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Amesbury Massachusetts, 1890

Amesbury is a prosperous manufacturing town lying on the northern border of Essex County, between the Merrimack River and the New Hampshire line, and about 41 miles north of Boston, with which it is connected at Salisbury Point by a branch from the shore line of the Boston and Maine (formerly Eastern) Railroad. It is connected with Newburyport by the same line, and also by a street railroad. New Hampshire bounds it on the north ; on the northeast is Salisbury (separated by Powow River) ; on the south are Newburyport and Newbury, on the opposite side of the Merrimack ; and on the west is Merrimack. The area is 7,332 acres, of which 862 are woodland.

The villages are Salisbury Point and Amesbury, which are also post-offices; and the first is a railway station. The surface of the town is beautifully diversified with hill and dale, but without any extremities in elevation. Kimball's Pond, at the northwest corner of the town, is a fine sheet of water 408 acres in extent, and 90 feet above the sea. It has an outlet into Powow River, by a canal constructed in the latter part of the last century. This river, which rises among the hills of New Hampshire, furnishes the principal hydraulic power for the villages along its course. It is a very constant and rapid stream, the aggregate fall in a distance of 50 rods at Amesbury mills being about 70 feet. The Merrimac River is navigable for large schooners to this place, and, in its deep and steady flow, presents a scene of panoramic beauty seldom equalled.

The geological formation of the town is that known to geologists as Merrimack schist. Amesbury has about 80 farms, which, in 1885, yielded 72,624 as the aggregate product. The proceeds from dairying were $18,363; vegetables, $8,296, with other crops in proportion. The leading business is manufacturing. There are several cotton mills, 13 carriage factories, 11 factories for undertakers' goods, 13 clothing establishments, and one or more shoe factories. The aggregate value of their product in 1885 was $1,876,190. The Amesbury carriage-makers enjoy a wide and enviable reputation from their goods. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $3,965,600; and the tax was $18.10 on $1,000. There are two national banks, whose assets, as shown by the last report of the comptroller, were together $1,043,563. On January 1, 1889, the Provident Institution for Savings for Amesbury and Salisbury held deposits to the amount of $1,767,248, with $79,863 in undivided earnings, The number of dwellings is 1,007 ; the population 4,403 ; and the legal voters 949. The town bus graded schools, with 19 school buildings, valued, with property attached, at $17,900. There are six libraries with about 10,000 volumes : the town public library having 5,000; a private circulating library about 2,500 ; the remainder being church and Sunday-school libraries.

Amesbury has two newspapers, the "News" and the " Villager," both of which possess a good number of admiring patrons. There are six religious societies ; of which the Congregationalist was organized in 1831, and the Friends in 1701. The others are the Methodist Episcopal, the Protestant Episcopal (St. James'), the Roman Catholic (St. Joseph's), and the Universalist.

This place, once a parish of Salisbury, and called " Salisbury New Town," was incorporated May 23, 1666, and named from an English town seven miles from Salisbury in England. In the Massachusetts Records the reference to the name is this : " Salisbury new town . . . may be named Emesbury;" but the spelling in the margin of the records is "Amsbury." In 1844 a part of Salisbury called " Little Salisbury" was annexed to Amesbury ; and in 1886 Salisbury Point was annexed. In 1886 the western part of Amesbury was established as the town of Merrimac. Manufacturing was early introduced. The machine of Mr. Jacob Perkins for cutting and heading units, invented about 1796, was first set in operation on Powow River ; and the Amesbury Flannel Manufacturing Company, with a capital of $200,000, was incorporated in 1822. The first church established here was organized in 1672 ; the first minister being Rev. Thomas Wells, who died in 1734 at the age of 87 years. That Amesbury has a salubrious climate is clearly indicated by the fact that in 1885 there were forty residents over 80 years of age. The records of the town from its organization to the present time have been well kept, — affording the basis of the excellent history of Amesbury and Merrimack by Joseph Merrill, published in 1880.

This town is the residence of John Greenleaf Whittier, the poet who, more than any other, probably, represents New England. Of earlier worthies, there are Josiah Bartlett, M.D., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was born here November 21, 1729, and died May 19, 1795 ; and Paine Wingate, a member of Congress and a judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire, was born in the town May 23, 1729.

A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts, with Numerous Illustrations Rev. Elias Nason, M.A.; revised and enlarged by George J. Varney. Boston: B.B. Russell. 1890, 724 pages  

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