William & Johnson Tolman
12 Aug 1719 – 3 Aug 1763
Sons of Samuel & Experience Clapp Tolman

William Tolman, having bought a tract of land south of Massapoag Pond for the purpose of preparing a new home, was assisted by his brother, Johnson Tolman, in clearing off the forest and erecting an habitation. They stopped at Samuel Bird’s, for the Birds and the Tolmans were formerly neighbors.

Here the boys seemed to be at home. Sharon, in those days was comparatively a wilderness. Beyond was an almost interminable forest and swamp, and yet the boys were two miles from their destination. Being a young man of fertile invention and a good share of perseverance, William preceded to cut a large horn-beam log, which was common in those days and soon had the inside of the log dug out and fashioned into a boat, however rude it may have been.

Having made all ready and taking their dinner with them, William and his brother Johnson, started on a voyage of discovery to find the new farm. It is supposed that they were the first white men to navigate Massapoag Pond or Lake. In this manner they continued their labors, floating to and from the scene of their daily toils, cleared and subdued the land and when the adjoining property came unto the market, Johnson bought it, there being about 100 acres. They then began to clear Johnson’s land, which proved to be of superior quality.

About this time an interesting experience occurred. It seems that William was most anxious to buy Johnson’s land but had been unsuccessful until one day while Johnson was chopping wood he heard a very unpleasant sound. Before him lay a large rattler with a great bulge in the middle. After a few strenuous efforts Johnson killed the snake and upon cutting it open found a partridge with it’s feathers still on. There are many stories but all of them end that he sold his property to William immediately. William then spent several summers clearing the land and even burned some of the wood to get rid of it. He lived alone for two years subsisting on Indian bread and water porridge for breakfast and supper, and pork and potatoes for dinner.

Upon selling his land, Johnson returned to Dorchester.( He apparently later resided near Stoughton as he and most of his family are buried in the Pearl Street Cemetery in Stoughton.)
William built a house and eventually brought home a wife who proved to be a helpmate indeed.

(Note: William is buried on the farm and not in the Rockridge Cemetery in where there is a stone with his name on it.) Fred and Arlene Tolman, Tolman Family Researchers, were taken to his grave by a great grandson, Otis Tolman in 1965.
This farm proved to have the most fertile soil and became one of the most successful farms in Sharon. Deacon Samuel, son of Johnson, gives us a peek into the rigid old New England home. The Sabbath began at sundown on Saturday and no work which could possibly be avoided was done until Monday morning by the stricter families. By the less rigid interpretations the Sabbath ended at sundown on Sunday night and then the dishes could be done, the clothes put to soak, the wood box filled and the older boys could go a-courting. His family, unlike others of the day, all went to church, no excuses allowed. The services were very long, and in winter an intermission of an hour was allowed and in summer an hour and a half. The parishioners could chat with each other, many of whom they did not see except on Sundays. In the homes the hours of the Sabbath were spent in learning prayers and hymns, or in memorizing the Orthodox Catechism. This training carried over into the lives of the children for Deacon Samuel mentions that at one time in his life he started to read the Bible through for the twelfth time.

Note: This was taken from page 5 of The History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, by Solomon Talbot.

Note: This was copied by Fred & Arlene Tolman on one of their several trips to the area, in the 1960s and 70s. We went to Sharon and upon inquiring if there might be any Tolmans still living in the area were informed that an Otis Tolman was the water commissioner of Sharon. We went and found him and were honored by having him take us out to this farm and show us where it was located. He also filled us in on a lot of history of the Tolman families who at one time had lived in the area.

Otis was a great grandson of this William. Otis passed away several years back and I suppose his wife is also gone by now. They have children but I have not had contact with them.

I am enclosing pictures of the house and the lake and the landing where they landed when William and his brother Johnson, rowed across the Pond.

We spent several days in that area of Massachusetts and hunted out many cemeteries at which we took many pictures of gravestones and gathered information from records. The only problem we ever had was that time would run out and hopefully we could return at another time, which we did, but there is always more that could be done.

Johnson,4 at the age of 22, with his younger brother, William,4 purchased 140 acres of land on the southernly side of Mashapoag Pond, in Sharon. Soon after, Johnson disposed of his interest in the land to his brother, and returned to Dorchester. About seven years subsequently, he purchased of his Uncle Daniel and others, land in Stoughton, about one half a mile square. Most of this,1 if not all of it, was covered with the primeval forest. It had remained in the family many years having been purchased of the Indians, either by Thomas, the ancestor, or his son Thomas. In the year 1748, at the age of 32, Johnson took possession of his new domain. In 1749, he erected a house, two stories high, which is now standing; an engraving of it is given on tho following page. He married Elizabeth Capen, eldest child of Jonathan Capen, Oct. 31, 1751. She was born in Dorchester, Nov. 22, 1722. Her father was a grandson of John Capen, and great grandson of Bernard Capen, one of the first settlers of Dorchester. Johnson Tolman died, Oct. 30, 1796. Elizabeth, his widow, died Feb. 14, 1803 age 81 years and about 3 mos.

Visit FamilySearch to learn more about William Tolman (1719-1763).  Also visit the Thomas Tolman Family Organization to find out how you can get more involved in family history.

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