Hanson Houses and Other Sites

Hanson Houses and Other Sites
(Hanson, Mass.: s.n., 19–?)
Original Format: 12 p. ; 28 cm. , handwritten.
Digital copy available at the Hanson Public Library.

This is a handwritten document of notes regarding features of Hanson with no attributed author, located at the Hanson Public Library. It consists of short entries regarding historical houses, geographical locations, and other items of interest about the town. The entries are scattered, so I have transcribed and re-arranged them here by overall subject for easier reading. – MBE


First Congregational Church (High Street) – founded 1748.
Rev. Robert H. Heigham
Written church records dating back to 1748. Photostat of Gad Hitchcock’s Election Day sermon given on May 26, 1774.
Gad Hitchcock was the first minister of the Church and held this position for 54 years.
The present building was built in 1836 and has been modified since then. Old beams and carpentry work visible in cellar.

Gad Hitchcock’s Sermon
On May 26, 1774, Gad Hitchcock, the first minister of the First Congregational Church in Hanson, preached the Election-Day sermon in a Boston church. General Thomas Gage and other British were present; the content of the sermon was such that the British were offended and left the church.
A photostat of this sermon is owned by the First Congregational Church.

First Baptist Church (Main St.)
Founded 1820


Fern Hill Cemetery (High Street)
Historical – Hitchcock family plot. Hearse house and receiving tomb. Earliest stone 1745.

Hobart Cemetery (Main Street)
1790s and 1800s restoration markers.

Howland Cemetery (Camp Kiwanee Road)
Hanson family and Civil War Veterans. Restoration markers.

Stetson Cemetery (Hanson Airport)
Hanson family – 1700s and 1800s

Thomas Tombs (Main St.)


Iron Industry
The local iron industry began in the early 1700’s. The “bog iron ore” used was found in many ponds and streams;
Hanson’s main sources were Maquan, Indian Head, and Monponsett Ponds. Monponsett yielded about 100 tons per year.
Shallow water held pea-sized modules, 20-30% iron.
In water from 2-6 feet deep, the pieces were as large as figs.
From the depths came large cakes of brittle, black ore. These ones sold for about $6 per ton at any of the 3 or 4 local forges in 1804.
From the smelted iron were made many products, such as nails and tacks, chains and anchors for shipbuilders, cannon balls for the Revolutionary War, tools, etc.

At first, there were only individual family shoe shops.
Boys would help their fathers until they learned to make a whole shoe.
Women did the stitching until the sewing machine was invented. Boots, brogans, and oxford types were all made.
The two major shoe manufacturers in town were Isaac Foster and Benjamin Thomas, whose shops were located on Maquan and High Streets, respectively. However, larger companies appeared in the late 1800s, and the little independent shoe shop disappeared.

Charcoal Making
Charcoal was in great demand locally, especially for the iron industry.
Hardwoods – maple, ash and birch – were used for smelting iron, while softer woods became charcoal for home use.
The burning was often done in pits, about 20 feet across, and 2 feet deep.
Short pieces of wood were stacked in layers and covered with earth;
a “chimney” in the center was left to start the fire in the center, closed when the burning was started.
Draft vents and holes for escaping gases were also made. Several days were required to complete the burning.

Lumbering, especially in the Great Cedar Swamp, was the first industry in Hanson.
The cedar was cut in the winter on the ice. Most other wood cut was oak and pine.
Some of the lumber used in building the U.S.S. Constitution, including the masts, was from Hanson.
Local shipbuilders were also supplied.

Hanson possesses many varying bodies of water – ponds, streams, potholes, and swamps. Also, there used to be more millponds. Many native and migratory waterfowl were hunted, including herons and egrets.
Camoflaged board fences 5 to 6 feet high and up to 100 feet long were built, and the shorelines built up with stones and sand.
Live ducks and geese, and wooden decoys (“blocks”) were used.
Eventually, legislation put an end to commercial waterfowling, which then became strictly sport.

Mill Sites
Oldest one on Wampatuck Pond, formed by dam built in 1694-5, by Nathaniel Thomas; also, nearby is the site of the first house in Hanson, built on the slope above the brook. Mill used as gristmill, then tack works. (Liberty St.)
1725 – mill built by Rocky Run, by Joseph Barstow, Benjamin Stetson, Thomas Bardin, and Nehemiah Cushing. Mill used for ironworks, nail and tack works.
1812 – mill built by Col. Jesse Reed at junction of Indian Head River and Rocky Run; used for a short time as a grist mill, then abandoned; Reed moved a few rods upstream on the river, made tacks and nails.
1814 – mill on Indian Head Brook, owned by Colonel Luther Howland; tack works; old gambrel roof house for workers. Still occupied. (Brook St.)
Moore’s Sawmill – on Poor Meadow Brook (West Washington St.)

Other smaller mills were located at various places along the streams; some sites uncertain.

Geographical Features

Bonney Hill –
Central part of town. 165 feet above sea level; highest point in Hanson.

Barker Hill (Perry Hill) –
North central part of town.

Beals Hill –
Southwest part of town, near Great Cedar Swamp.

Canals, reservoirs, and bogs –
These are found mostly in the central, eastern, and southern parts of town. Most are comparatively recent, built for the cranberry industry and using water from Indian Head Brook and the Great Cedar Swamp.

Great Cedar Swamp –
Covers a large area in southern part of town; lumber source; important wildlife area; great natural water-holding area for Monponsett Pond; site of “Tunk”, Indian crossway.

Indian Head Brook –
Source: Maquan Pond, flows south to Indian Head Pond, northwest to Wampatuck Pond, north to Indian Head River (which eventually becomes the North River); about 4.5 miles total in Hanson.

Indian Head Pond –
East central part of town; fed by Indian Head Brook; early iron ore source; 137.5 acres

Maquan Pond –
East central part of town; spring-fed, source of Indian Head Brook; early iron ore source; 43 acres.

Major’s Purchase (or, Purchade Purchase) –
Land, including most of Hanson and parts of other towns, was bought by Major Josiah Winslow in 1662, from the Indian sachem Josias Wampatuck. It was then considered part of Duxbury.
There is a stone marker, the “Major’s Purchase Stone”, west of Liberty Street, north of County Road.
It marks the northernmost boundary of the purchase.

Monponsett Pond –
Hanson also contains … 22 acres of Monponsett Pond on the southern boundary.

Oldham Pond –
Hanson also contains 39 acres of Oldham Pond on the eastern boundary

Poor Meadow River –
Flows about 3 miles in western part of town; early power source.

Wampatuck Pond –
Central part of town; site of the first dam in Plymouth County, 1694; fed by Indian Head Brook, 72 acres.

Historical Houses [arranged in approximate chronological order]

Nahum Stetson House (King St.)
Built in 1700. [perhaps late 1600s]
Once owned by Jeremiah Stetson, grandfather of George F. Stetson
Not definitely known who built it and when.
Tall sycamore or buttonwood trees – originally 3 – set out by Jeremiah Stetson on the day of the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775.

Gad Hitchcock’s House (High St.)
Built about 1722.
12 rooms – little changed except porch. 6 fireplaces; “skeleton closet”.
This house was the first parsonage of the Congregational Church in Hanson.

Bryant House (High St.)
Built 1747 by John Thomas.
Gambrel roof, old barn torn down. Old furniture and fireplace (some original bricks). Garage – carriage shed – gone.
Miscellaneous antiques: footwarmers, candlemakers, candlesticks. The Bryants live in the house now.
Mrs. Bryant has a very interesting scrapbook about the Thomas family and the history of the house. Also account of earthquake in 1755.

Gould House (High St.)
Built in 1748 by John Gould
Wide pine floorboards
Beautiful paneling
Five fireplaces, dutch oven
Ships staircase, view of Blue Hills

Hamlin House (Holmes St.)
Built in 1752, by Eleazer Hamlin, great-grandfather of Hannibal Hamlin, vice-president under Lincoln.

The Hermitage (Main St.)
Built by Lot Phillips (Revolutionary War soldier)
Known as Luther Keene House

Smith House (Maquan St.)
Original doors, latches, floorboards,1 original window, 7 fireplaces, 6 with original bricks, old sofas, chairs, old silver; pewter lamps, cups, plates.
Desk of Edward Everett, minister to France under Abraham Lincoln.
House purchased with prize money from Revolutionary War; account in Pembroke’s 250th Anniversary History.

Gad Soper Place (Spring St.)
Large, former tavern on Plymouth-to-Boston route
Large, high rooms
Iron-framed fireplaces

Cobb House (West Washington St.)
Built about 1803 by Cornelius Cobb, one of the first storekeepers in this section.
In very good condition.

Ebenezer B. Keene House (High St.)
Built 1821 – many materials from older houses. An older house stoof on site – Alexander Soper “Soper Place”.
In 1874 – black congress boot found in secret closet, clinched the murder case against William Sturtevant in the “Halifax Murder Case”. Story can be found in detective magazine – Clemons. [Read the fascinating tale of the Sturtevant Murder].
Original fireplaces around central chimney, 3 downstairs, 1 upstairs. Original beams, doors, latches, floorboards, windows in front also original.
Living Room: former kitchen, largest fireplace; large dutch oven. Addition on back: fireplace recently built, of old bricks from 1812 Bridgewater home. Original wainscoting.