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In 1885 Father Oliver Boucher officiated for a few months, and was succeeded by Father P. J. Sheedy, and in 1890 by Father J. H. O'Neil. During his ministry the present rectory was built, the lot of land on the corner of Center and Oak streets was purchased, and the St. Mary's Cemetery was purchased in 1891. In 1896 he was succeeded by Father Murphy, and in 1900 the present priest, Father D. C. Riordan, took his place.
There has been an organization of an Advent Church in this town for many years. They have no church building nor settled pastor, but worship in a hall on Jackson Street.
YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
The Young Men's Christian Association was organized in the early seventies, with Professor J. W. P. Jenks as its president. In 1883 it was reorganized, and continued with varied success until March 19, 1892, when it was incorporated. Since then it has steadily grown in numbers and influence, until it now has a membership of over two hundred and fifty. The work of the association in its various departments is in a prosperous condition, and it has its rooms and gymnasium at present in the Academy building.
TOWN MEETINGS, HERRING FISHERIES, INDIAN PATHS, ROADS AND HIGHWAYS, FIRE DISTRICT
HE provisions of the colonial laws1 in reference to the government of the towns and the election of officers were very generally observed in Middleboro from its first incorporation until the commencement of King Philip's War. The early settlers then abandoned the town for two or three years, and did not return in sufficient numbers to warrant the reestablishment of town affairs until about 1678. The town meetings were held in different dwelling-houses, and frequently at the house of Isaac Howland.
There was a provision in the colonial law, as early as 1675, that there should be a "publicke house erected in every Towne" where the people could meet and worship God, "and in case any Town shall apparently neglect or refuse to build the said house it shalbe in the power of the Govr and Majestrate to appoint and authorise a pson or psons to build the said house according to the abillitie and nesessitie of the people and the charge thereof to be defrayed by all the Inhabitants or propriators of the Towne." This provision was reaffirmed with some slight changes in the year 1678. The meeting-houses in the colony were used for the transaction of business of the towns. The records show that the First Church was so used as early as August, 1679, when the town meeting was held at the "town house." On the 18th of May, 1675, a few weeks before the outbreak of King Philip's War, a committee had been appointed to take measures for the erection of a "meeting house," which the war prevented; but plans were made, and the work was begun soon after their return. Mr. Fuller came to preach in the year 1679, and it is generally be
1 Laws of Colony of New Plymouth, p. 175.
lieved that before he accepted the invitation, the meeting-house in which the First Church worshipped had been built. As early as 1681, the town agreed that if any neglected or refused to attend the town meetings, being legally warned, they should be liable to pay a fine of two shillings, six pence for the town's use. After the settlement of the Rev. Mr. Fuller, the town meetings were usually held in the meeting-house of the First Church, until the latter part of the eighteenth century, when the centre of population had so changed that another location was desirable.
The erection of a town house for the transaction of public business met with much opposition. The first article appeared in the warrant, September 8, 1788, and was voted down; again, on March 1, 1790, the town voted to take no action. The matter came up on March 16, 1795, and a committee was appointed to take into consideration the expediency of building and the location of a new town house. The committee were Captain Joshua Eddy, Isaac Thompson, Esq., Dr. Joseph Clark, David Richmond, Captain Job Peirce, Colonel John Nelson, Captain William Canedy, Nehemiah Bennett, Esq., and Deacon Benjamin Thomas. They were to report at the April meeting. At that time they voted to postpone any action upon the report of the committee until the May meeting; they then voted not to accept the report of the committee, but to build in accordance with the eleventh article of the warrant for the annual meeting, and agreed that a town house should be built on the hill opposite the dwelling-house of Widow Sarah Morton.. A committee was appointed to draw a plan and report at an adjourned meeting.
According to the plan which this committee submitted, the building was to be forty feet long, thirty-five feet wide, together with a back room twenty feet in length, fourteen feet in width, and twelve feet in the stud, four windows in front, three in each end, and three at the back, with a hip roof; but at a meeting held February 1, 1796, the town voted "to reconsider all former votes passed in said town heretofore relative to the building of a town house." At the same meeting the question
was put "whether the town will build a town house or not," to be determined by count, those opposing the measure to pass out of the house; four were chosen to stand at the doors of the meeting-house and count the number. It was found that a majority of ninety-three opposed the building, but at the annual meeting, March 21, 1796, the measure was carried. The opposition continued, although somewhat weaker, there being one hundred and forty-six votes for and one hundred and six opposed.
In regard to the location there was a division of sentiment, one hundred and forty-eight voting for the site near the dwelling-house of Dr. Joseph Clark as against one hundred and thirty-four opposed to it. They then voted to raise one thousand dollars for the building, and a committee of three were appointed to agree with Levi Wood for the land. This committee consisted of Captain Joshua Eddy, Mr. Simeon Doggett, and Captain Joseph Richmond. At the next meeting in April, the town voted "to omit the building of a selectmen's room in the town house and directed that the building of said house be put up at public vendue and strike the building of the same off to the lowest bidder." The house was completed and accepted by the town January 2, 1798, but there were disputes in reference to various matters connected with the house which were not settled for some time. The house thus built served as the town house until 1872, when it was sold and a new one built, much of the material being used for a dwelling-house next to that of Mr. Job Braley on North Street.
Negotiations for the new town house were made in the early part of 1872. The building committee consisted of Horatio Barrows, Albert Alden, Zebulon Pratt, and I. H. Harlow, who were empowered to transact all necessary business. Solomon K. Eaton of Mattapoisett, the architect and contractor, died before it was completed, and it was finished by Mr. Horatio Barrows, chairman of the building committee. It was dedicated in December, 1873, by a public celebration, at which appropriate remarks were made on the part of the building committee and representatives of the town, and a public address was given to commemorate the event. The cost of the building was $48,984.36.
When Governor Winslow stopped at Nemasket upon his visit to Massasoit, Indians were found fishing at a weir built across the river near the present dam. The herring fishery furnished much of their food; they were familiar with smoking and drying the fish for a ready supply during the fall and winter. In the spring they used herring as a fertilizer in their corn gardens, which enabled them with little labor to produce abundant crops of maize or Indian corn. In the early part of the last century, during the fishing season, herring were so abundant that a person wading into the river, with a bushel basket, could in some seasons dip up a basket half full of these fish. Every spring, the last of March sometimes, but usually the first week in April, the herring leave the deep sea and ascend the rivers all along the New England coast, to cast their spawn in the lakes, ponds, or head-waters of the rivers. "All the records of the early settlers, and the traditions of Indian lore, testify to the abundant yield of edible fish." At Titicut