Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Camp Ascension, 1910

Tispaquin Pond has long been a site for camps, including hunting camps and summer camps for children.  One of the earliest summer camps was Camp Ascension, sponsored by the Church of the Ascension of Boston, which operated for a few years beginning in 1908.  Though conducted by the church, it was operated in accordance with the principles of the Y. M. C. A., and its directors were trained at the "Springfield training school", now Springfield College in western Massachusetts.  In 1910, local newspaper correspondent James Creedon left the following description of the camp:

One of the most successful lines of church work is the summer camp, and the one which the church of the Ascension of Boston has established here is giving the greatest satisfaction and proving of real worth in many ways.

The camp is past the experimental stage.  The church has conducted summer camps for the boys for the past 15 years, and the one located in Middleboro is now in its third year. Dr. S. E. Abbott, a director of camp work of marked ability, has charge of the camp here, and is assisted by Dr. Oscar Murdock.

It is known as "Ascension camp," and is located on the westerly shore of Tispaquin pond, a beautiful sheet of water, three miles south of the Center.  It is on a bluff rising by easy grades, about 20 feet from the water.  Under spreading pines the camp is pitched, two tents, each accommodating eight boys in berths, and another camp tent for the director and his assistants.  There is a substantial cook house and another tent, without sides, which in dry weather is used for a messroom.

Plank floors are supplied in the tents and the berths are made of wooden frames, with canvas stretched across.

This hot weather of late the boys have slept with the sides of the tents rolled up, getting the full benefit of the breezes from the lake.  The tempest Monday night provided lots of rain, but did no harm.  The lightning as it was reflected in the lake made a beautiful sight.

Of the camp Dr. Abbott says: "The camp idea is a phase of the summer activity of a church, as is the gymnasium in the winter.  At this camp we welcome the boys who attend our Sunday school, or who belong to the different church clubs.  It is not a charitable institution in any way, but merely maintained for the boys of the church.  All are eligible.

"Ten days is the visiting period, and each period we receive 16 boys.  It is remarkable to see how the average pale city boy thrives under the changed conditions and goes home browned and healthy.  One boy gained eight pounds in 10 days, and all gained something.  The smaller boys are taken early in the season, and toward September the older ones come down.

"Our daily program provides for lots of fun.  Arising at 7, every one take a dip in the lake, and then the camp is cleaned up, with breakfast at 8.  The boys then do squad duty, fixing up the camp, getting wood, etc., and baseball or other sports follow till 11.  Another swim comes then, and dinner is served at 12.30.  Rest and then more games or tramps in the woods follow, and another swim is in order at 4.  Supper is served at 6, and in the evening there is a campfire, and stories are related till bunking time at 9.

"Anxious mothers may feel sure their sons are not going to be drowned when they come to a camp.  The boys come to us with the understanding that they are to obey orders.  We have simple little camp rules, which must be conformed with. If a boy violates them he is sent home on the first train.  For instance, swimming comes at such a time, as does boating.  No boy can go in swimming without our permission, and he must come out when told to do so.  There is an ample number of watchers around when the boys are in the water, to protect."

The boys who are at the camp now are John Miller, George Monroe, Ernest Monroe, Roy Tripp, James Moore, Herbert Cameron, Leon Booth, Oswold Olsen, F. Channell, T, Channell and William Hoard.

Dr. Abbott and Dr. Murdock are graduates of the Springfield training school, and are now students in Tufts medical school.  They have entertained at the camp this week Dr. O. Martin and Dr. E. S. Elliott, both Tufts men.

The boys dress comfortably around the camp, and have a great time in the water and at their games, and the camp fire in the evening is an extremely attractive feature.

Tispaquin lake, where the camp is located, takes its name from Indian days, and there are numerous traditions of the days of the redskin which make interesting stories for the boys.  The camp, while being handy to trolley lines, is still removed from the street, and is a place of quiet and pleasure.

This post is part of an on-going project to document the history and landscape surrounding Tispaquin Pond. One of two great ponds in Middleborough not designated for use as a municipal water supply (the other is Wood’s Pond), Tispaquin Pond is an important cultural and ecological resource. Readers who wish to share stories, history or photographs of Tispaquin are encouraged to contact me by clicking on the “contact me” link in the right sidebar.

Camp Ascension, Middleborough, MA, 1910, unidentified newspaper clipping, Middleborough Public Library.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Peter Oliver House, 1936

The architectural significance of the Peter Oliver House was recognized in 1936 when it was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey, a Federal program conducted under the auspices of the National Park Service designed to provide work for unemployed architects, draftsmen and photographers.  On October 3, 1936, photographer Arthur C. Haskell (1890-1968) photographed both the exterior and interior of the Oliver House.  A native of Salem, Massachusetts, Haskell had engaged in architectural drafting in the offices of Ralph Adams Cram before teaching himself architectural photography.  Eventually, Haskell found full-time employment as an architectural photographer, in which capacity he was commissioned to photograph numerous structures for the Historic American Buildings Survey in the mid-1930s, including the Oliver House.  As may be seen, Haskell's silver gelatin prints were noted for both their clarity and beautiful composition.  The images document the superior craftsmanship which went into the construction of the house, and particularly noteworthy are the Oliver House's decorative elements such as the staircase and mantels.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D. C., Survey number HABS MASS-378.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Peter Oliver House, 1769

The Peter Oliver House on Plymouth Street at Muttock, sometimes called the "Small Oliver House" in distinction to Oliver Hall, was built in 1769 by Judge Peter Oliver for his son, Doctor Peter Oliver, Jr., who wed Sally Hutchinson, daughter of then Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Hutchinson in February, 1770.  Judge Peter Oliver was an influential Loyalist in Massachusetts and the owner of a grand summer home known as Oliver Hall and the Oliver iron works (now Oliver Mill Park) in Middleborough.

Because the date of construction nearly coincides with the marriage date, it is likely that the house was built as a wedding gift for the couple. For many years, it had been believed that the house had been built in 1762, as is recorded in Weston's History of the Town of Middleboro. However, a number of finds uncovered during restoration of the house in the mid-1940s disprove Weston and confirm the later date. When the front doorsill was replaced at the time of restoration, a penny dated 1769 was discovered in the center. Additionally, the date 1769 appears scratched on the foundation of the northernmost (right) chimney, and is also handwritten on the wall of the "best bedroom" closet (which had been subsequently hidden by layers of wallpaper). Finally, Peter Oliver, Jr., for whom the house was built, did not take up residence in Middleborough until 1764.

The house is stated to be similar in design to the Wythe House at Williamsburg, Virginia, though the Oliver House has front and back halls both upstairs and downstairs. At one time, the Oliver House also had attic rooms for slaves, though these accommodations were later removed.

The first occupant of the house, Dr. Peter Oliver, Jr., was born in 1741, son of Peter and Mary (Clarke) Oliver. Educated as a physician at Harvard College, the younger Oliver came to Middleborough in May, 1764, establishing his practice the following month in a small shop built by his father at Muttock. Oliver described his practice thusly: "I gradually got a little business but poor pay". Oliver became engaged in August, 1765, to Sally Hutchinson, the sister of his college roommate and the daughter of Thomas Hutchinson, the most powerful man in the Massachusetts colony, and a staunch Loyalist. Following their 1770 marriage, the Olivers had three children, all of whom were born in the house: Margaret Hutchinson Oliver in 1771, Thomas Hutchinson Oliver in 1772, and Peter Oliver III in 1774.

During the Olivers' residency, several notable personages were entertained here. Governor Hutchinson was a frequent visitor to his daughter, until his ultimate departure from New England, June 1, 1774, and so commonplace were his visits that he referred to the house simply as the "summer house." One room, today, is known as the Hutchinson Chamber in his honor.

Benjamin Franklin was a guest in the house for three days in the summer of 1773, being the guest of honor at an evening reception attended by many prominent Middleborough residents including Reverend Sylvanus Conant, Dr. Samuel Clarke, and Elkanah Leonard. (Clarke later recalled that Abigail Adams had been present, as well). The motive behind this hospitality was, allegedly, an attempt by the Loyalist establishment to win the influential Franklin over to its cause. While only speculative, this theory does seem validated by the fact that Hutchinson considered Franklin to be "the Great director" of the Massachusetts radicals. At any rate, Franklin was not swayed, and he later infuriated the Loyalist Olivers by leaking personal correspondence from Hutchinson, and Oliver's uncle Andrew Oliver, to Thomas Whately, former secretary to British Lord Grenville. (It was only later that the southeast ground floor parlor became known as the Franklin Room).

Rising sentiments for independence from Britain increased public antipathy towards the Oliver and Hutchinson families, and other Loyalists. In January, 1774, Peter Oliver, Jr.’s, brother- in-law Elisha Hutchinson was forced to seek refuge in Middleborough after fleeing from an angry mob in Plymouth which had attempted to stone him. Oliver's father, Judge Peter Oliver, then serving as Massachusetts Chief Justice, was impeached February 24, 1774, by the General Court, and an orchestrated campaign to vilify him was undertaken. The death of Judge Oliver's brother Andrew, and the departure for England in June, 1774, of the Hutchinson family, left Judge Oliver to bear the full wrath of colonial disaffection, and was forced by a deputation of "Middleborough brutes" to sign a promise not to exercise his office, August 24, 1774.

Peter Oliver, Jr., himself, was forced by a mob of forty men which had assembled outside his house the following month, to sign a similar agreement not to accept any commission from military governor General Gage. Ultimately, a second mob, headed by Reverend Sylvanus Conant, in February, 1775, forced Peter Oliver, Jr., to flee to Boston where his remaining family had gone. During the blockade of the city, he served as a common soldier. He left America, never to return, in April, 1776, and died an embittered man in 1822.

The Oliver House and property was ultimately confiscated by the Commonwealth and the contents of the house inventoried and recorded with the Plymouth County Registry of Probate, after which they were auctioned. During the state's ownership, the house was periodically occupied by Governor James Bowdoin, who was a frequent visitor during his administration, and the Scollay family of Boston was entertained here. Eventually, the house was auctioned, as well, passing through a number of owners including Martin Brimmer of Roxbury, Nathaniel Russell (1793-94), Hushai Thomas, Jr. (1794-97), and General Abiel Washburn (1797-98) who, reputedly, removed the front door of the house for use in his own new house just across the road. The house was acquired a year later, on January 16, 1798, by Judge Thomas Weston of Carver (1770-1834), and it remained in the possession of his and his daughter's family until 1893.

Weston (1770-1834) had, in his youth, been employed in the iron business at Pope's Point Furnace in his native Carver. After removing to Middleborough in 1798, he engaged in the works at Muttock with his son, also Thomas Weston, and later engaged in politics, serving as a representative to the General Court in 1811, 1812, 1814, 1815, and 1819, and as a member of the Governor's Council for four years. He declined a nomination for a congressional seat, and later in life served as chairman of the Court of Sessions from which position he took the title of Judge.

Upon Weston's death, the house passed ultimately to his daughter, Bethaniah (Weston) Sproat, wife of Earle Sproat. The Sproat's marriage was marred by tragedy: Earle Sproat suffered tuberculosis "of the old fashioned sort" and two children died in infancy, while a third, Abby Sproat, died at the age of one year after having been scalded by boiling water, when a teapot was dropped from a table. The couple's surviving children were Mary Sproat who became a noted landscape artist; Thomas C. Sproat who studied law "and had a promising future, but who died when a young man;" and Doctor Henry H. Sproat, "a fine type of the old country doctor."

Despite this sad history, a number of anecdotes concerning the Sproats have come down to us, largely due to the fact that "the family as a whole was noted for its wit and apt repartee." The Sproats owned a share of the grist and sawmills on the Nemasket River at Muttock, and Earle Sproat would go to the sawmill every third day when the mill was running in order to cart away the slabs. One day, he and his hired man Bill Wright had the slabs loaded when a drunk Billy Allen who was employed in the Muttock grist mill came and tipped the load out deliberately. "Mr. Sproat turned to his hired man and said, 'It is a mean job to give Billy Allen a licking, but I will give you $1.25 to do it.' The hired man immediately went at it, and gave him a good sound drubbing until Mr. Sproat told him to stop. Mr. Sproat paid him for it on the spot, the slabs were reloaded and they went home."

Besides being engaged in the Muttock works, Sproat was involved in other business ventures, including a position as agent for Middleborough and vicinity of Charles L. Bartlet's "Warranted PURE” Peruvian guano.

Another anecdote relates how Mr. Sproat one morning was found resting on the steps of the place of business of a gentleman who had unexpectedly died the previous evening. When Mr. Sporat was asked by a second gentleman who was unaware of the business owner’s demise when the deceased would be in, Mr. Sproat drolly replied without lifting his eyes, “He’ll be in on the Resurrection morn.”

Still yet another tale, as told by James Burgess, relates to Sproat’s last hour of life, May 9, 1864. “The morning before he passed away the Rev. Mr. Putnam of the Green church came up to call on Mrs. Sproat who was a member of the church. She asked him to go in and ask Mr. Sproat what he thought of the end that was coming to him. He came into the room and said, ‘Mr. Sproat, you seem to be nearing your end.’ Mr. Sproat said, “I am.’ “Well,’ said the Reverend, ‘What do you think of meeting your Lord and Master?’ The answer was, ‘In all my business relations in life I never have traded much with the middle man. I have always bought my goods at wholesale. It looks now as though I should see the Lord before you will, and I can no doubt patch it up a good deal better when I get there and see Him than I can with you.’ Mr. Putnam made no reply, but immediately left the room. For once I was silent, as was Mr. [Joseph] Bennet. Soon Mr. Sproat began to talk of those who were coming home from the war, some with an arm gone, some with a leg gone and others with an eye missing, and he said, ‘I think it is a good time to get through.’ And then he died.”

With the death of Earle Sproat, the property passed to Sproat’s son, Dr. Henry H. Sproat of Freetown, Massachusetts, and upon Henry’s early death, to his minor daughter, Eleanor Bethania Sproat. The house was sold by Eleanor’s mother and guardian Katherine Ann Sproat in October, 1893, to Henry Champion Jones of Boston (1856-1942), a teacher at the Boston Latin School.

Jones was associated with the Arnold Arboretum at Boston and carried out plantings on the grounds. Long prior to Jones, the grounds of the house had been noted for a large locust grove which stood in front of the house where a field now lies. The grove contained nearly 200 locust trees, as well as garden seats and bird boxes. The grove was destroyed in a heavy gale in 1815 when all but 15 of the trees came down. Also on the grounds is a small brook which empties into the Nemasket River. Judge Oliver is believed to have dammed the brook to facilitate the extraction of iron ore from the brook bed for use at his Muttock works. The dam was still visible 100 years later.

Following Jones’ death, his family generously offered to donate the property to the Middleborough Historical Association which declined the offer. Consequently, it was sold in 1945 to Peter Oliver, a relation of the original owner who restored the house as closely as possible to its original appearance. It has remained in the Oliver family since that time.

"The Sproat House", postcard, H. A. Dickerman & Son, publisher, early 1900s.
The postcard is clearly incorrectly captioned, the date of construction erroneously being given as 1749.  The house, in fact, dates from some 20 years later.  The house known as the Sproat House, Peter Oliver House and Small Oliver House was a popular subject of early postcard publishers, and the Dickerman card here is but one example.

Benjamin Franklin by David Martin, oil on canvas, 1767.
The portrait depicts Franklin as he would have been known to the Oliver and Hutchinson families - elegant, sophisticated, an engaging conversationalist and a political influence.

James Bowdoin II, oil on canvas, 1748.
A youthful 22-year-old Bowdoin is captured in this portrait dating from 1748.  Bowdoin was a political and intellectual leader in Massachusetts during the Revolution, and succeeded John Hancock as governor in 1785.  During the period of his governorship from 1785 through 1787, Bowdoin is believed to have stayed in the Oliver House on a number of occasions.

Oliver House Staircase, photograph, c. 1930.
The turned newel post and banisters of the staircase of the Oliver House demonstrate the attention given to the construction of the house in 1769.  The architecture of the structure was more formally documented as part of the Historic American Building Survey in 1936.

James A. Burgess, “A Sketch of Some Characters of Years Ago”, The Middleborough Antiquarian, 17:2, pp. 5-9. Originally published in the Middleboro Gazette between 19907 and 1909.

Peter Oliver, “Judge Oliver and the Small Oliver House in Middleborough”, The Middleborough Antiquarian, 11:4, July, 1970, pp. 2-6.

Plymouth County Registry of Deeds.

Plymouth County Registry of Probate.

“The Small Oliver House”, The Middleborough Antiquarian, 11:4, July, 1970, p. 1.

Thomas Weston, History of the Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts (Middleborough, MA: Town of Middleborough, 1906).

Warren and Marion Whipple, “Middleborough in the American Revolution”, The Middleborough Antiquarian, 26:2, May, 1988.

Deacon Alfred Wood, Record of Deaths, Middleboro, Massachusetts (Boston: General Socity of Mayflower Descendants, 1947).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries

The mission of the Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries is "to preserve, maintain, and restore the cemeteries located in Middleborough, including the graves, burial grounds, and burial plots; to promote an improved awareness of the history and care of Middleborough cemeteries; and to preserve and promote the memory of those persons interred within Middleborough."  A worthy cause, indeed.

There has long been a need for such an organization within Middleborough.  In the absence of a cemetery commission, many small neighborhood cemeteries and individual gravesites with no owners to provide for their upkeep have been abandoned and left to deteriorate.  Many have been lost forever. Several gravesites known to residents a century ago are no longer locatable with any certainty.  Active cemetery associations also have historically struggled financially to provide the maintenance required for larger cemeteries.  In 1867 and again in 1873, complaints lodged with the proprietors of the Central Cemetery indicate that that cemetery was challenged with the upkeep and maintenance of its grounds, as was the Nemasket Hill Cemetery.  In 1948, Leon F. Anderson of the Rock Cemetery Association noted the "extra effort" that was required "to get in [ever] more money for care of lots", a difficult challenge still facing cemetery associations today.  Vandalism, unchecked vegetative growth and the elements, have further promoted the deterioration of some stones, particularly the white marble markers favored in the mid 19th century.

The Friends hope to arrest this trend, by promoting the preservation and maintenance of the community's historic cemeteries, and they are deserving of the community's support.  To help foster awareness of and interest in their activities, the Friends have recently launched a website, a link to which has been provided for readers in the right-hand sidebar.  Additional links to Middleborough cemetery histories are included in the Local History Books section further down in the right sidebar, as well.  Please help foster the worthy cause of cemetery preservation in Middleborough by supporting the Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries.

Tack Factory (Leonard) Cemetery, Taunton Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, mid-1990s.
The cast iron ornamental fencing stacked at the side of the Tack Factory Cemetery indicates the pride in as well as the attention once given this cemetery which served the Tack Factory neighborhood near Bedford Street, as well as the need for an organization to take charge of Middleborough's smaller cemeteries, many of which now lie neglected.

Richmond Family Markers, Tack Factory Cemetery, Taunton Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, mid-1990s.
Grass, trees and shrubs left unchecked have damaged many grave markers in Middleborough cemeteries, including the two Richmond family markers pictured here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cider Apples, 1901

Expectations this autumn for a decreased harvest of apples in Massachusetts echo similar forecasts from a century ago.  In 1901, the pronounced decline in the local production of cider apples was noted, as was the consequent increase in price of the fruit. 

Cider apples in Middleboro have advanced to ten cents a bushel, while down in Nova Scotia the same grade of fruit is rotting beause it is so plentiful. The apple shortages of recent years are a strong argument for a reduced duty on the Canadian article.

1901, in fact, marked a low point in annual production with only 23,075,000 barrels produced, down from the peak year of 1896 when over 69 million barrels of the fruit were harvested nationally. 

"Apples!", photograph by Rebekah Dickman, October 14, 2007, reprinted under a Creative Commons license.

Old Colony Memorial, "News Notes", October 5, 1901, page 3.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In Search of Atlantic White Cedar

Historically, Middleborough has had a number of diverse ecosystems, including what would have been classified as coastal Atlantic white cedar swamps. Such swamps were noted for the profusion of Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) and provided ecologically important habitats supporting a wide diversity of wildlife and other flora.

Today, however, most of Middleborough’s historic Atlantic white cedar swamps have been destroyed, victims primarily of heavy logging through the 19th century as well as subsequent agricultural uses which have had a detrimental impact upon the white cedar habitat. Middleborough’s situation is not unique, for throughout the region the majority of Atlantic white cedar swamps have been lost for the same reasons.

One of Middleborough’s lesser known cedar swamps was the Tispaquin Cedar Swamp located on the northern shore of Tispaquin Pond between Wood’s (or Wood’s Pond) Brook and Short’s Brook. Today, much of the swamp, now largely hardwood, is protected within the confines of the Frederick S. Weston Memorial Forest. Ironically, though the swamp has historically been known as Tispaquin Cedar Swamp, logging of the swamp and subsequent changes to the water flow and natural hydrological functioning have contributed to the decline of the species within the swamp, so much so that it can no longer be classified as a cedar swamp. Aerial photographs of the swamp attest to the paucity of white cedar trees in an area once presumed to be thick with them, so profuse, in fact, that they gave their name to the location. It is there to this one time habitat that I went this week to search for the elusive white cedar.

The factor which initiated the long tale of forest succession within the Tispaquin Cedar Swamp was the increasing value placed upon the white cedar. When Tispaquin sold the land which included the Tispaquin Cedar Swamp to Henry Wood in 1667 he was careful to reserve to himself “liberty to get cedar bark in ye swamp”, the earliest recorded indication of the swamp’s economic value. Besides the practical use they made of the tree, Natives would have found the swamp attractive as a hunting ground, in part because the white cedar attracted white-tailed deer in winter which fed on its foliage, as well as rabbits which made similar use of cedar seedlings.

Early English settlers came to value the tree for its resistance to decay and insects, and it was accordingly used for stakes, posts, shingles, buckets, barrel staves and other articles where durability and weather resilience was a must. In time, much of the swamp was periodically logged off, the cedars probably culled from the woods as a consequence of continuing demand for them. Logging was typically conducted in the winter when frozen ground made access to the swamp easier, and few areas were not impacted. Unfortunately, no records remain to indicate what percentage of swamp was historically comprised of white cedar, though it is presumed to have been high. It is also unknown as to how frequently the swamp was logged. Samuel Bourne’s 1831 map of Middleborough shows a considerable portion of the swamp to have been forested at the time, as does Beers map of 1879. It is probable that much of the swamp, which consisted of numerous privately held woodlots, was periodically harvested as was the case with the South Purchase which was never clear cut, though heavily and frequently harvested.

Regardless of its frequency, harvesting of Atlantic white cedar appears to have severely disrupted the ecology of the Tispaquin Cedar Swamp, permitting hardwoods, particularly red maple (Acer rubrum) and other species to get a hold, inhibiting the regeneration of the cedars. Leaf litter from hardwoods and shrubs combined with browsing deer were likely inhibitors of growth for any cedar seedlings which were able to germinate.

It is also likely that the construction of cranberry bogs along both Wood’s and Short’s Brooks also deprived the swamp of water. Atlantic white cedar swamps typically have higher water levels than hardwood swamps, and the disruption of the natural flow into the swamp from agricultural operations further upstream most likely lowered the amount of water in the swamp. Scientists have confirmed that lowering the water level in white cedar swamps has generally resulted in replacement by drier species.

Sometime following 1884, John W. and Thomas S. Howes developed the area to the south of Wood’s Pond along Wood’s Brook as cranberry bogs and by 1904 the two had 10 acres under cultivation. Similarly, in the 1890s the Andrews family developed the cranberry bogs along Short’s Brook at Thomas Street. Short’s Brook was dammed and its waters impounded in order to create a reservoir on the north side of Thomas Street with outflow controlled by means of a flume. It is likely that these operations and others lowered the general level of water within the Tispaquin Cedar Swamp to the detriment of the white cedar. Devoid of moisture and the water which it needed on a seasonal basis, the trees disappeared.

Yet, some have survived. In search of remnant white cedar stands, I did find them, most notably a stand of about some half dozen or more not far distant from Wood’s Brook midway between Tispaquin Pond and Thomas Street. Noticeable from a distance by their thin rigidly straight trunks and narrow dark green canopies, the white cedars were an elegant counterpoise to the surrounding trees. Given the diameter of the trees and the typical rate of growth, the small stands found are probably in the range of 100-150 years old. Possibly, they were not considered valuable enough (or were not substantial enough) to harvest at the time larger specimens were felled and managed to escape the woodsman’s saw. Though additional and more expansive stands may survive deeper within the swamp, as a whole the tree has largely disappeared from the swamp, and its possible regeneration appears doubtful unless restoration efforts are undertaken.

This post is part of an on-going project to document the history and landscape surrounding Tispaquin Pond. One of two great ponds in Middleborough not designated for use as a municipal water supply (the other is Wood’s Pond), Tispaquin Pond is an important cultural and ecological resource.  Readers who wish to share stories, history or photographs of Tispaquin are encouraged to contact me by clicking on the “contact me” link in the right sidebar.

Atlantic White Cedars, Frederick S. Weston Memorial Forest, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, September 4, 2011.

Atlantic White Cedar Trunk, Frederick S. Weston Memorial Forest, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, September 4, 2011.

Atlantic White Cedar Bark, Frederick S. Weston Memorial Forest, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, September 4, 2011.

Atlantic White Cedars, Frederick S. Weston Memorial Forest, Middleborough,MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, September 4, 2011.
The hummocky moss-covered ground favored by Atlantic white cedar is clearly visible in this photograph.

Wood's Brook, Frederick S. Weston Memorial Forest, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, September 4, 2011.
Wood's Brook, also historically known as Wood's Pond Brook, is pictured a short distance north of its confluence with Fall Brook near Tispaquin Pond.  In the right foreground a red maple (Acer rubrum) is noticeable near the sluggish stream.  Unchecked, such trees will soon replace the white cedars which once dominated the swamp.  Nearly half a mile upstream is the stand of Atlantic white cedar pictured in the post here.