The Town of Dighton was originally part of Taunton, known as the Taunton South Purchase. It was deeded as a separate town to a company of Taunton men in 1672. On May 20, 1712, it became incorporated and was called Dighton in honor of Frances Dighton, the wife of Richard Williams. In 1799, the portion across the Taunton River including Assonet Neck was annexed by the Town of Berkley.
Early settlers were farmers, raising animals and growing crops for themselves or trading their products for food. In the early 1900’s the family farm developed into vegetable farms and farmers began taking their products to market.
Shipbuilding started in the South Purchase while it was still a part of Taunton as early as 1693, and flourished in the early 1700’s. Ships from Dighton traveled to the West Indies, South America, and European ports with cargoes of cured fish, lumber, grain, staves and hoops and returned with rum, molasses, salt and general merchandise. In 1789, Dighton was made a port of entry. Dighton later became the natural distributing point for central and southern New England. At the time, ships of any size could not navigate the Taunton River beyond Dighton. As a result, goods were forwarded by horse or oxen teams beyond this point.
Other settlers worked in the fields of manufacturing, cotton mills, clock making, strawberry growing and herring fishing. The Anchor Color and Gum Works, built in1861, first manufactured furniture, then oil paint and watercolors. About 1830 the silk industry was started when Mrs. Sarah Hart of Hunter’s Hill began to raise silk worms and taught others in the area how it was done. An iron factory and a forge and gristmill were built about 1700. Several cotton mills operated in Dighton in the early 1800’s, the largest of which was the Mt. Hope Cotton Co. Joseph K. Milliken purchased the plant in 1900 for the Mt. Hope Finishing Co. The Gooding family were prominent clockmakers in Dighton. In the early 1860’s the strawberry industry was a lucrative business for the farmers here. Many greenhouses were constructed around the turn of the century. Herring fishing in the Taunton River and its tributaries became a lucrative business, as the fish were cured and exported.
Today, Dighton is mostly a residential suburb of Providence and Boston. Though some farms still remain, many of them are being sold to developers. However, the town has made a recent push to preserve open space and agriculture. The old Mount Hope Finishing Company, which became the Raytheon Company in 1958, now houses several manufacturing businesses and warehouses. Only one building remains of the Anchor Color and Gum Works, which was last known as Zeneca, Inc. Other large businesses that flourished after 1950 are since gone. Our newest major business in town is the Dighton Power Plant owned and operated by Calpine, Inc.