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The History of Wakefield, MA
The land we now know as Wakefield was first settled in 1638 by a small band of settlers from Lynn. The following year, they successfully petitioned the legislature for “an inland plantation,” named Linn Village. In 1644, when seven families had settled and seven houses had been built, the court ordered that the town might be incorporated. At that time, the village, located near the shores of the “Great Pond” (Lake Quannapowitt), took the name of Redding.
It was a community of farmers, taking advantage of the enormous flocks of wild pigeons and wild turkeys “exceeding fat, sweet and in abundance” as well as the “fish in the rivers and ponds, grapes, blackberries, [and] blueberries in great quantities.”
By 1667, the community, including what is now known as Reading and North Reading, boasted 59 houses. A garrison house was built against Indian attacks in 1671. In 1686, the settlers bought their land from the Saugus Indians.
The town sent its share of men to the Revolutionary War, but no battle was fought within her bounds. When the Declaration of Independence was first read publicly, town residents unanimously voted to “adhere to its sentiments and stand by it to the last.”
By the late 18th century, the town was essentially split into three separate and distinct parishes: the First Parish (Wakefield), the Second Parish (North Reading) and the Third Parish (Reading). Although the First Parish was the oldest and largest section, the combined votes of the other two parishes was greater; consequently, the Federalist majority consistently outvoted the staunch Democratic Republicans in First Parish, effectively, as they thought, denying them representation in the legislature. As early as 1785, First Parish petitioned to be set off as a separate town. Issues came to a head just before the War of 1812, and the legislature finally granted the petition in 1811. The town of South Reading was formed in 1812.
South Reading was still a rural, isolated hamlet until the Boston and Maine Railroad came to town in 1845. The change it caused was dramatic, doubling the population from 1,600 to 3,200 in 15 years. One of the results of this population boom was the construction of four schoolhouses, North Sound East and West Ward Schools, built in 1847. Movers in Wakefield, MA




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