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The Town & the City: Lowell before and after The Civil War

Originally created to be a digital archive for Lowell documents from 1826 to 1861, this website has grown to cover many periods and events in Lowell's history.

Time Line for Town of Lowell 1826 to 1836


TIMELINE 1822 to 1836


The first large textile mill is built on land that will become Lowell

Hugh Cummiskey leads 30 Irishmen up the Middlesex Canal from Charlestown, Massachusetts to Chelmsford, Massachusetts

These Irishmen and local men begin reconstruction on Pawtucket Canal

Merrimack Manufacturing Company incorporated.


Merrimack Manufacturing Company produces its first textiles


St. Anne's Church organized


Middlesex Mechanic Association established

Hamilton Manufacturing Company established

Merrimack Company’s Machine Shop completed


The Town of Lowell is incorporated on March 1. The population is approximately 2,300 to 2,500

First Baptist Church organized

First Universalist Church organized

Central Bridge opens  


First Methodist Episcopal Church organized


Appleton Company incorporated

Lowell Bank incorporated

Lowell Manufacturing Company incorporated


Lowell Institution for Savings incorporated

Lowell Fire Department established


The population of Lowell is 6,477

Lawrence Manufacturing Company incorporated

Middlesex Company incorporated

Suffolk Manufacturing Company incorporated

Tremont Mills incorporated

Appleton Street Church established

South Congregational Church established

Worthen Street Baptist Church established

Town Hall built

Boston & Lowell Railroad incorporated


Lowell High School opened

Saint Patrick’s Church organized

Railroad Bank incorporated


Lowell Bleachery incorporated


Police Court established


First women's labor strike

First Freewill Baptist Church organized

Lowell Advertiser and Lowell Patriot begin publication

Lowell Circulating Library established


Boston & Lowell Railroad begins service

Boott Cotton Mills incorporated

Almshouse established


The City of Lowell is incorporated on April 1. The population is 17,663

Factory Girls' Association established

Lowell Dispensary established (health services)

Lowell Temperance Society established

Second Universalist Church established

Time for City of Lowell 1836 to 1861

Timeline 1836 to 1861

In 1836, the population of Lowell was 17,633. During the year the Boott Mills were started, and a city charter was adopted. Elisha Bartlett was Mayor.


            April 11, Kirk Boott dies, after carriage accident on corner Merrimack and Dutton Streets.

            James B. Francis becomes Chief Engineer of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals

            Market House is built (Market St. was called Lowell St. before the Market House was built)


1838–39, Luther Lawrence, Mayor


1838    County Jail built

            The Nashua and Lowell Railroad opened for travel


1839    Lowell Corporation Hospital opens

            Massachusetts Mills incorporated

            April 17, Mayor Luther Lawrence dies from a fall into a factory’s wheel pit


1839–41, Elisha Huntington, Mayor


1840    North Commons and South Commons were laid out

            Lowell population 20,981

            The Massachusetts Mills were established

            Moses Kimball founds the Lowell Museum

            First issue of the Lowell Offering is published.


1841    Lowell Cemetery is established

            Vox Populi newspaper, issued


1842    Charles Dickens visits Lowell


1842–43, Nathaniel Wright, Mayor


1843    Hugh Cummiskey, Irish immigrant, is elected to the Common Council

            Establishment of Dr. James Cook Ayer's laboratory

            June 19, President Tyler visits Lowell

            The Missionary Association (Ministry-at-Large) is formed


1844    City paves streets at public expense

            Lowell Female Labor Reform Association is formed

            The City Library instituted

            Nathaniel Booth, an escaped slave, settles in Lowell


1844–45, Elisha Huntington, Mayor


1845    Proprietors of Locks & Canals is reorganized

            Incorporation of Lowell Machine Shop

            Stony Brook Railroad was incorporated

            Middlesex North District Medical Society organized.

            Lowell Daily Courier is published

            British utopian Robert Owens visits

           John Greenleaf Whittier's “Stranger in Lowell” is published


1846    Lowell population 29,127

            The Lowell and Lawrence Railroad was incorporated.


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 visits

            September 12, Patrick Tracy Jackson dies

            The Appleton Bank is incorporated

            Northern Canal was completed


1848    The Salem and Lowell Railroad is incorporated, and was opened for travel two years later

            September 18, Abraham Lincoln (U.S. Representative from Illinois) visits Lowell


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


1849–50, Josiah Bowers 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 on Gorham Street is built


1851    Centralville, previously a part of Dracut, was included within Lowell

            The Daily News is published

            September 16, first fair of the Middlesex Mechanic Association

            James H. B. Ayer, Mayor


1852    Nativists attack Irish girls' school in Lowell

            George Wellman completed his first working model of his self-top card stripper

            May 6, Lajos Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, visits Lowell

            Elisha Huntington, Mayor

            First big flood after Great Gate, which was completed in 1850. The Great Gate was dropped to save the city.


1853    City Hall is reconstructed
            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


1853–54, Sewall G. Mack, Mayor


1854    Know Nothing Party candidate, Ambrose Lawrence, is elected mayor on an anti-foreigner ticket

            Merchants Bank incorporated

            Death of Rev. U. C. Burnap, Zaccheus Shedd, and Perez O. Richmond


1855    Irish constitute 27.6% of Lowell's population

            J. Hiss & "Smelling Committee" investigate Sisters of Notre Dame

            Middlesex North Agricultural Society incorporated

            Deaths of Rev. Timothy O'Brien, Dr. Elisha Bartlett, and Abbott Lawrence

            Ambrose Lawrence, Mayor


1856    The Lowell Jail is built

            The Daily Citizen is published

            Elisha Huntington, Mayor


1857    Economic depression

            September 10, second fair of Middlesex Mechanic Association

            Stephen Mansur, Mayor


1858    Washington Square is laid out

            Elisha Huntington, Mayor


1859    James Cook, Mayor


1860    Lowell population 36,827


1860–61, Benjamin C. Sargeant, Mayor

Mayors of Early Lowell

Mayors of Early Lowell

Jefferson Bancroft (1803 - 1890), mayor of Lowell (1846–1848}, portrait at Lowell Masonic Temple

# Name Years/Term Party
1st Elisha Bartlett 1836–1838  Whig
2nd Luther Lawrence 1838 – April 17, 1839 (died in office) link to Room50 blog re: Luther Lawrence  
Acting/3rd Elisha Huntington April 1839 – April 1840/April 1840 – April 1842 Whig
4th Nathaniel Wright   April 1842 – April 1844  Citizens ticket, (1842); Whig (1843)
5th Elisha Huntington April 1844 – January 1846 Whig
6th Jefferson Bancroft 1846–1848 Whig
7th Josiah B. French 1849–1850 Coalitionist
8th James H. B. Ayer   1851 Whig
9th Elisha Huntington January 1852 – January 1853 Whig
10th Sewall G. Mack 1853–1854 Whig
11th Ambrose Lawrence 1855 Native American Party (Know Nothings)
12th Elisha Huntington 1856 Whig
13th Stephen Mansur 1857 Republican
14th Elisha Huntington January 1858 – January 1859 Whig
16th James Cook 1859 Republican
16th Benjamin C. Sargent 1860–1861


 Contributions of the old residents' historical association, Lowell, Mass. Volume 1.

Chapter XIV. The Mayors of the City of Lowell


Elisha Bartlett (1804 - 1855)

Elisha Bartlett, Mayor 1836-37

Current location – Mayor’s Reception Room at Lowell City Hall

Artist - Thomas Bayley Lawson

Thomas Bayley Lawson at the Whistler House Museum of Art

Elisha Huntington (1796 - 1865)

Elisha Huntington, Mayor 1838-40-41-44-45-52-56-58

Current location – Mayor’s Reception Room at Lowell City Hall

Artist - Thomas Bayley Lawson

Thomas Bayley Lawson at the Whistler House Museum of Art

Jefferson Bancroft (1803 - 1890)

Jefferson Bancroft, Mayor 1846-48

Current location – Mayor’s Reception Room at Lowell City Hall

Artist - Thomas Bayley Lawson

Thomas Bayley Lawson at the Whistler House Museum of Art

James H. B. Ayer (1788 - 1864)

James H.B. Ayer, Mayor 1851

Current location – Mayor’s Reception Room at Lowell City Hall

Artist - Thomas Bayley Lawson

Thomas Bayley Lawson at the Whistler House Museum of Art

Stephen Mansur (1799 - 1863)

Stephen Mansur, Mayor 1857

Current location – Mayor’s Reception Room at Lowell City Hall

Artist - Thomas Bayley Lawson

Thomas Bayley Lawson at the Whistler House Museum of Art