Mansfield a brief history......
Reprinted from the 1995 Annual Town Report
|In the early 1700's Mansfield was a community of farmers. The Three rivers that run through the town-the Wading, Rumford and Canoe rivers- offered water power for grist and sawmills and gave the town its first industry: the production of iron. The Leonard family mined and smelted bog iron along the Canoe river, and Ephraim Leonard became well known as a colonial judge and a colonel in the French and Indian Wars of the 1740's.
Early in this period, Mansfield was a part of Norton, MA. It separated from that town in 1731. On August 31st of that year, local men gathered at Isaac Wellman's home to elect officers for the new Norton North Precinct. Mansfield was established on August 23, 1775.
In the early 1800's other small industries began to operate: nail and tack factories and cotton mills, which also used waterpower. Farming continued to be important to Mansfield's economy, and residents settled throughout the town. Women earned an income at home, braiding or sewing straw bonnets. In 1835, coal mining began in West Mansfield and continued off and on for nearly a century.
Than in 1835, the Boston and Providence Railroad arrived in Mansfield. The town became a refueling and transfer point for the railroad, and homes began to cluster downtown. From here, trains ran to New Bedford along the Taunton branch, and through Foxboro to Framingham. The plan of Mansfield Center was laid out as a speculative venture in the 1880's
Downtown square in the spring
|With rail transportation close at hand, the town fathers worked to draw new industry to Mansfield, beginning in the mid 1800's. They were successful in attracting some of Attleboro's jewelry production (our town's largest industry in 1875), as well as a shoe factory from Lynn, the Manton Windlass company from Providence, and Walter Lowney's Chocolate and Cocoa works. They established the Mansfield Board of Trade in 1892.|
|Meanwhile other products put Mansfield on the map, including Chilson furnaces and Bailey bake ovens. The Bailey family sold its bake goods throughout New England, while the Austins sold geese and other Poltry in Quincy Market. The town's varied industry also included machine shops, basketworks, and a knife factory, which profited from the railroad.|
The industry attracted residents. Newcomers from Irland, England, Canada, and Italy flooded the town, whose population more than doubled between 1870 and 1915. In 1915, more than one forth of Mansfield's residents had been born in another country. the face of Mansfield changed, as townspeople built new schools, churches, storefronts, and-close by the Victorian Town Hall that faced the South Common-Soldier's Memorial Hall. This building honored Civil War veterans and gave a home to the public library.
|As Mansfield continues to grow and change, buildings from yesteryear remain as landmarks that continue to guide us. These include the Fisher-Richardson House, Gardner Chilson's stone factory across from the train station and his home on Rumford Avenue, where John McGrath once tended formal gardens, and a number of small farmhouses scattered throughout the town. Turn a corner in Mansfield and come face to face with our past.||Main Street|
Mansfield is also home to "Great Woods" center for the performing arts. It is the summer home for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In addition the center will have as performers, such stars as Itzhak Perlman- Liza Minnelli- Linda Ronstadt- Ozzy Osbourn- Dwight Yoakam- James Taylor - Hootie & the Blowfish- Alanis Morissette- Jimmy Buffett- and Michael Bolton just to name a few.
Mansfield Gridiron Club
On the internet since 1995
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