Berkley - the town we all love...
We had an inquiry about Berkley by a student doing a project. I just loved the reply that member Eden Waterfield Jones gave and I thought I would share it.
You have asked what the 5 most important facts of Berkley are and I would like to start with Berkley's location on the Taunton River.
Due to the location, Berkley had several landing spots for ships coming from Mount Hope Bay that would carry goods to Taunton, Mass. The landings gave the ship crews respite and in exchange provided Berkley people news from other parts of the world.
In addition, there were several successful ship building ventures in the Berkley-Dighton Bridge area thus providing Berkley with strong commercial growth during that time. You can visit the small but beautiful Bridge Village Heritage Park at the base of the new Berkley-Dighton Bridge with informational history spots to read.
Second: Berkley is the home for the infamous 'Writing Rock' or as it is better known now, the Dighton Rock, discovered in 1680. There are many books and theories of who inscribed the petroglyphs on the rock and it has been visited by people from around the world to examine these writings. At the time it was being studied, the town of Dighton encompassed the geography of Berkley so the rock was called the Dighton Rock. In 1735 , Berkley incorporated as a town separate of Dighton but the rock remained known as the Dighton Rock.
It does cause some confusion for people who are expecting to find this 40 ton boulder in Berkley. Currently it is kept safe from vandals and the weather in a pavilion/museum in the Dighton Rock State Park. https://www.mass.gov/locations/dighton-rock-state-park
Third: Berkley is proud to have one of the 1,687 public libraries built with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie. With $5,000 the library was built and then opened in 1919. The interior and exterior has changed very little but the value to Berkley residents this small library is priceless. There is an intrepid crew and friends of the library that consistently and tirelessly provide excellent resources and programs that supply insight to all who enter this quaint and historical building.
Fourth: I personally have started a research project on the 7 schoolhouses that were used in the education of Berkley students. Part of my research is reading the School Reports found within the yearly Town Reports from the early 1800s. I consistently read in each yearly report that very early on in its history, Berkley had an excellent education program and was considered the best of all the surrounding towns. This still holds true today and results in many families choosing to move to Berkley so that their children will benefit from the excellent school education.
Fifth: Proudly and perhaps with a little bias, I must choose the fact that Berkley now has a beautiful 'new' historical museum. The efforts of many meetings with town officials and negotiations came to fruition when the Old Town Hall of 1849 was allowed to be used as a museum for the town. The building's location on the Common in the center of Berkley makes it very accessible to townsfolk. It is now open and stocked with Berkley artifacts of history. Included is the complete and well preserved uniform and accouterments of Berkley born Civil War soldier , Corporal Levi L Crane. His story amazes the school children and adults alike.
In addition, I would like to say that although Berkley is small in size and likely not to even be noticed by people zipping down Rt 24, it is big on community spirit and support. Many have left Berkley to pursue further education and dreams but often find themselves returning when it is time to raise a family because they want the goodness of a small town atmosphere for their children as they had when growing up in Berkley.
Thank you for this opportunity to share this information. My choices are based on knowledge as one who was raised in Berkley and as a person with a passion for history. If the information I have shared is not what you were looking for, please allow me to adjust according to the needs of your project.
Eden Waterfield Jones