Historical society reminds people of Smith Mills village

By Shenandoah Briere | Apr 08, 2018
Courtesy of: Bob Harding The Cummings house.

Bob Harding still remembers his childhood spent in Dartmouth’s Smith Mills village. Although most of the anchors of the once thriving mill community are gone, the president of the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society shared its stories at an April 8 presentation.

The village center is bounded by what is now Route 6, Tucker Road, and Old Westport Road. A bulk of the land was originally owned by the Cummings family, who owned four mills and two stores in the village. It helped grow the area into a thriving community.

Children attended the one-room Smith Mills Schoolhouse, where boys and girls were kept separate at recess by fencing. The once sprawling Paskamansett Links golf course - now the Dartmouth Mall - was a favored recreation spot, along with the Country Club of New Bedford, where Harding remembers serving Wheaton soda water.

Harding’s presentation highlighted a few select homes in the village. The Edward Tucker House, which Harding calls the “star-crossed house,” included a long list of tragedies that befell its numerous owners.

Located on Old Westport Road - then called Chase Road for its entire length - was the site of a barn fire that killed five horses in 1913. In 1926, owner Clarence Arthur Wheaton was struck and killed by a milk delivery van operated by a rival businessman. Years later, a mother stabbed her daughter to death and then killed herself in the house.

Dartmouth resident Gale Schultz attended the event and was moved by the stories of place she remembered so fondly.

“It brought back a lot of memories and seeing the golf course and watching it turn into the mall- that area was beautiful and I went to the church in Smith Mills before it was moved,” Schultz said.

The Smith Mills Baptist Church in 1838. (Courtesy of: Bob Harding)
A house that William Cummings once lived in. (Courtesy of: Bob Harding)
Clarence Wheaton with his horse. (Courtesy of: Bob Harding)
Hiram Wheaton and Sons. (Courtesy of: Bob Harding)
The Wheaton farmstead. (Courtesy of: Bob Harding)
A portrait of John Cummings Sr. (Courtesy of: Bob Harding)
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