Marblehead Massachusetts, 1890

Marblehead is a picturesque and enterprising seaboard town situated on a broad neck of land in the southern part of Essex County; having Beverly harbor on the north, the ocean on the east and southeast, Swampscott on the south, and Salem with its harbor on the west. It lies some 20 miles northeast of Boston, with which it has connection by a railroad from Salem, at the northwest, and one from Swampscott at the south, branches of the Eastern division of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The assessed area is 2,399 acres.

The large village of Marblehead lies along the harbor, whose opposite shore is formed by Great Neck, a charming peninsula running northeast, parallel with the village shore. At its northern point is the Marblehead Light Station. Northeasterly from this, and midway of the outer line of Beverly Bay, is Baker's Island Light. The entrance to Marblehead Harbor is commanded by Fort Sewall, on the mainland, built in 1742. The principal seaward projections, beginning at the north, are Naugus Head, Cloutman's, Fluent's, Doliber, Peach, and Flying points. Doliber's Cove lies south of Peach Point. A beautiful beach extends from the beginning of the neck nearly to Swampscott The notable islands on the outside are Ram, Tinker's, and Marblehead Rock; and on the inner line, at the north, are Gerry's and Orne's. Off the mouth of the harbor is Lowell Island, where a summer hotel has had some patronage. In the northern part of the town are several hills. The highest is Coddon's Hill, in the northern angle, rising 118 feet above the tide, and affording fine views in every direction. The geological basis of the town is sienite and porphyry; huge masses of which crop out on all sides, giving a peculiarly wild and rugged aspect to the scenery. From this character it probably gained its present name; while its harbor was named, in the period of exploration, Marmaricia, or "Marble Harbor." There is a fine little pond in the northeastern part; but there are no brooks of much volume.

Notwithstanding the numerous ledges, many of the 49 farms in the town are as remunerative as elsewhere. The gardens are kept in the best manner; and the Gregory seed establishment here has a wide reputation. The agricultural products are reported in the last State census as aggregating in the sum of $88,263. The fisheries, formerly a leading industry of the place, yielded in 1885 but $20,245; the largest items of the catch being cod, pollock, haddock, herring, mackerel and lobsters. The number of persons engaged in this pursuit was stated as 37. There has been a large growth in manufactures,-- the shoe factories numbering 63, with a product in 1885 aggregating $2,779,406. There were also a steam lumber-mill, a furniture factory, and four ship-yards. Other manufactures were carriages, paper goods, isinglass and other food preparations, and domestic utensils of iron and other metals. The aggregate value of goods made was $3,162,923. There were two national banks, with a total capital of $240,000; and a savings bank, holding deposits at the beginning of the present year to the amount of $293,300. The number of dwelling-houses was 1,525; the population was 7,517, including 2,060 legal voters, an unusually large proportion. The valuation in 1888 was $4,591,026, with a tax-rate of $17 on $1,000.

The post-offices are Marblehead, Nanepashemet and Clifton. The first and last of these, with Devereaux, are railroad stations. A locality on Great Neck has borne the name of Nashua Village. The old brick town-house here was built in 1727-8. A beautiful public edifice called Abbott Hall was a few years ago erected on the Common at a cost of $75,000, provided by a bequest of Benjamin Abbott. It contains a public library of some 10,000 volumes.

There are a high school and two lower grades, which occupy 12 buildings valued at some $45,000. The Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Unitarians and Universalists, each have a church here.

Marblehead was taken from Salem, and incorporated, May 2, 1649. At that time it contained 44 families. The First Church, having the Rev. Ezekiel Cheever for its minister, was organized August 13, 1684. The Episcopal church was established as early as 1715; and in the ensuing year the Second Congregational church, now Unitarian, was organized. The Rev. Edward Holyoke, afterwards president of Harvard University, was the first pastor.

In 1775, an entire regiment of 1,000 men, commanded by Colonel Glover, joined the army at Cambridge; of whom a large proportion lost their lives before the struggle was over. Captain James Mugford, a Marblehead sailor (whose name appears in the column of worthies in Faneuil Hall), rendered important service to the American cause by capturing, January 12, 1776, a British ship just arrived in Massachusetts Bay, richly laden with arms, ammunition and other military stores, of which the army at the time were in extreme need. Com. Samuel Tucker was another naval hero of both the Revolution and 1812, capturing a great number of the enemy's vessels. The patriotism of the town in the latter war was no less than in the former; and her losses in vessels and men were great. At one time during the war of 1812, not less than 563 Marbleheaders were prisoners of war in British prisons. Late one afternoon in 1861, Marblehead received notice of the national call for troops, and at eight o'clock the next morning she had a company of men in Faneuil Hall, the first troops there. An hour later two other of her companies arrived. Her lost soldiers in this war have been duly commemorated by a monument.

Marblehead has given to the country many eminent men, among whom may be mentioned, Edward Augustus Holyoke, M.D., LL.D. (1728-1829), founder of Massachusetts Medical Society; Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, M.C., ambassador to France, governor of Massachusetts, and vice-president of the U. S.

pp. 439-440 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

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