Town of Tewksbury
Tewksbury is a town in the county of Middlesex, state of Massachusetts, United States of America. The town is bounded on the north by the Merrimack River and the town of Dracut, on the northeast by the county of Essex and its town of Andover, on the southeast by the town of Wilmington, on the southwest by the town of Billerica, on the west by the Concord River and the town of Chelmsford, and on the northwest by the city of Lowell (which is the county seat). The state of New Hampshire is only a few miles to the north.
Tewksbury was taken from Billerica and incorporated into a new town 23 December 1734. The territory of the town was reduced when in 1834 nearly one thousand acres, embracing the village of Belvidere, and in 1874 another tract adjoining, were added to Lowell. The town may be said to have been named after the English town of Tewkesbury, but in an account read by W.H. Whitmore, A.M., before the Massachusetts Historical Society, he says, “It had been, however, one of the titles of George II, who was in 1706 made Baron Tewkesbury, Viscount Northallerton, Earl of Milford-Haven, Marquess and Duke of Cambridge. In 1714 he became Prince of Wales; and on his accession in 1727 all his dignities merged in the crown. Still this use of the name is the most probable reason for its adoption here.”
The first town meeting, for the purpose of electing officers, was held 14 January 1735, with Lt. Daniel Kittredge as moderator.
The original covenant of the church was signed by thirty-four men. On 29 March 1736, it was voted “that the Meeting House shall stand upon the Land of Nathaniel Richardson.” It was rudely constructed, covered only with boards and shingles; no clapboards, no steeple, and no paint. The interior had galleries upon the three sides. During the entire 88 years of its existence, there were no means of heating it except by foot-stoves which each family carried for their own use. Construction of a new building was commenced in 1823, and it was completed and dedicated 6 July 1824. Until 1841, the support of the ministry and all the church expenses were borne by the town, after which the First Congregational Society was formed, and the property transferred from the town to the society, or parish.
The State Almshouse was founded 1 May 1854. A large farm was connected with the institution, on which the inmates were employed.
Tewksbury was first settled in 1637 and was officially incorporated in 1734 from Billerica. Like Tewksbury Township, New Jersey, it is named after the town of Tewkesbury, England. One of the oldest sections of town is the area around the Shawsheen River. This is where the Shawshin tribe settled, allowing them access to a great food source. Tewksbury was also known for a historic visit by President Andrew Jackson, stopping off at local watering hole, Brown's Tavern.
On July 24, 1857, a powerful tornado swept through Tewksbury. The tempest began at Round Pond as a small water spout, and traveled west and then southeast to the Shawsheen River. It dissipated at North Wilmington. Several corn fields and orchards were severely damaged, with one residence having its roof blown off. The tornado was powerful enough to flatten barns and sheds, pull up large trees by their roots, and sweep away and kill a team of oxen. Due to the sparse population, and homes located above the valley floor, no one was killed, and only a few people were injured.