Here are some of the people who figured into the history of the area that is now Barque Hill, and of Fox Hill Shipyard. The names may be familiar because some of our streets bear their names, but there is much more to know about some of these early area residents!
If this interests you, much more is available in Vernon Briggs’ comprehensive work published in 1889 “History of Shipbuilding on North River”, now available online. Chapter IX. (pages 131-146) specifically focus on Fox Hill Yard and the many vessels built there.
Beginning some time before 1814 Barker Turner, who later built at the “Brick Kilns” (on the other side of the river in what is now Pembroke) and “Bridge” yards, occupied the Fox Hill yard. Between 1815 and 1820 he built on his own, or in partnership with others, 11 ships at Fox Hill Shipyard, including the first recorded ship from here, the schooner “Orient.”
An incident is related of a certain Mr. Nye of Pembroke, who, while Mr. Turner was building at this yard, would come across the river at night and “hook” rum from a jug that Mr. Turner used to keep in his chest. Finally two men were set to watch and after Mr. Nye had taken a good drink and filled up his flask they seized him. Sometime afterward Mr. Nye suddenly died from the effects of an overdose of liquor, taken through a straw through a barrel.
Caleb was grandson of Capt. Benjamin of Pembroke and son of Nathaniel of Scituate, and brother of Barker Turner, Senior. He lived in the Uncle Roger Stetson House and left a family who moved to South Bridgewater.
With his brother Barker, Caleb Turner built 3 vessels at Fox Hill shipyard:
- “Roxanna” 1818
- “Mary Jones” 1818
- “Cyrene” 1819
Captain Elijah Barstow
Captain Elijah Barstow, who until about 1846 had been building ships in the old Barstow Yard back of Edmund Q. Sylvester’s in Hanover, was approached about that time by George M. Allen of Scituate Harbor with a proposition to build for him a vessel of 250 tons. On account of the great expense necessary to get the vessels over the shoals below his yard, which would consume the small profits of those days, Capt. Barstow decided it would not pay to build the vessel at his yard, and therefore invited Capt. Thomas Waterman to build her in company at Capt. Waterman’s yard, Fox Hill. He accepted, and they began their partnership which lasted until 1859, when Thomas B. Waterman succeeded his father, and in company with Capt. Barstow, built until 1869, when the last vessel was built at this yard.
Captain John Manson
Captain John Manson commanded and owned some of the ships built at Fox Hill yard.
He was born 5 Jul 1805, Scituate, MA, and died 14 Jul 1889, Scituate, MA. Son of Nehemiah Manson and Hannah (Lincoln) Manson. He married Abigail Turner Ford on 1 Sep 1834, in Scituate, MA. They had 5 children: Anne Ellms Manson; John Lincoln Manson; George Wales Manson; Edmond Sewall Manson, and Helen Manson.
He commanded first the schooner “James Otis,” built in Pembroke, and c. 1830-1 the “Mary,” built in Kennebunk; later the schooner “Abigail,” built by Magoun & Turner in Brooklyn c1834, afterward the hermaphrodite brig “Allen,” the bark “Tom Corwin,” built at Fox Hill, and the ship “William Sturgis,” built in Medford, all used in the New Orleans and European trade, and in 1851-4 the ship “Meridian,” built by Jackson & Ewell, East Boston, 1740 tons. This was the largest vessel then afloat. He commanded the ship “George Peabody” to Europe from Mobile and New Orleans and back from Liverpool with emigrants. From 1858 to the end of his sea life in 1861 he made three voyages in the ship “Golden Fleece,” (built by Paul Curtis at East Boston,) to San Francisco. He retired from the sea in 1861 on account of the Civil War. It is remarkable that Capt. Manson never met with any accident except to carry away some small spar or lose a man overboard. (Shipbuilding on North River, 140)
Owned (with George M. Allen, Eaton Vinal, his brother Thomas L. Manson, and Thomas Waterman, of Scituate, who built her) the schooner “Lake,” 99 tons, built by Capt. Thomas Waterman in 1840. (Shipbuilding on North River, 139)
During the later part of his sea going he sailed for Wm. F. Weld & Co. He superintended the laying of the keel for the first vessel they ever built. (Shipbuilding on North River, 141)
Owned (along with George M. Allen of Scituate, and Elijah Brooks, master carpenter, of Marshfield) the brig “Allen King,” 206 tons, built in 1843 by Elijah Brooks. Being a very fast vessel, she was used as a fruiter, and coined money for her new owners, under Capt. John Manson. He took her to the West Indies, and to Brazil, once or twice, but most of the time to Malaga, in the Mediterranean. He left Malaga with a full cargo of fruit for New York, and arrived back in Malaga, with a full cargo of staves, in 62 days, carrying back to Malaga the report of his own arrival in New York, being the quickest passage ever made. He was 58 days from Gibraltar to New York and back. (Shipbuilding on North River, 279-80)
Owned (along with George M. and William P. Allen) the schooner “Otis,” 87 tons, built in 1846 by The Briggs Brothers. (Shipbuilding on North River, 386)
In 1815 he went with his father mackerel fishing in the “Rosebud.” In 1812-13 the British frigate “Nymph,” and the British 74 “La Hogue,” sent their boats into Scituate Harbor from time to time and burned or carried off the vessels there. Capt. Manson remembered once when a fleet of these boats were coming in, that the women began to carry off their beds and furniture, but an officer in one of the British boats cried out, “Good women don’t carry your beds off, we ain’t going to hurt you.” At this time the “Rosebud,” which belonged to the elder Manson, the “Orient,” and the “Sophronia” were carried off, and five or six other vessels were burned in the Harbor. The British returned the “Rosebud,” which was finally sold to Maine. The “Orient” they kept, and the master of the “Sophronia,” which was loaded with hay, went on board the man-of-war and induced them to giver her up and let him take her back to the Harbor.
Capt. Thomas Waterman
Capt. Thomas Waterman was one of the most prolific of shipbuilders at Fox Hill. Between 1819 and 1856 he build on his own, or in partnership with others, at least 24 ships.
He was born in 1791 and died in 1861, aged 70 yrs. His father, Thomas, born 1765, was grandson of Thomas of Marshfield, and son of Capt. Anthony, who came from Marshfield in 1760. Capt. Thomas Waterman resided east of the brook, at the ancient Copeland place. He had two children: Thomas B., who mar. Clara Crooker of Norwell (then So. Scituate), and succeeded his father at the yard, and Sylvia, who d. in August, 1844.
Son Thomas B. had two children: Thomas W., b. May 4, 1868, taken from the family by typhoid fever in the fall of 1888, just as he was attaining manhood; and George, b. Oct. 30, 1870, who worked in a bank in Boston.
In 1819 he built the ship “Cashier,” in partnership with William Copeland, and Joseph S. Bates. In 1833 he formed a partnership with Bates, with whom, in their first year, he built the ships “Ontario” and “Hilo,” at 390 tons the largest ship ever to be built at Fox Hill Shipyard. After building two more ships with Bates, Capt. Waterman carried on the business alone until 1846, during which time be built 6 ships: 1837: “Vintage;” 1838: “Otho;” 1840: “Lake;” 1841: “Wave; ” 1842: “Manson;” and in 1845 “St. Paul.”
Captain Elijah Barstow, who until about 1846 had been building ships in the old Barstow Yard back of Edmund Q. Sylvester’s in Hanover, was approached about that time by George M. Allen of Scituate Harbor with a proposition to build for him a vessel of 250 tons. On account of the great expense necessary to get the vessels over the shoals below his yard, which would consume the small profits of those days, Capt. Barstow decided it would not pay to build the vessel at his yard, and therefore invited Capt. Waterman to build her in company at Capt. Waterman’s yard, Fox Hill. He accepted, and they began their partnership which lasted until 1859, when Thomas B. Waterman succeeded his father, and in company with Capt. Barstow, built until 1869, when the last vessel was built at this yard.
John Palmer’s son, John Jr. lived near “the junction of the roads southeast of Church Hill” (near Tiffany Rd. and River St.). In 1660 John Sr. built “John Palmer’s Log Bridge” over the Third Herring Brook, near where River Street today crosses into Hanover. John Jr., the shipbuilder, worked the Fox Hill shipyard with Nathaniel Church beginning about 1690.
The descendants of Nathaniel Church and John Palmer probably continued building ships at this site. The next names that appear in the records for Fox Hill Shipyard are those of Barker Turner, Michael Ford and his brother-in-law, William Copeland.
Joseph S. Bates
Joseph S. Bates was a descendant of Caleb, of Hingham, through Comfort of Pembroke, in which town he was born. He served his time with Col. J. B. Barstow and married his daughter, Sarah, Oct. 2, 1820. They lived on Broadway, northeast of Hanover Four Corners, at the house on the corner of Oakland Ave. hey had three children:
- Henry S., born November, 1821, married first _____ Gardner, and second, in 1888, Mrs. Emeline Sylvester;
- Sarah Ann, b. Nov., 1823
- John Burden, b. Feb. 17, 1826, who married Lydia Waterman, and later lived at the corner of Rockland Street, next to the Episcopal Church at the Four Corners.
In partnership with William Copeland and Capt. Thomas Waterman, in 1819 he built the 73-ton brig “Cashier.” Later, in 1832, William Copeland & Co. sold their firm to a new partnership that Joseph S. Bates and Capt. Waterman had formed. Between 1833 -1836 they would build 4 ships: the 390-ton “Hilo,” (the largest ship ever built at Fox Hill yard), the “Ontario,” the “Almina” and the “Rienzi,” which was captured and burned at sea by a privateer.
Michael Ford was great-grandson of William Ford of Marshfield, and son of Michael Ford Sr. His father married Roda Copeland in 1778, and settled on a farm purchased from Ebenezer Stetson, 1/2 mile above Cornet’s Rocks on the North River.
Their son, Michael the shipbuilder, worked at Smith’s Yard in Hanover in 1799, with William Copeland. He was sergeant in the militia company commanded by Lieut. Tolman. He did the joiner work on the vessels on the way down river. While working on the “Samos” he stuck a chisel into his knee, which lamed him for life.
He had sons: Michael, who was a shipbuilder at the yards in East Boston; William C.; and David Barnes, who married Lavinia Sherman, and resided at Hanover Four Corners.
In 1819 William Copeland, Michael Ford and Elias W. Pratt formed a shipbuilding partnership under the name of Copeland, Ford & Pratt. Some time later there entered into this firm Elisha Tolman, Elisha Merritt and one other, and the firm named was changed about 1824 to William Copeland & Co.
Nathaniel Church settled what was then Scituate (now Norwell) in 1666. His farm was on the North River, south of Cornet Stetson’s, and included the “Bald Hills.” His house stood by the river, nearly opposite Job’s Landing. Job’s Landing was reached from Water St. in Pembroke at the home for many years of the Ware family, which places the Church site not far from Till Rock. Most likely, any remains of the original site were disturbed when Barque Hill was developed, though it is possible that the 2 acres preserved with Rose Cottage may include the site.
He was a younger brother of Col. Benjamin Church, the noted hero of the Indian wars. Nathaniel had sons: Nathaniel, Joseph and Caleb, whose descendants lived in Hanover and Marshfield.
Nathaniel, the shipbuilder, died in 1700.
Thomas B. Waterman
Thomas B. Waterman succeeded his father, Capt. Thomas Waterman, in the shipbuilding partnership with Capt. Elijah Barstow.
Thomas B. only had one sibling, a sister, Sylvia, who died in August, 1844.
He married Clara Crooker of Norwell, and they had two children: Thomas W., born May 4, 1868, and taken from them by typhoid fever in the fall of 1888, and George, born October 30, 1870, who later worked in a bank in Boston.
William Copeland was grandson of Joseph, who moved to Scituate from Bridgewater in 1730. Joseph’s children were remarkable for their longevity. In 1830 ten of his children were living, the youngest 72, the oldest 93. There are no male descendants now living. Joseph’s son William (Sr.), and his brother Ebenezer were both shipbuilders. William Copeland (Jr.) was joiner on other yards before building as partner with Michael Ford at Fox Hill.
William Copeland began building ships at Fox Hill Shipyard in 1816 when he completed two schooners: “Friendship,” and in partnership with Barker Turner, “Morning Star.” In 1819, he formed a partnership named Copeland, Ford & Pratt, in company with Michael Ford and Elias W. Pratt. Sometime between 1819 and 1824, there entered into this firm Elisha Tolman, Elisha Merritt, and one other, and the firm name was changed about 1824 to William Copeland & Co. William Copeland was master carpenter of the original and the succeeding firm.
William Copeland also built ships in company with Joseph S. Bates and Thos. Waterman.