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THE city of Lowell is now a part of the land granted for a town, called Wamesit, by the general court to the
Pawtucket Indians, once the most powerful tribe north of the Massachusetts. The historian Gookin states that "the
tribe was almost wholly destroyed by the sickness in 1612 and '13; and at this day (1674) there are not above two
hundred and fifty men, besides women and children. What that disease was, that so generally and mortally swept
away these and other Indians in New England, I cannot learn. Doubtless it was some pestilential disease. I have
discoursed with some Indians, that were then youths, who say 'that their bodies were exceeding yellow before, and
after they died,' describing it by a yellow garment they showed me." The following account of Wamesit is from
Gookin's Historical account of the Indians.
"Wamesit is the fifth praying town; and this place is situated upon the Merrimac river, being a neck of land
where Concord river falleth into Merrimac river. It is about twenty miles from Boston, N. N. W., and within five
miles of Billerica, and as much from Chelmsford; so that it hath Concord river upon the W. N. W. and Merrimac upon
the N. N. E. It hath about fifteen families, and consequently seventy five souls. The quantity of land belonging
to it is about twenty five hundred acres. The land is fertile, and yieideth plenty of corn. It is excellently accommodated
with a fishing place; and there is taken a variety of fish in their season, as salmon, shad, lamprey eels, sturgeon,
bass, and divers others. There is a great confluence of Indians, that usually resort to this place in the fishing
seasons. Of these strange Indians, (livers are vicious and wicked, men and women, which Satan makes use of to obstruct
the prosperity of religion here. The ruler of this people is called Numphow. He is one of the blood of their chief
sachems. Their teacher is called Samuel; son to the ruler, a young man of good parts, and can speak, read, and
write English competently. He is one of those that was bred up at school, at the charge of the corporation for
the Indians. These Indians, if they were diligent and industrious, to which they .have been frequently excited,
might get much by their fish, especially fresh salmon, which are of esteem and a good price at Boston in the season;
and the Indians being stored with horses of a low price, might furnish the market fully, being hut a short distance
from it. And divers other sorts of fish they might salt or pickle, as sturgeon and bass; which would be much to
their profit. But notwithstanding divers arguments used to persuade them, and some orders made to encourage them;
yet their idleness and improvidence doth hitherto prevail.
"At this place, once a year, at the beginning of May, the English magistrate keeps his court, accompanied
with Mr. Eliot, the minister; who at this time takes his opportunity to preach, not only to the inhabitants, but
to as many of the St range Indians as can be persuaded to hear him; of which sort, usually, in times of peace,
there are considerable numbers at that season. And this place being an ancient and capital seat of Indians, they
come to fish; and this good man takes this opportunity to spread the net of the gospel, to fish for their souls."
In 1726, Wamesit was annexed to the town of Chelmsford. Tradition says that the house erected by the Indians for
public worship was built of logs, and located on the high ground at the head of Appleton street. As the English
population increased, the Indians decreased, till their number became very small, when they sold out their remaining
lands and removed to the north. Their last abiding place here was, it is stated, on Fort Hill, around which portions
of a trench dug by them are still visible,
"The town of Lowell, as incorporated by an act of the legislature, passed on the first day of March, 1826,
contained four square miles, and was formerly the north eastern section of the town of Chelmsford. The legislature,
in 1834, annexed Belvidere village, the westerly corner of Tewksbury, to Lowell. This annexation extends the territory
of Lowell to nearly five square miles. The population of Lowell in 1820 was about 2,000; in 1828, 3,532; in 1830,
6,477; in 1832, 10,254; in 1833, 12,363. In 1837, it was 18,010.
"The first effort to promote manufactures in this place were made in 1813. In consequence of the restrictions
that were laid on commerce, and of the war with Great Britain, the attention of many enterprising men was directed
to domestic manufactures. Capt. Phifleas Whiting and Capt. Josiah Fletcher, having selected an eligible site on
Concord river, at the Warnesit falls, about a hundred rods from the Merrimac, erected, at the expense of about
$3,000, a large wooden building for a cotton manufactory. In 1818, they sold their buildings and their right to
the water power, to Mr. Thomas Hurd. Mr. Hurd afterwards fitted up the wooden factory, and erected a large brick
one and several dwelling houses, and improved the same for fabricating woollen goods. The woollen factory was destroyed
by fire on the 30th of June, 1826, but was rebuilt immediately after, Mr. Hurd continued the business till the
great pressure in 1828, when he was compelled to assign his property for the benefit of his creditors, and which
was afterwards purchased by the Middlesex Company.
"About the year 1820, Messrs. Patrick T. Jackson, Nathan Appleton, and Kirk Boott, of Boston, entered into
a design to form a company for the purpose of manufacturing cotton goods, particularly calicoes. They accorningly
commenced an enquiry for a suitable water privilege. A large number of privileges were examined, and, for various
reasons, rejected. At length Mr. Paul Moody, then connected with the manufacturing establishments at Waltham, while
on a visit to his friends in Amesbury, met with Mr. Worthen, a gentleman of taste, with views congenial to his
own, to whom he mentioned that an extensive water privilege was wanted by the above-named gentlemen. Mr. Worthen
replied, Why do they not purchase the land around the Pawtucket falls, in Chelmsford. They can put up as many works
as they please, and never want for water.' This conversation resulted in a visit of these gentlemen to this place,
and from observation they were both satisfied that the privilege was exactly what was wanted. The Pawtucket canal
was immediately purchased by Messrs. Jackson, Appleton, and Boott.
"This canal was projected about the year 1790, and the proprietors were incorporated in 1792, by the name
of 'The Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on Merrimac River.' It was open for the purpose of facilitating the
transportation of wood and lumber from the interior to Newburyport. It is about one mile and a half in length,
had four sets of locks, and was built at the expense of $50,000. Its direction is nearly east, and it enters Concord
river, just above its junction with the Merrimac, where the water is thirty two feet lower than at the head of
the Pawtucket falls.
"It is worthy of remark, that a few years before the purchase was made by Messrs. Jackson, Appleton, and Boott,
an engineer was sent to examine this place, by a number of gentlemen in Boston, who made a report that there was
no water privilege here. The company made the first purchase of real estate on the 2d of November, 1821. They began
their work about the 1st of April, 1822. On the 10th of July, they began to dig the canal broader and deeper, and
let the water into it about the 1st of September, 1823. Five hundred men were constantly employed in digging and
blasting. The gunpowder used in blasting amounted to $6,000, at one shilling per pound. The whole expense of digging
the canal was about $120,000. It is now sixty feet wide, has three sets of locks, and the water in it is eight
feet deep, and is calculated to supply about fifty mills. In digging this canal ledges were found, considerably
below the old canal, which bore evident traces of its having once been the bed of the river. Many places were found
worn into the ledge, as there usually are in fails, by stones kept constantly in motion by the water; some of these
cavities were one foot or more in diameter and two feet deep.
"The company was first incorporated by the namc of the 'Merrimac Manufacturing Company.' In 1825, a new company
was formed, called the 'Proprietors of Locks and Canals on Merrimac River,' to whom the Merrimac Manufacturing
Company sold all the water privilege and all their real estate, together with the machine shop and its appurtenances,
reserving water power sufficient for five factories and the print works, and also the buildings occupied for boarding-houses,
and the land on which they are situated.
"There are ten houses for public worship in Lowell: 3 Baptist, 3 Congregational, 2 Methodist, 1 Universalist,
and 1 Catholic; 16 primary schools, 5 grammar schools, and 1 high school. There are three banks, the 'City,' 'Lowell,'
and 'Railroad' Banks. There are 5 newspapers published in this place.
"Lowell became an incorporated city in February, 1836, by an act of the general court, accepted by a vote
of the people April 11. On the first of May, the following officers were chosen for city government.
ELISHA BARTLETT, Mayor.
Oliver M. Whipple,
Henry J. Baxter,
John A. Savels,
Josiah B. French,
H. W. Hastings,
Rev. Lemuel Porter,
John A. Knowles,
Dr. John O. Green,
Rev. A. Blanchard,
Samuel A. Coburn, City clerk.
Zacheus Shed, City Marshall."
"The Lowell railroad, from the capital and commercial emporium of Massachusetts to Lowell, the greatest manufacturing
town in the state, was very early projected. It was obviously important, after it was known that Lowell was rapidly
increasing, and the manufacturing establishments greather exteriding, that the mode of conveyance, both for men
and, goods, should be facilitated as to time and expense. The passing of boats on the Middlesex canal, which extends
almost the whole distance, is very slow; usually not more than three miles an hour. The turnpike was, in most cases,
a far better mode of conveyance. Railroads were then in operation in England, and highly approved as means of conveying
passengers and goods to and from the manufacturing towns.
"No town in New England has grown up so rapidly as Lowell. It is but about fifteen years since the settlements
began; and it now contains seventeen thousand inhabitants. The capital employed in the manufacturing business is
over seven and a half millions. In 1830, the travel between this place and Boston had become very great; and during
that year a company was incorporated for constructing a railroad; and in 1835, it was opened for travel. It is
constructed in a strong and durable manner. It has an iron edge rail, resting on cast-iron chairs, on stone blocks,
and a stone foundation.
"The distance, from the north west part of Boston, where the road begins, to Lowell, is twenty-five miles
and one thousand feet. For a great distance it is nearly straight. The time usually occupied in the passage is
one hour and. fifteen minutes. There is a cut through a solid rock or ledge, of six hundred feet, which was made
at the expense of forty thousand dollars. In the summer season, there are four trains of cars each way, every day
in the week, excepting Sundays. The fare for a single passenger is one dollar; and goods are transported at far
less expense than they can be in any other way. The first cost and additional expenses to the close of 1835 amounted
to 1,500,000 dollars and the receipts up to the same time, being the income for conveying people and goods, including
moneys paid for assessments on shares, were $1,361,000; of which 545,000 was received of passengers and owners
of property transported. It is proposed to have a double track on this railroad; and a second has been commenced,
the cost of which is estimated at $300,000.
"The usual rate of travel has been already stated. The cars can be run in much less time, and have, in some
instances, passed over the whole road in fifty-six minutes. The number of persons conveyed on this road during
the present year is far greater than the last; but the precise number we are unable to give.
"It is intended to extend the road to Nashua, in New Hampshire, and thence to Concord in that state. A branch
from South Andover, to unite with the Lowell road at Wilmington, a distance of seven miles and a half, has been
opened this year; and it is proposed to continue it from Andover to Haverhill." -American Magazine, vol. iii.
The following account of the business done in Lowell is taken entire from the Statistical Tables, published by
the state in 1837.
"Cotton mills, 22; cotton spindles, 141,334; cotton consumed, 16,053,000 pounds; cotton goods manufactured,
48,434,000 yards; value of same, $5,434,000; males employed, 862; females, 5,685; capital invested, $6,167,000.
Woollen mills, including 1 carpet mill, 5; sets of woollen machinery, 42; wool consumed, 1,010,000 lbs.; cloth
manufactured, (including 147,000 yards carpeting and rugs,) 912,600 yards; value of woollen goods manufactured,
$1,070,000; males employed, 359; females, 461; capital invested, $580,000; sperm oil used by manufacturers, 46,110
gallons; olive oil, 15,000 gallons. Anthracite coal used by the cotton and woollen manufactories. 10,750 tons.
Saxony sheep, 25; merino sheep, 25; Saxony wool produced, 75 lbs.; merino wool, 75 lbs.; average weight of fleece,
3 lbs.; value of wool, $100; capital invested, $200. Boots manufactured, 3,450 pairs; shoes, 12.350 pairs; value
of boots and shoes, $27,250; males employed, 51; females, 19. Tin ware manufactories, 3; value of tin ware, $11,000;
hands employed, 10. Cotton batting mills, 4; capital invested, $20,000; batting manufactured, 600,000 lbs.; value
of same, $75,000; males employed, 30; females, 18. Printing and dyeing cotton goods, 3 mills; capital invested,
$700,000; cotton goods dyed and printed, 12.220,000 yards; males employed, 450; females, 35; value of printing
and dyeing, $550,000. Powder mills, 10; capital invested, $125,000; powder manufactured, 50,000 casks; value of
powder, $125,000; materials used, saltpetre, 1,000,000 lbs.; brimstone, 150,000 lbs.; hands employed, 50. Carriage
and harness manufactories, 3; capital invested, $20,000; value of manufactures, $37,000; hands employed, 30. Flour
mill, 1; hands employed, 8; capital invested, $20,000; 60 barrels flour made per day, value not estimated. Card
factory, 1; capital invested, $8,000; value of cards manufactured, $1 2.000 wire used in the manufactory, 5 tons;
males employed, 4; females, 4. Reed factory, 1; capital employed, $2,000
value of manufacture, $6,000; wire used in the manufacture, 2 tons; males employ ed, 2 Whip manufactory, 1; capital
invested, 82,000; value of whips manufactured, $6,000; males employed, 4; femails, 2. Brass and copper manufactory,
1; capital invested, $2,500; value of manufactures, $20,000; hands employed, 10. Establishments for manufacture
of cotton machinery, engines and cars for railroads, &c., 3; capital invested, $500,000; value of manufactures,
$300,000; wrought and cast iron used in the said manufactures, 1,200 tons; coal used, 400 tons; oil used, 2,300
gallons; hands employed, 500."
The following respecting Lowell is extracted from M. Chevalier's work on the United States, recently published
in Europe. This traveller visited Lowell in 1834.
"Lowell is a town which dates its existence twelve years, with 14 or 15,000 inhabitants, including the adjoining
Faubourg of Belvidere. Twelve years ago it was an uncultivated solitude, whose silence was broken only by the murmur
of the little river, the Concord, and by the roar of the transparent waters of the Merrimac over the ledges of
granite which obstruct their passage. Now, here are immense buildings of five, six, seven stories each, surmounted
with a small white cupola rising above the red brick work, and reftected on the neighboring hills which bound the
horizon. Here are small square houses of wood painted white, with green blinds, very neat, and enclosed-well furnished
with carpets, with trees about them, of brick houses, in the English fashion, that is to say, pretty, -plain without,
and comfortable within.
"On one side are shops, stores, fashionable shops, (magazins de modes,) without number, for women abound in
Lowell, large hotels after the American fashion, like barracks, the only barracks at Lowell; on the other hand
are canals, water-wheels, cascades, bridges, foundries, banks, schools, bookstores, for there is much reading here;
reading is, in fine, their only amusement, and there are no less than seven newspapers.
"In every direction are churches of every sect, Episcopal, Baptist, Congregational. ists, Methodist, Universalists,
Unitarians, &c.; there is also a Catholic chapel. Here are all the edifices of a flourishing city of the old
world, with the exception of prisons, hospitals, and theatres. Here are the sounds of hammers, of shuttles, of
bells, which call and dismiss the operatives; here are stage coaches with six horses arriving and departing. Here
is the noise of gunpowder, blowing up rocks to make a passage for the water or to level the ground; here is the
peaceful farm of a laborious population, all whose movements are as regular as clock work, a population not born
at Lowell, and of which the half will die somewhere else, after having successively laid the foundation of three
or four other cities; for the American of pure blood has this m common with the Tartars, that he is encamped, not
fixed, on the soil which he occupies.
"Massachusetts and the neighboring states, composing New England, contain manufacturmg towns similar to Lowell,
but no other has attained the same size.
"Unlike the cities of Europe which were built by some demi-god, son of Jupiter, or by some hero of the siege
of Troy, or by an inspiration of the genius of a Ceasar or an Alexander, or by the assistance of some holy monk,
attracting crowds by his miracles, or by the caprice of some great king, like Louis XIV. or Frederick, or by an
edict of Peter the Great, it is neither a pious foundation, a refuge of the proscribed, nor a military post. It
is a speculation of the merchants of Boston. The same spirit of enterprise, which the last year suggested to them
to send a cargo of ice to Calcutta, that Lord William Bentinck and the Nabobs of the India Company might drink
their wine cool, has led them to build a city, wholly at their expense, with all the edifices required by an advanced
civilization, for the purpose of manufacturing cotton cloths and printed calicoes. They have succeeded, as they
usually do in their speculations. The dividends nf the manufacturing companies of Lowell are usually 5 to 6 per
cent. semi annually.
"Manufactures of cotton, which in America only date from the last war with England, are making rapid Progress,
notwithstanding the modification of the tariff; resulting from the late demonstrations of South Carolina, has somewhat
cooled the ardor for manufacturing. Boston, like Liverpool, seems destined to have her Lancashire about her. As
waterfalls abound in New England, in conformity with the general law applicable to regions of granite, it will
be a long time before it will be necessary to resort to steam engines.
"This portion of America is generally far from fertile. It required the perseverance, and even the obstinacy
of the Puritans, to transport thither the charms of civilized life. It is broken, mountainous, cold. It is the
commencement of the chain of the Alleganies, which runs towards the Gulf of Mexico, leaving the Atlantic coast.
The inhabitants possess in the highest degree a genius for mechanics. They are patient, skilful, frill of invention;
they must succeed in manufactures. It is in fact already done, and Lowell is a little Manchester. More than 30,000
bales of cotton are consumed there, or one sixth of the whole consumption of the United States, beside wool, which
is there manufactured into broadcloths, carpets, and cassimeres. To increase the resemblance between Liverpool
and their city, the merchants of Boston have decided that there shall be a railroad from Boston to Lowell, the
distance being ten leagues. They have not permitted this railroad to be constructed in the bold style and of the
temporary character which are found in most of' the American railroads. They wished a Roman work, and their engineers
have given them one. They have made them a railroad certainly the most solid which exists in the world. They have
only omitted the fine workmanship, the cut stone arches, the columns and monumental architecture, which make the
Liverpool and Manchester railroad one of the wonders of modern times. These magnificent ornaments are of no importance.
The railroad from Boston to Lowell, in its Roman or Cyclopean simplicity, will cost 800,000 francs the league."
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.