History of the Town of Middleborough
The town of Middleborough is a 72-square mile historic industrial town on the Nemasket River and was a major Native American settlement area used for seasonal fishing, hunting and berry gathering. The town is one of only a handful of southeastern Massachusetts communities that retained a sizable Indian population throughout the Colonial period. The first European settler was Sir Christopher Gardner, a fugitive from English justice, who settled among the Nemasket Indians in 1633. When he was captured and returned to England, it was several years before a small group of white settlers led by Elizabeth Poole established themselves within the town.
Agriculture, fishing, hunting and some lumbering were the main occupations of early settlers, and, as Indian settlements dwindled, the town's industries grew. A large, self-contained industrial complex was developed by Judge Peter Oliver, which included a blast furnace, forge, slitting mill, blacksmith, finishing and hammer shops, grist mill and fuel storage. This complex and his country estate were confiscated when Oliver fled the Revolution as a loyalist.