The map that accompanies this article shows how much larger Rochester was in its early years. When “Rochester-town in New England” was incorporated on June 4, 1686, it stretched from the Plymouth line (today, about the middle of Wareham) on the east to Dartmouth on the west and reached inland to Middleboro. As time passed, sections of Rochester were turned into new towns. Wareham was created out of a part of Rochester combined with land from Plymouth in 1739. Marion broke away in 1852, and Mattapoisett followed in 1857.
Because of these connections, all three towns have been active participants in Rochester’s many celebrations. Indeed, the most important “oration” of both the 200th and the 250th anniversaries were delivered by a Wareham resident.
On July 22, 1879, the oration was given by the Rev. Noble Warren Everett of Wareham, who was a grandson of The Rev. Noble Everett, one of the “old town’s” early ministers. His speech at Handy’s Grove was lengthy (to put it mildly) and among his accounting of 200 years of history, under the heading of “Patriotism of the Inhabitants,” he mentions the involvement of Rochester in wars beginning with the French War and progressing to the War of the Rebellion, known today as the Civil war.
Zeroing in on Rochester’s participation in the Revolutionary War, he is the one who first said that more men from Rochester (based on population) fought in the war than those from other places. He goes on to highlight four soldiers out of the many who served. First, Lieut.-Col. Ebenezer White of the Fourth Regiment Plymouth County Militia. In the first year of the war while involved in an engagement in Rhode Island, the hilt of his sword was shot away. He survived and went on to be an active participant in town government.
Another, Ensign Ebeneezer Foster was killed at the battle of Burgoyne on Sept. 19, 1777 at the age of 21. His grave can be found in the Center Cemetery. Elnathan Haskell was a Major of Artillery in the Continental Army and an aide to Gen. Washington.
Everett cites the Rochester town records for the biography of Ichabod Burgess. “Ichabod Burgess departed this life in 1834. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and during the whole war he nobly dared to meet in awful fight the enemies of his country. He fought and bled and conquered; and now has conquered his last enemy and joined his glorious file leader, Washington in glory”.
Thank you to all our Veterans.
By Connie Eshbach