Pembroke, Massachusetts

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Pembroke is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,927 at the 2000 census.

The southwestern section of Pembroke is also known as Bryantville. For geographic and demographic information on the village of North Pembroke, please see the article North Pembroke, Massachusetts.



The earliest European settlers were Robert Barker and Dolor Davis, who settled in the vicinity of Herring Brook in 1650. Up until that time, the Wampanoag and the Massachuset were the only residents, fishing and farming along the rivers; they called the area Mattakeesett, which means "place of much fish," because of the annual springtime run of herring in the local rivers. The land was part of the Major's Purchase, a large tract of lands bought from Josias Wampatuck of the Massachusetts by a group of English investors. The area was once a part of Duxbury, before incorporating as a separate town in 1712, and was ultimately named for the town of Pembroke, Wales, the name of Brookfield being rejected because it was already in use by the town in Worcester county that still bears this name.

Residents of Pembroke served with honor in the French and Indian War, serving everywhere from Fort William Henry in New York to the shores of Nova Scotia. At least one family of "French Neutrals," the Pelrine family, was settled here after they and hundreds of others were expelled at gunpoint from Arcadia in Nova Scotia (those that settled in Louisiana became known as "Cajuns.")

Just before the Revolution, Reverend Gad Hitchcock of Pembroke (who had served with the provincial troops as a chaplain in upstate New York during the French and Indian war) gave a sermon in Boston blasting the British, and was rewarded for this with a set of fine new clothes from Samuel Adams. Residents of Pembroke again served with honor from the first "alarm" sent out by Paul Revere and others on April 19, 1774 till the end of the war.

The town took its current form in 1820, when the western half of town known as the "West Parish" was separated and incorporated as Hanson. Shipbuilding was among the area's industries, with five yards along the North River. Famous among these were the Beaver, a vessel made famous for its role in the Boston Tea Party, and the Maria, memorialized on the Pembroke town seal. It was along the same river, on the Norwell side, that the Columbia, namesake of the Columbia River in Oregon, was launched. By the turn of the 20th century, mills had sprung up along the river, and the town's ponds and streams provided the water for cranberry bogs. Because of rail service from Brockton, the town's ponds also provided recreation and vacation spots for city dwellers.

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