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Hingham Massachusetts, Incorporated 1635, History & Pride
 

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History

Historical Highlights of Hingham, Massachusetts, Incorporated 1635

Benjamin LincolnHingham's roots go back to the earliest days of European settlement in the new world. The first Europeans arrived in 1633, calling the area Bare Cove. Here they found the Massachusetts Indians, a tribal branch of the Algonquin Nation. Relations between the indigenous people and the settlers were friendly with the Native Americans providing food and teaching the settlers how to grow corn. The first significant European settlement was established in 1635 when the Rev. Peter Hobart arrived with his followers from Hingham, England. In that same year, they renamed the town, Hingham, and it was incorporated as the 12th town in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. By 1665, the Massachusetts Indians, weakened by plague and attacks by the Abanaki Tribe, granted the land "from the beginning of the world" to the settlers. This deed, bearing the mark of the Sachem Wompatuck, hangs in the Hingham Town Hall today.

Old Ship ChurchIn 1681, Hingham's 140 families raised the money to construct the Old Ship Meeting House. Still in active use, it is recognized as the oldest wooden church structure and the oldest church building in continuous use in America. During the American Revolution the population had reached 2000. Approximately 600 men from Hingham served in that war. The period following the war was a tranquil one in which the economy flourished. Fishing, farming, shipping and milling were the primary occupations. In 1784 the Derby School, later Derby Academy, was established as the first co-educational school in the nation. The Academy has moved to new quarters, but the original building now serves as the headquarters of the Hingham Historical Society and is used for meetings and social functions.

In the 19th century, Hingham's fishing industry peaked with 65 fishing vessels and the fourth largest mackerel fleet in the country. It was such an important port that for 45 years there was a customs house marking Hingham as an official port of entry to the U.S. By the Civil War, the population had grown to 4000, 854 of whom served in the war.

Herbert Lewis Foss, Hingham's Only Medal of Honor RecipientOn July 7, 1899 Seaman Herbert Lewis Foss was awarded his country's highest honor, The Congressional Medal of Honor, for his extraordinary bravery and coolness under enemy fire. He became Hingham's only Medal of Honor recipient. Read more about Seaman Herbert Lewis Foss.

The 20th century saw war change the face of Hingham dramatically. In 1906 the Navy built a "Magazine" on 697 acres in North Hingham to store ammunition for the NorthNaval Reserve Atlantic Fleet. In the South End, 500 sailors were stationed at "Camp Hingham". Again during WWII, Hingham was called upon by the Navy. Seven square miles (now Wompatuck State Park) were used for a huge ammunition depot. Then in 1942, 150 acres at the harbor were taken for a shipyard to build convoy ships (Destroyer Escorts "DE's"). This marked the first mass production of ships as Hingham turned out 16 at a time in a huge effort. At the height of production, 24,000 people were employed working around the clock, seven days a week.

After the war years, there was an urgent need for housing and schools to accommodate returning service men and the resulting baby boom. The housing stock continued to expand. But by the 1970's the Town focused on acquiring land to preserve as open space. This concern for the environment and quality of life remains a priority in Hingham today.

Primarily a residential community now, Hingham is connected to Boston by highway, bus, commuter boat and by the restored Greenbush commuter rail line. It has multiple recreation sites on fresh and saltwater and within parkland. Hingham today looks to the future with an eye to preserving its rich history, so evident in the remarkable architecture preserved in both public and private buildings, and in the protection of its open space.

Historical Timeline

1633 First settlement at Bare Cove includes former residents from Hingham, England
1635 Reverend Peter Hobart, along with others from Hingham, England, arrives and is the pastor of the first church in Hingham
1635 Name of settlement Barecove changed and incorporated as Hingham
1638 Ship "Diligent" of Ipswich, England brings additional 133 settlers from Hingham and Norfolk, England under the leadership of minister Robert Peck
1643 First corn mill is established at Hingham Harbor
1675 Hingham men sent to fight in King Philip's War
1676 Five Hingham homes burnt down by the Indians
1680 Old Ordinary Tavern built and is now owned by the Hingham Historical Society
1681 Old Ship Church built and is the oldest church in continuous use in the United States
1690 Hingham men participate in Sir William Phip's expedition to Port Royal and Quebec
1742 Second Parish Church, South Hingham, built
1744-48 Hingham men participate in the siege of Louisbourg
1749 Levi Lincoln born in Hingham; later Congressman, Attorney General of U.S., Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, US Supreme Court Associate Justice
1754-63 Hingham men fight in many expeditions and battles in French and Indian War, including Fort William Henry, Fort Frontenae and Quebec
1770 Cohasset declares "independence from Hingham and incorporates
1771 First public library in Hingham established, known as first Social Library, in Hingham Centre
1773 Hingham men participate in Boston Tea Party
1775 Hingham men answer the call and placed on the "Lexington Alarm Rolls
1775-81 Hingham men enlist and participate in the War of the Revolution, led by Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who accepts surrender of British forces at Yorktown on behalf of Gen. Washington; Benj. Lincoln was a delegate to the Provincial Congress, U.S. Secretary of War, Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, first President of Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati
1778 Gen. Lafayette lodges at the Anchor Tavern on South Street
1784 Derby Academy established; oldest private coeducational institution in the U.S.
1787 First meeting of the Hingham School Committee
1802 Regular stagecoach service between Boston and Plymouth, stopping in Hingham, begins
1807 New North Meeting House built
1815 Hingham becomes known as "Bucket Town as Wilders open their bucket factory
1818 Present Derby Academy on Main Street built
1818 First steamboat "Eagle makes regular run between Boston and Hingham
1826 Hingham Mutual Fire Insurance Company incorporated
1827 Hingham Gazette, later renamed Hingham Journal, first published
1834 Hingham Institution for Savings Incorporated
1849 South Shore Railroad Company, a branch of the Old Colony Line, runs through Hingham
1852 Loring Hall built
1853-1902 Hingham Cordage Co & Ropework operational
1855 Clams, Oysters, and Plum Pudding Corporation (C.O.&P.P.) formed in Hingham Centre
1858 Hingham Agricultural and Horticultural Society formed
1861-65 520 Men serve in the Civil War; Hingham Lincoln Light Infantry under Col. Stephenson volunteer; 97 Hingham men die, serving in many regiments
1861-65 John A. Andrews, sometime resident of Hingham, is Governor of Massachusetts
1863 Fearing Burr first publishes Field and Garden Vegetables of America
1865-1935 Burr, Brown Co. operational, known as "the shoestring factory, also makes tassels, drapery, shades and curtains
1867 Agricultural Hall built and becomes town's social (and sometimes civic) center
1869 Hingham Public Library established under the aegis of the Hon. Albert Fearing
1870 Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument dedicated
1871 Melville Gardens resort established at Downer Landing, now known as Crow Point
1872 First Hingham High School built on Central Street
1880 Nantasket Beach Railroad built
1880 John Brewer, working with Frederick Law Olmstead, plants over 900 trees on World's End along planned roads
1880-82 Hingham resident John D. Long is Governor of Massachusetts and, in 1897, Secretary of the Navy
1896 Hingham Street Railway Company runs from Hingham Square to Queen Anne's Corner, with connections to Melville Gardens, Hull and Weymouth
1898 On May 11, 1898, while onboard the U.S.S. Marblehead, Seaman Herbert Lewis Foss and his shipmates snared and severed a communications cable while under heavy enemy fire off the coast of northwest Cuba during the Spanish American War.
1899 On July 7, 1899 Seaman Herbert Foss was awarded his country's highest honor, The Congressional Medal of Honor.
1909 Naval Magazine or "Depot at Bare Cove opened; also known as Hockley Hollow
1911 Troop One, Boy Scouts of America, formed and remains as one of the oldest scout troops in America
1912 Hingham Memorial Bell Tower dedicated
1914 Hingham Historical Society formed
1917 Company K, Fifth Regiment, 101st Infantry Battalion (later 26th on Yankee Division) mustered and sent to France (12 Hingham men die in WWI)
1917 Camp Hingham Naval Station established
1922 Land purchased to form the beginning of the Town Forest
1924 Hingham Garden Club formed
1928 Second Hingham High School (now Town Hall) built on Central Street
1932-37 Hingham Memorial Hospital operational on Fearing Pond
1935 Hingham Tercentennial "Hingham Pageant celebrated
1939 Abraham Lincoln statue dedicated
1941 U.S. Government takes 3744 acres for new Navy Ammunition Depot Annex - later becomes Wompatuck State Park
1942 Eleanor Roosevelt visits Hingham and This Is America is published
1942 Bethlehem Steel shipyard, known as "Beth Hingham," builds 100 convoy ships (Destroyer Escorts "DEs") on 16 separate "ways" at Huets Cove; at its peak there are over 24,000 workers; LSTs are later built after VE Day; shipyard is awarded the letter "E by the U.S. Navy
1944 Seventeen Seamen and Gunnersmates of the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot lose their lives when the USS YF-415 sinks 14 miles off of Boston Harbor during a routine ammunition disposal.
1945 Triphammer Pond conservation area acquired by the Town
1953 Mill Pond is filled in
1959 Old Colony RR Line discontinues service to Hingham
1965 Notre Dame Academy opens
1966 Lincoln Historic District approved
1966 Old Derby acquired by the Hingham Historical Society
1967 Naval Ammunition Depot Annex purchased by the State and ultimately becomes Wompatuck State Park in 1973
1967 Trustees of Reservations acquires World's End for a park
1967 Hingham Historic District Commission formed
1970 South Shore Conservatory founded
1974 Bare Cove Park opens
1974 Hingham Historic Commission formed
1978 Selectmen and Advisory Board declare Hingham in a State of Emergency after February 7th blizzard blanketed the Town with forty inches of snow
  First Hingham-to-Boston Commuter Boat begins service
1980 Town faced with new challenges as the Commonwealth passes Proposition 2
1985 Town celebrates its 350th Anniversary
  Overpass adjoining the Hingham Shipyard is demolished as a first step toward Shipyard improvements
1988 February 16th fire destroys the Sprague block in Hingham Square destroying 16 shops and businesses
  Town purchases the country club
1990 Selectmen reject the MBTA's Draft Environmental Impact Report with respect to the Greenbush line
  Over 1,000 residents line Main Street in support of the Massachusetts National Guard's 1058th Transportation Company, many of whom served in the Persian Gulf War
1995 At one of the largest Town meetings in history, residents oppose restoration of the Greenbush line and voted funds for Selectmen to pursue protection under federal and state laws
1998 On October 17th, residents gather to dedicate the new Town Office Building at 210 Central Street
2000 Selectmen reach settlement agreement with the MBTA obtaining mitigation relief for the Town as a result of the Greenbush Rail Line.
  The Leavitt family, descendants of John Leavitt, who came to Hingham in 1636, visit the Town
2001 Renovations of the Hingham Public Library and Hingham High School are completed
  Renovation of historic Whitney Wharf is completed
2002 Town appoints the first Community Preservation Committee . This group will establish policies and procedures for administering the Community Preservation Act.
2004 New Veteran's Memorial Monument at Town Hall, designed by Hingham resident Stefan Vogelman, dedicated on November 11.
2006 The Hingham School Building Committee is established to implement the Ten-Year School Facility Master Plan. The committee will address the challenges facing school facilities in Hingham.
2007 Greenbush Railroad line service began on October 31st.
2009 New Public Works facility on Bare Cove Park Drive opens for business.
  New East School opens on the same site as the original.
  375th Anniversary of the Town's founding celebrated with gala costume ball, vintage baseball game, tours of historic downtown and Hingham Cemetery, and many other events.
2012 On the 68th anniversary of the explosion and sinking of the USS YF-415, Navy Veteran J. B. Mills leads effort in the dedication of a memorial to the Seamen and Gunnersmates of Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot who lost their lives fourteen miles offshore from Boston Harbor.