Where is Jabez Corner? - An Introduction
Corner is on Sandwich Street about a mile south of the center of Plymouth,
Massachusetts. It is the heart of Plymouth's oldest separate neighborhood,
mentioned in the colonial records as variously as "the Little Town,"
"Wellingsley," and "Hobshole." The origin of these
names has been lost. "Hobshole" - a name used as early as
1623 for the salt marsh and the brook that flows into it - marks the
northern border of the neighborhood. It may refer to either the knobby
tussocks in the marsh or perhaps someone named Robert - "Hob"
being an old nickname for Robert. Robert Bartlett and Robert Ratliffe
both had land south of Hobshole brook in 1623. It has also been suggested
that the name might derive from Pilgrim's friend Hobbamock, but he never
lived near the area as far as we know. There has been speculation that
"Wellingsley," which was first mentioned in 1639, might derive
from a hamlet called "Wellingley" in England near Scrooby
on the Yorkshire-Nottinghamshire border where the Bradford and Morton
families originated. Gov. Bradford's great-grandfather "Robert
Bradfourth, of Wellingley, Tickhill, York, England" (c. 1487 -
1552 or 1553) came from there, and his nephew, Nathaniel Morton, later
settled on the north side of Hobshole or Wellingsley Brook.
Corner was just inside the southern boundary of the first "mile
and a half" division of Pilgrim farm land in 1623. It got its name
later from Jabez Churchill, who lived on the old Churchill farm at Wellingsley
in the late 18th century. The corner marks an abrupt westerly turn of
Sandwich Street away from the shore following the old Indian trail to
Manomet and Cape Cod. What is today Warren Avenue was just a cart path
for that farm before 1850. If someone had tried to cross the Churchill
farm to the south on a disused colonial track, they would have encountered
an obstacle at Cobb's Hollow, where a brook flows into the salt marsh
at "Povery Point." Further along past "Manter's Point,"
they would have had to cross Fuller's Brook and a second salt marsh
before encountering the wide swampy basin which marks the outlet of
Eel River. These difficulties had convinced the inhabitants to abandon
the shore route go inland as their native predecessors had. The old
road to the town of Sandwich on Cape Cod which turned at Jabez Corner
crossed Eel River at a narrow ford on the west side of the basin and
continued south between the high Pine Hills on the east and the cedar
swamps on the west.
Churchill family arrived in the neighborhood as early as 1643 when John
Churchill settled east of Sandwich Street. A house owned by Churchill
when he died in 168- still stands on the east side of the street at
the point where Sandwich Street turns south after the corner (identified
as "F. Morton" on the map). Another old Churchill house was
located in the sunken yard of 222 Sandwich Street before 1897 (identified
as "Shop" at the upper end of the box marking Jabez Corner).
Plymouth historian William T. Davis ventures that this may have been
the site of the first Churchill farmstead.
Bartlett's store was originally built by Jabez Churchill. The adjoining
property to the north (incorrectly identified as "N." rather
than "H." Bartlett on the map) was sold to Harvey's father,
Ansel, in 1808 with an old mid-17th century house built by John Rickard.
In 1837, Jabez Churchill, Jr., sold Harvey a lot with the shop which
became the store shown in the picture. He retained the corner lot itself,
which was sold by his son in 1871 to the Town of Plymouth for the new
Wellingsley schoolhouse (the corner of which can be seen just to the
left of the open door), and a second shop on the south side of Sandwich
This picture, which was taken about 1875, shows the store with the addition
added by Harvey, whose wife Nancy standing in the doorway. One of their
sons, Ansel, is seated on the steps, while another, Harvey, Jr., is
looking out of the upper window. The young people are unidentified.
died in 1885, and the store passed to Ansel...
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