reprinted from Standard History of Essex County, Massachusetts
published in 1878 by C.F. Jewett & Co., Boston
This entire book is now available on CD-ROM
Rowley is a long and narrow township, in the north-easterly section of the county, thirty-two miles from Boston by the Eastern Railroad, which has a station about one-half a mile eastward from the village. It was incorporated, Sept. 4, 1639, and then embraced what is now extended from the sea to the Merrimac River: Bradford, Groveland, Georgetown, and part of Boxford, which was for some time known as "Rowley Village." It received its named from Rowley, a parish of East Riding, York, Eng., whence its first minister, Ezekiel Rogers, had come. The Congregational Church is in north latitude, 42° 43' 07.16", and in west longitude, 70° 53' 08.25". The boundaries of the town are Newbury on the north, from which it is, in part, separated by Parker River and Mud Creek, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Ipswich on the south, Boxford on the south-west, and Georgetown on the north-west.
A small section of Plum Island belongs to the town, but the land is of no great value. The surface of the town is drained by Mill River and its tributaries, among which is Great Swamp Brook, on the north and west, and by Rowley River, navigable for small craft to the railway station on the south. Plum Island River, a broad and shallow creek, separates the main body of the town from Plum Island, and the meadows on the westerly margin of that stream furnish valuable crops of salt hay. Mill River affords some motive-power, and the banks of Rowley River abound in clams. The surface of the town is agreeably diversified, and, in one instance, rises to an eminence of 264 feet above the level of the sea. This elevation is on the confines of Ipswich, and bears the name of Prospect Hill. From it a charming view of the valley of the Merrimac River, the neighboring villages, and the ocean, is obtained. The geological formation is sienite, porphyry, and alluvium; and many bowlders, brought from afar in the glacial period, are scattered over the town. The soil is well adapted to the growth of forest and fruit trees, and also to that of corn, oats, barley, hay, and culinary vegetables.
The population of the town in 1875 was 1,162, of whom 602 were males and 560 females. One person had attained the age of ninety-seven years. The number of voters was 381, and of ratable polls 395. There were no persons of color. The town had 179 farmers, ninety-two boot and shoe makers, sixteen merchants and traders, the same number of farm laborers, eleven carpenters, seven painters, and seve persons retired from business. There were five female teachers, 297 housewives, six housekeepers, and eighteen domestic servants. The value of goods manufactured for the year ending May 1, 1875, was as follows: For boots and shoes, $88,500; for heels, $45,000; for flour, $10,000; for lumber, $5,000; and for wagons and wheels, $3,000. Blacksmithing was done to the value of $1,600; and butchering to the value of $26,000; the total amount of capital employed in all being $34,550. The number of barrels of clams taken was 2,200, valued at $4,400.
The whole number of dwelling-houses was 253; of farms, 154, embracing in all 7,213 acres; of horses, 183; of cows, 353; of oxen, forty; of sheep, fourteen; of apple-trees, 12,745; and the total valuation of the town was $515,461.
The town has four public schools, two churches, one of which is Congregational, and the other is Baptist; a good hotel, called "The Eagle House," George J. Smith, proprietor; two saw-mills, one grist-mill, and one shingle-mill.
The principal village on level ground, near the confines of Ipswich, is finely shaded with elms; and some of the streets still bear the names of the places whence the early settlers came. The people, mostly engaged in agricultural pursuits, are noted for industry, frugality, and the love of home. They are, for the most part, the lineal descendants of those who purchased the lands of the aborigines. Among them are found the substantial virtues, and many of the customs of their worthy ancestors. The farms are generally kept in good order, and some of the dwelling-houses, as the Jewett house, bear the marks of great antiquity. A building was taken down in 1878, which had inscribed or cut into one of its oaken beams the date of 1686. The timbers were still sound. The houses are generally surrounded with fruit-trees, shrubbery, and flowers, and present an air of comfort and tranquility. The town has long been noted for the excellence and abundance of its apples. The principal amusements of the people consist in church sociables, excursions either by land or water, picnics, berry parties, dancing, base ball and croquet. The old husking parties have long since passed out of date; yet hunting and fishing along the seaboard, where the supply of birds and fish seems inexhaustible, may be as popular now as in the olden times.
Some writer, speaking of Rowley, says: "It is one of the pleasantest towns in Essex County. There is everything about it substantial, prosperous and agreeable. In the summer season, it is hardly possible to go over the green hillocks, and through the quiet intervals, along the roads, dust laid by the late showers, or by the sparkling brooks fringed with luxuriant grass and flowers, and see the quiet and peace reigning everywhere in this old town, -- the contentment and prosperity of its stable farmers, and the thrift and joyousness of its active mechanics, without wishing that we had been born in Rowley; that it had been our lot first to have heard there the lowing of the cattle, and down its hillsides to have tumbled the ripened pumpkins, when autumn yellowed the leaves. Let the world go. To be born in such a place, and in the sereneness of old age to die in such a place, and to sleep at last in the same dust with the good old fathers of olden times, were enough to fill the cup of mortal happiness full."
The English, under the guidance of the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers, commenced a settlement here as early as 1638. The Act of incorporation is thus briefly expressed: "4th day of 7th month 1639, ordered that Mr. Ezekiel Rogers plantation be called Rowley."
On the 13th of May, 1640, it was declared by the General Court "that Rowley bounds is to be eight miles from their meeting house in a straight line; and then a cross line diameter from Ipswich Ryver to Merrimack Ryver when it doth not prejudice any former grant." In October of the same year the Court ordered "that the neck of land on Merrimack, near Corchitawick be added to Rowley."
On the "tenth of the eleventh Anno Dni 1643, Thomas Nelson, Edward Carlton, Humphrey Reynon & Francis Parrot made a survey of the town and a register of the several house lots of from 1 1/2 to 6 acres then laid out to the settlers. They were as follows: On Bradford Street, Thomas Ellethrop, John Dresser, Hugh Chaplin, Peter Cooper, Thomas Sumner, John Burbank, Thomas Palmer, William Wilde, William Jackson, Hugh Smith, Michael Hopkinson, John Boynton, William Boynton, Thomas Dickinson, Joseph Jewett, Maxemilian Jewett, Jane Grant, John Spofford, George Kilborne & Margaret Stanton whose lot contained only one acre. On Wethersfield street, John Remington, James Barker, William Stickney, William Scales, Matthew Boyes, Jane Brocklebank, Thomas Mighill, Margery Shove, Humphrey Reynor, & Ezekiel Rogers who had six acres. On Holmes street John Miller, John Jarrat, Francis Parrot, Edward Carleton, Henry Sands, Thomas Leaver, John Trumble, John Haseltine, Thomas Tenney, Robert Haseltine, Richard Swan, Thomas Lilforth, Richard Thorlay, Frances Lambert, Robert Hunter, William Acy, Thomas Miller, William Harris, John Harris, Thomas Harris, John Newmarch, William Bellingham, Thomas Nelson, Thomas Barker, Sebastian Briggam, George Abbot, Edward Bridges, Cousins Crosby & Richard Nalam. Sixteen other lots were soon afterwards laid out to the following persons, viz.: John Smith, Mark Prime, William Tenney, Nicholas Jackson, Richard Leighton, John Pearson, Edward Sawer, James Bailey, Richard Holmes, Thomas Burkley, John Tillison, Samuel Bellingham, Thomas Sawer, Daniel Harris, William Law & John Hill.
The common lands of the town were assigned to the settlers in proportion to the extent of their respective house-lots. A military company was soon formed of which Sebastian Brigham was appointed captain. It was to be drilled eight days during the year, and the fine for absence was five shillings per day. The people early distinguished themselves for the manufacture of cotton, hemp and flax cloth. "Our supplies from England," says Winthrop, in 1643, "failing much, men began to look about them and fell to a manufacture of cotton, whereof we had store from Barbadoes, and of hemp & flax wherein Rowley, to their great commendation, exceeded all other towns."
Of the early settlers here, Edward Johnson, in his "Wonder-working Providence," says: "They consisted of about three score families. Their people, being very industrious every way, soon built as many houses, and were the first people that set upon making cloth in this western world; for which end they built a fulling-mill, and caused their little ones to be very diligent in spinning cotton-wool, many of them having been clothiers in England."
This fulling-mill was built in 1643 by John Pearson, in the parish of Byfield, which then belonged to Rowley.
The first-recorded marriage in town was that of Robert and Anna Haseltine, in 1639; and the first-recorded birth was that of Robert Carleton, in the same year.
In the minds of the people, the church was the leading institution; the minister the chief guide in things temporal as well as spiritual. Hence a plain meeting-house was erected some time during the first year of the settlement; a church was organized Dec. 3, and the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers installed as pastor. He wa born in Weathersfield, Eng., in 1590, and was for some time chaplain to Sir Francis Barrington, after which he was pastor of the church in Rowley, Yorkshire, for about twenty years; when, in 1638, he came, with a large company of his people, to Rowley, Mass. He was an eloquent speaker, and preached the election sermon before the General Court, in 1643, in which he maintained that the same person should not hold the office of governor for two successive years.
Samuel Mather (Harvard College, 1643) was some time an assistant of Mr. Rogers in Rowley "where the Zeal of the People to have him settled, was the Cause of his not settling there at all."'
The closing days of Mr. Rogers were far from tranquil. Late in life he married a third wife, but "that very night," says Cotton Mather, "a fire burnt his dwelling house to the ground, with all the goods that he had under his roof." His right arm was soon afterwards rendered useless by a fall from a horse; so that he was obliged to learn to write with his left hand. After a lingering illness, he died Jan. 23, 1661, aged 70 years. He gave the greater part of his lands and his house to the town and church of Rowley.
This property subsequently reverted to the use of Harvard College.
It does not appear that the inhabitants of Rowley were ever much annoyed in the settlement by the Indians; they were, however, frequently called upon to march away, and to fight for the defence of other places. On the 1st of September, 1642, several men were ordered from the place to disarm Passaconaway, on the Merrimac River, who was then supposed to be inimical to the English. They were out three days, and received three shillings each for their services. In August, 1653, twenty-seven men from Rowley and Ipswich were ordered out on a scouting expedition, to discover the intentions of the savages assembled at Piscataqua. They were absent four days.
The first grist-mill in town was erected by Thomas Nelson, anterior to 1645, on Mill River. Ten acres of land were granted to him the preceding year, "for encouragement towards building the mill." After the death of Mr. Nelson, 1648, John Pearson made improvements in the mill.
The first physician in town was Dr. Anthony Crosby, who practiced here from 1652 until about 1670. He was followed by Dr. David Bennett, who died here, Feb. 4, 1718-19, at the remarkable age of 103 years. The first town clerk was John Miller, from 1639 to 1641; the next was Francis Parrot, from 1642 to 1655. He was also a representative to the General Court in 1640 and in 1642.
The Rev. Samuel Phillips (Harvard College, 1650) was settled in June, 1651, as teacher of Mr. Rogers' church, on a a salary varying from £50 to £90 per annum. During the sickness of the pastor, Mr. Phillips performed the whole duties of the ministry, for which service the selectmen ordered that £5 should be paid to him. After the decease of Mr. Rogers, his widow, and those in sympathy with her, continued to annoy Mr. Phillips for the space of eighteen years, on account of his reception of this money, to which they persistently claimed he had no legal right. The case was decided in favor of the widow by the Ipswich court; but the decision was overruled by the General Court, and by a church council held on the 19th of Nov., 1679, and the course of Mr. Phillips justified.
On the 15th of Nov., 1665, Samuel Shepard (Harvard College, 1658) was ordained pastor of the church, Mr. Phillips still acting as teacher. Mr. Shepard dying, April 7, 1668, Mr. Phillips was then ordained as pastor, in which office he continued until his death, which occurred, April 26, 1696, after a ministry, either as teacher or pastor, of forty-five years. During the last thirty years of his life, fifty-four were added to the church, and at his death the office of teacher in that church is supposed to have ceased.
Mr. Phillips married Sarah, daughter of Mr. Samuel and Mary Everhard Appleton. From them Mr. Wendell Phillips, of Boston, is descended.
The Rev. Mr. Phillips preached the election sermon before the General Court in 1678. A monument was erected over his remains by the Hon. Jonathan Phillips, in November, 1839, bearing this inscription:
"Beneath this stone are buried the remains of Samuel Phillips, the second pastor of the church in Rowley."
"He was born in Boxford, Eng., A.D. 1625; came to America with his father, George Phillips, first minister of Watertown, Mass., in 1630; was graduated at Harvard College in 1650; was settled in the Christian ministry in this place in June, 1651, where he served God and his generation faithfully for forty-five years, and died, April 22, 1696. Near this spot are buried the remains of his wife, Sarah, daughter of Samuel Appleton, of Ipswich. She died, July 15, 1714, aged eighty-six years. From them have descended among others, George Phillips, minister at Brookhaven, Long Island, N.Y., who died, 1739, aged seventy-five years. Samuel Phillips, minister at Andover, Mass., died, June 5, 1771, aged eighty-one years. Samuel Phillips, one of the founders of Phillips Academy, Andover, died, Aug. 21, 1790, aged seventy-six years. John Phillips, founder of Phillips Academy, Exeter, N.H., died, April, 1795, aged seventy-six years. Samuel Phillips, lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts, and first mayor of Boston, died in Boston, May 29, 1823. This monument is erected by Hon. Jonathan Phillips, a descendant in the sixth generation, A.D. 1839."
[N.B. The statement above, quoted from a memorial stone in Rowley, that Samuel Phillips was the first mayor of Boston, appears to be in error. John Phillips became the first mayor of Boston on May 2, 1825. Thanks to Peter Ferro of Boston for pointing this out.]
The earliest mention of a meeting-house bell is in 1653. It was hung in a frame, as it was called, near the meeting-house. During the ministry of Mr. Phillips, Samuel Brocklebank, William Tenney, John Pearson, and Ezekiel Jewett were appointed deacons.
The earliest mention of a school is Feb. 3, 1656-57, when William Boynton was engaged by the town as a teacher for the term of seven years. This church then agreed to loan him £5, for enlarging his house for the accommodation of his school. He usually received £2 10s. yearly for sweeping the meeting-house, and for ringing the bell. He probably taught here for about twenty-four years, when he was followed, in 1682, by Mr. Simon Wainwright; after whom the Rev. Samuel Phillips was employed as a teacher.
The town in early times was much infested with wolves and catamounts. It paid for many years a bounty for killing wild animals. Several pens were built for taking wolves. It is stated in the records, in 1661, that "Lieut. Samuel Brocklebank, Henry Rily, Thomas Wood, John Grant, Richin Rainer & John Mighill, having engaged to make a pen for catching wolves, had the privilege granted, that nobody else shall make any pen anywhere upon the Cow Commons during the space of three years, and they are to have for every wolf taken by their pen, fifty shillings, paid by the town."
That part of the town subsequently known as "New Rowley" began to be settled about the year 1669, and it is presumable that John Spofford, Sr. and his two sons, John and Samuel, were the first actual white residents of the place.
In 1673, Samuel Brocklebank was appointed captain; Philip Nelson, lieutenant; and John Johnson, ensign, of the military company.
In the autumn of 1675, twelve Rowley men were impressed into the service to meet the exigencies of King Philip's War, then raging. Their names are John Hopkinson, John Stickney, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Palmer, John Jackson, Stephen Mighill, John Leighton, Caleb Jackson, William Brown, Samuel Tiller, Joseph Bixby, and Simon Gowin. These men and others, under Capt. Brocklebank, were led in January, 1676, to Narragansett, and thence in March to Marlborough, where, in an assault upon the Indians, one of the company had his hand badly shattered by the breaking of his gun.
Capt. Samuel Wadsworth, with fifty men, was sent from Boston to the relief of Marlborough. Learning upon his arrival that the enemy had gone to Sudbury, he proceeded with his own and Capt. Brocklebank's party towards that town. Discovering a few Indians, and pursuing them about a mile into the woods, the English found themselves suddenly surrounded by some five hundred of the savages, who with hideous yelling opened a destructive fire. Almost every one of the men engaged on our side was slain. A monument was erected on the spot about 1730, by Benjamin Wadsworth, then president of Harvard College, and brother of Capt. Samuel Wadsworth, bearing this inscription: --
"Capt. Samuel Wadsworth of Milton, his Lieut. Sharp of Brooklin, Capt. Brocklebank of Rowley, with about Twenty-six other Soldiers Fighting for the Defence of their country, were slain, By ye Indian enemy April 18th 1676, & lye Buried in this place." The date should have been April 21st instead of April 18th.
Another monument was erected on this spot in 1852, with this inscription, still erroneous in respect to the day of the month: --
"This monument is erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and by the town of Sudbury in grateful remembrance of the service and sufferings of the founders of the State, and especially in honor of Capt. S. Wadsworth of Milton, Capt Brocklebank of Rowley and Lieut. Sharp of Brookline, and 26 other men of their command who fell near this spot on the 18th (21st) of April, 1676, while defending the frontier settlement against the allied Indian forces of Philip of Pokonoket. 1852." As John Hopkinson, John Stickney, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Palmer, Stephen Mighill, John Leighton, and Caleb Jackson, of Capt. Brocklebank's command returned to Rowley subsequent to the engagement, it is probable that they were left as a guard, either at Marlborough or Sudbury, and so escaped the fate of their companions.
The Rev. Edward Payson, born in Roxbury, June 20, 1657 (Harvard College, 1677), was ordained as colleague with Mr. Phillips, Oct. 25, 1682, and continued in the ministry until his death, which occurred Aug. 22, 1732.
In 1675, the westerly section of the town, known as the "Merrimack Lands," or "Rowley Village by Merrimack," which began to be settled by Robert and John Haseltine and William Wild, about 1650, was incorporated as a town under the name of Bradford. A meeting-house had already been constructed, and the Rev. Zacahariah Symmes, though not then ordained, was preaching in the place.
The number of families in the town, in 1680, was 129, and to oversee these families, eleven tithingmen were appointed; viz., John Palmer, Abel Longley, Thomas Tenney, Thomas Wood, Daniel Wicom, John Dresser, Joseph Chaplin, Ivory Kilborn, and John Pearson.
The south-western section of the town, long known as "Rowley Village," was incorporated as the town of Boxford, Aug. 12, 1685, it then containing about forty families. The petitioners for the Act of incorporation were Abraham Riddington, Sr., Joseph Bixby, Sr., Samuel Boswell, Sr., William Foster, and John Peabody. In the petition they say: "Wee lying so far remote from Rowley that wee cannot comfortably atend God's public worship for the greatest part of the year, it is therefore the general desire of the inhabitants of Rowley village to bee a preparing to settle a minnester amongst ourselves as soon as convenantly wee can, thearfore wee desiar that the Honoured General Court would bee pleased to grant us township preveleg, that so wee might the more comfortably cary on so needfull a work, for the betor edication of our children that cannot gooe fouer mieles to meting."
Several men were ordered, in 1689, to the defence of Haverhill and Dover against the Indians; but it is not known that any of them were slain. In the expedition against Quebec, 1690, Rowley furnished one captain, Philip Nelson, one lieutenant, and thirty other men. Of these, John Bailey and Moses Wood died on their way to Canada.
The earliest tax-list preserved bears the date "ye 9th June 1691," and the rates were to be paid "either in money, or in publick bills of credit, or grain, or provisions at the prices specefied in the warrant."
The selectmen for this year were Ezekiel Northend, Ezekiel Jewett, Samuel Platts, John Stickney, and Robert Greenough.
Of the foot company, Joseph Jewell was captain, John Dresser, lieutenant, and Andrew Stickney, ensign.
On the 23d of October, 1692, Mr. Goodrich, his wife, and two daughters were killed by the Indians, he being shot while at evening devotions with his family. His daughter Deborah, seven years old, was taken captive, and subsequently redeemed by the Province. This family lived in that part of Rowley which is now Byfield.
A meeting-house was erected on the site of the old one in 1697, and a committee of seven was appointed to seat the people, having respect to age, office, and the sum paid towards the building. In 1699, a watch-house was constructed on one of the hills of the town.
In 1700, the town paid, through their committee, Dea. Ezekiel Jewett, Samuel Platts, and Capt. Joseph Boynton, to Samuel and Joseph English and John Umpee, heirs of the Sagamore Masconomo, the sum of £9 for a title to the lands of Rowley.
In 1702, the people living at "The Falls," on Parker River, uniting with some people from Newbury, erected a meeting-house. They were incorporated as a parish by the name of "The Fall," Nov. 17, 1706, and the same day a church was organized, and the Rev. Moses Hale, born July 10, 1678, was ordained as pastor. The name of the parish in 1710 was changed to Byfield. Mr. Hale died Jan. 16, 1743-44, and was succeeded in the pastorate by the Rev. Moses Parsons (Harvard College, 1736), and ordained here, June 20, 1744. He was the father of the eminent chief justice, Theophilius Parsons, and died Dec. 11, 1783. The next pastor at Byfield was the Rev. Elijah Parish, born 1762 (Dartmouth College, 1785), and ordained here Dec. 20, 1787. He was a man of learning, and left many valuable publications. He died Oct. 15, 1825, and was succeeded, Dec. 20, 1827, by the Rev. Isaac R. Barbour, who was dismissed in 1833. Just before his dismission, the meeting-house was destroyed by fire; but it was soon rebuilt and dedicated, November 7 of the same year. The Rev. Henry Durant, the fifth minister of Byfield, was ordained Dec. 25, 1833.
On the 10th of July, 1706, Joseph Kilborn, Sr., and Jeremiah Nelson, both of Rowley, were killed by the Indians in Dunstable; and on the 5th of August following, John Pickard, of Rowley, having been wounded by the Indians, died at Billerica.
Duncan Stewart, or, as written in the town records, Dunkin Steward, died here in 1717, at the remarkable age of 100 years. He and his sons carried on the business of ship-building for many years, and were succeeded in the business by Edward Saunders of Scituate. The vessels were then built at the landing near the present railway station. Subsequently the vessels, averaging from thirty to fifty tons, were built near the dwelling-houses of the contractors and drawn by oxen to the river. The largest one ever thus constructed was of ninety tons, and named "The Country's Wonder." It was built on Rowley Common, by Capt. Nathaniel Perley, and drawn by more than one hundred yoke of oxen one mile and a half to t the margin of the Rowley River.
The town voted, in 1720, to build a new school-house, "26 feet by 20 & 8 feet post." Mr. Richard Gyle was then, and had been for several years, the school-master. He died February 22d of the ensuing year, and was succeeded by Mr. Samuel Payson, who continued to teach the town school until the end of 1741.
The fifth-settled minister was the Rev. Jedediah Jewett, a native of the town, and a graduate of Harvard College in 1726. He was ordained as colleague of Mr. Payson, Nov. 19, 1729, and continued in the ministry until his death, May 8, 1774.
That part of the town called "New Rowley," now Georgetown, was incorporated as the Second Parish, Oct. 31, 1731. A church was organized here Oct. 4, 1732, and, on the 20th of the same month, the Rev. James Chandler, born 1706 (Harvard College, 1728), was ordained pastor. A meeting-house had already been erected. Mr. Chandler had a long and successful ministry, which closed with his life, April 19, 1789. In 1769, a new meeting-house was erected, the Rev. George Whitefield preaching the dedicatory sermon.
The first officers of the new parish, chosen Oct. 5, 1731, were John Spofford, moderator, Jonathan Boynton, clerk, John Spofford, Jeremiah Chaplin, Benjamin Plumer, William Searle, Aaron Pingree, assessors, and Jonathan Thurston and Samuel Johnson, collectors.
In 1736, the First Parish was visited by the throat-distemper, by which no less than seventy-two children died, causing lamentation in almost every family. Richard Clark, and one of his children, died this year of the small-pox.
In the old French War, Rowley made a noble record. In the expedition under Pepperrell, against Louisburg, the following men were lost from this town: James Jewett was killed by a cannon-ball; Moses Platts was mortally wounded; and Moses Davis, Jr., John Platts, Humphrey Woodbury, Joseph Saunders, Samuel Smith, and Richard Harris, were lost. In 1754, nine men at least, from Rowley, served on the eastern frontier. In the year following, a company under command of Thomas Gage, was in service at Lake George. Fourteen of the unfortunate Acadians, French neutrals, were this year billeted upon the town; viz.: Peter Dupee, his wife, and two children, one of which died here; Bezaleel Leblong (Le Blanc), his wife, and three children (Mrs. Leblong died here); Charles Lower and wife, aged about twenty-seven years, and one child. In 1763, the town granted £13 6s. 8d. to assist them in returning to their home.
In 1756, Capt. John Pearson, of Rowley, raised a company here to serve at Fort Edward. In the year following there were three military companies in town: Capt. John Northend's company, of 65 men; Capt. John Pearson's cavalry, of 45 men, and Capt. Richard Thurston's train-band, of 55 men. There were also on the alarm-list 62 men. Among those from Rowley present in the massacre at Fort William Henry, August 9th of this year, were Jonathan Bailey, Joseph Poor, and Jedediah Stickney. In the following year, Lieut. Col. Thomas Gage was at Lake George; and, on the 20th of July, David Payson was killed there by the Indians. The town, this year, furnished 52 men for the service. In 1760, a large number of Rowley men enlisted for the service, under Capt. Joseph Smith and other commanders. Capt. Smith, Pierce Bayley, William Bailey, and Samuel Spiller died in the service.
A third meeting-house, with spire, was completed in 1749. It was sixty feet long, and forty-two feet wide. In 1754 a Baptist society was formed in the West, or Second, Parish.
The earliest mode of travelling to church here was on foot or on horseback. The old stone horse-block, from which the ladies mounted, is still occasionally seen. In 1755 the town had two chaises, and seven chairs, on which a tax was laid. The four-wheeled carriage came into use much later; the stage-coach being the first of the kind employed. Mr. John Stavers, in 1761, commenced running a curricle of two wheels, and carrying, besides himself, two passengers and the mail, from Portsmouth though Rowley to Boston. The fare one way was 13s. 6d., or about $3. In 1774 a four-horse and four-wheeled carriage passed much more rapidly over the same route. Ezra Lunt was the proprietor.
In 1762, "the parish voted that those who had learned the art of singing may have liberty to sit in the front gallery. They did not take the liberty." The hymns were still "deaconed off," line by line, to the congregation. In 1780 "the parish requested Jonathan Chaplin Jr & Lieut. Spafford to assist Deacon Daniel Spafford in Raising the tune in the meeting-house."
Five years later, "the parish desire the singers, both male & female, to sit in the gallery and will allow them to sing once on each Lord's day without reading by the Deacon."
About 1790 the practice of lining out the psalms was discontinued, and the choir permanently established.
The number of inhabitants was, by the incorrect census of 1765, 1,477; of whom 22 were colored people. In 1776, the number of inhabitants was 1,678. Dummer Academy, founded by the Hon. William Dummer, was opened at Byfield in 1763. It is the oldest academy in the State.
The selectmen in 1771 were Thomas Lancaster, Stephen Mighill, David Nelson, Francis Pingree, and Thomas Gage. They made the following interesting exhibit, in respect to the material condition of the town: Ratable polls, 369; polls not rated, 39; dwelling-houses, 239, workshops, including tan-houses, 16; mills, 6; servants, 8; acres in tillage, 1,079; bushels of corn, 15,259; acres of English mowing, 847; tons of English hay, 608; acres of fresh meadow, 1,025; tons of fresh hay, 898; acres of salt marsh, 1,829; tons of salt hay, 1,643; acres of pasturage, 5,280; cows it will keep, 1,596; barrels of cider, 1,391; horses, 210; oxen, 296; cows, 868; sheep, 1,633; swine, 364; money at interest, £2,481; stock in trade, £421; income of real estate, £2,660.
It appears from this that the raising of sheep was then considered profitable, that English hay was limited in quantity, that the potato crop was not worth mentioning, and that apples, for which the town is still noted, were abundant. The servants were colored persons held in bondage.
In the great struggle for independence, Rowley evinced an ardent and steady patriotism. In 1765 it instructed its representative, Humphrey Hobson, to oppose the infamous Stamp Act, passed January 10th of that year. The town chose a committee, March 17, 1770, to devise measures for preventing the importation of British manufactures.
In its instructions to Mr. Hobson, its representative, the town declared, Feb. 3, 1773, itself ready to do everything it could "to restore, defend, and preserve inviolate, all our rights, civil and religious." It voted Jan. 11, 1775, to grant £40 for the relief of the suffering inhabitants of Boston. It also made provision for the enlistment of minute-men. The Second Parish voted in February, "to raise minute men according to the advice of the Provencial Congress." On the arrival of the news of the battle of Lexington, Capt. Thomas Mighill and Capt. Edward Payson marched immediately, with their respective companies, for Boston. On the 8th of May following, Col. Daniel Spofford, Dr. Nathaniel Cogswell, Samuel Harriman, and Samuel Northend were appointed a committee of correspondence.
Nathaniel Mighill, Esq., was chosen May 29th to represent the town in the Provincial Congress, with whose resolves it voted to comply.
On the 22d of May, 1776, the town voted that in case the colonies are declared by Congress independent of Great Britain, "we, the inhabitants of the town of Rowley, do solemnly engage that with our lives and fortunes we will support them in the measure."
For the War of the Revolution Rowley furnished three captains, Thomas Mighill, Benjamin Adams, and Edward Payson; nine lieutenants, Amos Bailey, Mark Creasey, Daniel Dresser, Thomas Green, Thomas Pike, Benjamin Stickney, Moses Scott, John Tenney, and Rufus Wheeler; and about 448 privates, -- that is, about fifty men per annum for the eight years of the contest.
In August, 1777, the spire of the meeting-house was struck by lightning; but the powder which the town had stored in the church was not ignited.
The Rev. Ebenezer Bradford, born in Canterbury, Conn., 1746 (Princeton College, 1773), succeeded Mr. Jewett in the pastorate, and was installed here Aug. 4, 1782. He continued to serve the church, which at the time of his settlement consisted of eighty-three members, faithfully until his death, which took place Jan. 3, 1801. He was an eloquent preacher, and educated several young men for the ministry. On his tombstone it is said that, his "labors in the vineyard of the Lord were eminently blessed."
A remarkable north-easterly storm occurred on the 4th of December, 1786, during which the tide arose to an unusual height, and most of the salt hay was set afloat and lost. The Rev. Ebenezer Bradford gives the following account of a singular preservation of two men, Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell, both of Rowley, who were then engaged in digging clams on the flats in Plum Island River, between Plum Island and Hog Island in Chebacco: "They left the clam ground and came to their hut on Hog Island, expecting to spend the night; but a snow-storm coming on very rapidly, caused them to change their purpose and endeavor, at low water, to get themselves off the island. They soon got lost in going over the marshes and creeks. After wandering about some time, they found a stack of salt hay, in which they dug a hole and encamped for the night. In the morning, to their utter astonishment, they found the tide had risen so high, that they were obliged to leave their hole and repair to the top of the stack. They were deprived of all hope, save a faint expectation that their weight would keep the stack from moving off the staddle; but a cake of ice soon struck the stack and set it afloat. The winds blew and the sea raged around them, while the heavens were darkened with the falling snow. The land disappeared, they knew not their course, and could discern nothing but the world of waters, agitated by a tremendous storm. Their stack at times went directly forward, and at others whirled around like a top, threatening every moment to break in pieces. On a sudden they felt the stack, on which they had thus far been preserved, separating under them. At this instant another stack of hay, large and unshattered, came along side of them, on which they had sufficient strength to leap. In this dangerous situation they passed about two hours, exposed to the cold, snow, and water, which continually dashed upon them, by which time they became almost stupefied and began to feel sleepy. They were driven into Smith's Cove in Ipswich, between three and four miles from the spot where the tide first set them adrift. Here, hoping and despairing by turns, they lay some time, the stack being prevented from gaining the land by cakes of ice. After a while they perceived that the wind and the tide were again carrying them out to sea. Pulsifer immediately threw himself upon the ice, and bid the other follow him; Elwell was much stupefied with the cold; but after some delay, got on to a cake of floating ice, and succeeded in reaching the shore. Pulsifer got so near the land that he could touch the bottom with his feet; but his legs were so benumbed with cold, that he could not put one before the other, and for a while thought he must perish within a rod of the shore. At last he bethought himself of putting his legs forward one after the other with his hands and gained the shore in safety.
"The thought of being on land once more re-invigorated their almost exhausted faculties, and they ran a few rods, when to their dismay they found they were on an uninhabited island, instead of the main, as they had supposed. To venture into the water to gain the main, would be immediate death, and to tarry on the island was wholly impracticable. At last they found a stack of dry hay, in which they secured themselves as well as they could and halloed for help. Pulsifer espied a man on the main and they called more vigorously; but the man soon passed out of sight. Despair settled into their very hearts and death seemed to be their inevitable portion. About three-quarters of an hour after this, Major Charles Smith of Ipswich, with his two sons, came within sight of the island, in search of some strayed sheep. One of the sons saw a man on top of a stack, swinging his hat and crying for help. The major, knowing the ground, went immediately on to the island over a causeway, covered with about three feet of water and brought off the distressed men, whom he took to his house and provided with everything necessary; and on Thursday following, they returned to their homes."
For the suppression of the rebellion under Capt. Daniel Shays, Rowley furnished twenty-four men, who were enlisted by Lieut. Ezekiel Bailey, and served under Capt. Francis, of Beverly.
In his "Gazetteer," 1797, Dr. J. Morse says: "Near Rowley's bounds with Newbury, some specimens of black lead have been discovered." This was perhaps the harbinger of the gold and silver mines recently discovered on the other side of the line in Newbury.
The number of inhabitants in 1800 was 1,557, 500 of whom resided in the West Parish, now Georgetown. The number of colored people was 16; in 1820, 15; in 1830, 2; in 1850, 6; in 1860, 1; in 1875, none. Slavery existed here only in its mildest form and ceased entirely after the Revolution.
The Rev. David Tullar, born in Simsbury, Conn., Sept. 22, 1749 (Yale College, 1774), was installed as the successor of Mr. Bradford Dec. 7, 1803, and dismissed Oct. 17, 1810. He subsequently preached in Linebrook, and died in Sheffield, Aug. 23, 1839.
A post-office was established in 1804, and James Smith was appointed post-master. His son, Edward Smith, succeeded him.
An Act was passed by the Legislature, March 4, 1809, that "no person or persons whatever be allowed to take by seines any bass, shad, alewives, or other fish in Parker River, Rowley River, the Falls River and streams and brooks running into said Falls River, excepting within that part of Parker River more than seventy rods below the falls, by John Lee's manufactory." The fine for transgressing was to be not less than five nor more than twenty dollars. Mr. Lee had come from England and established the first woolen-mill on that river.
The eighth settled minister of the First Parish was the Rev. James W. Tucker, a man of an excellent spirit and of refined taste. He was born in Danbury, Conn., in 1787 (Yale College, 1807), and was ordained here June 24, 1812, his salary being $600 per annum, with a "settlement" of $500. He was dismissed June 24, 1817, and died at Springfield, N.J., Feb. 11, 1819.
For the war of 1812 the town furnished thirty-one men, to whom it paid $349.72, which was in addition to what they received from the government.
The Rev. Willard Holbrook, born in Uxbridge, Apr. 7, 1792 (Brown University, 1814), was ordained as the successor of Mr. Tucker, with a salary of $600 per annum, July 22, 1818. At that time the church consisted of eighty-four members. He was dismissed May 12, 1840, and subsequently supplied the church in Linebrook.
A Baptist Church was organized in Rowley, Nov. 17, 1839. The Rev. Caleb Clark was the preacher from September, 1831, to May, 1832; the Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, D.D., from October, 1833, to April, 1836. The Rev. A.W. Carr preached here from 1851 to 1858.
By the introduction of tanning and the manufacture of boots and shoes, into the Second Parish, it had become so prosperous that in 1836 a bank, with a capital of $100,000, was established for facilitating business; and on the 21st of April, 1838, it was incorporated, with the most of Rowley's part of Byfield, as the town of Geoergetown.
On the 4th of September, 1839, the citizens of Rowley observed, by appropriate ceremonies and an address, the second centennial anniversary of the incorporation of the town. The ecclesiastical address, by the Rev. James Bradford, together with the history of Rowley, by Thomas Gage, was published in a handsome volume of 484 pages, during the course of the year following. To these invaluable productions the present writer is indebted for many of the materials for this sketch of the town.
The great event of the year following was the opening through the town of the Eastern Railroad. A train of cars passed from Ipswich through Rowley to Newburyport, on the 17th of July; since which time the people here have enjoyed all needed facilities for travel, trade, and transportation.
The successor of Mr. Holbrook was the Rev. John Pike, installed as pastor here Nov., 18, 1840. After a successful ministry he was dismissed, Jan 5, 1869, and still resides in Rowley. He delivered the election sermon in 1858.
A military company, called Poor's Rifle Guards, with J. Scott Todd captain, was organized here July 26, 1855.
For the War of the Rebellion the town furnished its full quota of men, and evinced the same patriotic spirit as in the old Revolutionary War.
During the year ending May 1, 1865, Rowley manufactured 5,650 pairs of boots and 26,310 pairs of shoes. The capital employed was $51,716, and the number of employees, 76. The number of bushels of shell-fish taken was 7,304, valued at $3,527, and the number of hands employed six months in the business was 15. There were 132 farms, embracing 10,085 acres, and employing 159 persons. The gallons of milk sold was 7,273, valued at $1,306.20. The woodland was estimated at 2,000 2/3 acres; and the number of apple-trees cultivated for their fruit was 11,568; of pear-trees, 756.
The Rev. Lyman H. Blake was installed over the Congregational Church, Nov. 9, 1869, and after a successful ministry was dismissed April 27, 1874. The Rev. William R. Joyslin succeeded him, and was installed Dec. 2, of the same year. He was dismissed.
The Rev. J.H.B. Headley became acting pastor in 1876.
Rowley is the birth-place of many men of note, and as many as eighty of her sons have been graduates of colleges.
Spencer Phips, son of Dr. David Bennet, was born here June 6, 1785 (Harvard College, 1703), and died April 4, 1757. On being adopted by his uncle, Sir William Phips, he took the name of Spencer Phips. He was many years a councillor, and was lieutenant-governor from 1731 to 1757. His son David (Harvard College, 1741), a loyalist, went to Halifax in 1776, and died at Bath, Eng., in 1811, aged 87 years.
Rev. Jacob Bailey, a noted loyalist, was born here Apr. 16, 1731 (Harvard University, 1755), and died at Annapolis, N.S., where he had been rector of St. Luke's Church, July 26, 1808. His journal, with a memoir, has been published by the Rev. W.S. Bartlett.
Samuel Tenney, M.D., was born in Byfield, Nov. 27, 1748 (Harvard College, 1772), and was employed in dressing the wounded at the battle of Bunker Hill. In 1800 he became member of Congress. He was a good scholar and writer, and died in Exeter, N.H., Feb. 6, 1816. He married Tabitha, daughter of Samuel Gilman, of Exeter, who wrote "Female Quixotism," one of the earliest American novels.
The Rev. John Smith, D.D., was born here Dec. 21, 1752, and graduated at Dartmouth College in 1773. He was professor of languages in his alma mater, from 1778 to his death, April 30, 1809. He published a Hebrew, a Greek, and a Latin grammar, and was for some time pastor of the college church. A memoir of Dr. Smith was published by his widow, Mrs. Susan Smith, in 1843. She died in 1845, at the advanced age of 82 years.
Hon. Jeremiah Nelson, born here about 1778 (Dartmouth College, 1790), was a member of Congress, 1805-1807, and 1815-23. He was highly respected, and died in Newburyport, in 1838, aged 60 years.
Moses P. Payson was graduated at Dartmouth College, 1793, and became president of the State senate of New Hampshire.
Parker Cleaveland (Harvard College, 1799) became a professor in Bowdoin College.
Jonathan Cogswell (Harvard College, 1806) was professor at East Windsor, Conn.
The Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, D.D., was a native of Rowley, having been born here Jan. 2, 1776. He graduated at Brown University, in 1799, and was for three years tutor there. From 1802 to 1818 he was pastor of the Baptist Church in Danvers, and from 1820 to 1832, president of Waterville College. He subsequently preached in Rowley and other places, and died in Hamilton, N.Y., in May 1841.
Alfred W. Pike (Dartmouth College, 1815) attained eminence as an instructor.
Richard S. Spofford, M.D. (Harvard College, 1816), was long the leading physician in Newburyport.
The Rev. Joseph Torrey, D.D., was born in Rowley, Feb. 2, 1797, and graduated at Dartmouth College in 1816. He was minister at Royalton, Vt., from 1819 to 1827, professor of Greek and Latin in the University thence till 1842, after which he was professor of intellectual and moral philosophy till his death, which occurred Nov. 26, 1867. He was president of the University from 1863 to 1865. He was the editor of Neander's "Church History," and of some other works.
Rev. Milton P. Braman (Harvard College, 1819) was settled in Danvers, and attained distinction as a clergyman.
Thanks to Donald Dillaby for proofing this page and correcting some typos.
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