Newbury Massachusetts, 1890

Newbury is an ancient and pleasant agricultural town in northeast part of Essex County, 32 miles northeast of Boston on the Eastern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad. Through it from the west also comes the Danvers, Haverhill and Newburyport Branch. It is bounded on the north by Newburyport, east by the ocean, south by Rowley southwest by Georgetown, and northwest by West Newbury. Its length from east to west, curving southward, is above 8 miles, and its width about 3 miles. The assessed area is 13,094, more than 2,000 acres less than the actual area.

There are about 1,500 acres of woodland. A section of Plum Island forms the ocean frontage, separated by an arm of the sea called Plum Island River, or Sound. Parker River with its branches Little River from the north and Mill River from the southwest are the principal streams, and furnish some motive power. The land is undulating, except in the vicinity of Plum Island Sound, and a large distance of Parker River, where it is marshy. A gentle swell of land extends across the easterly section of the town, marked at its extremities by the two villages called Upper Green and Lower Green. On this many of the early settlers built substantial dwelling-houses, several of which still remain. Just north of Lower Green this swell rises into the considerable eminence of Oldtown Hill, from which may be seen the valley of Parker River, the mouth of the Merrimack, the Isles of Shoals, the long stretch of Plum Island, Annisquam Harbor and Cape Ann. The geological formation of the town is mainly sienite, but from one ledge limestone was quarried in early times. At a rocky point called the "Devil's Den," fine specimens of serpentine, chrysolite, asbestos, amianthus, massive garnet, and carbonate of iron are obtained. Near by this ledge is a deep, basin-like depression in the rocky mass, with a miniature lake at the bottom. The soil is generally good.

There are in the town 201 farms, whose product in 1885, as give in the last State census, was $276,868. Onions, apples and pears, strawberries, grapes and poultry products are the items which are in larger than the usual proportion. A boot and shoe factory employing 55 persons, and woollen mills employing 28, are the largest manufacturing establishments. Other articles made in considerable quantity are carriages, lumber, liquors, snuff, and polishes and dressings. The aggregate value of goods made was $257,496. The population was 1,590, of whom 436 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $982,070 and the rate of taxation $10 on $1,000. The number of dwelling-houses was 311.

The post-offices are Newbury, Byfield and South Byfield. Other villages not already mentioned are the Farms, Oldtown and Scotland. Newbury has a serviceable town-house and six public-school buildings, valued at $6,000. There is a small association library; and Dummer Academy, situated in the pleasant village of South Byfield, has a library of some 500 volumes. This institution, the first "free grammar school" (equivalent to our term of "classical school") in New England, was founded by Governor William Dumnaer, a native of the town, in 1763. In Byfield village, also, some 80 years ago, was established the first "female seminary" in the country; and among its pupils were Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now "College"); Miss Zilpha Grant, founder of the Ipswich Female Seminary; Miss Abigail Hasseltine, founder of the Bradford Academy also a female seminary; Miss Anna Judson and Miss Harriet Newell, first female missionaries to the heathen from the United States. The house of the pioneer Longfellow is still shown in this town.

Newbury was incorporated May 6, 1635, being named for an English town. It had previously been the plantation of Wessacucon, which was the Indian name. Newburyport was detached from it in 1764, and West Newbury in 1819. The Revs. Thomas Parker and James Noyes were respectively pastor and teacher of the first church; whose formation occurred under a broad-spreading tree on the margin of Parker River. The churches at present are the By field and the First Congregationalist, the Methodist Episcopal, the Independent Methodist, and a Roman Catholic.

Out of 150 men capable of doing military duty this town lost 67 during King Philip's War; and it has ever manifested a patriotic spirit. It contributed 160 men to the Union forces during the war of the Rebellion. It has given many eminent men to the country; as Rev. Samuel Moody (1676-1747), the celebrated minister of York, Maine; Theophilus Bradbury (1739-1803), an able jurist and a U.S. senator; Leonard Woods, D.D. (1807), President of Bowdoin College from 1839 to 1866; and Benjamin Perley Poore (1820), an able author and journalist.

pp.492-494 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890