Peabody Massachusetts, 1890

Peabody is a large, handsome and prosperous town in the southerly part of Essex County, about 18 miles north of Boston, with which it has communication by the Wakefield Branch of the Eastern Railroad, by the Newburyport Branch of the Boston and Maine, and by the Salem and Lowell Railroad, which traverse the town, all belonging to the Boston and Maine Railroad system. A street railway also connects it with Salem. North Reading, Middleton and Danvers form the northern boundary; Salem the eastern; Lynn the south and southwest; and Lynnfield the southwest and west.

The assessed area is 9,050 acres, which includes 2,577 acres of forest land. The surface is finely diversified; and Mount Pleasant in the north, and Upton's Hill in the northwest, afford admirable views. The town is drained by Proctor's Brook, in the northeastern section; by Goldthwait's Brook, an outlet of Cedar Pond, near the southwest side; by Tapley's Brook, the outlet of Brown's Pond and Lynnmere in the extreme south; while Suntaug Lake, on the Lynnfield border, a large, circular and beautiful body of water with a pretty island in the centre, sends a tributary northward across the western part of the town to Ipswich River, which here for a short distance washes the northern border. The geological basis of.the town is sienite and greenstone. The soil is various, but yields well under careful cultivation.

The value of the aggregate product of the 126 farms in 1885 was reported in the census as $228,305. The leather establishments, including tanneries, currying and dressing shops, numbered 61. The first employed 759 men; while the morocco factories alone employed 371. The value of the leather product was $3,883,119. Seventeen boot and shoe factories employed 209 persons, and turned out goods to the value of $175,639. Three glue factories employed 97 persons; a bleachery, 116; and a woollen mill, 34. There were also manufactures of carriages, artisans' tools and scientific implements, machinery and other metallic goods, pottery, bricks, wrought stone, lumber, furniture, food preparations and soap. The aggregate value of goods made was $5,964,353. The capital stock of the two national banks amounts to $400,000; and the savings bank, at the close of last year, held deposits to the amount; of $1,717,488. The population was 9,630, including 2,192 legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $7,063,650, and the tax-rate $16 on $1,000. There were 1,490 taxed dwelling-houses.

Peabody has a superior high school, with primary and grammar grades accordant; and these occupy seven buildings, valued at some $60,000. The Eben Dale Sutton Reference Library contains some 2,000 volumes, and is sustained by a fund. There are also small association libraries. The Peabody Institute, founded in 1852 by the late George Peabody with a munificent donation of $200,000, has a very handsome edifice, containing a free library of upwards of 28,000 volumes, and a large and valuable scientific museum. The trustees have made provisions also for an annual course of free public lectures. The "Press" and the '' Reporter," published here, are prosperous weekly journals. The churches consist of two Congregationalist, and one each of the Baptists, Methodists, Protestant Episcopalians, Unitarians, Universalists and the Roman Catholics.

George Peabody, D.C.L., a successful banker and a philanthropist, was born within the limits of this town February 18, 1795, and died in London, England, November 4,1869. The house in which he was born still stands, an object of much regard. Mr. Peabody established a banking-house in London in July, 1843, by which his wealth was increased to princely dimensions; He gave to the city of Baltimore $1,400,000, to found an institute of literature, science and the fine arts; for the poor of London, in 1862, $2,500,000; to Harvard University in 1866, $150,000 for the establishment of a museum and professorship of American archaeology and ethnology; to Yale College, $150,000; and to the Southern Educational Fund, created in 1866, $2,000,000. He also made many minor benefactions.

The town of Peabody was formerly a part of Salem, and was included in the territory set off as the town of Danvers. It was set off from the latter, and incorporated as South Danvers, May 18, 1855; and on April 13, 1868, this name was changed for the present one, in honor of its illustrious son and benefactor. The post-offices are Peabody (village), South Peabody and West Peabody. Other villages are Brookdale, Dublin, Felton's Corner, Needham's Corner, Newhall's Crossing, Proctor's Crossing and Phelp's Mill. In 1881 a monument was erected in the public square in the chief village to the memory of the soldiers who fell in the Union service in the late war. It is constructed of granite, and is surmounted by a statue of America. Its entire height is 50 feet. The early history of this place is involved with that of Salem.

pp. 531-532 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890