Wakefield Massachusetts, 1890

Wakefield is a beautiful and flourishing town of 6,060 inhabitants, situated in the extreme easterly part of Middlesex County, 10 miles north of Boston. It is admirably accommodated by the Boston and Maine Railroad, from which a branch proceeds to Lawrence, another to Newburyport, and a third to Salem. The post-offices are Wakefield (centre), Greenwood in the south part, and Montrose in the northeast part of the town. Other villages are Wakefield Junction and Woodville.

The boundaries of the town are Reading and Lynnfield on the north, the latter and Saugus on the east, the last and Melrose on the south, with Stoneham and Reading on the southwest and northwest. The assessed area is 3,745 acres; of which nearly 1,000 acres are forests of pine, oak, maple, cedar and birch. Elm, maple and horse-chestnut are plentiful along the village streets; fruit trees abound, and berries are largely cultivated. The rock formation is sienitic, with some trap. The soil is clayey, gravelly, and black loam in different parts. The surface is finely diversified with hill, valley and lake. Greenwood Mount and Round Hill in the south are names of rocky and commanding elevations. Coudrey's, Cedar, Hart's, Bear, Tudor and Prospect, also designate pleasing elevations. Quanapowitt Pond, in the northwest part, embracing an area of 264 acres, is the source of Saugus River, which winds around the northeast section of the town. On a broad cape on the southwest side of the pond is a beautiful cemetery, with a village embowered beyond. On its southern shore is the large Central Park, well covered with old elms, and having a picturesque "Rockery," a music pavilion, and excellent promenades. Along the entire eastern side winds a shaded street, with charming views from all points. Crystal lake (Indian name, Wappahtuck), of 48 acres, southwest of the centre, is also an ornament to the place, as well as being extremely useful through the water-works.

The largest industrial establishment is that founded by the late Cyrus Wakefield, the "rattan factory," making chairs, baskets, boxes, carriage tops, matting and other articles from rattan; which at present gives employment to about 700 persons. Other large establishments are the Smith & Anthony Stove Company, employing about 100 men; the Evans Shoe Factory, employing 50 persons; the Emmons Shoe Factory, employing 40; and the Miller Piano Factory, employing 90. Other manufactures are rubber goods, furniture, twine, artisans' tools and food preparations. The value of the manufactured product, as given in the census for 1885, was $2,016,147. The 99 farms in the town in the same year reported a product valued at $55,444. There are a national, a savings and a co-operative bank. The number of legal voters was 1,535; and there are 1,198 taxed. dwelling-houses. The valuation in 1888 was $4,299,665, with a tax-rate of 116 on $1,000.

[Wakefield Rattan-Works, Wakefield.]

The town-house is a large, elegant structure of brick and sandstone, containing the Memorial Hall, court-room, town offices, and the Beebe Public Library of about 10,000 volumes, on the first floor; and on the second, an audience hall with seating capacity for 1,200 persons. Other fine edifices are the high school building, the Wakefield, Walton and Gould business blocks, and many handsome residences. There are 10 public school-houses, valued in 1885 at $80,000, and providing for excellent graded schools. The "Record and Bulletin" and the "Citizen and Banner" are well-sustained. local weeklies. The churches embrace one each of the Congregationalists, Baptists, Universalists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Roman Catholics.

Originally Wakefield was the principal part of the town of Reading, incorporated in 1644, having previously been called "Lynn Village." The land was purchased of the Indian sagamore George, his sister Abigail, and Quanapowitt. From this town South Reading was incorporated February 25, 1812; and on June 30, 1868, the name was changed to Wakefield, in honor of its principal business man and benefactor, Cyrus Wakefield.

Mr. Wakefield was born in Roxbury, N.H., February 7,1811, and came early to Boston, where by industry and strict integrity in business he laid the foundation of his ample fortune. His business relations were extensive and his benefactions large. Among other gifts was one to Harvard College of $100,000, for the founding of the hall which bears his name; and to Wakefield, which he had chosen for his manufactory and residence, he gave nearly the same amount of money. His death occurred October 26, 1873. Other eminent citizens were Hon. Thomas Emerson, Hon. Lilly Eaton and Dr. S. 0. Richardson. This town sent 467 men into the Union service during the late war; the monument to the 47 who were lost being Memorial Hall.

pp. 651-653 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890