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Danvers, MA (1873)

Danvers History, 1873 — "Danvers is an ancient and beautiful town, of 5,000 inhabitants and 898 dwelling-houses, lying in the form of a triangle, in the southerly section of Essex County, and having for its boundaries Wenham and Beverly on the north-east, Peabody on the south-west, and Middleton and Topsfield on the northwest.

It has three postal villages, Danvers, Danvers Center, and Danvers-port; the last of which is at the head of sloop-navigation on Porter's River. The Lawrence and the Newburyport Railroads intersect each other near the central village, and thus afford communication with Boston, Salem, Lawrence, and Newburyport. The underlying rock is sienite; over which are strewn many boulders, giving ample evidence of the glacial period.

Good clay for bricks and pottery is found in several localities; and the meadows afford peat for fuel and for the improvement of the uplands. From several eminences in the north-westerly section of the town the observer gains extensive views of varied and charming rural scenery. The southern part of the town is an extensive plain, well watered by Beaver-dam Brook, an affluent of Ipswich River, which flows northeasterly between this place and Middleton; and Crane Brook, of some motive-power, and a tributary of Porter's River, a navigable and tidal stream, which flows into Beverly Harbor. Frost-fish Brook, another affluent of Porter's River, drains the eastern section of the town. The flora of this place is rich and varied. The principal timber-growth is oak, pine, walnut, gray-birch, alder, and maple. The white or canoe birch occasionally appears; and a rare plant, called the "cowberry" (Vaccinium vitis idaea), bearing a sour red fruit not unlike the cranberry, is found in the northern part of the town. The farms, of which the number is 140, are under the very best of management, and yield heavy crops of hay, corn, rye, oats, barley, and potatoes. Much attention is given to market-gardening; and as many as 13,135 bushels of onions and 1,575 of beets have been raised here in a year. The number of apple trees cultivated for their fruit is 20,076. No town of its size in the county derives an equal profit from its orchard[s]. The coal, wood, and lumber trade is the leading business done at Danvers-port; the navigable river and the railroad furnishing good facilities for transportation.

The manufacture of shoes is carried on extensively at the Plains, and of carpets at the Center. There are also flouring-mills and iron-works in the town.

Danvers has, like most of the large towns in the State, a good public hall; a bank for discount, and also for savings; a Post of the G. A. R.; a well-conducted public journal, The Danvers Mirror; a Masonic Lodge, and other civic institutions. It has also an efficient fire-department, a good high school, eight school-districts, and a literary institution called 'The Bowditch Club.' By the munificence of Mr. George Peabody, it now enjoys the benefit of the Peabody Institute, incorporated March, 1867. The edifice is erected on Peabody Park, and the cost of construction was $18,500. It contains a carefully selected library of about 7,000 volumes, and a fine hall for lectures, for the support of which, as well as for the library, an ample fund was provided by the liberal donor.

This town has eight church-edifices, and the following pastors: The Revs. Charles B. Rice, C.T., 1st church; James Brand, C.T., Maplestreet church; J. A. Goodhue, Baptist church (organized 1793), at Danvers-port; and L. J. Livermore, Unitarian. The Episcopal and Universalist churches are without settled pastors.

It has erected a handsome monument to perpetuate the names and the deeds of its soldiers lost in the late war.

The valuation is $3,296,950; and the rate of taxation, $1.28 per $100. Danvers originally embraced Salem Village and the middle parishes of Salem, and was incorporated as a district Jan. 28, 1752; and as a town June 16, 1757. It is supposed to have been named in honor of Sir Danvers Osborn, Bart., governor of New York in 1753. South Danvers, now Peabody, was detached from it, and incorporated May 18, 1855. The district called 'New Mills,' in the north-eastern part of the town, was settled in 1754.

The first church was formed in 1671, as a branch of the church in Salem. The first pastor was the Rev. James Bailey, settled in October of the same year. His successor was the Rev. George Burroughs, settled Nov. 25, 1680, and inhumanly executed on Gallows Hill in Salem for witchcraft, Aug. 19, 1692. The church became an independent society Nov. 10, 1689; and, on the 15th of the same month, the Rev. Samuel Parris was ordained as its fourth pastor. It was in the family of this minister that the terrible delusion known as the 'Salem Witchcraft' first appeared in 1692. In Dr. Joseph B. Pelt's 'Annals of Salem,' it is thus noticed:

'Feb. 25, Tituba, an Indian servant of Rev. S. Parris, is complained of for witchcraft. Before this, John, her husband, another Indian servant of Mr. Parris, had been persuaded by Mary Sibley to make a superstitious experiment for discovering persons, who, they supposed, secretly afflicted Mr. Parris's daughter Elizabeth, aged nine, and his niece Abigail Williams, aged eleven, and Ann Putnam, a girl of the neighborhood.'

'March 1 — Sarah Osborn, Sarah and Dorothy Good, Tituba, servant of Mr. Parris, Martha Cory, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce, John Proctor, and his wife Elizabeth, all of Salem Village, are committed to Boston jail on charge of witchcraft.'

'11th — Mr. Parris and other ministers observe a Fast at Salem Village because witchcraft had appeared there. Mary Sibley, having confessed that she innocently counseled John, the Indian, to attempt a discovery of witches, is permitted to commune with Mr. Parris's church. She had been previously disciplined for such counsel, and appeared well.'

Mr. Parris made the following record:

'27th March, Sab., 1692, — Sacrament Day. — After the common auditory were dismissed, and before the church communion of the Lord's table, the following Testimony against the Error of our sister Mary Sibley, who had given direction to my Indian man in an unwarrantable way to find out witches, was read by the Pastor.

'It is altogether undenyable that our great and blessed God hath suffered many persons, in several Families of this little village, to be grievously vexed and tortured in body, and to be deeply tempted, to the endangering of the destruction of their souls, and all these amazing facts (well known to many of us) to be done by Witchcraft and Diabolical Operations. It is also well known that when these calamities first began, which was in my own family, the affliction was several weeks before such hellish operations as Witchcraft was suspected. Nay it never brake forth to any considerable light until diabolical means was used by the making of a cake by my Indian man, who had his directions from this our sister Mary Sibley; since which apparitions have been plenty, and exceeding much mischief hath followed. But by this means it seems the Devil hath been raized amongst us, and his rage is vehement and terrible; and when he shall be silenced the Lord only knows.'

For a further account of the origin of this delusion, see Mr. S. P. Fowler's interesting 'Life of Parris,' and 'Salem Witchcraft,' by C. W. Upham, 2 vols. 8 vo, 1867.

The following distinguished men have arisen in Danvers and Peabody: Israel Hutchinson (1728-1811), a colonel in the Revolution (he was at the battle of Lexington); Samuel Holton (1738-1816), an eminent physician and Revolutionary statesman; Benjamin Foster, D.D. (1750-1798), an able Baptist divine; Moses Porter (1755-1822), a brigadier-general U. S. A; Samuel Putnam, L.L.D. (1768- 1853), an able jurist; Daniel Poor, D.D. (1789-1855), a missionary to India; George Peabody (1795-1869), an eminent banker and philanthropist; Daniel Putnam King (1801-1850), M. C. from 1843 to 1849, and scientific farmer; Hannah O'Brien Chaplin Conant (1842-1865), an able author and editor, and an Oriental scholar.

A History of Danvers, by J. W. Hanson, was published in 1848, pp. 304."


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