Haverhill Massachusetts, 1890
HAVERHILL, the Pentucket of the Indians, is an enterprising and uncommonly beautiful city, noted for the manufacture of boots and shoes, and for its recent growth and industrial prosperity. It lies in the northerly part of Essex County, on the north bank of the Merrimack River, at the head of tide-water and of sloop navigation; and is, by the Boston and Maine Railroad, 32 miles north of Boston, and 78 miles southwest from Portland. It is connected with Bradford and Groveland by substantial bridges, and with Newburyport by water and by the Haverhill Branch and the Danvers and Newburyport Railroad.
The town contains three postal centres — Haverhill, East Haverhill, and Ayer's Village (in the northwest angle); the other villages being East Parish, North Parish, Riverside, Rocks Village, Tilton's Corner, and West Parish. It has for its boundaries the New Hampshire line on the northwest; this, and Merrimack on the northeast; the Merrimack River, separating it from Newbury and Groveland, on the southeast; the same river, between it and Bradford, on the south; and Methuen on the southwest. The assessed area is 15,520 acres, including 940 acres of woodland. There are 163 farms, whose aggregate product in 1885 had the value of $173,973.
The underlying rock is the Merrimack schist, which crops out in ledges having a similar inclination in several localities. On Brandy Brow, in the north part of the town, there is a huge bowlder, which stands at the corner of Merrimac, Haverhill, Newtown and Plaistow. The surface of the city is agreeably diversified with rounded hills, valleys, lakes, streams and river; and the populous part, occupying a gentle acclivity rising immediately from the brink of the Merrimack, presents, with its handsome private residences, its churches, and other public edifices, a remarkably fine appearance. The highest point of land is Ayer's Hill, 339 feet above the sea, in the northwest section. From this, as well as from Golden Hill and Silver Hill, delightful views of the outspreading landscape and the noble river are obtained. There are five beautiful sheets of fresh water in the city, the largest of which, comprising about 238 acres, and called "Canoza Lake," is a favorite resort for pleasure parties, and is surrounded with delightful scenery. It receives a small tributary named "Fishing Brook;" and upon its outlet there is a mill privilege. Little River flows along the line of the Boston and Maine Railroad into the Merrimack; and Creek Pond, of about 156 acres, in the westerly part of the city, sends an affluent, called "Creek Brook," into the same river.
There are some excellent farms and apple-orchards here, and considerable attention is given to market-gardening; but the principal business is manufacturing. The city has establishments for making woollen goods, hats, shoe-lasts, shoe nails and tacks, morocco, carriages, boxes, tin-ware and clothing; and about 275 firms are busily employed in the manufacture of boots and shoes; the product in 1885 being valued at $13,551,905. The aggregate product of all manufactures was $16,320,707. The territory burned by the great fire of February 17 and 18, 1882, was devoted almost exclusively to this business, and the loss was estimated at $2,000,000. Yet it was soon rebuilt, with larger and better structures. The city continues to grow and business to increase.
There were in the city, in 1888, 4,026 dwelling-houses, upwards of 159 factory buildings, 236 workshops, besides numerous office and store buildings. The valuation in the latter year was $16,659,379, with a tax-rate of $16.60 on $1,000. There are five national banks, having an aggregate capital of $990,000; and two savings banks whose deposits at the close of last year amounted to $5,097,553. The city hall is a fine structure, and there is an excellent public library containing about 40,000 volumes. The public schools are completely graded; and there are also a normal and a training school for teachers. The schools occupy 17 buildings, having a value of about $350,000. The city has several able public journals — "The Haverhill Gazette"(daily and weekly), " The Daily" and "The Weekly Bulletin." " The Daily" and "The Weekly Laborer;" "The Essex Banner" and " The Outline," both weeklies. There are street railways, an efficient fire department and 21 churches. The latter are as follows : Congregational—the Centre, Fourth, North Haverhill, Riverside and West; Free Baptist; Methodist Episcopal; Protestant Episcopal — St. John's and Trinity; Roman Catholic — St. James' and St. Joseph's; Universalist — Haverhill and West Haverhill; and the Wesleyan Methodist. The social organizations are numerous.
Haverhill furnished 1,241 men for the army and navy during the late war of the Rebellion; and to the memory of the 184 that were lost it has erected a fitting monument. There is also a handsome fireman's monument, consisting of an elaborate granite pedestal, surmounted by the statue in white marble of a fireman, — the whole being fourteen feet in height.
The settlement at Haverhill was commenced in 1640 by the Rev. John Ward and others, who accompanied him from Newbury. The land was purchased of the Indians Passaquo and Saggahew Nov. 15, 1642, and then extended fourteen miles upon the river, and from it six miles north, embracing parts of Methuen, and of Salem, Atkinson and Plaistow in New Hampshire. It was named in memory of Haverhill, the birthplace of Mr. Ward in England, and incorporated in 1645. The plantation then contained about 32 landholders, and was, with the exception of open fields upon the river, a dense and unbroken forest. It 1650 it was voted "that Abraham Tyler blow his horn half an hour before meeting on the Lord's day and on lecture days, and receive one pound of pork annually for his services from each family." A bell was not procured until 1748. The first church was organized in 1645; and on the 13th of February, 1647, the Rev. John Ward, a man of robust constitution and an excellent divine, was ordained as pastor. His salary in 1652 was £50. He died December 27, 1693, and was succeeded by the Rev. Benjamin Rolfe, who was killed by the Indians in their attack upon the town on the 29th of August, 1708.
The first record made of schools is in March, 1661, when it was voted "that ten pounds should be rated for a schoolmaster, and he to receive pay from the scholars as he and the parents can agree."
Haverhill, as a frontier settlement, suffered much from Indian ferocity. The exploit of Mrs. Hannah Duston, in whose memory a monument has been erected on Duston's Island, at the mouth of the Contoocook River, is one of the most remarkable on record. On the 15th of March, 1697, a body of Indians made a descent on the westerly part of the town, and came towards the house of Mr. Thomas Duston. " Upon the first alarm, he flew from a neighboring field to his family. Seven of his children he directed to flee, while he himself went to assist his wife, who was confined to the bed with an infant a week old; but, before she could leave her bed, the savages arrived. In despair of rendering her assistance, Mr. Duston flew to the door, mounted his horse, and determined in his own mind to snatch up and save the child which be loved the best; but, upon coming up to them, he found it impossible to make a selection. He resolved, therefore, to meet his fate with them. A body of Indians soon came up with him, and, from short distances, fired upon him and his little company. For more than a mile he continued to retreat, placing himself between his children and the fire of the savages, and returning their shots with great spirit and success. At length he saw them all safely lodged from their bloody pursuers in a distant house. As Mr. Duston quitted his house, a party of Indians entered it. Mrs. Duston was in bed, but they compelled her, with the nurse, Mrs. Neff, to march with other captives into the wilderness. The air was keen, and their path led alternately through snow and deep mud. After going a short distance the savages killed the infant, and soon began to kill such other captives as showed weakness. The wigwam of their savage masters was on an island in Contoocook River, and was inhabited by 12 Indians. The information that, on their arrival at the settlement to which they were destined, they must submit to be scourged, and run the gantlet between two files of Indians, led them promptly to devise some means of escape. Early in the morning of the 31st of May, Mrs. Duston awaked her nurse and another fellow-prisoner; and arming themselves with tomahawks, thus despatched 10 of the 12 Indians while asleep. The other two escaped. The women then pursued their difficult and toilsome journey through the wilderness, and at length arrived in safety at Haverhill."
In his visit to New England in 1789, Washington spent one night in this town, — saying, as he entered it and gazed upon the river and the landscape, then in its autumn glory, "Haverhill is the pleasantest village I ever passed through."
The first steamboat that ever floated on the Merrimack was built here, and descended the river to Newburyport for the first time April 7, 1828.
The first Baptist church in Essex County was established here by the Rev. Hezekiah Smith in 1765.
The first newspaper ("The Gazette") issued here appeared in 1793; in the ensuing year, the Haverhill bridge was completed. The town, which in 1865 had a population of 10,740, was incorporated as a city March 10, 1869. In 1885 the population was 21,795, and the number of legal voters, 5,623.
Haverhill has given to the world many distinguished men. of whom the following may be named : —
Richard Saltonstall (1703-1756), an able jurist; Gen. Joseph Badger (1722-1803), an efficient officer; Brig-Gen. Moses Hazen (1733-1803), a brave Revolutionary officer; Thomas Cogswell (1746-1810), an able officer and jurist; Gen. Benjamin Moers (1758-1838), an efficient officer in the Revolution; Nathaniel Cogswell (1773-1813), a lawyer, and general in the Spanish army; Daniel Appleton (1785-1849), founder of the publishing house of Appleton & Company; Benjamin Greenleaf (1786-1864), author of an able series of mathematical text-books; William Willis, LL.D. (1794-1870), an able historian; John Greenleaf Whittier (1807), a poet of world-wide fame (born in a farm-house about two miles distant from the city proper, on the road leading to Amesbury, the town in which he now resides); George Minot (1817-1858), an able editor and lawyer; Charles Short, LL.D. (1821), an able writer, president of Kenyon College from 1863 to 1867; and Gen. William Francis Bartlett (1840), H. U. 1862, a gallant soldier; Hon. E. J. M. Hale (1813-1881), a graduate of Harvard University in 1835, — devoted chiefly to woollen manufactures; founder of the Haverhill Public Library and the hospital for the city.
pp. 364-367 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890