Wenham Massachusetts, 1890

Wenham lies in the southern part of Essex County, 22 miles northeast of Boston on the main line of the Eastern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad, which has a station at the central village. The post-offices are Wenham and Wenham Depot. The villages bear these names; also, of Maple-wood, East Wenham and Wenham Neck.

The boundaries are Hamilton on the north, Manchester on the east, Beverly on the south, and Danvers and Topsfield on the west. The assessed area is 4,490 acres; of which 1,254 are woodland. Along the village streets and beside many a comfortable farm-house are handsome elms and maples. In every direction are good roads and pleasant drives. Gracefully rounded hills, and the line of lakes at the middle of the town, contribute to form scenery of especial loveliness. Wenham Lake famous for its ice has an area of some 320 acres, about one half of which, however, is in Beverly. Northward are Cedar and Muddy ponds, of about 20 acres each, and Pleasant Pond (of late called Idlewood Lake), of about 40 acres; and Coy's Pond, at the southeast extremity, containing some 30 acres. The northwest part is occupied by an extensive swamp, through which runs a considerable brook to the Ipswich River, which forms the boundary line for a short distance at this corner. Miles River, the outlet of Wenham Lake, flows northeast ward to the Ipswich River in Ipswich.

The geological formation is sienite. The soil is fertile; and the 78 farms, employing in June, 1885, 133 men, yielded a return valued at $93,626. There are large numbers of peach, pear and apple-trees. The chief manufactory is a steam saw mill with a cider-mill connected, another cider mill, and a morocco factory employing five or six men. Those and other small manufactures amounted in 1885 to the sum of $93,626. The population was 871; of whom 270 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $542,850, with a tax-rate of $10.40 on $1,000. There were 188 taxed dwelling-houses. The public buildings consist of a town-hall and five school-houses; the latter valued at some $6,000. The Wenham Free Library contains about 1,000 volumes.

Tho two churches are Baptist and Congregational. The first church was organized here in 1644; and the first pastor was the Rev. John Fisk. In 1656, he, with a large part of his church, removed to Chelmsford, commencing the settlement of that town. The third minister Joseph Gerrish settled in 1675, was noted for his learning and superior natural endowments. A Baptist church was formed in 1831. The first sermon preached in the town was by the celebrated Hugh Peters, then minister of Salem, about the year 1636, on a small conical hill on the bank of Wenham Lake. His text was "At Enon, near Salem, because there was much water there." The place was formerly "Salem Village," also called Enon. It was incorporated May 10, 1643, under its present name, derived from a town in Suffolk County, England. The monument to Wenham's soldiers lost in the war for the Union consists of a pedestal supporting the figure of a soldier, all of granite.

Pp. 674-675 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer