Lowell Historical Society

Lowell History Chronology

Bust of Benjamin Franklin Butler, Civil War General, Congressman, and Governor

Bust of Benjamin Franklin Butler, Civil War General, Congressman, and Governor

1635 First English settlements on the Merrimack River; and also on the Concord River.
1643 County of Middlesex created.
1644 Passaconaway, Sachem of the Merrimack Valley Indians, submits to John Winthrop, the English Governor.
1647 John Eliot, the Apostle of the Indians, first preaches at Wamesit (now in Lowell)
1653 Town of Chelmsford is founded.
1656 General Daniel Gookin is appointed Superintendent of Indians.
1660 Passaconaway resigns the Sachemship to his son, Wannalancit.
1665 The Indian Ditch is opened around the Wamesit Indian Reservation.
1669 Indian fort built on Fort Hill.
1675 King Philip's War. Nov. 15, butchery of Wamesit Indians by ruffians from Chelmsford.
1676 Fortifications against hostile Indians are erected at Pawtucket Falls.
1686 The Wamesit and Pawtucket Indians retire to Canada and join the tribe of the St. Francis Indians, selling their lands in Chelmsford and Dracut to the English settlers.
1695 King William's War. Colonel Joseph Lynde fortifies Lynde's Hill.
1701 Dracut is incorporated
1726 Wamesit annexed to Chelmsford
1734 Tewksbury is incorporated
1792 Proprietors of Locks and Canals incorporated to construct the Pawtucket Canal. Also the Proprietors of the Middlesex Merrimack River Bridge at Pawtucket Falls.
1796 Pawtucket Canal opens
1801 The first water-powered carding machine in Middlesex County is used by Moses Hale, at East Chelmsford (now in Lowell)
1803 Germans are recruited to work at Gore & Hunnewell Glass Manufactory in Middlesex Village.
  Middlesex Canal opens
1807 Pentucket Lodge of Free Masons is instituted.
1813 Phineas Whiting & Josiah Fletcher open a cotton mill near present day Lower Locks.
1816 Bowers' saw mill and grist mill are erected.
1817 September 2, Francis Cabot Lowell dies.
1818 Gunpowder is manufactured by Moses Hale; satinets by Thomas Hurd; flannel by Winthrop Howe.
1821 Merrimack Manufacturing Company founded in East Chelmsford by Patrick Tracy Jackson, Nathan Appleton, Kirk Boott and others.
  Thomas Hurd builds a new mill at Lower Locks, incorporates power looms into his business.
  September 11, General Joseph Bradley Varnum dies in Dracut
1822 Hugh Cummiskey's Irish laborers march to Lowell from Charlestown. Irish work gangs are recruited to dig the first power canals along with Yankee workers.
  Revolutionary War hero John Ford dies from injuries sustained during a fight with Irish canal workers.
1823 Merrimack Manufacturing Company recruits Yankee women to work in its textile mills.
1824 St. Anne's Church is established by Merrimack Religious Society.
  The first newspaper, the Journal issued.
  June 18, Ezra Worthen of Merrimack Company dies.
1825 Completion of the Merrimack Company's Machine Shop.
  Hamilton Manufacturing Company is incorporated.
  Reorganization of Proprietors of Locks & Canals.
  Middlesex Mechanics Association incorporated.
1826 Lowell is incorporated as a town March 1, population 2,500
  Edward Everett is Representative in Congress. Daily stage coaches run between Lowell and Boston.
1827 Father John Mahoney celebrates first mass in the Merrimack Company's school house.
1828 Kirk Boott representing the textile corporations, meets with Catholic Bishop Fenwick to donate company land for the construction of a Catholic Church.
  Scottish carpet weavers are recruited from Medway, Mass. by the Lowell Manufacturing Company.
  Lowell Manufacturing Company is incorporated and names its first Agent, Scottish immigrant Alexander Wright.
  Appleton Manufacturing Company is incorporated.
  Lowell Bank incorporated; Death of Moses Hale
1829 Lowell Institution for Savings is founded.
  Hurd's Mills fail, are re-incorporated as Middlesex Manufacturing Company.
  First Odd Fellows' Lodge, the Merrimack, is organized.
1830 Lowell population 6,477
  Boston & Lowell Railroad is incorporated.
  Middlesex, Tremont, and Suffolk Manufacturing Companies are established
  Fire Department is established
1831 Lowell High School opens.
  St. Patrick's Church is dedicated.
  Battle of the Stone Bridge - open hostility between the Irish and the Yankee workers.
  Lawrence Manufacturing Company is incorporated.
  Railroad Bank incorporated.
  July 5, Paul Moody dies.
1832 Public school controversy: Rev. Theodore Edson vs. Kirk Boott
  The Lowell Bleachery is incorporated; District schools abolished; Sept. 15, Judge Livermore dies.
1833 Lowell Irish Benevolent Society is started.
  Police Court is established.
  June 26, President Jackson visits along with Vice President and future President Martin Van Buren.
  September 13, Warren Colburn dies
  October 25, Henry Clay's visit
1834 The "Mill girls" "turn out"; first major strike in Lowell.
  Belvidere annexed from Tewksbury
  Belvidere Manufacturing Company is formed
  Visits of David Crockett, George Thompson, Michel Chevalier, and Daniel Webster
1835 Town of Lowell supports the creation of separate Catholic schools.
  Boston & Lowell Railroad is started.
1835 Boott Cotton Mills is incorporated.
1835 Tri-Weekly Courier is published
1835 Almshouse established
1835 Death of Rev. Enoch W. Freeman and Captain Phineas Whiting.
1836 April 1, Lowell is incorporated as a city.
  Batting is manufactured at Massic Falls by Perez O. Richmond
  Caleb Cushing is Representative in Congress
  Death of Elisha Glidden
  Second "Mill Girls" strike
  Lowell Dispensary founded (early health services)
  Lowell population 17,663, among which 2,661 are listed as "aliens" and 44 "colored."
1836–37 Elisha Bartlett, Mayor
1837 April 11, Kirk Boott dies, after carriage tips on corner Merrimack and Dutton Streets.
  Middlesex Manufacturing Company recruits British workers from Gloucestershire.
  British immigrant James B. Francis becomes Chief Engineer of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals.
  Market House is built
1838–39 Luther Lawrence, Mayor
1839 Lowell Corporation Hospital opens.
  Massachusetts Mills incorporated.
  April 17, Mayor Luther Lawrence dies by a fall into a wheel pit.
  Whitney Mills incorporated
  Charles P. & Thomas Talbot manufacture chemicals, etc.
  Death of Father Mahoney and Samuel H. Mann
1839–41 Elisha Huntington, Mayor
1840 North and South Commons laid out
  Lowell population 20,981
  Moses Kimball founds the Lowell Museum
  First issue of the Lowell Offering is published.
1840s Ten Hour Movement
  Irish workers begin to find employment in the textile mills.
1841 Louis Bergeron family becomes the first recorded French-Canadian family to settle in Lowell.
  Lowell Cemetery is established
  "Vox Populi", newspaper, issued
1842 Charles Dickens visit.
1842–43 Nathaniel Wright, Mayor
1843 Hugh Cummiskey, Irish immigrant, is elected to the Common Council.
  Establishment of Dr. J. C. Ayer's laboratory.
  April 1, Dr. William Graves dies.
  June 19, President Tyler's visit
  The Missionary Association is formed
1844 City paves streets at public expense
  Lowell Female Labor Reform Association is formed.
  The City Library opens.
  February 16, Zadock Rogers dies.
1844–45 Uriah Boyden and James B. Francis develop inward-flow turbine. Turbines quickly replace breastwheels in Lowell's mills.
  Elisha Huntington, Mayor
1845 Proprietors of Locks & Canals is reorganized
  Incorporation of Lowell Machine Shop.
  Stony Brook Railroad is incorporated
  Middlesex North District Medical Society organized.
  Daily Courier is published
  Pentucket Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons re-organized, eleven years after the surrender of its charter under the pressure of the anti - Masonic movement.
  British utopian Robert Owens visits.
  Whittier's "Stranger in Lowell" and Miles' "Lowell as It Was and as It Is," are published.
Late 1840s Ben Butler begins his political career; supported by Irish Democrats.
1846 Lowell population 29,127
  The Lowell and Lawrence Railroad is incorporated.
  Nathan Crosby succeeds Judge Locke in the Police Court
1846–48 Jefferson Bancroft, Mayor
1847 "Mill girls" donate clothing and the City raises $1990.00 for Irish famine relief.
  St. Mary's church dedicated March 7.
  June 30, President Polk's visit.
  September 12, Patrick T.  Jackson dies
  The Appleton Bank is incorporated
  Northern Canal is completed on Thanksgiving Day.
1848 The Salem and Lowell Railroad is incorporated
  September 18, Abraham Lincoln's visit.
  Death of John R. Adams
1849 Battle of Suffolk Bridge - fighting between Irish from Cork and Connaught with those from northern Irish counties.
  The Lynde Hill Reservoir of Locks And Canals, is constructed in Belvidere
  November 19, death of Edmund Lee Breton
1849–50 Josiah B. French, Mayor
1850 Annual production of 50,000 miles of cloth makes Lowell the largest industrial center in the US. Population of 33,000 is second largest in Massachusetts.
  Gas is introduced
  County Court House is erected
  Prescott Bank is incorporated
1850s Arrival of Jews from Germany
1851 Centralville annexed to Lowell
  The Daily News is published
  April 21, death of Dr. Abner H. Brown
  September 16, first fair of the Middlesex Mechanics Association
  James H. B. Ayer, Mayor
1852 Nativists attack Irish girls' school in Lowell
  May 6, Kossuth's visit
  June, death of Alexander Wright and Otis H. Morrill
  Elisha Huntington, Mayor
  First big flood after Great Gate was completed. Gate was dropped to save the city.
1853 St. Patrick's Church rebuilt.
  Belvidere Woolen Company is organized.
  Successful strike at Lowell Machine Shop
  July 12, Samuel Appleton dies.
  Wamesit Bank incorporated
  Huntington Hall is built
  November 10, Judge Locke dies.
1853–54 Sewall G. Mack, Mayor
1854 Know Nothing Party candidate is elected mayor on an anti-foreigner ticket. Disbands the Jackson Musketeers (Ben Butler's militia)
  Natives of Maine living in Lowell hold their first social reunion.
  Merchants Bank incorporated
  Death of Rev. U. C. Burnap, Zaccheus Shedd, and P.O. Richmond.
1855 Irish constitute 27.6% of Lowell's population.
  J. Hiss & "Snelling Committee" investigate Sisters of Notre Dame
  Middlesex North Agricultural Society incorporated.
  Death of Rev. Timothy O'Brien, Dr. Elisha Bartlett, and Abbott Lawrence
  Ambrose Lawrence, Mayor
1856 The Jail is built.
  The Daily Citizen is published
  November 17, Judge Hopkinson dies>
  Elisha Huntington, Mayor
1857 Economic depression
  January 16, Thomas H. Benton's visit.
  September 10, second fair of Middlesex Mechanics Association
  Stephen Mansur, Mayor
1858 November 5, Nathaniel Wright dies.
  Elisha Huntington, Mayor
1859 Death of John Adams, Alanson J. Richmond, Jane E. Locke, Samuel W. Browne, and Samuel J. Varney.
  James Cook, Mayor
1860 Lowell population 36,827
  January 12, Joseph Butterfield dies
  March 30, Rhoda M. Wilkins dies by poison
  June 19, murder of Elizabeth A. Moore by Bryant Moore
  July 14, Nicholas G. Norcross dies
  July 26, General Butler is silenced in a Democratic caucus in Huntington Hall on returning from the Charleston Convention.
1860–61 Benjamin C. Sargeant, Mayor
1861–65 Recruitment of Irish and other foreign-born Americans by the Union Army. Cotton mills sell cotton and close for long periods; mills rebuilt and expanded; mill operatives out of work.
1861 Hospice begun to provide health care for the Irish.
  April 6, Captain G. V. Fox of Lowell attempts to relieve Fort Sumter.
  April 19, collision between the Lowell Militia and the Secessionists in Baltimore, in which Ladd, Whitney, Needham, and Taylor are killed, first Civil War casualties
  April 20, Soldier's Aid Association formed - the first in the United States
  July 14, Nathan Appleton dies
  September 24, visit of Prince Jerome Napoleon and Princess Clotilde.
1862 April 3, death of Surgeon E. K. Sanborn
  May 24, death of Z. B. Caverly
  August 9, Captain E. G. Abbott and seven of his company killed in the battle of Cedar Mountain
  August 29, Lieutenant J. R. Darracott killed at the second Bull Run
  October 5, death of Captain T. A. Crowley
  November, death of I. W. Beard and Charles L. Tilden
  December 13, Lieutenant Thomas Claffey killed before Petersburg
1862–64 Hocum Hosford, Mayor
1863 Incorporation of the Lowell Horse Railroad
  January 12, return of General Butler from New Orleans and reception in Huntington Hall
  February 25, Soldier's Fair
  April 2, death of Stephen Mansur
  April 30, Captain George Bush killed at Chancellorsville
  May 1, Captain Salem S. Marsh killed at Chancellorsville
  June 3, Lieutenant Solon A. Perkins killed at Clinton, Louisiana
  July 3, Captains John Murkland and David W. Roche killed at Gettysburg
  October 6, Judge Advocate A. W. Farr and seventy-seven others captured and put to death by Quantrell's guerrillas in Kansas
1864 January 8, death of Dr. John C. Dalton
  April 14, Lieutenant Charles B. Wilder of the navy killed in the Nansemond River, Virginia.
  May 6, Major H. L. Abbott killed at the battle of the Wilderness.
  May 31, Captain L. C. Mumford killed at Cold Harbor.
  June 7, death of J. H. B. Ayer
  July 8, death of John Avery
  October 20, death of John P. Robinson
  First National Bank incorporated.
1865 Samuel P. Marin is employed by the textile companies to recruit French-Canadians.
  January 28, final return of General Butler from duty in the army. He "rises to explain" in Huntington Hall.
  June 17, dedication of the monument to Ladd and Whitney.
  June 22, death of Joshua Mather
  December 11, death of Dr. Elisha Huntington.
1865–66 Josiah G. Peabody, Mayor
1866 Music Hall opened
  February 13, death of Dr. James Thompson
  July 2, death of Horace Howard
1867 St. John's Hospital is founded, in part as a response to the health needs of the immigrant population.
  Celina Lavallee, composer of Canadian national anthem, married in Lowell.
  July 4, Statue of Victory erected
  Death of Samuel A. Brown, John Aiken, Dr. Benjamin Skelton, Ransom Reed, Dr. J. M. Allen, Joshua Swan, David Hyde, Abner W. Buttrick, Caleb Crosby, S. S. Seavey and Charles A. Babcock.
  Young Men's Christian Association organized.
  Old Ladie's Home established
  September 10, third fair of the Middlesex Mechanics Association
  October 8, General Sheridan's visit.
1867–68 George F. Richardson, Mayor
1868 Scottish immigrant Alexander Cumnock becomes Agent of the Boott Mills
  Old Residents' Historical Association is formed, signaling a growing interest in local history.
  Lucien Lager and Father Andre Marie Garin of Quebec arrive in Lowell, April 18
  St. Joseph's Church is founded to serve the growing French-Canadian community.
  First Lowell celebration of St. Jean-Baptiste Day; musical soiree in cellar of St. Joseph's.
  B. F. Butler Post, No. 42, G. A. R. established
  Cowley's History of Lowell published
  Memorial Day first observed in Lowell
  December 4, General Ulysses S. Grant's visit
  Death of Dr. Samuel L. Dana, Samuel Burbank, Adam Putnamand Silas Tyler, Jr.
1869 St. John the Baptist Benevolent Society of Lowell (French Organization giving death benefits to members of family.)
  Lowell chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is founded.
  Lowell Hosiery Company incorporated
  Death of John Nesmith, John Wright, Dr. George A Whitmore, James G. Carney, Joseph Tapley, J. R. V. Coburn, and John Sullivan (aged 102)
1869–70 Jonathan P. Folsom, Mayor
1870 Lowell's first French language play, "Le Proscrit," is performed at Huntington Hall.
  United States Cartridge Company opens
  Death of Thomas Nesmith, Rev. Amos  Blanchard, Linus Child, B. C. Sargent, Dr. J. P. Jewett, John F. Rogers, Jesse Fox, Charles F. Bassett, H. G. F. Corliss, Charlotte Butler and Ellen Tague (aged 102)
1871 Hugh Commiskey dies, at his home on Adams Street, at age of 82, December 12.
  Small pox epidemic, causing 178 deaths and 580 cases
  Central Savings Bank organized
  Fire Alarm Telegraph established
  Framingham Railroad opened for travel
  Death of Sidney Spaulding
  Dec. 9, Grand Duke Alexis' visit
  Edward F. Sherman, Mayor
1871–77 Father Garin supervises construction of Immaculate Conception Church.
1872 People's Club organized
  Japanese Embassy's visit
  Pawtucket Bridge finished
  Water Works established
  Death of William North, E. F. Sherman, George Brownell, and Oliver M.Whipple.
  Josiah G. Peabody, Mayor
1873 Morning Times issued, morning edition
  Young Women's Home, later the Ayer Home for Young Women and Children established
  Death of Fisher A. Hildreth and Dr. John W. Graves.
1873–75 Francis Jewett, Mayor
1874 Samuel P. Marin is elected to the City Council, the first French-Canadian to reach public office.
  Fiftieth anniversary of organization of St. Anne's celebrated
  Fire at Wamesit Mills, loss $40,000.
  G. A. R. Hall dedicated
  Pawtucketville and Middlesex Village annexed to Lowell
  Kitson Machine Company incorporated
  Lowell and Andover Railroad opened for travel
  Death of Rev. John O'Brien and Homer Bartlett
1875 Strike by male mule spinners is unsuccessful when they refuse to make alliance with immigrant and women workers.
  French-Canadian immigrant Joseph L. Chalifoux opens his first clothing store. His family would later open the Chalifoux Block, then Lowell's largest department store.
  Samuel P. Marin builds the first tenement block in what will become Little Canada.
  Knights of Pythias dedicate new hall.
  King Kalakaua's visit
  Death of Tappan Wentworth
1876 First Portuguese boardinghouse in Lowell.
  Fiftieth anniversary of First Congregational Church
  Fiftieth anniversary of First Baptist Church
  Semi-centennial celebration of Lowell as a town.
  June 8, Emperor Dom Pedro's visit.
  Reform Club formed
  Death of Albert Wheeler and Josiah B. French
1876–77 Charles A. Stott, Mayor
1877 The French Congregational Church is founded.
  Fiftieth anniversary of Universalist Church celebrated
  Shaw Stocking Company formed.
  Death of Jonathan Tyler, Artemas L. Brooks and Drs. Harlan Pillsbury, David Wells, and D. P. Gage.
  J. C. Ayer Company incorporated.
1877–79 Benjamin Butler Representative in Congress
1878 Lowell Sun founded; originally the voice of the Irish community.
  Lowell Art Association formed, primarily by Yankees
  First annual regatta of Vesper Boat Club held.
  Electric light in Merrimack Mills.
  Lowell District Telephone Company formed.
  Cowley's History of the County of Middlesex published in the Middlesex County Manual.
  July 3, James C. Ayer died.
1878–79 John A. G. Richardson, Mayor
1879 Morning Mail issued
  Unitarian Church celebrates fiftieth anniversary
  Death of Samuel Batchelder
  Dr. Moses Greeley Parker invents telephone numbers in Lowell.
  United States Cord Company established
1880s United Cartridge Company recruits Swedish workers.
  Arrival of the first Greek and Polish immigrants in Lowell.
1880 Lowell population 59,485; 39% are foreign born.

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