USGenWeb Genealogical Site for the Town of
(Formerly South Abington)
Including the Villages of Auburnville, Locust Hill and Rye Hill
See also the site for the parent town of Abington
Toll House Inn, Whitman
Birthplace of the Toll House Cookie
New Information on This Site
March 21, 2008 We have a new address! Many USGenWeb sites have relocated, and we have, too. Please bookmark our new address.
August 19, 2006 I have added a listing of Whitman Newspapers held on microfilm by the Boston Public Library Microtext Department.
April 29, 2003 There is a new page for Whitman Family Researchers and Websites where you can list specific Whitman families that you are researching or web sites specializing in Whitman families.
April 6, 2003 Welcome to the brand new Whitman USGenWeb page. I'll be posting notices here as new resources are added to the site.
Family Researchers and Websites
Books, Newspapers and Records
Books About Whitman
You can find copies of books for sale by using the search engine at Bookfinder.com.
Books that are no longer in copyright can often be found online at Internet Archive Text Archive, Family History Books or Google Books. Additional books are available through two sites that many libraries offer access to - Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest Online.
Charles A. Snow, The Historical Discourse Given on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Baptist Church, South Abington, Mass. November 6, 1872. With an Appendix containing Report of Exercises Connected with the Occasion (South Abington: J. W. McDonald, Printer, 1873).
Official Program of the Commemorative Exercises of the 200th Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town of Abington, Mass. (Rockland, MA: A. I. Randall, Printer, MA 1912). This June, 1912 celebration included participation by the daughter towns of Rockland and Whitman.
Ruth Wakefield, Ruth Wakefield's Toll House Tried and True Recipes (New York: M. Barrows & Co., 1937, plus later reprints). Cookbook by the creator of the Toll House cookie.
Whitman was originally incorporated as the town of South Abington in 1875, from parts of Abington and East Bridgewater. Early vital records for some Whitman families can be found in: Vital Records of Abington, Massachusetts to the Year 1850, 2 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1912).
A newspaper often had a succession of titles on its masthead during the course of its publication. Some libraries list newspapers by the last title used, followed by previous titles. Other libraries list all holdings under the most common, most familiar or most recent title. For each title the library's holdings are given.
Boston Public Library - Microtext Department
Vital Records 1875 to present:
Whitman Town Hall
54 South Ave.
Whitman, MA 02382-2052
Vital Records 1875-1915:
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
Vital Records 1916 to present:
Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
150 Mount Vernon St., 1st Floor
Dorchester, MA 02125-3105
Or order online: Births Marriages Deaths
Massachusetts Vital Records Information from Ancestry.com
Deeds and Probate
Plymouth County Registry of Deeds
50 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
Researchers can search grantor books or grantee books at no charge.
Plymouth County deeds can now be viewed online.
Plymouth Probate and Family Court
52 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
Cemeteries and Cemetery Transcriptions
Genealogical and Historical Societies, Libraries and Locations
Genealogical and Historical Societies and Libraries
Whitman Public Library
100 Webster St.
Whitman, MA 02382
Hours: Mon. - Thurs. 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Fri. 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Closed Saturday in July and August. Saturday hours resume after Labor Day.
Dyer Memorial Library
28 Centre Avenue
Abington, MA 02351
The Dyer is a private library that houses historical and genealogical information on the Abington area including Whitman and Rockland. It is the home of the Historical Society of Old Abington.
Plymouth County Genealogists, Inc.
PCGI is a non-profit genealogical society whose monthly meetings are held the first Saturday of each month (except July and August) at 1:00 PM at the East Bridgewater Public Library. Meetings generally feature a guest speaker and the public is welcome.
Old Colony Historical Society
66 Church Green
Taunton, MA 02780
Hours: Tues. - Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Closed on holidays and on Saturdays preceding Monday holidays
Museum Admission: Adults - $4.00, Children 12-18 and Seniors - $2.00
Genealogical Research: $7.00 per day
South Shore Genealogical Society
PO Box 396
Norwell, MA 02061
Meetings: The second Saturday of each month (except July and August) at 1:30 p.m. at the John Curtis Free Library, Rte. 139, Hanover, MA.
For beginners, amateurs and professionals interested in genealogical research in Plymouth and Norfolk Counties.
Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215-3695
Hours: Mon. - Weds. 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Thurs. 9:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.; Fri. 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sat. 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Closed Sunday.
New England Historic Genealogical Society
101 Newbury St.
Boston, MA 02116-3007
Library Hours: Tues. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Weds. 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Thurs. - Sat. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Closed Sun. and Mon.
The library is closed for some holidays - call or see the website for details.
For non-members there is a daily admisssion fee for the research library.
NEHGS is nation's oldest genealogical society, founded in 1845. It offers unsurpassed resources for New England research including the Boston research library of over 200,000 volumes. Members not in the Boston area appreciate their extensive online resources including all issues of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, the nation's oldest genealogical journal, published quarterly since 1847. Online resources also include member access to vital records through 1915, an ever-growing collection of online books, and databases derived from some of the Society's immense manuscript holdings.
Deborah Sampson Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Genealogical and Historical Locations
The Toll House Inn
The Toll House for whom the cookies are named was built in 1709 on the old Boston to New Bedford road, now Route 18. Travellers paid tolls at the house for the use of the road, but could also rest there and eat a meal while their horses were changed.
In August, 1930, Kenneth and Ruth Graves Wakefield purchased the property, then the Smith house, and opened a lodge and restaurant - the Toll House Inn. Ruth was a 1924 graduate of the Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts. After graduation she had worked as a dietician and food lecturer, and was in charge of the Inn's kitchen. Early in the restaurant's history Ruth wanted to make chocolate cookies but was out of baker's chocolate. She substituted broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate made by Andrew Nestlé. Instead of melting into the dough as intended the morsels remained clumps of melted chocolate, and the toll house cookie, also known as the chocolate chip cookie, was born. Ruth's recipe was later published and became quite popular in New England. She licensed the recipe to chocolate maker Nestlé, who, in 1939, began marketing Toll House Morsels designed for her cookie recipe.
Over the years the Wakefield's establishment grew into a major restaurant, well-known to South Shore residents. Kenneth and Ruth sold the Inn in 1966, and it became a nightclub. A second sale in 1970 returned it to use as a restaurant. The building burned down on New Years Eve in 1984.
Ruth Graves Wakefield passed away in 1977.
History and Census Data
When first settled what is now Whitman was the "Little Comfort" section of Bridgewater. That area became part of the town of Abington in 1712. In 1875 it was incorporated as the town South Abington and included additional land from northeastern Bridgewater. In 1886 a vote taken at town meeting changed the name of the town to Whitman in honor of town resident Augustus Whitman.
In an early attempt to provide a municipal water system the town obtained a franchise for water from Silver Lake but was not able to provide sufficient finances. The franchise was turned over to Brockton in exchange for an agreement that provided Whitman with water at a special rate, and Silver Lake water began flowing in the town on January 2, 1905.
The community was at first largely an agricultural one. Early industrial efforts on the lower Schumatuscacant River included Plymouth County's first canal and first tunnel in 1745. Logging was an important early industry, and timber from the town was used in the construction of the U.S.S. Constitution ("Old Ironsides"). Many small manufacturers found a home in Whitman, producing shoe racks, cannon balls, nails and tacks and wooden boxes. In the 19th century cottage industries of the 1700s grew develop into larger firms, and by the mid 1800s some had become large factories. At one time the Dunbar, Hobart, and Whidden Tack factory, built in 1864, was the largest in the world. The D. B. Gurney Company began in 1825 and is still in business. The shoe industry and related business became the largest employers in town and remained as such until the mid 20th century when the shoe industry in western Plymouth County began to decline.
Whitman Town Government and Institutions Websites
Whitman Town Web Site
Whitman-Hanson Regional School District
Other Whitman Websites
See also the sites for the parent town of Abington and the sister towns of Hanover and Rockland
Commonwealth Communities page for Whitman
Whitman Times (Weekly Newspaper)
Plymouth County, MA - USGenWeb
Plymouth County Records Online - USGenWeb
Massachusetts Genealogy - USGenWeb
The USGenWeb Project - Home Page
Please note that although I was born and raised about 5 miles from Whitman
I now live hundreds of miles away and do not have easy access to the town.
Email comments to Dale H. Cook.
Please note that, due to the widespread abuse of GMail addresses by spammers, I can no longer accept email from GMail addresses.
Please visit the Plymouth Colony Pages
USGenWeb Whitman, MA, commenced 06-Apr-2003.
Created and maintained by Dale H. Cook.
Copyright © 2003-2013 by Dale H. Cook. All rights reserved.