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MarbleheadMaInfo.com

 Guide to Marblehead, MA .

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Marblehead was first settled as a plantation of Salem in 1629 by John Peach Sr., then set off and incorporated in 1649. Originally called Massebequash after the river which ran between it and Salem, the land was inhabited by the Naumkeag tribe of Indians under the sachem, Nanepashemet. But epidemics in 1615?1619 and 1633, believed to be smallpox, devastated the tribe. Heirs of Nanepashemet would sell their 3,700 acres (15 km2) on September 16, 1684, the deed preserved today at the town hall.

At times called Marvell Head, Marble Harbour (by Captain John Smith) and Foy (by immigrants from Fowey, Cornwall), the town would be named Marblehead by settlers who mistook its granite ledges for marble. It began as a fishing village with narrow, crooked streets, and grew inland from the harbor. The shoreline smelled of drying fish, typically cod, which were exported abroad and to Salem. The town peaked economically just prior to the Revolution, as locally financed privateering vessels pirated the seas for bounty from large European ships. Much early architecture survives from the era, including the Jeremiah Lee Mansion.

A large percentage of residents became involved early in the fight for American freedom, and the sailors of Marblehead are generally recognized by scholars as forerunners of the American Navy. The first vessel commissioned for the navy, the Hannah, was equipped with cannons, rope, provision (including the indigenous "Joe Frogger" molasses/sea water cookie)?and a crew from Marblehead. With their nautical backgrounds, soldiers from Marblehead, under General John Glover were instrumental in the escape of the Continental army after the Battle of Long Island, and Marblehead men ferried George Washington across the Delaware River for his attack on Trenton. Many who set out for war, however, did not return. Indeed, the community lost a substantial portion of its population and economy, although it was still the tenth largest inhabited location in the United States at the first census, in 1790.[1] After the conflict, fishing would remain important, with 98 vessels (95 of which exceeded 50 tons) putting to sea in 1837. But a gale or hurricane at the Grand Banks of Newfoundland on September 19, 1846 sank 11 vessels and damaged others. With 65 men and boys lost in the storm, the town's fishing industry began a decline.

During the late 19th century, Marblehead experienced a short-term boom from shoe-making factories. At the same time, the exceptional harbor attracted yachting and yacht clubs. It would become home to the Boston Yacht Club, Corinthian Yacht Club, Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead Yacht Club, Dolphin Yacht Club, and the oldest junior yacht club in America, the Pleon Yacht Club.

After World War II, the town enjoyed a population boom, as a bedroom community for Boston, Lynn and Salem. This boom ended around 1970 when the town became built out.
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