.
– Benjamin Guilliam. – Gershom Ramsdell.
– Levi Crook.
Men belonging in Capt. Thomas Turner’s company, Col. Thomas’ regiment, marched April 20, 1775. Term of service, three days:
– Perry Harden. – Daniel Bonney.
– Zephaniah Hatch. – Joseph Josselyn.
Men in Capt. Freedom Chamberlin’s company, enlisted May 3, 1775. Term of service, three months; six days; travel, thirty miles:
– Isaac Bowen Barker. – Charles Bisbee.
– Thomas Cushing. – William Cushing.
Muster-roll of men in the company of Capt. Eleazer Hamblin, in Col. John Thomas’ regiment; company composed of men from Pembroke, Abington, Stoughton, Bridgewater, Kingston, Marshfield, Hanover, and Boston. Enlisted May 1, 1775, for three months:
– Increase Robinson, ens. – Thomas Osborn.
– Isaac Moore, sergt. – Eleazer Bisbe.
– Seth Phillips, sergt. – Leonard Hill.
– Linus Tower, sergt. – Simeon Records.
– William Bonney, corp. – William Phillips.
– Africa Hamblin. – Europe Hamblin.
– Abijah Levitt. – Levi Wade.
– Richard Buker. – William Hayford.
– Benjamin Munroe. – Isaac Phillips.
Roll of travel of a military company under the command of Capt. Thomas Turner, in camp, Jan. 10,1776; names of Hanson men:
– Alexander Soper. – Daniel Crooker.
– Nathaniel Chamberlin. – Nathaniel Soper.
– Thomas Lincoln. – Abraham Josselyn.
– Isaac Wade. – Reuben Hodges.
– Josiah Thomas. – Perry Harden.
– Gershom Ramsdell. – John Ramsdell.
– William Delano. – Isaac Hobart.
James Hatch’s company from Pembroke, West Parish (now Hanson), to Braintree and Weymouth, on the alarm of March, 1776:
– David Tilden, 1st lieut. – Abijah Levitt.
– Josiah Cushing, sergt. – Isaac Bonney.
– Alexander Soper, sergt. – Levi Wade.
– Joshua Barker, sergt. – Reuben Harden.
– Isaac Moore, corp. – Increase Robinson.
– A. Josselyn, Jr., corp. – Samuel Ramsdell, Jr.
– Isaac Wade, drummer. – William Gould.
– Ezekiel Bonney, fifer. – George Osborn.
– Ephraim Lindsay. – Nelson Buker.
– Marlborough Whitten. – Eleazer Bisbe.
– Abel Bourn. – William Delano.
– Alexander Soper, Jr. – Daniel Garnet.
– Nathaniel Thomas. – Lot Dwelley.
– Noah Bonney. – Isaac Hill.
– Simeon Jones. – Isaac Hobart.
– Benjamin Ramsdell. – Christopher Phillips.
Men in Capt. Freedom Chamberlain’s company who marched on the alarm of March 5, 1776, to take possession of Dorchester Heights. Term of service, five days:
– Isaiah Stetson. – Perry Harden.
– Micah Foster.
Men in Capt. James Hatch’s company that marched from Pembroke, West Parish (now Hanson), to Rhode Island, Dec. 9, 1776. Term of service, sixteen days:
– Ephraim Lindsay, sergt. – George Osborn.
– Samuel Howland, corp. – Hugh Osborn.
– Isaac Wade, drummer. – Samuel Harden.
– Matthew Whitten. – Reuben Harden.
– Ebenezer Bonney. – John Bonney.
– Abel Bourn. – Jacob Levitt.
– Eleazer Bisbe. – Lot Dwelley.
Men in Capt. Ichabod Bonney’s company that marched to Rhode Island on the alarm of Dec. 9, 1776. Term of service, seventeen days:
– Perry Harden. – Isaac Thomas.
– Daniel Bonney. – John Ramsdell.
Men in Capt. John Turner’s company that marched to Rhode Island under resolve of General Court of Sept. 25, 1777. Marched September 28th. Term of service, one month and one day:
– Gershom Ramsdell. – Samuel Hill.
– Samuel Howland. – Simeon Jones.
– Isaiah Keen, fifer. – Noah Perry.
– Zephaniah Hatch. – Gideon Ramsdell.
– Charles Bisbe. – Isaiah Bearce.
– Isaac Bisbe. – Abel Bourn.
– Samuel Harden. – John Allen.
– Melzar Lindsay.
Men in Capt. Ichabod Bonney’s company that did duty on Castle (Noddle’s) Island (in Hull) in Col. Sparhawk’s regiment,-two months’ service,-discharged Dec. 11, 1778:
– George Osborn. – Henry Munroe.
– Peleg Osborn. – Zephaniah Hatch.
– James Cole. – Nathaniel Torrey.
– Matthew Whitten. – Levi Wade.
Six months’ men, under a resolve of June 5, 1780;
served five months and twenty-eight days:
– Bennett Pumpelly. – Allen Dwelley.
– Peleg Dammon. – Isaac Thomas.
– Michael Osborn. – Daniel Russell.
– Benjamin Cox. – Joseph Robinson.
Names from the pay-roll for rations to and from camp; also for traveling home, at the rate of one day’s pay for twenty miles travel:
– Gamaliel Bisbe. – George Osborn.
– John Allen. – Hugh Osborn.
– Reuben Harden. – Seth Cox.
– David Beals.
Three years’ men in the Continental army:
– Fisher Hatch. – Jabez Hatch.
– Africa Hamblin. – Bennett Pumpilly.
– Michael Peirce. – Jerrus Phillips.
– Isaac Phillips. – David Robinson.
– Linus Tower. – Isaac Thomas.
The following took part in the war of 1812:
– Benjamin Thomas. – Nathaniel Cole.
– Seth Foster. – John Cook.
– Benjamin Bowker.
During the war of the Rebellion Hanson proved itself loyal to the cause of the Union, and promptly responded to every demand made by the government, including the first, that of April 15, 1861. As quite a number were members of the Halifax company, they received their summons during the night of April 15th, and left for Boston on the morning of the next day, from whence they departed the following morning on steamer for Fortress Monroe. The town had its representatives in every department of the army, its soldiers sharing the privations of war in field, hospital, and, worse than all, the rebel prisons.
Names of those who served the call for three months from April 16, 1861:
– Jason Smith. – Jacob P. Hill.
– George H. Bourne. – Francis C. Hill.
– E. Henry Gurney. – Willard Howard.
– William W. Hood. – Charles W. Corson.
– Frederic Otis Everson. – Alonzo Capen.
– John H. Perry. – William B. Harlow.
– Edwin S. Thayer. – Erastus W. Everson.
– Morton V. Bonney.
NINE MONTHS’ VOLUNTEERS.
– Seth M. Briggs. – Edwin B. Cook.
– Charles H. Stetson. – Albert M. Thayer.
– Isaiah Stetson. – Elbridge G. Fuller.
– Benjamin H. Bearce. – Josiah Bourne.
– Thomas Gurney (2d). – Jacob P. Hill.
– William W. Hood. – Bernard C. Beal.
– Augustus M. Sampson. – Algernon A. Peterson.
– Thomas W. Bourne. – Lawrence McGoff.
– Thatcher Keene. – Horatio N. Hood.
– John Drayton. – Charles W. Whiting.
– Morton V. Bonney. – John Brown.
– Henry Cook. – Edward Orcutt.
– Andrew C. Brigham.
THREE YEARS’ VOLUNTEERS.
– Charles W. Denham. – George S. Golbert.
– Alonzo Capen. – Horatio Foster.
– Ichabod Bosworth. – Henry L. Ewell.
– Freeman P. Howland – Francis C. Hill.
– James H. Howland. – Freeman J. Gurney.
– Augustus F. Elms. – Nathaniel T. Hatch.
– Henry W. Whitten. – Benjamin H. Bearce.
– Thomas G. Clark, Jr. – Isaac Bourne.
– Joseph E. Prouty. – Edwin W. Pratt.
– Stephen Bates. – Cyrus Drew.
– Joseph L. Leavitt. – David Kingman.
– John C. Ames. – Austin Luther.
– Andrew W. Fish. – John Drayton.
– Joseph H. Everson. – Philemon W. Ramsdell.
– Josiah Bourne. – Josiah G. Cook.
– John Barker. – Joseph B. Loring.
– Orange S. Pratt. – L. Irvin Lane.
– Daniel B. Daland. – Reuben Willis.
– George T. Sampson. – Charles F. Steyens.
– Henry A. Soper. – Michael Donnelly.
– Andrew J. Shaw. – George W. Hayward.
– Edward P. Mansfield. – Erastus W. Everson.
– Herbert H. Luther. – John H. Perry.
– Edward Y. Luther. – Thomas Gurney (2d).
– Jeremiah Stetson. – Daniel Bourne.
– Edwin L. Stetson. – Calvin T. Phillips.
– James Coolican. – Thomas Drew.
– Joseph Smith. – Thomas Drake.
– Theodore L. Bonney. – Edward Orcutt.
– Otis L. Bonney. – Morion E. Hill.
– Isaac Ramsdell. – Joseph T. Bourne.
– John Lyons. – Charles H. Reinhardt.
– Julius W. Monroe. – John F. Curtis.
– Joseph L. Fish. – John Jewett.
– Marcus F. Ames. – Charles J. Noble.
– E. Henry Gurney. – Louis C. Arnold.
– Nathaniel T. Howland. – Daniel S. Smith.
– Thomas F. Whiting. – John Willis.
– Samuel D. Ramsdell. – Michael Tooney.
– Algernon J. White. – George B. Everett.
– Joshua L. Perkins. – Jason Smith.
– Seth F. Turner. – Lorenzo T. Bates.
– Edward Smith.
ONE YEAR’S VOLUNTEERS.
– John D. Stebbins. – Elbridge G. Bates.
– Robert B. Oakes. – Edward Holmes.
– John Brown. – John O. Whitten.
– Florin P. Estes. – George T. Delano.
– Edwin Clark. – Lyman B. Ramsdell.
– Joseph E. Prouty. – Gershom B. Thomas.
– Elijah T. Ford. – James B. Soper.
– Edward C. Tew. – George W. Turner.
– Charles C. Moore. – John Bradley.
– William A. Lavender. – Benjamin F. Morrill.
– John H. Page. – Joseph Wilson.
– John F. Clancy. – Napoleon Telliee.
– Nathaniel D.W. Sprague. – Simon Lewis.
– James P. Jordan. – George T. Sampson.
ONE HUNDRED DAYS’ VOLUNTEERS.
– Edwin B. Cook. – Henry J. Perry.
– Joseph F. Bearce. – Gershom B. Thomas.
– Charles H. Stetson. – Charles H. Sprague.
IN THE NAVY.
– Albert S. Barker. – Charles F. Bowman.
– Gustavus Percival.
DIED IN THE SERVICE.
– Edward Smith. – Edward P. Mansfield.
– George S. Golbert. – Horatio Foster.
– John H. Perry. – Daniel Bourne.
– Thomas Drake. – Austin Luther.
– Henry L. Ewell. – Morton E. Hill.
– Joseph T. Bourne. – Theodore L. Bonney.
– James Coolican. – Augustus F. Elms.
– Stephen Bates. – John Lyons.
– Julius W. Monroe. – Joseph L. Fish.
– Andrew W. Fish. – George Thompson.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. –
E.B.K. Gurney, son of Thomas and Deborah (Keene) Gurney, was born in Abington, Mass., Sept. 24, 1808. His father was born in Abington, Dec. 18, 1789, and his mother was born in Pembroke, Jan. 11, 1788. His paternal grandparents were Thomas and Mary (House) Gurney, and his materna1 grandparents were Isaiah Keene – a soldier of the Revolution – and Lydia (Bourne) Keene.
Mr. Gurney came to Pembroke (now Hanson) when but six years of age, and has resided there to the present time. He was educated at the common schools of his town, and early developed a taste and talent for music. When but a child he became quite a proficient performer on the fife, and on his twelfth birthday he, in company with another lad just his age, played the fife for Capt. Job Luther, at a military review. At fifteen he became a member of a brigade band warranted by Brig. Gen. Ephraim Ward, of Middleboro. He also held a musician’s warrant from Col. Jesse Reed, of Marshfield. He was leader of the Old Colony Brass Band until 1862. He also commanded a company of light infantry called “Washington Guards” for five years. Capt. Gurney has held every town office, most of them repeatedly. He was on the board of selectmen and overseers of the poor for thirteen years (1858 to 1879), and served on committees almost every year. He has been repeatedly chosen delegate to county and State conventions.
During the war of the Rebellion he gave nearly all of his time to the raising of money to pay recruits, up to the time when the law was passed authorizing the town to vote money for that purpose. He was recruiting and enrolling officer under Provost-Marshal Capt. Hall, of Taunton. His two sons enlisted in the army and served nearly through the war. Mr. Gurney was for many years a shoemaker by occupation, but for the last twenty-five years he has been engaged in. surveying, probate business, and writing of various kinds. He has been twice married,-first to Almira Josselyn, Sept. 28, 1830 ; she was born July 11, 1809, and died May 13, 1869. Their children were Almira J., born June 4, 1831, married William H. H. Bryant, Jan. 1, 1850; Mary M., born June 19, 1832, married Jacob M. Bryant, June 19, 1850; Thomas, born Sept. 17, 1834, married Rebecca Damon, Sept. 19, 1856; E. Henry, born Nov. 25,1836, died Nov. 21, 1838; Deborah, born May 4, 1839, married William W. Hood, of Turner, Me., Dec. 14, 1856; E. Henry, born Jan. 23,1841, married Sylvania W. Everson, Jan. 27, 1861; she died Dec. 7, 1866; George, born March 24, 1843, died Sept. 10, 1843; George, born Nov. 11, 1845, died Sept. 14, 1846; Georgiana L. F., born Jan. 17, 1847, married Capt. Edward Y. Luther, Aug. 20, 1866; he died Aug. 28, 1875; Ella J., born Nov. 21, 1849; Helen E., born Nov. 23, 1852, died Aug. 7, 1853. Capt. Gurney married, as his second wife, Desire S. Osborne, nee Hobart, Nov. 20, 1872; she was born Aug. 16, 1808.
In politics Mr. Gurney was a Union man during the war, and has been a Republican since. In religion he is broad and liberal in his views, and is what is termed a “Free-thinker.” His “creed,” as he graphically states it, is “to live as long; as he can, take all the comfort he can, do all the good he can, and not trespass on the rights of others.”
Capt. Gurney has been an active and useful man in the community where his life has been spent, and in the autumn of his days he has the satisfaction of knowing that he has deserved, and enjoys, the highest respect and good-will of all who know him.