Notable deeds: Land records exhibit holds key to Plymouth County history

Elaine Allegrini

Rocky Marciano's ties to Brockton run deeper than the gym where the boxing champ trained or the Brockton High School stadium that bears his name.

The property record of his boyhood home on Dover Street seals his Brockton roots.

“The deed shows the family purchase,” said Register of Deeds John R. Buckley Jr., noting that the family name was spelled differently at that time — Marchegiano.

The deed is included in a display of notable land records at the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds in Plymouth.

“We have so many stories from all these land records that people find interesting,” Buckley said.

And, the collection is growing.

From the lighthouse that welcomes boaters at Plymouth Harbor, to the downtown Brockton site where the first department store Santa was introduced to the nation, registry land deeds tell the stories of the people and places that make up the county's history.

The records are contributed by history buffs, sports fans, real estate practitioners and registry employees.

Famous Plymouth County landowners of the past include Daniel Webster, John Hancock, Grover Cleveland, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, James Michael Curley and Tom Thumb.

Marciano's ties are more recent, his family buying the Dover Street property in 1943, according to the deed. The Brockton house still stands and is being renovated and restored to the condition and decor as it existed in the 1940s and 1950s.

“The enthusiastic response to the display is due in no small part to the fact that the records are plucked from the pages of the registry's record books by its own employees, title examiners and other registry users who have an interest in the particular individual or the issue being highlighted,” Buckley said.

Records of the Abington property once owned by another famous boxer, John L. Sullivan, are soon to be added to the collection, he added.

That will join the record of Mickey Cochran, the only Plymouth County resident to be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The collection's notables include:

  • The Main Street, Brockton, property where James Edgar, founder of Edgar's Department Store, brought an 1863 Thomas Nast illustration to life in 1890 when he donned a red suit and white beard to become the nation's first department store Santa. The property was owned by the Howard family, according to the deed in the collection.
  • Plymouth Light, also known as Gurnet Light, is the first lighthouse in the nation operated by a woman, Hannah Thomas.
  • Deborah Sampson, the Plympton woman who, at age 21, enlisted as a man in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment in 1782. She fought battles at West Point and Tarrytown, N.Y. She was injured three times before being honorably discharged by Gen. George Washington in October 1783.
  • Plymouth's Giuseppe Garibaldi Club, which links the town with the Italian patriot and military leader.
  • Abington's Dyer Memorial Library, a landmark depository for old records and maps, Civil War photographs and other historical records bequeathed by Marietta W. Dyer.

The Historical Display Committee is overseeing the collection.

Elaine Allegrini can be reached at eallegrini@enterprisenews.com.