Danvers Massachusetts, 1890

is an ancient and beautiful town lying in the southerly part of Essex County, and having for its boundaries Topsfield on the north, Wenham and Beverly on the east, Peabody on the south, and Middleton on the west. The general form of the township is triangular, with its corners nearly at the northeast, southeast and southwest. The assessed area is 7,420 acres, of which 482 acres are wooded with oak, with some pine, walnut, alder, maple, and the gray and rarely the white birch.

There are groups of hills at the southeast and centre of the town ship, and a more extended group at the northwest, having Putnam's Hill as their eastern outpost. At the west is Hawthorne's Hill, with its summit 257 feet above sea-level, bearing the State Lunatic Asylum, the largest building in Essex County and visible from a great distance. Lindall's Hill slopes down to Danvers Plain, the principal village; and a little westward Whipple's Hill overlooks Danvers centre, anciently Salem Village. The other villages are Danversport, Tapleyville, Putnamville, Searsville and East Danvers. All except the last three are post-offices. Danversport is at the head of navigation on Porter's River, at the southeastern part of the township. It was formerly quite a shipbuilding place for small vessels, and has now some lumber business. An affluent of this river, on the east, is Frost-fish Brook; Crane Brook flows through Danvers centre, furnishing some power. Beaver-dam Brook, in the south, enters the Ipswich River; which, flowing northward, forms a considerable part of the western line of the town. The Lawrence and the Newburyport railroads, both being branches of the Boston and Maine Railroad, intersect near the main village, and thus afford direct communication with Boston, Salem, Lawrence and Newburyport. A large number of men engaged in the various kinds of transportation business live in this town, as well as merchants and professional men of Boston.

[The State Lunatic Asylum, Danvers]

The underlying rock is sienite, ever which are strewn many bowlders, giving ample indications of the glacial period. Good clay for bricks and pottery is found in several localities, and the meadows afford peat. The soil elsewhere is loamy and yields excellent crops. There are in the town 160 farms, whose product in 1885 amounted to $266,349. Of this the dairies yielded $76,662; and vegetables $88,695. At that date were also reported seven brickyards, with an annual product valued at $26,823; six tanneries and morocco factories turning out goods to the value of $283,922 annually; fifteen shoe factories employing 892 persons and producing goods in that year to the value of $1,701,241; four food establishments, whose annual product reached the sum of $175,958; an iron foundery, and shops for metallic work, whose product amounted to $66,767; the aggregate value of the manufactures being $2,624,309. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $3,861,370, with a tax-rate of $14.80 on $1,000. The population is 7,061; of whom 1,560 are voters. The First National Bank, Danvers, has a capital of $150,000; and the Danvers Savings Bank, at the close of last year, held $1,074,168 in deposits.

The town has excellent graded schools, housed in ten buildings, whose value with appurtenances is upward of $50,000. The Peabody Institute, situated in Peabody Park, contains a select library of about 17,000 volumes, and a fine audience hall. The institution was the gift of George Peabody, the philanthropic London banker. The Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Unitarians and Adventists each have a church here, and the Trinitarian Congregationalists have two. The town supports two weekly journals -- the "Mirror" and the "Union," and the "Daily Evening Courier, which are worthy of their patronage.

The turnpike from Boston to Newburyport runs through the length of the town, and there are several other fine drives. The roads are generally good, and are extensively bordered with trees, mostly elm and maple, many of which are half a century old. The old mansion in this town which was the birthplace of General Israel Putnam still stands; the "Collins House" was for a time the headquarters of General Gage; the old Jacobs house, on Water's River, was the home of George Jacobs, executed as a wizard in 1692; Governor John Endicott's "orchard farm," at Danversport, with the old Endicott pear tree and the site of the Governor's house; the home of Rebecca Nurse (the Witch-House, Tapleyville) is still to be seen, and several ther points historically interesting.

This town, in its original limits, embracing what was the village proper and the middle parishes of Salem, was incorporated as a district January 28, 1752; and as a town, June 16, 1657 [sic]. 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 in 1855. The district called "New Mills," in the 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. Felt'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."

"The inhabitants of Danvers," says Mr. Barber, "have always been distinguished for their patriotism, and its citizens bore their full share in the great contest of the Revolution." It is said that of the patriots who fell at Lexington, one sixth part were inhabitants of this town. In 1865, a monument was erected to their memory, on the identical spot (it is claimed) whence the young patriots set out on their march. It has also erected a handsome monument to perpetuate the names and deeds of its soldiers lost in the late war. Some of the distinguished persons who have originated in Danvers are : Moses Porter (1755-1822), a brigadier-general, U. S. army; George Peabody (1795-1869), an eminent banker and philanthropist; Daniel Putnam King (1801-1850), a scientific farmer, and M.C. from 1843 to 1849; Hannah O'Brien Chaplin Conant (1842-1865), an able author and editor, and an Oriental scholar.

pp. 260-263 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890