HISTORY OF SAUGUS
Saugus is Boston's senior. When the word "Saugus" was used in the early years, the writers meant Lynn. In 1629 settlers from Salem moved south and settled the large area of Lynn, which then included Saugus. This was a year before the arrival of John Winthrop's "great migration". Saugus is an Indian name signifying "extended", suggested by its broad marshes. It is situated in the very southern corner of Essex County on the Saugus River, formerly called Abousett by the Indians. Before 1800, Boston Street, or the old Boston Road, was the only thoroughfare, but around 1805 the Newburyport Turnpike was built.
On October 19, 1630, the first reference to the political status of Saugus is found when John Taylor was admitted freeman to the General Court. In 1634, Nathaniel Turner, Edward Tomlins and Thomas Willis were representatives from Saugus to the first legislature. At that time Saugus also included in its territory the city of Lynn and towns of Swampscott, Lynnfield, Reading, Wakefield and Nahant. But some of the earlier settlers, dissatisfied with the name, sought to change it. The legislature granted their petition and on November 15, 1637, an enactment is recorded - said to be the shortest ever passed - "Saugus is called Lin".
The river retained the old name. On its bank a notable colonial industry arose between the years 1646 and 1650, Hammersmith, or the Saugus Iron Works, Built by Richard Leader, agent of the "Company of Undertakers for an Iron Works in New England".
Inspired by the preaching of Parson Joseph Roby, Saugus sent nearly 100 volunteers to the American Revolution, the largest contingent in Essex County. Before that time the town had achieved partial independence from Lynn by organizing its own congregation as the Third Parish of Lynn. Then on February 17, 1815, the original name of Saugus was restored by a legislative act which set off the present territory from Lynn.
Although up until 1815 the town was largely agricultural in interests and pursuits, it was during this same period that manufacturing and industry played and important role: shoes and woolen goods were produced in the Center, tobacco in Cliftondale, and shoes in East Saugus. Bog iron-ore was discovered soon after the first settlement in different parts of town but mostly in North Saugus where very good specimens were found and used by the old Iron Works from 1646 to the 1670's. Other notable first industries claimed by Saugus were the manufacture of chocolate and the shipment of ice to tropical countries. During the 19th century a number of enterprises were established providing facilities for snuff-making, spice-grinding, coffee roasting, fulling of cloth, leather tanning, bleaching cloth and the manufacture of dyestuffs, flannel, woolen and hair rugs.
Subsequent events included the opening of the Saugus Branch of the then "Eastern Railroad" in the 1850's, and the construction of the present Town Hall in 1875. While the new Town Hall was being built, the inhabitants of East Saugus made a vigorous effort before the legislature to be set off from Saugus and annexed to the city of Lynn, but they did not succeed. Soon afterward, the town voted an appropriation of $5,000 for water pipes through the village of East Saugus to the Lynn Water Works and a public celebration was held in August, 1878, on completion of this project.
Reprinted from "Know Your Town" (League of Women Voters 1990)