The history of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts
The compilation of the materials for the following pages was commenced at the suggestion of an antiquarian friend, with the design of furnishing a brief sketch of the history of the old town of Rehoboth, for the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. But finding the field I had chosen, more fertile in historical materials than my most sanguine expectations had at first anticipated, I pushed my enquiries with considerable zeal; and, encouraged by the example of several town histories which had recently made their appearance, determined, if I found sufficient patronage to warrant the expense of publication, to extend my sketch to a more complete history, and publish it in a separate volume. With this intention, after I had collected pretty copious materials, I issued a prospectus, and commenced pro- curing subscribers, promising them the work within a few months. There has been, however, a delay of more than a year beyond the time first specified ; but it will, it is hoped, be received as a sufficient apology, that, besides having underrated, at the time,^ the labor of throwing the materials into form for the press, I have been constantly endeavoring to add to their stock ; and so successfully, too, as to be able to present to the reader more than fifty pages beyond the number promised in the prospectus.
In introducing this volume, a few words are requisite respecting the principles adopted, and the method pursued, in writing it, and the sources whence the materials have been drawn.
In the first place, I designed the volume to be a collection of well authenticated facts respecting the towns of which I wrote. Nothing has been inserted, which did not bear the stamp of truth. Tradition has been relied on, only so far as its authority was strengthened by collateral evidence; and always, when admitted, has been distinguished from fact.
The method I have pursued in arrangement, is to give the history of the old town of Rehoboth, in its greatest extent, from the earliest period that it was inhabited by white men, to the present time; dropping, however, that of those parts which have been since separated from the original town, at the time of their separation. I then give the history of Seekonk and Pawtucket separately, commencing at the period of their incorporation as independent towns. The events have been related, so far as practicable, in the order in which they occurred. The civil and ecclesiastical affairs of each town have been given in separate divisions; but in the early history of the old town, when the support of the clergy was provided for by the town, as such, the constant mingling of civil and ecclesiastical transactions made it necessary, in order to give the events in the relations to each other in which they occurred, to state them in that connection. Succeeding the histories of the three towns of Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Pawtucket, are biographical sketches of individuals, not connected particularly with either the civil or ecclesiastical his- tory of either of those towns, who were yet natives of them, or have at some time made a permanent residence there. The few sketches that occur of Attleborough, Cumberland, Swansey, and Barrington, are interspersed throughout the earlier part of the history of Rehoboth.
The sources from which the materials for this history have been drawn, are faithfully referred to throughout the whole work. It should here be remarked, that the records of the old town of Rehoboth, commencing in 1643, are still extant; and, though in a hand writing, very difficult to decipher, and sometimes almost illegible, they afforded very abundant materials for the earlier part of our history. From these very copious extracts have been made, which are marked with quotations. In all of these the exact language of the original has been preserved, and in some cases the orthography; that the events of olden time might be presented to the reader in their own native costume.
As a partial extenuation of faults and inaccuracies of style, that will doubtless be detected by the reader, the author should be permitted to say, that circumstances obliged him to complete his work in great haste; and that often, when the compositor has been putting into type one page, he has been penning the next. The materials were principally collected during vacations at college; and the whole has been written in the few short intervals of relaxation afforded by a profession, which, if we may credit the testimony of worthy "Peter Pattieson," in "Old Mortality," may be supposed to allow to the mind few moments suited to the business of composition. But as a book of facts, this history, it is hoped, may be relied upon; and the writer's only ambition, so far as regards style, has been to make those facts intelligible to the reader, trusting to the assertion of Pliny the Younger, that "historia quoquo modo scripta delectat."
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The old town of Rehoboth comprised, in its greatest extent, the present town, together with Seekonk, Pawtucket, Attleborough, Cumberland, R.I., and that part of Swansey and Barrington, which was called by the Indians Wannamoiset. The first purchase of land for the settlement of the town was made of Massassoit, in 1641; and was, according to the measurement of those times, "a tract eight miles square," and embraced what now constitutes the towns of Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Pawtucket. The second purchase was the tract called by the Indians, and after them by the English, Wannamoiset, and forms a part of Swansey and Barrington. The third and last purchase was the " JNorth Purchase," forming now Attleborough, Mass. and Cumberland, R.I. The last was formerly called "Attleborough Gore." In 1667, Wannamoiset was included in the town of Swansey, which was then incorporated, including, besides the present town, Somersett, Mass., and Barrington, and the greater part of Warrn, R.I. The "North Purchase" was incorporated into a separate town, by the name of Attleborough, in 1694; and this was subdivided, in 1746, the "Gore" becoming Cumberland. The rest of the ancient town continued together till 1812, when Seekonk became a separate township, assuming its original Indian name; and in 1828 Pawtucket followed the example and was separated from Seckonk.