Methuen Massachusetts, 1890
Methuen forms the northwest angle of Essex County, and lies on the north side of the Merrimack River, but separated from it at the middle by half the city of Lawrence; by which, with the deep intrusion opposite of a large angle of Salem, N. H., the town is nearly cut in two parts. Haverhill and Bradford bound it on the northeast; North Andover, Lawrence and Andover on the southeast, and Dracut on the west. The assessed area is 13,333 acres, of which 3,017 are forest.
The noble Merrimack forms the line between this town and Andover, North Andover and Bradford. From New Hampshire comes the Spicket River, its volume increased from South Fond, in the western part of the town, and Mystic, near the centre. At Methuen village it has a wild and beautiful fall of 36 feet over a broken and precipitous ledge of slate rock. The eastern part of the town is drained by Hawke's Brook.
The land is good, and is finely interspersed with hills and valleys. The farms, 212 in number, are neatly kept, and had in 1885 a product amounting to $259,243. Nearly all kinds of the common fruits and berries are cultivated with large success. The Lawrence and Manchester, N. H., branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad intersects the town. The larger manufactories are one cotton mill, two woollen mills, one jersey mill, one wool-scouring mill, two hat factories, and one shoe factory. According to the last State census, the cotton mills employed in 1885, 440 persons; the woollen mills, covering some two acres of ground, employed over 200; the annual product of hosiery and knit goods amounted to $274,300; the larger of the hat factories covered about one acre, its capacity being 150 to 200 dozen hats daily, and its annual product having a value of some $250,000. The chemical works and the New Arlington mill are in Methuen, next to Lawrence. Other considerable manufactures are boots and shoes, metallic goods, leather and lumber. The value of the aggregate manufactured products in 1885 was $2,034,970. There is here a national bank with a capital of $100,000. The dwelling-houses were 815 in number; and the population was 4,507, of whom 883 were voters. The valuation in 1888 was $2,894,732, with a tax-rate of $15 on $1,000.
There are a capacious town-hall, and an excellent library of some 12,000 volumes, in a beautiful Romanesque edifice, — gifts of the Nevins family of this town, and bearing the name of Nevins Memorial Hall and Library. Another striking edifice is the Trinitarian Congregational church, a massive structure of stone, with ivy-covered walls and antique gray tower 150 feet high. The other church edifices are those of the Baptist, Episcopalians, Universalists and Methodists; and there is also a Roman Catholic society. Methuen has 10 school-houses, whose value is nearly 40,000. The "Transcript " is Methuen's local weekly journal, and there is an entertaining monthly called "The High School Atom."
This town, formerly a part of Haverhill, was incorporated December, 8, 1725. Governor Dummer named the town in honor of his friend, Lord Methuen, at that time English minister to Spain.
The town furnished 303 men to the Union cause in the late war, and lost 45 of them. A handsome monument has been erected to their memory by Mr. C. H. Tenney, of New York city; who has a beautiful and extensive establishment in the town for his summer residence. The local residence of Col. Henry C. Nevins, also, consists of elegant buildings, and extensive lawns and groves having a great variety of plants, and further decorated with many elegant bronze casts of rare and familiar animals .
pp. 458-459 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890