J. W. (John Wesley) Hanson.

History of the town of Danvers, from its early settlement to the year 1848 online

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Online LibraryJ. W. (John Wesley) HansonHistory of the town of Danvers, from its early settlement to the year 1848 → online text (page 1 of 20)
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•'In my pooh mind it is most swekt to muse
Upon THE days gone byI''— Charles Lamb.


Printeb av the -Courier Office,

-' -'' 1848. L':

Entered according to An Act of Congress, in the year 1848, by J.
W. Hanson, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Dis-
trict of Massachusetts.



The Necessity of a Town History has been experienc-
ed for many years by most of the citizens of Danvers.
It could have been wished that some one quahfied for
the task, had undertaken it before the decease of sev-
eral, who carried much valuable information to the
grave with them. Much that might have been pre-
served for Posterity has been suffered to sink into Obli-
vion. The compiler has sought every known source for
information, has spent about a year and a half in re-
searches, during which time he has travelled about 600
miles on foot, to different parts of Danvers and Salem,
besides several other journeys, — examined twenty-thous- \
and pages of manuscript, — ^perused several historical
works, and made many pilgrimages to antiquated sires
and matrons, and to moss grown grave-yards, where he
has exercised the vocation of Old Mortahty, and sought
information from those tablets which the remorseless tooth
of time had nearly obscured. He believes that the ap-
pearances of imperfection in this work could not well be
avoided, and that nearly all is here recorded which time
has spared. He confesses himself much indebted to
Hon. Daniel P. King, John W. Proctor, Esq., Fitch
Poole, Matthew Hooper, Charles M^. Endicott, Matthew
Stickney, and to -he gentlemanly dflicers of the State
Department, the Town Olerk', Salem City Clerk, Clerk
of the Courts, Jud'ge\ of T-'obate* the different Parish
Clerks, Clergyman h' Danvers, -^c. All whom he has
consulted have tcetmed 'lo vie witfi! each other in for-
warding his plans, and he takes this method of return-


ing his sincere thanks. To avoid disfiguring the follow-
ing pages, he here gives general credit for the items he
has received and recorded: Authentic Tradition, Pen-
sion and Muster Rolls, Probate Records, Registry of
Deeds, Court of Records, Salem Records, Danvers
Records, Church and Parish Records, different Socie-
ty Records, several Manuscripts, Mathers T^Iagnalia,
Provincial Records, Mass. Plist. Coll., Journals Prov.
Cong., Hubbard's Hist. N. E., Early Hist. N. E., Up-
ham's Lectures, Hutchinson's History of Massachu-
setts, Felt's Annals, Barber's Hist. Coll., King's Eu-
logy and Address, American Archives, Thatcher's
Essay, Lincoln's Journals, Calef 's Wonders, Celebrat-
ed Trials, Wadsworth's Discourse, files of Essex Ga-
zette, Salem Register, Salem Observer, Danvers
Courier and Whig, — and other authorities. The Com-
piler has carefully abstained from recording matter which
does not strictly belong to the History of the Toivn, and
he has sought, so far as he could, to compress the mat-
ter into as small space as possible. It w^ill be seen that
he has followed the general plan of Stone's History of
Beverly, a well arranged work.

It is interesting in the highest degree, for the man
of to-day, to gaze into the Past, and trace the miracle
of success which ahuost every town in ^ the Old Bay
State presents. \: *^» : * \ V \j.\; »: :/ :

The dim prifneval ^woocls^.xlrip.ping with dews, in
whose gothic aisles strange i2iV^^rjous echoes travelled,
— in whose solitary %stii6s^«^s,*t]:Qcrps ot dun deer, packs
of prowling wolves, "t^ie:aiy'fa^,''the»€iumsy bear, the
fierce catamount, and the painted savage, glided Hke



the shadows of a dream, — all have gone. The wonder-
ful changes of two hundred years can hardly be realiz-
ed. Two hundred years ago, "where we now sit, cir-
cled by all that embelhshes and exalts civilized hfe, the
rank thistle nodded in the wind, and the wild fox dus:
his hole unscared. Here lived and loved another race
of beings. Beneath the same sun that rolls over us,
the Indian hunter pursued the panting deer, — gazing on
the same moon that smiles onus, the Indian lover wooed
his dusky mate. Here they worshiped, and from many
a dark bosom, went up a prayer to the great Spirit.
Here too, they warred, — the echoing whoop, thedefjdng
death-song, — all were here, and when the tiger strife \
was over, here curled the smoke of Peace." Twohun- '
dred years have passed, and what a change. When the i
morning sun arises from liis ocean pillow, he does not \
look upon ancient forest, silent river, nor upon some '
sanguinary Indian fight. Strangely have the trees |
been transformed into palace and cottage, by the touch
of the magic wand of Industry, w4iile each stream
moves the mingling din of loom and belt and wheel, !
and where the death grapple of red men stained the i
sod, hamlet and village are seen. The woods have j
fled, savage beasts and savage men have passed away, |
and hammer, and axe, and scythe, and plane are urged i
by the disciples of Industry. No longer here the |
"moping OAvl does to the moon complain," — no longer *
Silence rests upon the ancient realm of Nahumkiek, i
but Rehgion, Education, and Labor, — a holy Trinity — I
have planted temples on every hill and in every vale, |
along each winding stream, and around each silver i


lake, and to the ear of Heaven, ascends the ceaseless
hum of Human Life.

The progress at first was slow. A few adventurous
men with sturdy arms and glittering axe, let in the
sunlight on the virgin sod ; — with cautious steps they
threaded the echoing woodpaths, and startled the wild
beast and timid bird. Glad of escape from religious
persecution, they made each day vocal with prayer
and praise, — and yet, forgetful of their wrongs, — they
burned and hung poor quakers and baptists without
mercy. They acted as they knew, and while the form
of Bigotry sits at our own tables, and glares upon those
who differ from us, it does not well become us to re-
proach our ancestry. If they forgot human rights, and
striped and branded heretics, they thought they were
verily doing God service, and their fault should not be
laid at their door, while the church and the school-house
stand, and the hardy morals which they planted shall
continue to blossom and adorn our generation. They
were sincere; they had that sound core of honesty
which in these days we look for and hope to find.

From the early hour of the settlement of Danvers,
change has followed change, like wave pursuing wave,
to the present day. The foot-journey out to "the vil-
lage" from Salem, the laborious felling of the forest, the
planting of the first crops, the contest with wild ani-
mals, the occasional visit from an Indian, or a warlike
visit to an indian settlement, the musket-guarded ser-
vice of the Sabbath, the Awful Delusion of 1692, the
spiritual struggle with Satan's emissaries, the long dark
battle with foreign foes, the dawn of National Inde-


penclence and prosperity, and the present noon of tri-
umph — all these have been here. In each of these has
Danvers participated.

To those whose birth was cast here, — those who in
the long sunny days of summer played here, Avho first
learned to gaze upon the stars and watch the moon go
down behind these hills, who can look back upon a life
passed here, these pages will be pleasing so far as
they reflect the Past.

"Our Fathers, where are they ?" "Instead of the
fathers, are the children." While therefore the chil-
dren may know the experience of the fathers, let them
profit thereby, — and, above all, let them so conduct, as
that, when their Experience shall be History to those
who shall follow them, it may read a profitable lesson.



The Town of Danvees, County of Essex, State of
Massachusetts, is situated 15 miles N. N. E. from Bos-
ton, 23 miles E. S. E. from Lowell, 16 miles S. E.
from Lawrence, in 42 o 32' North Latitude, and 70o
55^ West Longitude, and is bounded north by Middle-
ton and Topsiield, east by Wenham, Beverly, and Sa-
lem, south by Salem, Lynnfield and Lynn, and west by
Lynnfield and Middleton.

The general aspect of the Town is rather level,
though it is diversified with numerous gentle, and pre-
cipitous elevations. Lying near the verge of the wild
domain of Ocean, it is fortified by many of those rocky
ramparts wliich the hand of Nature has reared to repel
the wild encroachments of the Deep. The soil rests on
a foundation of Sienite, — is composed of 3fo soluble
geine, 6fo insoluble geine, and 21o sulphate of lime, and
is generally very productive, being mainly a brownish
loam, aboundmg in peat, gravel, and clay, from which a
large number of bricks, and all kinds of pottery are
made. There is an exhaustless supply of sienite from
which the choicest millstones are manufactured, equal
to any in the world, and some fine specimens of qu.artz
have been found, of which No. 1312 in the State Col-
lection is a sample. There are many valuable farms
yielding rich crops of hay, grain and vegetables, and a
large abundance of excellent fruit. Iron ore of a fine
quality has been procured on the estate of Hon. D. P.


King, and copper ore was found at the Orchard Farm
previous to the death of its original proprietor.

The whole area of Danvers occupies about 17000
acres, of which there are about 132 acres of fresh wa-
ter ponds, 300 acres of salt rivers and creeks, 1200
acres of woodland, 1000 acres of rocky waste land, up-
wards of 11,000 acres of occupied and cultivable land,
and 80 miles of road. It is 8 miles long from North to
South, and 64 miles wide from East to West.

Besides the tall and graceful poplar, the fir, the balm
of Gilead, and the elm, — which combines in one form
the pendent gracefulness of the willow, the strength
of the oak, and the aspiring reach of the pine and
hemlock, — the larch, and other trees which adorn our
streets and rural residences, the native trees and
shrubs are the white and pitch pine, white spruce,
hackmatack, arbor vitiie, red and white cedar, juniper,
ground hemlock, white, swamp, scarlet, red, black and
bear oak, chesnut, beach, witch and beaked hazel,
hornbeam, butternut, shellbark-hickory, mockernut,
pignut, black, yellow and white birch, common alder,
Dutch and wax myrtles, sweet fern, button wood or syc-
amore, American aspen, swamp and other wallows, w^hite
and slippery elms, tupelo, sassafras, fever-bush, privet,
white and black ash, winter-berry, button-bush, bush
honeysuckle, elder, naked and sweet viburnums, arrow-
wood, w^ater andromeda, clethra, swamp pink, rhodora,
kalmia, whortleberry, high and low blueberry, cran-
berry, alternate leaved, red stemmed, panicled, flower-
ing cornel, currant, gooseberry, spirea, meadow sweet,
hardback, raspberry, high and low blackberry, clematis,


white thorn, chokeberry, swamp pyrus, black and choke-
cherr J, locust, fox grape, Virginian creeper, Jersey tea,
climbing staff tree, red and white maple, staghorn, poi-
son and dAvarf sumach, poison ivy, bass-wood, barberry,
green brier, eglantine, swamp rose and thimbleberry.
The cowberry, a species of cranberry, is a very uncom-
mon plant. According to Emerson's Report of the
Trees and Shrubs of jNIassachusetts, it is found in but
one place ui the state, namely, in a pasture near Mr.
A. Putnam's, where it was found in 1820 by William
Oakes, Esq. Torrey however thinks it has been fomid
on Monadnock mountain. At all events it is very

This vicinity offers pleasant inducements to those
who seek medicine from the vegetable productions, or
instruction from the ^'Floral Apostles" of Earth, of
whom it has been said :

"Your voiceless lips are living preachers,

Each cup a pulpit, every leaf a book.
Supplying Fancy numerous teachers

From loneliest nook."

In different parts of the town may be found the fami
lies of grasses, mosses, lichens, plantains, cresses, ferns,
the wild teazel, (very rare,) hfe everlasting, cudweed,
pennywort, duckmeat, thoroughwort, colored willow
herb, partridge berry, water horehound, hellebore, py-
rola, strawberry, johnswort, brake, Canadian cistus, that
pretty recluse that so successfully eludes the eye of
the Botanist the tall Jacob's ladder, the gentle sister-
hood of violets, yarrow, crowfoot, blue flag, spotted
geranium, Canada snapdragon, dwarf ginseng, common,

I m


running and Norway cinquefoil, blue houstonia, wood-
wax, — which at some seasons gilds many acres with
gold,~cardinal flower and other species of lobelia, Vir-
ginia thyme, side-flowering skullcap, — once supposed to
cure the bite of a mad dog, blue curls, burr marigold,
conedisk sunflower, asters, purple gerardia, hawkweed,
ladies' tresses, fringed gentian, golden-rod, waterliUes,
anemone, samphire, strawberry blite, speedwell, bladder-
wort, nightshade, galium, bugloss, houndstongue, sever-
al species of loosestrife, bindweed, henbane, lady's slip-
per, pipewort, millfoil, calla, dragon-root, moth mullein,
pimpernel, bellflower, arrowhead, fever root, thesium,
dogbane, Indian hemp, butterfly weed, milkweed, dod
der, saltwort, goosefoot, sanicle, angelica, cicuta, sarsa-
parilla, spikenard, Virginia flax, sundew, marshrose-
mary, Canada garlic, star of Bethlehem, Solomon's
seal, bellwort, draecena, erithromium, sweet flag, bay-
onet bush, cucumber root, trillium, Virginia rhexia,
golden saxifrage, water pepper, partridge bush, Ameri-
can senna, sidesaddle, motherwort, hempnettle, vervain,
trichostema, lopseed, linnea, cowheat, figwort, snapdrag-
on, painted cup, monkeyflower, snakehead, hibiscus,
caducous, poligalia, lupine, trefoil, lespedesos, peavine,
groundnut, St. John's wort, succory, prcnanthes, lia-
tris, coniza, elecampane, groundsel, eighteen species
of asters, mayweed, coreopsis, orchises, arethusa, ad-
ders tongue, dragon's claw, besides many others too
common to demand specification.

S. P. Fowler and Dr. George Osgood afforded much
assistance in arranging the foregoing list of plants.


An occasional fox or a rattlesnake, a few rabbits and
perhaps a lynx, are all tliat remain where old Parson
Higginson assures us he saw "manye Ijons," and other
terrible monsters.

There are several fine sheets of water, and many
small though beautiful streams. Brown's pond, named
for an early grantee, in the southern portion of the
town covers 30 acres ; Bartholomew's pond, — one of
the most charming, secluded spots in the State, named
also for a grantee, situated about I of a mile north of
Brown's, contains 5 acres ; Cedar pond, 1] miles north-
west, contains 15 acres. In this pond Goldthwaite's
brook takes its rise, and running easterly, passes
through Foster's millpond, and joining with Proctor's
brook empties into the Mill pond in South Danvers.
Humphrey's pond, named for John of that name, is
situated in Lynnfield and Danvers, — say about 80 acres
in the latter place. Proctor's brook rises in Gardiner's
swamp and joins Goldthwaite's. Korth River runs from
the mill pond in the south parish, and passing through
Salem empties into the harbor. Water's river rises near
the Newburyport turnpike, and empties into Porter's.
Beaver-dam brook takes its rise near the 17th milestone
on the Newburyport turnpike, and runs a northerly and
south-easterly course until it makes the Crane river,
which empties into Porter's. Nichol's brook rises in
the northern part of the town, and runs into Topsfield.
Frostfish brook rises near the northern boundary of
Danvers, and running south it forms Porter's river, the
channel of which is the boundary between Beverly and
Danvers. Porter's river empties into Bass River.


Ipswich or Agawam river is the boundary between
Danvers and Middleton. Besides these are many
smaller streams not of sufficient importance to require
notice. Water for culinary purposes is abundant and
extremely good, and, as most of the rock is insoluble,
the water is preserved pure, and entirely free from that
brackish taste, so noticeable to the stranger in most of
the water found near the sea coast.

Among the eminences deserving of mention are Bald
Rock, a bold summit on the edge of Bartholomew's val-
ley, — Shaw's Rock, Ship Rock, King's, Prescott's, Bux-
ton's, Walden's, Gardner's, Mt. Pleasant or Hog, Up-
ton's, Cook's, Endicott's,nathorne's, and Dale's hills, —
from each of which may be enjoyed charming prospects
of the surrounding country.

The Traveller from Boston, would be likely to enter
the Town at its southern extremity. Here the soil is
generally very rocky, greenstone, covered by sienite,
and supports a thrifty growth of forest trees, principally
oak and pine. The sienite region extends from the
southern boundary to Proctor's brook, in a northerly di-
rection, and westward into Lynn. As he passes along
the old Boston road, he skirts the margin of Brown's
pond, a charming sheet of water, and, if he will strike
ac ross the fields from thence, a little west of north^ he
will behold Bartholomew's pond, one of the sweetest spots
in New England. Situated as it is in the most uneven
and woody portion of the town, it is entirely secluded
by groves and hills, without even a road to lead to the
spot. Passing along the same road he will shortly en-
ter the south parish, (a) the largest village in the Town.


Here he will see business on every hand, and the hairy
garments of slaughtered animals which surround him,
will remind him that the principal occupation of the in-
habitants is tanning and dressing different kinds of
leather, or manufacturing the same into boots and shoes.
Indeed if he shall ever meet a man from Danvers in
another part of the world, he may take the fact of his
nativity ^sj^rima facie evidence that he at least under-
stands the nature of leather. The Old South church
and Bell Tavern having passed away, the ^Monument
and the Grave of Eliza Wharton are the principal ob-
jects of interest remaining. As he passes on he leaves
the beautiful Harmony Grove in Salem on his right
hand, and bearing away in a northeastly course about
two miles he will pass over the ancient Orchard Farm,
on which stands the Old Endicott Pear Tree, and will
reach the enterprising village — New Mills, the only
seaport in the Town. A mile further north he arrives
at the Plains, a village noted for the thrift and indus-
try of its inhabitants. Still further on in the same di-
rection on the Topsfield road he passess through Put-
nam ville, formerly known as Bhnd Hole, from a swamp
still further north. Thence in a western line, a short
distance and crossing Nichol's brook and reaching the
Newburyport Turnpike, he will follow it nearly south,
and passsing the finest farms and estates and Hum-
phrey's pond, he will reach the South Reading road in
Lynnfield, and then turning east, he will pass the Poor
House and Rocks village, situated near Goldthwaite's
brook, which is at the bottom of a valley, once the bed
of a large lake. At the first road intersecting the road



he is on, he will direct his course north and passing the
Collins House, where Goy. Gage resided in 1774, and
the old Parris House where the witchcraft delusion com-
menced, he will go through TaplejYille, and then, a
short distance further he will enter the ancient Salem
Village, having travelled about seventeen miles.

He will have seen a fine variety. Danvers is both
City and Country. The South Parish extends into Sa-
lem and is essentially one with Salem, while further
north the scenery presents so rural an aspect, that the
stranger can scarcely fancy himself so near the cities
and the seas. There are rough sienite acclivities, (b)
from which are fine views of the seacoast and the
neighboring towns, precipitous glens, dark woods, beauti-
ful miniature lakes reflecting the blue of heaven, and
brightly glancing streams murmuring along the sward
w^th liquid sounds of peace, — broad savannahs waving
with rustling grass, yellow with golden corn, or embrown,
ed with the shadows of sturdy trees, that are white
with blossoms, or bend low with mellow fruit, relieved
by billowy hills that swell along the landscape, or dotted
with villages and solitary residences and farmhouses,
the scene is beautiful as well as suggestive of Industry
and Peace. Beholding the air of comfort and indepen-
dence, and witnessing the enterprise and business zeal
for wdiich the Town has become a proverb, and feeling
the bosom expand with the generous liberal spirit which
surrounds the community like an atmosphere, the be-
holder of to-day can scarcely realize that he stands
where witches were tried and executed, and Bigotry,
an ugly fiend, once poisoned the air with his breath.


Formerly distinguished for intolerance, austerity and
gloom, the Town is now equally known for its enterprise,
and the spirit of liberality it breathes ; — Salem Village
has become Dan vers.


(a) Names. The South village was originally call "Brooksby,''
from I he convergence of Go'dthwaile's and Proctor's brooks, orginal-
ly called South and North brook, near the Old South. When the
parish lines were drawn it was called "the Middle Precinct," or South
Parish, because of its situation south of the Village, between it
and Salem proper. The Village was originally styled "the Farmers
Range," and afterwards Saletn Village, to distinguish it from Salem
proper. The Plains belonged to the Porter family, and v%'ere com-
monly called *'Mr. Porter's plaine," on account of the even surface
which his farm presented. "New Mills" was called at first "Mr.
Skelti-n's neck," owing to the peculiar formation of the land granted
to Mr. Skelton, and the name was changed to New Mills, from the
wheal mills belonging to Arhcelaus Putnam which were erected in
1754. The Indian name of the neck was JVahrjiiack. Rocks village
obtains its name from the rocks around it, and Pulnamville and Tap-
leyville are named from enterprising gentlemen who bear the nanjes
of Tapley and Putnam.

(b) "The sionite is inexhaustible, and the demand for it, manu-
ufactured into millstones and prepared for building and other purpos-
es, must increase annually. The extensive beds of clay — situated so
near navigable waters and flourishing towns and villages, is another
sure source of wealth or at Isast a comfortable maintainance to many
inhabitants. The water powers, and last, though not least, a pro-
ductive soil and ready market, to reward the labors of numerous far-
mers and horticulturists, render this one of the most eligible situations
in the county. The town is distinguished for the sobriety, industty
and economy of its inhabitants; and has for many years past been
ranked among the most thriving and prosperous towns in the county."

Essex Memorial.
Errata to Chapter I, On page 10, instead of 1200 acres of
woodlind, read 3000, and add 50 acres of saltmarsh and 1200 acres
of fresh meadows.




A company that had been engaged in a fishing enter-
prise between England and Cape Ann about the year
1625, the members of which had witnessed the success
with which the Plymouth Colony had met, and the facili-
ties which were lying unimproved in the region of Cape
Ann, carried such tidings to the Old World as inspired
many of the more adventurous among the English Dis-
senters, with a desire to establish a people "whose God
should be the Lord" in this portion of the western wil-
derness. Rev. John White of Dorchester, England,
made several attempts to establish a colony in this
neighborhood, which had been thus favorably represent-
ed to him, but it was not until the year 1628 that he
could prevail upon a company to embark.

On the 6th of September in that year, John Endicott
set sail from England, accompanied by about one hun-
dred persons, having in his possession a grant, convey-
ing all the land lying between the Merrimac and Charles
Rivers, to Sir Henry Rowell, Sir John Young, Thomas
Southcott, John Humphrey, John Endicott, Simon
Whetcomb, and their heirs and associates forever. The
bounds extended "three miles to the northward of Mer-
rimac River, and three miles to the southward of
Charles River, and in length within the described

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Online LibraryJ. W. (John Wesley) HansonHistory of the town of Danvers, from its early settlement to the year 1848 → online text (page 1 of 20)