Monday, February 17, 2014


I'd seen reference once before to iron ore and George Barrows in Florence O'
Connor's book on my Dunham and Ellingwood ancestors but hadn't really given
it much thought. But as I was researching George for this past week's 52 Ancestors
in 52 Weeks post I ran into more information in Henry Griffith's History of the Town
of Carver, Massachusetts: Historical Review, 1637-1910.

First, some knowledge about the location of the Barrows homestead which is
of use. The pond mentioned is Sampsons Pond, which was named after a local
Indian sachem:
Reckoned from the standpoint of continued influence, George Barrows and John
Murdock were the pioneers of South Carver. Through marital connections Caleb
Cushman, (whose wife was a daughter of George Barrows), established the Cushman
farm about 1740; and later the Saverys were settled in the village through the Barrows
girls. The Barrows property skirted the west shore of the pond and John Murdock held
the claim to the land on the east side. The pond itself was lightly regarded, except for
the fish it yielded and the grassy coves for their hay giving and pasturage qualities. Grassy Island was also used as a pasture, being approached through a slough from the west shore. The old Barrows' homestead stood at the junction of Mayflower road with Rochester road; the Murdock homestead was the farm on the east side of the pond, later known as the Israel Thomas farm; the Tillson farm was located about midway between Rochester road and Meadows road, in what is now known as New Meadows; and it is probable that the main highway at that time passed the Tillson 

house, the  Silas Shaw house, the Barrows house and the Murdock house and so on to the fishery at the outlet of the pond. Rochester road as we travel it, was laid out in 1698, but it is probable that the main travel south was on the east side of the pond, 
and the old roads leading to Halfway ponds and Agawam, show signs of having once 
been main travelled roads.p61-62

The location of the Barrows and Murdock homesteads came into play because of the
rich iron ore deposits beneath Sampsons Pond.

The operation of Popes Point furnace created a demand for bog ore that gave life to industrial Plympton and the swamps and ponds were regarded as valuable properties.
A rich bed of this ore was found in Sampsons Pond and tributary coves which was being turned to a source of profit to the abutters when the officials of the town raised the point that the bog was public property. The matter found its way into Town meeting in 1749, where the private claimants were defeated and agents appointed to guard the interests of the public. After a few years of clashing between these factions the courts decided in favor of the private claimants and the pond passed to the control of George Barrows and Bartlett Murdock who in 1758 signed an indenture whereby a line was established extending from a point on the northerly shore to a point near the connection of Sampsons brook, Barrows to have the ore on the westerly side of the line, and Murdock the ore on the easterly side, while each was bound to guard the property of the other against poachers.

Eventually Murdock would build a second furnace, the Charlotte Furnace, and for about
a hundred years Carver was one of the leading producers of iron cooking and kitchen utensils in the colonies. When the iron ore deposits began to run out in town, more ore was imported from other town in the area and from as far away as New Jersey. Eventually the industry died out, and today the town of Carver is better known for its cranberry bogs and the Edaville Railroad Park and Museum.

But my ancestor George Barrows and members of his family had played a part when Carver was know for its iron furnaces.

To be continued.

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