The history of Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts
No literary productions are so interesting to most people as those relating to the place of their nativity; and, although most of the work may be, made up of homely facts and local incidents, uninteresting to the stranger, it will be highly prized by him who loves the home of his birth, and who can discern upon its pages the part that his fathers played in the history of the past. Perhaps this interest has been the sole cause of the production of this volume. The work was commenced in the fall of 1875, — when the author was seventeen years of age, — merely to gratify a longing to know about the past; but, the notes becoming voluminous, the idea of preparing a history presented itself, and was indulged to such an extent that the result is before us.
In the preparation of this work thousands of volumes have been read and referred to; much travel, inquiry and correspondence have been necessary; and considerable money, and month after month of time, have been given it. Some estimate of the amount of work may be made by learning the following facts: Our own local public records have demanded the expenditure of much time upon their examination. The town records consist of about twenty-five volumes, generally of foolscap size, and containing two or three hundred pages each; the records of the two parishes are contained in fifteen volumes of foolscap size, and aggregating more than three thousand pages; the records of the two churches take up six volumes of a smaller size: these, together with the innumerable scattering private volumes and loose sheets found in all portions of the town, have been read and thoroughly conned. The records of the neighboring towns, parishes, and churches have been read and examined as necessity required. These together with the records of the probate registry, registry of deeds, and court records of the county of Essex, and those in the State Archives, comprise the public records which have been examined. Many town histories, genealogies, biographies, and other printed works have also been perused.
The illustrations are all original, and have been engraved, at a considerable expense, expressly for this volume.
In the compilation of this volume, our thanks are due to all those who have aided in any degree, by forwarding information or correcting errors; to the custodians of the public records, for their courtesy; and to all others who have expressed their interest in, and given encouragement to, the work. The pecuniary help which the town has rendered is gratefully acknowledged.
As we present our work to the public, we would remind them, if they find within its pages any thing seemingly not just or equitable, not to judge too hastily, but to remember the times in which the participants lived, and to make that allowance due to an imperfect age. And, while we derive instruction from their deeds, be they honorable or ignoble, let us regard them as beacon-lights, located along the banks of the river of life to warn us of the shoals and quicksands that endanger our voyage, and to show us where the current runs deep, and the voyager can majestically float down the stream to the ocean of eternity.
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The territory of the present town of Boxford occupies a central position in the county of Essex, and a north-easterly one in the old Bay State. Both easterly and southerly, only seven and a half miles intervene between the most easterly and southerly points of the town and the ocean. The nearest part of the Atlantic coast in an easterly direction is Ipswich Beach, located on Ipswich Bay. The same is also true of Salem Harbor in a southerly direction. The marshes which lie along the coast are in such close proximity, that most of the farmers in the town avail themselves of gathering, for fodder for cattle and other purposes, the salt hay which they produce. From the most north- western point of the town to the dividing-line between the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the distance is but three miles, Salem being the nearest New-Hampshire town. Merrimac River, on the north, flows within one hundred and twenty-five rods of the most north-western point of the town's boundaries. The southerly part of the town bounds, for a considerable distance, upon a smaller stream, known as Ipswich River. The cities of Boston, Salem, Lynn, Gloucester, Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill, and Newburyport, in Massachusetts, and Nashua, Exeter, and other important places, in New Hampshire, lie less than twenty-five miles away. The location of the town, geographically, is 71° 1' west longitude, and 42° 25' north latitude.