Town of Mattapoisett

Mattapoisett is a resort town on Buzzard's Bay which was incorporated in 1857. The first settlements in the town were seasonal as European colonists used sites in the area as fishing camps. The draw for both Indians and colonials were the rich fish, shellfish, water-fowl and game possibilities of the town as well as the seasonal eel and fish runs on the Mattapoisett River and eel ponds. Historians believe that the sheltered harbor may have been used by European explorers long before any settlements in the community. There are some Indian burial sites. The earliest settlements after the King Philip wars occurred around 1680 with residents dealing in lumbering, tar and turpentine production. Shipbuilding was established around 1740 and before the Civil War the principal businesses in the town were shipbuilding and whaling, with four shipyards in operation before 1800. The town traded with Nantucket, Newport, New York and Savannah and a shipping complex was developed at the head of Mattapoisett Harbor in the first half of the 18th century. There were few streams and therefore few mills using water power in town, but by 1855 there were 16 whaling ships in operation. Those residents who were not involved in the maritime trades farmed and raised sheep. The death of the whaling and shipbuilding industry in the 1870's followed the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, and resort development replaced both. The town's mainstay became agriculture and tourists through the early 20th century. An influx of well-to-do summer residents built summer homes on big estates, not in densely packed groupings as in some other shore communities. There has been some suburban growth and development in the town, but Mattapoisett still contains gracious summer homes and hosts many summer visitors. (Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
Mattapoisett Historical Society Oliver Wendell Holmes - summer resident
Ned's Point Light Town of Mattapoisett