Quincy, MA (settled 1625)
Contact & Transit Information
Address & Phone (click on map for driving directions):
Quincy City Hall
1305 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02169
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Nearest MBTA Commuter Rail Stations:
History from the 1840s (edited)
Quincy was originally the first parish in Braintree. It was settled in 1625, by a Captain Wollaston, and from him was named Mount Wollaston. It appears that he became discouraged, and the next year went to Virginia, appointing Lieutenant Filcher as his agent. One Thomas Morton, who had been a kind of con artist at Furnival's Inn, being one of the company, had excited a sedition against Filcher, and compelled him to leave the plantation.
Morton then assumed control, and having received some goods from England, began to trade with the Indians. The trade being profitable, the company devoted their gains to rioting and drunkenness, and changed the name of their residence to Merry Mount, where, as it is related in the [early] New England Memorial history: "Setting up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it, and frisking about it like so many fairies, or furies rather, yea, and worse practices, as if they had anew revived and celebrated the feast of the Roman goddess Flora, or the beastly practices of the mad Bacchanalians."
They soon after began to sell arms to the Indians. This alarmed the other plantations. The magistrates of Plymouth Colony wrote to him civilly and repeatedly, requesting him to desist from this commerce; but Morton treated the proposition with contempt; upon which, Captain Standish, with a small force, came to Mount Wollaston, took Morton, dispersed the rioters, and left a few of the more sober and industrious planters. Morton was carried to Plymouth, and sent back to England.
Quincy was incorporated as a town in 1792. It received its name from the family of Mr. Edmund Quincy, who was one of the early inhabitants of Boston, and one of the earliest and principal proprietors of Mount Wollaston. The southwestern part of this town forms, with little exception, a complete body of granite rock, rising to the height of 600 feet above the level of the sea.
Here are inexhaustible quarries of stone, which furnish a beautiful material for building. A railroad, nearly three miles in length, has been constructed, at an expense of upwards of $30,000, to convey the stone from the quarries to the Neponset River. The rails are of wood, six feet apart, firmly laid upon blocks of stone, and covered with iron plate, upon which the wheels of the wagon move so easily that one horse has drawn twenty tons, besides the wagon, which weighs six tons. This railway was built in 1826, and was the first constructed in America. Some vessels are owned here; large quantities of boots and shoes, and some salt, are manufactured here. The pleasantness of the town, its nearness to Boston, and schools, induce many families to make it their residence.
There are 4 churches: 2 Congregational, 1 Episcopal, and 1 Universalist; Population, 3,049; Distance, 10 miles from Dedham, 6 from Hingham, and 8 from Boston. In 1837 there was quarried in this town 64,590 tons of granite, valued at $248,737; hands employed, 533. The value of coach, chaise, harness and wheelwright business was $32,650; hands employed, 36. The value of coach lace manufactured was $12,000; males employed, 7; females, 16. Boots manufactured, 27,437 pairs; shoes, 18,602 pairs, valued at $111,881; males employed, 163; females, 58. Vessels built in the five preceding years, 13; tonnage, 2,594; valued at $122,650; hands employed in shipbuilding, 50. Ten vessels were employed in the cod and mackerel fishery; 6,200 quintals [100 kilograms/quintal] of codfish were caught, valued at $18,800; mackerel caught, 1,750 barrels, valued at $12,242; hands employed, 100.
Quincy is distinguished as the birthplace of two Presidents of the United States. [The presidential homes still stand today,] near the foot of Penn's Hill. The house on the right portion of the property is where John Adams, the elder president, was born, the other in which his son John Quincy Adams was born, in July, 1767. In the garret [loft] was packed his valuable library while he was minister at Russia. It was under the care of the Reverend Mr. Whitney, pastor of the first Congregational society, who occupied the house from 1800 to 1804.
History from the 1870s (edited)
Quincy is a very handsome town in the northeastern part of Norfolk County, 8 miles southeast of Boston by the Old Colony Railroad [now defunct], which gives it many passenger trains daily. It was taken from the northern part of Braintree, and incorporated February 23, 1792; the name being given to it in honor of Colonel John Quincy, who had owned the Wollaston Farm.
It contains 7,443 inhabitants; is of an irregular form; and bounded north and east by Boston Harbor, south by Braintree and Randolph (from the latter of which it is separated by Blue Hill River), and west by Milton. The surface of the town, especially in the southwesterly part, is wild and picturesque; the land rising at one point in the ridge called the "Blue Hill" to the altitude of almost 600 feet above the level of the sea. In the eminences of this town are found vast quarries of granite of an excellent quality, from which large quantities are yearly taken for building and other purposes. The monument on Bunker Hill is built of stone from this place. A railroad, the first in the country, was constructed in 1826, three miles in length, for conveying this granite to the harbor.
Neponset River runs along the northwestern border of the town. A rocky peninsular promontory called Squantum, once the residence of the Indian chief Chikataubut, now a noted watering place, and another peninsula, called Germantown, because it had been settled by German weavers and glassblowers, form Quincy Harbor. This has a bold shore; and in it, in 1789, was built the ship Massachusetts, then the largest vessel in the country.
Some of the hills in Quincy, as Mount Wollaston, Wollaston Heights and Penn's Hill, are covered with elegant mansions, from which magnificent views of Boston Harbor and the ocean are obtained.
The climate of this town is healthful, the roads are good, the scenery is charming; and few places in the environs of the metropolis present stronger attractions to those seeking residences in the country. The central village, on an elevated plain, is finely shaded, and contains many beautiful and interesting buildings, among which are the townhouse constructed of granite, and the old stone church, sometimes called The Adams Temple, in which there is a marble tablet in memory of President John Adams and his wife, and also of President John Quincy Adams. It was built at a cost of $40,000, and dedicated in 1828.
The postal centers, are Quincy, Wollaston, and Quincy Point. The settlement at Wollaston Heights, commenced in about 1870, is one of the most beautiful for situation in the county. A rocky hill has, by the hand of art and industry, been converted in this brief period into a populous village, with handsome dwellings, a fine church, a good hotel, and beautiful avenues, along whose sides many ornamental trees have been planted.
By the last Report on Industry, Quincy had 66 farms, 2,850 acres in woodland, and 698 acres of salt marsh fit for mowing. It had 10 stone quarries, in the working of which 306 men were employed; and 472 persons were engaged in making boots and shoes. The business at the quarries has been very brisk of late; and the hills are bristling with derricks for the raising of the huge blocks of granite from the mines.
The town has seven churches; two Roman-Catholic, one Unitarian, one Methodist, one Baptist, one Episcopal, and one Orthodox. The clergymen are the Reverends John D. Wells, Unitarian; George W. Whitney, Universalist; R. H. Howe, Episcopal; Stephen G. Abbott, Baptist, at Wollaston Heights; James E. Hall, Congregational, settled April 16,1868; F. A. Fugugliette, Roman Catholic; Samuel Kelty, Methodist. The National Sailors’ Home and the Sailors’ Snug Harbor are located in this beautiful town.
Quincy has a good free public library, an incorporated academy, a high school, and six school districts. It has also a Post of the G.A.R., a Masonic Lodge, and a lodge of the Knights of Pythias. Its public journal is called The Quincy Patriot, and is edited with ability by Miss Elizabeth Green.
This town sent 847 men to the Civil War, of whom 113 were lost. Of these, 29 were killed in battle, 12 died of wounds received in battle, 52 of disease contracted in the army, and 20 died in prison. To the memory of these men the town has erected a monument in Wollaston Cemetery.
The number of dwelling-houses is 1,310; the valuation of the town is $6,147,699; the rate of taxation, $1.30 per $100; and the number of voters, 1,903. The appropriation for the support of schools in 1871 was $19,650.
Captain Wollaston, with some thirty others, came from England, and commenced a settlement near and upon the eminence which bears his name, in 1625. Among this company was Thomas Morton, who, after the departure of the leader, raised a May-pole, changed the name of the place to Mare, or Merry Mount, and held upon it bacchanalian revels. By his profligacy he incurred the odium of the colonists, who arrested and sent him back to England.
William Coddington (founder of Rhode Island) and Edmund Quincy had lands here as early as 1635. A church was formed in 1639, of which William Thomson was chosen minister, and Henry Flynt teacher.
The Indian title to the land was extinguished by a deed from Wampatuck, son of Chikataubut, to Samuel Bass, Thomas Faxon, and others, in 1665. The second schoolhouse in the town was erected on Penn's Hill in 1697; and the first Episcopal church was built about 1725. In 1725 there were standing near the farmhouse of Mr. George W. Beale the remains of an old fort; and in 1819 the skeletons of two Indians, one of which was of great size, were exhumed near Squantum. The granite quarries were not much worked before to 1800.
The house in which John Adams, the second president of the United States, was born, is still standing near the foot of Penn's Hill. Near it [was] a meadow of some extent, with which the following pleasant incident is associated:
"When I was a boy," said he, "I had to study the Latin grammar; but it was dull, and I hated it. My father was anxious to send me to college: and therefore I studied the grammar till I could bear with it no longer; and, going to my father, I told him I did not like study, and asked for some other employment. It was opposing his wishes, and he was quick in his answer. "Well, John," said he, "if Latin grammar does not suit you, you may try ditching: perhaps that will. My meadow yonder needs a ditch; and you may put by Latin, and try that."
"This seemed a delightful change; and to the meadow I went. But I soon found ditching harder than Latin; and the first forenoon was the longest I ever experienced. That day I ate the bread of labor; and glad was I when night came on. That night I made some comparison between Latin grammar and ditching, but said not a word about it. I dug the next forenoon, and wanted to return to Latin at dinner; but it was humiliating, and I could not do it. At night, toil conquered pride; and I told my father—one of the severest trials of my life—that, if he chose, I would go back to Latin grammar. He was glad of it; and, if I have since gained any distinction, it has been owing to the two days’ labor in that abominable ditch."
The venerable house in which John Hancock was born may be seen from the railroad on the left in passing southerly from the village.
Quincy has produced a remarkable number of eminent men; among whom may be mentioned Edmund Quincy, an able jurist, who was born here October 24, 1681; and died in London, February, 23, 1738. John Adams, second President of the United States, was the son of John, who was the son of Henry, one of the early settlers; and was born here in October, 1735; and died here July 4, 1826. His son, John Quincy Adams, elected President of the United States in 1825, was born here, "in the white house, near the foot of Penn's Hill," July 11, 1767; and died at Washington, DC, February 23, 1848. The patriot John Hancock, president of Congress, first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and for several years governor of Massachusetts, was the son of the Reverend John Hancock, and was born in this town January 12, 1737; and died here October 8, 1793. The quaint old house in which he was born is still standing. Mrs. Catharine Augusta (Bhodes) Wake, a poet, and once editor of The Bower of Taste, was born here in 1797; and died in Paris, 1843. Freeman Hunt, editor and author, was born here March 21, 1804 ; and died in Brooklyn, NY, March 2, 1858. Frederick Augustus Whitney, author and divine, was born here September 13, 1812.