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THE town of Reading was incorporated in 1644. It is believed that the name of this town ought to have been applied
to the town of South Reading, as the first settlement of the ancient Reading appears to have been made within the
present village of South Reading. This town was set off as a distinct precinct in 1769. There is much good land
in this town, though some portions of it are uneven and hard of cultivation. The principal village in the town
consists of about 30 dwelling houses, handsomely built, and a number of stores, having a business-like appearance.
There are two Congregational churches, one of which is Unitarian; in the northern part of the township there is
another Congregational and a Baptist church. Population, 2,144. Distance, 17 miles from Concord, 10 west from Salem,
and 13 from Boston. In 1837 there were manufactured in this town 707 pairs of boots and 290,511 pairs of shoes,
valued at $184,583; there were employed in this business 338 males and 494 females. There were eight w.anufactories
of chairs and cabinet ware; the value of chairs and cabinet ware manufactured was $91,360; one hundred hands were
The following inscriptions are copied from monuments in the grave yard of the principal village:
Sacred to the memory of the Rev. Thomas Haven, the first Factor of the 3d church in Reading, who quitted this scene
of mortality May 7th, 1782, in ye 39 year of his age, and 12th of his ministry. Stript of its earthly dress, a
genius unlettered by bigotry, improved by study, sanctified by religion, ennobled by an evangelic temper, enlarged
by the most diffusive benevolence, has taken its flight to its native country. Beloved and esteemed as a most worthy
character, whose excellent and acquired abilities and eminent moral endowments afforded the most flattering hopes
of great and growing usefulness, his exit at such an early period is sincerely lamented by all his acquaintance,
and most especially a most sorrowful event to the people of his charge. According to common reckoning by days,
months and years, his death was premature; but computing human life by the advances made in knowledge, wisdom7
piety and virtue, he lived to a good old age.
In affectionate remembrance of James Bancroft, Esq. Venerated and beloved while living, his memory is blessed.
Guided by Christian principle, he was enabled, through a long and useful life, to perform its various duties with
fidelity. A defender of his country in her struggle for independence, he was magnanimous and devoted in the discharge
of numerous civil offices, disinterested and faithful; and a Deacon in the first church in the place during forty
six years, distinguished by integrity, consistency and independence. In private life he was endeared by mildness
and benignity, and ever evinced obedience to the first command by an observance of the second "like unto it."
He has gathered to his fathers, "as a shock of corn in its season," May 17, 1831; AE 92.
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.