Friday, November 26, 2010

George F. Root (1820-1895) Composer

George F. Root (1820-1895) was one of the most successful American composers of the 19th century. He was well known for his patriotic songs written during the Civil War. "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (the boys are marching!") and “Battle Cry of Freedom” are two of his best known tunes. The tune of “Tramp!” was also used as "Jesus Loves the Little Children". “The Battle Cry of Freedom.” can be heard throughout Ken Burns’ film: The Civil War. Listen to both by clicking the links:
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!   (or Jesus Loves the Little Children)
The Battle Cry of Freedom

Root was born in 1820 in Sheffield, Massachusetts and moved to North Reading when he was six years old. As a young teen he could play many instruments and dreamed of being a musician. At 18 he moved to Boston where he studied under George Webb, founder of the Boston Academy of Music and organist at Boston’s Old South Church for over 40 years. Mason was also very active in arranging music conventions and supporting normal institutes, through which he trained countless public school music teachers and perpetuated his philosophy of teaching and music.

In 1850 Root made a music study tour of Europe, staying in Vienna, Paris, and London. He returned to teach music in Boston, as an associate of Lowell Mason at Boston’s Academy of Music. In 1851, Root began composing. By the early 1850s musical conventions had become established features in all parts of the country. Mr. Root conducted several such enterprises, including convening one at the Smithsonian Institution at Washington.

Root helped organize the first Normal Musical Institute, held in New York in 1853, and quickly became a leader in raising the standards of music education. In late 1855or early 1856, Root and his family moved back to Willow Farm in North Reading, where he continued his writing and convention activities. In 1856 Root developed a more permanent organization known as the ‘Normal Musical Institute”. With the assistance of Dr. Mason and J.G. Webb the North Reading Institute was created and became known far and wide. It was held in the Third Meeting House on the Common through 1859. Guests attending concerts included Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher.

An autograph album of the Normal Music Institute (North Reading, Mass.) was kept by Emory L. Smith, probably a student, during a music convention held there in August, 1861. A fine example of a musical autograph album, Smith had the teachers and selected students sign the book, and many provided brief musical quotations. Smith pasted photographs of five participants onto the pages with their signatures: the composers Lowell Mason, George F. Root, and George B. Loomis, and two fellow students, James H. Lansley and Lewis Story.

Besides his popular songs, he also composed gospel songs, and collected and edited volumes of choral music for singing schools, Sunday schools, church choirs and musical institutes. He also composed various sacred and secular cantatas which were popular on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 19th century.

In the 1880s and 1890s Root wrote as series of dramatic cantatas for children, most with texts by his daughter, Clara Louise Burnham, all meant to be staged.
George Frederick Root died at his summer home on Bailey Island, Maine in 1895. He is interred in the Harmony Vale Cemetery, on Chestnut St., North Reading Massachusetts.

Click this link for my favorite of his hymns: Ring the Bells of Heaven

Cyber-hymnal George F. Root

Hall, J.H., Biography of Gospel. Song and Hymn Writers. New York. Fleming H. Revell Company 1900.

Smith, Emory L. Normal Music Institute (North Reading, Mass.) Autograph Album. 1861 August 14-20. William L. Clements Library. The University of Michigan. Photographs Division. A.1.33.

Hubbard. W.L. Editor. The American History and Encyclopedia of Music. Pp. 187-8 Google Books

Monday, November 8, 2010

Early Schools to 1754

The first notation of a school in North Parish was in the town report of 1693. The first schools in North Parish were moving or roving schools. As there was no specific building, school was often held in the front room of local citizen. Remember that in 1685 only nine known families were settled in North Parish.

"In 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being of individuals, along with the success of the colony, depended on a people literate enough to read both the Bible and the laws of the land. The English Puritans who settled Boston in 1630 believed that children's welfare, on earth and in the afterlife, depended in large part on their ability to read and understand the Bible." 1

The Massachusetts law of 1647 stated that there should be a school in every community where there were fifty families, and a grammar school in every community of one hundred families. In 1693 this law provided for a ten pound fine annually for the violation of the law. In 1701 the law imposed a fine of twice that amount. It was also stated that the grand jurors were to report all breaches of the law.

When the Parish settled its first minister, Reverend Daniel Putnam, in 1721, the interest in schooling began to grow and school money was raised in the parish rates to assist with children’s education.

It wasn’t until 1754, however, that the Parish voted that some particular persons have liberty to set a school house on land near the meeting house at their own cost. Even then, the majority of inhabitants were not yet behind the notion of established school houses.

LePage, Samuel. A History of North Reading, Tercentenary Edition. 1944.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hillview Country Club - Holt's Farm 1795

Dating to the late eighteenth century and extant by 1795, 178 North Street was built for Benjamin Holt, a gentleman farmer who made a comfortable living “raising hops and catching wild pigeons.” Holt invested his money in real estate and owned a “thousand acres of land, more or less, in the north section of town.” Holt’s land included “broad acres for farming just below” (his Georgian house).

Benjamin Holt was descended from “a prominent family in England, the most notable of whom was Lord Chief Justine Holt.” The story of the Holt family in Massachusetts began with Nicholas Holt who, along with his wife and child, arrived in Boston on the ship “James” in June 1635, after a voyage of fifty eight days. From Boston, Nicholas Holt went first to Newbury, Massachusetts and by 1644 had settled in Andover, MA.

The sixth among the original settlers of North Reading’s neighbor to the north, Nicholas Holt died in Andover 1685 at the age of eighty three. Nicholas Holt had served Andover well, holding positions on important committees related to the public welfare and laying out of roads.

The story of North Reading’s Holts begins with Joseph Holt, the grandson of Nicholas Holt of Andover. Joseph Holt’s father was James Holt, the eighth child of Nicholas Holt. During the mid 1720’s James Holt settled in the northern part of the then North Precinct of Reading. His eldest child, Joseph, was born in 1727.

Joseph Holt, son of Joseph Holt above, was born in North Reading in 1754. He was educated in the district schools, and remained on his father's farm until the breaking out of the Revolution. He was in Captain John Bachellor's company, Colonel Ebenezer Bridge's regiment, which answered the alarm on April 19, 1775. Later in the same year he served in the companies of Captain Amos Upton and Lieutenant Ebenezer Damon. He served also in 1776. He married, December 9, 1779. Mary Eaton, of Wilmington, and soon settled near his birthplace.

His farm of one thousand acres or more was in North Reading on the Andover road near the Andover line. He became a large grower of hops, much of his product going west into New York state. He also supplied the Boston market with pigeons, and was known all through that section as "Pigeon Joe.-' He was a very popular man in his town, and was very religious, being particularly strict about Sunday observance, he carried on his farm and raised large quantities of corn. He was a member of the Orthodox church. He died suddenly, February, 1847, while carrying corn up into his corn chamber. Children: 1. Benjamin, born August 7, 1781, mentioned below. 2. Mary, August, 1783. 3. Lois, March 13, 1785. 4. Surviah, October, 1787. 5. Sally, 1792. 6. Joseph Elbridge, 1795.

***Lois Holt, born in 1785 to Joseph and Mary above, married Samuel Killam of Boxford in May 1807. Lois and Samuel are my great x3 grandparents. Joseph Holt, "Pigeon Joe", is my great x4 grandfather.

Benjamin Holt, also the son of Joseph and Mary, was born at North Reading, Massachusetts, August 7, 1781. He was brought up on his father’s farm, receiving the education of a farmer’s son of that period. He followed farming all his life, and carried on successfully his father’s business of hop growing, becoming well off. He also made a business of snaring wild pigeons, carrying great numbers to the markets in Boston. In this he was even more successful than his father. His farm produced large quantities of lumber which brought him much money.

He was a great worker and speculator, and died well to do. He was of a tall stature and very jovial disposition. He was a Whig in politics, and much interested in town affairs. He was a member of the Orthodox church. He married, April 3, 1804, Hannah Sheldon of North Reading. Their first born, Benjamin, born April 12, 1805, died March 31, 1857, married Mary Killam of Boxford.

In 1894 the home was still occupied by members of the Albert H. Holt family. The property later became the Red Hill Farm, a popular restaurant and function facility. A golf course was eventually constructed. On November 5, 1941, owner Harvey Kelch who also operated the club, incorporated the property on North Street as the Red Hill Country Club or the Olde Redding Country Club. In the 1950’s the Red Hill Country Club became the Hillview Country Club, a members only club.

By the 1980’s, the Club had fallen into disrepair. A new owner and manager, Arthur Angelopulos, bought the facility in 1984 with the idea of converting the course into nine holes and selling additional land for development. One set of plans included building 110 single family homes along Central Street; another plan would have put 350 units of low/moderate income housing on the north side of the course.

In 1987 the Hillview Study Committee was formed, eventually growing into the Hilliview Commission, responsible for planning capital improvements, setting policy and overseeing the running of the facility. On January 19, 1988, the committee presented their proposal to the town of North Reading to acquire by eminent domain the land known as Hillview Country Club and to operate the golf course as a municipal facility.


Cutter, William. Historic Homes and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs. Vol. 2. 1917. Google Books.

Gordon, Edward W., Massachusetts Historical Commission Survey #114. 2001

LePage, Samuel M. A History of North Reading. 1944.

Miller, Nancy, Of Minitmen & Molly’s. 2002

Reading Municipal Light Department Historical Calendar, August 2004

Friday, August 27, 2010

Damon Tavern 1817

According to information given to the 1978 Historical Commission Cultural Resources Survey, the David Damon Tavern was built in 1817 by Ebenezer Damon for his older brother, Captain David Damon, a Revolutionary War veteran.

The building still stands on Bow Street at the intersection of Park Street and Haverhill Street. Here Damon catered to several stage coaches on the Salem-Lowell Boston-Haverhill lines as well as other travelers passing through the center of town.

Diagonally across from the tavern (the site of the present Flint Memorial Library) Damon located the large stable and carriage house to service the many travelers.

The 21 room and 9 fireplaced tavern also served as the town's first Post Office. David was appointed the first postmaster in 1830.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Taverns & Inns

Early inhabitants were served by the first recorded tavern in 1648. The settlement had grown to such an extent that the General Court granted: “Francis Smith has leave of the court to draw wine in Reading for the refreshment of travelers and others, he paying the legal excise therefor.”

An innholder or taverner received his license from the General Court only if he complied with formidable laws and restrictions. Each tavern was compelled to provide stables in conjunction with the Inn, and that the innkeeper be responsible for his clients’ horse or cattle by providing food, shelter and care. “There was to be no drinking or tippling after nine o’clock in the night, under the penalty of twenty shillings.” “That no singing, fiddling, piping, or any other musiek, dancing, or reveling shall be suffered or exercised, in any tavern, or other publick licensed house, on penalty of ten shillings.” “That common drunkards be posted up at the houses of retailers of wine and liquors out of doors, and the law directs to publick licensed houses, with a prohibition to them of selling drink to any such.”

The inn or taverns were also a main center for the community’s civic affairs, town meetings and elections. The license required the recipient to “locate his tavern as near the meeting house as can bee”. The meeting house where church services occurred was generally unheated during the winter. The congregation arriving from outlaying farms after a long drive or walk in the extreme cold weather could go to the tavern before and after services. They could also replenish their foot-stoves with burning pine and hard wood knots from the fire of the inn.

There was a tavern located in the westerly part of the Parish, near Mill and Park Streets in the vicinity of Lobbs Pound Mill in the mid-1800’s. At that time the main road from Boston to the interior of the colony passed by the mill. Traffic also passed eastward toward Salem and westerly to Concord and Greenfield, Massachusetts. The tavern was near enough to the local training field to be a rallying point for the local militia. Eliezer Flint, son of George Flint and Jerusha Pope Flint, and grandson of Sergt. George Flint was the landlord for this tavern. Eliezer was born on March 12, 1731. He acquired the tavern about 1761 and conducted it along with an extensive farm containing two hundred acres until his death in 1808.

On the south side of the Ipswich River at the junction of Mill and Short Streets was a tavern operated by Jeremiah “Jerry” Nichols Junior, previously owned by his father. Jerry Nichols, Jr. mortgaged this tavern in 1818 to Mr. Edward Southwick.

Jerry then moved to the center of North Parish where he built a large tavern o n the west side of Haverhill Street opposite the Common. He didn’t prosper in this location and in 1824 sold the building and land to Colonel Flint, who opened and Academy.

Barnard’s Tavern became a well known station between Boston and Concord, New Hampshire, exchanging horses for the many stage coaches passing over the newly opened Andover and Medford Turnpike.

Jacob Barnard was a native of Peterborough, New Hampshire, born in 1789. He established a profitable tavern on Elm Street in the Dock Square area of Boston. From this tavern, many stages left and arrived daily from Concord and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Barnard recognized the need for a relay station, and built a two story wood frame building on the westerly side of Main Street, north of Park Street in this North Parish of Reading. He utilized this tavern as an accommodation for his passengers and stables for his coach horses. It has been published that as many as six and eight stage coaches were standing at one time in front of the tavern, and as many as thirty horses tethered in the stations daily.

Mr. Barnard’s Stage Line was one of the first to employ the Concord Stage Coach, introduced and built by a personal friend, Mr. Lewis Downing, of Concord, New Hampshire.

Barnard’s Tavern was a social center for the West Village and he and his wife, Grace held numerous functions. When Jacob died in 1830 his wife and son, Prentice, carried on the business for two more years.

They then sold the tavern, stables and sheds to Benjamin Page. However, with the decline in passenger service due to rail travel, he converted the tavern into his home. He occupied the building until it was destroyed by fire in 1867.

Historical Address and Poem; Delivered at the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Old Town of Reading May 29, 1844. James Flint and Lilley Eaton

North Reading Review. Leo Murphy. 1964

Friday, May 28, 2010

Timothy Flint Author, Pioneer, 1780

Timothy Flint was born in North Reading in July 11, 1780. He was the fifth of nine children of William and Martha Kimball Flint. Although born into a farming family, Flint apparently did little work on the farm, probably because of ill health that plagued him all his life. His early lack of experience as a farmworker might account in part for Flint's failure when he attempted later in his life to support his own family by farming in Missouri.

He was a graduate of Harvard in 1800 and entered the ministry. He was an American author. Timothy Flint became one of the more important men of letters in the American West during the first half of the nineteenth century. Demonstrating a remarkable range of interest and knowledge, he wrote books that classified geographical, historical, and biological features of the West.

As a missionary he traveled up and down the Mississippi valley from 1815 until 1825 and recorded in Recollections of the Last Ten Years (1826) the frontier life he experienced.

He also wrote several romantic novels of frontier life, notably Francis Berrian (1826) and George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman (1829).

His vivid Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone (1833) did much to develop the Boone legend. Flint interviewed Boone and embellished his adventures, making the book one of the most popular and best selling biographies of the 19th century.

Recollections of the Last Ten Years details his travels from Pittsburg and the Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico and from Florida to the Spanish frontier in a series of letters to the Reverend James Flint of Salem, Massachusetts.

Recollections of the Last Ten Years is perhaps the most interesting of Flint's works to the modern reader because of its fresh description of emerging society in the western states and territories. An autobiographical account of his western experiences, the book is written ten years after Flint and his family emigrated down the Ohio River and is organized as a series of letters to his cousin in Salem, Massachusetts; the account of the difficulties they encounter and the places they visit is detailed and firsthand. With some regrets and homesickness for the order and neatness of his native New England, he gradually finds more to admire than condemn in the westerner, putting to rest the "horror inspired by the term backwoodsman" on the East Coast.”
Dictionary of Literary Biography on Timothy Flint (page 5)

Recollections is in the Flint Memorial Library’s History Room in North Reading center. (LH 917.7 Fli reference book)

It can be found online at Google Books:

During his most prolific writing period he also founded and edited the Western Monthly, a literary magazine in Cincinnati, from 1827 to 1830. He served as coeditor of the Knickerbocker: or New-York Monthly Magazine for several months in 1833-1834 until chronic ill health forced him to resign.

Timothy Flint died on August 16, 1840 in Salem, Massachusetts. His burial site and monument are in Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts.

For Timothy Flint, pioneer, missionary, author, editor, 1780-1840; the story of his life among the pioneers and frontiersmen in the Ohio and Mississippi Valley and in New England and the South (1911) by John Kirkpatrick, visit:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early Roads, Andover and Medford Turnpike 1803

The center of North Reading has been an important junction for travel for almost three hundred years. Freight wagons drawn by oxen, farm wagons, drovers herding cattle, sheep or swine, private carriages, mail coaches and passenger stagecoaches all passed through town. They went to and from the commercial seacoast towns in the east, the agricultural community in the west, and from industrial Boston and the textile manufacturing in the north. As late as 1794, there were only six through roads in town and all were carrying more than their share of this important but slow moving traffic.

In 1803-1804 a group of local businessmen and their contemporaries in neighboring towns wanted to create a hard-packed gravel highway and incorporated a Toll Road Company. Under the guidance of Mr. Peter Tufts they planned and constructed the Andover and Medford Turnpike in 1805-1806. This was a direct road from Andover through Reading and Stoneham to the bridge in Medford. The present Route 28 includes parts of this early road. An act by the General Court in February 1807 allowed the Andover and Medford Company to maintain a toll gate at the Essex-Middlesex county line jointly with the Essex Turnpike Corporation.

The toll for using the road made it very unpopular and so it was used infrequently. Because of the lack of travelers no dividends were ever paid to its stockholders. Its expenses later proved to be greater than the revenue it yielded and by 1828 the stockholders no longer wanted it. January 1836 the Middlesex county commissioners declared the road a public road .Many travelers used a branch of this gravel highway as a direct and shorter route to Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire.

Btw: In the 16th century a “turnpike” was a spiked barrier across a road that was lifted after a toll was paid.

Information adapted from North Reading Review by Leo Murphy 1964; Medford on the Mystic. By Carl Seaburg and Alan Seaburg, April 1980; Wapedia Wiki:Massachusetts Route 28.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Early Roads, 1648 & 1707

In 1648 it was recorded in the old record book that a vote was taken to build a bridge over the Ipswich River, four miles from Reddinge. Its accompanying road ran from Nahant Bay in Lynn through Reddinge, now Wakefield, and then northerly to the present Middleton-North Reading line, proceeding through North Reading into Andover.

The old records describe this road as “the first highway formally laid out” and “Captain Richard Walker, Thomas Marshall, and Nicholas Holt, being appointed by the General Court to lay out the County Highway from Andevour to Reddinge, have thus agreed to follow the cart-way from Andevour to Goodman Holt’s farm, leaving his house about a quarter mile on the left hand, and so on in a strate south or nere a south lyne to the Ipswich River according to the marked trees, and so from the river upon a like strate lyne to the head of a meadow, called great meadow to the saw mill in Reddinge thence through common cornfields to the meeting house.”

In 1658 the General Court “Ordered that there be a highway of tenn poles broad left at each end of all those lotts of upland beyond the Ipswich River.” William Cowdrey, John Smith, John Brown and Jonathan Poole, were selected to divide that tract of land recently acquired by Reddinge, located north of the Ipswich River. They surveyed the land into lotts leaving a “tenn pole highway” at either end. This land then became common land for the use of the town as a highway, watering place and other public uses as it became necessary. The land left for the highway ran parallel to the river on the north side, bypassing the marsh and meadow and staying with the lowland, avoiding the fertile high ground.

In 1707, a way was laid out northward from the vicinity of the present common to the Andover line. This was known as “Sixteen Pole Way” and led through Sergeant George Flint and John Eaton’s land. In 1715 Sgt. George Flint complained to authorities that the road ran through his fertile fields and cut his farm in half. He offered to exchange land to the north with the town if they would relocate the highway westerly of the then existing position. The course of the new road was laid out by Timothy Wiley, Joseph Burnap, and John Goodwin. The old record show “At the north meeting house it is goe next to John Eatens land until it comes within twenty poles of sum low land that joynes to Sart. George Flints orchard, and then goes a slant over to Sargent Flints land fourty pole. Then turns a slant by the hill over to said Eatens line at ye end of the hill, then it is to ly by said Eatens line cross three swamps, then turnes a slant to said Flints line at ye middle mark. Then it is to turn a slant over to Eatens line at ye norwest end of Rattle-snake Rock. Soe by Eatens line till it comes to the foot of the hill at this side Jebit Plaine then it is to turn a slant to Flints line at a Valle at the hether end of said Jebit Plaine.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reverend Eliab Stone at Salem

More on placing Eliab Stone in Salem, MA.

Historical Address and Poem, delivered at the Bicentennial Celebration.
BOSTON : Printed by Samuel N. Dickinson. (1844) Appendix p. 123

Lieutenant David Parker, now living at the North Parish, at the
age of ninety years, who was at the battles of Lexington and Bunker
Hill, and served two years in the revolutionary war, tells the following story of Rev. Mr. Stone:

" In the time of the revolutionary war, it was customary, if danger
was threatened or expected from the enemy, to fire three distinct guns
at short intervals, to alarm the people. Three guns in the night time
were fired at Salem : as all ears as well as eyes were open to danger
at that time, many turned out immediately from several towns within
hearing of the alarm ; and among others the Rev. Mr. Stone, although
a minister, turned out with his musket and military accoutrements,
having on his full-bottomed, white wig, to travel on foot to Salem to
meet the common enemy. But before they arrived at Salem, they
were met by a company from Boston, who informed them that it was
a false alarm, and no danger was at that time expected: they immediately set out for home, but on their return they met others going down, who were told by Mr. Stone that it was a false alarm. 'Ah/ said they, ' he is an old tory. We will not believe him, we will continue our march to Salem ! ' "

They soon met others from Andover, to whom he gave the same
information ; one of their number happened to know him, and said,
" Surely we can believe him, for this-is Parson Stone !" and upon this
information turned towards their homes.

Reverend Eliab Stone, Minitman 1775

During the American Revolution era, the alarm sounded to stir the inhabitants of North Parish into action. It was then that Reverend Eliab Stone put on his white ministerial wig, grabbed his gun and marched with the Minit Men.

An educated guess suggests that he marched into Salem, MA during the event known as Leslie’s Retreat. On a cold New England Sunday morning in 1775, British Colonel Alexander Leslie had come to capture the rebel cannon. Leslie left Castle William by ship and landed his troops at Homan’s Cove on Marblehead Neck. Alarm quickly spread. The soldiers marched toward Salem. They got as far as the draw bridge called North Bridge in Salem when they were halted by the bridge drawn up on the opposite bank. A standoff occurred, escalating into what could have begun the war. Leslie restored order and realized the futility to retrieve the cannon. He agreed to leave if allowed to fulfill his orders by searching on the north side of the bridge. He was given permission to march his soldiers fifty rods past the bridge if he agreed to immediately return to his ship. This location is currently identified along the North River on Commercial Street in Salem, MA

In the Diary of William Bentley 1811-1819, Reverend Stone’s wig is said to reside in the Museum of the Essex Institute (Now known as the Peabody Essex Museum, located in Salem, MA.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1761 Rev. Eliab Stone – 2nd Minister of North Parish

On December 6, 1760 the warrant for a special parish meeting was called “to see whether the parish will concur with the church vote in making choice of Mr. Eliab Stone to be our minister.” It was voted to give him L160 as a settlement, and L73 6s 8p for his annual support. He accepted the invitation.

Eliab Stone graduated at Harvard College in 1758. He was ordained May 20th 1761 as pastor of the second church. Delegates from the first church to the ordination were Deacon Benjamin Brown and Brown Emerson, Colonel Nichols, Captain Gardner and Jonathan Eaton.

He died August 31, 1822 in the eighty-sixth year of his age and sixty second of his ministry. In his long service he married some of the great grandchildren on those married at the beginning of his ministry.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Earthquake of 1727

The original church records of the North Parish mention a “terrible earthquake October 29, 1727, which lasted at times three months.”

Also, Chapter XIV, Historic Storms of New England by Sidney Perley tells us:

The greatest earthquake that New England has probably experienced since its settlement by the English occurred October 29, 1727. The people had suffered much in various ways through the summer and early autumn. A drought continued from the middle of June to the middle of September, the month of July and the first week of August being exceedingly hot. No rain fell in April after the first week, and but twice in May, only one of two slight showers occurring during the sultry, parching heat of the summer. The earth dried to a great depth, and many wells and springs, which had never failed before were now dry. There was much lightning and thunder, but very little rain. On the evening of August 1, at the close of a scorching day, the heavens burst out into a blaze of flame and a roar of thunder, the terrific display continuing for two or three hours. The flashes occurred so frequently that the sky was continually light with them and a writer of that time said it seemed "as if the heavens being on fire were dissolving and passing away with a great noise, and the earth also with its works was to be burned up."

After the drought was broken a violent northeast storm came on, doing much damage among the vessels along the coast, and the trees on shore. This occurred September 16. It caused a high tide which carried away about two hundred loads of hay from the marshes at Newbury, Mass., and drove eight or nine vessels ashore at Salem and thirty-five at Marblehead.

After the lightning, thunder, and tempest the country was visited by a tremendous earthquake. October 24, 1727, the weather was very cold; three days later, snow fell, and on the 28th the temperature was still exceedingly low for the season. Sunday, the 29th, was fair and pleasant, and in the evening the moon shone brightly, the air was calm, and no noise disturbed the peacefulness of nature. People retired at their usual hour, and were fast asleep, when at twenty minutes before eleven o'clock a terrible noise followed by a roar and a rush suddenly woke them, and in about half a minute, before they had time to become conscious of what was taking place around them, there came a pounce as if gigantic cannons had rolled against each other from opposite directions. Latches leaped up and doors flew open, houses rocked and trembled as though they would collapse, timber worked in and out of mortises, hearth-stones grated against each other, windows rattled, tops of chimneys pitched and tumbled down, cellar walls fell in, beds shook, pewter fell off shelves, lids of warming pans jumped up and fell back with a clang, and all movable things, especially in the upper rooms, tossed about.

Most people got up in a moment, and many of them ran out of doors in their night clothes, being so frightened that they knew not what to do. The earth shook so much that they could not stand, and were compelled to sit or recline on the ground.

People that were awake when the earthquake came said that a flash of light preceded it. It was seen as it passed the windows, and a blaze seemed to run along the ground, dogs that saw it giving a sudden bark as if frightened. Before they had time to consider the source or cause of the light a sound like a gentle murmur floated to them on the still evening air, followed by a slight ruffling wind. Then came a rumbling as of distant thunder, which approached nearer and nearer and grew louder and louder till it sounded as if innumerable heavy carriages were being rapidly driven over pavements, or like the roaring of a great furnace, but incomparably fiercer and more terrible, having a hollow sound as if it came from under the earth. Then the shock came suddenly and severely and the houses were felt to totter and reel with the trembling and heaving of the ground.

The noise and shake came from the northwest, and went in a south-easterly direction. The whole disturbance occurred within the space of two minutes of time. The cattle ran bellowing about the fields, being thoroughly frightened at this sudden and fearful commotion in the still hours of night. They acted as though suffering from the greatest distress.

At eleven o'clock another shock came, less effective and quieter than the first, but heavy enough to keep the people in a state of fear. At a quarter before twelve another came, and many of the people would not return to their beds, but dressed, and prepared to stay up the remainder of the night, being uncertain as to what might occur before morning came, and apprehending destruction. The shocks were repeated at three and five o'clock, but with abated force, and in due time the sun slowly rose in the eastern sky, greeting with a complacent face the disconsolate and fearful inhabitants. It was a night never to be forgotten by those who experienced it.

The people of New England were affected by this earthquake as they had never been before, being fearful of divine judgments for their sins and lax responsiveness to the call to religious duties. The clergy taught them that it was "a loud call to the whole land to repent and fear and give glory to God."

Shocks of the earthquake continued at intervals through the following week, and from time to time during November and December, growing less and less in force.
Although the earthquake occurred on 10 November 1727, this article lists the earthquake as having occurred on 29 October 1727. This time discrepancy is due to the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Putnam Family in the Putnam House 1720-1962

Since Reverend Daniel Putnam first occupied the homestead at 27 Bow Street in 1720, his direct descendents have lived there until the early 1960s.

This homestead and its family provide a backdrop to view the development of a small American country community from its agrarian beginnings, through its participation in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, two World Wars, and the accompanying economic, social and technological innovations.

Reverend Daniel and his wife Rebecca (Putnam) had eleven children. Daniel, born 1721, lived there.

Daniel and his wife Hannah (Ingalls) had seven children. Henry, born 1755, lived in the house.

Henry and his wife Mary (Hawkes) had eight children. Joshua, born 1782, continued in the homestead.

Joshua and his wife Eunice (Hayward) had six children. Henry, born 1813, lived there.
Henry and his wife Elizabeth (Long) had five children. George Henry, born 1852, resided in the home.

George Henry and his wife Minnie (Fowle) had one child. Raymond, born 1896, lived there.

Raymond Fowle Putnam lived in the homestead almost until his death in 1962. He was the town cemetery commissioner from 1953-1961, as commemorated in the 250th Anniversary Annual Report in 1963.

Monday, March 29, 2010

1686 David Kunkshamooshaw - Native American Deed

After the death of the Saugus Sachem, Wenepoykin, the inhabitants of Redding thought it wise to obtain a deed to the land from the local Native Americans. David Kunkshamooshaw was an important descendent of the Sachem. In 1686, for sixteen pounds sterling, he and others put their mark on the deed to land including present day North Reading.

I started to include the entire deed, but to conserve space you may read it in its entirety by cutting and pasting the Google Books link at the end. Okay, I had trouble deciding what to cut because it is so names of people involved and areas of land included...
Notice the name Quonopohit (Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, just off route 128) Also note: A Sagamore is a Sachem, a principle leader.

" To all Christian People, to whom this present Deed of Confirmation and Alienation shall come, David Kunkshamooshaw, who, by credible intelligence, is grandson to old Sagamore George-No-Nose, so called, alias Wenepowweekin, sometime of Rumney Marsh, and sometimes at or about Chelmsford of ye colony of y Massachyets, so called,
sometimes here and sometimes there, but deceased, ye said David,
grandson to ye said old Sagamore George-No-Nose, deceased, and
Abigail Kunkshamooshaw, y 8 wife of David, and Cicely, alias Su-
George, ye reputed daughter of said old Sagamore George, and James
Quonopohit of Natick, alias Rumney Marsh, and Mary his wife, send
greeting, &c. :

" Know ye, that the said David Kunkshamooshaw, and Abigail his
wife, and Cicely, alias Su-George aforesaid, and James Quonopohit
aforesaid, with Ms wife Mary, who are the nearest of kin and legal successors of ye aforesaid George-No-Nose, alias Wenepowweekin, whom wee affirme was the true and sole owner of y e land, that the towns of Lynn and Reading (aforesaid) stand upon, and notwithstanding y" possession of ye English dwelling in those townships of Lynn and Reading, aforesaid, wee, ye said David Kunkshamooshaw, Cicely, alias Su-George, James Quonopohit, the rest aforesaid Indians, doe lay claim to the lands that these two towns aforesaid, Lynn and Reading, stand upon, and the dwellers thereof possess, that y* right and title thereto is ours, and belong to us and ours ; but, howsoever, the townships of Lyn and Reading, having been long possessed by the English, and although wee make our clayme, and ye Selectmen and Trustees of both towns aforesaid, pleading title by graunts of Courts and purchase of old of our predecessor, George Sagamore, and such like matters, &c., wee the Claymers aforesaid, viz. : David Kunkshamooshaw and Abigail, his squaw, Cicely, alias Su-George, the reputed daughter of old Sagamore George, alias Wenepowweekin, and James Quonopohit and Mary his wife, all and every of us, as aforesaid, and jointly together, for and in consideration of y e summe of sixteen pounds of current sterling money ' of silver, in hand paid to y e Indians clayming, viz. : David Kunkshamooshaw &c. at or before the ensealing and delivery of these presents, by Mr. Ralph King, William Bassett, Senr., Matthew Farrington, Senr., John Burrill, Senr., Robert Potter, Senr., Samuel Johnson, and Oliver Piirchas, Selectmen in Lynn, in'y e County of Essex in New England, trustees and Prudentials for and in behalf of ye purchasers and now proprietors of ye townships of Lynn and Reading, well and truly payd, the receipt whereof, wee, viz. : David Kunkshamooshaw, Abigail his wife, Cicely, alias Su-George, ye reputed daughter of old Sagamore George, and James, alias Rumney Marsh, and Mary his wife, doe hereby acknowledge themselves to be fully satisfied and contented, and thereof and every part thereof, doe hereby acquit, exhonerate and discharge ye said Mr. Ralph King, Wm. Bassett, Senr., with all and every of ye Selectmen aforesaid, trustees and prudentials, together with the purchasers and now proprietors of ye said townships of Lyn and of Reading, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, forever, by these presents have granted, bargained a full and a firme confirmation and ratification of all grants of Courts, and any former alienation made by our predecessor or predecessors, and our own right, title and interest, clayme and demand whatsoever, and by these presents doe fully, freely, clearly and absolutely give and grant a full and firme confirmation of all grants of Courts, and any sort of alienation made by our predecessor or predecessors, as also all our owne clayme of right, title, interest and demand, unto them ye said Mr. Ralph King, Wm. Bassett and the rest, Selectmen aforenamed, trustees and prudentials for y e town of Lyn, y e worshipful Mr. John Browne, Capt. Jeremiah Sweyn and Lt. Wm. Harsey, trustees and prudentials for ye towne of Reading, to their heirs and assigns forever, to and for ye sole use, benefit and behoof of ye purchasers and now proprietors of ye townships of Lynn and Reading aforesaid, and all ye said townships of Lynn and Reading, joyning one to another, even from the sea, where the line beginneth, between Lynn and Marblehead and so between Lynn and Salem, as it is stated by those towns and marked, and so to Ipswich river, and so from thence, as it is stated betwixt Salem and Reading, and as the line is stated and runne betwixt Will's Hill, and as is stated and runne betwixt Reading and Andover, and as it is stated betwixt Oburne and Reading, and as it is stated and runne betwixt Charlestowne, Malden, Lynn and Reading, and upon the sea, from ye line that beginneth at Lynn and Marblehead and Salem, to divide the townes aforesaid, so as well from thence to ye two Nahants, viz. : ye little Nahant and ye great Nahant, as ye sea compasseth it almost round, and so to the river called Lynn river, or Rumney Marsh river or Creek, unto the line from Bride's Brook to the said Creek, answering ye line, that is stated between Lynn and Boston, from said Bride's Brook up to Reading. This said Tract of land, described as aforesaid, together with all houses, edifices, buildings, lands, yards, orchards, gardens, meadows, marrishes, feedings, grounds, rocks, stones, beach Flats, pastures, commons, and commons of pasture, woods, underwoods, swamps, waters, watercourses, damms, ponds, fishings, flowings, ways, easements, profits, privileges, rights, commodities, royalling, hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever, to y e said townships of Lynn and Reading, and other the premises belonging or in anywise appertaining, or by them now used, occupied and enjoyed as part, parcel or member thereof; and also all rentes, arrearages of rentes, quitrents, rights and appurtenances whatsoever, nothing excepted or reserved ; and also all deeds, writings and evidences whatsoever, touching y e premises, or any part or parcel thereof...
(to read more of the deed follow the link at the end)

In witness whereof, ye said David Kunkshamooshaw, and Abigail his
wife, and Cicely, alias Su-George, and James Quonopohit and Mary his
wife, have hereunto set their hands and seals, y e day of y e date being ye fourth day of September, one thousand six hundred eighty and six,
annoque regni regis Jacobus Secundi Anglice.



CICELY "her mark" alias SU-GEORGE.



All the persons hereunto subscribed, acknowledged the within written
to be their act and deed, May 31, 1687.
(as certifies) BARTHO. GEDNEY, one of ye Council.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

1717-1720 Calling Reverend Daniel Putnam

In 1717 a committee consisting of Jonathan Parker, Thomas Hutchinson, and Jacob Taylor was appointed to negotiate with Mr. Daniel Putnam as a potential minister. Daniel Putnam was a native son of Salem Village (Danvers), born November 12, 1696 to Benjamin and Hannah (Putnam?) Putnam. Daniel was the nephew of Sergeant George Flint. He graduated Harvard College in 1717 and was ordained on June 29, 1720. He married Rebecca (Putnam) Putnam February 25, 1718 in Salem Village, MA.

The settlement consisted of twenty acres of land, four of which the Parish would break, and a house twenty-eight by nineteen feet, with a fifteen foot stud, if Mr. Putnam would furnish the nails and the glass for the building. The annual salary was fifteen cords of wood and sixty six pounds, to be paid in hard money.

At the time of his ordination there were thirty nine members of the now formalized church and fifty three tax payers in the North Precinct.

Editor’s note: Pastor Daniel and I share common "grandparents": Richard Hutchinson and Alice (Bosworth) Hutchinson of Salem Village.

Monday, March 15, 2010

1713-2013 Tercentenary!

2013 brings the tercentenary celebration for the establishment of North Parish.

1713 North Parish Established

Also known as Second Parish or North Precinct.

Actual settlement progressed slowly and none of the original recipients of the land ever went north of the Ipswich River to live. It is not certain who was the first to settle this area, although tradition suggests that Sergeant George Flint had a sturdy house there about 1677. By 1685 there were nine known families living in the wilderness of North Reading.

The people in this isolated area faced great hardship to attend church. They had to cross the Ipswich River and Bear Meadow Swamp and had little more than a bridle path to travel. They had to make their way over five miles to the mother church in what is now Wakefield. Because the church was so far and the hardships were so great, they inspired a town vote in 1696 that “as soon as there was a suitable and competent number of inhabitants (north of the Ipswich River) they might call, settle, and maintain a godly, learned and orthodox minister of their own”.

In 1711 there were less than fifty families living in this northern section, making it difficult to maintain and support its own minister. In that year a petition to make the area a distinct parish was denied. However, on October 14, 1713 the petition was granted and it was voted to set off the territory north of the Ipswich River, together with Saddler’s Neck as a distinct parish, known as the Second, or North Parish. It was on the 27th of November, 1713 that the first parish meeting was assembled and Sergeant George Flint elected Moderator. It was also voted that they raise thirty-five pounds for the support of a minister. Not enough, however, to entice a permanent prospective minister. They also began construction on a rudimentary first meeting house on land given by John Eaton and George Flint. The Parish hired part time preachers and offered land and other enticements to prospective permanent ministers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


In the beginning, the world was without form and void... Okay, maybe we won't go back that far.

The North Parish arose from land that was added as part of Reading. Redding began to be settled in 1639 when inhabitants from Lynn petitioned the General Court for an upland plantation.

The Court granted “four miles square at the head of their bounds, or so much thereof as the place will afford, upon condition that the petitioners shall, within two years, make some good proceeding in planting, so at it may be a village, fit to contain a convenient number of inhabitants, which may in due time have a church there; and so as such as shall remove to inhabit there, shall not withal keep their accommodations in Lynn, after their removal to the said village, upon pain to forfeit their interest in one of them, at their election”.

In 1644, Lynn Village, the name first given to the territory, had a sufficient number of houses and families and the General Court ordered that it should take the name of Redding.

The four mile square grant was substantially the same territory as the present towns of Reading and Wakefield. The land of present town of North Reading was added by a subsequent grant made in 1651. This land arose from special grants to men who had significantly aided the establishment of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

This included a grant of eight hundred acres, east of what is now Haverhill Street, awarded to Lord Brooks, a grant of five hundred acres of upland and meadow, extending from the Willis Brook to what is now the BB Chemical Co. in Middleton to Mr. Thomas Willis, and a grant of two hundred acres, all north of what was called (Bare) Bear Meadow and south of the Ipswich River to Mr. Richard Saddler.

A statement of the grant of this additional territory to Reading appears in the town records for October 1651. “The court doth grant to the inhabitants of Reading, an addition to its former bounds, a certain tract of land, about two miles content, lying between Mr. Bellingham’s farm (in Andover) and the great (Ipswich) river, and so to join their former four-mile grant, so as it has not already been granted to any town or person, nor prejudicing any former grant.”


Welcome to THE place for the history of North Reading, Massachusetts. I will be posting background, stories, tidbits and all things historical as they relate to this area.

The North Reading Historical Commission has been in existence since 1972. At that time Town Meeting voted to establish the commission under Chapter 40 of the Mass. General Laws.
This board is appointed by the Board of Selectmen. It is a branch of the town government with the responsibility to identify, preserve and protect the historical resources of the town.

Barbara Jagla, Secretary
North Reading Historical Commission