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Salem, MA (1873)

Salem History, 1873 — "Salem s a commercial and literary city on Massachusetts Bay, in the south-easterly section of Essex County, 16 miles north-east of Boston by the Eastern Railroad, having Beverly (with which it is connected by a bridge 1,484 feet in length) on the north-west, Salem Harbor and Marblehead on the south-east, Swampscott and Lynn on the south-west, and Peabody on the northwest. It lies in latitude 42° 31' 18” north, in longitude 70° 53' 53” west, and has direct railroad communication with Marblehead, Gloucester, Newburyport, and Lawrence. It is one of the seats of justice in Essex County, and contains 24,117 inhabitants, 3,339 dwelling-houses, and many handsome and commodious public buildings.

It was originally called Naumkeag, but was incorporated as a town by the beautiful scriptural name of 'Salem' ('peace') June 24, 1629; and as a city March 23, 1836. The harbor is safe and convenient, but not of sufficient depth for vessels of the largest class; so that the East-India trade, for which this city once was famous, now demanding ships of heavier burden, is carried on by Boston and New York. The harbor is accommodated with many substantial wharves, which generally bear the names—as Derby, Allen, Phillips, Forrester—of those who built or own them. Two creeks, called North and South Rivers, embrace a section in the north-east denominated “The Neck;” and between, and north and south of, these inlets, the compact part of the city stands. The land in the south-west part is wild and rocky, and chiefly used for pasturage. Gallows Hill, in the western part, is a beautiful eminence overlooking the city, and commanding charming views of the harbor and adjacent shores and headlands. Although, in general, low and level, Salem has many picturesque points, as Winter Island and the Neck, an eminence near Forest River, and the wooded hills in the vicinity of Spring Pond, a beautiful expanse of fresh water, having a surface of 30 acres, on the Lynn border.

The streets of the city are wide, well shaded with venerable elms and maples, and kept in very good order. Washington Street, under which the long tunnel of the Eastern Railroad runs, is the principal business thoroughfare. Essex Street, which was paved as early as 1773, extends entirely through the city, and is lined by many elegant stores and handsome buildings, among which are the First, North, and Grace Churches. Federal Street is broad and regular; Chestnut Street is very handsome; and Lafayette Street, in the southerly part of the city, has many elegant dwelling-houses and pleasant gardens. The Common, in the northerly section of the city, comprises eight acres and a half, and-is adorned with graveled walks and ancient elms. Among the handsome public buildings of Salem are the State Normal Schoolhouse (built of brick), the substantial granite station-house of the Eastern Railroad, the City Hall, the Court House, the Marine Hall, the Mechanic Hall, and the Plummer Hall, the latter of which was erected in 1856 by a bequest of the late Miss Caroline Plummer.

By the last Report of the Statistics of the Industry of the State, Salem had 46 farms—comprising 2,410 acres, employing 90 persons—1,480 acres of unimproved land, and 18 acres of woodland. It had 22 acres devoted to the cultivation of onions, about 12 acres to market gardening, 4 acres to garden-seeds, and 721 acres to English mowing. The number of apple-trees cultivated for fruit was 4,469; of pear-trees, 4,533. The number of gallons of milk sold in a year was 43,212.

There were 21 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,000, valued at $55,300, engaged in the coastwise-trade; and one vessel, with a tonnage of 160, employed in the whale-fishery. The number of lobsters taken in a year was 100,000; and of persons employed, 16. In lieu of its commerce, which in former times was so important, Salem has introduced a large variety of mechanical industries, which give remunerative employment to its people. The steam-power now in use comprises 128 boilers, with a capacity of 5,666 horse-power; the smallest capacity being 4, the largest 240.

By the above-mentioned Report, the city had two cotton-mills, with an aggregate of 67,712 spindles, employing 675 persons; 39 tanning and 44 currying establishments, employing 538 hands; one lead company employing 30, and two glue [factories] 19 persons ; and the number of persons employed in boot and shoe making was 114. The city had also three furnaces, one brass-foundry, one machine-shop, six photographic, seven printing, five confectionery, two cabinet, six tin-ware, six cask, two box, three ice, six shoe-stitching, and three cloak-making establishments, together with many other branches of mechanical industry. Since that time business has been steadily advancing, and the compact part of the city extending its limits. 'In speaking of the iron-founderies of Salem, The Observer mentions that of J. R. Smith, which employs from six to sixteen men, and makes about three hundred tons of castings annually, principally the double curved furnace grate-bars; though castings of all kinds are made there. The Salem foundry and machine-shop melts up about three tons and a half of iron daily, nearly one-third of which is for castings for the Eastern Railroad Company.'

The valuation is $23,843,900; and the rate of taxation, $1.70 per $100. Many of the citizens of this place are engaged in literary pursuits, or do business in the metropolis. Salem has seven national and two savings banks, six insurance-offices, a board of trade (organized in November, 1866), a board of water-commissioners (incorporated in 1865), a water-supply by force-pump from Wenham Pond, an efficient fire-department, and a very beautiful cemetery called 'Harmony Grove,' incorporated in June, 1840. It has also a horse-railroad extending to Peabody and Beverly.

The city has long been celebrated for the high character of its public schools, and its liberal expenditures for popular instruction. Its public schools, numbering 67, are carefully graded, and under the charge of a corps of accomplished teachers, supervised by an able school-committee and superintendent. The high school is, in many respects, a model of its kind. One of the State normal schools, now under the mastership of D. B. Hagar, Ph. D., was opened in this place Sept. 13, 1854; and had connected with it in 1872 as many as 236 young ladies.

The city has a well-sustained [gymnasium], established in 1830; the following ably-conducted public journals, The Observer, The Gazette, The Register, The American Naturalist (published monthly), and The Fireside Favorite; and several very active learned and civic organizations.

The Peabody Academy of Science was founded in February, 1867, with the munificent gift of $140,000 by George Peabody of London. Of this there was to be expended $40,000 in purchasing and arranging the East-India Marine Hall with a museum; and the remainder is to be kept as a permanent fund, the income being appropriated to the advancement of science in Essex County.

The Essex Institute, incorporated in 1848, is a very energetic and progressive organization, having a large, select, and well-arranged library of more than 25,000 volumes, together with valuable paintings and historical curiosities arranged in the Plummer Hall, and extensive scientific collections with the museum of the East-India Marine Society in the Marine Hall. The library of the Salem Athenaeum, incorporated in 1810, contains about 14,000 volumes, which are deposited in Plummer Hall. The East-India Marine Society was instituted in October, 1799, by ship-masters or supercargoes who had doubled the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn; and once consisted of as many as 160 members. The museum, which has many rare curiosities from foreign climes, is arranged, under the direction of the trustees of the Peabody Academy of Science, with the scientific collections of the Essex Institute, in the East-India Marine Hall, which is open to the public, and affords a unique and instructive study for the curious.

Salem has a Post of the G.A.R., a Young Men's Christian Association, a Marine Society, and several lodges of Freemasons, Odd-Fellows, Sons of Temperance, and Good Templars. It has also a Medical Society, which has a library of about 1,000 volumes.

The pastors of the churches are the Revs. Edward S. Atwood, C.T., installed Oct. 13, 1864 (South Church, organized April, 1735); Hugh Elder, C.T., installed Jan. 29, 1868 (Crombie-street Church, organized May 3, 1832); the Tabernacle Church, C.T., is without a pastor; J. S. Whedon (Methodist); J. Gill, Methodist (Wesley Chapel); James T. Hewes, Unitarian, settled in 1868 (First Congregational Society); Samuel C. Beane, Unitarian, settled in 1864 (Second Church, organized in 1717); E. B. Willson, Unitarian, settled in 1859 (North Society, organized in 1772); George Batchelor, Unitarian, settled in 1866 (church in Barton Square, organized in 1824); E. C. Bolles (Universalist church, established in 1810); R. C. Mills, D.D., Baptist, settled in 1848 (First Church, organized in 1804); the Central Baptist Church is without a pastor; E. M. Gushee, St. Peter's Church (Episcopal); J. P. Franks, Grace Church (Episcopal); John Gray, St. James's Church (Roman Catholic); William Hally, Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic).

Salem and Plymouth were the first towns permanently settled in the State. Breaking up his 'fishing plantation' at Cape Ann, Roger Conant and his companions came to Naumkeag in the autumn of 1626; and, though surrounded with perils and perplexities, the stouthearted leader gave his 'utter denial to goe away.' Among his companions were John Balch, Peter Palfrey, Jeffrey Massey, and John Woodbury. John Endecott, with his company, arrived on the 6th of September, 1628; and was followed the next year by eleven ships, bringing 1,500 passengers, among whom were Francis Higginson, Deputy-Gov. Thomas Dudley, Sir William Johnson, and his accomplished Lady Arbella, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln. Many of these emigrants soon removed to Charlestown and Boston. In a letter written soon after his arrival, Mr. Higginson said, 'When we first came to Nehum-kek, we found about halfe score houses, and a faire house newly built for the governor; we also found aboundance of come planted by them very good & well liking. And we brought with us about two hundred passengers & planters more, which, by common consent of the old planters, were all combined together into one body Politicke, under the same governour. There are in all of us both old & new planters about three hundred, whereof two hundred of them are settled at Nehum-kek, now called Salem; and the rest have planted themselves at Massathulets Bay, beginning to build a town there, which wee do call Charton, or Charles-Town. We that are settled at Salem make what haste we can to build houses, so that within a short time we shall have a faire town.'

During this year (Aug. 6, 1629), the first complete church organization ever made in this country was effected here; and the Rev. Francis Higginson was appointed pastor. John Massey was the first child born in the place. His birth occurred in 1629, and his death in 1709. In 1703 the old church Bible was presented to him as 'the first townborn child.' His cradle is still preserved.

In 1636 the quarter court was held in this town, which then embraced what is now Manchester, Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Middleton, with parts of Lynn, Topsfield, and Wenham. In 1661 eighteen Quakers were publicly punished here; and in 1692 occurred the remarkable delusion in respect to witchcraft, for which many persons in this and in the neighboring towns were tried, and as many as nineteen executed. The house in which some of them were examined is still standing on Essex Street. It was built by Jonathan Curwen. The place of execution was the beautiful eminence known as 'Gallows Hill.'

Salem exhibited a noble patriotism during the Revolution; and when, after the closing of the port of Boston, Gen. Thomas Gage removed to this town, the citizens presented him an address (June 11, 1774), in which they magnanimously said, 'By shutting up the port of Boston, some imagine that the course of trade might be turned hither, and to our benefit: but Nature, in the formation of our harbor, forbids our becoming rivals in commerce to that convenient mart. And, were it otherwise, we must be dead to every idea of justice, lost to all feelings of humanity, could we indulge one thought to seize on wealth, and raise our fortunes on the ruins of our suffering neighbors.'

Col. Leslie, with a British regiment, landed privately at Salem, Feb. 26, 1776, with the intention of taking some military stores in the north part of the town; but Col. Timothy Pickering, with a band of followers, raised the draw of the North Bridge, and prevented the advance of Leslie's men. An attempt was then made to cross North River in a gondola; but this the Americans scuttled. Col. Leslie then proposed, that, if permitted to pass thirty rods beyond the bridge, he would desist from his undertaking. This he was allowed to do; and, having done it, he returned, according to his word, to Boston.

During the late war, Salem responded promptly to the calls of the country; and as many as 82 of its soldiers were killed in battle, or died in consequence of exposures in the service.

The growth of the city has been gradual, but certain ; and, now that attention has been largely turned to manufacturing, its progress will undoubtedly be more rapid, and its gains more evenly distributed. The population, in 1762, was 4,123; in 1790, 7,921; in 1800, 9,457; in 1810, 12,613; in 1820, 12,731; in 1830, 13,895; in 1840, 15,082; in 1850, 20,264; in 1860, 22,252; and in 1870, 24,117.

Salem has the honor of having given to the world a large number of distinguished men, among whom may be mentioned Peter Thacher (1651-1727), a noted preacher and physician; Benjamin Lynde (1666-1747), chief justice of the State; George Burroughs ( -1692), a minister executed for witchcraft; Stephen Sewall (1704-1760), an able preacher and judge; Israel Putnam (1718-1790), an eminent major-general in the Revolution; John Glover (1732- 1797), an able officer; William Browne (1737-1802), a loyalist, judge, and representative; Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799), a successful merchant; Stephen Higginson (1743-1828), an eminent merchant; John Fiske (1744-1797), a gallant officer; Timothy Pickering, LL.D. (1745-1829), a statesman and soldier; Jonathan Mitchell Sewall (1745-1808), a noted poet and lawyer; Joseph Orne (1747- 1786), a poet and physician; Benjamin Goodhue (1748-1814), a distinguished politician; George Cabot (1752-1823), U. S. senator from 1791 to 1796; Gen. Elias Hasket Derby (1766-1826), a notable merchant; Nathaniel Bowditch, LL.D., F.R.S. (1773-1838), a very able astronomer; John Pickering, LL.D. (1777-1846), a fine Greek scholar; Benjamin Peirce (1778-1831), a librarian of Harvard College, and author; Warwick Palfrey (1787-1838), an able author and editor; Joseph Barlow Felt, LL.D. (1789-1869), a distinguished antiquary and author; Josiah Willard Gibbs, LL.D. (1790-1861), an able philologist and author; Francis Calley Gray (1790-1856), an accomplished writer; William Hickling Prescott, LL.D. (1796-1859), a distinguished historian; Henry Felt Baker (1797-1857), an author and inventor; Stephen Clarendon Phillips (1801-1857), a noted philanthropist; Charles Dexter Cleveland, LL.D. (1802-1869), a fine scholar and author; Elias Hasket Derby (1803), an able lawyer and author; Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804- 1864), a celebrated author of fiction; Nathaniel Ingersoll Bowditch (1805-1861), an able historian; John Goodhue Treadwell, M.D. (1805-1856), a noted scholar and physician; Nehemiah Adams, D.D. (1806), an able divine; Benjamin Peirce, LL.D. (1809), an accomplished mathematician; Charles Davis Jackson, D.D. (1811), an eminent divine; Charles Grafton Page, M.D. (1812-1868), a notable physicist ; Henry Wheatland, M.D. (1812), an able scientist; Charles Timothy Brooks (1813), an accomplished scholar and poet, translator of Goethe's 'Faust;' Jones Very (1813), a scholar and poet, author of 'The Painted Columbine;' William Wetmore Story (1819), an artist and poet; William Frederick Poole (1821), an author and librarian; Samuel Johnson (1822), an able clergyman and poet; Frederick West Lander (1822-1862), an explorer and brave soldier (his sister, Louise Lander, is an accomplished sculptor); George W. Searle (1826), a distinguished legal writer; Maria S. Cummins (1827-1866), author of 'The Lamplighter,' &c.; John Rogers (1829), a well-known sculptor; J. Harvey Young (1830), a noted portrait-painter; Frederick Townsend Ward (1831-1862), an admiral-general in the service of the Chinese emperor.

'Annals of Salem,' by Joseph B. Felt, second edition, was published in 1849."

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