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Dietory of LowcU 

and Its people 







Coi'M<i(;iiT, 1920 




To the city which gave me such education as I was able to assimi- 
late in boyhood, throug'h its schools, its library and other institutions, 
and through its industrial and commercial life, I should like to think 
that some reader may feel this book to be a tribute of gratitude. It is 
nieant to be that, as well as a record of happenings. 

Lowell of 1885 and thereabout stays in memory in loco parentis — 
a third parent, as it were, complementing by the influence of training 
and surroundings whatever of endowment may have come down from 
respected ancestors. I believe that every man and woman who has 
had the advantage of spending a childhood in our city will gladly 
acknowledge his indebtedness to a community in which, whatever its 
shortcomings, a spirit of friendliness and helpfulness has al\va)s been 
paramount. From my early infancy until as a young man I went 
elsewhere, our city gave continuously of its tjpportunities, and, imper- 
fectly as I received them, I still might hope to have the ability to 
render some small gift in grateful recognition. 

This work may or may not come under that category ; it at least 
has been compiled with a hope of its being to some possessor of inspi- 
rational as well as informational value. 

In gathering material and in otherwise preparing myself to write 
the work that follows, I have tried to think of the community as a 
social organism, a modern analogue of the "City-State"' of the ancients, 
its development, era by era, to be traced at least suggestively and pic- 
turesquely. The so-called economic interpretation of history has 
come to appeal strongly to most men of my temperament and turn of 
mind, and this particular subject, which was assigned me to cover by 
the iniblishers in January, 1917, has naturally lent itself to a somewhat 
intensive study of the impingement of successive culture epochs on a 
single locality. Without, therefore, neglecting the conventional topics 
of an archivist and biographical sort that are inevitably taken up in 
histories of this kind, I have endeavored to stress the basic industries 
of the locality and the reaction of the inhabitants upon the conditions 
created by these. This treatment has necessitated departing some- 
what from the departmentalizing that is usual in local histories. As 
a reader I have always felt that separate consideration of topics, as of 
"politics," "commerce and manufactures,"' "law and lawyers," "physi- 

iv lllSr( )RV OF LOWELL 

cians," "art and arti'^ts." while jK-rhaps logically justified as a matter 
(if con\-enience of record, hinders the formation of any clear mental 
picture of the characteristics of successive eras. I ha\'e. accurding-ly, 
thrown much material which might have appeared in departmental 
fnrm, intn the narrative sections of the work. In arranging these latter 
1 have in a general way followed a plan of taking up first the economic 
as])ects cif the ])eriiiil. then the ile\'elopment during that peril >d of 
public and prisateh" conlrdlled institutions, and, finally, the personal 
and anecdcilal material that ser\-es ti> illustrate the character of the 

'J'lie one-hundredth anni\-er'^ary of the founding of the city w dl he 
at hand soon after this hunk is i in the reading tables of those who have 
subscriljed for it. I'he successive occurrences in celebration of the 
advent of cotton manufacturing at h'.ast Chelmsford, the incorpnration 
of the town and its re-incorporation ten years later as a city, will, no 
doubt, give pulilicit\ tn man\ new and \alualile Incal hi'^turical cmitri- 
butions. It is hoped that this work, though published a little in 
advance of the earliest of these celebrations, may seem worthy tci be 
regarded as one of the connnemorative etTorts ajjpropriate in tlie third 
decade of this century at l.dwell. It has l)een jirepared during two 
and one-half years of must exentful general history. The coi'iperation 
of several Iriemls of expert (|uaIilicalion has helped to gi\'e cnnfidence 
in the wnrk's not being entirely slight i ir perfunctory. Indebtedness 
is especially acknowledged to the late judge Samuel P. Hadley. who 
headed our a<l\isiir\ bn.-ird, w In i lent witlmut stint frmu his private 
library and ga\(.' freely uf his remarkably accurate personal recnllec- 
tiiins. and wlm had practicalh tinished reading the proots i if the his- 
tiiry when his linal illne----. in .March, \y)\'). came to intiTrupt all his 
benelicenl activities. The }»"']< lU'ce-sarily lea\es man\- things misaid, 
f(ir a city accumulates much wealth of histiirical material in a century, 
and the historian's problem is e\er one of selection. Such as it is, it is 
jinillered as mie of the tribtiles to be paid in the next few vears to the 
solid citizenry of the nei,ghborhood and the far-seeing ISostonians who 
conjointly, in 1S22, began the u])building of the first modern industrial 
city in .America, THh: .\UT!IOR. 

NdTi- — The puliIi.sIuTS (K'sirc la express tlicir grateful ;ipprociati(iii uf cncntir- 
aKement and as.sistance afforded by the late Jud.i»c .Saiiuu-1 P. Iladlcy: ^Fr. Philip S. 
Marden, Presi(U-nt of the Ccnirier-Citizen Puhlishing Cnnipany : Mr. Charle.s 11. 
Iviine.s, S. r... Principal nf the I.ouell Ti-xtik- School; Mr. Lewis E. MacP.raync, 
author and htlir.iUur ; and \:\<l, hnt by no means least, .Mr. Kobert I'. Marden, 
Prcsideni of the Loweli Hoard I'f Trade, tbrouijli wliose instrumentalitv the pages 
of the present llislnry .ire adorned vvilli a eoiisiderable number of excellent illus- 
"■'■"'""s- THK PUBLISHERS. 



Note — Indexes to Historical ami I'.iographical matter at end of \olume ill. 
Biographical matter appears in Part Two, after page 572, in Volume II. 

Chapter I — Lowell a Landmark in National Industry I 

Chapter II — From Indian Town to Colonial Countryside — Merri- 
mack and Concord Rivers — Wamesit — Coming of the White 
Man — Billerica a Parent Town of Lowell — Early l^ast 
Chelmsford — Beginnings of Dracut 6 

Chapter 111 — King Philip's War — Last Years of the Indian Com- 
munity j,y 

Chapter W — V\'amesit Neck Proprietorship — Old Days in W'est 
Dracut — Old-time Ferries — ^lode of Living — Slavery in Old 
Dracut — Fisheries and Fishing Rights — Early Manufactures 
— Church-going — Manners and Customs — Settlement of Bay 
State Boundaries 45 

Chapter \' — The Re\-olution — Gen. Jose])h B. X'arnum — The Lex- 
ington Alarm — Capt. John Ford — Battle of Bunker Hill — 
Early Anti-Slavery Feeling — Rescue of Silas Royal 74 

Chapter \'I — Beginnings of Industrial Lowell — Lieut. Israel Hil- 
dreth — Shays' Rebellion — War of 181 2 — Forty Years of In- 
dustrial Expansion — Highways and Canals — Original Paw- 
tucket Bridge — Enterprise at Pawtucket Falls — Middlesex 
Canal — Manitfactures Before the Factory S}stem — Old Resi- 
dences — Chtirches and Schools 95 

Chapter VII — Creation of the Factory System — Francis Cabot 
Lowell and His Power Loom — New Life at Old W'amesit — 
Founders of Lowell — Erection of l<"actGries — Earliest Corpo- 
ration Boarding Houses — St. Anne's, oldest downtown 
Church — Incorporation of Town of Lowell — Multiplication 
of Textile Plant.s — An Aristocracy of Talent- -Coming of the 
Irish — Early Captains of Industry — Old-time Merchants — 
Genesis of Factory Workers — Real Estate Developments— 
The Nesmiths — Politics in the Town Period 131 

Chapter VIII — An Era of Development — Commencement of 
School System — Fight for a Modern School System — Inaugu- 
ration of High School — Early Days of the Fire Department — 


C(imin_t,' (if Lliurchfs — 'I'he I^idiu-er nf Thrift Institutii)ns — 
Art, Literature and Aln^ic in the Township Period — Th.e ( )ld 
Stone Mouse — J-Sej^inning's of the .\nti-Slavery Movemeiit — 
Temperance Asritation in the Washingtonion Era — Introd.uc- 
tion of Coal — Coining of the Railroad i88 

Chajiter IX — Lowell, the Ante-Rellum City — Earliest Mayors — 
Old Cit}- Hall — The Commons — Court Houses and Jails — 
I'-arly Judges — Introduction of Running Water — Estahlish- 
mcnt of a City l.ihi-ary — C.'entral liridge — Annexation of Cen- 
tralville — Dedication of l'"air (irounds — Postmasters and Con- 
gressmen — \'isit of Ahrahani Lincoln — Hydraulic Engineer- 
ing — Cotton .Manufacture in Xiiieteenth Century — Develop- 
ment of Carpet Manufacture — Beginnings of Patent Medicine 
Trade — Eftects of h'actory System on Operatives — Charles 
Dickens' Obser\ations — Organization of Humanitarian Asso- 
ciations — The "Lowell Offering" — Middlesex Mechanics' 
Association — ( )pening of Hos])ital and Dispensary — New 
Churches in Prt'-\\';ir I'l/riod — Wealthy ]\Ien of the Fifties — 
Dr.inia and ALisic — An. and the Exposition of '51 216 

Cha|)ler X — Lo-well in the Ci\il War — Local Conditions — Alioli- 
tion of Toll Bridge — (ien. Butler's "First" to the Union — 
Lowell's Most Celelirated .^oldier- -'I'he Lciwell Alartvrs in 
Baltimore — Death of Whitney and Ladd — Obsecpiies of the 
llalliinore \'ictiins — Soldiers' .\id .Association — Hard Times 
in W ar \'ear- — Municijial .Affairs — l-'irst Street Cars — Lyceum 
Bureau— -The Alusical Lews — Devt'lojmient of Willow Dale 
— .Art Panoramas — Return of Si.xth Regiment — Lowell Alen 
in (Mher Regiments — Lowell in the Navy — War Souvenirs — 
I'.urial of Cajit. ICdward .Wihott — Lowell P.oys at Ship Island 
— I low the City .Supported the National .Administration — 
First of the (Jreat Sanitary h'airs — The Ladd and Whitney 
M' mument 28=^ 

Chapter XI — I^rom the Ci\il War to the Chicago h'xposition — 
The l'"rench Canadians — Increasing Cosmopolitanism of the 
City — Beginnings of Trade Unionism — Business Growth — 
Lowell .Maniif,icturci-s .-it the Ci'ntennial I'.xposition — Im- 
provement of Water Power — New Industries — ArunicijKil 
.\lfairs — Lowell's l\epresentati\-es in Congress — Governor 
Butler -Acii\iiies of Cit_\- Departments — The Schools — From 
llnrsr Cars ti ■ the Trolley System — The Meigs Ah.inorail — 
St. John's llosi)it;il — Linvell General Llospital — Humanita- 


rian Institutions — French Protestant College — The Yorick 
and Highland Clubs — Intensive Athletics — Historical Cele- 
brations 341 

Chapter XIT — The Quarter-Century, 1 893-1918 — Increasing Cos- 
mopolitanism — French-speaking Population — The Greeks — 
Polyglot Colonies — Business Expansion — The Strike of 1903 
— Lowell Textile School — Modern Industrial Lowell — The 
Board of Trade — Newspapers — Abandonment of Corporation 
Boarding Houses — Absentee Ownership — New City Hall and 
Librar}- — Commission Government — Beginnings of Park Sys- 
tem — Bridges and Highways — Public Library — Public Health 
and Housing — The Liquor Traffic — Educational Progress — 
Religious Developments — Cardinal O'Connell — The Cit}''s 
Foremost Benefactor — Historical and Patriotic Societies^ 
Revived Art Association — Middlesex Women's Club — Rogers 
Flail School — Vesper Country Clul) — Fish and Game Asso- 
ciation 394 

Chapter XIII — Bibliography 463 

Chapter XI\' — Literary Lowell — "The Lowell Offering'" — Lowell 
Authors — Journalism — "The Lowell Courier" — Short-lived 
Journals— The "Vox Populi"— "The Citizen"— The "Times," 
"Mail," and "Sun" 471 

Chapter X\' — The Medical Profession — ICarly Phvsicians — Later 

Practitioners 503 

Chapter X\T — Art and Artists 525 

Chapter X\TI — Old-time Law and Lawyers — Of Later Days... 535 

Lowell a Landmark in National Industry. 

Judge Josiah Gardner Abbott, in a letter to the committee of the 
fiftieth anniversary exercises commemorating the incorporation of the 
city of Lowell, writes : "Lowell marks the beginning of an epoch in 
the history, not only of New England but of the whole country. With 
the foundations of Lowell were laid the foundations of the manufac- 
turing industry of the whole country." 

It is Lowell, in fact, the city, American, progressive, of character- 
istic annals and normal present activities, that must be the theme of 
any history, seriously meant, which can at this time be written from 
the records of the industrial centre at the junction of the Merrimack 
and Concord rivers in Northeastern Massachusetts. This is not a 
Mecca of tourists and amateur photographers. It has interesting 
houses, though few of them can with any accuracy be called colonial. 
It has a fascinating history, but this is not of the kind that makes 
Salem and Plymouth and Boston hallowed ground. A student of his- 
tory of advanced tendencies will find in Lowell immensely rich 
material with which to illustrate the course of industrialism in 
America. The historian, on the other hand, who looks only for thrills 
and throbs, for the achievements of great men in war and politics, will 
soon see that Lowell offers a limited field. 

As the oldest of our manufacturing cities, in brief, Lowell is the 
well-nigh perfect example of its kind — the first to be foimded on any 
considerable scale ; in present status and promise of further civic 
advance, by no means the least interesting. 

Such cities, wherever situated, follow a course of development 
that can ordinarily be predicted. An industry or group of industries 
fixes upon a locality as suitable for exploitation of resources and 
employment of the local labor. 

Capital, in other words, has seen an opportunity for favorable 
investment. New machinery is set up in factories or workshops, and 
work that pays better, at least in point of cash disbursements, than 
that previously available begins to tempt people from the adjacent 
farms. The commencement of an actual city, with an ambitious 
scheme of streets and public buildings, with provisions for housing 
the newly collected army of wage-earners, is usually quite rapid. 
Scores of American municipalities assert with pride that the}' sprang 
up overnight. 

This phenomenon of the quick rise of communities is, of course, 
iust as common to-day, especially in the western part of the United 

L— 1 


States and in the Canadiyn northwest, as it was nearly a century ago 
when the sudden emergence of urban Lowell from the hamlet of East 
Chelmsford was accounted one of the wonders of American life. 

Once established, an American industrial city seldom loses the 
character imparted to it in its first years. The locality may not seem, 
to after generations, to have been ideally chosen for the particular 
kind of enterprises out of which its original prosperity grew. Its start 
in life may often have been almost fortuitous. Yet, through hard 
times and boom times, the city continues to attract employers and 
workers. Though it may even be at a distance from supplies of raw 
material, and may be hampered by its geographical position as regards 
the largest consuming centres, nevertheless, decade by decade, the 
characteristic American munici])alit_\' shows a growth in population 
and wealth quite out of proportion, as a rule, to the advancement of 
the country surrounding it. 

So that the persistence of the basic industries of Lowell is true to 
American form. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, 
when southern cities began to chronicle the building of factories close 
to the cotton fields and adjacent to abundant water power and cheap 
coal, ])essimists were not wanting in New England who predicted a 
gradual decline of the communities on the Merrimack whose welfare 
has been dependent largely upon textile manufacturing. There were 
those who in 1890 foresaw a shrunken village where once spindles had 
been counted by the hundreds of thousands. 

Such catastrojjhes rarely befall, and Lowell has shown the energy 
and adaptability characteristic of American municipalities. It has 
stood uj) under com])etition ; it has yielded to no "fell clutch of circum- 

Progressively cosmopolitan the American cit_\' is. A wage-earn- 
ing j)0])ulation at first is drawn from the neighboring farms and vil- 
lages. The country capitalist who moves into the new town to engage 
in business on a larger scale than his neighborhood has known before, 
employs his relati\-es and neighbors. The city at the outset may be 
urban in name and numliers; its ways are still essentially those of rural 
Xorth America. Presently, however, as it becomes increasingly diffi- 
cult to induce the sons and daughters of the farm to work at the wages 
paid undi'r competitive conditions in tlu- urban worksho])s. and as at 
the same time the growing demand for the city's jjroducts tends to 
exhaust the local supi)ly of labor, employers, thus situated, reach out 
for the help of immigrants. Adventurous folk from other lands, seek- 
ing the advantages of a political democracy, are welcomed as workers. 
A few members of a nationality establish themselves, and these are 
<|nickly followed by others from the same foreign town or country- 
side. Hardly have these newcomers taken up a definite quarter in the 


city, often one abandoned by native Americans, when the pioneers of 
quite a different race may arrive and start among themselves a similar 
process of acclimatization. Soon the immigrants mav constitute a 
majority of the people, but they are in the midst of svich processes of- 
Americanization that they fit without making much trouble into the 
scheme of life that was adopted by the fathers of the city. Lowell, as 
one of the oldest of American industrial cities, is appropriately one of 
the most cosmopolitan. 

.American cities have been somewhat slower than from European 
or -Australian example might have been expected to become "com- 
munities" in the strictest sense of the word. Often they have been a 
little neglectful of the factors that make for an equation of the com- 
mon life. For various reasons it has been relatively hard for ten thou- 
sand, one hundred thousand or a million persons composing an Ameri- 
can city to behave as if their interests were substantially identical. 
The early settlers of this country were stout individualists, having the 
pioneering disposition ; and each man was inclined to clear his tract of 
the wilderness in his own way. L^sually the founders of the cities of 
to-day were men who had inherited the temperament of these pioneers. 
Many .American manufacturing cities, furthermore, had their begin- 
ning, as Lowell had, at about the period of the w-orld's history when 
the ideas of the so-called "Manchester school of economics" in Eng- 
land were at their height of popular acceptance, and when the notion 
of avoiding public interference with personal liberty had its warmest 
advocacy. The inrush of immigrants has helped to keep the popula- 
tion divided into small groups ot differing nationalities, and often of 
diverse languages. These and other causes have made the American 
city backward, as it may seem to critics of international viewpoint, in 
undertaking enterprises which require that practically the entire popu- 
lation shall act in harmony and unity. The racial situation has often 
helped to make local politics more partisan than patriotic. Lowell 
has not been exceptional in having periods of its history when it 
tended to become a city of discordant cliques rather than an organized 
social entitv. It was, however, one of the first places to try to make 
democratic government genuinely responsible to itself under the com- 
mission form of administration. 

Each decade finds the American city, despite its limitations, a 
better place to live in. Not only is there absolute improvement in 
opportunities for health, happiness and mutual helpfulness, but the 
standing of city life as compared with country life shows relative 
advancement. Not so many years ago it was currently believed, and 
perhaps with rea.son, that life in the open country was better for people 
than that in the crowded, noisy and often noisome town. The boy or 
girl brought up on the farm was seen to have had better training in 


haliits (jf industry and rcsi lurcefulness than the city-bred child. Ex'cn 
now, of course, many of the successes of btisiness and professional life 
in the larger places are won by those who were born and bred on the 
land. Yet facts and figures accumulate to show that in many respects 
the modern city is overhauling the country — and. in at least some 
important features, already has overhauled it — as a focus of the advan- 
tages that make for well-rounded character. The health of children 
and adults is better in city than in country. The so-called funda- 
mentals of education, together with other subjects of at: enriched 
curriculum, are better taught in the urban graded schools than they 
ever were imparted in the little red school house. Men and women in 
the cities are better fed and better clad than those of the farming dis- 
tricts. The higher standards lA personal morality, including sextial, 
that now pre\'ail among ni( ist classes of Americans, to put it mildly, are 
quite as distinctly obser\able in the city and its immediate suburbs as 
the_\- are in remote and thinly pupulated regions. Admitting all the 
charm and natm'al healthfulness of the country, one could wish the boy or girl no better fate than that of being reared in a good 
hiinie nf a modern cit}-. ])referal)ly a place large enough to insure that 
educational and social facilities are of standard grade, and vet not so 
big but that the woods and fields are within easy reach. Such a city 
of pleasant and ins]Mriting living conditions Lowell has been and is. 

Only an optimistic outlook can result from accurate and s\iiipa- 
thetic observation of the facts of the histcjry and present situation of 
the iKirmal American city.' .\ >-urvey of the community's successes 
and failures may yield m.'iterial for more or less plausible jeremiads. 
Figures may be adduced which sound an alarm of the falling oft of 
church attendance, the "race suicide'" nf the old American stock, of 
ajiparent increases in arrests for crime, or commitments on account of 
mental disorder. No social mnNcnu-nt, hdwever, is or ever was alto- 
gether U])ward. A balance nnisl .ilways be struck between losses and 
gains. ;md those who are closest t<i the facts of citv life — such at least 
has bern (me writer's oliservatifin — are almost unanimous in finding 
that the ad\'ances quite outmeasure the retrogressions. That the 
Lowell which will celebrate the centenary of its incor])oration as a 
town in \<)jf> will be .-i better as well as bigger community than it is 
to-day. seems as cert.iiii. in the light of observable tendencies, as that 
the ])resent city is in many respects a more desirable place of resi- 
dence than that which President .\ndrew Jackson, accompanied by 
several nu-ml>ers <if his c;il)inet. \isited in 183,^. 

'i"he reasonableness of the ])ublication of another history of 
Lowell is evident at this time, if one considers the likelihood that the 
city is at the beginning nf ;i ne\> epnch. Twenty years ha\-e ]:)assed 
since the Courier-Citizen Company brought out its admirable voluiue 


covering many aspects of the community's story from the earliest 
times onward. In two decades, much water has flown under Central 
Bridge. Much new material bearing on the old days has been 
amassed, some of it in manuscript, or in printed monographs that are 
not easily accessible to the general reader. The industries of the city 
have undergone considerable diversification. The historic form of 
government has been radically altered. The racial complexity has 
been increased. The interest of the outside world has been challenged 
by the preservation of a house in which one of the most celebrated of 
modern artists was born. Above all the quickening of the life of the 
place which was hastened by the outbreak of the European War, and 
still further accelerated when the United States entered the conflict, is 
likely to continue. It seems to be only a question of time when Lowell 
and the other cities of the IMerrimack valley will be to all intents and 
purposes seaports. Through readiness of access to the sea-borne com- 
merce of the world. Lowell will have overcome much of the handicap 
of its location in the extreme northeast corner of the United States. 
With new opportunities broadening out in every direction, it is visibly 
entering upon a period of expansion which may make it alike the 
metropolis of the Merrimack, and one of the large and model cities of 
North America. 


From Indian Town to Colonial Countryside. 

Like most Xew Ent^land factDry cities. Lowell is one in which the 
visitor is immediatelv conscious of the rivers on whose banks it has 
been built. Old-time villages were usually placed on high land ; occu- 
pancy of \alley sites became common only after the advent of the 
manufacturing era. 

The Spindle City is peculiarly the gift of the Merrimack river and 
its tributary, the Concord, both streams of impressive pretensions. 
The Merrimack in especial, which, as school geographies used to say, 
"is utilized for more mill power than any other stream in the world," 
is felt, at this stretch of its course where it turns almost abruptly from 
its north and south direction toward the northeast, to be a river of 
unusual nobility and picturesqtieness. The Pawtucket Falls, particu- 
larly when the river runs high, ha\'e a wildness that approaches gran- 
deur. The long reaches of still water above and below the city have 
placid breadth. From the railroad train speeding from Lowell north- 
ward, the river gives a series of delightful glimpses from the moment 
it first comes into sight at Middlesex village. From the surface, as 
seen from canoe or motorboat, it has much nf the aspect of a beautiful 

The C(ini])lete story of the ]\lerrimack and its confluents, from its 
rise in a tiny ])ond on the slopes of Mount W'illey in the White moun- 
tains imtil it crosses the liar at Newburyport, does not belong to this 
narr.'itive. It was told some half century ago in rather prolix and dis- 
cussive fashion li\- J. H, Meader. Little need here be noted except 
that the stream has been celebrated in North American annals ever 
since Pierre clti Gaust, Sieur de Monts and Samuel du Champlain, 
French ex])lorers, on July 17. 1605, entered the h;iy where Newbury- 
port now stands, and that as a source ni supplv of "white coal" it is 
still, as at all ])eriods of history, one nf the most fa\orabl\- situated 
rivers of the continent in respect of rainfall, incline, storage opportuni- 
ties and other advaiUages ol)\ions to the hydraulic engineer. .Vs it 
reaches Lowell it represents the run-nff of territory that is almost 
ideal for useful ends as well as scenic charm. Central and Southern 
New Haniiishire is a region of lakes, large and small, which serve as 
natural storage basins, regulating the flow of water in the river that 
drains the district. In the system are Lakes Winnepesaukee. Squam, 
Newfound, Pennacook, Ma.sabesic, Raboosic, and almost innumerable 
smaller ])onds. Some of these are directly controlled bv the Locks 
and Canals Company. .Ml of tlu-ni help tn [)r(ini(jte an e(iual>le Hmw- 


age. The drainage basin, amounting to 5,015 square miles, is a large 
one for a stream of the length, as one realizes in encountering conflu- 
ents of the Nashua, one of the tributaries, in Central Massachusetts, 
or the headwaters of Baker's river, in territory that seems rightlv to 
belong to the Connecticut valley. 

The paramount mark of the JMerrimack river for nearly a century 
past has been the industrial usefulness. Flowing through territory 
that was settled early, and presenting falls and rapids at many points 
which would naturally suggest easily available water power, the river 
has had a utilitarian history that might have been predicted a century 
and a half ago. It would have been strange, indeed, if the Anglo- 
Saxon enterprise that led to dotting the landscape with miniature mills 
along the Charles, the Neponset and the Mother brook within the 
Boston basin in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had not 
eventually moved upon the better chances of the bigger river, which, 
at its point of nearest approach, is only about twenty-five miles from 
the Shawmut peninsula. 

The Merrimack — A word about the name of the chief waterway 
along which Lowell is built should be included. The Merrimack was 
not only discovered but named by the chronicler of the "Relations des 
Jesuits.'' Champlain adopted one of two very similar designations 
given to the river by different tribes of Indians. The aborigines of the 
north applied to the stream the title of ''Merrimack," or "place of the 
strong current," from the basic words "merroh" (strong) and "awke" 
(a place). The Massachusetts aborigines, on the contrary, called it 
"Menomack," from "mena," meaning islands, "and awke" (a place). 
More or less confusion may have resulted from the similarity of those 
appellations. The spellings, especially before the Revolution, were 
many, and some of them extraordinary. .\ grant confirmed by Charles 
I. in the fourth year of his reign was to certain persons of a region 
thus described : "All that part of New England, in America, which 
lies and extends between a great river that is commonly called Mono- 
mack, alias Merrimack," etc. The following twenty orthographical 
modes were noted by the late James B. Francis in early records: 
Malamake, Maremake, Meremack, Meremacke. Meremak, Merimacke, 
Mermak, Merramack. Merramacke, Merremacke, Merremeck, Merri- 
mac, IMerrimach, Merrimack, Merrimak, Merrimeek, Merrymacke, 
Monnomacke, Monomack, Monumach. On this subject of the spelling 
of the stream's name, it may be added, considerable acrimony existed 
for years between the u])-river and down-river cities. Below Lawrence, 
people have long insisted on dropping the final "k," which Lowell. 
Nashua, Manchester and Concord have regarded as essential. 
Through the efforts of Congressman John Jacob Rogers, in 1914, the 
authority of the United States Government was invoked to declare the 
spelling preferred at Lowell to be the legal one. 


While- it is uncertain at what date wanderins' white men nia}- have 
arrived at i)oints in the Merrimack \alle_v, it is well established, as 
brought out in a paper communicated by James Kimball to the his- 
torical collections of the Essex Institute, that an authorized explora- 
tion of the river was conducted in 1638, when the Massachusetts Ray 
C'olonv was hardl}- a decade old, This quest was undertaken in the 
interest of new homes for the throng of immigrants who were arriv- 
ing during what is generally called the "great migration," "Within 
ten or tweh-e years," writes Mr, Kimball, "after the arrival of Endi- 
cott tile colonists are represented as being straightened fijr want of 
land," Hubliard, in his history of New England confirms this state- 
ment, saN'ing that Ipswich was so filled with inhabitants that many of 
them presently swarmed out to another jilace a little eastward. 
Because of numerous petitions for "farm lands," measures were taken 
to explore the Merrimack to the "extreme Northerly" line of the 
])atent or charter granted to the Massachusetts Bay Company. In the 
ccilonial records aj^iiears this order: 

Generall Court at Boston ordered : 6th /mo,. 1638, 

Goodman Woodward Mr, John Stretton, with an Indian & two 
others appointed by the Magestrates of Ipswich, are to la\' out the 
line 3 miles Northward of the most Northernmost jjart of Merrimack 
for w"-"'' they are to iia\ e 5 s, a dav a ])iece. 

These surveyors C(>m])leted their work as far as the outlet of the 
Winnepesaukee, which they regarded the main confluent of the Merri- 
mack, and at the Weirs they carx'ed in a boulder the lettering which 
may still be seen : 

W, P. 




1 1 
Jonathan Inch 

These letters were disclosed in 1831 during ;i preliniinar\- exami- 
nation of the storage ])ossibilities of Winnepesaukee basin. Within 
the memory of the present generation the rock was covered with the 
present cancjpy. 

That the surveyors' work was satisfactorilx- achieved ma\- be sur- 
mised from the following legislative resolve: 

May 22d. 1639. 

Goodman Woodward was ordered to liavc 3 £ for his journev to 
discover the running up on Merrimack ; 10 s. more was added 1)\- order 
of the (io\-. & De]) 

.\nd they which went with h.ini ; Tho. Iloulet. .Sargent Jacol), Tho 
Clarke i<: |ohn Alanning to have ^o s, a peice &c. 


\'oyaging on the Merrimack must h;ne yielded data about the 
river at a fairly early date. In 1635 there was published in London by 
William Wood a map which gave the general course of the river, 
locating Amoskeag, Pennacook, Pawtucket and an island called Wick- 
assee. A description in the Ilritish Museum which gives the length 
of the stream as one hundred miles and states that in places it is ten 
miles broad, has some of the ]iresent Indian names. 

The Concord River at Lowell — The chief tributary of the Merri- 
mack in Massachusetts is the stream that drains the eastern jjart of a 
trough running across the State between the coast hills and the rugged 
jjlateau i:)f the central district. This river shares with the larger water 
course into which it runs in economic responsibility for the city of 

An interesting river, on many counts, is the Concord, and to fol- 
low its meanderings from the spot where it is formed by the junction 
of the Sudbury and Assabet would involve much historical retrospect. 

Like most of the rivers flowing northward in this terrain, the 
Concord is notably sluggish. It offers many camp sites, but relatively 
few water powers. An entertaining characterization of the Concord, 
now thronged with pleasure canoes from April to November, ma}- be 
(|uoted from Meader, who wrote in the late sixties: 

For fifty years past the true character of this remarkable stream 
was so little understood even by land owners along its borders that 
an almost continuous and very acrimonious legal controversy was 
maintained, which resulted in establishing the fact, by an able board 
of legislative commissioners, that the river was a very different thing 
from what they had all their lives supposed it to be. An inability to 
understand its true character had always prevailed. It had been an 
aggravating and expensive problem to some, and an insoluble mystery 
to others. The first blood of the Revolution, the blood of the intrepid 
and invincible yeomanry, mingled with its turbid waters at the Old 
North Bridge, and long years before it had been the haunt of the wary 
and stealthy barbarian, who, swooping down upon the ex]iosed and 
defenceless settlers, enacted those atrocities which marked the advanc- 
ing borders of civilization in New England, and makes the history of 
that epoch a yet existing terror. It was then called the Musketaquid 
or Meadow River, and it" is the meadow river still, — a strong proof that 
the appropriateness of Indian designations need not be questioned, 
much less changed. If in some sense a river is a type of human life, 
this particular stream may be cited as symbolizing the actual career 
of manv individuals known to those who may give the comparison a 
little reflection. How many there are who start ofl' on the jonrnev of 
life like this stream, — useless, idle and aimless, instead of becoming 
a wheel, a lever, an axle, a somclhiiug in that complicated machine 
called society. The topography of the country is such, and the aspect 
of the stream so peculiar, as to warrant the supposition that it had 
repudiated natural laws, ignored the attraction of gravitation, and had 
taken its course over a gentle acclivity, which has the effect to get 


itself repudiated in turn l.iy those same laws, as it leaves its bank 
through every depression, and ruins much of the adjacent soil by the 
creation of swamps, marshes and lagoons. Thus it is with individual 
idleness, disfiguring the course of life with waste places, while the 
sedges, rank water-weeds and ugly filthy reptiles represent the vices, 
little and great, the fungi bred by indolence, — a parasitic growth. 

The stream whose n;itural viciousness Mr. Aleader thus elo- 
quently exposed, breaks into belated activity at North Billerica, then 
lapses for a short time into slothfulness, and finally at Lowell "awakes 
to a realizing sense of duties, obligations and responsibilities at the 
eleventh hour, throws off the lethargy that has held it so long in 
chains, and. dashing over nearly two miles of picturesque and power- 
ful falls, seems to seek, and with entire success, to compensate for its 
former vagrant life, and finally throws itself with alacrity into the 
Merrimack, leaving no space between the termination of its beneficent 
labors and its final doom." 

A third stream which is included in any conspectus of the water- 
ways making the conditions for a large manufacturing community in 
this locality is Beaver brook, a sizable river that drains a considerable 
area in Southern New Hampshire. It reaches the Merrimack at Lowell, 
though its principal water powers are in the town of Dracut. 

The natural importance of the site on which a city was later to 
be upbuilt might have been foreseen by any observer of the seven- 
teenth century who could have appreciated the change in men's ways 
(if living that would be brought about by inventions of machinerv and 
manufacturing processes. Down the narrow defile that definitely 
marks its turning to the northeast the Merrimack drops about thirty- 
fiiur feet in less than a third (if a mile. The rapids of the Concord 
represent a perpendicular fall of about twenty-five feet. As a further 
guarantee of power possil)ilities a survey would have developed the 
existence of two good manufacturing locations on Beaver brook, 
wilhin three miles fif its mouth, and of smaller powers on River 
-Meadow brook, which flows into the Concord. 

The advantageous character of the land in the neighborhood of 
the falls of these rivers, furthermore, should not have escaped the 
notice of a town planner of two and one-half centuries ago. From the 
present site of Xdrth Chchiisford southward the country is generally 
level and fertile to the junction of the rivers, though two small hills 
occur, one a short distance aliove Pawtucket Falls and one correspond- 
ing with the exact longitude of the falls. To the .south the land rises 
gentl\ into is now the Highlands section of the citv. .\ large 
tract extending from the foot of Pawtucket Falls to the tongue of 
land between the rivers is quite flat and by nature admirablv suited for 
the la_\dut of a town. Fast of the Concord are three moderate eleva- 


tions, now the residential quarter of Belvidere. Fort Hill Park and the 
ground occupied by the Lowell cemetery. The ])ortion of Dracut 
extending from the meadow lands nearly opposite North Chelmsford 
and down stream to and beyond the mouth of Beaver brook is level 
and tillable. Opposite the hill of Belvidere, from which it is separated 
by Hunt's Falls in the Merrimack, is Christian Hill, with more nearly 
precipitous slopes than any other of the neighborhood. Except that 
in very early settling the tendency was to place villages on hilltops 
and that the Indians had already preempted the opportunities for fish- 
ing at the falls, one might even have expected that a trading and 
industrial centre at this spot could be developed in early colonial times. 

Wamesit — A capital city of the aborigines occupied the site of 
Lowell before the white man came. .\s the Rev. Mr. IMiles wrote in 
1846: "The place where the waters of the Merrimack and Concord 
rivers meet had a greater relati\e importance two hundred years ago 
than at any subsequent time prior to the introduction of cotton manu- 
factures." As an ancient metropolis, indeed, of the .American Indians 
this tongue of land has seemed to many writers to command more of 
attention and interest than as the later dwelling place of a few farmers 
in the colonial period. The stories of Passaconaway and Wannalancet 
and other natives of the neighborhood have been told and retold. 
Less, however, than might be wished is known of the historical origin 
and development of institutions among those Indian people ; it is to 
be regretted that the English who first came into contact with the 
primitive culture at the falls of the rivers did not make a more accurate 
and voluminous record of the social, political and economic phases of 
their towns. 

Two tribes, closely allied, the Pawtuckets and the W'amesits, had 
their chief villages within the present limits of Lowell in the middle 
seventeenth century, when pioneers from the white settlements at 
Boston and Salem first penetrated to the Merrimack valley. The com- 
posite community was accounted one of the two capitals of the Penna- 
cook confederacy, representing an alliance of some of the most power- 
ful tribes of New England. The fisheries at the falls were doubtless 
responsible in the first instance for the great congregation of red men 
in this district, for the bigness of the annual run of salmon, shad and 
alewives in the rivers is attested by many records. To the Indian 
these fish, which were most easily taken at falls, furnished not only 
food, but fertilizer for their crops of corn. Cowley, in his "Memories 
of the Indians and Pioneers of the Region of Lowell," refers with 
emphasis to the natural advantages of the place : "Next to the Falls 
of Amoskeag,'" he wrote, "the Falls of Pawtucket were the most noted 
for fishing facilities on the Merrimack river. The centrality and 
accessibility of its geographical position also added much to the 


importance (if the jilace. The u])])er Merrimack and the Musketaquid 
(ir Concord communicated with a vast region of the interior; while the 
lower Merrimack afforded a safe and convenient channel In the sea- 

Militarv considerations, also, it may be presumed, enhanced the 
importance of "VVamesit," as the English early learned to call the 
ttnvn. The Pawtuckets and W'amesits were of the class of aborigines 
known in nati\e jiarlance as Ni])mucks, or "fresh water folk," the 
derivation of the word being traceable from "nipe" (still water), and 
"auke" (a ])lace). Accustomed to depend, in war and peace, upon 
the inland waterwa\-s as a system of travel and transportation they 
could not have chosen a better situated strategic centre than that 
where Lowell now is. Northward the Merrimack and its tributaries 
gave them crmnection with allied and friendly tribes, such as the 
Nashuas, Souhegans, NauKiskeags and Winnepesaukees. A trip of a 
few miles up river and then via the Nashua toward the present town of 
Lancaster Ijrouglit the Indian voyageur to the village of the Wachu- 
setts. Down river, in Essex county, were their kinsmen, the Agawams. 
The Concord, then as to-day. an almost ideal stream for the canoeist, 
afl'nrded. T'/i/ a short ])ortage to the Charles, a route into the region of 
the Massachusetts. With short carries, too, from the present site of 
North Bilierica into the Shawsheen, and again near North Reading 
intii the Ijiswich, it was piissible to make a quick journey to the ocean 
at Cajie Ann. These waterways which now inake pleasure tri])S for a 
few followers of the sport of canoeing must anciently have had great 
value as trade routes, and the focussing of several of them in the neigh- 
borhood of Pawtucket I'alls was jiresumalily a main factor in creating 
the capital of Wamesit. 

No Indian community was large, of course, as adjudged by ci\i- 
lized standards. 'J"he land, under the aborigines' superficial system of 
cultix'ating only the natural clearings, could not support a heavy popu- 
lation. .\mong the Indian villages of this part of the continent, never- 
theless, Wamesit had a po])ulation such as few- white settlements of 
New England claimed in the seventeenth century. According to the 
estimate of Daniel Cookin. superintendent of Indian relations for the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony, the associated tribes of the confederacy 
numjiered 12,000 people. The capital, he states, had a population of 
aliout _^,ooo before tlu' white m;;n's scourges of disease, alcohol ;ind 
.gun|)owder began to be operative. Of the metropolis on the Merri- 
mack this ardent friend of the hidians wrote in 1674, just before the 
outbre,-d< of King Philip's War: 

The Priwiuckets are the last great .Sachemshi]i of Indians. Their 
country lyeth North & Northwest from the Massachusetts tribe, and 
whose dominion reacheth so far as the English jurisdiction or Colony 


of Massachusetts doth now extend. They have under them several 
Sagamores, as those of the Pennacooks, Aga warns, Xautn keeks, Pas- 
cataways, Accomintas and others. They were a consideral)le people 
heretofore — about three thousand men — and held amity with the Mas- 
sachusetts tribe, but they were about destroyed by the great sickness 
that prevailed among Indians about 1612 and 1613, so that at this day 
they have not above two hundred and fifty men. besides women and 

■ Present knowledge does not suffice to reconstruct with any degree 
of convincingness a picture of the life that was lived among the 
Wamesits whose wigwams were on the Concord and the Pawtuckets 
who had their habitations at the falls on the Merrimack that now 
bear their name. Most reconstructions of the kind are fanciful rather 
than genuinely imaginative. It is quite possible to sentimentalize the 
character of the Indians whose community, indeed, preceded the pres- 
ent city, and some writers, reviewing with indignation the story of the 
perfidy and cruelty of the many of the whites toward the natives, have 
attributed to the whole race of red men the utmost nobility of person- 
ality and sentiments. In point of fact, it may be assumed, the 
aborigines of this district had the virtues and vices of their breed — the 
identical qualities that may be observed to-day among the Indians of 
the western states, of Mexico and Central America. Gookin, their con- 
sistent and patient friend, had to admit that as a race they were incor- 
rigible liars, that they were devoted to gambling, and that they were 
fond of violent dancing and boisterous revels with, no doubt, a plenti- 
ful accomjianiment of strong liquor. Heredity, it may be added, prob- 
abl}- inclined these sons of the forest to accept more readily the man- 
ners and morals of the underworld of Europe than the strait courses 
of the ruling class of the Puritan Commonwealth. Comparatively 
little, nevertheless, that is seriou.'^ly discreditable to the Wamesits and 
Pawtuckets is of record ; and most of the evidence at hand indicates 
that they were by nature a peaceable, alifectionate folk who deserved 
a Ijetter fate than that which befell them. 

Coming of the White Man — Just when a white man first reached 
the Indian wigwams at Wamesit and mingled with its inhabitants can- 
not be stated. Quite certainly before the adjoining village of Chelms- 
ford was settled by solid church-going folk, the Indian town must 
have attracted some of the traders and wandering outcasts of whose 
relations with the natives one gets an occasional glimpse in the Brad- 
ford "History" and other literature. It is one of the surprises of 
investigation in this field that nearly every formal settlement was pre- 
ceded by traders, squatters and fugitives from justice. Outside the 
pale of organized white society there seems to have been an element 
of immigrants who accepted the New World as a continent on which 
the restraints and customs of the Old World could be safelv laid aside. 


Of such sort, presumably, may have been seven whites who, accord- 
ing to tradition, Hved among the Lidians at the mouth of the Concord 
before the first English township was incorporated in the neighbor- 

The Pawtuckets at the beginning of authentic history in the 
neighborhood, were under the leadership of a very celebrated chief 
named Passaconaway, who was already an old man when the newly- 
arrived settlers on the coast became aware of his sachemship. This 
chieftain held sway at two capitals, one near the mouth of the Conto- 
cook, where the capital city of New Hampshire now is, and the other 
at Pawtucket Falls. 

Passaconaway 's name lirst ajjpears in colonial records in 16.29, 
when he sold to Rev. John Wheelwright and associates the territory 
extending from the Piscataqua to the ]\lerrimack rivers and from the 
line of Massachusetts territory some thirty miles into the country. 
The deed conveying this land was signed with the marks of "Passa- 
conaway, Sagamon of Pennacook ; Runnawit, chief of Pawtucket ; 
W'ahangnonowit, chief of Squamscot, and Rowls, chief of Newiche- 
\\ annock." 

I""requent as his contact with white people may have been, Passa- 
conaway remains a somewhat shadowy figure in New England his- 
tory. Instead of accurate observation of the manners and customs of 
the .\merican Indian writers of seventeenth century New England, 
anxious to make a sensation among the home-staying folks in Eng- 
land, were prone to indulge in such characterizations as one in Wood's 
"New England Prospect"' of the good leader of the Pawtuckets. "The 
Indians report of one Passaconnan," it is written, "that hee can make 
the water burne, the rocks move, the trees dance, metamorphize him- 
self into a flaming man. Hee will do more, for in winter, when there 
are no green leaves to be got, hee will burne an old one into ashes, 
and, |)utting those into water, produce a new green leaf, which you 
shall nut (jnly see, but handle and carry away; and make of a dead 
snake-skin a living snake, both to be seen, felt and heard. This I 
write l)ut upon the report of the Indians who confidently affirm 
stranger things." Equally sensational and analoguous to the yellow 
journalism of to-day, is a description of Passaconaway given by 
Thomas Morton, of Merrymount fame. This imaginative chronicler 
declares : 

That Pai)asi(|uinco, Sachem or Sagamore, is a Powow of great 
estimation amongst all kind of salvages. At their revels, which is a 
time when a great company of salvages meete from several parts of the 
country in amity with their neighbors, he hath advanced his honor 
in his feats of juggling tricks. Hee will endeavor to persuade the 
spectators that hee will goc under water to the further side of the river 
too broade for any man to undertake with a breath, which thing hee 


performed by swimming over, and deluded the company with casting 
a mist before their eise that see him enter in and come out, but no part 
of the wa}- hee has been seene. 

Morton continues: 

Likewise by our Enghsh in the heate of summer, to make ice 
appear in a bowle of faire water. First, having the water set before 
him he hath begun his incantations, and before the same has bin ended 
a thick cloud has darkened the aire, and on a sodaine a thunder-clap 
has been hearde, and in an instant he hath showed a prime piece of ice 
to floate in the middle of a bowle, which, doubtless, was done by the 
agility of Satan, his Consort. 

Whatever devilish viles may have been attributed to Passacon- 
away, he appears never to have shown toward the colonists anything 
but pacific and conciliatory disposition. In 1632 he captured and 
delivered to Governor John Winthrop an Indian who had killed an 
English trader. Ten years later, at a time when there was widespread 
fear of an Indian conspiracy, the authorities at Boston sent some forty 
armed men to disarm the leader of the Pennacook confederacy. They 
failed to find Passaconaway, but arrested his son W'annalancet, his 
squaw and child. It might have been supposed that such treatment 
would enrage the chieftain. He held his temper, however, and pres- 
entlv he accepted an apology from the government for the indignities 
that had been put upon him. About 1660, when he thought the end of 
life was at hand (though he actually lived on for nine years more), he 
renounced his sachemship to Wannalancet in an address which, as 
reported by the English, has often been quoted. Counseling his people 
to seek and keep the friendship of the white man, the aged sachem is 
alleged to have said : 

Hearken to the words of your father. I am an old oak that has 
withstood the storms of more than a hundred winters. Leaves and 
branches have been stripped from me by the winds and frosts. My 
eyes are dim. My limbs totter. I soon must fall, ^\'hen yoimg no 
one could bury the hatchet in a sapling Ijefore me. My arrows could 
pierce the deer at a hundred rods. No wigwam had so many furs, no 
pole had so many scalp locks as Passaconaway's. Then I delighted in 
war. The whoop of the Pennacooks was heard on the Mohawk, and 
no voice so loud as Passaconaway's. The scalps upon the pole in my 
wigwam told the story of Mohawks' suffering. The English came. 
They seized the lands. Thej' followed upon my footpath. 1 made 
war upon them, but they fought with fire and thunder. My young 
men were swept down Ijefore me when no one was near them. I tried 
sorcery against them, but they still increased and prevailed over me 
and mine. I gave place to them and retired to my beautiful island, 
Naticook. I that can take the rattlesnake in my palm as I would a 
worm without harm, fl that have had communication with the great 
spirit, dreaming and awake), I am powerless before the palefaces. 


These meadows they shall turn with the plough. These forests s|iall 
fall by the axe. The palefaces shall live upon your hunting grounds 
and make their villages upon your fishing places. The Great Spirit 
says this, and it must be so. \\ t are few and powerless before them. 
We must bend before the storm. Peace with the white man is the 
command of the (Jreat S])irit, and the wish, the last wish of Passacon- 

The Wamesits and Their White Neighbors — The first resort of 
white men to the Indian villages of Wamesit and Pawtucket. as 
already suggested, was presumably on account of trade. Skins of 
beaver and other fur-bearing animals were an im])ortant factor in the 
commerce of the new colony. Before 1640 traders had ascended the 
Merrimack to Conctjrd. It is a safe conjecture tliat the traffic with 
the Indians at the falls reached considerable jirojiorlions by the middle 
of the century, for its unregulated character attracted the notice of 
the governing class of the colony, and in 1657 Major Simon Willard 
and three others were granted, in consideration of a payment of £25, 
the exclusive right to trade with the Indians on the Merrimack river. 

That, however, which most definitely brought Wamesit into his- 
tory was the series of tireless efl'orts made by John Eliot and Daniel 
Goiikin to replace the native cidture with Christian habits and beliefs. 
Souvenirs of this missionary work remain in the nomenclature of the 
Lowell of to-day. No chapter of colonial annals is more creditable to 
the New England conscience at its best than this which covers the 
noble but unsuccessful plan of assimilating instead of extirijating the 
original owners of the country. 

The Re\'. John I'"liot, of Roxbury. who, so far as known, first 
visited Pawtucket Falls in 1647 '" company with Captain Willard, of 
Concord, and some Christian Indians, was then forty-three years old. 
Since about i6_^2 he had Ijeen carrying on his missionary labors among 
the Indians, of which his translation of Scriptures into their tongues 
is an witness. The propaganda continued until there were 
about ten thousand "praying Indians" in New England, descendants 
of whom m.i)- he found in the population of to-dav. 

.After his lirst trip to the settlement at the falls, Eliot returned in 
the spring of 1648. finding "a great collection of Indians at this spot, 
a famous fishing place, and they furnished him with large audiences of 
Indians that came from various villages." Thenceforward, until dis- 
ease and other causes practically destroyed the Wamesit community, 
this devoted ])reacher was the patron saint of "the fifth praying town," 
which rank it held. Years afterward, in 16S7, shortly before the 
Apostle I'^-liot's (le;ilh. Cotton Mather wrote: "There are six regular 
^■hurches of baptised Indians in New iuigland. and eigliteen assem- 
blies of catachumens ])rofessing the name of Christ. Of the Indians 


there are twenty-four preachers of the word, and four English who 
preach the Gospel in the Indian tongue. Eliot did much for the 
Indians in and about Pavvtucket Falls, where he preached to them and 
finally established a mission place and installed as pastor a native 
preacher named Samuel." 

Major-General Daniel Gookin, who next to Eliot figures as the 
best friend and protector of the Pawtucket and Wamesit Indians, was 
an Englishman who had settled in Virginia before coming to New 
England. He took up residence in Cambridge in 1644. He was chosen 
to be captain of the local military company and was elected to the 
House of Deputies. In 1656 he was made superintendent of all Indians 
in the colony's jurisdiction. About this time he visited England and, 
as an authority on the Christianizing of the aborigines, received many 
attentions from Cromwell and other leaders of the Commonwealth. 

The success of the missionaries at the falls was furthered by the 
friendly disposition of Wannalancet, son of Passaconaway, who suc- 
ceeded to the sachemship of the Pennacook confederacy upon his 
father's abdication in 1660. This leader, one of the finest characters 
developed by his race, never in his long lifetime permitted the ill- 
treatment and indignities to which he was subjected to goad him into 
a hostile attitude toward the English. Some years after Eliot had 
begun to preach in the neighborhood, he announced his personal con- 
version to Christianity in a manner which was reported by Gookin as 
follows : 

Here it may not be impertinent to give you the relation following : 
May 5th, 1674, according to our usual custom, Mr. Eliot and myself 
took our journey to Wamesit, or Pawtuckett ; and arriving there that 
evening, Mr. Eliot preached to as many of them as could be got 
together, out of ]\Iat. xxii :i-i4, the parable of the king's son. We met 
at the wigwam of one called Wannalancet, about two miles from the 
town, near Pawtuckett falls, and bordering upon Merrimak river. 
This person ^\'annalancet, is the oldest son of old Passaconaway, the 
chiefest sachem of Pawtuckett. He is of a sober and grave person, 
and of years, between fifty and sixty. He hath always been loving and 
friendly to the English. Many endeavours have been used several 
years to gain this sachem to embrace the christian religion ; but he 
hath stood oiif from time to time and not yielded himself up ])ersonally, 
though for four years past he hath been willing to hear the word of 
God preached, and to keej) the Sabbath. A great reason that hath kept 
him olT, I conceive, hath been the indisposition and a\erseness of 
sundry of his chief men and relations to jiray to God ; which he saw 
would desert him, in case he turned christian. Hut at this time. May 
6th, 1674, it pleased God so to influence and overcome his heart, that it 
being proposed to him to give his answer concerning praying to God, 
after some deliberation and serious pause he stood up. and made a 
speech to this effect : 

L— 2 


Sirs: — You have been pleased for four years past, in your abundant love, to 
apply yourselves particularly unto nie and my people, to exhort, press and per- 
suade us to pray to God. I am very thankful to you for your pains. I inust 
acknowledge, said he, I have, all my days, used to pass in an old canoe (alluding 
to his frequent custom to pass in a canoe upon the river), and now you exhort me 
to change and leave my old canoe, and embark on a new canoe, to which I have 
hitherto been unwilling; but now I yield myself up to your advice, and do engage 
to pray to God hereafter. 

Thi.s his jiriifessed sulijection was well pleasing to all that were 
present, of which there were some English persons of quality ; as Mr. 
Richard Daniel, a gentleman that lived in Billerica about six miles off, 
and Lieutenant Henchman, a neighbor at Chelmsford, besides brother 
Eliot and myself, with sundry others, English and Indians. Mr. 
Daniel, liefore named, desired brother Eliot to tell this sachem from 
him. that it may be, while he went in his old canoe, he passed in a 
quiet stream : but the end thereof was death and destruction to soul 
and body. But now he went into a new canoe, perTiaps he would 
meet with storms and trials, but yet he should be encouraged to jierse- 
vere. for the end of his \oyage would be everlasting rest. Moreover, 
he and his people were exhorted by brother Eliot and myself, to go 
on and sanctify the sabbath, to hear the word, and use the means that 
God hath appointed, and encourage their hearts in the Lord their God. 
Since that time I hear this sachem doth persevere, and is a constant 
and diligent hearer of (Jod's word, and sanctilieth the sabbath, though 
he doth travel to W'amesit meeting every sabbath which is above two 
miles; and though sundry of his people have deserted him since he 
subjected tn the gospel, }'et he continues and persists. 

Fr<im records of eye-witnesses like the foregoing, and from tradi- 
tions that ha\e been handed down in families of the neighborhood, 
a fairly \h\d picture of Eliot's mission among those peaceful 
Indians might be drawn, .\bnut 1653 a log chapel was built for the 
apostle on Meetinghouse Hill, believed to have been on the edge of the 
I)rescnt South Common. This structure appears to have been used 
for a school on weekdays and a*-' a church on the Lord's dav. It is 
rcc<jr(le<l to h;i\e been a story and one-half high, having an apartment 
for ](jdging the jjreacher during his stay. In it John Eliot conceivably 
may, as related, have entertained the Jesuit h'ather Gabriel Drtiillettes, 
who was imdertaking among tho' IMaine Indians a work of conversion 
not dissimilar to that of the Protestant missionary in the Bay State. 

The work of teaching the natives to read and write was done by 
an Indian named Samuel. It was part of the colony's policv to sub- 
stitute civil law for the su])remacy of the sachems. Somewhere ttear 
the present I'oott canal a native magistrate. John Numphow by name, 
who frcinK-nll\- figures in deeds and other records, held court in a log 

The ch,'i])el in which John I'.liot ])re;iche(l U< the Indians remained 
i)i situ down to 1S24. according to a statement made bv Charles Cow- 
lev in an address delivered at the I'lliot Congregational Church on 

1 'I'li.-iilcl iMiikiM- lloHsi'. loiMlt'il ill < i|d Kiri\ Ko.i.i II. -ar 1 ':i wl ii.k.l 1 ;..ii |.v:i iil. 2. Hildr.lli 
llumr.sli-a.l. iH-ar llililii-lli St. and Aiken Ave., liuilt in 17SI. 3. Tlif T> l<-r 1 l<inii-.-tfad. in 
Mldillcsi-x VillaKc. I'aiins "1.1 ninslcr Held. I. Tlie Howers llnuve. \V.>.iii SI., the oldest house 
in L.iueli, hiiilt in lr..S(i. .i. The ■•(llas.x" House, rrim-etoii Boulevard, huilt in 1SII2, used for 
tenenielils h.v .■m|ili..\ eos ..f th." Clas.s Kai-t or.\ , il. Tli. C.diuiii Mission. Vaiiiuni .\ve,. l.uilt 
in lT.".."i. liist si-h.iol j.nil.lin;,- in J.ow.U. 

develop:\[ext from indiax town ig 

October 31. 1897. Testimony to this effect was quoted: "'Josiah G. 
Abbott, Oliver M. Whipple, Amos Brown and other 'Old Residents,' 
now no more, remembered it well, and there is one venerable gentle- 
man still living, Mr. Sidney Davis, whose 82 years have all been spent 
in this place, who also rememijers that log meeting house, having been 
nine years old when it was demolished." 

Any notion that the treatment of the Indians by the governing 
class of ^Massachusetts Bay was at the outset hypocritical and cruel is 
probabl)- contrary to the facts. There is abundant evidence of a wide- 
spread desire, which was cleverly stimulated by men of the missionary 
spirit like Eliot and Gookin, to do the right thing by this race. It was 
not then appreciated, just as down to now it rarely has been under- 
stood, how difficult is the transition from one culture level to another. 
It was hoped that superimposition of the institutions of Christian Eng- 
land upon the tribes of red men would make them Englishmen of a 
darker skin. The Great and General Court, at Eliot's initiative, took 
measures for encouragement of local self-go\ernment and instruction 
among the Indian communities. It was provided that in each village 
government should rest with a group of the "most powerful and most 
pious." The Indians might choose their own rules, though subject 
to approval by the general authority. There was to be a native 
marshal-general in charge of the ]iraying towns — in the first instance 
Captain Josias, alias Pennahannit, whose place of residence was at 
Nashobah. now Littleton. To give the aborigines their j^roper place 
in the sun. the court enacted that the Indians had an original title to 
the land they held ; that civil Indians should have lands granted to 
them for towns of their own; that Indians should not be dispossessed 
of land which they had subdued or be dri\-en frdui their fishing places; 
that all strong liquors should be prohiliited to be sold or given to 
Indians unless in case of sickness or by permission. It was not until 
after the hysteria excited by King Philip's \\'ar that the rulers of the 
Bay State were led intu a different policy toward the aborigines. 

Coming of White Settlers — The arrival of white settlers in con- 
sideral)le numbers in the vicinity of the Wamesits and Pawtuckets 
was only a question of a little time after a few families from Charles- 
town had laid the foundations of the present city of Woburn. The 
country beyond the rock rim that encloses the Boston basin is of a 
character to invite exploration. The divide that separates the head- 
waters of the Abcrjona, a confluent of Boston harbor, and the Ipswich, 
is a barely ])erceptible elevation in South Wilmington. Prevailingly 
flat and sandy, the land extends into the Shawsheen territory and 
thence to the fertile meadows bordering the Concord. This is to-day 
an easy and inviting district to traverse on foot or on snowshoes. 


It early attracted the adventurous from the settlements that already 
were forming to the north of Boston. 

The first formal record of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's prac- 
tical interest in the lands lying along the Merrimack appears in a 
commission which was given by the General Court to Captain Edv*,'ard 
Johnson and Captain Simon Willard to explore the valley. In 1652 
these hardy pioneers went up river beyond the fork at Franklin and 
discovered Lake Winnepesaukee. 

Captain Johnson, author of "The Wonder W'orking Providence 
of Sion's Saviour in New England," was of Woburn, and it was pre- 
sumably at his instance that some twenty persons of that township 
and of Cambridge in the same year petitioned the General Court for 
permission to look over, with a view to settling on it, lands about the 
junction of the Merrimack and Musketiquid (now the Concord) 
rivers. The privilege was granted and seekers evidently found the dis- 
trict promising, for on Alay 10, 1653, they asked the General Court 
for a grant of land six miles square, to the west of the Indian \illage 
and covering the present town of Chelmsford and parts of other town- 
ships. The request urged that "this land was a very comfortable 
place to accommodate a company of God's people, and that with God's 
blessing and assistance they may live comfortably upon and do good 
in that place for Church and Commonwealth." Several surnames that 
are still prominent in Lowell and the vicinity are noted in the list of 
])etitioners, who were: Benjamin Butterfield, John Parker, Isaac 
Learned, James I'arker, George Farley, James Chamberlin, Joseph 
Parker, John Hosmer, Jacob Parker, Henry Foster, William Cham- 
lierlain, John Nuttinge, Edmund Chamberlin, John Baldwinge, Rich- 
ard Griffin, James Blood. John Smedley, Roger Draper, William 
Fletcher, Thomas Adams, William Hartwell, Roliert Proctor. William 
P>uttrick, Baptist Smedley, Richard Hildreth, Thomas Briggam, 
Daniel I'lodgett, John Hall, William Hall. Their plea was made 
simultaneously with a request from John Eliot, ever alert to the 
interests of his jjroteges, that a suitable reservation of land be made 
for tin- Indians living in the \icinity of Wamesit and Pawtucket 
Falls. Both petitions were granted on May iS, 1653. 

In its decree the (General Court granted to the English jietitioners 
the land tlu-y asked f<ir "excepting some jjart of it joyning to Merre- 
macke River," which, of course, was reserved for occupancy by the 
Indians. It was also "jirovided. that the sajd peticoners shall sufifi- 
cjently brcake tq) fidl so nuuli land for the Indjans in such i)lace as 
they shall a])pointe with in such plantacon as shall there be a])pointed 
them, as they have (jf ])lanting groiuul about a hill called Robljins Hill, 
and that tlie Indjans shall have use of theere planting ground afore- 


sajd, free of all damages, vntil the peticoners shall have broken vp the 
land for the Indians as aforesjad." Captains Willard and Johnson 
were appointed to lay out the bounds. It was provided that if the peti- 
tioners did not "within two years, setle a competent noumber of 
familjes there, by building and planting vppon the sajd tract of land 
twenty familjes or vpwards so as they may be in capacitje of injoying 
all the ordjnances of God there, then the graunt to be vojd." 

The conditions of the act were duly met, even though several of 
the petitioners never took up their grants. A plan of the newly planned 
settlement exists among the Massachusetts Archives. It shows that 
the Indians of Wamesit and Pawtucket were confined to a small 
triangle between the two rivers, extending from about North Billerica 
over to the Merrimack above Pawtucket Falls. A small tract of good 
corn land, where Middlesex Village now is, was assigned specially to 
"John Sagamore."' The English territory stretched from the southern 
and western part of the city of Lowell over the townships of Chelms- 
ford and Westford toward "Grautten." 

Into this district of attractive hilly country came settlers enough, 
so that on May 29, 1655, the General Court felt itself justified in 
decreeing: "Uppon informacon from Major Willad, by a letter from 
Esdra Rand, Edward Spalden, \Vm. Fletcher, etc., inhabitants of a 
new plantacon, that the noumber of inhabitants, according to the 
time ffixt in the Courts graunt, were there settled at there request, the 
Court doth graunt the name thereof to be called Chelmsford." 

The precise reason for naming the new township after the county 
town of the English Essex is not positively known. There is some 
plausibility in a statement made years afterward by President John 
Adams, who had relatives in the town, to the eiTect that "Chelmsford 
was probably named in compliment to Mr. Hooker, who was once 
minister of that town in England." Certain it is, according to the 
biographical sketch of Thomas Hooker in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, that the famous Puritan divine in 1626 accepted a lecture- 
ship at Chelmsford, where he made himself especially popular with the 
younger clergy, "to whom he was an oracle and their principal library." 
It is not known that any of the original settlers were from Chelmsford. 
Thus was founded, with its principal centre about three miles 
from the Indian villages, the town under whose government was the 
major portion of the lands comprised in Lowell, down through the 
colonial era and until the partition of a separate township in 1826. 

The conventional, and perhaps essentially correct, account of the 
attitude of the new settlers toward their Indian neighbors appears in 
one of the chapters of John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Stranger in 
Lowell," in the following phraseology: 


The white \'i.sitants from Concord and W'oburn, pleased with 
the appearance of the place, and the prospect it afforded for planting 
and fishing, petitioned the General Court for a grant of the entire tract 
of land now embraced in the limits of Lowell and Chelmsford. They 
made no account whatever of the rights of the poor Patuckets ; but, 
considering it "a comfortable place to accommodate God's people 
upon," were doubtless prepared to deal with the heathen inhabitants 
as Joshua, the son of Nun, did with the Jebuzites and Perizzites, the 
Hivites and the Hittites of old. The Indians, however, found a friend 
in the apostle Eliot, who presented a petition in their behalf, that the 
lands l}'ing around the Patucket and Wamesit Falls should be aj^pro- 
priated exclusively for their benefit and use. The Court granted the 
petition of the whites, with the exception of the tract in the angle 
of the two rivers on which the Patuckets were settled. 

The actual terms in which the nearby Indian reservation was sur- 
veyed and described a few years later by Danforth in 1664, are as 

There is laid out unto the Indians, who are the inhaliitants of 
Waymesick, five hundred acres of land on the east side of Concord 
River and joyning to the sajd river about one mile & three quarters, 
which reacheth to Bacon Brooke, & bounded by the sajd brooke on the 
south fower score poole ; it runnes from the mouth of Concord Ryver 
downe Merremacke River two hundred & fifty poole, where it is 
l)(.)unded by a red oake marked ; from thence it runnes according to 
the bound marke trees with two angles, unto Bacon Brooke; all which 
doe more plainly appeare by plott of it. 

This five hundred acres is part of that three thousand wh"^'' was 
layd out to Mrs. Winthrop formerly. 

Following the settlement of the Rev. Mr. Fisk in the new town 
came a considerable migration c;if families from the community which 
he had just left. The wealth and solidity of the Wenham newcomers 
is said by Wilkes Allen, the first Chelmsford historian, to have meant 
much to the frontier town. One of the foremost of these accessions 
was Deacon Cornelius Waldo, a m;in of means and native leadership. 
Another who figures largely in narratives of the time was Major 
Thomas Hinchman, whose residence in the Middlesex village district 
makes him one of the indubitalile fathers of the city of Lowell. 
Deacon .\br;im Spalding appears also to ha\e been of the Wenham 

Billerica as a Parent Town of Lowell — The town of Billerica, 
which later, through its northern sub-division of Tewksburv, was to 
contribute to the territory of Lowell, was simultaneously in process 
of estai)lishnient. its domain was part of a large grant made in 1640 
to Marg;iret Winthro]i, wife of Governor John Winthroj), "our late 
Governor, to I)e ;it her disjjensing. for her and her sonns, when thev 
shall desire it withe ml jiudice to an\- fdriuer grant." 


In this tract, then known as "Shawshin" and extending from the 
Concord river down the Shawsheen through Andover, settlers had 
begun to take up locations and. evidently, to crave a definite legal 
status, for they petitioned in 1655 for a grant of the land upon Con- 
cord river, to extend to Pawtucket, in other words to include the parts 
of Lowell, now south and east ot the Concord. To their petition the 
Legislature on May 23. 1655, gave assent, with certain qualifications 
in the following terms : 

In answer to the petition of the inhabitants of Shawshin for a pcell 
of land lying vpon Concord River side to Pawtucket this Court think 
meet to grant their request ; vis., the tract of land mentioned in their 
pet. if no former graunt be made to any other, & that the name of the 
place be called Billicary : & whereas there is a motion made, that the 
next president may haue a farme of the fine hundred acors in this 
place, the Court doe not consent thereto, as concerning it to be very 
pjudiciall to the plantation, but are willing to graunt it in some other 
place, where it may be found according to law, pvided the psident con- 
tynue in that place three years. 

Five davs later a town was incorporated in accordance with the 
following act : 

In ansr to the peticon of seurall proprietors & inhabitants of 
Shawshin humbly desiring a tract of land lying nere the line of the 
farme of John and Robert Blood. & so along by the side of Concord 
Riuer. &c., the Court graunts the name of the plantacon to be called 

Determination of rights of heirs of Margaret Winthrop in this 
territory made much trouble for some decades to come, with intricacies 
of title that have no place in a narrative history. 

The name of Billerica, given to this township created on the 
southern portion of the Winthrop grant, is an Americanization of Bil- 
lericav in Essex. The origin of the curious word is undetermined, one 
antiquary suggesting that it is from the Latin Belleri-castra. Ralph 
Hill and \\'illiam French, pioneers of the town, whose descendants 
figure extensively in Lowell history, are believed to have come from 
the English Billericay. 

The first surveys of this neighborhood, as appears in the fore- 
going determination and in others, were made by Jonathan Danforth, 
who was born in High Suffolk, England, in 1628. Many of his care- 
fully made "plots" are treasured in the State Archives. In Billerica 
he held the offices of selectman, representative in the Legislature and 
captain of the militia. 

The rapidity with which the countryside now filled up with Kng- 
lish-speaking people must have surprised Wannalancet and his Indian 


From about 1655 the neighborhood began to assume the aspect of 
a collection of civilized communities. At Chelmsford Centre the 
apparatus of political and religious life was in existence from the date 
of the first town meeting, which was held November 22, 1654, at the 
house of William Fletcher. It was then arranged to entrust the gov- 
ernment of the town to a committee consisting of Esdras Read, Ed- 
ward Spaulding, William Fletcher, Isaac Lerned, Simon Thompson, 
William Underwood and Thomas Adams. Provision was made at the 
same time for entertaining the new minister-elect, the Rev. Mr. Fisk, 
of W'enham, under the following terms: "We give to Mr. Fisk Thirty 
acres of meadow and Thirty Acres of Plowable Land for the acomoda- 
tion of him for his most conveniency: And we do agree and Order 
that he shall have a hmis built for him 'iliirty-eight foot in length & 
Twenty foot in bredth, with three fire Rooms, the Chimneys built with 
Brick or Stone ; and we jjromise to pay to Mr. Fisk. Fifty Pounds for 
the first year; and we promise to pay his maintinance as the Lord 
shall enable us for the future." This minister, a graduate of Iiumanuel 
College, Cambridge, a trained physician as well as clergyman, whose 
service lasted for twenty years, is described as "a plain but an able 
and useful preacher of the gospel ; rarely if ever, by sickness, hindered 
from the exercises of his ministry." Details of his ministry lielong, of 
course, to the story of Chelmsford, which Rev. Wilson Waters has 
told with fascinating fullness of detail. 

Amidst these favoring circiimstances farms were taken up in 
every direction about the Indiati reservations. Trails became high- 
ways and soon there was a beginning of the diversification of industry 
which has been marked in this district down to the present town. A 
grant of thirty acres of fine land to one William How, a weaver, on 
condition that he set up an establishment to ply his trade, was one of 
the first instances in New England history of the subsidizing of a 
local manufacture. 

Highways and Bridges — Road-building is shown by the Chelms- 
ford records to have been active in the first decades of the settlement. 
In January, 1659, appears the earliest account of a permanent high- 
way in the town : "George Biam and Thomas Barrett are ajipointed 
a committee to state the High-way that gos to Tadmuck [in the 
extreme western jjart of the grant] before Thomas Chamberlain's 
house. The tree at his Hog's Coat is concluded one bound, and so to 
Run his due bredth acording to order, towards the Brook, Cold Beaver 
Brook." .Soon after this the "road to the bay" was begun. The latter 
brought Croton and Chelmsford into touch with Boston by way of 
Billerica. The "country way to Merrimack" was one which came into 
the present city limits. It seems to have been begun in 1659, starting 
at the town farm and running over the Golden Cove and Carolina 


Plain to Middlesex \'illage. I'he record shows that in 1673 it was 
extended to the river, following what is now Baldwin street. A report 
on the surveying of this highway is as follows: "William Under- 
wood, William Fletcher and Abraham Parker being appointed a com- 
mitee to Lay out a highway for the Inhabitants on the other side of 
Meremack do Determine that it shall begin at the Country way at poor 
man's bridge, and so along between the two swamps and over Wil- 
liam Underwood's Meadow, all being bounded by marked trees on 
both sides: and so Runeth below Mr. Hinchman's dam; and so to the 
Indian line to answer the Country Road at Merrimack and on this 

The Billerica people, too, were industrious road-builders. From 
1659 onward the way to Wamesit from the English settlement at 
North Billerica must have been better than an Indian trail, for in that 
year, according to the Book of Grants ( I, 1041. quoted by Haven, the 
colonists extended a road toward the Merrimack. The exact lines fol- 
lowed bv this highway are with difficulty determined in the involved 
phraseology of the day. 

The incidents which have come down concerning the first impor- 
tant bridge in this neighborhood throw a little light on the problems 
of opening lines of communication between the scattered settlements. 
The nature of the deep and sluggish Concord river rendered the prob- 
lem of bridges one which must be faced early in the history of Chelms- 
ford, Dunstable, Groton and other towns of what was the frontier in 
the middle and late seventeenth century. Communication with the 
provincial capital at Boston required that riders and drivers should 
not have to depend on fords which were liable to be impassable in high 

In view of the present distribution of population one might have 
expected the first bridge to be built at one of the narrow places of the 
last two miles of the river's course where it drops into the Merrimack. 
Such a route, however, would not have followed the most direct line 
between the new villages of Billerica and Chelmsford centre, and it 
would have had the disadvantage of passing through the Indian settle- 
ment at Wamesit. The bridging of the river, accordingly, occurred 
just above North Billerica, where the present name of Fordway Bridge 
commemorates an entertaining series of events of the old days. 

The earliest ofificial intimation that such a bridge ought to be built 
seems to have occurred in May, 1657, when it was urged in the General 
Court that public convenience and safety required the construction of 
bridges over the Mystic and Concord rivers. Action seems to have 
been taken in Billerica very shortly thereafter, for a bridge at the 
Fordway was certainly in use in 1659. 

The primitive structure quite likely was not so very substantial, 


for in 1660 it was repaired by Rali>h Hill, Jr., and James Kidder, and 
in 1662 further repairs were needed. For this latter work Billerica, it 
is recorded, furnished five workers, Chelmsford four ; on daily wage 
of 2s., 6d., with an additional chiirge of 14 shillings for liquor for the 
crew. The last-named item may have interfered with sound crafts- 
manship, for only two years later complaint was taken to the General 
Court of "great defect in Chelmsford Bridge." A loss of temper 
between the two towns immediately concerned appears to have fol- 
lowed upon the frequent demands ior labor and money to patch up the 
bridge. The following minute is found in the Billerica town records, 
dated January 12. 1666: "Whereas the selectmen of Chelmsford (by 
writing under ther hand) have declared (to the selectmen of Billerica) 
their absolute refusall any longer to assist in maintenance of the great 
Bridge upon Billerica river, as also giving Notice to them to repair 
the same acording to law. Hence the selectmen of Billerica (for ye 
preventing of dangers and hazards by travelers) do order that some of 
the plankes of that bridge be taken away, that so there may be no pass- 
ing over it ; and some provision made on each side the breach to give 
warning of the danger to any traveler." 

Whether an impassable condition thus created greeted the way- 
farer for the next year and a half is not certain. The case clearly 
ac(|uired notoriety, for on October 9, 1667, the General Court inter- 
vened with an order "that the sajd bridge shall be repayred & upholden 
by the townes of Billerica, Chelmsford & Groaten, and all such farmes 
as arc there granted," these towns to be free of maintenance of all 
other bridges "except in their own bounds." To carry out its decree 
the Legislature appointed a committee consisting of John Webb, alias 
Evered, Thomas Hinksman (Henchman), James Parker and Jona- 
than Danforth "to agree with some able and honest artificer for erect- 
ing a bridge over Billerica River as speedily as may be." 

The jjrofessional ccmtractor who was expected to succeed where 
amateur tinkerers had failed was Job Lane, an artificer "who had 
already achie\ed fame as builder of the college halls at Caml)ridge." 
With him a cmitract was made on Januar)- 11, 1667, for work to be 
finished on or before September 29, of that year. The plan called for 
arches of sixteen-foot span. The ffooring of the bridge was to be of 
oak planks four inches thick. The payments, representing doubtless a 
very large sum in ])roportion to the financial ability of the towns con- 
cerned, aggregated "seven score and five pounds starling," of which 
the artificer was to receive ten pounds in cash, ten in wheat, ten in 
malt, and the remainder in corn and cattle, "not exceeding one-half in 
cattle which shall be under seven years old." The bridge, undertaken 
under these .-luspices, was. so far as known, ccim])lcted in the specified 
time, it may be dmibted, however, if even the skillful Joli Lane was 


able to give complete satisfaction, for a few )-ears later, specifically in 
1676, complaints were renewed, and the towns were again put to 
expense for repairs. After that year came two decades in which the 
bridge is not mentioned in existing records and then, in 1696, a flood 
swept it away. The rebuilding took place in i6g8 at a point some- 
what further upstream. Groton refused to pay its share in this recon- 
struction until so ordered by the General Court. The resultant struc- 
ture lasted until 1737 when it fell down and had to be rebuilt. 

Such were the difficulties of keeping open a line of communication 
between the Merrimack and Boston harbor in colonial days. The 
assessment of charges for this bridge upon the beneficiary towns was 
a subject for constant contention. On May 22, 1738, for example, the 
town of Dracut voted to pay to John Varnuni the sum of six pounds 
"for his servis and Expenses In Gitting the Town free from Charg of 
Billirica Bridg." That such policy of obstruction was short-sighted 
may be argued in a generation which is used to seeing taxes for a 
special improvement spread over al! the area afifected. It is tolerably 
clear, as Major Atkinson Varnum says in his history of Dracut, that 
the Billerica bridge was an economic necessity of the whole district. 
The volume of teaming, indeed, that developed as the country became 
populous is hard for the person accustomed to railroad transportation 
of freight to appreciate. One little item in Mr. Varnum's exposition 
indicates the magnitude of the traffic that rolled o\'er Billerica Bridge: 
"A substantial team of horses was required to transport the New Eng- 
land rum alone required by the country merchants in Chelmsford, 
Dracut and the neighboring towns." 

Early East Chelmsford Settlers — The mode of living in the settle- 
ment that during the third quarter of the seventeenth century grew up 
alongside the ancient Indian metropolis has been illustrated with abun- 
dant citations from old records in Perham and Waters' history of 
Chelmsford. Of the settlers whose homesteads were planted within 
the bounds covered by the present study relatively little is known, 
except of those who in some official capacity or other had dealings 
with the Indians. Of such sort were Thomas Henchman ; the brothers 
Richardson, Captain Josiah and Lieutenant James, and the eccentric 
trader, the first temporary settler, so far as known, north of the Merri- 
mack, John Evered, alias Webb. 

Henchman, whose name appears fre(|uently in records of orders 
from the General Court with regard to the Indians, is recorded with 
Captain Jonathan Tyng, who had settled in the part of Dunstable that 
is now Tyngsborough, as one of the principal men of the region. He 
came originally from Wenham. The Legislature relied upon him for 
local leadership in the distressing times of 1676 and thereabouts. His 


name has not been handed down among descendants resident in 

The Fletcher family, long prominent in this district, whose name 
is perpetuated in Fletcher street, originated with Lieutenant William 
Fletcher, of Concord and Chelmiford, born in 1624 and died in 1677. 
He was an ensign under Lieutenant Hinchman and was elected to the 
committee of militia of the town of Chelmsford, February 15, 1676, to 
report to the general court at Boston the alarming situation with 
regard to the Indian outrages and depredations. 

One who settled at a very early date in Middlesex Village, and 
who i)robably may be called the first Lowell manufacturer, was Cap- 
tain Jerathmeel Bowers, whose name is encountered frequently in the 
older records. He was a son of George Bowers, who was a resident of 
Cambridge. His brother, Benannel Bowers, married Elizabeth Duns- 
ter, daughter of President Henry Dunster, of Harvard College, and 
resided in Charlestown. Descendants of Captain Bowers have played 
and are playing an honorable part in Lowell history. Their progeni- 
tor's occupation was one which was in honor in his day. He con- 
ducted a distillery. 

The many Richardson descendants in and around Lowell trace 
their origin for the most part to the brothers just mentioned, who 
were sons of Ezekiel Richardson, a fellow-passenger with Governor 
Winthrop in 1630, and one of the original settlers of Woburn in 1640- 
42. The sons were among the foremost of the early Chelmsford set- 
tlers. Lieutenant James, through his having charge of the Wamesit In- 
dians, was a resident of pre-urban Lowell. The former brother became 
a property owner in the heart of the city, when in June, 1688-89, the 
Indians, "from the love they bore to Josiah Richardson," conveyed to 
him a parcel of land at the confluence of the two rivers and extending 
southward to a stream then called Speen's brook. The record indi- 
cates that these brothers were exemplary citizens. Captain Josiah, 
especially, held many offices of honor and responsibility : Fence viewer, 
1659; committee to consult with Groton for laying out a highway, 
1662-63; constable, 1667; selectman, 1668-82; town clerk, 1690-94. 

A word should be said about John Evered, alias Webb, the some- 
what strange man who, though he did not remain or leave descendants 
in this region, was proliably the first white man to live, even tempo- 
rarily, in Lowell north of the Merrimack. This trader with the red 
men was born at Marlborough, Wiltshire. He was in Boston as early 
as February, 1634. Two years later he was made a freeman. As a 
merchant he conducted a store for some years on the corner of Wash- 
ington and School streets, later occupied by the Old Corner Book- 
store. About 1650 he came to Chelmsford to traffic with the Indians 
and to assist in locating land grants. His name appears as ensign 


and captain of the Chelmsford miHtary company. In 1659 with three 
of his military associates, he was granted a tract of 1,000 acres of land 
on the north side of the river. Evered, who for some unknown reason, 
liked also to be known as Webb, soon bought out his associates and 
personally moved over to the lands opposite Middlesex and North 
Chelmsford, which lands he called "Drawcott," presumably after some 
place with which he was familiar in England. The Indian name -of 
this district, as appears from a deed of 1667 owned by Joseph Bradley 
Varnum Coburn, was .Augomtoosooke. 

Later Evered had another grant of five hundred acres east of 
Beaver Brook and several other grants on both sides of the river, his 
total proprietorship exceeding 3,000 acres. In 1664 he sold one-half 
of his original purchase to Richard Shatswell and Samuel Varnum, of 

Webb returned in i668 to Boston, where he was drowned in the 
harbor while engaged with others in chasing a whale that had come 
close to shore. The mode of his death is thus described by the Rev. 
Samuel Danforth, of Roxbury : "17th 8th month 1668 Mr. John Webb, 
alias Evered was drowned catching a whale below the Castle. In coil- 
ing ye line unadvisedly he did it about his middle, thinking the whale 
had been dead ; but suddenly Shee gave a Spring and drew him out of 
the boat. He being in the midst of the Hne but could not be recovered 
while he had any life." 

Beginnings of Dracut — The colonial records mention four early 
grants of land in the present township of Dracut and of Lowell north 
of the river to as many individuals : i. A grant of the year 1650, 3,000 
acres to Robert Saltonstall. 2. Some 1,600 acres on the north of the 
river and east of Beaver Brook, granted in 1659 to Richard Russell. 3. 
In 1660, 250 acres lying northwest of Russell's grant to Edward Tyng. 
4. Five hundred acres lying opposite the mouth of the Concord river 
to one Symmes. None of these grantees, so far as known, ever took 
possession. After the settlement of Chelmsford four men took up land 
in the upper or west end of Dracut, that is in the part that is now the 
Pawtucketville district of Lowell. These were Scarlet, Webb, Setchel 
and Hinksman (or Henchman, first mentioned), each with lots run- 
ning back from the river. Scarlet brook, which runs into the Merri- 
mack opposite North Chelmsford, bears the name of one of these pro- 
prietors. Webb, as elsewhere stated, is known to have built a shanty 
and to have occupied it. This building is said later to have been 
burned by Indians. 

The locations of these grants were established in a study which 
George A. Gordon, genealogist and antiquary, read before the Old 
Residents' Historical Association in August, 1892. .The facts essential 
to this historv were as follows : 


A considerable portion of Lowell, skirting the northern shore of 
the Merrimack was thus granted [by the Massachusetts General 
Court]. 'J"he boulevard, reaching from two little brooks above Paw- 
tucket, or near the inlet to the Water Works' gallery, to opposite 
Tyng's Lsland, was granted, three and a quarter miles on the river 
front, and roughly estimated at a thousand acres, to Captain Oliver, 
Lieutenant Johnson, and Ensign Webb, of the Boston A. & H. A. 
Six hundred acres next above was granted to Richard Dummer. Be- the military grant, and stretching to the ]5ond, was a grant to the 
t(J^\n of Billerica. From the F'alls to Beaver Brook was reserved to 
the Indians that they might have full opportunity to fish. On the east 
side of Beaver Brook, and extending to the western slope of Dracut 
Heights [now Centralville] sixteen hundred acres were granted to 
Richard Russell, treasurer of the Colony, to be accounted as part of 
an earlier grant to Sir Richard Saltonstall. Next to this, and up the 
brook, six hundred acres were granted the town of Billerica. Two 
hundred and fifty acres, still farther north, and embracing the present 
Winter Hill or New Boston, was granted the father of Colonel Tvng, 
as a farm. Between which and Beaver Brook to the northwest two 
hundred acres were granted to Roger Conant. Below this last, and 
covering the present Collinsville, lay a grant of five hundred acres to 
Capt. John Webb. On the west side of the brook and above the Bil- 
lerica grant, next Double Brook, lay a gratuity of two hundred and 
fifty acres to Edmond Batter, a deputy from .Salem. Dracut Heights, 
then undesirable in land riches, was ungranted ; but down the river 
and west of the brook, where to-day local fishermen catch trout, was 
located a grant of five hundred acres to Samuel Simonds, deputy gov- 
ernor, which, becoming the property of Deane W'inthrop, has always 
been known as the Winthrop farm. The Higginson grant of seven 
hundred acres was at the extreme limit of Dracut bcamds, and ulti- 
mately withdrawn across the line. 

To follow all the subsequent combinations of these original grants 
would be unprofitable unless in settlement of some legal question. In 
1701, when the settlement of Dracut was recognized as a town, a com- 
mittee of the Legislature apportioned a division of its soil among the 
actual inhabitants. The titles thus established are recorded in a manu- 
scri])t volume which is still [')reser\-ed at the office of the town clerk 
"and selectmen and which is the basis of most of the present ownershij) 
in Lowell north of the river. 

A reference, cited above, to the needs <if " lnhal)it;ints on the other 
side of Meremack" ])roves that li\- Uij_^ the then unorganized district 
which later became the town of Dracut was acquiring a population 
'-uch that the town authorities of Chelmsford had to consider it in 
their planning. ( )n the fertile meadow lands that border Clay Pit 
Brook and the Merrimack Ri\er. opposite Middlesex \'illage, Edward 
Colbiu'u. or Coburn. belie\ed to ha\c bi^en the first ])ermanent white 
dweller in "ye wildernesse on ye Northerne side of Merrimac River," 
had ]daced his habitation. He was not, a]iparently, the earliest to cul- 


tivate land on this side of the stream, for some time previously Samuel 
Varnum had purchased a holding- over the river, but on account of 
the danger of raids from hostile Indians had lived on the Chelmsford 
side, crossing to his farm in a boat. 

TJie settlement which thus sprung up in what is now the Paw- 
tucketville section of the city of Lowell was destined to be during the 
entire eighteenth century the most considerable community within the 
existing municipal boundaries. While "Wamesit Neck'' was still 
simplv a "farm end" of Chelmsford, the parish at Dracut at the head 
of Pawtucket Falls was one with a vigorous religious and secular life 
of its own. Here are several of the oldest houses in the city. In the 
town records, now kept at Dracut centre, are manj- entries that throw 
light on present-day inheritances. 

As a community W'est Dracut was remarkable, among other 
things, for the prominence of the two families whose progenitors were 
its first settlers — the Varnums and Coburns. 

Samuel ^"arnum. who was a resident of Middlesex \'illage before 
he moved over the river, is believed to have lived somewhere about the 
mouth of Black Brook. He was a son of George Varnum, who settled 
in Ipswich about 1635. In this town, too, as it happened, was resident 
Edward Colburn. Thus from very early days of the Massachusetts 
Bay colony were associated these two families, very much intermar- 
ried, both of whom are intimately connected with the development of 
the Lowell neighborhood There is a tradition to the eiifect that both 
came from the same place in England, but this has no substantiation 
in any data yet discovered. To George Varnum has been attributed 
residence in one of three or four Engli-sh "Draycottes." Since, how- 
ever, John Webb appears to have first applied the name, this tradition 
is probably a fiction. 

It is established, at all events, that Samuel Varnum was born in 
England in 1619, for in 1683 he made a deposition in which he gave his 
age as sixty-four. Several facts about his residence in Ipswich have 
been unearthed by the Varnum genealogists. His marriage to Sarah 
Langton. of that town, took place about 1645, and there his children, 
five sons and a daughter, were born. The original grant to him of 
1,100 acres of land "in Drawcott, on Merrimacke River," was made 
on January 16, 1664. Richard Shatswell, who received a large grant 
at the same time, never became a settler in this neighborhood, selling 
his land on October 7, 1669, to Thomas Henchman, who conveyed 
it to Edward Coburn, November 22, 1671. 

While, probably, Samuel Varnum was still living on the south 
side of the river, events occurred that must be accorded notice. 

The first white child to be born in Lowell, so far as known, was 
John \'arnuni. who saw the light October 25, 1669. His grandson, 


Parker Varnum, in memoirs written early in the nineteenth century, 
refers to a family tradition, which is probable enough, that the mother 
was assisted at childbirth by Indian squaws of the neighborhood who 
were greatly rejoiced at the appearance of a "white pappoose." 

Supplementary notes on Edward Colburn, or Coburn (the name 
being spelled in eleven different ways in colonial records) may be 
given. He is believed to have been the Edward Colburn who arrived 
from London at Boston in the ship "Defense," Captain Bostock, in 
October, 1635. On the same ship was Robert Colburn, presumably 
an elder brother, ancestor of the Colburns, of Dedham. This younger 
emigrant, whose age was stated as seventeen, a few years later was 
listed as "Nathaniel Saltonstall's farmer" in Ipswich. 

It is inferred bj' the compilers of the Coburn genealogy that dur- 
ing his residence in the North Shore town in which the Saltonstalls, 
Richard and his son Nathaniel, were leading people, Edward Colburn 
owned no land and that as his family grew up around him he deter- 
mined to better his condition. It has also been plausibly urged that at 
about this time the removal of several Wenham residents to Chelms- 
ford, whither the Rev. Mr. Fisk had already gone, may have turned the 
attention of Ipswich residents to the fertile lands of the Merrimack 

Edward Colburn's wife is known to have been named Hannah. 
Her maiden name is unknown — perhaps because the Ipswich town 
records were burned in 1831. His nine children were: Edward (1642- 
1675); John (1644-1695); Robert (1646-1701) ; Thomas (1648-1728); 

Daniel (1654-1712): Hannah (1656 ); Ezra (1658-1739); Joseph 

(1661-1733) ; Lydia ( 1666 ). This am]:)le progeny 01 stalwart sons 

received allotments of land in the parts of Dracut which the father 
had acquired, each receiving a lot that bordered on the riser. To John 
in 1671 was deeded one-eighth of the holding bought from John 
Evered, "right against the new barn bounded by Robert on both sides, 
the river south and highway north, reserving one-half acre about the 
new barn with convenient highway to new barn." The son did not 
receive this jjroperty as a gift, for he agreed to ])ay his father £55 
sterling, in annual installments of £5. Deeds of pro])erty to other 
sons are on record, the latest being one of date 1690 to Joseph, who 
apparently had been selected to care for his parents in their later vears. 
"For divers causes me thereunto mo\-ing," wrote Edward Colburn, 
"especially in cunsideration of that care lo jirovidc for me and for my 
dear wife so long as it shall please God to continue 1)oth or either of 

us in this life 1 do convey unto my snii Joseph Colburn mv old 

dwelling Imuse in Said Dracut and upon my farm thereon, which was 
the Garrison House, and A\hich he is actually possessed of. Together 
with a half ])art of my Idt of land to said house adjoining to the land 


of my son Ezra Coburn, the said land lying northeast and up the river. 
It is the half part of that latter field which is commonly called the 
Barn Field."' The reference to the Garrison House in the deed just 
cited raises a problem of antiquarian interest. Mrs. Griffin, in her 
chapter on "Old Homes and Byways," attributes to the first Paw- 
tucketville settler the erection of the famous Garrison House near the 
navy yard which was razed not so many years ago during Major 
Henry Emery's ownership of the property. "It was built about 1669," 
she states, "by Edward Colburn as a place of protection for the early 
settlers against the hostile Indians." Others, as for instance the 
author of the Lowell Courier-Citizen history, have identified this fine 
old house with the overhanging stor3% upper story, with a fort which 
by order of the Governor and Council of the Commonwealth, was 
erected in 1676 and placed in command of Lieutenant Thomas Hinch- 
man. Quite a diiterent location is assigned to the original Garrison 
House by Major-General Philip Reade, a descendant of Edward Col- 
burn, who places it on Varnum avenue, near Totman street. As 
quoted in the Coburn genealogy General Reade says : 

As Edward was the first settler north of the Merrimack it was 
necessary to provide against the assaults of the Indians. They roamed 
through the woods and paddled their canoes on the river, and the lives 
of the white settlers were of no value to them. He erected a Garrison 
House, and, with his seven stalwart .sons and his sons-in-law, he was 
able to protect himself from thieving bands of Indians, while aid could 
be summoned in time of danger, when larger bands would be on the 
warpath. His Garrison House he left in his will to his son, Joseph, 
and there can be no doubt that it is still standing. On Varnum .Ave- 
nue, nearly opposite Totman Road, is a two-story house, which for 
many generations was the home of the Coburns. The last to occupy it 
was Nathaniel B. and his sons, Edmund, Howard and Walter [of the 
eighth generation], and it passed out of the ownership of the Coburns. 
It had been known as the Garrison House for five generations, and the 
size of the timbers, the low posted rooms and the style of building, 
all furnish evidence of its age. It has been remodeled, and changed by 
additions and demolition until but little of the original building can be 
found. The earlier settlers had no motive for calling it the Garrison 
House, unless it was one, and the later generations would not have 
originated the name, all of which proves it to be Edward Coburn's 
Garrison House. 

If this contention of General Reade's is correct it is quite possible 
that the house he mentions in Pawtucketville, and not, as has been 
stated, the Sewall Bowers House on Wood street, is the oldest dwell- 
ing now standing within the limits of the city of Lowell. As for the 
Garrison House on the Navy Yard road, this may or may not come 
under the general scepticism with which present-day antiquaries 
regard the numerous "garrison houses" of New England, most of 
L— 3 


which had the overhang not for any reasons of protection but because 
that was a typical form of Jacobean house, brought from England. 
The Navy Yard house was certainly occupied if not built by Colonel 
Joseph Varnum, grandfather of Generals Joseph Bradley and James 
Mitchell Varnum. 

Examination, it nia_\' be added, of the topographical lavout of the 
Pawtucketville "garrison house" should, seemingly, convince anyone 
of the likelihood that General Reade is right in his attribution of 
I)riority to this place of residence. Old Ferry road, which evidently 
was the first trail from the river northw-ard, crosses the intervale land 
for a few rods and then turns toward a knoll on the further side of 
Flag Meadow brook. On this slight elevation, the first that is sure to 
be above the sj)ring freshets, the house in question was built. Totman 
street, though it is now a road of little consec[uence, was, prior to the 
laying out of the Mammoth road, the main highway from Chelmsford 
into Southern New Hampshire. At its northern end, where it de- 
bouches into Mammoth road, one still encounters the fine colonial 
farm house that was occupied by Captain Peter Coburn, of Bunker 
Hill fame. 

King Philip's War — During several years of generally pleasant 
relationship between the settlers of Chelmsford and their Indian neigh- 
bors the only danger from hostile tribes that was scented came from 
the distant ^lohawks, who were hereditary enemies of the Pennacooks. 
It was for the purpose of repelling a threatened invasion of those foe- 
men that Wannalancet, who had been living further up river, came 
down stream about 1669 and constructed fortifications cm a sightly hill 
just east of the Concord river. 

The defences thus established gave its name to Fort Hill, now 
an attractive part of the Lowell Park system. Some antiquarians have 
thought they found relics of the original fortifications on the sides of 
the hill, and sharp stones unearthed there have from time to time been 
asserted to be arrow heads. 

The chieftain, meantime, occupied, as during much of the rest of 
lii> life, the island of Wickassee, now Tyng's Island, and the home of 
the Lowell Country Club, some four miles above Pawtucket Falls. 
This place, still notable for its magnificent white pines, was a valuable 
cornfield and an hereditary possession of the family of Passaconaway. 
Wannalancet and his friends had been permitted to occupy and culti- 
vate Wickassee for some years past, perhaps cherishing it the more 
since in the last year of Passaconaway's sachemship the (nvnership 
had temporarily been wrested from them. It then hap])encd that one 
of the sons of the family went surety for another Indian and, in default 
I if means df making good, was apprehended and lodged in jail in Bos- 
ton. Wannalancet undertook to release his brother and petitioned for 


permission to sell the island. His request was granted on November 
8, 1659, and Wickassee was sold to Ensign John Evered, or Webb, 
as elsewhere related. In 1665 an effort was made to recover the prop- 
erty, three Indians, Unanunqiiosett, Wannalancet and Nonatomenut, 
addressing to Governor Richard Bellingham and the General Court 
the following petition : 

To the most worshipful Richard Bellingham, Esq., Govr and to the 
rest of the Honrd Genrl Court. 

The petition of us poore neihor Indians whose names are hereunto 
subscribed, humbly sheweth that wheras Indians severall years we yr 
petits out of pity and compassion to our pore brother and countryman 
to redeem him out of prison and bondage and whose name is Kanamo- 
comuck, the eldest son of Passaconnaway, who was Cast into prison 
for a debt of another Indian unto John Tinker for which he gave his 
word thr redemption of whome did cost us our desirable posetions 
where we and ours had and did hope to enjoy our Livelihood for our- 
selves and our posterity : namely an Island on Merrimack River called 
bv the name of wicosurke which was purchased by Mr. John Web : 
who hath Curtiously Given Us leave to plant upon ever since he hath 
possessed the same, we doe not know whither to Goe nor where to 
place ourselves for our Lively hood in procuring us bread ; having 
beine very Solicitous wh Mr. Web to lett us enjoy our said posetions 
againe he did condescend to our notion provided we would repay him 
his charges, but we are pore and Canot so doe — or request is mr. Web 
may have a grant of about 500 acres of land in two places adjoying his 
owne Lands in the wilderness, which is our own proper Lands as the 
aforesaid Island ever was. 

10:8:65 NoBHOW in behalf of my wife and children 



If the Court please to grant this petition then yr petitioner Wana- 
lancet is willing to surrender up ye hundred acres of land yt was 
granted him by the Court. 

This petition, whose wording it may not be unfair to suspect 
Webb of having supervised, was favorably received by the General 
Court whose answer was as follows : 

In Ans to this petition the Court grant Mr. John Evered (Webb) 
five hundred acres of land adjoyning to his lands vpon condition bee 
release his rights in an Island in the Merrimacke river called Wico- 
sauke which was purchased by him of the Indian petitioners— also 
upon condition wonalancet do release a former grant to him of an 
hvndred acres and the court do grant .said Island to petitioners — John 
Parker and Jonathan Danforth are appointed to lav out the grant of 
five hundred' acres to John Evered. Enwn R.\wsox. Secy. 

Consented to by the Deputies 

T5 Oct. 1665. 



The incident certainly showed no governmental intention of being 
unfair or ungenerous to the natives ; it may be cited as proving the 
favorable relationships between the races which were in process of 
establishment when the menace of a widespread conspiracy brought 
to naught the life work of John Eliot and other devoted friends of the 

Onset of King Philip's War. 

All New England was affected by the effort which, upon his 
father's death, Philip, son of the ever-friendly Massasoit, made to align 
the various Indian tribes against the encroaching whites. The life of 
the communities about the mouth of the Concord was profoundly 
influenced by the happenings of King Philip's War, even though little 
of actual warfare was seen in the district. 

Chelmsford suft'ered hardly at all, thanks perhaps to previous 
preparation against contingencies of the kind. That the settlers were 
apprehensive during the years in which the colonial relations with 
King Philip were approaching a crisis is proved by an order of the 
selectmen, signed by Samuel Adams, clerk : 

25 the 5 month 1671. It is ordered by the Selectmen For Severall 
Considerations espetialy for the preservation of peace That with in 
one moneth After the Date hear of every maile person with in our 
towne above the Age of fiveten years Shall provid a good Clube of 
fouer or five foott in lingth with a Knobe in the end. and to bring the 
same to the metting house, ther to leave the Same vntill ocation fore 
use of it be (found. &c.). 

Other measures were afterwards taken for defence in case of 
attack. On the summit of Robbins Hill, the most conspicuous emi- 
nence in the town, a house of refuge was ordered built in 1673. The 
colonial action of three years later in erecting and garrisoning a house 
on the north side of the river has already been referred to. Whether or 
not this was identical with the old garrison house near the navy }-ard 
which is remembered by people still in middle age, it is probable that 
the fortification was placed so as to overawe the Wamesits in case of 
their becinning restless. In the records of the treasurer of the colony 
is preserxed a list of sixty-nine Chelmsford men who did duty at the 
local garrison houses between November 20, 1675, and September 23, 
1676, together with the credits allowed them. 

The Christianized Indians of the neighborhood gave, in reality, 
Init little cause for worry during the troublous years of the war. 
Wannalancet, following his father's pacifist prece])ts, remained a faith- 
ful friend of the whites. Knowing, doubtless, that his people were 
under suspicion, he withdrew most of them to the Pennacook neigh- 
borhood and later to the headwaters of the Connecticut. 

In a period of hvsteria, however, it was difficult to convince many 
of the settlers that all red men were not conspiring to murder them in 
their beds. Certain local happenings helped to explain, while they 


certainly did not excuse, the treatment that was meted out to the few 
remaining VVamesits and Pawtuckets. 

General Daniel Gookin, ever a true friend of the "ijra\iiig In- 
dians," was anxious that Fort Hill lie manned by the red men living 
at its base, these to be directed by eight English S(.)ldiers. X'aluable 
protection would thus be assured from marauders. Popular suspicion, 
however, had been roused to such a pitch that every Indian was 
regarded as a foe. 

Peril to the white inhabitants north of the Merrimack was proba- 
bly more imminent then than it was to most of the people of Chelms- 
f(ird. The lands occupied ]>y the Col)urns and Varnums were close to 
the river and almost directly opposite the reservation which the Gen- 
eral Court hafl provided for the Indians. So long, however, as there 
was no restlessness among these "pra_v-ing Indians," the farmers' only 
danger was from wandering skulkers. It was probably some such 
band of vagrants which, on Ajiril 15, 1675, fired on and killed two <if 
Samuel Varnum's sons, young fellows, who were crossing tlie river 
in a boat. Only a few weeks previous Joseph Parker, of Chelmsford, 
had been waylaid and shut to death in the fcjrest. These misha])S 
tended to increase api)rehension. Then a still more alarming situation 
developed. "Mar. 18 1676," according to Drake's "Indian Wars," "at 
Chelmsf(jrd the said Wamesit Indians fell u])on some houses on the 
north side of the river, burnt down three or four that belonged to the 
family of Edward Colburn : the said Colburn with Samuel \'arnum his 
Neighbor Ijcing pursued as they passed over the River to look after 
their Cattell on that Side of the River." The attribution of this out- 
rage to the "praying Indians" was quite probably mistaken, but it 
indicates the temper of the time. 

Symptomatic of the general state of fright is a Billerica letter, 
now preserved in the Massachusetts Archives, which under date of 
December 2^, 1675, reports that scouts ha\e found three houses burnt 
"near v.'here Joseph Parker was formerly shot." It is stated that 
Indians have l)een seen from Billerica, lurking on the west side of the 
Concord, and that the smoke of various fires in the distance is believed 
to l)e theirs. Hel]3 is requested "to secure the bridge between them & 
us," and information is conveyed that "some of the town's men are 
out, on Majiir W'illard's order, on the north side of the Merrimack to 
secure the corn of Edward Coburn and others residing there." 

Measures for the jirotection of the Chelmsford-Billerica district 
were reported to the General Court on January 28, 1676, by Jonathan 
Danforth, representing a committee whose other members were Hugh 
Mason ;ind Richard Loudon, their commission being "to consult the 
several towns of the Count\- of Middlesex with reference to the l)est 
means of the preserwition of our out-towns, remote houses ;in(l farms. 



for their security from tiie cummon enemy." Their specific recom- 
mendation for the two communities enveloping the IncHans at the 
falls was as follows : 

2. That for the security of Billerica there be a garrison of a num- 
ber competent at Weymessit, who may raise a thousand bushels of 
corn upon the lands of the Indians in that place ; may be improved 
daily in scouting and ranging the woods between \Veymessit and 
Andover and on the west of Concord River, on the east and north of 
Chelmsford, which will discover the enemy before he conies to the 
towns and prevent lurking Indians about our towns. Also they shall 
be in a readiness to succor any of these towns at any time when in 
distress : also, shall be ready to join others to follow the enemy upon a 
sudden, after their appearing. 

An attempt was made, too, to bring W'annalancet back to his old 
home where his conciliatory influence would be valuable. Mr. Hench- 
man, one of the military leaders of Chelmsford, was ordered : 

To take a troop of horsemen and forthwith to march to Chelms- 
ford, and you are to endeavor, either one or both of you (if it may bee) 
to gaine the Sachem called Wannalanset to com in againe and line at 
wamesit quietly pecably : you may promise him in the councills name 
that if hee will returne & his people and Hue quietly at Wamesit hee 
shall susteyne no priudise by the English ; only you are to ppose to 
him that he deliuer for a hostage to the english his sonne who shal be 
wel vsed by us. & in case hee come in and can bee gained then you 
are to impour him to informe the Pennakooke and Natacook Indians 
and all other indians on the east side of Merrimack Riuer, that they 
may Hue quietly and peacable in their places and shall not bee dis- 
turbed any more by the english prouided they do not assist or joyne 
with any of or enimiy nor do any damage or ]ireiudice to the english. 

Anarchy, nevertheless, instead of law and order soon prevailed in 
the terror-stricken district, with an evident disposition on the part of 
the lawless element of the population to enjoy the sport of baiting the 
unoffending redskins. 

Although Wannalancet had gone to Peniiacook with most of his 
jieople, some of the Pawtuckets and W'amesits, as we have seen, re- 
mained. These were placed in charge of Lieutenant James Richard- 
son. It presently happened that a barn or haystack owned by him was 
burned and that thereafter two or three houses were fired. The 
Wamesits were charged with the incendiarism, and fourteen men of 
Chelmsford, such is the relation in Felt's Annals, pretending to l)e in 
search of hostile Indians from elsewhere, called their unsuspecting 
neighbors from their wigwams and fired on them, killing one boy and 
wounding five women and children. The members of this band of citi- 
zens were tried for murder, but the jury refused to convict them. 

Many of the Wamesits, thereafter, fled to the woods in terror and 
refused to return. The scandal of the situation was such that the 


G<jvern(.)r's Council sent John Eliot and AlajurS Gookin and W'illard 
to pacify the Indians and to persuade the Chelmsford people to be 
more moderate in their treatment of their neighbors. The townsmen 
a[)pear to have resented this effort, for they promptly accused the 
Wamesits of various crimes and secured the arrest of several of these 
on charges of setting fires; even though they probably were tiuite 
guiltless. Gookin, in recording the circumstances, wrote: "IVIore- 
over Lieut. Richardson, whose hay was burned, was a person well 
beloved of those Indians at Wamesit, and their great friend; who did 
not apprehend (as he told me) that any of the Wamesits had Inirned 
his hay." 

Such re])resentations, nevertheless, had been m;ide to the General 
Court that the Indians were ordered to be brought to Boston, as the 
story has l)een succintly narrated by Edwin M. Currier, in some notes 
on the Richardson genealogy. On October 20 the court was informed 
of their near approach : "In number al.iout one hundred and forty-five 
men, women and children ; several of them decrepit with age, sundry 
infants, and all wanted supplies of food." The court gave orders to 
send back the old men. W(inien and children and to retain some thirty- 
three able-bodied men. These latter were imprisoned at Charlestown 
for several days and finallv brought before the court. They denied 
the charge of burning the hay. No evidence was found against them 
and they were remanded to prison. The events that followed are best 
narrated in Gookin's own words ; 

A vote passed in the house of deputies, as I heard, finding all the 
Wamesit Indians guilty of burning the hay; but it was not consented 
unto by the magistrates; and so, after the adjournment of the court, 
the council ordered the taking out of some of the most suspicious 
Indians from the Wamesits, who did not properly belong to them. Inn 
were come to them since the war. These being garbled out and 
secured in jirison, the rest of the Wamesit Indians, being about 20, 
were sent back to their wives and children at Wamesit. But as they 
passed home, being under the guard of Lieut. James Richarflson and 
a file of soldiers, they were to march through a \illage called Woburn ; 
at which time the trained band of that place was exercising. Lieut. 
Richardson and his Indians before they drew near the English sol- 
diers, made halt, and he held out his handkerchief as a flag of truce; 
whereupon the captain and officers of the band sent to Richardson who 
showed them his commission from the council to ciinduct those 
Indians safely to their homes; whereupon the captain and oflicers 
gave very strict charge to all the si)Idiers not to shoot a gun until all 
the Indians were jiast and clear; nor yet to give any opprobrious 
words. P)Ut notwithstanding this strict prohibition, when the Indians 
were passing by, a young fellow, a soldier named Knight, discharged 
his musket and killed one of the Indians stone dead; being verv near 
him. The nnirdcrcr was |)resently apprehended and committed to 
]jrison ; and not long after tried for his life, Vnit was accpiitted bv the 
jury, much contrary to the mind of the bench. The jury alleged they 


wanted evidence, and the prisoner plead that his gun went off by 
accident ; indeed, witnesses were mealy-mouthed in giving evidence. 
The jury was sent out again and again by the judges who were much 
unsatisfied with the jurj-'s proceedings ; but yet the jury did not see 
cause to alter their mind, and so the fellow was cleared. 

When this incident was reported at Wamesit the natives, thinking 
that their destruction might come at any moment, fled for a second 
time, leaving six or seven old folk and invalids. As a crowning infamy 
white men of the neighborhood set fire to the wigwams in which these 
helpless people had been left, and the invalids were burned to death. 

Lieutenant Richardson, who had appeared as the friend of the 
Indians in these pathetic events, retired, perhaps in disgust, from the 
region of Wamesit Neck in the following spring and became a resident 
of Charlestown. His knowledge of Indian aflfairs was destined to 
bring him to his untimely death. In the spring of 1677, when the set- 
tlers of the Province of Maine were alarmed by Indian raids, the lieu- 
tenant and Captain Benjamin Swett were sent by the Massachusetts 
Governor in command of a body of forty white soldiers and two hun- 
dred friendly Indians to the Kennebec river. Landing at Black Point, 
in Scarborough they were ambushed and both captain and lieutenant 
slain. From the eight children of this member of the Richardson 
family, all born at Chelmsford, have come many descendants. The 
oldest son, Thomas, married Hannah Colburn, daughter of Edward 
Colburn, and settled near his father-in-law, having purchased an 
eighth part of the "farme of Capt. Webb," lying along the river where 
the present Pawtucket boulevard is. 

The \\'amesits did not return to their settlement until after the 
war. How cruelly they suffered under the suspicion and brutal treat- 
ment which took the place of ordinary humanity in the white man's 
conduct is proved by a quite pathetic letter written by Simon Betokom, 
one of John Eliot's pupils. It is signed with the marks of Numphow, 
their magistrate, and John a Line, who wrote : 

To Mr. Thomas Henchman, of Chelmsford. I, Nunphow, and 
John a Line, we send a messenger to you again (Wecoposit) with this 
answer, we cannot come home again, we go towards the French, we 
go where Wannalancet is : the reason is we went away from our home, 
we had help from the Council, but that did not do us good, but we 
had wrong by the English. 2dly. The reason we went away from the 
English, for when there was any harm done in Chelmsford, they laid it 
to us. and said we did it, but we know ourselves we never did harm to 
the English but we go away peaceably and quietly. 3dly. .As for the 
Island, we say there is no safety for us, because many be not 
good, and may be they come to us and kill us as in other case. Wc 
are not sorrv "for what we leave behind, but we are sorry the English 
have driven' us from our praying to God and our teacher. Wc did 


begin to understand a little of praying to God. We thank hunilily the 
Council. We remember our love to l\Ir. Henchman and Jame.s Kich- 

Ill-pre])ared for a .sojourn in the wilderness, these faithful friends 
of the colonists are believed to ha\e undergone great hardships in 
their wanderings toward the headwaters of the Connecticut. 

The town of Chelmsford underwent some pecuniary loss on 
accciunt of the war. Upon petition to the General Court for relief the 
folhjwing order was granted : 'Tn answer to the petition of the select- 
men of Chelmsford, &c., it is ordered that Chelmsford be allowed and 
aloted the sum of fivety three pounds, seven shillings and one penny 
out of their last term county rates towards their losses." One man, at 
least, from the farms that occupied parts of the city of Lowell lost his 
life in service against tlie hostile Indians to the southward. Edward 
Coburn, Jr., who had come with his father from Ipswich to a share in 
the Webb ])roperty in Pawtucketville was of a militia company that 
went into the action at Squakheage, now Brookfield. The circum- 
stance leading tip to this altray was that in July, 1675, 'i band of 
Nipnucs from King Philip's district fell upon the village of Mendon 
and murdered four or fi\-e people. A puniti\e expedition was sent 
after them consisting of some twenty men in charge of Captains 
Wheeler and Hutchinson. These were ambushed near the present 
Brookfield by a band of u]iwards of 200 Indians and several of the 
white men were slain. 

Last Years of the Indian Community — The death of King Philip, 
on .\ugust 12, 1676, brought to an end a period in which hft\--three 
towns of the English were wholly or partly destroyed, upwards of 
600 lives of white people lost and an indebtedness of more than half a 
million dollars incurred by the colonists. To the Indians, whether 
hostile or friendly, the losses due to the war were irrejiarable. The life 
work of John Eliot and Daniel Gookin was undone not onlv at Wame- 
sit, but in the entire Commonwealth. .\t the outbreak of the trouble 
it was estimated that there were about io,ooo ])raying Indians in New 
England. Thereafter this element of the j)opulation rapidly faded 
away. Most of the separate communities were broken up, though 
many individuals, of course, became members of the white townshijis. 
It is ])erha])S true that there is to-day more Indian blood among old 
New luigland families than has sometimes been conceded. Other- 
wise nothing but a memory remains of one of the most creditable 
undertakings of the Puritan governing class. 

Wanu-sit, as an Indian town, did not, nevertheless, immediately 
disappear from the maj). Wannalancct jjresently returned to his 
former hainits and sought out the Chelmsford minister to compare 
exneriences. ,\ familiar anecdote, which mav ha\e as nuich historical 


foundation as the majority of such sayings, represents him as asking 
IMr. Fiske whether the town had suffered much during the war. When 
the clerg} man replied, "Thank God, no," "Me next," asserted Wanna- 
lancet. Taking advantage of the grant that had been made him in 
1665, the chieftain with a number of his Pawtuckets returned to the 
island and came under the personal protection of Colonel Jonathan 
Tyng, of Dunstable, their nearest neighbor. There is an indication of 
this good man's watchfulness for their interests in a communication 
received by the colony's Governor and Council on March 24, 1677, 
signed by James Parker, who wrote "from Mr. Henchman's farme ner 
Meremack, hast post hast." Describing a warning against prowling 
Mohawks, Parker wrote : 

To the Honered Govner and Counsell. This may informe youer 
honores that Sagamore Evanalanset came this morning to informe 
me, and then went to Mr. Tyng's to informe him, that his son being on 
ye outher sid of IMeremack River a hunting, and his dauter with him. 
up the river, over against Souhegan, upon the 22nd day of this instant, 
about ten of the clock in the morning, he discovered 15 Tndens on this 
sid of the river which he soposed to be Mohokes by their speech, and 
he having a canow ther in the river, he went to breck his canow that 
they might not have ani ues of it, in the menetime thay shot about 
thirty guns at him, and he being much frighted, fled and came home 
forthwith to Nahamcok, wher ther wigowemes now stand. 

After some years of quiet residence on the island, Wannalancet 
and his surviving Pawtuckets gave up the lands they had been per- 
mitted to occupy and wandered to Canada, where for six years they 
lived among the St. Francis Indians. Here the sachem, now aging 
fast, might have breathed his last, but that in 1692, in a time of peril 
due to King William's War, white people living in and about Chelms- 
ford suddenly remembered what a friend and protector he had been 
during the previous era of hostilities. It seemed to them that again he 
might be able to stand between the settlers and the hostile red men. 
A special envoy was sent to urge the Pawtuckets to return to Massa- 
chusetts. With this wish Wannalancet complied and during the war 
was once more helpful and considerate. 

The last years of the old chieftain were spent in what is now 
Tyngsboro on the Merrimack. Colonel Tyng gave him shelter in the 
mansion, still standing, near a fine bend in the river, and here for four 
years Wannalancet wandered about the grounds and exchanged remi- 
niscences with his white friend. When he died he was buried in the 
Tyng cemetery. Over a boulder in this burying ground, in whose 
shadow, according to tradition, he often used to sit in warm weather, 
the Society of Colonial Dames of Massachusetts has placed a tablet 
bearing this inscription: "In this place lived during his last years, 



and died in 1696, Wannalancet, last sachem of the Merrimack River 
Indians; Son of Passaconaway. Like his father, a faithful fri'?nd of 
the early New England Colonists.'' 

Wannalancet outlived by some years the two great white men 
who had rejoiced in his conversion and friendliness. John Eliot died 
in i6go. "He had the mortification," Cowley writes, "to see the labors 
of more than 40 years terminate in failure. He lived to witness the 
fourteen Christian towns which he had organized reduced first to 
seven, and afterwards to five ; and even these were not long to survive. 
Much of his time, toward the close of his life, was spent in promoting 
education among the negroes, many of whom were now living in the 
colony as slaves." Daniel Gookin. who had been made major-general 
in 1681, died in [)Overty in i6(S7, a year after he had been deposed 
from his (jffice through the dissolution of the charter. Cowley pays 
this tribute to his memory : "Though a man of some bigotry and 
many ])rejuflices. his understanding was excellent, his integrity inflexi- 
l)le, his patriotism disinterested, his piety exemplary, his religious and 
political principles firm and unchangeable; he was zealous, active and 
benevolent, and a true friend to the Indians who mourned his death 
with unfeigned surrow." 



The Wamesit Neck Proprietorship. 

Indian occupancy of lands situated close to one of the most vahi- 
able fishing privileges in New England could hardly have continued 
into the eighteenth century. It was the way of the white man, in 
normal times, to buy for a pittance what, in case of refusal, he would 
have taken by the sword. 

By 1685 residents of Chelmsford were already taking steps to pur- 
chase the title of the Wamesits and Pawtuckets to the reserved tri- 
angle between the two rivers. The deal, which was doubtless fair 
enough of its kind, was consummated by Jonathan Tyng. of Dun- 
stable, and Major Henchman, of Chelmsford. It was followed by the 
allotment of the property, covering practically all the older part of the 
city of Lowell to fifty proprietors. This proprietorship continued for 
nearly a century, and the record book of its transactions, preserved by 
descendants of Benjamin Parker, the last survivor of the original pro- 
prietors, gives more information than, perhaps, any other single docu- 
ment regarding the settlement of the district whose apexes were 
Middlesex \'iHage, North Billerica and the point of confluence of the 

The "fifty associates," as they might be called in modern legal par- 
lance, who acquired the Neck, and who with the original settlers in 
Billerica east of the Concord, and in the Centralville and Pawtucket- 
ville districts of the old town of Dracut, may be termed the fathers of 
the city-to-be, were as follows : 

Worshipful Jonathan Tyng Esq. (of Dunstable), Major Thomas 
Hinchman Ensign John Fisk Sergt. Josiah Richardson (of Chelms- 
ford) Mr. Moses Fisk, Mr. Thomas Clark, Josiah Richardson Junr. 
Jerameel Bowers, James Richardson, Thomas Parker Solomon Keyes 
Joseph Parker Sen. Joseph Hide Edward Spaldin Senr. Stephen Peirse 
Benj. Parker Moses Parker Andrew Spalden Eliezer Browne William 
Underwood Nathaniel Howard Junr Jno. Wright Junr. Jno. Porruni 
Jno. Spaldin Junr. Joshua Fletcher Benj. Spaldin Joseph Spaldin 
Joseph Farwell Solomon Keyes Senr. Peter Talbot Jno. Kidder W'm. 
Fletcher Samuel Foster Junr. Edward Foster Samll Foster Senr. Jno. 
Steevens Nathaniel Butterfield Samuel Butterfield, Joseph Butterfield 
Jno. Spalden Sen. Jno. Shipley Mr. Cornelius Waldo Senr. Geo. Rob- 
bins Jno. Parker Jno. Balde Gorsham Proctor Peter Proctor Isaac 
Parker Abraham Parker. 

Two separate purchases of special interest should be noted. 
Wannalancet's old planting field at Middlesex \'illage, whence he 
used to go two miles to hear John Eliot preach in the log chapel on 


Meeting House hill, was bought by Alajor Henchman on November i8, 
1685. This was a tract of about thirty acres which is described as being 
"south of Merimack river at a place called Neahambeak near Wamesit 
upon Black brook — bounded by Merimack river on the North Hinch- 
man land on ye west it contains that whole corn field fenced in with 
ditch & otherwise that was broken & improve for some years by said 
Sachem Wanalansit & by his sonnes & by his men it Iving near to the 
old Indian fort in that place." At the east end nf the Wamesit pur- 
chase was another Indian field which was bought by Jerathmeel Bow- 
ers "for 3 pounds & also much former kindness" on June 9, 1686. 

I'-ven after those sales of the acres from which their ancestors had 
dominated Central New England, a few of the Wamesits and Paw- 
tuckets lingered in the neighborhood. The last vestige of their owner- 
ship of land on which Lowell is n(_)w built was removed by a deed of 
1714 conveying to John Borland, a farmer in the district now called 
Belviclere and then a part of Billerica, about 250 acres to which hereto- 
fore the Wamesits hatl had a claim. This con\'e\-ance grew out of an 
earlier one, of May 1 1, 1 701, by which James Meinzies, of Boston, had 
sold to Borland some 930 acres of the grant originallv made to Mar- 
garet Winthrop. As some of this land was held by Indians Borland's 
title was defective, and under the law he could acquire this part of the 
property only by special permission of the General Court. To perfect 
the Borland title it accordingly was decreed that Colonel Tyng might 
represent the colony in purchasing these acres from the Indians and 
thus perfecting John Borland's title. In 1714 Tyng completed the 
transactions. The final deed, though long, is so replete with local 
interest, that it may well be set forth in entirety : 

To all People to whom these jirsnts shall Come Greeting, Know 
ye, that Wanalansit Sachem, John Numphow, Sam Numphow, John 
Aline, Simon Bitticum and John Conawa)- Indians, formerly both they 
and theire predecessors, the Ancient Inhabitants of Weymosit wch 
lyeth at the mouth of Concord River in the County of Middx. in the 
Massachusetts Bay which is in his Majesties Territory and Dominion 
of New England For and in Consideration of Several Sums of money 
& goods To the value of Twenty Three pounds To them and to Each 
of thorn (being Severally Divided) well and truly paid by Jonathan 
Tyng of Dunstable, I£sqr. the receipt whereof the sd. Indians Severally 
Each prson for him Selfe Do by these prsnts acknowedge and there- 
with to be fully satisfyed Contented and paid and thereof and of Every 
part & parcel thereof Do fully freely Clearly and absolutely acquit Re- 
lease and Discharge the said Jonathan Tyng his heirs and assnes for 
Ever by the prsents grant bargain & sell, have granted, bargained & 
sold and by these presents do fully freely clearly & absolutely alien, 
Enfeoffe and Confirme To ye sd Jonathan Tyng, and to his heaires and 
assigncs for ever Two several parcels of Land lying at Weymesit by 
the mouth of Concord River, and it lyeth (Mi both Sides of Said River, 
one p.'ircel of it lyeth on ye East .Side of Concord River, and Contain- 


ing the old Planting ground that said Indians them Selves and their 
predecessors wth theire Associats. have for very many years Improved 
by planting and Fishing, and Dwelling thereupon, 'which parcell of 
land Contains about Two hundred and Twelve acres, be ye same more 
or less and is bounded by Merimack River four Score poles and So 
runs in a straight Line neerest ye South to take in the Greatest part 
of the old Fort Hill and bounded Southward by the fence of ye old 
Indian Field and Westward by Concord River. The other parcel con- 
taines by Estimation Three Score & Ten acres be the Same more or 
less, and lyeth on the west Side of said River and bounded by it East- 
ward, and Containes only that Land which now is and for many years 
hath been within the Indian Ditch where ye last Fort Did stand. To 
Have and to Hold the above granted and bargained wth all ye privi- 
ledges and appurtenances to the Same appertaining, or in any wise 
belong To him the said Jonathan Tyng and to his heires and Assignes 
for Ever. To his and theire only proper use and behoofe. And they 
the sd. Wanalansit Sachem John & Sam Numphow John Aline, Simon 
Betticum and the rest of sd. Indians for them Selves their heires and 
Administrators, Do Covenant promise and Grant To and wth ye sd. 
Jonathan Tyng Esq. & wth his heires & Assignes by these prsents. 
That they and Each of them (according to ye Ancient Laws and Cus- 
toms of their predecessors and forefathers, and according to former 
Laws Established by ye Englishmen in this Massachusetts Bay, Have 
good right full power and Law^full authority the premises to grant bar- 
gaine and Confirme To him the said Jonathan Tyng and To his heires 
and assignes for Ever And that he ye said Jonathan Tyng his heires 
and Assignes for Ever, Shall and may at all times and from time to 
time for Ever hereafter quietly and peaceably Have, Hold occupy pos- 
sess and enjoy all and Every part of the above granted premises lying 
on both Sides of Concord River as aforesd. both upland and Meadow 
Land wth the woods and Timber, Springs, Water Courses, and fishing 
places, wth all other priviledges to ye Same appertaining as aforesaid, 
without the Lawfull Lett hindrance Contradiction or Denyall of them 
ye above named Indians, or of either of them, or of any other prson or 
prsons whatsoever (whether Indians or English) Lawfully Claiming 
or haveing, any right. Title or Interest therein, or theire unto, by from 
or under them or Either of them, or by theire meanes & procurements, 
or by vertur of any Indian right or Title there unto, or to any part 
thereof by any Lawfull wayes r.nd means whatsoever. In Witness 
whereof the above named Indians have affixed theire hands and scales 
hereunto December ye Second in ye year of our Lord God Sixteen hun- 
dred eighty and Seven and in the Third year of ye Reign of our Sov- 
ereign Lord James the Second — Wanalansit his mark and seal. Sam 
Numphow his mark & a seal. John Conoway his mark and a seal. 
John Numphow his mark & a seal. Joseph Aline his mark and a Seal. 
Signed Sealed and Delivered in the present of Jerahmere Bowers, 
Elizabeth Bowers her mark, Hannah Bowers her mark Middx. Con- 
cord Augt. 31st 1714 Before ye Court of Genii Sessions of ye Peace 
then & there held within & for ye County of Middx prsonally appeared 
Capt. Jerahmire Bowers one of the witnesses Subscribed to ye within 
written instrument & made oath that he was prsonally prsent and Saw 
the respective Subscribers vigt. Wanalansit, Sam Numphow, John 
Conaway and Joseph Aline Sign, Seal and Deliver the within written 


instrument as theire Act and Deed and that he then with Elizabeth 
Bowers and Hannah Bowers did set theire hands thereunto as wit- 

Att. Sainl. Phipps Cler pacs. Charlestowne Augt. 

31 1714 Reed, and accordingly Entrd. by 

Samll. Phipps Regs. 

With the execution of the foregoing deed the Indian ceased to be 
a factor in the life of Wamesit Neck, as the neighborhood was now 
called. The remaining aborigines doubtless were absorbed in general 
population. It is related that one Indian family was resident in the 
northern part of Dracut toward the end of the eighteenth century and 
that two or three men of the race were regularly employed to guide 
rafts of logs over Pawtucket Falls. How long a few Indians continued 
to come periodically to Pawtucket Falls would be hard to say. The 
wandering red men who were noted in the vicinity from time to time 
even after the founding of the village of Lowell may or ma}' not have 
had any racial connection with the Wamesits and Pawtuckets. The 
Indians, certainly, had not entirely disappeared even toward the mid- 
dle of the nineteenth century, if we may credit a writer in the Opera- 
tives' Magazine for February, 1842, who says: "The Pawtucket Falls 
and their immediate vicinity were formerly the favorite resort of the 
Indian tribes of the surrounding country, and annually a small and 
degraded band of their posterity still visit the place, pitching their 
tents a few rods below the falls, where they remain till the autumnal 
winds remind them that cold winter is near, and they must away." 

Wamesit Neck in Colonial Times — A century intervened between 
King Philip's war, which ended the possibility of continued existence 
of an Indian community at Wamesit, and the Revolution which 
marked the beginning of American economic as well as political inde- 
pendence, and which ushered in the era of exploitation of New Eng- 
land water powers. 

During the major part of the eighteenth century Wamesit Neck 
was a less important place under the cultivation of white farmers than 
it had been in earlier days when it was a town of the praying Indians. 
For a long time, indeed, the political status of the land on which down- 
town Lowell is built was undetermined. The few dwellers on the 
grants did not even know to what town they legally belonged, though 
they attended church at Chelmsford Centre. Only over the river in 
the present Pawtucketville was there a characteristic civic centre of 
the type established in colonial New England. 

To write a longer history of Wamesit Neck or East Chelmsford, 
as it eventually was called, through the late seventeenth and the 
eighteenth centuries would be a most intricate task, and profitable 
onlv in a technical sense. Rights were sold and resold. Some of the 


proprietors came and built on their holdings ; others simply used the 
common field for pasturage and continued to live elsewhere. 

The beginnings of the ownership, fortunately, are well explained 
in the minutes of the proprietors, to which reference has already here 
been made. The title page of tliis record book of the earliest Lowell 
real estate syndicate reads : "This book belongeth to the purchasers & 
proprietors of the Wameset neck and was bought by theire order and 
for theire use may:26:i687; prise 4 s.'' It shows that the individual 
lots extended from a great fence on the southerly side of the property 
to the river on the north and east, running into what was known as 
the Pawtucket meadow, extending from the foot of the falls to the 
mouth of the Concord along the line of the present manufacturing cor- 
porations. A general field, or "W'amesit Field," of evidently about 900 
acres, was used in common for some years for pasturing stock. Regu- 
lation of this usage was obviously necessary. On March 7, 1712, it 
was voted "that every man that hath Right or Rights in sd neck : may 
turn in six creturers to a Right & no more." The bounds of this com- 
mon field are thus described by the premier historian of Chelmsford, 
the Rev. Wilkes Allen, who wrote in 1820: "The north west boundary 
of said 'purchase' began near the head of Middlesex Canal and so on 
to the glass manufactory and thence running near the houses of the 
late Mr. Philip Parker, Mr. Micah Spalding: and Capt. Benj. Butter- 
field, terminated at Wamesit Falls in Concord or at the mouth of River 
Meadow Brook." For further identification, Henry S. Perham, in a 
paper before the Old Residents' Historical Association, stated that the 
above-mentioned Mr. Parker lived on the present Pine street; Mr. 
Spalding at School and Liberty streets, and Captain Butterfield on 
Hale street, near Lincoln square. A tract that is still easily recog- 
nizable from its geological and dendrological character is called in the 
records the "great pine plain." It obviously covered land where the 
Edson and Catholic cemeteries now are. 

The ownership of the triangle thus bounded by the two rivers 
from the upper falls on each and the line of the present Middlesex 
Canal became so complex that the ramifications can hardly be set 
forth in detail. As mentioned, Hamblct stated some twenty years ago : 

To follow these titles separately would require an examination of 
nearly all the land titles within that territory, involving an immense 
amount of labor, and which historically would be of little or no special 
interest. Nearly the entire tract of land was, for nearly one hundred 
years, used for farming purposes and, except in few instances, nothing 
of special interest was attached lo it in that time. In 1726 all the terri- 
tory south of Merrimack River, lying between Concord River and the 
Town of Chelmsford, was annexed to, and became a part of, the Town 
of Chelmsford. The Indian Town, as a distinct territorial district, 
became extinct. One of the most prominent of the settlers on the 

L— ) 


boundary of the old Indian reservation was Jerahmere Bowers to 
whom in 1686 Wannalancet convyed a considerable tract of land near 
Pawtucket Falls. Bowers' descendants continued ownership of por- 
tions of this district down to recent times. 

The number of proprietors at Wamesit Neck was by 1750 reduced 
to the following- list : Thomas Fletcher, Andrew Fletcher, Henry 
Fletcher, Benjamin Parker. Joseph Moors, Stephen Fletcher, Jerath- 
mel Bowers, Benjamin Parker, Eleazer Frost, Robert Peirce, Josiah 
Fletcher. Henry Stevens, Robert Fletcher, John Burg, David Butter- 
field, Ebenezer Parker, James Perkust (Parkhurst), John Butterfield, 
Stephen Peirce. Among these names are recognized of course, pro- 
genitors of leading families of the city of Lowell. 

A somewhat similar statement i)f intricacies might be made con- 
cerning the farm properties on the llillerica side of the Concord. The 
tracing of old boundaries is still full of knots for antiquarians. 

Settlement ()f the lands lying just east of the Concord ri\-er was 
about simultaneous with the occupation of Wamesit Neck. The 
familiar name of "Hunt's Falls" in the Merrimack, just below the 
ingress of the Concord, recalls the settlement of northwestern Tewks- 
l)ury liy Samuel, son of Samuel Hunt, born in England in 1605, and 
one of the first inhabitants of the tciwn of Concord. The son Samuel 
bought 3,000 acres of land at the lower end of the Concord river and 
along the easterly shore of the Merrimack as far as the Andover line 
from the Winthrop estate in 1691. It was he probably who sold to 
Jona. Bowers eight acres of the \\"amesit purchase, March 14, 1705. 
Descendants of Samuel Hunt in and about Lowell have come down 
through his son Peter, who was born in 1692, who in 1715 married 
Mary Sheldon. 

John Borland, already mentioned as a pioneer farmer in the Bel- 
videre district, is known to have sold a portion of his large holding to 
others. The name of S])rague, often sjielled Sprake, comes into the 
record in 1737, when Joseph Flunt, who had purchased from one of 
the heirs of Margaret W'inthrop, conveyed to Nicholas Sprake, of 
MilK'rica. a small tract of about forty acres at the falls on the Concord 
river. Something is said about a dwelling house and barn on the 
pro])erty. These farm buildings must ha\e been somewhere near the 
east end of Chtn-ch street bridge. One of the first settlers on the Bor- 
land land was Thomas Farmer, the deed of whose ownership has not 
been found, but who in 1735 conveyed to his son Thomas, in considera- 
tion of £150 about forty acres on the Concord, a tract botmded east- 
erly "to a walnut tree which is a corner bound from thence running 
southwesterly by a long fence to aforementioned Concord River." 
This purchase, ,-iccording to ILamblet. ran along the Belvidere shore 
of the Concord, but did not (|uite reach the Merrimack. In 1738 it was 


conveyed by the younger Farmer to Nicholas Sprague, Jr. Leases of 
Borland land are recorded as taken out by Thomas Taylor, Jacob 
Saunders and Edward Boatman, the last of these expiring in 1785. 
After Borland's death his sons, Thomas and Samuel, occupied parts of 
the farm. The interest of all the other Borland heirs was bought out 
in 1785 by Leonard Vassall Borland, who conveyed the whole property 
on January 2Ti. 1785, to Jonathan Simpson, Jr. 

Old Days in West Dracut — Over the river, where there was no 
problem of a "real estate trust" such as that of the Wamesit Neck pro- 
prietorship, family histories and holdings are as easily followed as 
perhaps anywhere in Massachusetts. 

On the fine level tract that borders Flag Meadow Brook in Paw- 
tucketville, Thomas \'arnum, the first of six successive \'arnums of 
that Christian name, laid the foundations of markedly successful agri- 
culture, continued down to the present writing. A boy of fourteen 
when he saw his two older brothers shot by the Indians, the first 
Thomas \'arnum had married Joanna Jewett, of Ipswich, and settled 
into a peaceful and useful life that lasted until 1739. Further down 
river were his brothers. John and Joseph, the former of whom, "in con 
sideration of Six bushells of god Merchantable Indian Come,"' had 
bought of Jonathan Kidder, of Chelmsford, his right, title and interest 
"in a Tract of Land lying upon ye North Side of Merameck River, at 
a place Called by ye name of Pawtuccett falls, by estimation Five Hun- 
dred acres." These three brothers all lived in the Lowell of to-day, 
the youngest occupying territory toward the mouth of Beaver Brook, 
where the Lowell Textile School has become a landmark. The records 
of their many transferences of property are well established, and 
details of their manner of li\ing are fairly known, as will ])resently 

Manv towns of Massachusetts were originally laid out on too 
large a scale; Chelmsford and Billerica were not exceptional in this 
regard. As holdings were taken up in the distant parts of a township, 
the rigors of a long drive to church and to town meeting were resented 
by those most affected. Presently a nucleus of families would resolve 
to have a parish of their own. That meant petitioning the Legisla- 
ture for separate recognition. 

Precisely this integration of new communities took place in the 
wide areas claimed by the two towns whose original line of separation 
was the lower Concord. 

That the lands lying north of Pawtucket Falls would presently be 
set off into a separate jurisdiction might have been predicted on the 
day when Edward Colburn and his sturdy sons began to build their 
houses on the Chelmsford flats. Their progeny were numerous. 
'Attendance at church bv way of a ferry at the site of the present 


Middlesex V'illajje and with thence a long drive to Chelmsford Centre 
was difficult. As farms were taken up northward and eastward from 
the falls a certain community life began to develop; though it was 
nearly half a century before the district had a church of its own. Gor- 
don's researches indicate a rough and ready mode of living in those 
years prior to incorporation, and include the discovery oi a murder — • 
the killing of a Richardson in a brawl by one of his Coburn brothers- 
in-law — "and I find no indictment based on this lamentable scufifle." 
In 1701 petitioners to the General Court designated Dracut as "A 
tract of land beyond Chelmsford, in Massachusetts, which runs seven 
miles eastward on the North side of Merameck River, from Dunstable 
line, and then six miles northward from said river." This was not, 
however, the first petition for corporate recognition. As earlv as 
TfiQ,^. according to the Court Records, Massachusetts State Archives, 
vol. 113, p. ig, the following request was presented: 

To his Excellency Sir William Phips, Knt. Ca])t. General and 
Governor in chief of their Majss Province of the Massachusetts Bay 
in New England with the Honble Council and representatives of the 
same now assembled in Gen'l Court held at Boston, Noveml^er 14, 

The Petition of the Inhabitants of the Lands lyeing on the north 
side of Merrimack River in the county of Norfolk [crossed out and 
Essex inserted 1 in New England. 

Humbly sheweth. That ye petitioners have been at great cost 
and pain in settling themselves upon these present Improvements 
each at their own proper charge they purchased without having one 
foot thereof 8:iven them, besides they have greatly suffered in their 
persons and Estates in the past and this present warr by fires, killing 
and wounding of sundry of their neighbors and otherwise, whereby 
they have been greatly Impoverished. And there being a Tract or 
parcell of barren wast or Woodland unimproved and not as yett 
Taken up by any, lyeing betweene the Lands and meadow of ye peti- 
tionrs, containing about two hundred acres, extending the whole 
Length of their Lands, as more particularly appears by the Draught 

.A.nd ye Petitionrs having no out lett or Commons to their Lands 
for fire-wood, or pasturing for their Cattle Find it to be an Incredible 
Incnnvenience to their Improvement. 

Your Petitionrs Therefore humblye praye. &c. 

S.\MUEL Varnum. D.\niel Rolfe, 

Edw.\rd Coeurne. Thom.\s Ricii.\,\, 

John Coburne, Sr., Thom.\s V.srnum, 
Thom.\s Coburne, John V.vrnum, 

D.\NiEL Coburne, Joseph Varnum, 

Ezra Coburne, John Coburne, Jr.. 

Joseph Coburne, Thomas Coburne. Jr. 

This petition was granted November 16, 1693, ''y ^^'"■^ General 
Cnurt. The Council confirmed it on Novemlier 2J following. Nine 


years later, when the petition was written which resulted in the laying 
out of the township of Dracut, the signers were the same, with the 
exception of Daniel Rolfe. whose interest had been purchased by the 
sons, Thomas, John and Joseph Varnum. This latter petition carried 
the names of Samuel Sewall, Benjamin Walker, John Hunt and Jona- 
than Belcher, who held grants "in ye wilderness north of the Merri- 
mack," and Samuel \'arnum and several others. It asked for "authority 
to lay out a town." It was acted upon on February 26, 1701-02. In 
Judge Sewall's personal diary is the entry: "Feby 26 1-1702 Sixteen 
of the Council sign an order for making Dracut a town." The word- 
ing of this resolution follows : 

Resolved, That the prayer of said petition be granted, and the 
tract of land therein described be made a township & be called by the 
name of Dracut. 

Provided, That the bounds specified intrench not upon atid former 
Grant or Grants of townships. 

That the Inhabitants of said land assist in ye maintainance of the 
ministry at the Town of Chelmsford, as at present they do, until they 
are provided with a minister as ye law Directs. 

That a General platt of said land (taken by a Sworn Surveyor) be 
laid before Court at their Session beginning at May next, and 

That if any land shall happen to fall within the bounds above- 
mentioned that hath not heretofore been granted, it shall be reserved 
to be disposed of by this Government. 

The new township, including, of course, the sections of Lowell 
now called Pawtucketville, Centralville and the district just bevond 
the Aiken street bridge, was "laid out and bounded by Jonathan Dan- 
forth, Survey'r, May 26, 1702." The original area, which has since 
been much reduced, was 22,334 acres, extending into what is now 
Southern New Hampshire, 

Such was the only "incorporation" which Dracut had. The Royal 
Charters of the colonies recognized no right of self-government among 
the colonists, and the Great and General Court never attempted to 
grant rights or privileges beyond those conferred by the King and his 
ministers. "Authority to lay out a town," however, might be granted 
upon petition, and this was what happened in the case of Dracut. .\s 
further evidence of the date of this authorization there is a map, in 
possession at this writing, of John M. Varnum, of Boston, certified as 
being "a True Copy exd by Benj. Johnson," with this written state- 
ment of title : "Dracut Township Laid out ye 26 3m 1702 by Jonathan 
Danforth Surveyor." This has been verified as a copy of a map which 
was made in compliance with the order of the court "that a Generall 
Plot of said Land be laid before this Court at their session in May 
next." The next proceeding was the final and authoritative act of 
"laying out the town," which is thus dated and recorded : "May 26, 


1702." being identical with the date given in the map just referred to, 
under which date the court records state "According to the order of 
the Honble General Court there is laid out to the Inhabitants and Pro- 
prietors of Dracutt a tract of land for a Township." 

Besides the section of West Dracut at the head of the falls, two 
other districts of Lowell, now well populated, had their sparse early 
settlements in the first decades of the eighteenth century. 

The sandy plain extending from the mouth of Beaver Brook fell 
largely into the hands of descendants of Sergeant Richard Hildreth, 
of Cambridge and Chelmsford. 

The contribution of the Hildreth family toward the development 
of Lowell has been excellently covered by General Philip Reade. No 
one, indeed, has more thoroughly examined both the Dracut records 
and the archives of the Commonwealth than this distinguished investi- 
gator upon whose researches every one who writes about the Spindle 
City's beginnings must depend. In general it may be said that what 
the progeny of Samuel Varnum were to the Pawtucketville district, 
the descendants of Sergeant Richard Hildreth have been to the region 
between the east bank of Beaver brook and the summit of Christian 
Hill. A stock in which marked aptitude for military and political 
service has been handed down from generation to generation, the 
Hildreth strain has considerably dominated the district by force of 
character ever since June, 1709, when Benjamin Walker, of Boston, 
and Ephraim Hunt, of Weymouth, conveyed to Ephraim Hildreth, of 
Chelmsford, for £400 current silver money of New England some 
1.300 acres of land "upon Merrimack river upon a ditch which divides 
it from the land of Jonathan Belcher over to Beaver brook, so across 
being on the west side of Beaver brook, joining upon the Merrimack 
river." The children and grandchildren of Ephraim Hildreth were 
prominent in every situation that arose during the late colonial and 
revolutionary eras ; among the descendants in the generations now 
living are not a few of the foremost citizens of the community under 
consideration. The Hildreth mansion, still standing, was one of the 
solidest pre-Revolutionary structures of the neighborhood. The en- 
closure in which rest the remains of man}- Hildreths, Foxes, Joneses 
and Hoveys is one of the relics of older Lowell to be shown to every 
visitor who is interested in local history. This burvnng ground, still 
(iwned by the town of Dracut. tlmugh situated within the bounds of 
the city of Lowell, was given to the town by Major Ephraim Hildreth. 
His own remains were placed there in 1740. Here lie his son Elijah, 
who died in 1814: his grandson. Lieutenant Israel Hildreth, who died 
in 1N39, and Dr. Israel Hildreth, who was laid to rest in 1859. Of the 
children in the next generation of Hildreths there rest in the cemetery : 
Sarah Jones, wife of Genera! Benjamin E. Ihitler, tlied in 1876: Fisher 


Ames, died 1873; Susan, wife of Hon. William Prentiss Webster, died 
1874: Harriet, wife of Franklin Fiske Heard, died 1866; Dolly Maria, 
wife of Colonel John Milton Grosvenor Parker; Laura Wright, wife 
of George Howard Pearson, died 1891 ; Rowena, wife of Henry Reade, 
died in 1913. 

The deed of conveyance of this ancient burying ground was 
placed on record by Major Hildreth's sons twelve years after his death. 
It reads as follows : 

Dracut, November 17, 1752. 
W'e the subscribers, being willing to conferm our Honored father 
Promise, Verbally made. Relating to the During place Now in Use in 
Dracutt. to which Track of land their hath, as j'et. Been no titel, we 
therefore conferm the same by the following Record : Said Track of 
Land being Bounded as followeth : Bounded Esterly by the Highway 
leading to Robart Hildreth Ferry, the northwest corner is a stak and 
stones by said Road ; Thens Runing Westerly Eight Rods and a half 
to a stak and stone; Thens Riming Southerly Nine Rods to a stake 
and stone by the said Highway: the above mentioned sd. Track of 
Land Hand is and is to Remain a buring Place for the Town of Dra- 
cutt; and in Testimony of the above Record being and Remaining a 
good and faire Titel to the Town of Dracutt of the above said Track 
of Land, we have hereunto set our hands the day above mentioned. 

EPHR.MM Hildreth, 
William Hildreth, 
Elij.\h Hildreth. 
Entred pr Ephraim Hildreth, Town Clerk. 

The peculiarity of the present jurisdiction of the Hildreth ceme- 
tery, it may be added, brought it into controversy a short time prior to 
the preparation of this history. A threat on the part of City Treasurer 
Andrew G Stiles, in September, 191 3, to sell the cemetery, situated 
within the Lowell limits, but belonging to the town of Dracut, caused 
no little excitement. The case was one in which the adjoining town 
had neglected to pay a bill of $398.13 on account of a sidewalk on Hil- 
dreth street. Had the old burj'ing ground been sold at auction as pro- 
posed it would have been necessary to remove the remains of General 
Benjamin F. Butler and his wife, to say nothing of the ashes of many 
ancestors of the present generation. Upon the publication of an adver- 
tisement of the property, including 118,037 square feet of land, in 
Lowell newspapers, Warren W. Fox, town counsel, promptly peti- 
tioned the Suffolk county courts for an injunction to restrain the city 
of Lowell from selling the cemetery. The essential historic facts on 
which the Dracut petitioner relied were as follows : 

Prior to 1740 the ground was dedicated to the town of Dracut to 
be used as a cemeterj' by Major Ephraim Hildreth, one of the earliest 
settlers. He died about'the year 1740 and in 1752 his three sons, Wil- 
liam, Ephraim and one other joined in a deed confirming that dedica- 


lion. That deed is now in existence, and we ha\'e a copy of it. It 
states, in substance, that the land is to be used for burial purposes 
forever. And it has been so used up to the present time, and we intend 
that it shall be. The town has always looked after the cemetery and 
has paid for its upkeep. When a board of cemetery commissioners 
was appointed the direct control of the place passed into their hands. 

The beginning of a settlement at the base of Christian Hill, that is 
to say of the present suburb of Centralville, dates from about the 
middle of the eighteenth century. In 1758 Solomon Abljott, of the 
fourth generation from George Al:)l)ott, of Andover, bought from John 
White a tract of 110 acres with buildings and fishing rights, a prop- 
erty formerly belonging to Robert Hiidreth. This farm extended from 
the present First street to Tenth street, and from Bridge street to the 
crest of the hill. Abbott presently sold fifty-seven acres of his holding 
and the ferry to Amos Bradley of Haverhill, retaining his hillside pas- 
tures. One of his sons, David x\bbott, owned a farm on the easterly 
side of the hill including the islands in the river at the foot of Hunt's 
Falls. These islands were known for a long time as Abbott's Islands. 
Another son, Daniel Colby Abbott, bought the farm on Hiidreth street 
from John Bowers, which was inherited by his son Daniel. 

Old-Time Ferries — Communication between the farms on oppo- 
site sides of the Merrimack was by b(jat for more than a century. 

The earlier and more important ferry was that operated from 
Middlesex village and connecting on the further side with the now 
grass-grown roadway between the Boulevard and \^arnum avenue 
that is called Old Ferry road. Its continuation, now Totman street, 
was the main route of travel to the towns of Southern New Hamp- 
sliire east of the river. A reminder of the nature of the ancient ferrj' 
scenes may be seen in the Durkee house in Old Ferry road, said by 
some authorities to be the oldest dwelling in Lowell north of the river. 
It is, of course, not actually the oldest if General Philip Reade is cor- 
rect in his surmise regarding the nearby Coburn house in \''arnum, but 
it at all events dates well back into the first days of the town. The 
records show that in 1754 this Durkee house was owned by Abraham 
Coburn, who sold it to Abraham Blood, in whose family it remained 
for more than a century. In i!~<56 it jiassed into the ownership of Wil- 
liam 11. N. Durkee, whose name it bears. When the ferry was still 
operated, that is before the building of Pawtucketville bridge, the 
Blood house was a popular tavern at which teamsters starting north- 
ward on the long road to Pelham, Derry and beyond were wont to 
secure food and drink. 

The ferry which preceded Central bridge at a jioint just aliove the 
confluence of the rivers became one of the most famous on the lower 
Merrimack. Its history has been given by John M. \^arnum in an 


account which shows that for nearly seventy years the ferrj' was 
owned and operated by members of the Bradley family. 

Amos Bradley, of Haverhill, on October i, 1761, purchased the 
ferry and fifty-seven acres of land for £266 13 6 from Solomon Abbott, 
of Dracut. It had previously been known as "Abbott's Ferry" and, 
prior to 1758 as "White's Ferry." 

Amos Bradley and his son, Joseph Bradley, owned and conducted 
this ferry down to the erection of Central bridge. The equity was 
conveyed by Joseph Bradley, October 26, 1827, to the Central bridge 
corporation of which he was president. From 1761 to 1827 this cross- 
ing was the only one between Pawtucket Falls and Deer Jump Falls 
in Eastern Dracut. The rates of ferriage in 1810 at Bradlev ferry are 
a matter of court record, for in that year Nehemiah Bradley, brother 
of Joseph Bradley, was licensed as ferryman by the Court of Common 
Pleas as Concord, in the following terms : 

For each foot passenger, 2 c ; for each horse and rider 6 c ; for 
each cart, sled, or other carriage of burden drawn by two and not more 
than four beasts, 20 cents ; for each additional beast, 4 cents ; for each 
riding sleigh drawn by two beasts, 15 c & four cents for each addi- 
tional beast; for each chaise, chair or sulkey 17 c; for each curricle 
20 c ; for each coach, chariot, phaeton or other four-wheeled carriage 
for passengers 32 c ; for neat cattle and horses, exclusive of those in 
carriages, or ridden, 4 c ; for each sheep & swine i c & 5 mills, and only 
one person as a driver of each team shall be allowed to pass free of toll. 

A small ferry was operated on the Concord river near where the 
present East Merrimack Black bridge crosses. 

An Early Plan for Separate Incorporation — While the farmer folk 
over the river early acquired a stable town government of their own, 
the proprietors and others who lived on the former Indian reservation 
of Wamesit were, apparently, content for forty years not to know to 
whom they belonged. It was presumably supposed, in a general way, 
that they were under the jurisdiction of Chelmsford, but when the 
town sent to the General Court in Boston Deacon Stephen Peirce, of 
Wamesit, this representative was refused a seat on the ground that he 
was not a resident of the township he claimed to represent. Angered 
by this action the people at the Neck refused to pay their taxes and 
petitioned to be "erected into a separate and distinct town." The pro- 
posal was to incorporate the northern part of Billerica, including about 
500 acres on the east side of the Concord and about 2,000 acres of the 
old Wamesit reservation. 

This quest for separate incorporation probably did not please 
other residents of Chelmsford, for the selectmen put in a counter peti- 
tion urging that the Neck be formally annexed to their town. The 
influence of these constituted authorities of the neighborhood pre- 


vaik'd, and on June lo, 1726, the Legislature went on record thus: 
"Ordered that the Prayer of the Petition be so far granted, That the 
Tract of Land called Wamesit & ye Inhabitants thereon be and hereb)' 
are annexed to and accomjjted as Part of the Town of Chelmsford." 

Complete satisfaction appears not to have followed at the Neck 
since its people two years later petitioned to become a separate pre- 
cinct. An act to this effect was drawn, but again there was opposition 
from Chelmsford. 

Lobbying against a measure in the Legislature was not very ex- 
pensive in those days, if one may judge from a payment made in 1730 
from the town treasury "To Majr Jones Clark to answer his bill of 
Expense and time expended about getting the neck Land of from 
being a jjrecint 03 -04 -06." 

This ended a proposal which, if successful, would have probably 
made it inevitable that the present city would be called Wamesit, and 
not by the name of any "outsider" such as, of course, Francis Cabot 
Lowell was. 

One of the prime mi)\-ers in the petition for separate incorporation 
of Wamesit was Samuel Hunt, 1657-1743, who dwelt in what was 
then the northwest corner of Billerica, near the falls in the Merrimack 
which bear his name. He and some of his neighbors in a section of 
the town already distant from Ilillerica Centre, continued to agi- 
tate for some kind of separate political and parochial establishment. 
The success of the residents of Southern Billerica in securing a sepa- 
rate incorporation tinder the name of Bedford presently led to another 
movement for secession. On May 13, 1733, petitioners went before 
the town meeting at Billerica with a request to "erect a meeting house 
in the center of the town or so to accommodate the northerly part of 
the town, upon the Town's cost, or set them oft', so that they may 
maintain preaching among themselves." 

This petition was rejected, hut on December 19 following it was 
renewed with a request that the town "please to set them oft', with 
two-thirds of the land lying between .Andover and Billerica meeting 
house, from W'ilmington line to Concord river, for a township." A 
committee was appointed to "view the land," perhaps with the idea 
of saving as much domain as possible to Billerica. This committee 
rejjorted in favor of the proposal on January 9, 1733-34, and in accord- 
ance with its recommendations the town voted "that the northerly 
and ncjrtheasterly parts of the Town, according to their petition, be set 
I iff ;is ;i Townshi]). Granting them two-thirds of the land from An- 
dovcr line to our meeting house by a parallel line with said Andover 
line, extending from Concord Ri\-er to Wilmington line (if the inhabi- 
tants on the southeasterly side nf .Shawshin River be willing to join 
with them)." 


Having progressed thus far, Hunt and his associates framed a 
petition to the General Court, "praying an absolute grant of this Court 
for their being made a Towne within these limits." Finally, on De- 
cember 23, 1734, the request was approved and the town of Tewks- 
bury was duly incorporated. It took from Billerica about 9,000 of the 
acres remaining after Bedford seceded. How intimately this town, 
which later gave up its northwestern corner to Lowell, has been asso- 
ciated with the progress of its urban neighbor is suggested by a mere 
recital of some of the family names appearing among the petitioners : 
Brown, Farmer, French, Frost, Hall, Haseltine, Hunt, Kidder, Kitt- 
redge, Levestone, Manning, Marshall, Needham, Osgood and Patten. 
Among these settlers Samuel Hunt was in various ways the most 
prominent person. He served in Major Jonathan Tyng's regiment in 
1702 and participated in the expedition that relieved Lancaster. His 
house at Wamesit had been used as a garrison house during King 
William's war, 1689-97, being regarded as the most important station 
of its kind on the Chelmsford road. 

An unsigned article on "Old Houses in Lowell and Vicinity," 
which was published in the "Star," August 11, 1893, made special 
reference to the legend of a garrison house in Belvidere : 

An interesting relic on the estate of the late John Clark of Tewks- 
burv, about a mile from the Lowell line, is the hearthstone of an old 
blockhouse which was used in early times as a place of refuge and 
protection from the raids of Indians who dwelt in this vicinity. These 
houses were built in every settlement, and must have been especially 
welcome to the women and children. The upper story projected over 
the lower part which was strongly barricaded. There were openings 
in the floor above, so that those inside could fire down upon the 
intruders if they came beneath with lighted torches to set the building 
on fire, and also loopholes near the roof which seemed to let in some 
light and allow another chance of firing upon the foe. A trail led from 
Hunt's Falls, and here in the corner of the field can be seen the very 
spot where the cellar was dug. Mr. Clark could remember when it 
was filled up. The hearthstone is of granite and worn perfectly 
smooth. The ground is slightly elevated and commands a good view 
of the surrounding country. 

Mode of Living — The manner of life of the farmer people in the 
three towns under consideration is not so difficult to understand if one 
realizes that these were settled for the most part by a sturdy pros- 
perous yeomanry of good inheritance and tradition. There was in the 
eighteenth century practically no lure of the cities drawing from the 
farms the ablest and most adventurous and leaving at home the dull of 
wit and feeble of initiative to reproduce their kind. The order of intel- 
ligence and morality was relatively high, even though one who looks 
for them mav find evidences of ihe persistence of lawless and shiftless 


strains. Accumulation of property was usual. Old inventories of this 
neighljorhood dispel any notion that the people who farmed on the 
Merrimack were, after the hardships of the pioneer years were passed, 
a collection of impoverished strugjjlers. Conditions of a settled, 
civilized existence were, in fact, well established before the genera- 
tion that saw King Philip's war had passed. 

Agriculture was, naturally, the predominant occupation. Such 
former cornfields of the natives as John Sagamore's planting ground 
at Middlesex were occupied by farmers who cjuickly developed coni- 
fortalde financial circumstances. Several houses that date back to the 
early eighteenth century, or even earlier, still attest the sound con- 
struction that was conventional in building at that era. The Coburn 
house on Varnum a\'enue, which ma_\' have been constructed by the 
founder of the family in America, has already been mentioned. Its 
beams have withstood the wear and tear of centuries. Of such sort, 
too, is the Sewall Bowers house in Wood street, situated originally on 
the farm of one of the oldest of Lowell families. Of age reaching cer- 
tainly back to aliout 1770 is the ^''arnum homestead, on a lane leading 
ofif Varnum avenue, standing on property that has never been trans- 
ferred by deed since John \\'ebb disposed of these fertile acres to 
."^lamucl Varnum in 1664. A boulder on Hale street, in the Ayer's City 
district of Lowell, marks the site of tlie historic Old Rock Tavern, 
which was originally the hcmiestead of the Butterfield family. Refer- 
ence has been made to the Hildreth house. 

The manner of living on the farms was that of the time, with 
much more of manufacture carried on in the home than is customarv 
in the farm house of to-day. Old inventories give a notion of the 
ecpiipment of farm and household articles. 

Here, inr example, is the inventory of the personal estate left by 
John Varnum, the second of Samuel Varnum's surviving sons, who 
as its first white child may be called the Peregrine W^hite of Lowell. 
The list shows what a substantial farmer might easily accumulate in 
the early eighteenth century. Some of the Jacobean furniture thus 
listed, needless to say, would to-day lie worth almost its weight in 
silver. After appraising real estate valued at £517 los. the in\-entory 
reads : 

Inipriinis : 

The sword, staff and apparil of ye Deceased at 10- 6-0 

His Books I € Firearms 3 £ 4- 0-0 

3 Bedds, Bed<linK, and Belongings tliereto 12- 5-0 

Talile Linninu; and other Linninsj 2- 2-0 

4 Tallies and i dozen chairs 2- 0-0 

4 ( "hests. Box and Looking glass 2- 8-0 

Brass Kettle.s & other hrass l-io-o 

Pewter i £ Khnni 3 £ 7 s 4- 7-0 

One pair O.Ncn 10 £ & 6 Cows & Heffcrs and a Bull 23 £ 15 s 33-15-0 

One Horse Si 4 Mairs & i colt 16-10-0 


8 Swine, a Cart & things thereunto Belonging also 2 Pair Horse Traises, 
Chains, Plow Sithes. 2 hons, 31 Axes and span-shackles. Pin Staple & 

ring Some Syeder all at l-io-o 

Credits or Debts owing to ye Dec'd 12-10-0 

A Piece of Broadcloth & Cotton 7. 0-0 


The will of the first Thomas Varnum likewise contains illuminat- 
ing references to a comfortable manner of living. It contained, among 
other terms, the following provision : 

I give unto my dearly beloved wife all my household goods of 
what name or demomintation soever. Excepting one Bed with furni- 
ture for the same to my youngest son, Thomas, also one cow and one 
heifer out of my stock of cattle at her own choice, and my white faced 
mare, and that she be allowed the full use and possession of one end 
of my Dwelling house at her election and choice, and in case my son 
Thomas should pull down my now Dwelling House, and build a new 
one, then to allow my beloved wife full use and improvement of one 
good and comfortable foreroom. and provide her with firewood Winter 
and Summer. 

Slavery in Old Dracut — The labor of working the fruitful farms 
which were developed on both sides of both rivers was, of course, per- 
formed in large measure by the farmers themselves and members of 
their families. References to hired help are comparatively few ; 
though the man servant was certainly not unknown. 

Negro slavery was practiced in Chelmsford and Dracut with 
hardly a notion of any wrongfulness in the custom. Just when the 
first black man was brought into the domain that now is Lowell can- 
not be stated. The institution certainly florished in Massachusetts, as 
in other colonies, together with an elaborate system of white slavery 
(under the name of indentured servants) which has been effectivel}- 
described by writers who, like James Oneal, are bent on disproving 
the "golden age" theorj^ of America colonial history. 

The black slavery that existed in this part of the world was not, 
it is fair to assume, of a particularly malignant sort, and it is notable 
that from hence toward the end of the Revolution came one of the 
first, perhaps the very first, of the serious challenges of the right of one 
human being to own the body of another. 

Three negro servants at least are known to have been employed 
on the large estate of Colonel Joseph Varnum, which touched the 
river about the mouth of Beaver brook. One of these appears to have 
been born in Tewksbury, perhaps, in the western section that was 
later annexed to Lowell, for there is on record "a deed of sale by 
Thomas Farmer c^- wife of Billerica Mass of one certain neagro boy 
called Mingo, aged nine months old, to Joseph Varnum of Dracutt 


1728." In the same gentleman's inventory, made out after his death 
in I74(j, are the fi.illowing" items: 

A Neagro man servant named Cuff 320-0-0 

A Neagro woman servant named Pegg 230-0-0 

A legend in the X'arnuni family is to the eiifect that CuiT was a 
bright as well as faithful slave. Once while the colonel was engaged 
in a discussion with a neighbor, so it is related, Cuff, who was stand- 
ing nearby, was (ibserved to shake his head disapprovingly. His mas- 
ter caught his gesture and asked: "Do you think I am lying, Cuft'?" 
"No, massa," was the reply, "I dossent jest say as I does, but yo' talk 
mightly lak I does when I isn't speaking de truf." 

On Totman street, some time liefore the Revolution, settled the 
most famous of early Lowell colored families, the musical Lews. 

This family, mernbers of whom were prominent in local music for 
several generations, had its American origin in Groton, where, as Dr. 
Samuel A. Green shows in his work on "Slavery at Groton in Provin- 
cial Times." a church record of December 28, 1742, has the following 
entry: Priamus Cap' Boydens Negro man servant to Marg' Molatto 
formerly servant to S. S. both of Groton." Their eldest child Zelah, 
a corruption of Barzillai, born at Groton, November 5, 1743, was a 
musician of much native ability, who li\'ed at Chelmsford and in Dra- 
cut and was the father of several children who inherited his talent. 
He was fifer in Captain John Ford's company of the 27th Massachu- 
setts Regiment at the siege of Boston. 

Fisheries and Fishing Rights — No sketch of Lowell's colonial 
[leriod would be comjilete without reference to the part played by the 
tisheries at the falls in the ccontmiy of li\ing in the towns of north- 
eastern Massachusetts. .Almost everybody, at certain seasons of the 
year, was a fisherman by avocation. Every farmer's cellar had its 
flitches of dried or smciked salmon and its barrel of salted tish. F'rom 
a wide area the farmer folk came to both sides of the river when the 
tish were runnitig in the spring. The ordinary method of making 
catches was by means of a long net spread between two boats. As 
the scows were rowed into shoal water the haul was dragged ashore. 
It often contained enough salmon and shad to fill the waiting wagon. 
If less successful the dragging was continued until a good-sized haul 
was made. 

.Somewhere ;d)iiut the si lutliern 'end of the Aiken street liridgc the 
pro])rietors of the W.amesit purch;ise at an early date made provision 
for "a small parsel of Land against ye fishing place Reserved As well 
for strangers as town dwclcrs to bait yr horses." This was f(3r many 
\-cars tlie rendezvous of the fishermen from Chelmsford aiul towns 
further b.nck from the ri\er. Rev. Mr. .Allen, who wrote in 1S20 while 


the fisheries were still uninterrupted by pollution of the streams and 
the building of impassable dams, gives a specific estimate of the annual 
catch. "The quantity of salmon, shad and alewives caught in Chelms- 
ford annually,'' he wrote, "may be computed at about 25 hundred bar- 
rel, l^esides a large quantity of other fish of less value." 

The Dracut shore of the "Great Bunt," or bend in the river at the 
foot of the rapids, was also annually the scene of most active opera- 
tions. Many shad, according to tradition and the probabilities of the 
case, turned aside into the darker, more sluggish waters of the Con^ 
cord. Others, however, continued on, in company with the salmon, 
to the fork in Franklin, where the soft-water fish made for the waters 
of Lake Winnepesaukee while the salmon sought the cold brooks of 
Campton and Woodstock. The alewives, or herring, were innumer- 
able, as in most rivers of New England, when the country was new. 
They were extensively used as fertilizer. Of eels the lamprey was 
most esteemed ; this fish was a Merrimack river delicacy in compara- 
tively recent times. 

From some date early in the eighteenth century a fishing "trust" 
controlled the annual catch in Dracut. The proprietors of the rights 
at this place at one time numbered forty-two. The best locations were 
on the land owned by Colonel \'arnum. In 1735 this proprietor and 
his son, Joseph, Jr., granted to the town "liberty to pass over the land 
from the county road at the great fishing falls at Pawtucket, reserving 
a place for catching & curing fish, extending from the place called the 
lower hole to the Old Bunting Place." Among other contemporary 
indications of the magnitude of the fishing interests is the particularity 
with which a proprietor's rights are described in the will of the ever 
careful Squire John Varnum, which was dated February i, 1783. In 
the section of the document devoted to the son Jonas it is stated : 
"Also ys part of all my Rights in the Lands at the mouth of Beaver 
Brook called the Great Bunt sean Proprietors Lands with ^ Right of 
a small house standing thereon, called the Proprietors' Fish House, 
with y^ part of my Right in the Great Sean, called the Great Bunt 
sean, also Ys part of all my rights of the privilege of the fishery at 
Petucket Falls, and ys part of all my wharfings, stagings and privilge 
of building same or setting of Salmon pots or any other fishing at said 
Falls, also j/j part of Right of diging or making landing at the head 
of .said Petucket Falls or of building mills or making dams and laying 
lumber at end of passing and repassing from the same for ye improve- 
ment thereof." A characteristic springtime occupation of the neigh- 
borhood is indicated in an entry of John Varnum's diary of May 14, 
1781, in which he writes: "The proprietors of the great sean, Part of 
them, met to tie on and mend the great net. That is self, Capt Peter 
Coburn, Jonathan Varnum, Eleazer Coburn, Jonas Varnum, Jabish 


Coburn, Tim : Williams, & Timo : Coburn." The diarist, who doubt- 
less superintended the work of getting the big net ready for the 
spring's dragging, was then seventy-seven years old. 

The closeness with which the fishing was regulated, at least 
theoretically (for there was much poaching), is indicated in a Dracut 
town meeting resolve of March i, 1779: "Voted that there should be 
no Aiewives taken in Beaver Brook or ye Brook called Dubble Brook 
or in Dennisons Brook, only on Mondays Tuesdays and Wednesdays 
& on those days not to take any in sd Beaver Brook within 30 feet of 
the sluice ways, for sd fish to go thro the same, and not to Take any 
in Dubble Brook and the Town-way that leads from Ezra Coburns to 
Dr. Abbots & Beaver Brook, and that there shall be none taken in sd 
Dennison Brook between the Town-way easterly of ye old mill called 
Wilsons Mill & the upper side of said mill." 

Not only were the fish caught at the falls used locally, but the 
fresh salmon, at least, were highly esteemed in Boston. The Merri- 
mack salmon, indeed, was to the Beacon Hill dame of the late 
eighteenth century just what the Penobscot salmon was to the fre- 
quenters of Faneuil and Quincy markets a century later. An evidence 
of its popularity may be observed in a note described l\v Mr. Perham, 
before the Old Residents' Historical Association, in which Justice 
Oliver Fletcher, of Chelmsford, as a siiecial compliment, sends 10 
Judge Sevvall a nine-])ound salmon which "my said Brother dined 
at his house in Boston." An interesting financial transaction that is 
recorded in the John Varnum journal reveals a price per pound for the 
fish which is startling until on« recollects that the youth from Dracut 
who made the sale was paid in the depreciated currency of the Conti- 
nental Congress. The story, as rc\ealed in the entry, is that on May 7, 
1799, "Isaac Parker set out in the evening with Parkers [Parker \'ar- 
num's] horse & my horse cart, with about 150 Hjs of salmon for Boston 
one of them being a Fall salmon : the others were from the Salmon 
Eddy. 8 May. Isaac Parker sold his salmon a 8 s pr lb in Boston. His 
load came to about 200 $. He returned about 6 in the eveg. Brought 
nie 3 f|ts. of best W^est India Rliuni at $5 and jA per qt." 

Manufactures — Manufacturing in the modern sense of the word 
hardly existed at or near Wamesit Neck prior to the Revolution, even 
though the abundant water powers invited utilization. The factory 
system did not reach New England for several decades after it had 
begun to U]3huild new towns in the English Lancashire. In view, 
nevertheless, of the turn which the comnuuiity about the falls was 
destined to take, special interest attaches to the beginnings of manu- 

The lirst white man to he born in l.owell. unless a start is made 
from Jtratlnncel Bowers' distillery, was also its pioneer manufacturer. 


for John Varnum, son of Samuel Varnum, whose birth beside the 
Merrimack has already been described, is recorded as starting a 
mill. Less is known about this inaugurator of industry than of some 
of his family. His marriage is of record: "John Varnum of Dracutt 
and Dorothi Prescout of Groton, were Lawfully mared in Nov., on the 
13 day in the year 1700." He was the first town clerk, 1702-13. The 
cause of his untimely death in 171 5 is not known. He was buried in 
the "Clay Pit ground," called by Major Atkinson Varnum "the Colo- 
nial Burying Ground," near where the first church of Dracut was 

John Varnum's early manufacturing establishment was a grist 
mill. This installation, interestingly, was the initial effort to use the 
water power of Pawtucket Falls. Some time previous to 1710, accord- 
ing to a study of the early grants made by George A. Gordon, Varnum 
built a wing dam and mill near the foot of the falls just below the 
present site of the Lowell Textile School. Here some rude stonework 
was thrown outward into the river in such a way as to create a tri- 
angular space into which enough water was forced in ordinary stages 
of the river to drive the simple machinery of the time. This dam is 
mentioned in the record of the laying out of a new road in 1710. 
How long it was in operation can only be conjectured, but doubtless 
the tradition of its operation led to the prediction of Squire John Var- 
num, of the next generation, that some day a great manufacturing 
community would be grown up about the falls. 

It should not be supposed, it may be added, that the stonework 
now visible below the Textile School is a remnant of the old Varnum 
wing dam. That construction, supposedly, dates only from the Hurd 
installation of 1825, later to be described. Mr. Hurd, however, con- 
ceivably may have been led to build in this place through traditions 
or even actual relics of the ancient mill. 

The first mill of any kind run by water power on the Chelmsford 
side of Pawtucket Falls was, apparently, a saw mill which Judge 
Tyng, of Dunstable, erected in the first quarter of the eighteenth cen- 
tury in connection with an old wooden dam of primitive type. Parts 
of this dam were carried off by freshets from time to time, and replace- 
ment was required. One section is known to have been rebuilt about 
1778 or 1779 by Joseph Hamblet. of Dracut. The foundation was re- 
moved when the present stone dam was built. The mill property later 
passed into the hands of Capt. John Ford, who had acquired much of 
the land at the head of the falls, and it became known as Ford's Mill. 

Among the early settlers who came from Billerica was Nicholas 
Sprake (Sprague). who was a clothier by trade. He erected about 
1737 a fulling mill on the east side of the Concord river. This was so 
far as known the first textile manufactory within the confines of 



Lowell, unless, indeed, it was on the lower reaches of River Meadow, 
or Hale's brook, that John Barret, as noted in Z. E. Stone's 1894 paper 
on "Before the Power Loom," placed his pioneer clothier's mill in 1691. 

Church-Going — Religion was relatively a very large element in 
the life uf a colonial community. The inhabitants of Wamesit Neck 
continued for many years to have their church affiliation with the 
society at Chelmsford Centre. A very illuminating history of this 
parish has been disclosed in Rev. Wilson Waters' history of Chelms- 
ford. It only in small part belongs to the story of Lowell. 

One should note that after the devoted ministry of Rev. John 
Fiske, who died in 1676, the Chelmsford people were adequately served 
by Rev. Thomas Clarke, whose ministry lasted until his death in 1704. 
On June 26, 1706, choice was made of Mr. Samson Stoddard at a 
yearly salary of seventy pounds, and one hundred pounds as a settle- 
ment. This minister died August 23, 1740, and was succeeded by the 
Rev. Ebenezer Bridge, whose incumbency lasted well into the presi- 
dency of George Washington, specifically until his death, October i, 
1792. The meeting house in which Mr. Fiske first preached was 
replaced in 17 10 with a more commodious structure, which was 
accepted and paid for by the tov/n in 1712. Here worshiped the fam- 
ilies that lived on the proprietary grants at the Neck. Their neigh- 
bors across the Concord were at first constrained to make a long pil- 
grimage to the church at Billerica Centre, but after the incorporation 
of the new township they had a meeting house of their own at Tewks- 
bury Centre. 

The first meeting house for white people to be erected within the 
confines of Lowell was presumably that which in the second decade of 
the eighteenth century was built on the pleasant hilly land that borders 
Flag Meadow brook near the original Varnum and Coburn holdings 
and not far from the present Lowell general hospital. 

On -April II, 1715, so the record shows, "at a general town meet- 
ing it was granted to set out meetinghouse for the tow-n of Dracut on 
a piece of land near the South side of a hill called by the name of Flag 
Meadow hill on Thomas Varnum's land, bounded as followeth — west 
by Joseph Varnum's land, north by a highway. Eastward by a stake 
and stone, and on the South by stake and stones. Also it is granted 
one barrel of cider and such a quantity of rum as the trustees shall 
think needful for the raising said meeting house." The minutes of 
this meeting, authorizing the building of the church with aid from 
New England rum, are signed by Thomas Varnum, clerk. The de- 
scription has been accepted as confirming the tradition that the meet- 
ing house stood on land occupied for many years in the nineteenth 
century by Deacon Abel Coburn. The new structure, with dimen- 
siiins of twenty-five by thirty feet, was started promptly and then 


through lack of money and building materials, remained unfinished 
until the autumn of 1716. 

The long list of pastors settled over Lowell congregations is 
headed by the name of the Rev. Thomas Parker, first minister of the 
old Dracut church. In the town records of December 28, 1719, it is 
stated : "At a general town meeting the town made choise of Rev. 
Thomas Parker as their minister and voted to give him a call to settle 
at eighty pounds yearly salary. Voted that Captain Varnum, Quar- 
termaster Coburn and Ephraim Hildreth carry the vote to Mr. Parker, 
and that Quartermaster Coburn be paid six pounds to pay for ye ordi- 
nation." This committee did its duty, bringing back a formal accept- 
ance, dated January 30, 1720. 

The minister thus called to what proved to be a life position at 
Dracut was nineteen years old. He had been graduated from Harvard 
College in the class of 1718. His ministry lasted down to the day of 
his death, March 18, 1765, a period of forty-four years. He was a 
man of refined, scholarly tastes. Major Atkinson C. Varnum recalls 
a tradition that he was a musician, with especial fondness for the 
clarinet and that "sometimes he would sit in his doorway on a sum- 
mer's evening and play, while the Indians would answer him along 
the banks of the Merrimack." This legend of the Indian response is 
open, perhaps, to the objection that red men were no longer numerous 
along the river. Yet the story is too pretty to be sceptically chal- 
lenged. In the Woodbine burying ground, off Varnum avenue, Mr. 
Parker's gravestone still attests, in grandilociuent phrase, his many 
virtues : 

]\Iemento mori 
Under this stone is Interred ye Remains of ye 
Rev'd Thomas Parker 
a gentleman of shining mental Powers, Adorned with Prudence, Be- 
nevolence, & Curtesie of maner, a warm & Pathetic Preacher of ye 
Gospel, a most watchful and tender Pastor of ye Church in Dracut for 
ye space of 44 years. Accomplished with Learning, Human & Divine, 
& endowed and adorned by ye social virtues & affections, who de- 
parted this life March i8th, 1765, in the 65th year of his age. 

The funeral of this first Lowell minister, as recalled in the Hild- 
reth genealogy, "necessitated a journey by William Hildreth to Bo.s- 
ton to provide for the funeral : a journey to Littleton 'to get Rev. Mr. 
Daniel Rogers to attend the obsequies', and the purchase of a coffin ; 
all of which services and expenditures were defrayed by the town of 
Dracut including an item of £9. 14s. 5d. paid William Hildreth 'for 
entertaining ministers and horses at the time the Rev. Thomas Parker 
was called from his work'." Just before the funeral a special town 
meeting was held, with John \'arnum as moderator, at which it was 
voted: "ist to buy Madam Parker a mourning suit, 2nd, to buy six 


wigs for ye bearers of ye deceased, 3rd, to appropriate 20 pounds for 
ye mourning suit and wigs included, 4th, to raise four pounds more, 
so that ye whole amount to 24 pounds." 

The "ministree" where Rev. Mr. Parker lived was about half a 
mile above the oldest Lowell meeting house, at the corner where 
Colonel Louis Ansart later resided. Already during his ministry the 
original church had been outgrown, and an agitation was begun which 
finally removed the centre of the town to its present location, just 
over the Lowell line, in the Centralville district. It belongs to the 
historian of Dracut rather than of Lowell to reproduce in detail the 
acrimonious discussions that accompanied the successful efforts of 
the people of the eastern part of the elongated township to place the 
church where it is still known as the Old Yellow Meeting House. 

A decision of 1745, after much discussion, was as follows: "Voted 
to build a meeting house for ye public worship of God 45 feet in length 
and 35 feet breadth and 23 feet between the plates and sills — clap 
boarded with sawed clapboards and shingled with white pine shingles, 
and the windows shall have sash and glazed with glass called ye large 
square glass." The structure thus built had twelve square or box 
pews arranged around the sides and in the gallery. In the centre were 
long benches for the common folk — those whose means did not permit 
them to rent pews. 

In 1793 it was voted "to build a house of the same bigness as the 
one in Pelham." Meeting after meeting was held to determine the 
location. The geographical centre of the town was finally decided 
u])on and the church was erected on the "centralline" in 1794: though 
an opjMjsition erected another church some half mile to the westward. 

Manners and Customs — Glimpses of the everj-day life of the fore- 
fathers of the citv that is, may be obtained from various data. Not a 
few entertaining records were unearthed a generation ago by Mr. 
Perham in one of his papers read before the Old Residents' Historical 
Association. Some of the most illuminating of these details concern 
the funeral of Benjamin Parker, ancestor of a family since prominent 
in Lowell and one of foremost military men of his time. Lieutenant 
Parker died in 1771 and was buried from the family mansion on Pine 
street. There is preserved among other records a bill for gloves and 
other mourning articles which gives a sense of the elaborateness of 
costuming in those supposedly simple days ; the merchant who sold 
the goods was a Harvard graduate, long settled at Chelmsford Centre. 
These are the items : 

Mr. Benj. Parker to Samson Stoildard Dr. 

May 23 — To 13 pr. mens Gloves 

To 2 pr. mens Black Ditto 
To 19 pr. woms Ditto 


To ^ pr. woms Black Diltc 

To 3 Vails 

To I yd. Black Ribban<l 

To 3 yds. hat band Crepe 

Do Mr. William Pcirce for the Fiinrl of Lieut. Benja Parker Late of Chelms- 
ford Deceased. 

A list of the mourners at thi.s funeral is also reported by Mr. Per- 
ham, together with some infornu'tion concerning their places of resi- 
dence. It is known, for example, that Lieutenant Joseph Moore (who 
died July 5, 1/75) I'ved on Moore street. Joseph Peirce dwelt on what 
is now the City Farm. He was a tailor whose fine workinanshij) was 
in high esteem throughout the district. "The Peirces were a long- 
lived race," says Mr. Perham. "Of the children of Joseph, the eldest, 
Silas, outlived five wives, leaving the sixth a widow at the age of 84. 
Joanna was cut off by an accident at 90. Sarah died at 98 and Thank- 
ful lived to reach her looth year " Understanding of the fatalism of 
heredity, as regards longevity, it may be added, is needed to counter- 
act the impression that might be given by such statements as the semi- 
jocular one made by Mr. Perham . "The head of this remarkable family 
was addicted to intemperate indulgence in drink — we are not informed 
as to the brand he used." The property was ultimately acquired for 
the city farm from Joseph Peirce, son of Silas. 

Another Peirce house of the neighborhood was that originallv 
occupied by Stephen Peirce, who, as before recorded, was refused 
admission to the Legislature on the ground of his not being a legal 
resident of Chelmsford. The location is denoted by a reference which 
says that it was between Captain Isaac Chamberlain's and Samuel 
Marshall's houses. The former of these has been identified as at Jen- 
ness place, on Chelmsford street, and the other as on the ])resent 
Parker street. This Peirce residence was historically interesting in 
that it was the early home of General Benjamin Peirce, father of 
President Franklin Pierce. 

The most vivid word pictures of the time that have come down 
10 us are undoubtedly those contained in the journal of Squire John 
Varnum, 1704-1785, from which several citations have already been 
made. This community leader, a grand.son of the original settler, is 
characterized in the Varnum geneology as being the "most prominent 
man of his day in North Eastern Massachusetts;" he quite certainly 
was the foremost person living within the Lowell boundaries on either 
side of the river. Owning much property to the north of Pawtucket 
Falls, personally much concerned in the valuable fishing privileges of 
the place and foreseeing the extension of manufacturing which he had 
already begun on a small scale at the foot of the falls, he is surely 
entitled to be named, if not among the "city fathers," at least among 


the "city grandfathers." His anti-slavery convictions marked him as 
one who was intellectually well in advance of his age. 

Like many of the young men of this region, John Varnuni had a 
taste of military service at the time of the celebrated Lovewell fight. 
In 1725 he was one of the company led northward by Captain Love- 
well. Tradition has it that either on the way forward or back the 
Dracut boys stayed at a tavern in Andover kept by Jose])h Parker and 
that there young Varnum fell in love with the landlord's daughter 
Phebe, whom he married. His civic services were many. He was 
town clerk during the years 1726-1729 and 1735-1742. In 1 741 he 
headed a committee to protest against a new running i)f the boundary 
line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which would have 
tiirown much of his own land into the latter State. In 1767 he was 
chosen justice of the peace. During the Revolution he was a member 
of a precautionary committee formed under the General Court's "Act 
for taking u]) and restraining persons dangerous to the Common- 
wealth," and in the last years of his life, 1782-85, he belonged to the 
"Commission to sell forfeited Estates." The accidental discoverv of 
a diary which he kejit during the later years of the Re\'olution was an 
event of considerable historical significance. 

Various writers, Mr. Howells one recalls as among them, have 
contended against the popular notion that life was acrid and monoto- 
nous in colonial New England. They point to many vestiges of old- 
time sociability and urge that the generations before the Revolution 
knew at least as jovial a life as those whom the Washingtonian tem- 
])erance movement and other reforms profoundly influenced in the 
nineteenth century. One certainly might select items from John \'ar- 
num's diar^• to supjwrt this oi)irion. 

Already an old man, this distinguished resident of the western 
section of Dracut took keen interest in family gatherings with their 
feasts, at which the fatness of the land was brought forth. Here is his 
story of a dinner party of February 5, 1777: 

Hezekiah Ct)lburn and wife, Jos. Varnum, Jr., and wife, Abiah 
Hildreth and wife, Polly Parker and Polly Gault, dined with us on a 
Bread Pudding, a Corned Leg of Pork, a Bresket, &c., a Rost shoulder 
of Pork, a Line of Mutton, &c., Rost Turkey, tost and Cheese, &c. 
Jacob Tyler, Jr., and his sister Lydia and Mr. Henry Ingalls, Jr., from 
.\ndover here on a visit in the afternoon. In the evening there came 
in a number of young folks on son Jonas' invitation, so as to make the 
number 32. Had a pleasant evening. The said Comjiany stayed and 
su])t of a cold sui)])er, stayed late. 

Something, again, of the jingle of old-time sleighing parties seems 
to echo down the years from the following terse descri])tion of a 
sleighride followed bv a dance: 


15 Jan. [1778]. About 2 of ye Clock the company viz: Ilezekiah 
Coburn and wife, Parker \'arnum and wife, Roger Ray and Hannah 
Brown, Henry Coburn and Samuel Richardson, Samuel Coburn and 
Rhoda, Jonas Varnum and Polly Parker, John Parkhurst, Isaac 
Parker, Abijah Hall and Bradstreet Coburn set ofif in three double 
shays to go to Billerica, went as far as Capt. Miniers. Took a drink 
of Flip and toddy and returned through the town. Git here about Sun 
setting. The Company set off for Joseph Varnum's to sup there with 
fife and fiddle and returned home at about 2 a. m. 

What was danced, what imbibed on so festive an occasion, can 
only be conjectured from general knowledge of the customs of the 
period. Two other records of simple, harmless pleasures of the time 
may be added to the exhibit. These were happenings of March 4, 

Parker had a great entertainment. Mr. Brown & his wife Rhoda, 
Elijah Fletcher & wife, Michael Hildreth & wife, Phillip Parker & 
wife, Bradley Varnum & wife, Capt. Peter Coburn & wife. Doctor 
Little & wife, Nathan Parker & wife, Jonas Varnum & Polly Parker, 
Isaac Parker & Abijah Hill and myself & wife, all dined & .supped 
here. Jonas & Polly went to a Dance the same evening at Abijah 
Fox's. Henry Coburn, Thomas Varnum, Bradstreet Coburn & a large 
number of young people went to the sd Fox's to the Dance there that 

10 Dec. 1779. Thos. Varnum had a Dance at his house in the 
Evg. as the same fell by lot there. 

Settlement of Bay State Boundaries — Throughout the century 
which elapsed between King Philip's war and the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence the population of the then rural neighborhoods about Paw- 
tucket Falls must have increased steadily, but without any marked 
influx of new settlers. The same family names occur again and again 
in the town records. There was no problem of alien immigrants, 
though the story of the coming of several Acadian refugees has been 
graphically set forth by Mrs. Griffin. 

The precise population in the pre-Revolutionary era of the terri- 
tory later to be occupied by the city of Lowell can at no time be stated 
accurately. That of the entire constituent towns, indeed, was not 
determined with any considerable thoroughness until the census 
which was begun by decree of the General Court in 1763 and finished 
m 1765. Previously, in 1707-0S, a poll census had given the number 
of qualified voters in the three townships as follows: Chelmsford, 
137; Billerica (this being prior to the partition of Tewksbury), 140; 
Drawcutt, 15. This enumeration occurred, of course, before the crea- 
tion of a separate parish at Pawtucket Falls. By the date of the first 
regular census in Massachusett- it is probable that Dracut, whose 
main activities and the bulk of whose population were still west of 


Beaver brook, had more houseliolders dwelling within the present 
confines than could have been numbered in either adjacent town on 
the south side of the river. No return, for some unexplained reason, 
was made from Dracut in the 1765 census, though an unofficial esti- 
mate in Joseph B. Felt's study, published in the collections of the 
American Statistical Association, gives the prcjbability as about 
Chelmsford, at this later census, had a white population of 997; 
Tewksbury, 776. The Commonwealth was found to contain some- 
what mure than quarter of a million people. 

In what jurisdictions the Merrimack river communities belonged 
was not authoritatively decided until long after the first grants of land 
had been made and settlements effected. An assignment of Chelms- 
ford and the farms over the river in Dracut to Middlesex county was 
made by act of the Legislature in the following terms: 

Upon information of sundry farms erected above the towne of 
Chelmsford, about Merremeck River, whose inhabitants pretend their 
sejd farmes to be out of the county of Midlesex, & possibly not con- 
teyned in any county, it is therefore ordered by this Court & the 
authority thereof, that al & every the inhabitants of such ffarms as 
these are or shall be improved shall, in all ])arts, have their depend- 
ences upon & perform service, & beare chardges with the sajd towne 
of Chelmsford, & that the sajd ffarmers repaire to the Courts of Midle- 
sex for justice, & all, till this Court take further order, any lawe or 
custome to the contrary notw''istanding. 

Regarding the ancient and cf)mplicated boundary disputes, which 
might have been settled in such a way as to divide the present city of 
Lowell between the States of Massachusetts and the Granite State, 
Kimball Webster, in his history of the town of Hudson, New Hamp- 
shire, has a summary which tells practicallv all that is needful to be 
known. The basic fact was that on March 19. 1627-28, the Plymouth 
Council, without knowledge of the real direction taken by the stream, 
granted "to Sir Henry Roswell and associates the land between the 
Charles river and the Merrimack rivers and, in addition all lands 
"which lye * * * within the space of three English iniles to the north- 
ward * * * of the Merrimack." 

This grant, with its possibilitv of controversy made certain by 
the north and south direction of the river from its source down to the 
"Great Bunt" at Lowell, was confirmed in 1630 in the charter given 
by King Charles L to the Massachusetts Company. 

As New Hampshire was settled and its townships began to grow 
up on the west side of the river the demand to know just how far 
north Massachusetts extended became persistent. Nothing was de- 
termined until March, 1740, when a memorable arbitration conference 
was held in London, at which Massachusetts was represented by Ed- 


mund Quincy and Richard Partridge ; New Hampshire by Captain 
John Tomlinson. It was decided that whereas in the old grant "the 
course of the river, though unknown, was supposed to he from west 
to east," proper surveying had proved that it would have been "in- 
equitable to have constructed the Massachusetts grant" and that 
therefore "it was determined : that the northern boundary of the 
Province of Massachusetts be, a similar curve line pursuing the course 
of Merrimack river, at three miles distance, on the north side thereof, 
beginning at the Atlantic Ocean and ending at a point due north of 
Pawtucket Falls ; and a straight line drawn from thence due west, till 
it meets with his Majesty's other governments." 

This decision of 1740 was regarded as substantially a victory for 
New Hampshire. It at the same time removed for all time the possi- 
bility that Dracut, Methuen and the other Bay State townships north 
of the river would ever be allocated to the Commonwealth with which 
they seemed, and perhaps still seem, logically to belong. The three- 
mile line from the mouth of the river westward was duly run by 
George iMitchell, surveyor, as far as the designated "station north of 
Pawtucket Fall in the tow-nship of Dracut." Thence Richard Hazen 
took up the tape and carried the line over the river through Dunstable 
and westward as far as the boundary of New York. Some slight 
errors made bv these survevors have been rectified in our own time. 

East Chelmsford and West Dracut in the Revolution. 

The new social spirit that was evoked in Massachusetts just 
before and during the American Revolution is more significant, in a 
retrospect of Lowell history, than any listing of Bunker Hill partici- 
pants from this neighborhood or any data of pensions granted to vet- 
erans of the war. 

The economic causes of the revolt from the mother country are, 
of course, to be found in the increasing prosperity and stability of just 
such communities as those of West Dracut and East Chelmsford on 
opposite sides of the "Great Bunt" of the Merrimack river. \\'ithin a 
century a distinctive social order had been formed, one tending to 
grow apart from, in essential respects, its English model. The 
mother country, esjjecially when governed by a Tory ministry, was 
peculiarly inept at understanding the temper of such men as John 
Ford, of Chelmsford, and John Varnum. of Dracut, representatives of 
an aggressive leadership which had been created liy force of character 
in the erstwhile feeble colony. 

The British ruling and mercantile classes for a long time had 
taken it amiss that they should meet with competition, commercial 
and political, in the overseas colonies. From the date of the discovery 
of America onward, the New World had been regarded in Europe as 
primarily a field of profitable investment. As the English colonies 
grew populous and, to some extent, affluent, the home government 
l)ecame concerned with ])reventi!ig the upgrowth of just such indus- 
tries as later appeared at the various water powers on the Merrimack. 
"In 1730,"' writes James Oneal, in "The Workers in .-\merican History," 
"Parliament passed acts prohibiting the erection of any mill or engine 
for slitting or rolling iron or any plating forge or any steel furnace. 
Hatters were not allowed to take more than two apprentices at a time 
or any for more than seven years. It was made illegal to manufacture 
hats or woolens in one colony and sell in another. These laws were 
generally violated by resorting to smuggling." 

Pre-Revolutionary protests against the usurpations of the Lon- 
don government were by no means confined to the coast towns, whose 
trading classes were most directly affected. The attitude of the coun- 
try was generally one of cordial support to every policy of resistance. 
In this regard the towns under consideration were certainly not excep- 
tional. During the agitation concerning the stamp act of 1765, 
Chelmsfcird's declaration of rights was made through a special town 
meeting in the furin (jf instructions to Cohinel Samson Stoddard, then 

h 5 


the town's representative in the General Court. Here is the well ex- 
pressed resolution : 

This being a time when, by reason of several acts of Parliament, 
not only this province, but all the English colonies of this continent 
are thrown into the utmost confusion and perplexity: the Stamp Act, 
as we apprehend, not only lays an unconstitutional but also an insup- 
portable tax upon us, and deprives us, as we humbly conceive, of those 
rights and privileges to which we are entitled as free born subjects of 
Great Britain by the Royal Charter: wherefore we think it our duty 
and interest at this critical conjuncture of our public affairs, to direct 
you, sir, our representative, to be so far from countenancing the execu- 
tion of the aforesaid Stamp Act, that you use your best endeavors that 
such measures ma}- be taken and such remonstrances made to the 
King and Parliament, as may obtain a speedy repeal of the aforesaid 
act, and a removal of the burden upon trade. 

This attitude of consistent support of the protesting leaders of 
public opinions in Boston, Salem and other seaports of the Common- 
wealth was maintained in Chelmsford throughout the period of agita- 
tion. Colonel Stoddard was sent as a delegate to the convention in 
Boston called in the name of the Committee on Safety in September, 
1768. Among the town meeting records of a national interest, this 
was adopted unanimously on January 22, 1773: 

We are fully of opinion that the inhabitants of this province are 
justly entitled to all the privileges of Englishmen, and to all those 
rights inseparalsle from them as members of a free community. We 
are also sensible that some of these rights are at present endangered. 
In such unhappy circumstances the only question that can be made is 
this: What method is most suitable to obtain redress? \\'hatever 
doubts may arise about a particular mode, this we are clear in, that 
all rash, immeaning, passionate procedures are by no means justifiable 
in so delicate a crisis. When a community thinks any of its rights 
endangered they should always consider consec|uences, and be very 
cautious lest they run into a step that may be attended with the most 
deplorable eft'ects. 

In a somewhat similar style, a little verbose after the manner of 
the day, but determined in tone, instructions were drawn up for guid- 
ance of Representative Simeon Spaulding.* 

Early Life of General Joseph B. Varnum — Wliile Chelmsford men 
were thus considering the problems of their future relationship to 
King and Mother Country, the same subject was deeply agitating a 
stripling of the Varnum family over the river. Military leadership in 
Dracut was destined to be vested for the entire war of the Revolution, 
and for many years afterward, in a grandson of Colonel Joseph Var- 
num, and son of Major Samuel Varnum. The time of the Stamp .Act 
agitation coincided with the beginning of the illustrious services ren- 

* T^owell Sralding.s to-day have an dropped the "u," but in the old reeoids we 
sometimes find it, sometimes not. — Author. 


dered to his town, State and Natujn by Joseph Bradley Varnum ( 1750- 
1821), who subsequently became a major-general in the Common- 
wealth's service, who represented the Northern Middlesex District in 
the National House of Representatives, of which he was Speaker for 
two terms, and who had the honor during his one term of service in 
the United States Senate of being in 1814 its President and Acting 
Vice-President of the United States. So intimately is the name of this 
soldier and statesman connected with the early history of the Lowell 
district, and so illuminating are his reminiscences, dictated in 1819 
and published in 1888 in the "American Magazine of History," that 
these vie in local interest with the John Varnum journal already 
referred to as a source book of the period. 

The manner of General Varnum's narrative, which runs in the 
third person, is sometimes tinged, it may be said parenthetically, with 
the pomposity of the early days of the Republic when almost every- 
body wrote and spoke in formal and solemn periods. It is. neverthe- 
less, a transparently sincere and very human document. Without 
much reading between the lines one gets from the earlier parts of it 
a vivid picture of a born commander of men, who as a boy so far fore- 
saw the impending revolutionary struggle that while others were 
absorbed with their daily tasks and fun-making, he was accustomed 
to take every possible occasion to visit Boston and study the methods 
of military training used among the royal troops. It reveals a young 
man, just married, who when the outbreak of hostilities was generally 
perceived to be inevitable was so much better informed than any of 
his neighbors regarding drill and discipline that he was chosen captain 
over the heads of much older and more experienced men. His narra- 
ti\e will bear quotation at several points in this history. The auto- 
biography states : 

Joseph Bradley Varnum, son of Major Samuel Varnum and Han- 
nah Mitchell, was born in Dracutt January 29th old stile, or February 
9th new stile 1751 : his father and mother buried their three children 
who died in childhood ; afterwards they had four sons, Samuel, James 
Mitchell, Joseph Bradley and Daniel, and five daughters who all lived 
to be married. James Mitchell had a collegiate education: the rest of 
the family were brought up together with the scanty opportunity of 
schooling which was offered to the youth of that time in the town of 
Dracutt ; and the opportunity was indeed scanty. 

At the age of fourteen, young Varnum was already evincing these 
qualities of foresight and personal initiative which were later to make 
him easily the most eminent person of Northeastern Massachusetts. 

In the year 1765 the account recalls: 

When the famous Stamp Act passed the British Parliament and 
became a law, and a piinciple of liberty and patriotism was raised in 


his breast, although then quite a youth, he applied himself to the study 
of the various systems of government in the world, and especially to 
the propriety or impropriety of the measures which had been taken by 
Great Britain towards America, which by no means lessened his oppo- 
sition to the Stamp Act, nor was he much elated when the repeal of 
this obnoxious act in 1766 took place, when he considered the circum- 
stances and principles in which the repeal was effected. * * * While 
the British troops were in Boston, transported thither with an original 
design of enforcing submission to the mother country, a miHtary 
ardor glowed in his breast, and with a view the better to enable him- 
self to become useful in the defence and in anticipation of the inde- 
pendence of his country, he, \\\ an isolated and apparently obscure 
situation, visited the British troops in Boston from day to day, for 
some time: after what he had acquired from that source he applied 
himself to the study of the most recent and approved authors upon 
tactics and military discipline, by which he acquired man}- of the 
elements of discipline necessary to be possessed by the soldier. 

This intensive preparation of young Varnum's was undoubtedly 
in large measure responsible for the active part which the men of 
Dracut took in the war that followed. "The massacre committed by 
the British soldiery in 1770," he wrote, "seemed to rouse every latent 
spark of the love of liberty and independence which had for some 
time apparently laid dormant in the breasts of the inhabitants of that 
town." Previously there had been but one military company in the 
place. Now it was proposed to form two companies after the model 
of the royal military organization, "and although at that time, accord- 
ing to the views of the people generally, Joseph Bradley Varnum was 
but a boy and quite too young to be intrusted with military command, 
yet having been acquainted with his manners and disposition and 
learned something of his military acquirements, they unanimously 
made choice of him for their captain." Under this captaincy, drills 
were carried on regularly in the years just preceding the armed con- 
flict. It is recorded that "thev went on harmoniously, frequently 
meeting for discipline, and making as much progress therein as the 
nature of the case would permit, until December, 1774, when the Pro- 
vincial Congress thought proper to continue the royal arrangement 
of the militia into regiments and companies as the best adapted rule 
of procedure under existing circumstances." 

While the Dracut men from Scarlet Brook to the Nickel mine, 
and from the Christian Hill to Black North, were thus busily prepar- 
ing for eventualities, their young captain was not neglecting the citi- 
zen's duty of developing a farm and building up a family. "In the 
year 1769," he writes, "he for the first time became acquainted with 
his present beloved wife, that acquaintance was continued until the 
26th day of January, 1773, on which day they entered into the holy 
bonds of matrimony, and on the 4th day of February following, they 


commenced the station of housekeeping at Dracut. She was the 
daughter of a respectable farmer in Pelham, Newhampshire. by the 
name of Jacob Butler." 

Thus was brought into the wartime activities of Dracut, Molly 
Varnum, after whom is named one of the Lowell organizations of 
patriotic women, the Molly Varnum Chapter of the Daughters of the 
American Revolution. This woman, a granddaughter of Deacon John 
Butler, who went from Woburn to Pelham and whose descendants 
are many throughout the Nation, was one of the many heroines of 
the difficult time into which the coli^nies were plunged by their effort 
to secure political independence. As General Varnum wrote of his 
consort : "Notwithstanding the cordiality and friendship which has 
uniformly pervaded both their minds toward each other since their 
first accjuaintance. they have been called upon to sustain many griev- 
ous trials and afflictions which required Christian fortitude to sustain. 
For the first nine years of their dwelling together nothing unusually 
grievous occurred except the loss of a darling daughter eighteen 
months old, while he was absent in the army." Elsewhere the hus- 
band affectionately records the wife's devotion to the revolutionary 
cause. "Through the whole of this struggle he had the consolation 
of the accordance of his beloved wife : when soldiers were called upon 
to go into the service who were not possessed of blankets, her feelings 
induced her to supply them to the best ones she had; when they 
wanted sheets or knapsacks she furnished them by cutting up her 
sheets even to those of her own bed, relying on divine Providence for 
strength to manufacture more in their room." 

The home which General and Mrs. Joseph Bradley Varnum made 
for themselves amidst the trials of a great war was situated on what 
is now Lawrence road, about three miles below Centralville. They 
thus cannot strictly be claimed as residents of the Lowell that was to 
be. So closely, nevertheless, were they identified with the develop- 
ment of the district which Genera! Varnum later represented in Con- 
gress that frequent citation from the autobiography will not trans- 
gress the limits set upon this work of narrative and compilation. 

Tn the }ears following the Boston massacre, it began to be evident 
that such prevision of trouble as young Joseph Bradley Varnum had 
ex])erienced was no hallucination. In August, 1774, in response to a 
call to be represented at a provincial meeting at Concord. Chelmsford 
nominated as its delegates Jonathan W . Austin and Samuel Perham. 
At the meeting the former representative of the town was one of a 
committee "to consider the late acts of Parliament." The report 
which was duly rendered is a long one, resotmding with what John 
Fiske calls the "eft'ort to defend the eternal jirinciples of natural jus- 
tice," It ended by declaring that "a Provincial Congress is absolutely 


necessary in our present unhappy situation." Said the eloquent pero- 
ration : "Our fathers left a fair inheritance to us, purchased by a 
waste of blood and treasure. This we are resolved to transmit equally 
fair to our children after us. No danger shall affright, no difficulties 
intimidate us ; and if, in support of our rights, we are called upon to 
encounter even death, we are yet undaunted, sensible that he can 
never die too soon who lays down his life in support of the laws and 
liberties of his countr}-." 

To the several Provincial Congresses which succeeded the Con- 
cord meeting and which determined many projects of moment to the 
Nation that was then in formation, all the towns of the Lowell neigh- 
borhood sent able and public-spirited representatives. At the Provin- 
cial Congress of Deputies which convened at Salem, October 7, 1774, 
Chelmsford was represented by Simeon Spaulding, Jonathan Wil- 
liams Austin and Samuel Perham ; Dracut by William Hildreth : 
Tewksbury by Jonathan Browne ; Billerica by William Stickney and 
Ebenezer Bridge. The second Provincial Congress of Deputies was 
convened at Cambridge, February i, 1775. Among the deputies were 
these : Chelmsford, Simeon Spaulding ; Dracut, Peter Coburn ; 
Tewksbury, Jonathan Browne ; Billerica, William Stickney. The 
third Provincial Congress met ?t Watertown, May 31, 1775. Here 
again Chelmsford was represented by Colonel Spaulding. Dracut 
sent Deacon Amos Bradley ; Tewksbury, Ezra Kendall ; Billerica, 
William Stickney. 

As the crisis approached, Chelmsford held a town meeting at 
which it was voted to supply equipment to all men on the alarm list 
and to have ready for active service at least fifty minute-men. The 
meeting also appointed a committee of inspection to prevent the sale 
in Chelmsford of any articles imported from Great Britain. The 
people over the river were equally awake. A Dracut committee of 
correspondence, inspection and safety was formed on January 12, 
1775, "for the purpose of communicating and securing an interchange 
of views upon the great questions which are agitating the public 
mind." This organization was effected nineteen days before the 
assembling of the Provincial Congress at Cambridge. A committee 
of townsmen was appointed to "examine and report upon the quan- 
tity, nature and condition of military .stores and ordnance material, 
arms and equipment on hand or obtainable, for any great emergency. 
Report regarding same to be made to town." Four months later the 
Dracut records show that twelve pounds were appropriated for bayo- 
nets, lead for bullets and flints for muskets. This equipment was 
placed in the hands of minute-men subject to training half a day each 
week for ten weeks, "unless the last act of Parliament, the Boston 
Port bill, shall be repealed." 


The Lexington Alarm — "The Civil War was begun at Concord 
this morning," wrote the Rev. Ebenezer Bridge, of Chelmsford, in his 
diary of April 19, 1775. "Lord divert all things for his glory, the good 
of his church and people, and the preservation of British Colonies, and 
to the shame and confusion of our oppressors." 

The alarm summons reached Chelmsford at about 7 o'clock on 
the morning of the 19th. Messengers were despatched over every 
road to warn the militia and minute-men of the town. The first man 
who may be called a pre-Lowell citizen to receive the news was, 
according to data contained in a paper prepared by George F. 
O'Dwyer in 1899 for the Father Matthew Temperance Association, 
Deacon Aaron Chamberlain, a soldier of Captain Barron's company, 
who lived on the old turnpike road near the site of the present city 
farm. Captain John Ford was among the first to be notified in the 
vicinity of Pawtucket Falls. In a short time every soldier of the 
Neck was on his way to the rendezvous at Chelmsford Centre. 

A story has it that on that fateful morning when the people of 
the Centre and the Neck were thus aroused by ringing of bells and 
firing of alarm guns, the godly pastor endeavored to round up the 
minute-men for a brief service of prayer in the meeting house ; but 
that Captain (at that time Sergeant) John Ford, impatiently pro- 
nounced against any such waste of time and hurried his men toward 

Certain it is that Chelmsford men went out in two companies, 
one under Colonel Moses Parker, the other under Captain Oliver 
Barron. These companies reached Concord in time for some of the 
fighting. Among the wounded were Captain Barron and Deacon 
Aaron Chaml)erlain. Captain Davis and Abner Hosmer, Acton mem- 
bers of the company, were killed at the bridge. The sense of exalta- 
tion which this event at Concord i)roduced in Chelmsford is reflected 
in an entry of April 20 in Mr. Bridge's diary. "We are now involved," 
he wrote, "in a war which Lord only knows what will be the issue of, 
but I will hope in His Mercy and wait to see His salvation." 

The two Dracut companies, coming from a greater distance^ 
arrived too late for the fight at Concord bridge, but joined in the jHir- 
suit of the British troops back to Cambridge. 

Five men of Chelmsford achieved especial distinction at the be- 
ginning of the Revolution, two ot whom. Captain jnhn Ford and Ben- 
jamin Pierce, lived in the portion of the town since occupied by 
Lowell, "ilie other three were Colonel Simeon Spaulding, Colonel 
Ebenezer Bridge and Lieutenan, -Colonel Moses Parker. 

Colonel Spaulding, a descendant of I'.dward Spalding (Spalden or 
Spaulding as it was variously S]ielled ) who settled at Braintree about 
1632, and who in 1655 was one of the first settlers of Chelmsford, 


was in his sixty-second year when the war began. His residence 
was at Chelmsford Centre. "In civil matters," writes C. C. Chase, 
"he was doubtless the first and most influential citizen of Chelms- 
ford in the great crisis of the Revolution." He had already been 
town treasurer, 1755-66-67; selectman, 1761-62; and on March 18. 
1755, had been commissioned cornet of the Second Regiment of the 
Provincial Militia. He became colonel during the Revolution. He 
was in the American camp at Cambridge on the day of the Bunker 
Hill battle. He represented Chelmsford in the Legislature in 1770 
and again in 1773 and 1774. In September, 1775, he was appointed 
justice of the peace. He was a member of the Committee of Safety in 
I775"76- Later, in 1779, he was a delegate to the convention which 
framed a Constitution for the State of Massachusetts. He died April 
7, 1785. Through his son, Weld Spalding, and his grandson, William 
Barry Spalding, he counts as one of the forefathers of Lowell. 

Colonel Parker, who was a veteran of the French and Indian 
wars, fought at Bunker Hill. He was wounded in the leg, was cap- 
tured by the British, and died on July 4, 1775, in consequence of an 
unsuccessful, and perhaps unskillful, amputation of his leg. 

Colonel Bridge was a son of the Rev. Ebenezer Bridge, minister 
at Chelmsford, where he was born April 29, 1744. A graduate of Har- 
vard College, he taught school for a time, and then opened a store at 
Billerica, whence the inclusion of his name in the records of that 
town at the beginning of the war. In 1775 he was chosen colonel of 
the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts Regiment. He died at Hardwick, 
New York, in 1814. 

Captain John Ford — The great man of the East Chelmsford set- 
tlement at Pawtucket Falls thrtnighout the Revolution was John 
Ford, mill owner, capitalist and military personage, a native of Haver- 
hill, where his birth was recorded as of November 6, 1738. His father, 
Robert Ford, is supposed to be identical with the Robert Ford who 
was in Lovewell's fight. A legend perpetuated by several historians 
has it that John Ford as a youth was himself a dauntless foenian of the 
redskins and that after he had come to Pawtucket Falls and begun 
operation of a mill, a revengeful Indian ai)])eared and threatened his 
life, only to be seized by the white man, killed and thrown into the 
rushing tail race. As there are several versions of this story, it may, 
perhaps, be accepted as based on fact, though one suspects the Indian 
in the case to have been one of the survivors of the friendly Wamesits, 
who down to the end of the eighteenth century earned a precarious 
living by assisting the passage of logs around Pawtucket Falls, and 
that New England rum rather than long cherished vengeance prob- 
ably supplied the motive for the attack. 



Just when John Ford's remo\nl from Haverhill took p?ace appears 
not to have been determined, l)Ut it is established that "before the 
Revolutionary War, Captain Ford was i-ngaged in a large range of 
business. He owned a saw mill at the foot of Pawtucket Falls, near 
the mouth of the Concord river, and his account book shows that he 
dealt largely in planks, boards nnd other kinds of lumber. He also 
kept a store, furnished with a variety of West India and other g(jods. 
From 1/7 1 to 1782 he sold a great amount of lumljer to Timothy 
Brown, who Ijuilt and occupied as a tavern the celebrated 'Old Yellow 
House' in Belvidere." 

John Ford, as has already been indicated, went to the Concord 
fight in the capacity of a sergeant of the minute-men. He arrived just 
too late for the contest at the bridge, InU was among the col(jnial> who 
harrassed the royal troops on the way back to Boston. In the rear- 
guard action at Hardy's Hill, he displayed conspicuous daring, such 
that Gordun, in his "History of the American Revolution," writes: 
"It can be fully proved that Captain Furd killed fi\-e regulars." 

A fifth man of later fame, whom the stir at Lexington and Con- 
cord ijruught forward, was Benjamin Peirce or fierce, then a youth of 
eighteen years, living with his uncle, Roljert Pierce, on what is now 
Powell street, Lowell. Young Pierce, the story goes, was ploughing 
with a pair of steers when the news of the Britisli invasi(_)n reached 
him. As no horse was a\'ailable he set out on foot for Concord, arriv- 
ing too late for the fight. He continued his walk to Cambridge and 
enlisted in Cajitain Ford's company. He was at Bunker Hill and re- 
mained in the ser\ice in Colonel John Brooks' regiment. After the 
Revolution, he left Chelmsfcjrd and settled on wild land in Hillsbor- 
ough, New Hampshire. He rose to be Governor of that State and his 
son. Franklin Pierce, became President of the United States. 

Battle of Bunker Hill — Large contingents of men from the farms 
now covered by Lowell fought at lUmker Hill in the companies of 
their respective townshi]js. In the steps taken to raise money and 
enroll troops. Chelmsford. Tewksbury and Dracut all adopted patri- 
otic action and sent their respective companies to join the force that 
accumulated in front of the English army at Boston. 

Colonel Ebenezer Bridge, already mentioned, commanded one of 
the regiments which undertook to occui>y the heights in Charlestown. 
Soon after the events of April. 1775, John Ford, foremost citizen of 
the Xeck, undertook to raise among his neighbors a company for 
ser\ice in the [)r(jvincial army. Of this force he was chosen captain. 
His company, as it marched to Cambridge to be enrolled under Gen- 
eral Ward, was composed more largely than probably an}- other of 
ancestors of Lowell people of the present generation. Its meniber- 
shi]) was as follows: 


Captain. John Furd ; lieutenant, Isaac Parker: ensign, Jonas 
Parker: sergeants, JMoses Parker, Daniel Keyes. Parker Emerson, 
Jonas Pierce ; corporals, John Bates, Benjamin Barret, William Cham- 
bers, William Cambill : drummer, William Ranstead ; fifer, Barzilla 
Lew : privates, John Keyes, Alexander Davidson, John Chambers, 
Samuel Britton, Moses Barker, Benjamin Pierce, David Chambers, 
Ebenezer Shed, Samuel Wilson, Nathaniel Foster, James Dunn, 
Isaiah Foster. Benjamin Parker. Benjamin Farley, Enoch Cleaveland, 
Benjamin Butterfield, Samuel Howard, Moses" Esterbrook, Robert 
Anger. Elijah Haselton, John Glode, Jesse Dow, Joseph Spalding, 
Francis Davidson, Oliver Cory, Samuel Marshall, Joseph Chambers, 
Nathaniel Kemp, Joseph Spalding, Solomon Keyes, Isaac Barrett, 
Noah Foster, Reuben Foster, Jonas Spalding, Timothy Adams, Josiah 
Fletcher, John Parker, James Chambers, William Rowel, Silas Parker, 
Benjamin Haywood, Robert Richardson, 'i^homas Bewkel, William 
Brown, James Alexander, Solomon Farmer. 

In Dracut the course of young Joseph Bradley Varnum's mili- 
tary ambitions did not run smoothly in this early period of the war. 
His temporary retirement to the ranks appears, however, to have been 
accepted in good part even though it prevented his name from being 
prominent in the list of those who went against the British at Con- 
cord Bridge and Bunker Hill. The former captain's narrative of the 
happenings of the spring of 1775. as they etTected him. is a model of 
circumspect reminiscence: 

The volunteer companies in Dracutt being attached to good order 
and government, reassumed their standing as private soldiers, and the 
whole company thus again collected made choice of Ste])hen Russell 
as captain, Ephraim Colburn as first lieutenant, Simon Colburn as 
second lieutenant and Abraham Colburn as ensign. These were all 
respectable gentlemen considerably advanced in life, but all of them 
almost totally uninformed in tactics and military discipline. In order 
to acquire a degree of necessary information in the military art they 
employed the said Varnum as an instructor, both to themselves and 
the militia under their command, in which capacity he continued to 
serve them until after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, 
without fee or reward, while he continued in the honorable station of 
a private soldier in the said company, and as such marched with Cap- 
tain Russell to the battle of Lexington which took place on the 19th 
of April, 1775, and upon various other occasions of alarm throughout 
the year 1775, and until the British troops evacuated the town of Bos- 
ton, on the 17th of March, 1776. 

The second Dracut comjiany of this time was commanded by 
Captain Peter Coburn ([737-1S13), who lived in a house still standing 
on Totman street, near where it joins Mammoth road, near Collins- 
ville. This com])any was among those concerned in the Concord 
fight and, after seven days' service, was disbanded. When a few 
weeks later the men were again called out. Captain Peter Coburn was 
in command, taking an important part in the battle of Bunker Hill. 


Tewksbury, too, was well represented in the American forces be- 
sieging Boston. Alost of the minute-tnen from this town were en- 
rolled either under Captain John Harnden, of Wilmington, or Captain 
Benjamin A\'alker, of Chelmsford. Of Tewksbury, in the Harnden 
company, were : John Burt, William Harris, Joshua Thompson. 
Moses Gray and Samuel Manning. In Captain Walker's company 
were: Lieutenant, John Flint; sergeants, Luke Swett and Eliakim 
^Valke^; corporals, Philip Fowler, David Bayley and Peter Hunt; 
drummer, Phineas Annis ; fifer, Isaac Manning; privates, John Bayley, 
Jonathan Beard, John Button, Amos Foster, Jonathan Frost. Jona- 
than Gould. John Hall. Nehemiah Hunt. Josiah Kidder. Eliphalet 
Manning, Joseph Phelps, Samuel Bayle}-, Job Danderly. Timothy 
Dutton. Jacob Frost. Joseph Gray, John Howard, Paul Hunt, Asa 
Laveston, Daniel Merritt, Hezekiah Thorndike. 

Without undertaking to retell the story of the struggle between 
British and colonials for possession of the heights in Charlestown. we 
may notice here a little known circumstance of the period of prepara- 
tion just before the assault on the breastworks. That Bunker Hill 
battle was fought behind properly prepared redoubts instead of from 
the bare hilltop, and that, therefore, the American forces secured the 
encouragement of success through continuing as long as their powder 
lasted was due in large measure to the military perspicacy of the 
leader of the company from East Chelmsford. Of Captain Ford's par- 
ticipation in this afifair, Mr. Chase wrote : 

On the day bef(^re the battle he volunteered to carrv from Cam- 
bridge to Bvmker Hill a message from General Ward. To do this he 
nnist pass over Charlestown Neck in the range of the British guns, at 
the imminent peril of his life. He had orders from General \\'ard to 
dismount from his horse at the neck and cross on foot to escape 
observation. But he ran the risk and passed and repassed on horse- 
back. While at Bunker Hill he warned General Prescott that from 
movements of the enemy it was evident that they were preparing to 
attack the Americans on the hill, and urged the necessity of imme- 
diately throwing up breastwork's and redoubts. Prescott, who had 
not foreseen such an attack, yielded to the persuasion of Captain Ford 
and before the morning of the battle the breastworks were completed, 
without which the Americans could not have held their ground or 
achieved the immortal glory of that illustrious day. 

Early on the dav of the assault at Charlestown, it may be added. 
Captain Ford's company pushed ahead of the rest of their regiment. 
On arrival the captain was ordered bv General Putnam to take charge 
of the operation of two field ,gims. John Ford at first objected that his 
men while good shots with the rifle knew absolutely nothing about 
the handling of artillery. .Xs the Connecticut general, however, pcr- 
sisted, Captain Ford obeyed like a good soldier, and his amateur artil- 


lerists gave a good account of themselves, even though they burst one 
of the guns at the eleventh shot. 

The valor displayed by Captain Peter Coburn, of Dracut, in the 
fierce fighting that followed is a matter of familiar record. He is said 
to have been the last man to speak to General Warren before the gal- 
lant commander fell. "As the .Americans were about to retreat a Brit- 
ish officer sprang upon the breastworks and waved his sword encour- 
aging his men. Captain Peter, hurling a huge stone, knocked him 
backwards, and then followed his men in the retreat." He is said to 
have come back to Dracut with eleven bullet holes in his clothing and 
not a wound on his person. 

The mortality among the men from the Merrimack was consider- 
able at Bunker Hill. An important loss to the Revolutionary cause, 
as already indicated, was that of Lieutenant-Colonel Moses Parker, 
of the Twenty-seventh Regiment, a lineal descendant of one of the 
five Parker brothers who were among the original settlers of Chelms- 
ford. Colonel Parker was taken wounded by the British to Boston, 
where he died as a result of the amputation of his leg, on July 4, 1775. 

In the retirement from the hill, Captain Ford found among the 
wounded his neighbor. Captain Benjamin \\'alker, of the Second 
Chelmsford Company, whom he carried on his back for some forty 
rods. As it soon became evident that both men would be captured. 
Ford dropped his burden at Walker's request and escaped over 
Charlestown Neck. Captain A\'alker, like his fellow-townsman, Colo- 
nel Parker, died in prison from the effects of his wounds and, presum- 
ably, from lack of care. In the battle. Colonel Bridge's regiment had 
fifteen killed and twenty-nine wounded. 

During the siege of Boston that followed the battle of Bunker 
Hill, it became evident to the men at Pawtucket Falls as elsewhere 
that a long war was ahead. Captain Ford and most of his men, after 
nine months' service, reenlisted. In intervals of quiescence thej' were 
permitted to return to their farms for needful operations. They joined 
in the expedition to Ticonderoga, during which Captain Ford kept an 
orderly book that is preserved by a descendant. 

An old enlistment agreement, discovered by Captain J. P. TlKimp- 
son, of Lowell, in 1892, indicates the seriousness with which the 
Chelmsford farmers took their military duties. It contains the names 
of several residents of the "Neck" and is to the following purport : 

We the Subscribers do hereby severally enlist Ourselves into the 
Service of the United Colonies of .America, to serve until the fifth day 
of April next, if the Service shall reciuire it; and each of us do engage 
to furnish and carry with us into Service a good effective Firearm and 
Blanket (also a good Bayonet and Cartridge pouch if possible). And 
we severally consent to be formed such Persons as the General Coun- 
cil shall appoint with a Company of Ninety Men, including one Cap- 


tain, two Lieutenants, one Ensign, four Sergeants, four Corporals, 
one Drummer and one Fifer, to be elected by the Companies, and 
when formed we engage to march to Headquarters of the American 
Army, with the Utmost Expedition, and to be under the Command of 
such Fieldofficer as the General Council shall appoint, and we further 
engage during the Time aforesaid to be subjects to such Generals as 
are, or shall be, appointed, and to be under such Regulations, in every 
respect, as are provided for the arms aforesaid. Dated this — Day of 
January 29, A. D. 1776. Samuel Perham, Snr., Jonathan Stevens, 
Joseph Spaulding, Samuel Twiss, Isiah Keyes, John Mears, William 
Fletcher, Stephen Peirce, the J. P. Herelujahah Fletcher, Jonas 
Spaulding, Oliver Richardson, Ebenezer Gould, Isaiah Foster, Jeptha 
Spaulding, Charles O. Fletcher, John Spaulding, William Pierce. 

On the north side of the river, Captain J. B. Varnum's reinstate- 
ment as an officer was not long delayed after the retirement from 
Charlestown. "The legislature thus formed," he writes, referring to 
the session of 1775-76, "having now organized the militia, they cli\ided 
the town of Dracutt to two com])anies, a choice of officers was ordered 
and the company to which the said V'arnum belonged, both train band 
and alarm list, except seven old men, avowed that they had no dislike 
to him as an officer except as to his age." 

To clinch matters, young Varnum had a personal inter\'iew with 
each of the objectors, and agreed not to accept the tendered commis- 
sion if any one of them would carry his story of dissatisfaction to the 
presiding field officers. This "they one and all refused to do, saying 
they had rather siUimit t<i the choice as it stood than tri be at that 
trouble. He then told them that if they would not be at that small 
trouble he should accept the command, and that he felt fully deter- 
mined to perform his duty without favor or jiartiality: that, therefore, 
notwithstanding their advanced years, they must expect equal with 
the other members of the company to do their duty or abide l)y the 
rigors of the law." With this untlerstaiuling Joseph Bradley \'arnum 
took command of the company on May 31, 1776, under a commission 
from the government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, signed 
by sixteen colonial councillors. This rank of captain he held con- 
tinuously during the war and until April 4, 1787, when there began 
a series of promotions that made him successively lieutenant-colonel, 
colonel, brigadier-general and major-general. In his later life he was 
considered the foremost authority on military matters in Congress. 

Rounding up "Slackers" — The difficulty with which the Ameri- 
can Revolution was prosecuted, after the first elation of success had 
passed, is reflected in the records of the towns out of which Lowell has 
been formed. The war which our ancestors, with help from several 
countries of continental Europe, finally brought to a victorious con- 
clusion was ncnvhere, exccjit in Massachusetts and \'irginia. any- 


thing like a spontaneous uprising of the people. As President John 
Adams afterward wrote: "New York and Pennsylvania were so 
nearly divided, if their propensity was not against us, that if New 
England on one side and Virginia on the other had not kept them in 
awe, they would have joined the British." "The great mass of labor- 
ers, artisans and small farmers," says James Oneal, speaking of the 
attitude of the colonies as a whole, "were indifferent to the agitation 
for liberty and independence." Even in the Bay State, which fur- 
nished a quota of soldiers quite out of proportion to its population, 
strenuous measures had to be taken to bring out the "slackers," and 
to repress the tories. Striking evidences of the efforts made in this 
direction in Dracut are to be noted in the town records. 

Thus, on February 17, 1777, Major William Hildreth, as town 
clerk of Dracut, signed a call for a meeting "To see if the town will 
come into some method such as they shall think most proper for the 
raising of men in Dracut; for recruiting the continental army from 
time to time as shall be occasion ; and to come into some method for 
adjusting past service that persons have done in said town in defence 
of the country." At a subsequent meeting it was voted to give each 
enlisted man £30 exclusive of Continental and State bounties. Later, 
in February, 1778, it was agreed to "give as donation to each conti- 
nental soldier that went into the continental army for the Town for 
three years or during the war, one pair shoes, ditto stockings, and 
two shirts." On May 2 following there came another call for a town 
meeting "to engage men to reinforce the continental army and adjudge 
what each man shall be allowed for services in the present war ; also 
to raise men to go into the army." In August more efforts were made 
to induce soldiers to enlist in General Sullivan's army then operating 
in Rhode Island, and on September i, 1778, it was recorded that a 
town meeting "raised £1535, 10 s. to pay nine months, eight mos., six 
mos. and six weeks men that went into the service the summer past." 
At this meeting the town officers were empowered to "act as commit- 
teemen to raise the men in this town at as cheap a wage as they can 
get them." 

A census, presumably for military purposes, was held in Dracut, 
and reported by John Varnum in 1778, to the effect that "there was 
225, 3 of which were of ye Boston Donationers, one of Charlestown, 
one Idiot, one distraught man that had been so for a number of years 
and who had lost the use of his limbs & altogether incapable of help- 
ing himself for sundry years past & without hopes of recovering & 4 

For the slackness in enlisting there was possibly a certain excuse 
in the latter part of 1776 and the first nine months of 1777, in that no 
considerable military operations were in progress in the vicinity, and 


that much neglected field-work demanded the services of as many 
men as possible. Farm help was scarce and high during the Revolu- 
tion, though by comparison with the prices which the truck farmer of 
to-day in Pawtucketville or South Lowell must pay it would seem 
that Squire Varnum got off easy in April, 1778, when he made the 
following contract : "Settled a bargain with Wm Young for 6 months 
labor, beginning this day. for which I am to give him a wool, home 
made coat, waistcoat & breeches, two shirts, 2 pare of Trowsers, 2 
pare of stockings, a pare of shoes, a hat & 10 $ for which sd W'm 
promised to labor for me for 6 mos from this day." 

When there was exceptional need of soldiers, as in the campaign 
to entrap General Burgoyne in the autumn of 1777, the hardy men on 
either side of Pawtucket Falls did not fail to respond. The call for 
troops to assail the British in New York State came from the Great 
and General Court on September 22, 1777. The towns about the 
Great Bunt replied promptly. 

The ever-reliable Captain Ford shut down his mill and prepared 
his company to set forth toward the northern army on September 30, 
1777. The muster roll of his command in Colonel Jonathan Reed's 
regiment shows the following names : 

Captain, John Ford ; lieutenant. Temple Kendall ; sergeants, Jona- 
than Bancroft, Willard Parker; corporals, Silas Pierce, Caleb Coburn, 
Simeon Cummings ; privates, Olive Barron, Jonathan Shed, William 
Chambers. Jonathan Woodard, Willard Howard, David Putnam, 
Joseph Adams, Samuel Adams. Jeduthan Warren, Samuel Perham, 
Josiah Fletcher, Henry Fletcher. Joel Spalding, David Danforth, 
David Marshall, Aaron Chamberlain. Azariah Spalding. Timothy 
.Adams. Jonathan Robins. Ephraim Robins. Supply Reed. William 
Spalding, Stephen Pierce, Benjamin Butterfield, Levi Fletcher, Ben- 
jamin Haywood, Oliver Richardson, John Hadlock, Joseph Butter- 
field, Joseph Ingalls, Aaron Small. William Fletcher. Benjamin 
Detion, Samuel Lunn. Solomon Pollard, John Marsh, Jesse Butter- 
field, Elizer Farwell, William Parker. Jacob Baldwin. Joseph Tyler, 
John French, Oliver Adams, Samuel Adams. 

This company was out for forty-three days. It brought back 
some fifty prisoners, which it guarded all the way to Cambridge. 

With the Saratoga incident. Captain Ford's military career came 
to an end. For forty-five years subseciuently he dwelt in peace and 
prosperity at the Falls, remembered by his physician. Dr. John .\. 
Green, as "a tall, wiry, active man, bowed by the weight of years and 
his great privations and labors, of few words, direct, of primitive sim- 
plicity and sterling integrity." 

From the Dracut side went forth against Burgoyne. Captain 
Joseph Bradley Varnum's company with the following muster roll : 


Captain, J. B. Varnum ; lieutenant, Ephraim Coburn ; sergeants, 
Abijah Fox, Jonas Varnum, Jonathan Jones, Timothy Parker; cor- 
porals, John Hancock, David Trull; clerk, Joshua Pillsbury ; fifer, 
Barzala Lue (Barzillai Lew); privates, David Jones, Samuel Barron, 
William Abbott, Simeon Coburn, David Coburn, Samuel Coburn, 
Reuben Coburn, Jonathan Crosby, Moses Davis, David Fox, Zacha- 
riah Goodhue, Bradley Varnum, Josiah Hildreth, Daniel Jaqueth, 
John Means, Jonathan Parkhurst, Ebenezer Sawyer, David Sawyer, 
David McLaughlin, Isaac Parker, Samuel Piper, Jonathan Taylor, 
Thomas Taylor, Solomon Woods, John Woods, Peter Hazleton. 

The veteran John Varnum's entries during the weeks of this cam- 
paign are of interesting evidence of the local excitement. They run 
as follows : 

27 Sept. 1777, Orders came for J4 of ye able bodied officers and 
soldiers immediately to march to Tyconderoga. 

29 Sept., Capt. Joseph Bradley Varnum was drawn with 40 men 
to march to ye Westward. 

I Oct., Capt. Varnum and his men tarried until afternoon wait- 
ing for horses. 

I Oct., The Company marched early in ye morning. 

12 Oct., Had news that our people had arrived safely to Benning- 

16 Oct., Old Mr. Davis came home from the Army with ye horse 
that went with the last recruits. Brought word that our friends was 
all well, in high spirits, that Burgoyne's Army was retreating, our 
Army harassing them giving battle. Got many advantages greatly 
embarassing Burgoyne's Retreat. 

Sunday, 26 Oct. 1777. Lt. Ephrm : Coburn, Jona : Jones & Dr. 
Abbot come home from ye Army. Confirmed the surprising account 
of ye Wonderful Victory over Burgoyne and his whole Army, being 
about 7000 all taken. Surrendered to Gen. Gates and laid down their 
arms to us, resigned their public stores, that our Militia was conduct- 
ing them to Boston, expecting they would be in this week. Mr. Davis 
preached an excellent sermon suitable to the occasion, from that part 
of the story of Moses where Pharaoh & his host was pursuing the 
Children of Israel, and had overthrew them in the Red Sea. 

A concise statement of the Dracut participation in the Burgoyne 
campaign occurs in the Joseph Bradley Variunn autobiography: "In 
1777 he [Captain Varnum] marched with a volunteer company to the 
siege of Burgoyne, and on the 17th of October, 1777, he had the con- 
solation of seeing a whole British army, with Burgoyne at their head, 
march from the heights, music beating a retreat, upon the plains of 
Saratoga, and there lay down their arms and surrender themselves 
prisoners of war to the American army and militia." General Var- 
num appends some figures of the number of prisoners and the quan- 
tity of the booty. He adds that "Varnum and his command again 
volunteered their services and guarded the German troops from Sara- 
toga to Winter Hill, near Boston." 


The pleasure with which the neighborhood regarded the success 
of their men at Saratoga is certainly reflected in an entry of Squire 
Varnum's journal: "i Nov., Jona : Parkhurst came home from ye 
Army, brings word that all is well. Zealous for a fife & fiddle for the 
grand apperance the day that Burgoyne's Famous Army is to be 
brought in. A Wonderful Show, a day that our hearts should be 
employed to speak and live to the peace of God." 

In the dreary time between Burgoyne's surrender and the Ameri- 
can victory at Yorktown, the difificulty of securing volunteers was 
persistent. Captain Joseph Bradley Varnum, however, in 1778, 
marched in command of his militia company to Rhode Island to join 
with General Sullivan in his contemplated attack which was to be 
made in conjunction with the French fleet. '"The fleet being dis- 
persed by a heavy gale of wind it became necessary for the General to 
retreat. They retreated by way of Providence and served out their 
term of enlistment at East Greenage and Warwick." Toward the end 
of the war, nevertheless, the prevalent lack of enthusiasm appears to 
have affected even the unusually loyal militiamen of Dracut, for Cap- 
tain Varnum, though in a commendatory way, comes into a record of 
bewailment that fills General Heath's communication of April 7, 1780, 
to the General Assembly of Massachusetts, as disclosed in the Heath 
papers, published by the Massachusetts Historical Society. The Bay 
State commander reported that "letters [from West Point] are so 
replete with representations of the uneasiness and discontent of the 
troops of your line that it would be criminal in me to conceal them." 
One correspondent, quoted by Heath, wrote: "Where is the publick 
spirit of the year 1775, where are those flaming patriots who were 
ready to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, their all for the publick, 
are thev throwing their weight into the scale against those who have 
fought bled and even the widows of those who have been killed in the 
service of their country?" Another correspondent wrote to the gen- 
eral : "Captains Varnum and Bancroft have resigned within these 
three days, with a great numlier of other good officers. I ha\'e not 
heard of one soldier inlisting for a month past." Other similar pas- 
sages might be cited to show that the afifair at Yorktown came none 
too soon to satisfy a war-worn and exhausted people. 

Another bit of evidence of the effort with which enlistments were 
secured is noted in a resolve of the Dracut meeting of February q, 

To pay Kindall Parker Ten Pound money per money he paid to 
hire men into the service in the }ear 1778 18/ for a pair of stockings 

Kendall Parker, who thus apjK-ars in the record as a recruiter, 
advancing his own mimey in the patriotic cause, was a resident of the 


extreme eastern part of the town, an ancestor of Dr. Moses Greeley 
Parker, of Lowell, some time president-general of the National Soci- 
et}- of the Sons of the American Revolution. His military record, as 
published by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 

Private, Capt. Stephen Russell's Co. of Militia in Col. Green's 
Regt. which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775; services, two 
days ; also Corporal, Capt. Joshua Reed's Co. Col. Varnum's Regt. ; 
enlisted Dec. 13, 1775 (service not given); also Private, Capt. Joseph 
Bradley Varnum's Co., Col. Simeon Spaulding Regt. ; abstract of 
equipments for train band and alarm list endorsed '1777'; reported as 
belonging to alarm list ; also, returns, etc., of 2nd Dracut Co. ; list of 
persons who paid money to hire men to serve 8 months in the Conti- 
nental Army, agreeable to resolves passed in April, 1778; said Parker 
with others hired Ebenezer Sawyer, and is reported as having paid 
£10 toward his hire. 

These efforts on the part of public-spirited men and women, it 
should be said, gave Dracut a remarkable reputation for participation 
in the war. In 1904 there was dedicated at Dracut Centre, in front of 
the Yellow Meeting House, a tablet with the following inscription : 

In Memory of the Men of 


Who Served in the Revolutionary War, 

1 775- 1 783. 

423 out of a Population of 1173 

Placed by Old Middlesex Chapter, 

Sons of the American Revolution. 


Suppression of loyalists or "tories" was one of the duties or privi- 
leges of home-staying folk in the country towns of Massachusetts 
during the Revolution. Loyal as the Bay State was in the main to 
the revolutionists' cause, adherents of the King were so numerous and 
so well to do that the Legislature felt itself obliged on April 30, 1779, 
to pass its very drastic Confiscation and Banishment Act. Lancaster 
and other towns of the Nashua river valley were especial centres of 
Tory influence, as shown by Jonathan Smith, in his "Toryism in 
Worcester County," and many families of Dunstable, Westford and 
Chelmsford are indicated by entries in Squire John Varnum's journal 
as infected by the same spirit of disaffection. 

Early Anti-Slavery Spirit — Incidents of the daily life of the neigh- 
borhood show that during the Revolution what may be called distinc- 
tively American ideas regarding human rights and freedom were be- 
coming part of the mental equipment of average citizens. In view, 
indeed, of the part which Lowell was later to play in the great war for 
extinction of feudal slavery in the South, especial interest attaches to 


the hostility toward slave-holding which was already developing in 
New England. The extinction of negrcj slavery, which in Massachu- 
setts had been forecast in such opinions on the subject as were held 
l)y the Varnums of Dracut, was an immediate consequence of the 
Revolution. The popular notion is that the holding of slaves became 
illegal through the adoption of the State Constitution, "which declared 
all men free and eciual." As, however, the late Emory Washlnirn 
showed in one of his contributions to the Massachusetts Historical 
Society, this famous clause "was literally a declaration of what the 
people regarded as already their rights, rather than an exposition of 
any newly adopted abstract principles. * * * It was not, as already 
stated, determined so much by ?ny positive language to enactment in 
the Constitution as l)y that all pervading sense of the community, that 
the time had come when that slavery against which they had been so 
long struggling, was incompatible with their character as a free and 
independent State, and ought to lie suppressed." A datum indicating 
the revised feeling toward slavery is in an item of the John Varnum 
journal of March 4, 1779: "One Stephen Hartwell here to advise 
relating to a Neagro named JelTery Hartwell. Spent considerable 
time with him, at his request relating to said Negros freedom. He 
would have given me a fee. I refused to take one in a Neagro caus." 

The Rescue of Silas Royal — ( )f all the stories of the Dracut inter- 
est in the welfare of colored folk, the most thrilling, assuredly, is 
tliat of the rescue of Silas Royal, faithful servant of the East Dracut 
Varnums. from kidnappers, after a chase that brought forth the Var- 
num clan from Woodbine cemetery down to the Methuen line. Thi.-. 
faithful negro was bought as a baliy by Major Samuel Varnum in 
Boston in exchange for a fine salmon. The little pickaninnv was care- 
fully reared in the hinne which the father of two Revolutionary ofificers 
had built in the easterly part of Dracut about three miles below the 
junction of the two rivers. 

Royal seems to have grown up into a husky young fellow, ])opu- 
lar in the whole coimtryside. An adventurous spirit led him in the 
first days of the war to leave home and enlist on a privateer. Out of 
disputes concerning his share of prize money grew a mass of troubles 
which the eloquent chronicler. Squire Varnum, describes in one of the 
most entertaining passages of his journal. Here is the story: 

June 19, 1778. This morning while at breakfast heard that Joshua 
Wyman [of Woburn] had sold Ryal Varnum, that ye news was 
brought from Westford by Joseph Varnum, Jr., and that sd Ryal was 
carried oft in a covered waggon HandicufFed. On hearing of which 
Immediately called for my horse & galloi)ed to Jos. Varnums to know 
the certainty. He confirmed it. Sent him to Capt. Jos. to come Imme- 
di.itcly & Joyne in ye pursuit to Relive sd Ryal. He came Imme- 
diately. Sent Jonas with my horse. Gave Jonas $20 to bare his ex- 


penses, with orders to pursue with all possible speed, overtake, Bring 
back, and not suft'er such astounding vyolence to Escape with Im- 
punity. They pursued. Came to Woburn, found the news confirmed. 
That it was ye infamous John White, the Scurrilous Tinker of Haver- 
hill, that Bought him (at ye same time knowing sd Ryal was a free- 
man) sd White had Imprisoned him, Woburn people had liberated 
him. Sd \\'hite laid a false charge against him. Said he was an 
Inlisted Soldier in ye Continental service, that he had received $20 
Continental money & had Deserted, that he stole from sundry persons 
& was a thief, & that if ye prison Could not hold him, ye guard should 
& Profainly Swore that he had bought him & would have him some- 
way, and on that complaint, altho he knew it to be false, he put him 
under Guard. There is ye Infamous White, That hath worked by 
some means or other to be a Quartermaster for the Army at or near 
Boston, a fine post to get money when Truth nor Honour be not 

Silas Royal's friends fortunately had influence as well as the 
grafting quartermaster. The sequel was recorded a day later : 

June 26, Capt. Jos. & Jonas Varnum went to Boston. Com- 
plained to Gen. Heath Against sd White, had sd Ryal liberated & a 
promise from ye General that he would take Notice of said White. 
They give him sd White's Just Character, he promised he would take 
notice of it. They went to White, Informed him what they had done. 
He was extremely angry. Curst & Swore very Profainly, they dealt 
him very sharply for his Conduct to Ryal. He said he did not know 
Ryal was free. They told him that he could not know that his Crime 
alleged against Ryal for which he was put in Gaol was true, but that 
he knew ye Contrary. He said all such Damd Neagroes ought to be 
slaves. They told him that Ryal was as Good a man, & of as much 
honour as he. at which he was extremely angry & profain. Laid his 
hand on his Hanger by his side. They told him that they had seen 
Hangers & men before they had seen him or his, that they was ready 
to answer him any way he pleased, that they could not forget his Con- 
duct towards Ryal, that they on sd Ryal's Behalfe should bring an 
action of Damage for false Imprisonment, that such arbitrary Tyrants 
& menstealers should not go unj^unished. They came to Wyman's 
ye same Day, Gave him ye like trinmiing. 

The attempted kidnapping of Royal finally came to court, and 
before Justice John Varnum, the diarist, Captain Joseph Bradley and 
Jonas Varnum gave sworn testimony to the efTect that "some time in 
June, 1778, we heard from Persons of Veracity that Sergeant Wyman 
of \\'oburn had sold Silas Ryal, and that the sd Silas Royal was seen 
in a wagon with irons on his hands between Cambridge and Waltham. 
the sd Royal crying for help, as was supposed ; But the wagon being 
drove fast, were not able to make any pursuit. Upon this intelligence 
we set out in order to rescue the .sd Royal, if possible, from being sent 
torth as a slave, supposing this to be the Intent of the Purchaser." 



In the courts the cause of Silas Royal did not at first run just as the 
V'arnums wanted; but finally matters were adjusted and the delighted 
black man was restored to his C'ld friends. He lived on as a servant 
in the Varnum household until after the General's death in 1821, and 
when he passed away he was buried, at his own request in a corner 
of the Varnum cemetery beside a grave that was reputed to be that of 
an Indian. 

Beginnings of Industrial Lowell. 

The transition of industr\- from a basis of handicrafts to one of 
manufacturing, of social life and customs, from a rural status to 
one of increasing urbanity and cosmopolitanism, began, as for the 
Lowell district of Northeastern Massachusetts, in the period that ex- 
tended from the end of the Revolutionary War to 1822. Events in 
these forty years did not, indeed, move so rapidly as might have 
theoretically been expected toward an industrialism which was 
already established in England and which was more or less generally 
foreseen as impending in the I'nited States. One is struck in going 
over local records of the first decades of the new Republic with the 
persistence of habits of working and living which were fixed long 
before the separation from England. Politically, of course, man's 
ways of thinking underwent a change, but otherwise people were 
inclined to cling to ancient usages and devices for feeding and cloth- 
ing the family. In the third decade of the nineteenth century, new 
ideas, new people, came crowding to the villages and farms about the 
falls of the two rivers. Up to that time East Chelmsford and the 
communities over the river wer^:; only a little more urijan than they 
had been for nearly a century before the Peace of Utrecht. 

Building of canals, nevertheless, development of water powers 
and starting of manufacturing enterprises more ambitious than the 
very simple woolen mills, saw mills and grist mills of the eighteenth 
century were signs of an era that was approaching. The cutting of 
the Pawtucket canal helped to draw public attention to the power 
that ran to waste over Pawtucket Falls. The inauguration of the 
Locks and Canals Company furnished for the first time a definite 
incentive to improve the river for purposes of manufacturing and 
navigation. The building of the Middlesex canal lirought the district 
into closer connection than before with Boston, and its suburbs, 
whence, ultimately, came much of the capital and other help required 
for creating the first American factory city. 

The stable, civilized and generally prosperous condition of the 
communities in question (except that they shared the universal di.s- 
tress which immediately followed the Revolution, and which to a less 
extent was felt before and during the War of 1812) may reasonably 
be emphasized. 

A tradition to the effect that the neighborhood of Pawtucket 
Falls, prior to the coming of capitalists from the coast, was one in- 
habited .solely by uncouth rustics is persistent. A characteristic mis- 


.statement of facts, which should be easily ascertainable, is one in John 
Bach McMaster's "History of the American People" (vol. i, p. 6i): 
"When, in 1820. the fourth census was taken the country around 
Lowell was a wilderness where sportsmen shot game. The splendid 
falls whicli furnish power to innumerable looms were all unused, and 
the two hundred needy beings who composed the whole population of 
the town found their sole support in the sturgeon and alewives taken 
from the waters of the Concord and Merrimack.'' Actually, as has 
been seen, the Dracut communities, which are now wards of the city 
of Lowell, belonged to one of the most prosperous and vigorous towns 
of the Commonwealth, one with a life of its own that would compare 
favorably with any American community of to-day whose interests 
are mainly agricultural. The Neck, or East Chelmsford, by reason of 
its distance from Chelmsford Centre, was less of a communal entity 
than was the present Pawtucketville, but its people were of the same 
enterprising and successful sort. Inferior persons and families there 
were, as everywhere, city or country ; but the record of wills probated 
and the domestic furnishings which are still preserved by descendants 
entirely refute such a notion of universal poverty as might be gained 
from Professor McMaster's characterization. The fisheries to which 
Mr. McMaster refers were of some importance, but any population 
which should have depended upijn them for sole support would have 
been needy, indeed. 

That which was about to happen was, to some extent, foreseen in 
the district. One certainly of those who had prescience of the forth- 
coming industrial development was Squire Varnum, whose opinions 
and deeds have been freely quoted in the preceding chapter, and with 
whom leave must now be taken. In his will, executed shortly after 
his death in 1783, is found this clause: "Whereas I have in this Will, 
Given all m)- Rights of Fishing, wharfing, staging. Building of Mills, 
Dams &c. at ye Petucket l-'alls, and near the same, to my said three 
sons in I'^qual proportions, and as the same may hereafter be of some 
Importance for Mills, I direct that if either of them or their Heirs or 
any of them shall desire to Ijuiid thereon, and the others Interested 
shall Neglect to Joyne therein, those that are Desirous may build 
thereon without Let or hindrance from their Decling Brethren." 

Whatever premonitions of future commercial and industrial activ- 
ity men like John \'arnuni may have had, nothing revolutionary took 
place at once in the life of the settlements about the falls. 

Much of the personal attitude and feeling of this time is reflected 
in reminiscences of the Hildreths, whose chief holdings, as has been 
seen, were on the Dracut side of the river below the mouth of Beaver 
brook, occupying a large part of Centralville north of Bridge street. 


Lieutenant Israel Hildreth — Preeminent in many respects among 
the pre-Lowell Hildreths was Lieutenant Israel Hildreth (1755-1839), 
whom General Reade has most graphically characterized. Assessor, 
appraiser, agent to Boston, banker, bondsman, meeting house builder, 
fish ward, fence viewer, keeper of the town paupers and boarder of 
school dames, overseer of the poor and ordination committee man, 
road commissioner, referee in disputes concerning bounds and fences, 
sealer of weights and measures, school committeeman, selectman, land 
surveyor, town treasurer, town clerk and tithingman — these are some 
of the local offices which he is shown by the town records to have 
held. He had besides, a taste of military experience and his service 
aboard a privateer in the Revolution was not without episodes. He 
lived in a part of Dracut that was afterward annexed to Lowell and 
during his long life time he saw the little villages about the falls in 
process of being overlaid with a thriving city. Much of a conserva- 
tive he appears to have been, least as regards changes in the life of 
the neighborhood which the advent of capitalists from Boston was 
effecting. He led the resistance of Dracut to encroachments upon 
ancient fishing privileges and he otherwise was an opponent of the 
policies of the Locks and Canals Company. 

General Reade's account of Israel Hildreth indicates that he was 
one of those exceptionally strong and complex characters who found 
conditions favorable in the first days of the Republic. He must have 
created an impression of awe among his intimates, for even the mem- 
bers of his famil}- habitually addressed him as "sir," and when he 
entered a room all chattering or merriment ceased. His goodness of 
heart at the same time was universally recognized, and all beggars or 
other persons in need of help were sent to Lieutenant Hildreth. Often 
several beds in the back part of the Hildreth mansion were occupied 
by homeless wanderers whom no one else would have sheltered. His 
means were large for the time, and he was known as a liberal sub- 
scriber to many good causes. In person the Lieutenant was stately 
and dignified, scrupulously neat in his attire and, unlike most men of 
his period, never addicted to tobacco. He had black hair which he 
wore braided into a cue and tied behind with a black ribbon. He 
attended church at Dracut Centre. If on any account the sermon did 
not please him he was liable to leave abruptly, banging the door as he 
went out. In politics he spurned dictation, especially that of his 
down-river neighbor, General Joseph Bradley Varnum, who once tact- 
lessly said to him while both were serving in the Legislature : "Israel, 
of course you will vote as I do." 

Lowell's First Titled Resident — Intimate glimpses of the quality 
of the social life of the neighborhood directly after the Revolution are 
similarly afforded by the story, which Mrs. Griffin has most graphically 

L— 7 


tuld, of a distinguished alien who came to spend the remaining years 
of his life in the older part of Dracut. Colonel Marie Louis Amand 
Ansart de IMarasquelles, son of a French marquis and nephew of the 
celebrated Marquis Montalambert. or Colonel Ansart, as he was demo- 
cratically known after he became a resident of this country, was one 
of the conspicuous residents of the Merrimack valley for a number of 
years. He had come from France to help the revolutionists in 1776. 
Because of his special knowledge of artillery, he was made colonel of 
artillery and inspector-general of the foundries of Massachusetts, an 
office which he held throughout the Revolutionary \\'ar. Not caring 
to return to France he was naturalized in the courts of IVLassachusetts. 
He chose a home in Dracut through his friendship, as it is supposed, 
with General James RL \'arnum. He bought the farm on \'arnum ave- 
nue known as "The Min.istree," which had been occupied by Rev. 
Thomas Parker and there he lived down to his death in 1S04. As a 
resident of the community at Pawtucket Falls, Colonel Ansart took a 
live interest in local hajipenings, and his name appears frequently in 
the records. He kept servants, both white and black, including a 
French cook. His sulky, to which a fine span of horses was hitched, 
is said by Mrs. Griffin to have been the first vehicle of its kind in 
Dracut. There seems to be reason for believing that Colonel Ansart 
spent more than his income. After his death, at all events, Mrs. 
Ansart, in 1804, petitioned Congress for a pension, setting forth her 
late husband's services and the straitened circumstances in which he 
left his family. This petition was referred to a committee, but no 
action was taken until March 17, 1806, when the widow was given 
leave to withdraw, .\fter Mrs. Ansart's death in January, 1849, a 
pension was granted the children. 

Colonel Ansart's long-lived sons, it may be added, are well re- 
membered by people of Lowell and Dracut who in 1918 are not be- 
yond middle age. Their residence in the homestead on \'arnum ave- 
nue in the seventies and eighties gave to many a sense of nearness to 
the revolutionary struggle. Concerning the later survivor of these 
"Sons of the American Revolution," the "Evening Star" published an 
obituary on November 18, 1892, which contains interesting and valu- 
able data as follows : 

Abel Ansart, an old citizen of Lowell, died of pneumonia recently 
at the residence of his son. George Ansart, at Londonderry, N. H., 
with whom he had resided for a number of years past, at the advanced 
age of 94 years, i month and nine days. Mr. Ansart was born in 
Dracut on what is now called Varnum Avenue, and was a son of 
Louis Ansart, an officer in the Revolutionary war, who came from 
France in 1776, and was emjiloyed by our government in casting can- 
non, and appointed inspector general of the foundries. Col. Ansart 
was an educated Frenchman. Some time after the death of Col. 



Ansart Abel, the third son, went to live with Daniel Webster, with 
whom he lived for many years. He became a great favorite with Mr. 
Webster, and the writer has frequently heard him relate incidents in 
connection with his experiences in the Webster family. After he 
had returned to Dracut to live the great statesman would sometimes 
send for him to go on hunting and fishing excursions with him. Two 
of the sons of Col. Ansart remained in Dracut, viz. Atis, who died 
April i8, 1888, at the age of 91 years, and Abel, the subject of this 
sketch. They became residents of Lowell by the annexation of the 
territory where they lived in 1874. 

Belated recognition of the importance of this first titled resident 
of Lowell came about in recent jears. For a long time a simple head- 
stone in the Woodbine cemetery occasionally caught the eye of the 
curious. Mrs. Griffin's account of Colonel Ansart's career, in her book 
on old Lowell houses, brought to light many forgotten details. The 
Dracut Library, since February 22, 1906, has had a portrait of him, 
believed to be authentic. This work was given at a meeting of the 
historical committee of the Molly Varnum Chapter, Daughters of the 
American Revolution, of Lowell, Silas R. Coburn receiving the picture 
and making a response in behalf of the library trustees. Under the 
portrait is an inscription : "Marie Louis Ansart de Marasquelles, colo- 
nel of artillery, inspector general of Massachusetts foundries in the 
War of the American Revolution ; naturalized in 1793 by the name of 
Louis Ansart; born in France in 1742, died in Dracut in 1S04." 

The Crushing of Shays' Rebellion — The political and military 
history of the Lowell district in the last years of the eighteenth cen- 
tury and the first decades of the nineteenth is hardly to be told, con- 

Since Shays' rebellion of 1786-87 in W'estern Massachusetts was 
directh- responsible for a concerted movement toward a more stable 
National government and a National constitution, the participation of 
Dracut and Chelmsford men in it has some special interest. After 
the Revolution, as is well known, the economic conditions of most 
American communities were deplorable in the extreme. The poorer 
classes of society, in particular, were hard pressed. Money was scarce. 
Farmers and others were very generally reduced to the expedient of 
barter. Thousands signed pledges to resist any court that attem]5ted 
to take their property and to resist the public sale of goods that had 
been taken to pay debts. Those circumstances led to the revolt of 
many representatives of the debter class under Daniel Shays, a former 
soldier of the Revolution. 

W'ithout entering into discussion of the real story of Shays' rebel- 
lion, which others who follow the economic interpretation of his- 
tory have told convincingly, it should be chronicled that one of the 
leaders in suppressing the revolt was attended by a following of Var- 


nunis, Coburns, Parkers, Pierces, Hildreths, Tylers and representa- 
tives of other families of the farms about the falls. The foremost 
military and political figure of northern Middlesex county, Joseph 
Bradley Varnum, of Dracut, in the winter of 1786-87, left the Senate 
chamber and marched with his company to aid General Benjamin Lin- 
coln in cjuelling the rebellion. While the campaign was short and 
bloodless the service was severe on account of the bitter weather. 
The Varnum auto1)iography contains a succinct account of the night 
march of thirty-three miles to Petersham through the crunching snow 
without a mouthful of food, an exploit which virtually spoiled Shays' 
chances of success. In the midst of the excitement General Lincoln 
found himself in need of funds with which to pay the troojxs. He sent 
Captain Varntmi to Boston. The efficient officer covered a journey 
of three hundred and twenty miles in three days and one-half, and 
therebv won a special letter of approval from the commander. 

The intense feeling against the lower orders of society that was 
aroused throughout Massachusetts by Shays' rebellion was notably 
strong in the territory from which Joseph Bradley Varnum was thus 
summoned to render effective aid. Being then State Senator, General 
William Hildreth wrote out an oath of allegiance under date of March 
4, 1787, which was signed by many of the neighbors. "The signers," 
writes General Reade, "were sworn before a justice of the peace and 
their affirmation of principle and patriotism deserves to be honored by 
all Americans.'' The wording ni this oath, which is quite representa- 
tive of the literary style of the late eighteenth century in North 
America, is as follows : 

We, the stibscribers, do trtily and sincerely acknowledge, profess, 
testify and declare that the commonwealth of Massachusetts is and of 
right ought to be, a free, sovereign and independent state ; and I do 
swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the said common- 
wealth and that I will defend the same against traitorous conspiracies 
and all hostile attemjits whatsoever, and that I do renounce and abjure 
all allegiance, subjection and obediance to the King, Queen or govern- 
ment of Great Britain (as the case may be), and every other foreign 
power whatsoever ; and that no foreign Prince, Prelate, State or 
Potentate hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, supremacy, promi- 
nence, authority, dispensing or other power which is or may be vested 
by their constituents in the Congress of the United States. 

And I do further testify and declare that no man, or body of men, 
hath or can have any right to absolve or discharge me from the obli- 
gation of this oath, declaration or affirmation, and that I do make this 
acknowledgment, declaration, denial, renunciation and al)juration 
heartily and truly according to the common meaning and acceptation 
of the foregoing words without any equivocation, mental evasion or 
secret reservation whatsoever. So help me God. 


The first signers of this oath of allegiance were J. B. Varnum. 
William Hildreth, Thomas Hovey, Israel Hildreth, Parker Varnum, 
Joseph Varnum, Bradley Varnum, Joseph Varnum, James Varnum, 
Peter Parker, Stephen Russell, Josiah Hildreth, George Stevens, 
Thomas Coburn, James Harvey, Richard Hall and Samuel Barron. 

Another local incident which illustrates the feelings started by 
the Shays' disturbances concerns the ever loyal Molly Varnum. "Dur- 
ing this winter's campaign," writes General Varnum. in his autobiog- 
raphy, "Mrs. Varnum was annoyed by a number of those friendly to 
the insurrection and insulted in a most menaced manner, but that 
heroic zeal and unde\'iating patriotism which was her uniform char- 
acteristic during the Revolutionary War enabled her promptly tti repel 
their insinuations and menaces in a manner which compelled them to 
retire with apparent shame and confvision of face." 

An order on the town of Dracut dated in January, 1787, gives an 
indication of the method of financing the campaign against Shavs. It 
is in the following phraseology : 

To Mr. Joseph Varnum, Treasurer of the Town of Dracut or Suc- 
cessor in sd. office pay to us the subscribers Selectmen of Dracut four 
pounds sixteen shillings which said sum the Selectmen paid to the 
.Soldiers of Dracut when they marchd. towards Worcester for the 
Defence of this Commonwealth also twelve shillings to deliver to Mr. 
Kindel Parker Junr. for expense^ for man and horses carrying Provi- 
sions to the Army. TiioM.-vs Hovky, 


Dracut Jan. ye 23, 1787. Selectmen of Dracut. 

A Contested Election — The district of which Chelmsford, Dracut 
and Tewksbury were a part in 1795 elected to membership in the 
Fourth National Congress, General Varnum, who was an anti-Fed- 
eralist. An evidence of the political animosities of the time occurred 
when this election was promptly challenged by some of the successful 
candidates' adversaries on the ground that, acting as selectman of 
Dracut, he had allowed certain votes to be received and counted, 
although those who cast them were ineligible to vote. A committee 
of Congress was appointed to look into the legality of Mr. Varnum's 
election. Their report was to the eiYect that the "people of Dracutt 
were so satisfied as to give no information on the subject; and that 
the universal respect for Mr. Varnum where he lived contradicted the 
old proverb that 'a prophet is not without honor .save in his own coun- 
try'." The report was a complete vindication, since "no one of the 
plaintiffs or their agents had appeared to prosecute the complaint; 
that the sitting member had evidence that the election in the town of 
Dracut (the unfairness of which had been complained of) was con- 
ducted with justice and propriety, and though there had been some 


irregularities coininitted in other places, they niListly owing to the 
misconduct of the petitioners, and that the conduct of the sitting mem- 
ber has been fair and honorable throughout the whole transaction." 
The Congressional district, of which Lowell was soon to be the chief 
city centre of poi^ulation, took j'ride in the rapid rise of this son of 
Dracut to a commanding place in the Nation and he never lacked 
local supjKjrt in the elections which returned him to several subse- 
quent Congresses. 

The fervor and rancor of American politics in the first four or five 
administrations has impressed more than one student of our history, 
and the corner of Massachusetts under sur\-ey was tyijicall}- American 
in this as in other regards. 

Politically as well as in social aspects there a;ipears to ha\'e been 
consideral)le diflference between Chelmsford and Dracut in the first 
years of the Repuljlic. The commtmity south of the Merrimack was 
inclined toward Federalism ; in the precincts beyond Pawtucket Falls 
the ]3ersi:]nal influence of tlie \'arniinis was ])erhaps not the iinl\- factor 
in keeping the electorate strongly democratic. 

A characteristic election w?s that of 1809, when the anti-Federal- 
ists in opposition to Christ<i]iher Gore nominated for the Governorship, 
Levi Lincoln' for Lieutenant-Governor, Joseph Bradley Varnum. The 
Federalists, as was expected, carried the State. The votes of the two 
towns in question was: 

Core. Lincoln. 

Chelmsford 95 lOO 

Dracut 23 171 

In the midst of the high feeling created by the op])osition of Mas- 
sachusetts Federalists to the second war with Great Britain the Re- 
|)ublicans on a platform favoring vigcjrous prosecution of the war 
nt)ntinated General Varnum for Governor and William King for Lieu- 
tenant-Governor. The intrenched candidate for reelection was Caleb 
Strong. The canqiaign was an acti\'e one in which the State rang with 
such doggerel as "A Republican Song" with a \'arnum and King 
chorus of which the first and last stanzas are possibly enough to 
qu(.)te : 

Election approaches! ye Freemen attend 
.■\nd take the advice of a plain-hearted friend. 
If you're faitliful in duty I'll venture to sing 
^'on arc- sure of the triumph of \'arnum and King. 

^ * * * * * 

Then be active and firm, ye Repulilican souls, 
.■\nd let nothing keep you away from the polls, 
For Honor and Truth and Liberty sing 
Huzza for .America. \'arnum and King. 

Des|)ite the ])ersonal respect in which the candidate frum Dracut 
v\'as held, he failed to be elected, and Massachusetts was left in the 


position of the leading defeatist Commonwealth. The vote of April 
5, 1813, in the towns of the Lowell district was as follows: 

V'arnum. Strong. 

Dracut 148 61 

Chelmsford 93 151 

Tewksbury 100 57 

War of 1812 — Defective as the records of the War of 1812 are, it 
is evident that the militia of Chelmsford, Dracut and Tewksbury stood 
ready for service just as the minute-men of 1775 had been prepared. 

When general orders were issued to the State Guard on July 3. 
1812, two of the three commanding officers of the Southern Division 
were Dracut men, the orders being received by Major-General Joseph 
B. Varnum and Brigadier-Generals Ebenezer Lothrop and William 

The hostility of Boston and the other coast towns to the war was 
such that the early preparations for possible invasion appear to have 
been much of a farce. Governor Strong mounted a few cannon on 
Boston Common in a position of so evident uselessness that they 
were made the subject of sarcastic jest by his political opponents. It 
was not until after the ca])ture of Washington in the summer of 1814 
that the Commonwealth became aroused to the need of ecpiipmcnt 
against possible and probable assault. On September 6, of that year 
came orders from Adjutant-General J. Brooks for "the whole of the 
militia to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice." 
Pursuant to the spirit of these orders a convention of citizens of Mid- 
dlesex county met at Concord with Hon. Amos Bond as chairman. 
Dracut was represented in the committee on resolutions by Brigadier- 
General Simon Coburn, General \'arnum's son-in-law, whose asso- 
ciates were the Hon. William Eustis, Hon. Samuel Dana, Mr. Bond, 
Dr. Thomas Whitcomb, Colonel Enoch Wiswall and Colonel John 
Chandler. The resolutions called for immediate preparation of the 
forces asked for by the Governor, for their proper c(|uipmcnt by the 
selectmen of their respective towns and other measures of preparation. 
In the fortification of Fort Strong that followed some of the Middle- 
sex companies were used, but the towns in the Lowell territory 
seem not to have been represented. The district on the \\hole can 
hardly be said to have participated extensively in the second war with 
England, but that circumstance was due primarily to the attitude of 
leading families at Boston and other commercial centres of New Eng- 
land. General Varnum, who was a vigorous supporter of Madison's 
administration and of an aggressive military policy, was President of 
the L'nited States Senate in 1813-14. 

Forty Years of Industrial Expansion — .\ gradual di\crsificatiiin 
of the vocational activities of the people about Pawtucket Falls may 


be traced during the period of about forty years in which the contests 
between Federalists and Republicans stood for a genuine opposition 
of interests between shore towns of New England and the unde- 
veloped hinterland. 

"By common consent," writes Weeden in his "Economic and 
Social History of New England," "the year 1783 has been made an 
epoch in industrial develojjment.'" In that year the political independ- 
ence of the United States was definitely guaranteed ; there were not 
wanting those of the dominant social classes who already forsaw the 
economic independence of the continent. "By the American war and 
the political and industrial complications in India," says Thorpe in 
"A History of the American People," "the British navigation system 
recei\'ed a fatal blow. No longer could England locate or monopolize 
the markets of the world and dictate the terms of trade. * * * With 
freedom came newness of industrial life. The L'nited States l.iecame 
the one neutral nation (jf the ci\ilized jjortion of the giobe. and this 
unique position had a remarkable and favorable effect upon her popu- 
lation. The winning of American independence was the stimulus to 
tile industrial action of the mocki'n wurld." 

The necessity of rapidly acquiring new and more efficient means 
of wealth production was enforced by the financial condition in which 
must Communities found themselves at the close of the long struggle. 
"It is not too much to say," writes John Fiske in "The Critical Period 
of American Histi:)r\-." "that the period of five years following the peace 
oi 1783 was the most critical moment in all the history of the .Ameri- 
can people." "The war. like all wars," states James Oneal. "left the 
country devastated and impoverished, and the distress was frightful 
in all the states. In \ ermont one-half the community was ti_itally 
bankru])t ; the iither half was plunged in the depths of po\erty. The 
year which had elajjsed since the aft'air at Yorktown had not brought 
all the blessings that had been foretold. .\ large part of the country 
had Ijeen laid waste ; commerce was all but suspended and Great 
Britain still maintained the policy of commercial antagonism toward 
her late colonies." To quote again from Thorpe: "Had industrial 
prosperity been alUnved the colonists the Revolutionary War would 
doubtless have long been delayed. Perhaps it might not have 
occurred. It was the relentless and irresistible pressure of economic 
necessity that ])recipitated the war. Whatex'er the aspects of the 
eighteenth century literature, it all signifies that the war began as an 
industrial struggle, was waged to the end as an industrial struggle, 
and left behind it grave economic prol)lenis. many of which are not 
yet settled." 

That which is most significant in the story of Lowell is that this 
community presents intensiveh' all the familiar phases of the trans- 


formance of an agricultural countryside into a modern industrial cen- 
tre. Enough occurred between 1783 and 1822 to indicate how inevita- 
ble such an evolution would be, whatever the particular form it might 
take at the falls of the Merrimack. 

The sudden upgrowth of interest in transportation and manufac- 
turing which was one of the phenomena of the post-Revolutionary era, 
arid which was soon felt in the communities at East Chelmsford and 
West Dracut, resulted, in brief, from causes that are cjuite apparent. 
Prior to the war the strip of seaboard from Maine to Florida had lieen 
regarded by the ruling classes of England as one of their prime oppor- 
tunities for profitable investment. Restrictions of every conceivable 
kind had been ]5laced on colonial enterprise. Parliament in 1750 pro- 
hibited the colonials from erecting mills or api)aratus designed to slit 
or roll iron, to do plating or to make steel. No hatter might employ 
more than two apprentices — an obvious plan of preventing the de- 
velopment of hat factories. Hats or woolens made in one colony 
might not be sold in another colony. Despite the considerable smug- 
gling of locally made articles there was. therefore, relatively small 
incentive to engage on manufacturing on any large scale. 

This oppression from overseas naturally often overreached itself. 
"The acts restricting commerce and manufacture," says Oneal. "were 
aimed, as we have seen by the British ruling class against the colonial 
ruling class. This was sufficient to arouse the resentment of the lat- 
ter and dri\e most of them to revolt. But our colonial manufacturers 
were also aware of the great ad\antages which their British brethren 
possessed in the new machinery that Arkwright and others were in- 
venting across the sea. Machines for carding and spinning were fast 
displacing the old hand processes in making cloth. * * * To guard 
this advantage the British parliament passed acts prohibiting the ex- 
portation of machines, plans or models of machines or any tools used 
in cotton or linen manufacture, under penalty of 200 pounds. Even 
the possession of them for export rendered the offender liable to 

Nearly forty years elapsed before the full ajijiaratus of the factory 
system, as evolved in Great Britain, was available for setting up at 
Lowell; but in the meantime a work of ])re])aration toward this out- 
come was visibly going forward. 

The Era of Highway Making and Canal Building — Improvement 
of transportation facilities was one of the subjects that first occupied 
the attention of enterprising men at the end of the eighteenth century. 

In a countryside like that of Eastern Massachusetts, with its large 
population more evenly spread over the farms, less congested into 
towns than it now is, the problem of distributing commodities not 
unnaturally seemed to be of paramount concern. Until, indeed, the 


motor car once more gave the open highway a renewed importance, 
New England roads, and incidentally roadside taverns, were never so 
busy as in the days just prior to the introduction of steam navigation 
and the steam railway. 

Across the corner of Lowell that lies between North Billerica and 
Middlesex Village passed in the first years of the nineteenth century 
an almost continuous procession of huge wains called "baggage 
wagons." These were part of a regular transportation system cover- 
ing Central New Hampshire, and the valley of the Upper Connecticut. 
Each wagon was covered with a canvas top and the goods were 
securely jirotected by tarpaulins. In winter the wains were replaced 
liy two horse sleighs. These vehicles brought butter, cheese, apple 
sauce, dried apples, dressed hogs maple sugar and other farm products 
to Boston and returned with salt fish, groceries, dry goods and much 
Medford rum. 

The old tavern, still standing in lyiS in Middlesex X'illage, was 
long a fa\-orite hostelry of the drivers in this service. It was only one 
of almost innumerable places of refreshments between Boston and the 
outlying settlements of Northern New England. The prices which 
teamsters paid for entertainment at such houses as this one seem rea- 
sonable as judged by modern stiindards. In 1814, according to J. B. 
French's recollections, lodging at taverns in Chelmsford cost six nr 
eight cents, the former rate prevailing if two shared a lied. Meals 
were twelve and a half cents each. "It was not an uncommon occur- 
rence," remarks Mr. French, "when the teamsters were seated around 
a good fire in the evening, for the landlord to bring in and treat to 
what cider the com[)any might want ; and sometimes when competi- 
tion ran pretty high for this kind of travel, a glass of 'sling' or 'bitters' 
was thrciwn in on settlement in the nmrning." 

Even after the Middlesex canal was built, much of the traffic be- 
tween East Chelmsfi_)rd and Boston continued to go over the high- 
ways. "Teaming from what is now Lowell and the adjoining towns," 
wrote Mr. French, in 1874, "was done by ox teams almost entirely, 
both summer and winter, in going to market, which was either Boston 
or .Salem. Teams usually started from home the forei:>art of the day, 
carrying their own jjrovision for man and beast, traveling all dav and 
such jiart of the night as to enable them to reach market early the ne.xt 
morning, and disposing of their load that forenoon, would start for 
home in the afternoon, reaching home the third day or night in the 
afternoon or evening, as a general rule without much rest or sleep 
except such as they were able to get while their teams were feeding." 

Mow mieconomical this mode of trans])ortation was can readily be 
untlerstood. It kept a large body of otherwise productive workers on 
the road. It prevented use of oxen and horses in farm work. It was 


liable to interruption in "mud time." The heavy teaming entailed 
great expenses upon the towns for maintenance and repair of roads. 
That favorable conditions for this large volume of teaming were 
kept up is proof of essential Yankee enterprise and conscientiousness. 
The office of road surveyor was entrusted to an energetic and careful 
man. Typical of the scrupulousness with which the highways were 
maintained are entries in the Dracut records regarding the repairing 
of what is now the main road between the cities of Lowell and Law- 
rence, and which then connected the communities at the falls with 
Methuen and Haverhill. In 1800 Jonathan Parker, serving as "Sur- 
veyor of Highways and Townways in the Town of Dracutt," was in- 
structed "To mend and repair" the road beginning at the school house 
near the Prescott Varnum place as far as the Methuen line, and he 
was commissioned "to alow one dollar per day for a man working at 
said way and fifty-six cents for a yoke of oxen at said way until the 
first day of August and after that fifty cents for a man per day and 
thirt3--three cents per daj- for a yoke of oxen and twenty-five cents per 
day for a cart when used." This order was signed by Thomas Hovey, 
Timothy Barker, Jr., and Solomon Osgood, Jr., assessors of Dracut. 
Similar entries might doubtless be drawn from the Chelmsford and 
Tewksbury records. 

The Original Pawtucket Bridge — Building and maintenance of 
bridges likewise assumed much consequence in the decades when 
trade expansion was primarily efifected by extensions of good roads. 

The story of the first bridge over the Merrimack at Lowell, at the 
location now occupied by the sightly Pawtucket Bridge of reinforced 
concrete, is closely connected with the development of a trade route 
over Mammoth road to Derry, Londonderry, Chester and other in- 
terior towns of Southern New Hampshire. The economic and social 
effects of this undertaking supplanting the tedious and unreliable 
Clark's Ferry at Middlesex, and Bradley's Ferry at CentraKille. were 
such that the details may properly be set forth with some am])litude, 
and the narrative carried down into years succeeding the incorpora- 
tion of the town of Lowell. 

In this building of the predecessor of Pawtucket bridge, Lowell 
claims a certain priority among the towns of the Merrimack valley. It 
was the first to span the river in Massachusetts. Twenty-one days be- 
fore the Fssex bridge at Newburyport was opened for traffic, which 
occurred on November 26, 1792, passage, free of tolls for twenty-four 
hours, was admitted to the Middlesex Merrimack river bridge, regu- 
larly incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts. This was thus a 
pioneer installation of its kind, .-\lready in preparation for the event, 
the Mammoth road— its grandiloquent name delightfully expressive 


of the spirit of its age — had Ijccn laid out through Dracut into the 
New Hampshire towns to the nortli. 

The Middlesex bridge proprietorship, in the organization of which 
Parker Varnum, son of Squire John Varnum, was the leading figure, 
was formed in February, 1/9^, under the style of the "Middlesex River 
Bridge Corporation." The ])lan was duly approved by Governor John 
Hancock. At a meeting of stockholders held at the house of Joel 
Spalding in East Chelmsford, now the home of the Molly Varnum 
Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonel 
Loammi Baldwin, of Woburn, was elected president, Parker Varnum 
clerk and Colonel James \'arnum treasurer. 

The bridge planned at this meeting was entirely of wood. Work 
was begun on the structure in June, 1792. 

To hurry operations forward the president was instructed by the 
directors to buy at Boston two barrels of New England rum and every 
laborer was allowed half a pint a day "when called for by the master 
worker." This purchase may have looked like favoritism toward the 
workers, for a little later the president was instructed to obtain a 
barrel of West India rum for use of the proprietors. Jocular intent, 
it ma}' be, was inherent in a minute t(_i the effect that directors absent 
from regular meetings must pay "a fine sufficient to pay for two mugs 
of flip or toddy." 

The eft'orts of the carpenters, thus encouraged Ijy generous pota- 
tions, seem to have been redoubled, for the work was finished long 
before cold weather came to make it arduous and disagreeable. On 
the evening before the opening day a s]>ecial supper was provided for 
sixty of the proprietors and laborers. The menu has not been pre- 
served. It is a safe surmise that the viands were not unaccompanied 
by flip and toddy. 

Tolls were collected on the new bridge by Ebenezer Bridge, of 
honored Chelmsford name. In the first three months the receipts 
were £18, 14s. SVjd. An immediate efifect was greatly to increase the 
importance of the community at West Dracut, and, as will be shown 
in the subsequent account of the Pawtucketville church, to bring the 
residents of the Pawtucket street and W'annalancet Hill district of 
Lowell into close parochial relations with the church over the river. 

The record book, still in existence, of the proprietors of Middle- 
sex Merrimack bridge is one of the invaluable source books for the 
years between 1792 and the incorporation of the new town of Lowell. 
."Xmong several interesting circumstances which it reveals is some 
evidence of a movement in 1813 toward setting ofif a separate town to 
include the eastern part of Chelmsford and the western part of Dracut. 
This incorporation, which would have been more logical than the one 
actually occurring a few years later, would have corresponded sub- 


stantially with the hmits of the present city, exclusive of Belvidere 
and Centralville. It would, however, presumably have taken in a 
larger section of Dracut than that which was later annexed under the 
name of Pawtucketville. 

The Washingtonian temperance movement is shown by the 
bridge proprietors' book to have been still far in the future in the first 
decade of the nineteenth century, for, in keeping with the conditions 
of the original construction, the management continued to be liberal 
in their supply of strong liquor for their workmen. The following 
record is characteristic: "1803. June 22. Being about to rebuild 
with stone abutments, voted to have the treasurer procure rum by the 
barrel and sugar by the quantity, and deal it out to the workmen." 
That this favoring attitude toward products of the still was not 
coupled with any hostility toward religion, of which the proprietors 
may be assumed to have been staunch "professors," is indicated by a 
vote passed a little later olTering "free passage to all persons to any 
public meeting at the West Meeting-house in Dracut." It was, indeed, 
a deacon of this church, of whom the story is told that being in Boston 
to lobby for some privilege concerning the bridge, he was met by two 
of his fellow proprietors in a bar room. "Well, deacon, what shall we 
have to drink?" "I don't know as it will do for me to take anything," 
was the cautious reply, "unless perhaps it be a leetle gin for my com- 
plaint." The "complaint," of course, was generally believed to be 

The bridge at the falls continued throughout the pre-Lowell 
period to offer the only continuous highway to the farming districts 
north of the river. The desirability of having a second bridge a 
couple of miles further down river, to relieve inhabitants of eastern 
Dracut from the tiresome detour around the Great Bunt, seems to 
have been felt long before Central bridge was successfully projected. 
The proprietors at Pawtucketville did not welcome competition, as 
may be observed from this entry : "1823. Jan. 16. At a special meet- 
ing voted to choose an agent to oppose in the Legislature the petition 
of Edward St. Loe Livermore for a bridge over Merrimack River at 
Hunt's Falls, so-called." 

Year by year until long after Lowell was a thriving city, passen- 
gers paid toll at Pawtucket bridge, and the proprietors counted on 
receiving substantial dividends. The business methods under which 
they operated would excite the ridicule of a modern accountant. "The 
actual toll money," writes James S. Russell in his paper, "How Paw- 
tucket Bridge Was Built," read before the Old Residents' As.socia- 
tion, August 4, 1887, "was emptied upon the table, counted and after 
deducting the quarter's expense, the remainder was divided by sixty, 


the number of shares. Each one present bagged his pile, and others 
at their leisure obtained their portions by calling upon the treasurer." 

As an enterprise the building and operation of the bridge was a 
good investment. No special provision was made for depreciation and 
obsolescence. When repairs or rebuilding became necessary the 
shareholders were liable to assessment, but in only one year, in 1818, 
was it required that an assessment be paid in cash. Ordinarily a cer- 
tain percentage of the annual dividend was withheld and called an 
assessment. The original shares cost $125. They sold as high as 
S300. The dividends, amounting in some years to as high as eighteen 
dollars a share, averaged to net about twenty-four per cent, on the 
first investment. The first cost of the bridge was $8,000. When, 
finally, after enjoying very sulistantial returns for more than half a 
century the proprietors were recjuired to sell out in the interest of 
progress they received $12,000 tur the physical property. 

The early bridging of the Concord at North Billerica has been 
described. This relatively narrow stream offered no such obstacles 
to the bridge builder as did the Merrimack. It should be noted that 
the growth of a settlement on the east side of the Concord in what 
was later called Belvidere was encouraged by the building of a bridge 
in 1774 just north of the site of the present structure. This bridge, as 
fames Bayles has shown in one of the Old Residents' contributions 
read by him in 1891, must have been a flimsy structure, for it was 
blown down before it was fairly completed and another was started a 
few rods further up stream on the site of the present bridge. 

Newburyport Enterprise at Pawtucket Falls — Lowell, as a city of 
picturesque canals and humming factories, is generally held to have 
been a creation of Boston capital. It has sometimes been overlooked 
by historians that the first eiYort tn canalize the river came not from 
the Hub. but from the wealthy and aggressive town at the mouth of 
the stream, from Newburyport. 

Shortly after the declaration of peace in 1783 the merchants of 
Newbury, as disclosed in a paper prepared in 1876 by the artist, T. B. 
Lawson, of Lowell, began to consider ways and means of increasing 
traffic with the interior. In winter they had good trade with the 
towns of Southern and Central New Hampshire, and even with Ver- 
mont, by means of sleds laden with "pork and produce." Much of 
this traffic ceased with the advent of s])ring. Development of water- 
ways was already much under consideration abroad. The same im- 
pulse led Newburyport capitalists to send Nicholas Pike and Captain 
Stephen Holland up river to make a survey of the possibilities of a 
canal which should eliminate the navigation difficulties at Pawtucket 
Falls. Out of this expedition grew the first considerable deflection of 
the waters of the Merrimack for a commercial purpose. 


Arrived at the seat of Captain John Ford's milling operations, the 
investigators from Newburyport discovered a natural depression ex- 
tending from the south side of the Merrimack just above the falls to 
the Concord river at no great distance from its confluence with the 
larger stream. Out of their report grew a definite project for a canal 
A charter for this enterprise was granted June 25. 1792. The directors 
were: President, Hon. Jonathan Jackson; vice-president. Hon. Dud- 
ley Tyng; treasurer, Joseph Cutler; Joseph Tyler, Nicholas Johnson, 
John O'Brien, Joshua Carter and William Smith. 

Plans were informally considered at a dinner in Davenport's 
tavern on .\ugust 13, 1792, and then came a meeting at the house of 
Joseph Varnum in Dracut, at which the actual route was mapped out. 
It was resolved "that a canal be cut at Pawtucket Falls on the side 
of Chelmsford, beginning near the 'Great Landing Place,' thence run- 
ning to 'Lily Pond,' from there by 'Spear's Brook' to Concord River." 

This was on August 23. On the 13th of September following, Mr. 
Tyng was authorized to buy from Jonas Parkhurst the land through 
which the canal would run and to pay therefor £100 lawful currency. 
In March, 1793, the promoters signed a contract with Joseph Tyler to 
dig the canal for £4,334 lawful, of which £1,000 was to be paid on or 
before April 25, 1793. Pawtucket Falls were not the only rapids to be 
considered, for on June 14 follo^ving it was resolved to ascertain how 
much money was needed to clear Hunt's Falls just below the junction 
of the two rivers and Wickassee Falls at Tyng's Island. Operations at 
the former spot may have been included in a resolve of July 27, 1795, 
to the purport "that Colonel James Varnum be authorized to employ 
men, and to superintend operations below Pawtucket Falls, and to 
expend all necessary sums not exceeding one thousand two hundred 

Canal building was not without its difficulties, and, on January 25, 
1796, Joseph Tyler having failed to complete the work as expected, it 
was voted that "Thomas Marsh Clark of Newburyport, be, and hereby 
is, appointed superintendent of the operations to be performed at Paw- 
tucket Falls the ensuing season, and that he be paid three dollars and 
thirty-three and one-third cents per diem, for every day that he shall 
be employed in the service of the proprietors, together with his board 
and necessary travelling expenses. He is also authorized to employ 
men, purchase tools, etc." 

The new superintendent appears to have been a veritable Colonel 
Goethals of his day, and on October i, 1796, the canal, with its four 
locks was so nearly completed that the directors announced October 
18 as the date of opening. A formal event was planned which, as the 
Courier-Citizen history states, proved "somewhat unfortunate." for 
"as the first barge carrying many notables was passing through the 


first lock, witnessed Ijv hundreds oi spectators, the sides of the lock 
burst, and boat notables, visitors and all, took a bath together. It was 
remarkable that none was killed or seriously injured." 

As the first of its kind in the New World the completion of this 
canal was widely heralded throughout the United States. A local 
consequence of much moment was to inaugurate and perpetuate the 
Proprietors of the Lticks and Canals on Merrimack river, under whose 
auspices has occurred a great deal of the manufacturing development 
of Lowell and other cities of the valley. 

This canal, the first of Lowell's extensive system of waterways, 
was not conceived of as a water power project. "The canal thus com- 
pleted," wrote Mr. Lawson, "was successful in its main oliject of facili- 
tating the transportation of ship timber, lumber and prc)duce to New- 
buryport and the mouth of the river, but paid small dividends, at long 
intervals, probably averaging less than four per cent. u])on the total 

The organization which was formed under the style of "The Pro- 
prietors of the Locks and Canals on Merrimack River," after a petition 
for incorporation signed by Dudley A. Tyng, William Coombs, Joseph 
Tyler, Nicholas Johnson and Joshua Carter, was endowed with exten- 
sive privileges, having the power to take land by eminent domain, to 
levy tolls and fix rates in accordance with the following stipulations: 

For passing the locks and canals at W'ickasick and Patucket Falls, 
to be received at Patucket, for every thousand feet of pine boards, two 
shillings; for every thousand feet of two and a half inch pine plank, 
six shillings, and other pine plank in proportion thereto ; for every 
cord of pine wood, eight pence ; for every cord of other wood, one shil- 
ling; for every thousand feet of barrel staves, two shillings; for every 
thousand of hogshead staves, three shillings and six pence ; for every 
thousand of pipe staves, five shillings ; for every ton of oak timber, one 
shilling and six pence; for every ton of pine timber, ten pence; for 
every boat or other vessel, at the rate of one shilling for every ton 
burthen it is capable of conveying, whether loaded or not; for every 
mast, at the rate of one shilling for every inch of the diamter thereof 
at one third of the length from the largest end ; and for all articles not 
enumerated in proportion to the rates aforesaid for passing the locks, 
canals and passageways at Hunt's, Varnum's, Parker's and Peter's 
Falls, one half of the foregoing rates; for passing the locks and canal 
of Peter's Falls only, one cpiarter of the foregoing rates. And on all 
articles having jiassed the locks, canals and passageways of Patucket 
Falls, one half only of the toll herein established, to be paid at Peter's 
Falls, shall be received ; and for passing the locks, canals and passage- 
ways of Bodwell's Falls and Mitchell's Falls one third of the rates 
hereinbefore established, to be paid at Patucket Falls, subject to a 
deduction of one third thereof on all articles having paid toll at Pa- 
tucket Falls. 


These rates of toll were in 1804 further regulated by the Legis- 
lature. The Locks and Canals Company, it may be added, in this 
period of its history, was hardly to be regarded as a markedly success- 
ful concern, the more so as, in its primary function of carrying lumber, 
it soon had a formidable competitor in the Middlesex canal, the story 
of which must be narrated with some fullness of detail. In 1822 the 
proprietary rights of the Locks and Canals Company suddenly 
assumed a new significance. 

The Middlesex Canal — Canal building across country, to afford 
cheaper transportation, had, as everybody knows, a remarkable vogue 
in the United States between the beginnings of industrialism and the 
introduction of George Stephenson's "Iron horse," the Erie canal be- 
tween New York and the Great Lakes ranking as the superlative 

The priority in this type of American transportation of the Mid- 
dlesex canal, whose northern terminus was on the ancient John Saga- 
more reservation at Middlesex Village, has given to the history of this 
construction unique interest to residents of Lowell and the other 
towns on its route. Its opening occurred in the first years of the 
nineteenth century. It was successfully operated until long after 
Lowell had been incorporated as a city. Men now living have per- 
sonal reminiscences of the picturesque traffic which was carried on 
over the stretches of quiet water between Middlesex Village and 
Charlestown. Those recollections have been embodied in valuable 
papers such as, in especial, those of Judge Samuel P. Hadley, whose 
father was manager of the locks at Middlesex Village and who as a 
young boy was personally acquainted with boats and boatmen on the 
canal. The Middlesex Canal was finally abandoned when because of 
much stress of competition from the railroad, it had ceased to pay. The 
condition of its bed over most of the distance from Concord river down 
to Mystic Lake in Winchester in such as, frequently of late years, to 
have prompted the suggestion that at no great expense the canal 
might be rebuilt to the considerable benefit of several manufacturing 
communities reached by it. 

This was not the first enterprise of the kind to be chartered in the 
United States, for in 1792 the Massachusetts Legislature granted per- 
mission to General Henry Knox and others to construct a canal con- 
necting the Connecticut river with Boston harbor. This latter project 
presumablv appeared to be too great for the resources of the pro- 
moters, for it never passed the initial stages. A year later, however, 
the Great and General Court entertained a proposal from several 
prominent gentlemen of the B?y State to project a canal from the 
most southeasterly angle of the Merrimack to tide water in Charles- 
town. The original act incorporating the proprietors of the Middlesex 



canal was signed by Governor John Hancock, June 22, 1793. The 
incorporators were Jaines Sullivan. Oliver Prescott, James Winthrop, 
Loamnii Baldwin, Benjamin Hall, Jonathan Porter, Andrew Hall, 
Ebenezer Hall, Samuel Tufts, Jr., Aaron Brown, Willis Hall, Samuel 
Swan, Jr., and Ebenezer Hall, Jr. By their charter they were author- 
ized to "cut" a canal from the Merrimack river to Medford [Mystic] 

( )ut nf this permission grew the first American traction canal of 
a type tliat was already familiar in England and on the continent of 

The moving sjjirit in this undertaking was Colonel Loammi Bald- 
win. fourth in descent from Henry Baldwin, one of the original set- 
tlers of Woburn and s(.in of James and Ruth (Richardson) Baldwin. 
An early exponent of the engineering sciences. Colonel Baldwin estaij- 
lished in an active lifetime many claims to an honorable place in 
American annals. He was born in Wolnirn, January _'i, 1745. and 
died October 20, 1807. As a student at Harvard he excelled in mathe- 
matics to such an extent that his choice of surveying as a profession 
was natural. In the Revolution he entered service as a major, taking 
part in the battle of Lexington Green on April 19, 1775. He fought at 
Long Island and was with Washington when the Hessians were cap- 
tured at Trenton. In 1777, due to failing health, he was retired with 
the rank of colonel, b^rom 1780 to 1794 he was sheriff of Middlesex 
county. He sat in the Legislatures of 1778, 1780 and from iSoo 
through iXo.|. His experimenting with horticulture resulted in his 
creation of the ajiple which Ijears his name. To the imaginative capac- 
hy and enthitsiasm of this distinguished man of Middlesex comity was 
due. in largest measure, the success of the plan for a Middlesex canal. 

The other chief figure in the organization of the canal was Gov- 
ernor James Sullivan. This eminent statesman and jurist, born at 
Berwick in the Province of Maine in 1744. was for si.x years a judge 
of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and then, from 1790 to 1807, 
he was Attorne3--General of the Commonwealth. In 1807 and 1808 
he was Governor of the State. He was one of those who foresaw the 
new Nation overspread with a network of canals. His son, John 
Langdon Sullivan, contintied for many years to manage the affairs of 
the Middlesex Canal Corporation. 

That water drawn from the Merrimack might be locked down bv 
successive steps to the Mystic appears to have been the original ncHion 
of the promoters of the Middlesex Canal. When, howexer. a cele- 
brated English engineer named Weston undertook a surxey of the 
])r()p()scd course he jiromj^tly noted that the source of water supi)ly 
niu>t l>e the C^incorfl and not the Merrimack, for the reason that the 
level of the former stre;nn ;it North Billerica is about twentv-fi\e feet 


above that of the river at Middlesex \'illag;e at mean stages. The 
water consequenth- must flow downward in two directions from the 
peak at Billerica. This discovery accounts for a second act passed in 
February, 1795, which also contained a provision empowering the 
proprietors "to render the waters of Concord River boatable as far as 
Sudbury Causeway and as much farther as the same can be usefully 
improved for that end.'' Under authorization of these two acts the 
Middlesex canal was built between September 10. 1794, when the first 
actual work was done and June 22, 1803, when, with the Mystic River 
terminals finished, the proprietors applied for jjermission "to com- 
plete the same to Charles River and to effectuate the means of com- 
munication between the said canal and the town of Boston across 
Charles River by boats.'' 

The Middlesex canal, thus projected and destined to be for a time 
of great consequence to the town and city of Lowell, was a consider- 
able construction for its time. It cost half a million dollars. The 
average width was thirty feet, the depth four feet. There were twenty 
locks, seven aqueducts and the waterway was spanned by several 
bridges. The route was as follows : From Charlestown mill pond it 
passed through Medford, crossing Mystic lake by means of an aque- 
duct (remains of which are still conspicuous), and Winter pond by 
anrither aqueduct, to Horn pond in Woburn. Thence through W'o- 
burn and Wilmington parallel to the present line of the Boston & 
Maine railroad. Southern Division, it crossed the Shawsheen river by 
a massive aqueduct of one hundred and thirty-seven feet and reached 
the Concord at Billerica Mills. Entering this river by means of a 
stone guard lock it crossed with a floating tovvpath, and headed 
toward the Merrimack on the other side through another guard lock. 
From North Billerica it descended over a course of five and one-half 
miles through the eastern part of Chelmsford to Middlesex \'illage. 
It was fed exclusively from the Concord river. As Judge Hadley has 
said, "No drop of Merrimack river water ever entered the canal, for at 
the point where boats could pass out into the larger river, were three 
locks, each about eighty feet long, provided with four sets of gates of 
the type called 'balance-lever' gates." The total length of the canal 
between Charlestown and Lowell was twenty-seven and one-half 

The financing of the Middlesex canal seems not to have been 
attended with great difficulties. In the first years Colonel Baldwin's 
advocacy and management were so generally approved that capital- 
ists invested their money with confidence in the prospects. The stock 
was divided into eight hundred shares. It sold in 1794 at $25 a share. 
By 1803 it had risen to $473 and in 1804 it touched $500. After that 
year the prices receded, though it was still quoted in 1816 at around 


$300. Benjamin Walker, who contributed a notable paper to the 
series published by the Old Residents' Historical Association in May, 
1886. recalls the fact that the proprietors of the canal experienced 
hard times during and immediately after the war of 1812. For about 
six or seven years assessments instead of dividends were the rule. 
Then about 1819 began an era of marked prosperity which was not 
terminated until the railroad came in to offer a means of transporta- 
tion that was not only quick but reliable throughout the year. 

In the general story of navigating on the Merrimack, the Middle- 
sex canal supplies one of the chief chapters. John L. Sullivan, who 
succeeded Colonel Baldwin, as superintendent of the canal, was a 
man of much business energy and drive, who became interested in 
steam navigation immediately following Fulton's successful demon- 
strations on the Hudson. In 1814 Sullivan obtained a charter to build 
boats after models of his own. His first effort was a stern-wheeler, 
which was operated for a time on the canal, but which created such 
a wash that it injured the banks. He persevered and a little later ex- 
tended a steamboat service up ri\-er to Concord, New Hampshire. 

On June 22. iSig, the "Concord Patriot" extended to Mr. Sulli- 
van the courtesy of what would now be called a "reading notice." 
"The citizens of Concord," it stated, "have for two weeks past been 
much gratified with the aj)pearance for the first time, of a steamboat in 
our river. A good portion of the ladies and gentlemen in town, availed 
themsehes of the very polite invitation of the proprietors to take 
pleasure rides up and down the river in Mr. Sullivan's steambnat." It 
is notable that Mr. Sulli\'an ciriginalh' ])ur])0sed to use his steaniljoat 
for towing freight carrier? up the Merrimack, Ijut he soon found that 
the rai)ids above the mottth of the Nashua were so strong that the 
craft barely made her own way against the current. 

Much of the freight and passenger traffic of the manufacturing 
comnumitv that was slowly growing up at the falls of the Merrimack 
and Concord was by way of the Middlesex canal. Like all canal trans- 
portation this had a picturesque color of its own, which later annalists 
have liked to revive. The lung flat-bott(Tmed boats, drawn liy horses, 
were called "gondolas," a name which is said still to l)e ap])lied to 
similar boats on the Delaware & Hudson canal. 

The captains of the "gondolas'" were almost universally native 
New England men of good character and reliability. 

"The bow hands," Judge Hadley recalls, "were a hard working 
.and, it must be confessed, although there were some exceptions, a 
hard drinking class; but I can remember but few cases of drunken- 
ness among them when a])out their business. The favorite, and, as 1 
remember, the only beverage, New England or Mcdford rum, a 
gallon jug of whicli somewhat fiery stinuilant ua-- ahvays to be found 


in the captain's chest under the steering sweep in the stern of the 

Not much imagination is needed to picture lively scenes at the 
tavern in Middlesex Village after it had became a rendezvous of the 
canal employees. Frequently fifteen or twenty boats would spend the 
night at the locks, and the crews would make merry in the barroom. 
■'Flip" was the high-class beverage of the day, but for the most part 
the canal men bought black strap, a mixture of rum and molasses, at 
three cents a glass. "Plenty of drunkenness. Uncle Joe, in those 
days," Benjamin Walker queried of an ancient boatman who was dis- 
coursing on the good old times. "Bless your heart, no !" was the 
reply. "jNIr. Eddy didn't put up with no drunkards on the canal. They 
would drink all night, sir, and be as steady as an eight-day clock in 
the morning" 

The horses by which this canal boat service was carried forward 
were hard-worked animals in a day when there was no Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Their greatest liability to sulTer- 
ing was from galling at the collar. The captains, it is recalled, were 
usually very considerate of their valued motive power, though occa- 
sionally one was so careless as to rouse the ire of Judge Hadley's 
father, for many years in charge of the locks at Middlesex Village. 

Much business was done on the Middlesex canal by chartered 
companies. After 1815, for example, a fleet of about tw-enty-five boats 
was operated by the Merrimack Boating Company, which had been 
organized in New Hampshire. Vast quantities of timber for boards, 
spars and masts came down river to the head of the canal and thence, 
a "shot" at a time, were sent through the locks and on toward Charles- 
town, often towed by teams of stout oxen. Passengers were carried 
by a regular packet service which left Middlesex Village on Mondays, 
Wednesdays and Fridays at eight o'clock in the morning, arriving at 
Boston about two in the afternoon. The fare for this journey, a very 
delightful one in pleasant weather, was seventy-five cents. 

Travel was permitted on the Middlesex canal on Sunday, but "in 
consideration of the distance from home at which those persons using 
it generally are, it may be reasonably expected that they should not 
disturb those places of public worship near which they pass, nor occa- 
sion any noise to interrupt the tranquility of the day. Therefore it is 
established that no Signal-Horn shall be used or blown on Sundays." 

Winter, of course, interrupted navigation on the canal. Before 
the service was resumed in April it was customary to draw off the 
long reaches between locks. That meant a great opportunity for 
small boys all the way from Middlesex Village to Medford, for in the 
shallow pools left in the bed of the canal were rich hauls of chubs, 
suckers, eels and other fish. The growth of water weeds was a source 


of persistent annoyance to the canal manager, for these often seriously 
imjieded the passage of the boats. One of the reediest sections of the 
canal was that known as "the swamp" crossing the outskirts of the 
present city from Middlesex Village. Here each summer it was cus- 
tomary to employ men to wade up and down this stretch of water 
mowing the weeds. The decaying flotsam thus produced drifted 
slowly down to the lucks at Middlesex and thence was allowed to pass 
out into the Merrimack. 

One closely identified for many years with the management of 
the Middlesex end of the canal was Samuel Page Hadley, born August 
4, 1794. and died June I, 1(872, the father of Judge Samuel P. Hadley. 
The elder Hadley early in 181 5 was employed in construction work on 
one of the dams bv means of which Mr. Sullivan planned to make it 
possible for packet boats to run tn Concord. On the completion oi 
this work he went on board the boat that made the first trip from the 
New Hampshire capital to the Hub. Thereafter many years of his 
life were spent in the service of the canal proprietors. Shortly after 
his marriage, in 1820, to Belinda Butler, of Pelham, he moved to Mid- 
dlesex Village and occujjied the three-story house later occupied by 
Sewall Bowers. In .\iiril. 1824, he was given charge of the locks, suc- 
ceeding Cyrus Baldwin, brother of the engineer, Loammi Baldwin. 
His duties were manifold: to maintain the locks, issue passports and 
waybills, keep a record of lockages and ladings, collect tolls and attend 
to repairs. During the season the position called for very arduous 
work. In winter Mr. Hadley had time of his own which to some ex- 
tent he utilized as a wood measurer, an employment in which he was 

Many documents concerning the operation of this property were 
kept by Mr. Sullivan in a scrai)l)Ook which is now in the special 
libraries department of the Boston Public Library. These admirably 
supplement the reminiscences of many of the older residents of 
Lowell. Under the ca])tion of "Middlesex Canal Navigation," a 
notice, undated, but believed to belong to the first decade of the nine- 
teenth century, gives details of the conditions imposed by the pro- 
prietorship upon shippers and passengers. It is as follows: 

The public are informed that a large Boat, called the Washington, 
conveying upwards of thirty tons, covered so as to secure goods and 
passengers from the rain, and having two commodious rooms in her, 
will proceed from the head of the canal (having laid there one day 
previously to receive freight) on every Thursday morning, and arrive 
at Charlestown the same day before night. She will remain at 
Charlestown from Thursday to the next Tuesday, to receive freight, 
in which interim she can proceed over to Boston to deliver freight 
brought down the Canal, or to take on freight to be transported into 
the country. The Boat is drawn by two horses, having a relief on the 


way. and conducted by Mr. Wardwell. The passengers will bring 
their provisions on board, as there can be no delay to go on shore for 
refreshment. The passage money is four cents a mile, and passengers 
will l)e taken on and landed where they shall choose. The toll for 
Canalage, is, at the rate of 1/16 of a dollar for a ton each mik>. And 
the expense of transportation in the boat is three cents and an'half for 
each mile. The property will be secure from hazard or accident, and 
delivered to the owner or his consignee where he directs. If nobody 
appears to take it, the Agent of the Canal Corporation will hold it, 
subjected to payment of storage, until the owner or his consignee 
appears. The toll and transportation between Charlestown and the 
head of the Canal is twenty-eight miles. Goods brought to, or carried 
from, Boston, will pa^' for thirty miles. Goods will be taken in and 
landed at Medford, Woburn, Wilmington and Chelmsford. But this 
must be done so as not to prevent the Boat from effecting a punctual 
arrival at the ends of the Canal. There are other boats ready on the 
Canal to proceed when there shall be business for them. The regula- 
tion suggested w^ill apply to the other boats, subject to such altera- 
tions as experience shall dictate for all the boats employed. 

Middlesex Village, with its well kept houses, its historic tavern 
and its old New F2ngland meeting house (now no longer in situ) was 
peculiarly a creation of the Middlesex canal. The land between Black 
brook and North Chelmsford was originally, as has been observed, the 
John Sagamore plantation, a tract especially favorable to raising corn. 
By the Indians this land was sold to Lieutenant Henchman, who dis- 
posed of a part of it to a Mr, Cragie and another part to members of 
the Howard family. Through Mr. Cragie or his grantees some of the 
lands came into possession of Captain Tyler, who moved thither from 
Wamesit Neck. 

Before the canal came, the three or four houses and a tavern com- 
posing the hamlet could hardly be called a village. The residences of 
which there is record were the Willard Howard house, Jerathmel 
Bowers house, the Clark house at the ferry and a cottage house and 
barn which Judge Hadley describes as being "between the old tavern 
and the ferry, and known in my childhood as the Sawin house, that 
being the name of the family who occupied it." .According to tradi- 
tion the Deacon Adams house on Baldwin street was formerly a shop 
at the corner of Middlesex and Baldwin streets, but was later moved 
back and made over into a dwelling. The tavern, as it still stands at 
this writing, is obviously an outcome of several additions. It was a 
natural location for a public house prior to the building of the Paw- 
tucket Bridge, for Clark's Ferry was a funnel through which traffic 
poured to and from Dracut, Pelham, Windham and Derry. 

The landlord of the Middlesex tavern in the first years of the cen- 
tury was Jacob Howard, who ceased to purvey food and drink about 
1816, and who was succeeded by Jesse Smith, to be followed in 1820 
by Simeon Spalding. 


Near by on Wood street, in what is believed to be the oldest 
house in Lowell south of the river, lived Colonel Joseph Bowers, re- 
called as a typical New England farmer of the better sort, "honest, 
energetic, upright and downright." He was locally famous for his fine 
cattle. "He always,'' writes Judge Hadley, "kept a number of yoke of 
strong oxen which, in the canal season, he used in towing rafts of masts, 
spars and lumber logs from the head of the canal at Middlesex and to 
tidewater at Charlestown." The house in which Judge Hadley has 
lived during his long and honorable career was built in 1822 by Harvey 
Burnett. Here for a time Francis Brinley had his law office, in the 
east room. The first-hand quality of Judge Hadley's reminiscences of 
canal-boat days is evidenced by his statement : "I suppose I am one 
of the very few surviving employees of the Canal Corporation. I not 
only worked for it, but 1 fished in it, I swam in it, I came very near 
being drowned in it, I sailed my little boats upon it, I skated upon it, 
and I knew every part of it. From early childhood until the close of 
the canal, I knew every captain and boat man who worked upon it.' 

Manufactures Before the Factory System — The manufacturing in- 
terests of the Lowell district continued to be relatively a minor con- 
sideration as compared with agriculture down to the date at which the 
modern factory system was introduced, even though the existence of 
much industry of a primitive sort in this neighborhood cannot be for- 
gotten. In general, nevertheless, the importance of manufacturing 
was as yet not so great but that it might be depreciated as detrimental 
to the fisheries. The Hildreths, of Centralville, were notably hostile 
to de\elopments which threatened to interfere with the ancient privi- 
leges of fishing at the Great Bunt. Colonel William Hildreth was 
chosen fish ward on April 6, 1801, and in 1817 the office was bestowed 
simultaneously upon Dr. Lieutenant Israel Hildreth and his son Dr. 
Israel, Jr. "Their revenue," says Captain Reade, "was unfavorably 
aft'ected by the dams, canals and manufacturing establishments of the 
com])anies and corporations that were more interested in the develop- 
ment of Lowell than in the preservation of Merrimack Ri\er shad, 
salmon or alewives." 

General William Hildreth, as State Senator, was instructed in 
May, 1801, to present the remonstrance of the town of Dracut to the 
effect "that the creation of a dam across the Merrimack river at Paw- 
tucket falls in the manner ])roposed by the petitioners to the General 
Court at the last session will, in the opinion of this town, totally 
destroy the fish in the said river and deprive the people of the impor- 
tant privilege which they for a long time, even from time immemorial, 
have enjoyed without interference of taking near their doors the 
most delicate food and much of the real necessaries of life ; and no 
other purpose can be answered through a gratification of the avari- 


cious feelfngs of a few individuals who must be unacquainted with 
the real effect of the proposed measures or regardless of the public 

In other respects members of the Hildreth family opposed the 
Locks and Canals Company in questions of riparian rights long before 
the large manufacturing companies of Lowell were in existence. 

A few beginnings, nevertheless, of modern industrial establish- 
ments, despite such opposition, were already notable before the War 
of 1812, and after the second peace with Great Britain, manufacturing 
received something of an impetus in this territory. Data have been 
preserved regarding at least three of these pioneer manufactures of 
the city. 

The most considerable manufacturer of the pre-Lowell decades, 
unquestionably, was Moses Hale, after whom Hale's brook was named, 
a man of decided mechanical ability, a prototype of many of the busi- 
ness men who later in the nineteenth century helped to create the 
industrial city of now. 

Moses Hale was born at West Newbury in 1765, but passed most 
of his youth in Dracut, where his father, Ezekiel Hale had built on 
Beaver brook a fulling mill, the chief business of which was to dress 
the cloth woven in nearby homes. 

In 1790, shortly after his father's death, Moses Hale moved over 
to East Chelmsford and there constructed a fulling mill on River 
Meadow brook, buying the. land and water-power privileges from 
Moses Davis, whose daughter he had married. The new mill was 
adequately equipped for fulling, dyeing and dressing home-woven 
cloth. All the preliminary work was done in homes, where the 
farmers' wives and daughters carded the wool, spun it into yarn and 
wove the fabric on the hand loom. 

Hale's mill, on River Meadow brook, soon became famous for the 
expert manner in which the cloth was finished. "For men's wear," 
records Mr. Arthur Gilman from notes supplied by B. S. Hale, "the 
cloth was fulled up thick, then napped with teasels, sheared and 
pressed." Hale early saw the advantage of carding wool by machin- 
ery. In 1801 he bought a picker and carding machine, the first of its 
kind to be operated in Middlesex county. The new apparatus proved 
popular. The farmers brought to the mill their wool packed in sheets. 
After it had gone through the carding machine the rolls were carefully 
taken up by the handful and laid back in the sheets. The cloth was 
then folded about the wool and secured with thorns. 

This factory on Hale's brook was a pioneer in introducing several 
other improvements. Shears were at that time used for shearing the 
cloth, the device consisting of knives set at angle and moved horizon- 
tally, with a crank motion. Presently Mr. Hale adopted twisted blade 


shears, which gave a better surface. Fimlinjj the cutting of dye wood 
by hand too slow, he framed up a cutting knife that worked Ijetween 
a stationary and a movable timber. His gig for napping cloth was a 
cylinder set with teasels. 

Hale was ali\'e to the value of publicity for his industry. About 
1806 he made up a piece of the cloth from the finest wool that could 
be procured. The manufacturer carded it personally with his best 
skill and liad the cloth woven by one of the farm women whose work- 
was celebrated for beauty of texture. When the fabric came back to 
the factory it was colored with the richest of indigo and dressed in a 
su])erior manner. From the bolt thus obtained a complete suit was 
made up for General Joseph Bradley Varnum, then Speaker, to wear 
at the opening of the National House of Representatives. These gar- 
ments were widely advertised as the first suit of domestic manufac- 
tured fabric ever seen on the floor of Congress. 

Besides his woolen mill, Moses Hale had a grist mill, situated 
about where the Lowell Bleachery now is. In 1812 he Iniilt a hand- 
some three-story brick mansion, long a landmark on Gorham street. 
His customers and others from the neighboring towns flocked to the 
raising which was one of the social events of the period. 

Another Concord river manufacture of this period was that car- 
ried on by John Goulding, who later settled in Worcester, and there 
invented, among other devices, a loom for weaving bootstraps. Of 
his East Chelmsford exijcriences, Mr. Goulding wrote later in life : 
"I settled there in the year 181?, had a factory built by Fletcher and 
Whiting, on Concord River; hired it for eight years at $200 a year; 
carried on the business of spinning cotton yarn in a small way, as all 
our manufacturing was done at that time ; spun about twenty pounds 
of yarn per day ; also had a carding machine, making cotton and wool 
machinery ; made looms for weaving suspender webbing, and a tape 
loom to weave thirty-six pieces at one and the same time." This 
building occupied by John Goulding was later taken over by Mr. Hurd 
for manufacturing satinets. 

A third and very interesting industry of the earl}- nineteenth 
century was the glass manufactory at Middlesex Village. This was 
comparatively short lived, after the fashion of the glass industry in 
New England, for no manufacture is more dependent than this upon 
a plentiful supply of cheap fuel. So long as white pine logs could be 
rafted down the Merrimack and fed to the kilns without loss of profits 
otherwise available the glass works in Chelmsford had a raisnn d'etre. 
Even in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, howe\er, pme 
timber became too valuable to be burned in that way, and the glass 
company, after a period of operation further up river at Pembroke, 
finally became inactive. 


The glass factory, according to data contributed by Ephraim 
Brown in a paper on "Three Glass Manufactures," read in No- 
vember, 1881, before the Old Residents' Historical Association, stood 
on the easterly side of the Middlesex canal and about thirty rods south 
of Middlesex street. It was established in 1802 by Hunnewell and 
Gore, of Boston, and was operated under one management and an- 
other until 1839, when new works were established at Pembroke. 
The product was chiefly window glass, which was sometimes criti- 
cised on account of its iridescence, or rainbow coloring, apparently an 
accidental characteristic. The materials of the manufacture were 
assembled from opposite directions. Over the Middlesex canal from 
Boston came the sand, of New Jersey origin, the soda ash, potash, 
lime and salt. The fuel was rafted down from the pine plains about 
Concord, New Hampshire. 

The glass works at its best period employed from sixty to seventy 
people, making an important accession to the population of Middlesex 
Village. Writing in 1820, .^llen, in the Chelmsford history, says of 
the factory: "It is now in a flourishing state. About three hundred 
and thirty thousand feet of window glass are annually made, or three 
thousand, three hundred boxes of one hundred feet each, which at 
$13 per box will auKjunt to $42,900. * * * The manufactory con- 
sists of two furnaces, three flattening irons, two tempering ovens, six 
ovens for drying wood, cutting, mixing and pot rooms, kilns for burn- 
ing brick, a mill house and sand house." 

In the personnel of the force employed at the glass works may be 
noted the beginning of the influx of skilled workers from Europe 
which later has helped to make Lowell what it is. The blowers were 
Germans, as proved by such names among them as Hirsch, Weber, 
Baruch and Koch. Of the glass factory, nothing now remains except 
one of the boarding houses for operatives. 

The manufacture of ammunition in Lowell, which has long been 
a standard industry of the city, and which had a remarkable accelera- 
tion at the outbreak of the European War, dates back to the years just 
following the War of 1812. The first powder mill was started by 
Oliver Whipple, born at Weathersfield, \'ermont, in 1794, and a new- 
comer at East Chelmsford, where he married a daughter of Moses 
Hale. Mr. Whipple undertook, with much success, to build up a busi- 
ness in gun powder. His works speedily achieved such reputation as 
to induce a visit from the Governor and Council of the Common- 
wealth. Mr. Whipple did much to encourage building in the Moore 
street section of Lowell. 

The gunpowder made at the Whipple works met with favor and 
its reputation led to a demand for large quantities for cxi)orlation to 
the Far East and elsewhere. In order to have a suitable storage house 


at tide water, Mr. Whipple bought Spectacle Island in Boston harbor, 
which was sufficiently protected to make explosions unlikely. Trans- 
portation of gunpowder in large quantities was then, as now, ex- 
tremely dangerous. The manufacturer constructed a road from his 
factory to connect with the old Boston road over which, in the dead 
of night, were sent cart loads of powder. "The hoofs of the horses," 
writes Mrs. Griffin, in her interesting reminiscences of "Old Homes 
and Byways," "were muffled in bagging and cotton pads so that their 
iron shoes should strike no sparks from the stones in the roads and 
thus ignite the powder. Slowly and steadily the great horses marched 
down the unfrequented by-ways, as far as possible, until they reached 
Boston, from which point the gun powder was taken, a boat load at a 
time, to the island in the harbor." 

Old Residences — Just how the furmer Wamesit Neck was peo- 
pled at the beginning of the nineteenth century was shown in con- 
siderable detail in reminiscences contained in a paper prescribed to the 
Old Residents' Historical Association by Z. E. Stone in 1874. This 
survey of a bygone age indicates that downtown Lowell, while, of 
course, essentially rural in character in 1802, was far from being a 
wilderness, peopled by a few needy fisher folk. 

Coming eastward from Middlesex Village, the composition of 
which has already been described, one first encountered the house 
occupied by Silas Hoar, near where Gage's ice houses now are. Oppo- 
site it was the residence of John Putnam. Close by the falls was a 
place then owned by Amos Whitney ; it afterward became the home 
of Jonathan Bowers. Not far away lived Archibald McFarlin, father 
of the late Luke McFarlin, remembered by people now in middle life 
as proprietor of the private boat house adjoining the Vesper Boat 

Captain John Ford, of Revolutionary fame, was still living in the 
residence which, not many years ago, was remodeled to make the pres- 
ent Earl and Lamljert houses. Still standing at the corner of Paw- 
tucket and School streets is the Spalding house which in 1802 was a 
tavern, where they who braved the dangers of crossing Pawtucket 
bridge might fortify their spirits. This house, now patriotically pre- 
served by the Molly Varnum Chapter, Daughters of the American 
Revolution, was built about 1760 by Robert Hildreth. It was bought 
in 1790 by Joel Spalding. For a time it was known as the Davis 
tavern. On the opposite corner toward the river, the site of the ornate 
Frederick Ayer mansion of later days, stood the home of Captain 
Phineas Whiting. Between this and the bridge over the river was the 
place of Luke Bowers. Over the way from Captain Whiting's, on 
what became the Gerrish corner, lived Ashahel Stearns. 

Then, close together on the right-hand side of the street, were 


Jonathan Fiske and a Mr. Livingston, the latter at the corner of Ar- 
lington street, where some time previously Captain Whiting had had 
a shoemaker's shop. Across the street, on land later to be occupied by 
the Shattuck residence, was the cooper shop of Joseph Chambers ; this 
afterwards was taken over by Artemas Holden, a young man from 
Townsend who became one of the city's substantial business men. 

An unoccupied stretch of Pawtucket street seems thereafter to 
have intervened, for the next structure mentioned is a school house 
which stood about where the Lowell Hospital is to-day — that is be- 
tween the heads of Salem and Merrimack streets. 

Continuing toward Little Canada, for Merrimack street did not 
yet exist as a highway, one found at the foot of the falls the residence 
of Benjamin Melvin and not far from it the saw mill and grist mill 
run by Nathan Tyler. Some forty rods due east was encountered the 
Moses Cheever place and then, in the neighborhood of Monument 
square a blacksmith shop operated by a Mr. Hall. At the corner of 
Merrimack and John streets lived Josiah Fletcher. 

Pasture land or tillage seems to have been continuous where now 
are Lowell's busiest corners, those at which Central, Bridge and Pres- 
cott streets meet the axial highway. The Nathan Tyler farm, at this 
point, was one of considerable extent, extending up Merrimack street 
at least to Palmer street. In the Tyler house, one of the finest of the 
neighborhood, for it was built with great care from lumber personally 
sawed by Mr. Tyler at his mill below the falls, was reared a goodly 
family of seven sons and three daughters, ancestors of several of the 
most foremost citizens of the city of to-day. Mr. Tyler, it is recorded, 
occupied this house down to the time of the coming of the Merrimack 
Manufacturing Company, when he sold his estate and moved to Mid- 
dlesex Village to the familiar "Tyler homestead," which, as Mrs. 
Grififin wrote in 1913. "is now occupied by Mrs. Samuel Tyler and her 
daughter Miss Susan Tyler, the ladies who were the donors to this 
city of the magnificent gift of Tyler Park." The original Tyler house 
at Merrimack square, after it was bought by the Merrimack Company, 
became a hotel under the style of the "Old Mansion House," of which 
Captain Jonathan Tyler was long landlord. 

The Concord river was crossed on a liridge that was built about 
where the present structure is. 

The first house in Belvidere was that of Joseph Tyler. Next 
came one of the most famous of local residences, "the (iedney House," 
concerning which Mrs. Griffin has written interestingly, stating that 
it was built and first occupied by Timothy Brown about 1750, a gen- 
tleman who kept a tavern and operated a ferry at this point. By Mr. 
Brown the house was sold to a Mr. Woodward : he to Philip Gedney. 
Then it came into the hands of Judge Edward St. Loe Livermore. Its 


later history includes its ownership by John Nesmith, who sold it to 
the Sisters of Charity, by whom it was used as the ell of St. John's 

These statements alxiut the Old Yellow Htiuse are doubtless sub- 
stantially correct, except that the date given of its erection is impos- 
sible, if. as Mrs. Grifitin states, the lumber was obtained from Captain 
Ford's saw mill. It ])rcsumal)ly was built S(.ime time before the Revo- 
lution, but not as early as 1750. John Ford was only twelve years old 
in 1750. Mr. C. C. Chase found data to indicate that Ford supplied the 
timber for the house. 

Mr. Stone says that according to his recollection there were one 
or two other houses in what has since become Belvidere. The inde- 
fatigable Mrs. Griffin has supplied some details about those. Out im 
Andover street, at the corner of Old County road, was the Moses 
Worcester farm, bought in 174S from Samuel Hunt. The site is still 
occupied b}- the home of Mrs. Richard W. Baker, directly descended 
from Moses Worcester; and n\cr the way still stands in good preser- 
vation, the residence built in i<So_' by Fldad Worcester, grandson fif 
the original settler. On Clark road was built in 1790, by Lieutenant 
Thomas Clark, son of Ca])tain Jonas Clark, of the Clark's tavern at 
Middlesex Village, a house which has been continually in possession 
of members of the Clark family. These, and perhaps the original 
Hunt homestead, were doubtless the houses recalled by Mr. Stone. 

On the cross road which later became Central street, Joseph War- 
ren kept a tavern about where tb.e .\merican House to-day offers hos- 
pitality. On Lawrence street Nathan Ames and John Fisher had their 
respective houses. Davis corner, out on Gorham street, gets its name 
from the Davis farm house. Johnson Da^•is dwelling there in 1802, as 
did his ancestor Elisha in earlier days of Chelmsford. Moses Hale's 
residence, already mentioned in connection with the beginnings of 
powder manufacture, in this part of the city, was just beyond the 
brook that bears his name. Where the railroad tracks cross Gorham 
street stood the homestead of Iq)hraim Osgood. Moore street takes 
its name from Joseph Moore ; a one-story cottage that belonged to the 
Mo(ire family is said to date back, jierhaps. to the Revolution. On 
the old Boston road, near the Chelmsford line, was Peter Marshall, 
■["he "Old Marshall Tavern" on Parker street is believed to have been 
erected about 1790. A little west was Sprague Livingston. On a 
cross road to Middlesex Village were Robert and Stephen Pierce, liv- 
ing in the same house. Captain Benjamin Butterfield's house was on 
Hale street. Between Chelmsford and Liberty streets lived Levi 
Fletcher. Near the old tannery was a school house and opposite it 
resided John Gload. ( )n Chelmsford street was Isaac Chamberlain. 
Bevond him was llenrv Coburn, and to his northwest was the old 


homestead of Benjamin Pierce. Pine street, which was then a trav- 
eled road, had on it the residence of Zebulon Parker, situated about 
one hundred rods from a road leading across to the falls, being the 
present School street. Along Pine street, in the direction of Middle- 
sex \'illage, was Jeduthan Parker and beyond him the \\ orcester 
house in which the father of Eldad Worcester lived. On School street, 
Micah Spalding had his house in the depression through which the 
canal passed. The popular appellation of "Mike's Bridge" long ])er- 
petuated his name. At the corner of Summer and Thorndike streets 
was the house of Major Joseph Fletcher; at Broadway and Willie 
streets, Andrew Fletcher. This account takes no notice, of course, of 
families across the Merrimack. 

From this survey of the old Neck it is seen that at the beginning 
of the nineteenth century there were in the older part of Lowell, ex- 
clusive of Middlesex \'illage, Pawtucketville and Centralville. per- 
haps, fifty houses, inhabited by intelligent self-respecting peo])!e, some 
of whom were e\'en then laying the found.'itions of fortunes now held 
by their descendants. 

Church and School at East Chelmsford and West Dracut — The 
religious and social life at the falls and thereabouts, prior to the influx 
of outsiders who came to enjoy the advantages of a new manufactur- 
ing village, was obviously that which survi\'es in a few comparatively 
unchanged New England communities of to-day. 

During and immediately after the Revolution there was no 
churches in territory now claimed by Lowell : and down to the open- 
ing of St. Anne's there were but two, the white Presbyterian meeting 
house in West Dracut and the Congregational church at Middlesex, 
later removed to North Chelmsford. 

To the older of these two edifices repaired for worshij) not only 
the people of Pawtucketville but many from the Chelmsford side of 
the river. Others, those especially living in the highlands bej-ond the 
depression where the Pawtucket canal was let through, regularly 
hitched up and drove to Chelmsford Centre. Occupants of the farm 
houses of Belvidere had their church affiliations with Tewksbury 
Centre; the Hildreths and others of the region below Christian Hill 
worshiped in Dracut, after 1794, at the Centre. 

The events leading to the establishment of the oldest of the 
Lowell churches now in existence were related by the late Major 
Atkinson C. Varnum in his "History of Pawtucketville Church and 
other Congregational Churches of Lowell." His account is pertinent 
to the history of Lowell. 

The population of the eastern portion of the town of Dracut had 
continued to increase more rapidly than that of the original homes of 
Varnums and Coburns. In March, 1794, it was voted by the town to 


tear down the old meeting house, supposed to have been a few rods 
east of the Merrimack Woolen Mills on Beaver brook. The decision 
was to rebuild on the "Central line," that is on the continuation of the 
present Bridge street. The outcome was the building of the Centre 
Church, or the "Old Yellow Meeting House," long a familiar land- 
mark just beyond the city line. 

Against this decision to remove the church further east the Paw- 
tucketville people signed a protest which denied that the chosen loca- 
tion was the "proper centre of said town," and ended as follows: 

3d. Because it is making a needless and unreasonable cost to the 
town when the present house with but little expense might be made 
to accommodate the people and save the widows and orphans from a 
burdensome tax when they cannot have a voice in the business. For 
these and many other reasons we solemly & firmly enter our protest 
against all the votes that any way relate towards the building a meet- 
ing house at the above described place, & hereby show that we do not 
consider ourselves held to pay any cost that may arise thereby. 

Signed by: Lewis Ansart, Thomas Varnum, Israel Hildreth, 
Josiah Fox, Moses B. Coburn. Samuel Coburn, Parker Varnum, Eph- 
raim Coburn, Joseph Dean, Abraham Blood, Coburn Blood, Timothy 
Coburn, Willard Coburn, Solomon Osgood, Jr., Jonathan Varnum. Jr., 
John Hamblet, Jeptha Coburn, Jonas Varnum, Lide Wilson, Solomon 
"Osgood, Jacob Coburn, Jonathan Varnum, Nathaniel Coburn, Daniel 
Blood, Joseph Webster, Thadeus Coburn, Saul Coburn, Peter Col)urn, 
Jr., Samuel Cummings. Peter Coburn, Simeon \\'illiams, Solomon 
Abbott, Jr., Ezra Coburn, Jal)esh Coburn. Willard Coburn, Jr., Moses 
Clement, Jonathan Coburn, Jr., Hesekiah Coburn, Zacherah Goodhue, 
Jonathan Morgan, Aaron Coburn. 

It undoubtedly aided the desire of those objectors to have a 
church of their own in West Dracut that the nearby opened Middlesex 
Merrimack bridge was held certain to increase their population and 
to bring within their sphere of influence the neighborhood about Cap- 
tain John Ford's mills over the river. 

Those who protested finally, on January 9, 1796, received from 
Colonel James Varnum title to a tract of land on which a new church 
was soon to be built. This lot was on the east side of Mammoth road, 
where the Pawtucket church now stands. On June 22 the General 
Court authorized the incorporation of the West Congregational Soci- 
ety in Dracut. Two weeks later the first parish meeting was held at 
which Cdlonel James \'arnuni was elected moderator. Peter Coburn, 
Jr., clerk; Parker X'arnum, Solomon Osgood and Timothy Coburn. 
assessors, and Colonel James \'arnum, treasurer. 

Thus succeeding the original Dracut church, which was in Paw- 
tucketville, was started the oldest church in the city of Lowell at 
which worship has been continuous to this day. It is interesting that 
for a number of vears this clnu-cb was of the Presbyterian rather than 



the Congregational faith. Shortly after its formation many families on 
the East Chelmsford side of the river began to attend this church, 
having obtained from the Legislature a special act thus setting them 
off for parochial purposes. 

The annals of the church at Chelmsford, with which, until after 
1820. many of the families of the ancient Neck were still associated, 
belongs to the history of that town rather than of Lowell. They are 
unusually copious and satisfactory, due in part to the fact that the 
Rev. Wilkes Allen in 1820 prepared a history of Chelmsford, which, 
published at the expense of the town, is accounted as the first book of 
local history of its sort ever produced in America. 

For cemeteries the families at East Chelmsford used either the 
one still preserved at the corner of School and Branch streets, that 
over the river near the Pawtucketville church, the Hildreth cemetery, 
already described, or the one on the heights in Belvidere, which has 
long since disappeared. 

Schooling for East Chelmsford children was not interrupted even 
during the distressed years of the Revolution. The educational facili- 
ties of the time were slight, as judged by standards of to-day, but such 
as they were they seem to have been maintained scrupulously. 

An indication of the territory covered by a single school district 
is given in a town vote of 1781 : "Nine months Righting school 3 mos 
in Neck so called extending from Mr. Timothy Clarks to the mouth 
of Concord & to Mr. Simeon Morses & to Mr. Joseph Pierces So to 
Mr. Philip Parkers." From this specification it is seen that all the 
children of the triangle formed by a line extending from the Clark 
place on Baldwin street, Middlesex Village, through the Highlands to 
iloore street had three months of instruction at a little red school 
house on School street. The only exceptions were a few who attended 
the grammar school at Chelmsford Centre. It is proof of the com- 
paratively rapid growth of the Neck that by 1794 in the same terri- 
tory there were three schoolhouses : One at Middlesex Milage, one 
at Parker and Powell streets and one on Pawtucket street at the cor- 
ner of Salem street. 

The social and intellectual life of the whole neighborhood appears 
to have received an impetus after 1787. In 1794 the Chelmsford Social 
Library was established at the Centre, an institution which continued 
for a centur)-, until succeeded by the present Free Public Library. 
When the Social Librar)' was started there were but nine libraries in 
Massachusetts outside of Boston. 

A new interest in problems of scientific agriculture was nothing 
sporadic. There was organized in 1794 a Chelmsford society for the 
"promotion of useful improvements in agriculture." This movement 




was significant of the progressive spirit of the people of this district, 
for there were, so far as known, at that date but three other agricul- 
tural societies in the United States. The association was incorporated 
February 28, i(So3, under the name of "The Western Society of Mid- 
dlesex Husbandmen." At that time there was but one other incor- 
porated agricultural society in Massachusetts. 

Lowell and the Factory System. 

The creation of the first large American factory town at the forks 
of the Merrimack and Concord was an achievement of the second and 
third decades of the nineteenth century. 

Within fifteen years a rural neighborhood, in which a few old- 

' time manufacturing industries were conducted on a limited scale, was 

transformed into an active industrial city of a kind now familiar to 

most districts of the United States, but then regarded as one of the 

wonders of the continent. 

Water-powers were developed in rapid succession. Farm lands 
were sold to manufacturing companies and private individuals, often 
with an accompaniment of intrigue and speculation. An influx of 
operatives, at first from the nearby farms and villages, and later from 
foreign countries, set in. Many merchants and professional men saw 
the advantages of settling in a community whose growth was the 
marvel of New England. Churches and schools were established. 
The New England town form of government was projected for the 
expanding community, only to be succeeded ten years later by a city 
charter, the third of its sort to be granted in Massachusetts. Many of 
the institutions which now are an essential part of Lowell were started 
prior to 1836, the year of urbanization. Most of the problems which 
remain to be solved in a complex society had begun to appear before 
Van Buren relinquished the presidency of the Nation. 

The fact of priority gives any topic an interest that is not wholly 
factitious ; the pioneership of Lowell in the evolution of the American 
industrial community renders the details of its progressive evolution 
one of general as well as local significance. Here is material for inten- 
sive study of the economic and social changes incident to the coming 
of modern capitalism in North America. 

That which now happened in New England was not, of course, 
without precedent elsewhere. The factory system, the basic feature 
of modern industrialism, which was definitely brought to East Chelms- 
ford with the incorporation of the Merrimack Manufacturing- Com- 
pany in 1822, was already well established in Lancashire and other 
districts of Great Britain. The story of its inception and advancement, 
and of its progressive adaptation to American conditions, has been 
interestingly sketched in Jonathan Thayer Lincoln's little book, "The 
Factory System," and in a more condensed form by the .same author 
in "The American Business Encyclopjedia." The general aspects of 
this phase of social evolution, out of which we have not yet emerged, 


are quite ])ertinent to the special evolution of the city of Lowell. 
Fully, iufleed, to understand how momentims a change was involved 
in the life of the community on the site of the former Indian metrop- 
olis when the great mills began to go up. one needs to have a sure idea 
of what was involved in the introduction of the factory system. 

The narrative of the origin of this system takes one back to the 
older countries of Europe, where in the eighteenth century it began to 
be seen that wealth in manufactured articles could be created more 
rajiidly by means of machinery, with use of subdivided labor, than by 
means of the ancient handicrafts. "Obvious as are the productive 
advantages of the factory system," says Lincoln, "society did not 
adopt the new method in a large way until inventive genius had cre- 
atefl the modern factory. The early manufactures of textiles and other 
articles were handicrafts, properly so-called. They were pursued by 
craftsmen, living and working at their own homes, mostlv in rural 
districts. Down to the beginning of the eighteenth century master- 
clothiers in the larger towns sent into the surrounding country sec- 
tions sacks of wool to be spun into yarn, returned to the consignors, 
and by them redistributed among the weavers. Often members of a 
single family combined to take care under one roof of the three opera- 
tions of carding, spinning and weaving. The workers generally car- 
ried on more or less farm work at the same time. This domestic sj-s- 
tem has been praised by advocates of the handicraft revival. It had 
its pleasant features, but it contained in an exaggerated form evils — 
such as child labor — which are by some supposed to be peculiar to the 
factory system." 

English manufactures, whether of wool, linen or cotton (which 
seems to have first been introduced in commercial quantities about 
1641) were pursued, as Mr. Lincoln has stated, after the fashion of 
handicraft down to the date of Richard Arkwright's invention of a 
spinning frame. 

It seems, indeed, to be established that England, although des- 
tined to manufacture for the whole world, was somewhat slow in 
securing its start as an industrial nation. The Anglo-Saxon genius, as 
Dean Edwin F. Gay, of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Ad- 
ministration, has urged in his Lowell Institute lectures on "The Me- 
chanical Inventions," is "for the practical — for the application of 
science — but even in these practical works it was for a time more 
imitative than truly inventive. A letter written in 1701 by a represen- 
tative of the East India Company in defense of the company's impor- 
tation of cheap printed and 'painted' cloth from India challenged the 
national ability to make progress in technical directions and averred 
that there was 'only one saw mill in all the land,' whereas, Holland 
had many, and did, indeed, 'abound in mills and engines'." 


England's turn, nevertheless, to become a manufacturing country 
was foreseen in the forepart of the eighteenth century, the epoch in 
which arose for the first time a numerous and prosperous middle class 
for whom the hand industries could not turn out articles of clothing 
and household equipment in sufficient abundance and of the right price 
to satisfy their rising standards of comfort. The result was a new era 
which followed closely upon a period in which the artistic handicrafts 
of Great Britain reached a nearer approximation to perfection than 
ever before or since. Under William and Mary and Queen Anne, the 
wood-carver, Grinling Gibbons, and his many assistants and imitators 
filled palaces and manor houses with wood-work that now ranks 
among the foremost treasures of art in English public and private 
collections. The Huguenot iron-worker, Jean Tijou, employed for 
many years by Sir Christopher Wren, on St. Paul's Cathedral, trained 
up in his shop a group of native apprentices who for about half a cen- 
tury designed and executed iron gates and grill work, the surviving 
examples of which are a model for every architect of every countn^^ 
The early eighteenth century was the day of the "grand tour" to 
France and Italy, made by young men whose parents could afford it ; 
out of these youthful travels grew a prevalent disposition to become 
connoisseurs and dilettanti. Many Italian stucco workers and plas- 
terers settled in England. Furniture underwent successive refine- 
ments at the hands of Chippendale, Sheraton, the Adamses and others 
whose styles were reflected in American colonial workshops. English 
silver work and pewter were at their best under the first Georges. 
The invention of copper rolled or "Sheffield" plate carried the finest 
silverware designs of the period into the homes of people of moderate 
means. That marvels of pottery were produced by Wedgwood, Wall 
and others of the west counties hardly need be said. It was a time of 
improving taste and expanding luxury, and in this century of enlarg- 
ing human desires, English wit began, at first imitatively, to take up 
the problems of cheapening production and of thereby stimidating 
consumption of commodities. As Mr. Gay says : 

England's turn, it seems quite clear, was toward the ])ractical. 
Very early in England there occurred a great spread of popular belief 
in the possibilities of science. Indeed this faith became so great that 
it verged upon the grotesque. It had ft)r one thing this important 
result that it tempted out the money of private investors for use in 
enterprise. Among the many valid schemes there were still more 
"wildcats." One promoter banked so much on the faith of the public 
in inventive schemes that his prospectus ])lainly announced that stock 
was "to be subscril)ed for a project to be dix'ulged." 

This po]nilar faith was reenforced by the example of Holland, 
where much practical progress had already been made. Holland had 
shown the way, it was said, and luigland was counseled to emulate. 
Wherever Englishmen could lay thfi- hands on a good thing, in the 


printing trades, in the manufacture of paper, in the metal trades, they 
incorporated it into their own industry. Finally, with the increasing 
subdivision of labor in some of the special industries, a form of the 
factory system had become developed even before the machines 

When the great inventions began, one step of progress literally 
forced the demand for another. The increased development of the 
weaving business caused a demand for more yarn, and there was a 
rapid succession of inventions to provide it. Chief among these Ark- 
wright's water frame literally necessitated factory production, run as 
it was by water power. With the mule an enormous amount of yarn 
was produced, and the pressure next began to bear on the weaving 
side, to make use of all the yarn that was made. Cartwright's loom 
followed. There was trouble to bleach all this cloth by the old proc- 
esses, and chloride bleaching was developed. 

Thus necessity mothered invention within a single industry. But 
one industry also caused a demand upon other industries. To provide 
machines of the type required, the iron supply had to be developed, and 
for the steam engine it was necessary to pr(.)duce a cylinder that could 
be bored with accuracy. The means for mining and transporting coal 
also required development to meet the demand. 

Sir Richard Arkwright's spinning frame, as just intimated, stands 
nt the Ijeginning of the new phase of civilization. The fascinating 
story of the career of the humble barber of Preston, whose inventions 
raised him to a baronetcy and made him the father of industrialism, 
cannot be rehearsed here. It has been told authoritatively in Richard 
Whately Cooke-Taylor's "The Modern Factory System." Notice 
should be taken, however, as bearing directly on the changes that 
occurred in Lowell from I(S20 onward, that in 1769 Arkwright ob- 
tained a patent for a water frame spinning machine which within a 
very few years put literally millions of home-spinning wheels out of 
business. The inventor himself said of this machine, in the preamble 
of the specification attached to the application for a patent, that he 
"had by great study and long application invented a new piece of 
machinery never before found out, practiced or used, for the making 
of weft or yarn from cotton, flax and wool, which would be of great 
utility to a great many manufacturers, as well as to his Majesty's sub- 
jects in general, Iiy employing a great number of poor people in work- 
ing the said machinery, much superior tii any heretofore manufac- 
tured or made." 

This Arkwright si)inning frame. ()])erated by ])o\ver. had spindles 
that were much more productive than those of the cottage wheel, mul- 
tiplying many fold the value of the labor of the operator. The frame 
itself, moreover, was from the first far too cumbersome to be set up in 
a jirivate house. It required a workshop, a factory, for effective opera- 
tion. This need of segregation of labor was foreseen by Arkwright, 
who in the year of his receiving his patent erected at Nottingham an 


unpretentious little mill for cotton spinning, its machinery turned by 
two horses harnessed to a treadmill. 

Thus at about the date when the farmer folk of the American 
Chelmsford and Dracut were drilling their train-bands against the 
increasing tA^ranny of the London government was born the system 
which later was to revolutionize all conditions of living at Pawtucket 
Falls, and which was to make the present city of Lowell possible. 

Other mechanical improvements, as Dean Gay has noted, followed 
the Arkwright spinning frame, as for example, the inventor's patents 
of 1775 for carding, drawing and roving machines, to be employed "on 
preparing silk, cotton, flax and wool for spinning." The new system 
also made much use of previous inventions, as of John Kayes' fly- 
shuttle of 1738 and James Hargreaves' spinning jenny of 1767. In 
1779 Samuel Crompton, a practical weaver of Bolton, invented the 
mule-jenny, so-called because, like the crossing of the horse and the 
donkey, it combined the principles of Hargreaves' jenny and .\rk- 
wright's water frame. By this time the most essential machinery was 
complete : though many subsequent modifications and improvements 
have been made, in several notable instances by Lowell inventors. 
The first power loom was fashioned in 1785 by Edmund Cartwright, a 
clergyman. In that year, too, a Nottingham cotton mill for the first 
time in the history of the industry installed a steam engine. 

These things were happening, it should be recalled, during years 
in which much manufacturing of the primitive sort was carried for- 
ward at East Chelmsford and Dracut Navy Yard, just as in hundreds 
of other several communities of New England. Precisely as in Eng- 
land before Arkwright's invention, the factory was a clearing house 
from which yarn spun in the nearby homes was sent out again to the 
home to be woven on the hand loom, the miller's functions being those 
of carding, fulling and finishing. The older system was obviously 
quite dififerent from that which began with Arkwright's plan of hav- 
ing all the processes of textile manufacture carried on under a single 

The economies of the factory system from its first days were sur- 
prising to whoever became acquainted with them. ".\ handloom 
weaver," says Lincoln, "was highly competent if he produced two 
pieces of shirting a week. Early in the nineteenth century an average 
power loom weaver wove seven pieces in the same time. Two hun- 
dred looms in a factory operated by half as many weavers produced as 
much cloth as would have come from 875 looms scattered among the 
households where the women had meals and children and the men 
gardens and live stocks to look after. Under methods of the present 
day the disparity between hand weaving and power weaving is even 
more striking." The se.x problem in industry was simultaneously 


introduced Ijy the factory. "Women," says Arthur Harrison Cole, in 
liis "History of the Wool Manufacture in the United States to the 
Establishment of the Factory System," "could now be substituted for 
men in the jjrocess of weaving. The hard labor of operating the har- 
ness and 'beating-up' the cloth as it was woven, so as to make it com- 
pact and firm, was now obviated.'' 

i\merican men of affairs in the first days of the Republic, as 
already observed, were more or less excited by the upgrowth of this 
new form of manufacturing in England. A survey of the sittiation 
was made in Alexander Hamilton's celebrated re])rirt on domestic 
manufactures, which gives this impressive list: "Great quantities of 
coarse cloths, coating, serges and flannels, linsey-woolseys, hosiery of 
wool, cotton and thread, coarse fustians, jeans, and muslins, coverlets, 
and counterpanes, tow linens, coarse shirtings, sheetings, towellings, 
and table linen, and various mixtures of wool and cotton, and of cot- 
ton and flax, are made in the household way : and, in many instances, 
to an extent not only sufficient for the supply of the family in which 
they are made, but for sale, and even in some cases for exportation. 
It is computed, in a number of districts, that two-thirds, three-fourths 
and even four-fifths of all the clothing of the inhabitants, are made by 

That there were more economical ways for spinning and weaving 
those faljrics now began to l)e understood. Immediate imitation of 
these methods, however, was not jiracticable for various reasons. 
Trade secrets were carefully guarded abroad. England jealously pre- 
vented exjxtrtation of machinery that might create commercial rivals 
elsewhere. Not many people in America understood clearly as yet 
the economic and social aspects of the industrial revolution that was 
in progress in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Interest in economic sub- 
jects was generally vague, as probably in the minds of the Massachu- 
setts Legislature of 1786, which appointed Richard Cranch, of the 
Senate, and Messrs. Clarke and Bowdoin, of the House, "to \iew any 
new invented machines that are making within the Commonwealth 
for the purpose of manufacturing shee])'s wool and cotton wool, and 
re])ort what measures are pnqter for the Legislature to take to encour- 
age the same." 

This quest at least led tlu committee to Bridgewater, wliere, 
according to Samuel Ikitchelder, some machinery made by Robert and 
. Alexander Barr included the Arkwright improvements. As a conse- 
cpience of a favorable report from the committee the General Court on 
November 16, 17S6, granted the sum of £200 "to enable them to com- 
plete the said three machines, and also a roping machine, and to con- 
struct such other machines as are necessary for the purpose of card- 
ing, rcjping and spinning of sheep's wool, as well as of cotton wool." 


This State aided enterprise at Bridgewater seems not to have suc- 
ceeded, for it does not again come into the records. 

For Beverly is claimed the distinction of harboring the first Amer- 
ican cotton factory, though one would hardly say that it entertained 
the factory system as it is now known. "The Beverly company," 
states Montgomery in his "History of the Cotton Industry in Amer- 
ica," "commenced operation in 1787, and are supposed to be the first 
company that made any progress in the manufacture of cotton goods 
(that at Bridgewater had been on a very limited scale); yet the diffi- 
culties under which they labored — the extraordinary losses of ma- 
terials in the instruction of their servants and workmen — the high 
prices of machines unknown to their mechanics, and both intricate 
and delicate in their construction, together with other incidents which 
usuall}- attend a new business, were such that the company were put 
to the necessity of applying to the Legislature for assistance, to save 
them from being compelled to abandon the enterprise altogether." 

Such, at Beverly, was the beginning of cotton manufacture in 
North America. The new company experienced difficulties which are 
a matter of record. In 1790 it received from the State a grant of 
£1.000 to be so expended as most effectually to further the making of 
cotton piece goods in the Commonwealth. The enterprise continued 
for some time further, but it lost its reputation after more extensive 
and better equipped factories were built at Pawtucket, Providence, 
Waltham and, finally, at Lowell. 

Reference should l)e made in passing to the successful efforts of 
Samuel Slater, who came in November, 1789, from one of Arkwright's 
mills in England, to establish factories in Rhode Island. This indus- 
trial pioneer, whose descendants still control properties which he 
started, arrived without working drawings of the machines which he 
desired to reproduce in America. With the help of a good memory 
and knowledge of mathematics he was able to construct machinery 
which served its purpose reasonably well. Beginning his operations 
at Pawtucket in December. 1790, he soon after opened the first Ameri- 
can cotton yarn mill at New Providence. The progress of the busi- 
ness for many years was discouragingly slow. In January, 1807, there 
were but 4,000 spindles in ojjeration in Rhode Island. These furnished 
yarns for hand-weaving at home. The country still imported nearly 
all its cotton cloth from England and the East Indies, the receipts 
from Calcutta alone amounting in 1807-08 to about 53,000,000 yards. 
The cost of spinning Slater's yarn is said to have been about double 
that of the whole processes of spinning, weaving and finishing in the 
Lowell mills of a generation later. 

Most of these enterprises of Southern New England were pros- 
trated during the War of 1812. They came to life again in the revival 
of biisinr~,s after the war. 


Throughout this time the factory system, even in the cotton manu- 
facture, hardly existed as it is now known. Weaving was still done 
mostly by hand, for the Cartwright loom, though invented in 1785, 
was jealously guarded by the English. It did not become available for 
American use until nearly a generation later. Such as it was, further- 
more, the primitive Cartwright invention required many years of suc- 
cessive improvements to become the smooth running, efficient machine 
of modern manufacture. In the first looms the warp was perpendicu- 
lar, the reed fell with a force of at least fifty pounds and the springs 
which threw the shuttle were, as Alfred Gilman puts it, "strong 
enough to have thrown a congreve rocket, and it required the power of 
two strong men to operate it very slowlv for a very short time." 

Francis Cabot Lowell and His Power Loom — I<"raiicis Cabot 
Lowell, who studied the conditions of manufacture in England in the 
years 1810 and 181 1, who took the initiative in devising and financing 
a practical power loom for American use, who interested himself in 
the social as well as the commercial effects of the factory system, is, 
by general admission, the originator of the American cotton manufac- 
ture. His family name is perpetuated in the city which, as an outcome 
of his ])i(;)neer enterprise at Waltham, grew up on the site of the 
ancient Indian metropolis of the Merrimack. 

Just before the city of Lowell celebrates the centenary, the one 
hundred and fiftieth anniversary of this representative of a famous 
family, its i)atron saint, will demand commemoration. 

The father of the American fnctory system was the fourth child of 
Judge John and Sarah Higginson Lowell, of Newburyport. where he 
was born in T775. The family, descended from Percival Lowell, is one 
which has had a long succession of distinguished members from the 
earliest days (jf the Massachusetts Bay colony to the present time. 
Judge Lowell was a leading man of his community, a member of the 
Provincial Assembly of 1776 and of the Constitutional Convention of 
1780. Francis Cabot Lowell was graduated from Harvard College in 
1793. As a young man he undertook mercantile business in which he 
was remarkably successful. His visit to England, made just before 
the War of 1S12, was on account of his health which was already fail- 
ing. In 181 1 he was in Edinburgh, with his family, according to the 
reminiscences of Nathan Appleton, and thence he wrote to his friends 
of having become interested in cotton manufacturing and of his de- 
termination to visit Manchester before his return to America. 

Lowell came back in 1813 at a time when such industries as the 
United States possessed were flat on account of the war with England. 
I lis active mind saw the importance of the economic independence 
of the country. The ])ractical undertaking upon which he now entered 
is best describecl in Nathan .Vppleton's words: "He and Mr. Patrick 


T. Jackson came to us one day on the Boston Exchange and stated that 
they had determined to establish a cotton manufacturing company, 
that they had purchased a water power in Waltham (Bemis's paper 
mill), and that they had obtained an act of incorporation, and Mr. 
Jackson had agreed to give up all other business and take the manage- 
ment of the concern." 

The authorized capital of this new manufacture at Waltham was 
$400,000, but only $100,000 was to be raised until the company was 
assuredly successful. The original promoters themselves subscribed 
most of the capital. Mr. Appleton took $5,000. 

Lowell, as might be surmised from general knowledge of human 
nature, did not enter upon this scheme with the unanimous support 
of his family connections and friends. Henry Lee, in an article in the 
"Boston Daily .Advertiser," in 1830, recalled that "many of his near- 
est connections used all their influence to dissuade him from the 
pursuit of what they deemed a visionary and dangerous scheme. 
They, too, were among those who knew, or thought they knew, the 
full strength of his mind, the accuracy of his calm calculations, his 
industry, patience and perseverance, and, withal, his power and influ- 
ence over others, which was essential to his success ; they still thought 
him mad, and did not recover from that error till they themselves had 
lost their own senses, of which the}- evinced symptoms at least, by 
shortly purchasing into the business of this visionary schemer at 
thirty, forty, fifty and even sixty per cent, advance." 

Much of the subsequent prosperity of Francis Cabot Lowell's first 
attempt to introduce modern manufacturing in this country was un- 
doubtedly due to his good fortune securing the services of a mechani- 
cal genius in the person of Paul Moody, whose name is perpetuated 
in one of the principal streets of Lowell. This inventor was born at 
Newbury, May 23, 1779, in the sixth generation from the saddler, Wil- 
liam Moody, of Ipswich, England, who settled in 1634 at the Massa- 
chusetts Ipswich, and a year later moved into what is now Newbury. 
Paul Moody was one of seven sons of Captain Paul Moody. His aca- 
demic education was limited, ^\'hen sixteen years old he learned the 
weaver's craft, at which he became expert. He presently went into 
business with Jacob Perkins, of Amesbury, who had invented a nail- 
cutting machine. In 181 2 he was in the employ of Kendrick and 
Worthen, manufacturers of carding machinery. Later, with Ezra 
Worthen, Thomas Boardman and Samuel Wigglesworth, he began to 
make satinets, a popular mixture of wool and cotton, their firm being 
incorporated, February 16, 1813. as the .\mesbury Wool and Cotton 
Manufacturing Company, capitrdized at $46,000. Finally in 1814 Mr. 
Mcjodv went to Waltham to superintend the setting-up of the machin- 
ery of the new mill planned by Messrs. Lowell and Jackson. Here he 


found plenty of exercise for his inventive and organizing talent. One 
of his less known discoveries was that of the economical value of 
leather belting, afterwards in almost general use in mill drive. 

The power loom with which Francis Cabot Lowell hoped to revo- 
lutionize American textile manufacture was not the Cartwright loom 
which was already in operation m Lancashire. It was one on which 
he himself had worked experimentally in a store on Broad street. Bos- 
ton, employing a couple of men to turn a crank and thus furnish the 
power. By the time the building at Waltham was complete the first 
loom was ready for installatiijn. "I well recollect," writes Appleton, 
"the state of admiration and satisfaction with which we sat by the 
hour, watching the beautiful movements of this new and wonderful 
machine, destined, as it evidenth' was, to change the character of all 
textile industry. This -was in the autumn of 1814." Lowell appears 
from this account to have been a mechanic of no mean order. At Wal- 
iham, nevertheless, Paul Moody's services were required to invent an 
important movement to which the loom owed its complete success. 

Other essential inno\-ations for which Moody was responsible 
during the years he spent at Waltham are described with considerable 
precision by Rev. H. A. Miles in his "Lowell As It is:" 

He in\ented the "dead s[)indle." \\-hich was introduced at Waltham 
and is still used throughout the mills at Lowell. The Rhode Island 
machinery employed the "live spindle," copied from the English. The 
product of the former is greater, though it requires more power. .\l)out 
the time of starting their mill at AN'altham, Mr. Lowell and Mr. Moody 
went to Taunton, Mass., to procure a machine for winding the filling 
upon a bobbin. Just as the former gentlemen were concluding a con- 
tract for these machines Mr. Moody suggested that if they would re- 
turn to Waltham without them, he thought he could invent a machine 
to siHii the yarn upon the bubbin the same conical form in which the 
winder put it on, and thus supersede the necessity of the intervention 
of that machine. Upon their return he invented what is called the "fill- 
ing frame," a machine which he at once perfected, and which is still used 
both at Waltham and at Lowell. Near the same time Mr. Lowell told 
Mr. Moody that they must have a "governor," to regulate the speed 
of their wheels. This was an apparatus of which Mr. Moody had 
never heard, and the only information concerning it which his friends 
could supply was that, having seen one in England, he rememljered 
there were two iron balls sus])ended on tw'o rods, connected at one end 
like a pair of tongs. When the wheels were in too rapid motion these 
balls were driven apart, and jiroduced a partial closing of the water 
gate; when on the other hand, their motion was slow, the balls 
approached each other and effected a greater opening of the gate, by 
which an increased motion was obtained. This conversation was held 
in Boston, at Mr. Lowell's house. The gentlemen separated with an 
understanding that the "governor" should forthwith be ordered from 
England. Mr. Moody, on his ride to Waltham, could not get those 
balls out of his mind. They were flying around in his brain the whole 


of that day and night. The next day he went to the shop and chalked 
out the plan of some wheels which he ordered made. Not long after 
this Mr. Lowell was at Waltham, and Mr. Moody inquired if the "gov- 
ernor" had been ordered from England. On learning that it had not 
Mr. Moody produced the "governor" which he had made. It was set 
up in the mill, and that identical one was in successful use until 1832. 
The "governors" now used in this city are all copied from that. Mr. 
Moody, with the assistance of Mr. Lowell, was the inventor of the 
"double speeder." This machine was set in operation at Waltham 
and was patented. Some time after this the patent right was infringed 
upon by some mechanics who had worked upon the machine at Wal- 
tham, and prosecution ensued. The case was tried before Judge Story 
and was argued by Mr. Webster. The late Mr. Bowditch, then of 
Salem, was requested to examine the principles, both of the original 
and the imitated machines, in order to appear as a witness at the trial. 
Mr. Bowditch was afterwards heard to say that seldom had his mind 
been more severely taxed, for the "double speeder'" required for its 
construction the greatest mathematical power of any piece of mechan- 
ism with which he had become acfjuainted. The idea of this machine 
originated with Mr. Moody., but the mathematical calculations neces- 
sary for its construction were made by Mr. Lowell. 

The Lowell power loom was not without a competitor almost 
from the outset. Closely following upon its appearance came the im- 
portation of the Horrocks loom at Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1817. 
The latter was of English devising, on the basis of patents taken out 
in 1803, 1805 and 1813. Though inferior to the Lowell machine in 
having a crank instead of a cam to lift the harness, it otherwise was 
simple and efficient and could be built for about $70 as opposed to $300, 
the cost of the loom controlled by the Boston Manufacturing Com- 

The system of company boarding houses and other provisions for 
the welfare of operatives which Mr. Lowell and his associates intro- 
duced at Waltham had few, if any, counterparts in the old world. The 
germination of this principle of looking out for the human units of 
production, as well as for the machines, appeared a little later in the 
initial scheme of the city of Lowell. 

The attitude of responsibility for the condition of employees 
which prevailed from the outset of the experiment at East Chelmsford 
thus dated from the philanthropic mind of Francis Cabot Lowell, who 
"had another idea in his mind which was one of the greatest impor- 
tance, and that was the moral and religious instruction of the ojjera- 
tives." Rev. George Kengott, in "The Record of a City," follows the 
tradition that Lowell and his friends were much influenced by the 
humanitarian philoso])h)- of Robert Owen. Be that as it may, the 
Boston Manufacturing Company as early as 1814 built model board- 
ing houses and presently undertook schools, a church, and the "Rum- 
ford Institute of Mutual Instruction," and when the question of estab- 


lisliment of mills at Lowell was under consideration, according to Mr. 
Appleton, "the question arose and was deeply considered whether this 
degradation [of the type familiar in English factory towns] was the 
result of the peculiar occupation or other distinct causes." As Rod- 
ney Hemenway expresses it, in his "Genesis of the Social System in 
New England Manufacturing," the Boston promoters deliberately 
"chose the example of that wise, philanthropic manufacturer-reformer. 
Robert Owen, rather than that of the average factory manager with 
whom they came into contact during their studies of the manufactur- 
ing question." 

Even a sketch}- record of F"rancis Cabot Lowell's achievements 
would l)e incomplete without reference to his pioneership protec- 

One of the chief results of American distresses during the War of 
1812 was that shortly after it the Nation committed itself to a policy 
of subsidizing home industries through protective tariffs. Whereas, 
England, under the influence of the philosophical anarchism of Adam 
Smith and Jeremy Bentham, had already evolved a theory of free 
trade, the United States definitely adopted the plan of protecting the 
Nation's capitalists and laborers from the effects of world-wide com- 
petition. Withotit this legislative encouragement, it hardly need be 
said, the use of the water powers of the Merrimack for manufacturing 
purposes would probably have been delayed for years, or even genera- 
tions, and it is interesting to note that Francis Cabot Lowell led the 
fight for recognition of the protective principle which was due shortly 
to make possible the uplniilding of the city that now bears his name. 

In the winter of 1816 Lowell was in Washington and there, as 
Edward Everett relates in his memoirs : 

In confidential intercourse with some of the leading men of Con- 
gress, he fixed their attention on the importance, the prospects and 
the dangers of the cotton manufacture, and the jiolicy of shielding it 
from foreign competition by legislative jurisdiction. Constitutional 
objections at that time were unheard of. The Middle States, under 
the lead of Pennsylvania, were strong in the interest of manufactur- 
ing. The West was about equally divided. The New England States, 
attached from the settlement of the country to commercial and navi- 
gating pursuits, were less disposed to embark in a new policy which 
was thought adverse to some branches of foreign trade, and particu- 
larly to the trade with India, from which the supply of coarse cottons 
was {)rincipally derived. The planting States, and eminently South 
Carolina, then represented by se\-eral gentlemen of distinguished abil- 
ity, held the balance between the rival interests. To the ]ilanting 
interest it was demonstrated by Mr. Lowell that by the establishment 
of the cotton manufacture in the United States the southern planter 
would greatly increase his market. He would furnish the raw ma- 
terial for all those American fabrics which should take the place ot 
manufactures imported from India or partly made in England from 


India cotton. He would thus, out of his own produce, be enabled to 
pay for all the supplies which he required from the North. This simple 
and conclusive view of the subject prevailed, and determined a portion 
of the South to throw its weight in favor of a protective tariff. The 
minimum duty on cotton fabrics, the corner stone of the system, was 
proposed by Air. Lowell, and is believed to have been an original con- 
ception on his part. It was recommended by Mr. Lowndes, it was 
advocated by Mr. Calhoun, and was incorporated into the law of 1816. 
To this provision of law, the fruit of the intelligence and influence of 
Mr. Lowell, New England owes that branch of industry, which has 
made amends for the diminution of her foreign trade ; which has kept 
her prosperous under the exhausting drain of her population to the 
West ; which has brought a market for his agricultural products to the 
farmer's door ; and which, while it has conferred these l:)lessings on this 
part of the country, has been productive of good, and nothing but good 
to every other portion of it. For these public benefits — than which 
none, not directly connected with the establishment of our liberties, 
are of a higher order or of a more comprehensive scope — the people of 
the LTnited States are indebted to Mr. Francis Cabot Lowell ; and in 
conferring his name upon the noble city of the arts in our neighbor- 
hood a monument not less appropriate than honorable has been reared 
in his memory. What memorial of a great public benefactor so be- 
coming as the bestowal of his name on a prosperous community which 
has started, as it were, from the soil at the touch of his wand? Pyra- 
mids and mausoleums may erumble to earth, and brass and marble 
mingle with the dust they cover, but the pure and well deserved 
renown, which is thus incorporated with the busy life of an intelligent 
people, will be remembered till the long lapse of ages and the vicissi- 
tudes of fortune shall reduce all of America to oblivion and decay. 

Francis Cabot Lowell did not live to see the fruition of the enter- 
prises for which his sagacity and persistence were mainly responsible. 
He died at the early age of forty-one. He had, of course, no direct 
connection with the community which later adopted his name at the 
instance of its benevolent despot, Kirk Boott. It is not known that he 
ever saw the water powers of the Merrimack and Concord at East 

Of his business acumen, which placed the cotton industry for the 
first time on a firm basis, his friend. Nathan Appleton, relates: 

It is remarkable how few changes, in this respect [of installing 
machinery and routing processes through the mill] have been made 
since those established by him in the first mill built in Waltham. It 
is also remarkable how accurate were his calculations as to the expense 
at which goods could be made. He used to say that the only circum- 
stance which made him distrust his calculations was that he could 
bring them to no other result but one which was too favorable to be 
credible. His calculations, however, did not lead him so far as to make 
him imagine that the same goods which were then selling at thirty 
cents a yard would at any time be sold at six cents, and without a loss 
to the manufacturer, as has since been done. He died in 1H17, beloved 


and respected by all \vh(.) knew him. He is entitled ti.> the credit of 
having- introduced the new system in the cotton manufacture under 
which it has grown up so rapidly ; for, although Messrs. Jackson and 
Moody were men of unsurpassed energy and talent in their way, it 
was Mr. Lowell who was the informing soul which gave direction and 
form to the whole proceeding. 

The New Life at Old Wamesit — In 1S20 and immediately there- 
after the communities at Pawtucket and Massic Falls were jogging 
on in the old ways which have been described. At Pawtucket Bridge, 
Elisha Ford (1778-1S55), son of Captain John Ford, surveyor and 
hydraulic engineer, represented the contemporary interest in water 
power. Over at Chelmsford Centre the Rev. Wilkes Allen had just 
brought out, through a town appropriation for that purpose, "the first 
book of town history issued in America." Middlesex \'illage, as has 
been seen, was an active hamlet, through business due to the Middle- 
sex canal, and through the glass works. The substantial families then 
living between Middlesex and the Chelmsford bridgehead at the falls 
pursued their handicrafts and agricultural vocations, and many of 
them attended divine worship on the north side of the Merrimack. 
Between Clark's Ferry and the Navy Yard, Dracut looked much as it 
now would, if the mid-centurj- and later constructions could be re- 
moved and only the fine old white houses, some of which happily sur- 
\i\e, were left to maintain their dignity among the elms. The Hild- 
reth bailiwick about the Great Bunt still had its annual excitement 
when the shad and alewives ran. The yellow meeting house at Dracut 
Centre, the object of man}' controversies, was now an established insti- 
tution. In East Dracut. Joseph Bradley Varnum, the greatest man 
of this part of Massachusetts, had just passed away, in Septem- 
ber, 1S21. from angina pectoris, having shortly before his death dic- 
tated to his niece, Miss Harriett Swett Varnum. the autobiography 
which has been frequently quoted in this history. In the downtown 
district of the future city the family of Tylers was conspicuous, Na- 
than Tyler owning nearly all the land from the old Paw^tucket or Navi- 
gation Canal, to the Merrimack and as far down as the mouth of the 
Concord near which the Tyler mansion stood. Over the Concord was 
the Gedney mansion, the old yellow house, already described. Like the 
Hildreths, the Tylers took great interest in the fisheries. Some remi- 
niscences of the late Captain Silas Tyler give a vivid picture of the 
customs of the time: "The best haul of fish I ever knew was eleven 
hundred shad and eight or ten thousand alewives. This was in the 
Concord just below the Middlesex Mills. My uncle, Joe Tyler, once 
got so many alewives that he did not know what to do with them. 
The law allowed us to fish two oays in the week in the Concord and 
three in the Merrimack. * + * The Dracut folks fished in the pond at 


the foot of Pawtucket Falls. They would set their nets there on for- 
bidden days. On one occasion the fish wards from Billerica came and 
carried off their nets. The wardens, when they returned to Billerica, 
spread the nets in the grass to dry. The next night the fishermen, in 
a wagon with a span of horses, drove to Billerica, gathered u]) the 
nets, brought them back and reset them in the pond. People would 
come fifteen or twenty miles to procure these fish. Shad were worth 
five dollars per hundred and salmon ten cents per pound." The neigh- 
borhood was one whose simple farmer people, fairly prosperous, lived 
the kind of life their ancestors had prescribed for them, with much 
hard work, and much merriment and gayety. 

In the autumn of 1821 Thomas M. Clark, merchant of Newbury- 
port and a director of the Pawtucket Canal, through which logs were 
rafted down to the head of Hunt's Falls, came to East Chelmsford and 
began to negotiate for some of the farm lands whose titles had come 
down from the original Wamesit Neck proprietorship. 

He began by buying the Nathan Tyler farm. This tract included 
about forty acres, covering the territory between Merrimack street on 
the north, the lower end of Pawtucket canal on the south, the present 
Merrimack canal mi the west and coming across Merrimack street 
near the present Merrimack square and extending to the junction of 
the rivers. For this [property eight thousand dollars were paid. Be- 
tween Merrimack street and the river was the si.xty-acre farm of Josiah 
Fletcher, which sold for the same price. .Above the Fletcher jiroperty 
was the Cheever farm, the homestead of which long stood just above 
the Lawrence corporation. Here were one hundred and ten acres, 
nine undivided tenths of which Mr. Clark secured for $1,800, with an 
()])tion on the remaining one-tenth for two hundred dollars. "The 
owner of the other tenth," says Miles, "had agreed to convey it for 
two hundred dollars ; but dying insolvent, it was sold by order of the 
court, the Locks and Canals Company giving, for seven and a half 
tenths thereof, upwards of three thousand dollars. The remaining two 
and a half tenths were bought a year afterwards for nearly five thou- 
sand dollars — so rapidly did the value of the land rise. In 1822 the 
farm of the widow of Jose])h \\ arren was purchased, a tract nf about 
thirty acres, lying between Central street and Concord river, with the 
Pawtucket canal on the north, and extending up nearly as far as Rich- 
mond's Mills (jn the south. l""or this the sum of five thousand dollars 
was paid. Within these ijoundaries Mr. Thomas Hurd owned two or 
three acres of land in the near neighborhood of his woolen mill, which 
was situated where the Mechanics' Mills now stand. The farm of Mr. 
Joseph Fletcher, the homestead of which still stands on the high land 
in the rear of the U])per ])art of .\]ipleton street, came down to the 
Pawtucke' canal on the north and Central street on the east, and con- 


tained about one hundred acres. This was not purchased until 1824, 
for which the sum of ten thousand dollars was paid." 

These purchases of the ancient farmsteads of W'amesit Neck had 
not gone far before the neighborhood began to suspect that Mr. Clark, 
of Newburyport, must represent clients more influential and ambitious 
than the proprietors of the transportation canal which annually en- 
abled a few million feet of pine lumber from u]) country to circumvent 
the tortuous channel of Pawtucket Falls. What was reall_\- happen- 
ing soon became evident to their astonished eyes. 

The ])rosperity of the Waltham cotton manufacture led to a search 
which in the early twenties induced several Boston capitalists to con- 
sider where next they might plant a factory town. The horse power 
develo])ed by the Charles river is small, and there is no other stream 
in the immediate neighborhood of Boston that could be used for a 
large installatitm. Hence the manufacturing interests already must 
look further afield. 

The narrative of the quest fur a dependable supply of power can- 
not lie told better than bv Mr. Appleton's narrative: 

The success of the Waltham com]iany made me desirous of ex- 
tending my interest in the same direction. I was of opinion that the 
time had arrived when the manufacture and printing of calicoes might 
be successfully introduced in this country. In this opinion Mr. Jack- 
son coincided ; and we set about discovering a water power. At the 
suggestion of Mr. Charles H. Atherton, of .\mherst. New Hampshire, 
we met him at a fall of the Souhegan ri\er about six miles from its 
entrance into the Merrimack, but the power was insufficient for our 
purpose. This was in the summer of 182 1. In returning we passed 
the Nashua river without being aware of the existence of the fall 
which has since been made the source of so much ])ower by the Nashua 
company. We saw a small grist mill standing in the meadow near the 
road, with a dam of some six (ir seven feet. Soon after our return I 
was at Waltham one day. when 1 was informed that Mr. Moody had 
lately been at Salisbury, where Mr. Wtirthen, his old partner, said to 
him : "I hear Messrs. Jackson and .\ppleton are looking out for water 
power; why dnn't they Iniy up the Pawtucket canal? That would 
give them the whole power of the Merrimack, with a fall of thirty 
feet." On the strength of this. Mr. Moody had returned that way, and 
was satisfied with the extent of the power, and that Mr. Jackson was 
making incjuiries on the subject. Mr. Jackson socm after called on me, 
and inft)rmed me that he had had a correspondence with Mr. Clark, of 
Newburyport, the .Agent of the Pawtucket Company, and had ascer- 
tained tiiat the stock nf that company, and the lands necessary for 
using the water ])ower, could be jnirchased ; and asked me what I 
thought of taking hold of it. He stated that his engagements at Wal- 
tham would not permit him to take the management of a new concern : 
hut he mentioned Mr. Kirk Boott as having exjiressed a wish to take 
the management of an active manufacturing establishment, and he had 
confidence in his jiossessing the projier talent for it. After a discussion 


it was agreed that he should consult Mr. Boott ; and that, if he should 
join us, we would go on with it He went at once to see Mr. Boott, 
and soon returned to inform me that Mr. Boott entered heartily into 
the project ; and we set about making the purchases without delay. 
Until these were made it was necessary to confine all knowledge of the 
project to our own three bosoms. Mr. Clark was employed to pur- 
chase the necessary lands, and such shares in the canal as were within 
his reach; whilst Mr. Henry Andrews was employed in purchasing up 
the shares owned in Boston. I recollect the first interview with Mr. 
Clark, at which he exhibited a rough sketch of the canal and adjoining 
lands, with the price which he had ascertained they could be purchased 
for; and he was directed to go on and complete the purchases, taking 
the deeds in his own name, in order to prevent the project taking wind 
prematurely. The purchases were made accordingly for our equal 
joint account : each of us furnishing funds as required to Mr. Boott, 
who kept the accounts. Formal articles of association were drawn up. 
They bear date December i. 1821 ; and are recorded in the records of 
the Merrimack Manufacturing CcMnpany, of which they form the 
germ. The six hundred shares were thus described : 

Kirk Boott and J. W. Boott 180 

N. Appleton 180 

P. T. Jackson 180 

Paul Moody 60 

The Act of Incorporation of the Merrimack Manufacturing Com- 
pany bears date 5th of February, 1822, recognizing the original asso- 
ciation as the basis of the company. Our first visit to the spot was in 
the month of November, 1821, when a slight snow covered the groimd. 
The party consisted of P. T. Jackson, Warren Dutton, Paul bloody, 
John W. Boott and myself. We perambulated the grounds and one 
of us remarked that we might live to see twenty thousand people in 
the place. 

Such was the beginning of the scheme for a mill village at East 
Chelmsford. The original purchases on account of the town which 
it was planned to lay out totaled al:>out four hundred acres. The aver- 
age price paid was about one hundred dollars an acre. That the nego- 
tiations caused much surprise in the neighborhood, and much wonder- 
ment as to what was about to happen, may be conjectured. 

Speculation in land for the purpose of selling out was soon rife, 
as Mr. Appleton had expected. Thomas Hurd, the manufacturer of 
satinets on the Concord river, after whom Hurd street was named, is 
described by Alfred Oilman as a "shrewd operator," who happening to 
be in Boston and to overhear a conversation regarding purchase of 
lands at East Chelmsford, hurried home and secured the refusal of 
the Bowers saw mill, near Pawtucket bridge, and of considerable land 
in their neighborhood. The records of the Merrimack company sup- 
port this story, for they show that on July 29, 1822, the directors re- 
ceived a proposal from Air. llurd in reference to a sale of land at the 
fall' which proposal was referred to a committee. On August 17, 


1822, the Hurd holdings were bought by the company. In other trans- 
actions of the times, Mr. Hurd appears in the light of a business man 
with talent for making himself obnoxious for a financial purpose. 

Lowell, it should be observed in passing, might have been founded 
on the Kennebec instead of the Merrimack, had one of the Maine 
property owners proved as accommodating as the farmer folk about 
Pawtucket Falls were found out to be. It appears to be well authen- 
ticated that during the period of negotiations Kirk Boott made a trip 
from Boston to Gardiner, Maine, to bargain with R. H. Gardiner, of 
that place, concerning the water-power privilege belonging to his 
family's estate. The owner was quite willing to conclude a long lease, 
but not to sell liis land and power. Hence Boott returned to Boston, 
rebus infect is. 

The Founders of the City — The group of Boston capitalists who 
became the founders of a city which still honors their memories con- 
tained several quite notable personalities. 

Foremost among them was Francis Cabot Lowell's brother-in- 
law, Patrick Tracy Jackson, who after Mr. Lowell's death was the final 
authority in all financial arrangements. A descendant of Jonathan 
Jackson, an Irish merchant who settled in Newburyport. he had a 
business training in the East India trade, which helped to develop 
imagination and a spirit of enterprise in so many American youths of 
the earh- nineteenth century. His subsequent interest in the creation 
of New England railroads will appear in this narrative. 

Nathan Appleton.who frequently came forward as literary spnke.s- 
man, as well as financial factor of the early manufacturing enterprises, 
was of the celebrated family that came from Captain Samuel Ap]ileton, 
of Ipswich, commander of the Massachusetts troops in King Philip's 
War. He began a college course at Dartmouth College, which he did 
not finish, as he had an opportunity to enter business with his brother, 
Samuel Appleton, of Boston. He became one of the heaviest investors 
in Lowell mill properties. He was a memhcr of the Massachusetts 
Legislature between 1S15 and 1827 and a member of Congress in 1830. 
I-Iis personal characteristics have thus been described by his friend, 
Robert C W'inthro]) : "Persistent courage and inflexible integrity 
were indeed the two leading characteristics of Mr. .\pi)leton's char- 
acter, and constituted the secrets of his good success. To these, more 
than to an\thing else, he owed his fortune and his fame. He displayed 
his Ijoldness by emliarking in mitried enterprises, by advocating un- 
jjopular doctrines, by resisting popular prejudices, by confronting the 
most ixnverfnl and accomplished ojiponents in oral and written argu- 
ments, and by shrinking from no controversy into which the inde]iend- 
cnt expression of his ojiinions mi.ght lead him. His integrity was 
m.'inifested where ;ill the world might read it. in the dailv doings of a 


long mercantile career, and in the principles which he inculcated in so 
many forms of moral, commercial and financial discussion." A rather 
less favorable opinion of his judgment and business acumen, espe- 
cially in his latter years, was expressed by Dr. J. C. Ayer, of Lowell, 
who "muckraked" the Boston managements of Lowell mills just be- 
fore the Civil War. 

The position of town manager, to use a term that has lately come 
into currency, was deputed by the capitalists who planned to create 
this mill city at East Chelmsford to Kirk Boott, who had expressed 
himself as desirous of undertaking work of this kind. To this choice, 
fortunate, no doubt, in the main, Lowell owes many of its distinguish- 
ing peculiarities even to this day. 

The young manager who was given his tryout during the exacting 
first years of the town was a positive character and left his impress in 
many directions. He was born in Boston in 1791, but as a young boy 
was sent to England, where he was trained at the celebrated Rugby 
school. He presently returned to America and entered Harvard Col- 
lege, from which, however, he was not graduated. His father secured 
for him a commission in the British army and he entered that service 
in which he made a distinguished record. As a lieutenant in the 
Duke of York's Regiment, he witnessed the capture of San Sebastian, 
the battles of Nieve and the Nivelle, the passage of the Garonne and 
the siege of Bayonne. He probably would have risen to high rank in 
the royal army, but for the intervention of the War of 1812, in the 
course of which his regiment was ordered to America. 

Unwilling to fight against his fellow countrymen, young Boott 
resigned his British commission after five years' service. In 1817 he 
returned to Boston to engage in business with his brothers. Their 
enterprise proved unsuccessful, and at the time of the negotiations for 
the Pawtucket Canal and the adjacent lands. Kirk Boott, as it hap- 
pened, was out of employment. At this juncture he gladly accepted the 
tender made by Patrick Tracy Jackson to become superintendent of 
the new mills at East Chelmsford. To his personality, and especially 
to his English education and ideas, were due many of the characteris- 
tics of the town of which he was at the outset the virtual dictator, or 
"benevolent despot." 

Whether more credit than was his due has been given to Kirk 
Boott for his share in projecting Lowell is a fair subject for argument. 
His commanding personality to the generation immediately following 
made him seem to have been the major initiator of the enterprise. 
Toward a more moderate estimate of the part taken by the first agent 
of the Merrimack company, Alfred Gilman, in his sketch of the history 
of Lowell published in 1880, quotes John A. Lowell, of Boston, as 
writing: "I sh(}ulcl he the last person to say one word in (]o])reciation 


of Kirk Boott. He was my bosom friend, and I was his trustee. I 
would not say anything to detract from his credit ; but it is no more 
true as a matter of fact that he made the first experiment in joint stock 
companies in carrying on the cotton manufacturing than it is true that 
he went out with a fishing line and found that there was a water power 
at Chelmsford. The first person wlio suggested the place was Ezra 
Worthen. Paul Moody knew nothing about it. I\Ir. Moody and Mr. 
Jackson came up afterwards and saw the place. It is not true that 
Mr. Boott was the first to suggest it. So far from it. the whole pur- 
chase was made of the Pawtucket Canal, and of most of the farms 
here, before Mr. Boott ever had set foot on the spot." After the enter- 
prise was under way, however. Kirk Boott was unquestionably for 
some years the principal person in the management of afifairs, down 
to the time of his untimely death from heart failure in Merrimack 
street. Lowell. 

A likable man Kirk Boott hardly was, and various stories are told 
that illustrate his personal unpopularity with the populace of the com- 
munity which he came t(.) direct. His riding whip at very slight provo- 
cation fell upon the backs of boys whom he deemed impudent. His 
anglomania made trouble for him. One Fourth of July, for example, 
he raised both the English and the American flag on the flagpole at 
his residence, with the former emblem on top. An indignant crowd 
gathered and demanded that he reverse the order of the flags. This 
Boott refused to do, whereupon the citizens swarmed into his yard and 
did it for him. 

Kirk Boott's negotiations with landowners of the neighborhood 
were regarded, whether rightly or wrongly, as rather ungenerous. A 
ditty is recalled of which the following were characteristic stanzas: 

There came a young man from the old countree, 
The Merrimack River he happened to see. 
What a capital place for mills, quoth he. 
Ri-toot, ri-noot, ri-toot, riumpty. ri-tooten-a. 

.\nd then these farmers so cute, 

They gave all their lands and timber to Boott, 

Ri-toot, ri-noot, etc. 

Under the auspices that have been noted the Merrimack Manu- 
facturing Coinpany was duly incorporated under the laws of Massa- 
chusetts in 1822 with a capital stock of $600,000, and a train of events 
was started which almost overnight altered the characteristics of old 
Wamesit Neck. From this foundation dates the factory town as now 
known, a community in which thousands of workers are summoned 
daily at the same hour into workshops where each performs his task 
in a scheme of subdivided labor. 

The rural countryside in Chelmsford, Dracut and Tewksbury, re- 
mained, of course, for a time, much as before; onl^-, indeed, with the 


advent of the trolle)- and motor car in very recent years here the sev- 
eral nearby "centres" became radically different from the villages 
which sent forth their minute-men to the Concord fight. The "city of 
the dinner pail," however, which was inaugurated at East Chelmsford, 
was distinctly a departure in American municipalities. 

The plans of the Boston entrepaneurs, it may be emphasized, were 
for a much more humane and decent industrial community than any 
of those gathering places of the exploited classes with which the land- 
scape of nineteenth century England had already been fouled. As a 
man thinks so will he do. The New England capitalists, whatever 
their outlook on life, had to a far less extent than the contemporary 
Englishmen of business fallen under the spell of a "political economy 
which posited man as a naturally lazy and selfish animal who must be 
forced to work under the spur of grim necessity and whose ethical and 
altruistic sentiments, aspirations and instincts were to be ignored as 
negligible factors, while his greeds and dreads were constantly to be 
played upon, in the interest of large profits for his employer." The 
laissez-faire theory, in point of fact, was far more prevalent in England 
than in America. In the former country, to quote again from Lin- 
coln's article on "The Factory System" in "The American Business 
Encyclopedia," "the manufacturer took no responsibility, as a rule, 
for the housing of the workers allured from the country to the town by 
the prospect of steady work. How the masses lived and where they 
were buried, worn out at forty, was their own account." 

In contradistinction to the picture of human misery serving as a 
background for the profits of Lancashire manufacturers, Messrs. Jack- 
son, Appleton and their associates appear from the first to have had a 
vision of the city of neat well-clad, self-respecting operatives, reported 
by visitors to Lowell prior to the War of the Rebellion. It is possible, 
of course, somewhat to sentimentalize the favorable conditions of liv- 
ing in New England factory towns, of which Lowell was the proto- 
type. Some of the plans that were adopted for the welfare of the 
workers left little or no provision for human nature ; and those subse- 
quently went into the discard. "Corporation paternalism," writes 
Oneal in considering the status of the working class during this 
period, "became rampant. The girls not only slept in company houses, 
but patronized company stores. Some corporations maintained 
churches, paid the preacher's salary, collected pew rents from the opera- 
tives, and held out fixed sums from their wages for the welfare of their 
souls. Six and eight girls frequently occupied the same bed chamber, 
and the hours of labor varied from twelve hours in summer to fourteen 
hours in winter." 

Whatever the defects, nevertheless, of the specific plans, it re- 
mains true that Lowell, especially in its first years, was an exemplar 


of the principles of "welfare work" which are now generally applied in 
American industry. That some of the arrangements adopted were 
crude may be conceded. The same criticism, indeed, still lies against 
man}- more modern efforts of the same sort. It stands at least to the 
credit of the men who founded Lowell that they took into their con- 
sideration the proper upkeep of men as well as machines ; that they did 
not purpose to permit the sons and daughters of the farms who came 
trooping to their new town in search of work to feel that the employer 
had no interest whatever in them outside of working hours. It is be- 
ginning to be understi.iod that the world movement toward industrial 
democracy, the universal class struggle which has been increasingly 
apparent since the factory system came into being, cannot be com- 
pletel}- forefended by jjalliatives ; yet it is tolerably obvious that the 
relative freedom which Lowell has enjoyed from sanguinary clashes 
of interest between the representatives of capital and of labor may 
have been due, in large measure, to a disposition among the employers, 
evident from the first, to create opjjortunities by which the strong and 
ambitious worker might readily im]:)rove his condition in life. 

The inauguration of this wise policy of regarding the human ecjua- 
tion, the late Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge attributed, in his ad- 
dress at the Lowell commemorative exercises of April i, 1886, to the 
founder of the initial experiment at \^'althanl. "If it was wise to stock 
a fact(.)ry with the best inanimate machinery," he said, "Francis Cabot 
Lowell thought it wise to obtain the best human machinery, too. The 
welfare of the operative, mental, moral and jihysical, was as important 
in any wise man's scheme of a factory as the ten thousand horse power 
of the river. The factory system, as then established, in this country 
and in England, was execrable. This was twenty years before Shaftes- 
bury had led public opinion to the coal jiit and the factory and showed 
how sttmted and deformed, how feeble and helpless, how ignorant and 
depraved, men, women and children had become under the cruel sys- 
tem followed by selfish employers. The factory system was looked 
upon as accursed, and, if the daughters of New England were to run 
the looms in the new enterprise, a very different system must be 

".'\nd so," continued Mr. Greenhalge, "the great plan was formu- 
lated ; the neat, well-kept boarding house, with pleasant, home-like 
habits and restrictions, was established ; the church, the library and 
the lecture room followed : and religion, culture and refinement lent 
their influences to the life of toil. A new doctrine was proclaimed; 
the welfare of the emiiloved was a necessary factor to the success of 
the employer, just as the welfare of the employer was necessary to the 
success of the employed. They were one in interest, one in the loss 
and one in the gain; one in prosperity and in adversity. Miltun tells 


us of a music so divine that it would create a soul under the ribs of 
death. Lowell discovered a principle that created a soul under the ribs 
of political economy." 

Excavation of Canals and Erection of Factories — Following the 
purchase of lands at East Chelmsford, and the incorporation of the- 
Merrimack companj'. as related, in the spring- of 1822 a force of five 
hundred laborers was gathered to effect an enlargement of Pawtucket 
canal. Somewhat more than a year was required for this work, which 
cost about $120,000. When completed the canal was sixty feet wide 
and capable of carrying eight feet of water throughout. Simultaneously 
a lateral canal, the present Merrimack canal, was dug from the Paw- 
tucket canal northward to the IMerrimack river. This latter channel 
furnished power for the Merrimack company's original installation. 

To Ezra Worthen, of Amesbury, who had first made the sugges- 
tion that the Boston capitalists should consider the water powers at 
Pawtucket Falls, was entrusted the superintendency of the construc- 
tion work of the Merrimack company's first mill, which went on pari 
passu with the digging of the canals. This young man, whose name 
is perpetuated in Worthen street, was a descendant of Ezekiel 
Worthen, who became one of the proprietors of the town of Amesbury 
in 1666. He was born at the ancestral home Februarv 11, 1781. After 
learning the trade of ship carpentry he turned his attention to textile 
manufacture. For a time he made carding machines for a firm in 
Amesbury. In 181 2 he formed partnership with Paid Moody and 
others for making woolen goods. In 1813 this enterprise was incor- 
porated under the name of the Amesbury Wool and Cotton Company, 
with which ^Ir. Worthen was connected until he came to East Chelms- 
ford in 1822. He witnessed the solid, substantial factory completed 
and the first return of cloth made in November, 1823. Like many 
others of his generation, he was a bad risk, from the viewpoint of the 
modern life insurance expert. "He barely lived long enough to see a 
great promise in his fruitful idea. He died June 18, 1824. A man of 
much manufacturing experience, and of great mechanical talent, his 
loss in the infancy of the enterprise was deeply felt." 

Previous experience with manufacturing on the Concord river 
seems to have helped in this first undertaking on a large scale to use 
the heretofore unharnessed power of the ^lerrimack. In the con- 
struction of the Merrimack canal it is believed that the engineers were 
greatly influenced by a smaller but generally similar hydraulic 
arrangement which Oliver Whipple, the powder manufacturer, had 
just put into successful operation on the Concord river. W'hile 
engaged in manufacturing at this point, as already stated, Mr. Whip- 
ple saw the possibility of developing power that might be used by 
several mills. He accordingly constructed a canal from the head of 


the rapids which ran nearly parallel with the river to the foot of the 
falls, thence taking a westerly course and discharging its water, after 
using, into Hale's brook. The rapids of the Concord have a total fall 
of about twenty-five feet, and the net result of Mr. Whipple's under- 
taking was to provide the mill sites that were later used by Faulk- 
ner's mill, for flannel manufacture ; Chase's mill, which specialized on 
fancy woolens, the Charles A. Stott flannel mill, American boot com- 
pany, Belvidere woolen company, the shuttle factory, American bunt- 
ing company. Naylor's carpet company, a grist mill and a worsted 
mill. The Whijjple canal is understood to have been the first of its 
kind in this country. Partners of the manufacturer were so skeptical 
about it that they insisted on consulting the eminent engineer. Colonel 
Loammi Baldwin, who at once pronounced the plans perfectly prac- 
ticable. The work of constructing this canal began in September, 
1821. Meader states that "it is not improbable, in fact it is known, that 
this small canal had a favorable influence on the men who, the follow- 
ing year, examined the Pawtucket Falls with a view to establishing 
the immense business which preeminently entitled Lowell to the dis- 
tinctive name it bears — the City of Spindles.'' 

During this digging of the Pawtucket canal an interesting geo- 
logical fact came to li.ght. It is nciw, af)parently, the general belief 
of geologists that the Merrimack river at one time continued to flow 
southward, presumably into Boston harbor, instead of turning 
abruptly to the northeast as at present. Confirmation of this theory- 
is afforded by a notice in the "Lowell Journal," March 10, 1826: 'Tn 
digging this canal ledges were found considerably below the old canal 
which bore evident traces of its having once been the bed of the river. 
Manv jjlaces were worn in the ledge, as there usually are in falls, by 
stones kept continually in motion." 

The new factory of the Merrimack company was opened on time 
and the first piece of cotton cloth ever made in the modern way at 
Lowell was woven by Deborah Skinner, whom Paul Moody had 
brought from Waltham to instruct the new^ operatives in the care of 
the looms. Miss Skinner continued in the serxice of the Merrimack 
com]ianv for about five years, when she married Horace Barl)our, an 
overseer. The family later removed to Lewiston, Maine, where Mrs. 
Barbour died in 1870. Some day, as the importance of the beginning 
is better ajipreciated than now, a sculptor or a mural painter may be 
commissioned to make a representation of Deborah Skinner at the 

The driving force in the town planning and construction work 
which from 1822 onward rapidly transformed East Chelmsford, 
resided, of course, in the person of Kirk Boott. The superintendent of 
the new factory had come to East Chelmsford to live, watching over 


the erection of his own fine house on a knoll of the old Tyler place 
just north of Merrimack square, the house that later was moved to 
the head of Merrimack street to become the main building of the 
corporation hospital. Mr. Boott, from all accounts, was an inde- 
fatigable worker. He "gave his whole zeal and strength," says Allies, 
"to promote the prosperity of the new village and town. He watched 
its growth with a paternal interest, resolving here to live and die." 

The Earliest Corporation Boarding Houses — The system of cor- 
poration biiarding liouses, which at this writing is still existent in the 
life of the city, though each decade finds the residential holdings of 
the corporations smaller, came in with the advent of the Merrimack 
manufacturing company. 

It vjas foreseen that the new chances for employment would 
result in an influx of young people from the farms, ,and it was pur- 
posed to see that these should he at least as w-ell housed as at home. 
According, in 1822-23, were constructed the first of the long blocks 
of brick boarding houses, each divided into six or eight tenements, 
which for years have been conspicuous on the side streets off Merri- 
mack and Middlesex streets. "These tenements," wrote Miles in 
1845, "are finished oft in a style much above the common farm houses 
of the country, and more nearly resemble the abodes of respectable 
mechanics in rural villages. They are all furnished with an abundant 
supply of water, and with suitable yards and outbuildings. These 
are constantly kept clean, the buildings well painted, and the prem- 
ises thoroughly whitewashed every spring at the Corporation's 

The typical boarding house of the early period, it may be added, 
placed the dining-room in front, making it easy for the operative to 
slip in for a meal, whether going to her room or not. The kitchen was 
situated in the rear. There was usually a special parlor for the board- 
ing house keeper, customarily a widow. In some houses a sitting 
room was provided for the boarders. The rest of the building was 
given to the sleeping rooms. "In each of these," continues Miles, 
"are lodged two, four, and, in some cases, six boarders ; and the room 
has an air of neatness and comfort exceeding what most of the occu- 
pants have been accustomed to in their paternal homes. In many 
cases these rooms are not sufficiently large for the number who occupy 
them ; and sometimes that attention is not paid to their ventilation 
which a due regard to health demands." 

It must be observed, in amplification of Mr. Miles' last point, that 
in point of hygiene and sanitation these boarding houses could not be 
expected to approach modern standards of the "model tenement." 
They were built, with all the best intentions in the world, at a time 
when infectious diseases were more rife than now and when the means 


of preventing- them were very little understood. Thev were, neverthe- 
less, much better kept up under corporation management than the 
same houses are now maintained in most of the cases in which they 
have come into the hands of private owners. 

Segregation of the sexes was undertaken from the outset. ^liles 
prints the following: 

Regulations to be observed by persons occupying the boarding-- 
houses lielonging to the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. 

They must not lioard any persons not emjdoyed by the company, 
unless by special ])ermission. 

No disorderh- (ir improper conduct must be allowed in the house. 

The doors must lie closed at lo o'clock in the evening; and no 
person admitted after that time, unless a sufficient excuse is given. 

Those who keep the house, when required, must give an account 
of the number, names and employm.ent of their boarders ; also with 
regard to their general conduct, and whether they are in the habit of 
attending public worship. 

The buildings, both inside and out, must be kept clean and in 
good order. If the buildings or fences are injured, they will be 
repaired and charged to the occupant. 

No one will be allowed to keep swine. 

St. Anne's, Lowell's Oldest Downtown Church — ^The company's 
attempt to supervise the religion of its emjjloyees has come in for 
much reprobation in later times. It was not continued for long. It 
was certainly a mistaken policy. One must remember, nevertheless, 
that such supervision was not so impossible in 1822 as it would be in 
the cosmopolitan city of to-day. 

The nearest i)lace of worship to the factory, as has been shown, 
was the meeting house at Pawtucketville, at this period under Pres- 
byterian control. The company's feeling that definite provision ought 
to be made for requiring all its operatives to attend worship led to 
the establishment in East Chelmsford of one of the first edifices in 
this part of Massachusetts of the Protestant Episcopal Church of 

That St. Anne's Church was erected to follow the faith of the 
Anglican Church rather than of one of the denominations, or "dis- 
sents," to which practically all country people in New England in 
the first part of the nineteenth century gave adherence, was seem- 
ingly due to Kirk Boott's proselyting zeal, acquired during his 
English education and service in the British army. It happened that 
in 1821 the Unitarian controversy which split the historic Congre- 
gational body of New England into opposing factions was at its 
height. Most of the directors of the Merrimack company were Uni- 
tarians. On account, perhaps, of the bitterness which they feared 

1. CHL'KCH OF TliK lAl.M ACUL.ATK CONCKPTluN (Human CatlioliuJ. 

2. ST. ANNE'S CHURCH (Episcopal). 




might be engendered it" an effort were made to force their forms of 
worship and belief upon a population most of whom must come from 
communities in which the orthodox or trinitarian type of Congre- 
gationalism was still dominant, they appear to have listened with 
interest to a suggestion from Mr. Boott that a Protestant Episcopal 
Church be established. Nathan Appleton's narrative shows that in 
December, 1822, Messrs. Jackson and Boott were appointed a com,- 
mittee of the corporation to build a suitable church for the operatives. 
Later it was voted that the structure should be of stone at a cost not 
to exceed nine thousand dollars. In pursuance of this vote the corner- 
stone of St. Anne's Church was laid May 20, 1824. 

The church society had previously been organized on February 
24, 1824, as The Merrimack Religious Society. The first public serv- 
ices of this society were held on March 7, 1824, in the schoolhouse 
which the Merrimack company had built on Merrimack street, on 
land where the Green school now stands. The evening before these 
services an officiating clergyman had arrived in the person of the 
Rev. Theodore Edson. 

Thus was started the oldest church society in downtown Lowell. 
It is hardly accurate, of course, in view of the priority of the West 
Congregational Church and Society of Dracut, founded in Pawtucket- 
ville in 1794, to assert, as does the author of the Courier-Citizen's 
"Illustrated History of Lowell, Massachusetts," that St. Anne's was 
the first building that was dedicated to religious worship within the 
present limits of the City of Lowell. 

The founding of St. Anne's Church brought to East Chelmsford 
one of the most famous churchmen of his day, the scholarly and 
beloved Rev. Theodore Edson, D. D., who was born at Bridgewater, 
.\ugust 24, 1793. Dr. Edson as a youth learned carpentry, but having 
intellectual tastes entered Phillips Academy, Andover, in 1816, and 
thence continued his education at Har^•ard College, from which he 
was graduated with honors. He assumed deacon's honors and 
became assistant at St. Matthew's Church, .South Boston, from which 
he was invited to come to the newly erected St. .Anne's. His distin- 
guished ser\'ices to the cause of poimlar education in Lowell and to 
manv other good movements will be recorded in the narrative that 

The Incorporation of the Town of Lowell — The principles of 
political democracy, since the American Revolution, were so generally 
accepted that the manufacturing community at East Chelmsford could 
hardly have gone on for many years completely subject, both polit- 
ically and economically, to the irresponsible if benevolent paternalism 
which the rule of Mr. Boott and his associates had ushered in. The 
natives of the region, as has appeared in preceding chapters, had 


always been assertive. Practically all newcomers were of the same 
virile and independent Yankee stock. It was, therefore, good policy 
for the cor])()rate managements to submit to and even favor the self- 
government which was inevitable from the moment the settlement 
began to grow. Alfred (lilman very cleverlv and discreetly stated 
the nature of a little revolutiim in local affairs which was ushered in 
by the incorporation: "I'p to this time (iS2f)) the affairs of this 
community had been managed by the resident agents of the compa- 
nies. No dnubt, in their view, this was their prescriptive right. These 
companies had done much for the welfare of the people gathered here; 
building and maintaining a church and school houses, purchasing 
books f(jr a library, and doing everything necessary for the religious, 
moral and physical wellbeing of the people. Incorporation as a town- 
ship brought another element to the surface : the ]3eople found that 
they were themseh'es called upon to participate in the management 
of affairs." 

The governmental business of such a community as grew up after 
the Merrimack company came in could not forever be transacted at 
Chelmsford Centre. The records of the Merrimack ^Manufacturing 
Company show that as early as Xoveml)er 22, 1824, the possibility of 
setting off East Chelmsford as a separate townshi]) was in the minds 
of the directors. f<jr on that date a committee was appointed to report 
on a possible petition for incijrporation. No action was taken at that 
time, but the manufacturing village was increasing fast in population 
and wealth. It had become a hardship to have all municipal affairs 
de[)endent on a hamlet four miles from the mills. Accordingly, just 
a century, as it chanced, after W'amesit Neck was formally annexed to 
Chelmsford, the same district, with slightly different boundaries, was 
made over into a new townshij). The new jurisdiction did not keep 
its former name of East Chelmsford. Kirk 15oott, who decided this as 
he decided man\' other matters, admitted to a fellow directur that he 
had narrowed the choice of designations down to "Lowell"' or 
"Derby." "Then let it be Lowell," was Nathan Appleton's counsel, 
which was fullowed. There are S(.ime who on sentimental grounds 
have always regretted that the place could not have been named 
W'arnesit : but of the historical a]>propriateness of "Lowell" as a desig- 
nation for an industrial centre there can be little doubt. 

The Town of Lowell came into existence through a legislative act 
of March i, 1826, whose jirovisions should be quoted entire: 

IV it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in 
(ieneral Court assembled and b}- the authority of the same: 

That the North Easterly part of the Town of Chelmsford in the 
County of Middlesex, Iving easterly and northerly of a line drawn as 
follows: viz., beginning at Merrimack River at a Stone jiost, about 



two hundred rods above the mouth of Patucket Canal, so called 
thence running southerly in a straight course until it strikes the 
.Middlesex Canal, at a point ten rods above the Canal Bridge, near 
the dwelling house of Henry Coburn ; thence southerly on said Canal 
twenty rods ; thence a due course to a stone post at Concord River : 
be and hereby is incorporated into a town bv the name of Lowell " 
and the inhabitants of said Town of Lowell are hereby invested witli 
all the powers and privileges, and shall also be subject to the duties 
and requisitions of other incorporate towns according to the Consti- 
tution and Laws of this Commonwealth. 

Be it further enacted, That the inhabitants of said Town of 
Lowell shall be holden to pay all arrears of taxes which have been 
assessed upon them by the Town of Chelmsford before the passage 
of this act, and the said Town of Lowell shall be holden to pay tw^- 
fifths parts of the balance or residue of all debts due and owing from 
said Town of Chelmsford on the first day of ]\Iarch one thousand eight 
hundred and twenty-six, after deducting therefrom the sum of twenty- 
seven hundred and tw^enty-six dollars, and after applying to the pay- 
ments of said debt all the money belonging to said Town and all the 
taxes assessed by said Town of Chelmsford before the passing- of this 
act. '^ 

Be it further enacted. That the said Towns of Chelmsford and 
Lowell shall hereafter be liable for the support of all persons who 
do or hereafter shall stand in need of relief, as paupers whose settle- 
ment was gained or derived from a settlement gained or derived 
within their respective limits ; and in all cases hereafter wherein the 
settlement of a Pauper was gained or derived before the passing of 
this act, partly within the limits of both of said Towns, or so herem it 
shall not be proved within the limits of which of said towns such set- 
tlement was gained, the said Towns of Chelmsford and Lowell shall be 
equally liable for the support of said paupers. 

Be it further enacted. That until a new valuation is taken by the 
Commonwealth the State and County taxes and any reimbursements 
required by the Commonwealth for the payment of the Representa- 
tive of the present and past years of said Town of Chelmsford, which 
may be called for from said Towns of Chelmsford and Lowell, shall 
be paid jointly by said Towns, and in the proportion of three-fifths for 
said Chelmsford and two-fifths for said Town of Lowell. 

Be it further enacted. That any Justice of the Peace in the 
County of Middlesex be and hereby is authorized to issue his war- 
rant to any principal inhabitant of the Town of Lowell, requiring 
him to notify and warn the inhabitants of said Town of Lowell to 
assemble and meet at some convenient time and place in said Town 
to choose all such officers as Towns are required to choose in the 
months of March and April, and to do and transact any other lawful 
business relative to the affairs of said Town. 

In the House of Representatives, March ist, 1826. This Bill 
having had three several readings passed to be enacted. 

Timothy Fuller, Speaker. 

In Senate, March i. 1&26. This I3ill having had two .several 
readings passed tn be enacted. N.ath'l Silshi;i£, President. 


A'larch ist, 1826. Approved: Levi Lin'colx. 

A true copy. Attest: Edward D. Baxgs, Secretary. 

A true Copy from original. Attest : 

Samuel A. ConuRN, Town Clerk. 

Without delay the citizens of East Chelmsford availed themselves 
of the j)rovisons of the new incorporation. A warrant was issued on 
March 2, 1826, by Joseph Locke, a justice of the peace, instructing 
Kirk Boott to call a meeting of qualified voters to take action in the 
matter of establishing a town government. 

Mr. Boott, having received the warrant, called the meeting at the 
Old Stone House, now the Ayer Home for Children, of which .Samuel 
Adams Coburn, the first town clerk, was one of the proprietors. Thus 
was inaugurated a town government which continued for ten years. 
The first selectmen, chosen under the act of incorporation, were Na- 
thaniel Wright, Samuel Batchelder and Oliver M. W'hipple. 

Of these earliest town fathers, Mr. Whipple, mamifacturer of 
powder and designer of the Concord river canal, has already been 
encountered in this history. Mr. Wright, born at Sterling in 1785, an 
alumnus of Harvard college and a member of the bar since 181 1, w'as 
a leading lawyer of ^Middlesex county. He later became mayor of the 
city. i\Ir. Batchelder was a manufacturer who had lately come to 
East Chelmsford and had already made a reputation which was sub- 
secjuently confirmed, as a farsighted and sagacious business man. He 
was liorn at Jafl:rey, Xew Hampshire, in 1784, and educated at the 
academy in New Ipswich. Since 1808 he had Iiecn engaged in one 
way and another in the cotton manufacture. "The peculiar thing 
ahdUt -Mr. Batchelder," it is recalled, "was his aliility to assume con- 
trol of a bankrupt comjjany and establish it on a sound and profitable 
basis." I'y invitation he had come to Lowell in 1825 at the time 
of the incorporation of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, by 
which he was employed until 1S31, when he left to take control of the 
Saco Manufacturing Company. He died in 1879. The new Lowell 
government was fortunate in having his services, if only for a short 

Samuel .V. Cobm-n, as just mentioned, wa^ chosen clerk, standing 
at the head of a line of efficient town and city clerks. He was born 
in Dracut in 1795, being the oldest son of General Simon Coburn and 
a grandson of tjeneral Joseph Bradley Varnum. His later hotel keep- 
ing undertakings included the Merrimack House, Lowell, the Ex- 
change Coffee House, Boston, and the Rockingham House. Ports- 
mouth, at which last named he died in 1856. Of this officer of the 
township C. C. Cliase said in a paper of 1890, on ])rominent citizens 
of the old days: "Lowell had biU one town clerk during the ten 
years of the Townshiii, .'^auuiel .\. t'oburn, who was also city clerk 


for about two years after the town became a city. The town records 
kept by Mr. Coburn are a model for his successors. Mr. Coburn 
belonged to the Dracut family of Coburns, and many of his relations 
still live in Lowell and vicinity. He was a man of fine personal 
appearance and agreeable manners, and well adapted to the position 
of landlord, in which he spent most of his life. He was landlord of the 
'Stone House' on Pawtucket street and was the first to occupy it. 
Daniel Balch w^as his partner. In the Mercury for June 27, 1825, the 
partners advertise that they have taken the elegant house recently 
erected by Phineas Whiting, and pledged themselves that their cel- 
lars will be stored with old wine and the bar furnished with the best 
of liquors. Mr. Coburn was born in Dracut, Alay 13, 1795. He died in 
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, March 24, 1856, at the age of sixty- 
one years." 

The first town treasurer was Artemas Holden, whose cooper shop 
on Pawtucket street had been one of the familiar industries in the 
years just preceding the coming of the Boston capitalists. Nathaniel 
Wright, besides serving on the board of selectment, was chosen the 
town's first representative in the legislature. 

The boards of selectmen of the Town of Lowell succeeding that 
of the first year were as follows: 

1827— Nathaniel Wright, Joshua Swan, Henry Coburn. 

1828— Nathaniel Wright, Joshua Swan, Artemas Young. 

1829 — Nathaniel \\'right, Joshua Swan, Artemas Young. 

1S30 — Nathaniel Wright, Joshua Swan, Artemas Young. 

1831 — Joshua Swan, Artemas Young, James Tyler. 

1832 — -Joshua Swan, Matthias Parkhurst, Josiah Crosby, Benja- 
min Walker, Samuel C. Oliver. 

1833 — Matthias Parkhurst, Joshua Swan, Benjamin Walker, 
Elisha Huntington. Samuel C. Oliver. 

1834 — Joshua Swan, Elisha Huntington, William Livingston, 
Jesse Fox, Benjamin Walker. 

1835 — Benjamin Walker, James Russell, William Livingston, 
John Chase, William N. Owen. 

In the General Court the town was represented during the pre- 
urban period by the following: 

1827 — Nathaniel Wright. 

1828 — Nathaniel Wright, Elisha Ford. 

1829 — John P. Robinson, J. S. C. Knowlton. 

1830 — kirk Boott, Joshua Swan, J. P. Robinson. 

1831 — Kirk Boott, Joshua Swan, J. P. Robinson, J. S. C. Knowl- 
ton, Eliphalet Case. 

1832 — Ebenezer Appleton, Artemas Holden, O. AL Whipple, Seth 
Ames, Maynard Bragg. William Davidson, Willard Guild. 
I -11 


1833 — S. A. Cuburn, J. 1'. Rubiiisun, Cj'ril I<"rcnch. Simon Adams, 
Jacob Robbins, J. L. Sheafe, Jesse Fox, Royal Southwick, Joseph 
Tyler, Jonathan Sjjaulding. 

1834 — Samuel Howard, Kirk Boott, James Chandler. Osgood 
Dane, Jesse Phelps, O. ^I. Whipi^le. 

1S35 — Kirk Boott, A. W. Buttrick, James Chandler. William 
Davidson, Artemas Holden, John Mixer, Matthias Parkhurst, Alpheus 
Smith, Joseph Tyler, O. M. Whipple. Benjamin Walker, W'illiam 
Wyman, J. A. Knowles. 

The Multiplication of Textile Plants — The growth of Lowell in 
population during its first decade was one of the marvels of America 
at a date when the upbuilding of the West had not yet made it an 
everyday occurrence for a city to be projected and constructed over 
night. When the town was incorporated it had about 2,500 inhabit- 
ants. A decade later, when it became evident that a municipal form 
of government would be appropriate, the community numliered about 
18,000. An enumeration of 182S showed 1,342 males, 2,190 females. 
In 1830 there were 2,Ji'-)2 males and 4,085 females, a total of 6,477. Iri 
1836 a count disclosed 6,345 males, 11,288 females, a total of 17,633. 

Outside capital having found its way to Pawtucket Falls, indus- 
trial developments succeeded each other rapidly in the new town. The 
size of the industrial plant even at the date of incorporation was 
already such as to warrant expectation that the village would pres- 
entl\- seek admission as one of the cities of Massachusetts. The Merri- 
mack company by the smnmer of 1826 had nearh' finished five fac- 
tories, of which three were in active operatinn, and two print works. 
The company was using cotton ?.t the rate of 450,000 pounds annually 
and was making about 2,000,000 yards of goods. The cloth was well 
bleached, and about three-fourths of it was dyed and ]irinted. 

F"ive families of the rural neighborhood had been displaced to 
make room for the mills and lioarding houses of the Merrimack com- 
pany. L'pwards of 1,500 persons had come in their places. The com- 
pany now owned 100 tenements for the benefit of persons employed in 
its works. These housed 967 persons of whom 299 were males and 
668 females. 

These figures were exclusive of the machine shop, which housed 263 
persons, of whom 162 were males and loi females. The total esti- 
mated population of East Chelmsford in 1S26 was 2,500. In Belvidere 
there were probably about 300 other people. Already the iwijndation 
was served by a dozen or more stores, a church, a school house, a par- 
sonage nearly finished, and two hotels — the Old Stone House and 
Frye's Tavern. 

The Merrimack I'rint Works, always an iiniiortant adjunct of the 
Merrimack's company business, were started in the autumn of 1824. 
The first superintendent was Allan I'ollock, who resigned in 1S26. To 


Arl'lJ-'/riiN (1 iMI'AXY. 


secure a director who was familiar with the latest British improve- 
ments in printing calicoes and other stuffs, Mr. Boott took a trip 
abroad. He secured an expert in the person of John D. Prince, a very 
competent man, who held the position down to 1855, when he was 
retired on a pension of $2,000. 

Work on the second Merrimack mill was begun in 1824. The 
machinery with which it was equipped was built at Waltham. When 
the third mill was opened about a year later its equipment was entirely 
Lowell made, the product of the machine shop directed by Paul 

On February 28, 1825, the proprietors of the Merrimack Company 
transferred their water powers, lands and other possessions outside 
the manufacturing and housing properties to "The Locks and Canals 
Company " The latter institution, under authority of the Legislature, 
was duly empowered to take the lands, water powers and machine 
shops of the manufacturing company which on its side retained its 
mills, and print works with land and water power sufficient for their 
purposes. Acting as treasurer of the Locks and Canals Company, 
Kirk Boott sold sites and water powers to such representatives of capi- 
tal as desired them. He likewise sold much land for building lots. 
The company, of course, retained large possessions, some of which it 
still holds. 

The Hamilton Company was incorporated in 1825, with an author- 
ized capital of $600,000. The associates named in the act were Samuel 
Batchelder, Benjamin Gorham, William xA.ppleton, William Sturgis, 
John Lowell. Jr. Under Mr. Batchelder the Hamilton applied the 
power loom to making cotton drillings and other twilled goods. These 
stuffs proved to be very salable, bringing as high as nineteen and one- 
quarter cents a yard. The treasurer made a contract for all that could 
be made during six months at sixteen cents a yard. 

Other incorporations followed. In 1828 two new manufacturing 
companies were added to the list — the Appleton and the Lowell — both 
of which forthwith began the erection and installation of plants. A 
large increase in possible business for the place was made possible in 
1830, through the construction of the Western or Suffolk canal. This 
furnished power for the Suffolk, Tremont and Lawrence companies, all 
incorporated in 183 1. Just before them, on June 5, 1830, the Middle- 
sex Manufacturing Company had been incorporated. 

The building of these mills from the first made work for the old 
residents of the neighborhood. Then began, for example, the exten- 
sive use of the fine granite quarries on Mammoth road, the cuttings of 
which have greatly reduced the bulk of Ledge Hill and Ward's Ledge. 
The brothers, Nathaniel and William Parker Varnum, living at Paw- 
tucketville, became extensive contractors in furnishing split and cut 


stone for foundations of the mills of the Merrimack company and sub- 
sequent corporations. 

Efforts to produce other than plain goods were notable from the 
first years of the cotton manufacture at Lowell. It was seen then, as 
later, that the most substantial profits are derived from those goods in 
which art has added value to the raw materials. In a personal letter 
to trade friends in 1867 the veteran Samuel Batchelder described some 
of his successes at Lowell durmg the period of his agentship. "In 
J 826," he wrote, "I commenced the manufacture at the Hamilton mills, 
Lowell, of a twilled article known now very extensively as Jean. Until 
this time the power loom had been principally confined to what was 
called plain goods, such as the sheetings and shirtings. The Merri- 
mack mills were just beginning the manufacture of a finer article for 
printed calicoes. Very few twilled cottons were imported, such as 
were purchased for particular articles of dress, and sold at a high 
price. So far as I could learn, these twilled goods were woven only 
on the hand loom in England, where the power loom had only been 
employed in weaving plain cloths. The production of these goods 
upon the power loom, at as low a price, according to weight, as plain 
cloth, at once opened a market for them for various purposes, for 
which they were better adapted than those woven plain. And being 
sold at little more than half the price of any similar imported article, 
the demand for them was considerably increased in this country, and 
some were exported ; and among the first that were sent to Calcutta, 
I am told a part of them was sold for clothing the British troops in 
India, who, on account of the climate, being clothed in white, required 
something a little more sulistantial than the thin manufactures of the 

For Lowell, in the first decade of its existence, thus to be making 
clothing for His Majesty's Indian military was, indeed, something of 
a technical triumph. 

The share which Lowell had in the early advancement of wool 
manufacture was hardly less creditable than its place in the cotton 
industry. The high quality of workmanship in the little woolen mills 
that preceded the factory system has been noted. To a mechanical man 
who got part of his essential training while operating a mill of his 
own on the Concord river in East Chelmsford shortly after the War of 
1812, to John Goulding, later of Worcester, belongs the credit of the 
inventif)n that took wool manufacture distinctly out of the class of the 
handicrafts. S. N. D. North, some time director of the census, in "A 
Century of American Wool Manufacture," after referring to the sev- 
eral advances in machinery for spinning and weaving wool, several of 
them American devices, says : "Conspicuous among them was John 
Goulding's patent, which marked almost as great an advance in wool 


manufacture as the spinning jenn}- itself. Before this invention the 
length of the rolls issuing from the carding machine was limited to the 
breadth of the card and the ends of the rolls were spliced together by 
hand, with the aid of the billy. Goulding dispensed with the billy alto- 
gether, accomplishing with four machines what had formerly required, 
five, supplying the endless roll of roping, and enabling manufacturers 
to produce yarn for wool at much less cost, of better quality and in 
greater quantities than by the old process." The Goulding invention 
came into common use about 1824. 

The success of cotton manufacturing on a large scale at Lowell 
seems to have inspired an ambition to show that larger units would be 
equally profitable in woolen manufacture. In 1830 the Middlesex 
company, incorporated with a capital of $100,000, which was later 
increased to $750,000, started upon a plant which was soon the largest 
establishment for making woolen cloths in the United States. It was 
able to devote twenty-seven sets to flannal making. 

The supply of wool for the mills during the town period came in 
considerable measure from the surrounding towns, where merino and 
other sheep were raised on many farms, for the day of sending buyers 
to Puget Sound, to Argentina, to South Africa and New Zealand was 
not yet. A stock census of 1837 showed some fifty sheep owned in 
Lowell and some of the neighboring towns the following figures : 
Dracut. 411: Chelmsford, 150; Billerica, 126; Tewksbury, 149; Pep- 
perell, 559. The total for Middlesex county was 4,235. In Southern 
New Hampshire the practice of keeping sheep was more general than 
in Massachusetts, for these were the figures of five towns adjacent to 
Lowell: Hudson, 808: Pelham, 521 ; Windham. 700: Derry, 713: Lon- 
donderry, 628. 

Carpet manufacture began at Lowell with the incorporation of the 
Lowell Manufacturing Company in 1828, capitalized at $900,000, the 
first company to make use of the Bigelow power loom. Probably the 
best account of the establishment of this very interesting industry is 
one which the late Hon. Peter Lawson contributed at the semi-cen- 
tennial exercises of March i, 1876, in the following communication: 

Lowell, Feb. 29, 1876. 

Gentlemen : — I accept with pleasure your invitation of the 25th 
inst., and as I am the only man of those now living who came from 
Medway to Lowell in 1829, I will give you my recollections of that 
Medway Colony. 

The manufacture of ingrain carpets was started in Medway in 
1826 by Alexander Wright and Eben Burdett of Boston. They had 
ten ingrain looms, one Brussels loom, and one finger-rug loom : and 
their establishment was the first of the kind in the L'nited States. They 
were in successful operation in 1827 when a committee consisting of 
Frederick Cabot, George W. Lyman and Patrick T. Jackson, visited 


the establishment, bought out all they had and took them into their 

The Lowell Manufacturing Comjjany (organized in 1828) ordered 
them to build fifty more ingrain looms, eleven Brussels looms and 
seven more finger-rug looms. All who had been employed in the car- 
pet manufactory at Medway, except Mr. Burdett, removed to Lowell 
in 1829. They were Alexander Wright, agent; Peter Lawson, pattern 
designer ; Claudius Wright, foreman ; Royal Southwick, overseer ; John 
Urie, section hand on looms ; Joseph Uxley, overseer on Brussels 
looms; John Rol:)ertson and John Hughes, first and second overseer 
dyehouse ; Daniel Thurston ; John Turnbull, carpet cloth room ; David 
Wilson, dyer; Henry Chandler, Benjamin Smith and George W. Hunt, 
wood workmen ; William B. Wilson, finger-rug weaver ; Samuel Town- 
send, Thomas Railton, Job Plimpton, GiluKire Pond, Aljel Brummett, 
Otis Bemis, Alliert Adams, Hector McArthur and Benjamin Albee, 

Frederick Cabot was the first treasurer, and Frederick Emmer- 
son the first clerk. Mr. Wright, the leader of the Medway Colony, 
remained agent of the Lowell Company till his death on June 8, 1852, 
at the age of 52 years. * * * The inventions of Claudius Wilson were 
fully described in the "Glasgow" magazine for 1826. He was one of 
the most ingenious mechanics whom Scotland has contributed to aid 
in the development of the mechanic arts. 

The brick buildings of the company were erected by Elijah M. 
Read, who came to Lowell from Waltham, and who had charge of all 
the building operations, under the late Mr. Sanger. 

The first railroad I ever saw (and it was probably the first one in 
America) extended from the Suffolk Canal through the woods of 
Lowell street (then a dense forest) to the Lowell Company's grounds. 
The cars were drawn by horses, under the direction of Hugh Cummis- 
key, contractor, who, with the excavations of the Suffolk Canal, made 
the land where the Car])et Mills now stand, much of the dump being 
twenty feet deej). 

One thing that surprised me was the novel manner of construct- 
ing the foundations. These were laid on the original surface and the 
earth filled in around them to the desired height. Wells were con- 
structed in the same way, the stone curbing laid on the top of the old 
ground and new ground made around it till a well nf the desired dejith 
had been built up. 

The first building erected by the Carpet Company was the one- 
and-a-half story block now standing near the counting room. There 
for some time were mv headquarters, and many a fine string of pickerel 
have I caught sitting on the front steps from the branch canal (which 
was built in the same way as were the wells), the waters of which 
washed the steps of my door. In later years when the canal was con- 
structed to the width originally designed, the present street was built 
between the block and the canal. These peculiarities arose from the 
fact that the land selected ior the Carpet Company was originally a 
low swamj). Yours truly, 

Peter L.xwsom. 

Thus came the carpet manufacture to Lowell, to remain until about 
the beginning of the European War, when the historic plant in Market 



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lindl.'S. :;.(lon Knittins MuchineK, 1.;;iill HowiiiK .MafhiiU'S. and \.-»i> lOmployees 


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street was abandoned to he taken over by the United States Cartridge 

The Boston interests, in this industrial development of their fac- 
tory town, were not without their continuing troubles from schemers 
such as Thomas Hurd, formerly of Charlestown, whose sale of Paw- 
tucket street properties to the Merrimack company has been noted. 
"Mr. Hurd,'' as Meader euphemistically expresses it in his book on the 
Merrimack river, "was one of those sagacious and scheming men who 
seek, and whose keen sense discovers and appreciates an advantage, 
while other men rub their eyes and listlessly wonder what he is doing. 
Not satisfied with the control of this power, and seeing the advantage 
of possessing the great power at the Pawtucket Falls, he purchased 
lands on either side of the latter, and put a grindstone, or some 
other simple machinery driven by a water wheel, in motion, to estab- 
lish his right to the privilege, and. in 1826. put up a mill at the foot of 
the falls ; but his woolen mill on the Concord river having been de- 
stroyed by fire the same year, the mill just erected at the foot of Paw- 
tucket Falls was taken down and rebuilt on the site of the one which 
was burned. A portion of the old foundation of this mill is still stand- 
ing (1868) at the foot of Pawtucket Falls.— an interesting relic of the 
enterprise of one of those men who have left an honorable record in 
the history of Lowell." 

The mill, it may be added, v. hich Mr. Hurd moved down from the 
falls presently gave way to a substantial brick mill which the Middle- 
sex company built on its site. Ihis manufacturer in the late twenties 
operated a brick mill which took water from the Concord river by 
means of a canal following the course of the present Warren street. 
As he sometimes found water none too plentiful in summer he had a 
canal cut from the foot of the Hamilton canal across Central street 
and on to the Concord by the rear and south side of Hurd street, thus 
assuring himself of a full supply of water at all sea.sons. This auxili- 
ary canal was afterward filled in and no traces of it are now noticeable. 
During its existence at least two well-known citizens committed sui- 
cide in it. In one of the financial depressions of this period Hurd went 

The long connection of the house of A. & A. Lawrence with 
Lowell business began in 1830, when the Merrimack company found 
itself financially hard pressed and when the Messrs. Lawrence became 
mterested in its aiifairs. Their firm had been founded in 1807 by Amos 
Lawrence, a youth of twenty-one. who arrived at Boston with twenty 
dollars, rented a shop and "filled it with dry goods obtained on credit." 
From this small beginning grew one of the most substantial fortunes 
of the country. Abbott Lawrence joined his brother a vear later. 
Their store expanded into a great wholesale business. ./Xfter they be- 


came connected with the Merrimack Company they interested them- 
selves directly in establishing the Tremont and Suffolk and the Law- 
rence corporations, and their house for many years was the principal 
selling agency of several of the mills. Their name was perpetuated, 
not only in the manufacturing company that to-day employs most 
people of any of the Lowell textile companies, but in the city of Law- 
rence nine miles d(_>wn the Merrimack. 

The Beginnings of an Aristocracy of Talent — An influx of ambi- 
tious and talented yciung men resulted from the business and profes- 
sional opportunities created by the sudden growth of the erstwhile rural 
community of East Chelmsford. From every part of New England, 
and presently from the British Isles and Canada, they began to 
arrive, mostly youths who had already shown special ability in some 
mechanical or managerial direction. They constituted from the outset 
an aristocracy of talent such as now would hardly be assembled in a 
."single city, so keen is the present competition for employment of ex- 
pert people in all sections of the continent. 

When Lowell, in brief, was practically the only town of its kind 
in North America, it naturall}- secured the very pick of aspiring young 
manhood. To-day youths of similar ability to these forefathers of the 
city still may choose to settle in Lowell in preference to some one of 
a score of other New England cities of the same type, or again, they 
may, as so often happens, turn to one of the newer and presumably 
more progressive industrial centres of the West or South. An opinion 
is sometimes expressed to the effect that Lowell in its first years was 
a more stimulating [ilace to live in than it is to-day. The impression is 
perhaps not altogether unfounded. Yet it would be unsafe to draw 
from it the familiar pessimistic conclusion that the Nation and the 
race have somehow degenerated since 1830. The conditions were very 
exceptional which brought to Lowell the grandfathers and grand- 
mothers of so many of the solidcst families of the city of this century. 

TItc vouthfulness of the new Lowell may well he emphasized. It 
was in truth a boys' town that rose on the streets carefully laid out 
over the old Tyler and Fletcher farms. C)ne is impressed by the fact 
that of the men who took a prominent part in the construction and 
conduct of the town, few were more than thirty years old when they 
came; many were mere striplings when they assumed respr)nsibilities 
such as later would have been given only to men of mature personal- 
ity. One is likely to think of the fathers of the city as grave and vener- 
able. Most of them, however, did their best work at an age when, had 
they been of this generation, they would have still lieen [ilaying foot- 
ball at Harvard nr writing theses for their Tech. degrees. .\ surprising 
number rif the founders, furthermore, died young. Mr. Chase in his 
historical sketch has shown astonishment at this circumstance. ".\nd 


here let us stop," he wrote, "to observe how short were the lives of the 
six distinguished men who have just occupied our attention. Only 
one of them reached the allotted three-score years and ten. Mr. Apple- 
ton lived 82 years ; Mr. Jackson, 67 years ; Mr. Moody, 52 years ; Mr. 
Boott, 47 years; Mr. Worthen, 41 years; Mr. Lowell, 42 years. Per- 
haps the assumption of so great responsibilities was too severe a tax 
upon the human brain. The longevity of many of the ablest English 
statesmen, however, does not seem to warrant such a conclusion." 
Scores of others besides the sextet named by Mr. Chase, it should be 
noted, failed to attain to anything like the length of years that is cus- 
tomarily assumed as characteristic of the "good old times," and it is 
probably fair to the advance of medical science and personal hygiene 
to adduce that even the most intelligent people of two generations ago 
were more likely than the same class of men and women of now would 
be daily to violate the elementary principles of right living. 

Many of the industrial leaders of Lowell in the nineteenth cen- 
tury were ineligible to become President of the United States. 

Most of the British-born immigration in the first years came from 
three counties — from Lancashire anr" Gloucestershire in England and 
Renfrewshire in Scotland. 

The draft upon the cotton towns of Lancashire came about quite 
naturally, beginning when on account of the Merrimack company's 
needing skilled artisans for their calico printing department. Kirk 
Boott, in 1825, went to Manchester and secured for head of this de- 
partment John Dynely Prince. 

It is rather an interesting story, whether or not apochryphal, 
which is told of Boott's negotiations concerning the salary to be paid 
this expert in engraving and printing. When asked how much money 
he would want to go to America the Englishman replied, "Five thou- 
sand dollars a year." "Why, man, that is more than we pay the Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts," said Boott. "Well, can the Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts print?" was the suggestive retort. Knowing that he was 
dealing with a man who was master of his craft, Mr. Boott engaged 
the Lancashire specialist at a salary that was at least two thousand 
dollars a year better than his own. It has been said that he never made 
a better bargain. 

Others from Lancashire followed Prince and his family. Most of 
the calico printing in Lowell for many years was done by men from 
this county. Of this stock was Henry Burrows, who succeeded Prince 
in the management of the print works. The late James Duckworth 
was another Lancashire man. So, on the Hamilton, were William 
Spencer, William Hunter and Thomas Walsh. The artistic bias of 
several descendants of Benjamin Dean, calico printer from Clithero, is 
elsewhere noted. 


The Gloucestershire folk came a little later. In 1837 set sail for 
these shores the ship "Laing,'' on which was a good sized group of 
people from the town of Uley, in that county. The vessel, which .was 
several times in danger of foundering, made the trip to Boston in the 
record slow time of nine weeks. About half of the Gloucestershire 
passengers sought employment at Lowell, forming the nucleus of a 
large colony from this county. One of their number, Joseph Powell, 
while in the employ of the Middlesex mills, invented a well known 
..sizing or dressing machine. The carpet manufacture also brought 
hither the men from Renfrew, by way of Medfield. 

The Coming of the Irish — The Irish simultaneously brought in a 
racial stock from which some of the best men and women of the pres- 
ent generation in Lowell are descended. 

No better picture of the situation in which hardy and industrious 
sons of Ireland found themselves has been drawn than that which 
John F. McEvoy presented at the centennial exercises in 1876. His 
narrative shows that the hardships under which these workers settled 
in their caliins and huts of the Acre were just as real as those which 
tlie original Anglo-Saxon immigrants endured nearly two centuries 
before them. It explains the qualities which, inherited by their chil- 
dren and grandchildren, have assisted materially to make Lowell 
what it is. 

While there were individual Irishmen in the district for many 
years prior to the inauguration of the town of Lowell, it seems to 
be established that the first organized "gang" or group of laboring 
people of this nationality to come to the place in search of employ- 
ment was one of thirty men led by Hugh Cummiskey, who walked 
ivom Charlestown on a spring morning to apply for work on the 
new canal. Kirk Boott, according to Mr. McEvoy's relation, met 
this group at the hostelry which is now the American House, gave 
them money for "refreshment" and set them at work on the same day. 
This was on April 6, 1822. 

As news of abundant jobs at East Chelmsford spread in the Irish 
settlements at Boston, more workers followed, the single men coming 
up first, to be followed later l)y their families. "The town was in a 
most i^rimitive condition," wrote Mr. McEvoy, "and the laboring 
classes contented themselves with the rudest kind of habitation. In 
1828 they had mostly concentrated themselves in that part of the town 
lying west of Suffolk canal and north of Broadway, still known as 'the 
acre.' It is somewhat difficult at this time to conceive that with the 
exception of a few houses in the woods back of the First Congrega- 
tional Church (Dr. Blanchard's) it was all on open common between 
the American House and Pawtucket Falls, but such was the fact : and 
it was upon this ground that the laborers pitched their camps, their 


tents or whatever was obtainable to shelter their hardv natures from 
the wind and rain. The title to some of this land was afterwards 
called into question, and it was eventually decided by the United 
States Supreme Court in Washington under the name of the 'Paddy 
Camp Lands,' and the case is known in the books to this day bv that 

On June 13, 1823, Sainuel Frye executed to Luther Richardson a 
deed of the Paddy Camp lands which, so it was alleged, was intended 
to defraud his own minor children. Out of this circumstance arose the 
litigation which lasted sixteen years. Three bills in equity were 
brought; one in the Supreme Judicial Court and two in the Circuit 
Court at Boston. Charles Sumner sat as master in one of the cases ; 
George S. Hilliard in the others. In legal history, therefore, the Paddy 
Camp lands became nationally celebrated. 

Plans of these "Paddy Camp" lands, so-called, it may be added, 
are extant in Books 373 and 380 of the Registry of Deeds at East Cam- 
bridge, and on them may be noted such thoroughfares as "Dublin 
Street" and "Cork Street." 

Some of the first settlers, according to Cowley, had pigs in their 
shanties, but the more progressive soon placed the pigsties to the rear. 
Dennis Crowley is said to have been the first settler to apply white- 
wash to his shanty; Nicholas Fitzpatrick. the second. 

To look into the condition of his fellow-countrymen came the 
bishop of the diocese in person on October 28, 1828. Services were 
then held in the two-story school house next to the First Congrega- 
tional Church, which was owned by the town and lent to the Catholic 
citizens. During this period Father John Mahoney arrived once a 
month from Salem to celebrate mass. A day school was established in 
which the usual school branches were taught by a master who had had 
previous experience as a teacher in Ireland. Leading Irish-Americans 
of the day were Patrick McManus, Mr. Cummiskey's efficient superin- 
tendent ; Nicholas Fitzpatrick ; Patrick Powers, grocer, and John 
Green, who was Kirk Boott's steward. 

As the Irish colony grew, the need of a church became apparent. 
Acting for the Locks and Canals Company, Mr. Boott presented them 
WMth a lot of land on Fenwick street, the site of the present St. Pat- 
rick's Church. Here in July, 1830, was projected a frame Iniilding 
seventy by forty feet which was finished in ten months "much to the 
chagrin," as Mr. McEvoy reminds us, "unfortunately of some dis- 
favored few who were unwilling to see a Catholic church erected in 
the town." Bishop Fenwick and Rev. Dr. O'Flaherty came from Bos- 
ton the day before in a carryall and took lodgings at the Old Stone 
House. The church was dedicated under the auspices of Saint Patrick, 
July 3. 1831, Dr. O'Flaherty ])reaching the dedicatory sermon from 


the text: "This place have I chosen as a house of sacrifice and 
prayer." The music was furnished by the Cathedral Choir of Boston, 
assisted by Edward Kitts, Mr. Hector and Miss Catharine Hogan, of 
Lowell. In 1832 Father Mahoney built a priest's house next to the 
church. In 1835 Father Curtin came as assistant priest. He was suc- 
ceeded a little later by Rev. I'^ather Connelly. 

Early Captains of Industry — Brief sketches of a few of the most 
jjrominent of the citizens of the town of Lowell may serve to convey 
an impres.-^ion of the industrial brilliancy of the place. 

A world-famous young man who became one of the city's leading 
spirits was Warren Colburn, for nine years superintendent of the 
Merrimack Manufacturing Company, whose text-liooks in mathema- 
tics were known everywhere. He was of the Dedham branch of Col- 
burns, descendants of Robert Colljurn, believed to lie the elder brother 
of Edward Colburn, first settler of Dracut, and was born in 1793. He 
began life as a mechanic, but having a strong taste for theoretical 
knowledge, and ]xirticularly for mathematics and the sciences, he 
l)egan in young manhood to prepare for Harvard College, which he 
entered at the age of twenty-four. He took his Bachelor of Arts de- 
gree in 1820. In college he had shown special aptitude f<.)r higher 
mathematics. F"or a short time after graduation he taught at a boys' 
school in Boston. While thus engaged he wrote and published "Col- 
burn's .\rithmetic," one of the most celebrated text-books of educa- 
tional history. In April, 1823, he gave up teaching to take charge of 
the upper mills at W'altham. In less than a year after this appoint- 
ment he was called to Lowell to fill the office of superintendent made 
vacant i:)y the death of Ezra Worthen. During the period of his hold- 
ing that rcsponsilile position Mr. Colburn kept up his interest in 
mathematical and scientific subjects. His pre-occupation with astron- 
omy was a recreation such as few "tired business men" of the present 
day would care to indulge, involving, as it did, much direct study of 
the heavens at midnight. His untimely death remo\'ed a most promis- 
ing citizen. 

In 1S33, succeeding Mr. Colburn, was chosen to the agency of the 
Merrimack Company John Clark, born at Walthani in 17(1*), a graduate 
of Harvard College and former school teacher. Mr. Clark was a very 
cajiable and far-seeing business man under whose management the 
Merrimack L"nm])any jirospered. His name will also bf noted in con- 
nection with the city library, to whose initial problems he gave much 
of his best thought. 

Alexander Wright ( 1800-1852 (, first agent of the Lowell (\)m- 
pany, and believed to have been the first chemical bleacher in America, 
was among the industrial leaders of the town. His father, Duncan 
Wright (1776-1836). had learned the bleacher's trade in Scotland. In 


1812 he sailed for America, purposing to settle at Philadelphia. The 
ship, however, on which he was a passenger, was captured by an 
American privateer and taken to Bristol, Rhode Island. It happened 
that Captain DeWoIfe, who was in charge of the privateer, was also 
interested in the Arkwright factory at Dighton, and finding that he 
had a bleacher among his captives, promptly sent him to the Massa- 
chusetts village, where he was made superintendent of the bleachery. 
The young Scot liked his work so well that as soon as the war was 
over he sent for his wife and three sons. Shortly after the arrival of 
his family Mr. Wright took a new position, also as bleacher, at Smith- 
field, Rhode Island, and thence removed to Waltham, where he started 
a bleachery of his own ; this he later sold out to the Boston Manufac- 
turing Company. In 1820 he went to Medway and opened a bleachery 
which he carried on for several years with good success. 

The son Alexander was hence born and brought up in the textile 
industry, as it were. In 1820 he engaged in manufacturing coach 
laces at Medway. In 1825 he became interested in the subject of car- 
pet manufacture with a view to introducing it into New England. He 
went to Philadelphia, where a small carpet factory was in operation, to 
which he was refused admission. Then he took passage for Scotland, 
where he had relatives, and in 1826 he returned to the United States, 
bringing three looms and two operatives, Claude and William Wilson, 
who knew how to get results from the loom. Despite a storm that 
nearly wrecked the ship Mr. Wright and his machines reached Med- 
way, where the looms were set up and put to work. The venture was 
not very successful financially, and Mr. \\'right disposed of it to Mr. 
Burdett, through whom it passed into the hands of Boston capitalists. 
.•\fter the completion of the Lowell company's buildings, Mr. Wright 
left Medway to become the superintendent under whom the first car- 
pet was made in the plant of the new company. Some ten years later 
it was Mr. Wright who gave to E. B. Bigelow the encouragement that 
led to his inventing the Bigelov/ loom, destined to revolutionize the 
carpet industry. From first to last Mr. Wright took an active part in 
all movements for community betterment. 

Another of the characteristic Inisiness men of this period of Lowell 
history was Royal Southwick, born at LTxbridge, September 9, 1785, 
being a lineal descendant of Laurence and Cassandra Southwick, cele- 
brated by the poet, \\'hittier — Quaker folk whom a Pviritan magistrate 
sentenced to be shipped to Barbadoes and sold as slaves. A ship cap- 
tain, as the story is related, refused to take them, but man and wife 
were whipped at cart's tail through Boston streets. Royal Southwick. 
in 1826, married Direxa Claflin. daughter of Major John Claflin, of 
Milford, who was a sister of Horace B. Claflin, founder of one of the 
most famous of New York commission houses. 


In 1829 Mr. Southwick came to Lowell with Alexander Wright 
and others, taking charge of the departments of carding and spinning 
in the carpet factory. In 1844 he went to England to study systems of 
manufacturing and on his return he bought a factory of his own at 
North Chelmsford. About ten years later he also acquired the Wilton 
Manufacturing Company. He ci^ntinued to live in Lowell until 1859, 
when he removed his residence to Boston. He was an enthusiastic 
Whig and sup])orter of Daniel Webster and yet was so open-minded 
on the slavery question that he entertained the English agitator,. 
George Thompson, in 1834, when it was not exactly the popular thing 
to do so and he later befriended Frederick Dotiglass and Charles 

To the agency of the Middlesex company in 1830 came James 
Cook (171)4-1884), from his birtliplace, Preston, Connecticut. He had 
learned the woolen industry in his father's fulling mill, a knowledge 
that stood his new company in good stead, for in the third year of his 
management the sliareholders received dixidends of thirty-three per 

To superintend its hydraulic work, the Locks and Canals Com- 
pany secured the services of a celebrated engineer in the person of 
George Washington Whistler, of a Baltimore family. Major Whistler 
arrived in Lowell, after making a reputaticin through his skillful work 
in surveying a line for the railroad between New York and Boston — 
the present Shore Line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford 
Railroad. During his occupancy of a plain wooden house in Worthen 
street, Mrs. Whistler gave birth to one of the most famous artists of 
modern times, James McNeil Whistler. The family removed to Rus- 
sia, after a brief residence at Lowell. In that period of residence, 
Major Whistler had successful!} started on his career, James Bicheno 
Francis, the father of modern hydraulic engineering. 

An accession from Newburyport was John Dummer, after whom 
Dummer street was named, born in the town at the mouth of the 
Merrimack in 1 791, and an early associate of Paul Moody. Mr. Dum- 
mer was a very skillful mechanic. Between 1815 and 1822 he was in 
the employ of the company at W altham, resigning to help in the con- 
struction work at East Chelmsford. He personally attended to the 
installation of all wheel work, shafting and other mechanical fixtures 

Among the inventions the application of which was credited to 
Lowell in this period, was a very important machine for grinding spin- 
dles. This device, taking the place of grinding by lathe, which was 
uncertain and inefifective, was the work of Benjamin Green, born at 
Warwick, Rhode Island, in 1784, and apprenticed at the Slater mills. 
After work at Pomfret, Killingly and other places in Connecticut, 
Mr. Green went to White River village, Vermont, where he perfected 


the machine on which he had been working for some time past. In 
1 83 1 he came to Lowell to take charge of the Merrimack Company's 
repair shop and there gave a demonstration of his revolutionary inno- 
vation in grinding spindle grinding. Like many inventors he was 
negligent of his own interests. He allowed his machine to be used 
freely in the Lowell mills without a cent of royalty. He later lost his 
position in the repair shop and became a mechanic in the Lowell 
Machine Shop, where, being a very devout communicant of St. Anne's 
Church, he spent much of his best thought in ways to combat a prevo- 
lent scepticism among his fellow employees. 

One who brought to Lowell valuable experience gained in the 
factories of southern Massachusetts was Ferdinand Rodliff, born 
at Seekonk, February 6, 1806. At seventeen he had been chosen over- 
seer of spinning at the Central mill, Seekonk, and at twenty, over- 
seer of the Messinger Mill, Canton. He was only twenty-one when 
he came to Lowell to enter the employ of the Hamilton, of which he 
was for many years the beloved assistant superintendent. In his life 
time of more than ninety years Mr. Rodliff saw, certainly, a most 
marvellous development of the cotton industry which he had entered 
at the age of seven years, on wages of fifty cents a week. 

In 1826 there landed at Boston, with only two shillings in his 
pocket, one of the first of the many natives of Great Britain who have 
helped to upbuild Lowell. This was Charles Stott, born August 21, 
1799, at Rochdale, Lancashire, long famous for its woolen manufac- 
tures. Young Stott at seven went to work in a factory, the hours of 
labor for the little youth running from five in the morning until nine 
at night. Something in the boy's nature may have revolted from this 
kind of exploitation, only too common in the "merrie England" of 
that dav. After, at all events, some ventures in other lines of business 
he determined to seek his fortune in America. It was characteristic 
of the man that of the two shillings with which he landed he spent 
only one ; the other was kept to be preserved religiously in the 
archives of the notable family which he founded. Mr. Stott at first 
secured employment at Andover and then, in 1828, with three others, 
he took over the Merrimack woolen mills at Dracut, whence, in 1835, 
he was called across the river to manage the Belvidere woolen mills, 
of which for forty-six years he was either manager or owner. Mr. 
Stott was one of the markedly successful manufacturers of his time, 
and so devoted to business that even after he became too infirm to 
attend to details he would request to be taken in front of some 
machine whose workings he would watch by the hour. 

One of the Gates family of Stow was Josiah Gates, who first 
appeared at Lowell in 1826, to be employed in the fulling department 
of Thomas Hurd and then of the Merrimack Company. He later 


became an overseer in the weaving department of the car])et company 
and. after 1S45, a manufacturer of leather, opening the tannery on 
Chelmsford street, which stood at the very beginning of Lowell's par- 
ticipation in the modern shoe and leather trade. 

For two years, beginning in 1835, one of the most celebrated of 
American inventors was a resident of Lowell. Hither migrated F.lias 
Howe, Jr., from central Massachusetts, and here he probably received 
the initial impulse toward the sewing machine with which his name 
is associated. "While here," writes Charles Cowley, "he probably 
became acquainted with the experiments which John A. Bradshaw 
was then making with the sewing machine. Nine years later he 
invented the famous lock-stitch sewing machine, for which he obtained 
a patent in 1846. Little, however, did he appreciate the value of his 
invention ; for he offered to sell his patent for the sum of $500 — a 
patent from which he afterward realized half a million dollars in a 
single year. He died October 3, 1867, at Brooklyn, New York." 

From Marlboro an arrival was that of Wesley Sawyer (1810- 
187Q), son of a satinet manufacturer of that place, who in 1824 
secured employment in the Howe mill, in Belvidere and at nineteen 
became its superintendent — a man of most extraordinary mechanical 
genius. It was later said of him,: "It always seemed to me that 
wherever W^esley Sawyer went there was sure to be a turning over of 
the machinery of the mill. He was a born mechanic, and could not 
only see the necessity of a machine to do what was done by hand, but 
could produce the machine or mechanism necessary to do it." One of 
his first inventions was a wire heddle for loom harnesses, taking the 
place of the former hand knit harnesses, made by women of families 
living near the mill. His subsequent inventions included the familiar 
shawl fringer, which knots the fringes of shawls and toweling (an 
operation formerly performed by hand) and a machine for woven 
wire netting which was the basic asset of the Lowell Wire Fence 
Company, of which Mr. Sawyer afterwards became president. 

The value of the training in Lowell workshops in these first 
years of the new city was such that surprisingly many of the distin- 
guished manufacturers of other New England cities had their first 
practical education in the Spindle City. 

Of such sort was Jonathan Sawyer, who for many years made the 
finest grade of cassimeres known to the American textile trade. Mr. 
Sawyer was born at Marlboro in 1817 and was brought at the age 
of twelve by his widowed mother to Lowell. He was a member of 
the first class of the Lowell High School, having General Benjamin 
F. Butler as one of his classmates. He entered Wesleyan Univer- 
sity, Middietown, Connecticut, but remained for only two terms 
when he went to work as a dyer in Lowell. He learned the busi- 



ness thoroughly and later became a large manufacturer on his own 
account at Dover, New Hampshire. The Sawyer cassimeres and 
suitings were premiated at the I'hiladelphia Exposition in 1876. Mr. 
Sawyer was a notable figure in his day, an active anti-slavery man and 
very independent commercially, even to the point of always making 
direct sales of his product instead of selling through commission 
houses. Only in early life was he identified with Lowell. 

Abraham Howe (1789-1861) was a Marlboro man who came to 
Lowell to live before it was incorporated as a city and whose inven- 
tions included the revolving shuttle-box for looms, the tenon bit and 
the whip or belt saw. His son. Edward B. Howe, became a notable 
manufacturer of cards in Lowell. 

James Dugdale. a mechanic from Lancashire, England, was one 
of the first of the many Lowell inventors who have furthered the 
textile industry. He came in 1825 as overseer on the Alerrimack and 
soon thereafter devised the "dead spindle,'' which revolutionized 
methods of spinning coarse yarns. 

William \V. Calvert, who reached Lowell in 1825, was an inge- 
nious inventor, as was his even more distinguished brother, Francis 
Calvert, to whom the textile industry owes the burring machine, the 
comber and the cotton willow. Francis Calvert also introduced the 
first worsted spinning machinery into Lowell. 

George Wellman (1810-1864) was still another inventor of tex- 
tile machinery who settled here before the incorporation. He was 
made foreman of a carding room, on the Merrimack in 1835, in which 
position he began a series of inventions that included the stop motion 
employed on the dressing frame and winder, a self top card stripper 
and other very important devices. 

Much of the substantial building of the oldest parts of Lowell 
was due to the conscientious work of Humphrey Webster (1781- 
1847), a cousin of Daniel Webster, who was born at Boscawen but 
resided as a youth at Newburyport before he came to East Chelmsford 
as a builder and carpenter. This typical business man of his day 
erected the buildings of the Merrimack Print works, including the 
famous "John Bull's Row," occupied by calico printers and engravers 
who had been brought hither from England. The Hamilton corpora- 
tion block on Central street just south of the canal bridge is his. He 
built the agents' houses of the .\ppleton corporation and the Lowell 
Machine shop, and the large blocks of houses owned by the Boott 
and Tremont corporations. His row of cottage houses on Merrimack 
street between Kirk and John has now disappeared. He did the 
carpentry on the old town hall, built in 1828-29. He was in part 
responsible for the construction of Central bridge, of which he had 


charge fniiii the upening down to his death. Me is said to have 
employed an average of 50 to 60 men whose hours of work in summer 
were thirteen, beginning at five o'clock, with half an hour (jut for 
breakfast at seven, then to noon and half an hour for dinner, and so on 
to seven o'clock. Air. Webster at first lived on the Merrimack corpo- 
ration. Later he moved over to Christian hill, where the Webster 
mansion is still one of the landmarks. 

A man of very interesting personality, Mr. Webster took especial 
pride in the achievements of his distinguished kinsman who always 
looked in on him when he came to Lowell. Of his business habits 
it is said that he balanced his books each night with every individual 
by whom he was employed, for it was one of his principles to have 
no debts. He was notably abstemious in his habits of eating and 

A New Hampshire youth, founder of a good Lowell familys was 
Stephen Mansur (1799-1863), wlio was born at Temple and who, as a 
result of youthful employment on the Erie canal, came to Lowell in 
1822 to act as superintendent (if the job of widening the old canal 
between the guard locks and the machine shop. He was at this time 
proprietor of a hotel in Boston, a position which he did not relinquish 
until 1830. wheti he became a resident of Lowell for good and all, 
engaging in the hardware and housefurnishing business and serving 
the community in many usefid capacities. He was an assessor under 
the town government and a recognized expert in real estate values. 

From Fayette, Maine, in 1828, arrived Edward Tucke, descended 
from Robert Tucke, surgeon, who in 1638 settled at Hampton, New 
Ham])shire. Mr. Tucke entered the employ of Samuel A. Coburn, then 
proprietor of the Old Stone House, whose sister he married. He later 
founded the first express business between Lowell and Boston. 

From Portsmouth was Josiah Greenough Peabody, descended 
from Lieutenant Francis Peabody, one of the original settlers of 
llamj)ti)n. In 1S24 he began learning the builder's trade at East 
Chelmsford with John Bassett. In 1832 he was employed upon the 
Merrimack House and on Central Block, the first four-story building 
in the town. Later contracts, when he was in lousiness for himself, 
were the Savings Bank building on Shattuck street, the Kirk and Lee 
street churches; two mills for the Boott corporation and two for the 
Massaclmsetts cor])oration ; the \'arnum school house, and man\' 
structures (jutside l-nwell. 

Old-Time Merchants of Lowell — Growth of mercantile businesses 
was a natural Cdusequence of the incoming of a new anil fairly well 
paid population tt) East Chelmsford. .\t the time Kirk Boott nego- 
tiated with the local farmers for their lands there was but one store in 
the iirrsent territiir>- of Lowell south ni the Merrimack and east o* 


Black brook. This was the general trading establishment of Captain 
Phineas W'hiting at the corner ol Pawtucket and School streets, where 
the Frederick Ayer mansion was built later. 

Soon after the Merrimack Company began operations, a second 
store was started just over the Concord in Belvidere. Thereafter, 
as was but natural, the number of traders increased rapidly and 
there was soon a considerable diflferentiation of establishments, suc- 
ceeding the country stores of which Captain Whiting's place was 
typical. Not all the new ventures were successful, and it is recorded 
that Lowell got rather a bad reputation with credit men in the thirties 
because so many adventurers came in and tried to start business 
with "a shoe string" as capital. Others succeeded and laid the founda- 
tions for some of the solidest fortunes in the city of to-day. The suc- 
cessful merchant in Lowell has always held an enviable social position, 
and every incentive has been offered to young men of the finest type 
to engage in trade. The late Charles Hovey, in a paper read before 
the Old Residents' Association in 1880, listed the traders who con- 
ducted shops in Lowell between 1822 and 1832 as follows: Phineas 
Whiting, H. & W. Spalding, Alpheus Smith, John Richardson, War- 
ren Dyar, Jacob Robbins, George H. Carleton, Horace Howard, Ro- 
land Lyman, Meacham & Matthewson, William W. Wyman, Samuel 
L. Wilkins, Paul H. Willard, William Davidson, Aaron H. SafTord, 
Mansur, Child & Company, Ransom Reed, Hazen Elliott, Henry J. 
Baxter, William S. Bennett, Daniel Sanderson, Whidden & Russell, 
Wentworth & Raynes, John T. Pratt, H. W. Hastings, Charles H. 
Sheafe, John Putney, Joel Stone, Thomas Flint, Thomas Billings, 
Atherton & Buttrick, Frye & Abbott, James K. Fellows, William Bas- 
com. Perez Fuller, V. S. & T. P. Saunders, James Tyler. Paul R. 
George, Philip T. White, Daniel E. Knight, S. & T. P. Goodhue, 
Charles Sanderson, Jonathan Kendall, Edward Sherman, Mathias 
Parkhurst, J. L. Foote, Luther Richardson, William C. Gray, Dennis 
Fay, E. B. Patch, Charles Green. 

The first Lowell directory was printed by Thomas Billings in 
1832. It contains the names of thirty-two traders. Among the occu- 
pations are some called by names that are now obsolete, such as "cord- 
wainer" and "yeoman." 

The many young men of mechanical and executive ability who. 
like those just mentioned, were brought to Lowell by the new oppor- 
tunities were but a handful, of course, as compared with the host of 
young women whom the mills called from country homes. Hundreds 
of men and women of the present generation are proud of grand- 
mothers who got their start in life through working in the factories. 
If in later decades a foolish stigma was sometimes attached to labor 
at the loom and spinning frame, such a condition was due to the im- 


fortunate spirit of caste that was increased when people from overseas 
began to throng the mills. While social distinctions existed most 
decidedly in the town of Lowell as everywhere else in the quondam 
British colonies, these were not of a sort to be insurmountable bar- 

Genesis of the Lowell Factory Workers — No better description of 
the kind of young women who came to Lowell from the nearby town- 
ships, from New Hampshire, \'ermont and Maine, has been written 
than that in Harriet H. Robinson's "Loom and Spindle:" 

In Lowell, at first only a few came ; others followed, and in a short 
time the prejudice against factory labor wore away, and the Lowell 
mills became filled with blooming and energetic New England women. 
They were naturally intelligent, had mother wit, and they fell easily 
into the ways of their new life. * * * Some were not over ten years 
old, a few were in middle life, but the majority were between the ages 
of sixteen and twenty-five. The very young girls were called "doffers." 
They doffed or took off the full bobbins from the spinning frames and 
replaced them with empty ones. These mites worked about fifteen 
minutes every hour and the rest of their time was their own. When 
the overseer was kind they were allowed to read, knit, or go outside 
the mill yard to play. They were paid two dollars a week. The work- 
ing hours of all the girls extended from five o'clock in the morning 
until seven in the evening, with one-half hour each for breakfast and 
dinner. Even the doffers were forced to be on duty nearly fourteen 
hours a day. Those of the mill girls who had homes generally worked 
from eight to ten months in the year ; the rest of the time was spent 
with parents or friends. A few taught school during the summer 
months. Their life in the factory was made pleasant for them. In 
those days there was no need of advocating the proper relationship 
between emploj'er and emi)li->yed. Help was too valua1)le to I)e ill- 

One is im])ressed in reading between the lines of such accounts as 
this, with the possibility that this "golden age" may have had its tar- 
nished aspects. Relatively light as the work undoubtedly was, for the 
present-day speeding-up processes had not then been conceived by 
factory managers innocent of "efficiency,'' the long hours, seemingly, 
must have produced superabundant fatigue in many of the operatives, 
and the effect of the toxins thus caused was the same in 1826 as in 
191 S. Child labor, again, is child labor, and it denies the right of nor- 
mal childhood to unfettered play and frequent changes of occupation, 
even if it is so conducted that the children doff bobbins only once an 
hour during a foufteen-hour day. We shall later find the Rev. Henry 
A. Miles engaged in a defence of, which was tantamount to an apology 
for, the very long hours which women and children were obliged to 
labiir in the Lowell mills ])rior to 1S45. There is also an intimation 
that the democracy of the time was not \er3- far-reaching in Mrs. Rob- 


inson's statement that "the most favored of the girls were sometimes 
invited to the houses of the dignitaries of the mills, and thus the line 
of social division was not rigidly maintained." 

The conditions of employment, nevertheless, were unquestionably 
better during the township era of Lowell history, from the point of 
view of the welfare of the employed, than they became after the influx 
of several difTerent races had broken up the first homegeneousness of 
the population. 

Early Real Estate Developments — Merrimack and Central streets 
were laid out in their present directions and dimensions about 1822. 
The triangular tract at the head of Central street was sold by the 
Locks and Canals Company to Patrick Tracy Jackson, of Boston, who 
paid for it what was then regarded as the extravagant price of thir- 
teen cents a foot. By a few of the more foreseeing, however, it was 
appreciated that this location, directly across the street from Carter's 
Tavern, later the Washington House, would always be of commanding 
commercial importance. Here subsequently William Livingston 
erected a business building which was so magnificent in its appoint- 
ments that many predicted financial loss from it. In this, however, 
they were mistaken. The ground floor of the building was occupied 
by Mr. Tower with his very successful dry goods store, and thus arose 
the name of Tower's corner, by which the jimction point of the several 
streets that "fan" into Central .street is now known. In 1S73 an in- 
effectual attempt was made to remove the Livingston building and to 
create in its place a public square. 

The residential districts of the town were mostly very close to 
the mills in the era of long hours and no street car facilities. The 
streets between Lowell (now Salem) street and the present Little 
Canada were well occupied before 1836, and there was a good popula- 
tion between Thorndike street and the Concord river. The present 
development of the Highlands was hardly thought of and even School 
street hill was not yet divided by streets. The "court end" of the 
town, to which Kirk Boott removed his fine residence (now the Cor- 
poration Hospital) when the land on the old Tyler farm was wanted 
for other purposes, was along Pawtucket street, where several of the 
oldest families had good houses before the founders of Lowell came in. 
One of the strong arguments in favor of this section for exclusive resi- 
dences was to the effect that on account of the prevailing west and 
northwest wind it got very little of the smoke from factory chimneys. 

A rival residential district to Pawtucket street began to be cre- 
ated across the Concord river from about 1830 onward. 

The somewhat baronial "Old Yellow House" that could be seen 
amidst its poplars from the site of Kirk Boott's mansion on the former 
Tyler farm has been mentioned. It stood on land which in 1691 had 


been deeded by Adain W'intlirop to Samuel Hunt. The house in 1816 
had been bought In- Judge Livermore as an ideal country place. That 
it was such is well attested by reminiscences of his daughter, Mrs. 
Josiah G. Abbott. "The house was delightfully situated at the conflu- 
ence of the Merrimack and Concord rivers," she wrote. "Standing at 
an elevation of 40 feet above the water it commanded a distinct and 
lovely view of both the streams. Back of the heights, on the opposite 
side of the Merrimack, rose Dracut Heights, as if to shield the spot 
from the north winds. It was certainly a lovely old mansion." Here 
fur a number of years Judge Livermore lived in retirement after an 
active career in which, as jurist and member of Congress, he emulated 
the services of his father, also Judge Livermore, of the New Hamp- 
shire Supreme Court. He died ir. 1832 at the age of seventy. 

The first proprietor of "Belvidere" was, in fact, an interesting per- 
sonage. Edward St. Loe Livermore, a descendant of John Livermore, 
one of the first settlers of Watertown, was a son of Chief Jtistice Sam- 
uel Livermore, of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. His father 
(1732- 1 803) married Jane, daughter of the Rev. .\rthur Browne, the first 
Episcopal minister settled in New Hampshire. In 1765 he began the 
settlement of Holderness, Grafton county, where on the Pemigewasset 
river he built the huge mansion that subsequently became the Epis- 
copal Seminary for the diocese of New Hampshire. He was a repre- 
sentative in the first National Congress and a member of the United 
States Senate for nine years, during a portion of which time he was 
President pro tempore. His son Edward, who was born at Portsmouth 
in 1762, had his early education at Londonderry and Holderness, with 
the Rev. Robert Fowie as his principal tutor. He studied law at New- 
buryport with Chief Justice Parsons and began his practice at Con- 
cord, New Hampshire. Soon after the death of his first wife, who was 
Mehitable Harris, Mr. Livermore removed to Portsmouth. For several 
years, by appointment of President Washington, he was LInited States 
District Attorney. In 1798 he became justice of the Supreme Court 
of New Ham])shire. In 1799 he married Sarah Crease, daughter of 
William Stackpole, merchant of Boston, still rememliered by older 
residents of Lowell, where she died in 1859. Her name is perpetuated 
in Stackpole street. 

In politics Judge Livermore was a Federalist, ^\'hen in 1802 he 
moved to Newburyport, that centre of Federalism at once elected him 
State Senator. "His course there was so wise and judicious," his 
daughter wrote, "that he was chosen to represent the North Essex 
District, then so-called, in Congress." In 1807 he actively opposed 
President Jefferson's Embargo Act. He retired from Congress in 
181 1 and moved his residence to Boston, where he was out of public 
affairs for several vears. His attitude to the War of 1812 was that of 


many leading New England federalists, one of intense hostility. 
Shortly after the war. Judge Livermore and his family went to Zanes- 
ville, Ohio, intending to settle ihere. The discomforts of what was 
then a pioneer settlement proved too much for them and they soon 
returned to Boston. The desire for a peaceful country life was strong 
in Judge Livermore, nevertheless, and led to his buying the Old Yel- 
low House, in Tewksbury, in 1816. 

That good society was the rule at the Old Yellow House may be 
judged from the daughter's description of her father's habits of living: 
"For many years Judge Livermore had associated with men prominent 
in letters and in politics, in this and other countries, and had taken an 
active part in the political transactions of the times, so that, being 
endowed with a comprehensive memory, he had at his command a 
large fund of anecdotes, and his conversation was agreeable and 
instructive to all with whom he came into contact. When he bought 
the Gedney estate in Tewksbury he called it 'Belvidere,' a most appro- 
priate name for so beautiful a place. Until 1826 the nearest place of 
public worship was about two miles from 'Belvidere,' at Pawtucket 
Falls, where the Rev. Mr. Sears, a Presbyterian minister, preached for 
many years, and here the Livermore family became constant attend- 

After the opening of St. Aime's the Livermore family naturally 
transferred their affiliation to a church that was not only near at hand, 
but of their inherited choice. At the first meeting of the new parish 
a pew was placed at the disposal of Judge Livermore. This was occu- 
pied, down to comparatively recent days, by Miss Elizabeth Browne 

"Judge Livermore lived to see a large and flourishing city grow 
up around the lonely spot he had selected for a quiet home, and to 
gather round his fireside neighbors who would have graced society in 
any city of the world. He died at 'Belvidere' on the 15th of Septem- 
ber, 1832, at the age of seventy years, and was buried in the old Gran- 
ary Burying Ground in Boston. He left seven children by his second 
marriage, four of whom are still living, viz., Elizabeth Browne Liver- 
more, who lives at Lowell and is unmarried ; Caroline, the wife of 
Hon. J. G. Abbott, of Boston ; Sarah Stackpole, wife of John Tatter- 
son, Esq., of Southbridge, Mass. ; and Mary Jane, wife of Hon. Daniel 
Saunders, of Lawrence." 

The Nesmiths, Developers of Belvidere — .\fter Judge Livermore's 
death, Belvidere was sold to John and Thomas Nesmith for about 
$23,000. These brothers were descended from Deacon James Nesmith, 
who settled in Londonderry in 1719 and who was an elder in the Pres- 
byterian church. His eldest son, Thomas, moved over into the adjoin- 
ing town of Windham, where he acquired a large estate. His grand- 


sons, just named, were John and Thomas, founders of families which 
have had a great share in the upgrowth of Lowell. John Nesmith, 
born in Windham, August 3, 1793. was, in especial, a man of large 
affairs. As a youth he rose to prominence, serving as treasurer of his 
native town in 1819-20 and as its representative in the New Hamp- 
shire Legislature in 1821. In 1821 he and his brother Thomas engaged 
in manufacturing at Derry. They also made a venture in New York, 
where they started an extensive and remunerative business. In 183 1 
they came to Lowell. 

Arrived in Belvidere the Ncsmiths in far-sighted fashion laid out 
the scheme of streets which now covers the finest residential quarter 
of the city, retaining ample locations for their own noble residences, 
still standing. 

Previous ti_) this developmental work, it should be noted, Belvidere 
had never been highly esteemed as a place for select residences. It 
had, however, all through the town period, an up and coming popula- 
tion, some of the members of which gave no end of trouble to the 
sedate farmers of Tewksbury. For five or six years there was an 
ever-increasing demand on the part of Belvidere for annexation to the 
town of Lowell, in which most ot the bread-winners wcjrked and where 
their real interests lay. Their demand was at first resisted by Tewks- 
bury, whose citizens viewed with alarm the loss of much of their taxa- 
ble pro])ert_v. ililitant methods of protest, however, finally won over 
the town to a policy of letting the turbulent village go in peace. "\Ve 
used," wrote George Hedrick, years afterwards, "to charter all the 
teams, hay carts and other kind of vehicles and go down [to town 
meeting at Tewksbury Centre] and disturb the people of the town by 
our boisterous actions. As we neared the village a 'hurrah' gave the 
warning of our approach. We tocik e.xtra pains to ha\"e a full turnout, 
make all the trouble we could, and ha\e, for a day in the year, a great 
time. .■\t twelve o'clock we adjourned to Brown's tavern for dinner, 
and hot tlii) and other favorite beverages of those days were freely par- 
taken of. We met again at two o'clock and kept up the turbulent pro- 
ceedings tmtil seven, and returned well satisfied with our endeavors 
for the good of the town." 

On one occasion, Mr. Hedrick recalled, the "rough element" suc- 
ceeded in passing a resolution to the effect that the next Tewksbury 
t(.iwn meeting should be held in BeKidere. This was too much. The 
townsmen finally ca])itulated and consented to the annexation, which 
became effective May 29, 1834. 

How the growth of the new manufacturing town affected the 
quiet rural neighborhood opposite the confluence of the rivers was 
described with not a little literary charm in 1891 by "M. W.," who 
wrote on "Old Dracut" for a booklet called "Our Home" and published 
in aid a{ the Home for Young Women aiul Children. 


Of Christian Hill, formerly "Dracut Heights," the author said: 

One whose childish memories commenced before the centurj- had 
completed its fortieth birthday has in her mind a fair jMcture of a 
gracefully shaded country winding over a wooded hill upon the crest 
of which was a noble pine tree, a landmark for miles around. This, 
hill, where our city now stores her pellucid and healthgiving waters, 
was intersected with many grassy paths and shaded wood roads 
through which Sarah, Helen and I wandered all the summer days. 
* * * Below lay the sparsely settled village of Centralville, then a 
part of Dracut, and a mere cluster of houses. On the hillside were as 
many, perhaps, as could be counted on the two hands. There were a 
few good old homesteads with fine trees about them, a typical country 
store, a public house and an academy. 

But the village road led to Lowell, that wonderful town across the 
river that had sprung into busy life under the eyes of the old settlers 
of Dracut, while they were blinking at it with astonishment ; and be- 
tween them and it hung the covered wooden bridge of the period, dark 
and gloomy, and full of suggestions of a "foul and bloody deeds." It 
was the ugliest structure that ever connected shore with shore, and 
through it the village maiden, stranded in the twilight, hurried fear- 
fully, with throbbing heart and many an anxious backward look. 

At the Dracut end of the bridge was the toll house, small and 
prosaic, but full of sunshine. It was a place of more than common 
interest and had a distinct individuality. It was the spot where a 
choice bit of news or gossip, flying through the air, was sure to lodge. 
The Lowell paper would always be read there, and "lost, strayed or 
stolen" posted. 

The development of the suburb of Centralville as a district of 
Dracut began while Lowell was still a township. 

Two men were especially responsible for foreseeing the residential 
possibilities of Christian Hill ?nd the adjacent low lands. Joseph 
Bradley was of the old Haverhill family which had settled on the 
Dracut side of the river to operate the ferry that long went by their 
name. His son-in-law was Benjamin Franklin Varnum, one of the 
sons of Major-General Joseph Bradley Varnum. These gentlemen 
inaugurated the first petition to the General Court for a bridge, and, 
when the requested corporation was sanctioned in 1825, Mr. Bradley 
was elected its president and Mr. Varnum its clerk. A little later the 
Varnum residence was started on what was then known as Dracut 
Heights with grounds of unusual pretension for the place and time. 
The locality became known as Centralville, to distinguish it from other 
and supposedly more outlying parts of the town of Dracut. 

To the initiative of these two men was due the project of an acad- 
emy on Christian Hill, together with a large boarding house for stu- 
dents. This educational institution was incorporated under the style 
of Centralville Academy. The schoolhouse was on the site now occu- 
pied by the \'arnum school, which was given its name in honor of this 


son of Speaker Varniim, and not, as has often been stated, of the 
Speaker himself. 

Politics in the Town Period — The political as well as the indus- 
trial growth of the new community was rapid in the period between 
the two incorporations. The time was one in which men took their 
politics very seriously, in which respect Lowell was ■not exceptional. 

The first Congressional election in which Lowell citizens cast 
votes was that of November 6, 1826. Edward Everett, Whig, was 
chosen over John Keyes, Democrat. This distinguished orator, some 
time president of Harvard College, continued to represent Lowell at 
Washington down to 1830, when a new arrangement of Congressional 
districts separated the northern from the southern towns of Middlesex 
county. Everett's successor was Gay ton F. Osgood, of Andover, a 
Democrat. He was followed, in 1835, by Caleb Cashing, who was 
elected "after a contest," accordmg to Cowley, "rarely equalled in the 
annals of party strife." Mr. Cushing continued to represent the 
Lowell district until 1843. He subsequently became a justice of the 
Supreme Court, Attorney-General of the United States, and president 
of the Charleston Convention of i860. 

The political complection of the town of Lowell is indicated by 
the presidential votes of three successive elections: 1828 — Jackson, 
Democratic, 97; Adams, Federal, 278. 1832 — Jackson, Democratic, 
412; Clay, Whig, 694. 1836 — Van Buren, Democratic, 894: ^^'ebster, 
Whig, 878. 

Local political com[ilications were occasionally of an exciting 
nature. All that was best in the town meeting system undoubtedly 
came uppermost before a city government was inaugurated. While 
politics was then a game, it had not, to any alarming extent, become 
a graft. Men of the highest character were chosen, usually, to direct 
town affairs. The annual meetings had their lively discussions, their 
wholesome ebullitions of democratic spirit: but public business was 
not hindered by them. Considering the resources of the community 
the appropriations for support of the local public institutions were 
generally liberal. 

Until 1824 there was no post office at East Chelmsford. In that 
year Jonathan C. Merrill was installed as first postmaster. He was 
a merchant whose post office business, the salary varying according to 
the receipts from $80 to $362, was necessarily subordinate to the con- 
duct of his store on Tilden street, near ^lerrimack. He was succeeded 
in 1829 by Captain William W. Wyman, appointed by President Jack- 
son. Captain Wyman, who down to his death in 1864 was one of the 
city's prominent citizens, had a salary varying from $625 to $1,000. 
His office was at first on Central street and later in the city govern- 
ment building at Merrimack and John streets. In 1833 President Jack- 



son appointed to the postmastership, the Rev. Eliphalet Case, a staunch 
Democrat, who later removed to Ohio. With A. C. Bagley, also a 
Lowell man, he settled in Cincinnati, where he engaged in the pub- 
lishing business. He was for s-ome years editor and part owner of 
the "Enquirer." About the beginning of the Civil War he removed 
to Portland, Maine, and bought the "Advertiser." He died December 
15, 1862, aged sixty-six years. In some reminiscences contributed by 
Hon. J. G. Peabody to the "Courier Citizen" history of 1897, it is stated 
that he "finally went to Indiana, engaged in farming and died there." 
This statement of Mr. Peabody's, evidently made from memory, must 
have been erroneous, as the "Lowell Citizen" published an obituary, 
rather lengthv and circumstantial for the time, on December 18, 1862. 

An Era of Improvement. 

Commencement of the Lowell School System — It was characteris- 
tic (jf the temper of the cdmntunity that the institutions of public edu- 
cation were exceptionally well started in the first decade of municipal 
existence. Provisions for schooling had not figured so very heavily 
in the budgets of the towns out of which the territory of Lowell was 

One of the first schoolmasters, a worthy predecessor of many who 
have served the community in this essential capacity, was Joel Lewis, 
born at Canton in 1800. When the Merrimack company in 1824 opened 
its school on the site of the Green school, this yoimg man was em- 
ployed as teacher. He had had experience already, having begun to 
teach at Braintree as a boy of eighteen. In 1822 he became an assist- 
ant in Warren Colburn's Boston school and thus presumably came 
imder consideration for the position at East Chelmsford. Besides 
being an excellent pedagogue Mr. Lewis was, like his friend, the resi- 
dent agent of the Merrimack company, an enthusiastic student of 
astronomy. "Many a nigh.t when the lazy world was locked in sleep," 
says Joshua Merrill in his "Reminiscences of Joel Lewis," "Mr. Col- 
burn and he were engaged in their favorite occupation of observing the 
stars." Mr. Lewis did not teach for long, resigning to enter the em- 
ploy of the Locks and Canals Company. He was one of the founders 
of the Middlesex Mechanics' Association, in which he took great inter- 
est. He died November 11, 1834. His friend, Warren Colburn, died 
in September 13, 1834. These two men, with Dr. Edson, share the 
credit for the establishment of a modern public school system in 
Lowell. This tribute was paid to Mr. Lewis: "Rarely has it hap- 
]5ened to anyone, by a spirit of the truest benevolence, by peculiar 
charms of social intercourse, and a manifestation of true high moral 
worth, to leave a deeper impress, not only on the minds of near friends 
by whom he was beloved, but in those wider circles in which he had 
his walk in life." 

The I)eginnings of the j)ublic school system date, in reality, from 
the first Lowell town meeting, that of March 6, 1826. Oliver M. W^hip- 
ple, Warren Colburn, Henry Coburn, Jr., Nathaniel Wright and John 
Eisher were then appointed a committee to plan for a division of the 
town into school and highway districts. At the meeting of April 3 
following their report was accepted. It jirovided for creating five 
school districts with school houses at the following locations: No. i, 
site of the present Green school ; No. 2, at the corner of Pawtucket 

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and Salem streets, on the grounds now occupied by the Corporation 
Hospital ; Xo. 3, near the pound ; No. 4, near Hale's mills ; No. 5, on 
Central street, just south of Hurd street. The committee appointed 
to take charge of these educational facilities was : Theodore Edson, 
Warren Colburn, Samuel Batchelder, John O. Green, Elisha Hunting- 

The town's first appropriation on account of the schools was 

So many of the operatives were young unmarried people that the 
schools, it may be assumed, did not at first have quota of pupils pro- 
portionate to the population. "One of the districts. No. 3," Dr. Edson 
recalls, "was very small, not containing more than about 16 pupils. In 
1825, the \-ear previous to the incorporation of Lowell, the town of 
Chelmsford appropriated for schools in this whole region, which was 
reckoned one district, the sum of $113.50." 

In March, 1827, the number of pupils in the Central street district 
had grown so fast that district No. 6 on the east side of the street was 

Reminiscences of the teaching at the school house which, as 
before stated, stood at the head of Salem street, near where the Cor- 
poration Hospital now is, were contributed in May, 1892, at a meeting 
of the Old Residents' Historical Association by the Rev. Varnum Lin- 
coln, who said: "The school lasted for six or eight weeks in summer 
and ten or twelve weeks in winter. When T began to go there it was 
taught by a man named Byam. After this Jefferson Coburn taught 
the school in winter. In summer he tended bar for his brother, who 
owned the Merrimack House. Such a mixing of vocations would 
hardly be tolerated now, but Mr. Coburn didn't instill the same kind 
of spirits into his pupils that he did into his customers, and was alto- 
gether one of the best teachers I ever knew." This dispenser of 
knowledge and toddy whom Mr. Lincoln thus commended, it may be 
added, became later the proprietor, successively, of the Franklin 
House, Lawrence, the Rockingham House, Portsmouth, and the East- 
ern Exchange, Boston. He died at Lowell in 1871. 

Some recollections of an early schoolmaster, by Joshua N. Mer- 
rill, read before the Old Residents' Historical Association, give essen- 
tial facts of school history of Lowell before the district system was 
abolished : 

I went to see the school house where I was to labor for three 
months, wrote Mr. Merrill. It was a neat little building, standing at 
the corner of Middlesex and Eliot streets. It had formerly been the 
Hamilton counting room. Some thirty years ago, when the brick 
school house was to be erected on the same location, it was removed 
to the back part of the school vard. After remaining there several 
years, occupied by a primary school, it was sold and moved on to the 


lot next east of the engine liou?e cm Middlesex street. An addition has 
been made to it, and a brick basement, but the outlines of what was 
the first counting room of the Hamilton ALinufacturing Compan_y, the 
first school house in Lowell, are plainly to be seen. 

On Monday, November 5, I commenced my school, with about 
seventy-five scholars, whose ages ranged horn three to twenty years. 
The second day I received a formal visit from the superintending com- 
mittee, which in 1827 consisted of Theodore Edson. Warren Colburn 
and John O. Swan. 

During the winter a very serious difficulty originated between the 
superintending and prudential committees in several of the school dis- 
tricts in regard to the books required to be used in the schools ; but 
fortunately my school was not disturbed in the least. * * * At the 
close of the three months the committee examined the school and 
expressed their satisfaction with the progress. 

The town appropriation for the schools in 1827 was $1,000; of this 
sum $120 was allotted to this district. More than that had been ex- 
pended, the balance Ijeing paid by the Hamilton company. 

A new engagement was nov.' made, as follows: "By order of the 
Agent of the Hamilton Company, agreed with Joshua Merrill, to teach 
the school eight weeks, commencing Feb. 4, 1S28, for fifty-two dollars 
including his board. Agreed to keep five and a half days in a week. 
Attest: L A. Beard, Clerk." Accordingly I kept eight weeks at the 
expense of the Hamilton compaiiy, the school being under the direc- 
tion of Mr. Beard, then paymaster of that company. 

During the five months I had ninety-one different scholars. Of 
this number I am not aware that more than four now reside in Lowell, 
Z'ic: J. G. Peabody, A. D. Pufl'er, Edwin T. Wilson and Mary T. 
Beard, the latter a teacher in one of our primary schools since 1844. 

At the annual town meeting in March an entire new board nv 
superintending school committee was chosen, consisting of the Rev. 
Abraham B. Merrill, \\'illiam (iardner, Jr., Jonathan C. Merrill, John 
Johnson an<l Dr. Harlin Pillsbury. None of these gentlemen have 
served on the committee since, except the Rev. Dr. Merrill, who was 
elected the next year. 

March 29, 1828, a school meeting was held in District No. 5, and 
Captain Daniel Balch, Captain John Bassett and Mr. David Cook were 
chosen prudential committee. 

.'\pril 4, 1828, the committee agreed with me to teach three months, 
to commence on the first Monday in October, 1828, for $28 per month, 
board included. Miss Field taught the school from Ajiril 17 to Sep- 
tember 2/, at $3.25 per week, board included. 

In 1828 the town appropriated $1,200 for schools; of this District 
No. 5 received $150. 

As part of the school system the building later occupied by the 
Free Chajiel in Middlesex street was erected by cooperation between 
the Hamilton and Appleton companies in 1829. Mr. Merrill was 
moved into that building. His description of its equipment is gra])hic : 

The interior of the new schcinl hciuse was finished under the direc- 
tion (if Mr. Beard, who was an 1 riirinal sjenius. alwa\'s inclined to cfet 


up something new ; and this time he succeeded admirably. Each seat 
and desk were made for two scholars. The seats had very high board 
backs. The scholars were seated with their backs toward the teacher's 
desk ; the reason given was that they could not see the teacher without 
looking around. When ] stood upon the floor I could just see the 
heads of my largest scholars above the backs of their seats ; but to 
compensate for this the teacher's desk was elevated similarly to the 
pulpits we sometimes see in the old churches. All the woodwork was 
painted and sanded with very coarse sand, to prevent the scholars from 
cutting it. In two or three weeks the sand had made such havoc with 
the children's clothing that Mr. Beard was glad to make peace with 
their mothers by rubbing off as much of the sand as possible and re- 
painting. The windows were put very high, so that children could not 
look out. The heating apparatus, too, I think, must ha\e been original. 
It was called a furnace. It was built of brick in the southeast corner 
of the cellar. The chimney, to convey the heat to the school room 
above, was built on the bottom of the cellar, some forty feet, and then 
up on one side of the school room. About two feet from the floor an 
opening six or eight inches square was made, to admit the hot air to 
warm the room, but it never came. There was always a strong current 
of air from the school room into the chimney — making an excellent 
ventilator. After running the stove day and night for some time with- 
out eft'ect a wood stove was substituted. Nothing more was said about 
the furnace. 

The Fight for a Modern School System — Five years after the 
town meeting at which the Lowell school system was inaugurated 
came a test of the sincerity of Dr. Edson's interest in the cause of 
popular education — a controversy in which he found himself pitted 
against the strongest influences that could be brought to bear upon a 
young and ambitious clergyman. He stood his ground, won his con- 
tention before the people and thus was personally responsible for 
giving Lowell an eminence in public education which has never been 
lost. Other factors considered, such as wealth per capita and the dis- 
advantages of a polyglot population, no other city in America, it is 
safe to assert, has had a more laudable record of devotion to the prepa- 
ration of its young people for their work in the world. 

The district school system, which then as now was fairly well 
adapted to the needs of rural communities, was by 1830 proved to be 
quite unsuited to a compact, rapidly growing community like Lowell. 
After some agitation a town meeting appointed a committee of which 
Dr. Edson was chairman, to propose a better system. .\t a meeting 
of April 2, 1832, the committee urged that two modern school houses 
of the "graded" type be erected. 

This proposal to incur expense for good schools at once aroused 
a storm of opposition to which a weaker character then Dr. Edson 
must have yielded. .As General Butler expresses it in his autobiog- 
raphy: "The taxation of that da}' for these new grammar schools ot 


brick would he borne substantially b\- the manufacturing companies 
and the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals. Air. Boott declared that 
this could not and would not be done." As the project continued to 
be agitated he j^resently "informed Mr. Edson that any further advo- 
cacy of this proposition would so far meet with his disapprobation 
that he should withdraw from his church and from attendance upon 
his ministration ; that he should gi\'e his attendance and influence to 
another religious society, and that all support of St. .A.nne's in any 
way by the manufacturing companies would be withdrawn." 

With that regard for truth and right which distinguished him. 
Dr. Edson went steadily forward as if he had entertained no such 
threats. His proposal in its final form came before a town meeting, 
and won by a majority of eleven votes. A later meeting was called 
in an effort of the opposition to rescind the resolution. Messrs. 
Luther Lawrence and John P. Robinson, celebrated lawyers, how- 
ever, had been retained to speak in opposition. They accomplished 
so little with the electorate that the majority in favor of making the 
ap])ropriation of $20,ocx3 f<ir the new school houses was increased to 
thirty-eight. It was, in fact, a signal triumph for the clergyman. 
Some of his parishioners and personal friends, nevertheless, were bad 
losers, like one by whom he was addressed as he left the hall : ''Well, 
you have got your school houses," was the taunting assertion, "but 
you will never get the children into them." Dr. Edson recalls that 
this gentleman later became one of the staunchest friends of the 
Lowell school system. Kirk lioott withdrew from St. Anne's, but 
his doing so did not ruin or even sensibly injure the society. 

One of the best anecdotes of Dr. Edson's earnestness in this 
contest to secure a system of graded schools for Lowell was related 
by Frederic T. Greenhalge at the fiftieth anniversary of the incor]io- 
ration of the city. The story is as follows: ".\t a meeting called 
to take action as to a school system, the imperious Kirk P)Of]tt was 
opposed to the measure, and declared that it was folly to incur any 
expense on its behalf. Lowell was but an experiment, and a traveler 
visiting the place in a few \ears might find only a heap of ruins. 
Theodore Edson re])lied that if the traveler exanaining these ruins 
found among them no trace of a school house, he would have no diffi- 
culty in assigning the cause of the downfall of Lowell. There is logic 
and wit enough in that retort to have made the reputation of an 
English prime minister." 

On February 2t,, 1S33, the former of the two school houses pro- 
vided for under the town's a])pro]>riation was first opened to ])upils. 
It was known as the .South (iranimar school, from its location on the 
South ("ommon. It afterwards was named for the man who had 
fought pluckily for its inception. It is the Edson school. The North 


Grammar school on the North Common was opened a h'ttle later. It 
became known as the Bartlett school, in honor of the city's first 
mayor. Thousands of boys and girls have had their elementary edu- 
cation within its walls, the Edson school being still in use in 1918; 
the old Bartlett school lately disused. 

Inauguration of the Lowell High School— "The high school con- 
templated in our present system,, and required by law," wrote Dr. 
Edson, as chairman of the school committee, in his report of 1835, 
"has been kept only part of the year. Of the sum which, upon the 
most economical calculation, it was estimated that the schools would 
cost $1,000. was not granted by the town, consequently the committee 
were enabled to sustain the High School only one-half the time, and 
to employ but one teacher instead of two. The school, being loudly 
called for by the community, was opened in August, under the care 
of Air. Hall. About seventy have attended. The school has been 
kept full, containing sixty members, and the attendance has been 
good. Many more are desirous of the privilege of the school and 
might be adinitted if provision were made for their instruction. The 
school is prosperous, and the committee are happy to commend it to 
the favor of the town." 

Such is the first formal report on one of the most beneficent of 
Lowell institutions which, since the middle thirties, has offered to 
studious boys and girls, of whatever family and financial circum- 
stances, free instruction carrying them well beyond the bare rudi- 
ments of education. From the outset to the present time it has been 
a school of which every alumnus should be proud, one marked by 
the high scholarship and professional devotion of its teachers, and one 
in which there has always been an admirable esprit dc corps among the 

The high school's beginning dates back to December, 1831, when 
it was opened in a room of the Middlesex street school house, after- 
wards the Free Chapel, having as teacher Thomas M. Clark, later 
Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island. 

Among the pupils who entered for that first class in the Lowell 
high school was a young fellow named "Ben" Butler, who was destined 
to be heard from later. In speaking of his classmates this youth 
afterwards wrote in his "Book :" "There were eight of us in the 
first class, the classification being made according to apparent advance- 
ment in scholarship. The one alphabetically at the head, whose edu- 
cation went no further than in that one school, because afterwards a 
Boston man in high standing and, later still, a merchant in the State 
of Vermont. Another fitted for college in the class, became a graduate 
of Dartmouth, and died young, standing very high in his profession as 


iy4 lliSTURV UF LU\\ KLL 

a surgeon. Another, whose education was ended there, became a 
civil engineer of the very highest standing, founded the manufacturing 
cit}- of Manchester, New Hampshire, and was, for several years, gov- 
ernor ot the State. Another, who left the school and became a mid- 
shipman in the navy, rose to be of the first class in his profession, 
and afterwards was the active head of the nav)-, and imly efficient 
one it had during the War of the Rebellion, .\nother, going from this 
class to a medical school, fitted himself for his ])rofession as surgeon, 
and before his untimely death became one of the most successful and 
best known surgeons of the country. Two others became rejuitable 
and somewdiat distinguished citizens. The remaining one is the 
writer," who was, (if course, .Major-General Benjamin Franklin Butler. 
Ffforts to establish separate schools for the children of Irish 
immigrants began in March, 1831. when a committee composed of 
Dr. Edson, Rev. F. W. h'reeman. Rev. Fliphalet Case, Dr. Elisha 
Bartlett and Josiah Crosby was appointed by the town "to determine 
whether it is expedient to establish a school district for the Irish 
children in Lowell." This committee, at the April meeting, reported 
as follows ; 

That a school for the Irish children has been kejit about two 
years. Last year the town voted the sum of $50 for its support. 
According to the rule by wdiich the school money is now divided, this, 
if made a district, would receive $50. The average number of children 
attending the school is abcmt thirty. The Irish poptilation is located 
convenientlv to form a district of themselves: therefore, your com- 
mittee recommend : 

That the Irish pojjulation living on the .\cre so called, be formed 
into a district, to be called District Xo. 7. That such Irish families 
not living within the above limits who, in the opinion of the Su])er- 
intending School Committee, are conveniently situated, may send to 
the school in District No. 7. 

This arrangement seems not to have given entire satisfaction and 
after a period of experiment the committee, with the cooperation of 
the Roman Catholic pastor, the Rev. Father Connolly, authorized 
the establishment of special schools for Catholics, to be taught only 
by Catholics and with use of text books satisfactory to adherents of 
that church. The committee prescribed as conditions of the opening 
of such schools that: "i. That the instructors mtist be exatnined as 
to their qualifications by the committee and receive their appoint- 
ments from them,: 2. That the books, exercises and studies should 
all be prescribed and regulated by the committee, and that no other 
whatever should be taught or allowed ; 3. That these schools should 
be placed as respects the examination, inspection and general su]U"r- 
vision of the committee, on {)recisely the same ground .as the other 


schools ot the town." Three Catholic schools were eventually con- 
ducted for a time under this arrangement. 

Other municipal departments besides the schools made their start 
under the town government. One of the most interesting of these, 
for obvious reasons, was the fire department. 

Early Days of the Fire Department — IVotcction of the town's 
many wooden buildings from fire was necessarily more or less hap- 
hazard in the first years. Just as in smaller places down to this day 
an alarm, of fire drew forth a motley collection of volunteers and small 
boys. Out from the nearest engine house was drawn the ancient 
"hand tub." Everybody ran behind it en route to the fire. The 
machine somehow was hitched up to one of the primitive hydrants of 
the day and a stream from a half-inch hose was played more or less 
effectually upon the confiagration. 

An illuminating account of the primitive system has been con- 
tributed by Frank X. Owen, who writes: 

In common with the custom observed in the larger towns in the 
Commonwealth, Lowell had a fire society in those earlier days. It 
was known as the Lowell United Fire Society, and its members were 
required to keep hanging in a convenient and accessible place a 
leather fire bucket for each male member of the household. Upon an 
alarm of fire they were required to seize the buckets and repair to 
the fire, where they did service in passing the water. Some of these 
fire buckets are still preserved in many of the older families of the 
city. They were elaborately painted and decorated and had the name 
of the owner painted thereon. Mrs. Ransom Reed, resident on Tyler 
street, has two buckets in a good state of preservation, marked 
"Lowell U. F. Society, Ransom Reed, 1828." Secretary Philbrick, of 
the Veteran Firemen's Association, has in his custody a bucket for- 
merly kept in the house of Jonathan AT. Marston, and other families 
in the city have one or more which are carefully preserved as relics. 

At an annual meeting of the town, held in March, 1829, steps were 
taken for the organization of a fire department, and $1,000 was voted 
to equip the same with a fire engine, hose, etc. The firewards were 
authorized to purchase the engine, and were appointed a coinmittee 
to consider the subject of forming a fire department. 

The firewards made arrangements for the purchase of an engine, 
etc., and also reported favorably in the matter of forming a fire 
department. At an adjourned meeting of the town it was voted 
that the firewards act as a committee "to locate and build an engine 
house, and to provide places for keeping the ladders, fire hooks, etc." 
In compliance with this order the firewards voted, at their next meet- 
ing: "That the engine house be located on the easterh- side of Cen- 
tral street, between the corner of Merrimack street and the Canal 
Bridge, on the land of the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals Com- 
pany, where it may remain, rent free, till such time as the said com- 
pany have occasion to make some other use of the land, when it is to 
be removed by the town to some other place." 


The act formally creating- the Lowell Fire Department was passed 
by the Legislature, February 6, 1830. It was not, however, until some 
time afterwarrl that active measures were taken to organize a depart- 
ment 1(11 an efficient basis. The first fire engine purchased was called 
the Niagara, and was kept in a house at the corner of Centra! and 
Merrimack streets, afterwards being removed to what is now Hosford 
Square. In 1832, Captain Josiah G. Peabody, Charles Gregg and 
others organized a fire company, which did efficient service. From 
this time until 1836 the engineers were as follows: Kirk Boott, 1832; 
Joseph Tyler, 1833, 1834, 1835; Cdiver M. Whipple, from 1835 to 1836. 
The assistants were: Joseph Tyler, Warren Colburn, 1832; George 
Brownell, 1832, 1833, 1835 : J. M. Dodge, 1832, 1834, 1833 ; O. M. Whip- 
ple, 1833, 1834, 1835; Alvah Mansur, 1833, 1834; Israel Whitney. 
1833, 1834; Abicl .Mibott, 1S33; James Conk, 1833, 1834, 1835; William 
Wyman, 1833: George Motley, 1835; John A\'ery, 1833: Jonathan 
Bowers, 1833, 1834, 1835; Charles L. Tilden. S. A. Coburn, David 
Dana, Jonathan M. Marston and Alpheus Smith, 1835. 

The Coming of the Churches — The commencement of religious 
services in downtown Lo-well and the establishment of St. Anne's 
Church has l)een described. .\s the town acquired a population of 
prevailingl)' religious people its churches multi])lied and grew pros- 

The consecration of St. Anne's, as noted, occurred on March 16, 
1825. Thence followed parochial activities which belong to the 
records of the town. The early wardens, with their dates of election, 
were: Warren Colburn, 1825; Allan Pollock, 1825; Joel Lewis, 1827; 
John O. Green, 1830; Elisha Huntington, 1833; J. H. B. Ayer, 1833; 
Rol>ert Means, 1835; George Brownell, 1835. Successive treasurers 
were Nathaniel (jordon, 1824; Thomas Billings, 1828; Benjamin 
Mather, 1829; George H. Carleton, 1833. The first three clerks were 
George B. Pollock, 1824; Joel Lewis, 1828; Daniel Bixby, 1835. The 
first bai)tism was that of John Wright, son of Kirk and Anne Boott, 
March 20, 1825: the first funeral, that of a child of Josiah B. French, 
[anuarv 12, 1827. (Jn ..Vugust 26, 1826, Joel Lewis ottered himself 
for the first confirmation. On Jul}- 17, 1825, James Flood and Harriet 
Bowers became the church's first bridal pair. 

The good Dr. F.dson's activities, except his interest in costlv edu- 
cational innovations, as recorded above, were of a sort to justify the 
ex]jectaiinns enterl;iincd of him by the directors of the Merrimack 
Company. lie has hjld about them at a later date. "My early rela- 
tions with the Merrimack Corporation," he related at the fiftieth anni- 
versary exercises in 1876, "it having given the church and parsonage, 
and for the first few years gathered the pew rents for the support of 
di\ine worship, as a provision for all the people in their employ. 


being it was but right to make the ministrations as generally and as 
extensively acceptable as might be, gave a very general claim upon my 
services, and it is but a fair question to ask whether my pastoral labor 
for the rich and poor, ministering to the sick and afflicted, the dying 
and the dead, caring for the children and their education, and ready 
discharge of other ordinary items of ministerial duty, have been such 
as to justify the original outlay and answer the reasonable expecta- 
tions of the Merrimack Company." 

Concerning the significance of this establishment of St. Anne's 
Church at East Chelmsford, Bishop William, Lawrence dwelt at some 
length in his sermon at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the church : 
"Although a majority of the directors of the Merrimack Company 
were Unitarians, they voted to build an Episcopal Church ; and an 
Episcopal clergyman was called. We can hardly appreciate the sig- 
nificance of that now. Although the Episcopal Church was very little 
known in Massachusetts outside of Boston, and was not recognized 
there as a church of reconciliation, yet here, in this city, the Episcopal 
Church was planted, the only parish for the whole community — the 
house of worship for Christian people of all names. Here, at the 
Lord's table knelt the members of many denominations, and at the 
hands of the pastor received the Sacrament. Here, in unity of sjjirit 
and the bond of peace, they prayed in the praters of their common 
ancestors of old England. Here they together recited the Apostles' 
Creed, to which for several generations New England had been a 
stranger. Thus, until the growth of the population demanded new 
churches, St. Anne's stood, like a parish church in old England, as the 
church of the whole people." 

Toward the support of St. .\nne's every operative on the Merri- 
mack corporation was at first required to spend pay thirty-seven and 
one-half cents a month. 

A story of the rejection liy a portion of the population of the 
religious services that the company at first may have thought to make 
obligatory upon all, has been told by the Rev. I^. C. Eddy, D. D., who 
said, in an address at the semi-centennial jubilee of the First Baptist 
church: "After the consecration of the Episcopal church by Bishop 
Griswold in 1S25, the inhabitants of the village made it their religious 
home, without much declaration of sect or creed. It was doubtless the 
intention of some of the directors of the Merrimack company, espe- 
cially of their agent and treasurer, Kirk Boott, to make the place an 
Episcopal settlement. The operatives were expected to attend serv- 
ice, and the sum necessary to pay for a seat in the sanctuary was regu- 
larly deducted from the wages of each. Mr. Boott, with his English 
education, Episcopal tendencies and military habits, did not readily 
see how burdensome such taxation must be to a people educated in 


New England, and wIkj inherited nil the just prejudices of their ances- 
tors against an estaljlished church, and a religion supported by the 
taxation nf those who declined to enjoy its benefits. Against such 
an enfiirced system of \\'orshi]) old New England has always been 
vehemently jirotestant. and when something like it was tried in 
Lowell, all outside of the Episcopal church were dissenters. Yet until 
two other churches were formed, the First Baptist and the First C'cjn- 
gregatiunal. the latter of which was organized in 1826, a few nmnths 
after the had begun its existence, the tax continued, but was 
at length aliandoned. a very strong ])ul>lic 0])inion expressing itself 
against it." 

There was. as a matter of tact, room for many denominations in 
the expanding community. 

The r.aptist church, wdiich made a great many converts in this 
part of Xew England about 1820. claims a certain priority e\en over 
the Episcopalians, in that meetings addressed by Rev. John Park- 
hurst, of South Chelmsford, were held in 1822 at the house of Abel 
Rugg, at the corner of Hosford Square and W'amesit street. Shortly 
after the T-^piscoiial church occui)ied .St. Anne's the Baptists estab- 
lished a meeting of their own in the vacated school house of the 
Merrimack company, and early in 1826 definitely organized a religious 
society, inviting Rev. John Cookson, then of Maiden, to become their 
first pastor. Their meeting house was dedicated November 15, 1826. 

The First Congregational Church was founded as a consef|uence 
of the gathering together for service of ])rayer in 1824 at a cori)ora- 
tion boarding house of a few men and women whtj had a [ireference 
for the traditional forms of Xew h'ngland orthodoxy. Their society 
was organized June 2(1. 1X2(1, with a memliership of about fiftv persons. 
In 1827 they dedicated the house of worship on Merrimack street, 
which down to 1SS4 was a Lowell landmark. The first jiastor was 
the Rev. Ceorge C. l)eckwith, who served less than two years. Tie 
was succeeded by the Rev. .\mos Blanchard, IX 1)., whose ministry 
lasted fcmrteen years. 

Roman Catholicism, now so prominent in the religious life of 
Lowell, had an apjjropriate tield for expansion e\ i-n in the first days 
of the town. M;iss was celebrated, so far as known for the first time 
at East t'helmsford, by the Rev. John Mahone}', in 1822. Many Irish 
workers were already employed in excavating and construction, and 
some of them had st'ttled in the district called "the .Acre." whence 
so m,'in\ of ihe race have risen to honorable and prosjierous condition 
in life. I'',ither M.ahonev was the first Roman Catholic pastor to he 
settled in Lowrll. lie re|)orted, in 1827, to Bishop l-'enwick that 
"then' ;ire twenty-cjne families and thirty unmarried men settled here." 
I'lV 1830 the Roman Catholics of the town numbered about four hnn- 


dred and arrangements were made for the erection of the first church, 
which was dedicated by Bishop Fenwick on July 3, 183 1. 

Methodism was very active in the twenties. Its emotive qualities 
attracted so many of the operatives and others of the new manufactur- 
ing to^\•n that three Methodist societies were started within a few, 
years of each other. ;\Iiss Phebe Higgins is said to have been the 
first to proclaim .Methodism at East Chelmsford. James A. Barnes, in 
1824, formed a "class" for religious instruction, out of which grew 
both the St. Paul's Methodist Church and the Worthen Street Metho- 
dist Church. The first Methodist house of worship was that on 
Chapel Hill, dedicated November 29, 1827. This afterwards became 
St. Paul's. Rev. Hiram Walden was installed as pastor in the fol- 
lowing Jime. Mr. Walden did not remain long, for on December 
14, 1827. he was succeeded bv the Rev*. A. D. ^lerrill, who is remem- 
bered as a vigorous preacher and strong organizer. He was followed 
by Rev. Benjamin F. Lombard, July 30, 1828; Rev. Aaron D. Sargent, 
June 17, 1829, and. on May 27. 1830, by Rev. Ephraim K. Avery. 

-\ Second Methodist Church was formed in 1831, worshiping in a 
large dwelling house at Lowell and Suffolk streets, and having as 
its first pastors Rev. George Pickering and Rev. David Kilburn. This 
society afterwards purchased a brick church on Suffolk street which 
had been erected by the Baptists. This was where St. Patrick's now 

Unitarianism. despite the fact that a majority of the directors 
of the Merrimack company resident in Boston were Unitarians, did not 
get a foothold in Lowell until nearly seven years after the new indus- 
trial developments were under way. On August 30, 1829, a meeting 
was called at the home of Thomas Ordway to consider the expediency 
of organizing a Unitarian society. Next a conference was held at the 
Old Stone Tavern, at which steps were taken to form the First Uni- 
tarian Church. The list of original supporters included the names 
of several prominent citizens, among them being Judge Seth .Ames, 
John P. Robinson. John .\very, John .A. Knowles, Judge Hopkinson, 
Dr Elisha Bartlett, Samuel Batchelder and James G. Carney. The 
first religious exercises were held in the school house of the Apple- 
ton and Hamilton companies in Middlesex street, now the Free Chapel, 
Rev. Caleb Stetson preaching the first sermon. On May 9, 1830. Rev. 
William Barry came to Lowell to preach and made so favorable an 
impression that he was given a call. In the following October the 
church took the name of "The South Congregational Society." The 
parish then consisted of about sixty families. The first communion 
service was observed May I, 1831. On September 17, following, 
ground was broken for the erection of the present meeting house on 
Merrimack street, which was dedicated on Christmas day, 1832. Mr. 


Barry rciiinined with the Unitarian Church until July, 1835, when he 
resig-ned ami was succeeded by the Rev. Henry Adolphus Miles, 
author of the little history of Lowell, jniblished in 1S46, to which 
every one whi) writes about the early days of the city must confess 
his debt. 

Variiius institutions of a civilized commtniity were under consid- 
eration in the first fruitful years of Lowell. The time was one in 
which much idealism was prevalent in New England. The new 
facti-iry town came in for its full share of welfare movements. 

The Middlese.K Mechanics' Association was incorporated June 18, 
1825, in order, as Cowley jnits it, "to minister by a library of books, 
by public lectures and \arious other means to the intellectual needs of 
the people." It had as its model the Massachusetts Charitable 
Mechanics' Association of Salem, founded about thirty years before by 
I'aul Re\-ere. .-\s Hon. I-Tederick Lawton has described it, it was a 
"trade ,<;uild, with jirovisions for the mutual sujiport of needy mem- 
l)ers, the control of apprentices, and the encouragement of good crafts- 
manship; and limited its membership to mechanics, meaning thereby 
anv persons wdio had learned a trade." The manufacturing companies. 
influenced by Kirk Boott, gave this association a lot of land on Button 
street and contributed most of the funds with which its substantial 
building was erected. As Kengott writes in his "Survey:" "For 
man\- \cars the Middlesex Mechanics' Association wielded a power- 
ful influence in the social, intellectual and moral life of the commu- 
nit\-. Iliihoake would have called it one of the 'sunlight' features 
in its life of the town and cit\ of Lowell." 

The Pioneer of Lowell Thrift Institutions — Encouragement of 
saving among wage earners liegan in Lowell in Alarch, 1827, when 
the Merrimack ciimpan\- announced that an\ of the emidovees so 
desirous might alkjw their wages to stay in the counting room and go 
on interest at six jier cent., payable semi-annually. It was provided 
that not more than .Sioo might be deposited at a time and that the 
comijanv would not accept nmre than Si,ooQ from an}- one (U'luisitor. 
This plan was continued mitil the summer of 1S2Q, when it was dis- 
continued, presumably because a better plan had lieen originated 
through the effort t)f the superintendent of the llamilton company and 
some of his associates. 

".After one of the Hamilton mills was in operation," wrote 
Mr. I'.atchelder, "1 found that tho^e in our employ suffered such 
frecpient lo-,s of their nioury by having in their boarding houses no 
safe ]Ancv to keep it, that I allowed them to deposit it with the 
company on interest, and o]iened books for the purpose, on the plan 
of a Na\ings bank, .\fter a time Mr. Nathan .\])pleton su,ggested that 
it might be doubtful whether our charter wo. Id authorize this: 1 


accordingly prepared a jietitiun to the legislature for the incorporation 
of a savings bank. On receiving the charter I notified a meeting, at 
my office, of the petitioners and any others who felt an interest in the 
subject, to take measures for the acceptance of the act of incorpora- 
tion. According to my recollection there were only Mr. Colburn, Mr. 
Carney, Mr. Nichols, Mr. Beard and myself. It was suggested that 
if so little interest was felt in the matter, it was hardly worth while 
to organize ; but J\Ir. Carney was willing to act as treasurer, and we 
concluded to appoint ourselves trustees and make the experiment. A 
few months after this the town of Lowell decided to build a town- 
house, and wanted to borrow the money for the purpose, which we 
decided to lend them. The sum, I think, was $17,000." 

Such was the origin of the Lowell Institution for Savings wliicli 
was incorporated in October, 1829. Other savings institutions followed 
until the community was unusually well supplied with banks of this 
type. Reference may here be made in passing to the long and devoted 
services of Mr. Carney and his descendants, which began under the 
discouraging conditions just related. Of this model savings bank 
treasurer Dr. J. O. Green wrote, after his death in 1869: "The record 
of forty years at the head of our oldest savings institution will not 
show a single dollar lost of the millions that have passed through 
Mr. Carney's hands, and not a figure requiring to be changed in nine- 
teen ledgers of nearly 1,000 pages each." 

The newspaper is an institution which had its start in pre-Lowell 
days. At Middlesex X'illage, JuiiC 24, 1824, appeared the first issue of 
the "Chelmsford Journal." The office of the "Journal" was in a small 
building situated near the former meeting house at ^Middlesex. After 
being issued as the "Journal," it for a time was called the "Chelmsford 
Phoenix." Then it became the "Middlesex Journal." 

Art, Literature and Music in the Township Period — Cultivation of 
the musical arts Isegan in Lowell with a meeting held SejHember 15, 
1824, in the school house of the Merrimack company, at which it was 
voted to organize a "Sacred Musical Society." This became the Beeth- 
oven Musical Society. The officers were : President, Joshua Swan ; 
\'ice-president, James H. B. Ayer ; instrumental master, Abner Ball: 
first chorister, Edward Sherman ; second chorister, Benjamin P. Brown ; 
treasurer, George B. Pollock ; secretary, William Goodwin. Nathaniel 
D. Gould was elected instructor, and Rev. Theodore Edson was elected 
an honorary member. This society lasted only until September 5. 
1827, when it was dissolved, with a vote to give the "balance of the 
monies" in the treasurer's hands to the "Female Philanthropic Soci- 
ety." Perhaps its most conspicuous performance was that at the con- 
secration of St. Anne's Church, in which exercises it took part "with an 
orchestra consisting of a double bass, a violoncello, two clarinets and 


two \'i(ilins." The ch(irus sang the anthem. "I was ylad when they 
said unto me," and ended witli the Handel "Hallehijah Clidrus." 

The introduction of dramatic entertainments in Lowell occurred 
in the district school houses, where the children gave occasional per- 
formances. There was no theatre in the town. In 1S27 a magician 
gave an exhibition in the Old ^Tlldw House, Belvidere. In 1832 the 
first company of jarofessional players visited Lowell, utilizing a small 
hall in the basement of a building at the rear of the First Presbyterian 
Church, Appleton street. Among the plays they presented were "The 
Heir at Law," "The Spectre Bridegroom," "The Lottery Ticket," 
"The Iron Chest" and "A (ihost in Spite of Himself." In 1S32 there 
was formed a Lowell Dramatic Society, with the object of organizing 
amateur theatricals. Among its members were Philip Stewart, Charles 
Stanley, George W. Stanley, Phineas Stanley, Henry Wales, John 
Wellington, Charles Stanwood, Luther Conner, J. Brooks Bradley, 
Hugh K. Moore, Peter Renton IMoore, Martha Moore, Mary Leonard. 
Mary Eaton, Adeline Bradley, Mary A. Eldridge. The musicians 
were: Samuel C. Moore, violin; Jose]ih Nason, flute: Edward B. 
Howe, ^•iol( incello. I'or the purjjoses of this society, Concert Hall was 
fitted up, on the site of the present Pollard store, and for the first per- 
formance there was staged "Rudolph, cir the Robbers of Calabria." 
Subse(|uent dramas enacted l)y the society were "Pizarro," "Damon 
and Pythias," "h^imily Jars," "The Turnpike Gate," "The Fioarding 
House," "l"he Cork Leg." 

F'xhibitions of the fine arts were, of course, quite unheard of as 
yet in Lowell. Even in Boston a sensation was created when a few 
Italian ])aintings were inddicly exhiliited in 1838. 

The nearest apjjroach, perhajjs, to "high art" which \i^ited the 
new town \vas an exhibition df wax figures inst.'illed for a time in a 
building in Central ^tiret. in l^^.^.S. It \v;is <ad\ertist'(l in the new^- 
]);i])ers as follows : 

16 Wax I<"ir,i-Ri-;s 
as Large as Life. 
Gibbs and Wansley, the Pirates; the Deputy Marshall; the Dutch 
Girl ; Cajitain White : Richard Crowninshield ; J. F. Knapp and Father: 
J. J. Knajjp and W'ife ; IMrs. Whijjple and Jesse Strang ; Siamese T\\in>. 
and .'\merican Dwarf are now exhibiting for a few da}-s only, at the 
room adjoining the Mercury Oftice, and recently (jccupied as the Citi- 
zens' Reading Room, Central Street, Lowell. 

There is nothing in the Exhibition to create undue excitement in 
the most timorous persons. Doors open at h.ilf ])ast I, P. M. and 4, 
P. M. — Open again at 6 P. M. and remain open till half past seven, 
but no admittance after se\-en for the first evening exhibition. OiH-n 
again for 2d exhibition, same exening at 8 o'clock, and remain open till 
h.ilf p;ist 1;. No admittance, however, after Q o'clock. 

No admittance the second time without ]Kiy. 


The many advertisements in the newspapers of the period of book 
sales and circulating libraries give a sense of a community in which, 
though the era of free public libraries was not yet, people read much 
good literature. The contents of the old "New England Magazine" 
were regularly advertised each month, and occasionally other period- 
icals took space. 

Circulating libraries, then as now, had their troubles. A searcher 

after the picturesque in old time advertising pauses with amusement 

before the black lists which law and custom of the period permitted to 

be published, to the shaming of delinquent book borrowers. A typical 

black list was this, printed in the "Lowell Journal"' of January 14, 


Black List. 

It is a standing rule of the "Lowell Circulating Library" to adver- 
tise the names of all persons, once a year, who have run awav with 
books drawn from said library, or leaving Bills for reading unpaid ; 
also of such as neglect or refuse to return Books, and pay for reading, 
after having had reasonable notice, personally or by letter. Our regu- 
lar customers need not have any fears on the subject, as regards them- 
selves, as this is designed to touch only those who regard neither law 
or morality. 

1st. Mrs. Sally Young, formerly of Candia, N. H., kept a board- 
ing house in the Suffolk Corporation, took out a Vol. of Goldsmiths 
works last August, and decamped down East. 

2d. A coloured gentleman, named Franklin Pierce, worked in a 
respectable Hair dresser's Shop, on Central St., after reading the 
amount of $1.00 and paying nothing, took out Vol. i "Down Easters" 
and pretended it was lost and neglected to settle for any part; he's 
lately decamped for Portland, Me., where he undoubtedly will be a 
valuable patron of the Circulating Libraries. 

3d. Miss Mary Jane Allen, after reading 3 vols, and paying for 
same, took out Vols. 2 & 3 of "Scottish Chiefs," and that is the last of 
her custom. 

4th. Harrison Barker called and took out "Life of Burns" last 
Sept., said he worked on the Machine Shop, where it is ascertained 
there is no such man. 

The following persons owe for reading the Library, and have 
either left town w;ithout paying or have neglected to pay after being 
called on — Eliza Jane Hamilton, Elizabeth Muir, Daniel Lament, C. 
H. Cluett, Mary Jane Shc])hcrd, .Solomon Holmes & some others of 
smaller amounts. January 14. 

From other advertisements of the time it is noted that the circu- 
lating library which thus pilloried its delinquents in the pulilic ])rints 
was conducted by Stevens & Com]:any at 18 Central street. 

Gay Times at the Old Stone House — Much social gayety centered 
at the Old Stone House on Pawtucket street, which was built in 1824 
by Phineas Whiting, Sr.. the material being slaty stone taken from 
the river bed. It was bought from Mr. Whiting by General Shc])ard 


Leach, of North Chehnsford, and conducted as a hostelry by S. A. 

Colonel Jefferson Bancroft, who succeeded in the management of 
the house, was a brother-in-law of Samuel A. Coburn. The last land- 
lord before the house was acquired by Dr. J. C. Aver for a private 
residence was Geiirge Larrabee, who had been a bartender in the 
Coburn regime. 

Here in the town period of Lowell hist(jr_\' were held the famous 
seasonal balls, known as the "lighting up" and "blow out" balls, occur- 
ring respectively on September 2i and March 21. These were the 
most distinctly democratic social festivities of the year, at which em- 
ployers and corporation cifficers cianced with factory operati\es. Much 
more select was a series of twelve socials given at the house each win- 
ter. In 1N36 took place a celebrated ball at which a price of six dollars 
a ticket was asked and secm-ed. 

.\n old-time dance card of this era gi\'es a sense of the social live- 
liness of the thirties. It invites to a "LTnion Ball" to be held in the 
town hall on January 3, 1833. These were the board of managers: 
B. Walker, A. Wright, S. Mansur. F. Hobbs, N. Carver. D. Cuok. W. 
N. Smith A. P. Blake. T. J. Coburn. W^ Wright. P. H. Willard. J. 
Richardson. D. Everett, E. Crane, A. Carlton, J. M. Marston, D. M. 
Knight, D. Miner, C. Sanderson. T. P. Goodhue. One who attended 
this ball said in later years that it began at four o'clock in the after- 
noon and ended at six the next morning. He remembered that "the 
bakers who carried out bread earlv in the morning returned with their 
frocks on and finished uut the dancing." The tickets were six dollars 
each, regarded as a stu])en(li >us price in that dav and generation. 

Beginnings of Anti-Slavery Movement — The agitation against 
negro slaverv. which was destined a generatinn later to arra}' State 
against State, reached the town of Lowell shortly before its incor- 
poration as a cit_\'. In 1S32-33 the New England and American .\nti- 
Sla\'ery societies were formed, and eft'nrts were made, with some suc- 
cess, to interest the New England churches in this nmral issue. In the 
Varnum family at Pawtucketville there was. as we have seen, a per- 
sistent tradition of hostility to slavery, so that it is not surprising to 
discover that in 1834 Deacons Jeremiah \"arnum and Oliver P. \'ar- 
num took the initiative in calling an anti-slavery meeting at the Paw- 
tucketville church. "During this meeting." writes Atkinson \'arnum. 
"tho>e in attendance contributed five dollars each to l)e sent to some 
anti-s],i\crv societ}-, to print tracts and other documents for distribu- 
tion among the peo])le b(itli Noi'th and South. We well remember 
that one of the al)o\e-named gentlemen kept himself well supplied 
with that kind of literature for a number of _\ears. carrying it in his 
pockets and at all seasonable times presenting it to such persons a~^ 
he thought could l>e made t(_) take ,-in inti'rest in the subject." 


Out of the Pa\vtuckct\ille mo\enient, apparently, came, largely 
through the initiative of Deacon Samuel B. Simonds, of that church, 
the first important anti-slavery meeting in downtown Lowell. As an 
indication of the temper of the time this affair deserves to be described 
substantially as related by Z. E. Stone in his paper of August 5, 1874, 
before the Old Residents' Historical Association. 

George Thompson, the English philanthropist, who came to the 
United States to lecture in the autumn of 1834, was secured for a meet- 
ing in the town hall, Lowell, on October 4 of that year. On the plat- 
form were three of the local clergymen. The meeting passed off with- 
out incident, but as reports of what had been said circulated in the 
town, indignation grew among the reactionary and hoodlum elements 
of the population. Mr. Thompson returned to Lowell on November 
30 by invitation of a board of managers of the anti-slavery movement. 
He was to lecture on the following Sunday, Monday and Tuesday 
evenings. At the first meeting his audience was large, and there was 
no disturbance except that a brick was thrown at the window. 

The second evening three missiles were thrown in. One of them, 
a large brickbat, came through the window with a startling crash and 
fell upon the floor near where Deacon Simonds was sitting. This 
brick was laid upon the speaker's desk and carried by him to Boston, 
where it was suitably inscribed and placed among the archives of the 
New England Anti-Slavery Society. The third lecture was not given 
on account of the excitement that was visibly growing. On the pre- 
ceding morning this placard was posted conspicuously around town : 

Citizens of Lowell, arise! Look well to your interests! Will you 
suffer a question to be discussed in Lowell which will endanger the 
safety of the Union — a question which we have not by our Constitu- 
tion any right to meddle with ? Fellow-Citizens, shall Lowell be the 
first place to suffer an Englishman to disturb the peace and harmony 
of our cotmtry? Do you wish instruction from an Englishman? If 
you are freeborn sons of America, meet, one and all, at the Town Hall, 
This Evening, at half-past seven o'clock, and convince your Southern 
brethren that we will not interfere with their rights. 

The attitude of most respectable people in Lowell toward the 
topic of slavery was undoubtedly reflected in resolutions which a 
meeting of citizens adopted when it was first proposed to permit Mr. 
Thompson to speak. 

The gathering to protest free speech against the "peculiar institu- 
tion" of the South was called to order by Samuel A. Coburn and J. N. 
Sumner was chosen secretary. To draft resolutions for immediate 
submission, a committee was appointed consisting of Thomas Hopkin- 
son, P. H. Willard and John P. Robinson. This committee retired and 
then very shortly reported the following resolves which were unani- 
mously adopted : 


Resolved, That we deeply de])liire the existence of Slavery in the 
United States, and regard it as a l)Iot on the fair reputation of our 
otherwise free country. 

Resolved, That the agitation of the question of immediate emanci- 
pation, in this part of the country, is calculated to create suspicions 
and disaffections between the North and South, and, with no reason- 
able prospect of effecting any good results, greatly to endanger the 
permanent vmion of these States. 

Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting the Town Hall of 
Lowell ought not to lie used for the purpose of presenting a discussion 
obviously tending to produce effects so much to be deprecated by 
every well disposed citizen. 

The secretary of the meeting was instructed ti i forward a cnpy of 
these resolutions to the selectmen of the town of Lowell. 

Permission to hold the meeting was. notwithstanding, granted. 
Just before the gathering assembled, Mr. Thompson received this 
annnynidus letter: 

Rev. Dr. Thompson — Dear Sir, I as a friend beg leave to inform 
you that there is a plot in agitation to immerce 3-ou in a vat of Indel- 
able Ink, and I recommend you to take your departure from this part 
of the Contra as soon as possable or it will be shurely carried into 
opperation and that to before you see the light of another Son. Very 
respecfully yours A citizen of theas United States of America. 

When the lecturer and his supporters appeared at the hall, they 
were greeted by "hootings, bowlings, hisses, derisive cat-calls, and 
ever}' infernal noise that an earnest, mischievous, reckless mob is capa- 
ble of making." As the situation looked menacing it was decided to 
adjourn the meeting until the following afternoon. Since most of the 
disturbers were at work during the day, the afternoon meeting was 
held without especial trouble. 

When George Thompson next came to Lowell, in March. 1S65, 
negro slavery was no more in the LInited States. 

Temperance Agitation in the Washingtonian Era — The effort of 
civilized man to free himself from enslavement to alcohol became sin- 
cere and energetic for the first time in occidental history in the early 
nineteenth century. The temperance movement reached Lowell in 
1828. This was two years after the formation of the American Tem- 
perance Society in Boston and the establishment of its literary organ, 
"The National Philanthropist." Prior to this time the use of distilled 
liquors was practically universal in this corner of Massachusetts as 
everywhere else in North America. Moderate drinking, indeed, v/as 
believed to be beneficial tn tlie health; though as a matter of fact it 
doubtless would be said by life msurance actuaries of to-day to have 
been responsible for most of the untimely deaths that the historian of 
Lowell has to record. Rum was served as a matter of course at 


funerals and weddings and when the minister was ordained. It was 
a pure beverage, as compared with the concoctions of prune juice and 
raw spirits that to-day pass for whiskey ; but it was deadly strong. "A 
clergyman, settled in 1818," writes Major Atkinson Varnum, "informs 
us that at his ordination, among more than twenty ministers present, 
only one refused to take his grog at the proper time, nor was it deemed 
inconsistent with Christian character and experience, and it would 
have been considered a serious breach of etiquette not to have pro- 
vided it for all in attendance." 

Sentiment of that sort among church-going folk, especially among 
the "dissenting" denominations, was very extensively modified by the 
pioneer temperance work of such men as Rev. Justin Edwards, of 
Andover ; Rev. Nathaniel Hewitr, of Fairfield ; Rev. Lyman Beecher, 
of Litchfield, Connecticut : Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Day, president of Yale 
College, and others. By 1831 there were in the United States some 
nineteen State temperance societies, comprising about 3,000 local soci- 
eties, and with more than 300.000 members. 

The first temperance society in Lowell was formed in 1829. At 
the organization meeting, John A. Knowles served as secretary, and 
Elisha Glidden was elected its first president. Subsequent presidents 
were Elisha Huntington, John A. Knowles and William Austin. In 
the suburbs across the river a Dracut Temperance Society was formed 
in 1830, Joseph Butterfield \*arnum, president. In 1834 the joung 
men of Dracut organized a temperance society, having as officers: 
President, Timothy \'. Coburn ; vice-president, Jesse Clement ; secre- 
tary, George W. Coburn : treasurer, Abel Coburn. This continued to 
be active for a number of years. 

Among the temperance organizations of the neighborhood, an 
important place was taken by the Lowell Young Men's Temperance 
Society, which was organized September 15, 1833. Its officers were: 
President, John W. Graves ; vice-president, Samuel F. Haven ; secre- 
tary, L. P. Patch; treasurer, Moses F. Eaton; executive committee, 
Seth Ames, Thomas B. Thayer, Samuel B. Simonds, H. C. Meriam, 
Charles M. Morrill. .Syhanus .Vdams, T. P. Saunders, Daniel Bixby, 
J. \V. Mansur, William Hall. 

Reminiscences of the crusade against intemperance were also 
included in a paper of Judge Samuel P. Hadley's childhood recollec- 
tions of Middlesex Village. "The great tem{)erance movement about 
1839 or 1840,'' he writes, "had in it a very important and, as I regard 
it, a very beautiful feature, the organization of the children of the 
country in the 'cold water army,' and the 4th of Jul)- was selected as 
the day on which to make its most im])osing demonstrations. Thou- 
sands of children, of all ages, dressed in their best, with music, ban- 
ners, flowers and what was infinitely more beautiful, hajijjy, joyous 


faces. mo\i'cl in long processions through hundreds of New Englanrl 
villages to some shady grove where they heard speeches, sang their 
songs of the virtues of cold water, partook of a generous collation and 
returned home, tired but happy." 

Visitors' Comments on Lowell — What the outside world thought 
of the "Spindle Cit}-" in its first decade has been recorded in many 
amusing passages. It became "the thing" for whoever visited New 
England to make a special trip to Lowell, the industrial slmw jjlace of 
the Nation. 

The somewhat oriental descriptions which many visitors wrote of 
the beauties of the community below the falls must undoubtedly be 
taken with allowance for the grandiloquence of the age. 

It remains true, nevertheless, that Lowell as a village was a more 
attractive place than it has ever been since. American architecture 
had not yet altogether outgrown the regard f(ir style and good pro- 
portions which made our colonial houses and churches (Uie of the finest 
outflowerings of art in the history of wooden construction. Most of 
the building that was done at East Chelmsford was plain and utili- 
tarian. Init the materials were solid and goijd and the total effect, as is 
seen in surviving examples, most have been one of dignity and sobri- 
ety. The influence of President Thomas Jefferson, the foremost advo- 
cate of a purely classical style of architecture, is unmistakably seen in 
the manner of many of the more ambitious residences sur\iving from 
the twenties, such as the Kirt Boott house, the Nesmith houses in Rel- 
videre, the Tucke house in Centralville. Far in the future still was 
the succession of nondescript and deliased manners, after which in 
Lowell, as in all American cities, residences were fashioned between, 
say, 1850 and the present period of partial regeneration. 

It is safe, therefore, to conjecture that the appearance of the vil- 
lage of which Kirk Boott was town manager was not altogether un- 
worthy of this panegyric of the editor of the "Essex Gazette," of 
.Salem, who, on August 25. 1825. thu-- ga\"e in detail his impressions of 
the place : 

As we ascended the high grounds which lie on the side of the 
Merrimack, the beautiful valley which has been chosen for the site of 
manufacturing establishments opened tipon our view. It is indeed a 
fairy scene Here we behold an extensive city, busy, noisy and 
thriving, with immense prospects of increasing extent and boundless 
wealth. * * * On the banks of the Merrimack are already three 
superb factories and two immense piles of brick buildings for calico- 
jjrinting. In front of these, on the lianks of the factory canal which is 
fenced in and ornamented with a row of elms, are situated the hotises 
of the people. They are handsomely and tmiformly painted, with 
flower gardens in front and scjiarated by wide avenues. There is a 
beautiful Gothic stone church [St. Anne's] opposite the dwelling 
houses, and a parsonage of stone is erecting. There is a post office, 



fine taverns, one of which is a siiperl) stone edifice, with outbuildings 
of the same material, and jjerhaps two hundred houses all fresh from 
the hands of the workmen. The ground is intersected with fine roads 
and good bridges. The whole seems like enchantment. About three 
hundred persons, two-thirds of whom are females, young women from 
the neighboring towns, are employed. The women earn from a dollar 
to two dollars a week, according to skill. We stood gazing at this 
fairy vision at the distance of a mile. The roar of the waterfalls is 
intermingled with the hum and buzz of the machinery. There seemed 
to be a song of trium])h and exultation at the successful union of 
nature with the art of man. in order to make her contribute to the 
wants and happiness of the human family. 

One of the first of the many distinguished visitors from abroad 
who were attracted to Lowell, and whose impressions naturally form 
a part of any comprehensive story of the city, was Captain Basil Hall. 
R. N. (1788-1844). This explorer of China. Corea and South America, 
who was a voluminous writer of travel literature, saw the United 
States in 1827-28, and in 1829 brought out a volume of impressions 
whose comments on American manners created considerable stir in 
this country. His references to Lowell were complimentary. "A few- 
years ago." he wrote, "the spot which we now saw covered with huge 
cotton mills, canals, roads and bridges, was a mere wilderness, and, if 
not quite solitary, was inhabited only by painted savages. Under the 
convoy of a friendly guide, who allowed us to examine not only what 
we pleased but how we pleased, we investigated the works very care- 
fully. The stuffs manufactured at Lowell, mostly of a coarse descrip- 
tion, are woven entirely by power looms, and are intended, I am told, 
chiefly for home consumption. Everything is paid for by the piece ; 
Init the people work only from daylight to dark, having half an hour 
to breakfast and as long for dinner. The whole discipline, ventilation 
and other arrangements ajipeared to be excellent, of which the best 
proof was the cheerful and healthy look of the girls, all of whom, by 
the way. were trigged out with much neatness and simplicity, and 
wore high tortoise shell combs at the back of their heads." 

Just before the incorporation as a city, Lowell was inspected by 
Michel Chevalier, the distinguished French economic writer, whose 
somewhat impressionistic comment is also worth reproducing: 

The town of Lowell dates its origin eleven years ago, and it now 
contains 15,000 inhabitants, inclusive of the suburb of Belvidere. 
Twelve years ago it was a barren waste, in which the silence was 
interru])ted only by the murmur of the little river, the Concord, and 
the noisy dashings of the clear waters of the Merrimack against the 
granite blocks that suddenly obstruct their course. At present it is a 
jiile of huge factories, each five, six or seven stories high, and capped 
with a little white belfry which strongly contrasts with the red 
masonry of the building and is distinctly projected on the dark hills 



in the horizdii. By the side <.)f these larger structures rise miinerous 
little wooden houses, painted white, with green blinds, very neat, very 
snug, very nicely carpeted, and with a few small trees around them, 
cr lirick houses in the English style, that is to say. simple and tasteful 
without and comfortable within ; one side, fancy goods sho])S and mil- 
liners' rooms without numl)er. fur the women are the majority in 
Lowell ; and vast hotels in the American style, \-ery much like bar- 
racks (the only barracks in Lowell) ; on another, canals, water-wheels, 
water-falls, bridges, banks, schools and libraries, for in Lowell read- 
ing is the only recreation, and there are no less than seven journals 
puhlislied there. All around are churches and meeting houses of every 
sect, Episco])alian, Baptist, Congregationalist, Methodist, Universalist, 
Unitarian, etc., and there is also a Roman Catholic chapel. Here are 
all the edifices of a flourishing town of the Old World, except the 
prisons, hospitals and theatres ; everywhere is heard the noise of ham- 
■ mers, of spindles, of bells calling the hands to work or dismissing 
them from their tasks, of coaches and six arriving or starting off, of 
the blowing of rocks to make a mill-race or to level a road ; it is the 
peaceful hum of an industrious population whose movements are regu- 
lated like clockwork; a population not native to the town, and one- 
half of which at least will die elsewhere, after having aided in found- 
ing three or four other towns ; fur the full-blooded American has this 
in common with the Tartar, thai he is encamped, not established, on 
the soil he treads upon. 

One of the must celebrated nf .\merican tourists was President 
Andrew Jackson, who was in Lowell, June 26-27, 1833. His welcome 
was most cordial. The striking feature of tlie jiarade arranged in his 
honor, was one of 2,500 mill girls, all tastefully clad. 

The Kentucky statesman Henrv Cla}' looked over the Lowell 
plants in October, 1S33, and was gi\en a rece])tion hardly less splen- 
did than tli.'it accorded to President Jackson. 

On May 7. 1S34, came Congressman David Crockett, of Tennes- 
see, whose description follows: "I had heard so much of Lowell that 
I longed to see it. 1 \\ante<l to see the power of machinery wielded by 
the keenest calculatii>ns of human skill. We went down among the 
factories. 'I'he dinner liells were ringing and the folks were pouring 
out of the houses like bees out of a gum. 1 looked at them as they 
passed. ;ill well dressed. li\ely and genteel in their a])pearance. I went 
in among the girls and t;ilked with many of them. Not one of them 
exi)ressed herself as tired of her employment. Soine were \ery hand- 
some. I Could not help leflecting on the difterence of condition be- 
tween these females, thus em])loyed. and that of other ]joindous coun- 
tries where the female character is degraded to abject slavery." 

Black Coal Follows "White Coal" — .\n episiule witli 
amusing features was the intr( xhiction of coal as ;i fuel, which took 
])lace through the enter])risc of William Kittredge (1S10-1S86). born 
in Ne\\l)ur\|)ort and re.ired on .\ Lli'.icut farm Mr. Kittredue .'it tif- 


teen began to learn the blacksmith's trade with his older brother, J. G. 
Kittredge. Presently the two brothers were conducting a combined 
hardware store, wood yard and blacksmith shop. In 1828, while shoe- 
ing a horse for Lawyer S. H. Mann, he was told of the arrival at 
Salem of certain "black rocks" from Pennsylvania which would burn. 
Mr. Kittredge's curiosity was aroused and he arranged with somebody 
in Salem to buy two tons of coal at twenty dollars a ton. The coal 
was brought inland in a baggage wagon at four dollars a ton for trans- 
portation. In Mr. Mann's office an attempt was made to burn the 
"rocks" in an open grate. The experiment at first was a failure. Then 
some one suggested breaking the stuff into smaller pieces. About two 
bushels were so treated and these pieces, when placed upon a roaring 
wood fire, at once began to glow. As the fire grew hot the paint on 
the woodwork started to blister and some one turned in an alarm of 
fire. Water was poured upon the coals, but still the blaze continued. 
Finally it was put out and one of the great excitements of the town of 
Lowell was over. Soon thereafter a boatload of coal consigned to Mr. 
Kittredge arrived from Boston. It came over the Middlesex canal; 
this first load is said to have lasted the town nearh- three years. In 
1835 Mr. Kittredge received the first load ever brought by rail over 
the Boston & Lowell railroad. 

Until the building of Central bridge, Bradle\''s Ferry continued to 
be a chief means of connecting the new village with the eastern section 
of Dracut and the New Hampshire towns to the north. On what is 
now the Centralville side of the ri\'er was a tavern on the further side 
of First street, and with stables on Second street, which was the 
terminus of quite an extensive stage traffic. During Jackson's ad- 
ministration, Josiah B. French had a contract for the mails of a whole 
tier of townships in Southern New Hampshire and from the stables in 
Second street his vehicles went forth over what is now Bridge street 
through Dracut Centre to Pelham and beyond. Arrived at Central- 
ville. mails and passengers were ferried across the river. 

The Coming of the Railroad — The "era of internal improvements," 
as the 1S30 period has been called, put Lowell, to use a modern phrase, 
"on the world's railroad map." George Stephenson's invention of the 
"iron horse" had been hailed almost ecstatically in this country, as 
solving problems of transportaticm which the canals, frozen over dur- 
ing several months of the year, left untouched. By 1830 some twenty- 
four railroad lines varying in length from five to three hundred miles 
had been projected in the United States, and several of the shorter 
ones were in operation, .\mong the pioneer projects was the Boston 
& Lowell railroad. 

This enterprise, monumentally imjiortant, of course, to the growth 
of an industrial city, w-as not put through without opposition. When 


in 1829 a petition was presented to the Legislature to incorporate a 
railroad between Boston and Lowell, a committee of the directors of 
the already established water route, consisting of William Sullivan, 
Joseph Coolidge and George Hallett, at once offered a "Remonstrance 
of the Proprietors of Middlesex Canal against the Grant of a Charter 
to build a Railroad from Boston to Lowell." As part of their argu- 
ment the protestants delivered themselves as follows: "It is believed 
that no safer or cheaper mode of conveyance can be established [than 
the Middlesex CanalJ, or any so well adapted for conveying heavy and 
liulky articles. To establish, therefore, a substitute for the canal 
alongside of it, and for the whole distance, and in many places within 
a few rods of it, and to do that which the canal was made to do, seems 
to be a measure not called for by any exigency, nor one which the 
Legislature can permit, without implicitly declaring that all invest- 
ments of money in public enterprises must be subject to the will of 
any ajiplicants who think that th.ey may justly benefit themselves, and 
that they may dt) it without regard to older enterprises, which have 
a claim to protection from public authority. With regard, then, to 
transportation of tonnage goods, the means exist for all but the winter 
months as effectually as any that can be pri)vided. There is a sup- 
posed source of revenue to a railroad from carrying passengers. As 
to this the remonstrants venture no opinion, except to say that passen- 
gers are now carried, at all hours, as rapidly and safely as they are any- 
where else in the world ; and if the usual time consumed in passing 
from one place to the other be three hours, there seems not to be any 
such exigency to make that space of time one-half of what it now is, as 
to justify the establishment of a railroad for that purpose merely, if 
the establishment wt)uld, as it is thuught it must, draw after it eventu- 
ally all other transportation. To this the remonstrants would add that 
the use of a railroad for passengers only has been tested by experience 
nrnvhere hitherto, and that it remains to be known whether this is a 
mcjde which will command general confidence and approbation, and 
that, therefore, no facts are now before the public which furnish the 
conclusion that the grant of a railroad is a ])ublic exigency, even for 
such a purpose. The remonstrants would also add that so far as they 
know there can never be a sufficient inducement to extend a railroad 
westwardly and northwestwardly to the Connecticut, as to make it 
the great avenue to and from the interior, but that its termination 
must be .-it Lowell and, consecpKntly, that it is to he a substitute for 
the modes of transportation now in use and cannot deserve patronage 
from the sup])osition that it is to be more extensively useful." 

The contention of these remonstrants was su])ported in the Legis- 
lature by so cogent an argument as that of Representative Cogswell, 
of Ipswich, who a\ erred that: "Railways, Mr. Speaker, may do well 


enough in the old countries, but will never be the thing for so young 
a country as this." 

Despite such antagonism from vested interests, the plan that was 
proposed by Patrick Tracy Jackson and others of the group of capital- 
ists who had founded Lowell was finally authorized by the General 
Court, and work was begun upon what is now the main line of the 
Boston & Maine system, southern division. The first locomotive ran 
over the road, May 27, 1835. This was a trial trip, the train consisting 
of the locomotive and a single car, carrying a few passengers. The 
running time was one hour, seventeen minutes. 

A newspaper paragraph regarding the success 01 the Boston & 
Lov^'ell railroad stated on October 16, 1835: "This road has been in 
use since the middle of June last, and every business man in town has 
felt the convenience of it. No official statement of the amount of 
receipts has been given ; but we are informed that up to the first day 
of the present month the number of passengers both ways was within 
a fraction of 50,000, a little less than 4,000 a week." 

Some unusually valuable details regarding this pioneer transpor- 
tation enterprise were given in a paper on "Early Days of Railroad- 
ing in Lowell," by Herbert C. Taft, read March 2, 1909, before the 
Lowell Historical Association. 

Prior to the opening of the Boston and Lowell railroad, according 
to Mr. Taft, an average of forty-five stages arrived and departed daily 
at Lowell, employing from 250 to 300 horses. Rather more than half 
these stages made the journey back and forth to Boston. The freight 
rates to that city were from $2.50 to $4.00 per ton. Passengers were 
carried at $1.25 each. 

The promoters of the new railroad estimated that the line would 
yield them from its carriage of merchandise about $30,434 annually, 
and that the gross receipts from passengers would be $28,089, giving 
a total revenue or gross revenue of $58,523. This was a sufficient in- 
ducement to interest some of the capitalists of the day. It was esti- 
mated that the cost of making the railroad wcnild be $400,000. To be 
sure of not running short, a total capital of $600,000 w^as raised. The 
construction was very substantial and solid — in some respects need- 
lessly so, as when the rails were bolted to stone sleepers, costly to cut 
and to handle. The cost of the line aggregated about $60,000 a mile. 

The payroll of the road at its inception would cause the soul of 
a modern railroad president to rejoice. A superintendent was em- 
ployed at a salary of $1,500; a clerk at $500. In each city there were 
two clerks and two warehousemen whose wages totaled $1,500. Two 
engineers were engaged at two dollars a day each, and two tenders at 
one dollar a day. The whole salary list amounted to only $5,372 a per 


A proud day for I'atrick Tracy Jackson was Wednesday, May 17, 
1835, wlien the first run was made over the completed railway between 
the two cities. The engine, appropriately named the "Stephenson," 
was one that had been built by the Robert Stephenson Company of 
Newcastle-uj)on-Tyne. It was brcniyht to this country in sections, 
which upon their arrival were placed in a canal boat and brought over 
the Middlesex canal, whose usefulness this very shipment was soon to 
destroy. \\ by the engine should ha\e been run from Lowell to Bos- 
ton has been variously conjectured. Possibly the ex]>lanation is that 
mechanics capable of assembling it and looking it over before the start 
were surest to be found in the manufactiUMng town. The departure, at 
any rate, was made from the northern terminus. The passengers were 
Mr. Jackson, agent of the company during the construction; George 
W. Whistler, chief engineer of the Locks and Canals Company; James 
F. Baldwin, the civfl engineer who made the railroad. The run to 
Boston was accomplished in one hour and seventeen minutes. The 
retiuMi trip, with twenty-four passengers aljoard, reciuired one hour 
and forty minutes. 

After this experimental trip \arious details evidently had to be 
completed, for the service was not opened to the public until June 24 
f( illowing 

Concerning the running of the first trains out of Lowell, Mr. Taft 
recalls that the original conductor was John Barrett, a native New 
Englander. The original engineer, who merited the adjective in both 
senses of the word, was William Robinson, a Briton, who had been 
imported for this special work. Robinson took a quite loft}' view of 
his own indispensableness, and readily undertook to i)lay upon the 
credulity of the ignorant natives. "He was not very particular about 
train time, would saunter u]) to the de])0t about an hour after his train 
was due to start, carelessly look around upon the waiting passengers, 
look over his engine, mount the platfc^rm, put on his kid gloves and in 
his own good time and pleasure, start his train toward Boston. He 
would also stop his train suddenly when he got nearly to a station, 
juni]) down, look the engine over anxiously, crawl under it, remove a 
nut fr(jm some bolt, look it over and put it back again. The ne.xt day 
the papers would have an account of how the engine had broken down 
on its way, but had been skillfully repaired by Engineer Robinson. It 
was not long, however, before th.e management caught on, and he was 
replaced by a skilled mechanic from the Locks and Canals Locomotive 
W^)rks, from which sotu'ce the enginers recpiired were obtained for 
many years." 

What the Baldwin Locomotive Works are to American railroad- 
ing to-day. the Locks and Canals Works, later the Lowell Machine 
Shop, was to the transportation system before the war. The readi- 


ness with \^■hich some of Genera! Butler's men repaired a locomotive 
in the first days of the Civil War was not surprising, as they had been 
trained in a shop which for a long time had engine building as one of 
its specialties. 

The first locomotive to be built at Lowell was placed upon the 
rails, June 30, 1835. No longer was the railroad dependent upon Eng- 
lish machine shops. The naming of this engine created something of 
a local commotion. In compliment to Patrick Tracy Jackson, it was 
proposed to call the new locomotive "The Jackson." It happened, 
however, that at the moment feeling among Lowell Whigs against 
General Andrew Jackson ran very high, and strenuous objection to 
this naming were registered, /vs a compromise the management of 
the machine shop called the engine "'The Patrick." A second one was 
finished four days later and was christened "The Lowell." This loco- 
motive was the first to be devoted exclusively to freight hauling. 

The first ticket agent at the Merrimack street station was a Mr. 
Long. His honesty was evidently never in question, for his oppor- 
tunities for collusion with himself seein to have been unlimited. The 
system was such, the tradition goes, that he sold the tickets at the sta- 
tion and then went aboard the train just before it started, to collect 
them. The railroad had been chartered to carry passengers to Boston 
for seventy-five cents ; the management at once set a price of one dol- 
lar. To live within the law, however, one car on each train was run 
at the legal price. This was a rude open box car with a few rough pine 
seats. People who possibly could afi'ord to pay the additional twenty- 
five cents never rode in the second-class car. 

The present elaborate classification of freight rates was still to be 
invented. A flat price of $1.25 for 2,000 pounds between Lowell and 
Boston was charged. In carload lots one got a rate of $1.10. 

The first station to be used in Boston was that on Lowell street. 
In 1857 the company- erected a depot on the present site in Causeway 

Concerning this inauguration of railroad service between Lowell 
and Boston, Mrs. Robinson says, in "Loom and Spindle :" "I saw the 
first train that went out nf Lowell, and there was great excitement 
over the event. People were gathered along the street near the 
'deepot,' discussing the great wonder; and we children stayed at home 
from school, or ran barefooted from oiu" play, at the first toot of the 
whistle. As I stood on the sidewalk I remember hearing those who 
stood near me disputing as to the probable result of this new attempt 
at locomotion. 'The ingine never can start all them cars.' 'She can, 
too.' 'She cant. I don't believe a word of it.' 'She'll break down and 
kill everybody,' was the cry." 


Lowell, the Ante-Bellum City. 

"To consider if any alterations or niodihcatiuns in the municipal 
regulations of said town are necessary, and if so. the expediency of 
establishing a city government" was the object of the appointment of 
a committee i:)f twenty-fi\e citizens of the tciwn nf Lduell on Fel>ruary 

3. i«36. 

A town meeting had reached the conclusion that the time might 
be at hand for adopting a form of government to which Boston had 
already attained and for which Salem had just received authorization. 
This committee consisted of Luther Lawrence, chairman ; Erastus 
Douglas, Granville Parker. Eliphalet Case. Walter Willey, John Nes- 
mith. Thomas P. Goodhue, Oliver M. Whipple, Isaac Swan, William 
Austin, Thomas P'lint, Jose|)h W. Mansur, Richard Fowler, Seth 
Ames, Daniel H. Dean, Joel Stone, Jr., Henry L. Baxter. Hamlin 
Davis, L M. Doe, John R. Adams. John Aiken. John Chase, George 
Brownell, William N. C)wen. 

Thus was inaugurated a movement toward making a modern 
municipality of the manufacturing village on the ]\Ierrmiack. The 
form of go\ernment which, it was almost a foregone conclusion, the 
citizens' committee would recommend, was that inider which most 
readers of this work have lived. It was based on the familiar Ameri- 
can combination of popular representation and di\ ided respunsiliility. 
The defects of the system l)ecame so apparent to a later generation 
that in Lowell, as in many other municipalities, an attempt has been 
made to centralize authority in :i single commission. In its first years 
at least, the administration of civic affairs of New England ccjmmuni- 
ties, through a mayor, board of aldermen and common council, indi- 
cated no breakdown in the theory of popular self-go\ernment. Under 
the municipal government, and often through its initiative, were de- 
veloped institutions of public use and enjoyment such as have made 
the modern city, for all its drawliacks, a better jilace for most people 
to work in and to live in than the rural communities by which it is 
surrounded. The advantages of the city are often minimized by resi- 
dents to whom the defects are annoy ingly evident and who are victims 
of the "golden age" delusion, perpetually looking back to earlier and 
more primitive conditions with a will to believe those better than the 
present circumstances. Neither politically nor economically has the 
development of Lowell since 1S36 been ideal. Improvements have 
been wrought with difficulty ; in some departments of the common 
life there has been retrogression. Yet it was a good cit\- th;it was 


founded at the junction of the rivers a quarter of a century Ijefore the 
Civil War, and a good city it has remained. From the days of Theo- 
dore Edson and Elisha Bartlett onward it has been a privilege to be 
born and reared in such a comminiity as Lowell. 

Events moved rajjidly after the question of becoming a cit\- was 
broached by the townspeople. An adjourned meeting was held on 
February 17. 1836. at which the foregoing committee submitted a 
report ^\■hich was accepted and adopted. It read as follows: 

The committee appointed '"to consider and report if any modifica- 
tions or alterations in the municipal regulations of the town are neces- 
sary, and if so, the expediency of establishing a city government," and 
of petitioning the Legislattire at their present session for a charter for 
that purpose, have had the same under consideration, and now ask 
leave to report. 

Our New England ancestors, among their first acts after their 
arrival in this countr}-, marked out and divided such portions of their 
wilderness into tow'ns as they chose to improve and possess for their 
government. Those laws were characterized very strongly by their 
peculiar manners and habits of the age, and were skillfull}- adapted 
to the resolute and self-denying spirit of their authors. 

Many of those statutes are now in form with little or no alteration. 
Such were the spirit and principles of most of them that they are 
suited to all men in every condition of life, w'ho cherish a love of civil 
and religious liberty and a determination to maintain and enjoy free 
and equal rights. Much and most of what is now or ever has been 
estimable in the New England manners and character may be ascribed 
to the influence of our municipal regulations. Religious worship, free 
schools, the care of the poor and the highways, were the principal 
objects of early legislation for towns. 

The first has ceased to be under the care of the town ; the others, 
with the preservation of the health of the people, are now the great 
and engrossing objects over which towns extend their care. The exist- 
ing laws are well adapted to the wants of towns of a small or moderate 
size in point of numbers, btit have been found insufficient for the 
efficient regulation of those that have a large population. 

Special legislation has been resorted to, in many instances, for 
large towns, but in most cases, when their numbers were not sufficient 
to entitle them to a city government. The principal defects in the 
operation of the present system of laws as it respects large towns, and 
especially Lowell, are the want of executive power and the loose and 
irresponsible manner in which money is granted and expended for 
municipal purposes. It is believed to be impossible to provide a 
remedy for these defects in the town under the present system. Such 
a modification of the laws is necessary that the power of granting and 
expending money and of executing the laws be so concentrated that 
direct and well defined responsibility to the people may be imposed on 
those who have the administration of the public affairs. Having thus 
expressed an opinion on the first proposition submitted, your com- 
mittee now proceed to consider the second, to wit, the expediency of 
establishing a city government. This last proposition presents a grave 
question, that of changing the frame and form of our municipal gov- 


ernnieiit, with which are identified much of our prosperity and happi- 
ness. In deciding tliis question it is necessary to keep constantly 
before the mind the number of our inhabitants, their dissimilar habits, 
manners and pursuits, the rapid and progressive increase of our popu- 
lation, the variety of interest and the constant changes which are tak- 
ing place. It is certain that some change is necessary in nur ])resent 
system to preserve health and to live in peace and security. Such a 
government as the well-being and prosperity of the town require, in 
the opinion of your committee, cannot in any way be so easily attained 
as in the establishment of a city government. The town may continue 
a few years uufler the present system, but the time is near at hand 
when there must be a change and a city government or something 
similar must be adopted. 

The difference in the expense of the present system and a city 
government will necessarily be from one to two thousand dollars 
annually, and it may be less after the new govenmient is put into 
operation ; much, however, in that respect must depend on the provi- 
sions in the charter of the new government and the administration 
under it. The charter should, as much as possible, restrain and guard 
against extravagance, and should grant to those entrusted with power 
no more patronage than is absolutely necessary for the prompt and 
forceful execution of the laws. Finally, your committee are of opinion 
that it is expedient to establish a city government, and that the town 
petition the Legislature now in session to grant a charter for that pur- 
pose. And they beg leave to report the resolves below for that pur- 
pose, all of wdiich is submitted. Per order, 

LuTHKR Lawrence, 


Resolved, That it is expedient that the Town of Lowell become a 
city, and that the Selectmen of Lowell be a committee to draft a peti- 
tion and present the same to the legislature now in session, to grant 
a charter to make said town a city, and establish a city government 

A further resolve was: 

Resolved, That Luther Lawrence, Eliphalet Case, John Nesmith, 
Oliver M. Whipple, William Austin, Joseph W. Mansur, Seth Ames, 
Joel Stone, Jr., Amos Spalding, Hamlin Davis, John R. Adams. John 
Chase, William N. Owen, Erastus Douglass, Granville Parker, Walter 
Willey, Thomas P. Goodhue, Isaac Swan, Thomas Flint, Richard 
Fowler, Daniel H. Dean. Henrj' I. Baxter, J. M. Doe, John .\iken, 
George Brownell, Joseph Locke, David Boynton. Tappan Wentworth, 
John Mixer, Peter H. Willard, Benjamin Walker, Samuel A. Coburn, 
Thomas Hopkinson, Benjamin Hutchinson, and Thomas A. Comins 
be a committee to draft a charter for the purpose aforesaid and present 
the same to the said town as soon as may be for their consideration 
and a]iproval. 

The act by which the General Court incorporated the city of 
Lowell was signed by Governor Edward Everett on April i, 1836, sub- 
ject to a referendum of the voters of the town. This latter was held 
April II, 1836. The vote resulted as follows: 


Whole number of votes 1,289 

Yeas 961 

Nays 328 

The outcome of the first election for officers of the new city was: 
Mayor. Elisha Bartlett. Aldermen : William Austin, resigned Octo- 
ber 10; Joseph Tajiley, elected in November; Benjamin Walker, Oliver 
M. Whipple, Seth Ames, Alexander Wright. Aaron Mansur. City 
clerk : Samuel A. Coburn. Common council : John Clark, president ; 
Stephen Mansur. Henry J. Baxter. John Mixer, Jonathan Bowers, 
Thomas Nesmith. George Brownell. David Nourse. James Cook, 
Thomas Ordway, David Dana, James Russell. Erastus Douglas. John 
A. Savels. Josiah B. French, Sidney Spalding, Cyril French. Weld 
Spalding, Samuel Garland, Jonathan Tyler, Horatio \\'. Hastings, 
Tappan Wentworth, Horace Howard, William Wyman. George 
Woodward, clerk, died. Albert Locke elected. 

Thus, under favoring auspices, began the experiment of numici- 
pal go\ernment which, in this chapter, is described in outline down to 
the outbreak of the war between the American States. It must not be 
supposed that the first election ?nd the subsequent municipal elections 
were free from popular furore and partisan bitterness. The middle 
decades of the nineteenth centurv were marked throughout the United 
States by political exuberance. 

The first municipal election in Lowell, which was characteristic 
of many more to follow, was thus described by Charles Cawley some 
twenty years after the event : 

The canvass preceding the election of the first mayor was distin- 
guished by extraordinary excitement. An eye-witness — Dr. Hunting- 
ton, in his recently published address before the Middlesex North 
District Medical Society on the life and character of Dr. Bartlett — well 
observed that "political parties were nearly equally divided, and politi- 
cal feeling was at fever heat. Each party was desirous of the honor of 
inaugurating the young municipality." Each party nominated its 
most available candidate. The Whigs concentrated their strength on 
Dr. Elisha Bartlett ; and. with his name inscribed upon their banner, 
they felt strong and well grounded assurance of victory. The unterri- 
fied democracy, nothing alarmed by the action of their Whig friends, 
nominated Eliphalet Case, Esquire, and determined to elect him 
whether he received the requisite number of votes or not. Mr. Case 
had been the first pastor of the first Universalist Church, but had 
ceased to beat "the drum ecclesiastic," and had addicted himself con 
amore to the desperate game of politics. He was the most adroit 
j)olitical manager that had appeared in these regions since the days of 
that other ex-priest, the Indian sachem. Passaconaway. 

Once the contest had been settled, neighbors, of course of oppos- 
ing political faiths, settled down to their peaceful vocations and avoca- 
tions. The electorate had chosen an able and honest chief executive • 


it did nothing less in the subsequent years. Of the succession of 
mayors in the first two decades Cowley says : "Our mayors have been 
solid but not brilliant men — honestly, judiciousU' and quietly discharg- 
ing their magisterial functions, but making little display and employ- 
ing no trumpeters to proclaim aliroad their fame. No charge of cor- 
ruption, peculation or official misconduct has ever been seriously 
alleged against any of them. Once or twice disturbances have occurred 
and the riot act has been read : but otherwise no striking events have 
transpired in connection with our municipal administrations." 

The political history of the city from the incorporation onward 
is not easy to trace in detail. There were numerous currents and cross 
currents. The community at the outset was normally safe for the 
Whigs on National and State issues, if only the \\'hig party had been 
united against the Democrats. Inter-party feuds, however, were re- 
flected in the voting population of a city as alive to considerations of 
State and National politics as Lowell then was. The situation was fur- 
ther mixed by the perpetual local issue of "corporation" and "anti-cor- 
poration." Many citizens, including not a few of the representatives of 
families who were on the ground before the manufacturing companies 
came to East Chelmsford, were resentful of any and all attempts of 
the corporation agents to "steer the city government." This issue, in 
one form and another, was continually appearing. 

The mayors of the early years were, as Cowley has noted, with- 
out exce]ition high-grade men. Even a sketchy account of their per- 
sonnel shows that under municipal government the voters, however 
divided in part)- allegiance, did not fall under the influence of tricksters 
or demogogues. 

Lowell's Earliest Mayors — The first of the ante-bellum mayors, as 
already stated, was Dr. Elisha Bartlett, M. D., born at Smithfield, 
Rhode Island, October 6, 1804, and trained at the Brown University 
Medical School and by a year of hospital study in Europe. Dr. Bart- 
lett moved to Lowell as a young man to jjractice his profession and 
quickly became a very popular citizen. He was reelected to the 
mayoralty in 1837. The Bartlett School was named in his honor. 
Never a rolnist man — like many of the leading spirits of Lowell in the 
tubercular decades — he presently became a chronic invalid. He re- 
moved to his former home at Smithfield and died there in 1855. 

Luther Lawrence, the second mayor, was of the Lawrences of 
Groton, where he was born September 28, 1778. He was graduated 
from Harvard College in 1801. After successfully practicing law in 
Groton he removed in 1831 to Lowell. During his second term he 
was killed, April 17, 1839, by accidentally stepping into a penstock. 

A very distinguished citizen was Dr. Elisha Huntington, the third 
mayor of Lowell, whose years of service in this office were 1840-41-44- 


45-52-56-58 and part of 1859. In his honor Huntington Hall was 
named. His descendants have further enhanced the reputation of the 
great name which he established. 

Dr. Huntington was born at Topsfield in 1796, a son of the Rev. 
Asahel Huntington, for twenty-five years a minister in that town. He 
was graduated from Dartmouth College in 181 5. After completing his 
medical education he came to Lowell in 1824 to practice his profession. 
His public service began in 1833 when he was elected to the board of 
selectmen. Under the new city charter he was in the common councils 
of 1837-38-39, serving as president for two years. Besides being mayor 
as stated, he was in the board of aldermen in 1847-53-54. He was con- 
sulting physician of the Tewksbury almshouse from the time of its 
foundation until he died, December 13, 1865. In 1863 he was Lieu- 
tenant-Governor of Massachusetts. At the time of his death he was 
senior warden of St. John's Episcopal Church, Lowell. His wife was 
Hannah, daughter of Joseph and Deborah Hinckley, of Marblehead. 
Their sons were Major I. F. Huntington, of Boston, and Rev. Wil- 
liam R. Huntington, D. D., for many years rector of Grace Church, 
New York City ; a daughter was Mrs. Josiah Parsons Cooke, of Cam- 
bridge, wife of the professor of chemistry at Harvard University. 

Nathaniel Wright defeated Dr. Huntington in the mayoralty con- 
test of 1842, running as a W'hig of anti-corporation affiliations. He 
was born at Sterling, February 13, 1785, was graduated from Harvard 
College and was admitted to the bar in 181 1. He is remembered as an 
excellent lawyer and an honest, able administrator, a man of few 
words and averse to dis])lay and ostentation. He died on November 5, 

In i8.'6 Lowell elected Colonel JeiYerson Bancroft mayor. He 
was twice reelected in successive years. This admirable citizen was 
born at Warwick in 1803. of a family that has had many eminent mem- 
bers since it was founded in this country by Lieutenant Thomas Ban- 
croft, born in England in 1822. In 1824 Jeilferson Bancroft came to 
East Chelmsford from Boston via the packet boat on the Middlesex 
canal and secured work as a factory operative. Within a few years he 
had become an overseer for carding on the Appleton. In 1826 he 
married Harriet, daughter of Amos Bradley, M. D., of Dracut. In 
June, 1831. he began a long service as dcinity sherif? of Middlesex 
county, an office which he held until 1890. with the exception of the 
years 1853-60. In the last two years of the town of Lowell he was 
collector of taxes. In 1840-41 he was in the common council and in 
1842-43 in the board of aldermen. Between 1844 and 1846 he was 
chief engineer of the fire dejjartment. He twice represented Lowell 
in the Legislature and held various other positions of responsibility. 
In 1836 he was chosen adiutant of the Fifth Regiment, Massachusetts 


Volunteer Militia, and was afti'rwards its colonel. The community 
had nc] more useful member than Colonel Bancroft and none more uni- 
versally respected. He died at Tyngsborough, January 3, 1890. 

On the "Citizens' ticket" Josiah Bowers French was chosen mayor 
of the city in i84<)-50. The community thus secured the services of an 
able and far-seeing financier who was responsible for the upbuilding 
of several important enterprises. Mr. French came in 1824 to East 
Chelmsford from Billerica. where he was born December 13, 1799. 
He had just been appointed dejiuty sheriiif of Middlesex county, an 
office which he held until 1830. He was in the common councils of 
1836 and r842; was in the Legislatures of 1835 and 1861 ; was chief 
of the fire department in 1840-41, and from 1844 to 1847 was one of the 
county commissioners. His business connections were many. He 
was one of the promoters tif the Central J'.ridge Company, with which 
he was associated until the property was taken over by the city. Be- 
tween 1831 and 1846 he managed stage-coach lines plying between 
Lowell and Concord, New I-Iam]xshire, and other n(jrthern points. He 
was active in sectiring the establishment of the Lowell and Appleton 
National banks and the City Institution for Savings. For a time he 
was ])resident of the .\i)pleton liank. In 1851 he was elected president 
of the Northern New Hampshire railroad. With his brother. Captain 
Walter French, he built a railroad in Ohio. For fourteen years he 
was agent of the Winnipiseogee Lake Cotton and Woolen Manufac- 
turing Company. In politics he was a Democrat ; in religion a Uni- 
tarian, and in every respect a i)orn leader of men. It is recalled that 
"he was a man of fine jiersonal Ijcaring — tall, erect and cnnnnanding — 
giving the impression to one who met him that he was nn ordinary 
man." He died August 21, 1876. 

James H. B. Ayer, born at Haxerhill in 1788. was elected mayor 
in 1850. He came to East Chelmsford in 1823 to take a position with 
the Locks and Canals Company. He was thus employed until 1846, 
when he went into the lumber business in partnershij) with Horatio 
Fletcher. Shortly after the period of his mayoralty he returned to the 
Locks and Canals Comjiany as paymaster. He died June 7, 1864, 
remembered as a man nf high personal integrity and good business 

Sewell G. Mack, born at Wilton, New Hampshire, November 8, 
1813, was mayor in 1853-54, a representative of the fine Sciitcli-hi>h 
stock that settled several townships of Southern New Hampshire, 
ilis y<iuth and early manliood were passed at Amherst, New Hamp- 
shire, from which tnwii he was sent as delegate to the National Con- 
vention ;it I'.altimorc that nominated William Henry Harrison for the 
presidency. In 1840 he cime to Lowell to take up the business of a 
brother whu just died. The firm of C'ushing & Mack, later S. G. 


Mack & Company, was a business landmark down to 1887. Mr. Mack 
was closely associated with many enterprises of public ser\Mce and 
business. He and John Wright became interested in gas lighting and 
organized the Lowell Gas Light Company, of which Mr. Mack was 
president for manj' years. In 1842 he was chosen a director of the 
Railroad Bank. Later he became president of the Five Cent Savings 
Bank. From its incorporation he was a director of the Stony Brook 
railroad. He was one of the incorporators of the Old Ladies' Home, 
a director in the Lowell Dispensary and for some 3'ears the "citizens' 
trustee" of the Corporation Hospital. Besides serving as maj-or he 
was at various times a councilman, alderman, school committeeman 
and representative in the Legislature. For fifty years he was a deacon 
of Kirk Street Congregational Church, of which he was one of the 

Ambrose Lawrence became mayor in 1855. Coming from the 
same emigrant ancestor with the Lawrences of Groton, he was born 
at Boscawen. New Hampshire, in 1816. At twenty-one he took a posi- 
tion as machinist in the Suffolk Alanufacturing Company. Three vears 
later he entered upon the study of dentistry, for which he had natural 
capacity. His office from 1839 onward was near the old postoffice. He 
prospered in his profession, in which he became a recognized expert, 
at one time holding a dental professorship in Boston. His fine resi- 
dence in John street, built in 185,2. later became the Home for Young 
\\ omen and Children. Dr. Lawrence was much interested in prob- 
lems of local government. He entered the common council in 1849 
and the board of aldermen in 1831. He died in 1893. 

Stejihen Mansur, who was mayor in 1857, was born at Temple, 
Xew Hampshire. August 25, 1799. As already related, he came to 
Lowell through his special knowledge of canal construction, as he had 
served on the Erie canal. He represented the city in the Legislatures 
of 1836 and 1850. He was in the city council in 1836 and 1839, and in 
the board of aldermen in 1840, 1847. and 1853. He was appointed one 
of the inspectors of the Tewksbury .\lmshouse, when that institution 
was created in 1853. He attended the First Baptist Church, of which 
he was long a deacon. 

James Cook, mayor of Lowell in 1859. was born at Preston. Con- 
necticut, October 4. 1794. He learned the clothier's trade in his father's 
fulling mill. In 1830 he canu' to Lowell as agent of the Middlesex 
company. Under his direction this coni])any became remarkably suc- 
cessful, paying dividends as high as thirty-three per cent. Mr. Cook 
was subsequently agent of the Winooski Mills, at Burlington, Yer- 
niont. and the Uncas Mills, of Norwich, Connecticut. After he re- 
turned to Lowell he engaged in the insurance business. He was twice 
a member of the common council and was elected to the mayoralty b}' 
the so-called "American" party. He died April 10, 1884. 


Under the municipal go\'ernment authorized by the charter of 
1836. Lowell began promptly to build up the departments for protec- 
tion of life and property, for the cultural advancement of the whole 
people, which it is a prime function of the modern city to administer. 

The cit)'- at this time had twenty schools, with an average daily 
attendance of 1,370; high, 75; grammar, 550; primary, 745. There 
were thirteen churches ; two national banks, the Lowell and the Rail- 
road, and one savings bank, the Lowell Listitution for Savings. The 
population was 17.633, of whom the aliens were 2,661 and the colored 
people 44. 

Better streets, better lighting, new school houses and other civic 
improvements came rapidly under the new government. Not until 
iiS44, however, was the experiment made of paving a public street. 

The Old City Hall — Headquarters for municipal acti\ities were 
in the former town hall, henceforth called city hall, which had been 
built under vote of the town meeting of May 4, 1829. When for the 
first time the city government met in this historic structure it was 
already evident that the available floor S]Xice would be required for 
municipal work. John Adams was, accordingly, ordered to vacate his 
reading room and circulating lilirary, and the rcxmis which he had 
used were allotted to the aldermen, city clerk and mayor. Two rooms 
on the second floijr were assigned to the common council. The hall 
was fitted forth \\ ith seats at a cost of three hundred dollars, and it 
was provided that thus it might be engaged by the citizens for religious, 
musical, jjolitical and military [nirposes on payment of a fee, subject 
to the sole restriction that no engagements might be made for Mon- 
day evening when the common council was in session. Subsequently 
the attic was partitioned and furnished for use as an armory for 
militia companies. Fur this purjjose a special entrance was opened nn 
the Merrimack street side. \'arious shiftings of departments took 
place at city hall in the forties. During 1852 and 1853 alterations were 
made, gi\'ing sul)stantially the interior arrangements that were in 
existence at the time of the removal of the administrati\'e offices to the 
present building in Monument sc|uare. Throughout its long use for 
niunici|ial business it was a most comfortal)le city home, though not, 
of course, equi])i)ed with the facilities of a present-day office l)uilding. 

The pressure upon city hall was somewhat lessened when in 
1852-53, by joint action of the city of Lowell and the Boston & Lowell 
railroad, the Merrimack street "depot" was erected. To the older 
generation of Lowell people this was the "dejiot" par excellence until 
the present Boston & Maine "station" was built. Over the train shed 
were Jackson .and Huntington halls of precious memory. 

Setting Aside the Commons — The development of the North and 
South Commons began in 1845, when the necessity of lireathing spaces 


within the city limits began to be understood. Neither was laid out 
in just the manner which the modern art of landscape architecture 
would dictate, but both have a certain attractiveness and they have 
served a most useful purpose. Land for the North Common was 
deeded May 10, 1845, by the Locks and Canals Company. On the 
same date the city acquired the larger reservation, the South Common, 
a tract of (k)~,y4.g square feet enclosed by Sumner, South Highland and 
Thorndike streets, at a price of two cents a foot. An amusing episode 
arose in connection with the occupation of this latter area. One owner 
of a small house lot on the easterly side of the common, a well-to-do 
and quite independent citizen named Patrick Manice, refused to sell. 
The exasperated municipal authorities thereupon completely enclosed 
his place, so that for some time he and his family were fed by the 
kindness of friends who pushed provisions through the slats of the 
surrounding fence. Much feeling was engendered by Manice's exhibi- 
tion of "spite,"' and finally he capitulated. The city in 1856 paid $3,500 
for his holding. 

Some Lowell High School History — The school system expanded 
progressively- under the municipal government. 

The non-sectarian devotional exercises which thousands of gradu- 
ates of the high school remember as peculiar to Lowell, had their 
origin in the first days of the institution. They were designed to 
offend none in a community that embraced an evergrowing number 
of religious denominations and sects. The circumstances of their de- 
vising were related by James Russell, former principal, at a meeting 
of the High School Alumni Association in 1865 : "In the beginning of 
1837," he said, "the schools of Lowell were required to open their 
morning exercises with devotional exercises. Mr. Carney and myself 
composed a form of prayer from the book of Common Prayer and 
Blair's book of prayers, which has been in use ever since. Episco- 
palians, Unitarians. Orthodox. Baptists and others alike have used the 
prayers in connection with the 'Scrij)tures without note or comment.' 
Never have I known devotional exercises in any school conducted with 
more decorum or order." 

The high school, according to data comijilcd by Alfred Caddell, 
had a nomadic existence during the first nine years. Then in 1840 it 
at last was established in its own building between Kirk and Anne 
streets. The sexes at first were sef)arated ; the boys in one room under 
Moody Currier, afterwards Governor of New Hampshire ; the girls 
under Miss Lucy Penhallow. In 1842 Franklin Forbes, who had been 
principal in 1835-36, returned to the school. At the end of three years 
he resigned to become agent of a manufacturing company at Lancas- 
ter. His successor was C. C. Chase, whose service was long and 

L 15 


The svMeni uf discipline and instruction up tu this time had never 
been consistently satisfactory. "The school committee of 185 1," 
writes Caddell, "described the instruction as being 'irregular, inter- 
mittent and fragmentary-, ' and their reports are full of tiresome scold- 
ing on the irregular attendance, though they never mentioned any 
changes by which the school could ])e impro\'ed." Private schools in 
these circumstances fl(jurished. in 1852. howe\'er, the two department 
system was abolished and authority centered at Mr. Chase's desk. 
Scholarshi]) at once began to come uji, and the reputation of the school 
for lax discipline was gradualh' (jutgrown. An incentive to impro\'e- 
ment was added in 1858. when J. G. Carney established the system of 
Carney medals, awarded annually to members of the graduating class 
for excellence in scholarship and deportnient and regularity of attend- 

Organization of a imlice department was one of the immediate 
necessities of the newly created city. 

CJrdinances were adopted in 1836 ])roviding for the office of city 
marshal and a constabulary force. The head of the S}-stem in the first 
years was paid only $400 a year. His position, nevertheless, was 
keenly sought after liy rival Whigs and Democrats. In 1S44 the body 
of constables, special constables and tithing-men who comprised the 
marshal's staff were supplemented by six watchmen who represented 
for the first time the present-day tyjie of ])olicemen. These watchmen 
were captained by George W. Hancock. They were employed only 
at night, on daily wages of $1.25, the constables continuing to pre- 
serve order by da}-. Later the police system was made to cover all 
hours of the day, and the duties of the constables were considerably 
modified. The city marshals o( the period were: Zaccheus Shedd, 
1836-37; Henry T. Mowatt, 1838; Joseph Butterfield, 1839; Zaccheus 
Shedd, 1840-41; Charles J. Adams, 1842-47; Zaccheus Shedd, 1848; 
George P. Waldron, 1840: Zaccheus Shedd. 1850; Charles J. Adams, 
7831 ; James 11. Carrin, 1851: F.dwin L. Shedd, 1S32-54; Samuel Mil- 
ler, 1855; William H. Clenence, 1850. 

Court Houses and Jails Before the Civil War — The first court 
house in Lowell \va> the old market building, in Market street, erected 
by cooperation of cit\' and countv in 1837. .About 1849 the coimtv's 
interest in this structure was sold to the city for $10,000. 

The court h(.)nse on Gorhani street, predecessor of the present 
monumental structure, was built m 1841) at a cost of about $38,000. In 
1855 the North Registry was established, an act of great convenience 
to the cit^' ;ind the surrounding towns. .Ml the records relating to this 
end of the county, covering a period of more than 200 years, were 
copied under a special statute from the originals in Cambridge. 


The building of the court house in Lowell, it should be noted, was 
a marked step in the direction of centralization of legal business of 
northern Middlesex county. It meant that Lowell became more than 
ever before a desirable place for residence of able lawyers, who con- 
tributed a marked element in the professional and social life of the 
place. The improving facilities for quick transportation by rail were, 
in fact, rapidly putting the country lawyer out of business. 

The jail on Thorndike street, still one of the conspicuous institu- 
tions of the city, was built in 1852-53, after designs by James H. Rand. 
The architecture is truthfully, £.nd perhaps a little sarcastically, de- 
scribed by Cowley as "semi-Gothic, differing in many respects from 
any other structure of the kind." Functionally, withal, it embodied 
what at the time of its erection r\ere the latest and best ideas in penol- 
ogy. As erected the jail was 123 feet long with a width of 90 feet on 
the front and 54 in the rear. It was four stories high, with octagonal 
towers at each of the front corners of the main edifice. The scheme 
provided for entire separation of the quarters for men and women. 
There were 90 cells for men, 12 for women, two hospitals and four 
rooms for temporary confinement. 

Criticism of the cost of this jail was not wanting. There were 
those, indeed, who seemed to find that oftenders against the law were 
more magnificentl}- housed in Lowell than were the great majority 
of the law-abiding. A certain caustic chronicler wrote : "March 20, 
1858, the new jail on Thorndike street was first occupied. This mag- 
nificent structure cost $150,000 and contains 102 cells. If the annual 
rent of this building should be reckoned at 10 per cent, of its cost and 
if every cell were constantly occupied, the average rental of a cell 
would be $132. When to this is added the average cost of each occu- 
pant for food, salaries of ofiiicers, etc., the very lowest annual expense 
to the county of each prisoner is $400. Thus a scoundrel, who thinks 
his family of six persons fortunate if they can afford to occupy a tene- 
ment whose annual rental is $50, finds, when he is so fortunate as to 
get into this magnificent jail, the county lavishes on him alone an ex- 
pense which, if bestowed upon his large and sufifering family, would 
enable them to live in almost lu.xury. To squander money thus ap- 
proaches very near a crime." 

Judges in Lowell's First Decades — The first judge of the Lowell 
Police Court was the Hon. Joseph Locke, a man of fine humanitarian 
instincts and one of the leaders in the temperance cause. He had lived 
in Billerica, where the story was told of his having been elected to an 
office, the incumbent of which was expected by custom to treat his 
constituents in celebration of the victory. Mr. Locke refused to buy 
the drinks, but turned over an equivalent amount of money to the 
school authorities, with instructidus to buy school books for those 


cliildren whose parents had difficulty in providing them. This noble 
jurist administered justice in Lowell for thirteen years. 

Judge Nathan Crosby, who succeeded Judge Locke, was born at 
Sandwich. New Hampshire, in 179S. After graduation from Dart- 
mouth College in 1820. he settled in Newburyport to practice law. 
He became interested at the same time in the temperance movement, 
in behalf of which he lectured throughout New England. In 1S43 he 
came to Lowell through his connection, mentioned elsewhere, with the 
])urchase of water rights in the New Hampshire lakes. As judge of 
the Police Court during a term of service covering thirty-nine years, 
he ciinfirmed the tradition of dignity, humanity and uniform courtesy 
which was established by Judge Locke, and wdiich has been continued 
by his successors, Judges Hadley and Enright. 

Making a Modern Fire Department — The fire department which 
had l)een organized under the town w'as rapidly developed in efficiency 
and relialjility under the new government. Fires, fortunately, were 
few in the first }-ears of the cit}'. In 1S40, for example, there were but 
six alarms. 

A few older residents still remember the "Protection Company" 
which operated for about ten years. Owen describes it as follows : 
"In 1840 also the 'Protection Company' was formed. This company 
was composed princijially of liusiness men, and its primary object was 
to protect personal property in case of fire, not only from the fire but 
from plunder when removed from the street. The members were pro- 
vided with a screw-dri\cr, bed key and a bag with which to prosecute 
their important part in saving property. Being unprovided with any 
means of fighting fire, they were forced to beat a hasty retreat when 
the premises liecame uncomfortably warm, and do piilice duty in the 
streets. The company was composed of some of the most influential 
business men of the period, and became an efficient feature of the de- 
partment. It continued in existence until 1S50, when it disbanded. 
Stephen Mansur, mayor of the city in 1857, was the first foreman." 

Chief engineers of the fire de]iartment down to i860 were : Charles 
L. Tilden. 1836-38; Jonathan M. Marston. 1838-39: Joseph Butterfield, 
1839-40: Josiah B. French, 1840-42: Stephen Cushing, 1842-43: Jona- 
than M. Marston, 1843-44 ; Jefferson Bancroft, 1844-46: Aaron H. Sher- 
man, 1846-50: Horace Howard, 1850-53: Lucius A. Cutler, 1853-54: 
Weare Clifford, 1854-60. 

The Introduction of Running Water — The problem of a pure 
water supply was one which agitated the authorities of Lowell from 
the first years of the incori^oration. In 1838 G. M. Dexter, represent- 
ing the city, made a survey of Tyng's and Long ponds, to the north- 
west, both which Ikuc a watiT level that is about sixty feet above the 
ri\-er at Pawtucket dam. 


This investigator's estimate was that the former pond might sup- 
ply the city with about 1,200,000 gallons of water per day. No action 
was taken, however, and the community continued to draw water from 
the canals by permission of the Locks and Canals Company and from 
private wells until 1848, when W. E. Worthen, under instruction from 
the city council took up the Tyng's pond proposal and reported ad- 
versely upon it. He found that much loss of water must be forecasted 
in bringing it from this distance and that a considerable portion of the 
city would be above the level of the pond, necessitating pumps and a 
high surface reservoir. He was doubtful, furthermore, about the quan- 
tity of water available. "The outlet of Tyng's Pond," he wrote, "was 
delivering a few days ago only ij^^ cubic feet per second, and the pond 
was said not to be rising." 

\\'ith Mr. Worthen's adverse report was ended the scheme of find- 
ing citv water in one of the local ponds. Soon after this a commis- 
sion on water supply was appointed, consisting of Oliver M. Whipple, 
Jeft'erson Bancroft, John Avery, David Dana, Otis L. Allen and 
Thomas Hopkinson. This committee retained Mr. Worthen as engi- 
neer. Through him a report was secured from the famous chemist, 
Samuel D. Dana, recommending the use of the Merrimack river water. 
"Its amount and quality of salts, organic and mineral matter indicate 
that it is not less pure than that used by the inhabitants of Philadel- 
phia and New York from the Schuylkill and Hudson rivers." Out of 
this opinion ensued the construction of a water works system under 
authority of a legislative act of 1855. 

The reservoir on Lynde's hill, Belvidere, it should be observed, 
was not projected as a public enterprise. It was built in 1848 by the 
manufacturing companies of the city at the urgence of Mr. Francis, 
engineer. Situated on a hill about a mile and a half from city hall, the 
top of the embankment stands about 190 feet above the water level in 
the upper canals. The depth is eighteen feet, with a depth of water of 
twelve feet, giving an effective height of 184 feet. The enclosure is 
174 feet square at the top and 102 feet at the bottom. When filled it 
carries 1,201,641 gallons of water. The original object was to supply 
water in case of a fire occurring when the canals were drawn oti', to 
feed the corporation boilers and tor use in the hoarding houses. 

The Establishment of a City Library — The Lowell City Library-, 
one of the most benelicent of municipal institutions, dates from May 
20, 1844, when it was founded by enactment of the common council. 
It was one of the pioneer examples in New England of a library sup- 
ported out of taxation for the benefit of all citizens. This library, now 
so imposing that it greatly impresses all visitors, started with slender 
resources, for it was built upon no large collections previously formed, 
nor was it at the outset privately endowed. Some help, however, was 


availaljle frum outside. It happened that in the middle forties the 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts was endeavoring by a system of 
subsidies to encourage the several cities and towns to form what were 
then called "school libraries." Lowell was entitled to aliout $1,200 
from this source. The new library was accordingly opened under the 
designation of the "City School Library." It was assigned a room in 
City Hall. Books were first drawn on February 11, 1845, each person 
paying annual dues of fifty cents for the privilege. To the librarian- 
ship was chosen Josiah Hubbard, who served for thirteen years. A 
private circulating librarj' was purchased soon after the opening. The 
period of great expansion of library facilities began after the Civil 

Central Bridge From Private to Public Ownership — A complete 
narrative of the relations of the Central Bridge Corporation to the city 
of Lowell and the town of Dracut, to which Centralville belonged until 
1 85 1, would require almost unlimited space. The proprietors of this 
bridge, already an important artery of traffic, were shrewd men and 
not above playing the game of politics. They coped cleverly with an 
increasing public impatience ; they finall}' had to yield, as so many 
other bridge companies must, to a demand that general taxation rather 
tlian private toll gathering should pay for the constructicm and main- 
tenance of bridges in the city of Lowell. 

The story of the Central Bridge Company was told in consider- 
able detail in Alfred Oilman's paper of Novemlier 8. 1882. In the first 
days of the new city, that is between 1836 and 1842, there may have 
been an undercurrent of popular dissatisfaction regarding the cost of 
crossing the river, but of this feeling, if it existed, Mr. tjilnian found 
no documentary evidence at all. In the last-named vear Dracut called 
a meeting "to see what measures the town will take to reduce the tt)ll 
on Central Bridge." Repeated meetings thereafter were held to dis- 
cover, if possible, the actual cost of operating the bridge. It was 
shown to the town that the ])r(j|)rietors' dividends had averaged more 
than nine ])er cent. 

Rebuilding of Central lividt^e, meantime, had become necessary. 
On IMarcli 23, 1843, the Legislature passed an act permitting recon- 
struction. The city of Lowell accepted this act on .\])ril 5 following; 
Dracut, after much jiolitical maneu\ering, on .\pril 3. 1843. 

Three years later a (piestion of the ad\isabilit}- of annexing Cen- 
traKille to Lowell was raised. 1 he city al that time evidently did not 
want a su''inb on the north side of the ri\er, for the vote of December 
9. 1850, stood 831 in fa\'or and 1,153 opjiosed. 

Lowell, however, at last "struck hands with Dracut in intent to 
free Central Bridge." On May 21, 1833, an act was passed authorizing 


the city of Lowell and the town of Dracut to buy Central bridge "on 
such terms as might be agreed." 

The proprietors, however, had no intention of "agreeing" and in 
1854 the city petitioned that the Supreme Court of the State be author- 
ized to declare what amount might properly be paid. This application 
was opposed by the bridge company, which had retained Rufus Choate. 
The city was ably represented by A. P. Bonney and T. H. Sweetser. 
The result was an enactment whose wording was drawm up by Mr. 
Bonney : "An act to provide a mode of opening Central Bridge free 
of toll."' Not until 1862 was the issue finally settled and the obnoxious 
toll lifted. 

As municipal advantages increased and as population began to 
spread into the suburban areas, it was natural to expect that a desire 
for annexation to Lowell would be expressed by people living just 
beyond the city limits. The annexation of Belvidere under the town 
government has been chronicled. It was not many years before an- 
other residential village was clamoring for admission. 

The Annexation of Centralville — Some eight years before annexa- 
tion finally was granted the inhabitants of Centralville, as shown by a 
notice in the "Lowell Courier" of February 7, 1843, petitioned as fol- 
lows : 

Respectfully represent your petitioners that they are inhabitants 
of that part of Dracutt, in the County of Aliddlesex, which is known 
b}^ the name of "Centralville." That their business, feelings and inter- 
ests connect them much more closely with the city of Lowell than 
with the town of Dracutt ; — That many of them do business in Lowell, 
and all of them are wholly dependent on that City for their prosper- 
ity ; — That "Centralville" is separated from the heart of the City of 
Lowell only by the ^Merrimack River, and is ver}- intimately connected 
with the City : — That the remotest part of "Centralville" is not more 
than half a mile distant from the City Hall, the Courthouse and the 
Post Office of Lowell. 

Wherefore, as a matter of public and private convenience, your 
petitioners pray that said "Centralville," which is now a part of said 
Dracutt, and contains less than 300 acres of land, may be set ofif from 
said Dracutt, and be annexed to and become a part of the City of 
Lowell in said County — to wit : Beginning at a point at the thread of 
the Merrimack River, on the line which separates the City of Lowell 
from Tewksbury, thence running N. 17 deg., 30 N. E., to a Hemlock 
tree on the north bank of said River; thence running N. 8 deg., 15 m. 
W., sixty-seven chains and fifty links; thence running N. 39 deg., W. 
seventy-five chains nearly, till it reaches the thread of said Merrimack 
River below Pawtucket Fall ; thence turning and running easterly, fol- 
lowing the thread of said River to the point of beginning. 

This petition was signed by Joseph Bradley and seventy-nine 
others, representing for the most part families who had built resi- 
dences on Christian Hill 


The original petition was not granted and the agitation continued. 
Finally in 1851 Centralville was annexed to the city, not so much 
through any anxiety of I.nwell people, it \\<iuld a]ipear. to extend the 
municijial l)Ounds as of the peojile cm the further side of the river to 
secure the lienefits of municipal improvements. On December g, 1850, 
a referendum was submitted to the voters of Lowell in the following 
terms: "Is it expedient that the part of Dracut called Centralville be 
annexed to the City of Lowell, according to the Petition of L. G. 
Howe and others?" The vote stood: Yeas, 851 ; nays, 1,153. 

Despite this expression of pcjpular reluctance to assume responsi- 
bility for this sulnirb a l)ill before the Legislature was passed to be 
engrossed on i'"ebruary ij , 185 1, and was duly signed by the Governor. 
Thus ended the long campaign of the Centralville residents for annexa- 
tion. Their section of the city grew rapidly after the liridge tolls were 
remitted, for it is hardly inferior to Belvidere in jioint of convenience 
and natural attractiveness. 

One of the most famous real estate de\el(>])ments of the forties 
was that of "Ayer's New City," projected in 1847 by Daniel Ayer. 
This gentleman purchased a large tract of sandy plain near Hale's 
brook, laid out some streets and lots and inaugurated a monster auc- 
tion sale, inciting attend:ince l)y promise of a barbecue. The o.x was 
duly r(.)asted and "the occasion drew a crowd of people but the unsa- 
vory smell spoiled their appetites." Mr. Aver later went tlirough bank- 
ruptcy, owing money to a large list of creditors. He eventually, how- 
ever, paid every cent for which he was morally liable. His venture is, 
of course, still perpetuated in the name of Ayer. 

Dedication of the Fair Grounds — .\ landmark, which has now dis- 
appeared, was created in the southern part of the city in i860, when 
the Middlesex North .Agricultural Society on June 18 dedicated its 
building at the fair grounds. This reser\ation, the scene of festivities 
that for half a centur\- brcjught residents of all the surrounding towns 
to Lowell, h;id been made possible by purchase of land from the Bos- 
ton & Lowell railroad. The building was one formerly used by the 
Lowell Bleachery, which was moved over to Gorham street. In it was 
installed the head(|uarters of the Massachusetts .Agricultural Library 
Association, with 140 niembers and an initial collection of about 2.~^ 
bocjks on subjects comiecled with farming. The fair grounds, thus set 
off, became unexpectedly useful in within a few months, for tliev were 
rented to the United States (_io\(rnment as a tr.aining c:ini]> iiiidrr the 
name of Camp Chase. Here se\cr;d thousand men from north Middle- 
se.K coimty were pre])ared to go to the front. 

Postmasters of the New City — The .N'ational go\ei-nnienl most 
closely touclied ante-bellum Lowell through the |)ostal service. 

'{"he local ])ostmastershi]) in 1837 was gi\en In' {'resident Tvler 


to Jacob Rohbins (1798-1885), formerly of Harvard. The choice was 
fortunate. Mr. Rohbins, who wa.s a graduate of Westford Academy, 
was a scholarly, broad-minded man and well equipped for puljlic serv- 
ice. He was, incidentally, one of the first citizens of Lowell to interest 
himself in forming a collection of oljjects of fine art. His incumbency 
of the postmastership lasted four years. 

Stephen S. Seavey was appointed postmaster by President Polk 
in 1841. His salary in the four years of his term sometimes ran as 
high as $1,800, which was considered phenomenal. 

Alfred Gilman, whose reminiscences have been frequently drawn 
upon for the purposes of this history, was chosen postmaster in 1849 
b}- President Taylor. His salary was fixed at $2,000. 

President Pierce in 1853 appointed Thomas P. Goodhue to the 
office. This gentleman died October i, 1853. He was succeeded by 
Fisher Ames Hildreth, whcj held the office during the Pierce and Bu- 
chanan administrations and who was in many respects one of the 
important men of his city. He was of the Dracut Hildreths, whose 
prominence in the district now Centralville has been recorded. In the 
seventh generation from Sergeant Richard Hildreth, he was born in 
Dracut, February 5, 1818, the only son of Dr. Israel and Dolly Jones 
Hildreth. In his native town he held practicall}- all the offices open to 
a young man, including that of representative in the General Court. 
In 1845 he removed to Lowell, where he studied law for a time and 
then undertook the publication of a newspaper, "The Republican." 
Later, besides this publication, he acquired the tri-weekly "Advertiser" 
and weekly "Patriot," which were merged into the "Lowell Patriot." 
The two papers were under his ownership and management until their 
suspension in 1863. Among many reminders of Mr. Hildreth's activi- 
ties of this time is the Hildreth building in Merrimack street, built on 
the site of the Lowell Museum, incorporated as a stock company in 
1850, with Mr. Hildreth as one of its directors. President Pierce's 
postmaster was one of the most enthusiastic Democrats of ante-bellum 
Lowell, and a leading personality in the coalition movement of 1850. 

Several Lowell Congressrhen — The Congressional district of which 
the city of Lowell was an increasingly important centre continued until 
1843 to be represented by Caleb Gushing, of Newbury port, a Whig. 
The reason for this statesman's retirement has been set forth by 
Cowley in his "History of Lowell," in a passage which is so redolent 
with the political afflatus of the time that it merits reprinting: "When 
the Whig State Convention, in 1842, under the dictation of Abbott 
Lawrence, passed their stupid resolution of 'eternal separation' from 
the administration of John Tyler, Mr. Gushing, following the lead of 
Mr. Webster, refused to concur. Thereupon various hungry politi- 
cians who were not worthv to black Mr. Cushing's shoes, combined 


to rol) him of the confidence of his constituents by an active and 
unscruindous use of the coward's favorite weapon — calumny. Weak- 
ened by these nefarious tactics, Mr. Gushing' retired from Congress 
and accepted the mission to China. It has been common to sneer at 
Mr. Gushing as one who Tylerized. Rut as between Mr. Cusliing and 
his adversaries in the controversy of 1842, the cahn verdict of history 
must clearly be given to him — Mr. Gushing saw clearly and declared 
frankK- that to follow the ]jetulant polic}' dictatefl l)y Mr. Clay was to 
waste life in a vain chase after bubbles. Considering with what blind 
persistence this fatal policy was pursued, and with what disastrous 
results, it cannot be \\oii(lered that Mr. Gushing, with his broader 
statesmanship and catholicity of feeling, held himself aloof until his 
quondam friends had achieved their ruin ; and afterward, when the 
old issues liad become obsolete, and new issues had arisen, he sought 
a more congenial {dace in the Democratic party. Of his services as 
Colonel and Brigadier-General during the Mexican War we shall not 
here speak. Nor is this the place to dwell his subsequent career 
as Mayor of Newburyport, Representative in the Legislature, Judge 
of the Supreme Court, Attorney-General of the United States, Presi- 
dent of the Charleston Convention of 1860, Commissioner to Codify 
the United States Statutes, etc.'' 

In 1843 Amos Abbott succeeded Caleb Gushing as Lowell's rep- 
resentative in Gongress. He was descril)ed as "a good, clever man 
wdio had achieved distinguished success as keeper of a grocer's shop 
at the cross-roads in .\ndover ; but was utterly insignificant in Con- 
gress." He was, nevertheless, twice reelected. 

James H. Duncan in 1S40 l.)ecame congressman in Mr. Abbott's 
stead. He served two terms. 

Tappan Wentworth, Whig, of Lowell, and Henry Wilson, Coali- 
tionist, were rival candidates in the closely contested election of 1852. 
Cowley afterwards wrote: "The tactics used to defeat General Wilson 
h;i(l better not be scrutinized too closelv. His defeat, however, was 
one of the most fortunate events in a life remarkaldy full of vicissitudes. 
Had he been elected ti_> the House in 1852 he would hardly have been 
a candidate f(jr the Senate in 1855, and the chair then \-acated l)y 
Eilward lA'crett would probalily have been filled !>}• ^.larshall 1'. 
Wilder or IIenr\- [. ( iardner." 

:\lr. Wentworth, whose service ;it \\'ashington lasted but one 
term, was the first resident of i-owell to go to Congress, lie was born 
in 1 )o\'er. .\'ew llampshire, Feliruar}- 24, 1802, and died in Lowell, 
June 12, 1N75. it Avill be recalled that he was on the committee wdiich 
secured the city's nnniicipal ch.arter and that he was elected to the first 
Connnon Council. Of this board he was subsequenllv president. In 
1848-4^ he was in the .State .Senate. After his term at Washington he 


served again in the Legislature, sometimes in one branch and some- 
times in another until 1866, when he retired from public life. 

In 1855 Chauncey L. Knapp, another Lowell man, represented the 
district in Congress. ]\Ir. Knapp was born at Berlin, Vermont, Feb- 
ruary 26, 1809, where his father, the Hon. Abel Knapp, was an honored 
citizen holding many offices including that of Judge of Probate of 
Jefferson (now Washington) county. Chauncey C. Knapp learned the 
printer's trade and did editorial work at, successively, St. Johnsbury, 
Boston and Montpelier. Between 1836 and 1840 he was Secretary of 
State of Vermont. Then, through his opposing Henry Clay, the Whig 
candidate, he lost many of his political friends and was defeated for 
reelection. Soon thereafter he left Vermont and came to Lowell, 
taking up work as a journeyman printer. While at the case he became 
acquainted with John Greenleaf Whittier, who advised him to remain 
in a growing city. Mr. Knapp's subsequent experiences in editing and 
publishing newspapers in Lowell are related elsewhere. He developed 
through his extensive journalistic training into a facile writer and 
close student of economic and political questions. This line of interest 
made him a very valuable Congressman. 

In 1859. just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Hon. Charles 
R. Train ( 1S17-1885) of Framingham, was elected to Congress from 
the district. He was a son of Rev. Charles Train of that town, a 
graduate of Brown University and an able lawyer. 

Abraham Lincoln's Visit to Lowell — .\ distinguished visitor of 
the year tollowiiig the Mexican War, though his greatness was, of 
course, not yet fully recognized by Lowell people, was Abraham Lin- 
coln, of Illinois, then an orator of the Whig party. A reminiscence of 
the mart\ r President's one appearance at the Spindle City was con- 
tributed by Judge S. P. Hadley at the Lincoln Memorial meeting of 
the Lowell Historical Association in February, 1901). .Said Judge 
Hadley, who was sixteen years old at the time of the rally : 

On the platform were a number of prominent Whigs of Lowell, 
some of whom I knew by sight, Hon. Linus Child, Homer Bartlett, 
John Wright. Tappan Wentworth, John Avery, L. R. Streeter and 
others. .A man was speaking as I entered. He was a tall man, about 
forty years of age, over six feet in height, slightly stooping as tall 
men sometimes are, with long arms which he frequently extended in 
earnest gesticulation, of dark complexion, with dark, almost black 
hair, with strong and homely features, with eyes which now kindled 
into brightness in earnest argument or quiet humor, and then assimicd 
a caltri sadness; a forceful and candid man, I thought him, rather than 
an elotpient one. He pointed his arguments with amusing illustra- 
tions and funny stories, which he seemed to enjoy as he told them, 
for he joined in a comical way in the laugh which they occasioned, 
shaking his sides, which peculiar manner seemed to add to the good 


humor of the audience. He had a voice of more than average com- 
pass, clear and penetrating, pronouncing many of his words in a 
manner not usual in New England. 

1 have been asked where Mr. Linculn stopjied when in our city. 
I do not know. As he spoke on Saturday night, and in those days 
there were no trains to lloston later than 6.30, he must, I concluded, 
have remained here over night, ])robahly with the chairman of the 
central conmiittee, Hon. Linus Child, on Kirk street ; possibly with 
Hon. Homer Bartlett, who resided in tlie same block with Mr. Child. 
Whether he remained over Sunda)- I dd nut know. 

The industrial acti\ ities on which the ])olitical ;in(l social life of 
Lowell was based were alread}' well established when the city became 
a town. They underwent, in the next cjuarter century, no extraordi- 
narv ex]iansion liut rather a steady growth. Some new industries 
sought the city. ]\Iore would doubtless have done so if it could 
have been foreseen that the supply of temporary labor from the nearby 
farms would presently cease and that a permanent factory popula- 
tion would result. Lowell was weak, and to a certain extent still is 
weak, in industries employing men operatives. It is now generally 
un<lersto(jd that a factory community prospers liest if opportunities 
are made for einplo\nient of aliout equrd numbers of men and women 

The preilominance of the cotton manuf.icture gave Lowell a one- 
sided dcvelo]>ment such as a modern board of trade might have tried 
to oI)viate. This undoubtedly stood in the way of such diversification 
of industries as, in our generation, has put Worcester and Providence 
ahead of the Si)indle City in wealth and po])ulation. Much, however, 
that has since happened was not easily foreseen in 1840. The cotton 
mill-, paid, usually, good dividends. The markets for their jjroducts 
were seen to be ca])able of almost indefinite extension. The factories 
made em])loyment for people who had not before been accustomed to 
h.ive ready money. I'loom years and lean years succeeded each other, 
but the mills alwavs r;ni on. 

Lowell Studies in Hydraulic Engineering — Such growth of cotton 
maiuifacturing as occurred in Lowell after the first corporations were 
estaljlished was furthered by development of the science of hydraulic 
engineering. At a Later date the question of water power became 
relatix'el}' insignificant in the textile industry. The era of cheap coal 
witnessed the U])l)uilding of many mills at tidewater, in Fall River, 
Xew liedford and I'roxidence, dependent solely u|ion accessibility to 
Coal barges. h".\-en in the Merrimack valley man\' of the mills of late 
years have regarded steam coal as their ])riniary source of power: 
water power as an auxiliary. Ik'fore the Cix'il War, however, the 
(luestion of utilization of every available horse power developed by 
the Merrim.ick and C Uncord was to the prosperit\' of Lowell. 


One of the foremost contributions to hydraulic efficiency was 
made in Lowell during the period in which the turbine water wheel 
was given its first important trial. 

This type of wheel, on a vertical axis and so set in a penstock as 
to utilize a large percentage of the power of the falling water, was 
invented elsewhere. Credit, however, for demonstrating its thorough 
feasibility is given to the Lowell experiments by the well known 
authority Samuel Webber, who wrote in his '"Manual of Power:" 
"The year 1844 is memorable for the introduction of the turbine 
wheel, one of which, of seventy-five horse power, after the Fourneyron 
plan, with improvements, was introduced at the Appleton mills in 
Lowell b}" Uriah A. Boyden, an eminent engineer of Boston. Atten- 
tion had previously been called to this matter, and Mr. Elwood Morris 
of Philadelphia had in 1843 published a translation of a French work 
on the subject of turbines by Morin, with notes on the operation of 
some turbines of his own design at Philadelphia ; but the success of 
the system may be said to have dated from the results obtained by 
Mr. Boyden at Lowell; seventy-eight per cent, of the gross power of 
the water, besides that required for driving the bevel gears and jack 
shaft, having been obtained in the test of the first wheel, and eighty- 
eight per cent, at the test of more perfectly constructed wheels, built 
afterwards from the designs of Mr. Boyden. From this time forward 
the turbine in some form or other has been introduced until it has now 
entirely superseded the old 'breast' or 'overshot' wheel, giving a much 
higher percentage of effect from the water, and enabling mill owners 
to run some portion of their machinery in times of freshets or back- 
water, when the old wheels were entirely useless." 

The complete harnessing of the Merrimack in these first decades 
of Lowell history was due, in largest measure, to the genius of the 
engineer and agent of the Locks and Canals Company, one of the fore- 
most hydraulic experts in the world, James Bicheno Francis. He was 
the presiding genius of the Spindle City. Into whatever feature of 
Lowell industrial annals one conducts an inquiry between 1834, when 
he came to the town as a boyish assistant of Major George \V. Whis- 
tler, down to his death in 1896. one is almost certain to encounter some 
of the activities of this remarkable man. A sculptured monument 
some day should attest the gratitude of posterity for his achievements. 
Yet many of these achievements are themselves monumental. 

Mr. Francis' work was especially epoch-making during the period 
now under survey. The deployment of power in the first decade after 
coming of the corporations was more or less haphazard and wasteful. 
It was the task of this young Englishman to conserve and consolidate 
by application of exact knowledge and imaginative foresight. 

The mills had already begun to use turbine wheels to increase the 


percentage of effective power secured ; one of Air, Francis' many tasks 
was to find more water for the turbines. 

To understand his personal fitness for this work, some account of 
the hydraulic expert's early experiences is in print. 

Air. Francis was born Alay 15, 1815, at Southleigh, Oxfordshire, 
England. The reason for his coming to this country, where he landed 
A]iril II, 1833, has been given by his c<.intemporary, Clemens Her- 
schel, also a hydraulic engineer, in the following way : ''An incompati- 
l)le ste]3mother, he has said in my hearing, was the cause of his sailing 
for America, and he well remembered her expressed delight at seeing 
him and his trunk go out of the house." 

As he had already had some training in mechanical work under 
his father, who was a mine railroad superintendent in South Wales, 
the emigrant youth ajjplied for a jjosition with Alajor George W. Whis- 
tler, who was then engaged with Major William Gibbs McNeill in 
building the Shore Line Railruad between New York and Boston. He 
made such an impression of com])etence that when Alajor Whistler 
shortly afterwards went from Stonington to Lowell to take charge of 
the machine shop, then controlled by the Locks and Canals Company, 
young Francis was invited to go with him as his assistant. 

The stay of the Whistler family in the house in WVirthen street 
now occujjied by the Lowell Art Association was short (though in 
that time was born there the distinguished author of "The Gentle Art 
of Making Enemies''). When in 1837 Alajor ^\'histler accepted a com- 
mission to go to St. Petersburg to l.iuild a railroad connecting the two 
Russian capitals, his assistant, though only twenty-two years old, was 
promoted to be chief engineer of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals 
on the Merrimack River. This position he held continuously until 1885, 
a ])eriod of forty-eight years. In 1845 1""-' ^^'"is also given the title of 
"agent" of the i)rcjprietors. In 1837 Air. Francis married Sarah W. 
Brownell, daughter of George Brownell, then superintendent of the 
machine shop, and thus was bound by family ties, never broken, to this 
part iif New England. 

".\s agent of the Projirietors," writes Air. Herschel, "Air. h'rancis 
was in position to design and urge the construction <if improvements 
to the property jjlaced in his charge: and we thus find him designing 
the Northern Canal the very next year after his appointment, in 1846." 

"This canal," continues Mr. Herschel, "miw taken as a matter of 
course, like so m;iny engineering works once they are done and put 
into operation, was a most notable im])rovement to the water power 
created by means of the old navigation canal, originally built to carry 
boats aromid Pawtucket Falls. It was built wholly or princi])allv by 
day's labor, in the most durable manner; it cust. with accompanying 
wiirk, some $6^0,000, a x'erv large sum fur thdsc da\s. and a \erv large 


sum for an engineer only some 30 odd years old to have the responsi- 
bility for : and it was built within the estimated cost. During its serv- 
ice of 60 years it is doubtfid if any one has ever in any of its features 
found fault with it." The Northern canal, it hardly need he added, 
made it possible to get about the ma.xinuini of power from the ordi- 
nary stages of the river. 

A strain of dry humor which was in Mr. F"rancis' nature comes to 
the surface in Mr. Herschel's story of the inception of his plan to fore- 
stall floods which might have descended by way of the new canal. 

An old man living near the falls one day called the engineer's 
attention to a rock in the river bed just below the dam and said that in 
boyhood he well remembered a freshet which completely sulimerged 
this rock. Asked what year that occurred he stated that it was either 
1785 or 1685 — he could not exactly remember which. 

The quaintly illiterate remark led Mr. Francis to consider very 
seriously the possibility that at some future date the river might go 
much higher than it ever had done since the companies first came to 
Lowell : 

What had been was likely to occur again, and while property 
losses by flood could not perhaps be heavy in 1785 or 1685, yet they 
must decidedly be guarded against in 1850, when large investments in 
mills and machinery and a city had gathered below the head of Paw- 
tucket Falls. And so he built a new and safer guard gate in as simple 
and economical manner as possible. Merely a huge panel, 27 feet wide 
by 25 feet high, built of sticks of timber the like of which have long 
since ceased to float down the Merrimack, suspended in grooves 
over the canal lock by an iron strap, so that boats could pass under it : 
the strap to be cut so as to let fall the big gate whenever occasion for 
its use should arise. As the great gate hung there, suspended between 
heaven and earth, it was a marked feature in the landscape, and was 
promptly christened "Francis' Folly" by the populace. More than 
that, it would probably have fared hard with the reputation of the 
young engineer if 10 or, say, 20 years should have elapsed before the 
freshet of 65 years previous came to be repeated ; but fortune favored. 

In 1852, only two years after the building of the guard gate, there 
came the equal of the old river man's freshet of 67 years before : the 
iron strap was cut, the huge gate fell and shut ofif a torrent that but 
for it would have caused incalculable damage to Lowell and Lowell 

It may be added that after this flood leading citizens of the city, 
headed by J. B. French, desiring, as Meader expresses it, "to testify 
in some tangible form their appreciation of his wise forecast. i)rocured 
a testimonial, suitably inscribed, which they presented to Mr. Francis." 

The river on the morning of .\pril 22, 1852, rose to the unprece- 
dented height of seventeen feet and six inches. As a precautionary 
measure stones were placed on Pawtucket bridge. The Concord river 


bridges were likewise barricaded. The flood affected downtown 
Lowell. Davidson. Howe and Wall streets, in Belvidere. ran three feet 
of water. The barroom of the City Hotel was flooded to the level of 
the counters. Cellars in the lower parts of Centralville were filled, and 
many families were forced to take refuge on Christian Hill. Several 
of the corporation yards were under water and the lower rooms of the 
mills were threatened. 

The premises of Coburn Blood, in rawtucketville, were deep with 
water and he was obliged to save his oxen by swimming them to 
higher land. Although ninety-three years old, Mr. Blood had never 
seen the river so high. 

The work which Mr. Francis did on the Merrimack in this era 
was summarized in his book called "Lowell Flydraulic Experiments," 
published in 1858. This went through several editions and became a 
text-book of hydraulic engineering practice throughout the civilized 
World. It led to the election of the author to every engineering society 
of consequence. 

Directly supplementing Mr. Francis' studies, which led to the 
construction of the Northern canal, was a plan of using lakes \\Mnne- 
pesaukee, Squam and Newfound as reservoirs in which surplus water 
could be stored in spring to increase the flow of the Merrimack in 
summer. This project was devised and put into operation when the 
city was about ten years old. 

Even in 1840 the irregularities of flow in the river had became a 
source of trouble to the manufacturing companies. To Nathan Crosby, 
a young lawyer from Newburyport. afterwards judge of the Lowell 
Police Court, were due both the original suggestion and the execution 
of the design for this very essential scheme of conservation of "white 

Judge Crosby, according to his published reminiscences, was one 
day talking with Samuel Lawrence, of Boston, in regard to a mill in 
which both were interested at Meredith bridge, the second dam on the 
river below Lake Winnepesaukee. In conversation he threw out the 
idea that the manufacturing companies of the lower Merrimack ought 
to gain control of the lake and convert it into a storage reservoir as 
a means of preventing shortage of water during the midsummer 

The suggestion was received seriously and for some months Judge 
Crosby was in correspondence with Mr. Lawrence regarding it. Then 
prcst-ntly in 1845 John Ncsniith, who had become interested in the 
new city of Lawrence, called one day upon Mr. Crosby and gave him 
carte hhinclic to l)uy water powers and outlets in the u]iper Merrimack 
valley and to draw upim Samuel Lawrence for whatever funds were 
needed. This commissiun was glacUy undertaken. "I spent much 


time," wrote Judge Crosby, "in examining the shores of the lakes and 
bays to ascertain what low lying farming lands would be drained or 
flooded by lowering or raising dams, and what property on the river 
would be afTected in value by withdrawing or rushing along the water 
as the demands at Lowell might require. It was also desirable to 
make our widespread purchases as simultaneously as possible, so that 
the fair market price of the property might not be disturbed. Careful 
examination of the value of each piece of property was, therefore, 
made and the asking price ascertained so that future complaint might 
not be made that the vendor had not received the market value of his 
propertv. When the preliminaries had been settled, men were placed 
at different points and deeds obtained on the same day, or within a few 
days of the most important places. * * * These purchases were on 
Lake W'innepesaukee, both bays in Meredith and Sanbornton, both 
Srjuams in Holderness and Newfound Pond in Hebron. * * * Some 
three to five feet of more than 100 scjuare miles of surplus water are 
now at the command of the Lowell and Lawrence mills — a holding 
back of spring floods for use in the summer months to the great bene- 
fit of every mill between the lakes and the sea." 

The total capacity of the W'innepesaukee storage basin, which 
stands as a monument to Judge Crosby's foresight and initiative, has 
been figured by the United States Geological Survey at eight billion 
cul)ic feet. The lake, at capacity, covers an area of 183 scjuare miles. 

The references to the city of Lawrence in Judge Crosby's narra- 
tive, it may be said in passing, are evidence of the identity of interests 
between these adjacent commimities on the Merrimack. It should be 
noted that John Nesmith, besides being the originator of the Lowell 
School of Belvidere, was the real founder of the city at the mouth of 
the Spicket. "As earl\- as 1836," says Meader, "Mr. N^esmith, in com- 
pany with Daniel Saunders, Escp, had made purchases of the land 
adjacent to the falls on either side of the river and had secured a char- 
ter for damming." The panic of 1837 interrupted the scheme for utiliz- 
ing the power at this point in the river, and nothing was done until 
1844, when Mr. Nesmith secured a renewal of his charter and suc- 
ceeded in interesting several Boston capitalists, with results that arc 
evident in the city of to-day. 

With the Merrimack thus used to capacity, Lowell industries were 
generally prosperous along lines already indicated. The Locks and 
Canals Company continued to lie a dominant factor in the life of the 
city even though a reorganization of the company occurred in 1845, 
under which it sold ofif much of its land and turned over its business 
of making machinery to a new corporation to be known as the Lowell 
Machine Shop, with capitalization of $600,000. 

L— Hi 


Passing of the Middlesex Canal — The elTect cif railn)ad competi- 
tion, at first regarded b}- many people as unlikely to injure the traffic 
of the Middlesex canal, l^egan to be felt seriously as the road's facili- 
ties for handling freight improved. In the late forties it was already 
evident that the canal was likely to be discontinued. Finally, in 1851, 
the proprietors began to dispose of their holdings of land and l)uildings 
in Middlesex Village north of Middlesex street, a tract of about six 
acres on which stood locks, storehouses, a collector's office and a cot- 
tage house and barn. This property was conveyed on September 5 of 
that year to the father of Judge Hadley, long in charge of the locks. 
In the conveyance the pro])rietors reserved the right to the canal until 
the charter should be surrendered. The last boat to go from Lowell 
to Boston was one owned l)y Dix & Rand, in charge of Samuel King, 
carrying eighteen tons of stone and two cords of wood. It left Middle- 
sex Village. November 25, 1851. The Middlesex canal did not die in 
law until 1859, when the .\ttorney-Gencral of Massachusetts put it out 
of Inisiness. 

Figures of Pre-War Manufacturing at Lowell — In 1856, wiien 
Charles Cowley made a commercial survey of the city for publication 
in a book which contained on opposite pages a condensed history of 
the community and advertisements of its leading firms, Lowell had 
tweh'c large manufacturing corjiorations operating some fift_\- mills. 
The aggregate cajjital of these concerns was about fourteen million 
dollars. The total value of their real and personal estate was estimated 
at twenty-two million dullars. It was calcidated that the home market 
which they had created had increased the \'alue of farm i)ro])crties in 
the neighl)orhood of the city by at least a million dollars. Since 1845 
the number of sjjindles had doul)led, the total now standing at 400,000. 
There were about 12,000 looms. Of cotton the mills retjuired annually 
about 36,000,000 pounds: of wool, 5,000,000 pounds. Other raw ma- 
terials were used in corresponding amounts. The annual output of 
the looms amounted to 80,000,000 yards of cotton cloth; 20,000,000 
yards of calico; 13,000,000 yards of liroadcloths and cassimers, 1,000,- 
000 yards of carjiet ; 3.000 yards of rugs; $2,000,000 worth of machin- 
ery. The daily out]nit of woven cotton was about two hundred miles, 
enough to encircle the globe twice in a year. The most celebrated 
single prodiut was the series of textiles known as "Merrimack Prints." 
made 1)\' the cor])or;itii m of that name under direction of John D. 
Prince, for many years su])erintendent of the print worl.;s. 

In addition to the ])lants of the larger corporations, Lowell at this 
time had wadding and batting mills, a good-sized flannel mill, several 
tanneries, sawing and jdaning nn'lls, machine shojis, dye houses, screw- 
bolt factories, card factories, bobbin and shuttle factories, bedslea'! 


factories, a wire fence factory, a bagging mill, a grist mill and other 
minor industries. 

Transportation facilities of this period were well established. An 
immense business in freight and passengers was done over the Bos- 
ton & Lowell railroad. The Stony Brook railroad, giving Lowell a 
most valuable connection with the West, had been incorporated in 
1845, with a capital of $300,000, and opened to shippers in July, 1H46. 
Lowell and Lawrence were now connected by rail and the Lowell aiul 
Salem railroad, incorporated in 1848, with capital of $400,000, and 
opened for business August i, 1850, gave ingress to coal and other sea- 
borne commodities. 

Technique of Cotton Manufacture in Nineteenth Century — The 
technical processes of cotton manufacture at Lowell in the forties and 
fifties were in many respects the same as those of to-day, though, of 
course, mechanical improvements have been numerous. 

The cotton was bought by agents in the South, shipped to Lowell 
via Boston or Salem and deposited in storehouses. As required it was 
wheeled to the carding room, on the first floor of the tactory. Here 
each bale was opened and the cotton from the various sales mixed to 
insure a uniform quality. By action of a whipper the cotton was 
beaten and thrown into a state of fluffiness. Thence it passed through 
a conical willow emerging ready for the picker. 

The picker room was customarily in a building apart from the rest 
of the mill, on account of danger due to the rapid movement of the 
machinery. Here the cotton was laid upon a strip of cloth or leather 
apron and drawn into the picker where it was thoroughly opened and 
freed from lint and dust. Thence it passed through the lapper, coming 
out in sheets, neatly wound around a wooden cylinder. 

The laps were taken to the card room and applied to the backs of 
cards. The processes of carding were two fold ; the first through the 
breaker and the second through the doubler or lap-winder. 

After carding, the cotton was turned over to women operatives 
who sent it through the drawing frame, by means of which the fibres 
were laid in one direction and brought together in a rope-like shape. 
These strands were twisted by the dou1)le-speeder into a coarse roving, 
which the stretcher drew out still further. 

From the carding room the fibres went to the spinning room on 
the floor above. The frames prior to 1845 were all of the "throstle" 
type : though mule spinning was introduced soon after that. The 
roving was distributed l)y a man to the operators of the speeders, 
throstles, warpers and dressers. Over each machine was the familiar 
one-week clock, used t(j mark the quantity of work done. 

The woof or filling came from the spinning room ready for the 
wca\cr. bi'.t the warp went to the dressing room, where the yarn was 


warjied off from the spools to the section beams. These beams were 
transferred to the dresser for sizing, brushing and drying. Then, 
with the ends drawn in through the harness and reed l^y hand, the 
yarn on eight section beams was transferred to a loom beam. 

Two weave rooms to each mill was the rule, with two or three 
overseers and a boy to distribute the yarn in each room. Some 130 
weavers to a room were employed. 

The woven fabric was carried to the cloth room, trimmed, meas- 
ured, folded, recorded and then either baled for the selling agency or 
delivered at the print works. 

Aniline dyes were, of course, still far in the future and the calico 
printing of 1850 and thereabout involved more laborious operations 
than now. A good description of the processes was furnished to the 
historian. Rev. Mr. Miles, by Dr. Samuel L. Dana, chemist of the 
Merrimack print w-orks. In this account it is shown that upon being 
received from the manufactory the cloth was singed, to get rid of the 
fine na]i, by running o\er a half cylinder of cojjper, heated red hot. 
"This singeing process always excites the wonder of the beholder 
who is not a little astonished that the cloth is not injured."' 

The Iileaching was done in accordance with Dr. Dana's principle 
that "a good white is not only the soul of a print, but without it no 
good and brilliant color can be dyed." The cloth to be bleached was 
steeped in warm water fcir some hours, washed in the dash wheel and 
subjected to the following operations: boiling by steam in creamy 
lime; washing in the dash-wheel ; boiling in alkali by steam; washing 
in the dash wheel ; steeping in bleaching powder solution for some 
hours ; steeping in oil of vitriol and water," about the strength of lemon 
juice;" washing in the dash wheel; squeezing between rollers; ironing 
in the fiatwork ironer, then called the "mangle." 

In the printing of the bleached cloth four to six colors were ap- 
plied In- the printing machine — others, if needed, by hand with blocks 
after the rest of the work was finished. The paste containing a mor- 
dant to fix the dyes was applied with an admixture of "sightening" to 
enable the printer to judge of the quality of the work. The popular 
mordants were alum and co[)peras, either of which was first modified 
into acetate of alumina or iron. In the color shop were prepared the , 
various dyes and their accessories. Dyeing was then, of course, on 
vegetable basis, with madder, indigo and logwood i)r(iminent among 
the dye-stuffs. 

Having been printed and dried the cloth was "aged" in rirder that 
a chemical comliination might take place between the nmrdant and 
the cloth, the time of this jirocess varying, according to circumstances, 
from two or three days to as many weeks. The cloth was then passed 
by means of rollers through a boiling h(jt solution of phosphate of 


soda, to give insolubility to any ttncombiiied mordant and to wet the 
cloth evenly. After washinsj in the dash wheel and removal of all 
thickening by immersion in hot bran and water or meal and water, 
the fabric was ready for the large wooden dye vats into which it was 
introduced over a winch. Steam was admitted and the goods turned, 
with the temperature of the water raised gradually, until, when the 
boiling point was nearly reached, the mordanted cloth was perfectly 
dyed. It was taken out rinsed, washed, and sometimes stiiTened. 
Practices of heavily' loading with metallic oxides, soap and glue, light 
flimsy cloth, not unknown in some textile factories of New England 
at this day. had hardly been conceived of in the simple era under con- 

A designer, with an assistant or two, drew the patterns which 
were reproduced at first on a small steel dye, thence transferred to a 
steel cylinder in relief and from this pressed into a copper roller under 
high pressure. 

Development of the Carpet Manufacture — One of the prime indus- 
trial de\-elopnients of this jjeriod was the introduction of carpet weav- 
ing at Lowell. Prior to 1842 all three-ply and ingrain carpets were 
made on hand looms, the motive power being furnished by the indi- 
vidual weaver. In that year a New England man, E. B. Bigelow, con- 
ceived a series of devices for an automatic carpet loom. His inven- 
tion was brought to the attention of the treasurer of the Lowell 
Manufacturing Company, who secured the exclusive right to make 
ingrain carpets by the Bigelow process. The carpet works soon 
became one of the show industries of the city. Prior to 1863 upwards 
of 25,964,185 yards of carpet had been woven at the works in IMarket 
street and Lowell carpets had become famous throughout the new 

This was also the period of the establishment of the dyestufT 
trade in Lowell. The brothers Talbot, Charles P. and Thomas, 
founders of a family prominent in manufacturing at Lowell and 
North Billerica, settled here in the firSt years of the new city. They 
were of a race of woolen manufacturers of Ireland whose father had 
engaged in business at Cambridge, New York. The elder brother 
built up in Lowell a famous business in dyestuffs under the style of 
C. P. Talbot & Co. The firm in 1851 bought the water power of the 
Middlesex Canal Company at North Billerica, and in 1857 built there 
a manufactory of woolen flannels, the nucleus of the present Talbot 
Mills. The civic services of both brothers were many, the younger 
rising to be Governor of the Commonwealth in 1879. 

The Crompton Loom at Lowell — Although the manufacture of 
the Crompton loom has been prominently associated with the Massa- 
chusetts city of Worcester, the first successful try-out of this loom 


was in the Alickllesex mills at Lowell. The Crompton family had been 
noted for several generations for their inventiveness. The original 
Samuel Crompton invented a device in cotton manufacture for which 
Parliament gave him an hcmorarium of $25,000. Thomas B. Cromp- 
ton invented an apparatus for drying paper which was introduced into 
the Farnsworth mills, of which he was proprietor. The first of the 
family to come to America was William Crompton, who after being 
here aljout a year devised a loom fur weaving figured cassimeres. 
Mill men saw at once that this would be a valuable improvement. 
Crompton returned to England in 1839, secured a patent and returned 
to the United States with his wife and children. In the year follow- 
ing he arranged to install his loom at the Middlesex mills. While 
the importance of the invention was appreciated, the work of intro- 
ducing it elsewhere went slowly and Crompton became discouraged. 
In 1851, when the patent expired, he was still a poor man. His son, 
however, George Crompton, had come into manhood and perhaps had 
brought to the enterprise a driving ability which the original inventor 
lacked. He entered, at all events, into partnership with Merrill E. 
Forbush and began at W^orcester the commercial production of the 
best loom for figure weaving of that date. Within a few years the 
Crompton looms works, became, as now, one of the show factories 
of New England. Lowell at least claims the credit for the first demon- 
stration of the \'aliie of the inx'enticm. 

The Beginnings of the Patent Medicine Trade — Among the newest 
businesses that had S(jught a location in the city, one of especial 
celebrity should be noted. Patent medicine manufacturing has prob- 
ably brought more publicity to Lowell than any other single industry. 
For many j-ears past the labels on "Ayer's" and "Flood's" prepara- 
tions, to say nothing of their widely read almanacs and newspaper 
advertisements, have carried the city's name and fame to every part 
of the world. This very interesting industry began to be developed in 
1843, when J. C. Ayer undertook the making and marketing of 
"Cherry Pectoral." "Cathartic Pills" soon followed. The establish- 
ment on Middle street was built up rapidly under modern methods of 
manufacture and advertising, so that when Cowley wrote his 1856 
book it was already accounted "the largest individual interest in the 
city," the receipts in that year amounting to more than half a million 
dollars. An edition of three million copies of the almanac then went 
broadcast and the bottles of medicine shipped out of Lowell would 
have sufficed to give three doses a year to every man, woman and 
child in the United States. 

The career of Dr. James C. Ayer, who inatigurated the patent 
medicine industry at Lowell, was one of the most striking of this 
period. Porn at (iroton in t8i8, lie came as a young boy to Lowell. 


At the Lowell high school he was a fellow pupil classmate of General 
B. F. Butler and others who later became distinguished. He also 
had special instruction in Latin from the Rev. Dr. Edson. After 
leaving school he was apprenticed to Jacob Robbin.s, then the leading 
apothecary of the city. In this shop he first compounded the cherry 
pectoral that later became famous. At twenty-three young Ayer 
bought out his employer's interest and moved into a store belonging 
to the Hamilton ]\Ianufacturing Company at the corner of Central 
and Jackson streets. In 1855 he admitted to partnership his brother, 
Frederick Ayer. In that year Ayer's Sarsaparilla was first marketed. 
Its success was almost instantaneous. The senior partner in i860 was 
granted the degree of M. D. by the Philadelphia Aledical University. 
He in the meantime had married Josephine M. Southwick and had 
bought the Old Stone House in Pawtucket street. 

Effects of the Factory System on Operatives — The effect of the 
factor}- s}Stem upon those employed in the mills was an engaging 
subject of observation, discussion and speculation among nearly all 
who wrote about Lowell in the middle nineteenth century. Just as 
they were in the first years of the city, people were still anxious to 
know what good and what harm was done by a plan which brought 
together in great workshops thousands of workers, most of them 
women, and nearly all of them reared in quiet country homes. 

"Lowell is not amusing," wrote M. Chevalier, the French econo- 
mist, "but it is neat, decent, peaceable and sage. Will it always be 
so? Will it be so long? It would be rash to affirm it; hitherto the life 
of manufacturing operatives has proved little favorable to the preser- 
vation of severe morals. So it has been in France as well as in 
England ; in Germany and Switzerland as well as in France. But as 
there is a close connection between morality and competence it may 
be considered very probable that while the wages shall continue to 
be high at Lowell, the influences of a good education, a sense of duty 
and the fear of public opinion will be sufficient to maintain good 

Its defense of the reputation of Lowell mill operatives against 
current charges of immorality comprises a considerable part of the 
little book "Lowell as It Was and as It Is," which Rev. Mr. Miles, 
minister at the First Unitarian Church, published in 1845. 

The moral effects of the factory system had, naturally, been under 
attack almost before it was established. It was obviously vulnerable 
from the angle of experience overseas, to say nothing the disposition 
of all reactionaries in all times to predict that whatever effects change 
will necessarily accomplish deterioration. 

In taking up "the provisions made for the health, comfort and 
moral protection of the operatives, and the actual character which the 


mass of tlu'se operatives sustain," Mr. Miles begins with an admission 
that "Lowell has Ijeen highly commended by some, as a model com- 
munity, for its good order, industry, spirit of intelligence and general 
freedom from vice. It has been strongly condemned by others as a 
licitbed of C(.)rru])tion, tainting and polluting the whole land." Basing 
his generalizati(jn upon his personal experiences of nine vears and 
believing himself to be free from partisan prejudice, the clergyman 
reached a conclusion very favorable tO' the present morality of the 
community even though he conceded that it "is an experiment whether 
we can preserve here a pure and virtuous population ; whether there 
are no causes secretly at work, and to l:)e develcqied in the course of 
thirty or forty years, to lower our standard, and to sink our character; 
whether we can run a career of half a century free from the corrupting 
and debasing influences which ha\'e almost universally marked manu- 
facturing cities abroad." 

The circumstances of factory life in Lowell which Mr. Miles 
developed in his book included one of especial iniijortance in the fact 
that operatives of the first decades came out of an environment which 
usually ])roduced self-respecting young people. They were, as has so 
often been observed, boys and girls from the farms of Xevv England. 
The author of the forties, it is true, does not make allowances which 
every writer of to-day would feel constrained to make for the existence 
and persistence of much moral degeneracy in rural New England; for 
debased strains in the hill towns that have almost automatically pro- 
duced criminals in generation after generation. He assumed "virtuous 
rural homes" in a land where in 1840 as in 1918 some were inhabited 
by the "virtuous" and some by degenerates addicted to the practice of 
every known vice. Yet, making this allowance it may stand as a fact 
that early Lowell down at least to the Civil A\ar was relatively for- 
tvmate in its "sup])ly of help from the virtumis homesteads of the 

It was emphasized that "we have no permanent factorv ])opuIa- 
tion. This is the wide gulf that separates the English manufacturing 
towns from Lowell. The fem,ale operatives do not work, on an aver- 
age, more than four and a half years in the factories. They then return 
to their homes and their places are taken by their sisters or by other 
female friends from their neighborhood. * * * The former [in 
iMigland] are resident operatives, and are operatix'es for life, and con- 
stitute a [lermanent deijendent factory caste. The latter [in New 
England] come from distant homes to which in a few years they 
retm-n to be the wives of the farmers and mechanics of the country 
towns and \-illages. The English visitor to Lowell, when he finds it 
so hard tn understand why .Vmerican oi)eralives ;irc so superior to 


those of Leeds and Manchester, will do well to remember what a 
different class of girls we have here to begin with." 

Drunkenness among women operatives was apparently very un- 
common in 1S45, ^•''d "o doubt among men had been greatly reduced 
during the first years of the temperance movement. Mr. Miles states 
that "no persons are employed on the Corporation who are addicted 
to intemperance, or who are known to be guilty of any immoralities 
of conduct. As the parent of all other vices intemperance is most 
carefully excluded. Absolute freedom from intoxicating liquors is 
understood throughout the city to be a prerequisite to obtaining 
employment in the mills, and any person known to be addicted to their 
use is at once dismissed. This point has not received the attention 
from writers upon the moral condition of Lowell which it deserves ; 
and we are surprised that the English traveler and divine, Dr. 
Scoresby. in his recent book on Lowell, has given no more notice to 
this subject. A more strictly and universally temperate class of per- 
sons cannot be fovmd than the nine thousand operatives of this city; 
and the fact is as well known to all others living here as it is of some 
honest pride among themselves. In relation to other immoralities, it 
may be stated that the suspicio*!! of criminal conduct, association with 
suspected persons and general and habitual light behavior and con- 
versation are regarded as sufficient reasons for dismission, and for 
which delinquent operatives are discharged." 

Dismissals from the mills, Mr. Miles goes on to state, were of two 
classes : honorable discharge and dishonorable discharge. 

There appears to have been so much cohesion among the factory 
employers of the day that the possession of an "honorable discharge" 
certificate was highly prized among the employees. It meant that 
another job could be readily secured. Those, on the other hand, who 
left one employment under a cloud were blacklisted. "Such per- 
sons," as Mr. Miles says in italics, "obtain no more employment throiugh- 
oiit the city." 

The kind of offences for which operatives were dishonorably dis- 
charged may be noted by a few specific cases : 

1838. Dec. 31. Ann . No. 4. weaving room; discharged 

for altering her looms and thinning her cloth. 

1839. Jan. 2. Lydia . No. i, spinning room; obtained an 

honorable discharge by false pretences. Her name has been .sent 
round to the other Corporations as a thief and a liar. 

Jan. 3. Harriet and Judiah . From No. 4. spimiing 

room, and No. 5, weaving room ; discharged as worthless characters. 

Jan. 9. Lydia . From No. 2, spinning room ; left irregu- 
larly ; name sent around. 

Feb. 15. Hadassah . PVom Xo. 3. lower weaving room; 

discharged for improper conduct — stealing from Mrs. . 


March 14. Ann . No. 2, spinning- room ; discharged for 

reading in the mill ; gave her a line stating the facts. 

March 20. Harriet . No. 4, carding room; Laura , 

No. 4, spinning room,; Ellen . No. i, carding mom; George 

, rejiair shop — all discharged for improper conduct. 

April 3. Emily . No. 5. carding room ; discharged for 

I)rofanitv and sundry other misdemeanors. Name sent round. 

The moral surveillance which is shown by sucli an extract from 
a corporation's hooks to have been regularly practiced among the 
"help," seems to this age to be more paternalistic than present day 
operatives would endure. The overseer, indeed, sitting at a little desk 
near the door of each department was an arbiter of reinitations, for 
he was "held responsilde for the good order, propriety of conduct 
and attention to business of the operatives in that room." His word 
went, when it was a question of "sending a name 'round.'' There must 
imder such a system ha\'e been instances of injustice. No ])rovision 
for a])peal against blacklisting is mentioned liy Air. Aliles. It presum- 
ably did not exist. 

'['he moral control which the women operatives exercised among 
themselves is emphasized by variotis writers who have descrilied the 
life among the industrial workers of Lowell. Public opinion was 
beyond doubt a more jiotcnt factor for discijiline in the da}s when 
\irtually all the mill girls were of one race and language, of a homo- 
geneous culture in other words, than now when they are separated by 
barriers of language and diverse social customs. "A girl suspected of 
immoralities, or serious inipro]>rielies of conduct." writes Miles, "at 
once loses caste. Her fellow boarders will at once leave the house if 
the keeper does not dismiss the offender. In self-protection, therefore, 
the matron is o1.)liged to put the offender away. Nor will her former 
comjianions walk with, or work with her; till at length, finding herself 
everywdiere talked aI)out, and pointed at and shunned, she is obliged 
to relieve her felli.iw operati\'es of a |iresence which they feel bring dis- 

Qtieries, in the form of what would now be called a "question- 
aire," were put by Mr. Aliles to several mill agents and through them 
to the overseers of the corporations. The data thus obtained remain 
as perhaps the best extant documentary evidence of the racial char- 
;icter of the operatives of that time and the ideals under which it was 
undertaken by the companies to protect their morality. 

Characteristic statistics are thijse furnished by the Merrimack 
.Manufacturing Comiiany. The mill selected is oiu' No. 3 mill. The 
names (if the overseers are as follows, viz.: 

Jesse Phelps, who has been Overseer over 19 years. 
John W. Holland, who has been Overseer over 17 years. 


George Wellman. who has been Overseer over 11 years. 
James Townscnd, who has been Overseer over il years. 
James C. Crombic, who has been Overseer over i year. 

Xumber of girls emplovcd usuallv in the mill, two hundred and 

Natives of — 

Xew Hampshire go 

\'ermont 6i 

Maine ^8 

Massachusetts 19 

Canada 8 

I rt land _^ 


In answer to the inquiry respecting their health, twenty-two 
answer that their health has been better, since working in the mills, 
than before ; one hundred and forty-three, that it has been as good or 
about the same : and sevent}--three that their health has not been as 
good as formerly : though many attribute their loss of health to other 
causes then working in the mills. 

One hundred and twenty-eight of the two hundred and forty are 
connected with Sabbath schools, some few as teachers. 

One hundred and three are members of some Christian church. 

Thirty-one have been heretofore engaged in teaching school. 

An inquiry regarding the "prevalence of licentiousness" was 
answered by quoting from direct depositions of the several overseers 
listed above. Thus Overseer Phelps, who had come to East Chelms- 
ford from Waltham, and who was in 1839 the oldest overseer in the 
city, wrote : 

It has been the uniform rule of the company to discharge every 
person, male or female, known to be guilty of licentious conduct. The 
facts are usually discovered and made known by the other girls work- 
ing in the same room or boarding in the same house ; and if the guilt}' 
parties were not at once discharged, their companions would in most, 
if not in all cases, themselves leave. I should judge that the whole 
number discharged by the Merrimack Company, during my connec- 
tion with it as an overseer, which has been between nineteen and 
twenty years, has not exceeded two or three each year, and that such 
cases have been more rare of late years than formerlv. I do not recol- 
lect ever having discharged but three for licentious conduct during 
the whole time I have been in the manufacturing business. 

Similar testimony was ofTered by Mr. Crombie, who wrote: 

I have never known any person retained in the em[)lov of the 
company when known to be guilty of licentious conduct. I have been 
employed as overseer only one year, but was assistant overseer nearly 
six years. Since I have been overseer no one in my room has been 
discharged, or suspected of licentious conduct. While I was second 
overseer there were three girls discharged from the room where I 


worked fur this cause: no one of them, however, had worked in the 
room over a week before her character became known or suspected 
and she was at once discharged. Such cases are verv uncommon, 
however, and I do not think I liave heard of one case a year, upon an 

.\ summary of the results of Rev. Mr. Miles' study reached the 
following conclusion : 

Of the six thousand three hundred and twenty female operatives 
in Lowell, Massachusetts furnishes one-eighth ; Maine, one-fourth ; 
New Hampshire, one-third; Vermont, one-fifth; Ireland, one-four- 
teenth ; all other places, principally Canada, one-seventeenth. Of all 
these operatives, more than three-sevenths are connected with some 
Sunday school, either as teachers or pupils, this being two thousand 
seven hundred and fourteen in all. About three-eighths of them are 
church members, this being two thousand two hundred and seventy- 
six in all. Five hundred and twenty-seven have been teachers in com- 
mon schools. The average time during which these female operatives 
work in the mills is between four and five years. A large majority of 
them report their health as Ijeing either better than, or as good as. it 
was before entering the mill. 

Intimately connected with the question of the operatives' morality 
was that of their physical health, which greatly exercised the philan- 
thropically inclined of the day. 

"The mills themselves," wrote Miles, "are kept of a uniform 
temperature, being heated in cold weather either by steam or by hot 
air furnaces. The rooms are lofty, are well ventilated, and are kept 
as free from dust as is possible, while the machinery is carefully boxed 
or otherwise secured against accidents." 

Despite these provisions made by the cori^orations for comfort 
and efficiency, the historian admits that there were "conflicting state- 
ments put forth" as to the health of the ojieratives and that it was 
"extremely difficult to arrive at the exact facts of the case." Cowley, 
writing ten vears later, stated that the sanitary condition of the mills 
"is remarkaldy good." He maintained, nevertheless, that the rela- 
tively good health of the factory workers was due primarily to the 
fact that few of them stayed in the factories for many years and that 
"a one-sided development is induced by the endless repetition, without 
variation, of one simple mechanical j)rocess, or series of processes — 
where unwholsome particles of vegetable or metallic dust are con- 
stantly inhaled into the lungs — where the conditions of the atmosphere 
are generally unfavorable to robustness and vigor." 

The situation, in brief, which caused the first life insurance com- 
panies doing an industrial business to create special mortality tables 
for the working class was already indicated in some figures from 


which Cowley arrived at the conclusion that "the condition of the 
operatives is unenviable at the best. The statistics of deaths in Massa- 
chusetts for 1854 show that while 7,735 farmers died whose average 
age was over sixty-four years, there died during the same year 7.781 
mechanics whose average age was only forty-six j'ears, showing a dif- 
ference of eighteen years against the mechanic." The hopeful circum- 
stance, according to this historian, was that most of the operatives, 
after a few years' service in the mills, still went back to their country 
homes. "But let the curse of a permanent operative population fasten 
itself upon us," he wrote, "and all the 'woes unnumbered' of the Iliad 
would be realized here." 

The foregoing picture, drawn by a historian who, from internal 
evidence in his book, is seen to have been reading Thomas Carlyle, 
is somewhat darker than that drawn by his optimistic predecessor who 
proved from the 1844 figures that Lowell was at least a more health- 
ful town than some of the other industrial centres of New England : 
"Deaths to the population in Providence, one in forty-one; in Salem, 
one in fifty-four; in Worcester, one in fifty-two; in Lowell, one in 
fifty-seven — being an advantage in comparison with the other places 
of fifteen, three, and five per cent, in favor of the latter city." Miles 
quotes at some length from a pamphlet on "The Character and Con- 
dition of the Females employed in the Lowell Mills," published in 
1841 by Dr. Elisha Bartlett, first major of the city, a characteristic 
passage Ijeing the following: 

The general and comparative good health of the girls employed 
in the mills here, and their freedom from serious disease, have long 
been subjects of common remark among our most intelligent and expe- 
rienced physicians. The manufacturing population of this city is the 
healthiest portion of the population, and there is no reason why this 
should not be the case. They are but little exposed to many of the 
strongest and most prolific causes of disease, and very many of the 
circumstances which surround and act upon them are of the most 
favorable hygienic character. They are regular in all their habits. 
They are early up in the morning, and early to bed at night. Their 
fare is plain, substantial and good, and their labor is sufficiently active 
and sufficiently light to avoid the evils arising from the two extremes 
of indolence and over-exertion. They are but little exposed to the 
sudden vicissitudes, and to the excessive heats and colds of the sea- 
sons, and they are very generall}- free from anxious and depressing 

Those in fact who had predicted that Lowell would speedily 
become like the English Manchester, of the nineteenth centur} , a city 
of squalor, abject poverty and debasing vices, saw their expectations 
in no large degree fulfilled. The comparison between the two cities 
was for many decades favorable to the New England municipality; 

234 HISTORY ( )F IJ )WI':LL 

ami if HOW the (jpportunitics for drawing; a contrast that is in favor of 
this side are less obvious, that is because life in the English factory 
towns has been enriched by recent collective measures. Writing in 
icX^i. Charles Henry Dalton. a native of Chelmsford and graduate of the 
Lowell high school, said: "There is misery and degradation in this 
city [^Manchester, England,] among the factory classes which is not 
dreamed of in T.owell * * * The hospitality and good manners 
and elegant, stylish mode of living of the rich is jileasant to their 
guests, but the misery, heart-breaking to look upon, in some of the 
crowded streets of Manchester, is fully strong enough in contrast." 
It was iKJ paradise for the working class which was surveyed in the 
other factijries, and ideally healthy homes were not to be found in 
boarding houses wdiere "six and eight girls frequently occupied the 
same bed chamljer." Yet, in intent certainly, and in outcome mainly, 
the status of the city of rising forty thousand people was still credit- 
aljle to the Puritan conscience. 

The condition and character of American factory operatives at 
this peri(_)d were, indeed, in such contrast to the unprincipled 
exploitation of the working class in Great Britain that lessons from 
this side of the .Atlantic were sometimes commended to English manu- 
facturers. The New England operatives were even made the subject 
of a book, just mentioned, liy the Rev. William Scoresby, D. D., of 
Bradford, Lancashire, who strongl}- commended the American treat- 
ment of mill hands. 

Dr. .Scoresby visited Lowell in .August, 18.14. He '^vas favorably 
impressed by the city and wrote: "On entering Lowell a stranger is 
naturally struck with the contrast presented by that place to an 
E.nglish manufacturing town. Here in Bradford, for example, every 
building is of stone or brick, solid, substantial, with little of the 
freshness that might be looked for in so rapidly increasing a town; 
there in Lowell, though the mills and boarding houses are generally 
of brick, the chief ])art of the other buildings, houses, hotels, and 
even churches, are of wood, and nearly the whole as fresh looking as 
if Iniilt within a year." The lack of the grime due to soft coal smoke 
was likewise surprising to the English divine, who attrilnited much 
of the cleanness to the general employment of water power in manu- 

Dr. .Scoresby dined at the Merrimack House and in the afternoon 
was taken through several of the factories. He saw young women at 
work but few }'Oung children, whose labor was then so generally 
exploited in England. Of these employees he wrote: 

Thev were nc,itl\- diTssed and clean in their persons: many with 
their hair nicely arranged and, not a few, with it Howing in carefully 
curled ringlets. .All wore (being the height of summer) a light, calico- 


covered bonnet, a sort of caleche, large enough to screen the face, and 
with a dependent curtain shielding the neck and shoulders. Many 
wore veils and some carried silk parasols. B\' no means a few were 
exceedingly well looking — more pallid than the factory girls with us, 
and generally slight in their figures. There was not the slightest 
appearance of boldness or vulgarity ; on the contrary, a very becom- 
ing propriety and respectability of manner, approaching with some to 

One of the most famous of distinguished foreigners who followed 
the established custom of the middle nineteenth century in running 
out to Lowell was Charles Dickens. His impressions of the United 
States, as in the winter of 1842, the humanitarian humorist, as all the 
world knows, brought out in a volume of "American Notes." Many 
of his observations created much offence in this country. He was 
horrified by the spectacle of negro slavery in a land which boasted of 
regard for human rights and still "knotted the lash, heated the brand- 
ing iron, loaded the rifle and shielded the murderer of the slave." 
Some of the uncouth customs of a people, many of whom were still in 
the backwoods stage, excited either his disgust or his merriment. In 
his reminiscences he said many tart and uncomplimentary things, 
while always protesting that he was naturally prejudiced in favor of 
the American experiment. 

Of the city of Lowell, however, Charles Dickens had nothing un- 
pleasant to say. His quaint and kindly description of the new city is 
in his best vein, somewhat prolix and fine spun, but full of delightful 
little quips and turns of speech. He saw the place in midwinter on 
a day when "nothing in the town looked old to me, except the mud 
which in some parts was nearly knee deep and might have been de- 
posited there on the subsiding of the waters of the Deluge.'' The 
spick and span quality of the city, for the rest, impressed the visitor. 
"The very river that moves the machinery in the mills (for they are 
all worked by water power) seems to acquire a new character from 
fresh buildings of bright red brick and painted wood among which it 
takes its course ; and to be as light-headed, thoughtless and brisk a 
young river, in its murmurings and tumblings, as one would desire to 
see. One would swear that every 'Bakery,' 'Grocery' and 'Bookbind- 
ery,' and every other kind of store took its shutters down for the first 
time and started in business yesterday. The golden pestles and mor- 
tars fixed as signs upon the sun-blind frames outside the Druggists' 
appear to have been just turned out of the United States Mint ; and 
when I saw a baby of some week or ten days old in a woman's arms at 
a street corner, I found myself unconsciously wondering where it came 
from : never supposing for an instant that it could have been Ijorn in 
such a young town as this." 

The factories and boarding houses were, of course, shown to the 


English author, who expressed himself as greatly pleased by the neat- 
ness and self-respect of the operatives. He noted that they "had 
serviceable bonnets, good warm cloaks and shawls ; and were not 
above clogs and pattens." He found them "healthy in appearance, 
many of them remarkably so." "There are a few children employed in 
these factories, but not many. The laws of the State forbid their 
working more than nine months in the year, and require that they lie 
educated during the other three." 

Dickens had in mind the attitude of English readers of three- 
decker novels toward the lower classes of society when he notified his 
constituency that he had discovered in Lowell "three facts which will 
startle a large class of readers on this side of the Atlantic very much. 
Firstly, there is a joint stijck piano in a great many of the l:)oarding 
houses. Secondly, nearly all these young ladies subscribe to circulat- 
ing libraries. Thirdly, they have got up among themselves a periodi- 
cal called 'The Lowell Offering, ' 'a repository of original articles, 
written exclusively by females actively employed in the mills,' — which 
is duly printed, published and sold ; and whereof I brought away from 
Lowell four hundred good solid pages, which I have read from begin- 
ning to end." 

Against the charge, sure to be raised in the England of that day. 
that the young women aspiring thus toward things cultural were aim- 
ing "al)ove their station," Dickens set up a thesis of quite modern and 
democratic import. "Are we quite sure," he asks, "that we in Eng- 
land have not formed our ideas of the 'station' of working people from 
accustoming ourseh-es to the contemplation of that class as they are, 
and not as they might be? I think that if we examine our own feel- 
ings, we shall find that the pianos, and the circulating libraries, and 
even the 'Lowell Offering,' startle us b}- their novelty and not liv their 
bearing upon any abstract question of right or wrong. * * * F'or my- 
self, I know no station in which, the occupation of to-dav cheerfull}' 
dune and the occu])ation of to-morrow cheerfuUv lonked to. anv one 
of these pursuits is not most humanizing and laudalde. 1 know no 
.station which is rendered more endurable to the ])erson in it. nr more 
safe to the person out of it. by having ignorance as its associate. I 
know no station which has a right to mono])oli/-e the means of mutual 
instruction, improvement and rational entertainment; or which has 
e\er continued to be a station very long, after seeking to tki so." 

Nearl}- two decades later another famous English writer visited 
I,owelI and again bore witness to the decency and favorable ajjpear- 
ance of Lowell operatives, .\nthon\- Tr(illo])e. in i86j, |mhlished his 
impressi(jns of .America, and, of course, after the fashion of the time, 
included a few i)aragra|)hs concerning the Lowell mill girls, of which 
tlie following is the most significant passage: 


That which most surprises an English visitor in going through 
the mills at Lowell is the personal appearance of the men and women 
who work in them. As there are twice as many women as men it is 
to them that attention is chiefly called. They are not only better 
dressed, cleaner and better mounted in every respect than are the 
girls employed at manufactories in England, but they are so infinitely 
superior as to make a stranger immediately perceive that some strong 
cause must have created the difference. We all know the class of 
young women whom we generally see serving behind counters in the 
shops of our larger cities. They are neat, well dressed, careful, espe- 
cially about their hair, composed in their manner, and sometimes a 
little supercilious about the propriety of their demeanor. It is exactly 
the class of young women that one sees in the factories at Lowell. 
They are not sallow, nor dirty nor ragged nor rough. The)' have 
about them no signs of want, or of low culture. * * * One would, 
of course, be disposed to say that the sviperior condition of the work- 
ers must have been occasioned by superior wages. But the higher 
payment is not the chief cause. Women's wages, including all that 
they receive at the Lowell factories, average about 14s. a week, which 
is, I take it, fulh' a third more than women can earn in Manchester, or 
did earn before the loss of southern cotton began to tell upon them. 
But if wages at Manchester were raised at the Lowell standard, the 
Manchester women would not be clothed, fed, cared for and educated 
like the Lowell women. 

In 1857 Dr. Nathan Allen, long interested in matters of public 
health, wrote that "Lowell, whether compared as a whole with other 
cities and towns in New England, or its American population with the 
same class in other places, presents a remarkably favorable state of 
health for the past twenty-five years. The absence of aged people in 
the population, to increase the rate of mortality, is oflfset in a great 
degree by the number of deaths occasioned by casualties. From 1830 
to 1846 two hundred and thirty-one deaths are reported as occasioned 
bj' drowning, accidents with machinery, etc." 

Tuberculosis was. of course, the characteristic disease of Lowell 
as of all manufacturing cities before present methods of prevention 
and treatment were in vogue. A record of deaths from this disease in 
ten years is: 1851, loi ; 1852, 138; 1853, 150; 1854, 173; 1855, 182; 
1856, 187; 1857, 183; 1858, 148; 1859, 176; i860, 147. It may, perhaps, 
not be fanciful to attribute the increase in 1856 and 1857 to the busi- 
ness depression then prevalent. 

The Less Attractive Aspects of Factory Work — The seamier side 
of life in a factory town, even in the era when the population of work- 
ing people was more nearly homogeneous than now, was not without 
expositions that serve as a corrective to the excessive laudation that 
was indulged in by distinguished visitors and by professional bene- 
ficiaries of the factory system. An anonymous writer in the "Vox 
Populi." whose literary style was not unlike that of Benjamin F. But- 



ler, replied in a series of articles to Dr. Huntington's eulogy of the 
conditions in which the factory operatives worked and lived. These 
articles of ICS43 were collected and published in ]janiphlet form under 
the caption of "Corporations and Operatives : Being an Exposition of 
the Condition of Factory Operatives, and a Review of the '\'indica- 
tion.' by Elisha Iluntingtun, M. D., Published at Lowell. 1841. B}- a 
Citizen of Lowell." This document was printed by Samuel J. \'arney, 
whose journalistic adventures for several years kept Lowell people on 
the (/(//' z'iz'c. If only as a matter of record some of the findings, so vari- 
ant with those of Bartlett and Miles, iif Dickens and Scoresjjy and 
Trollope, shoulcl he summarized. 

The general attitude <if the critic of Dr. Bartlett's earthly i>ara- 
dise is indicated in the f(jll(_iwing jiassage from his preface: 

Recent events have occured which have awakened an inquiry 
among the operati\'cs as to what the Rights of humanity demand. The 
latest reduction of wages has withdrawn the veil that has been spread 
over the factory system, and the operatives have opened their eyes, 
and with surprise beheld the true character of the agents and man- 
agers of the mills, who have been pretending so much kindness and 
fatherly regard ior them. They now behold them as they really are 
at all times, the paid agents of the hard-hearted money changers, and 
a gold-worshipping and poverty-oppressing aristocracy. * * * There 
are two distinct, leading interests lying at the bottom of things in this 
city. The one is the interest of the combined wealth of the Corpora- 
tions and the other is the interest of the great mass of the People, liv- 
ing in Lowell, but who receive no share of the large dividends made 
Ijy the manufacturing interests. * * * On the one part are the people 
of Lowell, male and female, who live here and whose labor and exer- 
tions here su]j]iort themselves and furnish large dividends to the non- 
resident stockholder. These interests are sometimes concurrent but 
generally opponent. 

Of the operatives themselves and their aspirations toward social 
equality with the employing class the unknown attthor of the pam- 
phlet says: "I desire their elevation to that station in the social scale 
to which their usefulness entitles them ; and in their name I demand 
that such improvements be made in their situation and condition as 
,^hall secure to them their just share of the products of their own labfir." 
His [irime query is "whether those who do the labor that produces the 
wealth that is here created receive as a compensation for their labor 
their just proportion of the profit, according to the sweat and toil, 
and time by them contributed to the enterprise. And in the next 
place, — is the moral, intellectual ;ind physical condition of the oiiera- 
tives in tlu' mills such as well inlorined persons would wish their chil- 
dren to be in? * * * The old theory that many should labor that a 
few may roll in idleness luxurious case was long ago exploded. And 
the doctrine tluit the many should lalior, that everyone is entitled to 


honor and distinction, according to the merits of his work was estab- 
lished by the voice and blood of the patriots of the revolution." 

The specific charges that followed the foregoing and other simi- 
lar generalizations dealt largely w'ith the conditions of housing of 
eight thousand females, mostly of ages fifteen to thirty. One of the 
hardships of living in the congregate way prevalent at Lowell, it was 
urged, lay in the perpetual restlessness of the life. There is no soli- 
tude for "minds eternally confused in the endless bustle and noise and 
gabble that is continually going on around them, and from which they 
cannot without inconvenience escape." The time allowed for meals 
was not long enough "to properly masticate a sufficient quantity of 
food for the healthful support of life." As for the conditions of sleep- 
ing, "three, four and sometimes, it is said, more beds are stowed into 
one room ; and here, six, eight or more persons are obliged to sleep, 
inhaling and reinhaling the same air, thereby made poisonous and dele- 
terious to health." The price of board, the writer asserted, was too 
low to enable the boarding house keepers to pay their bills and still set 
a proper table. The then price (in 1843) was $i.37>l a week, repre- 
senting an advance of twelve and a half cents over the figure at which 
it was originally set and which was so low that many boarding house 
keepers went bankrupt during the hard times of 1837-38. Even the 
new price was insufficient for providing good and wholesome food. 
The interest of the corporations was to keep it as low as possible, to 
excuse the low w^ages paid. 

The sanitary situation in many of the boarding houses was stated 
by the critic to be bad. "Especially is this the case in respect to the 
beds and sleeping apartments. These, from unavoidable neglect, are 
often overrun with uncomfortable and filthy vermin, to the great 
annoyance of the poor suffering lodgers." For cases of sickness and 
indisposition the lodgings were ill provided. A limited number of 
operatives if seriously afflicted could be accommodated at the corpora- 
tion hospital, but for those who were out of work with a sliglit ailment 
no provision whatever was made. 

.\lthough the present-day understanding of the effects of fatigue 
on the human organism had not been attained in 1840, something of 
the line of Louis D. Brandeis's argument that won the Oregon Laun- 
dry case before the Supreme Court was prefigured in the findings of 
this anonymous contributor to the "Vox Populi." He said: 

The hours of employment, from the viewpoint of hygiene and 
mental equilibrium, were certainly unreasonably long. They averaged 
thirteen hours a day, to which must be &dded at least two hours for 
going to and from work and eating the hasty meals for the sake of 
which the work was internqited. All but nine hours of the twenty- 
four, six days in the week, were devoted to the interests of the manu- 
facturing corporations. In summer the working woman was called 

j6o history of LOWELL 

from lier lied at fuur-thirty and was at her work at five o'clock. On 
an empty ?tomacli she labored for two hours and then, in a half hour 
intermission, slipjied from the mill to her boarding house for a hasty 
breakfast. Then back to the factory until noon when three-quarters of 
an hour was allowed for dinner. The afternoon session continued 
until seven o'clock. By the time a girl had finished her supper it was 
eight o'clock, and in all probability she was so fatigued that she was 
glad to turn in half an hour later. The winter schedule was not less 
exacting. The operative on week days had practically no time to sew, 
mend or knit for herself, to write letters or read magazines and books, 
unless she considerably curtailed the hours which nature demanded 
for sleep. Fresh rosy countenances, in the circumstances, were hardly 
to be encountered in the mills. "When we see females devoting fif- 
teen hours of their time in their daily employment, for a livelihood, 
and laboring incessantly nearly thirteen hours a day. and situated in 
such circumstances as we have pointed out, and subjected to the thou- 
sand other evils of a factory life, can we wonder if we see them fatigued 
and enfeel,)Ied and just able to drag their weary limbs from the mills 
10 their boarding houses?" 

L'nfa\'oral)lc facts of the factory system, according to the jjam- 
pihlcteer, were sedulously concealed l.)y the agents of the cori:)orati(.)ns 
and their followers. There was in New England an organized com- 
bination of manufacturers who undertook to keep wages low. The 
corporations, at the same time, were often much troubled to secure 
help "to run all "f the machinery. They are obliged to send agents 
into the country, — into ]\Laine. New Hampshire, and Vermont, to tell 
partial and flattering stories of the prospects of factory girls. These 
agents they pay a stipulated sum per head for hiring girls and bringing 
them here to keep their machinery in operation. * * * The plan is, 
to seize upon every possible means to circulate and give currency to 
the idea that a manufacturing village in New England, and Lowell 
especially, is almost an earthly Paradise, and a place particularly 
favorable for all persims, and particularly females, to improve in 
morals — in intelligence — in health — and in all the graces and refine- 
ments that adorn society." In this publication it w-as specifically 
charged that the much adxertised "Lowell Offering," as written and 
edited by mill girls, was utilized b\- the mill agents as propaganda 
and that so far from this ])ul)lication's l)eing typical of the intellectual 
stimulus of a factory town it represented the efforts of not more than 
six regular writers and alxmt twenty occasional contributors. 

The first of the ciim]iarati\cly few strikes which Lowell has ex- 
perienced occurred \er\- soon after the incorporation of the munici- 
palitv. It was not a very serious affair, as one realized from a rather 
amusing account of it written in 1876 by Mrs. \\'. S. Robinson: "The 
first strike, or 'turn-nut.' as it was called, was in 183I1. and was caused, 
of course, by the reduction of wages. The operatives were ver)- indig- 


nant ; they held meetings and decided to stop their work and turn out 
and let the mills take care of themselves. Accordingly, one day they 
went as usual, and when the machinery was well started up they 
stopped their looms and frames and left. In one room some indeci- 
sion was shown among the girls. After stopping their work they dis- 
cussed the matter anew and could not make up their minds what to 
do, when a little girl of eleven years old said : 'I am going to turn out 
whether any one else doe^ or not,' and marched out, followed by all the 
others. The 'turn outs' all went in procession to the grove on 'Chapel 
Hill' and was addressed by sympathizing speakers. Their dissatisfac- 
tion subsided or burned itself out in this way, and though the authori- 
ties did not accede to their demands, they returned to their work, and 
the corporations went on cutting down their wages." 

Initial Restriction of Hours of Labor — The first real contest for 
shortening the hours of labor in Massachusetts factories began in 
1850, with a proposal favoring a shorter day. By comparison with 
more recent legislation this measure would seem preposterously in- 
adequate for its purpose. It was, of course, strenuously resisted by 
the corporations and many who were not specifically under the cor- 
porate influence believed in a general way that it was a good thing for 
the working class not to have much leisure. Nobody at that date 
understood how many evils, physical and mental, grow out of exces- 
sive fatigue superinduced by long hours of labor ; nor was it appre- 
ciated that in the long run the human mechanism is most productive 
when operated with alternate periods of rest and activity. 

On the reformatory side was the agile minded Benjamin F. But- 
ler, who in 1852 made a campaign for the Legislature on this issue. It 
was unquestionable that the corporations were determined to head 
him off, for in various mills of the city was posted this notice: "Any 
man who \otes the Ben Butler ten-hour ticket will be discharged.' 
This attempted interference with the suffrage was resented and a 
great indignation meeting was held at which Mr. Butler is recorded as 
saving : "I do not counsel revolution or violent measures ; for 1 do 
not, I can not believe that the notice posted in the mills was author- 
ized. Some ignorant underling has done this with the hope of pro- 
pitiating the favor of distant masters ; misjudging them, misjudging 
you. The owners of the mills are surely too wise, too just, or at least 
too i^rudent, to authorize a measure which absolutely extinguishes 
government, which incites and justifies anarchy. For tyranny less 
odious than this, men of Massachusetts, our fathers cast off their 
allegiance to the king, and plunged into the bloody chasm of revolu- 
tion : and the directors must know that the sons stand ready to do 
what their sires have done before them." 


The youii2: Lowell attorney was elected and the eleven-hour {jro- 
posal liecanie law. 

First Setback to Lowell's Prosperity — Toward the end of its first 
quarter century of existence, Lowell for the first time began to sulTer 
from an exodus of its inhabitants. This was a new experience. When 
the ]ilace was young and when opportunities for industrial employ- 
ment were still very limited the jjioneer factory town experienced only 
influx after influx of inhabitants. It was exceptional for people who 
had once estal)lished themselves in Lowell to go elsewhere. From the 
time, however, of the gold discovery in California began a process of 
constant dilution of the population by emigration which is still going 
on. The call of the \\'est, of New York City and of newer manufactur- 
mg centres in New England has long been insistent, and consistent 
eft'orts have never l^een made to counteract it. 

In recalling the first great commercial calamity of this kind. Gen- 
eral Butler said at the centennial exercises in 1876: "Another cause 
which retarded cmr prosperity, quite frequently overlooked, came in 
the years 1848-49, and was the discovery of gold in California. Those 
listening to me past the middle age of life who can throw their minds 
back to that period will remember that that was quite the darkest time 
Lowell has ever known, and for the reason that in addition to the fact 
that the dividends earned here, just alluded to, were not spent here, 
the enterprise and spirit of our young men were drawn by stories of 
fabulous wealth to be had in California. During that fever we lost 
nearly 1,500 young and middle-aged men who left us for the Golden 
State, and they were among the best, most energetic and enterprising 
of otir citizens, or Xhvv would no\i have had the cnerg\- to go." 

Organization of Many Humanitarian Associations — As a city no- 
tably responsi\-c to the influences of its time, Lowell could hardly have 
failed to become a centre of vaiious humanitarian movements in the 
quarter century between its incorporation and the outbreak of the 
Civil War. 

This era was one in which movements of what would now be 
called "uplift" became \ery pniminent in the national consciousness, 
the period somewhat resembling the generations of American idealism 
between the opening of the Chicago Exposition and the participation 
of the Nation in the war of the nations in 191 7. 

The anti-slavery agitation, destined finally to bring the fnrces of 
modern caiiitalism and those of surviving feudalism into armed con- 
flict, was only one of many that looked forward to the inqirovement of 
the conditiiins of living on the ]ilanet, some cif them absurdly unscien- 
tilir and enq)irical, but almost all of them grounded in sincerit}' and 
fine lofty altruism. This was the time of the Brook Farm and Red 
Bank eff(jrts to a])i)ly the cummunisfic jjrinciples of Fourier : of Josiah 


Warren's equity mercantile enterprises ; of the beginnings of Sylves- 
ter Graham and of almost countless "isms." In this period concessions 
to the common people were many, as in the abolishment of imprison- 
ment for debt and the improvement of public schools. 

The Period of "The Lowell Offering" — Emerson wrote of this era, 
of the outflowing of New England transcendentalism : "The children 
of New England between 1820 and 1840 were born with knives in 
their brains.'" In many of them, certainly, the literary instinct was 
strongly developed. In the Lowell mills the "literary'' girls might 
often be seen writing poetry on scraps of paper while still attending to 
their looms or spinning frames. 

The idea of forming an association for literary purposes was first 
proposed in 1837 by Harriot F. Curtis. Out of her proposal grew an 
"improvement circle." Who its ofificers were is no longer recorded. 
It is known that Emmeline Larcom was secretary. Other improve- 
ment societies followed, so that in 1843 there were at least five in as 
many neighborhoods of the city. -\11 who attended meetings were 
expected to bring a written contribution to be read aloud. 

In 1839 the Rev. Abel S. Thomas and Rev. Thomas B. Thayer, 
pastors respectively of the Fir^t and Second Universalist churches, 
established improvement circles in their societies. Some of the contri- 
butions which were read at their meetings proved to be remarkably 
interesting They were published by Mr. Thomas in pamphlet form 
under the title of "The Lowell Offering, a Repository of Original 
-Articles, written bv Females employed in the Mills." The first series, 
covering the contributions of four months, was issued in October, 
1840. A brisk demand for the booklet at once appeared. To meet this 
a new rev'ew, "The Lowell Oft'ering," probably so-called, now began 
to be printed. It was usually of thirty-two pages and was issued under 
the church auspices until October, 1842, when Miss Curtis and Harriet 
Farley took it over, and thereafter assumed responsibility for it. The 
stor\- of the career of this famous magazine and of some of its contrib- 
utors is told at greater length in a sju'cial chapter on Lowell authors 
in this history. 

Growth of the Middlesex Mechanics' Association — The ante-bel- 
lum years were the time of the Mechanics' Association's greatest pros- 

It used to be a source of boyish wonder, in the seventies and 
eighties, just what the Middlesex Mechanics' Association and its ex- 
cellent library in Dutton street had to do with mechanical affairs. In 
conspicuous positions hung sexeral rather awe-inspiring full-length 
portraits. These were obviously not portraits of mechanics — at least 
not of mechanics of the present-day type. The library was of a gen- 
eralized sort, and the well-informed librarian was not one to whom one 


would turn for information aljout gears, shafting or high-speed steels, 
however helpful she might be in selecting a historical novel or bring- 
ing forth material for debating society use. Most of those who used 
the library seemed not to be of the mechanic sort, but rather to be 
people who preferred its quiet exclusiveness to the democracy of the 
public liljrary. The Mechanics' Association of 1885 — that is only a 
recollection of a persunal impression — appeared to be one of the insti- 
tutions of Lowell in which an overalled mechanic would Ijc particu- 
larly ill at ease. The Middlesex Mechanics' Association was, in fact, 
something of a Lowell analogue of the Boston Athenaeum. 

That the recession from original intent came early in the history 
of the association is well estalilished. As an organization composed 
exclusively of men engaged in the mechanical trades this association 
almi ist "died a-borning." As a clearing house of literary and scientific 
culture it led a notably useful existence for sixty years or more. It 
was at the height of its influence and prestige just before and during 
the Civil War. In the latter decades of the century its day had [ilainly 
passed and its dissolution was as clearly foreseen as regretted. 

The association, as already noted, was incorporated in 1825, upon 
petition of sume eighty mechanics of the then manufacturing village of 
East Chelmsford. The name conveyed a suggestion of the original 
intent of the association. It was expected that a membership of me- 
chanics of Middlesex County would be enrolled. The first meeting 
was held October 6, 1825, at "Ira Fry's Inn." which stood in Central 
street on the site of the present American House. "We aim to be 
just," was ado])ted as the association mottt). It was decided to charge 
an admission fee of three dollars and thereafter quarterly assessments 
of twenty-five cents. A somewhat grandiloquent statement of the 
aims and objects of the organization may be noted in ".\n Address De- 
livered before the Middlesex Mechanics Association at the Anniver- 
sary, October 4, 1827," by Ithamar A. Beard. The jieroration of this 
oratorical effort ma}- l)e worth quoting: "This association was 
formed for the mutual benefit of its members ; for the improx-ement of 
their morals : and for the good of society generally. May we be an 
example to others of temperance, frugality and industry ; of a charitable 
disposition towards others, and of quiet peaceable citizens. May no 
disgraceful action characterize any of its members ; and may we aim 
at the general good of society and our own nnitual imprtnement. In 
doing which I would recommend that the Association meet more fre- 
(|ui-ntly than we have done heretofore, and statedly enter into the dis- 
cussion of some useful topic th;it will serve to im[)rove the min<l, make 
us more intimatel}' ac(|uainted with each other and more firmlv unite 
us l>y the stronger bonds of interest and friendship." 

Presumablv the workers for whom and hv whoni the a^^sociation 


was founded did not respond as expected to invitations to join. In 
December. 1827, at all events, a vote was passed to the effect that 
"manufacturers are considered mechanics and may be admitted." 

This action, which was not adopted without opposition, began a 
long series of discussions and controversies concerning ihe conditions 
of membership. 

In February, 1834, it was voted that "an attempt should be made 
to raise the character of this association and to form it into an active 
and useful association." In pursuance of this motion the by-laws were 
radically changed. An admittance fee of twenty-five dollars was estab- 
lished, representing a share which was transferable. An appeal was 
taken to substantial citizens and some 220 new members were voted 
in. It was also purposed to raise money for a building. This plan was 
furthered by the gift, in August, 1834, of a lot of land in Button street. 
valued at about $4,500, which the proprietors of the Locks and Canals 
deeded over to the association. By sale of shares the members mean- 
time raised about $7,000 and started in to build a structure of which 
the total initial cost was about $20,000. In this undertaking Kirk 
Boott took great interest. In its new quarters the association became 
an institution of much moment to the city. Its Lvceum lectures for 
many years brought to Lowell the best sjieakers of the day. The 
library and reading room had a very general use. 

Opening of Hospital and Dispensary — .-Vmong humanitarian insti- 
tutions whose foundation date back to the first davs of the citv, none 
is more striking in equipment than the Lowell Corporation Hospital, 
whose fine Ionic portico is one of the landmarks of the city. This hos- 
pital originated in 1839. when the several manufacturing companies 
purchased the mansion which Kirk Boott, then lately deceased, had 
erected on the old Tyler farm and had afterwards removed to the head 
of Merrimack street. The cost to the companies of purchase and 
alterations was about $20,000. The building was devoted to the needs 
of operatives who were ill. A resident physician was appointed and 
the spacious living rooms and ch.ambers converted into wards. The 
charges were set at four dollars a week for men and three dollars for 
women. Those patients who were able to pay settled directly with 
the superintendent ; those unable to do so referred their needs to the 
corporation agent, who became responsible. Of the expenses of the 
hospital the corporations in the first years paid about two-thirds. The 
number of patients in the forties averaged about 150 annually. 

The Lowell Dispensary, another fine charity, was incorporated in 
1836. having as its object to help the poor by affording medicines and 
medical attendance gratuitously. It employed two physicians, each 
with a section of the cit\- under his charge. All subscribers to the 


sui)port oi this institution commanded the services of the ph_\-sicians 
in behalf of the sick poor. 

The Howard Benevolent Society was organized in 1840. It aimed 
to "afford encouragement and aid to the moral and industrious poor." 
A board i.if trustees was divided into subcommittees of two persons to 
each ward of the city. On proper recommendation the society was to 
make gifts or loans of articles necessary for relief of distress. 

The ministr^• at large, a model non-denominational religious in- 
stitution of Lowell, was established in 1844 at the instance of the 
South Congregational Society fLInitarian) and in accordance with a 
plan devised liy Rev. Dr Tuckerman. in Boston. The object was to 
minister to the tcm])oral and si)iritua! needs of persons not reached by 
the existing religious societies. Regular services were held each Sun- 
day in the Hamilton chapel on Middlesex street. No collections were 
taken and no pew rents exacted. A Sunday school of about one hun- 
dred children was soon enrolled. The ministry at large began at once 
to emplov a minister who gave most of his time to relieve suffering 
among the poor. The annual reports of the first years are excellent 
examples of descri])tive writing ;'nd vahiable sources of information as 
to economic and social conditions in the city. 

New Churches in the Pre- War Period — The multiplication of Prot- 
estant churches between 1836 and iSOo in the city of Lowell seems as 
remarkable as are the present difticulties witli which many of them are 
beset. The community was composed almost entirely of church-going 
people, most of whom were of the old Puritan stock. A man or woman 
who had no religious affiliations was under susiiicion of Iieing a bad 

The Congregational churches in esjiecial were s|)read over the 
community to an extent that at a later date proved emiiarrassing. 

The Second Congregational Church, the predecessor of the pres- 
ent F.liot Church, began its services under the town government. Its 
first church Iniilding, in Apjiletiju street, the one which was afterwards 
Sold to the First Presbyterian Church, was dedicated Jtily 10, 1831. 
The first minister was Rev. ^^'illiam Twining, ordained Octolier 4, 
1831. Tn 1837 came Rev. Uriah Burnap, who remained with the church 
imtil he died in 1854. Mr. Burnap was succeeded by two ministers of 
comparati\-ely short pastorates: Rev. George Darling, who stayed two 
years and then accepted a call to C)hio, and Rev. John P. Cleveland, 
who resigned to become chajilain of the Thirtieth Massachusetts Regi- 

In 1831) it appeared that stil! another Congregational church was 
needed, and on March 11 of that year the men members of the First 
and Second societies met and voted that "it is expedient to form imme- 
diately a new church." It was resolved that "from each church should 


be taken, to form the new cinircli. not more than twenty-five males and 
one hundred and fifty females from both churches." 

This arrangement was the beginning of the church in John street, 
now defunct, which for many years was one of the strong centres of 
orthodox Congregationalism in Massachusetts. Under date of Febru- 
ary 22, 1839, John Aiken, Royal Southwick and Jesse Fox were incor- 
porated as "Proprietors of John Street Church in Lowell." These pro- 
prietors, together with A. L. Brooks, David Sanborn, and Edward F. 
Watson were chosen as a building committee. Land was bought of 
the Locks and and Canals Company at two shillings a square foot. 
The church building cost $17,884.12. It was dedicated January 2T,. 
1840, with a sermon by Rev. Amos BLinchard. of the First Church. .A 
call was extended to an Andover student, Stedman W. Hanks, a gradu- 
ate of Amherst College, who was installed as pastor March 20. 1840. 

A crisis in Mr. Hanks' pastorate, the story of which has been re- 
lated by the Rev. George H. Johnson, afterwards minister of the 
church, was typical of the controversies of the time. The new minis- 
ter was a pronounced anti-slavery and temperance advocate, and he 
soon was in trouble because he preached on these moral issues instead 
of confining himself to "pure religion." .\s Mr. Johnson says, "his 
course speedily gave offence to the staid and conservative elements of 
society ; the church came to be designated as 'Texas.' and it was said 
that the subjects considered at its meetings were 'rum and niggers' 
instead of the Gospel. After much consultation a council representing 
twenty churches was convened to advise whether the zealous voung 
pastor should be dismissed. .\11 the deacons were opposed to his 
remaining: on the other hand the women of the church stood lovallv 
by their pastor, ninety-seven being in his favor to thirteen against him. 
The result of the council's deliberation was in favor of Mr. Hanks, and 
the opposition to him was gradually won over by his steadfast spirit 
and by a real zeal for the prosperity of the new church enterprise. A 
marked revi\-al of religion followed this reconciliation: large congre- 
gations attended the services anil the Sunday school, containing over 
700 members, was said to be the largest in the State. An addition of 
over 100 new members on a single Sunday, and a contribution of more 
than $700 at one collection, showed that the new church had outlived 
the spirit of dissension, and from that time to the present no dissen- 
sion between the pastor and peoi)lc has marred the usefulness of the 

Rev. Mr Hanks was dismissed from the pastorate at John street 
church in October, 1852. He had served the church nearly thirteen 
years during which he had welcomed into its membershi]) 627 com- 

The second John street pastor was the very distmguishcd Rev. 


Eden B. Foster, born at Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1813, being one 
of eight brothers of whom seven were graduated from Dartmouth Col- 
lege and six became ministers. When called to Lowell, Dr. Foster 
was minister of the church in the nearby town of Pelham. His instal- 
lation took place February 3, 1853. He served the chi.irch during two 
pastorates, the first extending to 1S61 and the second between the 
years 1866 and 1878, in which latter year he was made pastor emeritus. 
He died April 11, icS62. His first pastorate was one in which he took 
a decided stand against negro slavery. 

The fourth Congregational church to be organized within the 
present cit\" limits was that in Kirk street. On April 22, 1S43, James 
Buncher and fifty-five other members of the First Church petitioned 
for dismissal in order that they might start a new church. On May 2 
the petition was granted. The church started with 157 members. It 
was voted to call Rev. Amos Blanchard, then pastor of the First 
Church, at a salary of $1,000. This call was accepted on May 17 and 
four davs later Mr. Blanchard was dismissed from his former pastorate 
to take up his new one. Services were held at first in Mechanics Hall 
and a Sunday school was formed. Later the place of worship was 
changed to City Hall, where services were held for about a year. 

A location for the new church in Kirk street was decided at a 
meeting of June 30, 1845. The church building, which has since been 
torn down to make room for the high school extensicni, was dedicated 
December 17, 1846. Its total cost was $22,679.12, including $1,800 for 
an organ and $3,805.13, the cost of the land. The pews were assessed 
at $3,500 per annum and were auctioned on Christmas Day. 

Rev. Dr. Blanchard, who was called to the Kirk street church lie- 
fore it was built, stayed with it down to his death, Januar)- 14, 1870. 
He was l)orn at Ando\-er, March 7, 1807, and was graduated from Yale 
College, and from the Andover Theological Seminar}-. His first minis- 
try began at the First Church in 1829, so that his entire professional 
career of more than forty years was spent in Lowell. Early deacons 
of the church were John Aiken, elected 1845, but declined to serve; 
Sewell G. Mack, elected 1845 ''■''"J resigned May 2S, 18(^5, after fifty 
years' service; James Buncher, elected 1845, but declined to serve; 
Samuel Stickney, elected 1845 and died 1875; James Buncher, elected 
1847 '^'icl resigned 1864 on account of leaving the city ; Nathaniel Bart- 
lett, elected 1847 and resigned 1864. Superintendents of the Sunday 
school before i860 were: Sanuicl W. Stickney. 1S45: T. L. P. Lam- 
son, 1849; Aaron Walker, 1850; Josiah G. Coburn, 185 1 ; Andrew 
Moddy, 1853; Samuel W. Stickney, 1853. 

.Singing by the church congregation originated at Kirk street 
church, so far at least as New England is concerned, according to remi- 
niscences related in June, 1875, in a sermon preached b\- Rev. C. D 


Barrows in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the found- 
ing of the society. "This was the first city in New England," he said, 
"that introduced congregational singing into its Sabbath services, and 
Boylston was the first tune upon which the experiment was tried. It 
happened that the pastor was preaching in exchange the second Sab- 
bath of the trial, and the officiating clergyman, after reading the hymn, 
was so surprised at seeing the audience rise and begin to sing, that he 
quite forgot his ministerial dignity, and his gravity gave way to a 
generous smile as, imable to take his seat, he stood chained to the spot 
— but whether by the superiority of the music or by the unexpected 
volley from the audience was never clearly known." 

The crowded condition of John Street Church presently led to a 
movement on the part of those members living in Belvidere to organ- 
ize a society of their own. The High Street Congregational Church 
accordingly was organized January 22, 1846, with seventy-one mem- 
bers, of whom fifty-two came from John Street and the others from 
elsewhere. The original incorporators were Erastus D. Leavitt, Arte- 
mas L. Brooks and John Tuttle. Major Atkinson C. Varnum states 
that "The enterprise of establishing a fifth Congregational church in 
Lowell, to be located on the east side of Concord river, seems to have 
been suggested by the failure of St. Luke's Protestant Episcopal 
Church (which was incorporated February 25, 1842), and the feeling 
that the field should be occupied by some Protestant denomination." 
The first meeting of the society was held in the vestrj- of John Street 
Church, July 7, 1845, Nathan Crosby acting as moderator. Arrange- 
ments were made to purchase the unfinished edifice known as St. 
Luke's Church on December 4, 1845. The first pastor was the Rev. 
Timothy Atkinson, installed February 23, 1846. He was followed on 
December 15, 1847, '^y Rev. Joseph H. Towne, who after seven years 
was succeeded by Rev. Orpheus T. Lamphear, whose stay was only a 
year. On September 15, 1857, came Rev. Owen Street, D. D., who 
remained until his death May 27, 1887. 

St. Luke's Church, which the High street congregation acquired 
as a church home for $7,500, represented an unfortunate attempt to 
establish an Episcopal church in Belvidere with insufficient financial 
support. In the late thirties the attendance at St. Anne's Church had 
increased so fast that another Anglican church was proposed. Serv- 
ices were held for a time in a room in the Wyman Exchange, with 
Justin T. McCay as minister, and with music directed by George Iled- 
rick as a volunteer organist and choir director. The room was soon 
overcrowded, and Mr. McCay felt that the time was at hand for a new 
edifice. Against the advice of some of his supporters he circulated a 
subscription list and obtained money enough to buy the lot of land in 
Belvidere and to erect the present structure, which was heavily mort- 


gaged. 'J'he clnirch was first occupied in 1841. The attendance, which 
had seemed uverwhehiiing at the rc.ioni in the Wyman Exchange, failed 
to fill the pews. The financial support which Mr. McCay had confi- 
dently ex]>ected from the manufacturing corporations was for some 
reason or other withheld. The prospect steadily grew more discour- 
aging, and in 1845 the opportimity to sell to the newly organized Con- 
gregational body was welcomed. 

A Third Congregational Church, which was started in June, 1832, 
came to an end soon after the incorporation of the city. This society, 
whose struggling existence of al)out six years has been generally for- 
gotten, was initiated, like several others to follow, by reason of the 
crowded condition of the pews in the First Church. To Major \"ar- 
num the late Deacon Samuel B. Simonds contributed some reminis- 
cences from which it appears that the society began with eighty-three 
communicants. The first prei)aratory lecture and communion service 
was ministered by the Re\'. Daniel S. Southmaid. On December 18, 
1832, a call was extended to Rev. Charles Kittredge to settle "at a sal- 
ary of $700 the first year, to be increased $300 when the resources of 
the church would admit." This call was declined. After two other 
clergymen had refused to come. Rev. Giles Pease, of Coventry, Rhode 
Island, acce])ted the invitation. He was installed October 2, 1833. 
Public services were maintained in a building at the corner of Market 
(then Lowell) and Suffolk streets. In 1833 financial irregularities of 
the treasurer compelled the society to give up its building and hold 
meetings in the town hall. The embarrassment continued and the 
church made an appeal to the community for help in buying a theatre 
that had been constructed on Market street, just above Worthen 
street, and which the owners would sell for four thousand dollars. 
"Considerable aid," it is related, "was furnished by people who were 
not especiall}- interested in the church, l)Ut were willing to be rid of 
the theatre." A large audience assembled at the first religious serv- 
ices in this building, "owing in part to the fact that one Henry Patch 
had circulated the report that 'a performance would be given that 
e\ening at the theatre'." The attendance presumably did not continue 
to be satisfactory, for in 1834 the society adopted the free church sys- 
tem under the style of "The First Free Church of Lowell." The for- 
mer name of the Third Congregational Church was resumed in 1837. 
Meantime, on May 31. 1836, Mr. Pease had resigned. In 1837 mem- 
bers of the church sent a C(jmmunication to the other churches of the 
city stating explaining their embarrassed financial condition and ask- 
ing ad\-ice as to the pro])er course to pursue. No records ha\'e been 
found to show what reply was made to this communication, but it was 
Mr. Simonds' recollection that in the spring of 1838 the remaining 

1. iNTloumi; \li:w ii|.' st i'ATImi 'ks cm i:i'II. 

2. ST. I'lO'i'ioK's ciiriirii. 

:i. iM.MAcri.ATio coNCKrTioN riirui'ii 

4. IXTKItlOl: VII'-.\V OF ST. JKAX T!.\ I 'T I .-■ Tl-: ClllUCH. 



members voted themselves letters of dismission to other churches of 
their choice. 

The Second Universalist Society, hiter known as the Shattuck 
Street Universalist Society, grew out of a meeting of May 22, 1836, in 
City Hall, at which Rev. J. G. Adams was preacher. He officiated four 
Sundays and then a meeting was held in Mechanics' building to com 
sider whether or not it was advisable to organize a society. A com- 
mittee reported that it was so expedient, and accordingly, on Septem- 
tember 4, 1836, about one hundred men and women signed the pream- 
ble and constitution. The first pastor, the Rev. Zenas Thompson, 
was installed February 5, 1837. The first annual meeting was held 
March 27, 1837, at which Solon D. Pumpelly was chosen chairman; 
David Tapley, treasurer; W. B. Davis, collector; Isaac Place, James C. 
Hill, Hale Clement. Otis Bullard and Holland Streeter, prudential 

St. Peter's is Lowell's second oldest Roman Catholic church, and 
dates its beginning from the year 1841, St. Patrick's from 1831. When 
it was deemed important that "Chapel Hill," as the Gorham, Green 
and \^■illiam streets section was called, should have a church of its 
own, there was a great deal of opposition among the parishioners of 
St. Patrick's, and a special meeting was called in 1841, at which Bishop 
Fenwick, of Boston, presided. Bishop Fenwick was impressed by the 
speeches of those favoring a second church, and finally, to test their 
sincerity, he asked for all who would contribute $100 to a building 
fund to indicate it by rising. He received such a hearty response that 
the debate was ended without further argument, and a second parish 
was decided upon. 

As a result, a plain brick church edifice costing about $22,000 was 
dedicated in September, 1842, that church standing at the corner of 
Gorham and Appleton streets. Services were first held in the church 
on Christmas Day, 1842, Rev. Father Conway being the first pastor of 
the new parish, which was named in honor of St. Peter. At the dedi- 
cation the pews sold at a high price, those nearest the altar bringing 
$200 and more, each purchaser receiving a deed signed by Bishop Fen- 
wick. The new jjarish was under Father Conway's care until 1847 and 
prospered. Failing health compelled Father Conway to take a vaca- 
tion, Rev. Peter Crudden being appointed to fill the pastorate during 
his absence. Later Father Crudden was appointed pastor of St. 
Peter's, Father Conway going to a Salem parish. Father Crudden 
continued as pastor until the summer of 1883, many parish activities 
dating from his pastorate, one being St. Peter's Orphan Asylum on 
Appleton street, near St, Peter's Church, built and placed in charge 
of the Sisters of Charity, whom he introduced to the city. 

Rev Michael Ronan succeeded Father Crudden, August 8, 1883. 


and greatly iniprovefl the church Ijy enlarging the basement to the full 
length, putting in new lights, a new organ and a handsome new marble 
altar, the liasement being reconsecrated on Sunday, December lo, 
18S3. As the parish grew and prospered a new and larger church was 
imperative, hence the old site was not considered desirable, and the 
present one on Gorham street was decided upon. Arrangements were 
made to sell part of the land u])on which the church stood to the 
United States Government as a site for a new post office building. But 
there was strife among the sections of the city as to which should 
secure the new Federal building, the Massachusetts Corporation 
finally offering a free site in the section they favored. There was 
i|uick thinking done to meet this, but St. Peter's countered with a 
diqilicate oft'er, and the present site of the Federal building, the old 
St. Peter's site, was presented to the Government. This was accom- 
plished liy the formation of the Lowell Land Company, who bonded 
both church and rectory, the plan being to keep the rectory lot for an 
investment, open a subscription to pay for the church lot so that it 
might be presented to the Government, those in the movement expect- 
ing to be reimbursed by the increase of land values in the section sur- 
rounding ihe new Federal building. When all was settled, it was nec- 
essary that the church be at once torn down, the work of destruction 
beginning May 20, 1890, forty-seven years having elapsed since its 
dedication in 1842. The site for a new church was secured on Gorham 
street, just opposite the court house, the lot being large enough for 
both church and rectory. It was decided, however, to erect a tempo- 
rary wooden church nearby, that building, seating 1,500 people, being 
finished and first used for service. Sunday. April 27, 1890. The plans 
for the new church were finished, and the rector}-, begun a year earlier, 
was completed in 1891, and the foundation of the church finished in 
1892. The formal cornerstone laying was on Sunday. September 11, 
1892. in the afternoon. Archbishop Williams laying the stone. Dr. 
Garrigan. of the Catholic University, Washington, D. C, preaching 
the sermon. The church, one of the most beautiful in the archdiocese 
of Boston, was finished in 1900. Tlie building is of granite, designed 
b}- P. C. Keely, of Brooklyn, of Campanello Gothic order of archi- 
tecture, its greatest length, one hundred and ninety-six feet, its great- 
est width, ninet3'-one feet. The Nave is eighty-five feet wide, height 
from floor to ceiling, sixty-seven feet. One of the towers fronting 
Gorham street is one hundred and ninety-six feet in heigllt, the other, 
one Inmdred and seventy-six feet, with base diameter of twenty-six 
feet. There are five altars in the church and five in the lower chapel. 
Father Ronan's labors were ended by his death in July, 1909. and 
on August 18. 1909. Rev. Daniel J. Keleher. Ph. D., was appointed hi» 
.successor With his coming a new order began for St. Peter's. The 


church, like the i)rofessions of law and medicine, has her specialists, 
and among her sons are great preachers, great pastors, great church 
builders, and great educators. Father Ronan was a great church 
builder, and that he did his work well, magnificent, beautiful St. 
Peter's testifies. With the church completed came the era of another 
specialist, the educator, in the person of Rev. Daniel J. Keleher. He 
was a man of learning, a college professor, an experienced pastor, and 
wholly consecrated to the work to which he had devoted his life. He 
came to the parish in the heat of the summer, and in addition to tne 
ordinary burdens of a large parish, found himself confronted with 
three grave problems, each calling for quick solution. These were : 
To provide a school for the children of his parish ; to provide a distinct 
parish for the members of St. Peter's Church living in the Highlands, 
it being a hardship for women and children to take the long walk nec- 
essary to reach their place of worship ; to relocate St. Peter's Orphan- 
age, and in freer, more healthy quarters, and amid better surroundings, 
carr}- forward the purposes of the institution. How well Dr. Keleher 
solved his problems, the admirably-located and modernly-built school 
where six hundred children in six grades are daily taught by the Sis- 
ters of Charity, of Halifax, answers the first ; St. Margaret's in the 
Highlands is the answer to the second ; and the healthful surround- 
ings, amid which St. Peter's Orphanage under the direction of the 
Sisters of Charity, who care for the needy children in the splendid 
Stevens street home, answers the third. 

In selecting a site for St. Peter's Parochial School, he chose the 
lot upon which stood the temporary church used during the building 
of St. Peter's, a lot botmded on three sides by Gorham, Union and 
Linden streets, and on the fourth by St. John's Episcopal Church. 
Plans were drawn for a modern building, three stories and basement, 
and on May i, 1912, ground was broken, the same year the corner- 
stone was laid, and in September, 1913, the beautiful light brick build- 
ing, modernly built, lighted, warmed, ventilated and equipped, with 
every sanitary precaution taken to insure health and comfort, was 
opened. The Sisters of Charity of Halifax have charge of the school. 
In appearance the building speaks volumes of praise for those respon- 
sible, and in utility it possesses the best in modern school room design- 
ing and furnishing. The lower grades, one and two, were first admit- 
ted, another grade was entered, and another room opened each year, 
until now six grades are receiving instruction in as many rooms on the 
first and second floors. Soon the entire building will be occupied, and 
about nine hundred pupils in daily attendance. 

The question of relief for that part of St. Peter's congregation 
li\ing in the Highlands was at once taken up by Dr. Keleher with 
.\rchbishop, now Cardinal. O'Connell, and the setting oiT of a new 

L— 18 


jjarish strongly advocated as an act of justice to those members. The 
bishop approved, the lines of the parish were defined by him, and Dr. 
Keleher was authorized to select a location. He chose the property 
on Stevens street upon which the church stands, the home of the then 
owner now lieing the church rectory. The purchase price, $7,000, was 
paid in full by St. Peter's. In 1910 the parish of St. Margaret's was 
erected, and a pastor appointed. 

The removal of St. Peter's Orphanage fn>ni contracted quarters 
and undesirable surroundings was a subject that directly challenged 
Dr. Keleher's interest, and aroused his determination to improve con- 
ditions. The building, then situated un Ap])leton street, had been 
transformed from an old dwelling in a location which had become 
most undesirable. The Orphanage, founded in the fall of 1865, was 
opened by Sisters of Charity on November 2T,. of that year. Later the 
institution was placed in charge of the Nazareth Sisterhood, and came 
under the care of the jiastor of St. Peter's. 

l<"ather Ronan inaugurated a greatly improved condition, and 
from the receipts of a great fair held in Lowell paid the debts which 
had accumulated, and ])laced the Orjihanage u])on a sound basis. Dur- 
ing the years of his pastorate which followed, he created a fund frnm 
bequests and donations, which at his death amounted to $20,000, which 
was used in relocating the Orjihanage and building. On December 
18, 19TO, land was bough' at No. 530 Stevens street, the nld prciperty 
on Ap])leton street was sold, the jnirchase price added to Father 
Ronan's fimd, and l)oth used to defray in ]iart the cost of the new build- 
ings erected. After the -ale of the old building, ])ossession being at 
once demanded, quarters were found in the newly-erected building 
owned by the Shaw Stocking Company, which was used until the 
com])letion of the new home. The business administration inaugu- 
rated by Father Ronan has since ])re\ailed, the children of the Or]5han- 
age, aljf)ut one hundred and thirty, are cared for under the best condi- 
tions, and .Sisters of Charit\' .'ire in charge, inider the su|)er\ising care 
of the ])astor of St. Margaret's and gi-ner.-il direction of the pastors of 
the Catholic parishes of the city. 

No \ interest of .St. Peter's h;is been neglected in bringing 
nnont the solution of these ])roblems, on the conlrarv, the [jarish, 
under Dr. Keleher, has iirospered matcriallv and si)irituallv, and in 
tlic ni;ni\' wavs not \'isil)le to the unthinking but tn those who can 
discern are the truest measure of a jiastor's success. He is a profound 
and learned theologian, an eloquent preacher, possessing a fine voice 
and comni.'inding presence, a cultured Cliristi:in gentlem;in with a 
l)leasing jiersonality which wins the love and respect of all who come 
within the circle of !iis influence. He is a strong advocate for any 
cause he m.iy esitotise, ;ind numbers his friends among ;ill classes. He 


is a member of the Lowell Board of Trade, and interested in all move- 
ments tending to the betterment of the city and the cause of the com- 
mon good. It is in keeping with this spirit that he so warmly advo- 
cates the cause of temperance, his long continued labor as chaplain of 
the Mathew Society resulting in great good. He has also interested 
himself in the Society of San Antonio, an Italian social and beneficial 
society, and in many ways his influence has been exerted for the good 
of his fellow-men outside of his priestly duties. Many substantial 
improvements to the church property have been made during Dr. 
Keleher's pastorate, amongst others, the purchase in May, 1910, of the 
residence immediately south of the rectory and the removal of the 
buildings, and the addition of the site to the grounds surrounding 
church and rectory. In 1916 the building north of the church was 
removed and the site added to the church grounds. In 191 5 a beauti- 
ful estate, at the corner of Highland and Thorndike streets, was pur- 
chased, and a convent opened. In 1916 the adjoining property was 
purchased, and after extensive alterations and improvements, was 
joined to the former, and now both are occupied by the Sisters who 
teach in the school. 

There is nothing in the history of St. Peter's parish of which the 
people are more proud than that it is the home of Cardinal O'Connell, 
for here he was born, and here he spent his childhood and youth, and 
even in those early days gave promise of his great career. 

The many activities of Rev. Theodore Edson at St. Anne's and of 
his devoted parishioners kept that church in the forefront of the city's 

At the Unitarian church. Rev. Henry Adolphus Miles continued 
his enlightened and scholarly ministrj- during a period of sixteen 
years down to May 30, 1853, when he resigned to become secre- 
tary of the American Unitarian Association. He was succeeded by 
the Rev. Theodore Tebbetts, whose pastorate, interrupted by ill health, 
lasted only ten days and who was followed by Rev. Frederick Hinck- 
ley, whose ministry continued until October 3, 1864. 

The first cemetery to be opened after the incorporation of the 
town of Lowell was the Old Lowell Burying Ground on Gorham 
street, just opposite the former fair grounds. The first grave in this 
was dug August 15, 1835. It is still kc])t up, though of late years there 
have been but few interments. 

The Lowell Cemetery, occupying some eighty-four acres of land 
near the Concord river to the south of Fort Hill, was laid out by a 
corporation chartered March 8, 1841. The original officers were: 
President, Oliver M. Whipple : treasurer, James C. Carney ; clerk, 
Charles Hovey : trustees. John .-\iken, James Cook, Jonathan Tyler, 
Samuel Lawrence, John W. Graves, Seth Ames, John C. Dalton, Alex 


ander Wright, David Dana, Eliphalet Case, John Nesmith and Wil- 
liam Livingston. The cemetery was dedicated June 20, 184 1, with 
exercises of great solemnity. There was singing hy the Lowell Union 
Singing Society, J. C. Aiken, conductor. Rev. Lemuel Porter offered 
the prayer. The dedicatory address l)y the Rev. Amos Blanchard was 
long renieml)ered for its eloquence and rich imagery. The consecrat- 
ing prayer was made by the Rev. Henry A. Miles and the benediction 
delivered by the Rev. Mr. Packard, of Chelmsford. 

The Catholic and Edson cemeteries were opened in 1846 in the 
sandy ].)lain across Gorham street from the fair grounds. 

Social Life Before the War — Socially, Lowell continued to be — 
much as it was under the town government — a community of delight- 
ful homes. Cultivated people kept alive the arts and sciences. Of 
gayety there was enough. Suggestive testimony to the social charm of 
the city's first years was offered by Judge J. G. Abbott, in a letter read 
at the centennial celebration of 1876. This jurist, whose residence in 
Lowell ended just before the Civil War, wrote: 

My acquaintance with Lowell began in the latter part of T834, 
when it had a population, I believe, of about twelve thousand. I think 
all who lived there at that time and for the next twenty years, will 
agree with me that in saying that no city of its size ever contained 
more remarkable people or [was] a pleasanter or more cultivated city. 
I doulit if any place of as large a population ever had within its borders 
a larger number of very able men who would be marked and remark- 
able in any community. 

The reason of it was, I think, that for some years our state had not 
been especially progressive or prosperous, but on the contrary quiet 
and even languishing. Our lands, for agriculture, could not compete 
with the abundant fertility of the West. Our commerce had been 
paralyzed by the war with England, and was slow in recovering. 
Lowell was the real beginning of a new epoch for our state. Here was 
an opening for men of energy, power and activity who had been wait- 
ing for an opportunity — and it was improved. 

Lowell's Wealthy Men of the "Fifties" — Who the Lowell men re- 
puted to be wealthy were in 1851. together with some notes on their 
personal characteristics, came out in an entertaining ])ublication writ- 
ten by A. Forbes and J. W. Greene, with the title of "The Rich Men of 
Massachusetts, containing a Statement of the Reputed Wealth of 
about I'^ifteen Hundred Persons, with Jjrief Sketches of more than one 
Thousand Characters." 

Otic of the features of this compilation was its emphasis on the 
benevolence, or lack thereof, of the well-to-do persons listed, the belief 
of the authors being that an increasing jealousy of the poor regarding 
the rich might be dissipated if the latter all gave liberally to good 
causes. They expressly state that when nothing in their notes is said 


concerning a person's benevolence the reader should not conclude that 
this man never gives, but simply that he has not acquired among his 
fellow-men a reputation for being liberal. 

The following were found to be the indubitably solid men of 
Lowell, with their ratings and, in some instances, their personal char- 
acteristics; Adams, Joel, $100,000. Began with small means. Law- 
yer by profession. President of Prescott Bank. Bartlett, Homer, 
$100,000. Native of Granby. Graduate of Williams College. Studied 
law with Hon. Daniel Noble, Williamstown. Cashier of W'are Bank 
and agent of Ware Manufacturing Company. About 1839 appointed 
agent of the Massachusetts Cotton Mills, Lowell. "Mr. Bartlett is a 
remarkable demonstration of what can be efifected by application, un- 
tiring perseverance, and inflexible integrity. He commenced without 
a cent, and with but a partial allowance from his father to defray the 
expenses of his classical education, and even this pittance he has 
long since refunded. He enjoys the unqualified respect of the citizens 
of Lowell." Carter, George, $100,000. Began a poor boy, but received 
something by marriage. Apothecary. "A very industrious, prudent 
man and much given to acts of benevolence." Fiske, William. $100.- 
000. Commenced in Low-ell poor. Carpenter. "Energetic man and 
ver}' benevolent." French. Benjamin P., $100,000. Mostly inherited. 
President of Railroad Bank. Livingston, William, $100,000. Began 
a hard-worker, digging, jobbing, etc. Has a lumber wharf and deals 
in coal, lime and grain. "Made twenty thousand dollars one year by 
selling grain at a profit of two cents on the bushel. Had no education 
to begin with. A man of very fair benevolence." Nesmith, John. 
$200,000. Nesmith, Thomas, $100,000. The account states that these 
brothers were poor farmer boys at Wenham (sic), and that they 
"accumulated their money in trade and speculation." Rogers, Zadoc, 
$100,000. Inherited. Farmer. Old bachelor. Southwick, Royal, 
$100,000. Small portion by inheritance and marriage. Manufacturer. 
"Smart, enterprising man. Benevolent where he likes, and this quality 
in him is often rendered more active by a very benevolent wife." 
Tyler, Jonathan, $100,000. "Commenced poor. Accumulating by say- 
ing 'No.' Obtained an acre in the heart of Lowell for a mere trifle 
many years ago, and would never sell an inch of it." Whipple, 01i\-cr 
M., $200,000. "Commenced as a common hand in a powder mill. 
Came to Lowell with pack on his back. Is now an extensive powder 
manufacturer." Wright, Nathaniel, $100,000. Lawyer and former 
mayor. "His wife is very benevolent, and he 'don't object to it'." 
Wyman. William W., $150,000. "Mostly inherited." 

Considerable interest in literary production has always charac- 
terized Lowell families. Apart from the authors and editors of the 
"Lowell Offering." which excited Charles Dickens' admiration, there 


were, as elsewhere noted, several writers of reputation living in the city 
at one time and another before iS6o. One of the most prominent of 
these, socially, was Mrs. Jane Ermine Locke, for some years a corre- 
spondent of the "Boston Daily Journal" and "Daily Atlas" and author 
of many magazine poems and special articles. Mrs. Locke was friendly 
with most of the literary workers of what is now called the "golden 
age of American literature" — Whittier, Bryant, Poe, N. P. Willis, Mrs. 
Sigourney. Mrs. Osgood and many others. When Poe came to Lowell 
in 184S to deliver his lecture on "Poetic Principle," he was entertained 
at Mrs. Locke's home and was introduced to many of her friends. The 
poet Whittier's residence in Lowell was brief. It resulted in a little 
book of impressionistic word jiictures. 

When American Drama Was at Its Best — I )uring the great age of 
the American drama: that is between al)Out 1S40 and the advent of 
vaudeville in the eighties. Lowell had certainly better theatrical enter- 
tainments than are now vouchsafed it by the New York managers. 

Boston was then far more imjjortant. relatively, in the theatrical 
world than it is to-day, and as the nearest large town to the Hub, 
Lowell was often fa\'ored with the presence of the greatest contem- 
porary actors and actresses. 

Much of the old-time prejudices against theatres survived, and 
entertainments were sometimes jierforce given under disguises that 
were as transparent as is the name of "sacred concerts" more lately 
applied to Sunday evening variety shows. Both amateur and profes- 
sional drama, ne\'ertheless, was familiar to such of the Lowell public 
as liked to see plays. 

A particularly instructive chapter of Lowell history is concerned 
with the attempts to maintain here a stock company generally similar 
in quality to the celel)ratcd Boston Museum Stock Company. The 
plan started in 1840, when David Kimball, of Boston, brought to a 
room in \N'yman's Exchange a collection of curiosities from Green- 
wood's old New England Museum. In Lnwell. as at the New England 
capital, the "educational value" of the "curios" exhibited was relied 
u]:)on to overcome the antipathy of many people toward the dramatic 
entertainment to which the admission fee also entitled the ticket 
holder. The curiosities in this "museum" consisted of objects of 
natural history, oil paintings, engravings, wax figures and other works 
of art. It cost twelve and a half cents to enter. Minors were not ad- 
mitted unattended. 

The Kiinbalts did not long continue their interest in this \-enture, 
and in 1845 they sold the entire collection and fixtures to Noah F. 
Gates for .$5,000. 

This gentleman at unce removed the ciu'ios, imjiroved the theatri- 
cal accessories, obtained a license and engaged six or seven profes- 


sional people among whom were George Wyatt, Mary Gannon and 
Master Mejer. Adelaide Pliillipps, opera singer, and Freeman, the 
giant, were secured as special attractions. Under such ausj)ices the 
house at once began to draw sizable audiences. 

Then, in 1(846, Mr. Gates aroused, as Cowley puts it. "strong in- 
dignation in Zion," l)_v leasing for his theatre the building formerly 
owned by the First Freewill Baptist Society, on the site of the present 
Hildreth building at Merrimack Square. Despite initial opposition 
the place was fitted up as a museum and theatre and was opened on No- 
vember 24, 1846, with a company from the Boston Museum, which in- 
cluded Mr. and j\lrs. G. C. Germon, George E. Locke, Messrs. Davis, 
Currier and Rogers, F. W. Germon, Mr. and Mrs. Altemus, Mr. and 
Mrs. Bryant, Mrs. C. Groves, Mrs. Perkins, Miss Downs, Messrs. J. 
Brooks Bradley, Robinson, W. F. Johnson and Warner. The opening 
piece, appropriately, was "Raising the Wind." 

The whirlwind followed. The anti-theatre forces put pressure on 
the city government and the manager was forbidden to give any more 
exhibitions, the license for 1847 being revoked. As a parting perform- 
ance on the last day of 1S46 Mr. Gates had a stellar attraction in the 
person of Tom Thumb in a play called "Much and Little." 

Friends of the American drama, however, were not wanting in 
Lowell, and in the first four days of 1847 they circulated a petition, 
urging that Mr. Gates' license be restored. This secured upwards of 
2.200 names. The citv council yielded to the point of holding a hear- 
ing. The petitioners engaged Hon. Thomas Hopkinson, one of the 
most distinguished lawyers of the city. The case against the drama 
was presented by two clerg}-men. Messrs. Thurston and True, who 
based their argument solely "on Bible grounds." Many of the council 
were "professors." but the ])etitioners won a qualified victory. A 
license was granted on condition that the house close at ten-thirty and 
"that moral plays only should be produced." 

Thenceforward, despite recurrent fires that every now and then 
threatened to bankrupt the management. Lowell for a number of years 
saw some of the best actors of the time who would come down from 
Boston for a week's engagement, playing to the support of the stock 
company The enterprise in 1850 was regularly incorporated with a 
capital of $60,000, and with the following officers : President, Noah F. 
Gates ; clerk, W. A. Richardson ; treasurer, G. L. Pollard ; directors, 
the foregoing and B. H. Weaver, F. A. Hildreth, A. B. French and 
Henry Reed. The prices were increased to fifty cents for the box 
seats and reserved seats. On May lo, 1850, was presented "William 
Tell," with Joseph Proctor in the title role. The week following came 
Mr. and Mrs. McFarland and Mrs. Nichols in the "Wife and Clau- 
dare." A notable week in September, 1850, was given by Junius 


Brutus Booth, then sixty years old, presenting Richard IL and other 
Shakespearean pieces. In November of that week Mr. and Mrs. J. W. 
Wallack gave several classic plays, and Mr. and Mrs. Dibdin Pitt 
appeared in Charles XII. and Hamlet. George E. Locke, J. B. Booth 
and Charlotte Cushman succeeded one another as popular visitors. 

In 1 85 1 the director manager discharged his old company and 
engaged a new one, having as its jirincipal members: Mr. and Mrs. 
W. L. Ayling, Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Herbert, Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Tyr- 
rel, Messrs. Steele, Lubey, Joyce, Howe, Mrs. Groves Rainforth, 
Misses Steele and I'arker. Professor Herman Eckhardt was signed as 
leader of the orchestra. 

There may have been local feeling regarding the discharge of the 
former company. It is recorded, at all events, that the new organiza- 
tion "never were the favorites, nor did they do the business ot the 
original one." The house was regularly open, however, until Sepiem- 
ber 30, 1853, when a tire of unknown origin gutted the place. 

Nothing daunted, the owners rebuilt the theatre at an expense of 
nearly $5,000 and reopened on January 2, 1854, with W. L. Ayling as 
manager and with a company comprising Mrs. Ayling, Mrs. Forbes, 
Mrs. Bryant, Messrs. Kames, Linden, Madigan, Kavanaugh, Benson 
and others. Such pieces were presented as "London Assurance," 
"Raising the Wind," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "The Loan of a Lover," 
"The Lady of Lyons," "The Spectre Bridegroom" and various Shake- 
spearean dramas. Mr. Gates personally resumed the management in 
October, 1854. In that season several famous visitors played at the 
house. A drama entitled "The Five Masks," written by a local ama- 
teur, was staged successfully. The stock company's season closed the 
latter part of April, but several traveling shows rented the house dur- 
ing the summer season. In November, 1855, the house reopened under 
a new management which Mr. Gates soon displaced. In the second 
week of December, Mr. Wallack brought Shakespearian roles. Then 
came Mrs. V'incent in "The Merchant of Venice." She was followed 
by the National Theatre Company of Boston, who were playing, when 
on January 30, 1856, another fire broke out and completely destroyed 
the playhouse. It was not rebuilt and thus ]:)assed Lowell's most 
famous and artistically meritorious stock company. During its pros- 
perous period, so Cowley states, it employed an average of thirty 
people at salaries aggregating about $300 a week, which certainly 
would not figure out at a high average. 

Amateur theatrical organizations were fairly actixe in Lowell 
prior to the Civil War. 

In 1836 some thirty young men of the city formed a Thespian 
Club til give gratuitous entertainments in the former Lowell street 
theatre, for which a license had been refused to professionals by the 


selectmen of the town of Lowell. This association contained at least 
one memlier who later became a distinguished stage person, J. Brooks 
Bradley. Other locally prominent performers in its exhibition were 
Perez Fuller, John Wellington, John Sweetzer, Moses Winn, William 
T. G. Pierce, Luther Conner, Joseph Ripley, Kelsey Moore, Miss Wil- 
lis, Miss Seymour, Miss Eaton. Perhaps the first play to be written in 
Lowell was staged by the Thespians, one based on the story of Henry 
\'L and written by Mr. Clapp, one of the high school teachers. The 
performances of the association soon created a debt, and as a means 
of liquidating this an admission fee of twenty-five cents was charged. 
\\'hen ])resently the members found themselves out of debt, thev were 
so pleased that thej- decided to disband. 

The example of the stock company a little later presumably stirred 
up new interest among Lowell amateurs, for in the late forties and 
fifties numerous dramatic performances, pantomimes, dioramas and 
other forms of entertainment were offered at City Hall, Merrimack 
Hall, Concert Hall, Classic Hall, Wentworth Hall. Welles Hall, Em- 
pire Hall, Huntington Hall, Jackson Hall. Central Hall and Mechanics' 
Hall. Advertised by handbills and not usually reported in the news- 
papers of the period, the records of these performances are quite 
meagre. One of the few that got considerable publicity was the per- 
formance given December 14, 1853, by the Aurora Club, which had 
engaged a hall in a building at Merrimack and Prescott streets. About 
two hundred people were in attendance. Just as the play began the 
whole floor gave way, dropping to the story below, fortunately without 
a panic which might have caused the loss of lives. 

Most of the plays written in Lowell during the first decades — and 
for that matter during subsequent years — have gone into deserved 

One very famous, if not highly meritorious piece which was 
dramatized in Lowell, is "Ten Nights in a Bar-room," made over from 
T. S. Arthur's novel of that name by William \N. Pratt. It had its 
premiere in the nearby city of Lawrence. 

Mid-Century Musical Offerings — Much of the l)cst music in 
Lowell three-quarters of a century ago, as well as subsequently, has 
been given in connection with church services. Amateur help was 
commonly offered, for the day of high-priced organists and singers did 
not arrive until after the Rebellion. 

In Atkinson Varnum's reminiscences of the oldest church within 
the present city limits, the West Dracut church at Pawtucketville, 
reference is made to an orchestra which was quite famous before the 
society in 1850 purchased a modern organ. Among the instrumental- 
ists were Zadoc Lew, of the family of colored people from Groton, who 
have already been mentioned in connection with their musical serv- 


ices in the Revolutionary army, this particular Mr. Lew being "f|uite 
a celebrated player, for his day, uu a bassoon and other wind instru- 
ments;" Nathaniel Varnuni, Jeremiah Varnum, Orford R. Blood, John 
T. Spofford, and Gordon F. Tucker (players upon the bass viol) ; Oli- 
ver P. Varnum, Rufus Freeman, John Cutter. Joseph Merrill, Rapha 
W. Sawyer, A. C. Varnum, violinists; Adrastus Lew, clarionet; Cof- 
fern Nutting, trombone. The society also had a choir led for many 
years by ITenry Osgood, a powerful bass singer, whose services were 
so approved that he was ])aid a small salary by a member of the con- 

Art and the Exposition of '51 — The instincts that demand art are 
never entirely repressed and they were no more sadly perverted in 
Lowell of the early Victorian decades than elsewhere in North Amer- 
ica — possibly, indeed, in some respects they were rather less alisurdly 
manifested than in most communities. 

It is amusing, nevertheless, to review the artistic features of such 
an attempted exposition of the beautiful and picturesfpie as was 
brought together in one section of the great Mechanics' Fair of the 
autumn of 1851. 

That was the year of the first of the large international expositions 
in London which to the few who were truly critical re\ealed strikingly 
the downward tendency of the arts, but which was hailed by the un- 
thinking as a wonderful exhibition of the superior taste of modern 

The fame of the London show undoubtedly led to eflforts to make 
an exceptionally striking exposition of art and manufactures at Lowell. 
The collections in the "Cotton Palace," or "Pitchpine Palace" as it was 
humorously called, were possibly of about the same grade of artistic 
achievement as those in the celebrated Crystal Palace in England. 
The entries, as one to-day follows an account that was published 
serially in the "Daily Vox" of September and October, 1851, are often 
of a sort to raise an indidgent smile. 

The vestibule, which was intended to be thoroughly impressive, 
contained several of the portraits with which the present generation is 
familiar; The good honest, workmanlike likenesses of John Lowell, 
Abbott Lawrence, Nathan Appleton and other fathers of the town. 
Thcv, at least, were dignified and imposing. Here, too, was a great 
plain t)lock of marble, to be sent by the ladies of Lowell for incorpora- 
tion in the Washington monument, and suitably inscribed with lines 
written by Mrs. Elisha Huntington: 

From the Ladies of Lowell, Massaclui.sctts : 
Wlicre liuliistry her grateful tribute pays. 
To Him whose valfir won us prosperous day.s. 


"Over the above." commented the "Vox" chronicler, "sits a neat 
case of patented Tooth Powder, looking very nice, by Dr. L. C. 
Dale, of Boston. As there is no special description of its excellences, 
as the Doctor does not advertise in the "Daily Vox," we pass this by 
without further remark." 

The section of the exposition given over to objects of art, antiquity 
and curious interest, as opposed to the machinery and manufactured 
goods in the textile section, must have presented an astonishing med- 
ley of the genuinely artistic handicrafts of the colonial period, the de- 
based contemporary "fancy-work" and exhibits of purely commercial 
character. In juxtaposition, in the "Vox's" story, one finds such items 
as these : 

996 — A most formidable looking body of defective masticators ex- 
tracted by Dr. S. Lawrence, Lowell. One can almost hear a thousand 
agonized groans, issuing from these relics of wretchedness. 

409 — A very large Picture of Washington, wrought in worsted 
by Miss Laura N. Andrews, Lowell. It is an admirable piece of work, 
and attracts much attention and deserved praise. 

Here is a continuation of the running narrative and critical expo- 
sition : 

Say 868, a love bouquet of wax flowers — enough — sight more 
natural than real flowers — by Miss L. Haynes. The accomplished 
and judgmatical reporter of the Courier says it is the best specimen 
of wax work in the fair. We dare not be so bold — but it is really 

To close this case, we take No. 723. Four admirably executed 
cameos, all likeness from life, by Miss Marguerite Foley, Lowell — cer- 
tainly a most artistic proof of that young lady's talent and skill, in this 
delicate and difficult branch of sculpture. These specimens, as far as 
we are able to criticise, will bear comparison with any work of this 
kind we ever saw. They are really first rate. 

The cameos contributed by Miss Foley, it is safe to assume, were 
among the most really meritorious works of art in the exhibition, for 
the later career of this young woman was quite distinguished. 

Two more examples of the art criticism of 1851 will suffice; the 
latter entry, introducing one of the earlier and ambitious productions 
of the late Jonathan Bowers, whose round stone house on Wanna_- 
lancet Hill was, and is, one of the architectural freaks of the Com- 
monwealth : 

274 — Another excellent crayon drawing by Miss Emeline Colcord, 
Lowell. Emeline should continue her practice. 

790 — This, probably, is the most ingenus [sic] specimen of cun- 
ning and patient labor upon a mere fancy article, in the whole Fair. 
It is a Mosaic Centre Table — at least, that is the imperfect description 


in the Catalogue; for it is of Mosaic (of wood) glass, shell, gilt, pearl, 
and we can hardly say what else. The maker, Mr. Jonathan Bowers, 
of this city, is said to have received no regular mechanical education — 
but the work shows that he has a thorough knowledge of every branch, 
requisite to produce this rare and costly table, in the perfection of 
mechanic art. It is said that $i,ooo — the News says $2,000 — have been 
refused for this beautiful piece of work ; but we do not know what 
credit belongs to the stories. The thousand dollars is a large sum of 
money, for so small an article of furniture — more, even, than we could, 
ourseif, flush as we are, afiford to pay. 

Specific examples like the above of the sort of taste prevailing in 
mid-century Lowell are perhaps worth citing, if only to prevent senti- 
mentalizing this era of national and local history, as some antiquarians 
are already bidding us do. 

Art of a certain sort was publicly exhibited during several years 
in the old Lowell Museum, the annals of which have already been 
given in part. As in the case of the Boston Museum, the collections of 
art and curiosities were of the nature of a blind, to help overcome the 
aversion which many of the public then had for theatrical perform- 
ances. The exhibits were of a sort to make a really esthetic soul shud- 
der, if one may judge from such advertisements as the subjoined, 
which appeared in the "Vox Populi" of March 26, 1842: 

(LoWKl.L MrSKCM ) 

Corner of Merrimack and Central Streets 

The public are respectfully informed that the above Institution, 
having received many valuable additions and having been entirely 
refurnished and renovated throughout, is now open day and evening 
for the reception of visitors. The collection, which embraces a large 
variety of specimens of Natural History, Painting, Engraving, Statu- 
ary, Wax-work and Curiosities, is perfectly in order and so arranged 
as to impart much instruction and amusement. Among the objects of 
real interest are fourteen large Scrijjtural paintings of the Life and 
Sufferings of our Saviour, the Musical Androides, Hall of Industry, 
Military Androides, Elephant Horatio, Ourang-Outang, double Lamb, 
etc., etc. • 

Stg^ Just added, the great picture of the Death of Abel, which 
has always been considered an exhibition alone. Surmounting the 
building is an Observatory which commands an extensive view of the 

Ladies and Families are informed that the strictest order is main- 
tained and that they can with perfect propriety visit the Museum with- 
out the ciimpany of a gentleman. 

F. G.VTES, Superintendent. 

Jtg^ Boys are not admitted unless accompanied by their parents 
or guardians. 

-A If 

^ • 

- =^J 






\ pp«-«- 





^ .--'".■^ 

Lowell in the Civil War. 

The alertness of Lowell throughout the crisis that was precipi- 
tated when several of the slave-holding States undertook to leave the 
Union, was typical of a communit)' in which young and vigorous peo- 
ple still predominated. At no other period of its history has the city 
so consistently taken National prominence as during the years 1861- 
65. Lowell was first in several episodes of the war and lagged in 
nothing that was required for successful prosecution of the conflict. 

So far as the struggle was caused by the slavery question, Lowell, 
it must be conceded, was, up to the outset of the war, far from being 
a community united in opposition to the pretensions of the Southern 
autocracy. Except, indeed, for a few people who were regarded as 
cranks, the whole North, as Wendell Phillips once put it, "was choked 
with cotton dust," and a manufacturing city, in especial, whose pros- 
perity was bound up in a plentiful supply of raw cotton, and whose 
leading business men had close relations with the South, was unlikely 
to be a hotbed of anti-slavery agitation. The laboring classes as well 
as the employers were often hostile to the efforts of abolitionists, feel- 
ing that, as Oneal says, "division along sectional lines delayed the 
coming of the solidarity of all workers North and South." So that, 
although the pre-Lowell district, as we have seen, had in Squire John 
Varnum and General Joseph Bradley Varnum two of the earliest 
.American protagonists of complete human freedom, the city of i860 
was by no means a unit in resisting the encroachments of feudal slav- 
ery upon the freer institutions of the North. 

The "big business" of the day, it may be added, was generally 
averse to interfering with the South's "peculiar institiAtion." In the 
cotton industry dividends were quite dependent upon a regular supply 
of the ba.'^ic material of the manufacture. It is a .safe conjecture that 
many of the mill men whose properties were at Lowell would have 
echoed the sentiments of Xathan Appleton. one of the city's founders, 
as expressed in an apologetic letter of December 15, i860, to a Charles- 
ton man with whom he had business dealings. "It is evident," wrote 
Mr. Appleton, "that the South is in a state of great excitement, a feel- 
ing of extreme indignation toward the North, which has been produced 
in great measure by the abuse of the South poured forth in speeches 
and letters by the more extreme of our politicians. But it is a great 
mistake to suppose that these represent the feelings of the masses in 
the North or even in New England. Every man of common sense 
knows that the abolition of slavery, if desirable, is an utter impossi- 
bility, and there is no such thing as a general hatred of the South " 


While the Boston manufacturers no doubt expected that the Na- 
tional trouble would blow over, they shrewdly undertook to prepare 
against it as far as was possible in the weeks between President Lin- 
coln's election and his inauguration. It was reported on January i8 
that the manufacturing companies were buying largely of raw cotton 
and storing it for future use. "One corporation has lately made, in 
the purchase of a cargo of this article, enough to pay its last semi- 
annual dividend. The different railrcjad tracks to the various corpora- 
tions in the city are daily covered with cars loaded with cotton." This 
foresight was responsible for some of the mills continuing to operate 
at or near cajjacity for many weeks after the war had reduced ship- 
ments to practically nothing. That business was good at the begin- 
ning of 1861 was attested l)y "Alilo," the "Boston Journal's" corres- 
pondent, who told his readers that "notwithstanding Southern poli- 
ticians and newspapers are proclaiming that the working classes of 
the north are on the brink of starvation, business is as good in this 
city as it usually is at this season." 

Conditions in Lowell at Outbreak of the War — About to complete 
its fourth decade as a factor}- city, Lowell had no reason to desire any- 
thing but the preservation of peace. The census of i860 showed that 
the city had reached a population of 36,827, and an assessed valuation 
of $20,894,207. The effects (if the panic of 1857 had passed and times 
were reasonably good. Normally the development of the city should 
have gone forward diuHng the next half decade without unusual excite- 
ment or serious industrial depressions. 

Municipal politics continued on a high plane. City officers for the 
year 1861 were elected toward the close of i860 as follows: Mayor, 
Benjamin C. Sargent ; aldermen, Samuel T. Manahan, Jonathan P. 
Folsom, James Watson, William I. Morse, Hoctim Hosford, Aldis L. 
Waite, Sager Ashworth, William S. Gardner. 

The new ma^'or was one of the business men of good grade who 
frequently stood for office in ante-bellum Lowell. He was a bookseller 
bv trade, whose place of business in one of the rented stores of City 
llall is pleasurably remembered by older Lowell people of studious 
tastes. A native of L'nity, New Hampshire, he had come to Lowell 
in 1839, at the age of sixteen, to serve as clerk in the bookstore of his 
brother-in-law, Ahijah Watson. In 1843 he went to New York, where 
for three years he was em|)loyed in a book and ])ublishing concern. 
Returning to Lowell he started a lousiness of his own in Central street, 
which was later removed to the City Building. Me was a member of 
the Common council for five years in the fifties, during three of which 
years he was its president. As mayor he was a ijuiet, efficient official, 
who did what was expected of him in times of crisis and emergency 
He died March 2, 1870 

IN THH C1\"IT. WAR 287 

Political conditions were otherwise favorable in Lowell, as well 
as other -Massachusetts communities. The State election of i860 had 
provided an unusually able and energetic government. John A. An- 
drew, destined to be known as the War Governor, was then chosen for 
the first time In the Legislature, which met on January 2, 1861, Wil- 
liam Claflin, of Newton, was president of the Senate ; John A. Good- 
win, of Lowell, Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

Abolition of the Toll Bridge — A local happening of the winter that 
preceded the war. vied in excitement \\-ith the National situation. Resi- 
dents of Pawtucketville, the W'est Dracut and of the Pawtucket street 
section of the city, late in i860, made a final and successful effort 
toward abolition of the toll nuisance on Pawtucket bridge. 

At a meeting in Cambridge of the Middlesex county commission- 
ers on January i, 1861, a petition of Peter Sullivan Coburn and others 
to lay out Pawtucket bridge as a public highway was considered. 
Simultaneously a petition was prepared and submitted to the Legis- 
lature urging a special act to enable the city of Lowell and the town of 
Dracut to support the bridge jointly and justly between them. These 
petitions were duly granted. 

The joint jubilation of Lowell and Dracut on the occasion of the 
abolition of tolls on the Pawtucket bridge occurred, fortunately, just 
before the National crisis had become so acute as to absorb the atten- 
tion of serious-minded people. Through some one's initiative a public 
meeting in Huntington Hall was called for February 9 to consider 
whether it would be desirable to have a celebration in honor of the 
liberation of the bridge. 

It was the unanimous sense of the assembly that such celebration 
would be desirable, and a committee of Lowell citizens was chosen as 
follows : Alfred Gilman, E. B. Patch, Levi Sprague, James Watson, 
\\\ G. Wise, William McFarlin, H. M. Hooke, G. F. Sawtell, J. U. 
Gage. Dracut was to be represented by Asa Clement, J. B. V. Coburn, 
Joseph Chase. C. B. Varnum and George W. Coburn ; Pelham by E. M. 
Marsh, and Tyngsborough by Cyrus Butterfield. It was arranged that 
the ceremonies at the bridge should take place on February 20 follow- 
ing, and that there should be exercises in Ihuitington Hall on Wash- 
ington's birthday. 

Accordingly, on the 20lh of February, in a driving snowstorm, a 
crowd gathered around the mayor of Lowell and others of the city 
government, the selectmen of Dracut and other dignitaries, while the 
treasurer of the city and town respectively paid over four thousand and 
two thousand dollars to the county treasurer, who added a check for 
six thousand dollars and presented the whole amount to Artemas 
Holden, treasurer of the bridge company. 

The papers were signed at ten forty-five, whereupon County Com 


missioiier Huntress declared the bridge a free public highway. Three 
cheers were given, the nearby church bell was pealed and thirty-four 
salutes were fired from a nine-pound gun, which had been brought to 
the river bank. Then the toll gate was hitched behind a sleigh in 
which rode William Mcl""arlin and Peter Sullivan Coburn, who had 
been the prime movers in the agitation to free the bridge, and who 
were thus the first to liave tlie right to cross it without paying toll. 
Behind them came members of the celebrated Lew family, playing 
Yankee Doodle on sundry instruments. Thus ended the ser\ices of 
Toll Collector Proctor, who had held up "teams" and foot passengers 
for twenty-nine years. Mr. Holden, during nearly as many years, had 
been watchdog of the corporation's finances. The bridge had been 
privately owned and managed since 1792. 

The celebration on the 22nd in Huntington Hall brought to Lowell 
a big gathering of sleighs from Dracut, Tyngsborough and the south- 
ern towns of New Hampshire. There was music by the Otto Club and 
the Hall Brass Band, singing by Perez Fuller, and addresses by nota- 
bles. The sole disappointment was that a poem which had been 
widely heralded as forthcoming from a former resident now in the 
West failed to reach the committee in time to be read. 

\\'ith the opening of Pawtucket bridge as a highway, Lowell citi- 
zens had free access to thirty-one l)ridges in addition to those of the 
manufacturing corporations. Of these bridges the city owned four- 
teen, the Locks and Canals Company thirteen and the railroad com- 
panies four. 

In the midst f>f the city's peaceful life, which was but little ruffled 
by the exciting election of November, i860, it l)egan to be cx'ident by 
the first of the new year that momentous events were on their way. 
Preparations against a great emergency that was visibly approaching 
were not wanting in Lowell. Officers of the Sixth Massachusetts 
Regiment, several of whose companies were composed of Lowell men, 
met (in January 21 at the .\merican House to "arrange for future con- 
tingencies." Through Mr:jor B. F. \\'atson a resolution was presented 
and unanimously adojited, as follows: "Resolved, That Colonel Jones 
be authorized and re(|uested, forthwith, to tender the services of the 
6th regiment to the commander-in-chief and legislature, when such 
service may iiecome desirable, for the purposes contemplated in (len- 
eral Order No. 4." This resolution was read shortlv afterwards in the 
State Senate by General Benjamin 1*". Butler. It was also sent to Gov- 
ernor Andrew and by him mentioned in the following message of Jan- 
uary 22 til the Legislature: "I transmit herewith, for the informatinn 
of the General Court, a communication ottering to the Commander-in- 
Chief and the Legislature the services of the Sixth Regiment. Third 
Brigade. Second Divisioi'. of the \'olunteer Militia of the Common- 


wealth, which was this day received bj- me from the hands of Briga- 
dier General Butler." 

This message from the Lowell meeting was duly noticed by the 
Legislature, which, on January 23, passed the following resolve : 

Whereas, several States of the Union have through the action of 
their people and authorities assumed the attitude of rebellion against 
the National Government; and whereas, treason is still more exten- 
sively diiTused ; and whereas, the State of South Carolina, having first 
seized the Post Office, Custom House, moneys, arms, munitions of 
war and fortifications of the United States, has' by firing upon a vessel 
in the service of the United States, committed' an act of war ; and 
whereas, the forts and property of the United States in Georgia, Ala- 
bama, Louisiana and Florida have been seized with hostile and treason- 
able intention ; and whereas, Senators and Representatives in Congress 
avow and sanction these acts of rebellion, therefore. 

Resolved, that the Legislature of Massachusetts, now, as always, 
convinced of the inestimable value of the Union, and the necessity of 
preserving its blessings to ourselves and our posterity regard with'un- 
mingled satisfaction the determination evinced in the recent firm and 
patriotic special message of the President of the United States to apply 
and faithfully discharge his constitutional duty of enforcing the laws 
and preserving the integrity of the Union, and we proffer him, through 
the Governor of the Commonwealth, such aid in men and money as he 
may require, to maintain the authority of the National Government. 

Resolved, that the Union-loving and patriotic authorities, repre- 
sentatives, and citizens of these United States whose loyalty is endan- 
gered or assailed by internal or external treason, who labor in behalf 
of the Federal Union with unflinching courage and patriotic devotion, 
will receive the enduring gratitude of the American people. 

Resolved, that the Governor be requested to forward, forthwith, 
copies of the foregoing resolution to the President of the United States 
and the Governors of the several States. 

Certain defects in preparation among the Lowell companies were 
suggested in a letter which their colonel addressed to Governor An- 
drew early in February. His communication follows: 

Boston, Feb. 5, 1861. 
To His Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief: 

At our interview this morning, you requested me to put the mat- 
ter which I wished to communicate in writing. In accordance there- 
with, I make the following statement as to the condition of my com- 
mand, and take the liberty to forward the same directly to you, passing 
over the usual channel of communication for want of time. 

The Sixth Regiment consists of eight companies, located as fol- 
lows, viz. : four in Lowell, two in Lawrence, one in Acton and one in 
Boston, made up mostly of men of families, "who earn their bread by 
the sweat of their brow," men who are willing to leave their homes, 
families, and all that man holds dear, and sacrifice their present and 
future as a matter of duty 



Four companies of the regiment are insufficiently armed (as to 
quantity) with a serviceable rifle musket; the other four with the old 
musket, which is not a safe or serviceable arm, and requiring a differ- 
ent cartridge from the first, which would make confusion in the dis- 
tribution of ammunition. 

Two companies are without uniforms, having worn them out and 
were pro])osing to have new ones the ensuing Spring. Six companies 
and the liand have company uniforms of different colors and styles, but 
insufficient in numbers, and which are entirely unfit for actual service, 
from the fact that they are made of fine cloth, nmre for show and the 
attractive appearance of the company on parade than for any other 
purpose, being cut tight to the form and in fashionable style. 

I would (after being properly armed and equipped) suggest our 
actual necessary wants, viz.: a cap, frock coat, [jantaloons. boots, 
overcoat, knapsack, and blanket to each man. of heavy serviceable ma- 
terial, cut sufficiently loose and made strongly, to stand the necessities 
of the service. Such is our position, and I think it is a fair representa- 
tion of the condition of most of the troops in the State. Their health 
and efficiency depend greatly upon their comfort. 

My command is not able pecuniarily to put themseh-es in the nec- 
essary condition, nor should they, as matter of right and justice, be 
asked so to do, even were they able. What is the cost in money to 
the State of Massachusetts, when compared to the sacrifices we are 
called upmi to make? Respectfully, 

Edw.vrd F. Jones, 
Colonel Sixth Regiment. 

P. S. — I would also suggest that it would require irom ten to four- 
teen days as the shortest possible time within which my command 
could be put in marching order. 

The watchfulness with which the officers of the Sixth Regiment 
looked after details of equipment undoubtedly explains in large part 
the priorit}- of this Bay State regiment in taking the field. These men 
were descendants in sj^irit as well as lineage of the minute-men of 
Lexington Green. 

General Butler's "First Aid" to the Union — The ver)- real con- 
tributions which the militant attorney of Lowell made to the efficient 
conduct of the war in its initial stages have perhaps not been exag- 
gerated in the accounts given by himself and others in the Butler 
correspondence that was iniblished for the first time in 1917. 

General Butler's earh- and effective pleading for preparation in 
the lui)- State was noU-d in the address which General Edward F. 
Jones, commander of the Massachusetts Sixth Regiment, made before 
the Loyal Legion in New York. May 13, 191 1. A report of this address 
states that "on 14 Jan., 1861, General Butler, who was in command 
of the n^hird Brigade, Mass. Vol. Militia, called upon Col. Jones, 
commanding the .Sixth Regiment (himself) and requested that he 
(Jones) go with him (Butler) to see Gov. Andrew, remarking: 
'Andrew and I are not very good friends, and you have more influence 


with him than I have. I want to impress upon him (Andrew) the 
necessity of having some troops ready to meet the emergency which 
I know is coming. The South is attempting secession, and if the 
North is not ready, they (the South) will get an advantage which it 
will be difficult for us to overcome.' " 

General Butler himself committed to writing his memory of the 
occurrences of this winter in a letter to General William Schouler 
under date of July 10, 1870. Schouler, it should be noted, as editor 
of the Bay State's war records, had been in position to enhance or 
depreciate reputations. It might also be noted that he was a former 
Lowell editor of the "Courier" at a time when that sedate paper was 
much under fire of the "Vox Populi," to which Butler was a frequent 
anonymous and markedly sarcastic contributor. The 1870 letter from 
Washington to this old political adversary was quite conciliary in 
tone. The significant portion of it begins as follows : 

That you had espoused the cause of your chief, Governor Andrew, 
in the unfortunate differences of opinion which arose about the recruit- 
ment of the New England Division in 1861 I have never thought 
ground of personal enmity. I expected that fidelity to your com- 
mander ; and therefore when in 1864 you came to my headquarters 
you will remember that you had no cause of complaint at your recep- 
tion. I had seen, however, subsequently, indications in your writing 
up the part that Massachusetts took in the war, of what seemed to me 
a desire to belittle any efforts of mine in behalf of the country in the 
great struggle ; but I have never placed pen to paper to correct any 
supijosed misrepresentation or omissions upon your part which fell to 
my lot. 

Undertaking for Schouier's information a narrative of his per- 
sonal interest in the contest that in the winter of 1860-61 was seen to 
impend. General Butler told how on December 23, i860, he was in 
attendance at the Democratic convention in Washington which had 
been planned for at Baltimore in the preceding spring, had been plan- 
ned for in the event of the party's defeat at the national election: 

I found that all hope or desire to reorganize the Democratic party 
as a union party had passed away, especially from the more advanced 
of the southern men. They looked for an immediate dissolution of 
the Union, with homogeneous government constructed in the South, 
with slavery for its corner-stone, with which piecemeal portions of 
the North should seek admission. I remember Pennsylvania was to 
be admitted first, as she was deemed likely to ask ; then the North- 
western states, particularly Illinois, were to be tolled into the fold, 
that state being desirable because she was the home of the President. 
No doubt was expressed that Indiana would be among the earliest to 
take part with the South ; that New York City, if she could not carry 
the state with her, would be supported in dividing herself as a free 


city from the rest of the state. When I asked a southern gentleman 
what was to l)e done with New England, he said that she was to be left 
out in the cold, except perhaps Connecticut, which might well enough 
be a part of the state of which New York City was to be the centre. 

I said the North would fight. 

He said the North could not fight. Who in the North would 
fight? I said I would, for one. He replied there will be men enough 
found at the North to take care at home of all who want to fight the 
South. I retorted that if we marched South we should leave all the 
traitors behind us hanging on trees. 

After this conference Butler returned to Boston, where he arrived 
on January 3, convinced in his own minfi that there would be war. 
He immediately saw Governor Andrew and explained the need of 
having the militia ready for possible service at inauguration time. At 
his suggestion Andrew made a recommendation that the legislature 
appropriate $25,000 for overcoats. This measure was attacked as 
extravagant by newspapers of both political parties. "The reply 
was," r.utler writes sarcastically, "on the fiart of the Democratic 
papers, — with that charity as to motive which ever distinguishes the 
partisan press, — that General Butler might have advised the Governor 
to get the overcoats, but as he was a large stockholder in the Middle- 
sex Mills which made such cloth it was having an eye to business in 
getting the contract for them to his mill." 

Events of February and March, 1861, are referred to passingly 
in Butler's letter. On the evening of April 16 came the order for the 
Massachusetts troops to entrain for the defence of Washington. 
"T went home to Lowell that night from Boston," he writes, "and 
saw there James G. Carney, Esq., president of the Bank of Mutual 
Redemption, and my lifelong friend, now deceased, patriotic gentle- 
man of far-reaching influence, and said to him : 'You can do me a 
favor. The Governor of the State has orders to march troops to 
W^ashington, and he has no money with which to do it. You can do 
an act of patriotism and an act of friendship to me at the same time 
by ofifering to the Governor a credit of fifty thousand dollars at your 
liank until the legislature can get an appropriation'." 

Mr. Carney readily assented. With this offer in hand ( ieneral 
Butler went to the Go\'ernor and asked to be detailed as brigadier- 
general in command. The chief executive asked about ways and 
means. "Governor," replied General Butler, "I have foreseen and 
provided for it. Here is an order for a credit of fifty thousand dol- 
lars on the Bank of Mutual Redemption, and I doubt not every bank 
in State street will follow the example. Now I very much desire to 
l)e detailed to march with these troo])s. Two regiments of my brigade 
are going and they canno: go without their brigadier." He "took the 


matter under consideration for a short time ; the Major-General of 
MiHtia. General William Sutton, was soon after present and strongly 
urged the same thing, and so did General Oliver, and the Governor 
detailed me in command of the troop. The rest is history." 

Lowell observers, meantime, had seen that nothing helpful came 
out of the peace convention held at Washington in February, 1861. 
They read with keen interest President Lincoln's inaugural address of 
March 4, in which he laid down as basic principles that (i) the rights 
of each State to control its domestic institutions according to its own 
judgment exclusively should be maintained inviolate; (2) the fugitive 
slave clause of the constitution and the fugitive slave law should be 
executed; ("3) the Union is unbroken and perpetual; (4) the laws of 
the Union should be faithfully executed in all the States. Mr. Lin- 
coln's decision to send supplies to Fort Sumter, already in a state 
of siege, was highly approved. Finally, on April 12, came the order 
from Governor Pickens of South Carolina to bombard the fort. 
Amidst the flare-up of indignation caused by this open declaration of 
war ]\Iassachusetts at once took a prominent place in the movement 
to protect the seat of national government at Washington. 

A spirited demonstration of loyalty was that given by citizens 
of Irish nativity or parentage on St. Patrick's Day, 1861. The Ameri- 
canism of the men who fled from Ireland to escape economic oppres- 
sion and seek larger industrial opportunities in this country is almost 
proverbial. In I,owell it was admirably displayed from the outset. 
The celebration of IMarch 17 was under the auspices of the Lowell 
Irish Benevolent Society. Orators of the day were John A. Goodwin, 
who still felt that "secession will come back like the prodigal son 
after they have starved in isolation long enough," and General Butler, 
who announced that he was disposed to oft'er the olive branch of 
submission to the traitors with the sword as alternative in case they 
refused to accept the tender. 

Among the patriotic "premieres" which may be claimed for 
Lowell is that the first flag to be unfurled from a church tower was in 
March, 1861, when the National emblem was floated from the spire of 
St. Paul's Methodist Church, upon recommendation of Rev. William 
R. Clark. Churches throughout New England soon followed this ex- 

In the middle days of April, the season when, traditionally, wars 
begin for the L'nited States, Lowell witnessed the departure of the 
four companies of the faithful Sixth. The non-combatant citizen had 
read in the papers of the determination of the authorities at the State 
house to make an immediate demonstration against secession. On 
.'Kpril 15, from Adjutant General William Schouler, there came to 
Colonel Jones at Lowell the preemptory order "to muster your regi- 


ment on Boston Common, forthwith, in compliance witli a requisition 
made by the President of the United States." 

A hurry call was rushed to more than thirty towns and villages in 
the neighborhood of Lowell, in which indi\'idual members of the regi- 
ment lived. On the morning of the i6th upwards of 700 officers and 
men had responded. They assembled in Huntingfton Hall in whose 
galleries and about whose doors a host of onlookers had collected. 
An eloquent farewell to the troops was read by the Rev. Amos Blanch- 
ard, of the Kirk Street Congregational Church. 

Thence the men entrained in the railway station below tlie hall. 
On arrival in Boston they marched tc> Faneuil Hall, where they were 
addressed by Governor Andrew in a stirring appeal. The regimental 
colors were presented to the commanding officer with the words : "We 
shall follow you with our benediction and our prayers. Those whom 
you leave beliind you we shall cherish in our heart of hearts." To this 
sentiment Colonel Jones replied : "You have given me this flag, which 
is the emblem of all that stands before you. It represents my whole 
command, and, so help me God, I will never disgrace it." 

Thus departed for the disturljed borderland a regiment that had 
enrolled several hundred of the young men of Lowell and the vicinity 
who had in peace times submitted themselves to military discipline 
against such an emergency as this. It mustered in a total of 699 men. 
The companies and their captains were as follows : Company A, Na- 
tional Greys, Lowell. Cajitain Josiah A. Sawtelle ; Company B, Groton, 
Captain Clark ; Companv C, ^Mechanics Phalanx, Lowell, Captain Al- 
bert Follansbee ; Company D, City Guards, Lowell, Captain James W. 
Hart; Company E, Acton, Captain Tuttle ; Company F, Lawrence, 
Captain Chadbourne ; Company G, Worcester, Captain Pratt ; Com- 
pany H, Watson Light Guard. Lowell, Captain John F. Noyes ; Com- 
pany I, Lawrence, Captain Pickering; Company K, Boston, Captain 
Sampson ; Company L. .Stoneham, Captain Dike. 

Lowell's Most Celebrated Soldier — The prompt response of the 
Sixth Regiment called National attention, amongst other things, to 
the energy and efficiency of the brigade commander, under whose 
orders this mustering in was effected, and whose further undertakings 
and exploits will necessarily receive much space in any account of 
Ldwell in the Civil War. 

Tlie Lowell citizen whose fame was most notal:)ly enhanced by 
tlie Ci\il War, though in many respects it was already great before 
the conflict began, was Benjamin Franklin Butler, lawyer, politician, 
statesman, soldier. Reference has been made in jireceding chapters 
to views and acts of this very remarkable man, practically all of whose 
life was sjient in Lowell, a personage of keen, incisive intellect, more 
likely ju'rhaps to be right in national questions than some of his 


political adversaries would like to admit ; a loyal friend and aggres- 
sive opponent, one who '>elieved heartily in the city of his residence 
and who was generally believed in by his friends and neighbors. 

General Butler was born at Deerfield, New Hampshire, Novem- 
ber 5, 1818. a few months before his father's death. His grandfather, 
Zephaniah Butler, had come to the neighboring town of Nottingham 
from Connecticut. His father. Captain John Butler, had served with 
the dragoons in the War of 1812 and had subsequently commanded a 
Letter of Alarque in the service of Simon Bolivar, the South Ameri- 
can liberator. He died in the W'est Indies shortly after Benjamin's 
birth. The widowed mother, when the boy was ten years old, moved 
to Lowell, which city he saw for the first time from the crest of Chris- 
tian Hill. His pride in the Lowell High School, of which he was one 
of the first pupils, has been attested in his reminiscences of its first 
graduates. He was consistently a believer in the public school system. 

After finishing his preparatory course, young Butler entered 
Waterville College, Maine, from which he was graduated in 1838. He 
was at this time in somewhat delicate health, but a trip to the banks 
in a fishing smack built up his ])hysique. He undertook the study of 
law in the office of \\'illiam Smith, Lowell, and in 1841 he was admit- 
ted to the Middlesex county bar. He was meantime learning the ins 
and outs of the political game. In 1840 he made his first stump speech, 
in favor of Martin \'an Buren. As he entered into the jjractice of his 
profession, he soon astonished older men than himself by his shrewd- 
ness and acumen. 

PolitiL-ally, Mr. Butler's sympathies were with the Democratic 
partv from the outset of his career. At considerable risk of personal 
reputation, since his adversaries were often ready with charges of 
demagogi'-m. he espoused the cause of the working class in the new 
industrial communities of which Lcnvell was a prototype. He was one 
of the advocates of a ten-hour law and as a member of the Legislature 
did much toward shortening the legal working day. He was a dele- 
gate to each National Democratic convention from 1844 to i860. He 
first went to the Legislature in 1S53. In the same year he sat at the 
constitutional convention. In 1859 he was one of three Democratic 
State Senators. In that year he drew up the bill by which the old 
Court of Common Pleas was abolished and the Superior Court was 
substituted. At the Democratic convention of i860 he represented 
constituents who would have liked him to vote for Stephen A. Doug- 
las for President. As. however, it was evident that a Northern candi- 
date would not be accepted. General Butler voted for Jeflferson Davis, 
afterwards President of the Confederacy. When the convention ad-- 
journed from Charleston to Baltimore, Mr. Butler and a few other 
Northern delegates, and a majority of those from the South, bolted 


and nominated John C. Breckcnridg'e. In 1859 Mr. Butler was the 
Democratic candidate, and in i860 was the Breckenridge Democratic 
candidate for the Massachusetts Governorship, but was defeated on 
each occasion. 

General Butler's natural ability and experience in military mat- 
ters were more imusual than his detractors would sometimes concede. 
He joined the militia in 1839, as a i)rivate in the Lowell City Guard. 
He served in the ranks for three years. Thence he rose step bj- step 
through all the gradations of military rank, and at the outset of the 
Civil War he held the rank of brigadier-general. C)n April 15, 1861, 
he was pleading a case in a Boston court, when an order from the 
State house was placed in his hands. It stated that the Sixth Regi- 
ment shiiuld report for National duty on the morrow, the President 
having just issued his call for 75,000 volunteers. Hastily moving a 
postponement of the case (which remains postponed to this day), the 
lawyer soldier took the first train to Lowell to see that everything was 
in readiness for entraining. 

The Lowell Martyrs in Baltimore — The 1861 anniversary of the 
battle (jf Lexington, as e\ery schoolI)Oy knows, witnessed the first 
bloodshed of the Civil W'ar. Newspapers of the 20th brought to ex- 
cited Lowell people fragmentary and somewhat inaccurate tidings of 
an attack made u]K)n the Sixth Massachusetts l)y a mol) in the streets 
of Baltimore It was known that several men had been killed and 
others more or less severely wounded. An earl}' report placed among 
the dead Private Edward Coburn, of Dracut. Facilities for collecting 
news and handling it over the wire were less well develojjed then than 
now. The "stories" carried in the Boston papers of the day after the 
occurrence seem almost surprisingly meagre and conflicting. 

What actually happened was revealed to Lowell readers of the 
"Boston Tournal" a day later, when this newspaper reprinted from the 
"New ^'iirk Times" a corrected and summarized accoimt which fol- 
lows : 

Thrinigh the courtesy of an eye-witness of the disturbance in 
Baltimore. u])on occasion of the passage of the Massachusetts Volun- 
teers, we are enabled to .give a reliable acciiunt nf what actually 
occurred, and at tlie same time to correct a false impression in regard 
to the number of troops engaged in conflict with the secession mob. 

It ajjpears that the Massachusetts Regiment occujiied eleven cars 
and arrived safely and in excellent s])irits at Baltimore. There was 
no demonstration made upon their arrival, and the cars were jiermit- 
tcd t(.) leave the depot with the troops still on board. The cars jjro- 
ceeded (piicklv through the streets of Pjaltimore on their way to the 
de|)ot at the other side of the city, and the fears expressed by some of 
the citizens that an attack would be made were soinewhat allayed. 
But they had not jiroceedcd more than a couple of blocks before the 
crowd became so dense that the horses attached to each car were 


scarcely able to push their way through. The remaining two cars of 
the train, containing about 100 men, were cut off from the main body 
and the men found themselves accompanied by an infuriated mob of 
over 8,000. These isolated cars were immediately attacked and several 
of the soldiers had their muskets snatched from them. At this moment 
news came that the Philadelphia \'olunteers had arrived, and the re- 
port excited the mob to a fearful degree. 

The Massachusetts troops, finding the cars untenable, alighted 
and formed a hollow square, advancing with fixed bayonets upon all 
sides in double quick time, all the while surrounded by the mob — 
now swelled to the number of at least 10,000 — yelling and hooting. 
The military behaved admirably and still abstained from firing upon 
their assailants. 

The mob now commenced throwing a perfect shower of missiles, 
occasionally varied by a random shot from a revolver or one of the 
muskets taken from the soldiers. The poor fellows suflFered severely 
from the immense qtiantity of stones, oysters, brick-bats, paving 
stones, etc.. the shots fired also wounding several. When two of the 
soldiers had been killed, and the wounded had been conveyed to the 
centre of the column, the troops at last, exasperated and maddened 
by the treatment that they had received, commenced returning the 
fire singly, killing several and wounding a large number of the rioters ; 
but at no one time did a single platoon fire in a volley. Our informant 
is positive upon this point. 

The volunteers, after a protracted and severe struggle, at last 
succeeded in reaching the depot, bearing with them in triumph their 
killed and wounded, and immediately einbarked. The scene is de- 
scribed in glowing terms by our informant, who says that the calm 
courage and heroic bearing of the troops spoke volumes for the sons 
of Massachusetts who, though marching under a fire of the most em- 
barrassing description and opposed to overwhelming odds, neverthe- 
less succeeded in accomplishing their purpose and effected a passage 
through crowded streets a distance of over a mile — a feat not easily 
accomplished by a body of less than one hundred men when opposed 
to such terrific odds. 

More directly personal accounts of the fray soon began to arrive 
in Lowell by mail and in the person of participants. 

Captain Follansbee, of the Phalanx, who had command of the 
companies that were under attack, communicated from Washington a 
letter to the "Lowell Courier," which gives in simple, unaffected lan- 
guage a vivid picture of the happenings. His account of the detraining 
of the troops is similar to that of other eye witnesses. When the 
assaults began the Bay State troops, he insisted, showed no signs 
whatsoever of panic : 

The captains consulted together and decided that Cftmniand 
should devolve upon ine. I immediately took my position at the right, 
wheeled into column of sections and requested them to march in close 
order. Before we had started the mob was upon us. with a secession 
flag tied to a pole, and told us we could never march through that city. 


They wuuld kill every "white nigger" of us before we cemUl reach the 
depot. 1 paid no attention to them, Init after 1 had wheeled the bat- 
talion gave the order to march. 

As soon as the order was given the brick-bats began to fly into 
our ranks from the mob. I called a policeman and requested him to 
lead the way to the other depot. He did so. After we had marched 
about a hundred yards we came to a bridge. The rebels had torn up 
most of the planks. We had to play "Scotch hop" to get over it. As 
soon as we had crossed the bridge they commenced to fire upon us 
from the streets and houses. We were loaded but not capped. I 
ordered the men to cap their rifles and protect themselves; and then 
we returned their fire and laid a good many of them away. I saw 
four fall on the sidewalk at one time. They followed us up and we 
fought our way to the depot — about one mile. Quite a number of the 
rascals were shot after we had entered the cars. We went very slow, 
for we expected the rails were torn up on the road. 

Letters, vividly descriptive of the excitement in Mar_\-land. were 
also published during the latter days of April from Lieutenant George 
E. Davis, of Company H ; Private A. J. Herrick, of the National Greys, 
and Brent Johnson, of the Phalanx. One from R. A. Elliott, of the 
Phalanx, contained this paragrajjh regarding the conduct of his com- 
]iany : "About five or six of oin- men in this company were knocked 
down, but none were very seriously hurt. I got one stone on the back 
of my neck, but it did no damage. One man has his nose badly hurt. 
One got three Inillets through his coat skirt, but was not hurt himself. 
So you see we had a hard tim.e and not a man flinched a hair. We 
found forbearance of no further use and we fired. I saw three men 
killed in the discharge; each had rocks in their hands." Mr. Johnson's 
letter bore testimony, as other contem])orary accounts did, to the 
intrepidity of the maycir of Baltimore, who did his best to quell the 
u])rising of the turbulent citizens. He stated that the may(_)r itiet the 
troops about a mile from the railway station and that when the mob 
I'efused to desist, he took a rifle from one of the soldiers and shot a con- 
spicuous rioter dead. 

Return of the Bandsmen from Baltimore — On the morning of the 
22nd, se\eral nienibers cif the regimental l)and returned to Lowell. 
They were met by a concourse of people at the station and escorted to 
their homes. These musicians took a natural pride in displaying their 
damaged instruments and especially the bass drum, with both heads 
broken. In passing throtigh New York City, it was stated, the band 
was offered five hundred dollars for the drum, but was not tempted 
thereby. "They look tired and weary, and a few of them are slightly 
wounded by stones and brickbats," was a re])orter's comment on their 
personal ai)pearance. 

From the Si.xth's famous color-bearer, Timothv A. Crowley, 
Lowell readers were a])prised of the occurrences through a letter, dated 


at Washington on April 26, in whicli many of the incidents of the riot 
were retold. Of his own department the writer said : "The color was 
about two rods in the rear of the last coni])any, and was never lowered 
an inch from the first raising in the streets among the rabble of Balti- 
more until I got into the cars for Washington. I took the position' 
after one older, larger and more of a military turn than I had deserted 
and showed the white feather." 

The incident, celebrated in the school histories, of the readiness 
with which the Bay State mechanics under General Butler repaired 
and rebuilt portions of a railroad and repaired a locomotive was also 
given in Color-Bearer Crowley's words. In reporting his conversa- 
tion with men of the New York Seventh, he said: "They say that 
the general, when he found his mode of travel to this citv [Washing- 
ton] cut oft' by the demolition of the railway and the burning of the 
bridges, immediately ordered his men to commence work by laying 
rails, shoveling, building stone walls and in general putting things in 
order for transportation of the troops, the rails necessary for one line 
of tracks having been brought from the station above. The general, 
who is never behind time, dropped his coat and labored with the rest, 
while skirmishers, scouts, etc., were stationed for two or three miles 
in advance and thus by his energetic endeavors, the Seventh Regiment 
were enabled to reach here. No locomotive being run, the general 
ordered the men to break open an engine house and take a locomotive 
therein, which being done was found to be out of repair, and it was 
thoroughly overhauled, repaired and set in motion." 

The arrival on April 23 of Daniel B. Stevens, of Lowell, from 
Baltimore, was noted in the Boston newspapers. He had been re- 
ported killed. Instead he had been hit in the side by a paving stone 
which broke three ribs and rendered him unconscious. He was taken 
up for dead and carried to the station house, where he lay unconscious 
for two hours. When he came to himself he found that he was lying 
among a dozen or fifteen wounded Baltimore men. As soon as well 
enough to leave he was put on a train to New York and thence sent 
to Lowell to recover from his wounds and rejoin his regiment. 

The Death of Whitney and Ladd — It soon transpired that of the 
four men killed in the streets of Baltimore three were members of the 
Lowell City Guards : Addison O. Whitney, Luther C. Ladd and 
Charles A. Taylor. The last named, however, was not a Lowell resi- 
dent, for he had joined the company in Boston, and, except that he was 
a painter by trade, very little was discoverable about him. The other 
two were inconspicuous but respected youths. Addison Otis Whit- 
ney, son of John F. and Jane B. \\'hitney, was born October 30, 1837, 
at Waldo, Maine, and had come to Lowell to take work in one of the 
spinning rooms. Luther Crawford Ladd, son of John and Fannj- 



Ladd, was burn at Alexandria, New Hampshire, December 23, 1843. 
Before mobilization he was employed in the Lowell Machine Shop. 
Both these young mechanics were of exemplary character. In Head- 
ley's words: "At Lowell, on the fifteenth day of April, they dropped 
the garb of the artisan and assumed that of the citizen-soldier. Four 
days afterward, at Baltimore, their mortal bodies, bruised and lifeless, 
lay on the bloody stones of Pratt street, the victims (_>f a brutal mob." 

The asscrtinn tliat the ."^ixth Massachusetts, with its large propor- 
tion of Lowell men, was "the first armed and equip])ed troop to re- 
s])ond to President Lincoln's call" has been disputed of late years, 
when there has seemed to be a conspiracy on the part of some writers 
to dejireciate the Bay State and all its military achievements. The 
case fwf the leadership of the Sixth has had good support, amongst 
others, from a careful writer. "J. K. C," in the notes and queries de- 
partment of the "Boston Transcript," who states that although Penn- 
sylvania troops did reach W^ashington a few hours before the Massa- 
chusetts men, these former were not armed and equipped troops. 
Benson J. Lossing, historian, is quoted as saying that the Pennsyl- 
vania companies, "were almost entirely without arms." They could 
hence have been of almost no use in defending the capital. Of the 
reception of the Sixth in Washington, Colonel Jones later wrote: 
"Such was the anxiety at ^\'ashington that on our arrival we were 
met b\- the President and Cabinet. President Lincoln grasped my 
hand and with tears in his eyes said : 'Thank God you are here. If 
you had nut ccnne we should be in the hands of the rebels before 
morning. Your brave boys have saved the capital. Cod bless them"." 

The dispute, which is of long standing, may l>e followed b}' 
the curious in a file of the "Independent" for April and May, 1886, in 
which the Massachusetts side of the controversy is summed up in 
articles entitled "The Claims of Certain Pennsylvanians to have been 
the 'First Defenders' of Washington." As historian of the Sixth 
Regiment, Colonel B. F. Watson, in his "Addresses, Reviews and Epi- 
sodes, chiefly concerning the Old Sixth Massachusetts Regiment." 
brought together many data believed to he conclusive evidence that it 
deserved its accepted motto ; "First to volunteer; first in the field; 
first to shed its blood; first to triimijih." 

Enlistments were w(jnderfully furthered in Lowell from the hour 
of recci\ing the first news of the riot in which the Sixth had ])rotected 
itself from the Maryland mob. The armories were crowded with 
young men and old. The Light Guard made a record of enlisting 
sixty-fiiur men in h;dt an hour, and .after thev had signed up Hon. 
George I"". Richardson came forward to write a check for fine hundred 
dollars towards the needs of the company. Irish-.\merican citizens 
were simultaneously forward with the furmalion of their, to 


which the name of the Hill Cadets was given in honor of Paul Hill, 
who took substantial interest in their efforts. 

Meantime flag raisings occurred throughout the city. On Sunday 
a special train was run to allow citizens to attend a union meeting in 
Boston. Sermons were nearly all of a political nature, and groups of 
excited people talked war in the streets. The oldest inhabitant doubted 
if ever such a New England Sabbath had been seen before. 

Civilian confirmation of the state of anarchy which prevailed in 
the border States was brought back to Lowell on April 26, on the 
arrival of J. N. Pierce, cashier of the Merchants' Bank, who in coming 
east from a western trip stopped off in Washington. From the Na- 
tional capital he took the train to Baltimore, where he had friends 
who advised him not, in the present state of feeling, to try to travel 
northward. On their counsel he even purchased a secession cockade, 
which he wore as a precaution. Determined to leave the city, he 
visited several livery stables, but was unable to secure a rig. Finally, 
in company with another man who had been driven out of Virginia, 
he succeeded in hiring an old broken-down horse and wagon, "the 
whole concern not worth ten dollars, for fifty dollars," with which they 
set out at a rate of four miles an hour for Havre de Grace. Both were 
desperately hungry. They called at houses on the road for food, but 
the inhabitants would not furnish it for love nor monev. Thev finally 
reached the mouth of the Susquehanna in safety, and shaking the dust 
of Maryland from their feet, and throwing their cockades into the 
river, they were successful in arri\-ing at Philadelphia. 

The number of Lowell men enlisted was reported on May 10 to be 
rising 700. The details were as follows: Staff officers, 10: brigade 
band, 18: National Greys, Company A, 52; Mechanic Phalanx, Com- 
pany C (including new recruits), 66; City Guards, Company D, 50; 
W^atson Light Guards, Company H, 53: Richardson Light Infantry, 
Tj; Hill Cadets, 74; Abbott Light Guard, "j"] \ Lowell Light Infantry, 
86; Butler Rifles, 85; enlisted in Regular Army, 56; total, 704 troops. 
It was noted that this enrollment involved about one in seven of the 
entire voting popvilation. 

The older men of Lowell in these first days of the war were 
equally anxious with the more youthful to be of service to the Na- 
tional cause. A home guard movement was initiated on April 23 when 
a group of the so-called Phalanx exempts, or older members of the 
Mechanic Phalanx who had passed the militarj^ age, met to organize 
a protective body. Six past commanders of the company were among 
the organizers: T. G. Tweed. James Dennis, Jonathan Kimball, N. S. 
Ramsey, J. G. Peabody and V. Ganson. At a subsequent meeting, on 
April 27, these officers of the "exempts" were chosen : Captain, J. G. 
Peabody; first lieutenant, A. R. Brown; second lieutenant, W. G. 


Gray; third licutt-naiit, Reuben Frye ; fcnirth lieutenant, Samuel Law- 
rence. This corps later took the name of The Lowell Veterans. 

A report that the bodies of three victims of the Baltimore riot, 
either killed or mortally wounded, had reached Boston, stirred Lowell 
folk on May 2. The caskets were in charge of Merrill S. \\'right, of the 
Richardson Light Infantry, who had been detailed for this purpose by 
Colonel Jones. They were temporarily placed in a tomb at King's 
Chapel. It was up to this time supposed that the slain men were Sum- 
ner A. Needham, Lawrence; James Keenan, Stoneham, and Edward 
Coburn, Lowell. 

The following day people from Lowell readily identified two of 
the bodies as those of their fellow-citizens, Ladd and Whitney, of the 
City Guards. Both Keenan and Coburn, it was learned later, were 
severely wounded but not killed. On May 6 Captain Davis, with a 
detachment of the Richardson Light Infantry, and with members of 
the city government, went to Boston to recei\e the remains of these 
two young men. 

Obsequies of the Baltimore Victims — Neither liefore nor since the 
Civil War has Lowell ever had any funeral mure truly impressive than 
that of May 7, 1861, when the bodies of the youthful first victims of 
the conflict lietween armed feudalism and aroused industrialism were 
brought back to the city which but a few weeks before they had left 
resolutely and eagerly. At the railway station in Boston a striking 
address was made by Grivernor .\ndrew, and a response by Mayor Sar- 
geant. The train reached the Middlesex street station, Lowell, at 
about one-thirty. The caskets were at once taken to Huntington Hall, 
where they rested in state during impressive exercises. A dirge was 
j)layed by the Lowell Brigade Band. There followed a selection from 
the Scriptures, Rev. Mr. Homer ; prayer. Rev. Mr. Cleaveland ; anthem, 
sung by the St. Anne's choir ; memorial address, Rev. W. R. Clark. A 
hymn for the occasion, which had been written by Rev. C. W. Homer, 
was read by Rev. J. J. Twiss and sung by the St. Anne singers. The 
benediction was spoken l)y the Rev. Mr. Hinckley. Then, with the 
band again playing a dirge, with the military at arms reversed, a pro- 
cession formed outside tlie hall and solemnly marched to the cemetery, 
where bells tolled and minute guns were fired as the bodies were placed 
in the tomb. "Thus," according to the "Citizen" writer, "ended the 
most imposing funeral tributes ever witnessed in this citv bv its inkiest 

The citizens who had been reported as missing at the time of the 
outbre;d< were presently accounted for. A Boston gentleman, writing 
tn the "Journal" on ".\fifairs at Baltimore," stated that on the Friday 
UKirning following the riot, he and a fellow townsman of long resi- 
dence in the M;ir\l;ind ci'\' went to the police station tu offer to care 



for the wounded. Here he found Sergeant J. E. Ames, of Lowell, and 
Private Edward Coburn, of Dracut, "with only such comforts as could 
be found in a police station." Mr. Ames, he said, had two severe scalp 
wounds from which he nearly bled to death, while Mr. Coburn was 
shot in the back just above the hip and was suffering from much 

On the 15th of May, Sergeant J. E. Ames, Corporal D. B. Tyler 
and Private Edward Coburn, who had been wounded at Baltimore, 
were brought to Lowell. They were met at the station by Mayor Sar- 
geant and were placed in carriages to be escorted to their homes. 

The further experiences of the Sixth Regiment during its three 
months' enlistment were less exciting than those of the initial journey. 
The troops did guard duty around the Senate Chamber, Washington, 
for some weeks. On May 6 they were ordered to the Relay House. 
There they did duty and in Baltimore until their term expired on July 
29. Several letters from the camp at the Relay House were published 
in the local papers. 

Priority of Lowell in War Service — Testimony to the priority of 
Lowell in the entering upon the civil conflict was borne amusingly in 
a paragraph by that brilliant Boston journalist. William S. Robinson : 
"Lowell seems thus far to have obtained greater distinction than any 
other place. General Butler has won greater fame than any other 
(jfficer. Ladd and W'hitney. of the City Guards, fell at Baltimore ; 
John Butterfield, of the Zouaves, who fell by the musket of a sentinel, 
was also originally of Lowell ; twelve companies have gone, or have 
enlisted for the war ; and to make history complete on both sides, 
Winans' rebel gun, captured at the Relay House, was the invention of 
Dickinson, a dancing master, who formerly lived in Lowell; and John 
Abbott, who once helped edit a newspaper in Lowell called the 'Orion,' 
was drummed out of camp at Fort Warren [for his treasonable senti- 
ments] on Monday last." 

The activity of Lowell non-combatants in contributing to the 
comfort and efliciency of the troops was nationally commended 
throughout the war. It was as if the whole community were a unit in 
determination to win the contest. 

As early as the second week in April the Lowell Soldiers' Aid 
Association was proposed, with the object of extending help which 
could hardly come from go\-ernmeiitril sources. 

Formation of the Soldiers' Aid Association — .\t a pul)lic meeting 
of April 15, i(S6i, the subject of ways and means to help the soldiers 
was broached. Three days later Judge Nathan Crosby wrote to the 
mayor suggesting that the sum of $100, which he enclosed, be sent 
immediately to the paymaster of the Sixth Regiment to supply any 


wants for wliicli, in the haste of departure, no provision had been 

He also suggested the formation of a society to meet the neces- 
sities which were not regularly prox'ided for in the regular rationing 
and medical service. The mayor laid the matter before the city coun- 
cil, which authorized a subscription. Some four hundred dollars in 
addition to Judge Crosby's original $ioo were collected. On April 20 
the mayor called a meeting "for the purpose of initiating measures for 
the comfort, encouragement and relief of citizen-soldiers." A plan of 
"practical sympathy" was devised by Judge Crosby : (i ) For gathering 
such funds as may be needed; (2) for supplying nurses for the sick 
and wounded, when and as far as practicable; (3) for bringing home 
such sick and wounded as may be proper; (4) for buying clothing, 
provisions and all matters of comfort which would contribute to the 
soldiers' happiness; (5) for placing in camp such Bibles, books and 
papers as would interest and amuse on days of rest and quiet and 
keep the soldiers informed of passing events; (6) for gathering the 
dates and making a record of the names of each soldier and his history ; 
(7) for hiilding constant communication with paymasters and other 
officers of our regiments, that friends may interchange letters and 

The officers of this Soldiers' Association included representa- 
tives of many of the prominent families of the city. They were : Pres- 
ident, Nathan Crosby ; treasurer, S. W. Stickney ; secretary, M. C. 
Bryant. Committee on collections — Ward i, W\ G. W'ise, S. L. Dana, 
Edward Tufts, Mrs. W'. G. \^"ise, Mrs. Paul Hill, Mrs. C. H. Sawyer, 
Mrs. J. B Francis, Miss L. A. Kimliall ; ward 2, S. W. Stickney, Linus 
Child, H. W. Hilton, Mrs. Harlin Pillsbury, ]Mrs. :\mos Rugg, Miss 
Myra Child, Miss Mary Read; ward 3, Isaac Fletcher, Samuel Con- 
vers, James Meadowcroft, Mrs. William North, Mrs. Joseph Tapley, 
Mrs. Cyril French, Mrs. J. W. Graves. Mrs. Daniel S. Richardson, 
Miss Fanny Reed; ward 4; Otis Allen, William E. Livingston, Josiah 
Gates, Miss Ellen Gates, Miss Augusta Watson, Miss Susan P. Cleave- 
land, Miss Elizabeth Watson, Miss Emma Horn, Miss Elizabeth Ord- 
way ; ward 5, James C. Ayer, W'. S. Southworth, George W. Shattuck, 
Mrs. Alexander Wright, Miss Mary Miller, Miss Mary Carney, Miss 
Lucia Brooks ; ward 6, J. G. Abbott, J. A. Goodwin, L. B. Morse, Mrs. 
J. G. Abbott, Mrs. B. F. Butler, Mrs. J. A. Goodwin, Miss E. Rollins, 
Miss F. Talbot, Miss M. S. Crosby. A committee on purchase of sup- 
plies consisted of Charles B. Coburn, J. J. Folsom, William Nichols; 
one on correspondence and forwarding, William G. W'ise, S. D. Sar- 
geant. Joseph F. Trott. 

Knitting for the Soldiers in '61 — Thereafter the Lowell men at 
the front always had committees of loyal women pl}-ing the needle in 


their interest. Knitting was the order of the day in 1861, just as in 
1917. Captain Edward Abbott's company, in the Second Regiment, 
was perhaps a little exceptionally favored in commitments from the 
Soldiers' Aid Association, for many of the most attractive and popu- 
lar boys of Lowell had enlisted under that command. After a disas- 
trous engagement in June, 1862, CajUain Abbott wrote a personal let- 
ter to the association, stating the plight of his men who in a hasty 
retreat had been obliged to abandon everything except what they had 
on. He made a plea for towels, handkerchiefs, flannel shirts, sewing 
cases and similar articles. The result was an immediate meeting of 
Lowell women at the gas office to provide new outfits for these sol- 

Among the first articles received by the Soldiers' Aid Associa- 
tion in April, 1861, was a pair of well-knit stockings sent up from 
Dracut by Mary Varnum Coburn, mother of George W. Coburn, and 
the only surviving daughter of Major-General Joseph Bradley Varnum, 
formerly speaker of the National House of Representatives. The patri- 
otic knitter was then eighty-seven years old. Her gift had an interest- 
ing sequel A notice of the receipt of the stockings was published in a 
local paper, and when the stockings, with manv others, were unpacked 
at Fortress Monroe, the boys picked them out and drew lots for their 
possession. The winner of Mrs. Coburn's handiwork was Thomas S. 

Hard Times in the War Years — Once the war was forward Lowell 
civilians, like others in the North, endeavored to live up to an ideal 
of "business as usual." This was not always easy, for the largest of 
the city's basic industries had been hard hit by the failure of the sup- 
ply of its principal raw material, cotton. By midsummer, 1861, about 
the time the disastrous battle at Bull Run had shaken confidence in a 
speedy termination of the conflict, a distinct business depression fell 
upon the town. Many of the unmarried workers returned to the farms 
and country villages from which they had come to Lowell. Merchants 
of the city on July 25 held the first of several meetings in an effort to 
secure a temporary reduction of their rents. They circulated a peti- 
tion to the following purport : "The undersigned, traders and occu- 
pants of stores in the city of Lowell, having severely felt the efforts 
of the universal depression of all branches of business, and seeing no 
prospect of a revival of the same during the present disturbed state 
of affairs, ask of our respective landlords, that, in consideration of the 
general stagnation, they may be willing to share humanely with 
their tenants — as in many other places — by making a proper reduction 
of rents during the present 'business panic'." 

At a meeting of the petitioners on August i it was urged that a 
reduction cf thirty-three and one-third per cent, be solicited as fair to 

L— 20 


both sides. No substantial agreement, however, seems to have been 
reached at this time. 

The industrial depression which was chronic from now on was 
attended by a monetary stringency which caused great annoyance to 
Lowell shopkeepers. In the summer of 1862 specie was so scarce that 
postage stamps were commonly used in making change. The Boston 
and Lowell railroad adopted a practice, which caused ntuch indigna- 
nation, of charging ten per cent, on all specie paid out in excess of 
twenty-five cents. It was urged that in retaliation the public should 
hold back ten per cent, of all change paid in for tickets ; but it is not 
recorded that this drastic method was actually attempted. In Decem- 
ber, 1862, arrangements were made so that postage stamps might be 
exchanged for lawful money and at once many of the traders drew 
from their cash boxes great quantities of stamps too soiled for postal 
use, which had passed from hand to hand. 

Lack of cotton, of course, kept the leading manufacturing cor- 
porations of Lowell either idle or running on short time during most 
of the war years. It was an event to cause gladness among all classes 
of citizens when wagons appeared with a few bales of cotton to be 
carted from the freight de]jot. Prices as high as $1.70 a pound were 
paid for raw cotton in the height of the scarcit}'. 

Depressed though business was in Lowell there were some allevi- 
ating circumstances. 

Many New England textile manufacturers were already evincing 
that adaijtability which this trade \-ery generally displayed in the later 
and greater crisis that began in 1914. They speedily discovered that 
if they could nut do the accu^tcimed thing there was often some other 
way (if using their plant. Thus the Lnwcll company, finding it im- 
possible to continue making carjoets and rugs, reada])ted many of 
its looms for a "union" of worsted and cotton, and did a good business 
in this line. In some of the mills a ]jolicy was adopted, which has 
since become general in New England in times of depression, of mak- 
ing extensive additions and rearrangements, preparatory for the boom 
times that are sure to follow. This policy, while it does not find work 
for the idle textile operatives, gives a stimulus to the local building 
trades, just when they need it most, and thus helps tn minimize the 
effects of the panic. 

Another circumstance which materially relieved the industrial 
situation was the vivid activity of the Lowell Machine Sho]), whose 
orders for one reason and anotlier were unusually heavy. Employing 
many high-class mechanics this comj^any's increased payroll meant 
substantial disbursements among the city's traders. Before the war 
the machine shop had been running with an average ot 500 hands; in 
1863 it reported ;ibout 800 on the jiayroll. 


National and State disbursements on account of soldiers' pay and 
aid to soldiers' families also aided many families of modest circum- 
stances. The eighteenth annual report of the City Missionary Soci- 
ety, issued in January, 1863, expressed some surprise that calls for 
assistance were fewer than normal. The circumstance was explained 
by the fact that a large portion of the male population had enlisted 
and that state aid for their families had become available to the amount 
of $90,971.50 in one year. In addition to this disbursement, soldiers 
were sending home to their families about $35,000 a month of the 
Nation's money. For these reasons many humble homes were more 
prosperous than ever before, and accounts in the savings banks were 
growing with considerable rapidity. 

Mayor Peabody's inaugural of 1865 stated that the amount re- 
quired for poor relief in the past year had been less than might have 
been expected for two reasons : Where workers found employment 
denied them in the factories, instead of remaining in the city in idle- 
ness, they went somewhere else in search of work. Again, the receipt 
of State aid for dependents of soldiers kept many poor families from 

^Migration from Lowell to the W^est must be counted in with 
army casualties and business depression as one of the permanent re- 
tardants which was much in evidence during the sixties. Then, as in 
all decades since, there has been a constant outflow of residents toward 
the newer communities usuall}- with the double motive of an easier 
livelihood and a more agreeable climate. It is a criticism, further- 
more, that applies to most other New England cities as well as to 
Lowell to sav that industrial leaders of the community have shown 
surprisinglv little imagination as to the ultimate effects of this migra- 
tion. Could a deliberate policy have been adopted in trying to keep 
good citizens from going away it is safe to surmise that the growth 
and improvement of Lowell would ha\-e been much more rapid than 
it has been since i860 and that the average quality of the population 
might have been even higher than it is to-day. Those certainly who 
had inducements to of?er elsewhere did not fail to advertise their 
localities. One, for exami)!e, who in the war years drew a number of 
Lowell families to Portland, Oregon, was Franklin Cheney, who had 
gone to the valley of the Willamette and become largely interested in 
land promotions. A little later Southern California began to appeal 
strongly to a community in which consumption was very pre\a- 
lent and was still supposed to be due rather to the New England cli- 
mate than to faulty ways of living in that climate. 

The population of Lowell in 1K60 was 36,827. Amidst the exten- 
sive enlistment and the de])arture of individuals and families on 
account of the long business depression, the population fell, according 


til the State census of i<S65, to 31,004. The t86o vahiation of the city 
was $20.S74,207. In 1S65 it was $20,980,041. 

Dr. Ayer's Exposure of Manufacturing Irregularities — \\ hether 
the Lowell manufacturing corporations, considered as an industrial 
grouj), were well handled or not during the war is a question that 
admits, certainly, of argument on both sides. 

It may l)e maintained that the corj)oration treasurers from their 
offices in Boston were in close touch with the general situation ; that 
they were far-sighted and progressive business men of one of the lead- 
ing American commercial centres and that they did in substantially 
every respect what business prudence dictated. 

That, on the other hand, in the exigencies of war time, these cor- 
porations suffered more severely than was needful by reason of in- 
veterate nepotism and wasteful methods might be argued from such 
an exposure of "Some of the Usages and Abuses in the Management 
of our Manufacturing Corporations" as was made and published in 
1863 by J. C. Ayer, M. D., of Lowell. The findings of this manufac- 
turer of medicines, whose family has of late years been very closely 
identified with the textile industry, were certainly adverse to claims of 
efficient management among the Lowell companies. While some of 
the data which he adduced seem to be incontrovertible it might be 
noted, as a controversial counterweight, that Dr. Ayer, a graduate of 
the Lowell High School, may have been inflitenced by the anti-cor- 
poration prejudices of some of the older families of the community. 

Complaints of mismanagement of some of the corporations had 
already been heard before the war, according to statements of fact 
made by Dr. Ayer. The Hamilton company was one of those whose 
management was especially under fire. At a shareholders' meeting it 
was charged that the treasurer sent his son, an inexperienced youth, 
to the South to buy cotton. Vendors took advantage of the lioy's 
ignorance and, although he paid good money for his cotton, when the 
shipment arrived at Lowell it was found to be miserable trash, filled 
with sand and stones such that the bulk of it had to go to a waste pile. 
Through this piece of nepntism, it was charged, the Hamilton com- 
pany lost about $50,000. A committee of investigation was called for 
by the meeting, but, according to Dr. Ayer, this committee was packed 
with ])artisans of the management and the essential facts concealed in 
their report. 

Shareholders of the Boott com|)any, continuing the allegations of 
the foregoing, believing their i)roperty to be in an unnecessarily de- 
])ressed state, organized a movement to secure an energetic treasurer. 
They were informed that one of the directors, a wealthy man, would 
sii[)ply the ciinipanv witli mone\- and credit if his son-in-law shuuld be 
elected tn the treasurershij). The desired action was taken liy a juicked 


stockholders' meeting, "but not a dollar of either the money or the 
credit promised has been furnished to the Company.' During the 
fifteen years prior to 1863 the Boott company paid average annual 
di\idends of four and six-tenths per cent., but at that date an outlay 
of at least $300,000 was needed to put the mills into even tolerable 
condition. At the outbreak of the war the company had in its ware- 
houses about two million pounds of cotton. Had this accumulation 
been retained instead of being sold the profits from the retention would 
have sufiiced to pay all the dividends of fifteen years, make the repairs 
above mentioned and still leave a surplus. 

One of the frequent subjects of complaint among the shareholders 
was that of the amount of commissions paid to the Boston selling 
agents. A stockholders' committee of the Lowell Manufacturing Com- 
pany (the so-called Carpet Mill) made a report of which this is a sig- 
nificant section: "During the period of seven years and five months 
from January- i, 1852, to June i, 1859. there were paid to A. & A. Law- 
rence & Co. : 

For commissions $182,056 81 

Auction charges in 1855 16.946 99 

Incidental expenses other than commissions 105,034 96 

$304,038 76 

On gross sales to the amount of $10,373,038.57, making $40,993.31 per annum 
which you have paid to and through that !irm from your profits." 

It was further alleged that the same house served as selling agent 
for seven other manufacturing corporations, and that another reliable 
firm had oiifered to do this commission business at about half the then 
cost. "The present dividend, declared during the investigation of this 
committee, is the first semi-annual dividend of more than thirty dollars 
per share which has been made for twelve years. During that period 
our dividends have averaged semi-annually but seventeen dollars per 
share. Yet during this time other carpet establishments have been 
making large profits, and some individual manufacturers have become 

Concerning war conditions in the cotton industry. Dr. Aver wrote 
caustically : "During many months inost of the cotton mills have 
been stopped. The operatives and skilled workmen, not a few of 
whom are indispensable to the progress of the work, have been turned 
out without provision for the present or their future return. It is a 
significant fact that the officers still continue to receive their salaries 
in full. Not one, anywhere, that we can hear of has even been reduced. 
It ser\xs to show who control the money and who get it. At the last 
meeting of the Hamilton Co., which has stopped work, it was pro- 
posed by a stockholder to reduce the salaries one-half and divide the 


amount so saved among the workmen out of employ, but the proposi- 
tion was voted down by the officers and their friends." 

Another charge was this : While a late treasurer of the Massa- 
chusetts C'otton Mills was in office (jne (if his family connection was 
employed to buy cotton for the Massachusetts, Boott and Merrimack 
mills, and for this work was paid in commissions about $36,000 annu- 
ally "without any risk, any investment of capital or even extraordinary 
skill." In the meantime, it was noted, the wages of operatives in 
these mills had been cut and strikes were threatened. The dividends 
to the stockholders were small and irregular. This treasurer, Dr. 
Ayer added as a final thrust, was responsible for the faulty construc- 
tion of the Pemberton Mill, Lawrence, which had collapsed with loss 
of life. 

It would certainly be faulty historianship to ignore these mid- 
century charges of incompetence and inefficiency of management in 
the Boston offices of the larger Lowell corporations. They have been 
recurrent in i)rint and in current gossip from time to time in more 
recent years. At the same time whoever passes judgment on these 
charges must bear in mind long standing animosities between anti- 
corporation and pro-corporation factions in the community. 

When all is said, it is hardly to be doubted that nepotism was, 
and to a certain extent still is. a crying evil in the management of New 
England textile properties. 

Supplementing the information in Dr. Ayer's report on the state- 
ments concerning the commission house which handled a large per- 
centage of the product of the Lowell mills, the original report, of July, 
1859, by a committee of stockholders of the Lowell Manufacturing 
Company, contains a paragraph which shows to what an extent the 
earlier ownership of this house had passed at the time of the alleged 
abuses. "The firm of A. & A. Lawrence & Co. consists of five part- 
ners, C. A. Babcock, ]. H. Wolcott. James Lawrence, Wm. G. Lam- 
bert and C. H. Parker. Thus the name itself is a fiction. The persons 
described by it, Amos and Abbott Lawrence, have, with their talents 
and tlieir influence, passed away ; and yet we are paying our propor- 
tion of a tribute over twice as large as the house received when its able 
fciunders were living and active in it." 

This reptjrt further stated that the commission system had long 
since been abandoned in Great Britain and that its usefulness in this 
country was already questioned. "Successful manufacturers in Rhode 
Island, and various sections of the country, state that they sell all 
their goods far better themselves and at less cost for selling than they 
can have it done for them by any commission house. They obtain 
l5Ctter prices, because they have the undi\ided attention of men de- 


voted to their interests." The committee signing this report was com- 
posed of James C. Aver, Peter Lawson and Horace J. Adams. 

Municipal Affairs During the War — The city government during 
the critical war time continued to be solid and substantial. The elec- 
tions of four years were the following choices for mayor and aldermen : 
1862 — mayor, Hocum Hosford ; aldermen, Merton C. Bryant, Edwin 
A. Alger, James B. Francis, William A. Burke, Isaac F. Scripture, 
Aldis L. W'aite, Albert Wheeler, Jonathan P. Folsom. 1863 — mayor, 
Hocum Hosford ; aldermen, James B. Francis, Edwin A. Alger, Abiel 
Pevey, William A. Burke, Isaac F. Scripture, Otis Allen, Albert 
W'heeler, W'illiam Nichols. 1864 — mayor, Hocum Hosford ; aldermen, 
William S. Southworth, James B. Francis, Dana B. Gove, W'illiam T. 
McNeill, George W. Norris, George Runels, Cyrus H. Latham, George 
F. Richardson. 1865 — mayor, Josiah G. Peabody ; aldermen, Edward 
F. Watson. George W. Norris, Dana B. Gove, William T. McNeill, 
Henry H. Wilder, Josiah Gates, Cyrus H. Latham, William Brown. 

Mayor Hosford, who held the chief office during three years, was 
one of the foremost business men of his day in the Merrimack valley. 
He founded the mercantile establishment which at this writing is 
continued under the name of his junior partner, A. G. Pollard. He 
was shareholder and director in many manufacturing and commer- 
cial enterprises. Born at Charlotte, Chittenden county, \"erniont, he 
had brief but intensive education at Sherljurne Academy and before 
he was twenty-one was teaching district schools. His father's farm 
was favorably situated and would have ofTered young Hosford a 
chance to succeed in a rural neighborhood. In 1845, however, he 
determined to trv his fortune in a city. He arrived at Lowell on Sep- 
tember 5, 1845, and soon found work as office boy and clerk in the dry 
goods store of Gardner & Wilson, at an annual salary of $150, out 
of which he must board and clothe himself. The youth stayed his 
year out in this establishment and then went over to the store of 
Daniel West, where he was paid a dollar a day. In this position he 
remained for four years, during the last two of which he had full 
charge of the store. Having accumulated about a thousand dollars 
Mr. Hosford presently bought out his former employer and estab- 
lished the firm of H. Hosford & Company. In i860 he came into 
public service for the first time through his election to the common 
council. The following year he was chosen alderman. His third 
mayoral election was practically unanimous — an unprecedented event 
in Lowell politics. After the war his career was thoroughly notable 
down to his lamented death in 1881. 

The efficient and popular city clerk throughout the war years was 
John H. McAlvin, born in Lowell, August 2, 1831, a son of John 
McAlvin, who had come to the citv from Antrim, New Hampshire. 


Mr. McAlvin was a graduate of the high school in the class of 1849. 
After leaving school he was employed for a short time in the counting 
room of the IIaniilt(.iii company. Thence he was appointed to a clerk- 
shi]) in the post office under Postmaster Alfred Gilman. He served 
in this capacity for eight )'ears. In January, 1S58, he was chosen 
city clerk. He was highly respected and thoroughly popular as a 
public servant. Later he became city treasurer and in i8.r)4 treasurer 
of the Lowell I-llectric Light company. His death occurred in 1896. 

Lowell's First Street Cars — Not many new enterprises, for obvious 
reasons, were undertaken at Lowell during the Civil War. One 
notable form of public service, nevertheless, began to be developed in 
the years of conllict. Modern street car transportation reached 
Lowell in the early sixties. Starting in New York City in the fifties, 
with the celebrated "John Mason," horse railroad systems had begun 
before the war to be projected in several communities. On March 26, 
1856, was opened the iirst horse railroad in New hlngland. that con- 
necting the city of iioston with Harvard Square, t-'ambridge, a line 
of eight-foot strap rails, laid with the ends touching so tightly that in 
in the heat of the first summer they buckled up and made riding in the 
cars not unlike an ocean voyage. From this crude beginning the 
technique of urijan transportation began to be discovered rapidly. 

The first intimation of an improvement of this sort for Lowell 
came in December, i8<>2, when a petition signed by Peter Lawson and 
N. Mickles was sent to the legislature asking for incorporation of 
"The Lowell Horse Railway Companw" with a capital not to exceed 
$50,000. It was purposed to build the first line from Pawtucket 
bridge along Pawtucket street, Merrimack and East Merrimack streets 
to Nesmith street. The ci.impan)- was duly incor])orated in the follow- 
ing April with an authorized capital of $100,000 and a paid-up capital 
of $40,128. On March i, 1864, the system was opened. The pro- 
moters' plans had been enlarged, for in addition to the line frt)m Belvi- 
dere to the head of Pawtucket bridge one was laid from the post 
office, in Merrimack square, to Whipple's Mills, via Central street, 
and one through Middlesex street to the old Lafayette House. Later 
extensions were on Westford and Chelmsford streets. 

Best Days of the Lyceum Bureau — Socially considered, Lowell 
seems not to have been greatly paralyzed by tlie feverish interest of 
many uf its peo]de in national events. The department of "city 
afifairs," which was a daily feature of "The Citizen," abounds with 
paragraphs which are often amusingly indicati\-e of the amusement of 
the people. 

At one extreme of intellectuality were the lecture courses of the 
Middlesex Mechanics' Association. To the hall nf this institution in 
Duttcin street came the foremost men of letters antl science with talks 


that were often reported verbatim in the press. The lecturers, indeed, 
who came to Lowell under these auspices, were of a celebrity to excite 
the envy of present day committees of the Middlesex Women's Club. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wendell Phillips, George William Curtis, 
John B. Gough, Artemus Ward, J. G. Holland, \\'illiam Lloyd Garri- 
son, Josiah Parsons Cooke, and many other men of similar calibre and 
distinction, gave their war time views on matters of national or per- 
sonal interest to Lowell residents. 

The churches during the first years of the decade were apparently 
much exercised over increasing intemperance in the city. Whether 
this manifestation was real or not would be difficult to say, as drunk- 
enness was certainly very common in the preceding decades. An 
impression, at all events, was abroad that the evil was actually grow- 
ing, and temperance orators were frequently welcomed. Anti-rum 
agitation was one of the features of the winter of 1861. In January, 
William Adams, Jr., agent of the Massachusetts Temperance Alli- 
ance, spent several days in Lowell. He met large audiences of chil- 
dren twice — once at Huntington Hall, on January 5, and again at the 
LTnitarian church, upon initiative of Rev. Frederick Hinckley. On 
Sunday. January 6, he made a stirring address before an audience of 
about 1,500 adults in Huntington Hall and received pledges from 
some thirty or more of those present. "Milo," at about this time, 
wrote to the "Boston Journal :" "There is no denying the fact that 
there is too much intemperance in our city — it always has been so — 
and something should be done to check it as much as in times past." 
In 1862 and 1863 there were several vigorous "drives" against intem- 

The Musical Lews — For professional music and drama the com- 
munity was increasingly dependent upon Boston. For its local musical 
entertainments the Pawtucketville church continued to have a unique 
reputation. The presence in this suburb of members of the musical 
Lew family contributed much toward the success of such musicales 
as one thus recorded under date of January 29, 1861 : "The vestry 
of the West Dracut meeting-house was packed full even to repletion 
at an early hour with an appreciative audience, and at seven the 
concert commenced with a 'quickstep' upon the clarionet by Mr. A. 
Lew, with a drum accompaniment by Ma.sters Johnnie and Fred. 
executed with great skill and precision ; indeed the little fellows 
deserve a sheepskin for the ability with which they used one last 
night. The programme was of considerable length, and embraced a 
great many of our 'popular' melodies ; want of space prevents noticing 
at length. .Vmong the the 'Cottage by the Sea' was rendered 
in fine style by Misses Lizzie and Mary, and the 'Ole Virginny Neber 


Tire' of Mr. A. Lew brought down the house." The Lews a genera- 
tion later were succeeded by the well remembered "Happy Hazards.'' 

Chelmsford Centre, though further from the city than Pawtucket- 
ville. was a musical rival. In the newspapers one encounters such 
paragraphs, suggestive of fun and frolic, as the following of February 
13, 1862; "The annual circle by the ladies of the Union Parish in 
Chelmsford Centre comes off at the town hall this evening. As the 
sleighing is excellent, an<l the moon bright, probably quite a delega- 
tion of our citizens will visit the 'old folks' who intend to sing their 
best. The 'young folks' will improve the time from ten till two, 'and 
whirl themselves with strict emliracements roimd.' Music will be 
furnished b}- a quadrille l)and from this city, and refreshments will 
be furnished the hungry. ( )ur Chelmsford friends extend a hearty 
welcome ti < :ill." 

Mid-Century Winter Sports — Winter sjiorts were cultivated 
almost as assiduously as now. 

Skating, naturally, had great vogue as an amusement. It was 
all outdoor skating prior to the coming of the roller rink craze in 
the seventies and early eighties. The brothers William and Luke 
McFarlin conducted a skating park north of the city and in the season 
ran their sleighs, according to an advertised schedule, starting from 
the Washington House and stopping at the post office and Rogers' 
hardware store. A ri\-al skating park was Greenleaf's, at Ayer's City, 
connected with which was "a saloon with convenient rooms for warm- 
ing.'' Both these resorts conducted skating matches at which prizes 
were given with juries of distinguished citizens awarding. 

Old fashioned sleighrides, too, were popular in a city which had 
never outgrown taste for country pastimes. In the papers of the six- 
ties one comes across many such news stories as the following from 
"The Citizen" of successive dates, January 23 and January 26, 1862: 

A Sleigh Ride — The "old timers'' of this city are to have an iild- 
fashioned sleigh ride this afternoon to Nashua, Xew Hampshire. They 
will go up in single teams, and will stop at the Indian Head Coffee 
House and partake of a sujiper, and return home in the evening. They 
will have a big time. 

The Sleigh Ride to Nashua — Some forty cou])lcs of the "old timers" 
went to Nashua yesterday afternoon, and partook of a splendid supper 
at the Indian Head House. They returned about 12 o'clock. The 
sleighing is good, but it is almost impossible for a large team to turn 
out. One double team capsized going up, but no damage was done, 
except the spilling of a few chips. 

The Development of Willow Dale — Willow Dale, for many 
decades a principal pleasure resort and picnic ground for Lowell 
people, situated on Tyng's Pond, four miles northwest from the city, 


had its first extensive development about the outbreak of the war. 
The grounds were laid out tentatively in the summer of 1857. The 
distinctive features of the place were due to the exuberant imag-ina- 
tion of its originator and first proprietor, the late Jonathan Bowers, 
a descendant of Jerathmeel Bowers, encountered in an earlier section 
of this history as one of the first settlers and as proprietor of the 
neighborhood's first distillery. Mr. Bowers was a man of marked 
originality, as indicated by the contribution, already referred to, which 
he made to the Mechanics' Fair of 185 1. 

The sports and amusements which "Johnnie" Bowers, as he was 
universally and afifectionately known, brought to generations of 
Lowell young people and others for almost half a century were almost 
too many to be recalled. A genuine lover of nature, the proprietor of 
Willow Dale spent the greater part of his working life in enjoying and 
proclaiming the charms of a lake which he quite honestly believed to be 
the most beautiful in the world. There was considerable substance, 
furthermore, behind his publicity, as is evident even now when the 
tasteless building of movie houses, casinos and closely packed summer 
cottages has hurt the native beauty of the larger body of water and its 
pretty confluent. Mud Pond. While it, of course, never has had the 
wild grandeur of some of the mountain lakes of this continent. Tyng's 
Pond, or Lake Mascuppic, as it is the fashion to name it, was half a 
century ago almost ideal for quiet restftil beauty. Its fringe of white 
pine was as fine as any in New England. The water was crystal clear, 
the shores prevailingly sandy. To give variety of skyline on the 
southern side Huckleberry Hill, surely worthy of a more romantic 
name, rose in two rounded drumlins between which was a pretty 
miniature pond. Directly under this hill, in the centre of the largest 
woodland district of northeastern Massachusetts, was the nearly cir- 
cular Mud Pond which drained through a reedy brook into the larger 
body of water. The outlet, too, of Mascuppic, a sizable stream issuing 
from the northwest corner, had picturesque beauty. Everywhere in 
the coves of the lake were the frequent water lilies. 

On the southern shore, reached in those days by carriage or 
"barge" via Pawtucketville and the Mammoth Road, Mr. Bowers 
built up his "Willow Dale." The war did not interrupt but perhaps 
rather accelerated his activities. In July, i86r, he announced to the 
citizens of Lowell a most instructive and real thrilling ceremony. He 
had secured for installation in his grove the identical figure of General 
Andrew Jackson whose head, as older people in New England well 
remembered, had been mysteriously sawed from the prow of the U. S. 
"Constitution," as she lay moored at Charlestown on July 2, 1834. 
This act of profanation, an indication according to Democrats of the 
degree of animosity with which his political opponents pursued the 


dmighty heri.) of New Orleans, had caused intense excitement at the 
time. Commodore Elliott of the United States Navy ofifered a reward 
of one thousand dollars for any clue to the perpetrators of the outrage. 
Nothing was ever discovered, and the headless torso was at last 
removed and stored in a wool loft in Boston. There it lay unnoticed 
for many years until one day A'lr. Bowers' attention was called to it. 
He saw both advertising and decorative possibilities in the piece which 
he bought and then hired a wood carver to make a head as nearly like 
the original as could be devised from the data available. 

Such was the story of the colossal figure of Andrew Jackson in 
full uniform, hat in one hand and the constitution in the other, which 
has looked down upon hundreds of Sunday school picnics since July 4, 
1861, when it was dedicated with an imposing ceremonial. 

Mr. Bowers believed in newspaper publicity, and the display 
advertisements which he ran summers must have kept his public enter- 
tained even while they delighted the souls of newspaper publishers. 
The amount of free publicity which he secured was very considerable, 
for every Sunday school picnic or other affair held at the Dale was 
duly chronicled. "Johnnie," however, was aware of the advantage 
of buying s]iace and filling it with distinctive and eye compelling copy. 
At a time when most advertisers were content to take an inch or two 
for insertion of a business or professional card he frequently announced 
the attractions of his resort in a third of a column or more. He 
essayed flowery rhetoric, and sometimes he burst into verse, as on 
June 20, 1S63, when he filled nearly half a column with six-point poetry 
and prose of which these stanzas are typical: 

The horses now with niml)le tread 

Along the streets resouniling, 
And o'er the river's rocky lied 

Toward Willow Dale are lionnding. 

More harmless mirtli and frolic now 

Are needed witliout question ; 
The best — as doctors now allow — 

Specific for digestion. 

If there is one whose cheerless turn 

Demands a kind adviser. 
Go to Willow D.'de and learn 

To be a little wiser. 

For all his persistent energy in prom,oting Willow Dale it may 
be doubted if Mr. Bowers' war time business was altogether satis- 
factory. In the spring of t<S65 he appeared with a large display adver- 
tisement offering the place for sale on the ground that he wished to 
seek a more agreeable climate. He then lists surreys, ilatboats, sum- 
mer houses, modern stables, cooking utensils and the other accessories 
enough to equip a small cantonment. No one else, apparently, cared 


to assume the responsibility of trying to make an honest dollar from 
this resort. It remained in and on Johnnie Bowers' hands during the 
rest of his long life. 

Bartlett vs. Mann Schools in the Old Days — Young America 
found its amusements taking a martial turn as the war progressed. 
The pitched battles, at any rate, that old school boj-s of the Pawtucket 
street district and the Acre remember as frequently occurring between 
partisans of the Bartlett and Mann schools were particularly acrimoni- 
ous in 1862 and thereafter. 

Nothing more amusing, more ridiculous and more dangerous than 
these battles on the North Common and the nearby streets could be 
conceived. In the memory of the present historian, they took place 
mainly when soft snow gave an excuse for loading snowballs with hard 
stones and heavy bits of lead. The gangs were regularly captained. 
In addition to the pitched fighting there was much guerilla warfare. 
Lone youngsters who strayed out of their own habitat were liable to 
be set upon in out-of-the-way streets and alleys by a trio or sextet of 
the opposite faction and well-nigh beaten to death. Not until the 
leaders of the gangs met in high school classes did they ever shake 

Memories of some of these contests on the North Common come 
uppermost in reading such a news story as this of May 9, 1862 : 

School Boys Fight — For several days past the boys connected 
with the Bartlett and Mann grammar schools in the north part of the 
city have had several well contested battles on the North Common in 
which stones, bricks and clubs were used freely, and some have been 
severeh- injured. They have leaders and go in for open field fights, 
without intrenchments, and this morning the battle was opened by a 
pair of skirmishers posted behind a board fence. The lines of battle 
were drawn, but an engagement was prevented by the intervention of 
a foreign power, the j)olice. led by the city marshal. The two leaders, 
Dunlavy of the Mann and Ashton of the Bartlett school, were arrested 
and will be examined at ihe Police Court. 

These combats were e\-idently a historic survival from the first 
days of occupancy of the Acre. In describing conditions in 1832 the 
author of "Loom and Spindle" states that pitched battles took place 
between the Irish boys and the native boys "all the way from the Tre- 
mont Corporation (then an open field) to the North Grammar School 
house, before we girls could be allowed to pursue our way in peace." 
Fathers and brothers of the contestants sometimes joined in the fray 

Appearance of the "Art Panoramas" — Except for portrait paint- 
ing the fine arts were but little cultivated in Lowell in war times. The 
day of visiting exhibitions of canvases and sculptures by leading 
American artists vas not yet. 


One form, however, of the art of painting became very familiar 
to Lowell folk soon after battles in the Southland began to be reported. 
The panoramas and cycloramas and other large pictorial representa- 
tions of the Civil War, which measurably played the part later to be 
taken by the "movies" in disclosing sights of the battlefields, began to 
visit Lowell early. Their advertisements and reading notices were 
usually marked Ijy a philistinism which makes the sophisticated reader 
of to-day smile, even while he recalls receiving notices in very recent 
years from the "art managers'' of Boston department stores that for 
bombastic absurdity would quite outdo the [nililicity style of 1861. 

One of the earliest of these traveling spectacles to come to Lowell 
was that devised by Brigham Bishop. It was duly annoimced in a 
"reader" in the following extravagant terms: "Bishop's Mammoth 
Exhibition of the War. This great work of art is coming, and will 
open at Huntington Hall on Monday evening. The press throughout 
the ccjuntry are loud in its praise. The paintings are acknowledged 
the best ever ptit on canvas ; they are up to and include Fort Donelson. 
This last scene is the largest, and cost m(_)re than any panoramic scene 
ever exhibited. The great variety of the entertainment which consists 
of panoramas, dioramas, dioptics, music &., cannot fail to draw a full 
house. It is on the all aljsori^ing themes of the day — the great rebel- 
lion. We ad\ise all to attend and see the places where our lirave sons 
ha\e won laurels. See advertisement." 

A little more than a year later, specifically on April 25, 1862, 
another panoramic spectacle was promised. ".A new panorama of the 
war, painted by those talented artists, the brothers Pearson, formerly 
of this city, will be exhibited here before long. It has had a very suc- 
cessful run in I'rovidence, R. I., Worcester and other cities, and local 
jiapers are loud in praise of the paintings." Continuing, the account 
offers as a special inducement that the panorama displays a "correct 
view of the engagement between the Monitor and the Merrimack." 
This entertainment took place on April 28. It was unqualifiedly suc- 
cessful, in part, doubtless, because the Pearson brothers took large 
advertising space to pruclaini "the only ci)m])lete artistic work of the 
kind in existence, being a CdUiplete history iif this great contest." 

Return of the War-Wom Sixth — The Si.xth Regiment's first home 
coming after its three months' ser\ice \\'as ci-lebrated in the early days 
of .\iigusl. The troops reached Boston in the afternoon of the first 
and formed for a parade, at the head of which Miss Jones, "daughter 
(if the regiment," as well as of its coliuiel. nnk- a milk white horse. 
Patrick .^arsfield Gilmore and his celebrated band turned out to make 
martial music. The regiment finally went to its headquarters in 
I''aneuil Hall. 

The next day — an intensely sultry day — the troops detrained at 



Lowell. Their line of march ran from the Merrimack street depot to 
Central, to Tyler, to Lawrence, through Church and Andover to Nes- 
niith. to East Merrimack, through Central, Gorham and Appleton to 
the South Common. At this destination they were drawn up in hollow 
square and addressed by Mayor Sargeant. Late in the afternoon they 
reassembled at Huntington Hall for a reception, at which the civic 
authorities of Lowell, Lawrence, Acton and Groton were present. A 
collation was served. The "daughter of the regiment" was loudly 
called for and required to stand forth with her mother, who was also 
present. Both were cheered to the echo. A lively da^•, therefore, it 
was in Lowell when the Sixth came marching home and. according to 
the newspapers, the light-fingered gentry did a flourishing business 
among the simple country people who came to town to witness the 
celebrations. One member even of the city government of bucolic 
Lawrence had about eighty dollars lifted from his pocket. 

The Sixth Regiment, it should be added, was afterwards reorgan- 
ized, went once more to the front and did gallant service. Captain 
Follansbee became its colonel. Other officers were: Lieutenant- 
colonel. Melvin Beal, of Lawrence: major, Charles A. Stott : surgeon, 
\\'alter Burnham. M. D. : assistant surgeons, O. M. Humphrey and G. 
E. Pinkham. The regiment reenlisted for nine months. It was 
ordered to Fortress Monroe. It later saw service in Virginia. In the 
skirmish at Carrsville. Anson G. Thurston and George I. Fox, both 
graduates of the Lowell High School, were killed. The regiment came 
home for a second time on May 29, 1863, and then went out again for 
one hundred days. 

Some account should be given of the Massachusetts regiments 
besides the Sixth, in which considerable numbers of Lowell men en- 
listed. Individuals, resident or formerly resident in the city, of course, 
served in various departments of the army and navy, and not always 
under Bay State colors. A majority, however, of those who went out 
were enrolled in a few regiments whose careers may be sketched 

Lowell Men in Other Regiments — The Second Massachusetts, to 
which the Abbott Greys were attached and which suffered the loss of 
Captain Edward Abbott at Cedar Mountain, was in action during sev- 
eral of the crucial engagements of the war. After Chancellorsville it 
mourned its acting colonel, Captain Salem S. Marsh, a Lowell boy, a 
West Point graduate and one of whom a fellow-officer wrote : "The 
army has lost one of its best leaders. Every officer and man deplores 
his loss." 

At the expiration of its term of service the Second reenlisted and 
took part in the great l)attles of Antietam and Gettysburg. In the 
Atlanta campaign it was attached to the Twentieth corps under Major- 


General Joseph Hooker. It tlien liad as commanding officers Colonel 
William Cogswell and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles F. Morse. On the 
"March t(_i the Sea," the Second was joined by the Thirty-third Massa- 
chusetts. .After its long and honorable service it was mustered nut and 
returned to Lowell under command of Colonel Francis. 

The Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment contained a few Lowell 
soldiers. At Chancellorsville George Bush, captain of Company B of 
this regiment, was slain. Attached to the Thirteenth as assistant sur- 
geon throughout the war was Lloyd W. Hixon, formerly sub-princi- 
pal of the Lowell High Schdol. 

The Hill Cadets, formed largely among Americans of Irish birth 
or ancestry, shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter, were led by Cap- 
tain I'atrick !>. Proctor. The Butler Rifles, who toi ik their name out 
of compliment to Lowell's famous civilian soldier, were commanded 
by Captain Thomas O'Hare. Both the Hill Cadets and the Butler 
Rifles were attached to the Sixteenth Massachusetts Infantry. They 
participated in the Ijattles of Fair Oaks, Glendale, Malvern Hill, Fred- 
ericksburg. Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spottsyl- 
vania, the Pammukey and Petersburg. Their colonel, Powell F. 
Wyman. was killed at Glendale and Lieutenant James B. Darracott 
fell at the second battle of Bull Run. At Spottsylvania these two 
Lowell companies helped to defend the "Bloody Angle" where the 
"Stars and Stripes and Stars and Bars nearly touched each other across, 
the works." In this encounter the Sixteenth lost its brave colonel, 
Waldo Merriman. At Gettysburg the young men from the Acre were 
again conspicuously efficient. In the thickest of the fight was killed 
Cajjtain David W. Roche, of Company A, who had enlisted as second 
lieutenant of the Hill Cadets. Some one has written of him : "He was 
one of Ireland's most nolde sons, possessed of the real Irish impetuos- 
ity and courage." 

The Nineteenth Regiment had a considerable Lowell delegation 
in its ranks. This command stood against the celebrated Pickett 
charge at Gettysburg, which was the turning point of the war. One of 
its conspicuous losses at Fredericksburg was that of Lieutenant 
Thomas Claffey, Ixirn at ^lanchester, England, but educated in the 
public schools of Lciwell. He had just been brevetted captain for 
bravery on the fu-Id. -\t Cold Harbor, Captain Dudley C. Alumford, 
who had enlisted from Lowell in July, 1863, was killed. 

Only a few men from the Spindle City were in the Twentieth 
Massachusetts, I)ut eminent anmng them was Henry Li\'ermore .Mi- 
bott, son of Judge Josiah G. AI>bott and younger brother of Captain 
Edward (i. Abbott, of the Abbott Greys. .At nineteen this grandson 
of the founder of Bielviderc enlisted in the Fourth Battalion of Infan- 
trv. He later was transferred to the Twentieth Regiment as second 


lieutenant. Despite his youth he showed great executive capacity and 
received rapid promotion, reacliing the grade of brigadier-general. His 
regiment was at Ball's Bluff, Fair Oaks, Antietam, Fredericksburg 
and Gettysburg. At the last-named battle General Abbott was shot 
down while leading a desperate charge. His death following upon that 
of his brother, deeply saddened his father's life. 

Three Lowell companies were in the Twenty-sixth Regiment, 
which was organized in August, 1861, for three years' service. Its 
commanding officer was Colonel Edward F. Jones, of Pepperell, who 
had been at the head of the Sixth in the march through Baltimore. 
This command left Camp Chase in November. 1861, and proceeded to 
Ship Island as part of General Butler's force in the Department of the 
Gulf. These men gave especially good account of themselves in the 
campaign for New Orleans. In writing of the surrender of Forts Jack- 
son and St. Philip, General Butler saj-s : "My brave and enduring sol- 
diers of the Twenty-sixth Regiment waded in the swamps to the rear 
of Fort St. Philip up to their arm])its in water in order to cut ofif its 
garrison and get ready to assault the enemy's works, and to their 
efforts and that of their comrades, and those alone, is due the surren- 
der of Forts Jackson and St. Philip." 

The Thirtieth Massachusetts Regiment, which General Butler 
personally organized, had four companies, B, C, F and M, which were 
largely made of citizens of the Spindle Cit}'. The commander was 
Lieutenant-Colonel Jonas H. French, the chaplain, Rev. John P. Cleve- 
land. The regiment joined in the expedition to Ship Island. It was 
engaged in the battle of Baton Rouge and at other operations in 
Louisiana. In Company A of this regiment was the famous Captain 
Timothv A. Crowley, who had been color-bearer of the Sixth Regi- 
ment when it marched through Baltimore, and whose untimely death 
was deeply regretted in his home city. Captain Crowley was born at 
Lowell, Feliruary 14, 1831, was educated in the public schools and was 
trained as a machinist. After working for some years at his trade he 
went upon the police force and in 1858 was appointed deputy marshal 
of the city. He died at New Orleans, October 5, 1862, of intermittent 
fever. His remains were buried in Lowell with military honor, Octo- 
ber 26, 1862. 

A verv distinguished Lowell citizen who began his military career 
in the Thirtieth was General Charles Augustus Ropes Dimon, born 
at Fairfield, Connecticut. April 27, 1841, and educated at the acad- 
emy in that town. At 16 young Dimon became a clerk in the office 
of his uncle's firm, R. W. Ropes & Company. He enlisted April 17, 
1861, as a private in the Eighth Regiment of Infantry, Massachusetts 
Volunteer Militia. He was commissioned first lieutenant adjutant of 
the Thirtieth Massachusetts Infantry, February 20, 1862, and major 



of the Second Louisiana Infantry, United States Volunteers, October 
20, 1862. He resigned from the Louisiana regiment, January 23, 1863, 
to become recruiting officer of tlie Point Look(.)Ut prisoners of war 
camp. On March 8, 1864, he was commissioned heiitenant-coUmel of 
the First Infantry, United States Volunteers, March 8, 1864. His gal- 
lant and meritorious services throughout the war resulted in his being 
breveted brigadier-general. United States Volunteers, March 13, 1865. 
Of General Dimon's merits as an officer, General Butler wrote in his 
autobiograpiliy : "In the matter of enlistment of ex-Confederates at 
Point Lookout, wdiere out of 10,000 prisoners two regiments of infan- 
try were enlisted, thus saving 2,000 men and $2,000,000 in expense of 
recruitment and i)(junties to the loyal States, this work was done by 
a young (officer from Salem, Massachusetts, Colonel Charles A. R. 
Dimon. He went out with the three months' men, and later I pro- 
muted him to be ccihinel. Fie took command nf this enlisted regiment 
which did most efficient service." After the war General Dimon for 
many years directed the affairs of the United States Cartridge Com- 
pany at Lowell. 

Slime 250 Lowell men enlisted in the Thirty-third Massachusetts, 
which left Boston in August, 1861, for the seat of war. This regiment 
was sent to .Alexandria, Virginia, wdiere its first duties consisted of 
"em]3tying wdTiskey barrels and handling rough customers.'" The men 
had a taste of jjicket duty at FUill Run Ridge. After some months of 
guard and fatigue duty the regiment got into the battle of Chancellors- 
ville. Naional fame came to it a little later through its impetuosity in 
the battle of Lookout Mountain, where it was one of "Fighting Joe" 
Hooker's regiments that scaled the peak and fought a stirring battle 
above the clouds. This Bay State troop was with Sherman on the 
"march to the sea." After the termination of the march across Georgia 
and the junction of the militar}- forces from the west and the na\al 
forces from the east. General Sherman selected his brother-in-law, 
Colonel (afterwards General) Thomas Ewing and Lieutenant (after- 
wards Captain) Joseph P. Thompson, of Lowell, to go under a flag 
of truce towards Augusta to demand the surrender of Savannah. They 
were met between the lines by a Confederate flag of truce carried by 
officers who laughingly announced that they would see the city's 
streets swimming in blood before they would surrender. A little later, 
however, they clianged their minds as they witnessed Sherman's elab- 
orate preparations to bring his siege artillery against the city. The 
Thirty-third, with the .Second Massachusetts, continued with Sherman 
in his march u]) through the Carolinas and witnessed the surrender of 
General Johnston at Raleigh, one of the closing events of the war. 

.Several Lowell men were in the Fifteenth Light Battery, which 
was mustered into service at Fort Warren, February 17, 1863. Timo- 


thy Pearson, of Lowell, was its first commander and among the officers 
were two of his fellow townsmen, Albert Rowse and Lorinth Dame. 
The battery was sent to Louisiana. It served during the remainder of 
the war until mustered out on August 4, 1865. 

The Richardson Light Infantry was so named from Hon. George 
F. Richardson, who generously contributed time and money toward 
its organization. It became known as the Seventh Battery. It saw 
active service at Fortress Monroe, Norfolk, Yorktown and Suffolk, 
Virginia. Later it was ordered to the Department of the Gulf, where 
it participated in several engagements. 

The principal cavalry commands organized in Lowell were three 
companies of horse formed at Camp Chase and sent on January 2, 
1863, to Ship Island. In the following June these companies were 
attached to the Third Massachusetts Cavalry. Their respective cap- 
tains were S. Tyler Reed, James M. Magee and Henry A. Burrage. 
Edward J. Noyes, afterwards mayor of Lowell, succeeded Captain 
Magee for a short time. Captain Burrage was drowned in the Mis- 
sissippi river and was followed in command by Solon A. Perkins, also 
of Lowell, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Clinton, June 3, 
1863. C. C. Chase wrote of him : "Lieut. Perkins was one of Lowell's 
bravest sons. The city had no more costly sacrifice to lay on the altar 
of patriotism. He was the son of Apollos and Wealthy Perkins, of 
Lowell. He fitted for college in the High School, and was a fine 
classical scholar. After several years spent in mercantile employment 
in Boston and afterwards in South America, he returned to Lowell, 
and early in the Rebellion entered the service of his country. As com- 
mander of cavalry he exhibited an intrepidity and daring which won 
the admiration of both of friend and foe." 

Lowell in the Navy, 1861-65 — The services of Lowell men in the 
navy during the Ci\ il W'ar were hardly so conspicuous as those of 
the men in the army. The late Charles Cowley, nevertheless, found 
much to record in a paper which he delivered before the Old Residents' 
Association in August, 1893. 

From this account it appears that at the outbreak of the war, when 
Gideon W'elles took charge of the navy, no Lowell man of commis- 
sioned rank was in any department of the naval service, though Gus- 
tavus V. Fox, a high school classmate of General Butler, had resigned 
a commission a short time before. 

Fox's career during the struggle is, naturally, traced in some de- 
tail. This Lowell man watched the growth of the secession idea from 
the day of Lincoln's election. In January, 1861, he submitted to Presi- 
dent Buchanan a plan, which was rejected, for relief of Fort Sumter. 
He returned to New York from Charleston on April 18, the day before 
the bombardment. Several iniblic-spirited men at this moment were 


e(iui])jiing the steamer "Yankee" to keep clear the water line to the 
national capital. P'rom Commodore Breese, commandant at tlie me- 
tropolis, Fox received the following order: 

New York Nav_v Yard, 
April 25th, 1861. 
Sir: — You are hereby appointed an acting lieutenant in the Navy 
temporarily, and will take command of the steamer Yankee, now fit- 
ting out at this yard for service. All persons on board are recjuired to 
obey you accordingly. Respectfully your obedient servant, 

Mr. G. V. Fox, New York. S. L. Brkeze, Commandant. 

This, according to Cowley, was the first appointment of a volun- 
teer naval officer during the war. Fox, it should be added, took the 
"Yankee" to Hampton Roads and thence to Annapolis, where he 
I)!aced the vessel in the hands of General Butler. He himself pro- 
ceeded to \\'ashington. A commission as commander in the navy would 
have been his for the asking, but he decided to accept a tendered 
position as Assistant Secretary of the Nav}'. His services in that 
capacity belong to the general history of the Rebellion. He died in 
New York, October 29, 1S83. Some thirty-eight other Lowell men 
held naval commissions during the war. 

Rallies for Lowell Recruiting — Even as recruiting became more 
difficult throughout the north, Lowell and its surrounding towns con- 
tinued to bear a g(jod reputation for always filling out their cjuota, and 
a little more. Popular interest in the war was not permitted to flag. 
On July 12, 1862, for example, was held in Huntington Hall the first of 
several mass meetings in the interest of enlistment. Mayor Hosford 
presided. There was a patriotic address by Adjutant-General Schouler 
and briefer exhortations by these home speakers: A. R. Brown, T. M. 
Sweetser, D. .S. Richardson, John F. McEvoy, E. A. Alger, James 
Dean, B. C. Sargeant. Ta]3pan Wentworth and John Wright. Dracut, 
too, which still included the Pawtucketville suburb of Lowell, lived uj) 
to its Revolutionary fame as a centre of devotion to military duty. It 
was reported on August 19, 1862, that the town's full quota of twenty- 
two three-year men was made up, and on that day a mass meeting was 
held in the town house, presided over by George W. Coburn as first 
selectman, at which it was resolved to appropriate $100 for each volun- 
teer, thirty responsible citizens offering guarantees that this amount 
would be paid. On .-Vugust 25 a Dracut correspondent of "The Citi- 
zen" reported: "We learn that the full cjuota of men for the nine 
months' term was obtained on Friday evening, with a few extra ones 
for contingencies." 

A statistical epitome of what Lowell had done in the war was pre- 
pared soon after the close of the conflict by the mayor of the city. The 
figures in this summary help to understand why the city's population 


was considerably less in 1865 than in i860 ; though, of course, the en- 
listments and casualities were not the only cause. The city's record 
follows : 

1861 — April 15, call for 75,000 men for three months. Lowell fur- 
nished 223 men, at a cost of $596.08; average cost. $2.67 3-10. 

1861 — May 3, call for 50,000 men; July i, call for 600,000. Our 
quota under these calls was 2,098 men for three years. The number 
recruited was 2.390, at a cost of $65,861.78; average cost. $27.48. 

1862 — August 4, call for 300.000 men for nine months. Our quota 
was 235. We enlisted and furnished 557 men, at a cost of $22,162.25; 
average $35. 78 8-10. 

1S63 — October 17, call for 300,000 men. We furnished 211 men, 
at a cost of $902.30; average cost, .$4.27 6-10. The report of the Adju- 
tant-General, January i, 1864. stated that we had at that time a sur- 
plus of 179 men. 

1864 — July 18. call for 500,000 men ; our quota, 627. We furnished 
(including 196 navy recruits) 998 men. at a cost of S147.594.11 ; aver- 
age cost. $147.9414. 

1864 — December 19. call for 300,000 men. No quota was ever 
assigned to Lowell under this call. I was informed by the Provost 
Marshal that our quota. January i. 1865. was eight men short of all 
requirements. We continued our enlistments until the surrender of 
Richmond The number enlisted subsequent to the call in December 
was 132 men at a cost of $17,139.55 ; average cost. $129.08. 

Of the volunteers for 100 days, Lowell furnished 252, at a cost of 
$143.80 — making the whole number standing to our credit. 4,736 men, 
and the whole cost of recruiting and bounties, $254,074.87. In addi- 
tion to this we have expended for uniforms, interest on State Aid 
paid, and other incidental expenses of the war. exclusive of the Ladd 
and Whitney monument, the sum of $39.141.02 — making a grand total 
of $293,215.89 It should be stated that there were 450 men from our 
city who enlisted in the naval service, but in the apportionment which 
was made, only 196 were allowed to our credit. Had we received full 
credit for these men, our whole number furnished would have been 

Lowell Receives Souvenirs from the Front — Souvenirs of the war 
began to arrive at Lowell and to excite keen interest among all classes 
of the population. Many of these have been preserved. 

The famous steam gun, a sort of prototype of the machine gun of 
to-day, which was captured in Maryland, near the Relay House by a 
detachment of the Massachusetts Sixth, reached the city on August 13, 
1 861. Especial curiosity regarding this piece had been excited, and a 
crowd gathered as it was taken from the train. Those who examined 
the mechanism saw a bulky construction weighing about two tons and 
resembling a snow plough. It was invented by Charles S. Dickinson, 
of Cleveland, Ohio, who had formerly taught dancing in Lowell. The 
capacities of the gun were thus set forth by the inventor ; "Rendered 
ball proof, and protected by an iron cone, and mounted on a four- 


wheeled carriage, it can be readil}' moved from place to place, or kept 
on march with army. It can be constructed to discharge missiles of 
anv capacity from an ounce ball to a 25-]5(_)und shot, with a range and 
force equal to the most approved gun-powder projectiles, and with a 
discharge of from one hundred to five hundred balls per minute." 
Mechanics of the Spindle City who looked this piece over did not 
highly approve its action and wondered at the report that the Rich- 
mond government had appropriated $5,000 to build another like it. 
As a curious relic of the contest it was turned over to the Middlesex 
Mechanics' Association. 

Relics and mementos, none of them perhaps quite so exciting as 
the steam gun, continued to be sent home by officers and men at the 
front. Hardly a week passed but the newspapers recorded something 
that would be a valuable "document'' in a war museum. 

A secession flag from New Orleans was certainly one of the most 
exciting reminders of the war. All day long, on the Fourth of July, 
1862, this banner flew from the pole on City Hall, but not in such a 
fashion as to suggest that Lowell had been captured by the secession- 
ists, for directly o\-er it was the larger emblem of the Union. 

A letter from General Butler exjilained the circumstances of this 
gift to the people of Lowell : 

Headcjuarters of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, June 5, 1862. 
Mr, Mayor: — I send enclosed to your order the flag of Fort Liv- 
ingston, Louisiana. The fort is said to have surrendered to the navy, 
but I have the flag and I assure you that I did not borrow it. The 
truth is, the fort surrendered to a heroic Union girl, who has brought 
me the flag, which I send you in order that our people may see for the 
first, and, I hope, only instance, what kind of a rag secession and rebel- 
lion proposes instead of the glorious flag of our fathers. Please have 
it hoisted under the stars and stripes, on the Cit\- Hall, on the Fourth 
of July, and give one thought to your fellow-citizen whom duty calls 
to be far away from the city of his hcjme. 

I am very trul_\" \'our friend, 

I!l-..\,).\MIN F. I'lUTLKR. 

When this thrilling letter was read by the mayor to the board of 
aldermen the following resolve was soon worded: 

Ordered, That the ma}or be reiiuested to cause the secession flag 
this day received from Major-General Butler to be displayed on the 
stafi" of the city government building, under the stars and stripes, dur- 
ing the Fourth of July next. Jnd. That the flag be preserved as a 
tro])hy, and ])laced with the other collections relating to secession in 
the city library of the city. 

The "rebel flag" which thus greeted celebrants on the National 
hiilida\' in 1 Sf)2 had dimensions of nine bv sixteen feet. It was made 


in New Orleans. It showed three bars, two of them red and one white, 
with thirteen stars in a blue field. 

Much noise was created in Lowell, literally, by another reminder 
of the South which was received in February, 1862, by former Alder- 
man W. G. Morse, from one of the soldiers in the Massachusetts 
Twenty-sixth. This gift was a yotmg porker, of a sort familiar to 
visitors in southern cities but a curiosity in the north. As described 
by a writer of the time, "it is a queer looking customer, weighs less 
than three pounds, and is covered with long black bristles or hair. It 
is probably but a few weeks old, but he can squeal equal to an old 
grunter. If that is a specimen of the fresh pork our soldiers get at 
Ship Island they are to be pitied. It is worse than 'Pennsylvania drag' 
or salt horse. The animal has been purchased at great expense by a 
lover of animals and will be raised to hoghood. The hide is said to 
make capital leather for belting." Further data regarding this visitor 
are not available. 

Stories of atrocities were quite as rife in the Civil War as during 
the \\'orld War upon which the United States entered in April, tqiZ- 
From Virginia, whither he went in the summer of 1862, on a trip of 
inspection, Samuel P. Hadley, later Judge Hadley, of the Police Court, 
brought back to Lowell a good specimen of a "poison bullet." This 
ball had been given him by a member of the Thirty-third Regiment, 
who was certain that it was constructed to contain poison. It was said 
to be one of many fired at the battle of Manassas, from which Union 
soldiers were suffering with wotmds swollen to enormous size. This 
bullet, of the familiar "Minie" pattern, was exhibited for a time in the 
window of former Mayor Sargeant's bookstore. 

As the war dragged on there were periods in which little that 
was directly connected with military or naval events happened in 
Lowell, except the continual reception of dead bodies and wounded 
men. Every now and then occurred some public demonstration 
worthy of special recording in this narrative. For the rest the city 
lived on from month to month, with the fate of the armies at the front 
always in everybody's consciousness. 

The Burial of Captain Edward Abbott — Announcement of the 
deaths of Lowell men, which was a portentous event in the first days 
of the war, soon became commonplace. Obituary notices of this kind 
were chronicled very frequently, for casualties were numerous among 
the five thousand or more of the city's sons who saw service. 

One death, however, that more than ordinarily startled Lowell, 
was that of its first commissioned officer to fall, Captain Edward G. 
Abbott, who was slain while leading his men at the battle of Cedar 
Mountain. This son of Judge Josiah Abbott was a graduate of the 
Lowell High School and of the Harvard College class of 1S60. 


Although only just of age he had won the confidence and respect of 
military men. His letters to Lowell friends were eagerly read and 
sometimes puljlished in the newspapers. Shortly before the fatal 
engagement in which he lost his life he had written: "We are just on 
the point of marching towards Culpepper, I believe. The health of 
the company and regiment is very good, which I attribute to good 
cooking. A New York regiment, just arrived here, have 300 men on 
the sick list; they don't understand camp life, nor do their officers, 
who are quite inexperienced, and so do not properly attend to the 
camp police. Here is a strong reason why men should enlist in old 
regiments, where the cooking is good, and the officers know their 
duty. I hope a dozen recruits will be saved for me out of Lowell's 

The request could not be granted to the officer who made it. In 
the midst of careful, attentive service of this kind, General Gordon's 
brigade was ordered Ijy General Banks to resist the onslaught of 
Stonewall Jackson's force of 25,000 men in the valley of Cedar Run. 
The brigade, on the extreme right of Banks' line, was very severely 
punished, having 74 men killed. 191 wounded and 79 missing. In this 
severe fray Captain Al)bott distinguished himself by his bravery. 
General Gordon, his brigade ccjmmander, said: "I saw when he fell. 
I was proud that I had done something to educate him to the profes- 
sion he sii much, sij jieculiarly, adorned." 

After the battle Captain Abbott's body was recovered and sent to 
Boston. The family would have preferred that the burial should be in 
Mount .\nburn (,'emetery. So urgent were the recjuests, however, 
from Cajjtain Abbott's Lowell friends that Judge and Mrs. Abbott 
acceded to a plan of interment in the Lowell Cemetery. A memorial 
serxice was held in Boston on August 18, which was attended by the 
Harvard class of i860 in a body and by a delegation of city officers and 
many others from Lowell. Thence the casket was brought to the 
Middlesex station, Louell. and in solenm procession carried to the 
final resting jtlace, where Rev. Dr. Ldson made a touching address. 

Throughdut 1862 Lowell residents read their papers with espe- 
cial eagerness for news from the Department of the Gulf, where Gen- 
eral Butler and his regiment were operating in Louisiana. 

Lowell Boys at Ship Island — .\ great de])arture of Lowell troo]>s 
was witnessed in the first weeks of the year. General Butler had 
previously obtained authority from the President to raise and equip 
six regiments, for which pur])ose he was assigned temporarilv to the 
Dep;irtment of New luigland. With the beginning of 1862. however, 
he was transferred to the Dei:)artment of the Gulf, and was expected 
t(i make a record for effective operations on the long coast line between 
Kev West and Brownsxille 


Those Lowell troops who were attached to this Gulf of Mexico 
division left the city on the 2nd of January. On the next day there 
was a great mustering on Boston Common, where, despite the intense 
cold, flags were presented to two newly enlisted regiments. In each 
case General Butler ga\e the colors, "styling them as the emblem of 
the unity of the republic and the 'hieroglyph' title of the indivisibility 
of the Nation." From the Common the troops proceeded to Long 
Wharf, where they embarked for the long journey south. 

A little incident significant of the conditions under which some 
enlistments were made occurred at this embarkation. Two Lowell 
thieves, J. L. and J. H. Edds, had had their sentences commuted on 
condition that they go to the front. They deserted in Boston and, with 
the well-known lack of imagination of criminals, found their way back 
to Lowell, where they promptly fell into the hands of the police. Offi- 
cers Rand and Plaisted rushed them back to the Hub and got them 
aboard the "Constitution" just as she was about to sail. 

The trip south was made successfully, and on January 21 a batch 
of more than 150 letters from Lowell boys at Ship Island caused wide- 
spread rejoicing among relatives and friends. 

An important contribution from the Spindle City to the encamp- 
ment on Ship Island was a crew of expert mechanics, the best that the 
city could offer. The men chosen to serve their country in this capac- 
ity were; Captain, James M. Howe; clerk, James R. Hopkins; car- 
penters, Alphonzo Crosby, A. A. Lanikin, Ira Caverly, Elbridge Kim- 
ball, William H. Cargill, J. K. Hodgdon, Thomas L. Leighton ; wheel- 
wrights, Joshua Ames, John Varnum, N. C. Lock, Edson Upton, 
Charles Montgomery, E. B. Caldwell, L. H. Caldwell ; blacksmiths, 
Joseph Tibbets, F. W. Champney, A. S. Straw ; James Hughes, Charles 
\V. Stinson ; masons, Charles Marshall, H. K. Barnard, H. A. Searl, 
A. E. Patrick; shoemakers. Worthy Parker, Thomas Davis; tinmen, 
G. W. Barnard, A. D. Holt ; mechanics and teamsters, L. B. Stevens, 
S. G. Stevens, W. A. Boy; tent-maker, H. C. Bailey. 

Ship Island, at which many of those Lowell men saw their first 
service in the war, had been chosen by General Butler as a base of 
operations against New Orleans. The commanding officer in his book 
gives the following description of it: "Ship Island is an island of 
white sand thrown up l.iy the winds and waves. It is between five and 
six miles long, and is about ten miles distant from the Mis.sissippi 
coast. At the upper part of it there is some soil on which is a growth 
of pine which serves at once for the fuel and timber required. This 
eastern end of the island rises to .some considerable height above 
the waters of the Gulf. The western end is more flat and rises only a 
little above the sea, in places less than two feet, and in case of any 
considerable sea, the waves wash over it. At the time of the arrival 


(jf my troiips there was not a house on the island. A\'e brought some 
section houses to be put up for hospital purposes and to cover stores 
and supplies, but we relied for shelter upon our tents." Very enter- 
taining descriptions of life on the island were writteti by IMrs. Butler. 
These facts first saw print in the volumes of Butler correspondence 
edited l.)y Jessie Ames Marshall. 

It is for military historians to adjudicate the standing dispute as 
the relative share taken by General Butler and his Massachusetts 
troops and Commodore Porter and the naval forces in the campaign 
which resulted in the capture of Xew Orleans on April 25, 1862. Pos- 
sibly as the political and social animosities of the late nineteenth cen- 
tury are forgotten a difTerent estimate of this campaign may be given 
from that which the Harvard College school of historians has made 
conventional. General Butler's side, certainly, of an old controversy 
is vigorously expressed in his autobiography. 

The newspapers of the first days of May, 1.S62, brought the an- 
nouncement of the capture of New Orleans by Commodore Farragut 
and of General Butler's entrance into the city. It was soon afterward 
reported that the commiuiity was governed with an iron hand liy the 
democratic attorney from Lowell ; that the jioor were provided with 
food and a reign of law and order introduced to which the people of 
the Crescent City had long been strangers. Public approval in the 
general's home town undoubtedly greeted the story of his issuing the 
famous "General Order No. 28," threatening with the punishment of 
the calaboose those high-bred women who persisted in hindering the 
execution (jf good government and respect for the National emblem. 
Many letters from officers and men regarding these occurrences were 
printed local!}'. Oi such sort, expressing an opinion undoubtedly 
favorable to the general's management of the situation in the Louisi- 
ana metrojioiis, was a letter in which Second Lieutenant David Field. 
writing under date of May 30, 1862, said: "Gen. Butler is deservedly 
po])u!ar here. The citizens speak of him in the highest terms. He 
has grappled with all the great rjuestions at issue with them, and has 
shown the (pialities of a commanding general, the statesman, the law- 
yer and the civilian, and the man. I lis keen legal talent and discern- 
ment I if men and character have enabled him to read things in this citv 
wliicli must generals would have passed Iiy." 

What Butler Told Lowell About New Orleans — An accounting of 
his stewardshij) at New Orleans was gi\en by (jeneral Butler, in pres- 
ence of his fellow-citizen townsmen, on January 13, 1863. The doughty 
Lowellian. on December 15 preceding, had been superseded in his 
command by (iener.'il Bank'- and a few days later had started nnrth, 
issuing before he left an .iddress to the people of New Orleans in which 
he e,irnestl\- entreated them to return "not with lii) ser\ice, but wi''i 



the heart," to their true allegiance. In New York he was extensively- 
interviewed. \\'hen at la.'^t he arrived in Lowell he found that a recep- 
tion had been arranged in his honor in HiuUington Hall, Mayor Hos- 
ford presiding. As orator of the occasion, Hon. John A. Goodwin de- 
livered an address of welcome to which the general replied feelingly, 
stating that it was due to the loyalty and efficiency of Lowell men that 
he had been able to accomplish what he had. He told his listeners that 
his experiences in New Orleans had not made him less but rather more 
of a Democrat ; that he had found fourteen thousand of the laboring 
people of the city quite ready to take the oath of allegiance to the 
United States, but that the property owners were, as a class, bitter 
rebels. "The object of this rebellion" he said, "is to enable the landed 
aristocracy to govern the country. The poor people in the South are 
not consulted in their government. They fight because they are com- 
pelled to fight ; they will not volunteer as our men have done, because 
they feel no interest in the controversy." 

After the addresses an informal reception was held at which thou- 
sands of men and women pressed forward to grasp the general's hand. 

The papers for some months thereafter carried frequent items 
about General Butler's opinion on one subject or another, but nothing 
regarding further military or administrative exploits, for during the 
major part of 1863 he held no command. It was not until November 
that he was for a second time placed in command of the Department 
of \'irginia and North Carolina with results which will appear. 

The hostile attitude of many leading English public men and 
newspapers toward the United States in its struggle for preserving 
National integrity caused much indignation in Lowell. In April, 1862, 
an indication of this attitude of hurt surprise was shown in a decision 
of the Middlesex Mechanics' Association to cancel their subscription 
to the "London Times." The assigned reason was this: "Although it 
may be desired and perhaps profitable for us to know what intelligent 
foreigners think of our people and our institutions, and, while we 
would not betray an undue or morbid sensitiveness under the lash of 
criticism, we do think that the subscription price of the London Times 
is too much to pav for the pri\-ilege of being abused in its columns." 

How the City Supported the Administration — The election of 1862 
aroused Lowell as it did most Northern communities. The problem 
was whether the electorate would or would not sustain the Lincoln 
administration. The Republicans were naturally very active. On 
October 23 Huntington Hall was filled with one of the most enthusi- 
astic political meetings in the city's history. Senator Charles Sumner 
had been secured as the principal speaker by a committee whose offi- 
cers were as follows : President, Hon. A. P. Bonney ; vice-presidents, 
Hon. John Xesmith. W. S. Southworth, John .-\. Buttrick, E. F. Wat- 


son. Horace J. Adams, F. P. Appleton, L. G. Howe, Rufus Rogers, 
William G. Morse, Alfred Gilman, James C. Ayer, W'illiam Nichols, 
A. L. Brooks, T. L. P. Lamson, Francis H. Nourse, Dr. Harlin Pills- 
bur>-. John L. Cheney, Dana B. Gove; secretaries, Z. E. Stone, George 
F. Morcy. S. P. Hadley. 

Senator Sumner spoke with his accustomed eloquence for two 
hdurs, <k-\'oting about half of his address to an elaborate defence of the 
Republican conduct of the government during the great crisis. 

On October 29 came another great rally, with Henry W'ilson as 
the orator. 

At the succeeding election, on November 3, Lowell gave substan- 
tial Republican majorities to all candidates. Governor Andrew's vote 
was 1.977, against 1,427 for the Democratic candidate, Charles Devens, 
Jr. To Congress the district elected Hon. George S. Boutwell, of Gro- 

The First of the Great Sanitary Fairs — In Lowell, early in 1863, 
originated in conception and practical form the first of the many "sani- 
tary fairs." which during the middle and later years of the war were 
held in several of the country's largest cities. This extension of the 
work (jf the Soldiers' Aid Association was undnubtedly one of the 
finest achievements of the ci\'ilian population. 

A particijiant's acc(junt of the beginning of this splendid under- 
taking is as follows: "On the evening of the 24th of January, 1863, a 
score of ladies assembled at the house of a gentleman in Lowell, at 
the request of his daughters, to consider the e.xpediency of holding a 
fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission. At first it was only intended 
to make this a neighlxirhond afifair ; but as they talked, the cause 
inspired them with deeper interest and stronger faith ; and liefore they 
separated, they had not only decided to ask the cooperation of every 
religious society in the city, Protestant and Catholic, but a notice was 
written for the city papers requesting all persons interested to meet 
at a specified place. .V large number of ladies and gentlemen responded 
to the call, .V jilan was drawn up, and an executive committee, com- 
])osed of nine gentlemen and six ladies, chosen. Committees, with a 
chairman for each, were appointed for each department. The originators 
expressed their ex])ectation that Lowell will .give still another proof of 
that ])atriotism and liberality which ha\e hitherto entitled it to a 
I)rominent place in the history of the times. In four weeks from the 
day when the first meeting was called, without a dollar in h;md or an 
article ]irepared. the first Sanitary Fair was opened — a fair which, for 
harmony of action, beauty of decorations, system and order of arrange- 
ments, and perfectifjn of financial arrangements, has never been ex- 
celled, if e(|ualcd." 

The executive committee in charge of this enter])rise was: Chair- 



man, Mayor Hocum Hosford ; secretary, \V. F. Salmon ; E. P. Patch, 
George Ripley, H. H. Wilder. Isaac Place, Abiel Rolfe, E. F. Sherman, 
Jacob Rogers, Mrs. James B. Francis, Mrs. John Nesmith, Airs. George 
Hedrick, Mrs. C. P. Talbot, Miss B. Robbins, Miss M. Hinkley. The 
heads of special committees were as follows : Finance, S. D. Sargeant ; 
music, Charles Merrill ; tables, William P. Brazier; refreshments, O. E. 
Gushing; decorations, J. G. Peabody ; flowers, Mrs. John Nesmith; 
clothing, H. P. Perkins ; police, N. F. Crafts ; printing, S. W. Iluse. 

The three days' bazaar and fete in Huntington Hall was markedly 
successful in spite of a severe rainstorm that continued during most of 
the time. There were amusing as well as picturesque incidents. Some 
complaints were heard to the effect that young ladies in charge of the 
tables did not give change or l)ills tendered in payment for articles. 
One }oung man asked a girl who seemed loath to give him specie in 
change to hand him some small articles in its lieu which would always 
remind him of her. She promptly drew a pickle from a jar and gave it 
to him. 

The net receipts from the Sanitary Fair were $4,884.99. When 
this amount was tendered to the National Sanitary Commission it 
drew from Dr. Bellows, the well-known Unitarian divine of New 
York, such a letter of appreciation and of commendation of the Lowell 
spirit as deserves to reappear in full in any record of the city's achieve- 

Mr. Salmon had written to Frederick Law Olmsted, then general 
secretary of the Sanitarv Commission, stating the amount that had 
been raised and the feeling of the local committee that a part of the 
fund might properly be disbursed for articles made in Lowell, for 
which advantageous terms could be secured and which would keep the 
mills running for the benefit of the working class. From New York a 
few days later came this enthusiastic letter : 

U. S. Sanitary Commission, 
New York Agency, 823 Broadway, 
New York, March 21, 1863. 
Wm. F. Salmon, Esq., Secretary of Executive Committee of Ladies 
of Lowell — • 
Sir: — Your favor of the 14th inst. has just been referred to us by 
the General Secretary of the United States .Sanitary Commission. 

The zeal and liberality of your community have been conspicuous 
in every hour of the war. The Sanitary Commission has met the 
Lowell soldiers in many fields ; and among its verj^ earliest experi- 
ences recalls a delightful meeting with your mayor and other citizens 
at Fortress Monroe, where a Lowell company was admitted into the 
line with regulars, and proved itself their peer in drill and discipline. 
Even your repeated contributions to our stock of supplies had not led 
us to anticipate such a splendid addition as you now offer ! You would 
have been up to the average if you had stopped where you were. You 


will make it very difficult fur any comniunitv (this side the Rocky 
Mountains) to keep pace with you, now that you pnur fuur thousand 
eight hundred and fifty dollars into our treasury ! 1 think we must 
declare you the banner town in New England. It is perhaps due to the 
fact that you have a larger proportion of women than of men in your 
population ; and needles and prayers are the weapons with which 
women carry on the war, after they have sent all the men they can 
spare (and more) to the front, with guns, and freemen's souls behind 

\'our suggestiem at)(]Ut the mode of using the fund you have 
raised is perfectly acceptal)le to us. We acquiesce in your \-iew, and 
request you to transmit half of the amount in a check or draft to our 
treasurer N. T. Strong, Esq., No. 62 Wall street, New York, and the 
other half in supplies to our Auxiliary, No. 22 Summer street, Boston. 
As to the nature of the supjilies we refer you to that Auxiliar}-, on 
whom we draw for certain articles which we must look to communities 
like }Murs in her \-icinity to supply deiint with. .\sk her what she 
needs most to meet our calls ujjon her, and go\ern yourselves accord- 
ingly. System is so necessary in our work that }ou'll appreciate the 
reasons of this apparent indirection. 

With lively gratitude to the ladies and citizens of Lowell, I am, in 
behalf of the Sanitary Ci inimission, and still more of our sick and 
wounded soldiers, Your obliged friend and servant, 

Henry W. Bellows, President. 

The Chicago .Sanitary Fair closely followed Lowell's. The Bos- 
ton Fair came in December, 1863, and netted receipts of $153,568.97, 
Several other communities adopted this Lowell-born plan for assist- 
ing the National Sanitary Commission. 

The old Sixth Regiment, now a A-eteran organization, returned 
to Lowell upon the expiration of its enlistment on May 30, 1863. As 
was natural considering that it was the pioneer \-olunteer regiment a 
reception was tendered the officers and men in Huntington Hall. 
Mayor Hosford, in his address, congratulated the regiment on its 
achievements. Colonel Albert S. Follansbee, who had been with the 
regiment since the afi'air in Baltimore, made appropriate reply. The 
Sixth's service was not at an end, however, for it again went out for 
one hundred days. 

1 )uring tlie ])rotracted \^irginia campaign, which was finally 
brought to a close b}' Grant's dogged determination, casualty lists 
were eagerly scanned in Lowell and many such deaths were noted as 
have been referred to in the paragraphs on the records of the separate 
regiments. Boys from the Merrimack valley did a big bit toward 
winning Gettysburg, toward preventing actual defeat at the \\'ilder- 

What Lowell Learned About Fort Fisher — His fellow-citizens 
were n,itur;illy nuich interested in the first .-md disastrous assault upon 
Fort h'ishcr because of the prominence in it of General Butler and his 
son-in-law, General .'\delbert Ames. Many Lowell friends of the 


militant lawyer felt, whether rightl}- or wrongly, that certain leading 
men of the navy were not altogether ingenuous in foisting upon this 
one army officer the entire blame for the occurrences in front of one of 
the Confederacy's mightiest strongholds. 

What readers of the Lowell and Boston newspapers gathered from 
reports was that on December 13, 1864, General Butler, as part of the 
strateg>- planned by Generals Grant and Sherman for ending the war, 
sailed with seven thousand troops of his department from Fortress 
Monroe to cooperate with Admiral Porter in an efifort to take Fort 
Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina. It was General Butler's 
suggestion that a steamer loaded with upwards of two hundred barrels 
of gun powder be driven in as close as possible to the walls of the fort 
and exploded, with expectation that the walls would be shattered and 
the garrison paralyzed by the shock. The explosion occurred, but 
perhaps because the orders were not executed skillfully, inflicted little 
if any damage upon the Confederates. An attack in force had been 
agreed upon for the following day, but as the sea ran high the troops 
were not all landed and those that reached shore gained only a slight 
success over the opposing outposts. Thereupon General Butler and 
General Weitzel, his chief engineer, deciding that the fort could not 
be carried by assault, ordered all the troops who were on shore to re- 
embark. This fiasco, if such it was, ended General Butler's militaiy 
career. A second attack on Fort Fisher, three weeks later, carried the 
place. That, however, the Lowell general's caution was justified b}- 
the circumstances of the situation at the time of the first attack has 
been strenuously maintained by his friends and supporters. Colonel 
William Lamb, furthermore, who defended the fort, afterwards as- 
serted in an article on "The Defence of Fort Fisher," that Admiral 
Porter was quite as much to blame as General Butler for the first 
failure. As for the retirement General Weitzel, as a qualified engi- 
neering expert, took, before a Congressional committee on the conduct 
of the war, the blame of advising General Butler, saying: 

In the two instances when the enem}- assaulted my position thes 
were repulsed with heavy loss. After that experience, with the in 
formation I had obtained from reading and study — for before this wa. 
I was an instructor at the Military .Academy for three years unaei 
Professor Mahan on these very subjects — remembering all the re 
marks of the Lieutenant-General commanding, that it was his inten 
tion I should command that expedition because another officer selecteo 
by the War Department had once shown timidity, and in face of tht 
fact that I had been appointed Major-General (Mily twenty days before, 
and needed confirmation : notwithstanding all this I went back to 
General Butler and told him I considered it would be murder to ordei 
an attack on that work with that force. I understood Colonel Com 
stock to agree with me perfectly, although I did not ask him, and Gen- 
eral Butler has since said that he did. 


Despite the success which liefell the second attack on Fort Fisher 
when an immense bombarding flotilla cooperated with a force of some 
2,000 sailors and marines and an additional command of 2,400 troops, 
the committee on the conduct of the war, with Hon. Ben Wade as 
chairman, reached a conclusion that exonerated General Butler from 
the charges of timidity and defective judgment. Their conclusion 
was: "In conclusion your Committee would say, from all the testi- 
mony before them, that the determination of General Butler not to 
assault the fort seems to have been fully justified by all the facts and 
circumstances then known or afterwards ascertained." 

A full report on the Fort Fisher happenings was rendered to his 
fellow-citizens by General Butler at a reception which was arranged 
in his honor on the 30th of January. 1S65. The general was loudly 
applauded in such passages of his address as when he asked whether 
he '"ought to be hounded down and a price almost set upon my head, 
like a wolf, because I did not order an assault which two of the best 
engineer nfficers in the United States service advised me not to make 
and in reference to which one of them said to me (T use his very ex- 
jjression). 'If vou order it. General, it will be murder'." 

Inception of the Ladd and Whitney Monument — The earliest pub- 
lic announcement of a plan to honor the last resting place of the first 
\'ictims of the war was made in Mayor Hosford's inaugural address of 
Januarv 4, 1863. In the course of this he asked : "In the l)order of our 
cemetery rest the revered remains of young Ladd and Whitney, the 
first martyrs to our cause, unmarked the spot, unobserved by the 
passer-by Ought we not to provide a 'Heroes' Field' where others 
may sleep, and over their sacred remains raise heavenward the crystal 
granite or the polished marl)Ie shaft?" 

Influenced presumably by this suggestion. Representative J. N. 
Marshall of Lowell, on April 17th following, introduced a resolution 
appropriating from the State Treasury the sum of $2,000 toward a 
suitable monument for Messrs. Ladd and Whitney, on condition that 
the citv <if Lowell appropriate a similar amount. This proposal was 
subsef|uently accepted by the city go\'ernment and plans made for a 

Progress on the Ladd and \\'hitney monument was noted from 
time to time by adults and small boys during the winter of 1864-1865. 
The plans had been drawn by Woodcock & Meacham, Boston. The 
work of erecting the shaft and laying out the approaches in Lowell 
was commissioned to Runels. Clough & Compan\'. The memorial was 
to take the form of a simple granite shaft twenty-seven and one-half 
feet high. On the plinth of one side were the words: 

Addison O. Whitnew born in \\'aldo. Me., October 30th. i83(), ,-ind 
Luther C Ladd, born in Mexandria. N. H.. Dec. 22d, 1843. M.-irched 



from Lowell in the 6th M. V. M, to the defence of the National Capi- 
tal, and fell mortally wounded, in the attack on their regiment, while 
passing through Baltimore, April 19, 1861. 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Lowell 
dedicate this monument to their memory, June 17, 1865. 

On the reverse plinth is a quotation from Milton's "Samson Ago- 

nistes :'' 

Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail 
Or knock the breast ; no weakness, no contempt, 
Dispraise or blame, nothing but well and fair 
And which may quiet us in a death so noble. 

It was originally proposed to dedicate this inonument on the 
lyth of April, but unexpected delays prevented. Even if everything 
had been in readiness the National calamity of April 14 would have 
changed all plans. 

Victory and the Assassination Thrill the City — Excitement began 
to run high in the spring of 1865, as it was realized that the end of the 
war was in sight. On April 6 a mass meeting was called in Hunting- 
ton Hall to celebrate the recent Union successes on the field. Mayor 
Peabody presided. Fervently patriotic addresses were made by Rev. 
Mr. Backus, Joseph C. Kimball, former Mayor Sargeant, and Rev. J. 
O. Peck. The exercises closed with the singing of "John Brown's 
Body" by the Glee Club and of "Old Hundred" by the Glee Club and 
the entire audience. 

Finally, on the afternoon of April 10, readers of the "Lowell Citi- 
zen" beheld with delighted eyes, under a representation of the Stars 
and Stripes, the headlines: "God be Praised! The Morning Cometh. 
Closing Victory of the War. Surrender of Lee and his Army." By 
that token every man, woman and child knew that, though still tech- 
nically existent, the Confederacy was really dead : that it was only a 
question of a few days before the remnants of the rebel armies must 
follow the example of their former commander-in-chief. An imme- 
diate invitation was issued to all citizens to attend another mass meet- 
ing in Huntington Hall. Again the maA'or presented a list of local 
speakers, Dr. Elisha Huntington, John Wright, James Dean and sev- 
eral of the resident clerg\ . On that evening and for two days after, 
the city rang with rejoicing. 

Black lines between columns in the newspapers of April 15, 1865, 
signified a National tragedy. The news of President Lincoln's assas- 
sination had reached Lowell. The story which came from Washington 
over the wires was essentially that with which every school child is 
now familiar — of the president's attending the theatre to seek a little 
recreation in a time of especially anxious care ; of the sudden appari- 
tion of the assassin with his pistol shot and his melodramatic shout of 
"Sic semper tyrannis." Thereupon blackness fell upon the land. 



The details nf the dreadful e\ent at Washington belong, cif course, 
rather to general than to local history. 

An incident <>f the forenoon in which the news was received in 
Lowell is worth citing as illustrating the tense and overwrought state 
of public feeling. In the presence of Daniel S. Greenleaf, a k)yal citi- 
zen, one Otis Wright, a merchant who had lately come to the city 
from New Hampshire, a State then regarded as much of a hotbed of 
'■copperhcadism," \entured to express himself as well satisfied with 
the assailant's work, adding "words of contempt f(jr the President too 
brutal fnr repetiticm among civilized men," Mr. Greenleaf in indigna- 
tion reported these utterances in the street and within a short time 
a crowd of several hundred angry ])eoi)le gathered in front of Mr. 
Wright's place of Inisiness in the Museum building and demanded his 
appearance. The man came forward bearing an American flag and 
denying that he had said anything disloyal. 

Mr. Greenleaf, howe\er, promptly addressed the crowd, repeat- 
ing the New Hampshire man's exact words as he remembered them 
and challenging him either to deny or correct them. Then the ''cop- 
perhead" hung his head an<l became too confused to answer. The 
crowd l)y this time was in ugly mood and it might have fared badly 
with the man Wright, had not Mayor Peabody arrived on the scene 
and begged his fellow-citizens tn indulge in no rioting, as he under- 
stood that the offender had already made arrangements to leave the 
city. Soon after this the assailant of the martyred President's charac- 
ter left Lowell for good and all, as it is believed. 

.Solemn services in all the churches on Sunday, the i6th, attest- 
ed the awed siplemnity that had befallen the city >ince the news 
of tlie assassination at ^\'ashington. On Thursday, the _'Oth, appro- 
priate memorial exercises were held in Huntington Hall, with Con- 
gressman (afterwards Governor) George S. Boutwell as orator of the 

The Dedication of the Monument — .\s Lowell slowly recovered 
from the feeling of stunned grief that Walt \Miitman so nobly 
expressed in his "Captain, My Captain," |)reparalions were continued 
for the dedication which should memorialize the beginning and sig- 
nalize the end of the long conflict. It was decided to nn\-eil the Ladd 
and \A'hitney monument on June 17. 

lust prior to the dedication two p<irtraits of the fallen heroes were 
exhibited at the store of H. M. Ordway, in Merrimack street. These 
were the work of .Alfred Ordway, of Boston, one of the founders of the 
Boston .\rt Club. They were designed, it was announced, to be jiart 
of the coUectic)!! of the "National Gallery of Heroes," for which ambi- 
tious plans were tlu'u under consideration. Credit for coiumi^sioning 
Mr. Ordwav to do these portraits a])pears to have rested with Messrs. 


Nesmith and Talbot, of Lowell. The pictures were hung in Hunting- 
ton Hall during the dedicatory exercises. 

Finally, on the anniversary of Bunker Hill battle came the most 
spectacular celebration Lowell had yet had. 

In addition to the turn-out of old and young from every street in 
the city, a crowd estimated at about twenty thousand poured in from 
the surrounding cities and towns. 

The long procession through Lowell streets was headed by the 
Spalding Light Cavalry, closely followed by nine companies of the old 
Sixth and three companies of the Thirty-third, the latter under the 
tattered colors which they had lately borne "from Atlanta to the sea." 
Then came the sheriff of Middlesex county, the whole city government 
of Lowell, various Masonic bodies, aged veterans of 1812 and 1845 '" 
carriages ; the Independent Order of Cadets, of Boston ; officers of the 
staff of the Governor of Alaryland ; Major General Butler ; the Execu- 
tive Council of the State of Massachusetts ; the chaplain and toast- 
master; the mayor and aldermen of Boston; representatives of the 
Great and General Court of Massachusetts ; representatives of the 
Massachusetts Judiciary ; representatives of the governments of Wor- 
cester and Lawrence, and the selectmen of Groton. Acton and Stone- 
ham ; former mayors of Lowell ; the Lowell Fire Department ; Inde- 
pendent Order of Odd Fellows; Independent Irish Benevolent Society; 
Young Men's Catholic Library Association ; American Protestant 
Association ; Lowell Circle of Feniam Brotherhood ; Franklin Zouaves. 

An incident of the parade was the massing of young women, 
arrayed in white and waving the flags of the loyal States, in front of 
the Appleton street house of George F. Willey, music master. These 
girls sang the national airs which were taken up by the veterans as 
they passed. Residents of the Chapel Hill district had prepared vast 
quantities of lemonade, which was tendered to the thirsty paraders 
as there were pauses in the line of march. 

At one thirty the head of the procession arrived at Monument 
Square. The subsequent exercises were divided into two parts, fra- 
ternal and civic. The square at first was made the scene of a Masonic 
Grand Lodge, opened by Most Worthy Grand Master William Park- 
man, of Boston, who made an eloquent address. The situation was 
then turned over to the civic authorities. After a prayer by the Rev. 
Amos Blanchard, Mayor Peabody introduced the orator of the occa- 
sion, John A. Andrew, Governor of Massachusetts. 

The ringing periods of the Governor's elaborate resume of Massa- 
chusett's part in the Civil War were in the best manner of the oratory 
of the period. It was a supreme effort, worthy of the day on which 
Lowell and the Bay State were as conspicuoxis in the eyes of the nation 
as at anv time in the nineteenth century. The speech was printed 



verliatim in a ten-column story of the events of the celebration in the 
"Citizen," an unusual journalistic feat for the time. As a reminder of 
its style and substance the peroration, at least, should be given : 

Let this monument, raised to preser\-e the names of Ladd and 
Whitney, — the two young artizans of Lowell who fell among the first 
martyrs of the great rebellion, — let this monument now dedicated to 
their memory stand for a thousand generations! It is another shaft 
added to the monumental columns of Middlesex. Henceforth shall 
the inhabitants of Lowell guard for Massachusetts, for patriotism and 
liberty, this sacred trust, as they of Acton, of Lexington, of Concord, 
protect the votive stones which commemorate the men of April, '75. 

Let it stand as long as the Merrimack runs from the mountains 
to the sea ; while this busy stream of human life sweeps on by the 
banks of the river bearing to eternity its freight of destiny and hope. 
It shall stand here, a mute, expressive witness of the beauty and the 
dignity of youth and manly prime consecrated in unselfish obedience to 
Duty. It shall testify that gratitude will remember, and praise wait on 
the humblest, who, by the intrinsic greatness of their souls, or the 
worth of their ofterings, have risen to the sublime peerage of Virtue. 

Lowell, from Civil War to Chicago Exposition. 

Industrially and socially considered the period from the end of the 
War of the Rebellion to about the time of the Chicago Exposition and 
the panic of 1893 forms rather a distinct unit in the history of the city 
of Lowell The happenings of these three decades are in marked con- 
trast to the stirring scenes of the years 1861-65. While progress was 
steady and continual in many directions this was not a time of sensa- 
tional developments, of startling achievements or even, perhaps, of 
so much display of enterprise and initiative as had characterized the 
first years of the manufacturing community, or has since 1893 marked 
the conduct of affairs in the city. 

Pessimism, indeed, concerning the future of Lowell was more 
rife in the seventies and eighties than it has been since the successful 
establishment of the Lowell textile school and the continual broaden- 
ing of the industrial life of the neighborhood by intensive development 
and specialization among the established manufactures and by further 
diversification of the local businesses. Reasons for alarm were not 
wanting ; these were easily magnified by those who lacked vision to 
sense the corrections of evil conditions which were already in prepara- 
tion. Many of the gravest problems of the twentieth century city first 
became acute in the last decades of the nineteenth century : deteriora- 
tion of originally inadequate housing facilities for the working class; 
indifference to city planning for the future ; neglect of the welfare 
of newly arrived immigrants ; increasing tolerance of the evils of 
alcoholism and sex disease ; a spread of coarsening influences in popu- 
lar amusements and recreations; a new tendency toward vulgarity 
and ostentation among some of the well-to-do. 

Exaggeration of these evils was sometimes practised by orators 
and writers who felt that the experiment of the high-minded founders 
of a model manufacturing community was coming to grief; that 
Lowell was visiblv approaching some such ruin as Kirk Boott had 
once predicted. The well-ordered town of 1835 had become a city 
with serious problems by 1885. The compensating features were fre- 
quently ignored, for it was not so apparent, as it became thirty years 
later, that cosmopolitan Lowell has within itself all the elements 
needed for its own regeneration. 

A marked change in the racial complexion of the city, and espe- 
cially of the operative class, was unquestionably the most striking 
communal development of the post-bellum years. It was likewise one 


which freriueiitly caused g-loomy, and, as it has turned out, needless 

In 1865 the mills at Lowell were still filled with young people 
from New England farms, even though this source of labor supply no 
longer yielded quite so many new re