Before there was a town of Plympton, before there was a County of Plymouth, and before there was a ship called the Mayflower carrying the Pilgrims to this shore, there were the Wampanoag People who lived, hunted, and raised crops throughout southeastern Massachusetts for thousands of years. Many artifacts have been found in Plympton which prove they were here also.
It was in 1640 that the earliest recorded history of the land, which now forms Plympton, began. It took another fifty-five years for the Western Precinct of Plymouth to be incorporated in 1695 and the first meeting house was built. Twelve more years passed before the incorporation of Plympton occurred as the seventh town of Plymouth County. The size of the town has diminished greatly since incorporation in 1707. The first time was to cede 5,000 acres to Halifax when it was incorporated in 1734. The second occurred when the Southern Precinct of Plympton was incorporated as the town of Carver in 1790. Other smaller portions went to Kingston and Middleboro. The current configuration of Plympton came about in 1863 when the boundaries were finalized between Plympton and Halifax.
Beautiful antique homes are found throughout the town. Two clusters deserve special note. The first is located in the designated Local Historic District at the intersection of Route 106 and Lake Street, known today as Harrub’s Corner. The second surrounds Plympton Green, an area recently deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Most towns in eastern Massachusetts had, before the Revolutionary War, a common or training green for militia. It was here the first meeting house/church was built. Over the years, the meeting house was rebuilt three times. The final one came in 1830 when the current First Congregational Church was constructed across from the Green. The cemetery at the north end of the Green contains some of the oldest and best preserved examples in America of early Colonial stone carving, which one finds on the headstones.
Plympton’s most famous resident, Deborah Sampson, was born here December 17, 1760. In 1780, she dressed as a man and enlisted in the Revolutionary War Army as Robert Shirtliffe to fight for America‘s freedom from British rule. Shirtliffe took part in many famous battles, including the siege of Yorktown, and was wounded twice. However, during the summer of 1783, soldier Shirtliffe was overtaken by a fever and was sent to a hospital in Philadelphia where “he” was found to be “she”. After recovering from her illness, Sampson was given an honorable discharge. A bronze tablet, given by the Daughters of the American Revolution, is located on a boulder on Plympton Green and commemorates her story.
The original settlers of Plympton cut the trees, built their homes, and farmed for the most part. The Industrial Revolution soon brought lumber mills, a cotton factory, shoe factories, a shovel works, and more. Today, an industrial park is in the planning stages.
Comparing pictures of the town from one hundred years ago to today yields many different images. Stands of trees have grown into woodlands. Gardens are smaller and more devoted to flowers than crops. The streets are paved. Yes, the picture of the town may have changed, however, its rural, friendly character has been retained. This is the wonderful atmosphere that has drawn residents and visitors to the town through the ages.