Natick - Encyclopedia

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NATICK, a township of S.E. Middlesex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on the S.E. end of Cochituate Lake. Pop. (1890) 9118; (1900) 9 488, of whom 1788 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 9866. The area of the township is 12.375 sq. m. The township's largest village, also named Natick, lying 18 m. W.S.W. of Boston, is served by the Boston & Albany railroad; it has the Walnut Hill preparatory school, the Leonard Morse hospital, and a public library, the Morse institute, which was given by Mary Ann Morse (1825-1862) and was built in 1873. In the village of South Natick is the Bacon Free Library (1880), in which is housed the Historical, Natural History and Library Society. In 1905 the factory product was valued at $3,453,094; the boots and shoes manufactured in 1905 were valued at $2,896,110 or 83.9% of the town's total, the output of brogans being especially important. Other distinctive manufactures are shirts and base-balls. Natick is the Indian name, signifying " our land," or " hilly land," of the site (originally part of Dedham) granted in 1650 to John Eliot, for the praying " Indians. There was an Indian church in Natick, at what is now called South Natick or " Oldtown," from 1660 to 1716; and for some years the community was governed, in accordance with the eighteenth chapter of Exodus, by " rulers of tens," " rulers of fifties," and " rulers of hundreds." Until 1719 the Indians held the land in common. In 1735 the few Indians remaining were put under guardianship. The township owns a copy of Eliot's Indian Bible. An Eliot monument was erected in 1847 on the Indian burying-ground near the site of the Indian church, now occupied by a Unitarian church. Of the Eliot oaks, made famous by Longfellow's sonnet, one was cut down in 1842, the other still stands. Henry Wilson learned to make shoes here, and in the presidential campaign in 1840 gained the sobriquet of the " Natick cobbler." By the colonial authorities Natick was considered as a " plantation " until the establishment of the church; in 1762 the parish (erected in 1745) became a district, and in 1781 this was incorporated as a town.

See " Natick," by S. D. Hosmer, Daniel Wight and Austin Bacon, in vol. 2 of S. A. Drake's History of Middlesex County (Boston, 1880); and Oliver N. Bacon, History of the Town of Natick (Boston, 1856).

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