From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

In her book, Mattapoisett and Old Rochester, Mary Hall Leonard references a description by Abraham Holmes of Rochester’s physical features. In it, he describes some of the ponds, brooks and lakes in town. He refers to Snow’s Pond as “a lovely natural lakelet.” He did not include Leonard’s Pond in his memoirs written in the early 1800’s. However, Hall expands the descriptions of area waters and includes Leonard’s Pond (pictured with this article.) She writes, “Although its interesting features have been developed to some extent by artificial means, it is now a lakelet of much beauty.”

            The history of Rochester and of Leonard’s Pond go hand in hand. The Proprietors (investors) who purchased the land and created the town of Rochester knew that in order to assure the success of their investment, the new settlement would need a gristmill. The first parcel of land set off from their purchased acreage was a lot set aside for a mill. The location of the lot was on the west side of the Sippican River.

            In 1683, they agreed to “treat and agree” with someone to build the gristmill. The man selected for the job was Joseph Burge. He received 20 acres of land plus use of the river and earth and other materials to make a dam. With the construction of the dam, Leonard’s Pond was born, and the building of the needed gristmill occurred. At the time it was created, the pond was most likely referred to as mill pond and after the building of a forge in this same area, forge pond. The area became known as Handy’s Mill and for some time formed a Rochester center. Its current name came along with the arrival of the Leonard family and their ownership of the lands that became East Over.

            Today, Leonard’s Pond is a lovely expanse of water drawing both fishermen and kayakers to its shores.

By Connie Eshbach

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