Essex Massachusetts, 1890

Essex is a finely diversified and beautiful town in the easterly part of Essex County, long noted for shipbuilding and the hardy and enterprising character of its people. It lies northeast of Boston, and about 27 miles distant by the Essex Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad, which connects with its several villages. It is bounded on the north by Ipswich, on the east by Gloucester, south by Manchester, and west by Hamilton. Its assessed area is 7,841 acres, 1,180 being woodland, containing pine, oak, maple and beech.

The rock is sienite. On the summit of a ledge cropping out in the central village is a mass of cloven bowlders piled up grotesquely, called Martin's Rock, which has served to bear up a liberty pole. From Burnham's Hill in the north, White's Hill in the centre, and. Perkins' Hill (a survey station), the observer obtains delightful views of the valley of Chebacco, of the bay with its various creeks and rounded islands, Castle Neck, Annisquam Harbor, and the ocean. From Chebacco Pond, a fine sheet of water in the southwest section, covering 260 acres, flows Chebacco or Essex River centrally through the town, affording some motive power, and conveniences for constructing ships. It is a deep, narrow and serpentine stream, but very useful to the place. There is a small pond near the central village, which adds much to the beauty of the landscape.

Essex has for many years been celebrated for building stanch [sic] and handsome vessels. Cooper, in his "Pilot," makes Captain Barnstable, the commander of "The Ariel," come from " Old Chebacco;" and Dr. Kane made a polar voyage in a vessel built on Chebacco River. By the last industrial report (1885), there were within the town seven ship-yards, employing nearly 150 men; other manufactures being hoots and shoes (product valued at $363,865), cordage and twine, carriages, lumber, leather, liquors, food preparations and others. The aggregate value of goods made was $669,460. There are 79 farms, whose various products amounted to $112,456. The clam-banks of Essex, too, are noted for an abundant and excellent supply of shellfish, while the salt marshes afford large quantities of hay. The fishings product of the town in the year mentioned was $18,244; of which $6,000 came from oysters and $11,930 from clams. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $852,792, with a tart of $18 on $1,000. The population was 1,752 (456 being voters); and their dwelling-houses numbered 388. The principal villages are Essex (centre), Chebacco Pond, Essex Falls. The public schools are provided for in eleven school-houses, valued at about $15,000. The churches are a Congregationalist, Methodist and Universalist.

For 121 years this township was known by its Indian name of Chebacco and as the Second Parish of Ipswich. The first minister was the Rev. John Wise, ordained in 1682. The town was incorporated February 18, 1819. It contains many descendants of the original settlers, who bear the familiar names of Burnham, Choate, Cogswell and Perkins. Rufus Choate, LL.D., the eminent lawyer and orator, was born here October 1, 1799. He died July 13, 1859. His brother David Choate, who died later, was a man of different tastes but large ability. Others of eminence were George F. Choate and Jonathan Story.

Essex sent 200 men into the war for the Union, of whom 30 were lost. 

pp. 294-295 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer