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Standish called them together to plan their method of attack and to give each man his orders. His instructions had been to surprise the town at night and take all who had been concerned in the seizure of Squanto. If it was found that he had been killed, Corbitant was to be beheaded at once, and his assistant, Nepeof, a sachem, who had joined in the rebellion, was to be held as hostage until Massasoit was heard from.
Midnight seemed the best time for the attack. They had not advanced far on the march when they discovered that the guide had lost his way. They were weary and drenched with the rain, and well-nigh discouraged, but one of the party, who had been to the place before, was able to lead them in the right direction. Before they reached there, they ate what food they had, threw away their knapsacks and baggage, and advanced to the house where they knew Corbitant had been staying. The sound of the wind and rain completely concealed the coming of Standish and his men, the Indians at this time having no thought of the pursuit of one of their chieftains. In the middle of the night they surrounded what was supposed to be the wigwam of Corbitant. It was filled with a large number of his braves, and Standish, with his known courage, suddenly burst open the door and rushed in among them. As they awoke at the sound of his voice and footsteps, they were paralyzed with fear and terror, and some endeavored to conceal themselves by hiding under the skins of the wigwam. Others attempted to escape through the door, but were intercepted. Some of the Indians, having heard that Standish never made war upon their squaws, most piteously cried out, "Don't hurt me, I am a squaw, I am a squaw!" While they were making a fire and searching the wigwam, Hobomok climbed to the roof and called for Squanto and Tockamahamon, who came with many others, some having weapons, which were taken from them, to be returned later, and the object of the journey was explained to them. Standish then released all the savages whom they had seized, after hearing of Corbitant's departure. The next day they took breakfast with Squanto, while all of the friendly Indians gathered near, and again they spoke of their intentions against the hostile Indians, threatening to destroy Corbitant and his followers if they continued to instigate trouble against them and against their friend and ally, Massasoit, or if he should not return in safety from Narragansett, or if Squanto or any other of Massasoit's subjects should be killed.
After renewing their offers of friendship, even agreeing to take with them those who had been wounded, that Dr. Fuller, their physician, might dress their wounds and care for them, they returned home the next day, accompanied by Squanto and other friendly Indians with the three who were hurt, having so impressed the natives with their bravery that ever afterward Standish was an object of especial terror. This first warlike expedition of the pilgrims in New England thus becomes the first event of importance in Middleboro history.
In January of the next year Governor Bradford found it necessary to buy corn, and an expedition was sent to Manomet and to Nemasket. The Indian women were prevented by sickness from carrying all the corn from Nemasket, and the remainder was taken by the pilgrims to Plymouth.
In March news came to Plymouth that Massasoit was on his death-bed. In accordance with the Indian custom of friends visiting the sick one before his death, the pilgrims decided to send one of their number to the chief's home, and Edward Winslow was chosen. He was accompanied by an Englishman desirous of seeing the country, Hampden by name, and by Hobomok as guide. With numerous medicines and cordials for the chief, they set out, and spent the first night at Nemasket. After visiting Massasoit, they remained a night with Corbitant at "Mattapuyet," and then proceeded to Nemasket, where they again stayed over night.
In the year 1633 Sir Christopher Gardner lived on the banks of the Nemasket, after his departure from England in disgrace. He had sent a petition to the king alleging various charges against the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, which were denied by the governors, and the petition was dismissed by the king. In England he had been a gentleman of influence, a knight of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and a connection of the Bishop of Winchester, but a zealous papist in disguise. When he came into the colony he was accompanied by one or two servants, and it was understood that he had given up all worldly pursuits and would live a godly life in humble circumstances. He had applied for admission to several churches, but was refused on account of his questionable character. The authorities of Massachusetts Bay had attempted to arrest him, but he had eluded their pursuit, and was living with the Indians at Nemasket. Becoming suspicious, they gave information to the governor, who authorized his seizure, and directed that he be brought uninjured to Boston. The Indians saw him near the river and attempted to capture him, but he escaped in a canoe. Armed with a musket and rapier, he kept them at bay until the canoe was upset upon a rock and his weapons lost. He continued to defend himself with a small dagger, which they finally succeeded in knocking from his hands, and he was made prisoner. He was taken to Governor Winthrop, in Boston, who afterwards sent him to England to meet the criminal charges there pending against him.
The settlers in Plymouth undoubtedly passed through Middleboro on expeditions to Taunton and elsewhere, but until about ten years before the Twenty-six Men's Purchase there were probably no permanent residents.
John Winthrop, Jr., who accompanied an expedition from the Narragansett Bay up the Taunton River in 1636, sailed up the river as far as Titicut, as appears by the following letter to his father: —
Saybrook, Pasbeshuke, April 7, 1636. From John Winthrop, To The Right Worsh1pful And Much
Honored Father, John Winthrop, Who Dwells in Boston.
Sir: — My humble duty remembered to yourself and my mother, with love to my brothers and all of our friends with you. I suppose you have heard of our arrival at Titiquet, an opportune meeting with our vessels. Concerning that place I conceive it is about 22 or 23 miles from Waliston. Very fertile and rich land and so far as we went down it grew wide into Sachems Harbor and a ship of 500 tons may go up to about ten or twelve miles. There is no meadow or salt marsh all the way. The first of the month we set sail from Naraganset and in the evening about six o'clock arrived there. Thus craving your prayers and blessings I commend you to the Almighty and rest,
Your obedient son,
He evidently sailed up the river as far as the wading-place at Pratt's Bridge, as the river is navigable for small ships of not more than five hundred tons up to that point. There is no record, however, that he and his party did more than make a temporary landing at this place.
In 1637 a settlement was made at Titicut, bordering on the westerly side of Middleboro, by Miss Elizabeth Poole and her associates. She was the daughter of Sir William Poole, a knight of Colcombe, in the parish of Coliton, Devon, England. The records of the parish say that she was baptized August 25, 1588. This land was sometimes called the Titicut purchase, not because it was bought of the Indians residing there, but from the fact that it was within the original Indian reservation, which had been conveyed to her and her associates before it had been reserved for the exclusive use of the Indians. Her purchase was between the bounds of Cohanett (the former name of Taunton) and the Titicut weir, and bordered upon what subsequently became the western boundary line of Middleboro between Poquoy Brook and Baiting Brook. Those who settled here about the time of Miss Poole's purchase were her brother, William Poole, Mr. John Gilbert, Sr., Mr. Henry Andrews, John Strong, John Dean, Walter Dean, and Edward Case, who, the next year, were made freemen in Plymouth Colony. The territory which she purchased was known for some time as Littleworth farm and Shute farm, and the records state that it was here Miss Poole lost many cattle. The original purchase of Miss Poole ultimately became a portion of Taunton, and other farms purchased by her and her associates were often referred to in the early records as Meerneed, Bareneed, Cotley, and Pondsbrook, in accordance with the English custom. Bareneed was given to the farm of Edward Case and Pondsbrook to that of John Gilbert.
EARLY SETTLERS BEFORE KING PHILIP'S WAR
gp^gLTHOUGH Middleboro was only fifteen miles from Plymouth and halfway on the Indian Path to the Taunton settlement, it was more than forty years after the landing of the pilgrims before the whites came to dwell there in large numbers. There were from fifteen to twenty thousand Indians within forty miles of Plymouth, and probably more in Middleboro than in any other part of the colony.
For fifteen years after the early settlers came here to live, the territory was a part of Plymouth, and they were described as residents of that town; but after its incorporation in 1669, they were known as "residing in Middleberry." They were mostly the sons or the grandsons of the pilgrims, and united their sturdy virtues and habits of industry with their enterprise and courage. Their fathers had conquered many of the difficulties attending the first coming, and had become accustomed to the new life on these western shores.
Many of them had not only engaged in trading with the Indians in different parts of the country, but had purchased large tracts of land, which were being occupied, and there were not a few among their number who had already acquired a competence. The colony had been settled long enough for the people to begin to be attached to the place where they had been born and reared; this younger generation knew nothing of the luxuries, turmoil, and political distractions of the Old World, except what they had learned from their fathers and grandfathers.
The population was increasing, although not as rapidly as that of Salem and of the Bay. The settlement of Middleboro was unlike that of other places, in that these men supposed