Newburyport Massachusetts, 1890

NEWBURYPORT, anciently the port of Newbury, and now a port of entry, a city, and a seat of justice for Essex County, is delightfully situated on the southwest bank of the Merrimack, the city proper being about three miles above its entrance to the ocean. The city stands on ground rising gradually from the water, the higher portions commanding a wide and beautiful view of the river and of the sea from the Isles of Shoals to Rockport on Cape Ann. It lies in latitude 42° 48´ north and longitude 72° 52' west. It is 38 miles northeast of Boston by the Eastern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad, with the Danvers Branch coming in from the west and connecting it with Haverhill and Lawrence. A street railroad also connects it with Amesbury Mills. It is bounded on the north and northeast by the Merrimack (which separates it from Amesbury and Salisbury) , south by Newbury, and west by West Newbury.

Artichoke River, rising in West Newbury, forms a part of the line with that town, and furnishes power for a grain mill as it reaches the Merrimack.

The assessed area is 4,575 acres. The harbor is formed by the widening of the river; its entrance being marked on the south side by two lights, on the inner and on the outer necks of Plum Island. Three well-constructed bridges connect the city with Salisbury on the north side of the Merrimack, and another connects it with Plum Island. Turkey Hill, in the southwest, is the greatest elevation. There is not now a great extent of woodland, though formerly the region was covered with a heavy growth of oak. The mountain laurel and the trailing arbutus are found here; and almost every tree native to New England soil makes rapid and luxuriant growth The solid basis of the town is largely sienite, in which fine specimens of serpentine, nemalite and uranite appear. The region is one of Laurentian and Huronian upheaval, with many fissures filled with infused mineral matter. Stratified gravel, slightly loamy, forms the soil of the city proper; while outside for some miles the surface shows in most parts a modified clay, which rests on a blue or glacial clay of great depth. The soil requires much enrichment.

According to the last State census, there were 159 farms, though only 65 persons classed themselves as farmers. The total yield in 1885 was valued at $125,762. From a commercial, Newburyport has become a manufacturing city, having no less than 223 establishments. In the year mentioned there were 27 shoe factories, employing 800 persons, and making goods to the value of $1,625,518. Four cotton mills employed 798 persons and made goods to the amount of $958,695. A hundred and eighteen persons were engaged in making hats; 29 in making collars and cuffs; 96 in making combs, brushes, and other goods of horn and chrolithion; 40 persons were machinists, 48 silver washers and platers, and 19 were stone-workers. There were one lumber mill, 2 dye-works and bleacheries, a brick and tile factory, 15 ship-yards, and four soap factories. Other articles made in considerable quantity were food preparations, spices, liquors, clothing, boxes, carriages, furniture and leather. The aggregate value of goods made was $4,644,966. The fisheries brought in $58,232, clams, cod and mackerel, according to order of naming, amounting to nearly the entire sum. The commercial marine consisted of 5 barques, 1 brig, 4 schooners, 4 ships and 2 steamers; whose tonnage amounted to 12,024. There are four national banks, whose aggregate capital stock is $670,000; and 2 savings banks, whose deposits, at the opening of the present year, reached the sum of $5,641,174, The population was 13,716, including 3,232 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $8,686,130; and the tax-rate was $16 on $1,000. There were 2,276 dwelling-houses.

The post-office is Newburyport, and this is also the only railway station; but the villages are numerous. They are Artichoke, Atwood's Corner, Belleville, Daltonville, Evergreens, Grasshopper Plain, Guinea, Joppa, Moultonville, Pilfershire, Scotland, The Laurels, The Pines, and Turkey Hill. There are many charming localities and handsome residences. The public buildings of the city are a city-hall, valued at $33,000; the several buildings for the fire department, a brick market-house and an almshouse; and twelve or more school buildings valued at some $140,000. There is a graded system of public schools, embracing a high school for boys, and another for girls in an institution of a high order called "The Putnam Free School," which was opened in 1848. The public library building (known as the "Tracey House") is valued at $40,000, and contains about 25,000 volumes.

The newspapers are the "Daily Herald," having also an evening issue; the "Daily News," the weekly "Herald," and the weekly "Vanguard;" and the monthly "Good Tidings."

The Congregationalists have four churches here; the Methodists two; the Presbyterians, two; and the Baptists, Unitarians, Second Adventists, the Christian Connection, the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Roman Catholic Church, one each. There are eight cemeteries the four within the city proper being old, and no longer used. Oak Hill Cemetery, occupying a picturesque hill in the environs, has many beautiful monuments and ornamental trees and shrubbery. There are about 40 acres in parks. One Atkinson Common, containing 30 acres is situated on high land overlooking the city. In the centre of the city proper is a little park of about 10 acres called Bartlett Mall. It is beautifully shaded with elms, and has in the centre a small fresh-water pond. There are many handsome old mansions and several fine modern residences. Some of the streets, lined with elegant houses having gardens in front, are very beautiful. High Street, extending along the elevated land from Belleville to Oldtown Green, and affording occasional glimpses of the river and the ocean, is one of the most charming avenues in the country.


* Newburyport, in the matter of trade and business, was once the glory of Essex. It was settled in 1635, when it formed a part of the town of Newbury; from which, in 1764, one square mile of Newbury 640 acres was set off and incorporated under the name of Newburyport. This ended the vexations from the clashing interests of the "Waterside People" and those of the agricultural portion of the town. In 1851, after numerous attempts, another (and the most populous) portion of Newbury was annexed, bringing the territory to its present limits and increasing the population from 9,572 to 12,866. In 1854 it became a city. From its establishment as a town up to 1775 its prosperity was marvellous. Shipbuilding was the principal industry, vessels having been constructed here as early as 1680. During periods of special prosperity, as many as 90 vessels have been on the stocks at once. In August, 1775, the first privateer fitted out in the United States sailed from this port. She was owned by Nathanial Tracey, of Newburyport, who for 8 years was the principal owner of 110 merchantmen, having an aggregate tonnage of 15,660, and valued with their cargoes at $2,733,000. At the close of the Revolution but 13 of these were left, the remainder having either been captured by the enemy or lost. He also owned 24 cruisers, carrying 340 guns and navigated by 2,800 seamen and all these save one were lost. The property they captured from the British sold for $3,950,000 in gold. The first vessel that flung the American flag from her peak in the Thames was from Newbury-port.** With shipbuilding, commerce also came to this port and flourished amazingly until 1807, when the embargo that followed crushed the prosperity though not the spirit of her people. Then came the great hire of 1811, which destroyed a million and a half dollars worth of property in a few hours. Last of all the Middlesex Canal, completed in 1808, by making Boston the port of the Merrimack towns, gave the vital thrust at her enterprise and prosperity. The population of Newburyport had in 1860 increased to 13,401; in 1870, it had fallen to 12,595; since which date it has been steadily gaining with the increase in the number of manufactures.

Newburyport to-day is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. The place is remarkable for the number of noted people who have been residents. A few names are : Rev. George Whitefield, the great preacher, whose remains rest under the Federal Street church; Jacob Perkins, the celebrated inventor; Theophilus Parsens, the jurist; Edmund Blunt, the navigator; Hannah F. Gould, the poetess; George Lunt, the journalist and author; William Lloyd Garrison, the philanthropist; Hon. Caleb Cushing, the lawyer, statesman, parliamentarian and diplomatist, to whom a statue was erected here in 1879.

* The compact and excellent historical statement following is almost a literal transcript of the article on Newburyport in the "History of New England," by Cyrus M. Tracy, Esq.

**This honor is also claimed by Nantucket.

pp. 494-497 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890