Place:Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States


Alt namesCentral Villagesource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25005145
Woburn Centresource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25005145
Woburn Highlandsource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25005145
Woobornesource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25005145
Coordinates42.484°N 71.152°W
Located inMiddlesex, Massachusetts, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Woburn is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,876 at the 2020 census. Woburn is located north of Boston. Woburn uses Massachusetts' mayor-council form of government, in which an elected mayor is the executive and a partly district-based, partly at-large city council is the legislature. It is the only one of Massachusetts' 351 municipalities to refer to members of its City Council as "Aldermen."



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Woburn was first settled in 1640 near Horn Pond, a primary source of the Mystic River, and was officially incorporated in 1642. At that time the area included present day towns of Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, and parts of Stoneham and Wilmington. In 1740 Wilmington separated from Woburn. In 1799 Burlington separated from Woburn; in 1850 Winchester did so, too.

Woburn got its name from Woburn, Bedfordshire. Woburn played host to the first religious ordination in the Americas on Nov. 22, 1642. Rev. Thomas Carter was sworn in by many of the most prominent men of New England including John Cotton, minister of the First Church of Boston, Richard Mather minister of the First Church of Dorchester, and Capt. Edward Johnson co-founder of the church and town of Woburn. Johnson is regarded as "the father of Woburn." He served as the first town clerk, represented the town in the Massachusetts General Court, made the first map of Massachusetts, and wrote the first history of the colony.

The first organizational Town Meeting was held on April 13, 1644 and the first town officers were chosen. Town Selectmen were Edward Johnson, Edward Convers, John Mousall, William Learned, Ezekiel Richardson, Samuel Richardson and James Thompson. William Learned was also selected as Constable. Michael Bacon, Ralph Hill, Thomas Richardson were chosen as Surveyors of Highways. (The History of Woburn, 1868)

Deacon Edward Convers was also one of the founders of Woburn. He was one of its first selectmen, and built the first house and first mill in Woburn. He was very active in town affairs and was a large landowner, miller and surveyor.

List of important events

  • Gershom Flagg's tannery was built in 1668
  • The Middlesex Canal was opened in 1803
  • Thompson established a tannery at Cummingsville in 1823
  • The Boston and Lowell Railroad started operating through Woburn in 1835
  • The Woburn Sentinel newspaper began in 1839
  • In 1840 the first membership library opened
  • The telegraph started operating in Woburn in 1867
  • "America's oldest active gun club," the Massachusetts Rifle Association, was founded in 1875 and moved to Woburn in 1876.
  • The public library opened in 1879
  • The telephone was introduced in Woburn in 1882; Electric lights in 1885
  • Woburn was incorporated as a City on June 12, 1888
  • Route 128 opened in 1951
  • Route 93 was built through town in 1963
  • Rail depot closed in 1962.
  • Cummings Properties, the major holder of commercial properties in the region, was founded in 1970.
  • Cummings Foundation was established in 1986.
  • Cummings Foundation purchased the former Choate Memorial Hospital site and turned it into the New Horizons of Choate senior living community in 1990.
  • Community Weeklies Inc. was founded by William S. Cummings and began publishing Woburn Advocate in 1991. The firm was bought by a division of Fidelity Investments in 1994, and Woburn Advocate is now being published by GateHouse Media.
  • Middlesex Superior Courthouse moved to TradeCenter 128 business campus in 2008.
  • The final phase of construction is completed on TradeCenter 128 business campus in 2010.
  • Woburn Police Officer John B. Maguire was killed in the line of duty while responding to an armed robbery on December 26, 2010.
  • Massachusetts Biotechnology Council awarded Woburn the platinum-level "Bio-Ready community" designation in 2011.

Groundwater contamination incident

Woburn was the scene of a high-profile water contamination crisis. During the mid to late 1970s, the local community became concerned over the high incidence of childhood leukemia and other illnesses, particularly in the Pine Street area of east Woburn. After high levels of chemical contamination were found in City of Woburn's Wells G and H in 1979, some members of the community suspected that the unusually high incidence of leukemia, cancer, and a wide variety of other health problems were linked to the possible exposure to volatile organic compounds in the groundwater pumped from wells G and H.

In May 1982, a number of citizens whose children had developed or died from leukemia filed a civil lawsuit against two corporations, W. R. Grace and Company and Beatrice Foods. Grace's subsidiary, Cryovac, and Beatrice were suspected of contaminating the groundwater by improperly disposing of trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (perc or PCE) and other industrial solvents at their facilities in Woburn near wells G and H.

In a controversial decision, Judge Walter Jay Skinner ruled that the jurors should answer questions that they and many others considered confusing. Beatrice was acquitted and Grace only paid $8 million, a third of which went to the lawyers and lawyer fees. A United States Environmental Protection Agency report later found Beatrice and Grace responsible for the contamination. A book titled A Civil Action was written about the case by Jonathan Harr. In 1998 the book was turned into a movie starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall, also titled A Civil Action. The film was largely filmed in nearby Bedford and Lexington, with only a few shots on location in Woburn.

Research Tips

Woburn Memorial for Christian Liberty

excerpted from Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines

Woburn was founded at a time when the General Court (of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) had ruled that when a town lacked a pastor, they must not allow preaching by a lay brother without going through a procedure requiring the opinion and approval of the elders from four nearby churches, or the permission of the County Court... But Woburn men felt that the church organization which had examined and accepted its own members was in a better position to judge the qualifications of a proposed pastor than any outsiders would be. (And in fact, they'd ordained their own minister, Rev. Thomas Carter, in 1642.) Therefore, they prepared a very lengthy petition to the General Court, couched in the most deferential terms, but explaining their difference of opinion from that of the court. This petition, which came to be known as the "Woburn Memorial for Christian Liberty," was signed by twenty-nine Woburn men on 30 Aug 1653, and requested a rescinding of the previous ruling. The request was not granted, but the process was not forgotten and the signers became known as the "bold petitioners."

References for above

  1. Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines
  2. History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts (includes list of all signers and most text)
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