Holbrook Historical Society, Holbrook, Massachusetts

About us
Become a member
Meetings & Events
Holbrook history
Our collection
The schoolhouse

Holbrook history

The Leap-Year Town
Holbrook was incorporated as a town on February 29, 1872. Holbrook will be 136 years old, but will have had only 33 "birthdays" on February 29, 2008.

Early History
Not much is known of Holbrook's inhabitants before European settlement. All of New England had long been inhabited by Algonquian-speaking native peoples, and there is evidence of human activity in Holbrook for many, many centuries.

For the earliest Europeans, mostly British colonists, Holbrook was part of the old Town of Braintree, which comprised Braintree, Quincy, Randolph, and Holbrook. As the population increased and settlers moved south from Boston, first Quincy, and then Randolph, became individual communities.

The Village
Holbrook became known as East Randolph. This area gradually became increasingly self-sustaining, and by the 1850's and 1860's still more people had arrived. There was a separate parish church, which made the area officially a village, the railroad was operating; there was a post office, and shoe factories had become an important part of the economy. Additionally, there were farmers, millers, blacksmiths, storekeepers.

U.S. Civil War
Of the one hundred ten men who served in the Union Army, twenty-five died. Four factories received government contracts for boots and shoes, which resulted in expansion of the factories and financial advantage to the community.

Holbrook becomes a Town
This growth led to the eventual decision to become independent of Randolph. After considerable discussion, and vehement protests from Randolph, a petition was submitted to the state legislature (the General Court of the Commonwealth) for incorporation as a town, and Mr. Elisha Niles Holbrook pledged the sum of $50,000 should the petition be successful.

When the issue came to a vote, the petition was passed over further protests from Randolph's representatives. Sadly, Mr. Holbrook did not live to see his wish become a reality; he had died only a few days before the decision was final.

Changing Times
Since that time the town of Holbrook has seen periods of considerable growth, particularly after WW II, and a change in the primary occupations of its residents. The factories and farms are gone. They have been replaced with service businesses and a commuting population whose work takes them to Boston and other venues. It remains, however, small enough so that there is a feeling of friendliness and helpfulness among its citizens.

Copyright 2010 Holbrook Historical Society. For permission to use this text, contact the Society's President.

Information on Holbrook today:
Offical Town of Holbrook web site
State of Massachusetts Official Holbrook page

Return to the Holbrook Historical Society's Home Page