The community of Dartmouth, MA is nestle along the shores of Buzzard's Bay and extends inland to fertile farm lands and extensive woodlands. Dartmouth has the distinction of being one of the oldest communities in our entire country.
In 1652 a group of thirty-four Plymouth colonists purchased the territory of Dartmouth from "Massasoit", the great sachem of the Wampanoag Indian Federation, and his son, "Wamsutta". On March 7, 1652, thirty four Colonial shareholders purchased from Wamsutta of the Wamanog Indian tribe the following as written in the original agreement to the Colonists;
“30 yards of cloth, 87 moose skins, 15 axes, 15 hoes, 15 breeches, 8 blankets, 2 kettles, one cloak, 2 English Pounds in Wampum, 8 pairs of stockings, 8 pairs of shoes, 1 iron pot, and 10 shillings, that land called Dartmouth".
At that time in history, the Town of Dartmouth was then comprised of the sourounding area Towns of Acushnet, Fairhaven, New Bedford, Dartmouth, and Westport. Some of the more notable elders of the Colony at the time of the purchase were Miles Standish, John Alden, and Governor William Bradford.
Many of the early settlers were Quakers and Baptists, seeking religious freedom from a less tolerant Massachusetts Bay & Plymouth Colonies. The Town was named after the English seaport of Dartmouth, England.
Dartmouth dates its corporate existence from 1664 and began its practical organization with the first Town Meeting in 1674. That form of government, Town Meeting by elected representatives, is still the form of government today.
Dartmouth was settled about November, 1652. It boasted of not only of rich agriculture, but also had an iron forge and shipbuilding on the banks of the Paskamansett River, and industrial center encompassing of grain mills, and general stores and shops.
Until the death of Chief Massasoit in 1662, the settlers had enjoyed a happy and fruitful existence with the Wampanog Indians. However, with the ascension to the next Chief Sachem, " Phillip", second son of Chief Massasoit, and ever increasing encroachment by the settlers on Indian lands, Indian distrust and unrest soon followed. After Dartmouth was almost totally wiped out during the King Phillip’s War in 1675, the Town was rebuilt and increased rapidly in population.
In 1787, Dartmouth was divided into three separate Towns: Dartmouth, Westport, and New Bedford. The area now known as Fairhaven, originally part of New Bedford, separated in 1812; Acushnet became incorporated as a town, separated from New Bedford in 1860 and the City of New Bedford then became a prominate seaport within the United States and one of the most wealthy during the whaling era.
In the early years of the eighteenth century, the name for the harbor of "Padanaram", which originated in the Bible, was first used in reference to the village by Laban Thatcher who brought his wife to a new home at the mouth of the Apponagansett River and started a ship yard at what is now the Old South Wharf. For seventy years the little seaport known as "Padanaram" was the site of thriving shipbuilding industry and home to many sea captains and whaling ship owners, as is evident by the stately large old Colonial homes in this area today. This area is still used for ship building and repairs by Concordia Boatyard Inc.
The early eighteenth century was a time of prosperity and rapid population expansion for Dartmouth. It constructed a Town Hall, hired a schoolmaster, raised the Quaker Meeting House (still in use today on Russells Mills Road), and installed its first set of stocks and a whipping post for Colonial "justice".
In 1754, the first rumblings of the dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution were heard, and in March, 1775, the Town of Dartmouth voted to support the Colonies in the fight for independence from British rule.
Several decades ago, Dartmouth had one of the largest numbers of dairy farms in Massachusetts. On one road alone in Dartmouth, there were a total of 12 dairy farms with a total of 347 milking cows.
The industrial expansion of the twentieth century by-passed Padanaram and its relatively small harbor and the sparse local commerce of the port diminished, to finally die with the invention of the gasoline marine motor. This loss has been replaced in the course of time by the activities of a steadily increasing fleet of pleasure craft. Padanaram Harbor has become increasingly popular as a yacht basin because of its central location on the North shore of Buzzards Bay. Presently, the New Bedford Yacht Club, several commercial boatyards, and the Padanaram Village business district, offer yachtsmen all the necessary services and ammenities. The classic and world famous "Beetle Cat" yatchs, a wooden yatch built by Concordia Boats, along with the very popular "Marshall" fiberglass catboats, are all built here in Dartmouth, MA.
In 1960, the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted legislation creating the college of Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute,(S.M.T.I.) which required the consolation of the Bradford Durphy College of Technology and the New Bedford Institute of Technology into S.M.T.I. In addition, S.M.T.I., received a legislative mandate to create within its structures the Southeastern Massachusetts Research Foundation, in order to provide professional and scholarly assistance to commerce and industry in the area. A bill signed in 1969, changed the name again to Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU). Then in 1991, the name was again changed to the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (U-MASS Dartmouth). Dartmouth is also home to the newly opened Southern New England School of Law.
North of Rt. I-195, is zoned as a large industrial district, and both water and sewer services are provided to this area for expansion. Several industrial plants and outlets are located in this section. Also along Route 6 and Faunce Corner Rd, a regional commercial district has been established. The North Dartmouth Mall, boasting of over 75 retail stores opened in 1972. Since that time, several new businesses and an office park districts have been built between the Mall and I-195 making this area one of the largest shopping centers in Massachusetts.
Growth has still not, for the most part, changed the basic character of the Town of Dartmouth. Dartmouth is still a suburban bedroom community with a rural aspect and heritage of early American houses and churches, which reflect the citizens of Dartmouth both past and present. The citizens of Dartmouth are committed to quality education reflecting an outstanding school system and boasting of the award winning Dartmouth High School Marching Band, which participated in the 1996 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, and was named top marching band of New England in the past several years.
LOCATION: Dartmouth is located in Southeastern Massachusetts, within Bristol County, bordered by Westport on the west, Fall River on the North, and New Bedford and Buzzards Bay to its east and south. It’s approx. 53 miles south of Boston, and around 202 miles from New York City.
TOTAL AREA: 64 square miles, 4th largest Town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dartmouth has 23 miles of coastal beaches and 3 large estuarine systems.