Town of Mansfield History and Resources


Photo: Mansfield Tavern

The Town of Mansfield is an industrial railroad town in Bristol County. In its earliest days, the town was the unsettled frontier of Taunton, used for hunting, fishing and some livestock grazing. The earliest permanent settlement took place in the 1680's. During the Colonial era, the town's economy was based on a mixture of agriculture and iron working. The first grist mill was established in 1695 and the first iron forge in 1735, to work bog iron found in the area. In the early 19th century a small industrial base was established with several tack factories, cotton mills, machine foundries and straw hat manufacturers. Local officials made a conscious effort to diversify the businesses in town. It appeared that Mansfield's commercial destiny was decided when the railroads arrived in Mansfield in the 1830's and the town was established as a refueling and freight transfer point. However, later in the 19th century, the town suffered from the de-emphasis of rail freight, and the town fathers were actively engaged in attempting to draw new industry to town. The Mansfield Board of Trade was formed in 1892 and was instrumental in getting industry to set up in town. Among the companies they brought in were jewelry firms which had been settled in Attleboro. Immigrants from Italy, Ireland, England and Canada moved to Mansfield to fill the manufacturing and farming jobs in the town, which was site of experimental gladioli farms.  
Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
Community Profile Mansfield Public Library
Federal Census, 1790, Mansfield Town of Mansfield
Federal Census, 1850, Mansfield St. Mary's Parish
Federal Census, 1860, Mansfield
First Baptist Church of Mansfield
Historic Maps Covering Mansfield