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alarm of fire1 was given by shouting or ringing a bell, the neighbors all gathered, buckets in hand; if a man was delayed, he threw his buckets into the street that others might use them. A double line of people was formed from the burning building to the nearest pond or well, and the buckets filled with water were passed from hand to hand up one line while the empty ones came down the other line; boys were usually placed on the latter side, called the "dry lane." When the fire was put out, or as was more usual, had burned itself out, the fire warden took charge of the buckets till they were called for by the owners, who hung them in the entry by their front doors ready for future use.
The first fire engine in the country was a rude affair, made in 1650 by Joseph Jencks for the town of Boston, but in the country villages and towns the primitive buckets and ladders were used till a late date.
It was not until 1852 that the fire district of the town of Middleboro was organized. In order to include a population sufficient to comply with the law in establishing such a district, its boundaries extended considerably beyond the village.2
Its first officers were: Chief Engineer, William S. Peirce;
1 As early as 1636 we find in Laws of Plymouth Colony, p. 56: "That three pieces shott of distinctly one after another shalbe an allarum. And two peeces to give wameing of some house on fier."
2 "Commencing at that point on the Boston and New Bedford road near the house of Thomas Doggett where the road to the Alms House leaves said road, thence south thirty-three and one-half degrees east, six hundred and ninetyseven rods by said road to the road leading from the Four Corners to Wareham, near where a school house formerly stood, including the houses of Daniel Macomber, Alms House, Edmund Thompson, Jacob Thomas 2d, and Capt. Abram Bryant, thence north two and one half degrees east, three hundred and eighty-seven rods to the bridge at the foot of long hill near the house of Thomas A. Pratt, not including said house, thence north thirty-two degrees west one hundred and ninety-four rods to the corner of Lorenzo Wood's farm near Elisha Waterman's, thence north twenty-seven degrees west, four hundred and twelve rods, crossing the road in front of Nahum M. Tribou's house, running in the rear of Melzar Tribou's house to the bridge near Thomas Weston's, thence south forty-five degrees west five hundred and sixty-eight rods to an apple tree on the westerly side of Alfred Randall's house, thence south nine degrees east five hundred and forty-six rods to bounds first mentioned."
Assistant Engineers, Sylvanus W. Reed, Andrew M. Eaton, Sylvanus Hinckley, Lemuel G. Peirce; Prudential Committee, Sylvanus Hinckley, Everett Robinson, Joseph Sampson, Jr.; Clerk, Jacob B. Shaw.
The fire apparatus consisted of a hand tub, as it was then called, under the name of the Bay State No. 1, and a hook and ladder company. Previous to or at the time of the establishment of the fire department, there was a very small hand tub, capable of being worked by three or four men at the most, which was kept in one of the buildings of the Nemasket Mill Company. On the night of the national election in 1860, when a telegram had announced the certainty of the result, a party of boys, with a desire to celebrate, pulled out the old tub and commenced to parade. Others had built a huge bonfire in the middle of the street at the Four Corners. The tub was drawn near, and a faction in the crowd tipped it over into the fire, where it came to an untimely end.
In 1877 a new ladder truck was purchased, and improved apparatus has since been provided. A house was built on School Street for the department. About 1875 a number of citizens purchased a hand machine named the Young Mechanic No. 6, which was replaced by a steamer in New Bedford; an independent company was formed, and continued for several years. The district built a house for the company on Oak Street, and in 1882 a chemical engine was added to the apparatus. After building the water works in 1885 with hydrant service, the hand engines were abandoned and sold, and a hose wagon and reels were provided in 1886.
The equipments of the department in its buildings, apparatus, hose, hydrants, and electric fire-alarms are modern, and their usefulness is shown in an emergency.
When Lakeville was set off from Middleboro in 1853, all that portion of the new town which had been included in the district was taken from it. Later, a number of estates at the south end were set off, as well as all that part lying north and east of the Nemasket River. In 1884 the district was incorporated with its then metes and bounds, and authorized to provide a water supply. The pumping-station was on land just outside. A few years later, the pumping-station lot and a large tract of land were re-annexed to the district.
The bounds having become undefined, at the annual meeting in December, 1899, the District by a new survey established the bounds :—
"Beginning at a stone bound on the northerly side of the Nemasket River, a corner of the towns of Middleborough and Lakeville, thence in said town line, north thirty-two degrees forty-six minutes west, nine hundred and forty-eight feet to a stone bound marking an angle in said town line; thence in said town line, north fifty degrees ten minutes west, three thousand four hundred and seventy-two feet to a stone bound on the northerly side line of the land occupied by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, lessees, known as the ' Fall River branch;' thence north two degrees forty-nine minutes west, six thousand eight hundred and six feet to a stone bound on the easterly side of Cross street, the westerly corner of a lot of land owned by George S. Clark and Elmer B. Cole, known as the 'Morton lot;' thence north sixty degrees one minute east, four thousand seven hundred and sixty-six feet to a stone bound on the northeasterly side of Everett street, a short distance northerly from the house owned by Jennie L. Baxter, a corner of lands owned by George R. Sampson and Job Braley; thence in the line between said Sampson and Braley, north eighty-seven degrees thirty minutes east, six hundred and fifty feet to a stone bound; thence in the same course to the centre of the channel of the Nemasket river; thence upstream in the centre of the channel of said river to a point marking its intersection with the centre of the channel of a brook which crosses the northeasterly part of the farm and homestead of George H. Place; thence upstream in the centre of the channel of said brook to a stone bound on the northerly side of East Main street; thence south five degrees fourteen minutes west, six thousand three hundred and eighty-four feet to a stone bound on the northerly corner of the intersection of Wood and Wareham streets; thence south seventy-four degrees twenty-one minutes west, two thousand seven hundred and forty-nine feet to a stone bound on the northwesterly side of Wood street, a corner of lands of Edward S. Hathaway and John W. Tinkham; thence north seventy-one degrees three minutes west, one thousand one hundred and twenty-seven feet to the centre of a gate on the line of the water pipe running from Grove street to the Middleborough almshouse; thence north sixty-two degrees nineteen minutes west, one thousand four hundred and thirty-two feet to a stone bound near the said Nemasket river: thence south seventy-six degrees forty-four minutes west, two thousand three hundred and seventy feet to the stone bound first mentioned. The points of compass given above are magnetic and are twelve degrees eight minutes west of true north."
The District as thus defined contains about three and a quarter square miles.
TOWN OFFICERS, PUBLIC OFFICERS
ROM the earliest settlement of Middleboro to the time of its incorporation in the year 1669, it was a part of Plymouth, and its inhabitants were subject to the jurisdiction of the General Court of the colony. As separate towns were incorporated, the civil affairs, which had been regulated by the court, the governor, and his assistants and deputies, became so numerous that other legislation was necessary to enable the towns to manage in a measure their own affairs, to provide more efficient government, to meet the necessary expenses, and to supply the growing wants of their increasing population.
At the breaking out of King Philip's War the records of the town of Middleboro were burned with all of the houses. We gather, however, from the records of the colony kept at Plymouth, a probably correct list of a few officers of the town prior to the war.
FREEMEN AND TOWN OFFICERS BEFORE 1675
1669. William Hoskins was the first town clerk ; John Nelson, constable and surveyor of highways;1 John Tomson and William Nelson, agents of the town.2
1670. Freemen of the town :' —
John Morton, Henry Wood, Jonathan Dunham.
Francis Combe, Wiltam Nelson, Sr., Samuell Eaton.
1671. Gershom Cobb, Constable;4 Jonathan Dunham, agent to inspect ordinaries, and to prevent the selling of powder to the Indians, and extensive drinking;8 George Vaughan and John
1 Plymouth Colony Records, vol. v, pp. 18, 19.
1 Ibid. vol. v, p. 22. 3 Ibid. vol. v, p. 279.
4 Ibid. vol. v, p. 56. 5 Ibid. vol. v, p. 60.
Morton, agents to view damages done to the Indians by hogs and horses.1
1672. John Morton, deputy to the General Court; John Irish, constable ; John Miller, Grand Enquest; Isacke Howland, surveyor of highways.2
1673. John Morton, deputy to the General Court; Obadiah Eedey, Grand Enquest; John Dunham, constable; Samuell Wood, surveyor of highways.3
1674. John Tomson, Jonathan Dunham, Francis Combe, selectmen; John Tomson, deputy; Gershom Cobb, Grand Enquest; Isacke Howland, constable; Samuell Wood, Surveyor of highways.4
1675. Mr. Francis Combe, John Tomson, Jonathan Dunham, selectmen; John Tomson, deputy; George Vaughan, constable; John Nelson, Grand Enquest.6
At the close of King Philip's War, most of the original settlers returned slowly from Plymouth, and during the years 1676 to 1679 not all of the town offices were filled. They seem to have been so generally engaged in rebuilding their houses and preparing their farms for cultivation that but little, if any, thought was given to the civil affairs of the town. During the unfortunate administration of Governor Andros, in the year 1688, the government of the colony was much disturbed, no courts were held at Plymouth, and owing to the uncertainty of the times and the disturbances on the accession of William and Mary to the throne of England, everything of a political nature in the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies remained at a standstill, and we find no records of the courts, or of any town officers being elected.
Among the officers of the towns in the Old Colony, none were of more importance than the selectmen. This office was filled by the most influential and able men. They were given
1 Plymouth Colony Records, vol. v, p. 62.
2 Ibid. vol. v, pp. 90-93. 3 Ibid. vol. v, pp. 114-115.