Rowley Massachusetts, 1890
Rowley, lying in the eastern part of Essex County, is territorially long and narrow, extending from the ocean, between Newbury and Georgetown on the north, and Ipswich. on, the south, some ten miles to Boxford, on the southwest.
The eastern part (including a section of Plum Island) is marshy, nearly 2,000 acres being annually mown, yielding about the same number of tons of hay. Westward the land is, in different parts, level and undulating. Prospect Hill, 264 feet high, rises near on the southwest of the village, and Bradford Street Hill on the west; with one or two small hills beyond these. The geological formation is alluvium, sienite and porphyry. The principal streams are Mill River, with its affluents; Great Swamp Brook and smaller streams, flowing northeasterly into Parker's River; and Rowley River, forming part of the southern line, and navigable for small vessels nearly to Rowley village, near the middle line and south side of the town.
The assessed area is 10,371 acres. There are some 2,700 acres of woodland. The fruit-trees number 13,535 and apples are a large crop. Wild berries are numerous. The value of the product of the 157 farms in 1885 was set down in the census as $114,443. The principal manufactures are boots and shoes, for which there were nine factories, employing 146 men; and the value of the goods made was $268,735. Food preparations of various kinds amounted to $75,570. Other manufactures were lumber (by two saw mills), oils, paints or crude chemicals, carriages, and metallic articles. The aggregate value of goods made was $374,945. The product of the fisheries consisted chiefly of smelts and clams, and amounted to $4,454. The population was 1,183; of whom 366 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $563,510, with a tax-rate of $13 on $1,000. There were 287 taxed dwelling-houses.
The grammar and primary schools occupy seven school buildings, valued at about $6,000. The Review and Book Club Library has about 1,000 volumes. The three churches are Baptist, Congregational and Universalist. The Eastern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad crosses the town, having a station at Rowley village, 31 miles from Boston.
Rowley was settled as early as 1638 by about 60 families from Yorkshire, England, under the guidance of Rev. Ezekiel Rogers. The town was named for the place where he had previously been settled, and was incorporated September 4, 1639. A fulling-mill (said to have been the first in the country) was established here soon after their arrival; some having wrought at this trade in the mother country. Hand-spinning was largely practised in this colony. Rowley is the birth-place of Spencer Phips, an early lieutenant-governor of the State; of the Rev. Jacob Bailey (1776-1841), a noted royalist; and Rev. Joseph Torrey (1797-1867), a president of the University of Vermont.
pp. 569-570 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890