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The Town of Norwood, which was officially formed in 1872, was until that time part of Dedham, known as the “mother of towns,” as fourteen of the present communities of eastern Massachusetts lay within its original borders. Long used as a hunting ground by Indians, Norwood was first settled by Ezra Morse in 1678. He set up a sawmill in what is now South Norwood, The part of town to which the first concentration of families, almost all of whom were farmers, migrated over the next half-century.
Living in the part of town most distant from Dedham, these settlers soon began to pester town officials for their own parish church in order to minimize the arduous travel over miserable roads of the day which regular attendance at religious services made necessary. Although those in power in Dedham initially resisted the entreaties of the fellow townspeople in the southern part of town, the finally relented in 1730, authorizing the creation of the South Parish.
Ironically, the building of the new parish church, which might well have been expected to unify the fledging community, served ultimately, as a divisive force. While the initial services alternated between the Ellis Tavern and the home of Nathaniel Guild, a dispute over the location of the church led to the building of two structures, one at Clapboard Tree (now part of Westwood) and one in the Nahatan/Prospect Street area. A short time later the Clapboard Tree worshippers were granted their own parish designation (West Dedham), and the South Dedham Parish, its religious links with it neighbors to the west now severed, proceeded to construct a new church in what is presently downtown Norwood near the intersection of Washington and Walpole Streets.
It was at this time that the name “Tiot” began to appear in the written record of the town. Commonly rendered as “land surrounded by water,” the term, which is probably of Indian origin, refers to the fact that the town is surrounded by water on three sides by streams and a river.