Stoughton in 1890


Stougton Railroad Depot built in 1888 on Wyman Street.



also including Sharon, Canton and Avon.



STOUGHTON lies in the southwesterly part of Norfolk County , 18 miles south of Boston . The Stoughton and Easton Branch from the Providence Railroad runs through the centre and connects with the Taunton and New Bedford line in the southern part of the town, all being of the, Old Colony Railroad system. The post-offices are Stoughton and North Stoughton . The other villages are Belcher's Corner, Dry Pond and West Stoughton  


Canton bounds the town on the north, Randolph and Avon on the east, Easton [and Brockton] on the south, and Sharon on the west. The assessed area is 9,028 acres; in which are included 2, 765 acres of woodland. Cedar is found in the swamps and deciduous trees in the up-lands. The surface is pleasantly diversified with hill and valley; the highest point of land being “The Pinnacle,” from which may be seen the islands in Boston Harbor , a wide extent of sea coast and many pleasant landscapes. The rock is sienite, in which beds of iron-ore occur in several localities. In the northwest is a group of several small ponds, and between the hills in the southwest section lies the long “Ames Pond,” the reservoir for the principal power at North Easton . The drainage of the town is by affluents of the Neponset and Taunton rivers.


The value of the products of the 78 farms, reported in the census for 1885, was $82,866. There are 12 boot and shoe factories, employing nearly 900 persons, and making goods to the amount of $ 884,516; and a woolen mill and dyehouse, employing nearly 200 persons. Other manufactures were leather, knit hose, rubber goods, shoe lasts, machinery, artisans’ tools, paper boxes, carriages, clothing and dress trimmings, soap, and food preparations. Steam is the chief power used. The value of the textiles made wag $419,000; and of all manufactures, $1,469,185. There is here a co-operative bank, aiding the people in establishing homes. The population was 5,173; of whom 1,376 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $2,031,731, with a tax‑rate of $15.50 on $1,000. There were 908 taxed dwelling-houses. The school system is graded, consisting of primary, grammar and high; occupying 11 buildings, valued at some $50,000. There is also a private school – “St. Mary’s.” There is a commodious town-hall, erected in 1881 at a cost of $45,000. The public library contains nearly 5,000 volumes. The local newspapers are the “Record,” “Sentinel,” “ Journal” and “Citizen,” - all weeklies. The churches are one each of the Congregationalists and Universalists, and two each of the Methodists and Roman Catholics.


The Indian name of Stoughton was Punkapoaq, meaning “spring that bubbles up front red soil.” Here the Rev. John Eliot had a village of “praying Indians.” Of this place Major Daniel Gookin wrote, in 1674: -

“This is a small town, and hath not above 12 families in it, and so about sixty souls. This is the second praying town. The Indians which settled here removed from Neponset Mill. The quantity of land belonging to this village about 6,000 acres; and some of it is fertile, but not generally as good as in other towns."


This town, was detached from Dorchester , and incorporated, December 22, 1726, being named from Lieut. Gov. William Stoughton. The whole or parts of 11 towns have been. formed from its territory. A church was organized in Stoughton August 10, 1744 ; and in 1746 the Rev. Jedediah Adams was ordained as pastor. He held his office 53 years. During his ministry much attention was bestowed upon the cultivation of sacred music; and it, 1786 was formed the Stoughton Musical Society, which has had a continued existence. To its influence largely may be, attributed the musical culture or the citizens.



CANTON is an active manufacturing and farming town, lying a little east of the centre of Norfolk County . The railroad station at South Canton (Canton Junction), on the Boston and Providence Railroad, is 20 miles from Boston ; and Ponkapoag Village , in the northeast part, is about 12 miles in a direct line. The latter and Canton are the post-offices and the villages are the same, with South Canton, Canton Comer, Dedham Road, Farms, Hardware, Springdale and Stone Factory.


On the northeast side “lie the towns of - Milton and Randolph, on the south and southwest are Stoughton and Sharon , and on the northwest is Dedham . The general form of the territory is that of a common kite. Its assessed area is 11,488 acres, including the 2,039 acres of woodland. The rocks are gneissic and porphyritic; and the soil ranges through loam, sand and gravel. The 63 farms, in 1885, yielded a product valued at $77,763.


The scenery of this town is varied and picturesque. There are elevations at the south and centre; and on the northeastern border is Blue Hill, which rises to a height of 635 feet, commanding a magnificent view of Boston , the islands in the harbor, mid the ocean. It is the first land seen by mariners approach ling the coast. Its base and sides are mostly clothed with maple, birch, oak, chestnut, pine and cedar; its name coming from the color it presents to the observer at a distance. The Fowl Meadows, which contain peat of an excellent quality, extend from Sharon to Hyde Park , along the whole northwestern border of the town; and through them runs the Neponset River , forming the divisional line between this town and Dedham . Portions of this and of the marshes on the north of Ponkapoag Pond are devoted to cranberries. This pond is a beautiful expanse of 208 acres, well stored with fish. It lies on the Randolph line, sending a tributary through Ponkapoag Village northward to Neponset River. York and Steep brooks, affluents of the same river, furnish from their extensive reservoirs valuable motive power at South Canton .


The manufactories in this town consist of a branch shop of the Ames shovel factories, an iron foundry, copper works, one factory for making shoe-tools, two for cotton spinning rings, one for stove polish (Rising Sun), one making paper boxes, one for cotton one for twine, one for fish-lines, one for oil-cloth, six for fancy woolens, and one for silk goods. The last employs about 400 persons; the copper works and the iron works each about 300. The value of the textiles made in 1885 was $1,338,640; and the aggregate value of the manufactures was $2,703,327. 'The Neponset National Bank has a. capital of $250,000. The Canton Institution for Savings, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount of $553,682. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $3,540,727, and the tax-rate $14 on $1,000. The population in 1885 was 4,380; of whom 980 were voters.


Canton has a graded school system, with eight school-houses valued at $23,300. The Canton public library contains about 10,000 volumes; and the Ladies' Sewing Circle Library has upwards of 3,000. The “Canton Journal” distributes the weekly news and serves the interests of the town.


The Baptist society was organized in 1814, the Congregationalist in 1828. Other churches are the Unitarian, the Universalist and the Roman Catholic.


This town was detached from the northerly part of Stoughton and incorporated February 23, 1797 . In 1847 part of its territory was returned to Stoughton.  The Indian name of the place was Ponkapoag. Here John Eliot, had an Indian church, consisting of natives dwelling around the pond.


Canton added 350 men to the Union forces in the late war, which was 23 above its quota Twenty-nine of these perished in the ser­vice. The climate of this town is salubrious and agreeable, the Blue Hills protecting a considerable territory from the northeast winds. The roads are numerously bordered with elms of large size, and shaded in some parts by original forest, making pleasant sum­mer drives. Hon. F. M. Ames and T. B. Aldrich have residences here, which they occupy in the summer months. This town is also the home of Hon. Elijah Morse, well known to the people of Massachusetts .


Of the eminent men of the past, Canton can claim as her own, Major-General Richard Gridley (1711-1796), General Stephen Badlam (1751-1815), Benjamin Bussey (1757-1842), Commodore John Downes (1784-1854).



SHARON occupies the highlands which form the water-shed of streams flowing in opposite directions northeasterly towards Massachusetts or southwesterly towards Narragansett Bay . It has for its boundaries Norwood on the north, Canton on the northeast, Stoughton on the east, Easton and Mansfield on the southeast, Foxborough on the southwest, and Walpole on the west. It lies at the middle of the southern side of Norfolk County , 22 miles southwest of Boston by the Boston and Providence Railroad, whose stations here are Sharon and Sharon Heights , and Massapoag Pond in summer. The post-offices are the first and East Sharon .


The assessed area of the town is 13,764 acres. There are above 6,000 acres of forest, including white and pitch pine, oak, elm, chestnut and maple. The flora generally is rich and various. There is found here a wood violet that is very large and fragrant. The chief rock is sienite, and there is much iron‑ore at one or more places.  The whole extent of the town is elevated from 300 to 530 feet above sea‑level. The highest point of land is Moose Hill, in the western section, which commands one of the finest prospects in the county. Near it on south and east rise three bold eminences, - Bluff, Hobb's, and Bald hills. In the southeast section is Rattlesnake Hill, and in the southwest are Bearfoot and Cow hills, between which run a lively streamlet and numerous railroad trains. Besides several millponds there are two natural lakes, Wolomolpoag (Indian meaning “sweet water”) among the hills near the centre, and Massapoag (“large water”) beyond the hills a mile southward. The first has an area of 16 acres ; the last of 435. Around it are summer residences and three or more hotels. Puffer's Brook and the outlets of these ponds are feeders of the Neponset River . Not a drop of water, it is said, runs into Sharon from another town, while its streams flow directly into seven towns.


The soil is loamy and fertile. Large quantities of timber, firewood, charcoal and bark are sent to market. Many acres are devoted to cranberries and strawberries, and apple and other fruit trees are numerous. Large market-gardens and poultry farms are found here. The aggregate value of the product of the 73 farms in the town in 1885 was reported in the State census as $70,006. A duck, a cutlery and a trowel factory employ about 75 persons. Other manufactures are carriages, boots and shoes, lumber, boxes, leather, polishes and wrought stone. The value of the goods made was $128,208. The population was 1,328, including 338 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $ 1,107,677, with a tax-rate of $10 on $1,000. There were 335 taxed dwelling-houses. There is a very good town-hall, a public library of about 3,000 volumes, and graded schools, including a high school. These are supported partly by an invested fund. The five school-houses are valued at about $9,000. The three churches are Congregationalist, Baptist and Unitarian. Two weekly papers are issued here, called the “Advocate” and the “Ozone.”


The original name of this township was Massapoag, but it. was later known as Stoughtonham. On June 20, 1765 , it was incorporated under its present beautiful Scripture name, - which means his field “or his song.” A part of Stoughton was annexed in 1792, and another part in 1864. The Rev. Philip Curtis, the first minister, was ordained in 1743, and continued in charge of the church e than 54 years.


The town is remarkable for the charm of its scenery, the excellence of its atmosphere and the longevity of its inhabitants.



AVON is a young, enterprising town in the southeastern part of Norfolk County, 17 miles south of Boston on the Old Colony Railroad, Fall River Branch, which forms a part of the line of the town on the northwest side, The main line to Cape Cod crosses the southeast corner of the town, where there is also a station. Stoughton forms the west and northwest boundaries Holbrook the northeast and east, and Brockton the south.


The assessed area is 2,428 acres, about one fourth being wood­ land, chiefly maple, with some pine. The highways are excellent, and throughout the town axe much ornamented by elms and other trees, many of large size. The surface is pleasantly diversified by hill and valley, and drained by affluents of Taunton River. Mine Hill, about 250 feet high, on the boundary line between Avon and Stoughton, marks the water-shed between Boston and the South shore. The rock is sienite, in which beds of iron ore occur. The soil is a black loam, rocky and hard to work.


The population is about 1,500, with some 300 dwellings. Farming is carried on to the usual extent and profit, but the chief business is manufactures, ‑ mostly boots and shoes. There are two large factories and a small one of this kind. Avon’s proportion of the aggregate value of manufactured goods in Stoughton (of which at the last census it formed a part) is about $ 375 ,000. - estimated on the basis of assessed persons and valuation on May 1, 1888. The number of assessed persons was 404, while the valuation was $527,375.


Of the village of Avon (then East Stoughton), a writer in the “Boston Traveller” said several years ago:


“This brisk and wide-awake village is making boots for the million; and, by the good old honest way of hard work and fair dealing, is accumulating    

greenbacks, and keeping pace with the general run of things in this Commonwealth. The people are too busy to trouble each other, and too well oftefto     move away; and so a peaceful, industrious, contented, and increasing population crowds the place. Wages are good; living is low; and those willing to labor - and there are but few who are not -  find enough to do, and come to plenty. This the snug and tasteful cottages, the pleasant gardens, the well-dressed and fine-looking children, amply manifest


“What a change has well-directed industry effected in this village in the last three decades of years! Thirty summers ago, a dull, drinking, droning 'corner,' a few old houses, and a country store retailing, on long credits, codfish, mackerel, molasses and New England rum; now a thriving town, with busy manufactories, noble private dwellings, churches, school-houses, handsome Streets adorned with shade-trees, and the elements of' ‘health, peace, and competence’ (which Pope puts down as the grand trio of the graces which make up the happy life) distinctly visible on every hand. Every breeze that sweeps along brings ‘health;’ no meddlesome and story-telling neighbors mar the ‘peace;’ and as to ‘competence,’ one has but to stay, and stick closely to the last, and he is sure of it.” The region is undoubtedly salubrious; and the census of 1885 shows that there were then 56 residents, of the two towns who were over 80 years of age.


The Indian name of Avon (formerly Stoughton ) was Punkapoag, meaning “a spring that bubbles up from red soil;” and here the Rev. John Eliot had a village of praying Indians." It is probably this same noted spring which the citizens of the village propose to, make the fountain of supply for their water-works. On Salisbury Brook, which runs through the western part of the town, is a pond containing upwards of 100 acres, which has recently been purchased by Brockton to supply the water-works of that city. A street railroad now connects Avon village with Brockton .


Avon has a good building which affords a hall, and shelters her steam fire-engine and other apparatus. The schools are graded, and occupy two large buildings, valued at $18,000. There are also two or more Sunday schools. The Baptists and the Roman Catholics, have each a church in the village, - fine edifices of wood.


Stoughton was formerly a part of Dorchester , and was incorporated in 1726. Avon embraces the easterly section of the former, from which it was set off and incorporated February 21, 1888



SOURCE: George J. Varney and Rev. Elias Nason, M.A., A gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts with numerous illustrations. (Boston, Mass., B.B. Russell. 1890), Stoughton, pgs. 620-622; Sharon, pgs. 588-589; Canton, pgs. 220-222; Avon, pgs. 128-129.



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