Ben Franklin’s 1773 Visit to Middleboro Exposed English Loyalists
You've probably visited Oliver Mill Park on Route 44 in Middleboro, a popular spot for watching the herring run in the Nemasket River each spring. Perhaps you've camped at the KOA Campground on Plymouth Street across Route 44. If so, you might have noticed the old house just northwest of the KOA at 445 Plymouth Street.
The Oliver Estate was built in 1769 by Judge Peter Oliver, likely as a wedding gift for his son Dr. Peter Oliver and his bridge Sally Hutchinson. The Oliver Family also owned the Oliver Mill that once stood at Oliver Mill Park.
The Oliver Family and the estate have a rich history that includes a visit from one of the Founding Fathers and the wife of a United States President. Local historians say the Olivers enjoyed entertaining and hosted none other than Dr. Benjamin Franklin for a dinner party in 1773.
Abagail Adams, wife of then-Massachusetts representative to the Continental Congress John Adams, who would become the first Vice President of the United States and the second U.S. President, is thought to have attended the party as well.
Franklin may have spent three nights as the guest of the Oliver Family at its Middleboro estate.
During his visit to the Oliver Estate, Franklin came to be in possession of some letters exposing the Oliver family as loyal to England's King George III at a time when the threat of the American Revolutionary War was becoming more likely.
Franklin eventually turned the letters over to the Sons of Liberty, who drove the Olivers from their property. The family sought refuge in England and never returned to Middleboro.
The Oliver Estate is a museum now and is open for public tours. Paranormal specialists such as WBSM's Tim Weisberg believe the Oliver Estate to be haunted. You can read Tim's piece on the matter right here.
While preparing this piece, I found in The Impact, the school newspaper of Mercury College, an article by Francesca Simone explaining that Sally Hutchinson's father was Governor of Massachusetts and that Judge Oliver presided over the trial of the Boston Massacre defendants.
I also learned the Oliver Estate was a part of the Underground Railroad used to help slaves escape to free states in the north.
Some additional photos from my visit to the Oliver Estate: